New Birth -New Creation

19th -20th December

Weekend Edition

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. And all of this is a gift from God, who bought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Christmas time is about new beginnings; A time to give, and a time to receive (in the words of Cliff Richard). Yet the greatest gift humanity received was the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth was a new beginning for humanity. It was a new chapter of grace in the history of mankind. A new lease of life for all those lost in darkness and en-slaved in the captivity of sin. It was, as Paul rightly says, a ‘gift from God’. Salvation is a gift. A free gift that only needs accepting.

Yet once we accept this gift, our old lifestyles, habits, and decisions change to someone who is living not for themselves but for Jesus Christ. When Jesus enters our hearts, our desires change from living to please ourselves, to living to please Him. To put it plainly – we are spiritually re-born, or better still, we are spiritually awakened (once dead in our sins but now alive in Christ!).

Because of our new birth we are ambassadors for Jesus, telling as many people as we can about His goodness and reconciling people back Him. Let us not forget, that Jesus, the greatest gift, was given to us so that we can live in all that God has for us. If you have been changed by His grace, then share that gift with someone else too… Freely you have received, freely you shall give!

Second Chance Jesus

18th December

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sins, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Today’s message is very simple, but contains a truth that if accepted, could transform your life. They are not my words but God’s words through the Apostle Paul written to the church in Corinth and applicable for our lives too. The truth is this..

God sent Jesus to this world, to be an offering for our sins, so that we could be made right with God….THROUGH CHRIST.

How incredible. That blessing includes you and I. It includes all who believe in it. Friends, that is why Jesus came. He came to give us another chance, and to redeem and restore our relationship with God. He wants us to succeed. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t have sent His Only Begotten Son to suffer at the hands of the very people He created. Moreover, it is not a second chance He gives, but a third, fourth, fifth…. In fact His grace is unlimited for all those who call upon it. Jesus radically stepped into this world for us for our sakes.

Even more amazing, is that He didn’t wait for us to become good before He became an offering for us. He died while we were still sinners. He rose again victorious and patiently waits for us to accept His love, grace and forgiveness through the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit. And even after we accept it and still stumble into sin (or sometimes even purposefully sin), He still is waiting patiently to forgive and restore us until we call on His Name and ask for forgiveness. This is the nature of the man (and God!), Jesus Christ, who came to this earth over 2000 years ago. And if He had to do it just for you, He would have!!

The Humble Saviour

17th December

““And you will recognise by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” . . . “They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.”

Luke 2:12-16

Jesus, the King of the world, the creator of the universe, humbled Himself and became flesh. Not only did He leave His royal throne, not only did He give up His divine privileges but He also was born to a poor, humble family and laid to sleep in an animals feeding trough (due to the fact that there was no lodging available for them). Moreover, He was wrapped in nothing more than strips of cloth to protect Him from the cool of the night.

This same Jesus was the One who allowed Himself to be sacrificed on the cross and give Himself as a ransom for the very people He created, to free them from the chains of sin that they themselves bound themselves with, when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. The baby Jesus, that is so famously acted out in nativity stories across the world, is the same Jesus that made a way for you to have eternal life and life free from the chains of sin, a life forgiven and an identity restored. It is in Jesus that we can have life and life in all it’s fullness.

Next time you see a nativity play, remember that Jesus humbly allowed Himself to be found in the form an innocent baby, so that years later, He could restore the relationship between humanity and God; that includes YOU!

Herod Knew….

16th December

He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of the law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote….” Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and …..told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find Him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship Him, too!

Matthew 2:4-5,7a,8

King Herod was sadly a man who lived in fear of his throne being usurped. He knew of the prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus the Messiah and was filled with jealously and hatred towards to Him. Herod’s jealously and hatred towards the ‘Messiah’ was so great that he ordered all the boys under 2 years old, in and around Bethlehem, to be executed.

Interestingly, the depth of Herod’s understanding of who the Messiah was meant to be, must have been greater than what we can read of in the text. He cunningly try to out-wit the wise man, stating that he too wanted to worship the new born ‘King’, but through God’s intervention they did not return to Herod (which added to his wrath). Yet Herod’s real intention was to wipe out the Man that would bring freedom and liberate the Jews from the Roman oppression, and in doing so, take Herod’s throne. Even more amazing, is the fact the leading priests and teachers of the law, also all knew of the prophecies regarding the birth of the Messiah.

