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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Coming Of Bethlehem In Your Heart

Is the Lord of Bethlehem in your heart this Christmas season? Ray C. Stedman explains the significance of this question:

I would like for you to meditate with me on the announcement of the angel to the shepherds in Bethlehem. . . .

He scared the living daylights out of them. That is what it says — in a rather loose translation. They were terrified, and rightly so, for this was a sudden appearance of a supernatural figure.

I don’t know what the angels look like. Scripture does not describe them very carefully. The best description we have of the appearance of angels says that they are like young men dressed in white garments. Those were the angels that appeared at the resurrection. . . .

But the angel suddenly appeared out of the darkness of the night. Around him shone the radiance of glory — a nimbus — as the glory of the Lord shone round about the shepherds. And as the Authorized Version puts it, “they were sore afraid.” Luke 2:10:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” {Luke 2:10-11 NIV}

Thus the birth of God’s long-awaited redeemer was introduced to a darkened, weary, and exhausted world. . . .

It is striking that the human emotion that was first encountered by the angelic messenger was that of fear. Men were afraid in that day. They were afraid of many things, as they are today. . . .

Perhaps the most striking thing to us about this story is that we can so easily put ourselves back into that situation of fear, for by far the dominant mood of the hour today is that of fear. . . .

Yet the first word of the angel to those shepherds in the field was “Fear not. Be not afraid.” I do not think any greater news can come to us than that announcement. It came to them, as the angel went on to say, because a Savior was born in Bethlehem — a Deliverer. Because of the presence of a Deliverer, they need not be afraid of anything.

You and I know how frequently we draw the parallel between the coming of Jesus as a babe in Bethlehem and the coming of Jesus into the human heart. . . .

Every Christmas season we remind each other that it is not enough for Christ to have been born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. What really counts is Christ being born in the human heart. Your Bethlehem is when Christ came to you and was born in your heart. It is that remarkable parallel that constitutes the good news of Christianity today — that Jesus can be born in us as certainly as he was born in Bethlehem. Therefore, to us, the angel stands to make his welcome announcement: “Fear not. Fear not, for unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (“The Coming of Joy”)

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