As the song says. . .”It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Seventy years ago this month the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” premiered.
Philip Van Doren Stern had tried unsuccessfully for years to shop his short story “The Greatest Gift” but he couldn’t find an interested publisher. So one year he printed up 200 copies of the story and sent it out as a 21 page Christmas card.
A Hollywood producer somehow got a hold of the card and purchased the movie rights for $10,000. That was in 1946.
The movie was shot during the summer of 46 which explains why Jimmy Stewart was sweating in a number of scenes even though movie magic made it look like the winter.
Frank Capra, the director of the movie. . .who was an engineer by training created a new kind of snow for movies. It was a mixture of fire extinguisher foam and corn flakes.
Though the movie initially bombed at the box office it ended up as a Christmas time classic watched every year around the world.
One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when George Baily, played by the late great Jimmy Stewart, begins to pray.
He starts: “Dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there and you can hear me….
At that moment, Stewart begins crying and then says:
“Show me the way. . .show me the way.”
Truthfully, that’s what God wants to do for each of us. . .”show us the way.”
The movie contains so many life lessons that we need to be reminded that watching it yearly is a great idea.
The purpose of tonight’s teaching is not to create a review of “It’s A Wonderful Life” but we do encourage you to watch it yourself with your family or friends this Christmas.
“It’s A Wonderful Life” has a message that’s timeless which brings me to tonight’s teaching.
Many years ago now the Lord gave me an amazing Christmas sermon. My fine wife Bev, my parents and I had taken a long weekend get-away to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
We started looking for a hotel room but were unable to find one. We traveled for over 60 miles along Interstate 40 but nothing was available.
The clerk at the first hotel told us we would have a problem finding accommodations. He informed us that the annual Furniture Market was in High Point, North Carolina and there wasn’t a sleeping room to be found within 60 miles in any direction of that huge event. Indeed, he was right.
This particular journey was before the days of cell phones, computers, Sirus or such modern technology. If you wanted to call ahead you used a pay phone. We stopped at exit after exit after exit only to hear the same message. . .there was no room in the inn . . . Holiday or otherwise.
That experience led me to write a sermon that answers a classic, tiimeless question among Christians everywhere … no matter what era you are born in. The title is: What To Do When Your Star Leads You To A Stable.
We had the money but there was no room to be found. Fortunately, my fine wife Bev wasn’t about to give birth but we were not expecting what we found.
I have often wondered how Joseph and Mary must have felt. They had the money. . .they just couldn’t find an available place to stay except in a stable.
I’m certain this was not what Mary had been imagining would happen when the angel appeared to her advising her that she would be carrying the Son of God.
She had been given the promise but not the details. Sometimes, it’s better not to imagine because assumptions can be very wrong.
She probably never dreamed her son would be born in the midst of beasts of burden or with the smell they brought to the occasion.
Joseph was not a poor man. He was by profession, a carpenter. . .a skilled craftsman whose skills were in demand.
Regardless of how much money he had or didn’t have. . .the results were the same. . he could do no better than for his wife to give birth in meager surroundings.
Luke 2:7 says:
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Jesus wasn’t born in a palace with servants attending to their every need and desire. Mary didn’t even have a mid-wife to assist with the delivery of her son.
The first people to visit the new born king were shepherds who were at the time looked down upon by some as outcasts. Scripture says the shepherds were amazed by the experience of angels proclaiming the birth of Jesus.
At first, the shepherds were petrified. . .it would be like us watching an unidentified flying object) appear and speak to us.
Luke 2:8-9 says:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.”
Several translations say the shepherds were “terrified.”
Just imagine how you would have felt. . .it’s night time, you’re watching the sheep when suddenly there appears the brightest light you’ve ever seen. . .making the darkness of night appear as the light of day.
If Hollywood were making this as a movie. . .can you imagine the special effects they’d use in dramatizing this scene.
But then the angel spoke and everything changed.
Luke 2:10-11 in the Amplified Bible says:
“But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people. For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord! “
If you had that kind of close supernatural encounter you no doubt would be headed to Bethlehem as fast as you could travel.
Later, kings from the east brought expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This wasn’t a short trip. . .it took weeks, months and years to do extensive traveling in those days.
These men left behind their families, security and obviously, an opulent lifestyle.
They followed the star for two years. . .through summer and winter. . .all kinds of weather. . .and no doubt other adversities to see the new born king.
Matthew 2:2 says:
“Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Matthew 2:10-11 says:
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.”
There are seven things you should know when your star leads you to a stable.
First, the star. . .the goal you’re seeking may first lead you to a stable or humble place in your life.
Your journey might not start the way you think or thought it should start. You might end up taking a different path to your goal than what you imagined.
Isaiah 55:9 says:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God sees things we don’t. . .understands things we can’t. . .that’s why our unquestioned obedience to His commands is absolutely essential.
Never try to figure things out on your own. We often mistakenly try to bring God’s thought process down to ours. . .when we, in fact, should be lifting our thought-processes up to His level.
Make the most of whatever hand your dealt. . .knowing that God is the One who raises the stakes and offers you even better opportunities.
