Messages from Pastor Raddatz

December 19, 2021 Mount Olive Lutheran Church Houston TX



Micah 5:2-4 "But youBethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judahout of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel whose origins are from oldfrom ancient times"Verse 2 

Sometimes little townswhich are only dots on the mapachieve great fameGreen Baya rural Wisconsin townis notable because it sponsors National League Football teamBethlehemPennsylvaniawas settled by Moravian Christians in 1735 to be a peaceful town of the simple lifeThe Moravians were descendants of John Huswho suffered martyrdom for his faith in Bohemia before the Lutheran ReformationThe Moravians in Pennsylvania chose the name "Bethlehem" for their villagebecause they wanted to imitate the simplicity of life so apparent in the Christmas storyThe headquarters of the northern province of the Moravian Church in America are still thereIronicallythe city is better known today as having been the center of what was one of the great steel companies of AmericaBethlehem SteelThe name is an oxymoronif there ever was oneThe products of this companywhich was associated with a name made synonymous with "little" by the Prophet Micahproved to be a network of girders and framework for the expansion of this country

Bethelehem means HOUSE OF BREAD...or foodThe name of the original Bethlehem gained its fame from the Christmas story and the many fictional accounts of how our Lord was born therePhillips Brooksthe famous preacher of the nineteenth century, immortalized the name of Bethlehem with the popular Christmas carol"O Little Town of Bethlehem." Yet the significance and the importance of the town is best expressed in the message of the Prophet Micahwho understood what was to be involved in the divine choice of Bethlehem as the birthplace of our Lordand why it was important for Jesus to bborn there

Micah's view was rural and lacking sophistication. He may have been regarded as a country bumpkin. Certainly the people had low regard of him when he suggested that the City of Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom would also fall. Israel had been divided into two kingdomsthe Northern and the SouthernTo be surethe fall of the Southern Kingdom was still a long way off. Howeverthe prophet sensed that Judah could not prevail in her present practices without paying the price for her sins. The bold rustic prophet wasin factthe first to predict the destruction of JerusalemThe thought of the destruction of the holy city undoubtedly was as repugnant to him as to the people who believed that the holy city could never be assailed because God lived thereinhundred years later Micah's prophecy was quoted in the royal court when people questioned Jeremiah's prediction of the city's destruction

We foolishly look for the "highly visible" to be the great heroes of faithOften we ask God to make us high and mighty for evidence of His goodness. We are plagued with the Gospel of successThis is not something I just see in someone elsebut it is in every one of usWe are disillusioned if we follow this was of false glory. Shouldn't we be looking for significance verses success? God's way is not always the most visible to othersGod often uses the low in society to do his highly important workBE 


There have been some small and great people. AlexandePope, English poet 4'6" 

Olga Korbut, Soviet gymnast 4'11

John KeatsEnglish poet 5'3/4

Debbie Reynolds, U.S. actress 5'1

St. Francis of Assisi, Italian saint 5'1

Micky Rooney, U.$. actor 5'3" 

VoltaireFrench writer 5'3" 

James MadisonU.Spresident 5'4" 

Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter 5'4" 

Hirohito, Japanese emperor 5'5

Aristotle OnassisGreek shipping tycoon 5'5

Napoleon BonaparteFrench emperor 5'6" 

(esermons, Illustrations, web site) Booof Lists#2p6

God uses apparent misfits as his chosen ones. Rick Warren in THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE identifies a roll call of individuals that had obvious and glaring faults and "handicaps", that did not seem to limit God from using them powerfully. He writes"If your'e not involved in any service or ministry, what excuse have you been using? Abraham was oldJacob was insecureLeah was unattractiveJoseph was abusedMoses stutteredGideon was poor, Samson was codependentRehab was immoralDavid had an affair and all kind of family problemsElijah was suicidalJeremiah was depressed, Jonah was reluctant, Naomi was a widowJohn the Baptist was eccentric to say the least, Peter was impulsive and hot-temperedMartha worried lotthe Samaritan woman had several failed marriagesZacchaeus was unpopularThomas had doubtsPaul had poor health and Timothy was timidThat is quite a variety of misfitsbut God used each of them in his service. He will use you too if you stop making excuses. 

There are small ways wcan live securely. Through this little town God sent his son who guides us in the strength and majesty of the Lord (verse 4)Just as this little town is nonecessarily a peaceful place todayThe holidays often bring conflictAs us imperfect people come togetherI would like to give you some relational tools which might help you in a great way


1Know that you can't change othersWe all want the picture perfect Hallmark family and most people want to believe that their family is really that wonderful group of people if they could just get in the right circumstances. If we go into a holiday with an agenda to try to get people to act differently or change their lives we are going to be frustrated and disappointedBoundaries can help us. 


2Limit the time you are together. Just because you may have a week off doesn't mean you have to spend the entire week with family, 


3. Make an escape planSometimes the atmosphere of the family and their reactions geoverwhelmingMake plans for a short break with an afternoon walkMake sure you have a car available. It gives you the option out saving you from feeling 



4Use your AlliesIf you have a supportive spouse or sibling, strategize with them to help in awkward situations


5Give yourself a giftAll the Christmas hype leads us to believe that we must purchase that perfect thoughtful gift for someone else. Be your own best friend. Buy yourself a giftIt doesn't have to be expensiveit may be an early morning walk or tickets to play or an entire evening where you and your friends can be alone(Association of Christian Therapists, Dec 22003, Fax) 

Most importantly, feed on the greatness of the baby Jesus this Christmas. Praise and thanks to God for the savior who paid for all our sins and makes us His childrenHe stands for you. This is the position of readiness and watchfulness. Thanks be to God that through this small infant born in this small town we can live securelyAmen

Jfr/Dec 19, 2021, re-written from 2003 

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