THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.

December 28th 2017 

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GOD’S TIMING? “PERFECT!”

So Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,  in order to register with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and was with child.

As we are still in the Christmas period I wish to continue for a few more days in the narrative. What I read here in these few words is that not only was the Christ-child Jesus born at the right time in the right place and in the right family, but so too for Joseph Jesus’s step father and Jesus’s biological mother Mary. Think about it, this goes right back to Adam! Don’t believe me? Then check out Joseph’s geneaology in Matthew 1:1-16 [especially verse 16]. And Mary’s geneaology in Luke 3:23-38! [though Mary is not mentioned in Luke 3] most reputable scholars conclude this is Mary’s family line as does Ryrie’s Bible commentary:

“The genealogy in Matt. 1:1 is traced through Joseph, Jesus’ legal (though not biological) father, and it establishes His claim and right to the throne of David (v. 6). The genealogy in Luke 3:23-38 is evidently that of Mary, though some believe it is also Joseph’s, by assuming that Matthan (Matt 1:15) and Matthat (Luke 3:24) were the same person and Jacob (Matt 1:16) and Eli (Luke 3:23) were brothers (one being Joseph’s father and the other his uncle)”. 

Many conservative scholars have taken the [above] view because of the many differences in the names between the two accounts. The biggest difference is that after David, many of the names are different. It would seem best to explain the difference by viewing Luke’s genealogy as tracing the physical ancestors of Christ through Mary, while Matthew’s genealogy traces the kingly line of Christ through Joseph.

bethlehem christmas: Christmas. Night Bethlehem, wise men following the star of Bethlehem Illustration

The more I meditate upon this the more I am in awe of God! He got these two people together through a series of extraordinary events and encounters from Adam to Abraham to David then to Jesus Christ the true King of David’s line. God loves families and may I boldly say this day of December 28th 2017 “you are in the right family at the right time in the right place!” You may not feel like it and whether you are in a functional or dysfunctional family, crazy as it seems, it’s God’s choice for you. More of that tomorrow as I share some stuff about my family! Oooooh!!!

APPLICATION: Stop reading this right now and bow before the Lord and give Him thanks and praise for your family, genealogy and ancestry. God was working each step according to His plan to bring your life about and at the same time he was working in other people’s lives to help fashion you into the person you now are and whom perhaps your children may become and not to mention your influence and interactions with folk at Church, your work place and even the world. I mean look at Mary and Joseph both from poor humble upbringing yet rich in ancestral history right back to David and Abraham! Who would have thunk the impact they made on their generation right up to this generation over 2000 years later. Blows ya mind ay!!??

PRAYER: Abba, Father, King and Creator of all things. Wow, when I look at this narrative and think of the impact this little family unit has made upon history then for once I am speechless! I thank you for my own family and how amazingly you brought my mom and dad together and I became who I am now through them biologically and spiritually through your Son, the Son of God and biological son of Mary. Thank you Lord, I now have eternity in my heart because of your PERFECT TIMING! Thank you Lord. Amen

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THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

CHRISTMAS EVE December 24th 2017 

THE WAY IN A MANGER

Luke 2:6-7 ‘and while they were there the time came for Mary’s baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn’. 

Luke 14:6 Jesus said,  ‘I am THE WAY and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me’.

I love the carol “away in a manger” yet I wonder if the composer considered when he penned the words that Jesus is ‘The way in the manger!’ He was and is God’s means of bringing the world back to Himself. Today we look at one of Jesus’ most bold and audacious statements, that He and He alone is THE WAY back to the heavenly Father! Now, I have to say that there are many many ways to Jesus, but He’s the only way back to the Father heart of God. My journey and testimony of being saved will differ from everyone else’s, yet we all meet at the same junction point of the cross and there we have a choice, GO THROUGH or REJECT The Way!! Jesus also made a very bold statement that He is The Gate and that there is no other way for the sheep to enter except through Him! So that’s pretty much saying the same thing! He alone gives us access to the Father!

