We have had a blessed afternoon sharing fellowship at our monthly Contact the Elderly UK afternoon tea. It was a wonderful time to sit down and chat with senior citizens in our community, who were also delighted to receive cards made by our Women’s Fellowship. Gareth Edwards spoke of the importance of friendship, reminding us that Jesus sticks closer than a brother. Once again a huge thank you to drivers, hosts and bakers of truly delicious quiches, cakes and sandwiches. Looking forward to next month
John 20: 19-32
The Guardian states that 20,000 messages a day hit us – via email, television, radio etc. They have one single message in terms of spiritual life, ‘We live in a one floored bungalow, there is no heaven and no hell. God keep out.’ Therefore, it is not unusual that there are times when we begin to doubt. Here, in John chapter 20, we have Thomas, always associated as ‘The Doubter.’ We are labelled by the things we can’t do. This is very sad. Doubt is something we all get. Thomas had serious doubts, ‘So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hands into His side, I will never believe.”’ (John 20:25). The truth be known, the disciples had doubts. There are at least three times in the book of Luke when Jesus said He would rise on the third day, yet none of them were reminded of this or understood it. Sometimes we doubt God can get us through difficult situations. Doubt can riddle us, it is real.
Doubt is a leap of faith into something else. Many doubt God’s existence when so many people say there is no God. If you don’t believe there is a God, you believe in something else. If there is no God there is no purpose in life – ultimately you become dust and that’s the end of it. We ought to help people explore what they do believe in.
What happened to Thomas? ‘On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.’ (John 20:19-20). The disciples were in fear of the Jews. The Bible is honest about it. God understands. However, they were glad when they saw Jesus. If Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, then the truth of Christianity is real. Christ died for our sins and rose again. We have a risen Saviour!
Thomas was not with the disciples. We do not know why he wasn’t there. The disciples tell him they have seen the risen Jesus. Then Thomas makes the remarkable statement, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hands into His side, I will never believe.”’ (John 20:25). Thomas expresses his doubt in a very clear way. How would you react to that? The Lord Jesus did not condemn Mary, Peter and John for their doubts. If we have doubts, Jesus doesn’t condemn us, He wants to help us. That’s exactly what He did with Thomas. The disciples were with Thomas for eight day, yet he did not believe them. They may have been frustrated with Thomas. Isn’t God wonderful to give us the example of Thomas? When Jesus came, He didn’t say ‘Thomas, I’ve been waiting for you for eight days!” No, He said, ‘Peace be with you.’ The Lord Jesus is full of grace – kindness we don’t deserve. Then He went straight into the problem, giving Thomas the evidence he wanted, ‘Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”’ (John 20: 27).
The greatest blessings are in the valleys, the storms of life. Jesus gives Thomas all the evidence he needs. ‘Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). This is the greatest statement anyone can ever make. Thomas is a wonderful example of what the Bible is written for – whatever difficulties you are facing, go to His Word, meet Him personally in His Word. Absorb God’s Word day and night. ‘Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delights is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”’ (Psalm 1:1-2).
Listen to the voice of God, not the messages around you. He will meet you in your doubts, He will strengthen you. Trust Him, He will make you safe. (Psalm 3).
Luke 5:1-11 – Jesus calls the last disciples.
In 1869, Thomas Huxley, an avid supporter of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, often gave speeches on the subject. After one of his speaking engagements, Huxley was in a hurry to catch his train to his next engagement. He took a horse-drawn taxi and assumed the driver had been informed where he wanted to go. “Hurry!” Huxley exclaimed. “I’m almost late. Drive fast!”
The driver sped away. After a while Huxley looked out of his window and realised they were travelling in the opposite direction to the train station.
“Do you know where you’re going?” Huxley asked. The driver shouted back, “No, but I am driving very fast!”
There’s no use in driving fast if you don’t know where you are going. We need to spend time away from the business of the world, and spend time knowing what Jesus wants us to do. Put the brakes on and slowly walk beside the seaside.
Imagine you’re in this passage of scripture; it’s a warm sunny morning, a gentle breeze sounds around you, the Sea of Galilee lies before you, with its pebbly shoreline. To the other side of you, six miles away, lie the mountains. Take in the scene, where there is a crowd following a man, pressing in on Him. We move in and start to listen to what He has to say. We need to see what God has to say to Penuel Chapel, to you and me and other churches.
