Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The changeless God changes us

Changes...when you hear that word, does a red flag pop up? If we'll admit it, most of us are pretty resistant to change, especially those that require major lifestyle adjustments. God, however is unchanging:
For I am the Lord, I change not...
(Malachi 3:6 KJV)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 NKJV)
This truth can be disconcerting - because our Lord has established requirements for right living in his word, and they stand the test of time. What were moral rules (according to Scripture) in our great-grandparents' time are still applicable today. This truth can also be comforting - the examples of God's patience, mercy, comfort, and most of all, his love - are also applicable and can be relied on today.
But we, however, are in need of changing. And as we yield to the Lordship of Christ, he will work those changes in us:
...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
Sometimes, this "work" involves our throwing off the old, familiar ways, and perhaps favorite projects in which we've invested a good bit of time. I'm recalcitrant when it comes to that. Often, I'll plug along, trying to make something "work" instead of allowing the "work" of God to rearrange my priorities. Perhaps you are the same.
Hebrews 13:1 instructs us to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...." You'll notice there are two things to lay aside: "weight" and "sin". It's obvious we should put sin aside, but what is the "weight" part? I believe it could refer to things, projects, situations or other time-consumers - even good ones that have encumbered us - that are keeping us from reaching our full potential.
One of God's gifts I especially treasure is my ability to write. This giftedness is obvious to me, and has been affirmed often by others. For over three months, I have been writing for an online news service, but I've recently come to the conclusion that this is one of "weights" God is calling me to put aside. It's a hard one to turn my back on. However, I'm looking forward to resuming my blog posts and other writing assignments, and am anticipating the changeless God continuing the much-need changing he desires for all areas of my life.
It is my prayer that he will continue to lead me in paths that honor him. Perhaps these ramblings have caused you to consider "weights" and "sins" in your life that need to be relinquished. May you have the courage to make the necessary changes, in order to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may provie what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2)
My friend, it is so worth it!

(If you've found my blog helpful, I'd appreciate your sharing it with others! Thanks, Ann)

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Do Not Be Afraid"

Fear…if we are honest, most of us would have to admit, at least on occasion, to succumbing to the stomach-churning emotion of fear. It could be anything from realizing you’ve locked your keys in the car to receiving a pink slip, or learning you or a loved-one have an incurable form of cancer. The list of fear-causers is endless, and the assault is fairly regular.

As you think of the Christmas story recorded in Matthew and Luke, you will notice Joseph, Mary and the shepherds were confronted with situations that brought such unsettled feelings. However, the word from the Lord through his heavenly messengers – in every case - was “Do not be afraid”:

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:18-21).

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS
(Luke 1:26-31).

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:8-12).

If there is a message our world needs to hear today, it is this one: “Do not be afraid”. As believers and possessors of God’s “great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4), we can cling to these assurances during times when life threatens to overwhelm us. And as God grants peace to us when we totally depend on him, perhaps others will see the difference he makes in our lives. We may then have an opportunity to share with them God’s message of love that “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

As we ponder the message of Jesus’ birth, may we recall that a very real part of the Christmas story is “Do not fear.” And it’s true today because Jesus in near!

Wishing you a blessed Christmas…lefthandrightbrain:)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Emmanuel..."God With Us"

When people who are learning sign language think through some signs, they can see correlations with other signs. For example: the sign for “to register” or “to sign up” is a modification of the sign for “name” being placed on “paper”. The sign for “no” is a combo of the modified letters “N” and “O”. Realizing such things can serve as a memory aid when building one’s recall of the language’s vocabulary.

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).

While thinking about this incredible truth recently, the sign for the word “with” came to mind. To help you visualize this, close the fingers of one hand with the thumb resting on the index finger and pointing upward. This is the sign for “self”, and can be used (by making the right motion or movement) to sign “himself”, “herself”, “myself”, “themselves”, etc. Using the sign with an upward/outward motion (as toward heaven) shows the signer is referring to God Himself.

When the two hands making the “self” sign join in front of the body, it becomes the sign for “with” – basically, “self” touching “self”.