Now I know that this smacks in the face of other religions, schisms, Ism’s and the P C brigade, but for me [an ex spiritualist and believer in reincarnation and karma] the Jesus way [for me] is the only one that not only feels right, but makes sense, is totally logical and theological and to boot has also completely changed my life for the better, but, there is enough Biblical, historical, archaeological and theological evidence to back His statements! And of course the testimony of billions of born again believers since the day of Pentecost!

For 26 years I walked in deep deep darkness, a broken soul and a wretched spirit, but then Jesus came in to my life, changed me and has been teaching me ever since through the Holy Spirit how to walk with Him. Another of Jesus’ bold statements was ‘I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’. Jesus came in to my dark, dingy and stinking heart and shone His glorious light in to it [just like that first Christmas in a dark, dingy, filthy and stinky animal stall] the Light of God in the face of the Christ child Jesus, came and dispelled the darkness and now for the past 34 years He has continued to give me light and will continue to do so until I see Him face to face, then I’ll live in His eternal light forever more! I was blind but now I see! For myself, Jesus is The way and The only way! He chose me, I received Him, I will always follow Him, my Good Shepherd. I have certainly put Christ back in to my CHRISTmas! How about you? Have a most wonderful Christmas eve and Christmas day.  Many blessings. John.

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PRAYER Heavenly Father God. Thank you for this wonderful time of year. Thank you that Jesus was born in my heart despite how dark, dingy, filthy, stinky and dirty it was. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace. Thank you that there is a way back to you. Christ Jesus, THE WAY in the manger. Amen

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THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.

December 22nd 2017 

Joseph Prince | God's Perfect Timing: Evidence from the Christmas Story

 

GOD’S PERFECT TIMING

Galatians 4:4 ‘But when the right time came, the time God decided upon, He sent His son, born of a woman, born as a Jew’.

Let us continue with this thought on God’s perfect timing. I hope you are finding it interesting and challenging? Part of God’s perfect timing was that the predominant language of the day when Jesus was born was Greek, a very expressive, deep and meaningful language. The New Testament is written predominantly in Greek, so the timing of the best LANGUAGE had to be perfect.

Then there was the Pax Romana, which is Latin for Roman peace, which was the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by military force experienced by the Roman Empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Because of this, the expansion of Christianity was made relatively easy and of course it was the Romans who brought crucifixion to Palestine, which was God’s choice of death for His son according to prophesy! And let us not forget that because of the pax Romana, the gospel came to the shores of Britannia, and thereafter most of the world through us, especially Africa, China and India! And not forgetting of course through the UK the gospel reached the shores of the new world, the USA.

And then there was the spiritual climate, which was perfectly timed by God! Because of the Babylonian Exile of Judah some 4-500 years earlier, Judaism slowly began to spread through the Gentile nations and many Gentile converts to Judaism were made! This is clear to see on the day of Pentecost when 3,000 converts were made in a moment, most of these were probably Gentile proselytes as we read in the narrative in Acts 2 as they expressed that their own indigenous language was being spoken supernatually by Jews! And because of all this and the above, the climate was perfectly ripe to fulfil prophecy, which stated that the Gentile nations would see a great light!

So, the communicative climate was just right. The geographical and geopolitical climate was just right, and the spiritual climate was just right and the moment was pregnant and ripe for the incarnation of the Messiah. What does this tell us? Well for me, it reminds me that no matter how long I have to wait for God’s timing, in the long run it is worth waiting for! God can change things in a twinkling of an eye! From Malachi to Matthew there are 4oo years. 400 years without a word from God, and then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, there are angels galore miracles, signs wonders and prophecy and to boot, the most liberating news ever spoken!

God was orchestrating everything, mixing this and blending that to make a perfect recipe for the incarnation! Not only this but the things I’ve mentioned previously: The timing for Zechariah’s tribe to be chosen to make intercession for the nation, then his being picked by lot which was God’s perfect time for him to pray in the most holy place! The visitation to him by the angel! Elizabeth who was barren getting pregnant and to be pregnant with Christ’s forerunner who was prophesied 4oo years earlier by Malachi! Then if that isn’t enough, whilst all this is going on, 8-900 miles away in Chaldea, [Babylon] where the Jews had made an impact some 4-500 yrs earlier, God sends a star or comet or constellation alignment or some bright supernatural light around that same time to catch the attention of probably 3 or more Magi, who at that time would begin a journey that would take 1-2 years [Matt 2:7 & 16] to get them to Bethlehem to pay homage to the child and give gifts to Jesus [and His family] that they would need to pay for the trip to Egypt and their long stay there because Herod [by satan] was trying to kill the Christ child this would all help them whilst in Egypt until it was time for them to return to Judea at God’s perfect time and to fulfill Old Testament prophecy! Phew! I’m outta breath just thinking about it!

