Who was Levi?

Who was Levi?

Luke 3: 24 “the son of Levi”

In brief: It means “to join, attach and adhesion”

I received a text 2 days ago saying that 21 people would be publicly joining a church membership this month. This came from a church that had gone through some difficult times recently. I rejoiced with them. Whenever I hear of such things I choose to slow the moment down and be thankful that even today with all of the challenges, people are still joining the Church.

When Saul came to Jerusalem, he immediately tried to “join” the disciples: “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing he really was a disciple.” Acts 9: 26


To “join” means “to glue, or cement together”. In other words, he wanted to do more than just attend meetings, he wanted to become “bonded” to the community of believers in definite commitment.

A moments thought will make us realise that, in nearly every sphere of life, commitment to others in meaningful relationship is absolutely vital. In marriage and family life, the world of work, and even in our recreation we need some form of togetherness. A team and its supporters need to be together if they have any chance of winning.


Are you a Levi? Do you willingly join?

I am a sucker for joining. I’ve ended up joining things I never thought I would! I became chairman of Stop the War campaign once because I reluctantly agreed to go and just sit on the back row of a Town Hall meeting. I signed up to sponsor Bernie the Dog when walking through an airport simply because of the wilful approach of the promoter and the picture of Bernie being just lovely. We need to be careful when joining.

Some won’t join a church because of their past experiences. There are some who are Christians outside of Church because of the abuse they have suffered, the mishandling of their lives and their finances by so called leaders of the Church.

Some won’t join a Church because they simply want to be independent of any accountable structures that are needed for discipleship.

However, we need to put our roots down somewhere.

We need to allow those roots to bear fruit and that takes time.

We need to do all that we can to resist being uprooted.

Being rooted means I commit myself, finances, gifts and time sacrificially for the work of God.

We join.

We become a Levi.

Who is Matthat?

Who is Matthat?


Luke 3: 24 “the son of Matthat”

In brief: Some say different people but he could be the same chap as Matthew’s genealogy ‘Matthan’.

His name means ‘gift’.

Thank God for those who are Matthat type people!

Who walked into your life and left their footprint of blessing?

Who inspired you?

Who carried just what you needed at the right time?

Who gave themselves unreservedly?

When you accidentally dropped the heavy things you were carrying, who stopped to pick them up for you?

When you couldn’t see which way to take, who found where you were on the map of life and directed you to where you needed to go?

When everyone seemed to walk out, who walked in?

When you became frozen with fear, whose laughter thawed the ice?

When you were in the heat of the battle, who stood alongside you and fought as hard as you?

It was Matthat.

Let’s all try and be a Matthat today.

Who is Heli?

Who is Heli?

Luke 3: 23 “He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli”

In brief: some say he was the grandfather of Joseph and others say he was actually Mary’s father (the belief that Luke’s genealogy follows Mary’s line).

He is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, just here.

His names means “Yahweh is high”.

Psalm 113: 4-5 “God is higher than anything and anyone, outshining everything you can see in the skies. Who can compare with God …”

Psalm 113-118 is known as the Egyptian Hallel because of its connection to the Passover celebrations. Its significance is seen in that they sung by Jesus and the disciples on his night of betrayal and death.

There are dark nights of the soul moments when we need to be with Heli people. Those who know God is high! Who know that no one can be compared to Him!

Are you:

Feeling weakened? ….Heli people say –“who is like the Lord our God?”
Jehovak-m’kaddesh (Lev 20:8 The Lord who sanctifies) = He lives within us to empower us to live holy lives.


Feeling away from God? … Heli people say –“who is like the Lord our God?”
Jehovah-Shalom (judges 6:24 God is Peace) = God has brought peace and contentment and satisfaction between Himself and us.


In sickness? … Heli people say –“who is like the Lord our God?”

Jehovah-Rophe (Isaiah 53 God heals) = He cures or heals not only in physical terms but spiritual and moral)


Needing provision? … Heli people say –“who is like the Lord our God?”

Jehovah-Jireh (Genesis 22:14 The Lord who sees) = He knows our needs and makes provision.


Weary from battling? … Heli people say –“who is like the Lord our God?”

Jehovak-nissi (Exodus 17:18 God my banner) = God is our battle deliverer.


Not knowing what to do? … Heli people say –“who is like the Lord our God?”

Jehovah-rohi (Psalm 23 God my Shepherd) = He feeds, leads, protects and cares for us.


Who is like Him and where is He? 1 John 4:4 He that is in you is greater than He that is in the world!!

Sometimes we live our lives like He just has the edge over the devil. He’s just a little greater.
But God in you is much more significant, far superior, cannot be compared to the god of this world.

Be a Heli person today!


