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Posted on Dec 14, 2015

Christmas contract

Christmas contract

Jeremiah 31:31 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.” God has spent a lot of history in covenant with people. Whenever he has sought to establish a relationship with men and women, he has used an agreement to do it. In times past God covenanted with the people of Israel on a conditional basis; if the Israelites were faithful to God he would be faithful to them, that was the agreement. But Jeremiah’s prophecy, 500 years before Jesus’ birth, speaks of a new covenant. And the reason a new covenant was needed was that, whilst God remained faithful to Israel, Israel were continually unfaithful to God. This is the problem all people have! Even when God makes provision for people to enter into relationship with him, they simply can’t remain faithful. People have a predisposition to reject God, even when he condescends to provide for them. Our relationship with God is...

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Posted on Dec 13, 2015

Peace talk

Peace talk

Isaiah 9:6-7 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” This is a stunning passage of scripture! Jesus hadn’t been born yet – he wouldn’t be for another 700 years – and yet already the prophets were speaking remarkable things about him.  What high titles roll off Isaiah’s tongue. He speaks of Jesus as God Almighty; he speaks of him as everlasting; as a prince and a father; and as just and righteous. Were words like these ever reserved for another? Not only are the ascriptions given to Jesus unique, but the accomplishments he would bring...

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Posted on Dec 12, 2015

Soul sight

Soul sight

Isaiah 9:2-3 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.” Sight is perhaps the most fundamental sense. A loss of hearing impacts a persons life terribly, but probably not as significantly as a loss of sight. The ability to see, even by the slightest light, transforms our ability to accomplish things; to enjoy things; to understand things. Deep darkness robs us of that sense. It robs us of the means to do, enjoy and appreciate. People who have had ground breaking surgery to restore their sight, have a common response the first time they can see; they express deep seated joy. Isaiah was given a prophecy from God about a light that would dawn in the future. A light that would banish darkness for ever; a light that...

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Posted on Dec 11, 2015

Worthy is the lamb!

Worthy is the lamb!

Matthew‬ ‭2:10-11 “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”‭‭‬ You might be forgiven for thinking that these opulent gifts of great worth, brought by the Magi and placed at the feet of the baby Jesus, were designed to ease the passage of the new born king into the world.  Especially, considering that Luke tells us that when Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to make the offering in accordance with the law for purification rites, they offered in accordance with their means; the poorer offering of doves and pigeons, instead of a lamb. So the idea that Mary and Joseph were probably fairly poor is borne out in scripture. And so these valuable gifts might make logical sense. But the reality of the gift giving is much more significant than that. When you...

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Posted on Dec 10, 2015

Christmas coup d’état

Christmas coup d’état

Matthew‬ ‭2:3‬ “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” At the inaugural Christmas, not all those concerned with Jesus were as awe struck as the Shepherds and the Magi. Some were positively terrified by the news. Not least the king, Herod. His fear was that he would be unseated and that this promised king who had now been born would usurp him. His fear was misplaced, he hadn’t understood that Jesus never came to be an earthly king. It is true though, that Jesus came to disturb people. His earthly ministry was full of distrurbance. His very presence, his words, his actions made and continue to make people inherently uncomfortable. But why? Because Jesus came to set up a throne in the souls of individuals and until he does people have that seat firmly occupied with themselves. This is why Jesus makes people disturbed, he absolutely insists on usurping us from the thrones of our own hearts.  Anybody who wants to be a...

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Posted on Dec 9, 2015

The Magi: Still pointing to Jesus

The Magi: Still pointing to Jesus

Matthew 2:1-2 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”” Local shepherds were some of the first to see Jesus, but so were foreigners. Matthew tells us about these Magi who came from the east to worship the baby Jesus. Matthew’s account tells us some amazing things about Jesus if we look deeper. First of all, the visit of the Magi signifies the inclusiveness of the salvation Jesus came to bring. The Magi call Jesus ‘The King of the Jews’, but His work was much more inclusive than merely touching His own people. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave or free, but all are one. The Magi’s visit highlights the extensiveness of Jesus’ purpose. The Magi’s visit fulfils prophecy – ‘nations will come...

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Posted on Dec 8, 2015

Godspeed

Godspeed

Luke 2:15-18 “’Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” One of the things shepherds don’t do is leave their sheep – if they do then wolves come. And one thing sheep don’t do is move quickly as a group. So it’s reasonable to think that the Shepherds made some decision about the importance of their sheep versus the significance of the angel delivered news they’d just had. Furthermore, nothing tends to impact our decision making more than the value of what awaits at the other end of the choice. So perhaps its surprising that the Shepherd’s decision is both hasty and unequivocal – “Lets go and see… and...

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Posted on Dec 7, 2015

The Prince is here!

The Prince is here!

Luke 2:13-14 “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.'” According to the Angels, people’s peace is dependant on God. It’s those who find themselves in God’s favour who receive peace. No alignment with God means no peace. Is it any wonder people who have rejected God in their hearts have no lasting peace? When trials and tribulations come, false peace fades like an exhaled breath on a cold Christmas morning. Real peace on the other hand bears a person through the hottest ordeal. But how does a person get the favour of God to rest upon them? The bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. So faith in Jesus is vital to obtaining the peace of God. It was specifically to His disciples that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you;...

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Posted on Dec 6, 2015

Attention: Dawning ahead

Attention: Dawning ahead

Luke 2:10-12 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'” The shepherds, we are told were given a sign. Signs look like one thing but represent another. And usually they look simple but point to something more profound.  So it was in this case. A simple scene – a new born babe, wrapped in cloths – there’s nothing too extraordinary about that. The sign was simple. But the message behind the sign was the most profound message the world has ever heard. This baby would be for the rising and falling of nations (Luke 2:34-35). This baby was good news and the source of great joy for people in a way that no baby...

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Posted on Dec 5, 2015

Less lowing and more Lowly.

Less lowing and more Lowly.

Luke 2:6-7 “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”  The picture of Jesus born in a stable with cattle lowing all around and the star above, is cute and pretty but probably a long way removed from reality. We’re not told he was born in a stable, that idea comes from the fact that he was laid in a manger – no more than a trough that cattle eat from. So there may have been livestock present, but perhaps not the clean, neat and gentle ones we see in the nativities.  And most likely the room was one located in the lower parts of the house, with normal living quarters above. And it doesn’t say there wasn’t any room, it says there was no guest room available – perhaps the animal stall below was...

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