UPS expects to deliver 750 million packages this season, up from 500 million five years ago. The parcel service typically ships more than 19 million packages a day. But between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, that daily volume nearly doubles. What also increases is the reported thefts from porches and cars. UPS spokesman Matt O’Connor said the company does not disclose the cost of package theft. But in a 2017 survey, 30% of Americans say they have had a delivered package stolen from their home, before they got a chance to open it. 25.9 million Americans had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep in 2017 — up from 23.5 million porch thefts reported in 2015.
Nobody likes a thief especially during Christmas. However, for all of its emphasis on receiving the truth is there is also much attention to what was stolen in the Christmas account. Last week we talked about stolen presence. Today I want to talk to you about stolen opportunity. Before I continue may I remind you of a quote that I have mentioned to you before . . . The opportunity of a lifetime is only good during the lifetime of the opportunity. In other words, simply stated . . . opportunities can be missed or stolen and therefore we must capitalize when we have the chance. It should be no surprise that the enemy of our soul would not only want us to miss but also work to make sure we miss key moments. Remember Jesus, Himself, calls the devil a thief and says this thief's goal is to steal, kill and destroy. Paul would later admonish us to be aware of the schemes of the enemy so we wouldn't be unaware of his tactics. He wants to steal opportunities and the potential that could have been found in those moments. Now to the account.
“And she brought forth her son—the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.”
We have overlaid our Western mindset on the nativity scene. So when we read no room for Him in the inn we think of Best Western or Motel 6. However, the word that Luke uses here is Kataluma which really meant "guest room"! We also think of multiple individual rooms. However, as those who went to Israel experienced in the homes of that day this isn't an individual room. The homes of that day didn't have many individual rooms. So, a more accurate understanding of the text and scene would mean that the reference Luke makes is simply to space. What Luke is telling us is that there was not enough room, or enough space, for them.
I also don't want us to misread and begin to feel badly towards the "inn keeper". The people of that day have a code of hospitality towards travelers. So, I don't think there was ill will. However, there was lack of room that caused this family to miss the opportunity of a lifetime that I think we need to examine and use to ask ourselves some critical questions when it comes to our own interaction with Jesus.
Think about this a moment. This family has the opportunity to witness the birth of God in flesh. They could have had a front row seat as the God of the universe breaks into our reality. They could have been the welcoming party to the Messiah! They could have been the ones with balloons and storks to usher in the Savior of the world. But because they didn't have any room or space they missed the opportunity! You have already figured it out haven't you? You know I am going to ask it the question don't you?
A. How many of us miss Jesus because of lack of room or space in our life?
I wonder how many opportunities to experience, interact with, and encounter Jesus are passed by, opted out of, dismissed and stolen due to lack of space in our lives? What is crowding Jesus out of your life? People? Maybe you spend more time with people than with God? Maybe their cries for attention steal your time until you have nothing left for God. Work? The need for one more minute at the job. The devil is literally in the details because the details overwhelm you to the degree that you can't disconnect long enough to worship even when you leave the office. The cares of life? Bills, kids, calendars, relationships, plans, ambitions. All of the cares of life can be used to steal the opportunity that we have been given to steal away with Him. Jesus practiced this while here. In Mark 6:31-32 listen to what Jesus says, "Jesus said to them, `Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.' Many people were coming and going. They could not even eat. So they went away in a boat to a lonely place by themselves" Jesus knew that you could miss the opportunity to be with Him if you allow life to steal the moments.
Do you have space for Him? You may say . . . sure I do that is why I am here this morning. But how many of you know that even here you can be absent? Concerned about passing time. Distracted by those around you until you miss Him. Mind racing and you miss Him.
B. Are we too occupied?
Notice the inn keeper had no space because his space was occupied. However, he did make room for this needy family in the stable. Probably not a stable like we have fabricated on fireplace mantels. More likely an attached space inside the front door where animals were kept. It was fringe area where the livestock were safe but not inside the family's living space.
Another question. Maybe we will allow Him into fringe areas of our space. But we refuse to allow Him into the OCCUPIED areas of our life! Our lack of space keeps Him at safe distance. Just enough to say He is close but never allow Him to invade deep into our lives. Just keep Him at church. That really isn't life. Just keep Him in certain circles of friends and then in real life I can get away from Him. Have we missed the opportunity to allow Him into our work world? Have we missed the chance to let Him invade our love life? Have we become unwilling to allow Him to walk into our entertainment life? Let's keep Him on the fringe. Just enough Jesus to get by. In the house but not really in charge of the house! In military terms occupied means controlled. Who is in control of the bulk of your life?
We are missing the opportunity of experiencing a fully surrendered life. We are missing the benefits that can only be discovered by those who are fully occupied by Him!
I want to challenge you to make room for Him. Don't miss the opportunity that has been given to you to encounter Him. Make room for Him. Clear your schedule for Him. Clear your heart for Him. Clear your mind for Him. Don't miss this opportunity! Just like He did on His birthday He will do in your life . . . He will come seeking space. He will come in an unexpected manner. He will probably come at an inconvenient time when your life is full. He will probably arrive wrapped in an unlikely package. But He will come! The opportunity will come! Don't miss it. The "inn keeper" did. Others have as well . . .
John 1:11 - He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
They had no room to receive Him for who He was. Do you? Is He welcome in every area of your life?
Story of Christmas Play - inn keeper - He can have my room. Can He?