Luke 2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
In reading this account we recognize that Luke wanted to peg these events in historical context, but we perhaps overlook the fact that God used a very godless emperor to bring about the fulfillment of a prophecy about His Son. Actually, the Roman Empire was used in various ways to advance God’s plans. Roman military might generated the Pax Romanum, the “Roman peace” that enabled free trade and travel throughout the Roman Empire, which in turn enabled such things as Paul’s missionary journeys. And actually, it was Roman persecution that forced the believers to disperse and consequently evangelize, instead of staying in a self-congratulatory “mega-church.” I think we give the devil a lot of credit for things that are actually part of God’s plan to bring as many people as possible to salvation. It’s not that God is exactly happy about all that goes on, (He made it very clear to me personally that He is not) but that nothing takes Him by surprise, and He uses everything to bring about ultimate good. (Romans 8:28) We get tied in knots over all sorts of things, when that emotional energy would be far better used in drawing people into the family of God.
This is a further Word to me not to be anxious about what is going on here, but rather to keep seeking God and listening to Him obediently, leaving the results in His hands. I am very prone to think I know how things should be, and to get upset when they aren’t. I’ve got to trust that the God who could use a godless empire and turn it around until it called itself the Holy Roman Empire can turn my circumstances around for blessing, and for His glory. I will not see all the results of that in this life, but I’ve got to be at peace with that. After all, Mary and Joseph didn’t realize that their actions would echo throughout all eternity! Several years ago the Lord told me to rest, relax, and rejoice. I’m slow to learn really how to do that! However, the process is growing and shaping me into the likeness of Christ, (Romans 8:29) and that’s certainly something for which to be grateful.
Father, thank You for Your grace to me in so many ways. Thank You for so consistently speaking to me through Your Word, and for the privilege of sharing that with others. Thank You for the two services today, and that we can expect non-believers as well as believers to attend. I pray that everyone You want to be here would be, and that Your will would be done in and through everyone in attendance, for their blessing, for the blessing of others, and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!