After Advent..Journey Complete-there are lessons for us!

The old saying, “It is good to go but oh so nice to come home”, could be said of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in this last episode of the Christmas Story. God again directed their pathway and protected them from harm. He led them to the place Jesus would call home until His public ministry began some 30 years later. Matthew 2:19-23 “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.”

As this portion of Jesus’ life concludes we see the hand of Sovereign God protecting the child and his parents, yet again, from the evil leader who might seek to harm the child. Archelaus was evil and tyrannical like his father Herod. He only remained in power for 10 years but was know as unusually cruel and tyrannical before being deposed. His reign was short and afterwards Judea became a province of Rome. The subsequent rulers were appointed by the emperor. Again, God spoke and Joseph listened and obeyed his dreams. Going back to Nazareth was probably comfortable as that was where they had lived prior to having to go to Bethlehem for the census several years before. Even though people would have known their history, they were returning as a married couple with a small child. Scripture does not indicate there was any animosity towards them or held beliefs or prejudices. Nazareth was a quiet backwater type of town where obscurity could be achieved and the child protected. Again, this protected location is seen in the prophesies that Jesus would be called a Nazarene. These exact words are not found in the Old Testament but their meaning of one who is despised and rejected is referred to in Psalm 22:6 and Isaiah 53:3. Being referred to as a Nazarene in Jesus’ day was synonymous with one who is despised. Surely, nothing good could come from Nazareth was the assumed idea. No one would look for the ‘king of the Jews’ in such a place and no one did!

What can we take away from this story today? We see that God’s will and plan for the redemption of mankind through His Son could not be thwarted by men. God had a plan for our salvation and nothing could disrupt it. Job 42:2 reminds us of this ““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” We also see God’s hand of protection in Mary and Joseph’s story and His guidance to Bethlehem, Egypt and back to quiet Nazareth. So many things could have befallen them on their journey, but God protected and guided them home. He can and does this for us in our lives, too. We may not see it, but as God grows our faith and opens our eyes to His goodness we learn to trust more fully in His plans and ways. It is a life long process of growing in the Lord that matures our faith. I’m confident that this ‘journey’ was one of growth and trust in the Lord for both Mary and Joseph.

As we leave this last installment of the Advent Story, let us remember with confidence that God’s plan is sure , Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” , His ways are not our ways, Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord,” His ways are always right ,Psalm 71:19 “Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? and He does things for our good and His glory Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Praise God for His blessings and what He teaches us through His Word. The Advent Season is one to be cherished and loved. We can cling to the Hope, Love and Redemption we see throughout the year. Jesus is the reason for Advent Season! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16

Linda

Place or person, who is your refuge?

God refugeHow many times have you said, “God is my refuge”?   These are words that David repeatedly spoke about God.  By definition a refuge is a place of shelter or protection from danger or difficulty, or it can be a person who gives shelter, help or comfort.  David spent 14 years running from King Saul after being anointed the future king  by Samuel.  He was hunted, attacked and driven into the wilds away from friends, family and others.

David refers to God as his refuge, a place of safety,  in Psalm 91:1-2 and 91:9-10.                    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say  to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”                                                                                                             91:9-10  “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge —
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.”                    Abiding with God in your heart, soul and mind each day gives you a refuge, a safe place where you can depend upon God to shelter and protect you.     

David also saw God as his refuge, a person who brings protection, help or comfort.  In Psalm 62:5-7 David describes his refuge relationship with God.                                          psalm 62For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.       David sees God as the one who keeps him secure, steadfast and is his provider of salvation.

Psalm 59:16-17 “But I will sing of your strength;
    I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
    and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17 O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress,
    the God who shows me steadfast love.     David is so thankful that God is his refuge providing him with protection, steadfast love and comfort.       

Is this the lens through which you see God?  Is He your place and person of protection, safely, love and comfort?  He can be that and more.  Look to Him today and ask Him to draw near to you and He will just as he promised in James 4:7-8. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, psalm 91 2 NLTand he will draw near to you.”   David repeatedly resisted the desire and opportunity to kill Saul which would have ended his running,  but he did not yield to that temptation and kept drawing nearer to God depending upon Him for refuge.      God can do the same for you.     

Linda