There is one passage set down for our faithful FDR readers, just five days after Christmas – Luke 2:21-40.
Luke relates two incidents that serve to demonstrate Jesus’ identity. On the 40th day after His birth Jesus’ mother came to the temple to offer the sacrifice required of the poor for purification after childbirth (v.24 and see Lev. 12:8).
There the Holy Spirit caused two aged saints to identify Jesus as the promised Messiah.
These incidents serve as historical markers or evidence, but they surely would have had special meaning to Joseph and Mary. Very shortly after this, Matthew tells us, the couple was forced to take the Baby Jesus and flee the country. I would imagine that the memory of every unusual word about their child would serve to encourage Joseph and Mary then and into the future.
Many of God’s most unusual works are performed more for the comfort of His own people than for some great theological purpose. Here God comforted four: Simeon and Anna near the end of their lives; Joseph and Mary at the beginning of a difficult period in theirs.
The very personal purposes seen here encourage us to expect the Lord to meet our needs as well. Can you recognise times in your life when God has greatly encouraged you?
Have a great day,
It’s easy to mistake apparent truth for actual truth.
We overhear a conversation and think we have the truth only to discover later, and often embarrassingly that we missed critical elements of the conversation. We didn’t have the truth after all.
We succumb to advertisements and buy the latest product that promises to do all the things you really want that none of it’s competitors are able to do. Of course, we quickly discover it can’t do these things. Again, we didn’t have the truth after all.
We watch the world go around. Greed seems to lead to prosperity. Harshness in employee relations seems to lead to management advancement. Self indulgence seems to lead to happiness.
Psalm 97 stops us in our tracks. It reorientates us around the actual truth that is not always apparent.
v7 is the key:
All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols—
worship him, all you gods!
In the middle of a psalm that is full of praise and adoration to God it gives the contrast. While those who worship and boast in idols may seem prosperous, successful and happy they actual truth is that they are put to shame. The Lord God reigns, he is exalted over all gods and brings joy to those whom are upright in heart.
In an age of fake news, and with a new year approaching, let’s remember the great truth that the Lord reigns and the great reality that the worship of idols, of fake gods, will result in shame not joy. Today, may we be glad that when it appears the idols are running our world, it is actually Lord God whom reigns.
This Psalm meditates on the splendor, majesty, strength and glory of God, particularly in respect to His salvation and judgement. It calls us to ascribe to God the glory due his name (8). It invites us to join the chorus of creation- praise to our great God. The reality of Heaven (Rev ch 4,5) is praise, fulfilling our purpose, acknowledging God’s ultimate position.
Our reluctance to join, is evidenced by our failure to fulfill the first Commandment; a diagnosis of our heart, resistance to God’s position and our desire to rule. What stands in the way is our self. Our self focus. Our self preoccupation. Our self glory. Our self pity. Our self satisfaction. Our self-ishness. We steal the praise due Him.
Acknowledging to God our selfishness, our sinfulness; drawing on His power to save, to bring us into His family and to indwell us by His spirit, and falling on His grace, may our hearts form prayers of praise to our great God as we meditate on Him through this Psalm today.
May we proclaim His praise and His salvation day after day.
The second half of this Isaiah passage is so well known. While reading these familiar words various songs fill my head. Such is the power of music!
The chapter before this passage though has many references to trouble, pain and darkness. In spite of all the advances we have made over the centuries the world is still looking for the elusive answer to “world peace.” (Cue beauty pageant speech!) The Middle East continues to be a hot spot with the possibility of war at any moment. We are living in a world more frightening than ever with strong countries using power to secure peace and radical countries resorting to terrorism to gain the upper hand. Is there anyone who is interested in securing real peace and justice or are they all just interested in achieving their own desires? Following the prophecy of war and destruction in chapter 8 Isaiah has given this prophecy about the coming King. A King who will be born a child yet will govern over all nations bringing justice and righteousness and unending peace.
Verse 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore.
What a wonderful picture! What a contrast to our present world. No wonder musicians from over the centuries have used these words as a celebration of the birth of the Saviour.
I pray that we all remember the hope we have as we celebrate the birth of our Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Enjoy the link below. Written in 1741 by Handel this oratorio is a celebration of Jesus’ birth and taken from verses in the Psalms. It is still one of the most frequently performed choral works in Western music today.
Praise to the Prince of Peace!
We have arrived.
My wife and I will start the day, with a quick prayer, all the kids will call us. We will say hi to our grandchildren before I leave home around 7.15am to attend the first of our service for Christmas Day.
I will get ready as I prepare my mind and heart ready to speak to those who gather. I will put on one of my favourite Christmas Carols as I drive to church. O Come O Come Emmanuel or O Holy Night often does the trick to get me thinking.
As I drive to church, I still find it hard to believe that another Christmas is here and it won’t be long before it is night and the day has come and gone. This year I am praying that it goes really slow. Why you ask? Thanks for being so kind to enquire. In two days time I will conduct the funeral service for my sister-in-law who passed away just before Christmas. I have known her since I was a pimple faced teenager. It will be a tough day. In fact this Christmas Day will be tough for my whole family.
Yet, I can make sense of the bible when it says “I bring you good news of great joy…Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Even in the midst of sadness, I can still find the ability to rejoice at such news. Not only do I know this truth but so did my sister-in-law. Christ’s arrival was for her, for me and for all people (Luke 2:10).
In a very real sense, no matter how you will spend this day, Jesus story is our story. It is a story told to us and for us. It is a story that arrives in this world at the right time and with all the challenges that we find ourselves experiencing on a daily basis.
Christmas is about Jesus and it is about us. This day is a reminder us that we are in need of saving. Thank God he sent us a saviour.
Merry Christmas to all our readers.
Luke 2:11 (New International Version)
11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Today’s the day! No more big sleeps. No more waiting. Today we celebrate the birth of the long-awaited one.
But, what an unusual birth announcement! It does not mention the weight or the height or the head circumference of the newborn. Rather, it sets out three other characteristics. Saviour – this one will save, this one will rescue. Messiah – this is the anointed one, the appointed one, the Christ. Lord – this one deserves all respect, all allegiance. An extraordinary birth notice, but this is no ordinary baby.
And in between are those ‘most significant two words’: to us. The child is born to us. Our Saviour, our Messiah, our Lord.
Christ the Saviour is born!
Jesus, Lord at your birth!
Nearly there. Just one more sleep.
Been busy have you! Same here. Tired are you? Likewise! Just one more sleep, you are thinking and then as soon as Christmas Day has come and gone, I can get back to normal. Of course it may just depend on what is normal for you when you are not experiencing the rush of Christmas.
Can I ask, what thoughts do you have the day or night before Christmas? What occupies your mind? The year that has nearly past? Will the presents you have purchased make the person happy and thankful. Or is it more, I can’t wait for 2018 to arrive.
What abut God? What images of him or Jesus comes to mind the day or night before Christmas? For me this year it is from Luke 2:7, “…because there was no room for them in the inn”. The creator of the universe is just about to be born in a stable. Wow. So familiar, yet no doubt we don’t give it too much attention. Why? Because it is just like any other fact about the birth of Jesus. We see so many skits at this time of year, especially with our children or grandchildren, with stables, inns, cows…you name it, we know what happens. No room, indeed. I think most of the time I am better at being busy than allowing the simple facts of Christmas to penetrate my soul.
I wonder if I could ask you somehow, before this day ends, to just spend a moment thinking about what it must have been like the day or night before that first Christmas. And before this day ends, ask yourself, “Have you allowed Jesus enough room in your life to enter in?”
If not, do not worry, 2018 is just around the corner.
From pastor Ian.