Monday, August 28, 2017

The Testimony of Rachel Sara Lindsey Hill




ME.... Rachel    

I was born on 21st june 1986 to a very loving Christian family. I am 1 of 4 kids and I'm 2nd eldest. I was taught about Jesus from the day I was born and brought up knowing right from wrong. I went to church twice every Sunday and Sunday school on a Sunday afternoon. I got saved at a young age during one of the Sunday school classes. Everything was great. I had Christian friends at school and they all knew I was a Christian. I didn't find it hard to "fit in" at all. I listened to lots of people's testimonies in church and always though to myself "I don't really have a good testimony"..never say that to God!
When I turned 18 I met Chrîs. We started going out and I quickly knew he would be my one. Life then began to change a bit, I didn't get into drink or drugs but I knew I wasn't following the Christian path. On 1st September 2005. We were both in a very bad car accident. Before we crashed we passed a church. The sign outside read "Prepare to meet Thu God". I will never forget that sign. We rolled down the dual carriageway 8 times and only by the Grace of God did we end up the correct way up in the only layby on the road. We both walked away from that accident. Even the police said it was a miracle. The sign continued to play in my mind. I knew I wasn't right with God

Chris and I got our first house when I turned 20 and I was engaged at 21. We planned to get married 3 years later in April 2010.
When I think about the "worst days of your Life" I can think of 4 days and 17th April 2010, exactly a week before my wedding was one of those days. My amazing uncle Wesley died from bowel cancer. He was only 45. That week was a blur between wedding and funeral plans.

After the wedding I fell pregnant quite quickly, just 11 weeks in though I suffered from hyperemesis (constant sickness which required hospital stays and if drips) I could be sick up to 30 times a day. This lasted my whole pregnancy right through until delivery. So i did not enjoy my pregnancy at all,However on my due date 4th Feb 2011 my beautiful wee man Micah entered the world after a bit if a traumatic labour and I was overjoyed and knew that being a mummy was my purpose in life. At just 3 days old Micah ended up back in hospital severely dehydrated and jaundice. I was feeding him myself and didn't know that I wasn't producing enough milk. I felt awful and so guilty as I watched doctors try to get a vein that wouldn't collapse. In the end they had to shave his hair and place a drip into his head. It was heartbteaking. Micah stayed in for 3 days under a purple light and being tube fed. He eventually was able to stomach enough milk to use a bottle and we finally got home

Micah was a brilliant baby, he ate and he slept. He was sleeping right through the night from 6 weeks so when Micah was 9months Chris and I decided we would try for another baby.

We we thrilled to learn we got pregnant again straight away.
At around 9 weeks One morning I woke to some slight bleeding.i phoned the hospital who told me to go on bed rest and not to worry as it wasn't too heavy but to come in if any change. The next day it was a little worse so we went to hospital where they did a scan and we saw baby and its heartbeat. Doctors told me to continue bed rest just incase. I felt a lot better after seeing baby was ok. The next morning would be my 2nd worst day of my life. On 16th Jan 2012 I woke to what looked like a massacre. We rushed to hospital, I had another scan... I waited for what seemed an eternity when the nurse turned to us and said I'm so sorry but there's no heartbeat. I knew I had lost my baby. I was heartbroken. A couple of weeks passed and after suffering infection and constant bleeding due to the miscarriage I just wanted it all to be over .

We knew we wanted to try again. The doctors advised waiting for one full cycle before trying again. We did so and again fell pregnant straight away. I was so anxious this time and didn't want anything to go wrong. We were booked into the early pregnant unit due to the previous miscarriage. I had an early scan where they found the sac. I went home happy knowing all was as it should be. We were booked in for another scan in a few weeks. The weeks went by and we went for our next scan but things were measuring behind our dates. We were told not to worry and to wait another 2 weeks and come back. They were 2 very long weeks. I prayed so much that everything would have caught up. We had another scan. This time there had been some change but not very much....i knew then that i had lost this baby too. We were sent away for another 2 week wait just to be sure. On the morning of that scan I just knew that there wouldn't have been any change. I was right. We were told that baby didn't make it either. I was asked if i wanted to miscarry naturally or of I wanted an operation to remove the "contents of pregnancy" I hated that term so much.. that was my baby! I opted for the d and c as I didn't want to suffer for weeks with the chance of infection being high too. This was the 3rd worst day of my life.. 26th June 2012 I went in for my d and c... I was heartbroken again.. We both were. We knew we wanted more children and spoke about trying again. This time I was absolutely petrified. I thought what if it happens again, could I cope with another loss? Maybe we are only meant to have Micah here... but I longed for another baby.

