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Archive for the 'Christmas 2019' Category

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Christmas 2019 30. Why I am a Christian!


The Apostle John, writing in 1 John 5:9-12 - "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Why Is It So?

A testimony is an assertion offering first-hand authentication of a fact. For the Christian Disciple, classically it is generally expressed as how they became a Christian Disciple.

But I think it is more than just how, and should expressly include why you are a Christian Disciple. I wonder what is your testimony about how you became a Christian Disciple? When was the last time you thanked our God for your testimony? Have you even thought about your testimony of how you became a Christian Disciple?

I am sure you have all heard kids in the supermarket yelling out "Why?" to their parents. We all have, I am sure, questions we want to know the answer to. Why? The question I am often asked is "You are a Christian. Why is it so?"

My father, was and remained throughout his life a convinced agnostic and in the few conversations we had about religion and Christianity, he could never understand why it was, that I could not just admit that I would never know if God existed or not, far less a God who was personally interested in me. My reply as ever, was that the very question "Why is it so?" needed to be answered, in order for me to be satisfied.

Why I am a Christian?

Now I could say that at the age of 12, we moved to a town on the coast of Australia, and was invited along to a local youth group and several weeks later, gave my life to Christ and became a Christian. Of course that is partly true. I can't even claim to be a Christian because I was raised in a Christian country. Australia was and is probably the second most secular country on this planet. Sure Australia has its moral base grounded in historic Christianity, but for the latter part of its history, Australia has been thoroughly secular and non-religious. Even if I had been raised in a country such as England, with Christian parents, that would also, only be partly true and I could have rejected Christianity as many people do. The reason that I am a Christian is not because I chased God, but rather He chased me. Unknown to me at the time, God was chasing me and following my every path with the urgency of a lover after the beloved.

God had been pursuing me

This piece of poetic Scripture speaks about the love that God has for his people, and the energy He puts in to calling his people to Himself. He is always reaching out, for all to return to His arms. As for me, it wasn't until I was a 12 year old that I heard that I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Before that I didn't know I had to do anything with this Jesus. Jesus was only a curse word for me at the time. That or was just someone or something that the RE teachers bored me with at school.

We are primarily Christians, not because we come to church services or just happened to have been born in a supposedly Christian country. We are primarily Christians, because God first chased and harried us into His arms. We are Christians, if you are one, because God first loved you. And as a tremendous lover, He beckons and calls people all the time to respond to His call, and back to Him. How does He chase us with His love?

God chases each person differently, just as each Christian testimony is different. Take for instance the Apostle Paul in Acts 8 & 9. God chased him through Paul's mind and his religious upbringing and education. Paul had known about God from his childhood. Paul was a righteous Pharisee who saw persecuting these ‘Christians' as his religious duty, so that he may somehow find favour with God. As Paul was gloating over the death of the martyr Stephen, God was pursuing Him, probably raising doubts in Paul's mind as to why Stephen would say at the point of death "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and forgive them for what they do" (Acts 7:54-60). Surely doubts must have been raised in Paul's mind as he approved of this death (Acts 8v1).

Paul was also wrestling with his conscience. Externally he was a righteous man, a Pharisee of Pharisees. Yet when he internally examined himself and his heart, he found himself failing regarding covetousness, which is the last of the Ten Commandments. Then finally, Jesus himself makes a sudden and dramatic appearance before Paul and confronts him directly, "Why are you kicking against me? Why are you rejecting my advances?" (Acts 9) Paul's conversion to Christianity is often described as being sudden. But the only thing sudden about his conversion was this climatic appearance of Jesus.

Just as that was true of Paul, it is true of me, just as it is true of all those who profess to call themselves a Christian Disciple. I am a Christian Disciple not because of anything I have done, but rather because He first chased me, and because He first loved me. Jesus himself said "I came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).

