Saturday, December 13, 2014

No Room for Him

Each time I read the Christmas story, I marvel that the Son of God, the promised Messiah, left His throne in Heaven and came to us in human flesh (John 1:14) to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Yet the birth of Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16), happened in the most lowly of circumstances. He was not born in the comforts of a royal palace, but in a cold and drafty stable, among the odors of barnyard animals, laid in the scratchy hay of a feeding trough (Luke 2:7).

Why? Because there was no room for Him and His parents in the inn (Luke 2:7). Each time I read that, I cringe to think what it means to have no room for the Saviour. What blessings did the innkeeper miss because he did not joyfully relinquish his best room to the Holy Child? What blessings did God’s chosen people miss because they did not recognize or receive Christ, their Deliverer? (John 1:11-12; 5:43)

What blessings will our nation lose because we no longer have room for Him in our schools, our courtrooms, and our public squares? Even those churches will be held accountable that no longer have room for Him and His Word. Instead, they are devoted to preaching a prosperity or social gospel, to false doctrine (Matthew 7:15; Ephesians 4:14; 2 Peter 2:1), to entertainment, to ostentation, and to social networking, all in the name of building their numbers while falling away from the One Sure Foundation (Luke 6:48-49; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11).

What blessings did I miss in those many long years before I was born again (John 3:3-8) by turning away from my sins and believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only Way to Heaven? (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6). Before I was saved, my life was strangely empty, yet so filled with pursuing wealth, status, and other worldly treasure that I had no room for Him. What blessings am I missing now when worldly distractions (Hebrews 12:1) take up valuable space in my heart -- space that should be completely dedicated to Him?

So many today are like the fool whose chief concern is that he has no room to store his great accumulation of stuff, and decides to build a bigger storehouse for it all, failing to realize that he can’t take it with him (Luke 12:15-21). When death comes knocking, he who has the most toys does not win, but only he who has Christ living in his heart (2 Corinthians 1:22). All others will slip into eternity only to spend it in hell (Luke 16:22-26), forever separated from the God Who would have saved them had they found room for Him (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).

But yesterday, as I reread that there was no room for Jesus in the inn, I realized something new to me -- that was a good thing! With God, there are no accidents and no surprises, for He works all circumstances together for the good of those who love Him, to His glory (Romans 8:28). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-6) to fulfill the prophecies that the Christ, the Deliverer and Ruler of Israel, would be born there (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:4-6).

The town was packed out because Caesar commanded that all who hailed from there should return to be taxed (Luke 2:1-5). But had God the Father wanted His Son to be born in the best room Bethlehem had to offer, surely that would have happened, despite the overwhelming crowds and the modest means of His earthly parents (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27; Matthew 19:26).

But how would that have changed the course of history? Had Jesus been born in the privacy of a secluded, comfortable room tucked away in an inn, how would the shepherds have worshipped Him?

In those days, shepherds were on the lowest rung of society – outcasts and vagabonds who traveled about with their sheep, and not above stealing one another’s animals, food or possessions if they could get away with it. That was one reason why they had to keep watch over their flocks by night (Luke 2:8) Like all of us, they were sinners (Romans 3:23), but unlike many, they admitted their sins and longed for the change of heart only a Saviour can bring.

No wonder they were terrified when the angel of the Lord appeared to them (Luke 2:9). Yet the angel came not to condemn them, but to bring them the great news that their Saviour was born! (Luke 2:10-11) How like Jesus, Who came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), to send His first birth announcement to lowly sinners who knew they needed Him!

Immediately the shepherds made peace with one another and agreed to leave everything behind and to rush off to worship the Son of God (Luke 2:15-16). The angel had told them they would recognize their Lord, for He would be wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger (Luke 2:12).

True, the angel could have said, “He’s at the inn on Main Street, second floor, first door on the left.” But how would even one shepherd have made it past the innkeeper, let alone the whole throng of shepherds visited by the multitude of the angelic host? Even if they had, how would they all have fit in a small room?

No, it took an open, vast, unguarded space for the King of glory to be adored by all those who wanted to fall down before Him. We tend to think of the stable as a small but cozy wooden enclosure, but it most likely would have been built into a cave on the side of a hill. The mouth of the cave would have been open, allowing the hillside and adjoining fields to be filled with hordes of shepherds worshipping Him.

