Saturday, 30 December 2017


They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshipped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.
Mark 2:11

The gifts.

"They presented unto him gifts - These were presented to him as King of the Jews, because they supposed he was to be a distinguished prince and conqueror. It was customary in the East to show respect for persons of distinction by making presents or offerings of this kind. See Genesis 32:14; Genesis 43:11; 1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Kings 10:2; Psalm 72:10-15. This custom is still common in the East, and it is everywhere there unusual to approach a person of distinguished rank without a valuable present.

Frankincense - Frankincense is a white resin or gum. It is obtained from a tree by making incisions in the bark, and suffering the gum to flow out. It is highly odoriferous or fragrant when burned, and was therefore used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God. See Exodus 30:8; Leviticus 16:12. It is found in the East Indies, but chiefly in Arabia; and hence it has been supposed probable that the wise men came from Arabia.

Myrrh - This was also a production of Arabia, and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. The name denotes bitterness, and was given to it on account of its great bitterness. It was used chiefly in embalming the dead, because it had the property of preserving dead bodies from putrefaction. Compare John 19:39, it was much used in Egypt and in Judea. It was obtained from a thorny tree, which grows 8 or 9 feet high. It was at an early period an article of commerce Genesis 37:25, and was an ingredient of the holy ointment, Exodus 30:23. It was also used as an agreeable perfume, Esther 2:12; Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Saviour, when about to be crucified, as a stupefying potion, Mark 15:23; compare Matthew 27:34. The offerings here referred to were made because they were the most valuable which the country of the Magi or wise men produced. They were tokens of respect and homage which they paid to the new-born King of the Jews. They evinced their high regard for him, and their belief that he was to be an illustrious prince; and the fact that their deed is recorded with approbation shows us that we should offer our most valuable possessions, our all, to the Lord Jesus Christ. Wise men came from far to do him homage, and bowed down, and presented their best gifts and offerings. It is right that we give to him also our hearts, our property, our all."
 (Barnes' notes,

The wise men brought expensive gifts.
In reality, what can I give
the King of Kings?
I have nothing.

Only a heart.
May I be see the Lord Jesus
and be overcome
in worship.

At last!

"Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!"
Matthew 2:9 - 10

The star appeared again. How had they lost sight of it? Perhaps
it appeared only when Jesus was born, and so,
having read the sacred writings,
they set off to find the new-born king.

How unhappy, to have had to inquire of Herod. Perhaps
he might not have learned of the babe's arrival
and so could have remained ignorant
of this earth-shattering occasion.

But the star led them! This time, perhaps,
they could be sure of where they should go
and so, following, they arrived.
Happy, happy journey's end.

Friday, 29 December 2017


A king happy to worship a potential usurper?

Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”
Matthew 2:7 - 8

Herod arranged. The all-powerful vassal-king of Judah under Rome,
Who would deny him?

Master of subterfuge and cruelty, working in secret,
duplicitously pretending
to be a devoted God-seeker.

Sending unsuspecting innocents
on their way, hiding
the blackness of his heart.

The words sounded worshipful.
We, with hindsight wisdom
know the intent to be murderous.

Lord, help us
to speak Your truth in love
only, from pure hearts.

"Then Herod sent a private message to the astrologers, asking them to come to see him; at this meeting he found out from them the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them,  “Go to Bethlehem and search for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him too!”

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


"When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land,
no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”Micah 5:2, 4

Matthew 2:3 - 6

They knew. These learned men, these Gentiles, knew that the true King of the Jews was born.
They knew the When, for his star had appeared.
They knew the Why: a king would appear to save the Jewish people.
They only needed to know the Where.

So did Herod.
He was terrified he would lose his position when the Messiah King arrived/

Me too.
The King who would tilt the world, turn 'normal' upside down, challenge all for change.

Will I trust Him, pay homage, worship and obey? Put my life, belief, heart in His hands?
Not just once in a lifetime, but times in the everyday always?
Believe in this unusual leader, more humble shepherd than proud royalty?
Step forward into a new Adventure?
Why not do it?

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

The Searchers

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1 - 2

A band of scholars.
From one country: or many,
representing a world in need of a Saviour?
Friends: or strangers,
brought together by a communality of learning?

