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Mary's Little Lamb, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
January 25, 2023 7:05 am

Mary's Little Lamb, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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January 25, 2023 7:05 am

Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Returning to Our Roots

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When Christmas morning finally arrives, our children and grandchildren can hardly wait to open their presents.

The squeals are delightful. In fact, it's hard to know who has more fun, the recipient or the giver. In like fashion, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll describes God's gift to mankind that defies human explanation. Paul called Jesus an indescribable gift, too good for words.

And yet Chuck will give it a try. In a message originally delivered at Christmas time, today we're looking at the familiar story in Luke chapter 2, and we begin with prayer. Let's pray. Lord, there's nothing we could buy on any of the streets in the United States or anywhere around the world that you would need, or that you would even want. You don't want the money we have in our wallets.

You don't need a dime. You don't want the things we own. You don't need any of them. But there is something you do want. I know today that you want me, and we know that you want us. It's not that you need us.

You don't need anything, for you are God. But you do want our minds. And so, Lord, today we promise that through this season we'll get to know you better, and we'll give you again our minds. And you want our hearts. And so during this season of the year, we promise you that as we hear music, we'll love you like we've never loved you before. And we'll give you our emotions and the depth of our gratitude.

You do want that. And, Lord, our wills, that old part of us that often conquers us and has its way, during this season of the year we give you anew our wills. Our minds to know you and our hearts to love you and our wills to obey you so that we might completely give to you who we are and everything we hope to be. And we give it to you happily and gratefully in Jesus' strong name. Amen.

You're listening to Insight for Living. To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled Mary's Little Lamb. Let me tell you that the premier giver in all of time is God. We may turn away from him, we may run against him, we may even run from him, but down come the gifts. That's grace. And he allows us to unwrap them on this earth in a hundred different ways and to find ourselves delightfully surprised.

Which makes it all the more interesting when you get to the last verse of 2 Corinthians chapter 9. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. It's a gift that's too wonderful for words, too remarkable to describe. God gave himself.

He gave himself. God the Son, thanks to the incarnation, when deity became humanity, he is not only seen, but he is to be worshipped and adored. Turn from 2 Corinthians chapter 9 back to Luke chapter 2. Who hasn't read the first few verses of Luke's story, the most famous Christmas story? Understand it's a Roman world we're into in Luke chapter 2. Even though Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, a little hamlet in the hills of Galilee, 80 miles or so north of the city of the town of Bethlehem, they are still under Roman rule. And when you live under Roman rule, you are under the authority of Caesar.

You and I know nothing of such rule. You and I know nothing of a Caesar. But in those days you were born not only to fear, but to worship Caesar. And in his palatial palace at Rome, he ruled the world.

His world was running a little shy on money. And so the Caesar, whose name was chosen to be Augustus, Auguste, deity, the Caesar decided that in order for there to be maximum taxation, he would have to have an accurate accounting of the people in his kingdom. And so he set a plan out. In fact, he wrote a decree, according to verse 1, that all the world should be involved in this census. Which required that people would return to what you and I would call the county seat, the place of their birth. That is, the birth of their family lineage. In Joseph's case, it was David whose birth took place in Bethlehem. Micah, seven centuries before the birth of the Savior, Micah the prophet, unknown by Augustus, has written down in the record of the Holy Scriptures that it will be in Bethlehem, the most insignificant of all places, the Son of God would be born. Now, Augustus thinks it's a great idea for there to be a census taken and that people should go back to the county seat.

And Luke is careful to tell us the background. It was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And look, all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.

How powerful Augustus must have felt when he snaps his fingers. People move and get involved in this census. Little does he know that back behind the scenes, a sovereign God is moving on the events of this world to bring forth his precious, ineffable, unspeakable gift in Bethlehem exactly as he promised 700 and more years earlier. They went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, that's where they lived, to the county, we would call it the county, the province of Judea, in which was found the city of David called Bethlehem.

Why? Because Joseph was of the family of David and that was what you did when you were participating in the census. And again, just in perfect harmony with God's sovereign plan, she went alongside her husband to Bethlehem. Now, if I may return for a moment to the little hidden gift, let me remind you of where God hid his surprise. Who would have ever thought to look? You and I, looking for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, would have found the finest palace in Jerusalem. We might have even taken a look into some lovely countryside village, into the home of a couple of dignitaries.

