It's too bad we can't have this Christmas feeling ALL the time. People waving and saying, "The Lord bless you." That's one thing I like about Christmas.
And I want to take this time to say, to each and every one of you, how grateful I am for your cards and gifts. I have nothing to give in return, except my thanks, and the Word of the Lord. A special hello to any new listener.
I want to speak on "God's Wrapped Gift".
Our text is Luke 2:7, "And Mary brought forth her first-born son, (which indicates Jesus was not her only child), and wrapped Him in swaddling cloth, and laid Him in the manger; because there was no room for them in the inn".
Thank God for His marvelous Gift. We have nothing we can give in return. All He asked was, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will take your burdens and your sins, and set you free." What an exchange! Nobody could do that but Father God. And we are His witnesses in this dark hour, that Christ took our burden of sin, and gave us joy and peace instead.
How thankful we are for this inner Christian experience: Christmas in our hearts. And so happy to know that we're living at the end time, when we see the signs of His Coming.
I've often wondered why Bethlehem was chosen to be the birthplace of the King of kings? Bethlehem is such a small town. Why didn't God choose a more religious place for this great event, like Shiloh, which accommodated the ark after it crossed Jordan. Or Gilgal, another great religious city; or Zion, on the mountain, or even the capital, Jerusalem.
Why would He choose Bethlehem when He might have chosen one of the great cities of refuge, which type our denominations? Places like Ramoth-Gilead, Kadesh, or Hebron.
And why did He choose individuals, outside the grand denominations in this day? Sometimes He takes things with no spiritual background, or no background at all. He can take something that's nothing, and make something out of it. That's what makes HIM God. That's what makes us love Him. Although we're poor, and have no background, God can do great things with us, if ever He gets us under His control.
When Joshua divided the Land, the tribe of Judah was given this portion in the wheat belt, where Bethlehem is. "Bethlehem", means "House of God's Bread." It's great because of the great things that happened here. It isn't the great church, it's the great God in the church. It wasn't the holy mountain, it was the great Holy Spirit that was on the mountain. It isn't the holy man, it's the Holy Ghost in the man.
Bethlehem was and remains small in stature, and not much to look upon. But God chose it. Here Rachel was buried, Ruth gleaned in Boaz' field, David was anointed king, Christ was born in a manger, and wise men from the east found the Savior.
Because she was a beautiful young girl, Rahab was turned onto the streets by her heathen parents, to bring them an income from prostitution. Yet this immoral girl had heard that there was a God Who answered prayer. At her first opportunity to do something for Him, she did it. God spared her life, and saved her father and mother, and her family.
She fell in love with a general in Joshua's army. They married and settled in Bethlehem. Their grandson, Boaz, married Ruth, another Gentile. Their grandson, Jesse, was the father of David. Which made Jesus part Gentile, earthly speaking. This was His lineage coming into being - to fulfill the Scriptures so-called `spiritual men' were overlooking. This all took place in little Bethlehem.
Jesus, the Son of David, was born in a little stable, on the side of a hill, on the west side of the city. There on that hill, the angels of God sang their first noel.
Joseph must have said something like this, "Mary, just think, just past the city, on the north side is where Ruth the Moabite gleaned in the fields of Boaz. Just over the mountain, is where David with his slingshot dropped the lion to the ground, and pulled the sheep from his mouth. Must have been there, where Joshua, the fearless warrior of our people stood with his gleaming sword, and divided this inheritance to the tribe of Judah, to which we were born."
Just a little while from then the world would receive the greatest Gift it ever received, the first little Christmas Package. It was God Himself, wrapped in human flesh, and sent to the world.
Why did they turn It down? Why didn't they want It? The same reason they don't want It now! It wasn't handed to them in the customary manner. That's the reason It's rejected yet today. It wasn't wrapped as they expected.
They anticipated a general, to ride down from heaven in a chariot, with an Angel escort of fiery horses. But He came as a little baby born in a manger.
They asked for a sign. God said, "I'll give you a Sign. It'll be a Sign that will last through all Ages. A virgin shall conceive and bear a child, and they shall call His Name 'Emmanuel'." But It didn't come in the way they expected it, so they turned It down.
And today, if God's Gift doesn't come in the way people want It to come, they turn It down. They want It wrapped in tinsel. They want something flowery, something perfumed, something glittering, something that's classic. But God sends It in the way He wants to send It.
Another thing, Mary and Joseph were peasants. And because It was brought by the poor, they didn't want It.