Wise men.
Philosophers, priests, astronomers.
Learned in study.
Experts in soothsaying.

What languages did they speak?
The question they asked was simple.
"Where is the newly born Jewish king?"

The humility of important men
before the birth of One so important.

An occasion so portentous
that they travelled from far.

Sunday, 24 December 2017


"Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem."
Luke 2:36 - 38

Anna, the gracious one, whose name means grace, prophesying in a dark world, where God had not spoken to her people for four hundred years...

The gracious one, remaining in prayer, seeking God, listening to His whispers, dedicating her life to His worship.

And then she heard it. Heard Him say: 'This is Him. This is the one. Tell all who are waiting for the freeing of Jerusalem....

'...the freeing of Jerusalem.'

Did she have any inkling of what this 'freeing' really meant?
Not a physical warrior king, a new David, who could put an end to the oppression from the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans..., a NEW Saviour, whose grace reaches far beyond a mere city.

Grace prophesied by Grace.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Story behind The Story.

When they finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him."
Luke 2:39 - 40

This little gap, between verses 38 and 39, speaks volumes. Between Bethlehem and Nazareth were several years... it is said that they remained in Bethlehem long enough for the wise men to visit them before they fled to Egypt in front of Herod's murdering soldiers.

Such obedience from Mary and Joseph: fulfilling the law: the circumcision, and naming, affirming again the separation, the setting apart, of the Jews from the Gentiles: and yet this boy was to bring unity to all the world under God;
the giving of the first-born to God, acknowledging that Jesus belonged to God, who gave him life: and how very true this was for THIS boy;
the cleansing of Mary, making her fit once again to worship God in the temple: but of course she worshipped Him in her heart, wherever she was - as she and Joseph would have to do in Egypt.

And once in Nazareth.... Nazareth was home.
There they could settle, surrounded by family
who would help them in bringing up their son.

So he grew, physically strong and spiritually wise.
Emotionally gracious.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Blessing. Blessings.

"When the eighth day arrived, the day of circumcision, the child was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived.

Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took him up to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law: “Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God,” and also to sacrifice the “pair of doves or two young pigeons” prescribed in God’s Law.

In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:

"God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;
it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
and of glory for your people Israel."

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,
'This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are.'"

Luke 2:21 - 37

Blessed was Simeon
to see the Blessing
for all mankind.

What did Mary think? Why was she surprised?
Did she not already know
how Wonderful was
this Son of hers?

He was, after all, to be called JESUS.
The Saviour.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Ponder. SHOUT!

"Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!"
Luke 2:19 - 20

Again, when Jesus, aged 12, was 'lost' in the temple, Mary 'treasured all these things in her heart'. She kept them to herself until, as an old lady, she confided them to Luke, remembering all things about her dear son.

She would not have forgotten a single detail.
Barnes' notes say:
"A "mother" forgets none of those things which occur respecting her children. Everything they do or suffer - everything that is said of them, is treasured up in her mind; and often she thinks of those things, and anxiously seeks what they may indicate respecting the future character and welfare of her child.

Pondered - Weighed. This is the original meaning of the word "weighed." She kept them; she revolved them; she "weighed" them in her mind, giving to each circumstance its just importance, and anxiously seeking what it might indicate respecting her child.

In her heart - In her mind. She "thought" of these things often and anxiously."

The shepherds, on the other hand, did not forget either. They could NOT keep this amazing event to themselves, and told everyone they could, giving God the glory and the praise. 

Who believed them? Would I? Could I? Or would cold reason, dismissal of 'superstition', disbelief, ignorance, have come creeping in?

God, give me eyes to see You at work in our world
a heart to believe
and a willing will to obey.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Good news!

Good news.
More exciting
than words 
can say.

to go, to see, 
to tell.

Imagine the stories
these excited men
told, words tumbling

Lord, may I too
have this same
strong conviction

To go to Bethlehem.
See what has happened.
(Find the Child in that
most unlikely of places.)

TELL what has happened.

"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."

Luke 2:15 - 18

Monday, 18 December 2017

Do.Not.Fear. It is GOOD news!

"There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

Luke 2:8 - 12

Good news came through a fearful experience.
Who would not have shared the shepherds' terror
at this supernatural, other-worldly, incomprehensible occurrence?
Not just one random angel, either,
but a whole bunch of them. Terrifyingly bright and fearsomely beautiful.