After all, he's to be the Lord of Lords. No one would have thought of a peasant couple, husband to carpenter, a wife who probably cleaned homes as a living, who would have ever thought of them or her womb a virgin womb. What an indescribable gift. And remember, Joseph has been an onlooker all along. Yes, he agreed to take her as his wife. He declared his willingness to support her and to love her through the entire process. And I'm sure much of it was strange and mysterious.

What a strange thing, to marry a woman and never touch her. For months. And to watch a child grow that you had no part in.

For months. And to see her come almost a term. And to know that you are strangely distant from this embryo who has become a fetus. And the kicking of the child in the womb of Mary is strange to your feel.

He had nothing to do with the child. But he loved Mary. Sherwood Wirt writes, People were being heavily taxed, faced every prospect of a sharp increase to cover expanding military expenses. The threat of world domination by a cruel, ungodly, power-intoxicated band of men was ever just below the threshold of consciousness. Moral deterioration had corrupted the upper levels of society and was moving rapidly into the broad base of the populace. Intense nationalistic feeling was clashing openly with new and sinister forms of imperialism. Conformity was the spirit of the age. External religious observances were considered a political asset.

And abnormal emphasis was being placed upon sports and athletic competition. Racial tension was at a breaking point. In such a time and amid such a people, a child was born to a migrant couple who had just signed up for a fresh round of taxation. Picture in your mind, for that's the only place we can turn for the vivid scene, picture the little town of Bethlehem bursting at the seams with transients. People who didn't want to be there but had to be there. Long lines, the deadline approaching, the nervousness of getting your name registered because the edict of Caesar said do it. And in stumbles a couple looking for a room.

There's no place for them. And I am sure the innkeeper thought nothing of just the wave of his hand as he caused them and others to pass by. And probably by then had found a sign that he had, on which he had scratched, no vacancy. And labor sets in. As every mother listening to me can understand, but as no mother listening to me can identify with, because this woman was a virgin, but the labor pains started and began their rhythmic cycle with time in between getting closer. Her labor pains are being endured alone.

Not even a midwife is present to help, no one. Many believe that by now Mary's parents have died for they are never mentioned in scripture. So perhaps orphaned at this young age, strangely married to a man she's never known intimately, carrying the promised Messiah, she squats and she cries in pain. Joseph must have tried a half dozen things to bring comfort, but there was no way. He's notably absent from the account in verses 6 and 7.

Did you observe? And Dr. Luke never showed his profession more clearly when the physician speaks or writes briefly than he does in these two verses. I would wish for a chapter of details, but they will never be. It came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth, and Dr. Luke simply records it as a physician, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in cloths, she laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. How did Dr. Luke know that?

He wasn't there. I'm suggesting that Luke had access to Mary's baby book. I'm suggesting that Luke knew Mary, for she outlived her son. And while living with the Apostle John, I suggest a relationship had built between Dr. Luke, the physician of Paul, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. And in the process of time, she trusted him with her most treasured possession, the journal of her journey for nine months to term. And Luke must have taken great delight in observing that it was in a feeding trough.

He's the only one who mentions it. Perhaps a hollowed out part of the limestone wall in a cave where they found lodging, or perhaps in what you and I would call an outside covered patio, there was a free-standing feeding trough where sheep would come to nuzzle their food. But whatever, it was at a feeding trough she placed the baby.

That's a great thought. And for the first time, God's lungs breathed earth's air. And I have Max Lucado to thank for this one. Mary changed God's diaper.

I love that. For the first time, God made sounds through human vocal cords. For the first time, God was in human flesh. And she cleaned him up after the birth. She wiped him clean and brought him to her breast. And she must have laid her head back on Joseph or maybe on the soft leather of the saddle.

Maybe she cried with wonderment. There were a number of times Mary was at a loss to understand this child. You can't understand the depths of God.

Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways. That includes the child. That includes the teenager. That includes the young adult who leaves the carpentry trade, walks into a river to be baptized by John, his relative, and to begin a ministry the world would despise.

There was no room for them in the inn, and so the mother wraps him in cloths and places him in a feeding trough. Well, maybe everything was quiet and obscure at the birth, but it didn't remain that way for long. We read of the response to this birth in verses 8 through 20, and what a response it was. Centuries of prophecy have now been fulfilled in a moment of time. And this moment, while Caesar is strutting across the marble floor of his palace, thinking he has the world around his little finger, there has been born one who will eclipse his reign. And cause even the educated world of the United States of America, centuries later, to be unable to name the Caesars in a row, though most of us could tell the story of Jesus.

