December 4, 2017


In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to 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, who was with child. —Luke 2:1–5

Have you ever thought what an amazing thing it is that God ordained beforehand that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem (as the prophecy in Micah 5 shows); and that he so ordained things that when the time came, the Messiah’s mother and legal father were living in Nazareth; and that in order to fulfill his word and bring two little people to Bethlehem that first Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town? Have you ever felt, like me, little and insignificant in a world of seven billion people, where all the news is of big political and economic and social movements and of outstanding people with lots of power and prestige? If you have, don’t let that make you disheartened or unhappy. For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without their even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own sake but for the sake of God’s little people—the little Mary and the little Joseph who have to be got from Nazareth to Bethlehem. God wields an empire to bless his children. Do not think, because you experience adversity, that the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity but our holiness that he seeks with all his heart. And to that end, he rules the whole world. As Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” 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.


Hey, great news! God has a plan. And you have an important part to play!

I talked to someone years ago about how they believed they were destined to do great things in God’s kingdom, be part of growing a large church that would bring many to Jesus. It wasn’t a bad thought at all, it’s just that I worried he might not see things the same way God does. Our purpose doesn’t have to be big and grand to be important. The truth is, we often don’t realize when we’re right in the middle of the very moment God has been preparing us for. Maybe that encouraging conversation we had with a sad or disheartened friend was the moment we’d been made for. Or maybe it was that act of kindness to a stranger who needed to know that God was watching out for him. Many times a literally life-changing moment can quietly come and go without us realizing it, and we only know much later how significant our part was.

Fortunately for us God knows exactly what he’s doing, and he makes sure that everything works out just right, giving us the opportunity to serve the very purpose he created us for. In Mary and Joseph’s case, they were simply being law abiding citizens, packing up for a road trip in order to be counted. Little did they know they were fulfilling ancient prophecy and that by setting their feet on the path to Bethlehem their lives would be changed forever. Because in Bethlehem, in the humble surroundings of a stable, Mary would give birth to the One who would change the very course of history and gift each one of us with grace and the keys to heaven itself.

So let your worries go this holiday season, and know that no matter who you are, God has a plan and a purpose just for you.