For most of us, when it comes to how we operate our lives, all of us can fall into familiar rhythms, patterns, and reactions that just come naturally to us. We have this built-in set of expectations that derive from our context, our culture, our personality, family, or just our nature as human beings. For many of you, you spent the first 18+ years of your life operating in this norm. You only knew what you knew and what you knew was best…at least, that is what we each may have thought…
But then, some life changes occurred. You may have left your confined comforts of home and normalcy for the workforce or for additional schooling or some may have even married and started a family. In all of these scenarios and situations, you more than likely rubbed shoulders and encountered some thoughts, ideas, and patterns of life that were different from yours; that did not fit your prefixed worldview. Some of these behaviors you might have thought as odd or strange, some were frustrating, and yet others you learned from and they made an impact on shaping your own worldview.
This week, we wrap up our two-month study looking at some of the parables that Jesus told about the Kingdom of God. We have been both confronted and invited to see this Kingdom like never before. This Kingdom is an upside-down, counter-cultural reality that really makes us think and revisit some of the natural expectations that we might have living here on Planet Earth. Each time, God’s Word comes to us with this life-giving reminder that His ways are best, His promises are sure, and His invitation remains intact to receive and be welcomed into Kingdom Life.
Our final parable this week from Matthew 20 shows us a great picture of this tension that exists between our sinful tendencies and worldview compared to the overwhelming grace given to us in the Gospel. In the end, the only reason we are given a place as a citizen in this Kingdom is by the mercy and generosity of the Savior. God did not have to include us in His plans, and He did not need our company for His happiness and contentment. Yet, He chose to create us, die for us, redeem us, sanctify us, and set us free to live with Him forever in paradise. How good is that?! As those who are both citizens of the Kingdom and those that are invited, we can rejoice in the fact that God calls us to Himself each day and He offers us glimpses of how He is at work in our lives and in our world as He is leading us home.
One last unique and special opportunity we have this upcoming Sunday is to have God’s Word proclaimed to us by a son of this congregation. Many of you know that our youth director, Drew Skog, grew up attending Oak Hill and is also in the midst of his journey in ministry as he is taking online classes through our Lutheran Brethren Seminary. As a part of Drew’s seminary experience, he gets the opportunity to get to create and preach in preparation for both his schooling and future ministry. This will be such a wonderful time for many of you who remember Drew as a young man and others who know him and see him in his role as youth director. Please be in prayer for him as he prepares to share God’s Word with us this week!
“Forgive and forget.” Do you remember being told those words? It probably occurred during an instance where you were in conflict with someone else. Maybe it was an argument with a close friend where you felt that you had been hurt deeply. Perhaps it was a dispute with a sibling, and you felt that you had been wronged. It may have even been a situation at school or at work where you felt that justice was not served. This phrase would have been uttered by the person trying to cool you down and help you through this moment. Whether it was mom, dad, a grandparent, or a teacher, many of us can recall this advice during moments like these: “Forgive and forget…”
For most of us, our natural reaction when we have been hurt, wronged, or slighted is to enact revenge or to get even with those that have caused us to feel this way. We feel right and vindicated when we attempt to make them feel as horrible and rotten as we are, and some can go to great lengths thinking up ways to get back at others. There are many times when we don’t even think about any other option. Our natural, sinful, broken tendency when we are hit is to hit back. How much time and energy can we be tempted to waste when we think this way? This is one of the many reasons we need a Savior!
As difficult as it can be for us to forgive others at times, it can be even harder to forget. You may think of a case in your own life where you have forgiven someone but are still carrying around a grudge or some animosity toward them for what they have done. All of us can be tempted to not truly let go of our inner nature to hold on and return evil for evil. And let’s be honest, this idea of forgiveness is hard, it’s challenging, and it goes against how we might naturally think and operate on our own. There are some of you that have been wronged, hurt, and slighted so often and to the point of immense, emotional pain that forgiveness isn’t even on your radar. Many of us can think at times of those that have sinned against us and think, “I could never forgive them…”
It is in this raw reality that Jesus enters the scene with a parable that is quite well-known to many. In Matthew 18, He tells the story of a servant who was forgiven an unpayable debt by a king. Upon having this debt removed, this servant sought out a fellow servant who owed him some money as well. But his intent was quite different than the reaction he had just received from the king. Rather than showing the same mercy and grace that he was just shown, this servant demands repayment. He has his fellow servant thrown in jail to pay back the debt. Let’s just say that the king was not happy to hear about this and instills some harsh justice on the servant for his wicked actions.