We got prayed for one night in church and the word given to us was that we would have another child and that I would havs a safe and happy delivery. We knew this was from God so we decided to try again. Again I got pregnant straight away! I was sent back to the early pregnancy unit and scanned every week until 13 weeks. This baby was growing well even though u was terrified. Again the hyperemesis hit me at 6 weeks and I was admitted to hospital for iv drips. I had it right up until delivery again. One night during my pregnancy I had a dream about Chris' granny Sadie who had passed away the year we got engaged. In the dream she was holding a baby boy he was mine and she called him Judah. I woke the next day and told Chris about it and told him that the baby would be Judah if it was a boy! Judah means praise.. on 31st may 2013 my due date I gave birth naturally to a baby boy at 8lb 12oz. My labour was perfect and so was my baby Judah. My gift from God my rainbow after my storm and born to give Him praise. I was so in love with my 2 boys.
A few months passed and Life became hard. There were many days I didn't get up out of bed, didn't talk to anyone, blocked and deleted everyone on my phone because I couldn't face talking. I pushed Chris and my family away and everyday was a struggle. Depression and anxiety had taken a very strong hold on my life. I was terrified to do anything, go anywhere. I was so scared that something would happen. I didn't want my family to go out incase something happened to them too. Everything was terrifying to me. When Judah was 5 months old I knew I needed help. Chris and mum made me a doctors appointment and I was quickly seen by the mental health team. I was in denial when the doctors told me I had depression.. I thought to myself "how on earth could a Christian be depressed?" I was totally ashamed and I didn't want anyone to know i had this label as I felt like a failure and that people would see the diagnosis and think I don't love my kids or my family when in fact they are my whole world. I now know that people never thought that of me. I felt like such a failure and an embarrassment so I hid away again in my depressive state. Not wanting anyone near me. Of course there were times when I wore the "happy mask" and when I did see people I never let them know how I really felt .

25th April 2014 was the 4th worst day of my life..the day after my 4 wedding anniversary I lost my beautiful granny to dementia. This hit me so so hard. I was already in a dark place and this was the tip of the iceberg. I was sent to cbt and tried lots of different drugs each with varying terrible side effects.

After a couple of years seeing psychiatrists and finally being out on my now stable medication etc I really wanted to help myself. My lovely friend Carol Mckee had been asking me to join her choir for over a year.. singing is my thing, my getaway. (Even now if in stressed or annoyed Chris will send me up to our room so I can just sing my heart out 😂) eventually I agreed to join Carol and Alive community choir. Even there I was able to hide my depression and anxiety and never told anyone why i didn't work and how I really felt ( i was permanently signed off work and lost my job in 2015 due to my mental health...again I felt like a failure) I just told everyone that I wanted to be a stay at home mummy (which is true too).
At choir i kept hearing people talk about this group GLOW (Giving Life opportunities To women) Maxine convinced me that it was something I should go along to as I would benefit from it... They all raved about it so much and how it changed their lives that i was really intrigued. I was willing at this point to try anything to help myself no matter how scary it seemed.
I went online and signed up!... I was terrified even sending the request because i knew I would have to speak to someone i didn't know.
Chara replied and asked me to come down to city life centre to fill in a few forms. Everything within me wanted to reply "nah you're ok it doesn't matter, just leave it." because of the anxiety but I prayed for strength because deep down I knew I needed to do something.
I had not been out alone in my car since the depression diagnosis in 2013 yet in April 2016 here I was driving to a new place alone to meet someone new.. I know that this was all God's strength because there is no way I could have done that alone.

