1226 Little Town of Bethlehem

listen not
Listen to Little Town of Bethlehem

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray,
cast out our sin and enter

Listen to devotion

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Is. 7:14)

When an individual takes steps toward God, God will draw near to them. To take steps toward God is to care less and less about one’s own selfish desires; to care more and more about God’s desires. How can one know God’s desires for themself? The Word of God. When an individual takes even the tiniest baby steps in an effort to adjust their life to comply with the Scriptures, God swoops in, cheering on His child, well-pleased with their efforts. A delightful moment in heaven and on earth. . . And then it happens. . . The child of God slips. He slips into his old ways, his old habits and desires. He becomes discouraged, disheartened, downcast. He meets with disappointment. Disappointment with himself. With God. With life. His two natures collide on the battleground of the heart. The enemy of his soul, the devil, shouting the battle cry of defeat, despair, dejection. On the other side, a faith, hope, and love softly whispered by the God of peace longing to impart His grace, His mercy, His compassion.

“Cleanse your hands, purify your hearts.” God exhorts us not to mix the world and the spirit to satisfy our desires. He wants us to purify our thoughts, our feelings, our will. We cannot gratify the flesh and the Spirit. Which will we choose? Many choose the enticing way, the dazzling way, the pleasurable way—the easy way. . . And it is just that—for the moment (Prov. 23:31-33). Few there are who choose the way of the cross. Yet, when we do, we find Jesus, the One who conquered all our sins on the cross. Jesus, the One Who lives today. Jesus, the One who sent His helper to reside within our very beings.

All pleasure comes at a price. When you choose the world’s way, you enjoy first then you pay. When you choose God’s way, you pay first, and enjoy later. It takes an act of the will to choose the way of God, to choose the way of the cross. You cannot be led into sin apart from your will. Won’t you choose this day to wash your hands—to cleanse your life, to purify your heart—to choose the way of the cross? Jesus is the bridge between your Spirit and the world. Is there a battle raging within you? Stand firm on the blood-stained battleground of your heart where faith and will reside. Come to Jesus, “Just as I am, without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me.”

listen not
Listen to Little Town of Bethlehem

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray,
cast out our sin and enter in,
be born in us today.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Is. 7:14)

David’s descendant, King Jotham, who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord (2 Chron. 27:2) had a son, Ahaz, who “did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God” (2 Kings 16:2). Syria and Israel had joined forces against Ahaz and Ahaz fears he will be dethroned and forced to join them if he does not obey his enemies. God has a plan. He sends Isaiah and his son, Shear-Jashub, whose name means “A remnant shall remain,” to warn Ahaz not to join them but to trust God to remove his enemies from the land. If Ahaz heeds the prophet’s words his nation will become a remnant that shall remain. He will know hope. Ahaz hears Isaiah’s prophecy: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel”, God with us. Ahaz refuses to seek direction from the Lord, he refuses to heed Isaiah’s message. God’s temple is destroyed, its treasuries relinquished to the enemy, his people and his kingdom desecrated. It looks as though the line of David, hope of Israel, will perish under this ungodly king. But Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. God sent His Son, Immanuel.

Do we not see a similar story unfolding when we look at our nation today, 3000 years after Isaiah’s prophecy? Our enemies are enticing us to make alliances with them. Everywhere we hear, we see, we feel the pressure to join. The Lord sent a prophet and the prophet’s son to warn Ahaz not to join the enemy. The Lord has given us His Word to warn us. He has given us His Son, Immanuel, God with us, that we would have hope. He has even given us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, that we would have the victory in the battle we must fight.

Ahaz trusted Syria, saying “I am your servant and your son. Come and save me.” (2 Ki. 16:7). His story ends in defeat, his nation in poverty, subject to their enemy. When you read the Scriptures, do you ‘hear’ the same warning Ahaz heard? Will you look to your enemy for salvation as Ahaz did or will you look to Isaiah’s prophecy, to God’s Word, to Immanuel? When you do, you will not find Isaiah’s son, but God’s Own Son, Jesus. You will know hope. You will become part of the remnant that remains. Let this be your heartfelt prayer, like never before, “O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray, cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”