For reasons unknown to us, Jesus’ exact birth date isn’t recorded. December 25th was a date chosen much later. We are told which tiny town he was born in – Bethlehem (1) – and the equally insignificant town of Nazareth (2) that He later grew up in.
We don’t know many other facts about Jesus, such as His height or weight, but we know He was born into a Jewish family. What did He do between ages 12 to 30? Was carpentry His sole occupation in those years, or did he travel the world to get some OE?
Some other things we are told about Jesus may seem obscure – such as the birthday presents (gold, frankincense and myrrh) He was given by some camel-riding Eastern astrologers who called in to see Him and His parents while He was still an infant. (3) Jesus’ birthplace certainly wouldn’t have had a postal address. No matter. The gift-bearers said a star had led the way. (4) Huh?
We’re told the extremely sad tale of angry King Herod’s vengeance taken out on little children, after the camel-riders didn’t return via the palace as he’d asked them to. (5)
We’re told about angelic visitations. Elizabeth and Mary were each told by angels about the birth of their sons (John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively). (6,7) The most awesome account of angels was that seen by a little group of shepherds watching over their flock of sheep one evening.8 After an angel announced the birth of a very special child, a magnificent choir of ecstatic angels joined him in praising God.(9)
Why the odd mixture of being born in an animal shelter, while also being given extremely valuable gifts by rich camel-riders?
There are a lot of mysteries about Jesus.
Matthew often showed how Jesus had fulfilled some prophecy from way back in time, and these are even more mysterious. They are like coded clues to a puzzle.
The Jewish people knew to expect a very special savior but didn’t know when he was coming. (10)
The gospel writers – and God Himself- wanted everyone to know that Jesus was that man.
Bible references for the numbers:
1 Luke 2:4-7
2 Matthew 2:23
3. Matthew 2:9-12
4. Matthew 2:2,9
5. Matthew 2:16-18
6 Luke 1:11-13
7 Luke 1: 26-33
8. Luke 2:8-12
9. Luke 2: 13,14
10. Matthew 2:6
Some points to ponder...
Have you been struggling, as I have, to make sense of how head and heart seem to be at odds, when contemplating the options to choose from for our upcoming general election in September?
To exercise my 3-yearly democratic right this time round, I’m not only going to have to choose a candidate and a political party to vote for, I’m also going to be able to have my say on two life/generation-changing issues – End of Life Choice and Cannabis Legalisation and Control.
I feel strongly that it’s my civic duty to find out as much information as I can about these proposed legislation changes, but I must admit that I’ve found the whole process to be quite challenging, with so much computer and newspaper time required, to carefully process all the information that's available.
Not to mention the essential process of separating fact from fiction. For every argument ‘for’, I’d come across another which contradicted it, and seemed to suggest that the proposed changes were either not in the best interests of family well-being, or were ones which directly contravened Biblical principles.
So how should I vote - where to turn to next, for guidance?
In the Bible, James 1:5 [NIV] says ..
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
And it will be given to you.
and in Psalm 25 we find these words, in verses 4 and 5 ..
Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for You are God my Saviour,
and my hope is in you all day long.
So I have my answer, and that's what I choose to do - ask God to guide me. Thank you Lord, for reminding me that you are in control, that you do understand our human-ness and our indecisive-ness, and that you have the answer. Thank you Lord, for reminding me to look for your truth, and to ask you for your wisdom and guidance in these matters, not to rely on my own understanding.
Less of me, more of Him.
After six weeks of lock-down, we’ve got into our little routines, and sorted out our bubbles pretty well. The weather has thankfully been kind for people to go walking, and for standing outside in supermarket queues.
The covid19 virus seems to be waning worldwide, and people are starting to peep out of their hiding holes ‑ their homes, in most cases. Will it ever be safe to venture out into the big, wide world again? Some say yes, while others are not so sure.
There is more to this than venturing outside our doors and into a less secure world though. Fear, in particular, could keep us inside even if the outside world is safe.
Fear is probably the biggest threat to our peace and security.
There are different fears and worries we may experience. For some, the risk of illness is the biggest worry; and for others the risk of financial struggles, or even ruin, keeps them awake at night. Many people struggle with loneliness, and fear they won’t cope with yet more social isolation.
What would Jesus say to these fears? What did He say to His disciples struggling to keep their boat afloat in a severe storm on Lake Galilee? (John 6:16-21 Don’t be afraid!
What did He say during His sermon on the mount about financial provision? (Matthew 6:25-34)? Don’t worry!
A lack of worry isn’t the same as irresponsibility, nor does it mean a hazy resistance to facing reality. A decision not to worry is a decision to trust. But – in whom do we trust?
Jesus said, (John 14: 25-27. NIV). ‘All of this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’
Just as the threats are within, The Conqueror is also within, and He is the one who tells us not to be afraid.
The chair-lift carries its passengers through and over places that may be difficult or dangerous to cross; in this case, a park in Launceston, Tasmania.
2 Corinthians 13v14. ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen’
If I take a coin and toss it into the air, it may come up heads or tails, or it may land in an upright position. Sounds impossible. I’ve never seen it done. No one has ever done that before. The possibility is there nevertheless.
Welcome to Christianity.
Along came a man named Jesus and turned the world upside down as we knew it. All of this world’s history points to this man. With all of life’s up and downs and round abouts, this man has become the corner stone of life to so many people.
He tells us that the reason He came was so that The Holy Spirit could come to us, to guide us, teach us, empower us, to live within us, so that we could come to the place we were created to be, in righteous relationship with the one who created us and with each other, upright in His sight.
John 3v10 ‘If thou knew the gift of GOD, and who it is that saith to thee, “give me to drink”, thou would have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.’
John 3v 14 ‘But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’
John 6 v35 ‘I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.’
This time of communion, when we partake of the elements of the bread and the cup let us consider what we are really saying, and to whom.
Hebrews13v20, 21 “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our LORD JESUS, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through JESUS CHRIST; to whom be glory forever, Amen.” KJV
From our bubble to your bubble!
By Mark G
Dear Tikipunga Baptist Church members and other visitors, welcome to our Blog site.
As we settle into our 'new normal' (our individual/family bubbles), the words 'CoVid19 Level Four lockdown' are becoming all too familiar for us here in NZ. Our Government has called for this drastic action for good reason, and we are called to obey those rules, for everyone's sake - people's lives really do depend upon it.
These times have been called 'unprecedented' and are certainly unknown to us, but we’re all in it together, and together we can remain strong. We will certainly miss our fellowship together and other social interaction, but technology has brought us many different ways of interacting so hopefully you are able to keep in touch with your family, friends and fellowship during this time.
We are here for you too and our blog has two purposes:
1) To help each of us keep Our Saviour, The Lord Jesus Christ, His Heavenly Father and The Holy Spirit clear in our focus.
2) To offer practical and emotional help for each other. Social isolation is not our ‘norm’.
Please be encouraged by this special verse from Jesus, when He promised to give us His special peace.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14: 27; NIV)
Secondly - please try to keep in touch with each other, but especially with those people who are on their own or those who are vulnerable for other reasons. And please do keep in contact with us via our email form, we'd love to hear from you.
A verse from Marlene today: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)