Sunday, December 13, 2009

African Update # 16 2009

         The Night Love Was Born

This Christmas will be somewhat different. Through circumstances beyond our control, my wife and I won’t be spending Christmas with our immediate family or hardly any of the people we are normally  with. We won’t be in America and feel any of the “warm fuzzies” we grew up with at Christmas time. They’ll be no colored lights, Christmas music in the stores, Christmas trees, or colorful Christmas decorations everywhere. Our Christmas time will be spent with people, who for the most part, don’t even celebrate Christmas that much…. And we are excited!

Now don’t misunderstand me, I love all those wonderful things, from watching the ghost of Christmas past “converting” Scrooge; to having Christmas dinner with family and friends. I really don’t think Christ cares what we do, one way or the other, about most of those seasonal things. His emphasis has always been on us showing great love in whatever we do and say; not being politically or religiously correct.

All those things go along with the “Christmas Season”, depending on what country you happen to find yourself in, but not so much with what happened 2000 years ago. This Christmas, I wanted to hear the heavenly carolers and be bathed in the same light those shepherds experienced on the hills of Israel, so many years ago.

So, by the providential hand of God, I find myself half way around the world, living in Nakuru, Kenya, and without any of the usual amenities commonly found at Christmas time in the U.S.A. As a result, I am spending a lot of time in the scriptures and begging God to override my familiarity with the amazing story of the birth of Christ. I want to better understand the incredible event that happened over 2000 years ago. Here is what I have seen so far.

First of all, there is the prelude to this incredible story; … a promise given to an old Jewish priest by a messenger from another realm of existence. It’s a wonderful realm; not only that I very much believe in, but also have friends and family currently living there. The priest was told that God would break His 400 year silence with Israel and it would all begin with his wife having a baby. That by itself, would be amazing enough, since both husband and wife were well beyond their child bearing years. Yet, the old priest named “God remembers” (Zacharias) came together with his wife named “God’s promise” (Elizabeth) and “God remembers His promise” produced a son. A promised son who would prepare the way for God to communicate with man; and in a manner never before imagined. His thoughts would take human form.

Our story begins with the heavenly messenger that first spoke to Zacharias, appearing again. This time it would be to a young Jewish girl with hopes of soon being married to a wonderful Jewish carpenter and settling down to a normal Jewish life. The messenger calls her highly favored and blessed of God. He tells her the Lord is with her. The startled young virgin is told not to be afraid, for she has found favor with God. And as the messenger relays the extraordinary events about to take place in this young girl’s life, her hopes and dreams of a normal life begin to fade away. Everyone who is set apart for the Lords purposes”, must bid farewell to the thought of having a “normal life”. Abundant Life can be many things, but never normal. If you desire a normal life, His life is probably not for you. His life is one full of adventure, sacrifice and great joy. Those who partake of His life and favor will also find his share of suffering, for those He loves, He troubles.

Unlike Zacharias’s unbelief, in doubting what the messenger said, Mary, overcome with wonder asked; “How can this be?” Like many of us, Mary thinks God can only do things the way we do them. Yet the same angel that struck Zacharias mute for his unbelief, gently explains to Mary that she will be enveloped by God’s power and that things impossible with men are possible with God. She is then given instructions to visit her old relative and see with her own eyes, that her God is Lord of the impossible. Mary's body will become the vessel in which the incarnate Word of God enters in the earth.

Never confuse your “wonder” with unbelief. Unbelief is always admonished by God; while wonder is always helped. Wondering how, or even when, God will do something He said He would do is not the same as believing He can't or won't do it.

Receiving the message within herself, she immediately begins to praise God for the love that He has shown her. Her praise is the evidence and assurance of her faith. Praise is a way of securing our faith when God speaks to us, a way of “fastening it down”. Yet, that same praised filled faith would soon be severely tested, as the inevitable signs of God's overshadowing, would begin to show in her physical body. Just who is going to believe her story? Even her fine young Jewish carpenter, would not be able to understand what God had done in her, without the heavenly messenger’s help. Neither will people understand what God is doing in your life, without that same help from heaven, and that, only if they really want to know. Follow Him closely and leave the explanations to Him.

Not many of us realize how much God is in control of everything going on around us. Even wicked Kings and Rulers serve His purpose. The scriptures state that in the “fullness of time” Christ came. In other words; when God finished getting everything ready, Christ would come.
 Rome didn’t bring its “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace from 27 B.C. to 180 A.D.) to all the surrounding countries it conquered, build them roads, or help facilitate a common tongue for its own Roman ends. It was for the facilitating of people hearing what began that night. Rome just didn’t know it. It wasn’t Augustus Caesar who decreed that everyone should return to their homeland for a census, it was Almighty God working out His purposes.

Sometimes the providential hand of God is the most difficult to kneel and kiss, especially if you’re pregnant. Yet through all the decisions of King or State; God is working out His purposes in the lives of His children.
Submitting to the decree, Joseph travels with his very pregnant wife to Bethlehem and the most important event in human history…. Something Ancient was about to be born. 

