In this Christmas message, I want to take a look at this nameless guy and his wife, who were the inn keepers in the Christmas story, who didn’t even know Jesus… These folks were just another face in the crowd at a busy season in Bethlehem….
A 6 year old boy told his mom "I don't want to go to church on Christmas"
The mom told him "Honey, It's important to go and celebrate the birth of Jesus"
The little boy said "But Mom, we don't even KNOW him!" OOPS! He must not come to Linda’s Children’s church sessions. A large persentage of the U.S. population does not attend church anywhere…Well, I hope you get to know Him this Christmas!
Luke 2: 4-7 “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David , because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
The Inn was jammed because the city was flooded with people from all over who had come at the decree of the Roman government that everyone return to their place of birth to pay taxes. There was no room anywhere, everything in the city was filled up. It was like trying to get a room in Key West during Fantasy Fest….
We have given the Inn Keeper a bad rap because he turned away the Mom and Dad of the Savior of the world, being carried in Mary’s womb. But he actually extended them an above and beyond the call of duty kindness. As he tells them the inn is full, and there is no room, I can hear his wife saying in his ear, “Dear, they are so tired, let them at least sleep in the stable”, So, he allowed them to stay in the stable. Otherwise they would have been outside on the ground or huddled up against the side of a building somewhere, or sleeping around a fire in an open field. Never could the Inn keeper have known in his wildest imaginings that the results of his kindness was being heralded by angels to shepherds “You shall find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” and that the Inn keeper’s act, as small as it seemed, would become a permanent part of the Christmas story for thousands of years. Such a small act of kindness produced such huge results, that it has resounded around the world…..
One personal improvement web site said, “If you see someone falling behind, walk beside them. If you see someone being ignored, find a way to include them. Remind people of their worth, one small act could mean the world to them”.
You see, this Inn Keeper didn’t seek out the savior of the world, but the savior, The eternal word made flesh, made the journey from heaven to earth and from Nazareth to Bethlehem to seek him out. God knows where and how to find everyone that He is seeking, and He knows the purpose and the destiny He has for them. Take heart, mom and dad, daughter and son, wife and husband. Prayer is more accurate than your GPS, and His timing is perfect when He is leading the way ….
In the words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times and the worst of times.” Never had a family been given greater promises yet had to endure such hardship and discomfort because of it!
God looks at riches in a different way than we do. Don’t underestimate how God can use you and don’t be judging what He can do by your station in life, or your bank account. The hope of the world was placed in the care of a poor couple with few resources that could ever qualify them to be the parents and mentors of the King of Glory. God doesn’t look at your ability but your availability. So He entrusted His Son into the care of a couple who were rich in Godly values, wealthy in Godly character, abounding in Godly priorities, and overflowing with dedication and commitment to Him. In the Greek language it says that Joseph was a “tekton” as compared to an “architekton” from which we get the word “architect”. An architect in the Greek world was a master builder of some sort. This could be a skilled carpenter or stonemason. But by Joseph only being called a “tekton”, it indicates that he was more of a carpenter’s assistant or even a common day laborer who came to the marketplace every morning in search of work for the day. Their lives were filled with uncertainty and they lived from day to day, and hand to mouth. Listen, if you’re carrying the Savior of the world, nothing is impossible, and that’s what you’re doing as God’s ambassador, Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to introduce the savior!!!
So while the angels of God filled the sky with heavenly song, there were Kings from the East who were following the Bethlehem star, but they didn’t arrive until Jesus was 2 years old, loaded with costly gifts. And the only men who witnessed one of the most awesome moments in the history of the world were some lowly shepherds. The whole Jewish world had long expected the arrival of this child, yet none of the leaders of the Jewish nation showed up that night. It was the best kept secret on the planet!!! (don’t let it remain the best kept secret!)
Big and important things are invested and embedded in a lot of small things…We see a leaf, God sees the oxygen producing factories of the planet… Big stuff comes in small containers. Jesus never underestimatedsmall things…. He taught us the incredible importance of even a glass of cold water given in His name…
Jesus said in Luke, "To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted it and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches."
I would like to challenge all of us to make it an Inn Keeper’s kind of Christmas. God’s abundance is wrapped up in many small acts of obedience… I’m talking about small acts that go beyond what may be required or what is expected. The Christmas story is filled with little things, seemingly insignificant happenings, that changed history….and life as we know it…
I actually copied the following item from a list which Steve Kelly, Senior pastor of Wave Church in Virginia Beach, posted. “Let your neighbors know you’re available to help if they go out of town for the holidays and need help with their mail, trash, or anything else.. Take groceries by for someone who is sick. Rake your neighbor’s leaves or mow their yard if they are shut in or sick. Start waving and saying a cheerful Hello to your neighbors. If it snows, offer to shovel snow from their driveway and put down salt for them. (I thought I would leave that one in, so we could have a moment of appreciation for being in Key West) Buy a card for your neighbor and put a kind word and compliment inside. Give away ice scrapers for cleaning the windshield. ( Ha, take another moment and Praise the Lord) Have the kids make Christmas cards for the neighbors…Join Facebook and become an encouraging voice to all your facebook friends. Take out your neighbor’s trash bins and bring them in if they are working late…. And of course do it annonomously without any fanfare!