I am more than what people think

I am more than what people think

Luke 3: 23 “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph”

Luke has found a different family tree to that of Matthew and no one knows accurately why that is so.

Matthew’s list is from Abraham to Jesus.

Luke’s list is Jesus to Adam. Luke’s has more names than Matthew.

Two thousand years can make a huge difference to our understanding and we have no evidence to help us though many speculate.

Luke places this genealogy which ends with ‘the son of God’ within the context of the voice from heaven saying “You are my son.” He also commences it with “He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph.”

Jesus is not only the Messiah for the Jews but for the whole world and this genealogy shows that not only is he the eternal Son of God but also the son of Adam and here is another important point … the adopted son of Joseph, so it was thought.

Joseph was a carpenter and probably older than his wife Mary, he seemed to have died by the time Jesus commences his public ministry. After the virgin birth they had other children. When Joseph found out about Mary he was going to divorce her but angelic intervention changed those plans. And so, he adopted Jesus. That’s what people thought, Luke says.

But then comes the genealogy! Jesus is much bigger than that adoption by a carpenter. He is from a line dating back to the creation of the world and according to the voice from heaven even beyond that too!

It doesn’t matter how you started. You may have been rejected or accepted. You may come through a natural family or an adopted one. A loving or abusive. However it was for you, that’s not the identity of your life in any case. You start and end in God. Your beginning is in Him and you end in Him. He knew you when you were conceived and He will hold your hand when you die. He is with you in this earthly home and will walk with you into your eternal one.

For those (and there could be many) who adopted you through this life, be thankful, but know that there has been a far greater adoption of you, from God Himself. You belong to Him.

People may have thoughts about how you began, but today you know who created you, who sustained you, who saved you and who walked with you to this moment.

Because I’m worth it!

Because I’m worth it!


Luke 3: 22 “And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

1971 and a movement would be launched birthed on these four words written by a female copywriter at the McCann Erickson agency in New York. L’Oreal from Paris were about to launch into the U.S. This movement grew faster and more expansive than a product range that was trying to rationalise the reason for buying a premium beauty product. Today L’Oreal is the largest cosmetics company in the world where 50 products are sold every second and the reason is, ‘Because I’m worth it!’

Heaven opens and we receive our promotion, the applauds, the fulfilment of our dreams etc.


Heaven opens and we receive what looks like a bird, a dove.


The dove was SENT by Noah on 2 occasions from the ark to see if the waters had receded. The second time the dove did not return.

The dove was a poor man’s SACRIFICE for the temple.

The dove was a term of LOVE in poetry, such as Song of Songs.

The Spirit was telling him that He would be sent out as a sacrifice of love.

He still does for you and me.

But before we go, wait …

Jesus is sent with the most powerful message spoken over him. A message of appreciation and admiration. It would be repeated on the Mount of Transfiguration. We need to hear this ourselves.

We need to know who we are, who we belong to. Man’s praise will always fall short. Though we enjoy it we must not crave it. What God thinks of us is enough. We are loved and appreciated by Him.

The reason for all this is because I’m worth it to Him.

When I know this then all things are possible and I will do anything He tells me to do.


Prayer opens heaven

Prayer opens heaven


Luke 3: 21 “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened …”

Jesus prays and heaven opens.

“For years Christians have known that every great spiritual awakening is born in a remnant committed to prayer. Countless books call people to prayer and emphasise the importance God places on His people’s praying. Yet we must answer one sobering question: If prayer is so important, why do most Christians and churches do so little of what God deems essential? We have more money, more buildings, more ministries, more media, and more people but less power than at any time in church history. We have ministers for every age group. Yet few Christians can claim that they are spiritually stronger today than they were a year ago.

We measure the success of our churches in comparison to others, saying “we are making a difference,” but on our best Sunday our combined attendance is dwarfed by the number of unchurched people. When one considers these facts, an obvious cry grips the heart. There must be more. Where is the power? The answer, quite simply, is that power has always been accessible. We are the ones who have not been available.

Every great spiritual awakening, in our nation and around the world, has had as its foundation a people who were committed to prayer.

Today we have the same opportunity for revival. We stand at the door of a passing opportunity at a critical hour in our history. Our response to this call to prayer could determine if we as a people see the glory of God and experience an outpouring of His Spirit on us or if we continue with business as usual: great churches with great fellowship and great people but with little power.”

Watchman by L.Thompson.


As you and the Church pray today, may heaven open …

He still stands with us today

He still stands with us today

Luke 3: 21 “When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too.”

John called people to baptism.

John baptised the people.

But Jesus was baptised with the people.

Where was Jesus when people were repenting from their sins?

When they struggled to break free from their past and move into a new life, where was Jesus?

He was standing with them, being one with them.

