Our problems: God s Solutions

 

Credit Crunch. Gang Violence. Human Trafficking. The list goes on. We live in a world full of problems, and they can make us quite disturbed and depressed. Add to that our personal problems and weaknesses, those annoying situations that never resolve themselves, strained relationships, impossible challenges. Life can be so hard – so filled with problems.

 

Problems easily lend themselves to anxiety, a sort of fear that overwhelms. We are afraid of not being able to figure it out, looking and feeling incapable. Soon our problems absorb our entire focus, and nothing else seems to matter. And that is the real problem.

 

As we think about Christmas, Joseph was faced with a number of problems. He couldn’t explain why Mary was pregnant. The locals probably despised him. Of course he loved Mary, so he wanted to cancel the marriage secretly to avoid embarrassment. There was the upcoming census to think about and the great journey that would require.

While he was trying to figure it all out, he got a life-changing message: “Don’t be afraid!” God knew he would have problems, but knew that he didn’t have to be beat, that there was a very good reason to these problems. In fact, they weren’t problems at all – they were solutions. This baby wasn’t a problem; it was the solution. The angel explained that the child was God’s own Son, the Saviour of the world. In fact, he told Joseph to embrace these “problems” and not be afraid. He was to take Mary as his wife and raise this child that was not his. His belief in the message from God turned his problems into solutions.

 

As we think of the problems we face, let’s believe in the message from God, just as Joseph did. Do not be afraid! Our problems are God’s solutions. God actually wants us to embrace our difficulties in His strength so that His glory and fame can be shown to the world through us. Just because we don’t always understand doesn’t mean we cannot believe. “…God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).

So as we reflect on the birth of Christ this Christmas, let’s not be afraid of our problems. Instead, let’s celebrate in the knowledge that just as Jesus entered a world of problems and came out the winner, we can win too in spite of our difficulties. Let’s renew our faith again in Christ, believing in Him as our solution, no matter what.

 

Joel Geyer

 

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                 Advent Thoughts

 

With the arrival of December, we are entering the church calendar period of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas, the first of which is known as Advent Sunday.

 

The thoughts of the vast majority of people, at this time of the year, are not centred around the story of the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem. Most think of it as a time of preparing for a festive occasion, mostly with family, giving of presents, having plenty to eat, and hoping for a time of relaxation. These things in themselves are not wrong, though they can cause stress due to the extra work and preparation needed before Christmas Day.

 

This is in total contrast to what took place over 2000 years ago in the Land of Israel. The Jewish people were under the occupation of Rome with all its bondage. They as a people, in general, were looking for the Messiah, one who had been promised down the ages by the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament. God was to answer this expectation, but not in the way that they expected. Rather than the Messiah appearing as a conqueror to defeat the Roman occupation, God sent His Messiah as a baby, helpless, utterly dependent for sustenance on His mother and Joseph as His father.

 

Scripture deals with the story very simply yet profoundly. Both Matthew and Luke record varying details. Luke records the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary who lived in Nazareth, a city of Galilee, a place that was in some ways looked down upon. Gabriel came to her with the most amazing news that she was to be a mother, though a virgin, of the ONE who would be the Messiah. He was to be called Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) which means Saviour. Mary’s response, though a poor lowly young woman, is given by Luke in Chapter 1: 46-55, known as the Magnificat, the Song of Mary. Matthew mentions Joseph, Mary’s future husband, recording how the Lord appeared to him in a dream, telling him that he was to take Mary as his wife, despite her being pregnant, and call her son Jesus.

 

Luke then records details of how Joseph and Mary came to be in Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus. It was due to a census

 

called by Caesar Augustus which meant that everybody had to register or be enrolled in their home town or city. The Lord undertook in all this, as by this means the Scriptural prophecy of Micah 5:2 would be fulfilled.

“But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the ONE to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2)

 

But let us not forget the personal and human trauma of what took place of a baby being born in a stable where cattle lived, and being placed in one of their feeding troughs that is a manger, instead of a cradle.

Some time later, further problems arose following the visit of the wise men to Herod. The angel of the Lord told Joseph to flee to Egypt in order to save the life of the young child Jesus (Matthew 2).

After the details given to us concerning the circumcision of the child when eight days old, very little is recorded in the Bible concerning the life of Jesus into manhood. This changes when He starts His ministry of preaching: ‘repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17). At this point the Gospel records are centred around His person. This message of repentance is a challenge to all people. If we have repented and come to a knowledge of who this Jesus really is, what should our attitude be to this Person? Is He Lord of our lives? Do we honour Him as such? For many people He seems to remain, in their thinking and lives, as the Babe of Bethlehem. Many seem reluctant to talk of Him other than by this name of Jesus. Are we correct in this approach? Let us remember that during the Gospel records, while the name Jesus is continuously before us, due to the emphasis being on His humanity, the disciples never ever addressed Him by His name, it was always ‘Lord’, ‘Rabbi’, or ‘Teacher’, showing reverence for His Person. For although this ONE took our humanity, He still is the Second Person of the Godhead - GOD THE SON. In other parts of the New Testament, emphasis is placed on His Lordship, being spoken of as the ‘Lord Jesus’, or ‘Lord Jesus Christ’. This emphasises His deity reminding us who this Person is in the wonder and glory of His being, Our Great God and Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you centre your thoughts on the humanity of the Lord Jesus, as a man, or upon His deity as MIGHTY GOD, the glorified Christ as was revealed to the Apostle John in Revelation chapter 1?

 

R. John Wheeler

 

 

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