Thoughts 10th – 16th Dec

Thursday 10th

Isaiah Ch 45 verse 23    ‘Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.’

Isaiah is here writing possibly in about 681BC to give hope to God’s people.  They had rebelled, sinned greatly and suffered the wrath of God Almighty in the form of being exiled and separated from the land they inherited as a blessing from God.  This verse especially though points forward, as with these latter chapters of Isaiah, to a God given Messiah.  He would be the One through whom the God of Israel would redeem and draw back mankind to Himself; a people forgiven, accepted and made whole.  The Apostle Paul was one who himself had met with the risen Christ, the Messiah of God, and turned, followed and served Him.  He writes in Philippians 2:10 ‘…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.’  He knew what a life changing moment it was to encounter and kneel to surrender and accept the living Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth.  Let us acknowledge this same Jesus and welcome Him with bended knee ourselves this advent.  Scripture pointed centuries before His coming.  May we point to Him today through our obedient witness.

Come to Bethlehem to see, Him whose birth the angel sang.  Come adore on bended knee, Christ the Lord the newborn King.  Gloria in excelsis Deo. 

Amen.

Friday 11th

Luke Ch 1 verses 26 – 27    In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

In the eyes of the world some 2000 years ago a young woman of about 15 was of no significance, it was the age when marriage would have been on the cards, generally to a man much older.  In the Middle East at that time a woman’s word would never be taken over that of a man, and in many ways’ women were invisible.

Yet God chooses Mary, this lowly young woman, he reaches down from eternity into time with the message, sent through his agent Gabriel, that she is to be highly favoured and that she is to bear a child who will be called the Son of the Most High.  The poor girl must have been mesmerised, overwhelmed, and probably wondered whether she had just had a bad dream.  But as they say the rest is history, and in the Orthodox Church Mary is described as the Theotokos, which literally means God Bearer.

Over the centuries even to today God has chosen the most unlikely people to work through.  He has rarely chosen the obvious candidates [that I would probably have chosen], but has picked out the servant girl, the miner’s son, the quadriplegic, the stuttering, the failure, and others like them.  He has taken them and by his transforming love has used them for his glory and according to his purposes.

The only thing he desires is a willing heart, one that like Mary is able to say, May your word to me be fulfilled’.

Dear Lord Jesus, here am I send me.  Break me, melt me, mould me, and fill me, just use me for your good purpose.

Amen

Saturday 12th

Isaiah Ch 9 verse 7    He (the promised child) will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom. establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.

Isaiah is looking forward to the coming of Jesus in time to be with us on earth and to the rule of his kingdom which started during his time on earth which will fully and finally be established when He comes again.

What an amazing thing to look forward to. God’s promise of total redemption came to us as a baby!! For 30 years the answer was present in the world but was not yet known to the world.

When we see our politicians arguing or shouting at each other in Parliament, when we see overseas presidents and rulers being unjust or causing civil wars don’t you just long for the time when Peace will reign?

Sometimes it seems like that future is very distant. Sometimes during the pandemic we may have felt that life in this world is not worth it, why bring children into a world like this.

BUT we have to encourage each other and ourselves that Jesus will bring all things under his rule and that He will bring about justice for all and a Kingdom full of joy and peace. 

We pray Lord for the coming of your Kingdom and your rule not only in our current lives but in the eventual salvation of this whole world. Come Lord Jesus, Come!

Amen.

Sunday 13th

Mary was the mother mild. Jesus Christ her little child.

These words from the carol ‘Once in Royal David’s City.’  Advent and Christmas carols certainly help us as we prepare to celebrate and welcome afresh the coming of God’s Son. They tell of how He came to bring love, hope and peace to a lost and dark world.  We will be thinking this coming Sunday about Mary, the chosen mother of God’s Holy Son.  Her job it was, along with Joseph, to nurture and cherish this precious child.  They even had to escape to Egypt early in His life to escape the persecutions of Herod who was determined to do away with the King of the Jews born in such lowly surroundings.  Very soon though Mary would have to loosen her hold on her precious child, whom she knew God had sent to redeem His people.  Perhaps singing these carols around the parish on 23rd from noon will be one simple way we can remind our neighbours of the message of hope the Christchild brings.

Immanuel:  God with us.  Father, may the words of joy which you reveal to us in this season of Advent be carried to people’s hearts and minds by your life giving Spirit. 

Amen.

Monday 14th

Matthew Ch 3 verse 7    But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath.

I love John the Baptist for his ‘say it as it is’ approach to his mission and ministry.  He is not called introduced as ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness’ for nothing, and I could not see him fitting in with the present PC world that we exist in, where it seems that some peope are just looking to be offended.  There is a clarity in John’s message that we could do well to take note of today when most Christians are too timid when it comes to speaking of their faith.

According to verse 11 his message was twofold, to proclaim a Baptism of repentance, and to proclaim the coming of one greater than him, who would Baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire!

John was well aware of his position as the one who would usher in the one who would bring in the Kingdom of God, and when Jesus arrives on the scene he says to his own disciples in John Ch 3 v 30 ‘he must increase, but I must decrease’.

John was a man that knew his role, and he fulfilled it to his death which is recorded in Matthew Ch 14, whether it was to ordinary people, the Pharisees or to King Herod.

The Church today needs men and women who will speak out the truth in love, who will expose sin and unrighteousness where it is found, and will point people to Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.

Dear Lord Jesus, give to your people a Holy boldness that we may speak out against the sin that is engulfing this world, and may we direct all people to gaze again at you that they may flee the ‘coming wrath’.

Amen

Tuesday 15th

Genesis 12:1-4    Now the Lord said to Abram “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you”……… So Abram went, as the Lord had told him,

The first thing we learn about Abraham is that when God asked a big thing of him he went and did it! This led to blessing not just for Him but eventually for the whole world. Through Abraham’s descendants came the Messiah and Saviour of this world.

Of course Abraham didn’t really quite know how much depended on his obedience but his trust in God and His promises is incredible!

Later though we do learn of various wobbles he had with his faith and at times he showed cowardice and deceit. This helps me though, as I  realise that he was only human and could fail at things . But God still used him.

Is there anything you feel God is asking you to do? Something small maybe or something bigger?

Maybe he is asking some of you to hang on in there in a particular situation. Maybe he is taking 1 or 2 of you on a change of job or asking some to change your lifestyle. Maybe he is just asking us to BE and to sit with Him as he holds our hand.

Whatever it may be let’s be brave and say yes to God. He always works for our good in all circumstances and will never ask of us more than we can do.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love for us as your children. Help us to say yes to you today and always.

Amen

Wednesday 16th

Isaiah Ch 46 verse 4    ‘I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.’

These words of the prophet Isaiah, spoke out to God’s people during a time of exile.  They were in a hard place; displaced from their homeland, under harsh rulers and not knowing if and when they might ever be ‘home’ and leading a normal life again.  Faint echoes for us today maybe, but these words of the Living God are also for us today because they speak of abiding principles we can wholly trust and depend on.  No matter what pain, loss or regrets we may feel; God the ‘I am’ is always the One who calls us to know His sustaining love.  He is the One who made us; He will bear us up and the great hope which Isaiah foresaw which comes to fruition in Christ Jesus the Son is that we will all through Him be rescued into His loving presence.  This is an eternal truth:  we can trust it because Jesus’ words stand true:  ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ (John 14)

Let us pray today for all facing crushing news of failing health, uncertain about treatment and care.  O Lord we place ourselves and those we pray for now into the loving, healing, restoring arms of Jesus who comes to us knowing, sharing and living our suffering, our pain and our cares. 

Amen.