This weekend, baptismal services will be held all around the world.

Families and friends will gather at many of them and it will be a wonderful witness.

Jesus will be standing there.

But at some only a few will gather, it will be done at a secret location and no family will be present. This baptism is dangerous obedience. The unseen guest will be there, Jesus, standing amongst the courageous people.

You see, Jesus always stands with the repentant, the witness and the obedient.

He is standing with Asia Bibi and her family today wherever they are.

He is standing with those we can name and the millions that are nameless.

He is standing with us.






Luke 3: 20 “But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

Not many like being told they are wrong.

We are not wired to correction.

Some ignore.

Some raise their voices louder than the voice that is correcting.

And some lash out like Herod did.

Ponder: When was the last time you were corrected? Who did that correction? How did you feel?

Luke could think of no greater evil than to reject the messenger of God.

For Luke, he leaves John in prison and moves to Jesus revealing how the messenger can be silenced but not the message.

Jesus took the baton and became the message and in a few years Herod would do the same thing and get rid of this King of the Jews. But Herod was wrong because the message continued to live and lives in new messengers today.

What drove Bonhoeffer to return to Germany to try and topple Hitler’s extermination of the Jews? It was this famous quote he gave: “If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”


What would you do if you truly felt convicted about something? Would you try and correct the wrong? Would you be prepared to risk your life to bring that correction?

The rebuke

The rebuke

Luke 3: 19 “But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done …”

They fell in love (perhaps), but they were already married. So Antipas divorced his wife and Herodias divorced her uncle Philip and they were then free to marry, which they did.

For the Jew, this was unthinkable, appalling and they were angry at what was deemed unholy. Leviticus 20: 21 “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. They shall be childless.”

It is difficult for us to understand this but there was just no way in the Jewish law and culture for a woman to divorce her husband for anything, never mind for loving another.

Herod Antipas had a problem because every Herod wanted to literally be what the name meant. The name Herod means ‘song of the hero’ or ‘warrior’ and it was the title given to several of the rulers of the Roman Empire at the time. But for Antipas he was aiming to be the hero of the Jews, the King of the Jews. His personal life was proving that this would never be the case for he now would be no hero to them, for Yahweh’s hero would never do such a thing.

When John rebuked Herod, he represented the whole of the Jewish people which Herod wanted to lead and be the hero of. Luke says John rebuked Herod for all the other evil things he had done. Jesus called him a fox for his scheming deceitfulness. This marriage was the tip of the iceberg and someone had to represent the people, someone had to stand up and say enough is enough. If John was calling ordinary people back to God then that call had to extend to the very top of society, to the royalty.

The Church needs to find our voice again. We need to represent our communities. We need to be their voice and to stand against injustice no matter the risk. We need to correct our world. We need to make it right again. We need to stand for the vulnerable, the poor and the marginalised. We need to stand for the Bible.


The external processor

The external processor

Luke 3: 18 “ And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.”

The Message: “There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message!”

I came across a new phrase the other day as someone described themselves as “an external processor”. Where have I been all this time not coming across this phrase before?! I just thought the person talked a lot!

Anyway, John continued to speak words of life to these people. His name remember means ‘Yahweh is gracious’ and there are no limits to the grace of God. This was a season of an outpouring of that grace.

They were repenting from their sins and being baptised in the context of messages that gave them life, encouragement and strength. They were an oppressed people being lifted out of their despair into hope that the Messiah was soon to come, he was just round the corner and he would be here any moment.

John continued speaking again and again, story after story, calling the people back to the wilderness to experience God. He was externally processing all that was in him. All that God had imparted into his life as he grew up in the Judaean desert. Here in the dry and dusty climate lived monastic communities, strict Jewish sects and hermits who would educate the younger generation. We don’t know of course what that looked like for him but these are hidden years in the wilderness for John. What we know is when he emerged he came as a prophet with many words.

Not comparing myself to John the Baptist at all but I do remember on many occasions when I pastored my church in Dewsbury that it felt like I was in hiding. My HQ didn’t really know what was taking place there, apart from records sent in, this was pre-social media years (when the world knows a second after the events), but they were exciting years of preparation for all that God has done in me since. No one saw the tears, the periods of fasting, the many challenges, the doubts that needed defeating and the times when I wanted to give up. But also no one saw the gracious moments of knowing God as Provider, Protector and to carve out an experience of His Presence in my life. There were many wilderness years in my life and they were the best.

I truly believe God wants to take us all back into the wilderness at some point, into hiding, into a season when you are out of sight and out of mind. If that is how you describe yourself then this is where God wants you to be. It is here where a narrative is formed within you for the future.

The next season of your life is to externally process all that God has put in you in the desert for the good of people. But to do that you need to have come from the desert in the first place.