Christmas Greetings

When We Really See Jesus

Christmas time conjures up in our minds all kinds of images and sounds, from the tinsel on the tree to the sounds of endless carols being played in supermarkets and down every shopping precinct. At Christmas time we are bombarded with cries of buy this, buy that for your loved ones. There is the rush, rush, rush to do this, to go there, to buy that and don’t you dare miss a single relative when sending out Christmas cards!

“Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men” seems at times in the modern world to be so elusive, so fragile, so far from reality. Or is it? Is peace really so hard to find? Oswald Chambers in his devotional book “My Utmost For His Highest” writes this for us to read on Christmas Eve:

When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt Him. If you see Him when He says, “Let not your heart be troubled …” (John 14:27), I defy you to worry. It is virtually impossible to doubt when He is there. Every time you are in personal contact with Jesus, His words are real to you. “My peace I give to you …” (John 14:27)—a peace which brings an unconstrained confidence and covers you completely, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. “… your life is hidden with Christ in God,” and the peace of Jesus Christ that cannot be disturbed has been imparted to you.

“My peace I give to you…” says Jesus. The peace of which Jesus speaks is peace with God. That wonderful peace comes only through the gift of God through His precious Son, Jesus. That amazing gift is so beautifully pictured in the Christ-Child in the manger in Bethlehem. What a contrast with the world as we know it.

When we look around us we see nothing but hatred and turmoil and restlessness and bloodshed. When we read our papers and watch the television news we hear of wars and tensions and cruelty everywhere in abundance. Where is this peace of which Jesus speaks?

It is my prayer that each of you this Christmas may truly experience the peace of God through Jesus Christ – when you really see and experience Jesus. His precious gift was given so freely because He loved us. This Christmas may you really see Jesus and rejoice in a close, peaceful relationship with Him – even if all around you is in turmoil. ˄TH

The vital importance of prayer

Pray without ceasing

It is my experience that many Christians would agree that prayer is an important part of any believer’s life, but do not follow through with a vital, active prayer life themselves. That is like someone agreeing that breathing is important to life, but it’s not a part of their every-day activities. “Yes, breathing is important,” they say, “but it’s just not one of my spiritual gifts. I’m not much good at it.” Yes, we can laugh at such an attitude, but that’s the way some people view prayer.

Pray without ceasing.

Look back through the letters Paul wrote to the early churches. Observe how many times he encourages them to pray; unceasing, vital, life-changing prayers. It is one of the Christian life principles Paul repeats over and over. Surely he is telling us something very important if he repeats it so often.

But what about Jesus? Surely the Son of God wouldn’t need to pray. Surely he was so in tune with his heavenly Father that prayer was superfluous. Wrong. Our home Bible study group has been steadily working through Mark’s gospel this year. We’ve done well; almost half finished. In the midst of discovering many things through this intensive study, one thing stands out: Jesus prayed – and he prayed often.

Even in the busiest times of ministering to others Jesus took out time to be alone with his Father and to pray. It appears from Mark’s account that the busier Jesus became, the more the crowds pressed in on him for healing and teaching, the more he needed to spend time in prayer. Mark records that Jesus would leave them and go up into the hills to pray, often before dawn. If Jesus, who was in constant touch with his Father, found it vital to have an active prayer life, how much more should we pray.

Pray without ceasing.

Our church is facing another transition period in the new year. This is why the Elders have called weekly church prayer meetings. We have been encouraged by the good attendance at these meetings, and by others praying at home. Waiting patiently on God’s leading is not easy for those who only want action, or who want things to happen yesterday. But we believe that a season of focussed prayer and patient waiting is important to determine future directions.

Pray without ceasing.

˄TH

A special date 12.12.12

Many people have been in a flurry of excitement over today’s date 12/12/12. People arranged to be married, others have celebrated special birthdays – especially those who are 12 years old today, and others think it is a very lucky day.

Granted: the combination of numbers is rather unique. Such a pattern won’t occur again until 01/01/01, another 88 years away. I probably won’t be around to see that one. There is, however, nothing magical, special, lucky or even ominous about such a date.

Those who claim all sorts of things can happen on such occasions don’t understand the basic human construct of such a date. It is based purely on a humanly devised matter of convenience; nothing special or divine or otherwise. Today’s date is based on a decree made in 1582 by Pope Gregory – hence the Gregorian calendar which most people in the world use today. (There are several other calendars in current use around the world.)

What is most interesting about the Julian calendar which preceded it was the error of ten days which had crept in since Roman times. So Pope Gregory declared that the new calendar would skip those ten days. Imagine the reaction of the uneducated common people of the day, a time when superstitions were widespread and very influential.

We laugh at those superstitions today. But wait – thinking the date 12/12/12 is somehow special or magical or lucky is just as superstitious. Here is the good news: Nothing monumentally good, bad or disastrous will happen on such a date.

It’s just an ordinary day, another day of grace, another day closer to the return of Jesus Christ.

˄TH

Two Royal Babies

The media this week has had a flurry of comments and photos relating to the announcement that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child. The baby – still many months from birth – is destined to be the most talked about, written about and photographed baby on earth.

This baby will be born into a wealthy and privileged life, with many and varied expectations for the future, most relating to the role as the monarch of the United Kingdom plus head of state of a host of other countries. This child will always be in the spotlight, will always be  the focus of the infamous paparazzi, and will potentially be immensely popular.

This world-wide obsession, wealth and position  is so far removed from another Royal Baby as to be almost unrecognisable. In a few weeks we celebrate the birth of another Royal Baby. For the parents Mary and Joseph there was no privilege, no wealth or comfort, no international press release, no crowding photographers and no glaring television lights and cameras probing their every move.

There was no comfortable, safe, clinical environment for the birth of the baby – just a smelly animal barn. There were no attending doctors and nurses and no special equipment to ensure a safe delivery – just some animals staring at this unusual event.

And yet.

Despite these humble beginnings, this baby we call Jesus became the King of kings, Lord of lords and Saviour of the world.

How awesome. How amazing. How wonderful.

˄TH

A call to prayer

The Elders of our church called a special prayer meeting last Tuesday. We are setting aside regular times over the coming weeks where we are encouraging our church to wait upon God in quiet meditation on his word, and in prayer, both individually and corporately.  We are specifically seeking God’s leading and direction for the future of our fellowship, particularly in relation to ministry, and ministry focus.

The Elders were most encouraged by the excellent attendance at the first meeting. We’d be even further encouraged by a good attendance this coming Thursday 6th December 7:30 – 9pm in the worship centre. For those who can’t attend, we’d also be encouraged by your prayers – wherever you may be. ˄TH

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)

 


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