The lesson from Jesus comes to us today: On our own, we will never be able to truly forgive someone. We will remember, we will hold grudges, we will seek revenge. Only God can create the ability to even think about offering and extending forgiveness toward someone who has wronged us. This kind of forgiveness can only flow out of a life that has experienced an out-of-this-world forgiveness that God, our Merciful King, offers to us as members of His Kingdom.
We are forgiven people. We have been forgiven much! God has given us a clean slate and a new ledger and the debt that we owe for our sin and rebellion against Him has been paid. Isn’t that Good News?! When you know that you are loved like that, when you receive that undeserved mercy, when you live in the freedom that this forgiveness brings, how might that shift and transform your view of those who have and will hurt and wrong you? When we realize and recognize how much we have been forgiven, that makes it possible for us to truly forgive others from the heart. As another saying goes, “Forgiveness known is forgiveness shown.”
Even though it is not technically “wedding season,” it sure feels that way as we move through our series on the Kingdom Parables in the Gospel of Matthew. Last week, we took a look at how God’s Kingdom is like an immaculate wedding banquet that would put any earthly reception party to shame. This table would be overflowing with the best food and drink and the atmosphere will be unrivaled. The invitations have gone out (everyone is invited) and the party is on! This will be a gathering you won’t want to miss.
This week, we again get to hear the truth and power of God’s Word shared with us by one of our own. Manley Olsoe will be walking us through the beginning portion of Matthew 25 where Jesus describes another aspect of His Kingdom and likens it to a bridegroom that is coming. When He comes, He will bring the full party with Him, but in the meantime there is waiting. But before the wedding festivities can begin, there are preparations to be made. Key elements and logistics must be set and made ready so that when the bridegroom arrives, the celebration can begin.
This aspect of being prepared and being ready has always been a cultural component both in Jesus’ time and in ours today as well. This imagery we get about the importance and value of being ready for His second coming as illustrated in this coming wedding party reminds me of a story I read recently about a couple who wanted to have a destination wedding in Wales. They sent out some “Save the Dates” nearly a year in advance to inform their friends and family of their decision to get married across the pond on July 6, 2008 and wanted to see who would be able to make the necessary preparations and commitment to be there. Now, unfortunately, one of their best friends named Dave was so excited to arrive that he misread the invite and assumed that the wedding was happening in just a few short weeks…on July 6, 2007. Needless to say, that after booking a very expensive plane ticket and arriving in Wales to an empty venue with no one he recognized, he realized that he had been a little overzealous on his arrival.
While some of us smile and can chuckle at this oversight, I hope we can at least appreciate his conviction and his resolve. Dave was committed to making things happen to ensure he would be ready for his friends’ big day. In much the same way, Jesus uses this parable of the coming bridegroom to invite us to be ready and prepared for His return to take us home to be with Him forever. We are to be watchful and anticipating His coming again because we do not know when it will be. How should this excitement and uncertainty play itself out in our lives? On the one hand, we are not called to just sit around looking up at the sky, but we are also not to become so invested in the things of this world that we miss being ready. There is a fine balance and, thankfully, we have the power of God’s Spirit living inside of us that teaches and reminds us of everything He has said and gives us a directed hope for what lies ahead.
This week, let us also be given eyes to see and ears to hear this gracious and joyous reminder that our Bridegroom, Jesus, is coming soon and let our prayer be that we are among the ones that are eagerly waiting for Him, ready to join the party!
I love weddings! There is something very special, meaningful, and amazing that surrounds the joy, exuberance, and excitement involved in all of the festivities of the day. Throughout my life I have been invited to many weddings, been a part of several, and have even officiated a few as well. It is so fun to get to see the love and commitment that this young couple displays as they promise to love each other with a love that is way beyond their own personal capacity…even if it might not feel or look like it in that moment. But even beyond, the happiness of the ceremony and seeing friends and family, one of the best parts of the wedding is the afterparty…the reception! While I completely understand and respect all that happens to get up to this point, the reception takes the cake…literally. The food, the punch, the candy bar...bring it on!