This was not the first time Jesus had met the disciples, He had encountered them before (John 1 & 4). It is perhaps surprising then that these men, who Jesus has already invited to follow Him, where still at their business – fishing. We too can distance ourselves, tending to our everyday business and being too busy for God. If the disciples were to answer Jesus’ call they needed to make God their number one priority. Not even family, or work in Church should be more important than God. He has to be our number one priority. We don’t need to give up work or family, but in thought we should prioritise God and make Him first in our choices.
Jesus got into Peter’s boat and the boat was pulled a little further out. ‘He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon (Peter), and asked him to put out a little from the shore.’ (Luke 5:3). Now Jesus had Peter’s attention. Has God been trying to get your attention recently? God wants you in a position so He can speak to you and you can focus on Him, draw closer to Him.
We need to hear Jesus and see Him. What better way is there then seeing Him in the scriptures? Read, search, and study the Bible. What is God trying to teach us today? Look in the scriptures, it will help you become better fishers of men. Each of us can bear testimony to the fact the scriptures are life-changing. We need to study, study, and study some more – in personal life and essential Bible study with others. Be prepared.
One way of reaching out to the community is to participate in projects such as the ‘Community Bible Experience’, in which, a church buys a little gospel for members of the community, inviting them to later discuss what they have read. This is a great way to engage with a community.
Peter lends his boat to Jesus. He used what He had and gave it to Jesus. God will bless all we do in His name. Jesus says to Peter,
Peter may have wondered why Jesus, a carpenter, was telling him, am experienced fisherman, how to do his job. However, because Jesus had asked him to do this, he did so. I wonder, has God said something to you that is counter-intuitive – something which doesn’t seem to make sense to you? Perhaps it could be to try some evangelism that in the past didn’t work. Remember Peter’s response,
There was a certainty that didn’t rely on Peter’s skill but on the Master.
Has God called you to a specific evangelism in Roch? If so, then do it. Be encouraged in faith, believe God will provide all you need for a great catch. It’s not our work that changes hearts and convicts, but the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re called to do the fishing, to let down the nets. Because God says so, we will let down the nets in Roch. Against all the principles of fishing, the disciples caught so much. Imagine you evangelise and the nets are so full. Jesus sent the fish to where the boat would be. God is all-knowing and in control. If God determines to fill your nets with men, women and children, it’s a reality waiting to happen. He wants you to be where the fish are.
Such was the catch, the disciples signalled their partners to help them. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that there nets began to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them.” (Luke5:6-7). Spreading the news in the deep waters of Roch village is a job for all partners. All of you have a job. Maybe you’re not called to be a preacher or evangelist, but you’re called to use your gifts – whether it is knocking on doors, leafleting, praying, etc. You’re needed to serve God here in this church, in this community. Your role is just as important as everyone else’s. Be obedient and faithful.
“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” ” (Luke 5:8). Peter became aware of his own sinfulness. He recognised Jesus, not just as Master but as Lord. The closer we are to God, the more we realise our own sinfulness, the more we have a desire to serve him. Peter could have been so preoccupied with the wealth of fish, but he was no longer focused on fish, but on the new Lord of his life – Jesus. He now realised who Jesus was and where he stood in that relationship. Have we got a sense of the presence of God, so that everything else become insignificant and Jesus become central?
Then Jesus says something unusual to Peter, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” (Luke 5:10). What fear had Jesus detected in Peter? Possibly the fear of not having enough money to pay the bills if he gave up his job to follow Jesus. Possibly not being good enough for Jesus, that his sins precluded him from future service? What fears do you have? You may have fears and failures but Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid”. If you repent, Jesus can take all your fears and failures and restore you and commission you. What will you do today- will you answer Jesus’ call, make Him the Lord of your life?
Our New Year’s Day service was led by Ian Middlemist, who preached from John Chapter 13:34- Chapter 14:27. Ian began asking us by saying, ‘Where are we going? Are we heading in the right direction?’. We’ve become very emotionally attached to our homes, which is quite normal, but have we become too attached to the things of this world. In John 14, the disciples were attached to earthly things. Jesus teaches them that he is going and wants them to come with him.
Ian raised three points:
- Where are you coming from?
- Do you want to go?
- How are you going to get there?
Where are you going from?
In John 12:27 Jesus is troubled, He says: “Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” Jesus wasn’t asking for an escape route. He came to glorify God. On the night of all nights, when He needed comfort, He comforted His friends, the disciples, who were confused. His disciples had accepted Jesus, they loved Him, but then comes the total confusion of Jesus’ death. They didn’t want things to come to an end. Jesus tells them He is going to die. It’s very difficult to face change. Are you happy?
In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the way.” Why must there be a way? Why can’t we just stay where we are? Why aren’t we there by nature? Why don’t people know God naturally? Some people may have looked at Christianity and thought it to be too stressful – turning your back on things you love. The Bible tells us a true and honest assessment of our condition; it is an unpleasant sight to behold – we are unclean and we live in a filthy world. We need to wake up to it, we need to be made clean.
Do you want to go?
You can’t stay in the condition you live in. The penalty of sin will fall away to death itself, under God’s just judgement. Our lives are so short. We need to prepare to have a fixed abode in heaven. Jesus prepares his disciples for the glory to come. You have to uproot. That is the call of the gospel. We need to understand the seriousness of our situation. Our homes are fading, but we are involved in a rescue effort. There is something awaiting everyone, greater than our present dwelling. Look upwards!
In John 11:48 we read of spiritual blindness. The Jews are all in a panic because they think Jesus will lead people astray, the Roman authorities will come and take their place and nation. They were fixed on their spot of land and didn’t want it taken away. Jesus says he is going to prepare a place for the disciples – their homes in heaven. Do you want to go there? Heaven is the place where the Father dwells and He is the One we need to know and have His eternal safety and security. Jesus calls us out of the mess of our lives, and into our mansions in the sky. Look to Jesus, acknowledge there is a problem and place yourselves in the loving arms of Jesus Christ.
How are you going to get there?
In some ways every human being is looking for heaven, but what they don’t realise is it’s all about God. That’s when they have problems; they want God to serve them. Knowing God is glorious. Such low, sinful people as us, cannot reach the highest heaven. But God himself has made a way, Jesus is the way to reach God. Jesus prepares His disciples for His departure. It was always His plan that he was going. He came to go. He had to go to the cross and then He would provide the means of cleansing. Jesus is the way. We place ourselves in His care. Let Him take you to God, to the mansions above. Let Him lead you into His presence. The disciples followed Jesus apart from one who rejected Christ. In Acts, we are told the believers were called the followers of the way. Can this be said of us?
Our guest speaker this morning was Thomas Kitchen of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Llandrindod Wells, who preached on 2 Samuel 22:47-51.
What do you think of when you think of a rock? Do you think of a beach and playing in rock pools or perhaps is your mind drawn to something more adventurous such as rock climbing, caves or volcanoes? Perhaps you think of the rocks at the bottom of the garden where beetles and worms hide? Whatever we think, we each have a preconception about the word ‘rock.’ Here, in 2 Samuel, the author speaks of God as a rock. Job 18 refers to the rock that shaped the world.
Rocks have many important uses. We say ‘God is our rock.’ We may say this to encourage one another when we are feeling low, we may say it to those who don’t know God as an encouragement to know Him. What does ‘God is our rock’ actually mean?
There are three reasons why God is called a rock in the Bible:
- God is described as a rock because it is He who we are grounded upon. Salvation is the greatest blessing we have received. Because of Jesus’ blood we can now say, ‘On Jesus Christ, the solid rock, we stand.’
The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted. The rock of my salvation!’ (2 Samuel 22:47). This is a great assurance. Jesus has risen from the dead and is at the Father’s side and is praying and interceding for us. Because Jesus has saved us and bought us, He is our rock. He is the rock of my salvation. Not everyone can say that. The Parable of the wise man and the foolish man in Matthew 7 shows us two foundations: the rock and the sand. Jesus compares us to a wise man. What Jesus is saying is unbelievable. Even though He has done all the work and died for our sins, His Spirit now lives in us and we care called the wise men. He has brought us into the Kingdom. You cannot fall from grace if you are founded in the rock. His blessings will never fail.
Just because Jesus blesses us doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t bless Him. So often we overlook what He has done for us in our daily lives. But this passage tells us this is wrong. We are to praise Him more. He gives us the Spirit so we can praise Him. He never stops giving. We always have His salvation. Every day we are reminded in His Word what it cost. It is His blessings that will bring us safely home into glory. In Psalm 20 we read, ‘We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfil all your petitions. Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.’
- The second reason God is referred to as a rock is because the rock lifts us onto higher ground. ‘He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; you have delivered me from the violent man.’ (2 Samuel 22:49) God has delivered us from the power of the world. We have been lifted up against those who are against us. The powers of the world still affect us, we can still panic and worry. We are still in a fallen world and the powers of Satan are still at work, but we can’t be seriously hurt in any way. Satan knows that once we are saved we are saved but he will still do his very best to make us think we are not on the rock of Jesus Christ. We may feel the waves can affect us but it’s not true; Jesus says in the Parable of the Wise man and the Foolish man that the waves, floods and winds come but the home did not fall because it was founded on the rock. Jesus didn’t promise His followers a pain free life. The pains and troubles will frequently use all of our strength to drag us away but God’s strength is stronger than the waters that try to wash us away.
Why do the world’s temptations and desires seem to grab us more often than they should? Because we are not holding on to the rock enough! We let go, curiosity takes over. Christ won’t let go of us but we choose to free ourselves, to have a glance at the waters below. Why do we do this? The ways of the world will only make us panic. When we do, we then have the audacity to cry out to God, ‘Why?’ This is why the world troubles us more than it should. We are to put on a new man, but the old man is still there; we miss those lusts, the old desires. In such times we need to cry out to Him first, not after. This is one of the great benefits of prayer; God can give us blessings to reject the sin before it happens. God is our rock because He has put us on higher ground. Reach even higher with the footholds of the scripture, reach out to the Holy Spirit, reach out in prayer.
- Thirdly, a rock is immovable and dependable. God is the immovable rock that we can depend on. Our Lord Jesus Christ is deeper and more wholesome than anything the world can offer us. Isaiah 43:13 ‘Indeed before the day was, I am He; And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it’ No-one can find a way around God, He is all powerful, all knowing, everywhere. Satan is the strongest of forces that opposes God but he shall be cast out forever from God’s sight. God is permanent and secure. He is not only a strong God but a dependable God. He is willing and able to answer prayer when we need guidance to get through a particular trial.
What does this all mean to me right now? What do we do with this doctrine? The answers lie in verses 50-51.
‘Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name.’ (2 Samuel 22:50). Don’t keep the goodness to yourselves! Use all the resources at your disposal to tell others how God can be their rock. Don’t be shy or reserved about talking about the gospel. We can also be lazy and try to do the minimum a Christian can do in their life. We detach ourselves from the world in the entirely wrong way. We should want to tell others about the gospel. It’s shameful if we don’t. We should continue to climb even higher. The closer we are to Him, the closer we are to expressing Him.
‘He is the tower of salvation to His king, and shows mercy to His anointed, to David and his descendants forevermore.’ (2 Samuel 22:51). God shows mercy to His anointed forevermore.
The hymn of John Wilbur Chapman reads:
Jesus! What a friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Saviour, makes me whole.
Chorus: Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
Hallelujah! What a friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
Jesus! What a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my strength, my victory wins.
Jesus! What a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my comfort, helps my soul.
Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.
He is your God. He is your rock. This reminds us of where we stand, how we stand and how long we will stand. God is never failing, never sinking or shifting. What a comfort that is to us!
Mike Reeves gave an uplifting message at the EMW Aber Conference on Wednesday 10th August. Preaching on ‘The Lord’s Desire’ from Isaiah 61:10 to 62:5 we learnt that this song sings out one of the great anthems of the Bible – of Christ the Bridegroom who comes to win and love His Bride, His most precious treasure. We were challenged to go forth as brightness into a world of darkness, rejoicing as He rejoices over us.https://youtu.be/n6LeA71OFkw
On the 11th August we listened to Mike Reeves speak on ‘God’s Transforming Glory’ as he preached from 2 Corinthians 3: 7-18. He challenged us to realise that what we look at transforms us. Look to Christ. He displays His glory in forgiving sinners. When Christians see the glory of Christ they blossom. Christ’s glory warms us, wakes us up, shines a light. Fix your gaze on Jesus, on the glory of Christ, and you will have a new passion, a desire to make Jesus known. https://youtu.be/ewKTYfL4sXg
Our morning service was led by Ian Middlemist who preached on John 4: 15-26, Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman.
The opening verses sought to show how this whole encounter seemed to be choreographed, controlled in some way. The Saviour seems to know more about the lady than He seems initially to let on. Everything that takes place in under control and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On the surface the woman seems to be using diversionary tactics. Jesus knew she had had five husbands, but she avoids the issue by changing the subject: ‘Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship,’ Jesus is in control of everything and does not allow the woman to divert the conversation. He sees her with absolute compassion and gentleness. The Saviour knows what He is doing in our lives. Sometimes our circumstances seem out of control but the Saviour knows what is happening.
Look at the progression of the argument:
verses 1-15: He shows her the living water
verses 16-19: He shows her the prophet
verses 20-24: The Saviour who makes true, just worship
verses 25-26: Jesus is indeed the Messiah.
From her perspective:
In verse 15 the woman sees the water is a gift. She didn’t understand the nature of the water the Saviour speaks of, yet she got the concept that if she wanted the water Jesus had to give it to her. In verse 10 Jesus mentioned it was a gift of God. She now asks for the water. She knew it needed to be given as a gift. Jesus now needs to show her two things: she is a sinner and Jesus is the Saviour of sinners. We need to realise that while the Saviour gives, it is a gift – we can bring nothing at all. Jesus is giving the water of life, we just need to be empty and have open hands.
Understanding the nature of the water. The woman must realise her true thirst. Jesus knows her past. Notice the time of day – the 6th hour, midday. It is not the time anyone would go to get water as it is the hottest time of the day. The woman is alone, possibly an outcast of society. It is a painful daily routine she longs to get over. It is right at this point of pain that Jesus meets with her. Jesus asks her to get her husband but there is no-one who will help her. Jesus is moving into her inner life – and that is what the Gospel must do for you. Behaviour and manners are important aspects but the Gospel is so much more interested in our inner life, our heart. Jesus is fascinated with us, what we fill our hours of the day with. The Word of God is cutting us open, exploring us, but not publicly – the woman is safe. Jesus is going to make her feel secure, to make her whole again, at peace, beautiful. Jesus is forcing her to deal with her inside. Her heart has been locked away for so many years. As we go deeper, the Father in heaven draws her, He is seeking her.
The conversation is then directed towards worship. Let’s be a prayerful people and ask that the Saviour does the same for us. Let’s pray that the searching light of the Gospel would search our life, grow in sanctification. Only Jesus Christ can give living water.
Worship. The woman wants to talk about worship but her she is focused on the location of worship, not worship itself. She has just been offered water that will last forever and forever but all she thinks about is the location of worship. This woman’s life has become a life built on externals – she is dead on the inside.
Are you putting the Saviour first or have we allowed other loves to take His place? The issue is not about where we worship but the direction of our worship. This woman found nothing in her husbands. Many people move in different directions, from church to church, from one person to another. Only drinking from the water of life will fill us. Let’s find our salvation in Him. Jesus showed the woman that the water wasn’t based on externals.
‘Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’ (Revelation 22: 17)
It was lovely to welcome so many visitors to our service this morning, when our guest speaker this morning was Lawrence Mitchell, who preached on John chapter 12, focusing on verse 34, “Who is the Son of Man?” This is a title used throughout the Scriptures, as well as the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. He is the Messiah of Israel and the world. He is the Son of God and we rejoice in that. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We believe in His deity, in the Trinity. In the previous chapter the Pharisees decided to put Him to death. The Council that met, the Sanhedrin, was made up of 71 mature men, yet they did not understand Jesus. They should have known and loved Him but it was the exact opposite. Jesus stood in their midst. They were afraid of their positions, of losing out. Throughout history many have tried to destroy the gospel, but it is an eternal gospel. When Paul stood before the Council he preached on the Resurrection; he was not afraid of offending them, he was willing to exalt and honour the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ was the source of the message that was preached and is preached.
