Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
January 9, 2005
Lincolnton, N.C.

<123> Thesis: The hope of joy that had its roots in Bethlehem was/is a great mystery. Introduction: The focus in the record of the birth of Christ upon the town of Bethlehem had its roots in a very long standing effort on God's part to impart to men a fundamental nugget of truth that most men never "get". They just don't "get it". It's not a truth that isn't bandied about a great deal; it's just a truth that gets lost in the shuffle because of two things: one, its truthfulness is suspect; and, two, its primacy is denied. One of God's greatest tasks has to do with two very difficult issues: getting men to put the correct value upon those things that are valuable; and getting men to understand how the mechanisms of life are arranged. His approach has always been what I am, this morning, going to call "the leaven approach". The leaven approach is the early insertion of a singularly important truth into the hearts and minds of men coupled with the long-term follow-up in teaching and discipline so that those who embrace the inserted truth come to see it for what it is: a dominating truth. In that long-term follow-up, two things happen: the truth is repeatedly brought to man's attention; and man's choices are addressed with proper discipline -- the legitimate choices are reinforced with goodness and the poor choices are met with contradiction. The dangers are also two: if the goodness is experienced thoughtlessly, little is reinforced; and if the contradiction is met with willful refusal to turn loose, the experience of life continues to disintegrate under increasing contradiction. This morning we are going to be looking at the question of what is valuable and what is true as Luke points it out in Luke 2:4.