Book Preview: This is an excerpt from the book 31 Days at Bethlehem’s Manger, written by Shane Johnson.
A great devotional to pick up before December 1!
December 1 – Morning
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah…” Micah 5:2
Why did the Lord choose Bethlehem to birth His Son? Why not Jerusalem, the nation’s capital, or Shechem, or Jericho, or any of the other famous cities of Israel? One reason is because Bethlehem bears the signature of God. God has always bypassed the rich, the famous and the powerful of this world in favour of the meek. He has hidden Himself from the wise and prudent and has chosen to reveal Himself to babes (Matt. 11:25).
Palestine was a despised nation in the eyes of the Roman Empire at the time of Christ’s advent. Christ did not march into our world a Roman, nor set Himself up as a cultured Greek. Jesus Christ was born a Jew, despised, enslaved, unrecognized and weak. Bethlehem was “little” among the thousands of potential cities of Judah in which Messiah could have been born. Yet God chose this very place to be the black velvety cloth against which He could display His rarest diamond.
You and I are also “little” among the thousands of rich and powerful of this world, yet the Saviour chooses to dwell in us. Marvelous is the thought: He has decided to display His mighty power in these earthen vessels, these jars of clay, in order that His power and excellence might clearly be known (2 Cor. 4:7). He forsook the palace for the stable. He bypassed the kings and nobles, and instead invited the despised shepherds to witness His birth. He refused to call the chief priests and Pharisees as His disciples but chose instead unlearned fishermen and former tax collectors to be among His twelve. That is why He has chosen you and me. God has not chosen the wise, the mighty and the noble to display His glory, but has chosen “the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27).
You want to be great? Then shrink yourself small.
To look a little like the Son,
Relinquish everything, give up all.
Take as your pedestal a manger stall
And of the world’s fame take none.
When He came here he erased his face,
And let His massive name be killed.
Alexander (the Great) did a little kingdom make
But next to Christ he seems ungreat.
Jesus’ name is the smallest and greatest still.
“If you want to seriously meditate on the great truths of what really happened just over 2000 years ago, and how it shook both heaven and earth, forever, you will not be disappointed with any page of this fresh and rich devotional book written by a man I have come to respect very much.
Shane Johnson has provided us with two meditations for each day of December, predominantly with a focus on the Incarnation – God becoming a man, in real though sinless human flesh – to help us not only understand the plan of God, but to motivate us to worship and serve Him. The last few days in the book shift the focus away from the “Christmas” theme, as Shane points to a new year of putting this renewal of adoration into practice, by first addressing what we really believe.” – From the Introduction by Peter Bolton