The ways of God are sometimes the long way

Can God trust you?

Can you be trusted to go into a situation of real need and to rely on His provision? Can you be trusted to be taken into a situation of pain and to rely on His presence to comfort you?

“But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2 v 22-23)

They have stopped on the way. It was all going so well. They had left Egypt on the exciting news that Herod was dead. They began dreaming again. But then they hear the bad news.

God sees things that we do not see. He not only sees the things that happen to us but also the things that could have happened to us. Egypt to Bethlehem was a lot shorter route than Egypt to Nazareth. The long way round is often the hardest way. But I am not thinking in terms of miles and distance but with the circumstances of those moments of the journey.

“Having been warned in a dream …” What was that warning? Was it a warning not to go to Jerusalem or Bethlehem? No. Joseph had already paused the journey afraid to go there. He would not need any warning not to go there. Perhaps it was a warning not to go back to Egypt. There are times when the return looks like a place of comfort, safety and an easier life then continuing forward. Perhaps it was a warning to overcome their fears of Nazareth. Mary’s hometown, the place of conception and the place of stigma. The long way round is often the hardest way.

Let’s remind ourselves that the ultimate reason why Jesus came was His death and resurrection.

But how did Jesus get there? Born in a humble village of Bethlehem, becoming an asylum seeker in Egypt and then raised in a town of Nazareth. Nazarenes were despised people and he would be called one of them.

From infancy to childhood, childhood to boyhood, boyhood to teens, teens to manhood, thirty years of living in Nazareth. What went on in that time, we do not know.

For thirty years, the vast majority of his life on earth, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, under the direct guidance of God the Father, lived amongst the poorest people and in total obscurity.

That is the long way round.

Your name may not be known. You may not have a place, title or position. You may struggle to make ends meet. You may not have what others want you to have. You may not have that perfect job, that perfect spouse, perfect children, you may feel alone, unwanted and unknown.

You may describe your life as being lived the long and hard way.

But can God trust you to remain in relationship with Him in Nazareth?

The ways of God are sometimes puzzling.

Can God trust you? Can God trust you to keep hold of faith even when you don’t know what is going on?

Our lives are not simple. They are not run like a GPS in the car telling us the quickest and easiest route to take. There seems to be many routes and sometimes the way God leads us down can be puzzling.

“After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.” (Matthew 2 v 19-22)

It doesn’t matter where you are, God can speak to you – even in Egypt.

Herod is dead. It feels like the whole world is relieved. In his 36 year reign there was hardly a day went by that someone wasn’t sentenced to death. The Roman-Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote of what happened at the time and you can easily access this. When Herod died, there was a fight between his sons on who would be king. In an earlier will, Herod had given the title to Antipas, but then changed the will to Archelaus. It was to be settled in Rome before Caesar who in the end compromised by making Antipas Herod over Galilee and answerable only to Rome, whereas Archelaus was not given the title Herod but ‘Ethnarch’ meaning ‘National leader’ over Samaria and Judea. But whilst all that shenanigans was taking place in Rome, there was uprisings in Jerusalem. Three would-be heroes who all claimed the title ‘king of the jews’ formed guerrilla armies and ransacked towns that were pro-Roman. Though they looked for divine intervention none came and they were all killed. Archelaus made his mark by appointing his own High Priest, Joezer, for the Temple. Jerusalem pilgrims from across the world became involved and protested against this decision and 3,000 were killed on one day.

Why is that all important? It is because of the verses we read.

They are returning home. They were both delighted. This is a breakthrough that God has given them. A window of opportunity to go back and start a life there. Can you imagine the conversation they had on the way back? Where shall we live? ‘Let’s live near Jerusalem where the Temple is’, ‘what about Bethlehem?’ ‘I wonder who will replace Herod? Thank God that He got rid of that evil wicked king!’ It was always going to be Judea, they had spent 2-3 years there already and they knew it well. One place they were not prepared to go was their hometown Nazareth. Facing the stigma of their story was not where they believed they should start their lives out of exile.

But as they near Israel they begin to hear of what has been happening. They hear of what we read from Josephus and more. Joseph is told about this new leader called Archelaus who sounded worse than his father.

Do you understand what it is to walk into a puzzle? You see God move and then it looks like He didn’t or it just gets worse? You get healed and then it looks like the healing is lost? You get provision and then it looks like it wasn’t God who provided?

Why didn’t God reveal the whole situation back in Egypt? In exile he holds back the successor to Herod and the stories of what was taking place. Sometimes it appears that we are not ready to receive all the information.