TO DO: Stop worrying about everything and through everything and in everything PRAY! God is in control! What a logistical nightmare that 1st advent would’ve been for us to coordinate and organize! In fact no human mind could conceive this plan and no human hand could accomplish what God did, “is” doing and “will yet” do! This is impossible for us, but it was easy peasey lemon squeezy for God! So, don’t give up, God knows best and in His time He will act.

PRAYER Heavenly Father God. Thank you for this most wonderful time of year. Thank you that at just the right time, when the conditions were perfectly right for Messiah to be incarnated He was! In your way, in your place and in your time. God, your timing is so perfect and I know you are orchestrating events on my behalf so that I may fulfill your calling upon my life and to fulfill your purposes in your way and in your time. Thank you again for the beautiful words in Ecclesiastes “He has made everything beautiful in its time”. Thank you Father that when everything falls in to place in your time and by your will, it is then beautiful. The timing for the incarnation was perfect and beautiful, and because of it the one born was, is and will ever be beautiful. Thank you heavenly Father for your beautiful and perfect timing. Amen

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful 

I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Phil Wickham

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THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.

December 19th 2017

GOD’S PERFECT TIMING.

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A STAR IS BORN

 

So, let’s have another look at “God’s perfect timing” in that first advent.  At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire”. [Luke 2:1] Note the phrase “AT THAT TIME!” At what time? At the time that God was just about to reveal His light to the world; a light that would break through from heaven and pierce the darkness in and through the birth of the Christ child. [Luke 1:78] At that time after 400 years of silence and all the events leading up to and surrounding the miracle birth of John the Baptist. At that time when the angel Gabriel visited Mary and spoke to Joseph in a dream! At that time of supernatural visitations and multiple signs, wonders and amazing events. At that time when a pagan Emperor just happens to get the urge to make a census of his empire which obviously included Israel and more specifically Bethlehem to fulfill prophesy. At that time when all this was taking place in Judea, a group of star gazers in the eastern land of Persia saw a light, a supernatural star and checked their records and found that prophecy of old and discerned that a great King and deliverer would be born in Bethlehem Judea! They understood the signs of the time and traveled almost 1000 miles over a period of around 2 years to worship God’s new born King! Coincidence? Again, a great big NAH, I don’t think so.

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Paul some years later in his letter to the Galatians penned these words: “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law”. [Galatians 4:4] All the conditions for God’s perfect timing were met for the promised Messiah to step on to the stage of history! Everything was in place, everything was just right. According to scripture the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem, but his mother and step father lived in Nazareth in Galilee and the Messiah was not prophesied to be born in Galilee!

Think of it this way: I was born in Mary Stevens maternity hospital in Stourbridge West Midlands, but my parents were living in Halesowen. However, because I was actually born in Stourbridge, therefore Stourbridge [according to my birth certificate] is my place of birth, even though I was raised up in Halesowen and Halesowen was my home address! To fulfill scripture, Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem, so God orchestrated events to make this so. I’ll look at this a little bit more next time

APPLICATION: God’s timing was literally “pregnant with purpose”. So, if we make the effort to keep within the perameters of God’s perfect will and timing, then our lives will be pregnant with God’s purposes for our lives. Pregnant with hopes and dreams and visions! But outside of His good and perfect will and timing there is a road full of potholes, pitfalls and prangs in your fender [as it were] and believe me, I’ve had my share of pitfalls, potholes and prangs!

PRAYER: Gracious and loving Father God. Thank you that you love us enough and love me enough to do all in your power to keep us on the right road and perfect time schedule. Forgive me for those times that I have so gone off track and tried to move ahead of your perfect timing and suffered for it. Help me Lord to hear your word, heed your voice and hang back till you give me the green light. Thank you Lord amen.

