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Summary: In this passage, we see God’s providence working in at least 3 ways… 1. The TIMING of His birth 2. The PLACE of His birth and 3. The NATURE of His birth…

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A Humble Beginning

Series: Beginnings of a Legacy

December 20, 2009

As I was re-reading the story of Jesus’ birth, (for the billionth time)… I was amazed at how no matter how many times I read it, God always has something new to show me, that I’ve never seen before! This time as I read, I began to think about the whole idea of God’s providence. Anyone know what ‘providence’ is? Whether you understand (or believe) in it or not, everyone of us is affected by it. See,

• EITHER you believe that you’re just dust in the wind, an accident waiting to happen… OR… you believe that there’s order in the world we live in.

• EITHER you believe that your life is just a coincidental chance in the vastness of space… OR… you believe that there’s a purpose, a plan…a reason for your existence. It’s one or the other…

• EITHER God’s guiding hand is involved in history, down to the minutest details of my life…OR… my life is a blip on the screen of evolutionary time.

Now…the belief that God is in control, and that you can see His guiding hand in every detail of human existence is what Christians call… PROVIDENCE. It’s God in all of His goodness… God in all of His power, working in and through everything and everyone…directing the entire universe. It’s the idea that “history” is in reality… HIS-STORY! And someday when we see it from His perspective, we’ll realize how incredibly and intimately involved He’s been in (not only) in human history… but in MY LIFE!

As I read about the birth of Jesus this morning, I want you to see the providential hand of God working behind the scenes to put this whole thing together…READ Luke 2:1-7

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.” –Luke 2:1-7 (NLT)

As I read this passage this week I saw God’s providence working in at least 3 ways… and I want you to see it too!

1st of all in…

1. The TIMING of His birth

2. The PLACE of His birth and

3. The NATURE of His birth…

1st let’s take a look at the timing of Christ’s birth…

1. The TIMING of His birth

Luke makes the timing of Jesus’ birth very clear. He says…

At that time… the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) Now, in the past, I’ve just kind of skimmed over that part because it didn’t really mean that much to me… but the bible is being very specific for a reason. God wants us to know that the birth of Jesus Christ was a real event, and it happened to real people. This isn’t some kind of mythical story the bible is telling here… it really occurred! To prove it, God gives us the exact time that it happened! He says that “Augustus” was the Roman Emperor. Augustus was a real person… you can check him out in any secular history book. At that time Rome occupied Israel…and the Jews hated them for it! Caesar Augustus was totally oblivious to what was going on with Mary and Joseph… they were ‘nobodies’ to him. Yet unbenounced to Him, God, was providentially directing and using this secular Emperors actions to fit perfectly into His timetable. Can God use unbelievers for His purposes? You better believe He can! The amazing thing is that when God’s providence is directing you, you very rarely know it. You usually find it out AFTER the fact!

Augustus was born Gaius Octavius in 63 B.C. He was the grandnephew of Julius Caesar, who adopted him as a son and officially declared him the heir to the throne of the Roman Empire. After the assassination of Julius, Octavian didn’t immediately ascend to the throne… He had a power struggle with Mark Antony but eventually he prevailed and ruled the Roman Empire from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14. Now, “Augustus”, wasn’t actually his name, it was a title that he gained which meant “majestic, highly honored one”. Augustus had great military, political, and social skills, and under his rule, he was able to end all the little civil wars in the Empire, bringing about an incredible peace through out the entire known world. It was called the “Pax Romana”, or “peace of Rome” (if you know your history).

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