Do you know what that is like?

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod he was afraid to go there”

It is a situation of being tempted to believe that God hasn’t done anything in the first place, it was just your mind in overdrive, you read into what wasn’t there.

BUT is the greatest enemy to your obedience. It is usually followed by FEAR. That pincer moment usually causes us to go nowhere. We have stopped moving forward and we don’t know what to do.

We know these verses really well, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

If this story is describing you then it would seem that the best thing you can do is to wait. The next move is God’s. Wait for Him. Keep trustworthy. God will move again.

A Hope full New Year!

Herod, outwitted, now furious, orders something to be carried out that is evil to the core. Bethlehem did not have a large population, some think the number was around twenty but it surely impacted the whole town.

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2: 16-18)

The Jews knew the prophecy, but we need reminding.

(Jeremiah 31: 15-17) “This is what the Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. Your children will return to their own land.”

Six hundred years before Christ was born in the context of the captivity of Jerusalem. It must have seemed like God had deserted his people when they were deported by the Babylonians. Jeremiah pictures Rachel weeping as the exiles pass her tomb in Ramah on the way to a strange land.

Matthew only records part of the prophecy but his readers knew the whole of it. Through Jeremiah, God was saying there is hope.

The mothers of Bethlehem were crying out. They were victims of evil. Why?! Is their cry.

The slaughter of the innocents happened, Jesus had been born.

The King of Egypt ordered the new born males to be killed and Moses had been born.

Identical beginnings and it reveals Jesus is greater than Moses.

From the beginning of his life and at the end of his life on the cross we see a violent and terrible world. A world that He came to redeem.

For Jesus, the greater Moses, living between the atrocities of Christmas and the cross came to redeem our lives but also to show us that that gospel message can survive the most dire of circumstances.

If the gospel can survive the violence of Christmas and the vulgarity of the cross it can survive anywhere in the world and in any circumstance.

So no longer do we need to say, ‘Where are you in this?’

For as we see the total vulnerability of God to expose Himself to the atrocities surrounding His incarnation, we see He exists in pain and suffering.

What is He doing there?

He is delivering us. He is bringing us out of the hell of the pain.

He is doing it not through a law but grace. Grace upon grace. Continual grace.

He is here. And where He is there is hope.

I know something of the tears, pain, bitterness and the questions – why? Why did that happen?

As we start out this year we don’t know what will come our way exactly. But there will be death. It was all around us in 2020. Death of relationships. Death of dreams and death of loved ones. Am I a pessimist? No, the opposite, but we know it is true. At those times we also know that we can feel hopeless. The meaninglessness can overwhelm us if we don’t let hope rise within us. May this year be a hope filled one! In the midst of your pain you will find Him, HOPE will be there, He always is.

When it feels like not even God can intervene, He can and He probably has.

Know this. God is found in the unsafe, insecure and dangerous places of our lives.

“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2 v 13-15)

They went to bed that night blessed. The magi had gone but had left behind expensive and substantial gifts. This was a high time for Joseph and Mary. They were overcome with such provision – what are we going to do with all this, this is too much? Within hours they would realise that God had provided at just the right time for them. They would need the gifts from the Magi to get them through the next period of time, on the journey and staying in a foreign country, Egypt.
When it feels like God cannot change the events of your life, take a step back, turn back the clock, it may only be for a few hours, but turn it back and you will find that He has been preparing you and providing for you in all that you will need for this period of time.

Nothing about this story is safe.
Mary’s conception could have split the relationship for good.
Caesars census and journey to Bethlehem could have injured the heavily-pregnant Mary.
Herod is searching to kill their child.
If we were God we would have written a different story.
God is saying ‘I am fully in control in such circumstances. I can be trusted.’

Matthew writes how this section of the story fulfilled what the prophet (Hosea 11:1) had said, “When Israel was a child, I loved him and out of Egypt I called my son.”

As Moses was called to go to Egypt and rescue Israel from slavery so Jesus was called out of Egypt in His infancy through this divine message to Joseph, to save mankind from the slavery of sin. God is in control of your life, He has you and He will not let go of you. But don’t imagine Joseph telling Mary, ‘Don’t worry Mary, this is all in Hosea’s prophecy’. When you are going through the trial, Bible verses don’t always come to your mind, no matter what the experts tell us. It is often looking back, as Matthew does, after the event, 50 years later, he sees the hand of God, the prophetic plan being fulfilled.

