Dr. Dan Hayden •
Mary was exhausted. The seventy mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem tended to be a long, arduous journey–especially for a woman nearing the final days of being “with child.” Jostling on a donkey or in a cart made by her husband for so many days had only made matters worse. Traffic was crazy, with thousands of people trying to get to the place of their lineage to register for the Roman tax. No one was happy.
Hope for a comfortable room at the Bethlehem Inn quickly dissolved into the reality of a bed of straw in an animal shelter. Labor pains began. No doctor or nurse would be available–not even a midwife–only Joseph. What in the world was God doing? This was HIS baby. You’d think He would have arranged something better for the birth of His son. The night promised to be uncomfortably long and painful.
Instead, the birth of the virgin baby wrapped this peasant couple in a mysterious joy. Nothing about their humble situation had changed by the next day. Bad smells . . . animal sounds . . . tired bones . . . the swollen town hustling along, ignoring who they were and what had happened in the night. Mary and Joseph sat alone in the shadows of the shelter, staring in wonder at their baby. Could it really be true that this helpless infant was GOD? Unbelievable!
Yet, it had to be real . . . just as the angel had said.
Dr. Dan Hayden •
We make decisions every day about what we will do, and what we will not do. And therein lies the dilemma of the human experience: Our lives revolve around alternative choices–forks in the road—and consequently those choices determine our destiny. Some choices are minor and neutral but others bear more weight. Some are downright crucial.
Like dominos tilting toward other dominos, most decisions set us on courses of action that influence other decisions, which eventually tumble toward a concluding destination or result. We all want to end up in pleasant places. But not all decisions have beneficial results and sometimes the consequences take us by surprise. Most often, though, we know what the result of a bad decision will be, but we intentionally indulge ourselves anyway. Eating wrong foods or devouring too much is like that. My doctor recently lectured me on eating better to remedy my borderline diabetes. He said, “Dan, if it tastes good, spit it out.”
So in the crucial decisions of life, why as believers in Jesus Christ do we do what we do? Well, it’s because our actions result from our thoughts. If we think like the world, we’ll act like the world. If we think prayerfully on Christ and His Word, our actions will reflect those thoughts. Salvation in Christ is supposed to change our thinking and enable us to make spiritually beneficial decisions. That’s what is supposed to happen. But I have noticed that in today’s American church it rarely does.