Immanuel: Part 2

18th December

Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a Son and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

Matthew 1:23

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever, and love me I pray

When the prophet Isaiah spoke the words of prophecy (found in Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14), perhaps even he didn’t realise the fullness of what it meant. Yes, there would be liberty and freedom from the chains, yokes and burdens of slavery and persecution, but perhaps it looked different from what Isaiah, and even the people of Jesus’ time thought it to be. In fact, we now know, that this liberty and freedom was spiritual, physical, and emotional. Yet this freedom and liberty was so that God could be near us, love us and stay close to us forever, in-spite of our sinful actions and attitudes. It was by Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection, that we can enjoy intimacy and closeness with God. The gap between us and God is no longer. The punishment for our sin has been paid. The chains and heavy yokes of oppression and slavery from the enemy have been shattered. We are free to live in a full, living and right relationship with Christ our Saviour. Although our dear Saviour was born as one of us in a lowly manger on that ‘not so silent night’, He was born not as a helpless child but as the King of kings, the Lord of lords and our God and Saviour, Immanuel, who is close to us. May we understand the fullness of the love of God for us this day,

Immanuel

15th-17th December

Weekend Edition

Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a Son and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

Matthew 1:23

God is with us! Isn’t that such a reassuring and encouraging way to start your day. The God who created the world, came down to the earth He created, took the form of a human being, to be with us, to live like us, to eat and drink like us. He came to go through all we go through, hardships, losses, pain, suffering, cruelty and unfairness, so that He could overcome it for US. He bled for us, was beaten for us, and was killed for us, then resurrected Himself on the 3rd day for US. He did all this so that He could show ‘He was with us and will forever be!’ He is the God who is with us in the good and the bad, in the rainy and stormy seasons of our lives and in the brightest and best moments too. He is God with YOU. Remember today, God is with you. He is not a far away God, but the God who walks with you! Praise Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.

The Crowds Follow Jesus

14th December

 

A huge crowd kept following Him (Jesus) wherever He went, because they saw His miraculous signs as He healed the sick.

John 6:2

When Jesus walked the Earth, He attracted crowds of both people willing to hear His message, people attracted by His miracles, or those trying to trap Him into saying something worthy of death (i.e. Something blasphemous or against Rome). Yet wherever He went and for whatever reason, crowds would follow Him. Isn’t it interesting that nothing has changed, more than 2000 years after His ascension. He still attracts the crowds, and still the crowds are divided as to why they are talking about Him or following Him. Yet the ones who followed Him, clinging onto the very words He spoke, are the ones who benefited most from Jesus’ life and words.

See we too can just be followers of Jesus, almost wandering around trying to catch a piece of the miraculous, as if Jesus was some circus show in town, entertaining the crowds with His wonders. Yet that is not what Jesus was about at all. He was and is so much more than just miracles, signs and wonders (that is not to say they are not important). It was and is Jesus’ life giving, world transforming words, His substitutionary sacrifice and His character transforming works that we hold on to so dearly. That is why we follow Him, and so many across the world do too.

Our challenge for today is to fully understand and answer the question ‘why am I following Jesus?’ May the Spirit help you to answer in the same way Peter did when challenged by Jesus…

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”1

1John 6:68

The Holy Transfer

13th December

For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

Colossians 1:13-14

Remember Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray

Praise God for Jesus! What wonderful news right?! We are no longer bound or led by the kingdom of darkness, but have been ‘transferred’ into the Kingdom of LIGHT! We are no longer bound by sins shackles and chains but have been plucked up, and placed into the Kingdom of Almighty God! We have been saved from the enemy’s power and his lies, and been redeemed to stand before God as forgiven children. It is through Jesus, who came 2000 years ago, who lived, died and rose again, that we find full forgiveness and freedom. As Paul tells us in verse 22 of the same chapter, we can now come into His presence ‘as holy and blameless’ children, standing ‘before Him without a single fault’! Amen. We are completely washed clean by our Saviour, who was born for us!

O Holy Night

12th December

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them..”

Luke 2:8-9

The night of Jesus’ birth was probably filled with so much drama. From Mary and Joseph struggling to find accommodation to angels appearing to Shepherds and people visiting the new born baby. It sounds like a scene from a nativity play gone wrong. Yet these things did happen as we read about them in scripture. Yet as busy as it was, the birth of Jesus brought peace, joy and hope to the world. His birth changed the world as we know it. Moreover, Jesus birth demonstrates to us too, that even in the midst of the storms in our lives, even in the commotion of decision making, problem solving and worrying, if Jesus is in the center, He can bring us peace and hope. That holy night, long ago, is the reason why we can call ourselves children of God and inheritors of His peace and blessings.

Joy To The World

11th December

““but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!””

Luke 2:10-11

Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King, Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing. Joy to the earth, the Saviour reigns!

Joy to the world, is one of the most well known Christmas Carols that has been written. Why? Of course it has a catchy melody but the main reason is because it is the Gospel and is Good News! People love to sing about Good News. You can almost imagine the angels gathered around singing this song to the shepherds as they eagerly clung on to their every word, rejoicing that finally the Saviour, the Messiah, the long awaited King had finally been born as foretold by the prophets of old.

Yet the angels didn’t just bring Good News for those who were alive at the time of Jesus’ birth. They bring Good News to us now, with the same message! ‘Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, is still alive today, bringing about salvation to all!’ This is great news for us all! For every generation, for every part of history and the future, for young and old, for all people everywhere! There is no discrimination, no judgement, no segregation and certainly no favouritism. The Good News is for all; and YOU are part of it. Indeed, let every heart prepare Him room. Let them receive their King! This Christmas season, we too can be filled with unspeakable joy as we remember the birth of our dear Saviour Jesus Christ, the King of the World, our Champion and Lord!

Christmas Is Love, Christmas Is Peace

9th-10th December

Weekend Edition

For a child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

The popular Christmas song, ‘mistletoe and wine’ written by Cliff Richard, contains some of the most wonderful truths about Christmas. One key verse of the song says that Christmas is,

A time for giving
A time for getting
A time for forgiving and for forgetting.
Christmas is love
Christmas is peace
A time for hating and fighting to cease.

Yet as wonderful as this truth is, if we look to ourselves for fighting and hating to end, we will only end up in disappointment. In and of ourselves, we have no power to end these things. Yes we can forgive, yes we can bite our lip to not say something cruel, but our hateful actions start from our heart; and that can only be changed by Jesus. In fact, as the prophet Isaiah spoke many years ago, it is only Jesus who can bring true peace because He is the Prince of peace. Yes, peace is a person. That is why if the Prince of Peace lives in your heart, you can find total peace, even in the midst of a storm and even when there only seems to be hate and fighting. He is the Prince of Peace. He is in control. He is Peace. Let His peace rule and reign, and dictate your life, not hating and fighting!!