Monthly Archives: December 2020

Lost and Found!

Have you ever felt panic and helplessness? Once when I went shopping for food I lost my daughter for what seemed to be an eternity. It was only about one minute. She was normally very good at staying by my side holding on to the trolley or my leg. That particular day the store was packed with shoppers and she wondered off. I lost site of her and never felt such panic. My heart was thumping and I couldn’t think straight. I ran to the end of the isle and looked both ways and could not see her. I started calling her name and tried to hear in the midst of the confusion. Music was playing, people were talking and I could not hear my daughter at all. I ran up and down frantically trying to see her. I think at that point tears were running down my face and I was sweating. I turned back and ran the opposite way and I spotted her. She was calmly looking at some boxes on the shelf. I think they might have been cereal boxes. When she saw me she smiled. I grabbed her in an embrace and tried to calm myself down. If you are a mother, an aunty, a big sister, a grandma, a teacher, a nanny that once lost site of a precious child you will know the feeling.

The Bible tells us that once Jesus’s earthly parents went through the same thing. Not in a supermarket but when they had gone to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. I imagine it must have been a very busy time for the people living in Jerusalem, in fact for the entire nation as they sought to follow their customs established many years before (Deuteronomy 16:1-8). After they had done all they needed to do, they started their journey home only to realise Jesus wasn’t among the family and friends travelling with them, mind you, it took them a day to realise that!

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. Luke 2:41-45

Judging by how I felt when I lost my daughter for the longest minute in my life, it must have been a very stressful and worrying journey back to Jerusalem for Mary and Joseph. They found Jesus! I found my daughter looking at some boxes a couple of isles back from where we were originally. They found Jesus back in the temple.

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. Luke 2:46-47

What I find interesting about these verses is that all the people who were listening to Jesus, even at the age of 12, were amazed at his understanding and his answers. It must have been incredible to be in the presence of Jesus, the pre-teenager, who was fully man and fully God answering the questions. It must have been special for those people. Guess what? We have something they didn’t have: we have the Bible. We can hear Jesus speaking at any time. Are we listening? Are we amazed? Are we even spending any time in His Word?

Another reason I think this passage is great is because we have a glimpse of the humanity of Jesus in a different level. Here Mary is telling Jesus off for putting them in that horrible situation.

48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Luke 2:48

I guess at this point in time Mary didn’t really grasp who Jesus was. You would have thought that at that moment she would have remembered what the Angel told her when he appeared to her to announce God had chosen her to be the mother of his Son.

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

We also see Jesus’s humanity in the fact that He didn’t even think to tell his parents he was staying behind in the temple. Children do that, don’t they? Most of the time is quite innocent. They just can’t think of how their parents will feel and how much they will worry. Jesus’s answer to Mary’s question is interesting as well. You might think that he should have at least apologised to his parents, but no. Mary and Joseph didn’t understand who Jesus was but Jesus had not forgotten. His humanity had not distracted him from who He was and from His mission.

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Luke 2:49-50

When I found my daughter in the supermarket I was very glad she was ok and it took me a while to recover. When we were home I spoke to her about not wondering off and making sure she was with mummy all the time. I tried to make her understand the danger of wondering off. It worked. She didn’t do it again. Sometimes she would ask if she could go see something and as long as I could see her and she could see me we were ok. This has been our rule to this day. She is a teenager now, but she still makes sure she can see me when we go places and she makes sure I can see her too.

We are not told what things Jesus and his parents talked about on their way home but we are told that He was obedient to his parents. That is correct. Jesus, the king of the Universe, was obedient to His earthly parents as much as He was obedient to God His Father. Again, this gives us a glimpse of his humanity. Whatever rules Mary and Joseph had, Jesus followed and obeyed. We are told he grew in wisdom and stature and he found favour with God and with man.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:51-52

I am grateful I re-read this passage this week. It is wonderful to see how Jesus set an example for us of obedience. I also find it amazing that God inspired Luke to record this experience in the life of our Saviour. As my daughter was lost to me and Jesus to his parents, we were all lost. In fact we were all walking away from God, but He came to find us and rescue us through His Son. I pray we keep reading on and that God will open our eyes to see more truths about His Son.