We walk by faith and when it feels like not even God can intervene He can and He probably already has.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

The Magi believed in Christ when they had never seen him and probably not read of any of his prophecies. They believed in him when Herod was opposing and deceiving them. They believed in him when the religious leaders were unbelieving. They believed in him when they saw him as a little child and worshipped him as a king. This was the crowning point in their simple faith. No miracles. No healings to convince them. No teaching to persuade them. They didn’t need any of that.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” (Matthew 2 v 11-12)

They knew what they had to do. They had brought gifts. They had brought gold for a king. This king would not come by force but with love. He would rule over men’s hearts not from a throne but a cross of wood. They had brought frankincense for a priest. This priest would not use the incense in the Temple to connect man with God. He would open the way to the presence of God not by works or any sacrificial Temple offering of man but by His own sacrifice and Him alone. They had brought myrrh for the Saviour, the one who would die for His people. This Saviour became the perfect sacrifice so that we could at last know forgiveness and be at peace with God. They brought these gifts and most probably they didn’t know the meaning that we over the centuries have given these gifts. They just brought gifts. Expensive ones. For them it seemed the right thing to do. Little did they realise that both Joseph and Mary would need these gifts to sustain them when they became refugees.

They came to the house. Mary and Joseph had moved from the manger scene. Their baby was now a child. This was 1-2 years after the birth. But nativities would last a very long time if the period of time was considered!

They entered in and saw the child. That’s the focal point. For months God had been using a ‘star’ to pull them from their homeland to the feet of Jesus so they could see a miracle.

Their eyes met the eyes of Jesus. The gifts took second place. There was only one thing that they could do and that was to fall down and worship. What we can bring to Jesus is not as important as our hearts of worship.

In 1872, Christina Rosetti, the sister of the artist Dante (and who she posed for in many of his paintings) wrote a poem that has global fame. She had herself a difficult life. A broken engagement and further turning down two offers of marriage around the time of this poem she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Today an overactive thyroid is treatable but in the 19th century it was even more debilitating. Her poem has these words:

What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

It wouldn’t be long after this poem was written that she would develop cancer and die in London in 1894. Her life ended with nothing much that she could give. But He had her heart and that was the most precious gift she could give. It still is.

God can move in your insignificance in the least expected way

King Herod has heard the news from the streets of his city that a king of the Jews has been born and that it was first announced in the sky by a new star that had guided the Magi. The city was full of the news but the people were also disturbed by it because they knew how unpredictable Herod was. What would he do faced with a threat of a new king? Is this announcement the start of an uprising? The first thing he does is to call the true leaders of the Jewish people, the chief priests and teachers of the law. These were the leaders who interpreted the Old Testament law for the people to be able to live their lives religiously. They were ready for the question.

They knew a Messiah was to come. They knew where he would be born. They knew that God had given these details through their prophet Micah approximately 700 years previously. They knew the prophecy was given at a time of an invasion similar to that of the Roman oppression they were experiencing under King Herod but for Micah it was witnessing the invasion into Judah by the King of Assyria.

“When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Matthew 2 v 4-6)

Even though they knew all these things, Matthew’s gospel will reveal that from the outset of the birth of Jesus they would not be moved towards him. Gentile, Arabian astronomers were more devout than they were. Their alignment with Herod was more important to them than alignment with the Scriptures which they could recite word for word. We need to watch our alignments as they can pull us away from what we hold as important.

The prophecy has been recited in every nativity across the globe. The beauty of the words are important today for those whose circumstances may be difficult and perhaps your abilities seem inadequate. It is always who is inside you that is of importance (… out of you will come …) for greater is He that is in you than is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Micah’s prophecy is this: ““But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”(Micah 5:2)

Bethlehem whose name we have to use the region of Ephrathah for because there are other Bethlehem’s, in order to determine which one we mean. You are not unique. There are others like you. Well, not exactly like you, because you are small, weaker and insignificant actually. At the time of the birth of Jesus there was a Bethlehem in the north as well as this one in the south, in the land of Judah. The priests make sure they are referring to the right one. Micah prophecies future but it is a reminder that only 300 years previously King David was born in your small town and a new King in his line will come again.

I love this. Let me encourage you today. Especially to those who are struggling in some way.

Look back.

See what God has done in previous years through you. (Bethlehem, King David was born in your town! He was your ruler, strong, majestic, secure and great.)  You may need to go back to a previous generation or it may be within your own personal history, but God is there to be found.

Believe again.