Self coming in contact with self…what an excellent illustration of the word “Emmanuel (or “Immanuel”, as it is spelled in some translations). And if we think of the Himself (of God) coming down (go ahead, use your hands to visualize it) to yourself…and connecting – well, that’s even a better picture of the baby Christ-child entering the everyday-ness of life here on planet Earth.

GOD WITH US…incredible, isn’t it? And what has He promised His children a result?

“…For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

GOD WITH US…but there’s more:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).

While walking the dusty Jerusalem streets, sitting on a hillside or riding in a wind-tossed boat, the Lord Jesus was with His disciples. However, after His ascension, He returned in the person of the Holy Spirit to indwell them. Think about what that means. I can be a dear friend or family member, and have a very close relationship with someone as a result. But do I know them inside and out? Have I intimately experienced all the events that make their lives what they are today? Of course not. But as believers, God is both with us and in us. Because He has taken up residence in these bodies of ours, we aren’t just His “kin”, we’re His “skin”.

As we meditate on the incarnation - God with us - let us also ponder our salvation - God in us…forever!

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)

Friday, December 18, 2009

"And It Came To Pass"

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1).

“And it came to pass” – this is an extremely common phrase used in both the King James version of the Bible and the New King James version. The first reference is found in Genesis 4:3 and shows up regularly all the way into 1 Thessalonians. Normally, it is used to set the stage for an event – maybe a seemingly insignificant happening; maybe one of extremely great significance, as in the above verse. The things that “came to pass” ran the gamut of being joyful, awful, mundane or unusual.

The threads of God’s plans are carried along through many of these things that “came to pass”. Mary and Joseph needed to be in Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth, so “it came to pass …that that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus....” (Luke 2:1). The couple traveled to the city of David - and as we know, while they were there, “the days were completed for her to be delivered” (vs. 4-6).

What God plans, He performs.

“The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:10-11).

These verses certainly detail God’s sovereign power, don’t they? But we talk about having a “free will”. We have the right to decide what we want to do; to chart our own course, right? If not, aren’t we just puppets on a string?

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (
Proverbs 16:9).

“Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails” (
Proverbs 19:21).

God is in ultimate control of the details of our lives. He wants what is best for us. And yes, if we stubbornly plow forward, rebelling against His word and will, He may step aside to let us see just how miserable a job we do when we take the reigns, or how lackluster our lives become.

Joseph knew Mary’s advanced pregnancy would make the trip of approximately 90 miles on a donkey’s back arduous. We know nothing of the communication between him and God during these times. I wonder if he had an “aha” moment when he combined the prophetic Scripture (Micah 5:2) with the required trip. Perhaps this confidence in God’s leading spurred them both on.

“Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses” (1 Kings 8:56).

What God plans, He performs. We can depend on it. And this fact should not cause us to chafe, but to rejoice! Instead of feeling hemmed-in, we should feel liberated; indeed, Paul, in Romans 8:21, calls this “glorious liberty. So in “it came to pass” moments of our life, may we adhere to this well-known admonition of Paul:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

“Good…acceptable…perfect…”. Though things in your life may seem unsettled, just as they could have seemed to Mary and Joseph, don’t fear these “it came to pass” moments. God has you securely in His hand!

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Making Spirits Bright

Recently, I attended a special program to gather info for a newspaper story; it will go down as a highlight of this Christmas season for me. In a neighboring city stands the Gautier Community Home - a residential facility for 20 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These residents – and the church who reached out to them with great love – were the focus of the story.

“They look forward to the party all year,” smiled Terry, a member of the congregation and the recreational therapist for these adults. “They keep asking when it’s going to be.” Well, several days ago, it was time.

The excited group joined others in the sanctuary for the Christmas musical prior to the big “party”. During the program there was a time of congregational carol-singing. Hearing some voices that were a bit loud and definitely off-key, I noticed they came from the section where this group was seated. I grinned, thinking to myself, “They don’t know how they sound and they don’t care, and I just know God is enjoying every minute of it!”

As the church family and guests transitioned to the fellowship area to enjoy some graciously-prepared refreshments, those from the group home were helped through the line. Special tables were set for them close to the gaily-decorated tree. Under the twinkling branches, big bags and boxes of gifts awaited the arrival of a man with a white beard and a red suit.

