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The Birth of The King



"Now it happened that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for a census to be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was going to be registered for the census, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and was with child. Now it happened that while they were there, the days were fulfilled for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guest room."
Good Morning my beloved,

We welcome you to worship in the name of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m really thrilled to have you here with us today.  
The child birth is a big deal, especially after the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision that ended, Roe vs Wade, the constitutional right to abortion, where well over a million babies are aborted a year in America, which is an underestimated since it doesn't include abortions that occurred outside of the formal health care system.

Every child born is a miracle, a gift of God, still, there are more babies are killed than are born. In 2023, the U.S. reported just over 12,000 children were born, while during that same period, 1,026,690 abortions were performed. Planned Parenthood, playing word games, says they are "striving to create the healthiest generation ever," and has even gone so far as to say abortion, killing unborn babies, is women's health care.  Abortion isn't health care, it's murder; according their own numbers, ninety-four percent of their so-called "pregnancy services" is abortion and 4 in 5 of their over 2 million annual "clients" earn 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less. That's because low-income minorities are being targeted. By the way, it's interesting to note that according to Planned Parenthood, they received $1.9 billion in government grants and disbursements and has more than $2.7 billion in assets, raking in over $670 million dollars and their executives are among the highest-paid in the U.S. in the non-profit sector, with an average salary of  $317,000 dollars per year. Furthermore, despite claiming to be committed to breaking down barriers of structural racism that block access to care, research reveals the highest paid salaries go to white executives. 
And, if that's not shocking enough, since a fetus is considered to be a person, parents can receive a tax-deduction if a child lives for any length of time after an attempted abortion, even as federal government officials, advocates of "My body, my choice," a euphemism for freedom to sin without restraint, claim an unborn fetus is not considered a person and expressly permits "reasonable payments" for fetal tissue donation. And, now Planned Parenthood offers equally profitable "high-quality, inclusive care, or gender-affirming services," helping people to become "your most authentic, complete self." If there's anything is clear about Planned Parenthood, it's that mass infanticide and medical interventions designed to alter one's gender, not limited to those 18 and older, in the name of health care is a profitable, non-profit business, even by the most conservative estimates. 

And, even more bizarre, these same "civilized" people who want to kill babies, demand stiffer penalties be imposed on those who abuse animals. Talk about the frightening expression of an upside down morality of the sinful, wretched, depraved human heart! The whole of humanity may not take God’s Word seriously, but I assure you, God takes it very seriously and He will vindicate His holiness against the violations of His character, pouring out wrath on those who disobey. Conception is an act of God, He personally creates every life, therefore, He alone has the superior authority to ordain who lives or dies, not immoral men and women under the control of Satan. It is that same kind of demonic ethic, that allowed the Nazis to systematically murder some six million Jews, because they were not regarded as human. In other words, a society who determines for itself, that a life isn't worth living simply because it's inconvenient, will readily choose to dispose of them. In today's culture, one could easily make the same argument that the elderly don’t have a life worth living in an attempt justify eliminating an entire generation of "unwanted people," the parallel is disturbingly similar. Studies have indicated after abortion was legalized, child abuse and crime rates increased significantly. In Great Britain, for example, there was a ten-fold increase in child abuse after liberalizing abortion laws. However, the proponents of abortion and pro-choice, argue that an unwanted child becomes an abused child, but that argument just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. When an entire society is being educated to think that an unwanted life is a life not a life worth living, it begins to treat them that way, regardless of age.
How did of all this murder ever get started in the first place? The short answer is Satan, who has been a liar and a murderer from the beginning, worked in the heart of Cain, back in Genesis 4:8! (c.f. John 8:44) Satan has historically been successful in working through evil men under his influence, murdering babies in the time of Moses and in trying to eliminate the Messiah, he orchestrated the murder of all male babies under the age of two, in the time of Jesus, and his tactics to thwart God's redemptive plan, using a degenerate society to eliminate the lives of innocent children hasn't changed. I am thoroughly convinced that the wrath of God will one day fall on the murderers of all His children, who have not since repented and been forgiven of their sin. 

