Tag Archives: advent

The Christmas Star

Nativity Star

One of the most unusual events, celebrated at Christmastime, is the account of the Christmas Star. This is mentioned in Matthew 2. But what was the event all about? It seemed to involve a star, and a group of Wise Men or Astrologers from the East. What an unusual mix? What can we make of it?

Paul Taylor discusses these issues in a special Christmas talk.

Material for the production of the content of this video owes a great deal to:

Lisle, Jason, “What was the Christmas Star?” in Ham, K. (ed. 2008), The New Answers Book 2, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books), pp179-184

Fruchtenbaum, A. (1998), Messianic Christology, (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries), pp142-145

This blog has also been published on Just Six Days at: http://justsixdays.com/j6db3/2014/12/the-christmas-star/

Geri's Advent – Day 17


Day 17

Prayer changes everything. A few days ago I spoke on how we have to be careful what we pray for and yesterday how I, as a parent, need to help raise children in the knowledge of God. Teaching and learning how to pray effectively is important and after I had written those ‘pause for thoughts’, I was prompted to ensure I was doing all I could and should. As I prayed asking for clarity I suddenly felt that I was making it all to complicated, getting hung up and stressed out that I was teaching my children correctly. I was reminded of a time about 3 years ago when we decided that we would pray in the car going to school. The children found it difficult and didn’t know where to start, so I suggested we start with the Lord’s Prayer. My children knew the prayer well and so began our prayer journey. The Lord’s Prayer is infallible, perfect, complete and the inspired word of God spoken back to our Creator. Any time we are unable to think of the right words, The Lord’s Prayer has everything that we need. In fact any scripture spoken as a prayer is good.

Jesus was asked “Lord how should we pray?” He gave us the Lord’s Prayer for us to speak in the first person. It is filled with all the essentials for us to think on, expand on, and embrace. It starts with praise and worship, submission to His will, not our own desire, our request for our needs, forgiveness of our sins, and a commitment to forgive as we have been forgiven, protection against temptation and deliverance from the subtleties of satan.

If we think on the prayer and expand each line to give more praise and worship, lay down one by one our desires, submit our requests, and plead for forgiveness. If we consider what others have done simply only to forgive them and set ourselves free, if we put on our Armor and prepare ourselves for the day, then we will change the atmosphere, course and outcome of our day. Not because I said so but because Jesus instructed it so!

The Model Prayer

Luke 11:1

11 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”


Matthew 6:5

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.[b] And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Geri's Advent – Day 16


Day 16

By committing to something like a ‘daily post’ or a ‘pause for thought’, you find that you are not only focused on keeping your commitment, but also searching, seeking and asking God for what to write next. It is good to recall the times in your life when God has encouraged growth and maturity and this in turn helps me now to be further encouraged. Sounds a little messy when I write it down, but I know what I mean.

For a while now I have enjoyed the time spent with my daughter here in WA. I know it is a precious and limited time. It won’t last forever and I don’t want to look back on this time and have any regrets. Each moment is a chance for me to pour into her, and I have wondered how I can best do that.

As parents we have the perfect opportunity to nurture, encourage, cheerlead, pray for and over, protect, and lead our children in the ways of God, which will help them to become independent people equipped with all they need to find their own way.

It is my job and privilege to do all I can do, and let God do the rest.   I could not bear it if either of my children turned round to me and said, “Why didn’t you tell, teach, explain or share that with me?” They need to be ‘in the know’, and while I can’t teach everything, I can teach them how to find things out, how to pray and seek God for themselves, I can equip them and build a relationship that will keep the door open for them to come and ask and share at any time.

If only that were as easy to actually do as it is to write! My emotions often get the better of me and in my desperation and or frustration I can blow it. Does that make me a terrible mother? No, it shows me to be human, what actually counts more is what I do after I have blown it. How and what do I do? Getting our parenting wrong is not always a bad thing, it is how we put it right that sets us apart and builds heathy relationships. Learning how to put things right, say sorry, show forgiveness, and acknowledge we sometimes get it wrong can help young people to know that when they get things wrong there is a way back.

Showing this in a human way can also demonstrate how it is with God. When our young people get, way laid, distracted, slip, and fall short in their walk with God, they need to know there is a way back. That nothing is too big, bad or terrible that our Creator would turn His face away from them. We need to make it clear that if they go, genuinely, to Him, and say sorry, forgive me, restore me; that God will forgive, rejoice, and restore. It is this relationship that when cultivated will set them apart, helping them to develop a strong and healthy relationship with their Lord and savior. In time these young people will mature also and pass on what they have learnt to those coming after them.