Suddenly, with a loud “Ho, ho, ho!” Santa (looking a lot like a white-bearded church member) appeared on the scene! It would be hard to say who was more ecstatic - these adults, some of whom were at least 60 - or the children of the church family. The special guest wandered around, giving out candy canes to young and old alike, and then enlisted two cherubic-looking young fellows to be his helpers. As names were read, the boys apprehensively delivered the packages to the appropriate recipients. Squeals of glee spread across the group as they tore into the gifts church members had lovingly purchased and prepared. Several paraded around, showing their treasures to those seated throughout the room.

Joy. It was in great abundance that night, and it rightly should be, as one of the season’s hallmarks. Several favorite Christmas songs echo the joy the angel proclaimed on the night “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14a).

As we know, joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Some may argue that what these mentally-challenged adults displayed that night was happiness, not biblical joy. I’m not going to judge that. But think with me; have we lost the incredible wonder of simple faith as we’ve become more educated…more mature…more cynical? I think God treasures the zest for living these group home residents exhibited. Maybe if our lives were less complicated - like that of these special adults - we would sense a release, and begin experiencing more of this special element of the Christian life...JOY! And we’d be more ready to declare: “Joy to the world; the Lord has come!”

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bibles and Beans

Today’s issue of the International Mission Board’s (IMB) monthly Prayer Points shares this info: “In December, the Radfords* will invite their poor neighbors, about 25 people, to their home for a simple meal. During the evening they will share the story of Jesus and give them New Testaments and other resources such as rice, beans and flour to help make their lives easier. Pray that this outreach will plant seeds and lead to a desire to follow Christ.” (*name changed).

Obviously, this missionary couple lives in an area of the world where it is dangerous to profess Christ, and could lead to harm for their family or those they serve, if their real names were publicized. At Christmas-time, as in their daily contact with those they hope to see embrace the Lord, they combine Scripture with kindness.

How often we have our own agenda. If we do venture outside our comfort zones, we try to encourage folks to attend church, a Bible study, or perhaps a Christmas program. Of course, we realize their most-pressing need is salvation through Christ, and we often emphasize that at the beginning, which they may perceive as “shoving religion” down their throats. Jesus showed a better way: he modeled servant evangelism. Consider his life as he walked among the people. Matthew 9 shows him restoring health (vs. 7, 22, 35), dining with those outside the religious circle of the day (vs. 10), raising the dead (vs. 25), giving sight to the blind (vs. 29-30), and freeing one from demon-possession (vs. 32-33).
Our Lord performed these merciful acts as he “went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, [and] preaching the good news of the kingdom.” (vs. 35).
In their Christmas outreach, the IMB missionaries presented the “bread of life” (John 6:35) with physical bread, modeling Jesus’ example. People were drawn to the Savior by his merciful acts of compassion; as he met their physical needs, their hearts were softened to receive his life-changing message.
In these hectic days of the Christmas season, may we slow down enough to minister to the needs of others, and look for doors to open to a gospel witness.
“Go, tell it on the mountain…that Jesus Christ is born!”
Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Of Kings and Shepherds

Have you ever contemplated the difference between the worship of the shepherds and that of the wise men? Although most manger scenes depict these magi from the East and the shepherds gazing on baby Jesus with rapt attention, according to the biblical account we know this was not the case. Let’s trace the early days and possibly years of Jesus’ earthly life:

The shepherds' visit:
“So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

Jesus’ presentation at the temple:
“And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord…So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:21-22; 39-40).

The travels and visit of the wise men:
“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:9-11).

Although the calendar dates differed, both groups did come before the young King with amazement and worship. However, the wise men arrived at the house with well-thought-out, expensive gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh”. The shepherds, hurriedly dispatched by the angel, probably arrived with possibly no more than their staff.

However, worship is not about what we bring; it involves what is unseen. God looks on the heart, not our lofty prayer, and not even how big an offering we toss into the collection plate. Consider these components of true worship:

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).

"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (Psalm 29:2).

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23).

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Repentance...holiness...truth...praise. “Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King!”