One Grandmother got it right…. Her daughter decided she was no longer going to keep nagging her kids to send thank you notes for their gifts . Consequently, the kids’ grandmother never received any thanks for the checks she sent to them every Christmas as gifts.
Well, the daughter was really surprised when right after Christmas, all the kids wanted to go by in person to thank their grandmother for their checks.
When she asked them what caused this change in behavior, they replied, “It’s Simple, mom, this year grandma didn’t sign any of the checks.”
Years ago I heard someone say that anyone of us could start a kindness epidemic…. I was in a resturant with Winnie and when I went to pay, they told me someone had already paid. I was determined to repeat that good deed for someone else, and I did. It’s called “paying it forward”…. Jesus put it this way..”Give and it shall be given unto you, full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over”…. The running over part is where the epidemic starts and it gets contageous….
Jesus is telling us that this thing is contageous. Little acts of kindness and generousity are like that, they can start a major epidemic….
David was doing a little thing, bringing lunch to his brothers who were in the army, when something big resulted… He slew Goliath and started an epidemic of courage and boldness!
The first step in constructing a bridge over the Niagara river at the head of the falls, was made by a 15-year-old American named Homan Walsh. On January 30, 1848, Homan flew a kite from one side of the Niagra falls to the other. Someone on the opposite side caught the kite and tied a stronger string to the end of the kite string, and Holman pulled the new, thicker string back across the gorge. The process was repeated with an even stronger string, then a cord, then a thin rope, then a thicker rope, and eventually a steel cable, which crossed the expanse and was strong enough to support workers, tools, and materials, so that finally, a sturdy bridgeweighing tons, over which trains and trucks could easily pass. And it all began with a string.
Jesus says in Luke 16:10 “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much”.
We can’t look at the power of little things, without looking at the flip side….We need to understand the power and the danger of “little” sins.
A father took his son Billy to the mall to see Santa. They stood in line awhile, and finally the boy was able to sit on Santa’s lap. “What would you like for Christmas?” asked Santa, “I want An X-Box and a drone,” Billy said.
“Okay, we’ll get to work on that,” said Santa with a big smile.
Later on that day they also went to see the Santa at the town square. When Santa asked Billy what he wanted for Christmas, Billy said, “An X-Box and a drone.”
“Well, Billy, you need to be a good boy and do what your daddy tells you” Santa said.
Billy turned to his dad and said, “Let’s go back to the other Santa, Dad.”
“Why Billy?” asked his father. “Because there were no deals involved with that one.” Billy just didn’t want to be accountable…. He understood that actions have consequences…
Jesus tells us that a small rudder can turn a great ship, just as a little tongue can stir big trouble….It was Solomon who told us that “it is the little foxes that spoil the vineyards.” Some men say, “It doesn’t matter as long as you’re just window shopping and don’t touch.” We know that addiction to pornography begins with just a little look…. addiction to drugs begins with just a little sample….. and an alcoholic began with a little buzz…. And we know that a gambler doesn’t have a gambling problem until he starts losing….
Sometimes some of the smallest things in life can cause us the most grief. Ahangnail that catches on everything, an eyelash, that scratches and tears up the eye, a grain of pollen, which causes a violent sneezing episode….small but extremely bothersome.
Our words are little things that can make a big difference. Richard Carpenter, the brother of famous singer Karen Carpenter, says that when his sister was younger, someone called her “Richard’s chubby little sister.” She never got that out of her mind, and it destroyed her self-esteem and throughout her entire life she suffered from eating disorders, eventually she died of anorexia. I’m fairly certain that the person who said it wouldn’t even remember saying it…. the opposite is also true. Little words of encouragement and hope can turn a life around. The phrase “You’re looking nice today”, “I love your smile”, “You know, I really appreciate you and what you do” Little words can make an incredible difference and can restore and elevate someone’s spirit..
In Seattle Washington, this story was shared on the radio. The manager of a large software company heard that a man had committed suicide because no one cared if he lived or died. So the manager, who normally did everything by email or instant messenger, realized he never had a face to face with his workers. It was just easier and more convenient that way. The next morning, he headed out, into the work place, to tell his nine workers two reasons, why they were wonderful workers and amazing people that worked for him. So, he went to each one and said, “I’m so glad you came into my life, and I am blessed that you work for our company”. Then he gave each one a manly hug and pat on the back. A few days later, one of the techs, came up to him and handed him a gift box. This guy hadn’t been given a raise since he was hired, so the manager asked “where did you get the money?” He looked him in the eye and he said, "I sold my 9 mm pistol." Then the Tech said, "You have never asked me about my personal life the entire time I worked here, so why don't I tell you. I moved here from Denver because my mom died. She was my only friend I really had, I was totally alone.. I have never made one friend at this company. If I died, only the payroll would let you know. I took a paycheck and I went and bought a beautiful chrome-plated 9 mm automatic and a box of bullets. I began to practice every day for the last six months. I would go home, eat my Ramen noodle soup, then get the cigar box out with the gun… put bullets in the gun and place it against my teeth, as I told my mom "I am coming home." And then the other day you freaked me out man. I don’t even know you, but you put your arm around my shoulder and you told me I was really funny with my Face book posts, and you told me that I always turned in every project a day early, and that makes your life a whole lot easier. Then you said, “Man, I’m glad you came into my life”. When I got home that night, I kept repeating the words, “He’s glad I came into his life”….”He likes me”…. So I remembered that in some of your emails you said you couldn’t buy the latest, x-box gaming system because of a new baby and the extra expenses. I sold my pistol which cost me $1,000 dollars, so I could give this gift to you for saving my life”!!!!