And today, when this great Gift of the Church, the Holy Spirit, falls upon the poor and humble, the rich don't want It. They don't want to humble themselves. They want It with class - they don't want It the way God sends It. Many people want to receive the Holy Ghost, but they want to receive It their way. I'm so glad we can't do it that way! We have to do it the way God sends It to us, and humble ourselves to receive It.
It wasn't wrapped in fine linen. They had no clothes for Emmanuel, Creator of Heavens and earth, so He was wrapped in swaddling cloth which was the rag around the ox's yoke, to prevent it chafing when he was working.
Here was little Jehovah, God made flesh, crying like a baby. God, Who was before there was a world, or a star, or a molecule, Who covers all space and time, wrapped Himself in a little Package, and was laid in a manger, in a stable, with the animal manure. Jehovah was laying there, crying like a baby. Can you imagine it?
The rich didn't want anything like that, delivered by some fanatic peasant girl - by a carpenter who maybe didn't know his ABC's. It was so humble.
IF it doesn't come wrapped in their creeds with tinsel and bright, shiny lights, they don't want It and say, "There's nothing to It." Australia doesn't want God. The churches don't want God. They want Santa Claus. They refused the Truth of the Gospel, of the Power and resurrection of Christ Jesus. It won't wrap with their creeds, like the Apostles' Creed.
There is no such a thing. The only creed they ever knew, is found in Acts 2:38, "Repent, every one of you, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost."
The only thing that Christ will be wrapped in, is your heart. He wants your heart, to bring you to Eternal Life. They couldn't receive It, because they thought more of their creeds than they did of the Gift.
That's the way it is today. People accept speaking with tongues, prophecy, and Divine healing, but refuse the Word because their creed condemns It. How foolish to take the wrapping and throw the Gift away! They forget that the Gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ. This Christmas He's just as much rejected as He was that first Christmas night.
Little wonder there was no room for him at the inn! He wasn't classically wrapped. He was wrapped as a Gift from a God they knew nothing about. They claimed to be looking for Him. But He didn't come in the way they thought He was coming - according to their creeds. He was wrapped up like a Baby. He was born in a stable. He came from poor people; from a bunch of "fanatics". How could they receive something like That?
There is no room for Him yet, in the churches. Christ is just as rejected today as He was back there. There's no room today, in our big, fine churches. No room in our religious circles, today for a Holy Ghost meeting. They don't want It. It belittles them to think that they should humble themselves until they're filled with Power from on High, and rise in newness of Life; till women let their hair grow out, and act like women ought to; and men throw away their cigarettes, quit their drinking, and treat their families right. It's too much for them, so they hold to their church creed instead of receiving God's Christmas Gift.
They'd rather have a creed; rather have the paper, than the Gift. Something that's all tinsel and lots of fuss. But the real Gift, that's on the inside; they don't want It.
He was wrapped in swaddling cloth then. He's wrapped in the same humility today; and the world doesn't want It. But under that cloth is Eternal Life - God made flesh and dwelt among us!
Jesus can come in the form of the resurrection and Power, and show signs and wonders, and every newspaper will criticize It.
If it's going to cost anything, people want nothing to do with It. If it was going to cost them a herd of swine, the pig farmers in Gadara didn't want a revival. Poor Legion was the only one that wanted help. He always comes to those who want Him; to those who need Him. So Legion was the only one that was helped.
It'll cost you your social prestige, your big times, your dirty jokes and all the things of the world. That's why they don't want It, It'll cost them something. But It'll give them a name written in the Lamb's Book of Life, that fadeth not away.
Herod didn't want Him. Because He was going to change his program. And government doesn't want Him today. The UN doesn't want Christ, He'd change their programs.
He disagreed with their creed and called the churches a generation of vipers, and whited walls. He said of Herod, "Go tell that fox." And what's dirtier than a fox? His YES was yes, and His NO, no!
The churches today don't want a pastor filled with the Holy Ghost, that'll really say what's right and wrong. They won't welcome Him. They'd assemble the Deacon board, and quickly fire him - turn him away for another one, who'll talk about their creeds. They welcome their friends and politicians, but they won't welcome Christ.
Brother, I know no creed but Christ, no law but love, and no book but the Bible. That's what we need. That's what the churches need.
They'd prefer Santa Claus, anytime. Santa Claus has taken over. What's more of a myth than Santa Claus? Never was such a thing! Telling children lies. You'll be responsible for it at the Day of the Judgment. Young people no longer know what Christmas means. They don't know what Easter means. To them it's some kind of a rabbit or a yellow-colored chicken. What's the resurrection got to do with a chicken, the dirtiest bird there is? And they put it there, to take the place of Christ.
