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Gift Bag - Day 10

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” Luke 2:1

Here we have the all familiar words – the opening words of many Nativity plays, or Sunday School presentations around this time of year.

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”

We are told that these types of census could take up to 14 years to count. (Either very slow counters or lots of people J ). Because of this decree, Joseph goes to Bethlehem, because

“....because he belonged to the house and line of David”. That was his birthplace. He, of course takes Mary his wife-to-be, in her highly pregnant state, and they travel all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem – approx. 80 miles.

We know the rest of the story ....


Today’s object from the Advent Gift Bag is ‘Census’. Let’s pause on that for a while…

“Census” is defined as “an official, periodic enumeration of the population”. In other words,

  • A call to be counted!

  • A call to be recorded!

  • A time to stand up and be counted as a citizen!

It could be described as a “stock-take” of people!

At the time of the “first Christmas”, a census took place.

Today, Christmas 2020, a “census” of a different kind is taking place. There is a call to be counted. It’s a call being made, not from the chambers of parliament, nor from the thrones of earthly kings, but one that emanates from the very throne-room of God!

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30

In an age of spiritual lawlessness, in an ever-increasing secular society that has less and less time for God, God still looks for a man and a woman:

  • to stand in the “gap”!

  • who will dare to stand up and be counted as a follower of Christ!

  • who will not say like the apostle Peter: “I do not know Him”(Luke 22:57)

  • who says I will make and be the difference that is needed in our communities, in our society!

The challenge is this: Will you be that man? Will you be that woman? Are you willing to stand alone if necessary, for the sake of the Gospel; are you willing to go against the flow, swim upstream if called upon to do so.

There may be someone reading this today, who once walked and talked with the Saviour,

who once knew what it was to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His still, sweet voice.

However, over time, the things of this world may have clouded your view of the Saviour.

The voices of the multitudes may have drowned his gentle voice. It was easier to ‘go with the flow’ and with popular opinion rather than standing for what you believed in; for what you knew to be true and right!

This Christmas you plan to go to church because going to church is the “expected thing to do” but there’s nothing happening on the inside. If that is you, Friend, the precious reminder today is that the loving Saviour, the Christ of Christmas is ever calling, ever-seeking, ever-reaching out to you in love.

You may have turned your back on Him, but He’s never turned His back on you!

This Christmas, will you “stand up and be counted”? Or will you continue to say: “I’m too busy! There’s no room in the inn!”


Lord, give me boldness needed to stand up and be counted,

E’en if it means me standing alone;

Help me be willing to go against the flow,

So that as one of yours I may be known.

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