Does God have an answer for broken relationships?

Does God have an answer for broken relationships?

This life is tough and the hardest things are relationships, especially when they aren’t healthy. For the most part, we can control ourselves and our actions; we can’t (or shouldn’t) control others. People offend us and we will get hurt. There’s no hiding from that. Sometimes, it’s intentional and other times it’s not; sometimes others aren’t aware of how and when they have hurt us.

God understands broken relationships better than we can imagine. After all, He created the perfect relationship between mankind and himself and we broke it. The first man, Adam, disobeyed God and broke that perfect relationship. God’s response to this rejection was to send his son, Jesus, to bring about reconciliation. It cost Jesus his life on the cross to atone for all the hurt that men and woman have caused throughout the ages. Now we have a pattern for dealing with broken relationships in our lives.

The Bible tells us to forgive in all things. Forgiveness can be hard, and while it may not heal a relationship, it helps lift the burden of the brokeness from the forgiver. When relationships are fractured, confronting the other person who you perceive to be the one doing the breaking may be appropriate, but it must be done in love. Jesus provided a pattern for confrontation. First you try to resolve the issue one-on-one. When that fails to work, take a friend and try again. If that fails, then you are to bring the situation before the congregation of believers with whom you worship. (Matt. 18:15-17). But you must understand that some broken relationships will not be resolved to your satisfaction, but once you offer forgiveness and allow yourself to grieve the loss, God will help you move forward.

God’s solution to the ultimate broken relationship was to love mankind so completely that he allowed Jesus to die for our sins. God’s grace and mercy extend to all, and should be passed through you to others. He forgave us even before we even asked for forgiveness. Jesus told us He would forgive our sins, as we forgive others (Matt. 6:14-15). It is a hard thing to forgive somone who has hurt you, but that forgiveness is what opens the doorfor God to grant you the peace you seek. God’s Holy Spirit inside of believers enables us to forgive. Ask God for the power, wisdom and make the choice to forgive today and watch the healing begin.

Image by AD_Images from Pixabay

Who were the three kings from the Orient who visited baby Jesus?

Who were the three kings from the Orient who visited baby Jesus?

The popular Christmas carol, “We Three Kings of Orient Are” is most likely inaccurate for two reasons: the visitors probably weren’t rulers of nations, nor are they likely to have come from what we think of as the Orient, western Asia.

The Kings or “Magi” were most probably Zoroastrian astrologers who were advisers to the rulers of the Parthian Empire (Iran and Iraq), Rome’s rival to the east at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. These highly educated men believed in a cosmic struggle of Good and Evil and that a savior would eventually come to restore the world by getting rid of the evil one. Their founder, Zoroaster, may have been a contemporary of Daniel and the other Jewish scholars who were held in captivity in Babylon, almost 600 years earlier.  Zoroaster, and his followers in succeeding centuries, would have known about Judaism and would have studied its sacred texts.

Therefore, when an alignment of stars led them to believe that they were seeing a sign that indicated the birth of a Jewish King, some (we don’t know how many) traveled to Jerusalem to pay tribute to the newborn royalty. Since Herod, the current King didn’t have a baby, and was very worried that a usurper was in his land, he asked his own priests about a future King of the Jews and learned that the scriptures said he would was to be been born in Bethlehem, a town six miles from the palace in Jerusalem.

Rather than stir up trouble with his Iranian guests, Herod sent them to Bethlehem to find the “baby king” and report back to him, ostensibly to go and worship this child. When the Magi didn’t return, Herod, who had nearly lost his life and family to Parthians 30 years earlier, did not pursue the Magi and demand the information he wanted. He didn’t order their capture and punishment for their disobedience despite his proclivity for killing anyone who challenged his authority. He took it upon himself to handle the “problem” of having a new king in his land.

Herod ordered the murder of all the baby boys under two years of age, who lived in and around Bethlehem. Since Jesus and his parents must have still been in Bethlehem when the decree was announced because they were warned by an angel to immediately leave for Egypt. There they remained refugees for months or maybe years before returning to Joseph’s home town of Nazareth, almost 100 miles north of Bethlehem.

We read nothing more of the “kings” from Parthia, but will never forget their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the King of Kings.

Why was Jesus born in a stable?

Why was Jesus born in a stable?

The short answer is he probably wasn’t. The more important answer is that there was a reason for the humble birth of God’s son–a reason that predates time itself.

First, let’s address the place of Christ’s birth. Joseph and his betrothed wife, Mary most likely walked the 100 miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem in a caravan of others heading to their ancestral homes in the south to register for a census decreed by Caesar Augustus. Since Jews avoided contact with Samaritans, those who lived between Nazareth and Bethlehem, they would have traveled on a route that followed the Jordan River east of Samaria. The one-to two-week, 100-mile journey, brought them to the small village six miles south of the temple in Jerusalem.