God bless.

“For my eyes have seen your Salvation”

I don’t know about you, but I had hoped that this week, building up to Christmas day would be a quiet one. I was quite happy we had made our plans for the week a while ago and we were organised enough to buy and wrap our presents, order the food, get the house sorted. Little did we know that so many things would change and that we, like everybody else in the country, would have to revise our plans and just be thankful for what we can do instead of complain about the things we can’t.

Needless to say there are many people feeling lonely, hurt and frustrated as we approach the day we are to celebrate the birth of our Saviour. Perhaps cooking the Christmas meal for one or only a couple of people is not worth the effort. Perhaps exchanging presents at a later date won’t have the same “magic feeling”. Watching the Queen’s speech, or any other program, alone is not as good or entertaining. Maybe the church service online won’t feel like church on Christmas day. It certainly is a different day and I am sure we will have many things to talk about in years to come as we look back at this time.

The one thing we can be sure about is that Christmas will never change and can never be stopped. I am talking about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Jesus became our Immanuel and He came to save us.

On my last post we talked about the Magi coming to see Jesus when he was a toddler and how they worshiped Him. As I continued my Christmas readings in Luke 2 I came across the passage that tells us Mary and Joseph present Jesus in the temple. The person we meet today is Simeon. Simeon was an old man who is described as being devout and righteous. He was full of the Holy Spirit and a promise had been made to him: he would not die before he had seen and he had been waiting for a long time for a promise, God’s promised king.

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Luke 2:25-26

I wondered as I read, would I have had the same faith Simeon had? He was still following God’s law and was going to the temple, living his life the best way he could to please God. How long would he live? When was this king coming? Those would certainly be some of the questions I would be asking. We are told the Spirit moved Simeon to go to the temple and when Mary and Joseph take Jesus there this is what happens:

27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:27-32

When Simeon took Jesus in his arms he recognised Him as the King God had promised in the Old Testament. He knew this child was going to bring salvation to Jews and Gentiles. Simeon understood who Jesus was and why He had come.

Simeon also understood that Jesus was going to be spoken against and that not all would recognise and accept Him. He knew Jesus was going to have to suffer to accomplish His mission:

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.

Even as I am reading these verses again and as I write this post I wonder how many of us will be thanking God that He sent his precious Son to be the saviour of the world. Do we understand what that means? Are we willing to let the Holy Spirit work in us so that we celebrate and recognise Jesus for who He is? Simeon only had the promises of the Old Testament and the law to go by. We have the entire Bible which reveals God’s plan to save us from the beginning all the way to the end. Will we be saying “My eyes have seen your Salvation”? May we be prepared to receive and celebrate king Jesus. May our hearts be filled with the joy only those who recognise how much our salvation cost can have. We celebrate Jesus’s birth so that Easter could take place and on that cross Jesus paid the price to redeem those who will put their trust in Him. May we be ready today, tomorrow and every day to recognise Jesus as the Saviour.

This year might be different, our meals might be quieter than usual, presents might be delayed, but God’s Salvation and hope has come. The king came for me and for you.

God bless.

We have come to worship the King

There are some really interesting people in the story of Christmas. We have Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus (who is, the Son of God), the shepherds, the angels who were there on that night Jesus was born. You might be thinking to yourself: what about the three kings? The wise men!

Well, they were not there, despite the fact Nativity sets include them. The Bible introduces them in Matthew chapter 2. Mary, Joseph and Jesus are not in the stable any more and Jesus was most likely a toddler:

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

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

What I find interesting about these men is that they were pagans. They were probably astrologers and some even believe they were involved with sorcery or black magic. The Bible does not tell us how they knew to expect or even recognise this king was the king of the Jews, but God in his mighty plan, used creation to show them where to go. “We saw his star”. God surprises us again. We might have thought He would bring the priests or teachers of the law, no. He brought foreigners, from a distant land, people that practiced things that were forbidden for the Jews in the law of Moses. They answered His call by following the star. Not only that, they said to Herod in verse 2 “(we) have come to worship him”.