It can happen again. God can come again. (Out of you will come for me one … And not just one but The One.  The One who is everlasting, who is from of old, from ancient times, the One who is peace.) God hasn’t finished with you yet.

Live in the light of that fact.

When the chief priests and teachers of the law quoted Micah they were answering a specific question by Herod of where the Messiah would be born. They lift the answer out of the whole prophecy which they perfectly knew. “… And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land … He will deliver us from …” (v5-6) If only they had seen the connection with their present generation, but they blind.

For those struggling with whatever situation:

You can do life in difficult circumstances “The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man.” (v7)

You will get through this “Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed” v9.

God will do what you cannot do yourself “In that day … I will destroy and demolish and tear down all your strongholds …I will destroy … I will uproot …I will take vengeance” (v10-15)

So watch who or what you are aligned to and get ready for God can move in your insignificance in the least expected way.

The Christmas Star 2020

Did you see it?

I don’t understand astronomy but I do like looking up into the sky, especially a clear African one.

Monday 21st 2020 was the night when the planets Jupiter and Saturn came together to form what we have called the Christmas Star of 2020. It’s the closest that these 2 planets have got together for 800 years and if you missed it then just hang around as they will do it again around the year 2080!

Social media was alive with opinions about this being the same conjunction of planets the Magi saw, the star of Bethlehem. In the 17th century a German astronomer, Johannes Kepler recorded that this same conjunction appeared in June, August and December in 7BC. Was it the same one the Magi saw?

Matthew chose in his gospel to include the story of the Arabian astronomers. That story included this Star of Bethlehem.

 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him…Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’ After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. (Matthew 2: 1-3, 7-10)

To Matthew’s readers they would be fully aware of the commonly held views that the skies heralded the birth of a hero. A quick search in the history books reveal how certain stars and comets announced the death and the birth of new emperors and kings. This is probably one of the reasons why Herod was so afraid.

The prophecy of Balaam was definitely known to Matthew. “‘I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.” (Numbers 24:17)

Interestingly, the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy which was partly based on the gospel of Thomas and not included in the Biblical canon has this in verse 7: “And in the same hour there appeared to them an angel in the form of that star which had before guided them on their journey; and they went away, following the guidance of its light, until they arrived in their own country.”

This passage is not in the Bible, but the thought is.

Throughout the Old Testament there are references to angels being stars. Even Jesus refers to himself as the Morning Star in Revelation.

Matthew says this is a moving star that the Magi saw. That’s what made it different to what we saw on Monday 21st.

Could it have been an angel?

One day we will know.

But Matthew records how God broke into His own order and the Magi saw it and this heavenly brilliance spoke to them of the entry of a king into the world. The King of the Jews at that time was afraid when he heard the gossip on the streets of Jerusalem. He was afraid of being usurped from anything from the east. He knows he is not the true King of the Jews, Rome had placed him there. His safety is in the west, his paranoia is in the east. Secretly he deceives the Magi. He pretends to be a worshipper.

The Magi was seeking the King. Herod was opposing the King and the Jewish priests which we will read, were ignoring the King.

As they started toward Bethlehem, they saw the miraculous star again and it led them to the place where Jesus was. Bethlehem a quiet little town, 6 miles south of Jerusalem, not a place for a King to be born and yet that is where God was.

Let us today make sure we are open to God’s interventions in our lives and that we follow His lead even if others rubbish or want to kill off our dreams.

The unexpected guests

Luke chose the story of the shepherds and for Matthew he chose the Magi. Why?

They were both unexpected guests.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magifrom the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2 v 1-2)

Almost 50 years ago a four-year (1972-75) investigation into the Mahd adh Dhahab (Cradle of Gold) mine, located midway between Mecca and Madina in Saudi Arabia, led scientists to believe it was the principle mine for King Solomon’s gold and known as the mysterious place of Ophir (1 Kings 9:28).

Matthew will write as we know that the Magi carried gold, frankincense and myrrh with them to Jerusalem.

In AD160, Justin Martyr (a Palestinian Christian writer) wrote that the wise men hailed from Arabia. Confirming what Martyr wrote, in what is simply a brilliant book, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Kenneth E. Bailey writes, “In the 1920s a British scholar, E.F.F. Bishop, visited a Bedouin tribe in Jordan. This Muslim tribe bore the Arabic name al-Kokabani. The word kokab means “planet” and al-Kaokabani means “Those who study/follow the planets.” Bishop asked the elders of the tribe why they called themselves by such a name. They replied that it was because their ancestors followed the planets and travelled west to Palestine to show honour to the great prophet Jesus when he was born.