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THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.

December 18th 2017 

 

Joseph Prince | God's Perfect Timing: Evidence from the Christmas Story

Between the last chapter of the Old Testament and the New Testament, there are 4oo years of silence, “nothing from the Lord!” The 400 years of silence refers to the time between the Old Testament and New Testament, during which God did not speak to the Jewish people. The 400 years of silence began with the warning that closed the Old Testament: “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6) The 400 years of silence ended when an angel spoke to Zechariah in the temple and brought a message from heaven with the promised miracle birth of John for Zechariah and Elizabeth and the coming of John the Baptist out of the wilderness some 30 years later as the Messiah’s forerunner. This is what Malachi 4:5-6 spoke of!

Again, with a little bit of digging and meditating we see two advents foretold, this event with John and the 1st Advent of Christ, and the future terrible day of the Lord, just prior to Christ’s 2nd Advent. There were 400 years of silence. No Holy Spirit, no angels, no major or minor prophets! Just zip, nada, nuttin!! Why? Well why are there days, weeks, months or even years when we don’t hear from God?

  1. Because God chooses to be silent.
  2. Or we choose not to hear Him.

In this case it was God’s choice and timing. Israel, the people and the world were not yet ready for the Messiah’s first advent until now! Note the words in Luke 2:1. “At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire”. At what time? When everything was ready for the Messiah’s birth! But when they were ready [and] the time was right, suddenly, you couldn’t get a word in edge ways. An angel visited an ordinary priest after the priestly order of Abijah, who’s order it just so happened were on duty that specific day to go in to the holy of hollies and make sacrifices and prayers and it just so happened that it was Zechariah who was chosen by lot to go in. And it just so happened that it was this very Zechariah who would be the father of John the Baptist even though Zechariah was old and so too was his wife Elizabeth and not only old but barren too! Talk about giving God a challenge! And of course, their miracle child became the forerunner of the Messiah spoken of in Malachi, [the last book of of the Old Testament] and which coincidentally, is in the last chapter of that book and which “coincidentally”, these words were predicting John’s birth and mission and they are the very last words out of Gods mouth for 400 years till the angel spoke to Zechariah the priest who was “THE” father of the forerunner spoken of 400 years previously! “Coincidence?” Nah, God-incidence methinks!

Note also, God says “I am sending you the forerunner beforethe coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD”. That doesn’t mean the great and terrible day of the Lord is speaking “about Christ’s first advent!” It is speaking of His 2nd coming! His 1st advent was full of grace, mercy and truth, humility and justice. His second will be a terrible day for the Christ rejectors, and especially for Jews who go through the tribulation period and still reject their Messiah a second time! To understand this aspect of prophesy, you have to understand that some prophecy is like mountain peaks! You are on one peak, but you see another peak way ahead on the horizon. But from the bottom of the mountain they look side by side! The above prophesy looks side by side, but it wasn’t! John came, Christ came [1st advent], and then Christ will come again in His [2nd advent] with 2000 years plus between them!

Image result for Christ's 1st advent pics  Image result for Christ's 2nd advent pics

APPLY: We’ll look at this a bit more tomorrow, but note and apply, God’s timing is perfect. At just the right time after 400 years God moved. So, there’s a lesson here! No matter how long we have to wait, God’s timing is always the best.

 PRAYER: Abba Father, you know “what” is best and you know “when” is best! There’s so much that I want to happen now, but I’ve jumped ahead of you before and just like going on a red light at a junction, I’ve crashed my car, [my life.] You’ve always graciously picked me up again, but oh the pain I’d have avoided had I listened. So please help me to await your perfect time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.

December 11 2017

A STAR IS BORN

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And now the star, which they had seen in the east, went in front of them as they traveled until at last it shone immediately above the place where the little child lay. The sight of the star filled them with indescribable joy.  They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9 J.B. Phillips

3. THEY SAW THE CHILD AND WORSHIPED

GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

So, when Christmas is  all over for another 12 months; all the hype, the build up, the stress and tensions, the last-minute panicking, not to mention  the early sales rush, the family get together’s [or not so together’s] The bloated stomach’s, the pounds put on, the £s spent, and the debt incurred; and yet, nevertheless, hopefully a Saviour will have been truly worshiped wholeheartedly by us. And it is hoped [by myself at least], that some happiness, fun, laughter and bucket loads of love, good memories and expectations will have been made and met!?

