(Friends: First, Merry Christmas to all of you. You are in our prayers today of thanksgiving, as always, for your fellowship in Christ. I have already sent one devotional today, a repeat of a message I wrote many years ago. I did not intend to send another, but I just finished the following and since the theme is so directly about the Lord's birth into the world, I decided to do a 2 for 1 special on this Christmas day. Thanks, Glen).
"She brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger" (Luke :2:7).
Why a manger, a feeding trough for animals, rather than a palace, the abode of kings? The Occupant of the long ago place of humility answers the question for us.
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mark 2:17).
Entrance into a lush and oppulent physical hall would not have typified the inauspicious spiritual dwelling into which the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ enters when we believe. While birthing a "new creature" in our hearts through the new birth, the Holy Spirit nevertheless occupies unlikely habitations when He enters human hearts (II Corinthians 5:17). The Infinite dwelling in the finite - long ago, Solomon wondered how an earthly temple could serve as the home of God. "Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" (I Kings 8:27). Far more wondrous is the gift of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" given to every believer at the moment of our grace-provided, faith received salvation (Colossians 1:27). The manger of Bethlehem pales in comparison to the unlikely spiritual venue of our hearts wherein the Lord Jesus enters to remain forevermore. "He shall be in you" promised the Lord Jesus to His disciples regarding the Holy Spirit who reveals Christ not only as the Savior and Lord of Christians, but as our very indwelling life (John 14:17).
Believers are walking mangers, as it were. None of us begin to spiritually and morally qualify by our own merits as "the habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22). Nor does it overtly appear that we are the temples of His living presence. But we are, as enlivened and inhabited through the grace and mercy of the God who purposes to reveal His strength in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). In this light, the humble abode of our hearts well serves our Heavenly Father's gracious purposes of exalting His Son by first revealing Christ's "meek and lowly" heart - "Before honor is humility" (Matthew 11:29; Proverbs 15:33). We are the manger. This is the grace of our wondrous Father, who sends His Son not to palaces, but to places wherein we might least expect to find Him.
"We have this Treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might be of God, and not of us."
(II Corinthians 4:7)
Weekly Memory Verse
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.