Let us pray

Heavenly Father,
Father, thank You for Word, there’s so much more to say, about the horrendous, unthinkable act of shedding innocent blood. Lord, we pray for our nation who stand on the brink of Your divine judgment, when You will rightly judge all sinners, unless they repent and are forgiven. Thank You for Your grace and mercy toward those who have fallen into this sin or any other. Lord, I pray that Your Holy Spirit would move, even today, in the hearts of those that desperately need to come to Christ for forgiveness, including those who tolerate heinous sinful acts that displease You, have mercy on them and grant them repentance. It is to that end we pray in Christ’s name for Your glory.

Today's Message: The Birth of The King
Open your Bibles with me, if you would and turn to the Gospel of Luke, Luke chapter 2. Today, we will be looking at one of the most familiar stories in all of the Bible, and certainly the most popular in Christianity at Christmastime, the birth of Jesus Christ. We love all of the elements of the events that surround the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; the angels appearing to the shepherds with the joyful news that the Savior has been born and how they went and saw exactly what the angel told them they would, a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn, then left glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen. Most everybody is familiar with the wise men who came, traveling from afar following His star to see the new born King and they came to worship Him, we know about the gifts they gave. All of which has become a traditional Christian lore, an Old English word meaning something taught from accumulated knowledge, whereas folklore is essentially based on myths, rather than fact, and has been the source of many Christmas carols, pageants and plays to celebrate the birth of this child, a child unlike any other child, this is the most important child born in all of history, He is the Son of the Most High God, God and man fused together in indivisible oneness. 

Ironically, while most of the secular world celebrates Christmas, the birth of God in human form, the Lord Jesus Christ, He gets a pretty bum rap. In fact, many even deny His existence, ignoring the profound significance behind the very reason for the day which they celebrate, the greatest event in all of history, when the eternal God Himself, the Creator of the universe, entered into the world to live on earth with humanity. It seems to me as though much of the world today still has a "no vacancy" sign on their hearts, with no room left for Him. 

I invite you to follow along with me read these first seven verses of Luke chapter 2 to you, to set the text in our minds, as Luke tells us the story of Jesus Christ. Open your hearts and listen for the voice of our Lord. Luke 2:1-7.

"Now it happened that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for a census to be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was going to be registered for the census, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and was with child. Now it happened that while they were there, the days were fulfilled for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guest room." 
Let's look at verse 1, "Now it happened that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for a census to be taken of all the inhabited earth." Not only is Luke’s gospel account orderly, as a first-rate historian, his primary concern is to accurately record what truly happened, through either personal acquaintance or access to original authorities of these critical events. So, from the very beginning of chapter 2, Luke immediately draws our attention to the government census during the reign of Caesar Augustus, which took place before Christ was born, and is often looked at by critics with some skepticism.
However, apart from Luke, there are two other historical sources, the Roman historian, Tacitus and the Jewish/Roman historian, Flavius Josephus, that such a census took place. Critics claim that Josephus’s reference poses a problem because the census he mentions in about A.D. 6, was a date which is too late to be brought into alignment with the birth of Christ. But it is not out of the question that the census to which Flavius Josephus is referring was the second one, while Luke clearly indicates in the next verse, he is referring to the first census taken, which is important because Caesar Augustus didn't just call for one census, he called for a series of censuses apparently at fourteen-year intervals. By the way, Caesar Augustus was the reason Herod still had some authority in Israel, where he remained on the throne until a little while after Jesus was born.
Verse 2, "This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria." Luke informs us, as any good historian does, that this was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria, to grasp the significance of how God is divinely orchestrating everything through the mind of a godless pagan, who knew nothing about the coming of Messiah, to play a critical role in the fulfillment of prophecy, the birth of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, we know him as Caesar Augustus, a title given to him by the Roman Senate in 27 B.C, and he ruled the Roman Empire for forty-five years, but his actual name, Gaius Octavius, the grand-nephew to Julius Caesar, who at that point, adopted him as his own son and declared him to be the heir to the throne of the Roman Empire. Caesar Augustus was considered to be a very brilliant man, a gifted and remarkable leader, that not only conquered the world, but he brought an unheard of peace to all with the amazing Pax Romana. Interestingly enough, he also passed a law that made adultery a crime, while his personal life undermines the sanctity of marriage, falling in love with and marrying Livia Drusilla, the wife of Roman politician Tiberius Claudius Nero, becoming the stepfather of Tiberius, who later succeeded him as Roman emperor from 14 to 37 CE.

