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Have you ever read the nativity story in Luke chapter two and thought, “How convenient that there was a census at the exactly right time that Mary and Joseph needed to go to Bethlehem, so Jesus could be born there?” As a kid, I can even remember people telling the story as if Mary and Joseph made it just in time to give birth to Jesus! Census, Bethlehem, baby. Was it really that easy? How difficult and trying was this experience for this young couple? How did God work in the lives of Mary and Joseph to get them from Nazareth to Bethlehem? My goal in writing this blog will be to explore the events leading up to the birth of Jesus in an attempt to see how God worked in the lives of Mary and Joseph on the road to Bethlehem. In order to do so, I will try to fill in the Biblical account with some details while also acknowledging that they are by no means conclusively facts.

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As Christians, one thing all of us are guaranteed to experience in one form or another in this life is adversity. Regardless of what directly causes the various trials to come our way, we know that God is the one who ultimately causes all things to work together according to His eternal decree. Many Christians cite Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” as their favorite Bible verse. To avoid any misunderstanding, I think this is a great passage to memorize and Christians most certainly have liberty to make it their “life verse”; however, there is also a lot of misapplication of this verse that needs to be addressed.

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“Come on! You can do it! You’re almost there!” the bystanders shout as I near the end of a competitive road race. As a distance runner, I know how agonizing the last mile always is, when everything inside of me wants to slow down, catch my breath, and give my battered legs a much-needed break. Yet, I somehow manage to push even harder, knowing that the finish line is quickly approaching and will soon be within my line of sight. I know that once I cross that finish line, all the pain and displeasure will be immediately replaced with feelings of joy and satisfaction from completing the race and receiving the reward. Whether it is a personal record time, a medal of completion, or an age group award, there is a goal in mind for every race participant, and he/she will willingly and patiently endure whatever agony it takes to obtain it.