Mary

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The figure of Mary the mother of Jesus, is right at the centre of the Christmas story, and she is hailed as a holy and separate person, above and different from ordinary types, such as you or I. However, if we consider her situation and what she had to face as a young teenage girl, we begin to see things we hadn’t previously noticed.

She must have suffered considerably at the hands of gossips and back-biters, as she coped with the noticeable bump of the developing baby, and no husband. Left out and rejected, she had to prepare for the arrival of her child, knowing that Joseph, her fiancé, would probably set her aside.

God assured her, through the angel, that he was in complete control, and that the baby was no ordinary child, but his own beloved Son, Creator of the universes.

Mary believed. She did not complain, worry, fret or seek the refuge of popular people. She patiently and faithfully, carried out her time, knowing that the person she was carrying, was the Saviour of the world, and her Saviour also.

Joseph also believed the angel who spoke to him from God. He took Mary and kept her safe and comforted her, taking her through the long journey to Bethlehem.

Mary rejoiced to be so highly thought of by God and we can read her song of praise in Luke chapter one. She put all her trust and hope in God and knew that He would deal with her sinfulness and make her what she was not – a good woman.

Mary knew that her son would some day be cruelly killed, for the sins of the world and her own sins. This baby was her Lord and God who would one day rule all things. Mary’s God is also our God, and we need to trust him and follow him, as Mary did. The humility of obedience is the mark of every person who loves Him and walks with him in faith.

 

Without roots

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Homeless people who live on the streets of our towns and cities know more about the grace of God than any person sitting in a church pew. They are judged by the cleanliness of their clothes and shoes and the look of unwashed hands and face. We inspect the outside of the person, and the inner person is ignored or deemed “beyond the pale” of polite society.

Homeless people understand need, more than anyone else. They know what it means to trust God in a totally close up and personal way. Every moment is a mercy and ever opportunity of having food and drink, is a singular blessing from the Father. They do not talk ostentatiously about spiritual things, but have a trust in God that is heartfelt and sincere. What is said by people on our streets, is real and a daily experience.

People without homes, wait for their needs to be met. They depend on the work of the Holy Spirit to prompt people to help and give what is needed. The immediacy is striking. Long term plans, or any plans for tomorrow, are foolish thinking. As long as needs are met for the moment, people are satisfied. Other people with money and resources miss out on this daily dependency and therefore loose sight of the provision of God in their lives.

We have too much. We think we need all this stuff and try to bolster up our faith and confidence by all we can see and possess. This is too this-worldly. Our eyes are on what we are presented with in the media, and we fill our lives and our cupboards with props for life. God goes out from our psyche and we are satisfied with trivialities and superficial ideas.

Homeless and “needy” people are needed in “church” to remind the rest of the congregation, of the realities of life in the raw, and that with God, we have all we need. The “needy” need to minister to the “not-needy”, and teach the sovereignty of God. A daily attitude, and walking with Him in faith. We are all without roots if we belong to God. We seek another city, built by God for us. Faith alone will get us there.

What does it take?

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We are all spiritually ignorant without Christ. It doesn’t matter about our time, place or culture in which we live. We are all dead in sin, no matter how large or narrow our biblical literacy might be. We are all empty without the Holy Spirit.

Every person who finds the Lord, does so because of His mercy and grace. God opens our eyes to see Him, and our need of Him. We each, individually, need the enlightenment of the Spirit of God to see our sinfulness and our need of forgiveness. We must seek Him and confess our sin and give over our lives to God in Christ.

This happens when we hear the truth about God and ourselves. The plain speaking of the truth of the Scriptures illuminates our minds. Not the interesting stories or illustrations from popular culture, but the plain speaking of the Word of God. God requires holiness and we do not have it. So we must seek the holy God to change us and forgive us. We find out about this in the Bible. It is the plain Word of God to all people, always.

Christians need to speak the truth in love and reach out to whoever God puts in our way. We should speak to them personally and persuasively, telling the way to eternal life. This is a humble outlook. This is sacrifice – to be the person others need me to be. It may mean giving up comfortable relationships and moving out into the world. To stand for Jesus the Saviour in dark places is the calling of every Christian, not a chosen few. God chose you to be saved, so you now reach out to others.

The love of Christ and our love for Christ will be the motivation and power behind what we do. Obeying His commands and seeking that His Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. That will stop the self-orientated empire building that is the reason for many so- called works for God.

To find the lost and bring them to Christ is heart breaking and back breaking work. It is what we do for His dear sake. We also build others up in faith and love, teaching the deep and wonderful truths of God. As we see our Saviour Jesus, so we seek to be like Him and that others also will live for Him.
So what does it take?
Dying to self, and living life full out for Christ. To walk in His way, bearing our cross, and bringing many to faith in Him.