Only a few history buffs you could talk to could give you the Caesars, and even fewer of them could name their dates. But you ask around this country and in many places in this world, you will hear the name of Jesus, explained and presented and worshipped and adored. Poetic justice. Prophetic justice. There in the feeding trough was an infant worth announcing. And so, the angel from heaven is dispatched to dignitaries? No. To the throne of Caesar?

Not on your life. The angel, verse 9, suddenly stood before a cluster of shepherds, and we read, the glory of the Lord shone around them. What does that mean? It means light. Light shines.

And there was from the presence of heaven this laser beam, if you will, shining all around the shepherds and the angel is standing in their midst. In our neck of the woods in Southern California, every once in a while, there will be a helicopter that will fly near our neighborhood. It has a sound like no other aircraft.

You know that sound. And it usually brings us out of our homes and into the streets. Not too many months ago, one flew right over our street. Naturally, I was out there watching it. And there were searchlights. They were looking for somebody. And suddenly, it found me. I realized I better get inside rather than stay, lest they think I'm the one they're looking for.

But in that split second of time, I had light shining all around me, and it was an uneasy, eerie feeling in the darkness. This angel has been a busy angel, if it was indeed Gabriel. He has seen Zacharias and told him of the birth that they would enjoy, he and Elizabeth. He has also visited Mary and told Mary that there would be a birth, which surprised her.

He has visited Joseph and convinced Joseph that the child is of God. And now, if it's the same one, if it's Gabriel, he's not named as such here, but he is called an angel of the Lord. He suddenly appears to these shepherds.

Now, you have to picture this with a little bit of humor. Here are these shepherds hanging out. I mean, you follow Woolies all day, it's not too sophisticated, sitting there spitting in the fire, taking life as it comes, telling shepherd stories, whatever they were, and all of a sudden, this light comes, and this angel stands there. And the first words are, don't be afraid, sure, right. But isn't it great that God in grace quiets the spirit of these people, lest they miss the message in their panic?

Standing and lying about in the midst of this light, the shepherds listen to words that stunned them. Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy, which shall be for all the people, a great joy. Isn't it interesting that the one thing stolen from many people at Christmas time is the very emotion of the message?

If you are not careful, your shopping will rob you of the joy. If you are not careful, your many, many involvements, events, deadlines, demands, plans, and a half dozen other things will keep from you the good news of a great joy. If you haven't laughed about Christmas, you've been too busy.

If you haven't stopped to sing the songs of Christmas, you've missed the joy. This angel says to the shepherds, I bring you, isn't that gracious of God? I bring you a good news of a great joy, which shall be just for you?

No. For all the people, it will go from the lowliest person all the way to the throne of Caesar. It's for the world. It's a universal message. And what is it today?

Don't miss that. Today, in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, Christ the Lord. If you like to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. A long time ago, Chuck made a statement in a message that's been quoted over and over again. In fact, it's possible you might have seen these words in a frame. He said, I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. The words that preceded Chuck's comment and the wisdom that followed is sometimes overlooked. But now, I'm pleased to say it's incorporated in a brand new book, and it's available today.

Just like the quote, the book is titled, Life is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React. Every piece of wisdom in Chuck's book is firmly rooted in the truth of the Bible. To purchase a copy right now, call us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org slash store. Chuck's personal mission on these programs is to help you align your attitude with the truth of scripture. And these daily visits are made possible, of course, because people just like you give voluntary donations. And we're especially grateful for our regular monthly givers. We call them monthly companions of grace. Through your gifts, you're providing a constant source of reliable Bible teaching for people who have come to rely on Chuck's daily presence. To provide for someone else what was once provided to you, we invite you to become a monthly companion of grace right now by calling us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or you can sign up online at insight.org slash monthly companion. Take it from Chuck's window. There's nothing quite like the beauty of the great frontier. Wide open skies, pristine glaciers with various shades of blue and turquoise mingled within them, towering pine trees and all manner of wildlife. I'll tell you, Alaska is truly a masterpiece of God's creation. I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things, but honestly, nothing compares to the beauty in Alaska.

God is awesome. Come with us on the Inside for Living Ministries cruise to Alaska, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. When I'm in Alaska, I feel like I'm in an amazing painting created by God. Let yourself get lost in the majestic beauty. Spend quality time with those you love. Allow God to refresh your soul as you reflect on His word and His goodness in your life. To learn more, go to insight.org slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444.

The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us next time when Chuck Swindoll concludes his message about Mary's Little Lamb right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Mary's Little Lamb, was copyrighted in 1991, 1994, 2005, and 2011 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-24 17:51:45 / 2023-01-24 18:00:45 / 9

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