Do you know who is another fan of wedding parties? God! All throughout Scripture, He uses imagery of banquets, feasts, parties, and weddings to communicate the immense generosity and communal joy that will surround the family of God when we are home in heaven. We read images like in Isaiah 25: On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. Or in Isaiah 55: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost...” Even Jesus’ first miracle that kicked off His Earthly ministry was at a wedding reception! What can we say? God sure loves to throw a good party!
It is with this reality in mind that we come to another Kingdom Parable describing the Kingdom of God like a wedding banquet. We will see, hear, and experience again how each of us is personally invited by God to receive His good gifts to us. He is so excited to have us come and join this celebration! Who would want to miss out on this? And yet, the sad and unfortunate reality is that some do. There are many reasons and excuses that people might give for not coming to the party or even returning their RSVP. For some, they are too busy, others are simply not interested. But the invitation still stands, the offer is still on the table. Come to the party and be received gladly and with open arms. We are asked to bring nothing but ourselves and allow our hearts, minds, and souls to overflow and be transformed as a result of this life-changing banquet.
So, what have you done with your invite to this wedding feast? Is it on the table hidden in the pile of mail? Is it in the garbage? Or is it signed, sealed, and returned? Either way, the invitation to come and enjoy remains the same.
Looking forward to the party of all parties,
One of the many blessings that I received from growing up in the family that I did was having a love and appreciation for the outdoors passed along to me. One of the ways that this enjoyment played itself out was in several fishing trips that my family would take each summer. These trips were usually tied in with a camping trip so we would pack and load up our van and pull our boat behind us to various campsites in northern Minnesota. It is funny to think about all 7 of us crowded into this tiny fishing boat with a 35-horse motor. I have so many fond memories of adventures in that rusty trusty vessel. Whether it was running out of gas and having to use the trolling motor to get back, racing back to shore to beat a rainstorm, reeling in my first walleye, getting to drive it for the first time, or feeling the wind in my hair as we “sped” across the lake, these images and feelings are the kind that will stay with me forever.
When it comes to the sport of fishing, the principles of how it is done and accomplished have not changed very much since it was first invented as a means to get food or for recreation. The idea of a hook, line, and sinker have been with us for generations and while the materials may be different, the essential design and intent remains the same. It would be safe to say that the process for catching a fish has stayed relatively consistent throughout history.
The same cannot necessarily be said for how fast things like culture and society changes. As I write this, I am sitting up in Fergus Falls at the J-Term that Lutheran Brethren Seminary offers each year. It is a great time to get to see friends and colleagues and get some great teaching from the various speakers that are here to share and impart their knowledge and wisdom on a variety of topics related to ministry. One of the keynote speakers today shared with us about the realities of the ever-changing culture that we are living in and how fast things are moving as the years go by. This is not to say that people are so much different, but the ways that we think about the world around us have been reshaped in many ways. Our worldview in 2020 looks quite different than it did even 50 years ago. Now, this is also not to say that change is a bad thing or that these cultural shifts have all been negative. Rather, this speaker spent his time focusing on the reality of these trends and cultural shifts and offered insight on practical ministry applications that naturally spring up as a result of these changes. The opportunity for sharing and spreading the Gospel is still there and still needed even in a fluid culture. The implications for sharing and living out our faith as followers of Christ still remain as important and valuable as ever.
As we look at this week at the Parable of the Net in Matthew 13, I am struck by an encouraging truth from these two examples of fishing and culture. It should be a blessing to know that even though the elements of fishing have changed and even though our worldviews as humanity have shifted throughout the generations, the Gospel has not. It has stayed true and consistent and our inviting God has never wavered or halted in His pursuit of us to be His children. How amazing is that?! Throughout all of history, one essential constant has been at the forefront of all that is right and true for eternity. The God of the Universe continues to cast out His wide net into all of the world, to reach people with His love, to reveal to them their need for His grace, and to invite them into His family. Let us be encouraged again at this extraordinary and extravagant grace that pursues, invites, claims, restores, and redeems us as sinful human beings. Let us rejoice that God’s love for us and His Word to us are constant, consistent, and sure. We can trust Him and His promises to us as we move from one day, one year, one decade, one generation to the next. Now, that’s quite the catch!