There, like most of their fellow travelers, they would have sought lodging with relatives. The Bible tells us there was no room for them in the guest room, (mistranslated “stable”) that would have been on the upper level of the house where people slept, so they likely bedded down in the general living area on the first floor. A common practice then was to bring animals inside at night to protect them from cold, thieves and other dangers. That may be why Mary, after delivering her baby, lay him in a feeding trough (manager), that then served as Jesus’ bassinet.

Of greater importance is understanding why Jesus would be born in such lowly circumstances. Jesus was with God when the universe was created. He was the instrument of creation of everything, including mankind, with whom he wanted to have a relationship, and on whom he could bestow his love and affection. However, man abused the relationship and rebelled and in the process became lost to God’s companionship and his love. God never stopped loving man, and prescribed a system of sacrifice by which man could atone for his rebellion, generally known as sin. The blood of an unblemished lamb was let each year for the forgiveness of sin, but it was a temporary measure that had to be performed annually, forever.

Jesus, the creator of the universe, came to earth to take the place of the lamb, shedding his blood once for all time. How better for Him to become the perfect sacrifice than to be born in the lowliest of conditions taking the place of the unblemished lamb. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus in total humility to provide a pathway for the restoration of our relationship with Him.

Why do we celebrate Christmas in December?

Why do we celebrate Christmas in December?

The winter celebration of the birth of Christ dates first appears on a Roman calendar in 336 AD, centuries after the event took place. Scholars believe that there may have been an attempt to co-opt an existing pagan festival that marked the coming of the light after the shortest day of the year. Clues in the Bible suggest another time of year, because shepherds would not likely be in the fields with sheep during the cold winter. Some scholars suggest a spring birth when lambs would have been in the fields with their mothers. Others identify fall, perhaps September as the likely month of birth. If the latter, the celebration on December 25th could mark the moment that light entered the world when God entered Mary’s womb.

When we celebrate is not nearly as important as why we celebrate. Since the beginning of time, God created man and women in his image so that he could commune with them, to let them enjoy a perfect world communicating with the creator of everything. When man and woman broke the covenant with God, the perfect world fell apart as evil reared its head and brought death and destruction to all that had been right.

A penalty had to be paid for the violation of God, and He knew that only a perfect sacrifice could atone for the great injustice of all men and women–past, present and future. God knew that the only perfect sacrifice would be himself, in the form of his son, Jesus, who was born to die. We celebrate this coming of God to be our savior and redeemer each year at a time called Christmas. The word itself describes this event as many scholars believe that Christmas is an ancient combining of the Christós, the Greek word for “anointed” and the Old Hebrew word, missah, meaning “unleavened bread”, the kind broken and eaten at Passover.

Jesus, the Christ, came as a baby and grew up to become the sacrificial lamb for all of humankind. He died in our place that we may be pardoned and be returned to a right relationship with God. Therefore, while we celebrate the arrival of a baby born of a virgin, the true celebration is that of the birth of a savior who would provide the gateway for us to be restored to a right relationship with the almighty God of the universe.

Why was Jesus born to an unwed mother?

Why was Jesus born to an unwed mother?

He wasn’t! Though some describe Mary as being an unwed mother, even suggesting that Mary was in jeopardy of being stoned to death for adultery, the facts don’t support that contention. In Matthew, chapter one, we read:

 

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Matthew 1:18-19

As a follower of the law, Joseph could divorce his wife for any cause, but he couldn’t divorce someone to whom he was not married. Therefore we have to look more closely at the customs of the times and the meaning of the words used to describe this situation. Betrothal, translated here as “pledged to be married, describes a legal agreement joining two people. This is quite different from what we today call an engagement because once betrothed, neither of the two could back out. A betrothal could only be broken by death or divorce. That they had “not come together reflected a custom of the time that a pledged couple would remain apart for a period of time–often until a room is added to the home of the groom’s family to which the groom would ultimately bring his bride. That they did “not come together also suggests that they were not intimate up until this time, that’s why the birth of Jesus is described as a virgin birth, or a conception without the seed of a man.

Would Mary’s pregnancy cause her to be marginalized or even result in her being stoned for adultery? No. Not unless Joseph were to publicly proclaim that he was not the father of the child in her womb.

“But as he considered these things (Mary’s pregnancy), behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’

Matthew 1:20-21

This miraculous virgin birth of a savior would prove to be a pivotal turning point in the history of mankind. Joseph, would forever be known as a man who listened to God and was faithful to both his wife and the law.

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:22-25