Never underestimate the influence we have with our children and young people and never underestimate the effect that your commitment to pouring into them now will have on future generations. Spreading the Gospel, nurturing the young in the ways of God starts with you and me.

Proverbs 22:6New King James Version (NKJV) 6 Train up a child in the way he should go,

And when he is old he will not depart from it.


Psl 32:8- I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

I will guide you with My eye.

Deuteronomy 6:6 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Geri's Advent – Day 15


Day 15 Getting what we want

Yesterday I briefly mentioned us as parents wanting to give our children what they want, in terms of presents at Christmas. Even as I wrote that, I knew that that would be the topic of today’s pause for thought.

Children see the adverts, listen to friends, spot what others have, and think about what gift would make life perfect. Sometimes they ask us for our opinion and we are able to guide some of their choices. Sometimes even though we are older and more mature, we often have the same mind set. “If only I had that dress, book, sofa, laptop, next generation phone, car, holiday, even house, then life would be complete. Therefore to follow on we in turn should ask our Father His opinion.

As I sit in front of the fire with Christmas approaching I decided to take a little time to think about ‘want’. I asked ‘what do I genuinely want?’ Joe often says, “Mum if money was no object what would you want?” Well there is the rub. I discover that some of the things that I genuinely want cannot be bought!

Some things, the most important things, don’t have a worldly price tag but are priceless.

The Bible says….. ‘Ask believing and you will receive’, and that Matt 18:19 says, ‘If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.’

But we have to be careful what we ask for, I know I have been guilty of asking for things that I think they are perfect for me, the truth is I have quickly and painfully discovered that are not perfect and actually detrimental.

Over the years I have read a lot on prayer, prayer partners and the power of prayer. This is the conclusion I have come to, hang on wait for it…… When you pray it is wise to tell God of your hearts desires, even though He knows them already, but then, lay that request down and simply say…”Your will not mine be done”. While the words are simple the commitment is not. When you lay your ‘wants, desires, and dreams’, at the foot of Jesus, you then have to let go of them and wait. Trusting God to answer in His time and at His will, because He knows what is best.

I have numerous examples to testify to this, but the most recent one, is both ongoing and challenging. For a long time I have wanted my own home. A place to call ours, where I don’t have to ask if I can paint the walls, that I can choose the flooring, and design the garden. I want to put our mark on something and know that the investment will reap us benefits. I tried so hard in Pensacola to buy a house and got close once or twice, but we couldn’t qualify. Now we are no longer in a financial place to buy and it appears, humanly that is, that buying a house is totally off the list. But that is not the whole story. If we had bought a house in Pensacola we would now be in a tricky position of having to be landlords for a house nearly 5000 miles away, with all of the implications that brings, not good. We would not have been in the position to move as He directed as swiftly as we did. We were able to leave and not have to worry about property. God knows my hearts’ desire and I have laid it down and earnestly said, “Your will not mine be done Lord”.

I trust that God knows best and believe that He will either continue to provide a home that is not owned by us, or He will miraculously provide the perfect and lasting home for us to settle in. Either way, I am good with that.

Be careful what you pray for and always seek God’s take on the request. Don’t ask and settle for good, when God wants to bless you with the BEST.

Geri's Advent – Day 14


Day 14

I can hardly believe it is only 10 days to Christmas Eve. People are posting photos Christmas events and parties they have attended, advertisers are bombarding us with enticing deals to buy things that we don’t really need, there are festive foods, clothes, toys, decorations, music, TV shows, films and so much more. It is a bedazzling time of the year and one that many find difficult because of the pressure the feel. Parents in particular, I know I am one, can frequently felt inadequate if they can’t give their loved ones all that they are asking for.

Since marrying Paul Christmas’ have taken a very different look and feel. I remember the first year we were married we were sitting at the table discussing the season and the issue of presents. Do we all buy each other a gift? Wow that worked out at a lot, 7 people buying 7 presents each. My mind began to swim.

After some thought and discussion we decided that a perfect solution would be ‘Secret Santa’ style option. We picked names out of a hat, and chose a night, we then all headed off to town, each people being given a specific amount of money to go and buy something for their chosen person. When the shopping was done we met to have a special meal somewhere.