Have you ever experienced going to a double feature? I’m not sure they even exist anymore, and they almost seem too good to be true, but moviegoers everywhere would have to appreciate their fortune when they went to a double feature. The phenomenon known as the “double feature” occurred when the movie theater director showed two films for the price of one. Imagine the cost of paying for your family to go see a movie today. Include the popcorn, candy, and drinks and you are talking about quite the evening out. Now imagine that your movie ticket was really for two! Pretty sweet! Now, some of you don’t make a habit of going to the theater. I maybe go to one per year. Others of you wouldn’t want to spend nearly 5 hours sitting and watching movies either. But I know some of you absolutely love this idea! Maybe you will start a petition to bring back the double feature. Let me know how that goes.
This week, as we continue our series looking at some of the parables that Jesus tells about the Kingdom of God, we come to a double feature. Jesus gives us two parables for the price of one and both are related to each other. Both uniquely describe the presence and growth of the Kingdom of God in our world today. Remember, for many people then and now, God’s Kingdom was something that was coming in the future. But once Jesus came to live among us, that changed everything. Now, God’s Kingdom was here. It was unleashed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Like the rest of His parables, Jesus tells us these Kingdom Parables for two main reasons. The first is to check the status of our eyes, ears, and hearts. Are we truly seeing things as He is revealing them to us? Are we truly hearing the message that He is giving? Are our hearts in tune with His will and His ways? Because the other reality is that for most people, we have an idea of what God’s Kingdom is and what it should look like. We can drum up a lot of ideas of how it should operate and our visions of it are usually impressive and big-time. But Jesus’ parables give us almost the opposite picture…at least initially. He uses the examples of a mustard seed and a little yeast to showcase this point. Now, by themselves, both of these things are not very impressive. They are not big-time. They are hardly noticeable or powerful by their sheer size, but they bring about some pretty remarkable realities as they grow and spread. Though God’s Kingdom is quite impressive, its impressionable nature is mostly hidden from the eyes of the world. God’s Kingdom is big, but its size is concealed in that which might seem to be small and insignificant. But the mustard seed and yeast, though small, hold great power and influence. Size doesn’t tell the whole story.
In his recent biography simply titled Grant, Ron Chernow tells the story of Ulysses S Grant's rise from store clerk to Civil War hero and beyond. By the fall of 1863, Grant had overseen successful campaigns in Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Suddenly, national leaders and politicians who just months before would have hardly recognized his name now sought to rub shoulders with the Union's hope of victory. In October of that year, on his way to a meeting in Louisville, Grant was approached by Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and Ohio Governor, John Brough. While Grant and Stanton had communicated via telegraph, they had never set eyes on each other. Short of breath, asthmatic, snuffling with a heavy cold, the short, stout Stanton barged into Grant's car, eyed the officers present, and then began to pump the hand of a bearded man with an army hat whom he assumed was Grant. “How do you do General Grant?” he cried. “I recognize you from your pictures.” Stanton was embarrassed to learn he was shaking hands with Grant's medical director, Dr. Edward Kittoe. Chernow explained: “Stanton later admitted that in guessing which officer was Grant, he had eliminated the real Grant because he looked much too ordinary and wasn't the prepossessing figure he had imagined.”
It is much the same way that the Kingdom of God operates. Its presence might be hard to notice, it’s growth might not seem progressive, it’s size and influence might seem unimpressive, but what does Jesus promise? His promise is that God’s Kingdom grows…that it is growing…and it will grow into something that will be impossible not to notice. He promises that it will permeate throughout the whole world in a way that cannot be denied or brushed aside. How reassuring it is to know that this is true even when life gets discouraging or when challenging times befall God’s people! How humbling it is to be a part of one of the agents that God uses to build and grow His Kingdom: His Church.
Again, let our prayer be that we are given eyes to see and ears to hear the ways that God is growing and building His Kingdom here and now. And may we rejoice that His Word holds the power to make the seed grow and to make the bread multiply so that many are fed.
This week, we get the very special opportunity to hear from a good friend of mine named Jason Rogness. Jason serves as the pastor at New Hope Church, which is a Lutheran Brethren church plant in Parker, CO and will be our keynote speaker for our Overflowing Hope Missions Sunday. Jason, his wife Savannah, and their new daughter Eva have been living out in Colorado the past several years and just recently felt the Lord calling them to begin a church in Parker. They are a couple years into this process and will be sharing with us about some of the exciting ways that the Lord is on the move and how we can partner in prayer with them and encouragement for them as they continue to reach lives with the hope of Jesus.