Fear. Of the unknown.
How often do I fear because I do not know?

I do not know the facts.
I do not know how someone feels.
I do not know God loves me so much that I have no need to fear even when I Do Not Know.

Because He loves me.

Look up to heaven.
Hear the angels' joyful message.
Share in the wonder at God's glory.
Experience His peace.
Accept the Gift.

Be not afraid.
Do not fear.
All that is needed
Is Knowledge of the 
One True Saviour.

Accept His Gift.

Sunday, 17 December 2017


And how amazing
that this Jesus, this Jew born to people of humble origin
should have his birth registered
in the mighty Roman empire.
Caesar Augustus, thinking he was God
and owned the people, wanting them counted
as he counted his riches, was himself
directed by God.

No disputing that this baby was born
a real human being.
No disputing his parents.
No disputing his birthplace.
No, the mighty Roman empire
had it recorded as truth

ordained by God, who himself
spoke centuries before
of where and how this all would happen.

Luke 2:1 - 7
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

John. Joy beyond hope and expectation.

The Birth of John the Baptist

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

What rejoicing there must have been. Shouting, laughing, crying...
Miraculous intervention. Dreams and hopes fulfilled.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah,  but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

She knew. Zachariah had told her, somehow, in paucity of written words, far removed from his real revelation. Just a skeleton of the truth, the precursor of good news. 
When did he tell her? As soon as he arrived home? When he lay with her in their bed? Or was it when the first signs appeared: the morning sickness, the thickening of her waist... all signs for medical concern for those not with child?

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

Sometimes, others think they know better.
But it is only GOD
who knows what is best.
Let us seek HIM for wisdom.

Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him. Luke 1:57 - 66

And his name?  
His name means 'Yahweh is gracious.'

The Gospels, the Good News, absolutely reek with the Lord's graciousness. How he looks with favour on those who love Him and keep his commandments....

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Mary's song.

And Mary said:

46 “My soul glorifies the Lord
I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise. 
I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:  Psalm 34:1 - 2
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
Christ Jesus our hope 1 Timothy 1:1
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 1 Timothy 2:3
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
though lofty, he sees them from afar. Psalm 138:6
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”  Luke 11:27
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God? Psalm 71:19
holy is his name.
He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.
Psalm 111:9
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:6
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
Psalm 103:17
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
Isaiah 40:10
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Psalm 98:3

55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
The Lord swore an oath to David,
a sure oath he will not revoke:
“One of your own descendants
I will place on your throne. Psalm 132:11
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,”[a]meaning one person, who is Christ. Galatians 3:16
Luke 1:46 - 55

The Message:
"And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.

The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now."
Luke 1:46 - 55

And this is how I feel. Brought down, trodden on, humbled... the only 'out' is to look up in hope....

Tuesday, 12 December 2017


"And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple.  When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.  
“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Luke 1:20 - 25

A warning for our disbelief. 
How often do I not dare to believe that God really, really loves me enough to give me my deepest heart's desire? It may not be now - the timing is his - but He knows what is best.

This best, a son for Zacharias and Elizabeth, was long in coming.
Did they see him come to manhood?
Surely, old as they were, they would be spared the unjust tragedy of his death?

Elizabeth was unaware of his great destiny: “He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.” 
Only Zachariah.

He returned home with heaven-sent knowledge which he could not share. 
(I wonder -  had they still been making love together, old as they were? Zachariah surely lay with Elizabeth on his return from Jerusalem - was she surprised?)
He could only watch in awe as Elizabeth's stomach slowly swelled
as the child grew in her.

Yet nothing is impossible - WITH GOD.
Dare to believe.
Accept His love.
Obey His word.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Prayer. Heard.

"But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.

“He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”

Zachariah said to the angel, “Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman.”

But the angel said, “I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time—God’s time.” Luke 1:13 - 20

Your prayer has  been heard. Your prayer has been heard. 
After so many years, of begging and beseeching for a child, Zachariah's prayer has been heard.

Not only that. It was YES!!  He and Elizabeth would have a child: not only a child, but a SON.

And yet. Zachariah did not, could not, believe it. Reason - he and Elizabeth were too old - triumphed over belief in God's mighty power.