It became a tradition and solved a great deal of headaches, in fact it became a time I looked forward to and really enjoyed. But this year we have moved into a different phase. Family is spread all over and doing that would be physically impossible. So it looks like we are going to just have to do the boring thing and give actual cash. I remember going through this in my own family as I was going up, and now here I am with my own family in the same situation. It is a sign of the times.

I am grateful that despite changes in family circumstances, geographical locations and number, the reason for Christmas never changes. It is reassuring to know that God is God, and because He so loved the world He sent His son, Jesus Christ. Today is the third Sunday of Advent- Joy- Today I am re-JOY-cing in the knowledge that while my family grows, moves and changes, two things remain steadfast, the reason for the season- the coming of Christ and Salvation, and the second, that no matter where my family is, or what they are doing, they are and always will be my family.

As with my faith, distance and circumstance does not alter the precious relationship I have with each and every family member. Wherever I am or they are, does not mean they are not thought of, prayed for and remembered. So it is with God. This year my view from my window is different, the church I attend is different, the people I meet daily are different, the roads I drive, the shops I use all different and unfamiliar, that does not alter, one jot, my faith.

Thank God that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and thank God that He gave me a precious family that will always be so too- regardless ……………..


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. …. Because God is eternal and does not change, we can build our lives on Him and have a sure foundation.


Have a Blessed Sunday

Geri's Advent – Day 13


Day 13

Having to play catch up today because my laptop needed some maintenance.

I have mentioned our ‘tire snowmen’ and the display that we built some time ago, well I am pleased to say that yesterday they were finally finished and put the lights on. It has been a long journey and we have had some set backs.

One of the problems was the tree kept falling over in the wind. Even when we packed it with bricks and stood it in the tires it still blew over. Neither, could we get the faces right, things fell off and the weather soon found floors in our design.

I guess it is a lot like my faith. Like that tree I get blown by the wind, tossed about by life, nothing new there for any of us. Constantly picking up the tree was not enough, I needed to think of other ways to secure it. I done all I thought I needed to do the first time but sadly it was not enough. So I added to what I had not and tried again, it blew over again and again. Each time I could have simply picked it up and walked away, but the truth is, it would have fallen again. Instead I needed to think of something more effective each time, something that would withstand the weather and remain steadfast and secure. So it is with my faith. If I constantly have the same issue in my walk causing trouble there is no point only repeating what I have done before to fix it. The issue needs new thinking, a new strategy and a better more effective plan until the problem is conquered.

All too often we repeat the same mistake and try to correct it the same way we have always done. While it is hoped that we don’t repeatedly suffer the same ongoing issue, it must be pointed out that if we do, we should not beat ourselves up. Instead we need to go back to God, confess, repent, seek forgiveness and ask for guidance. Then when we hear the word we need to act on it. Sounds so easy, and the truth is it is. We – or should I say, I make it hard. A stubborn heart, a determined mind, pride, embarrassment, fear or any manner of things can step in and prolong the inevitable or worse damage our walk with God and relationships with those around us.

If you have an issue you just can’t seem to solve, if you are struggling with hearing God’s word on it, or fighting against following through, take heart you are not alone, and being alone can even be part of your battle. If you really want to conquer it, pray and ask God to bring someone into your life that will help. Someone that will come along side of your to support and hold you accountable, that will sustain you and hold up your arms. This person or persons can not do the work for you, that is yours and yours alone, but they can be part of the journey to freedom.

Matthew 18: 18-20

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again I say[c] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Do not be alone but seek God and His direction, pray for the right person to come in and along and share. Together I know that you and I can overcome all things, because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.


Geri's Advent – Day 12


Day 12

Yesterday I spoke about a book being called, “You are what you eat,” today following on from that, and the theme of dealing with satan, my phrase is “You are what you speak.”

Do you find it hard to say good things about yourself? Do you find it hard to speak good things about others? Do you find it difficult to speak positively about situations, events, your life or even your day?

Remember the pastor that said, “I love my life.” Part of what she counseled me on, was to change what I said in regard to what was going on in my life.

If you get up and say, “I am having a bad day!” or speak aloud negative and destructive thoughts, it becomes a mantra and a mantel that you wear and eventually it alters your real identity in Christ. I have greatly struggled with this over the years. I have allowed the opinions of others to shape me and even convince me of what I can, or cannot do or be. Finding your identity is essential to allowing God to fulfill His plan for your life. Through Him we are a new creation, the old gone and the new given an opportunity to achieve great things.