I met the lovely Chara and instantly felt at ease and knew this personal development course was right for me at that time. Each week I made it my mission to drive there alone (with someone on the other end of the phone on speaker the whole way there and back...my wee comfort blanket) and each week I did it. I felt so proud. I became part of a close knit group and started to make friends. I was learning so much about stinking thinking and how it can hinder every part of your life. We were taught new ways to think positively. We were stripped right down and each of us shared our stories. It was SO nice to know I wasn't alone and other people thought how I thought.
My absolute turning point was the weeks we went to the Belfast activity centre. The first week we were challenged to try the climbing wall..however my goal was to simply get on the minibus. I wasn't in control of driving and that scared me so much. I had to put my trust in someone else. Gemma got us all there safely. I managed my goal of getting there. I thanked God on the spot. Out of nowhere I got the nerve to try the wall.. I expected to make a few steps up and that would have been totally fine. Another goal in itself .. instead with the encouragement of the girls and the strength from God I climbed right to the top! I felt like super woman!! The feeling stayed with me all week Until we returned again the BAC. Fear set in again when I saw what was planned this week. The leap of faith..there was no way I was doing that!! I got off the minibus (my goal of getting there achieved once again) and watched as some of the girls made it to the top of the pole. It was my turn.. I was shaking like a leaf. I thought I should give it a try. I climbed up, praying the whole way. I reached the top and realised that I had to have faith in the equipment to jump into thin air. The ledge was wobbling like mad. I prayed continually and then I did it. I jumped! I made it.

When Im reminded of my fears now I think back to that day and remember that I just have to have faith. With it i can overcome. Nothing bad happened to me because everything was in control. My promise verse from my baptism is Jer 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future" God has been constantly in control of my life. He has never left me. Even at my darkest he was there. He put people in my path to help and direct me. I'm
so thankful to Chara and to Glow for helping me when I needed it most. They are still helping and supporting me today.
It's not an easy ride now, there are still hard times but I'm getting there. Right now I'm just praying for direction. Even if I stumble I will get back up. God isn't finished with me yet.

Yes it's so hard to know that you're not alone when lots of things don't be spoken about. This is why I want to share my story. For a long time I was ashamed and embarrassed and there is simply no need to be. I'll still have my down days whixh aee srill as hard and there are times when even now I push people away but I'm learning and know one day I will overcome this all forever. But for now I just want people to know that they have me to speak to and I'll help anyway I can 💛💙

If you feel down, depressed or anxious please know you are not alone. It's nothing to be ashamed of. If you need to talk please pm or message me. I'm always here 💜💛

**THIS IS LONG AND IVE NEVER SHARED IT ALL BEFORE.**

Saturday, July 01, 2017

For Valour 100 year anniversay 1914-1918



   The 4th. August 2014 will mark the centenary of the
commencement of World War l , (The Great War),
which ended on the 11th of November 1918. The
two words used as the title at this tract, are to be
found inscribed on the highest award of the British
Armed Forces: The Victoria Cross.

   William Harold Coltman (known as Williain or
Bill) was born on the 17th fi November l891
in the village of Rangemore outside the town of
Burton on Trent. He attended the local village
school, becoming a gardener and was known
in his community as a humble rnan. Yet this small
(5ft.4”) unassuming man was later to be described
at the time as the rnosi highly decorated non-
cornrnissioned officer at the British Army. Among
the rnedals awarded to hirn were; Military Medal
and Bar/Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar
and the highest award at all the Victoria Cross,
each being awarded as a result of: outstanding
bravery, a disregard for personal satety and an
unquestioned devotion to duty.

   The rnost unusual aspect of these distinctions, is
that Bill Coltnan never tired a shot and never used
a gun. Why was this? As a Christian, he became
a ”Stretcher Beater" and while refusing to take life
he would rather go out into extremely dangerous
conditions to save lives, which he often did. As
a Christian, Bill believed one at the best known
Bible verses, John ch.3 v16: : For God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten Son that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life. The question might well
be asked, but how did Bill Coltman become a
Christian? \/\/as it by church attendance? \/\/as it
by reaching a high degree ot acceptance before
men? l\lo, it was by acknowledging that betore
God he was a sinner and that God had sent His
Son Jesus Christ, to die on a cross as a sacritice for
human sin, enabling guilty sinners, which by nature
we all are, to be forgiven. This supreme sacritice
now means, that by believing this to be true and
confessing ones personal sin and need ot Gods
salvation, the sinner will be Forgiven and have the
assurance at everlasting life in Heaven, after all
death is not a terminus only a junction.