He was so highly revered, they put his image on a coin, and he was worshiped as a god and as a deity, and it's inscribed in stone, he was "the savior of the world." He ruled together for a while with Lepidus and Mark Antony, until Lepidus fell out and Mark Antony began to do things that irritated him, namely becoming infatuated with Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, while he was married to Octavius' sister. And, we know that eventually, Mark Antony and Cleopatra soon after that committed suicide. It's been said that Cleopatra's perfume, a concoction of ingredients like desert date oil, myrrh, cinnamon, and pine resin that was known as Mendesian perfume, was so bewitching, Mark Antony couldn't resist her. Apparently, the formula for the perfume that made Cleopatra so alluring and irresistible was preserved and in September 2021, this ancient formula was recreated in the lab and was called Eau de Cleopatra, and was rumored to last longer than modern fragrances.
Much like the census we have today in our country, everyone was forced to comply, so that the government was to identify all the citizens who can be taxed. Apparently, there was even a deadline by which they had to be registered, similar to the April 15th deadline we have to file our taxes. Luke wants us to know that's why Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem, which fits perfectly into the purposes and plan of God for this child, His Son, the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem, at precisely the exact time and place that God had determined in order to fulfill prophecy. This is as close as we can get in pinpointing the birth of Christ, thought people in Luke's day would probably have known exactly when it was. All we know it was during the time of Caesar Augustus, while Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was governor of Syria and Herod was still on the throne. As a footnote, there was a census that occurred in 6 A.D. that sparked a violent Jewish revolt, which couldn't be the one Luke mentions here, because it occurred about a decade after the death of Herod. So, if we go backwards fourteen years, that would take us back to 8 B.C., when that first census took place. And, some ancient records found in Egypt mention a worldwide census that tool place in 8 B.C., which fits perfectly. 
Verse 3, "And everyone was going to be registered for the census, each to his own city." As far as we know, this was not a Roman stipulation for the census, since this was the first census while Quirinius was governor of Syria, there hadn't been any precedent set in prior censuses by the Roman government, they would probably register people in their place of residence, so it may have been a Jewish stipulation to register people in the city of their ancestry, where the records were kept. We know the Jews were fastidious about keeping accurate genealogical records. There's no other reason for Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem late in the year, while she was nine months pregnant. Once again, Luke wants us to see that God is sovereignly directing all the details with specificity, unbeknownst to Caesar Augustus, he created the setting to put everything in motion that facilitated the spread of the Gospel. There are no coincidences with God, so don't ever imagine for even one nanosecond that He isn't sovereign over all the earth, even using a pagan ruler to fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2, which says "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from everlasting, From the ancient days." Micah's very specific prophecy came 700 years before the birth of the Messiah. Scripture always verifies itself as True.