If you are a Christian today, it is not because of anything you have done. It is because of the events at Christmas and Easter that you are a Christian, when God entered this world as a human baby and took all the necessary steps so that all people could have the choice to be His people or not. In my more smug moments I used to congratulate myself for being a Christian. How proud I was that I, was a Christian and that God was a jolly lucky God that I had decided to follow Him. It was during one of my less self-deluded moments, that I examined myself and I found God pricking my conscience and correcting me, and I read the New Testament "For the Son of Man came, not to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

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Christmas 2019

29. Jesus’ Relationship With The Christian

So you have just become a Christian, been a Christian for a while, or are just interested in what this relationship with Jesus business is all about. I am sure you are aware that what you believe, affects what you do. Children behave like children, because that is what they are. Adults behave like adults, because that is who they are. So by remembering who we are as Christians, then we should also therefore behave like followers of Jesus Christ.

a. You died with Jesus. Jesus not only died for you, but you have died with him. The reason for this is that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross also broke sin’s power over you. You are in Christ and one with Christ. Baptism, is a strong act of identification of this because it symbolizes your death with Jesus.

b. You are raised with Jesus. It is an exciting fact that you are raised with him and you rule with him, seated at the right hand of the Father because of your strong identification with him. Isn’t that amazing! It is a WOW of being a Christian! Because Jesus rose from the dead, which is an historical fact, his followers are raised with Him!

c. You live with Jesus. If you are a Christian, Jesus is to be your life and your eternal life is Jesus Christ. You are to be dead to sin, yet alive to Christ. (Those last 3 points are all found in Romans 6:1–14.)

d. You are hidden with Jesus. You belong to Jesus Christ and you no longer belong to this world! That is not to say you are to neglect your earthly duties and responsibilities, but your motives and strengths are to come from Him, and him alone.

e. You will be glorified with Jesus. When Jesus Christ comes again, you will see him face to face, and he will take you home to eternal glory. When Christ is revealed in glory, you too will be revealed in glory. One day the full extent of this glory will be revealed! (The last 2 points are both found in Colossians 3:1-4).

What does all of this mean? It means that you are to stop being disobedient to God, which means to stop sinning in activity and in attitude. If you remember who you are in Jesus Christ, this will help you be an overcomer of sin and temptation!

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to as we finalise our Christmas series 2019, where I reveal why I am a Christian.

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Christmas 2019

28. How To Be Assured You Are A Christian

Now that you are a Christian, (if you are one), there may well be times when you doubt if you are God’s child. For no clear reason you don’t feel saved. But being a Christian is not to be based on emotional feelings but rather the clear and authoritative promise of God. God the Father has promised you salvation and given you his Spirit. He has promised to accept everybody who trusts in Jesus. God keeps his promises and he can be trusted.

This means you have the right to enter Heaven one day, and that he will work out all things for your good here on earth as you live a life worthy of one who is his child.

Jesus, the Son of God, promised you a life of abundance here on earth and a future in eternity! This is called ‘eternal life’ and it is a life of quality not only for your future home in heaven, but for your present home on earth. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven where he continually prays for us. We may indeed struggle here on earth but our future is secure. Our present life is in him and therefore of a quite different quality.
As you became a follower of Jesus, a Christian Disciple, God started living within you! You became a part of the universal church of Jesus Christ. This means that your faith and belief are now firmly anchored in a God of mercy and love! This is despite sometimes not feeling particularly spiritual or special.

When you became a follower of Jesus, a Christian (if you are one) you experienced the deep joy of a quiet inner confidence that only comes from the Spirit. Paul experienced this when he found Himself in prison (Philippians 4) and he was able to draw on the help of his fellow believers. We can do that too in our own circumstances!

Perhaps the greatest testimony of you having become a Christian, a child of the living God, is seeing how your life has changed! You didn’t need to change a thing to become a Christian except the direction in which you were heading. Look back and see how you have changed and been transformed! This is the greatest evidence that you have, of being an assured Christian Disciple.

If you want to become a Christian, the podcast yesterday, reveals how you can do just that and become a member of God’s family!!

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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Christmas 2019 27. How Do You Become A Christian?

If you want to turn to God there is no need for delay. God is ready and willing to take you as his own right now. You only have to ask him to forgive you and to give you help on the journey ahead which he will do by giving you the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a nurturing and personal partnership between God and yourself.

The act of deciding to change course in mid-life, is what is called conversion. You may also know it as being born again, or deciding to be a Christian. When you place your faith in Jesus, becoming utterly dependent upon Him, you turn to God. That means that you have changed your intentions in the way you are going to live in future.

However once you have made that decision, you leave behind your spiritual isolation and rebellion against him. As you live each day, becoming more involved with Jesus day by day, you will discover you are changing. You will find yourself doing things that please Jesus and developing your relationship with him. How is that relations developed

Until you enter into a personal relationship with God, sin (all that which alienates you from God), controls your rebellion against him. This sin is seen in your attitudes and your activities. God asks you to accept his management and guidance of your life. When you do that, God’s point of view and his strength become your point of view and your source of strength. You turn your mind, will and heart to him for all you do.

If you want to become a Christian there are three simple steps to take:

  • Admit that you have done wrong against God and his ways and turn away from those attitudes.
  • Believe and trust in Jesus as your Saviour from the consequences of the anger of God towards you and your tendency to sin. Call on Him, receive, trust, obey and worship Him, recognizing him for who he is and what he has done.
  • Accept the Holy Spirit of God into your life as the major motivating force for what you do. Once sin has been confessed, Jesus is believed in and trusted as Saviour and the Holy Spirit has entered your life, then you are a Christian.

All these things happen together instantly as you turn to God, being ready to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus! More about this in Part 7 tomorrow.

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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Christmas 2019 26. A Good Moral Teacher?

Today we have another question? Was Jesus Christ simply a good moral teacher, and nothing more? It is often a statement often associated with Jesus Christ, that he was simply a good moral teacher. Nothing more. Nothing less. This thinking is also untenable and unworkable. How so? We start by asking ourselves, if Jesus’ teaching reflects a good way to live, and if they do, what did he teach?

Jesus’ moral code, revolving around the part of the Bible we call the Old Testament, can be summarized as “do to others, what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). Some people refer to this as the “Golden Rule“.

However, Jesus with greater insight went further than anybody else. He goes on to say that it is not only the outward actions of a person that makes them morally good, it is also the internal attitude behind it (Matthew 15:17–20).

People often think Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is the most wonderful teaching and therefore think Jesus was a great teacher (Matthew 5-7). But they have not understood what he was saying, and why he said it.

Therefore, while this may indeed be the best-known teaching of Jesus, it is quite possibly also the most misunderstood. It is most certainly the least obeyed of all his teaching. Again, how is that so?

Quite often today Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is seen as mostly a call not to react violently even when faced with direct provocation. However this was never Jesus intention. It was never meant to be a group of general guidelines for our comfort to wallow in. Nor was it designed to give us boundless joy in how good we are being! Upon reading this teaching of Jesus, we see that Jesus’ original intention for this teaching was that it was to reflect the values, standards and priorities of God’s Kingdom. This is what Jesus was talking about when he gave the “Sermon on the Mount”.

Certainly Jesus was a good moral teacher! Moreover, was he simply a good moral teacher or was he more than this simple claim? To assert that Jesus was merely a good moral teacher, nothing more and nothing less, is a foolish thing to think or express. Nobody could do or say the things that Jesus did, and not be who he said and showed he was: Almighty God.

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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Christmas 2019 25. Why Would God Become Human?

A natural question now follows. Why would God become human? God Himself has taken on the responsibility for our sins. Jesus when he died on the cross bore our sins. Although he was sinless, he therefore became sin for us. By doing this, we are drawn to him in a personal way. God has shown that he loves us and wants us in a relationship with himself.

God is one and therefore there could only be one incarnation - that is God taking on a human form – fully God and fully human. By doing away with the incarnation, could God’s salvation plan be fulfilled? No way! If Jesus was not fully God, then he would be part of the problem and therefore need to be redeemed himself! That would not work as there then would be no possibility of redeeming humanity so that they could have relationship and fellowship with God.

God Himself has bridged the gap between the supernatural and the natural, the infinite and the finite. God did this to show humanity what he is like. Jesus as God in person gives us a focal point to respond to. God does not force people to love Him, for that would not be love. His love is compelling but it is not coercive. God does invite all into a dynamic relationship with him. Clarification can be seen through reading the Bible.  For example, Jesus, the Son of God came as a man to:

  • humble Himself (Philippians 2:8)
  • reveal God the Father (John 1:18, 14:9)
  • become our advocate before God (1 John 2:1)
  • destroy satan’s work (Hebrews 2:14, 1 John 3:8)
  • give an example of a perfect life (1 Peter 2:21)
  • prepare for creation’s redemption (1 John 2:2)


We also know Jesus’ full glory was hidden during his time on earth (John 17:6) and that he lived on the resources of his Father (John 5:19-20 & 30, 14:10). Jesus emptied Himself (Philippians 2:5-7) and was made like us (Philippians 2:7) when he became human (John 1:4).

If Jesus Christ was not fully God and fully human, then he would be part of the problem. Therefore he would need to be redeemed himself! Simply put, that is untenable and unworkable! Jesus whilst being fully God, didn’t lose any of his divinity when he became human. Instead Jesus Christ gained humanity and we call this divine and human nature unity - a ‘hypostatic union‘.

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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Christmas 2019 24. Jesus - Fully Human

We looked very briefly yesterday about Jesus being fully God. Today we go further and investigate very briefly at Jesus being fully human. That Jesus was a man who existed is not really disputable. There are a large variety of documents from that period of time about Him, including many and various sources outside the Bible.

The primary historical documents about Him, the Bible, state Jesus Christ was born of a woman, which in itself tells us that before he was born he was nurtured and formed as any other male baby was and is. His genealogical line is given and he grew into maturity as any young Jewish boy did. These documents we know today as the Bible books Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

We know from these four ‘biographies’, or gospels, written about him, that in line with his humanity, Jesus exhibited normal human emotions. Emotions such as love, sorrow, joy, anger and anguish. Jesus ate and drank. He had a body and a soul. Jesus grew tired. He slept & perspired. He wept. Jesus died just as all mortal people do. Religiously, Jesus worshipped as a Jew.

It is quite clear that the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, considered Jesus to be human in the ordinary every day sense of the word. Particularly Matthew and John, who were two of Jesus’ closest friends. Jesus Christ was human in every way that we are – physically, mentally and emotionally. The only possible exception to this is that Jesus was sinless.

How do we know that for certain? Because if Jesus was not without sin, if he had sinned, he too would have been in need of a Saviour! God’s salvation plan for humanity would have been scuppered. Remember that is why Jesus Christ was sent – to fulfil and enact God’s salvation plan for humanity. It is the very clear testimony of all the New Testament writers that Jesus was the Saviour, and not in need of one Himself. So why does Jesus need to be fully human?

Firstly, so Jesus could align Himself with us by being our representative before God, so that his death could turn aside God’s anger at our sinfulness. Secondly so that Jesus can be in sympathy with us and pray for us. Thirdly, so Jesus could exhibit true and perfect humanity. Fourthly, so that as a consequence of his perfect humanity, Jesus is the perfect example for us to follow.

In Jesus Christ, the God-man, we see that God is a personal God. A God who wants to interact with us and communicate to us! WOW! Tomorrow we will go on to see the reason for God needing to become a human.

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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Christmas 2019 23. Jesus - Fully God

Yesterday we looked at what the name Jesus meant and how it was appropriate that he was called that. Today we are looking briefly at Jesus being fully God!

God’s salvation plan for humans’ involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave. However no person could be found who was eligible or capable enough to do this. So God stepped into human history, so that this victory could be achieved. This is what we celebrate at Christmas.

This God-man would be fully human, so as to live every feature of humanity, including suffering and death. This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so as to be big enough and powerful enough to defeat sin, death and the grave. A human could only die for their own sins. However God could die for the sins of all humanity. Jesus, being sinless, was this God-man, consisting as he did of two complete natures, the God nature and the human nature.

Throughout the Bible, Jesus is acknowledged as God. His good friend, John expressly calls Jesus, ‘the Word’ or God (John 1). Later on in John’s life, he states that Jesus was truly God and also eternal life! (1 John 5:20)

Jesus Himself claimed equality with God when he forgave people their sins (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:9; Luke 7:48). The Jewish rulers reckoned this was a God alone thing and dependant on the involvement of the temple authorities. They therefore accused Him, at least in their minds, of blasphemy against God!

During the questioning when Jesus was on trial for this supposed act of blasphemy, Jesus equated Himself with being God (Matthew 26:64). John, reports many times where Jesus used the ancient name of God. “I AM”. In reference to Himself. (John 6:35, 48 & 51; John 8:12; John 10:7-11; John 10:14-15; John 11:25; John 14:6 and John 15:1)

That Jesus is both human and divine is what makes Christianity unique amongst the religions of the world. It is why Jesus’ claims to be the only way to God, are true. Of course this is only a brief synopsis of what the Bible affirms about Jesus being fully God! Be encouraged to study this exciting topic for yourself!

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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Christmas 2019 22. What’s In A Name?

I wonder what your name means. Parents often name their children after the hopes and aspirations they have for that child. For example, I know somebody called Grace, and her nature is full of grace.

My name, David, means “beloved”. When my parents named me, it was meant to symbolize the love they had for me. Although when I put the cricket ball through the kitchen window or the time I crushed the vegetable patch whilst running after a football, I did not feel very beloved afterwards!

When Jesus was born, his name expressed the very reason he was born. His conception and birth were extraordinary at every level. Do you think that his parents ever gazed upon him and thought “How misnamed he is”! They did not, because they knew the very purpose for which he was born. Did Jesus ever think of how misnamed he was? Certainly not! For Jesus’ name means ‘the one who saves’ or ‘a rescuer’.
In light of this, Jesus knew his purpose and his mission (Luke 4:42-44). Jesus Christ’ whole birth, life and death were centered on saving all those who would follow him. He is the most talked about person in history. Almost everyone has an opinion about him. Jesus Christ was born to fulfill the promises God had made over many years. You can read them for yourself in the part of the Bible we call the Old Testament.

Jesus Christ came to reveal God as a Father, to die instead of us for the punishment we deserve, in order that he may stand before God on our behalf and also to show us what it means to live a holy and perfect life here on earth. The life of Jesus Christ was a life totally dedicated to obediently following God and revealing God to the world. Such was the impact of the person Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was not merely a man who received some special power. Jesus Christ was not some strange creation that was half man and half God, with his human nature somehow absorbed into the divine. Jesus Christ was much more than these suggestions! Let us go on to discover together much more about this most amazing of men!

That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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21. A Christmas Prayer Service


Today as part of our Christmas 2019 series, we have a prayer service where we offer to our God, prayers of the Church from history. Come, Church! Let's pray together!

1. Nativity Prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux

2. Nativity Prayer from the Orthodox Liturgy Feast of the Nativity

3. An advent prayer dating from the 10th century...

4. Christ, Redeemer of All

5. A Nativity Prayer of St. Augustine

6. The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.


That is all for today! Come back tomorrow to see more in our Christmas series 2019, looking at Jesus Christ, the promised one of God.

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