What and who do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see yourself as God created you or as the world says you are?

Your life and my life are not set in stone. We have the way with all to change our circumstances, by focusing on God, surrendering to Him. I have said this before but I just want this to be clear. Every area of our lives has to be systematically surrendered, and our words are one area that can impact our own walk as well as others. Accepting that I am God’s darling (Psalm 35:17 KJV) did not come easy to me. Feeling unconditionally loved and accepted didn’t either. In fact I would say I am still a work in progress. But one thing I have come to learn is that I become what I say out loud. If I say, I am afraid or fearful about something guess what, I embrace that fear and before I know it it is controlling me. If I say, I can’t- I begin to believe it to the point of it stopping me from moving forward and growing. Our minds are powerful and wonderfully made. Today I am once again reminding myself of the importance of speaking as God wants me to.

The words of our mouths reflect our hearts and that reflects our walk.

2 Chronicles 18:12-13

12 And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 13 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what my God says, that I will speak.”

God does not speak ill of you, or others. He does not speak to demean, deceive or cheat. He speaks, light, love, hope, encouragement and salvation. Next time satan with a small ‘s’ tells you you are useless, a failure, bad, unworthy, shout out that God says different. Say aloud, “I am useful and have a God given purpose, I am not a failure but success in God who has a plan for me to prosper, I am bad and unworthy, but Jesus came and paid the price and now I am a jewel, a child of the living God.

Our challenge is to be as God would have us be. Hearing as He would hear, see as He would see and speak as He would speak. Next time you look in the mirror tell yourself you are loved beyond measure, next time you are challenged speak words of praise and truth into the situation and watch what happens.

Geri's Advent – Day 11


Day 11

Funny, I went to bed last night and I was thinking about my pause for thought. A load of great points flooded my mind and made me wish I had added them. I scribbled a few onto a piece of paper at the side of the bed, planning to come back to the post early morning.

I got up-late, but, thank the Lord, Joe and I kept to our daily devotion routine. As we began to read I smiled broadly, today’s reading James 4:7- “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you!”

I had absolutely no idea that was coming and I thank God that He has such a great sense of humor and timing. Here I was wanting to find scripture to use for strength and God brings one through my son’s devotional. If that was not enough as I started my own study, I had the same verse again. I was beginning to get the message that this verse needed to be posted today.

Spiritual warfare has always been around – in fact right from the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, lol. Satan has tried and often succeeded in bringing down hundreds of thousands. Why do some fall while others stand? Well I don’t pretend to be a theologian or an expert, but I do confess to falling foul of satan with a little ‘s’. So when I speak about ‘falling foul’, I can only do so in relation to my own walk, but guess that many will be able to relate. Here is a quick analogy. I have always battled with my weight! No need to go into a detailed breakdown of the ups and downs- I have just struggled. I have attended classes, read books, joined gyms and spent, who knows how much, money on trying to get thin, and stay thin. One of the books I bought was called ‘You are what you eat!” Ummm that makes me a chocolate coated loaf of bread then. Bread is definitely one of my weak spots, next to chocolate.

Here’s the point, food is a weak spot and satan knows it. He uses it, and all too often, I succumb. Thing is that, week by week when I get on the scales, all the secret eating, all the cheating myself and believing that this one KitKat won’t matter, shows that it does matter. Pounds are not lost, maybe even gained, a sense of failure washes over me, and the truth hits home.

It is the same with my faith. I can go to church, study, pray, read, post ‘pause for thoughts’, til I am blue in the face, but if there is no fruit, then it is just like my diet attempts, empty and without really commitment and substance. It is time to get real, accept the discipline and rejoice in the training it brings, commit to a prayer and study time, attend church to see what you can give, not get, and to fight against satan! Unless there is effort my walk will not hold up. But fighting satan is a not an easy job. That is why so many have written on the subject- David Pawson, Derek Prince and countless others. A friend of mine recently wrote an excellent book and phone APP on the subject, that gives simple and effective tools to really conquer satan using the word of God. We need to discipline and commit ourselves, I say this to myself more than to anyone else, to the fight. The more we do, the stronger we become, and the more able to be sensitive too, and deal with all that comes our way.