Yet just like Herod, they too misunderstood who Jesus was and what He came to do. So much so that their eyes were blinded to see Jesus for who He really was… Emmanuel, God with us. They missed an opportunity to have a relationship with God, they missed an opportunity to experience God’s love and most importantly, they missed an opportunity to know God’s forgiveness of sins through His Son Jesus Christ, the God who saves.

Let us make sure that we too do not miss out on who Jesus was and is, and why He came to the earth. We can know all the prophecies in the world concerning Jesus’ birth but if our eyes are not open to see Him, we will miss Him, just like Herod and the priests.

The Joy Of Jesus’ Birth

15th December

She (Anna) came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

Luke 2:38 (Anna the Prophet’s name added)

How did you react the first time you heard that Jesus was born to rescue us from our sins and to give us new life in Him? Joy? Gladness? Or no emotion at all?

In today’s story we learn of the prophet Anna who was daily found in the temple praying and fasting. In fact she never left the temple. She knew that one day a Saviour would come to rescue her people from persecution and to restore Jerusalem (Israel) as a sacred place of worship. As soon as Ana saw Jesus, she began praising God, because she knew that the child with Mary and Joseph was the One who would set her people free. So great was her excitement that she told everyone about it.

When you have been expecting good news and it finally arrives, our reactions are of such joy that we want to tell the whole world about it; so it was with Anna. Our excitement should be the same. We know that a Saviour did come to set people free. He did come to liberate. His liberation was far more powerful than just freedom from political powers but freedom from sin, freedom from the enemies grasp and freedom to be who God created us to be. That Saviour was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And we are all part of His great plan. That is worth rejoicing about, right?

The Shame Of Nakedness

14th December

At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hide from the Lord God among the trees.

Genesis 3:7-8

It all went wrong in Genesis… The moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had forbidden them to eat, sin entered the world and immediately they felt shame at their nakedness. Prior to their rebellious act, Adam and Eve had no re-cognition of what nakedness was. Moreover, they were walking in the garden of Eden with God Himself. They were in His very presence because God was with them. Yet after they had sinned, Adam and Eve, shamed by their nakedness, made clothes out of fig leaves and to hide from God presence.

This is what sin does. Sin leads us into shame and guilt and separation from intimacy with God. That shame and guilt, in turn, leads us to want to hide from God or worse still, not to even talk to Him because of our un-worthiness. We make our own ‘fig leaf clothing’ to hide from God. Yet God’s intention was never that. He delighted to walk among His creation and enjoying intimate fellowship with us. And that is why He came!

Jesus came to the earth to break the chains of sin and shame. The shame that separates us from intimacy with God. He came out of the abundance of grace and love He has for us. He came to set us free from the mistakes that was humanity’s fault in the first place. He came to re-unite us into an intimate fellowship between us and God. Now instead of fig-leaves to cover our shame, He clothes us with righteousness and we are adorned with royal robes as sons and daughters of the Most High, bought, redeemed and saved by the precious blood of Jesus…. Jesus came to take away our shame.

Simeon’s Prayer

12th – 13th December

Weekend Edition

““I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations and He is the glory of Your people Israel.”Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him.

Luke 2: 30-33

Simeon’s prayer is another amazingly relevant and significant moment in both Jesus’ life and in our reading and understanding of Jesus’ early days on this earth. Simeon, like many other God fearing Jews, were waiting for the Messiah to come and bring salvation from sins and liberty from political oppression. The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.

On the day of Jesus’ dedication at the temple in Jerusalem, Simeon, led again by the Holy Spirit, greeted Mary and Joseph and took the baby Jesus into his arms. He knew the moment he saw Jesus, that his wait was over. He had seen the Messiah, the Saviour of the world and the Redeemer of the Jews. As he lifted his hands to God, he prayed a prayer of thanks but also a prayer of prophecy. He thanked God for the promise of seeing the Messiah and prophesied that Jesus was ‘Salvation’…’for ALL PEOPLE’…’a light to reveal God to THE NATIONS’.

