The Holy Spirit stopped me this morning and asked me a question… “Where do you live?”
Well, I knew where but why was He asking me? I was pretty certain it wasn’t just a rhetorical question and I was also certain that He was going to tell me. I just wasn’t prepared for the answer.
His question was not about “where” but about “how,” which actually has everything to do with where I am living. When He asked me if it was Bethlehem I was stumped!
He took me back to Hebrews 10, where the writer (I believe it was Paul) opens up about the Law being a shadow of good things to come (10:1). He makes the point, however, that the Law and our working of the Law can never make things perfect. In other words, it’s not our work but His work that has dealt with sin… For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (10:4).
About now you are asking the question that was on my lips… Bethlehem?
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all at one time or another have been focused on working for God. Using the gift(s) that He has given us to do our part in His Kingdom. And rightfully so, for there is a world full of lost people and we have been called to go out and minister the gospel to them. That is where I have had such a struggle in my life… just who is doing the work? That answer was more often than not… me. His answer was yes… because you are not living in Bethlehem.
Where I am living has everything to do with whose voice I am being obedient to… mine or the Spirit’s… and therefore who I am working for… Lo, I come to do thy will, O God (10:9). It is always so easy for me to find a reason to validate that my will is His will, which never works out in the end. There is only one way that we can ever be certain that we are following His will and doing His work… by living in Bethlehem.
We need to put our complete trust in God and not in ourselves, and to accomplish that He expects our life to be a Bethlehem. That brings up a lot of questions to answer: Are we allowing our natural life to be slowly transfigured by the Holy Spirit; are we growing in our relationship with Jesus as He did with The Father while living in Bethlehem; are we committed to God’s ultimate purpose for our life, that His Son might be manifested in our flesh; are we focused on Jesus’ needs and not our own; has our work become more important than our relationship with Him; where are we living? He made His point and I got it!
His perfect will for our life is for us to work out His perfect life in us, work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12); the perfect life He placed in our heart under the care of His Spirit. As a child, Jesus lived among us in Bethlehem, where the Holy Spirit prepared Him for the “work” He was called to complete for The Father. His job was to be obedient to that calling, one day at a time. It was all about growing in His relationship with The Father as the Son of Man.
That’s the challenge for us. We need to put our trust in Him and follow His example of being obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, not to “our” works, no matter how much we believe they will benefit His Kingdom.
When God’s needs in us have been met, then He will open the way for us to realize His needs elsewhere. It all takes place in Bethlehem.