                   The Birth of Love
What can be said about the Love of God taking human form and being birthed of a woman? What better way to reveal the substance of the likeness in which all men were made from? How could anything reveal, in any better way, God’s design for our lives that we had so completely lost? There in that stable, was the Light of Heaven, the Wisdom of God; all the Power, Truth, and Compassion of God in the helpless form of a little baby. Here, was the Creator, revealed in the image and likeness of His creation; the final proof of His triumph over darkness, God in human form. At last; there is someone to follow, someone to bring order to the chaos. God in heaven will now speak to us clearly in and through His Son.

Who then, shall this great event be revealed to first? Should the leaders of Rome be informed? Should the High Priest in Jerusalem be notified? Here we begin to see that the most important moment in time and all other subsequent, heavenly movements are only revealed; … to those who are really looking for it! Others may hear of it, but will never have it revealed to them by God or His messengers. For from the very beginning, the last (in human estimation.) shall be the first to hear, and the first (in human estimation) shall be, the last to know. Are you watching?

Sometimes, here in Nakuru we are amazed at who God chose for us to teach the incredible things we have learned from our Master, over the past 20 years; …. And who He hides it from. No one would have guessed that He would have chosen first, those from among the poorest of the poor. Yet among these, “the very least of them”, we have found precious gems being led by worthless stones. Shouldn’t we have known that God chooses the poor of this earth to be rich in faith?

Everyone we talked to here in Nakuru says the same thing; ever since they have known George Agai Olendo, he has been looking for the God of Love in a people. Is it any wonder that when we spoke of the Kingdom to him, he felt a great light begin to illuminate his darkness and heard God’s messengers (angels) speak to his heart? By this, we knew he was of God. So it was as well, with the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks on that night.

Though the “Gospel of Christmas Cards” depicts the angel that first spoke to those shepherds as floating above their heads, the scripture says he stood before them. Who was this radiant messenger standing before them? They were greatly afraid. When a messenger of God is sent to speak to you His commands, you too, will be afraid; … that is if you really discern who told him to come. The messenger quickly said to the frightened shepherds; do not be afraid, because it is to you I have been sent, to bring this great and wonderful news. I speak to you as representatives of the entire human race. Know that today a child has been born in Bethlehem, who shall be to you God's Anointed Deliverer. Then as if to say; … You’re not going to believe this, for it is a sign to you, but you will find Him in a stable, wrapped in rags and lying in a feeding trough. Suddenly, armies of angels appeared out of nowhere, praising God saying; …. Because of this night, there will be peace for men in whom God is pleased. Then just as suddenly as they appeared they vanished, leaving some very dazzled shepherds.

What would be the response of those humble shepherds? It is the same response of all who receive God’s message. They first believed, and then quickly ran to find the Child, the messengers had talked about. As soon as they found Him, they went and told everyone else they could find. That’s why they were first to hear the heavenly good news.

Four hundred years of silence; then angels begin to appear to ordinary people… a young girl, an old priest, and some lowly shepherds. What did they have in common? The same thing everyone has in common that receives God’s messagers. They loved God and were looking for Him.

Was God “making a statement” about His disdain for the authority and pomp that comprises the world’s governments and religions? I believe He was. So then, the most important event in human history, revealed by the Armies of Heaven; is only made known to a few poor shepherds on a hillside, in the tiny captive country of Israel. That’s quite a statement about God’s regard for the governments and religions of this world. That statement was made because He well knew who governed them.

“Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the Kingdoms of the world in a minute of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘All this has been delivered over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:5, 6)

God’s choices are completely vindicated, when Israel’s political and religious leaders were informed of the birth, by the Persian “Wise Men” a year or two later. The politicians, tried to find and kill the child, and the religious leaders were totally indifferent to the ramifications of what they knew the scriptures were clearly saying, so they quietly returned to their bible studies. Some things never change.

God’s counsel to all “wise men”, then and now, still stands; don’t return or talk to them again. We will know who they are if they hear us or not.

This Christmas we would do well if we concentrated on finding out what would pleases the One who was born in that animal shelter. It is such a difficult time for so many people. Loneliness is keenly felt this time of the year. There will be plenty of opportunities to honor him, by loving and helping others. Don't miss them.

Are you looking for the “true meaning” of Christmas? It won’t be found in giving gifts or in not giving gifts. It’s not in the lights, stories, traditions, or you being scripturally correct and condemning those who don’t have your “revelations about the pagan origins of the Yule log.” Been there, done that, found the dead end. It’s not even to be found in the Christmas meal surrounded by family and friends.

The real meaning of Christmas is found in God’s Christmas Meal. The One He prepared for us.The meal that first appeared in a town called, Bethlehem (house of bread) and was lying in a manger (feeding trough). It’s about finding and eating the bread that came down from heaven that night.

If you can’t find it, perhaps it’s because you’re looking in all the wrong places.

Go and follow the reflection of that star (light) on the faces of those “wise men” who are seeking Him. Listen with all your heart to the songs of praises coming from His messengers that live in that "other realm" here on earth. Look for the excited shepherds with the glowing faces. Ask those who have found Him, where He can be found, they will be very happy to tell you.

Seek Him this Christmas and celebrate the night that Love was born; .... enjoy your Christmas. I know we'll enjoy ours.

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