Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Stop And Smell The Manger

Robert Jeffress - Stop And Smell The Manger

Robert Jeffress - Stop And Smell The Manger
TOPICS: Christmas

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and from the entire Jeffress family and all of us here at Pathway to Victory, let me extend warm Christmas greetings to you and your family. This week provides us ample reason to celebrate because as the angel said, "Today there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord". So in these brief moments before us today, let me encourage you to set everything aside and fully engage in the miraculous birth of Jesus. My message is titled "Stop and Smell the Manger", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Helen Hayes, the late and legendary actress, was certainly a great actress but by her own admission, she wasn't a very good cook. In fact, she avoided preparing thanksgiving dinner for her family for years, but finally she decided she ought to tackle it. And so before she did, she sat her husband and young son down and she said, "Now, you know, I'm not a very good cook but I think I ought to prepare thanksgiving dinner for us so this is what we're going to do. I'm going to prepare the dinner, I'm going to bring it out. And after a few bites if you don't like it, no comments, just quietly push your plate back, stand up silently and we'll go to the nearest restaurant together". Thanksgiving came, she worked all day in the kitchen preparing that turkey. And when she walked out of the kitchen into the dining room, her son and husband were already wrapped up in their coats and their gloves on ready to go. That's what you call low expectations.

I think of that story every time I preach the Christmas message. I mean, after all, how many different ways can you tell the Christmas story? The plot line doesn't change or it shouldn't change in what you're telling, the characters certainly don't change. So how do you get something fresh out of the Christmas story? That's a challenge every pastor has. And so today I'm going to do the best I can to encourage you to take the coat and gloves off for a moment. To spend a few unrushed moments as together we stop and smell the manger of Bethlehem. Today we're going to look at the five major characters in the nativity scene. We're going to start with Mary. And what we learned from Mary is that God chooses those who are available to him. Whom would God select to be the mother of a Savior of the world? God had defined somebody who was available. And we find her story in Luke 1 beginning with verse 26.

"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph of the descendants of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming in, the angel said to her, 'greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you'. But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of greeting, salutation this was. The angel said to her, 'do not be afraid'". Each time the angel made an appearance, he had to start with don't be afraid because angels usually symbolized bad news, judgment coming. Gabriel said, in this case, "Mary, you don't have to be afraid for you have found favor with God".

I mean, think of it. Of all of billions of women throughout history that God could have chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ, why did he choose Mary? I want to suggest to you, God uses those who are available. And Mary exhibits four qualities of what it means to be available to God. First of all, Mary was pure. She was a virgin. When God is looking for somebody to use, he chooses those who not necessarily are the most gifted people in the world, the most talented, the most beautiful, but those who are pure. That was Mary. She was pure. Secondly, she was available to God because she believed God's word. You know, Hebrews 11 says without faith it is impossible to please God.

Look at Luke 1:45. Elizabeth, her cousin, said about Mary, "And blesses is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord". She doesn't understand how she was going to give birth when she had not yet had sex, but she believed what God said and she acted accordingly. Thirdly, Mary was available because she placed the glory of God above her own reputation. Mary probably knew enough to know that if she was willing to be used like this by God, she would suffer a blow to her reputation. After all, who was going to believe her story? When God said, this is what I'm going to do, look at what she said in Luke 1:38. She said to the angel, "Behold, the bondslave of the word: may it be done to me according to your word". She was willing to place the glory of God above her own reputation. And finally, she was available to be used by God because Mary was willing to sacrifice that which was most important to her. She knew the consequences of what it meant to allow herself to be impregnated by the Holy Spirit of God.

You see the Old Testament law said that if a woman in the engagement, the betrothal period was unfaithful to her to be husband, the law was very serious. She was to be stoned to death for that violation. She knew Joseph well enough to know that he probably wouldn't do that to her, but he knew it would mean the dissolution of their engagement and the loss of the person who meant everything to her. See, to be available to God means to be willing to sacrifice what's most important to you. Are you willing to do that? Every time you look at this reproduction of Mary in a nativity scene, ask yourself this question. Am I available to God like Mary was? Am I really available? Am I doing everything I can to keep myself pure or free from sin? Do I believe the promises of God? Am I willing to place God's glory above my own reputation? Am I willing to sacrifice that which is most important to me? God uses those who are available.