Not only were the shepherds the first souls to be born again, but they were the first missionaries! After they witnessed the Child with their own eyes and found room for Him in their hearts, they told everyone who would listen what the angel had told them, that Jesus was their Saviour, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11,17)

As a result, many considered this testimony and no doubt were born again themselves (v. 18). The shepherds' testimony was a confirmation to Mary (v. 19), strengthening her for the difficult journey she faced mothering the Son of God, and their praise and faithfulness brought glory to God (v. 20).

So, had there been room for Jesus and His earthly parents in the inn, many would not have known of Him at that time, because there would have been no room for the shepherds to worship Him!

Later, Jesus continued to have the problem of “no room,” because news of His teachings and miracles caused great throngs of people to crowd around Him (Matthew 5:1; 13:2; 14:14-21; 21:9). Often, there was “no room” for those desperate for His healing word or touch, yet that often emboldened those in need.

The woman with the issue of blood fought her way through the crowds, risking being condemned as unclean, just to touch the hem of His garment (Luke 8:43-48). The friends of the man with palsy cut a hole through the roof of the house where Jesus was, having no doubt that He would help their sick friend (Mark 2:1-12). In every case, Jesus rewarded the faith of those who would not accept “no room” as their final answer.

God is not stingy in doling out blessings. Instead, He loves to shower blessings on His children, answering our prayers exceeding abundantly beyond what we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20; 1 Timothy 1:14). If we seek Him first, He heaps good things on us until we have no room to store them up inside, and they overflow to all those blessed to be in our path (Luke 6:38; 12:29-32).

May His Living Water flow through us like a river nourishing the parched soil around us! May His Light shine through us so that it cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:15), but illuminates the lives of all we meet! May we give Him all the room in our heart, so that we have no room for worldly cares or sorrows, and not enough room to contain all the joy and peace He gives us!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Aritha said...

That's a startling thought: that God through it all reached his goal. The gospel proclaimed by the angels to the despised shepherd. Pastors as missionaries. Even the order of the emperor had to work together for good. Otherwise God's promise was not fulfilled. The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

No space. Response to God's prophecy: He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But he still says: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else."

Thanks for this great blog!

Nonnie said...

Glory to God! Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Brenda said...

Amen Laurie,
If we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness then all else will be added. First things first.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
What a wonderful blog for the start of the Christmas season!
One of the attributes of God which causes me to fall on my knees is his omniscience. Then together with his other two - his omnipotence and omnipresence, makes him the triune God worthy of our adoration.
I thank the Lord that he was born in a stable and was laid in a manger. But what I have found so intriguing is that you mention a cave as being the site of his birth. I have been to the Holy Land, and Bethlehem was one of many places connected with Jesus Christ where I visited.
At the crypt of the Church of the Nativity, there is a cave on which floor is a fourteen-pronged star, marking the exact spot of his birth. Just a few feet away there is a monument which marks the site of the manger. Standing alone in the cave I felt the sense of God's presence. However, because the star is joint-owned by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Coptic churches, the authenticity of the site has been questioned by Protestants, along with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, marking the sites of the Crucifixion and burial.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Ariella -- God left nothing to chance, and worked out every detail of the Incarnation, just as He did the Creation, Resurrection, and Second Coming. It is sad that His own did not receive Him, but it is a great blessing that He opened His plan of salvation to all people.
Thanks for your lovely comment, and I pray you are having a blessed Christmas season!

Laurie Collett said...

How awesome that the Creator came to us in human flesh and will come again! Merry Christmas to you!

Laurie Collett said...

So true, Brenda! If we give God the preeminence, He will bless us richly. Truly He is all we need.
God bless you,

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thank you for your kind words and informative comment! That must have been amazing to stand in that cave, and to meditate on what transpired there. If you felt the Holy Spirit, it would appear the site is authentic despite the disputed claims. I would love to visit the Holy Land, but with current world events, I somehow doubt that will happen until He comes again.
God bless,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Great post, Laurie.

At first glance the fact that their was no room seems troubling, but as you pointed out, in reality it is exactly god's plan so he could reach those most interested in hearing. The priests, scribes and Pharisees had all the scriptures to teach them but ignored the message while the shepherds and a few others heard the Lord's message and worshipped him.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Donald! Praise God for His perfect plan, and for saving all who will hear His call and follow Him, regardless of their background and religious tradition or lack thereof. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours.
God bless,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Christmas reflection. God's word teaches us through every story, every character and every truth. He is intentional in the where, when, how and who. Have a blessed Christmas and so glad you shared this post at The Weekend Brew.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you for your lovely comment! Praise God that He reveals Himself and teaches us through His recorded Word. May all the joys of Christmas be with you and yours,