It might seem more than unexpected that ancestors of Muslims are bowing down to worship the Christ-child but let us be reminded that there is a day coming when Christ will return and “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11) Christian, Jew, Muslim, will bow the knee.

The gospel writers were more than familiar with this prophecy:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

Who is this ‘you and your’? Is this Jerusalem, the city of God?

Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.” (Isaiah 60: 5-6)

Midian and Ephah are tribal lands in northern Arabia, Sheba is in southern Arabia and where the Queen of Sheba came to Solomon with her gold.

All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple” (Isaiah 60:7)

Shepherds are now involved. Why? Why are people coming from far away and very near? Who will receive these people?

“Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favour I will show you compassion. Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations—their kings led in triumphal procession.” (Isaiah 60:10-11)

Isaiah is thinking about Jerusalem and the wonderful things that would happen in the future. Yet by the time of the birth of Christ they had not happened. These things had never taken place in Jerusalem. There was no great shining light in the city. Nor did wealthy Arabs come with gold and frankincense. Jerusalem’s gates were never open during the day and night because of security.

So why did Luke tell the shepherds story and Matthew the Magi story?

It is because they saw Isaiah’s prophecy, not speaking of Jerusalem, but the Christ-child.

Around Christ there was a great light and the glory of the Lord came. Shepherds visited the Christ-child.

Arab wise men came on camels bringing gold and frankincense (and myrrh).

The great hopes for Jerusalem were transferred to the Christ-child.

Hopes and expectations are now fulfilled in Jesus.

But it also has a future hope.

It is not the earthly Jerusalem that is of major significance, but the heavenly one that will come down as a gift from God when Christ returns.

And what does this mean for us?

When Christ was born he had unexpected guests. We see them as unexpected but from heavens view they were spoken of centuries ago. Always leave room within your faith for the unexpected divinely sent people and events to still occur.

Above all make sure your knee is bended towards Jesus for one day you will join Jew and Muslim who will do the same.

Born during a time of evil

The 12th day of Christmas, January 6th, will be Epiphany, celebrated in the Western Church for the time when the Magi came and worshipped Jesus. Magi who were anything but Jews and who signified that Jesus has come not just for the Chosen people but for the whole world.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magifrom the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2 v 1-2)

Of all the times to come into His world, God chooses the worst time of all.

Born during the time of a King of the Jews who was not a Jew. He was from a mixed marriage, his mother was an Arab and the Jews welcomed his initial building projects but despised him as he continued to rule them.

Born during the time of a murderer of 2 of his sons, nearly all his wives and his father in law which led Caesar to say it was safer to be Herod’s pig (hus in Greek) than his son (huios).

Born during the time of one of the most wicked, self-absorbed, ambitious, and jealous rulers (even to the point of deciding to massacre innocent children).  

This was not bad timing. This was not a terrible coincidence. God chose to come during this time.

It matters not how dark the world can get nor who controls our lives, whether you feel oppressed, pushed back, anxious for your future, God has come.

In the midst of fear from the threats of man and the lies and manipulation of selfish people, God has come.

Born. A new beginning. Hope rising. Light dawning. An opportunity is here.

This year has been tough for you. You must welcome the Christ-child. He is here.

Christmas Day – Jesus

“And he gave him the name Jesus.” (Matthew 1 v 25)



Because he will save his people from their sins.

As you worship God today and call on the name Jesus you are calling on the one who saves you from sin.

It was the most common name at the time, there were many with that name. Their parents all hoping their son would be the true Messiah perhaps.

It is incredible that God would choose such an ordinary name or a name that had been used by the many.

The truth was no one could save the people from Roman oppression.
No one could save the people from burdensome religious laws and duties.
Not one person could save.
Except Jesus. This Jesus. The Incarnated, virgin-born, Jesus.
It would be difficult perhaps to look at the Christ-child and see a Saviour. A baby does offer hope and a future but no one knows its true potential.
People still struggle to see the Saviour in this season.
How can this Jesus save me?
But just as in that first Christmas in order to see a Saviour one had to bow down and worship, in surrender and by faith to say, “I believe you are the Saviour, you are my Saviour.”
Nothing has changed. We still need to come that way.
The Saviour is still here. Faith has not gone from the story.

There are many ‘Greats’ in the world. There are many ‘Awesome’ ‘Look At Me’ posts.

Today we don’t have to run to those people or be intimidated by their claims.

We run to Saviour for that is who we need the most.

And we bow down.