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas "Letter"

Had a new follower on Twitter. Often, if I check their home page, I find they have a Christian or at least a religious background. This one seemed interesting, so I looked further. The first post catching my attention was a so-called “Letter From Jesus About Christmas”. Heading to Google, I tried to find the author, but after seeing the article on several different websites with none listed, I gave up.

It’s quite a tongue-in-cheek dissertation, but it does have a lot of points that can make us squirm, and some great ideas of ways to bless others at Christmas-time or any time. Here it is:

Letter from Jesus about Christmas –

It has come to My attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don’t care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that, let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn’t allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn’t be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grapevine if you wish. I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were… If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth, here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don’t have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing the Prime Minister complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don’t you write and tell him that you’ll be praying for him and his family this year? Then follow up; it will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5. Pick someone who has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don’t know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
7. Instead of nit-picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren’t allowed to wish you a “Merry Christmas” that doesn’t keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn’t make so much money on that day they’d close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary– especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.
9. Here’s a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no “Christmas” tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don’t know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don’t do things in secret that you wouldn’t do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of Mine.

Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I’ll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love, and remember:




I’m writing a few of these down, and pray I’ll implement them in the days ahead!

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cranberry Hootycreeks and Sacrifice

What am I bid for this lovely, mouthwatering plate of cookies? For Christmas last year, my daughter received a jar of dry cookie ingredients with instructions on what to add to make these delicacies called cranberry hootycreeks. (Whoever came up with the strange name, I have no idea, but I’m glad someone came up with the recipe!)

Along with basic cookie dough ingredients, the cookies contain dried cranberries, chopped pecans, white morsels, and oatmeal. They are delicious, and they are a temptation! However, I’ve been “good for goodness sake” in my healthy eating plan, so I decided to bake a batch. After working two of the confections into my eating plan today, I felt I was really sacrificing by not having the three more I wanted right then, plus a few more this evening.

Did I say “sacrifice”? Ha! I hardly know the meaning of the word, and most of my family and friends would say the same. However, I know where we can go to find those who are intimately acquainted with the meaning of the term:

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law…” (Galatians 4:4).

Notice the word, “sent”. God the Father sacrificed greatly to send His only Son - the One with whom He had experienced intimate and perfect fellowship since before time began - into this sin-cursed world. And this Son, who was welcomed to planet earth by some humble humans and a bunch of smelly farm animals, would ultimately pay the greatest sacrifice. Listen to the heart-cry of our Lord Jesus as He faced the temporary suspension of His Father’s fellowship at the time of His crucifixion:

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:36-39).

“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:45-46).

It was for me. It was for you. That we, undeserving as we are, might experience LIFE…abundant and eternal, and all the grace-gifts that accompany it.
Shall we pause to praise Him?

“O, come let us adore Him, Christ the LORD!”

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Man's Hands, God's Plans

Think back over some events of your life that impacted you greatly, or caused a distinct turning point. Do you recall things occurring, that seemed like chance then, but as time progressed, you realize God was in the situation, orchestrating the events to accomplish a specific purpose?

"And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child" (Luke 2:1-5).

It has been supposed that this census was for the purpose of setting up a tax roll. Families were instructed to journey to their ancestral home to register. Since Joseph was “of the house and lineage of David” (see 1 Samuel 17:12), he and a very-pregnant Mary had to make the arduous trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered”
(Luke 2:6).

God took the edict of Caesar to get His chosen ones to Bethlehem, because that had been prophesied as the birthplace of the Messiah:

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”
(Micah 5:2).

Did God place the idea for the census in the mind of Caesar Augustus (the first of the Roman emperors) to bring the couple to the chosen city? It seems likely that the Lord took the plans of man, and put His hands on them to bring His purposes to fruition.

Man’s plans, God’s hands. Our Lord is always at work, taking what may seem to be an inconsequential happenstance or a life-upside-down experience involving a friend, family member, boss, church leader, or even someone we don’t know – to propel us down the road of experiencing more of His plan for our lives. We have a choice – to let God handle the situation and direct us, or to bow up our neck against it, and maybe miss God’s best. I pray I’ll remember that God is never standing on my life’s sidelines wringing His hands. I want to learn to relax in His strong but tender grip.

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)