Hahaha!! That to me is hysterical but true! We are going to examine in today’s “Reason for the Season” that following God’s plan is not always going to be easy but that we can have peace that surpasses understanding Peace that is not depending on circumstances but on the faith in Jesus! (See Philippians 4:6-8.) Day 7 of the 121 Advent Bible Plan said,
“From the very beginning of time, peace was understood to be not simply the absence of that which is bad, but also the presence of that which is good. In the Bible, the Hebrew word used for peace is “shalom.” Shalom means wholeness, complete flourishing of a person’s life. Biblically, shalom is often used to reference a person’s life being whole with God. God created everything to operate in perfect harmony with one another and with God. This is shalom; this is peace.”
That is the type of peace that I am talking about, not as a result of not having problems at the moment but peace in the midst of problems because of your relationship with God the Father. Growing up in Pennsylvania my mom became a huge “Country and Western” music fan. I remember how endless the car rides were as this honky-tonk noise droned on and because we lived in the country everywhere we went was a minimum of a 20 minute drive. It’s funny though, decades later I am a country music fan as well…I guess the brainwashing worked hahaha! There was one song from Lynn Anderson entitled “Rose Garden” (released in 1970) that had this opening lyric that I still remember it so clearly…
“I beg your pardon; I never promised you a rose garden. Along with sunshine, there’s got to be a little rain some time.”
My mom used to say to me growing up that God never promised us a rose garden. Good advice from a good ol’ country and western song, but it does align with scripture as well…Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)…
God sends His sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. That is an important truth to put on the sticky side of your brain. Just because you are living a life sold out for God does not mean you will not face adversity. In fact because we live in a fallen world, full of sin, and have a real enemy, Satan, there will always be warfare…See Ephesians 6:10-17. As I was talking with my wife about this post and the “Rose Garden” song, she made this astute point that along with the beauty of the rose comes the thorns. Much like the verse from Matthew 5:44-45, there’s a great paradox that exists with the rose…There’s beauty and ugliness…delicateness and jaggedness…joy and pain. I think it is a great symbol for what God wants to speak into our hearts today. Abraham Lincoln once said,
Such a great perspective isn’t it? As you ponder on these truths, I would also point out that God did not spare His own Son from the cruelty and torment of the cross. And the same is true for Jesus’ earthly parents, God definitely did not spare Mary and Joseph from adversity…From the start, there was much to overcome from the believability of the Immaculate Conception that Mary became pregnant even while being a virgin (see ★ Day 05 – Reason for the Season – Faith Like Mary ★); to Joseph accepting his part in God’s plan and ultimately all the gossip that people would spread about the assumed scandalous pregnancy (see ★ Day 07 – Reason for the Season – Unwavering Acceptance ★) and now the next boot is about to drop as they are told they must make a Pilgrimage to Bethlehem as told in Luke 2:1-5 (NLT) says,
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.
Five little verses that if we are not careful we can skip right over to get to the birth of Jesus in verse 6 but Joseph and Mary did not get to skip over the fatigue, danger and uncertainty of what this journey would bring. The trek probably was done on foot or maybe there was a donkey for Mary to ride on as some many pictures and movies speculate, but regardless it could not have been easy. Responding to the decree to take part in the Roman Empire Census, Joseph took his pregnant fiancé to be counted but had to do so on the back of a donkey! How many women would want to have traded places with Mary for that road trip?? With only 5 verses of information, there is not much known about the route so here is a current map of the region which Google Maps outputted if you were to walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem which is a little over a 100 mile expedition. I have always wondered what that must have been like.
There is a movie that came out in 2006, called “The Nativity Story” which does an excellent job in depicting what the long and arduous journey to Bethlehem might have been like for a pregnant Mary riding on a donkey through the barren land. Unlike other movies which are primarily based on the Birth of Jesus, The Nativity Story focuses a lot on life in Nazareth and showing Mary living the simple life of a teenager and the development of her getting engaged to Joseph the local carpenter. The visitation of Gabriel and trip to see Elizabeth are well done but what is really powerful is how the movie shows the scorn of the community from the virgin conception once she returns to Nazareth and Joseph’s struggle to believe her seemingly outlandish story. The only exception that I have with the movie is the depiction of the Magi at the Nativity which Matthew 2:1-10, makes clear that they visited a house not a stable, a child not baby but we will get to that on Day 21. As you can tell this is a phenomenal Hollywood offering form a very different perspective. And ultimately that is what we all need, a different perspective! If I may go back to the imagery of the rose and thorn, when Jesus was being prepared to die on the cross, it says in John 19:2 (NLT) that,
“The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put a purple robe on Him.”
Jesus died for you and I and regardless if life is not falling into place the way you think it should or if you are facing trials does not mean that God is not with you. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) says,
Regardless of what you are going through, God loves you and is working behind the scenes providing all that we need. John Piper made this powerful point in his “Good News of Great Joy | Daily Readings for Advent Devotional,”
“He is a big God for little people, and we have great cause to rejoice that, unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents and premiers and chancellors of the world follow the sovereign decrees of our Father in heaven, that we, the children, might be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.”
Yes following Jesus will cost you but its worth it! Romans 8:28 (NASB) is promise we have from God that,
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
No matter what happens in life, we can be thankful this truth!!
Earlier we read in Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB) that Jesus said to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven,” so as an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas“ audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Herod – The Voice of Deception” who was the biggest enemy in the Christmas story!
If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 12 – Reason for the Season – Oh Holy Night ★
Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★
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