   Bill continually put his life on the line in no mans’
land, often under intense fire trom the enemy, he
tended the wounded, often having to carry them
on his back to safety, all the time unsure at what
would befall him. While we must remember those
who fought and died tor the freedom we enjoy and
so offen take for granted, it does point us to the
Lord Jesus Christ who 0uit of |ove for guihy sinners
came horn heaven to earth so that  He would give
His We as a sacrifice. While  Bill Coltman has been
described as "N0 Qrdindry man”, and he certainly
was that,, he was only a man, but a man who placed
his faith end trust in the only One through whom
anyone who does what Bill did will be guarenteed
the greatest blessIng of  all —” Eternal Life”.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Qurán Testimony


WHY WRITE THIS TRACT?
The Qur’an says, “For those who conceal that which We
sent down of clear scriptures and admonitions, after we
have revealed them to the people in the Scripture; those
God will curse, and the cursers will curse.” (Sura ll:159) God
commands in the Bible saying: “Go, and tell this people,
Hear ye indeed ...Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like
a trumpet...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel
to every creature.” (Isaiah 6:9, 58:1; Mark 16:15) For this
reason, we feel the obligation to share with you the truths
of God.

THE MUSLlM'S BELIEF
The average Muslim believes that the Bible has been tampered
with; thus it was altered or changed. in this tract, it will be
proven to you that the Bible could never have been tampered
with. Both history and the Qur’an testify to that fact.

THE HISTORICAL PROOF
The historical proof lies in this question: Was the Bible changed
before or after Mohammed? Of course, the Bible could never
have been tampered with before the days of Mohammad;
otherwise, Mohammad would have attacked it. Instead,
Mohammed honored the Bible, and emphasized that it was the
Word of God. He admonished the world to read it, saying: “You
stand on nothing if you do not uphold the Torah and the
Gospel." {V:68}.

If you believe that the Bible was changed after the days of
Mohammed, then consider the following: At the time
Mohammed came, Christianity was spread throughout the
known world, with many denominations. The question arises:
For the benefit of which denomination was the Bible supposed
to have been altered? Was it for the benefit of the Catholics,
the Orthodox, or an independent denomination? Would the
denominations agree to the altering of the Bible in favor of one
special denomination? Was it possible for the Jewish sects to
submit to the altering of the Bible in favor of Christianity? The
answer is clear: That was impossible. If the traditional
Christians could alter the Bible, surely they would have
eliminated the verse which says: "Thou shalt not make unto
thee any graven image. " But they could not. Besides, by the
seventh century, there were thousands of Bibles circulated in
the churches of all denominations, in every tongue and in every
nation. There was no way they could have collected all those
copies of the Bible to alter them. Also, a large number of those
Bibles still exists in museums, and they are in complete
harmony. Therefore, anyone who claims that the Bible has
been tampered with is a person who ignorantly denies
historical facts and values.

THE QUR’AN TESTIMONY
The Qur’an testifies in many verses in favor of the Bible and its
infallibility. Let’s look at several:  But they have the Torah
wherein there is the Ordinance of God... and they have the
Torah wherein there is guidance and light by which the
prophets judge.” {V:43-48) "And we have given Moses the
Book, and followed up after him by messengers, and We gave
Jesus the Son of Mary clear scriptures, and We upheld Him
with the Holy Spirit... And We gave Him the gospel wherein
there is guidance and admonition unto the godly.” {ll:86) The
Qur'an also emphasized that the Bible is the Law of God,
which cannot be changed, when it said, “The Law of those
whom We sent before thee (i.e. before Mohammed), of
Messengers, and thou shalt not find altering to Our Law.”
{Surahs XV||:77, XXXlI|:62, VI:34, XXXV24 & 44)

The Qur'an describes the Bible as “Guidance and light unto the
world; a message and admonition unto the Godly; the
ordinance and the judgment of God; the Law of God; and the
Word of God.” How then can a man, whether they are a
Muslim or anyone else, dare oppose the very person of
God? When Muslims say that the Bible has been tampered
with, they are directiy accusing God of not being mighty
enough to preserve His Word and His Law. The question for
you is: Are you ready to stand before God on the Judgment
Day and charge Him with that accusation?

THE BIBLE MESSAGE
I repeat the Qur’an statement: You stand on nothing until
you uphold and believe the Bible message. The Bible tells
us that all people are sinners. “For all have sinned, and
come short of the glory of God,-” (Romans 3:23). This means
that every sinner is condemned to Hell. No man can save
himself, and even his good works are as filthy rags in God's
sight.