And the second character we're going to look at in this nativity scene is Joseph. I've always felt kind of sorry for Joseph. I want you to think about this story from Joseph's point of view. His fiance comes in and says, "Joseph, I'm pregnant". Oh and by the way, the father is God. Now, how would you have responded to that? Honestly, come on. How would you have responded to that news from your fiance? We know how Joseph responded. The script was very clear. He didn't believe her. Not at first. The Bible says that he knew he wasn't going to stone her, but he decided to dissolve the marriage, dissolve the engagement. So it was not to cause any shame to Mary. Can you imagine what that news must've been like to Joseph to realize the person he'd loved most in the world had betrayed him? At least that's what he thought. He was getting ready to end the relationship when something dramatic happened.

Listen to Matthew 1:20. "But when Joseph had considered this," considered what? Ending the relationship. "When he had considered all of this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, 'Joseph, son of David, 'do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife: for the child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit'. And Joseph awoke from his sleep and he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and he took Mary as his wife, and he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son and called his name Jesus". You know what Joseph reminds us is God uses and honors those who are obedient. Here are the angel comes and says God is the one responsible. You take her as your wife. There was no arguing with Joseph. He didn't understand how it happened. He didn't understand how it would turn out, but in the darkness, he obeyed God. That's what it means to be obedient. When you see Joseph in these nativity scenes, ask yourself the question, am I being obedient to what I know God has told me to do? Even though I can't see the outcome of my obedience to him. God uses those who are obedient.

The next characters, the shepherds. The fact is God could have chosen anyone to announce the coming of the Savior of the world, the birth of Jesus, but of all the people he chose he didn't choose kings or princes or rulers or the rich. He chose the lowest rung of Jewish society, the shepherds. I mean, shepherds were absolutely despised in Jesus' day. And the reason is obvious. The reason they didn't get invited to the a-list parties in Jerusalem was because of their work. They work with sheep. That means they smelled like sheep as well. Nobody wanted to be around the shepherds, and yet it was this group of all of the people God could have chosen that God chose to announce the coming of the Savior of the world. Listen to the words of Luke 2:8-14. I bet you can recite them by heart almost. "In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock at night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them: and they were terribly frightened".

Understandably so. But the angel said to them, here it is again, "Do not be afraid: for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people: for today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, 'glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased'". Why did God choose to announce this news to the shepherds? Because the shepherds were humble. God chooses to bless and to save those who don't have any sense of pretense about them. Those who are humble. And you see that in their response in verse 15 to the news, look at this.

"When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, 'let us go straight to Bethlehem then and see this thing which has happened, which the Lord has made known to us'. And so they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph and the baby as he lay in the manger". What was their response when they heard this news? Immediately they dropped everything they were doing and they walked, they ran to Bethlehem to see this child. The shepherds understood, in their humility, that their need for God was total. And that's why God chose to deliver the good news to them, first of all. Every time you see these shepherds in a nativity scene, ask yourself the question have I like the shepherds admitted to God that my need for him is total and not partial? That I have no hope of heaven, apart from faith in Jesus Christ. God blesses, he saves those who are humble.

The other group, a more mysterious group in this nativity scene are what we call the wise men, the magi. The wise men remind us that God directs those who are sincere in their search for him. God gives direction to those who sincerely want to know him. Think about your own experience. Not all of you are Christians yet who are listening to this message, but many of you are. Think about how God led you out of spiritual darkness into the light of his son. God probably sent his own star, his own light to you that led you to Christ. When you see these magi, these wise men, ask yourself the question am I sincerely seeking to know God so that I may worship him? If so, he'll give you light. He'll give you direction.

Remember his words through Jeremiah, the prophet, Jeremiah 29:13. And you will find me when you search for me with your whole heart. God directs those who are sincere. And of course, that leads us to the central figure in this entire Christmas story, the baby in the manger, Jesus Christ. If there had been any other way for us to have a relationship with God, the Christmas story would have been unnecessary. But the reason the God of the universe was willing to humiliate himself, take the form of a bond servant and become obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, was Jesus was the only way for the forgiveness of sins. And whenever you look at this manger, this feeding trough, ask yourself, have I trusted in God's only provision for my sins?

You see, Jesus reminds us that God saves those who believe in him for eternal life. Jesus said it this way. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him, trusts in him, clings to him, shall not perish, but shall have eternal life. Someone has said there is majesty in the name God. There's personality in the name Jehovah. There is power in the name Lord. There is intercession in the name mediator, but there is salvation in no other name except the name Jesus. You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.
Are you Human?:*