Well it's time to resume our journey to Bethlehem and we just have a few short days to get there. I do hope you had the opportunity this weekend to worship the baby who was born there in that stable. There is nothing better for us to do this Christmas in the way of celebration than to spend some time reflecting on His greatness and our need of all He does for us.
And yet...maybe there is one thing we could do...
Up to this point in our journey we have seen God's love demonstrated through His tender creation, His merciful promise of redemption, His purposeful selection of a people, His mighty release of the captives from Egypt, His patient tolerance of a wayward nation, and His compliance with their wishes for a king. God has loved and loved and loved, for that is who He is.
While God's love never ceases and nothing can separate us from it (Romans 8:38-39), He is not and will not be trampled on and taken advantage of. Unlike so many parents who simply throw their hands up in the air and moan, "I can't do anything with these kids!" God never loses control of His children.
And so in the book of Isaiah we a see a definite turn of events. Through His prophet, God spells out for His wayward, disobedient, disloyal, stiff-necked people His plans for the future. He lets then know that times will get tough, tougher in fact.
They've esteemed menhigher than they've esteemed their God. (Isaiah 2:22)
They've taken pride in the bounty they've acquired, forgetting the God who supplied it. (Isaiah 2:7-8)
They've sought out the aid of foreign countriesand their rulers instead of running to God with their problems. (Isaiah 2:6)
They've called evil good, and good evil. (Isaiah 5:20)
They've thought themselves to be clever and wise and haven't consulted God. (Isaiah 5:21)
They've accepted bribesto do what they knew was wrong. (Isaiah 5:23)
They've partied to the point of drunkenness and called it glamorous. (Isaiah 5:11-12, 22))
They've used God to their advantage like a magical puppet, calling on Him in case of emergency only and then complaining when He didn't act quickly on their behalf. (Isaiah 5:19)
Does any of this sound familiar, friend? It does to me. Our world today is not so different from the culture God condemned in Isaiah's time. And the church, God's people, are guilty of the same grievances. We look to Hollywood and Washington to set the pace, and follow as closely as we can. We have great difficulty knowing the difference between right and wrong and fret about offending anyone when we know the truth. We take pride in our intelligence, our modern advances, our sophistication. We revel in our affluence but forget from whence it came. And we call out to God like petulant children in the event of a natural or economic disaster, growing impatient when He doesn't fix things to our liking at the snap of our greedy little fingers.
And I'm not just throwing blame on our "society"; I'm claiming my fair amount of the blame as well. Shame on us all.
What a mess we are in. Very similar to the mess that caused division and unrest among the Israelites. Very much like the mess that caused them to eventually fall prey to other nations, resulting in bitter oppression, poverty, and great loss. Very much like the mess that made them hopeless.
But that's what it took for these people to fall to their knees. That's what was needed to drive them to look for a Messiah. By the time that baby was born in Bethlehem, the Jews were starved for a savior. They weren't completely squared away on what kind of savior to expect and thus most of them missed Him, but they were starved all the same.
I think our world is starved for a Savior today as well. Not just here in affluent and misguided America, but also
in lands where poverty and physical hunger dominate.
In countries where false religions have proven to be empty and even dangerous.
In countries where strife and anger pervade.
In countries where diseases wreak havoc.
In countries where leadership is corrupt and people are abused and enslaved.
In countries where darkness has become the norm.
In countries where children are sacrificed for wealth and women are considered property.
Our world is hungry for some hope, a little love.
Jesus is the hope of the world. He loved the world enough to die for it. What are you doing to tell others about that love? Want to give a meaningful Christmas present this year? One that is really wanted? One that will not be returned or broken or run out of battery life?
I have a suggestion.
Now, go tell whoever you come in contact with today, "Love has come. His name is Jesus."