The Prince

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The prince of light has pierced the gloom
Our darkness is betrayed
The Son of righteousness has risen
His beams of glory blaze.

None has need to sit in fear
Our debt completely relieved
The Saviour of the world has come
And all who trust, are received.

Step into the light all weary souls
Why linger in the shade
Eternal life is freely given
The way to heaven is made.

Hold me in your hand

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Psalm 73:23-28 NIV
“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

There are days and times when the weariness of this world overcome us. All the things around that we see and have, are so dreary and we find it hard to listen and participate. We are reminded that this world is not the final destination. We belong to more, higher, another place.

When our health fails in mind and body, we are again pulled up, that this is not how we are supposed to live. Earth has nothing to offer us of any value and even heaven itself is empty without our loving God and Saviour Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Though all we have may fail, yet God Himself will strengthen us and bring us through the heartache.

To turn from Him is folly. To reject the life we are to have with God, is to embrace destruction. Who would destroy themselves but those who are cruel to themselves?
The wise choose life and the giver of all life. It does us good as human beings to draw close to our God.
We quickly realise that He is a refuge to all who call on Him. My reaction is to worship Him and sing His praises to everyone. This we do as we wait for His glory.

Liberty

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Psalm 119:45-48 NIV
“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.”

Imagine the liberty of full confidence in God, when you can go anywhere, say anything and be secure. As people, we are not prone to accuracy and uprightness in what we say and do. The plague of sinfulness distresses the best thinking Christian, and keeps us down and over-cautious.

But there is a state of knowing God’s Word so well that we can be confident in what we say. It is not an easy place to be because knowing the Word is difficult for us. We must desire it and seek time to delight in God’s commands and meditate on them. We learn the ways of God to such an extent that they become part of us. We come to personally and deeply know God.

What are we reading? Newspapers? Magazines? Novels?

We are satisfied with so little. The things of this world seep into our psyche and dull down everything. Our desires and tastes are all for the trivial and even salacious. Thoughts of God are uncomfortable and don’t sit well with us. Bible reading is a duty, and prayer a token gesture. We are satisfied to give thanks for the food we eat, and that’s it.
To speak before others is not what we do. To speak before kings would terrify us. Even speaking to colleagues is beyond the pale of our courage.

Is this the way it is supposed to be? This scripture says that the one who seeks the Lord and His Word, will walk about in freedom. This freedom is a situation with complete lack of fear. This person will prove the Lord time and again. This person will obey in full confidence. This person has no confidence in themselves, but knows God so well they walk bravely and with true liberty.

To know God’s Word is to know God. Trusting in Him makes a Christian bold and full of courage. If I indulge in sin and doubt, I loose my footing and fear takes a hold. To cast out fear in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in true knowledge of the Word of God, is our true calling… this is normal. Let us reach out for it.

It will be (forever)

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Heaven will be great. We know it without actually knowing all that will be there, but from what can now be known, it will be everything beyond our wildest dreams. Every power that we can have, creativity, Art, Music, Poetry, Writing, Swimming, will all reach their fullest attainment, to be enjoyed fully, without fear or regret.

There will be joys that cannot be experienced now, as our minds, body and souls are not ready as yet. Things hidden within, glories deep powers, similar to the Transfiguration, will shine out in astounding power and intensity.

The greatest joy will be the final and total victory over our own sinfulness. Human tendency for wrong will finally be cast away and triumph shall lead the endless years of joy, peace and love.

We shall be free. No one shall offend, correct or rebuke us as we praise and glorify the Lord of all, and reflect his grace. This will be a true knowing, an accurate seeing and a fully faithful believing.

The body as an incorruptible, undefiled and immortal unity, to never fail or fade in any regard. It will live eternal life without boundaries or restrictions and the cloying effect of the law of a fallen nature will never apply.

All evil will be bound in darkness as the light of Christ radiates out of his own redeemed people, as they celebrate and truly live life forever.

Nothing shall hurt, no one will put us down and nowhere will be shaded from the incomparable beauty of Christ. We shall know Him as he loves us and has known us for before the galaxies were made. And he will continue to love when this ruined world has long gone and has been forgotten by us all.

It is hard to look ahead, in case we should get too keen too soon, and desire things that we cannot have today. The present road we walk with Him and enjoy his company as he permits. Each day we must progressively seek him and desire to follow him more nearly, as we experience heaven’s joys in the here and now, although tempered and clouded by our own weaknesses and this world’s sadness and evil ethos.

As we travel surely to home we know a growing weariness of what this world offers and an ever-growing love for Him and that place ahead.

Women who glorify God