Summary: Beginnings are very important. However, they usually start very, very small.
A Place of Beginning
Micah 5:2 -- “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
Matthew 2:1 -- “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,”
l. INTRODUCTION -- THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE SOUL
-Geography and navigation are perhaps two of the oldest, yet important aspects of the discoveries of man. It was through the ability to know geography and navigation that Columbus could come from Spain to the Americas in the 1400’s. It was the same understanding of navigation that Lewis and Clark discovered the western slopes of the Rockies in the early formation of our nation.
-Men have always determined their course of travel by the lay of the land and by the watch of the stars. Long before the days of maps and computer tracking systems, man understood by the conditions of the weather, by the feel of the sea, and by the activities of animals that travel was to be a careful thing.
-The same case is true with the navigational devices of the soul. It is there, deep within the soul, that an understanding of geography is imperative. One might deny that there is a tendency to sin. Often in the sunlight of the soul, the cliffs with their lazy growth of ivy, the smattering of the flowers, and the humming of nature, that the delinquency of the heart goes undetected.
-Yet, should one attempt to take the Lamp of the Word of God into the caves within the unregenerate heart, one would immediately began to sense the dank, damp, slippery surfaces. There would be the faint growling of the hidden beasts that slumber within the spirits of men. There would be heard the slithering and hissing of the serpent, fleeing from the light within the heart of man.
-That is why there must be a spiritual transformation within every life. That transformation must extend into our lives until devotion no longer has to compete with lesser activities.
-The highs and lows of life all mark the progress of the soul. There is always a spectrum of victory and of defeat. Such is illustrated best with the prophet Elijah. One day calling fire from heaven on Carmel and a short time later, despondent under the juniper tree.
ll. BETHLEHEM -- A PLACE OF BEGINNING
-Every great man is forced into a beginning if his life is to ever amount to anything. There are too many who are waiting on someday.
• Someday I will pray.
• Someday I will discipline myself.
• Someday I will began saving and wisely investing both time and talent.
• Someday I will forgive.
• Someday I will let past failures die.
• Someday. . . . Someday. . . . . Someday. . . .
-While they wait on someday, the most productive days of life are slowly slipping away from them.
Proverbs 10:4-5 -- “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.”
-Those who are willing to spend some investment in a beginning will ultimately find that the Cross becomes a Crown. It is not uncommon at all for the beginning of an endeavor to began with pain.
• Every day begins in the darkness of midnight.
• Each year finds its birth in the wintry cold and gloom.
• The life of every plant opens with the fracture of the seed.
A. The Geography of Bethlehem
-That Bethlehem was located in the middle of the wilderness was no mystery. The surrounding landscape, the sea-level, and the weather patterns designated it to be a place of little production.
-The mystery was that in the middle of the dry arid desert that there would be wheat fields that flourished and lush green vineyards that boasted of the finest figs, delicate olives, and succulent grapes.
-The area around Bethlehem was not conducive to growth. It was near the Dead Sea but out of this desert land arose the “house of bread.”
B. The “Place” of Bethlehem
-Bethlehem found itself not only to be a fruitful place in the middle of the desert, it was at it=s juncture that some significant things happened.
1. Bethlehem, A Place of Kings
-Long before the time of Jesus Christ, David had tended the flocks in the outlying areas of Bethlehem. Bethlehem, small and humble was the hiding place that kings have their birth.
-The man after the heart of God, found his residence here. The Man who was God found His birthplace here.