Along with hearing from Jason we will also get to take a moment to celebrate, see, hear, and be encouraged by how God is moving in the hearts and lives of our own congregation as we partner in mission with Him to reach others with the love of Christ both here in Minnesota and around the world. At the beginning of 2019, we committed to partner in ministry with two specific local organizations as well as provide four quarterly financial gifts to projects, groups, and organizations that carried forward the spread of the Gospel. Let me fill you in on some examples of what those partnerships looked like this year:
Feed My Starving Children
This year, we committed as a congregation to pack enough meals to feed approximately 208 kids around the world who had trouble finding enough to eat. Thanks to your generous support with your time and financial gifts, we exceeded our yearly goal at 113%. These meals went to feed children from over 13 different countries.
Hospitality Center for Chinese
This year, we helped provide food and personnel for two Friendship Meals at the HCC site where individuals from Oak Hill spent an evening serving Chinese students and their families while engaging in dialogue and conversation with them about life and the Gospel. We also hosted a movie night here at Oak Hill this past summer where we invited around 40 Chinese students and their families for a showing of Mary Poppins.
Overflowing Hope Allocations
All of these partnerships and projects could not occur without the hope of the Good News and your generosity. So many of you donated time, resources, and finances to help make these things happen. Whether it was donating food for a Friendship Meal, packing meals at FMSC, or writing a check for Overflowing Hope, all of it was used to bring glory to God and make His name known so we humbly say, “Thank You!”
As we enter this brand-new year of 2020, we are excited to see how God will continue to grow and strengthen these partnerships and also provide new ways for us to give of what we have to build His Kingdom. There will be a special opportunity this Sunday to give toward the support of Overflowing Hope here at Oak Hill. As you have seen, all of these funds will go directly to support these quarterly gifts and projects that are above and beyond our budgeted dollars to partner in the spreading of the Gospel both locally and globally. Thank you in advance for the many ways that your pray for and support God’s Kingdom work here at Oak Hill and around the world.
Perhaps you have asked yourself this question before or perhaps it has been asked to you: “I wonder what heaven is like?” This can be a common inquiry and there are only a few references in Scripture that give us a small glimpse of the majesty, magnitude, and magnificence that will be the future home for all believers in Jesus Christ. But even more intriguing than what it will physically look like is the reality of how it operates. How does one gain access to this kingdom? What does living in God’s Kingdom look like? Can we experience this right now? What is it like?
It is out of some of these questions that we enter into a new 8-week series entitled: The Kingdom of God is Like… What will follow will be a short study of 8 of the Kingdom Parables that Jesus told during His ministry here on Earth. Each one offers a key, a glimpse, and secret sneak peek into what life in this Kingdom will be like. Jesus’ intent with these Kingdom Parables is to give His followers a look and an understanding of His Kingdom that is right here and right now as well as what it will be.
Jesus uses a unique method for delivering this information; He speaks in parables. Parables are more than stories and they are more than illustrations, images, analogies, or metaphors. They are like catching a glimpse of another world where you get to see things as they are in a unique, practical, and relatable way. Jesus speaks to the crowds in parables to reveal the secrets of God’s Kingdom, but only some could understand what He was truly talking about and meaning. For many people, their unresponsiveness to Jesus and their rejection of His teaching made it impossible for them to hear the true message, but to the ones who sought to see and hear Jesus for who He is, the treasure trove of these parables changed their lives.
The reality of these parables is not that God will establish His Kingdom, which He definitely will, but that it has already arrived in a form that is different than what was anticipated or expected. Jesus came to usher in a new reality about Himself that looked backwards or upside-down to popular culture, society, and understanding. But it was these differences that make all the difference for you and me.
Our first parable we are going to look at this week will help set the stage for this: The Parable of the Sower. In this familiar story of a farmer planting seeds, we see the different levels of responsiveness and receptivity to the seeds, which are the Word of God. In each case, the seed is allowed to be spread, shared, and begin to grow, but each heart and ear that receives this seed does not accept it or welcome it to grow. But the encouraging news for us is that this does not stop the sower from scattering seed and this does not diminish the growth of the seed that does land in good soil. As we enter into this series, may each of us be eager to have eyes to see what God is doing and how He is at work and may we be given the ears to hear, listen, and receive this message from Him as the gift that it is to us.