The consequence: he was struck dumb, because he had objected to God's word.  

So we pray. We wait.

"While Zacharias was burning incense in the temple, the whole multitude of the people were praying without. 
All the prayers we offer up to God, are acceptable and successful only by Christ's intercession in the temple of God above. 
We cannot expect an interest therein if we do not pray, and pray with our spirits, and are not earnest in prayer. 
Nor can we expect that the best of our prayers should gain acceptance, and bring an answer of peace, but through the mediation of Christ, who ever lives, making intercession. 
The prayers Zacharias often made, received an answer of peace. 
Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten. 
Prayers made when we were young and entering into the world, may be answered when we are old and going out of the world.
Mercies are doubly sweet that are given in answer to prayer."  Matthew Henry.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Fear. In spite of faith.

Where did John come from? He came from 'impossibility'....
"A Childless Couple Conceives
During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old."

Zachariah. "He who remembers Jehovah or he who Jehovah remembers..."
Elizabeth. Bearing the name of her forerunner, Aaron's wife. 
Both of priestly families.
Both honourable, loving people.
Both childless.

How deprived did they feel? Was Zachariah resigned: no son to carry out his name, no child to inherit his name....
And Elizabeth? The ultimate disgrace, let alone no son to care for parents in old age.

Time had passed. All chance was gone and now, just old age. 

And yet....
"It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear." Luke 1:5 - 12

This pinnacle of life, the chance to serve God in his holy temple. Aah. This was the culmination of a life's dream, surely outweighing any earthly desires. This is what Zachariah had been born to.

And then an angel came and ruined this holy moment....


"When you came in and greeted me, the instant I heard your voice, my baby moved in me for joy!" Luke 1:44

The baby. John. He knew.As 

As the Apostle John wrote: "There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light." John 1:6 - 8

John-the-Apostle knew the Scriptures:
" as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”
Malachi 3:1
 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’” Isaiah 40:3

And so John the Baptist appeared..."

John. He, who Jesus said was 'the greatest of all men' - "the greatest messenger you’ll ever hear. He is the messenger Malachi announced when he wrote,
I’m sending my messenger on ahead
To make the road smooth for you.
“Let me lay it out for you as plainly as I can: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer..."

And John, as he preached repentance, said about Jesus: " “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

He WILL change us - from the inside, out. From the inside.

This is what Advent is about. Preparing. Offering ourselves to God, to CHANGE us. From the inside, out.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Recognition. Blessed.

At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.

She gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is destined for God’s mightiest praise. What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! When you came in and greeted me, the instant I heard your voice, my baby moved in me for joy!  You believed that God would do what he said; that is why he has given you this wonderful blessing.”
Luke 1:41 - 45

Prophetic words. Divine wisdom
showed Elisabeth the unborn child
hidden in a young girl's body.

Blessed was this girl. Blessing. 'To be spoken well of.'
God has given Mary this child,
this reason to be 'spoken well of'.

Blessed was she, as was Jael, renowned for killing
Sisera, Canaanite cruel enemy,
saving her people.

Yet Mary too would be the instrument
bringing salvation.
Through life, not death.

'Spoken well of, like Jael.'
Not a saviour in herself. 'Just'
the mother
of The Saviour.

Note: the cross-reference to Luke 1:42 is Judges 5:24, which recounts the story of Jael who killed Sisera, commander of the enemy Canaanite army, by driving a tent peg through his head while he slept, thus saving the Israelites. The word used for 'blessed' seems to be the same in both texts, albeit the NT one is Greek and the OT one Hebrew.

Thursday, 7 December 2017


Elizabeth with child!  Pregnant! Expecting a baby!

If Mary had thought her own news challenging to believe, so was Elizabeth's. This elderly lady, gone far beyond expectation of conceiving, now awaited a child.
Mary just HAD to see her.
(Or was it also to escape the prying eyes, the village gossip
of unwed maiden suddenly expecting? Who would believe
crazy stories of angels from a mere girl?)

Luke 1:39 - 40
A few days later Mary hurried to the highlands of Judea to the town where Zacharias lived, to visit Elizabeth.
What a journey.
We are told it would have taken
three to five days
depending on whether she travelled with a caravan
or alone.

in any case
a girl, a young girl, barely pregnant.
Perhaps fourteen years old? Scarcely older
than her son would be
when he chose to stay in His Father's House
after the Passover festival.

