The greatest Christmas present.

 

 

 

It’s Christmas time again, it comes around every year, shops are packed with people, Christmas music playing everywhere and TV channels taken up mostly with Christmas films. Then someone comes along and makes a video or writes a blog saying:

Put Christ back into Christmas.

Save Christmas!

In this post I am, in a way, asking for those things… but I am not here to attack the commercialisation of Christmas. Instead, I will try to make clear some truths about Christmas. That, yes indeed we want Christ back in Christmas, but not just little baby Jesus meek and mild. We need to think of Jesus as Lord and saviour, King of kings.

I will base a lot of this post around the verse:

 
 
1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost

 

Yes Jesus did come as a baby but we cannot and should not stray away or dwell on that which will take us from the real reason of Jesus’ coming and that he was to be a sacrifice, as a sacrifice for our sins, so that in his coming he would save all those who trust in him. We must remember this “oh so familiar story” of a child being born in Bethlehem but see it as the coming of a king, The King of Kings, the coming of The Lord of the Earth, the one who would come and save all those who believe in him. We must stick to this, we must not stray or focus for too long on little baby Jesus, but see what this whole event points to…

It points to the child who is a king.

It points to a child who will become a sacrifice.

If you are reading this and you are a non believer you may be sat there wondering, “What is this guy going on about?” But I am saying that to a non -believer Christmas is a time of a hope, that because we are all sinners and we all mess up, that God did not just sit back and watch us destroy ourselves but instead gave us hope.

Hope in Christ…

 

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This child mentioned in this passage is the hope of our salvation, this child is Jesus, prophesised 400 years before Jesus was born. At Christmas time, at the time of Jesus’ birth he had the expectation of being the messiah/ the saviour resting on his shoulders. 33 years later at the cross Jesus has the sins of the whole world upon his shoulders. So that all those who trust in him will be saved. God gave this the greatest Christmas present, this amazing gift of mercy and forgiveness out of love for us.

 

John 3:16 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

So to sum up if you are a believer reading this, stay steadfast and firm to this truth, that Jesus’ coming was the beginning on the steps towards salvation. But don’t sit back this Christmas, tell people about God’s greatest gift, this Christmas share this gift with others, tell others of the love that Christ has for them. If you are a non-believer reading this, please trust in the hope found in Jesus, trust that in him your sins are forgiven. In Jesus you are saved.

Trust the hope of Christ this Christmas.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Gareth

 

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I Could Do A Better Job Than That!

We can not avoid in the news today yet another disaster. Another killing. Another case of child abduction or abuse. This can and does put people off the idea of God. It is easy when you see these things to wonder “if there is a God, why is he idly  watching by? letting these things happen?”

The answer to this is Sin.

The effect of sin is bigger than the damage it has on humans, but also its impact on creation. We live in a fallen world. A world which could be perfect but because of sin is marred.

So where did this all start then, well in Genesis 3.

 

Genesis 3: 17-19

17And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In this passage then the key verses are 17-18. Because of the sin of taking from the tree of knowledge which God told Adam and Eve to not take from, God cuts them off from all the potential knowledge and power of the tree but also because of their sin informs them that certain things will not work in creation as well as they had done before “The Fall”. When God created the world he declared it good having made it perfect. But now, “Post Fall” the world is not so good, the word used in verse 17 “Cursed” meant the ground was now not considered good but instead fallen, broken.

The way to imagine all this is that now the world is sick from sin. It needs to be given a cure to the disease of sin.

Sin is the cause of all the pain and suffering, all the natural disasters, Pre-fall there is no sign of hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and suffering and death. It is only after sin entered the world that the world becomes broken, becomes fallen and imperfect. Soon following the first sin is the first murder, so powerful is influence of sin.

So the reason for all the shocking things that we see on the news are because of the fallen world we live in, because of the sin of our first parents Adam and Eve.

But does this mean God has done nothing about it?

No… Quite the opposite.

 

 

Romans 8: 18-23

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

God had a plan. A rescue plan for creation and for us. One in which he would give his only son up for us and creation.  God saw the effect and damage that sin had on the world. To tackle the infection of Sin, God sent his only son to be a sacrifice for our sins. He came to make us and the world right with him. Jesus came to take away the power of sin by dying on our behalf.

Jesus came to make us and creation righteous. Righteous meaning right with God.

In the passage above we see that as we look and long for the return of Christ, the one who has taken the punishment for our sins, so does creation, it “waits with eager longing”. Creation looks for a release from the bondage of sin just as much as we do.

Does all this mean then that as soon as you become a Christian there is no suffering in your life and in the world around you. Well no. Until Christ returns again there will be death, and there will be natural disasters and famine. But when Christ comes again and we are taken to Heaven we will be in a place of no more tears and no more sorrow. 