Some people thrive on the unexpected. Others tend to be more comfortable within the realm of the known and the routine. I am someone that would fall into that latter category. It’s not that I am against surprises or unexpected occurrences, but I don’t necessarily go out of my way to seek them out. Often times, they find me.
Christmas is a time for the unexpected. If you put up a real tree in your house, each year you go and find one at a tree farm, the hardware store, or Costco and there is a certain unknown as to what it will look like and how it will fill out the room. There are gifts wrapped and placed under the tree that hold a sense of mystery to them. What could be inside? And then there is an annual tradition that I like to do with my family: drive around and look at Christmas lights. It’s always an adventure and you never know what might lie around the next corner or down the next block. You could round the bend and be greeted by the most amazing light display ever! All the flashing and glowing and brightness that illuminates the dark night.
There is a famous Christmas scene that sticks out in my mind in regard to the unexpectedness of the season and it happened at the very first Christmas. As the story goes in Luke 2, there were shepherds that were watching over their sheep. This overnight job was not glamorous, but the routine was probably familiar. The quiet hills were known, landmarks remembered, what would happen during those midnight hours was expected. Perhaps they were feeling tired, some maybe even nodded off. The faint light of the moon and stars set the stage for what would be another normal night.
But then the unexpected happened! Bright light burst through the clouds, sound and noise came crashing into their ears throttling them awake. Countless angels filled the sky and their voices seemed to echo off the walls of the valley. I would guess that the shepherds didn’t see this coming! This was not how things normally go! And yet God moves in the unexpected. He enters the scene and delivers Good News that might be unexpected but is greatly needed.
The angels were sent to deliver a message, to sing out in praise, to announce the birth of God’s Son. This was a long time coming. It was like all of heaven could no longer contain the excitement and sang for all it was worth. And so, with the angelic assembly we sing and give glory to the King; the One who came to save us from sin, the One who came to bring us peace with God, the One who would live so that we would no longer die.
The bright light of the angels broke through the night sky to point to the Everlasting Light that would chase away the darkness of sin in our lives. The shepherds saw, heard, and witnessed the majesty of this song. They were captivated by the magnitude of what they angels had said, and we read that they hurried off to find this Promised One. And when they arrived, all they could do was worship. The only response that even seemed adequate was to worship. Let us again be brought to a place of worship this Advent season as we contemplate the Christ Child and the significance of the gift and hope we have today because of His arrival.
I have really been loving this series that we are going through this Advent season. If anything, it has given me even more of a reason to listen to the Songs of the Season, although I am not sure I needed much of a reason in the first place.
This week, we will get the distinct honor and privilege to once again hear from one of our own: Steve Brue. Steve is a former Lutheran Brethren pastor and principal at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls, so we are in for a treat as he shares with us from God’s Word.
Our song for this week is “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and this is one of my personal favorites when it comes to carols. I can still remember singing this song to my son Luke when he was a baby as I would put him to bed. I will admit that this even took place in the summertime, but no one else was there to hear so I figured there would be no harm done.
One of the components of this song that strikes me the most is the irony behind it. From the very first line we sing, “O little town of Bethlehem…” This adjective used to describe the town of Bethlehem carries around so many connotations and connections with it and most of them are not the greatest. In our culture today, bigger is better. We are told that a 65” TV is better than a 40” one. It’s the classic small town-big city rivalry. Something that is big is seen as significant, important, impressive, and practical. Something that is small tends to be seen as just not up to par.
But this is the beauty and wonder of how our God works because time and time again we read in His Word that He operates on a much different scale. In God’s order of the universe, bigger is not necessarily better or more significant. Often times, God will use the small, weak, and seemingly insignificant things for His greater purposes. Just taking a look at the family lineage of Jesus will reveal a history of people who were seen by many to be nobodies and yet God used them for divine purposes.
And so, we come to little Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a sleepy, quiet town that was no booming center of commerce or culture like Jerusalem. Bethlehem was out of the bigger picture and yet this was the place where the Savior would be born. Significance would once again shine out of the seemingly insignificant as God would act again. In Micah 5:2, we read: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
I am really glad that God chooses to work through that which is seen as weak because that is where myself and most of us are at. On our own, we aren’t that big of a deal and yet God chooses to use us for His greater purposes. How amazing is that?! Let us be blown away again this Advent season by how our God works and may we be given eyes to see God at work in the little things.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette