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Jesus laying in a manger

"Away in a Manger".  I must have sung it at least a thousand times, but it wasn't until hearing a little boy sing it this week that I really stopped and listened to the words.

Away in a manger no crib for a bed
The little Lord, Jesus lay down his sweet head,
The stars in the sky look down where he lay,
The little Lord, Jesus asleep on the hay.

I don't know how many of you grew up on a farm, but when you lay down in a pile of hay it is not soft and comfy.  Some people seem to think it feels like laying on a pile of yarn or tinsel.  Let me tell you, it's not.  It is itchy!  My brother and I used to go play in a the hay barn (which we got in trouble for) and when we were done we would be covered in little red dots from being poked.  Not a place I would want to lay my baby down for the night.

But Mary and Joseph (the Earthly parents of Jesus) had no choice.  They were forced to return to Joseph's home town of Bethlehem for a census.  When they got there they were told repeatedly "There is no room at the inn!".  Finally, an inn keeper took pity on the pregnant Mary and allowed the family to sleep in the stable with his animals.  His mother probably laid him in the manger so he wouldn't be stepped on by the animals. 

I know I have met mothers who are absolutely terrified that their child might encounter a germ.  Can you imagine laying your child down for the night in a feed trough?  Maybe you had to watch where you stepped to avoid toys, but manure?  Can you imagine the smell?

At birth, Jesus and his family were essentially homeless.

But listen to this last verse:

Be near me Lord, Jesus,
I want thee to stay,
Close by me forever and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.

No longer are we singing about a Baby Boy who is relying on the sympathy of an inn keeper to have a roof over his head.  No more itchy hay.  In fact, the songwriter asks Jesus to bless the children.  But most importantly, the songwriter ask Jesus to take us to Heaven so that we can live there with him.  In fact, John 14:2 says:

In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

Not only will Jesus allow us to live with him in Heaven, he is preparing a place for us in Heaven.  Instead of telling us, "There is no room, but you may stay in the stable." he has sent you a personal invitation to live with Him in His Father's house forever!  Have you accepted your invitation yet?  Here's how:

1.  Tell God that you know you have done things that have disappointed Him.  Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned all fall short of the glory of God."  Everyone.  You can't hide it.  He already knows.  Like a parent though, he wants to know that you know.  So tell him, just like you would confide in a friend or your own parents.  Tell him you are sorry and ask him to forgive you.  He is listening.

2.  Believe in your heart that God sent his son to Earth as a baby to die on a cross so that you could be forgiven of your sins.  Then, (and this part is really important), after laying in a tomb for three days, he rose from the dead.  Think about it.  If he died on the cross and that was the end, how could he be in Heaven right now preparing your place in His Father's house?

3.  Tell God that you accept His invitation to be his permanent house-guest in Heaven.  Thank Jesus for all the pain and suffering He endured to arrange for you to live with Him forever.  And promise to follow his House Rules and help out with the chores (whatever it is he may ask you to do).

If you just accepted your invitation, welcome to the party!  I accepted mine when I was in fifth grade.  Following Jesus will not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.

Here are a few things you can do to start your new journey:

  • Tell someone!  If you have a friend or family member who is a Christian, let them know.  If you don't know who to tell, I would love to know!  Just send me a message or leave something in the comments.
  • Get a Bible.  If money is an issue for you, there are many Christians who would love to give you a free Bible. 
    • Local Churches
    • Salvation Army
    • Christian Motorcyclist Association
    • Giddeons
    • WAY-FM
  • Find a church home.  My church is like a second family to me.  Yes, my church may have imperfect people, but what family doesn't?  In spite of our differences, we encourage each other and bond over our love for Jesus Christ.

 

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