 

 

Revelation 21:1-4

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

This glorious picture of what life will be like when Christ returns, shows us that there is hope. There is hope and an end to suffering. We know that through Christ and only through Christ can the world be healed more importantly only through Christ can we be forgiven “healed” of our sin.

God bless.

G.

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Do You Love me?

This Week draws an end to my look into the Gospel of John. In this Post I’m going to look at the last passage of the Gospel with you, and hopefully it is food for thought for you too.

Many clever people I have been reading this week have been telling me the significance in this passage of the choice of Greek word that Jesus and Peter use in this passage and what that means. Well I’m not going to go too deep into the Greek really, because I think the point Jesus is getting across, is he is asking Peter “Look do you love me!”….. “I mean do you really Love me”…. and this question is so important! It’s a question we ask new Christians, A question we ask mature Christians. This question is so important. And not because our answer suggests anything of our salvation, that if we Love Jesus enough we will be saved, because we are just great at loving Jesus, No, actually it shows our understanding of the act that does save us, his sacrifice on the cross. I mean the Love that Jesus has for us to come down and die for those who believe in him, is an incredibly passionate self-sacrificing, perfect Love. And why do we love Jesus, because he came down and died for us. And we don’t love him like a warm cuddly your my best friend sort of Love we love him in the same way he loved us, though it will be an imperfect love because our own self-seeking sinful heart may get in the way of us truly loving Jesus in a self-sacrificing way not for our glory but for his.

So having heard of the love for Jesus,

the second thing to notice is the cost of that Love.

Look at what develops from the questioning of Peters Love.

John 21:18-19

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter, having just told Jesus He loves him, is greeted with the news that he will die for Christ, to the glory of God. Peters love for Christ, the love that brings Glory to God will lead Peter to his grave. Now this sounds quite bleak. But we all have a call on our lives, the call on what God wants us to do. If we love Christ and want to see Him glorified, then we should show that in Love for him, the fact that we would be willing to do anything for him. This may scare a few of you, I mean feel bad for Peter he has just been told straight out at a BBQ at the beach, yeah well you’re going to die for me. But when you think that Jesus Came and through Love gave his life as a ransom for many, it puts a call on our lives into perspective…. But Jesus I don’t want to go minister to those people over there, they are just to awkward, to difficult, the questions they ask just too hard is what you say…. Well Then Jesus would just point to his hands and his feet. For him his love for us lead him to the cross. So out of love for him we should want to serve his will and see him glorified more and more.

So we Love Jesus because Jesus Loves us so much so that he died for us, there is a cost to this Love but then when it is Put into perspective against Jesus’ sacrifice it makes you think of the cost of your love for Jesus.

Thirdly, the truth of this love.

We Move on to the final few verses of Johns Gospel, look at Verse 24-25

John 21:24-25

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

my question to you having read those verses, have you ever had those times where you just sit there and go you know, I don’t think you Love me!

You couldn’t love me?

why would you love me?

Well John tells us in verse 24 that the testimony given in this Gospel is truth. That means every verse of this Gospel is true, from the baptism of Jesus right the way through all the miracles to the crucifixion of Jesus. Including this passage, let me read it to you  AS THE FATHER HAS LOVED ME SO I HAVE LOVED YOU, NOW REMAIN IN MY LOVE. And following on from that GREATER LOVE’ HAS NO ONE THAN THIS: TO LAY DOWN ONE’S LIFE FOR FRIENDS. YOU ARE MY FRIENDS IF YOU DO WHAT I COMMAND. That’s taken from John 15: 9-14. That’s truth. JESUS LOVES US! Take comfort from that! So when the questions like: I don’t think you Love me! You couldn’t love me, why would you love me. Delve into the word of God, for it is all true. You will realise Jesus loves you more than you could even begin to imagine, that’s the chain breaking truth of the gospel, the love that Jesus has for us.

So then to conclude:

I do hope you have been able to take something from this talk, that we should Love Jesus, and not in a warm and cuddly sort of way but in a self-sacrificing way, like he did for us. That because of that self-sacrificing love there is a cost, but when we look at the cost, compared to the cost that Jesus undertook on the cross, it puts it into perspective. Then there is the truth of the Love, that when you doubt that Jesus loves you, maybe you have a sin bearing heavy on your life, or you are feeling depressed, run in to the arms of Jesus as, you see in scripture that he loves you so much more than you could comprehend.

Yours In Christ

G.

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Salvations Certainty

1 Peter 1: 10-12 (ESV)

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and enquired carefully, 11 enquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Do any of you remember the game show, Catchphrase? In this great fun program the contestants competed to guess what the caption is for the picture on the screen, when they got one right they had to choose a block to get rid of to try to work out what the main caption is, but things needed to be revealed piece by piece. In the same way that is what Peter is going on about in this passage in terms of Salvation.

Our first thing to notice is how our Salvation was prophesied.  We are going to look at verse 10:

1 Peter 1: 10-12 (ESV)

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and enquired carefully,

The prophets Peter is talking about here, are the Prophets of the Old Testament, this is your Isiah, Daniels, Micah, Zechariah. All the prophets that were talking of a grace that was coming, well that grace that came was Jesus and his sacrifice. And that grace fell on every generation from his resurrection. The Old Testament is useful to see how our sovereign God has had the plan of our rescue in the works for a long time, since the fall. How speaking through the prophets he assured the People of God that a work of grace greater than any other was coming. So what the Old Testament prophets and people did as it says at the end of verse 10 is they “Searched intently and with the greatest care….” They and others began to search and wait for the saviour, prophesied in the scriptures.

That’s where we move on to our second point to notice.

What would this salvation look like? We see in verse 11 the checklist of what they should expect from this salvation and Saviour this checklist included suffering, glory, grace extending worldwide. Look at Verse 11

1 Peter 1: 10-12 (ESV)

11 enquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.

The problem that a lot of Old Testament prophets had and in fact a problem that existed right until Jesus came and still to this day, this idea of a suffering servant that would be glorious. We have prophets saying he will come on clouds in glory but then others saying he will beaten beyond recognition. How could a saviour be like this? The Old Testament writers and people were looking for the time and context in which the saviour would come, people stepped up claiming they were the messiah, but none stood the Test. Then in the small town of Bethlehem was born Jesus, Both fulfilments of prophecy, who came and died, which everyone probably thought that meant Jesus was just like all the others failed, but going back to our old testament checklist we find Jesus ticking the boxes, he came and suffered on the Cross, he received glory by having risen from the dead, he was ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God. And finally Jesus commissioned the disciples to go to all people in Acts having been equipped by the Holy Spirit.

So having worked on what this Salvation would look like, let’s look at our final point.

Salvation Revealed. We have seen today how the old testament prophets spoke of Jesus’ coming, but looking at verse 12 we see some thought provoking sentences:

1 Peter 1: 10-12 (ESV)

12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

The coming messiah was revealed to the prophets but not for their gain but ours, so that we would see how God has worked for our Salvation from the beginning as we have already seen. But now we see how the same Holy Spirit which inspired the Old Testament writers of Jesus’ coming is the same one that spoke through the New Testament books too, that reveal the salvation, the gospels, the epistles the pastorals. And even through the preaching that we have heard, this means one thing, having had this Salvation revealed to us we need to go out and tell others of this salvation, that if it is God’s will they might respond, and know of the salvation of Jesus. What has been revealed to us through scripture alone is an amazing act of grace and love, something which at the end of Verse 12 says “Even Angels long to look into these things” the angels wish they knew of the freedom of salvation that we find in Christ. Which shows that even heavenly creatures do not know the power of this grace that we find in the rescue from sin.

To sum this up then, we have covered quite a lot, in three verses, but what should we take from all this, well confidence and assurance. Confidence that from the beginning God has had a plan, and to encourage us he spoke through the Old Testament prophets, revealing parts of his plan. Assurance, because the Spirit with which God revealed his plan in the Old Testament, he did the same in the New Testament, in telling the true story of how it happened. But the main thing I want you to take away, is that final point that we need to go out tell people about the salvation through Jesus, and trust that God by his Holy Spirit will reveal this salvation to them.

So Another Week in Ministry!

Hello all, from my last post you will be able to gather i was preaching at my Home church on The Good Samaritan, which went down very well from the response i got. Certinaly was an encouragement for me, but also it challenged many people which was great. Praying that God works there. So this week ahead of me has been shaped really around a chapter from the John Piper book Pierced by the word. especailly on the disscusion of Assurance. the point that stood out to me was the following:

Assurance is a fight to the day we die.

Fight the good fight of Faith. Take Hold of the Eternal Life. (1 Timothy 6:12)

I have Fought the good fight, i have finished the race, i have kept the Faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

 

This is not me telling anyone i am dying, i am (praise God/God willing) a healthy 20 year old, but i will be visting people this week, who are in there 90’s and have fought the good fight and have run the race, so this means they have the assurance that they are safe in Christ. Their Lifes are testimony and as i meet with them, they may be questioning the end, i will encourage them, and i encourage you, that it is not all a mystery, it is Gods will for us to have assurance, as the point is made in Hebrews 6. But that by no means makes it easy for them, or those left behind. Because of that we need to cling to the Cross of Christ, trusting in the sacrifice on the cross, which Saves all who trust in it.

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God Bless

Gareth

My First Post.

So hello, this is my first post. Your probably wondering what my purpose of this page is. Well my hope is that we will look at how scripture impacts on our lives and how it encourgaes and rebukes us, as it says in 2 Timothy. I will hope that from the posts that i publish I will get a response from you good people who take the time to read it. Also I have a Youtube channel which i post sermon videos on there. Please do check that out if you can, here is the link to my Youtube page : https://www.youtube.com/user/usddeshi1

God bless

Gareth