Make Room – Is There Room?

Make Room – Is There Room?

This is an exciting time of year for so many people and for so many reasons, but we wanted to take the time this December to re-imagine a few things that are familiar to so many of us.  So make sure you are here every week ready to learn and to grow, and then make plans to join us at your home campus for our Christmas Eve services. GatewayChurch.com/Christmas

Have you ever had a plan that really didn’t go according to plan?  Maybe you made a reservation at your favorite restaurant only to find out that streets were blocked off for another event, or you finally booked that trip to Disney only to have the national cheerleading competition in town and you’re fighting thousands of 10 year old girls in Orlando, Florida for a place in line.  

Maybe you just wanted to head into downtown Austin and you forgot there was a Texas home football game at the same time.  We’ve all faced a moment where the thing we envisioned wasn’t able to come to pass because of outside circumstances.  So if we all face these types of situations, some insignificant and others life altering, how do we all respond to the diversion? 

That’s where we find Mary and Joseph as they head into Bethlehem and they find no place available to them as they anticipate the birth of Jesus. Instead of me just telling you the story, let’s go right to scripture to read the story for ourselves. 

Luke 2:1-20

 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 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. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

What do we do when the expected arrives in an unexpected way? 

Joseph felt the responsibility to care for his wife, but was facing the effects of a town that was busy and bustling out the seams.  He could not even find a room for his bride and anticipated new son.  

Mary felt the physical responsibility of carrying Jesus.  She was traveling near the end of her pregnancy, expecting to bring forth the child promised to her.  Facing a town in Bethlehem that was not readily meeting the needs she had in order to give birth. 

Then we have the shepherds who are not expecting anything, as a matter of fact, they aren’t even in Bethlehem.  No they are in the outskirts of town, away from human contact and with their flock, but are invited as guest of honor into the greatest birth of all time, and they are asked to be the first witnesses of the birth of humanity’s salvation. 

All three parties I just mentioned were actively involved on this holy night, and they share two characteristics that I hope we all would be willing to model:

Can I propose this to us today?:

In order to see Jesus rightly it takes Humility, Faithfulness and a Willingness to Make Room 

We are challenged to walk in humility like Jesus – We are challenged in Phlippians chapter 2 to walk in humility like Jesus did, and the description of this is in verse 7: 

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage,

7 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

But Christ’s humility started with a manger in a city where no one seemed to know or care about his coming. 

So even though there is no room for his family, Joseph accepts the lowly quarters of a stable.  Some theologians would describe the space as more of a cave.  He may have begged for a room, or looked for a better spot, but we are only told that the family settled for quarters that involved animals, and would not be described as guest space. 

Mary has to accept that the promise of Jesus didn’t come with the comforts of a room to herself and of a midwife.  No, she had to have her first child by herself and place him in a manger.  Do you know what a manger is?  A manger is a feeding trough.  This is something a guy would do, not a woman having her first child.  But she made do with what she had, because the gift was not the location of his birth but that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to her and to all of humanity. 

The shepherds heard angels singing, and a supernatural experience took place, and even after all of that they still had to look at each other and say, let’s go and see.  Do you know how ridiculous it sounds for an angel to appear to you and tell you to do something?  It took humility to believe that what they heard could possibly be true. 

True humility has a few components that are imperative: (Philippians 2)

  • We must see ourselves as God sees us, nothing more and nothing less
  • We are only as humble as the people we serve around us
  • We are humble  when we can walk in obedience without excuses

If we can somehow walk in this humility to truly see Jesus, then…

We are called to be faithful to what we know

Joseph was being faithful to an encounter he had with the Holy Spirit.  In Matthew chapter 1 we find that Mary is pregnant but promised to Joseph to be married.  He is faithful to her, but is walking in fear so he is not wanting to disgrace her publicly, so he plans on divorcing her privately.  This is where we pick up the story:

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 1:20-21; 24-25

Mary was being faithful to her own encounter:

The angel told her,

“Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor  with God.

31 You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name him Jesus.

32 He will be a great man and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him  the throne of his ancestor David.

33 Your son will be king of Jacob’s people forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:31-33

The shepherds too were being faithful to their own visitation from God:

17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:17-20

So if all of these parties were walking in humility, and were being found faithful, then it set them up for the most important part.  

We must have a willingness to  make room 

All the parties involved could have been humble and could have been faithful, but still have fallen into the trap of being like the rest of bethlehem.  The city, the culture, was filled with people for the census, and with that came distraction and an inability to make room for the savior of the world.  Joseph, Mary and the shepherds all had to carve out room from their expectations, their personal preferences, and their comfort in order to encounter Jesus in a manger. 

You may not see it but God is working around the world in ways you and I cannot always see but when we are humble and willing to trust Him with our finances we partner with His work to bring life and freedom to all people. We are making room in our hearts and in our budgets, so others can encounter Him in a real way.CLOSING

Remember my earlier question?  What do we do when the expected arrives in an unexpected way? 

Israel was expecting pomp and circumstance. Royalty and nobility. But the Messiah was born into poverty and low-class.  This reflects a lack of humility. 

  • Most of us want God to show up but we want Him on our terms, in our boxes, with no discomfort whatsoever. We desire change without suffering, and transformation without letting go.

“There was no room in the inn”- if you watched Christmas plays going up there was always a curmudgeon inn keeper slamming the door in the face of Mary and Joseph. But really it was just overcrowded.

Most of us don’t slam the door shut in the face of Jesus. We live such busy, frenetic,  overcrowded lives. We have such weary and hectic hearts that we don’t even recognize what He’s trying to do in our hearts and lives because we are lost in the white noise,

“O come all ye faithful to Bethlem” the song says. There’s an invitation to come and see. Not in the rush of the city and the noise. But tucked away in a manger. Where Jesus transforms a mess into a message, trash into triumph.

When we show up in this season, and every season, with a humility that is rooted in Christ, a faithfulness that helps us endure for what matters and a willingness to make room for Jesus.  

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