Was she used to travel?
Did she, too, journey with her family to Jerusalem
for holy celebration?

Or was this her first time?
Her first, holy, journey?

What about us? Where will we journey to?
Far-off places?
Other homes?
Reconnect with relatives?
Find friends, old and new?
Travel inwards, 
hurrying to revelation, to
reach the inner places of our souls?

Advent. The coming. Where are we going?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017 WITH GOD.

Luke 1: 36 - 38 (The angel continued:) "Furthermore, six months ago your Cousin Elizabeth—‘the barren one,’ they called her—became pregnant in her old age!  For every promise from God shall surely come true.”

Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants. May everything you said come true.” And then the angel disappeared."

Every promise shall come true.

Yet, we, unlike Mary, doubt.
Sarah, Abraham's wife, laughed in disbelief.
Perhaps, we do not laugh
but hidden in our hearts
we ponder: "Can this really be?
Do I deserve it? Surely, this is
'too good to be true'."

Yet Mary did not, Unlike Zechariah
who also had angelic visitation,
and suffered for his incredulity, 
Mary believed.
Mary was willing.
Mary accepted.
Mary desired that God's word WOULD STAND.

For her, no scepticism, doubt, cynicism, suspicion, distrust, mistrust, wariness, chariness...


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

With Us.

"Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

The angel answered,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God.
" Luke 1:34 - 35
God knew. All would be well.
But Mary?
Mary, she needed explanation.
Did she recognise herself in Scripture?

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."  Isaiah 7:14

Yet the angel answered her. Not merely just a messenger, pronouncing, but the mouthpiece of the Living God who loves to talk with Adam's children.

Immanuel. God with us. God with Mary. Not just some-time-in-the-future, not 'only' a  Mighty God, King, Ruler, but also God With US. 

Now. Today. This minute. A heart'sbreath away.

We are not pregnant by the Holy Spirit, but Because of Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in us. HE LIVES! GLORY GLORY HALLELUJAH!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Fear. Not.

"She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
He will be great,
be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
"  Luke 1:29 - 33

"Mary, don't  be afraid."
How many times has God lovingly whispered these words? "Nothing to fear. Fear not. Don't be frightened. Don't be afraid...."
So many, many times. 
In this story, Mary's story, God's story, we know the end. The glorious, incredible end.
God knew. All would be well.
But Mary?
Mary, she needed explanation.

What was prophesied about the Messiah?
Did Mary recognise the angel's words from Scripture?
Did she know Isaiah 9:6
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Did she stop being afraid, then?

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Beauty in God's eyes.

"God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you. 
"               Luke 1:26 - 28

What a greeting. Angelic visitation.
What did he look  like?
A rush of wind in his wings?
A sudden sense of power, filling the room?
An enormous Presence, a cloud of Heaven's dust?
A whirling, moving, luminous being?

Does it matter?
The words are beyond description. The affirmation
that she, a nobody, is BEAUTIFUL. With GOD'S beauty.
God's favour. Beauty from the inside out.
Beauty of adoration
Beauty of blessedness.
Beauty of character.
Beauty of devotion.

Oh, to be beautiful, to be favoured, for GOD to be glorified in me.


Joseph's story.
Oh, not our Egyptian hero, but our Nazarene one.
They whispered about him in the village.
Poor Joseph, trustworthy carpenter
having to father
another Man's Son.

Everyone knew
Mary had betrayed him with another.
Joseph was a good, steady, hard-working man.
Mary a good, loving, lovely girl.
Oh, he was a good man, he was.

He paid no heed to gossip, wishing only the best
for the girl he adored.
Preferring to protect her in his pain
he, a law-abiding, law-following-in-simple-obedience man
agonized over the Right Thing to Do.

descendant of David,
clung to his forefather's psalms
of praise to their God.
Nothing else could matter
but that God, GOD, should be honoured in this mess.

he resolved
to quietly separate himself
from his one love
in his disgrace.

Keeping honour
he thought of her first.
Seeking to do what was right and just
and to do it in the right way.
In love and mercy.

