987) Where is Bethlehem?

From The Word for Every Day, by Alvin Rogness, Augsburg Publishing House, 1981, page 365.

     Bethlehem can be in our hearts.  Jesus came to this little village.  He can come to us too.

     His coming to the earth centuries ago was a part of Gods gigantic maneuver to get into our hearts.  In fact, if people are not captured for him, there is a sense in which Bethlehem and Calvary will have failed.  God’s objective is not the conquest of nations, but of people, you and me, one by one.  It stretches the imaginations to their limits to believe that God would bother with this tiny planet and with us who despoil it and who too often ignore him and one another.

     He did not come because great hosts of people awaited him.  On that first Christmas night only a few scattered shepherds took note.  The rest of the world, and even the little village itself, carried on as if nothing eventful had occurred.  Even during Jesus 33 years on earth, there was no surge of interest and loyalty.  At Calvary virtually everyone had deserted him.

     Only in the wake of the Easter resurrection did things happen, and even then rather quietly.  Not until three centuries later did he find a place in the courts of the empire.  But since that time the name of Jesus has become the most honored name in the world.  Hundreds of millions have acclaimed him King and Lord and Savior.

     God’s objective remains the same as that Bethlehem night.  Not nations, not civilizations, not cultures, not the planet itself (all these are passing away), but people, one by one, are in his eye.  And he wants to take up residence within us, to hold and keep us now and forever.  We are his Bethlehem, as Phillips Brooks says in his beloved hymn:

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O Little Town of Bethlehem, verse 3


Luke 2:15  —  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Matthew 22:37-38  —  Jesus replied:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’   This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Romans 10:9  —  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Philippians 4:7  —  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Come Into My Heart, Lord Jesus  by Harry Clarke (1888-1957)

Come into my heart, O Lord Jesus,
Come into my heart, I pray;
My soul is so troubled and weary,
Come into my heart, today.

Refrain:  Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus;
Come in today, come in to stay,
  Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.

Come into my heart, O Lord Jesus,
I need Thee through life’s dreary way;
The burden of sin is so heavy,
Come into my heart to stay.  Refrain.

Come into my heart, O Lord Jesus,
Now cleanse and illumine my soul;
Fill me with Thy wonderful Spirit,
Come in and take full control.  Refrain.

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