Friday, 22 June 2018

Those who heard it marvelled

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marvelled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  – Luke 2.16-18

This scene of the shepherds has stuck in my mind ever since we attended a live nativity recreation at a church someplace in Ohio many years ago. As we walked through the streets of ‘Bethlehem’ three men in rough looking homes came rushing through the ‘streets’ shouting at everyone and sometimes grabbing people and trying to turn them around and saying ‘come, you have to see this! We have seen the Messiah and He is right here in Bethlehem! Messiah has come as a baby and He is here! Come and see!’

I think they got part of the sense of excitement that must have coursed through the streets of Bethlehem that night. The shepherds had seen and heard the angels, they had been to worship the infant Messiah, and now they wanted everyone to know what they had seen.

Those of us who are Christians today have met the Messiah. We have seen all that He has done for us. The challenge is to ask ourselves if people respond to us the same way that people responded to the shepherds. Do people marvel at our words? Are our words so clear and our lives so impactful that our testimonies cause marvel in the hearts of people who know us?

So people marvel at Christ in us?

Thursday, 21 June 2018

On earth, peace

"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" – Luke 2.14

Luke 1 finished up talking about walking in the way of peace. That notion of peace is one I think we all appreciate and desire. We live in a world that is crying ‘peace, peace’ but there is no peace. I am reminded of Longfellow’s words when he wrote ‘there is no peace on earth I said, for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will toward men.’

While we may not have a major war or conflict going on in the world at the moment we also cannot say there is anything like peace in this world. Death and destruction are all around us. Violence is everywhere. Peace and goodwill seem far from possible.

Until Jesus comes back there is never going to be real peace between. There will always be wars and fighting and contention. People are always going to want what they want and will fight for it and people are always going to fight to protect what is theirs.

But, there is an inner peace that the world can’t provide. There is the peace that exists on our hearts even when there is no peace on earth. It is the peace that Jesus offered when He said ‘My peace I leave with you.’ The message that Messiah brought was peace with God and peace in our hearts. It is the peace that passes all understanding.

That’s the peace the angels announced, but we can be assured that one day, when Christ comes to reign, there will be true peace not only in our hearts, but also among men. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Good tidings

Good tidings

Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." – Luke 2.10-12

I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be those shepherds in their fields on that night. Suddenly, out of nowhere a group of angels appear. The shepherds must have been terrified. This was certainly nothing as they sat there around the campfire.

The first thing they heard was ‘Don’t be afraid!’ That’s a good thing because I am sure that was an issue, I am sure they were afraid.

But then the find out why they need not fear. The angels were bringing ‘good tidings of great joy.’ They brought those good tidings of great joy for all people. The news was not just for the shepherds, not just for the Jews, but for everyone!

And what was the news? ‘Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour!’

The shepherds knew what that meant because they rushed to Bethlehem to see the miracle. The Saviour, the Messiah, was here, and He was here for all people. God had brought His offer of eternal salvation to all people. Unto those shepherds a child was born, but we rejoice because He was also given unto us!

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Knowledge of salvation

To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace."  - Luke 1.77-79

John the Baptist was going to have some kind of impact. ‘What kind of child is this?’ was going to be a major player in introducing the gospel to the world.

I like that he was called to give ‘knowledge of salvation.’ That salvation came by the remission of sins through the tender mercy of God brought by the Dayspring from on high to give light to those in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet in the way of peace.

That’s quite a mouthful and there is a lot there that we could dig into. Mercy and light and peace are amazing things all worthy of our study.

But today I want to focus on the very beginning of the passage where it speaks of the knowledge of salvation. The knowledge of salvation is something I don’t think about very often, but the more I do the more I see how vital a real knowledge of salvation is. Why?

Because if we never get a grasp on a true knowledge of salvation we are always to be weak in our service for Him and we are going to live lives of doubting and fear. If we don’t know we are saved how can we serve? If am constantly wondering if I have done enough to lose my salvation how can I keep going?

It was the fact that I had no knowledge of salvation that led to my salvation. I was a Bible study and saw 1 John 5.13 – ‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.’ ‘That you may know…’ is key to our salvation being real.  

Monday, 18 June 2018

In holiness and righteousness

Serve the Lord in holiness and righteousness

That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. – Luke 1.71-75

There is another way that we, being delivered from our enemies, ought to be serving the Lord. We ought to serve, not only without fear, but in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives.

It is not enough for us just to serve. Anyone can go through the motions of serving and even do a decent job at it. Things can get done and we can even look like successes even when we serve out of the flesh. A lot of things carry on that way and look good enough on the outside.

But that’s not the kind of service we need to strive for. God wants us to serve Him, but to serve with the right heart and the right character. Our walk and our service for the Lord must be marked by a holy behaviour and a righteous walk. We can’t serve God and live like the world – well, actually, we can do both in a sense. It will, however, be a work that makes us look good and in which the glory does not go to Him.

How many of us can honestly say that our lives are marked by holiness and righteousness, especially ‘all the days of our lives?’

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Serving the Lord without fear

That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. – Luke 1.71-75

John the Baptist was a prophet sent by God to do a new work and prepare the world for the coming of Messiah. His message was going to bold and clear. His preaching was to give God’s people of several things. One of those was that we can ‘serve the Lord’ without fear.

Now that doesn’t mean, of course, that nothing bad was going to happen. It meant that we could face all that came our way, good or bad with the peace that God will go through it with us. We may very well face trouble and opposition but we don’t have to fear eternal consequences.

We can serve without fear because Jesus promises ‘lo, I am with you always even to the ends of the earth.’ Even when it seems like we are all alone we can trust that He is there and we need not be afraid.

Serving God might be intimidating, but it ought never be fearsome.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' – Isaiah 41.10

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The hand of God was on him

And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, "What kind of child will this be?" And the hand of the Lord was with him. – Luke 1.66

The birth of John is fascinating. The angel told Zacharias that he and his wife Elisabeth were going to have a son, even though she was barren. The angel told Zacharias that his son was going to named John.

That was confusing; there were no Johns in the family. Zacharias was going to call his son Zacharias. When he said that the angel told Zacharias that he would not speak again till the baby was born.

The people were amazed at all this. ‘What kind of child will this be?’

I think that is a question we all might ask when we have children or grandchildren come into the family. When that precious child arrives I think we all wonder what kind of child this is going to be. How will this child turn out?

We then read the answer – ‘the hand of the Lord was with him.’

Obviously we are not all going to be John the Baptist, but in a Christian home we can look forward to watching the hand of God on our children. Clearly, our children are going to have free will and make their own choices, but our prayer from the very beginning ought to be that the hand of the Lord would be on these children as the grow and then we need to all we can do through living guidance and godly instruction to see them walk as guided by the hand of the Lord.  

See the children in your lives today and pray that they will be guided by the hand of God and then do all you can to give them godly direction.