But God stepped in.
There was no mistaking the dream.
Joyfully, though he knew
the way would not be easy
Joseph accepted the message.

angst turned to scarcely unbelievable
Good News. He, a man of royal family
yet humble position
would father
the Saviour..

He could not understand it.
Jesus. Yeshua. Jehovah who saves.
Yes. the boy would bear the name
of Joshua, Israel's mighty captain
but saving his people from their sins?

Only God.
Only GOD can save
through men's humble sacrifices
to the Almighty, All-Powerful One.
Joseph knew the Scriptures.
Dared he believe this child would be The One?

He did.
Joseph, carpenter of Nazareth
woke up. He obeyed the Angel of the Lord
willingly he took Mary
to be his wife after all.
Before all that was to come.

And blessing came.
Their marriage
which he thought was lost forever
would be saved.
They would need to be strong
for what lay ahead.

Matthew 1:18 - 25

Friday, 1 December 2017


Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) Therefore the Lord himself will give you[a] a sign: The virgin[b] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[c] will call him Immanuel.[d]

Who knew
this Baby was so special?

early foretold his coming

hundreds and hundreds of times

pointing urgently to Him.

How many?
Three hundred and fifty-three.

The Word's
birth, suffering, death foretold.

We know
He is our true Rescuer.

The One
who Loves us more than others.

Thank God
for Jesus, our Redeemer.

Matthew 1:18 - 25

  1. Isaiah 7:14 The Hebrew is plural.
  2. Isaiah 7:14 Or young woman
  3. Isaiah 7:14 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls son, and he or son, and they
  4. Isaiah 7:14 Immanuel means God with us.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Before time began...

Where did it start?
Not with a cosy glowing stable scene, eternally warm and fuzzy.
Not with a young girl, giving bad news
(but no, it was GOOD, good news) to her unhappy fiance.
Nor even with angelic visitations.
No, eternally begotten before time began,
the Rescuer planned His earthly recognition,
the Chosen One, He Who Is To Come.

Joseph proudly traced his family
back to Abraham
Matthew getting the Jews alongside
to show them their Messiah, Christ Jesus.

Mary, Luke likewise shows,
has royal ancestry
through David, back to Adam
for Jesus came to save us ALL.

It starts with us. Loved before time began. Do we receive him?

Matthew 1:18 - 25

In the beginning....

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; John 1:1 - 3  The Jesse tree, before the first ornament, representing Creation, was hung...

Saturday, 7 October 2017


Catching up on a post from breakfast a while back: thoughts on being generous...

Generosity (also called largess) is the virtue of not being tied down by concerns about one's possessions.[1]Often it means to provide help to others by giving them an (usually precious) item without thinking twice. 


