Thanksgiving and travel #AtoZChallenge

This year my A to Z challenge is about Christmas, a major festival in the Christian Church. Another major festival is Easter, which I wrote about for the A to Z Challenge in 2020.

My posts so far in this A to Z Challenge about Christmas have been entirely about the first Christmas over 2000 years ago. Nowadays Christians and many other people celebrate Christmas with thanksgiving enjoying a Christmas dinner not unlike that associated with Thanksgiving Day in North America. They possibly travel long distances to be with family members. Services are held in Christian churches to celebrate and give thanks for the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas presents are given and received.

The Magi travelled a long way to find the Christ-child. Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, then to Jerusalem, where Jesus was presented at the temple in accordance with Jewish customs. Anna gave thanks to God as she recognised the Christ-child in the temple. Luke 2: 21-40

After the visit of the Magi to an unspecified house where they were living they fled to Egypt only returning to Nazareth after Herod the Great had died. The holy family (as Jesus and his parents are sometimes called) travelled a long way. Perhaps they had to use the gold that the Magi had given to Jesus.

A Christmas carol with a travelling theme is The Shepherd’s Pipe Carol.

While this year’s A to Z badges by Anjela Curtis honour the late Jeremy Hawkins, I hope that my posts about Christmas honour Jesus Christ, ‘who was and is and is to come’. Revelation 1:4


Trust #AtoZChallenge

This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter T

Trust is related to belief. The difference is that belief may be only in the mind. Trust involves what is usually referred to in the Bible as the heart. This is the centre of one’s being, the emotions and perhaps the will. The statements made at baptism include the words ‘I believe and trust.’ Trust leads to obedience.
Trust appears in the Bible about 170 times including words like trustworthy and trusted. Many of the verses in the Bible about trust include a promise.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

The Book of Job speaks of trust, as do many Psalms, Proverbs and many of the prophets.

To jump to the story Hezekiah, KIng of Judah click here.

Psalm 9:10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 13:5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 32:10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. (steadfast = enduring)

Proverbs 16:20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.

Isaiah links trust with ceasing to be afraid and having peace. Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:3

Isaiah 30:15 in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

In the New Testament there are references to the words written in the Bible being trustworthy. 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Timothy 4:8-10, 2 Timothy 2:11, Titus 1:9, Titus 3:8, Revelation 21:5 and Revelation 22:6

Psalm 22 foreshadows Matthew 27:43

Hezekiah, King of Judah

After the reign of King Solomon, the son of King David, the kingdom was split into two.  A succession of kings (and one queen) ruled Judah from Jerusalem, while the northern kingdom of Israel was ruled by other kings in Samaria.

Hezekiah became King of Judah at the age of 25 years. His father, King Ahaz, had not put his trust in God.

Hezekiah immediately began to put things to rights. He reinstated worship of the Lord in the temple in obedience to the rules handed down from the times of King David and King Solomon.

Passover was celebrated with crowds of people gathered from Israel and Judah in a way that had not been done for years. Not all the people invited to celebrate Passover bothered to travel to Jerusalem*. Afterwards the people of Israel destroyed all the idols that had been worshipped previously on the high places. Then they went home.

Hezekiah did what was good and right and faithful in obedience to God’s laws. He sought God wholeheartedly and prospered. (Faith is similar to trust, often implying loyalty as well.)

The prophet Isaiah was alive during Hezekiah’s reign. Hezekiah acknowledged Isaiah’s prophetic gifting. When he needed guidance Hezekiah prayed to God and consulted Isaiah.

When a foreign power threatened Jerusalem Hezekiah looked for guidance and made a plan. He made it difficult for an invading army to find water. He refused to listen to the blasphemous lies the enemy told about the God he worshipped. They said God had as little power as the idols the neighbouring nations worshipped. Hezekiah’s people proved that they trusted him by obeying his order not to answer the taunts of the enemy.

Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed urgently to God. Hezekiah asked God to show the nations of the world that he alone was God. Then God acted by sending an angel of death. All the leaders and fighting men of the enemy were found dead in their tents, one hundred and eighty-five thousand of them! The Assyrian king, Sennacherib, withdrew to his own country where he met his own death.

Hezekiah became dangerously ill, but recovered after pleading with God, who granted him 15 more years of life. Hezekiah’s prayer is recorded in Isaiah 38:10-20

The stories about Hezekiah may be found in three books of the Bible: 2 Kings 18-20, Isaiah 36-39 and 2 Chronicles 32

*See Letter K for another story about ignoring an invitation.

T is for Temple and trial

My posts for the A to Z Challenge this year are all about the Easter Story, recorded in 4 books of the New Testament: the Gospels. Image in sidebar links to Theme Reveal post.

Image in sidebar or below post links to Theme reveal

The Temple features in the Easter story, beginning with Palm Sunday (Letter P), when the children, who had been singing while Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, continued to sing in the temple courts. Matthew 21:12-17

Jesus turned over the tables of the money-changers. The temple had its own currency, which people had to buy. Jesus accused the money-changers of dishonest dealings.

The following day Jesus returned to the temple to teach Matthew 21:23-46

Jesus’ trial took place in front of three different people or groups of people. First he was taken to the chief priests. Matthew 26:57-68

Then he was taken to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate (Letter P), who had the authority to sentence criminals to death. Pilate sent him to Herod, who was the governor of Galilee – the region where Jesus of Nazareth came from. (Letter H) Herod sent him back to Pilate, who gave in to the demands of the crowd. Pilate sentenced him to death. Luke 23:1-25