Satan is NOT, I repeat NOT more powerful than God, he cannot stand against Him and win, nor can he stay where he is not welcome or allowed. Using the word of God which is a mighty sword makes satan flee. He has no power to stay, unless you give him permission. The blood of Jesus broke his hold on you in all ways. You can, I can, overcome satan and walk in freedom.

James 4:7- “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you!” Find yourself a piece of scripture, learn it or write it down and keep it close, quote it, stand on it, shout it out, and watch satan with a small ‘s’ flee.

Geri's Advent – Day 10


Day 10

Today has been a tough day. The alarm went off and even after two coffees delivered in person by my coffee maker getting up was a huge effort. I called my mum to wish her ‘happy birthday’; my heart tugged and hurt. The day stretched ahead with a long ‘to do’ list and all I wanted to do was curl up on the sofa.

Everything was in slow motion and I felt like I was in a fog. My quiet time was labored. Paul came in to pray, seems nothing was going right for him either. We knew that this was just satan with a little ‘s’, trying to get at us. We prayed for each other, over each other and for our day.

Recognizing satan with a little ‘s’ and having the tools to deal with him swiftly is essential. There are a lot of really great tools out there to help you and point you in the right direction, but ultimately the only way is to deal with satan is to deal with satan. Learning how to deal with satan may take time and practice, but it gets easier. Even sitting down to write this has taken hours and effort to stay on track.

For me I use a simple formula, at the first sign of attack I pray, and praise God, simple and short, then I quote scripture, more praise and repeat until satan is gone. The formula works but the speed at which it works is down to me. I have to work harder some days than other. A pastor I once knew used to say, “shout hallelujah, when you are not wanting to pray, read scripture or attend church, bible study, prayer group or whatever it may be, Why? Because satan with a little ‘s’ is trying to stop you from hearing from God. Turn the sadness and lethargy into gladness and enthusiasm – it sends satan packing and prepares you to draw near to your Creator!”

Next time he tries to remind us of our past, mistakes, issues, regrets and whatever else the can. Thank him for such moments because it is in those moments that we can reminded that our God is bigger. Jesus paid the price and cancelled the debt and the Holy Spirit now dwells in us which in turn means, He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. Politely thank satan with a little ‘s’, for reminding us of just how great and awesome our God is. Then tell him to leave. He has to go.

I would welcome your input on this important issue and also tomorrow I am going to post some resources that are great to help with the fight.

Sleep well everyone, and know that God is up all night on watch, wherever you are.

Geri's Advent – Day 9


Day 9

So here I am, sitting down to write day nine wondering what to share, I will start with part of my daily reading from Isaiah.

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts”.

If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would get divorced, remarried, change career, move five times, move to America, lose my father, move from one side of the States the other and live at the base of a volcano, I would probably have had a nervous breakdown. I would have lived in fear of each event and who knows what else. It is possible that every waking moment would be focused on the events instead of God.

I am grateful that I do not know what is coming and as I thought about this an old study came to mind that I am sure I have mentioned before.

We have a Sheltie dog, well his AKC say he is a Sheltie, the jury in our house is not convinced. Anyway, he is supposed to herd sheep. Sheep dogs are incredible. Shepherds use a variety of whistles and sounds to direct the dogs to herd the sheep from one place to another and away from danger. What is particularly mind-blowing is that many times those dogs cannot see either the shepherd or the sheep. They have to listen, trust, and obey the directions being given if they are to succeed. They don’t question, delay or do the opposite. They know the call of their shepherd, they can distinguish between whistles and whistlers, and delight to do His will, even when they can’t see Him, or anything in the long grass that may surround them.
I can’t see the future, understand the present or make sense of much if truth be known. But I do trust God, sometimes I cry out and question but essentially I know God is Creator and over it. My task, is focus on God and listen intently; distinguishing His voice over everyone else’s.

Learning to listen has bought its own challenge and I have had to learn to wear the armour of God and to recognize the subtlety of satan. Spiritual warfare is very real. I think that is for another day.

My prayer today as often is that I my thoughts, while not high or righteous like God’s, are inline, and, that my ways, while human and prone to falter, are going in the same direction. Prayer, the word and training are the key.

So I will keep putting on my armour, and covering myself and my family in prayer, trusting God with the Stuff of Life, be it big or small, whether it makes sense or not.
His ways are not my ways…… Thank goodness for that!