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So, what were the expectations of the Magi? Did they find and bargain for what they were seeking for? I believe they saw far more than they could’ve dreamed or imagined! They looked into the eyes, heart and soul of God in a tiny bundle of flesh and bones, that’s why they worshiped wholeheartedly. Have you, have I? Not just this Christmastime, but since you were saved? Every day of your Christian experience! We’ll look in detail later how far these magi went to worship Christ. My prayer is we will never take God, Christ, our salvation and faith for granted and that we will be ever thankful and full of gratitude to our merciful King. Tell you what, let us make it our habit this Christmas period and the next 12 months that in everything we will have a thankful, grateful heart.

However, maybe you are thinking as U2 sang “I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR!” God doesn’t concern Himself so much about the chronological and theological implications of the 25th December, He just loves a relationship with us and to be worshiped in spirit and truth. So, you may not have found everything you’d hoped for, but if you have Him you have more than enough to be thankful for right now! The rest may come later?

Some 30 years on from that first advent, a young woman discovered this truth! Listen to what Jesus said about her: “Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught”. [Luke 10:39] “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” [10:42]  “This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair”. [John 11:2] “Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of spikenard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance”. [John 12:3] This was a very costly act of worship! But more of that next time.

PRAYER: HOW ABOUT PRAYING YOUR OWN PRAYER OF THANKFULNESS FOR ALL GOD HAS DONE FOR YOU THROUGH CHRIST JESUS!

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THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

10.12.17

A STAR IS BORN

Image result for The Bethlehem star pics

 And now the star, which they had seen in the east, went in front of them as they traveled until at last it shone immediately above the place where the little child lay. The sight of the star filled them with indescribable joy. Matthew 2:9 [J.B. Phillips New Testament]

2 THEY SAW THE STAR AND REJOICED

I wonder how much rejoicing will go on on Christmas day compared to arguing, bickering, fighting, crying, shouting and complaining. That’s probably in some Christian households too! The Magi saw the star [the light] and rejoiced! The light is always a forerunner to encountering, entering into and experiencing the presence of God. Notice: “they followed the star!” [the light] “They rejoiced at the sight of the star!” [the light] But they didn’t worship the star! They worshiped Christ, the one whom the light pointed to!

Many worship the stars these days, be they astrological stars and star signs, or pop stars, film stars and dare I say it “Celebrity Christian stars!” and we know who they are!! Yes, can you believe it! Some people literally worship the stars in the sky! Some people express an act of devotion and worship of horoscopes and live their lives according to them and are guided by them! And dare I say it, [yes I will] some Christians look at their horoscopes and even worship the Bible [the light bearer] more than or as much as the Light of the world Himself! Yes I know the words of Christ will never pass away, but that’s only because “THE WORD” Himself endures forever! And it’s Him alone whom we must worship. [Luke 4:8]

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APPLICATION: So please please may I encourage you all this Christmas time, that despite the hectic schedules, the tinsel, Turkey and trimmings of Christmas that you find some time to sit down, open the word, open your heart and mind to the word, then worship THE WORD OF GOD HIMSELF, “CHRIST”, THE ONE WHOM CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT.

PRAYER heavenly Father, I thank you for today and especially for the Christ of this day. Thank you that you loved me/us so much that you gave the greatest gift that could ever be given. Your Son, my Saviour Christ Jesus. I pray your blessing upon every household this Christmas time period, but especially on the households of those of the faith. Amen

PRAISE

Light of the world You stepped down into darkness                                                 Opened my eyes, Let me see                                                                                        Beauty that made this heart adore you                                                                    Hope of a life spent with you

Here I am to worship Here I am to bow down                                                                Here I am to say that you’re my God                                                                      You’re altogether lovely Altogether worthy                                                Altogether wonderful to me. [Tim Hughes]

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