They Didn’t Expect God

They were just going through life’s motions.

A couple thousand years ago a couple was traveling. They were traveling for Christmas break, they just didn’t know it. Well, actually, they were the only ones that did know it. Turns out that this family gathering that they were going to was about to really turn things upside down in the world as we know it. It was a family gathering really it was. web-mary-riding-donkey-travel-pdJoseph was returning to his home town because a law was passed that said everyone had to return to their home town with their families to be registered. To sign up and be counted. It was a census. I’m going to be honest with you, it would have been so much easier on Mary if they had telephones or door to door census takers. I remember when you could get a job as a census man. Anyway, because Joseph was returning to his home, we can understand that any other male members of his family were returning with him as well. Cousins, uncles, grandfathers, great grandfathers; it was a family gathering.

They were not expecting God or looking for God.

As this family gathered though, a couple of them probably knew it was time for the baby. Mary, the pregnant mama, and Joseph, her husband, were the ones that knew this was THE Child of God; the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed one. Everyone else went into the first Christmas and no one was expecting God. Shepherds were out in the field at night doing shepherdy things. There was a convoy of strangers heading to Jerusalem following betshep.jpga star; they were anticipating a new King in a palace. The National government was busy collecting taxes and counting heads of families, trying to get a grasp on who this nation was. The local eateries and lodging establishments were just trying to keep up with demands. They were probably trying to maximize their living spaces, table spaces and menus, in order to take advantage of this opportunity. Demanding a census had the effects of a “Jobs Initiative.” Got all kinds of day laborers working. Most likely had people scrambling to even find good help. None of them were expecting God.

Mary and Joseph’s family – not expecting God

The Shepherds – not expecting God

Inn Keeper – not expecting God

Tax collectors – not expecting God

Travelers – not expecting God

Workers – not expecting God

Everyone – not expecting God

Today is like yesterday

IMG_2390Today I see Christmas trees going up, lawn ornaments going up, lights sparking on roofs and in the trees and bushes of my neighbors. There was Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Internet shopping, Amazon Dropping, UPS delivering, USPS arriving, and FEDEX bring in the haul. Churchy religious people and organizations are ramping up their services, setting out more chairs, printing tickets, Getting the flying angels flying, rounding up the camels and sheep for the Holy City drive through. All things considered, we are in the same place that the world was back then; not expecting God. And please, before you go and take offense and get your acid reflux refluxing, no one is expecting God to break in and take us all home, if they were, they’d be dumping bank accounts, selling off property, giving their things away. You would be out inviting your neighbors into your personal salvation story. Expressing to them the joy of following Jesus, the promise of his second coming, and what all it has mean for you to walk with him.

BEHOLD

But time and time again, the story of God and His desire to save His greatest creation, His best work, His children, is interrupted by the statement “Behold!” This word is usually followed by “and the angel said,” “the Lord said,” “the Angel of the Lord said,” “Do not be afraid.”

God wants your attention this time

BEHOLD. Our Christmas series this year is “BEHOLD.” The moments in history when God did something miraculous, amazing, supernatural; when He loved on his children and they didn’t even see it coming. BEHOLD means, “Look,” “Pay attention,” “Do you see this?” It is God asking for your attention to let you know he is doing something really big. Something in your life.

For Christmas this year, Ask Seek and Knock

This Christmas season I want to encourage you to ask God for a “Behold” moment in your life.

It could very well be that he says, “Behold, I want you to pay for that family’s lunch.” He may say “Behold, I am answering your prayer …” He may crash into your Christmas and let you know that he never left you, never forsook you, and he is still actually arranging things on your behalf. Whatever it is, it will be an opportunity, and it will be in conjunction with his expectation of your obedience, to follow Him; to let Him lead the dance that is your life. Behold moments don’t come while we are ignoring him, leaving him out, or living in sin. These moments come when we get to the end of ourselves and finally let go and give in to His love for us.

Look around and expect God. Seek Him during this season and ask for a “BEHOLD” experience this year.

 

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Peace be with you

feet of JesusThe “Butt-inski”

As two of Jesus’ disciples walked along on that very first easter day, they were met by a traveler. A guy. A man headed in the same direction they were going. He walked along with them for  a while as they were headed to a town named Emmaus. This man walked up into a conversation they were having about Jesus himself. They were disturbed by some things that the ladies had said to them, and honestly, based upon this description of the conversation, I would say they appeared to have serious doubts.

He hears their doubts and challenges them

As the stranger interacts with them, they end up kind of incredulous that he appeared to be uninformed about the weekend events. In true hospitable fashion they take it upon themselves to inform him. So they tell him all about Jesus, what he did, the miracles, how he was arrested and killed, then buried. I’m sure they told him what Jesus meant to them personally. This guy, this stranger that walked with them, listened, interacted, asked questions and heard them. The stranger hears their doubts. He then challenges their doubts and unfolds the scriptures for them. When it is all said and done, He ends up at their supper, breaking bread with them, and it is only then that they realize Jesus has been walking with them all along. Immediately Jesus disappears.

Out of their element …

They were walking and lamenting the loss of their leader, their lord, their friend, and there was no way that they were going to believe he was right there. I have often asked myself why Mary at the tomb, and these guys here on the road, didn’t recognize Jesus? Then I remember all the times that I have been somewhere and someone comes up to me, or I go up to someone, and realize who they are.  Out of their normal element or relationship, I do not recognize them. Then it hits me, this is “Bill!”

I think that is exactly what is going on here. They saw Jesus buried, he cannot be here, so that doesn’t even enter their minds. I don’t know what a post burial, resurrected, but pre-ascension body looks like, but they certainly saw him when he broke the bread, when he was “In his element.” Handing out communion he was Jesus again, and Jesus alive!!

What about you?

I wonder how many times we miss God in our lives, miss Jesus doing a work, miss the Holy spirit because he belongs in Church on Sunday morning. Here we are going through our week, maybe we have a spouse and we are doing our daily thing, chasing kids, a quick kiss before we leave for work, maybe a fight and we are immediately in a tension. A flat tire and the day feels wrecked, or work is just piling up and we don’t feel appreciated, no one cares so we melt into the old pit of wallowing; no one likes me, no one notices, I’ll never get ahead. God where are you?

“… and I know that there are angels all around …”

It is at times like these that we miss seeing God in our lives. We end up so focused on our want, our need or our loss, or our problems, that we don’t lift our eyes up and look at who is walking around us. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Look!

The Kingdom of God is here. Jesus said it is near, it is coming and it is in you. Jesus is in the Kingdom, so Jesus IS here. The Holy Spirit is in the Kingdom, so the Holy Spirit IS here. Angels are in the kingdom, so angels ARE here. I want to encourage you to lift your chin and look around. God is here in your midst. In the middle of your daily struggle, in the middle of your need to make a decision, in the middle of your fight with your spouse. He is here at work. He is here in your doubt and despair.  He will never leave you alone, but we may be choosing not to believe he could be here.
Cry for nigeriaAs you travel on this road to your Emmaus, that stranger, that song, that group pf people, that church, that co-worker, God is using them to speak to you, to support you, to love you, but you have to open your eyes and believe. Stop what you are doing right now and ask God to open your eyes.