No wonder people don't know what to do! They'll take anything artificial, but they don't want the real thing. They don't want the Gift of God. They don't want Jesus.
One reason they didn't want Him is because He found their filth in the temple. He cleaned it up. He overturned the tables and ran the money changers out. And if they'd ever let the Holy Ghost into one of these big churches, He would clean it up. He'd overturn their trustee board. What a difference there'd be, if He came into the churches today! But He can't get in. He stands outside the door, knocking, trying to get back in His church after being kicked out, and He's calling to His own to come out of Babylon, and its sin.
God said He'd give them over to strong delusions, to believe a lie and be damned by it. If you refuse right, you have to take wrong. When they refused the Holy Ghost, they refused Christ, and refused God's program. They refused the messenger, they refused every- thing, so they're left in their sin. There's nothing left to them but judgment.
One of the most pathetic pictures the Bible paints, is Christ, outside the church that's called by His Name.
One of the most pathetic Words Jesus ever spoke, was when He said, "Father, I sanctify Myself, that they might be sanctified." In other words, He had a right as a man, to a home, He had a right to a family. He was as much human in His manhood as you or I. He had a right to it. But He was training twelve men who were to take the Gospel into all the world, so He sanctified Himself for their sake. "I sanctify Myself, for their sake." A gift of God, keeping Himself sanctified!
Oh, gifts of God, you people who claim you've received His Spirit, keep yourself sanctified. Keep away from the things of the world.
God unfolded Himself to become a Christmas Package. The first thing He had to press against His little head, was straw, and a dirty piece of swaddling cloth wrapped around Him. The last thing He had was a crown of thorns, with a dirty rag wrapped over His eyes. He was smitten on the head, and asked, "If You're a prophet, tell us who hit You," then nailed to a cross. Love reaching out! With His Own children crying for His Blood, He screamed, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing." That's love.
The church doesn't want that. They want a creed. We need love. The church is dying by creeds.
The only way anyone can ever know what's in the Package is if it's revealed to them. You'll turn It down, and say, "It's fanaticism"; but when you get the revelation, you'll seek It. You'll open up, and God will come in and sup with you, and you with Him, when you're ready to open the door, and let Him in. That little Package knocking at your heart, is the greatest Christmas Gift ever given. You'll never know It until It's revealed to you.
When you see that, It's Life, and the only way of Life, when you see that your church is dry and dead, and that handshake with your pastor and sprinkling, in place of faith and baptism, has nothing to do with it, then you'll go to investigating.
God guided the Magi to the Word, by a Supernatural Star that shone in the east. He promised to guide us to the parousia Coming of the same Word by a Star shining His Light in the west, revealing Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and today and for ever, by the Sign of Hebrews 4:12 - discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart - "as it was in the days of Lot".
Jesus said there'd be seven Stars, seven men, who'd be the angels, or messengers sent to each of seven Church Ages. The first Star was the prophet Paul, whose ministry delivered the faith in the first Church Age. The seventh or last was another prophet: William Branham, whose ministry restored the apostolic faith, and finished the mystery of God in these last days, to call His people out of Babylon into oneness with the fullness of the Word, for the manifestation of the Sons of God and the translation.
Jesus promised a supernatural Light in the heavens, His disciples called "the sign of His parousia". We mentioned this manifestation of the Shekinah last week, when we described a huge Supernatural Cloud, 26 miles high by 30 miles across that appeared over Tucson, Arizona, on February 28, 1963 as foretold in Matthew 24, Acts 1, and Revelation 1.
What's all this about? Lights, sacred Lights coming from Heaven, having pictures taken, great signs, discernments, powers, speaking with tongues, interpretation, telling things that's forthcoming, the power of the Gospel, healing the sick, taking the cancers and healing them, blind eyes opened, raising the dead; all these kinds of things, what's It all about?
Be careful, It might be swaddling cloth.
Balaam thought that God would curse a people like Israel? But he looked at the swaddling cloth, instead of seeing the smitten Rock, and the Brass Serpent that were sent before them for an atonement.
So is it today! It's the power of the Holy Ghost, revealing Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever, by wonders among the people as He promised to do in the last days. He said, "As it was in the days of Lot, so will it be in the Coming of the Son of man". And He did those signs and wonders among the people, in our day, showing Himself alive. Where? Amongst poor and humble - the common people who hear Him gladly. Folk call it "fanaticism," and cast It out. You'd better investigate That, before it gets too far from you.
Don't be confused by the swaddling cloth of humility. God hides in simplicity and reveals Himself in humility. It might be later than you think. Ponder these things as you seek God's Christmas Gift of Eternal Life. radio052.html
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