Second, in following your star . . . don’t allow circumstances to hinder you from your objective goal even if you end up in a stable
Mary did not think she had missed God because she gave birth to His son in a stable and sometime later … she found wise men came to worship Him as the new born king . . . even though His first visitors were only lowly shepherds. They were followed by great Kings.
Matthew 2:10 in the Amplified Bible says:
“When they saw the star, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy.”
We need to worship Him in every situation and at all times. . .remember that circumstances and facts change…but the truth (His Word) never does.
Malachi 3:6 says:
“For I am the Lord, I change not. . .”
Hebrews 13:8 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages).”
If God doesn’t change. . .and He doesn’t. If His word doesn’t change. . .and it doesn’t. If God’s promises remain the same. . .and they do. Then it’s fairly obviously. . .we and our circumstances are the ones and things that can and need to change.
Third, when your star leads you to a stable there is normally one of two reasons why you experience the unexpected.
It could be God is giving you a mid-course correction to your journey.
We may have started in Egypt but once we cross the wilderness … we will reach the Promised Land if we stay the course. . .following His correction and instruction.
Hebrews 12:6 in the Amplified Bible says:
“For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes.”
It could also be that God is providing additional instruction so you will make right decisions on your journey.
Romans 8:28 in the Amplified Bible says:
“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”
Proverbs 19:20 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.”
A failure to receive correction brings unfortunate and unwanted consequences. . .and may lead you to places where you don’t want to be.
Proverbs 13:18 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Poverty and shame come to him who refuses instruction and correction, but he who heeds reproof is honored.”
Fourth, as you follow your star. . .you should never give up.
It would have been very easy for the Wise Men to have said. . .forget this.
Let’s stay home where we’re comfortable. Sometimes we have a tendency to embrace the comfortable. . .the familiar. . .instead of following our dreams. . .the star that we’re seeking.
Hebrews 12:1 in the New Century Version says:
“We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back.”
You may feel like giving up. . .that you aren’t making any progress. . .that you’ve arrived at some smelly stable or worse. . .but don’t give up.
2 Corinthians 4:8 in the Contemporary English Version says:
“We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don't know what to do, we never give up.”
You may be under attack. . .but the Lord is saying to you. . .regardless of your current adversity, whether it’s relatively new or has been around for a long time. . .you are to never give up.
In your present situation, you may not know what to do next. . .but the Word of God says that you’re to never give up. . . pray about the next step you should take.
Luke 18:1 in the New Living Translation says:
“[Parable of the Persistent Widow] One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.”
Our Heavenly Father even gives us specific direction about how we’re to pray in Ephesians 6:18 in the New Century Version which says:
“Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God's people.”
Fifth, when your star leads you to a stable. . .it’s time to give.
Many people stop giving in times of adversity and that’s absolutely the worst thing to do.
The wise men were not moved by what they found but gave rich gifts to the new king even though they did not find him in a palace.
Got doubts. Read, study and meditate on the following scriptures:
Malachi 3:8-10 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings. 9You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation. 10Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it”
Luke 6:38 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, "prompt to do it") giver [whose heart is in his giving].”
2 Corinthians 9:8 in the New Living Translation says:
“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
Sixth, when your star leads you to a stable. . .you can always find God’s grace and mercy there.
2 Corinthians 12:9 in the Amplified Bible says:
“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!”
God knows how you feel. . .He understands your thought processes.
Hebrews 4:15 says:
“For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.”
Hebrews 2:16-18 in the Message Bible says:
“It's obvious, of course, that he didn't go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That's why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people's sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed.”
Seventh, when your star leads you to a stable. . .you will find God is no respecter of persons.
In the two recorded visits to baby Jesus we find total opposites. First, there was the visit by the Jewish shepherds, those who were looked down upon because they raised sheep.
Genesis 46:34 in the Amplified Bible says:
“You shall say, Your servants' occupation has been as keepers of livestock from our youth until now, both we and our fathers before us--in order that you may live in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”
Next, the three Wise Men. . . Rich Gentile Kings from other countries.
It’s also significant to know that He was also visited by the poor. . .the shepherds and the rich. . .the Wise Men. Both rich and poor came to worship Him. He will speak to all of us. . .if we just listen and follow our star.
One final thing. . .when your star leads to a stable. . .you can expect God to give you leadership and direction.
John 16:13 in the Amplified Bible says:
“But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].”
While this teaching has been about following your star even if it leads you to a stable I must point out that Jesus wasn’t still at the stable when the Wise Men arrived on the scene.
Joseph and Mary were living in a house. I realize this is contrary to most holiday greeting cards and manger scenes. But if given a choice. . .I will always believe the Word of God.
Matthew 2:11 says:
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him.”
This confirms my earlier point that Mary and Joseph weren’t poor peasants. They could afford a house. . .nearly two years after the birth of Jesus.
That being said. . .follow your star. . .regardless of where it leads you. . .as long as the Holy Spirit is guiding your journey.
Here’s the very good news. . .if your star leads you to a stable. . .God is already there.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS