December 18th 2022: Gaius Douglas

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“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.”

Isaiah 55:6

Some say that this is no Christmas verse, but I tell you, every verse of the Bible is a Christmas verse. The true message of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate God’s gift to the world, God’s gift to you and me. We can never truly celebrate His birth unless we know Him as our Saviour and our Lord. He is the most wonderful gift.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). God sent His most wonderful gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour? Are you rejoicing in Him? If so, you have something so precious, so holy! He is precious to me. This gift is so precious, more precious than any earthly gift because it is eternal.

Some people say Christians need to lighten up, to lay off and let them celebrate with family and friends, especially as we are experiencing hard times – the cost of living, heating. Tesco says they’re the joy of Christmas! Others say, ‘You Christians say God has given us freedom of choice, so we can choose whether we celebrate Jesus or not! Some say, ‘If God’s gift is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, we have 361 days to consider – leave us alone for the 4 days we celebrate Christmas. People haven’t got 361 days. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Today may be your last day on earth. Do you know Christ as your Saviour? What is important is knowing Him, receiving Him as your Saviour and Lord.

Christmas is all about love, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17). Are you saved this morning? He came to seek and save those who are lost.

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14). ‘Of the world!’ Believe that and receive it. Every man, every woman, every boy and every girl are accountable to God this morning. God left the heavens, His eternal throne, and came down into this world. He became man, He became sin for us, and He went to Calvary’s cross and there He died. He humbled Himself. He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. God now has exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every other name. At the name of Jesus, one day, every knee will bow.

Today is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the important day, not tomorrow. Today is the day you can receive the preciousness of the gift and receive Christ as your Saviour and Lord. Those of us who truly believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Saviour, love Christmas. I love Christmas! I look forward to it. It’s a time of giving and remembering God’s precious gift. It is the greatest gift you’re able to receive. When we’re giving gifts to each other, we are sharing of God’s bounty, remembering the greatest gift God has given us. ‘All good gifts around us’ He has given. The gift of God is God’s gift to us; He loves us and wants us to enjoy the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

We also have the gift of life. We are all breathing. That’s God’s good gift to you and me. You’re alive this morning. Are you thankful and appreciative? He has given you breath so you can sing His praises, so you can rejoice in Him and share His gladness with others. How ungrateful we are that we don’t always give Him thanks for it. How ungrateful we will be, even on Christmas Day – God willing, if our lives are spared – we have all these wonderful things around us, and we are not willing to give Him thanks for them.

He has invited mankind to, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6). He will not always be there. God has appointed a time for each of us to receive Him as Saviour and Lord. He is coming again. There will come a time when it is too late. He calls, He pleads, He encourages us. He shares His gift with us. We celebrate Christmas after Christmas after Christmas – and we still say no to Him. We are still rejecting Him.

“Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
25 Because you disdained all my counsel,
And would have none of my rebuke,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity
 (Proverbs 1:24-26a)

Christmas is a happy time but also a serious time. God is reminding us of the preciousness of His gift. He is asking you to seek Him, but if you refuse Him, The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). My dear friends, there are two sides to the story: God has given us a gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, but if you refuse this gift, you have chosen death, you have rejected His Son. “The wages of sin is death.” We were born in sin, heading for a lost eternity. God came into this world through the person of His Son. He has shared His love with us. By rejecting Him He says, the same God who came to save is the same God who will judge. He will cast those who refuse Him into the lake of fire.

He has invited us. He wants us to come to Him. This Christmas, He wants you to appreciate His kindness, His truth, His love. But if your refuse Him, He will reject you. He knows everything you are experiencing in your life. As a man He lived in Nazareth. He had a family, went to a wedding, ate with Publicans and sinners, healed people, was homeless, rejected – even by his brothers. So don’t say He doesn’t know what we’re going through.

He loves us with such an everlasting love. God sent Him as our Saviour. You can enjoy the Christ of Christmas only if the Christ of Christmas is in your heart. You can enjoy Christmas! Many people don’t enjoy the Christ of Christmas. There is an opportunity this Christmas. God wants you to enjoy it, to enjoy His Son.

You can have a Christ-centred Christmas or a self-centred Christmas. Which will it be? One of the sad things is, for many people, this is their last Christmas. But if you know Christ as your Saviour you have an eternity to live with Him. You will be with Christ, which is far better. You can either receive Him this Christmas or reject Him. “The wages of sin is death.” Being separated from God. When He conquered sin, hell and death, we read that the Lord Jesus Christ say, ‘Because I live, you will also live forever.’ My dear friends, I’m rejoicing in the fact that I will never die. If you know Christ as your Saviour, you can rejoice. It is Christmas every day of my life because He is the Christ in Christmas. He is the Christ of Christmas. Regardless of what people may say, without Christ there is no Christmas. May God bless you.

December 25th 2019: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlemist -Oct18“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).

We see briefly the overall glorious theme of God’s love displayed – Jesus Christ came to reveal God’s love for sinners. Consider the purpose of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; He came into the world to show God’s love for sinners. John 3:16 is very famous. Maybe we no longer find this verse astonishing. It is a remarkable verse, revealing an amazing truth – the greatest present we could ever receive! As we eat our Christmas dinners today, take delight in this. All the sensory pleasures we receive today can be overwhelming but whilst we have all of this, remember to take delight and joy in the truth of God’s love and how shocking and glorious it is!

John 3:16 makes a surprising claim; God loves the world. This is shocking. The Maker of heaven and earth loves the world. He is self-sufficient, He needs no-one. He is holy, the holy one who cannot look upon sin. “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors  and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13) His desires are always right. His affections are never mis-placed. How then can this holy God love this broken, sinful world that gives to Him nothing?

Our God clearly loves the creation in a general way because it exists because of God’s providence and sovereign power, He preserves the world. He provides for it, upholds it by His power. By His word it was brought into being, corrupted by us. But it will not be left to decay. His plan is not for it to crumble and fade by global warming or nuclear disaster. It will end when He decides to create a new heaven and a new earth, when the Lord Jesus comes. His plan is to make it new and fresh, filled with life. Bodies that have been decayed in the ground will be raised on that day when Jesus returns.

Heaven will receive Jesus Christ on that day (Acts 3:21). To John, the word ‘world’ represents human inhabitants of the earth, the human race. We are all one, one in that we are rebels and idolaters to the Creator who made us. We take what He has given and reject Him. We are the ungrateful child. Outrageous! That’s the world – hardly an object of God’s desire, of God’s love. It makes little sense. Surely God would not love us – that would make sense – to get rid of us, a terrible mistake. But God does not make mistakes. God has chosen to love this broken, sinful world. The word ‘world’ is used to show God’s mystery. It is not limited to a race or time. God’s love is not speaking of universal salvation. The Father has chosen a people for Himself – of all background (John 6:37). God loves sinners. The holy God loves sinners.

God has provided a way of salvation for the people of this world, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Some of you may be disappointed today with your Christmas gifts. You will all say thank you, even if your heart is sinking at the frying pan you may receive! The wrong gift can be very disappointing. The one gift you will not be disappointed with is God’s love – the perfect gift. Jesus came into the world. There is God’s love! Jesus’ coming into the world is irrefutable evidence of God’s love for us. Our Western world’s definition of love is bankrupt – just listen to Radio 1 and find out how empty the word ‘love’ is today.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers,” (1 John 3:16). Christ’s coming to die is the proof of God’s love. His birth and death are utterly linked. His sacrificial love is a love that will do anything, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4:10). The only begotten Son is the object of God’s eternal affection. Two times during Christ’s public ministry everybody heard the Father speak, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5). Who can fathom the love the Father has for the Son? Not even His brothers believed in Him. God’s love is, perfect, deep, unchanging.

God sent His Son for us, for you and me. Christ came to earth to show us the riches of God’s love. It really is good news! It is eternal love. The Father sent the Son to earth, the earth where He would be condemned to death. Christmas confirms to us that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.

October 28th 2018: Paul David

Paul David - April 18For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 
John 3:16

The whole gospel is encapsulated in this one sentence. Our Lord here is speaking to Nicodemus, teaching him about being born again. He has demonstrated His qualification to speak on this topic. His death will allow people to be save.

God: We believe in one God who is a Trinity of three persons; something which is way beyond our comprehension. God is all powerful, infinitely holy and just. The word God can be used to refer to one of the Trinity or the Trinity. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). The Word is our Lord Jesus Christ. The verse tells us He was with God and was God. God in John 3:16 refers to God the Father. More than that, it is God the Father who sends the Son, the Saviour of the world. God is high and lifted up, His ways are not our ways. He is set apart. He has no sin. Evil is abhorrent to God the Father. Yet, He loved the world.

Love: When we read this verse we can stand in awe and amazement. Love always seeks the good. ‘God so loved the world For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ The tense of the word shows God’s love stretched from eternity. It is love set upon those who did not deserve it, a sacrificial love. Here our thoughts are directed to the Father who sent His only begotten Son. ‘Believe me that I am the Father and the Father is in Me.’ (John 14:11). There is no closer relationship, yet the Father sent His Son into the world to suffer, to have His wrath poured out on Him. When our Lord was on the cross, He diverted God’s anger against us. We can’t imagine the grief of the Father.

Who or what did God love? The world. The world can have a number of different meanings in scripture. Here it refers to humans, the race who denied His existence, who rebelled (Romans 3:10-19).

Perish: The world is in danger of perishing, of suffering everlasting punishment. God demonstrated His utmost mercy to us when He sent His Son into the world. The light has come into the world yet men love darkness not light. If we reject that offer of salvation we can expect nothing but condemnation (1 Thessalonians, Matthew 13, Mark 9). Hell is to be avoided at all cost.

Eternal life: Sharing fellowship with God, knowing peace which can be received now. It’s the possession of the believer here and now, and for eternity. Heaven (John 14, Luke 23, Revelation 21, 1 Peter 1, 1 Corinthians 2, Matthew 13, Psalm 73). Heaven is paradise, better than we are capable of imagining. There is no pain, no sorrow, no insecurity. What a contrast between perishing and having eternal life. Eternal life is for those who believe in the Son of God (John 14, Acts 4). There is no other way.

World: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ This demonstrates God’s love towards humanity. God offers you eternal life if you believe in the Son. (2 Peter 3). God’s special love in salvation is reserved for those who will accept the Son as their Lord. The only real division in this world is the ‘who-evers’ and the ‘not-evers.’ When the Lord Jesus Christ was sent by His Father He came willingly. He became human and was perfectly obedient to God’s law. He was and is perfect in everything. He knew joy, sadness and disappointment. He took that perfect, obedient life and gave it as a sacrifice on the cross. Those who are deserving of hell can be lifted up to heaven.

To believe I the Lord Jesus Christ is to completely put your trust in Jesus and turn away from sin, to repent. It is to turn from darkness towards the light. It is not to be undertaken lightly. It will change your life – what you do with your leisure, your relationship with family. Now is the day of salvation. Today, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16