It is sometimes used in the meaning ofcharity(thevirtueofgivingwithout expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need). 
In times ofnatural disaster, relief efforts are frequently provided, voluntarily, by individuals or groups acting unilaterally in making gifts of time, resources, goods, money, etc. 
Generosity is a guiding principle for many registeredcharities,foundationsandnon-profit organizations. 
Generosity can also be spending time, money, or labor for others without being rewarded in return. 
Although the term generosity often goes hand-in-hand with charity, many people in the public's eye want recognition for their good deeds. Donations are needed to support organizations and committees, however, generosity should not be limited to times of great need such as natural disasters and extreme situations. 
Generosity is not solely based on one's economic status, but instead, includes the individual's pure intentions of looking out for society's common good and giving from the heart. Generosity should reflect the individual's passion to help others. 
The modern English word "generosity" derives from the Latin word generōsus, which means "of noble birth," which itself was passed down to English through the Old French word généreux. The Latin stem gener– is the declensional stem of genus, meaning "kin," "clan," "race," or "stock," with the root Indo-European meaning of gen being "to beget." The same root gives us the words genesis, gentry, gender, genital, gentile, genealogy, and genius, among others. 
Most recorded English uses of the word "generous" up to and during the Sixteenth Century reflect an aristocratic sense of being of noble lineage or high birth. To be generous was literally a way of complying with nobility." 
During the 17th Century, however, the meaning and use of the word began to change. Generosity came increasingly to identify not literal family heritage but a nobility of spirit thought to be associated with high birth— that is, with various admirable qualities that could now vary from person to person, depending not on family history but on whether a person actually possessed the qualities. In this way generosity increasingly came in the 17th Century to signify a variety of traits of character and action historically associated (whether accurately or not) with the ideals of actual nobility: gallantry, courage, strength, richness, gentleness, and fairness. In addition to describing these diverse human qualities, "generous" became a word during this period used to describe fertile land, the strength of animal breeds, abundant provisions of food, vibrancy of colors, the strength of liquor, and the potency of medicine. 
Then, during the 18th Century, the meaning of "generosity" continued to evolve in directions denoting the more specific, contemporary meaning of munificence, open–handedness, and liberality in the giving of money and possessions to others. This more specific meaning came to dominate English usage by the 19th Century. Over the last five centuries in the English speaking world, "generosity" developed from being primarily the description of anascribed statuspertaining to the elite nobility to being an achieved mark of admirable personal quality and action capable of being exercised in theory by any person who had learned virtue and noble character (Smith 2009). 
Generosity in religions[edit] 
InBuddhism, generosity is one of theTen Perfectionsand is theantidoteto the self-chosenpoisoncalledgreed. 
Generosity is known asCharityin the Bible, andDaanin the Eastern Religious Scriptures. 
InIslamQuran states that whatever we give away generously, with the intention of pleasing God, He will replace it. God knows what is in the hearts of men. Say: “Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and also restricts it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of anything (in God’s Cause), He will replace it. And He is the Best of providers.” (Quran 34:39) 
InChristianity, theBook of Actsstates thatJesussaid that giving is better than receiving (Acts 20:35). 
Generosity in knowledge[edit] 
  • Missionary Church of Kopimismsays that all knowledge is for everyone and copying/sharing information is sacred. 
  • According to the Bible, having all the knowledge in the world is useless, without the desire for charity (sharing): 
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 
And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge, and in all understanding 
— Douay-Rheims: Philippians 1:9[2] 

God's abundant generosity

When people give extravagantly, what is their reward? See Luke 6:38

Generous with their money: Mary's gift: expensive perfume, equivalent to a week’s wages. Over the top, abundant generosity. 

Generous with family: Hannah's sacrifice: the child she had longed for, which God gave her, she gave back to God. 

Generous with time: Anna, a prophetess at the time of Jesus’s birth who spent her days at the temple, praising and worshipping God. 

Generous with friendship: Jonathan risked his father’s wrath by helping David.  

Generous with help: the Good Samaritan 

Generous with reputation: Ruth, Mary.

Generous when there could be no rewards: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, risking reputations and in danger of being ostracised for acting on behalf of a dead 'criminal'.

We love because God first loved us. 
We give because God first gave us. 

From 40Acts: Act sixteen – Beyond by Nadia Hussain

"Jesus didn't settle for 'just enough' or the wine at the wedding would have been drinkable rather than top quality. So today, scale it up! Don't measure out the generosity – go large. 

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us; that we should be
called children of God."
(1 John 3:1 NIV)

When generosity goes 'beyond' it somehow stays with us, like an indelible mark. Like the time the girl standing behind me in the lunch queue covered the bill without hesitation when she saw that I hadn't enough money to buy my lunch. Or the time I visited Thailand for 3 weeks and stayed with a lady who housed and discipled 16 teenage girls in a two-bedroom flat. This lady shared absolutely everything she owned with the girls. Her generosity went well beyond our expectation, hosting dinner each night for us when she barely had enough food for herself.
Just last summer I was having pancakes with a large group of young students and when it came to paying the bill, we learnt that one of the students had paid for the entire group's drinks and meals with the very little money he had.

1 John 3:1 talks of our identity as Children of God; we are those who have been lavishly loved through Jesus. It also gives us reason to believe that our generosity should therefore be lavish. To be lavish with what you have is to give open-handedly and abundantly. Radical generosity is the surrender of our time, talents, and treasures as an act of love to others, without expecting anything in return.

I wonder what our culture would look like if we were lavish in our generosity, going beyond expectation simply because we love other people rather than as a response. It might look different in each individual's life and context, but it would be an incredible witness of the Father's love to our friends. I challenge you to bless someone unexpectedly this week. Wherever you are, go beyond their expectation, step out of your comfort zone and really surprise someone, or some group, with God's overflowing love and grace.

Today's blog was written by Nadia Hussain from More Precious."