Verses 4-5, "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and was with child."  Luke doesn't mention Micah's prophecy, he doesn't need to, anybody who knew their Old Testament would have known that Bethlehem was to be the birth place of Messiah. Because of the timing of the census and it required everyone to register to his own city they would be there when that child was born, if it had been earlier or later, it wouldn't have been the case. Luke says Joseph went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth to Judea, because it appears to be up but geographically, Galilee is actually lower than Bethlehem. Nazareth was a little village in a hill plateau North of the plain of Esdraelon, and l,000 ft. above it, so you would go down into the plain and then go up approximately 2,500 feet to where Bethlehem is, that's why he says up to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. 
David was born in Bethlehem, but he reigned and ruled as king on Mount Zion, within the city of Jerusalem, so both are referred to as the city of David. Joseph was of the house and family of David, that's important because it gives Jesus the right to be the ruler, even though Joseph is not His biological father. Later, in chapter 3, we'll see that Mary is also a descendant of David. We don't know if Mary was required to register, but she was betrothed to Joseph and pregnant, he may have wanted her to be there to prevent her from being exposed to the shame she must have had to bear. Besides, Joseph knew exactly what was going on, and the people were gossiping, so it would have been the right thing to do, even though it would have been a difficult journey for her to make. Knowing she was going to give birth to the Son of God, I don't believe there was anyway he would have gone without her.

Verse 6, "Now it happened that while they were there, the days were fulfilled for her to give birth." We don't know how long they were there or where they stayed exactly, it may have been with relatives. Because whatever accommodations there in a place like Bethlehem, would have been probably been occupied by the officials who were doing the registration for the census. I can't imagine a relative would not have put them up for a few days, especially her being nine months pregnant, even though they may not have had a guest room available, which would explain the circumstances of Jesus' birth. All we know is they were staying in an undesignated place when the time came for her to give birth, we know very little about the details, except what we're given in the next verse.

That brings us to verse 7, "And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guest room." Notice that Luke is very careful to tell us that she gave birth to her "firstborn" son, using the word "prótotokos," he doesn't say her only son, using the word "monogenes" meaning the only begotten. We know that Mary had other children after Jesus was born, sons and daughters, because Scripture clearly indicates that, in spite of what the Roman Catholic Church would have people believe, she was not a perpetual virgin till her death. Joseph kept her a virgin until after Jesus' birth, then they went on to have a normal sexual relationship like any other ordinary married couple. So, Jesus' brothers and sisters mentioned in Scripture were actually His half brothers and sisters, but since Joseph adopted Jesus as his own, they wouldn't have been seen in that way. I have both a biological son and three adopted sons and they are all my sons, there's no partiality. Of course, Jesus is not just the firstborn son, He is the immaculately conceived Son of God, born of a virgin, that alone makes Him distinctly different. 

Then Luke says "and she wrapped Him in cloths," that was the normal routine for every Jewish mother who baby was just born, they wrapped them up in long strips of cloth for warmth, or "sparganoó" meaning swaddled them in the Greek, to describe wrapping up their little body tightly. After she wrapped Him up, she "laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn." The word "phatné" was a feeding trough for animals, like a crib, because there was no guest room for them. The Bible never states that Jesus was born in a stable, in ancient times animals were used for transportation or to to carry your goods, so every house had place for the animals and a feed trough, we simply deduce that it was a stable from that description, which is a pretty good indication that it was a stable, but the Bible never says that. It just says there was no room in the inn, which is the word "kataluma" meaning a place of lodging. There were no commercial hotels or motels in that day, so it was a rather primitive shelter with straw and doors, so they could keep their animals close by, with the usual odor of animals, which I believe may have been a metaphor for the stench of sin He would later bear in His own body on the cross for sinners, like you and me. When God sent His Son into the world as a human, He came poor, lowly and humble, born in the filthiest place imaginable, and when He hung on the cross, He bore the stench of sin that belongs to us.

Christ extends to every person the offer of His priceless gift of salvation, it's free, but make no mistake, it is not cheap, discipleship is very costly. If you are redeemed, if you have received the forgiveness of sin, you were bought with a price; do not be so foolish to imagine you can continue to live anyway you want now that you are a child of God. Scripture presents us with a clear picture of those who have imagined they could claim Christ and practice lawlessness, to whom He says "I never knew you; depart from Me."
If you're a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, understand that it will be long, narrow road, that becomes narrower and narrower the further you go, designed to "squeeze" out the sin in our lives, a reality that has been too often forgotten in the church today. I pray that every individual who reads these words that does not know Christ as Lord and Savior, will receive the free gift of salvation that He alone can give, even today.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name


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