This is an incredible statement as most Jews were waiting for a Messiah to lead them out of political captivity. Yet, through the Holy Spirit’s revelation, Simeon prophesied that not only would Jesus be a light to to the people of Israel but also to all the nations. Not only would He be a light to people but also set them free from spiritual bondage and into God’s glorious plan for their lives.

This was a wonderful moment in history for both all who were there listening and for all who read the same words today. God’s salvation includes us all. We are all part of Kingdom plan. Jesus’ salvation is not reserved for one people group but for all people. He came so we might live. Praise God that we are all included in His salvation.

The Path Of Peace

11th December

You will tell His people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from Heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.

Luke 1:71-79

Zechariah’s prophecy over John the Baptist remains, even to this day, a wonderful reminder of John’s role in preparing the way for the Christ, but also stands as a declaration of who Jesus was and what He came to do.

Through John the Baptist’s declaration many people did believe in Jesus as the Messiah. He boldly declared that Jesus had come to take away their sins and that through His life, may people would be saved. John the Baptist’s role in preparing the way for Jesus, was even prophesied before he was born when the angel Gabriel came to John’s father, Zechariah, whilst he was in the temple fulfilling his duties as a priest. Gabriel declared to Zechariah that John would “turn many Israelites to the Lord their God…..He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.”

As John grew older he did just that. He declared that Jesus was truly the Lamb of God, able to take the sins of the world and in so doing, lead people to the path of peace and out of the shadows of death and darkness.

That same message is still preached across the world today and is the hope and joy that we hold on to. Jesus did come to save us from our sins and to lead us out of darkness, into the path of peace and light. His word lives on forever. May we accept His generous love and kindness and hold on to the hope of His salvation.

The Special One

10th December

Though His ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be His slave and untie the straps of His sandal.

John 1:27

Many people in this world have branded themselves as the “special ones”. From football managers to famous singers, it is a term that is quickly used but is never lived up to. There is only man who ever lived that has the right to call Himself “the Special One” and that is Jesus Christ. Even so, it is a term that He never used to refer to Himself with. It was John the Baptist that first described Jesus’ special characteristics when He was answering a Pharisee’s trouble making questions. John the Baptist made a declaration about Jesus that indicated that Jesus was no ordinary man describing Jesus as ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John knew that Jesus was the ‘Special One’. He knew the prophecies of old and He knew that Jesus was the fulfillment of those prophecies. His response…. Humility.

John, knowing who Jesus was, declared that He was not even worthy enough to untie the straps of Jesus’ sandals, (a role reserved for slaves/servants). Later on, in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptist is found saying to Jesus “I am the one who needs to be baptised by You!” Moreover, back in the gospel of John, John the Baptist exclaims that it is Jesus who should be exalted and elevated, no himself…. “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less”. All this leads to the very real facts, that John knew that Jesus was Someone special. It was this knowledge that led to Johns complete humility.

What is your response to Jesus this day? Do you acknowledge Him as the Lamb of God, sent from Heaven to take away our sins?

The Light Of The World

9th December

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:4-5

Often, Jesus’ life has a reputation of someone that came to give more rules and regulations as to how people should live. However nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus came to this world to show us what love truly is, how to re-align our attitudes and lifestyles to live as loved children of God and how to love others with the same love we are loved with. Jesus even went against the common teaching of His day to prove that point. In summary, Jesus came not to bring more religion but freedom from religion and a pathway to a relationship with God.

Moreover, it is the light that shone through Jesus’ words, deeds and character that broke the chains of darkness, shattered peoples pre-conceptions of what God looks like and demonstrated a greater power than had ever been seen through His wondrous miracles and teachings. Jesus did not come to sit back and have a nice life, but rather He came to show us God on Earth! He came truly to bring a light that can never be extinguished. So much so that even today, it the midst of what may seem like a darker world than that of Jesus’ time, even still, that light shines so much more brightly. Why? Because that light is in all believers who have accepted the love of Christ and are willing to be changed by His grace.

Let us remember that the light of the world came to bring life, and that life and light now lives in our hearts. Let us shine brightly before Him to bring glory to His Name and share His love and light with others. After all, His light can never be extinguished!!