Who is the Son of Man? Matthew tells us He was Lord of the Sabbath, the creator who is in complete control. Luke tells us He has come to seek and to save those who are lost. There was a day when we were lost, when we were outside the kingdom. We are lost without Christ. He gives us peace and wonderful blessings. In Mark’s gospel we find the Son of Man has power to forgive sins – no other religion has power to save and keep, only Jesus has power to save. We need to give all to Him, God requires all that we are. Turn to Him and trust in Him. He is the one that is coming back again. 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord I the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
What a hope, what a blessing we have!
Sins blotted out if we repent:
There is no good deed we need to do to accomplish Salvation, we just need to be a sinner and know our need of Jesus Christ. God chooses people such as us, He holds out His grace for us and calls to us to turn and receive His blessings. They are not just one off blessings, they continue on and on. Our sins are blotted out. This speaks of total annihilation (Revelation 3:5). Our names will be in the Book of Life for evermore. God no longer recognises sin in us, it has been blotted out, covered in the blood of Christ. It is costly; Jesus’ death was the most costly (Isaiah 43:25).
We need to turn away from sin. God doesn’t blot out everybody’s sin, there must be repentance. We remember our past sins, the evils committed against us and from us. The devil uses this to dishearten us. When we are filled with doubts caused by the devil, look again to the cross. This is why we come regularly to the Lord’s Table, to remember again His precious love towards us (Psalm 32).
Times of refreshing:
This world makes us weary. We have to be refreshed. God has promised us times of refreshment as we hear the Gospel. The Lord is the source of our refreshment. Turn to Him and then you can face tomorrow. Trust in Christ alone, start trusting in Him. Refreshment is the recovery of breath after exhaustion, it is also the cooling and relief from heat. It is the sense of relief that comes from the knowledge of removal of sin, the removal of guilt. It is spiritual refreshment. Rest in Him. Seek His refreshment.
There is no greater burden on the soul than the feeling of guilt. God has seen our failings and dealt with it entirely appropriately. Hold onto Christ to know His blessings, the times of refreshment. Although the Author of Life was killed, we are still called ‘brothers.’ The Gospel tells us we have total forgiveness.
Our Christmas morning service was led by Reverend Doctor Gareth Edwards who preached from Matthew 1:18-25 –the uniqueness of Christmas. It is both a mystery and a miracle; it is a mystery, not a secret, which confounds our minds. It is a miracle in that Jesus was not a mere baby who was naturally conceived but rather begotten by the Holy Spirit, the birth of a sinless man. No other event is as significant as the birth of Jesus. Here is the hope for all humanity.
The birth of Jesus is unique. Both Matthew and Luke emphasise the truth of the virgin birth. The virgin birth draws our attention to the uniqueness of Jesus’ birth. He is unique in being untarnished by sin, His birth was like no other. Whenever a child is born there is great excitement. In the virgin birth God the Son became a man. We celebrate, we rejoice in the virgin birth.
Matthew tells us Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. It is a great mystery how humanity and divinity can be united in one person. He is fully man and fully God, so utterly unique. It is essential that His uniqueness being the God Man provides our salvation. The just wrath of God requires punishment of sin. Who could bear such eternal punishment on our behalf? No-one but the almighty Himself. Who could take responsibility for our sin? It had to be a man who represented man. An angel or other being could not stand in our place. It had to be a perfect man, a man without sin to be a sacrifice on our behalf. In becoming a man the Son of Man identified with us and became our representative. Adam was our first representative, our federal head. But when he fell in sin, we all fell in sin with him. He brought death. But God sent a new federal head, one without sin yet who paid the penalty of sin. He brings us salvation and freedom from sin. He paid our debt.
For the world, Jesus’ birth was an unknown event, yet it shaped the whole of history. The real cause for celebrating Christmas is God sent Jesus to be our Saviour. The world celebrates with no understanding of the uniqueness of the birth of Jesus, its celebrations are empty.
It was our joy to share in Jeremy’s and Megan’s wedding. We had a personal involvement. Through Grace, Christians know Jesus personally. This is the reason for our rejoicing.