Thursday, 24 December 2009

Joy to the World the Lord has Come

"Joy to the world the Lord has come!" What a line! Christmas is a message of JOY! Joy that is sourced in God alone, through Christ alone.

It is the joy of being loved when we didn't, and don't, and never will deserve it.

It is the joy of God being made flesh for us.

It is the joy of Emmanuel - God with us.

It is the joy of a totally sufficient Saviour.

It is the joy of his forgiveness.

It is the joy of being reconciled to him.

It is the joy of cleansing from every guilty stain that mars that relationship.

It is the joy of knowing him as our Father in heaven.

It is the joy of knowing he cares.

It is the joy of the hope he gives for all our tomorrows.

It is the joy of eternal life.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Sovereign Grace

Reading, studying and reflecting on the Christmas story I am reminded that salvation is a sovereign act of God, we neither looked for it, asked for it, or wanted it, or for that matter could bring it about if we had. It all starts in the heart of God and is worked out by God himself without human agency.

"For God so loved the world that he gave ..." John 3:16, "the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy-the Son of God." Luke 2:35.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Pure Grace

"God so loved the world" - not an abstract world, but the world of people, a world of rebellious, fallen humanity. A world running away from God. A world cut off from God. A world that doesn't want to know God - and if it did, wants to make its own more convenient God.

"That he gave his only Son." This is nothing but pure unsolicited grace! Nothing on our part, everything on his. Nothing from us, everything from him.

Think of it that way, pure unsolicited grace towards you, towards me - undeserved, unearned, never was, never will be. No wonder this was, and still is, good news of great joy! O JOY! JOY! JOY!

May you know the fulness of the joy of the Christmas message this season.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Veiled in Flesh

The hymnwriter Charles Wesley says in his carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing, "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see." Veiled, that's a reference to the mystery of the incarnation. The human mind cannot get it's head around that. We look and see a baby, and if it wasn't for the angels and the star, I don't suppose that either the shepherds or the wisemen would have known any different either.

"Hail the Incarnate Deity!" God in flesh? How? Simply "of the Holy Spirit." But how? We aren't told any more than that, and because we aren't told any more than that, many are stumbled. The fact is that many at the time didn't get it either - a God who was human/a human who was God? Family, friends etc. did not recognise him so human was he. The Word was made flesh.

Its not so much the how that's important, as the WHY? Why would God do this? The answer is it was the only way he could save us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." He had to come to us, as there was no way we could get to him. He had to be one with us, in order to make us one with him. He had to live our life, and die our death.

BECAUSE HE LOVES US, and he wants us to dwell within the circle of his life and love.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Staggering Truth

The Christmas story never ceases to amaze me.

God the Eternal, God the Creator, God the Sustainer, God the Most Holy One, takes on human flesh, enters our fractured, mortal, created, dependant humanity in order to redeem it and present it back to God.

As Charles Wesley expressed it, "God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man."

No wonder sects and cults find it difficult to accept .. but God's truth it is. Staggering truth. Essential truth.

An as the writer to the Hebrews says "He had to be made like his brothers in every respect."

Sunday, 6 December 2009

How to Interpret the Bible?

How to interpret the Bible is a big question.

In an article on the situation in the Episcopal Church in the USA this morning, it was stated that the liberals believe that the Bible should be re-interpreted in the light of contempory wisdom (culture).

On another subject, an evangelical I was reading recently said that God has spoken in the world, and the church needs to catch up with what God has said and is doing.

I found myself thinking is there really any difference between those two statements?

It seems to me that they are no more than the two sides of the same coin, except that one is the liberal way of expressing it, the other the neo evangelical. At the end of the day neither is willing to accept what has been the normal understanding and application of Scripture down though the centuries.

This means really that everything is up for grabs, and begs the question who is the arbiter of these things, and by what, and whose authority can such decisions be made.

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Meaning of Life

Anyone, believer or atheist can add meaning to life, but it's another thing altogether to know the meaning of life.

Adding meaning to life in the various ways that we do can only last as long as we are able to do those things.

Knowing the meaning of life means that whatever or whichever way life turns - whether healthy or strong, young or old, in plenty or in need (you get the idea) it cannot be robbed of its meaning.

The meaning of life cannot be found in what we give it, but rather outside of ourselves in something, or rather, Someone, Somebody bigger than you and I.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Persecution and the Gospel

In preparation for a focus on the suffering/persecuted church I spent some time in Acts looking at the connection between persecution and the spread of the gospel.

In the process I spent some time in Acts 6 and 7. My, what a story. The religious people didn't like the good news of Jesus Christ with all its ramifications for the temple and the priesthood.

Stephen (a bit player with a huge role)shares with them in answer to their question "Are these things so?" how God has worked in history outside of the boundaries of the nation and the temple to accomplish his purposes.

> God appeared to Abraham in Mesopotamia
> The covenant was instituted in a foreign place
> God was with Joseph in Egypt
> God was with his people in Egypt;
> God was with Moses in Egypt and Midian
> God gave the commandments at Sinai
> God was with his people in the wilderness
> Then Solomon built the Temple for God to dwell in ....

'Yet' or 'however,' says Stephen,(he's about to drive home the point) "God does not dwell in houses made by hands!" (7:48)

God is bigger than the temple and priesthood ...

Some answer, some sermon! He pulls the rug from under their feet.

And to round it off he then says they are stiff necked, they just don't get it, in fact they are unwilling to get it! In fact they are just like their fathers who persecuted the prophets before them ...

They are furious ... they don't want to hear this ... they can't bear the truth ... and Stephen is stoned to death.

But as Tertullian said "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

Stephens answer provided the basis for worldwide mission.

The believers were scattered ...

The gospel was proclaimed ...

The believers multiply ...

And Saul who was there listening to and consenting to Stephens death and persecuting the church is apprehended by none other than the Lord Jesus himself, and told he is God's chosen instrument to carry his name to the Gentiles!!!!