God is sovereign and He has all the power and authority to bring to Him whom he wills. We very often make assumptions about people that we think will never be able or willing to recognise Jesus as their king. We forget that it is God himself who brings people to him. In Isaiah chapter 60:3-6, we get the picture that people will come from every nation to worship the promised King.

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.“Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
 to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land,
 young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.

How extraordinary, even as Jesus’s story on Earth was just beginning, what was written about Him many years earlier, in the Bible, was now being fulfilled and we often miss this precious detail.

The Magi told Herod they wanted to worship the King of the Jews and that is what they did when they arrived at the house where Jesus was. Verse 11 of Matthew 2 says “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh“.

Many start their journey wanting to worship king Jesus and get distracted along the way. Here we see they actually bowed down before Him. I find it hard to imagine what it must have felt like – to kneel before THE KING OF THE WHOLE UNIVERSE.

Thinking about these characters who play this important part in the story makes me realise that Jesus did come for those in darkness, those that are sinners, those that are broken, those that are lost. He came for me, He came for you. The Magi recognised Jesus as king, by bowing down to Him they recognise His authority and rule. Do I recognise that? Do you? This is a good time to ponder over these important questions and if the answer is “Yes”, praise Him for that, for your faith and mine is a gift from Him and may He continue to bring us back to His throne and may we continue to bow down to His authority and rule over our hearts. If the answer is “No”, may I encourage you to read the rest of the story and consider Jesus, his life, his death and His rule. The time is now – do not delay.

One thing about me is that I love music and how it brings us closer to God and makes us think about who He is and what He has done for us. Whilst you think about the wonders of the Christmas story and this mighty King Jesus, listen to this invitation from this beautiful song called O Come, All You Unfaithful from Sovereign Grace Music.

Christmas Cactus

If you know me well, you will know that I love plants and flowers, but I am terrible with them. Most plants I buy end up dead within a few months, sometimes weeks. I still love plants though. Flowers and their intricate design remind me of how wonderful God is to us that He would share such beauty!

I bought a Christmas Cactus 3 years ago to decorate our window sill in the kitchen. It looked lovely. It was full of life, there were lots of buds and the most beautiful pale pink flowers popping here and there. I apologised to it as I placed it in its prime location.

I did not know Christmas Cacti should not be placed in a very hot room and in a place with direct sunlight all day long. I also didn’t know the soil needed to be moist all the time whilst it was flowering. I thought, cacti grow in the desert, therefore, it will be ok without watering. Well, I guess you might know what happened to my Christmas Cactus: its flowers dropped quickly, and it got very sad and I thought it was going to die. I moved it to our sitting room and placed it on the fireplace and didn’t pay much attention to it for a very long time.  

A few months ago, I was moving a few things around our conservatory and I decided to move my almost lifeless Christmas Cactus to the window sill there. As I looked at it I felt so sad I had not put more effort into looking after it. I spent some time reading about how to care for it and made a conscious effort to water it and I even moved it a couple of times. About two weeks ago I saw a few buds and my Christmas Cactus is now flowering! You can imagine my surprise! My plant has survived and gained strength and is now looking more like it should.  I am always amazed how God uses the simplest things in life to draw our attention and teach us if we are willing to be taught by Him.

I know this post is not really about the Christmas story which we are celebrating this month, but it is part of my story during this season.  

As I reflect on what happened to my plant these past 3 years and the process of being first happy and in bloom, full of life to being neglected on my fireplace and my stepping up to look after it in an attempt to save it, I think about my Christian walk – my day to day walking in faith and living to please God. God wants each believer to be like his Son Jesus. He has given us all the tools we need in order to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. However, living in a way to please God requires us to work our faith each day. It requires our obedience. God’s word challenges us to walk in holiness because we have been made holy by the blood of Jesus.

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:14-16

God is challenging me, moving me to think about the important things I once learned about Him all those years ago when I first gave my life to Him. If I am honest, I could say that through the years I got distracted with the busyness of life. I have faithfully attended church and got involved with ministries, but I neglected my learning and my searching the Scriptures for more of Him. I neglected my personal pursuit of holiness. Perhaps I thought that because I am a Christian, I don’t need to do much now, it is all done for me. It is true: Jesus did the work on the cross and that is finished. Amen! He paid the price and now my relationship with God is restored, but I need to do my part in my growing personally.  I am so thankful God has been pointing me more and more to His Word – to rediscover the precious truths about His character and His amazing plan to redeem us. I am enjoying studying the Bible and praying that God will change more each day, until the day He comes again.

