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O Little Town of Bethlehem

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Micah 5:2-3 NLT

Micah from the text, provides a prophecy regarding the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah is the promised One on who’s coming all the plans and purposes of God hinge. He would be born as a man in Bethlehem (v. 2), even though His “origins are in the distant past.” When the Messiah comes, He will shepherd His people, deliver the scattered remnant, provide restoration, and change the heart of those who will trust Him for their salvation and to root out all that has been associated with their sin. Most of the Old Testament deals with the national experience of God’s people. Judgments are announced on the Hebrew nation and promises a national restoration if the nation will return to the covenant. But how about the individual? Didn’t God care about individuals in Old Testament days? Micah helps us to answer such questions, and to see that throughout history God has retained concern for the individual. In every age, God’s overall working in history and society matches with His love for every individual. It is in God’s “wondrous gift” born in Bethlehem silently that Christ comes into our lives today and casts out our sins and fears if we are willing to have Him in our lives. Christ wants to enter into our lives. The glorious message of Christmas is beautifully told in this well-phrased hymn by Phillips Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Phillips Brooks is a pastor of the past century. During a trip to the Holy Land in 1865, Brooks went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve to spend time worshipping God. He was deeply moved by this experience that he always come back to this experience. Until three years later, while leading the Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia, Brooks desired to have a special carol for the children to sing in their Sunday school Christmas program. As he recalls the peaceful scene in the little town of Bethlehem, Brooks composed the lyrics of the famous hymn in just one evening. He provided a copy of the words to his organist, Lewis R. Redner, and asked him to compose a melody that would be easy for the children to sing. On the evening just before the program was to be given, Redner recalled how he was awakened in the middle of the night and wrote the melody of hymn. As the last paragraph of the hymn goes, may this be the prayer of your heart if you have not surrendered your life to Christ:

“O holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in—be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!”

If Christ is already the Lord of your life, take time to rejoice in the joy of Christ’s birth. Even in the midst of all the rush and activity of the Christmas season, pray to Him that He will abide with you in a special way.



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