Matthew Ch 1 verse 18 ‘This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.’
We live in a world where scientists infer that we can and will ultimately know everything, that as knowledge and technology expand that those things that we do not know today we will in the future. Its an interesting theory, but flawed in my opinion, because they can never know everything for 2 reasons.
Firstly, only God the creator knows everything, and how can they claim that they will know everything when most of them deny the existence of that creator?
Some things are just unexplainable, and don’t become explainable by adding 10 billion years to the equation, for example.
How was Mary to ever explain that an Angel had visited her, and that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit? It would have just sounded like a lame excuse to cover up a moral lapse, and to hide the identity of the real father of her child. Who would ever believe her, particularly when God had been silent for the best part of 400 years since the end of the Old Testament? Why would he speak now, and why speak to a girl of utter insignificance when there were so many learned and holy men to speak to?
Time and time again God chooses the flawed and unexpected person to reveal his glory through, he acts contrary to how we think he will act, and we have no explanation why.
The verse of an old song springs to mind, ‘God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform’. God works through who he wills, and in ways that are a mystery to most of us, his ways are unknowable because he is God. The real wonder is that he allows us to be part of his plans and asks us to live with the uncertainty of not knowing but trusting.
Dear Lord Jesus, may there be within us the growing awareness that more often than not you work in spite of us and through us, and rarely because of us.
Isaiah Ch 54 verse 8 ‘.but with everlasting kindness, I will have compassion on you.‘
This gives us real cause for thankfulness today. Verse 10 later says ‘…my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.’ Just as when we see a rainbow in the sky, we are reminded of God’s covenant with and through Noah that never again would the earth be destroyed by flood (v. 9), so we can point to the New Covenant, ushered in and sealed with the blessed sacrifice of our Saviour Jesus Christ. We can be sure that God’s covenants are eternal and rock solid. The giving and sending of His Son, today reminds us that God’s wrath was directed away from us, and onto the Son, Jesus who bore the anger and punishment of God which we all deserved. So let us go into today with grateful hearts, knowing that we are freed to dwell in and under God’s everlasting arms, and that His love, kindness and compassion are constantly over us.
O Lord, look with compassion we pray on the lost and weary who do not yet know of your covenant love for them. Help us to live and demonstrate your love and life; in Jesus’ name.
Mark 9:50 ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.’
Jesus’ use of metaphor is famous, and the meanings aren’t always immediately apparent. However, let’s take a closer look at these words.
Could ‘salt’ mean personality? That would fit if you think how boring it would be if we were all the same as it’s the quirkiness others have that makes them interesting – of course, it is the same with you because your uniqueness makes you interesting to others too. Being at peace with each other would also fit with the quote, because it would be a good thing, that despite being unique, we could all get on.
What about fervour for God? Would that fit too? I think I see this enthusiasm as we come together as a whole community on Sunday and at other times. Somehow, we bounce off one another and I go home feeling energised by spending time with everyone.
Perhaps more can be seen from the first part of the quote: if we lose our pizazz, how can others enjoy our company? Do you think that fits?
I don’t know about you, treasured reader, but all this analysis is making my brain hurt. After all, words are just sign-posts to actual feelings or other things, especially in the Bible, where God is concerned with our inner, spiritual life.
O Lord, encourage us to feel content with ourselves and our fellow Christians as we are. In Christ, you died so that we could enjoy good life. Do not allow us to remain down at heal for long, but help us to accept ourselves and others. Lift us up with the joy of knowing you are amongst us.
Glory to God in the highest.
Luke 23:23 ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’
I have at times wondered about how I could possibly follow Jesus. He who shone that light so brightly – the light that was ‘the light of life which was in all men’ willingly died a horrific death after a three-year mission, preaching that ‘the Kingdom is at hand’ and healing people in mind and body.
There are two things that I’m aware of whilst typing this, the first is that the more you look at what He did for all, the more extraordinary it becomes. The second is in the words directly, because others often do not know what effects they have on us.
It could easily be that they may be preoccupied with something in their past, which means they are not fully present or aware, and our feelings can be hurt unintentionally that way.
Loving Father, encourage our curiosity so that we read what Jesus did and to learn the truth about you. Also encourage us to wait patiently to see what happens when we apply empathy and compassion, especially with those who cause us hurt; and that we might come to understand that in forgiving others, we are following the supreme example that you sent and see the power of love in action.
Thanks be to God.
Psalm 124 verse 2 ‘If the Lord had not been on our side…verse 5: the raging waters would have swept us away.’
There is a certain attractiveness in a humble heart, attitude and mindset. What I mean is, not that we should downplay or neglect our God-given gifts and abilities, or do ourselves down, but rather that we should always be willing to recognise our great and desperate need of God’s help. It is an acknowledgment that on our own we flounder. It is knowing each day that our way is guided and directed by His leading. It is a disposition of leaning into His Spirit, and seeking His purposes and will in all we say and do. King David, described as the man after Gods’ heart (1 Sam. 13:14) surely knew and experienced this. He knew that without the hand of Gold at work, his enemies would have overtaken them. We experience that same conviction when as we continue to pray and follow Him and on looking back we can also say ‘Our help is in the name of the Lord.’ (Verse 8)
O Lord, keep us with a humble and contrite heart. Give us boldness to use the gifts you have blessed us with; all to your glory.
Matthew Ch 2 verses 16 – 17 ‘When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled.’
The persecution of the those who seek to follow the directives of God goes back a long way. Here we see Herod seeking to kill off the promised Messiah even before he had chance to establish himself on this earth.
Herod was acting to maintain his own position in the nation of Israel, and to this end was willing to commit genocide, and unknowingly kill off Israel’s hope and salvation. Thankfully, the plans and purposes of God are not to be frustrated by the machinations of fallen humanity.
Throughout history there have been numerous instances of the people of God being oppressed and suffering, from the pages of the Bible right through to the present day. But in spite of repression and persecution the people of God have come through to the other side, and the worldwide Church has continued to grow.
It has been said that ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’, that we stand upon the sacrifices of previous generations.
We should never forget that whilst it seems as if we have a fairly comfortable existence, that thousands of our brothers and sisters are suffering for sharing in the same faith as us. Our prayers should daily ascend to the throne of God as we cry out for those who face the oppression of the modern-day Herods.
Dear Lord Jesus, may we not take our freedom for granted, and would you protect all those who call you Lord and Saviour around the world.
Psalm 89 verse 14 ‘Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.’
It is easy to lose heart when we begin to pray for the needs of the world. So many countries lack basic human freedoms and needs. In our own country, where we would hope living standards are above average, we hear and see the gap between rich and poor sadly growing. Verse 8 of this Psalm says; ‘O Lord God Almighty, who is like you?’ That has to be our start and end point: that God the provider and sustainer of all life is mighty and strong to save. The world has to understand that only through the coming of God’s kingdom will true righteousness and justice reign. The Prince of Peace has come – we have welcomed Him this Christmas. Let us pray and look to Him to break the unjust structures in our society and to prayerfully await and expect His reign of righteousness and truth to draw all to His ‘love and faithfulness.’
O Lord, help us to stand in your strength against injustice and evil where we see it. Come in power we pray to disperse the gloom and darkness in Jesus’ name we pray.