When God brings us to a “fullness of time” season, little things can mean so much!!!
God is calling on some Inn Keepers to give some weary, tired, discouraged, fearful, hopeless travelers some other options in their lives….
May the Holy Spirit of God help us to pay attention to those little things that may be inconvenient or interruptions to us, but they just may take us to some really big things in someone else’s life.
What about the Power of just a Little moment of Time…. Jesus was born atexactly the right time on the prophetic calendar….Scripture calls it the fullness of time… Everything was in perfect alignment, for the God ordained outcome….You see, in the big world of a multitude of things happening that night, this little thing in the fullness of time, was a world changing thing!!
In the Olympics, a fraction of a second can be the difference between victory and third place. If you’re flying somewhere, a few minutes can be the difference in catching your flight or having to get another flight. When a person’s heart stops, they have only a few minutes to get help. A little time can make all the difference. How we use our time or recognize God’s timing can change lives.
God chose a lot of little things to put together the greatest story ever told.
He used a little place and ordinary people. Bethlehem, a stable, a manger….a little girl of only 13 years of age, named Mary…
The popular Christmas song says “O little town of Bethlehem. How still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep. The silent stars go by. Yet in the dark streets shineth. The everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years. Are met in thee tonight”.
Someone has said, "God is great in the great things, but He is really, really great in the little things."
Marriages are successful because of all the little things that each partner does. Families work best when all the little things, the everyday things are shared mutually. Churches grow and are healthy, when those many little things behind the scenes are taking place through out the week.
The Inn Keeper went the extra mile and even though it looked like a little thing, letting them use the hotel stable, to Mary and Joseph, it was pretty big! And we celebrate it, still today!
Dream big but understand the power of little….There are a lot of folks who are waiting for God to do some big thing in their life… they see it as some kind of proof that God cares… That God hears… That God is there…But what if, God is as much the God of small things as He is the God of big things? What if God doesn’t speak in the big earth shaking stuff, as much as He does in a “still, small voice”?
Jesus taught the disciples that you can know that someone will be faithful in the big important things, if they are faithful in the little things… That’s in Luke 16:10
While we are looking at quantity, God is looking at quality!!!
Gideon is a classic example… as God called him to gather an army to go against the Midianite army of over 100,000. Well, 32,000 showed up, and then God said to tell them all to go home except for the 300 men that he chose. That’s pretty uneven odds, but God brought the victory and little became much, in the fullness of His timing.
When God called Moses to stand against the might and power of Egypt, and Moses asked how they would know Yahweh had sent him, God said that little walking stick you’re holding will overcome and overwhelm the might of Egypt…. Don’t you love it when God starts leveraging big things with just a little….
The Inn Keeper reminds me that it’s the little thing that make life big….Thehappiest people in the world have learned to take joy in the little things. The laughter of a child, the silver hair of a faithful saint of God, the sound of the birds and the beauty of nature, the power of love, and the strength of friendship…our food, our home, our job, our health, our families, and so much more….
The Inn Keeper reminds me that this Christmas, I can be thankful for so many things…. I’m especially thankful for Winnie, my wife of fifty-six years, for the gift of everlasting life, for the privilege of pastoring Eagle’s Rest, for my Godly Christ loving kids, and their Christ loving kids and their kids…. for the many people who have stood with us over the years, for the good health that God has given to me, and for His hand upon the future as we move forward…. And I’m certainly thankful for all this food that I’m looking at in the back here, which so many have made possible, (but before I get you drooling to much)
God was in control of the many little things that made the Christmas story possible… I believe that it’s the many little things, that help us to understand just how much God is involved and in control of all the situations and circumstances of our lives. We just need to take a deep breath and let it out with praise, as we yield to His favor, His grace, and His mercy.
We may feel we have nothing to offer God or to impart to someone else, to accomplish what He asks of us. But if we are willing to try, God can still work miracles and make even insignificant things become the stuff of mountain moving results. Let’s believe him for some amazing Christmas miracles this year as He uses little things to leverage some big things that will transform our lives and those we love!!!
Lord, help us to see that if we will obey in the little things, You will cause the big things to come together and work out in our lives, individually and collectively. Lord, as we are faithful in the small things you will put us in charge of much. Thank you for the fullness of time when little becomes much. In Jesus name, Amen….