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Devotional: May 13, 2021

*But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5: 2 NRSV This verse surprises me, and most readers. Why? It speaks of one of the smaller tribes of Judah, (remember that there were twelve tribes in all) becoming the source of the one to rule over Israel. It is as though the prophet is deliberately setting up a contrast between the very humble origins, and very great outcome from Bethlehem. Jeana and I had the opportunity to visit Bethlehem during our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It is not a metropolitan city with large buildings like Jerusalem today. Rather it is a quiet city, except for the thousands of tourists who go to the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus was believed and most likely was born. Even so, it seemed like people go directly to Christ’s birthplace, and really don’t spend time there beyond that visit. God did not declare that Jesus had to leave Bethlehem, He only wanted to point out that a humble place is not to be thought of less. Many people never leave the community they were born in. Jesus Himself did not stay where He was born. God’s life plan had a different direction. Yet I believe Jesus gave honor to the city of Bethlehem for being the first part of His journey. Jesus was born in a humble location. Although He and his family moved on, Bethlehem was the beginning of defining His ministry. Wherever we are born, if we stay there, or move on, we can grow and thrive. The point of this passage is that God can use us for His glory and surprise others, no matter what people think the odds are of us succeeding. Sometimes, there are echoes of this truth in our world. The recent running of the Kentucky Derby is one such example. The winner was a horse named Rich Strike, who almost no one suspected had much of a chance. The betting odds on the horse were 80 to 1: talk about a longshot! As the race progressed, it seemed as though the favored horse Epicenter-the 5 to 1 favorite-would win. But then Rich Strike, this relatively unknown horse, had a tremendous final kick. The horse ended up winning the race! I think he was well-named. The point? Even if people say your odds are 80 to 1, never, ever give up, and never believe the naysayers. I believe God deliberately chose Jesus to come from Bethlehem to teach us all a lesson. Wherever we are, only God alone can define who we can be, when we listen to His directions. Bethlehem showed the world that even the humblest of origins can lead to great things. We are never to underestimate God’s plan. Remember, with God, all things are possible. Prayer While the world focuses on the big, the spectacular, and the famous, thank You Lord, there are no places that You see as irrelevant. Thank you for placing me right where I am, so that no matter how large or small anywhere is, You care deeply. Forgive me when I discredit things that the world does not see as relevant. Help me to remember that You are the God who surprises us with blessings, even if the world says otherwise. May I shine wherever You place me. I pray this prayer in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, the one born in Bethlehem. Amen.

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