How is God challenging you these days?

True faith can no more be without holiness than true fire without heat. John Owen

The amazing gift!

December is finally here. I like the month of December – mainly because I can decorate my house and have lots of fairy lights all over and get away with it. I like lights. It always amazes me how we are drawn to it when we find ourselves in the dark.

I also love the sunsets and sunrises in England this time of the year! So beautiful! The light projected in the sky in such beautiful colours – our amazing God is such an artist! The intricacy of each painting – the display of His mercies and love – even if just as a hint!

There is a chapter in the Bible, in the book of John, that is one of my favourites: John 1:1-14. There is so much in these verses that focus on our Lord Jesus. As we are preparing ourselves for the celebration of his birth we tend to focus on the Baby in a manger. Don’t get me wrong, the manger is as important as any part of the story and the details of that night when the angels appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Saviour are fulfilling what had been written about this promised Child. However, the story we tell at Christmas is just a piece of the picture.

When we turn our eyes to the very well known verses of John chapter 1, the focus is in eternity past, when Jesus – the same Jesus who was born that night and was placed on a manger for a bed – was there when all things were created. In fact, all things were created through Him and without Him could not have been made. Here we see Jesus, the creator, the one who has all the power and authority to create all things.

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; without him nothing was made that has been made.

We need to remind ourselves of that truth in order to really appreciate Jesus coming to dwell amongst us to, be our Immanuel (which means God with us). Jesus left his throne in Heaven to come to Earth as a baby. He could have just come to Earth as a grown man, after all, with all his power He could have just appeared and performed all the signs and miracles and convinced people He was who he said he was. But he didn’t. He experienced our humanity to the full. He went through the process of growing inside his mother’s womb, he was fully dependent on his parents as a baby/toddler and he had to learn to walk, run, speak and appreciate food. He felt the cold and the heat and all sorts of emotions as a human being. Jesus was fully human. I don’t know about you but if I were God with the power and authority to create the Universe and all the things in it, I don’t think I would want to go through that at all. Would you? Jesus did.

Jesus was God and life was in Him as we already saw. He created all things and that life was the light of all mankind!

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 

The interesting thing about light is that it does two things: it attracts people to it and it exposes things (make them visible). When we are in the dark and we feel scared and disorientated and we see a light we walk towards it and it gives us comfort. It shows the way and helps us see more clearly. When we want to hide something we are not very proud of (sin) we appreciate the dark. It hides all the dirt and filth away. We don’t like when the light exposes those corners of our hearts and some people even rebel and turn away from the light or try to ignore it. Even when Jesus walked this Earth people rejected Him.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 

A bit joyless you might be thinking. Here we are in December, celebrating Advent and supposed to be preparing our hearts for the big day and we are talking about rejecting the Light of the World? Please don’t give up – stay with me for a little longer. Remember a few paragraphs past I mentioned that Jesus was there in eternity past creating everything in perfect harmony with the Father and Spirit? Here is another verse for us to look at: Genesis 1:26

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (emphasis added)

Jesus has all the power and authority to create the world and when he was amongst us he became the son of a man so we could become sons and daughters of God. Back in John chapter 1 we see that some rejected Jesus but some didn’t. To those who believed in Him he gave them a new identity, a new family, a new heritage. He gave them the right to become children of God!

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God

What an amazing gift Jesus pours on those who believe in Him! We all know how the story goes, Jesus lived his perfect life in obedience and he died our death so we could be forgiven – made right with God. Let this truth fill you with wonder and awe! We can only really appreciate the manger and the life of the son of God and the significance of his death on the cross when we see beyond the nativity scene and understand that this baby is the God who made all things. May this produce in each one of us the only response we should have every time we walk past the nativity set in our living rooms: a deep desire to Know Jesus more and live to please Him. That the king should love me so much that He would go through with His amazing plan to save me.