For this reason you are in need of a Saviour. The Bible
states, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his
name whosoever beiieveth in him shall receive remission of
sins.” (Acts 10:43)

God promises, "That if thou shait confess with thy mouth
the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God‘
hath raised him from the dead, thou shait be saved.”
(Romans 10:9) "But as many as received him, to them gave
he power to become the sons of God, even to them that
believe on his name:" (John 1:12) Now is the time for you to
accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. Please accept
Him today! '

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Where will you spend eternity? By Dr, R. A. Torrey



  Our subject is, Where will you spend eternity?
You will find the text John 16 v5,
"Whither goest thou?"Jesus  Christ was about to
leave this world, He told the disciples that He
was going, but none of them asked Him where
He was going. He reproved them for not asking.
Well He might, for the most important question
that can face any man when he comes to leave this
present world is "Where are you going?"

   First of all, Remember that thereis an eternity.
That is certain. We may try to shut our eyes to the
fact, but the fact stands. Look ahead - you may live
five years, ten years, twenty years. But then what?
The fifty years wll soon be gone.
Then what? ETERNITY!  On it styretches before us, on
and on and on.

   Never ending centuries will roll on, ages roll on,
but still eternity stretches on and on, It will stretch
on forever, never any nearer to an end.

   Oh, thank God for eternity! If I knew I were
to live a thousand years it would not satisfy me. I
would always be thinking of the end of that would
come some time. I an glad that as I look out into
the future I see an eternity that has absolutely no
end. There is an eternity.

   In the second place, REMEMBER YOU MUST
SPEND THAT ETERNITY SOMEWHERE. The
time will never come when you cease to exist.
You willbe somewhere throughout all eternity.

   Remember in the third place that the question
of WHERE YOU WILL SPEND ETERNITY is
vastly more important thatn the question of
WHERE YOU WILL SPENDYOUR PRESENT
 LIFE. Suppose I am taking a day'sjourney to a
place where i will spend forty years.Which is the
more important the comfort which I have as I
travel or the comfort which I have when I get
there? This life is a day's journey to an endless
eternity.

   The next point to conssider is that IT iS POSSIBLE
FOR US TO KNOW WHERE WE SHALL SPEND
ETERNITY. Jesus knew where He would spend eternity,
 He said, Í go...to him that sent me;"(John 16 v5). Paul
knew where he would spend
eternity. He said, "For me... to die is gain." (Philippians 1 v23).

  Just one more point. WHEREYOU SPEND ETERNITY WILL BE
DETERMINED BY WHAT YOU DO WITH JESUS CHRIST. If you
accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour you will
spend eternity with Him. If you reject Jesus Christ you
will spend away from Him. Listen to the sure Word of God,
'He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he
that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the
wrath of God abibeth on him.'

   Listen again,"This Lord Jesus shall be revealed from
heaven with his mighty angels, in flamingh fire taking
vengence on them that know not God, and that obey not the
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with
everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and
from the glory of his power;"(2Thessalonians 1 v7-9). Where we
spend eternity will bedetermined by what we do with Jesus Christ
in his present life.

   There is an eternity and we must spend that eternity
somewhere. The question of where you will spend
eternity is vastly important than the question of where
you will spend your present life. It is possible for us
to know where you will spend our eternity; it will
be in one of two places. Where we spend eternity will
be settled in this present life andc will be determined
by what you do with Jesus Christ. My Friend, where are
you going?

WHERE WILL YOU SPEND ETERNITY?



 

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS 1 Corinthians 1:17-18


THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS
Intro: We are living in a day when the message of the church is changing. Churches, and even whole denominations, are moving away from the old message of salvation through the blood of Jesus, and are moving toward a message of salvation through social activism and good works. The old bloody message of the cross is quickly being replaced by a bloodless message that lacks power and that lacks hope. Instead of hearing the devastating, but life changing news that men are sinners, people hear a message that tells them, "I'm OK and you're OK!"
     Well, I would like to take the same stand that the Apostle Paul took all those years ago. When he wrote to the church in Corinth, Paul reminded them that he had been called for one purpose and that purpose was to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That message was to be his focus and that message was to be his ministry.
     Today, I would like to restate the old, old message. I would like to remind everyone in this building about what happened that day when the Lord Jesus died on the cross at Calvary. Because, it was that event, which took place at Calvary 2,000 years ago that altered the future for every person who places their faith in the One Who died there that day.
     Please join me as we revisit the old, old story one more time. I would like to take you back to a little hill just outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem, where we will encounter an event that purchased and provided salvation for every person who receives that event as their very own. Let's return together to the cross of Calvary, and try to grasp The Message Of The Cross! As we do, please let the Lord speak to your heart and if you have never been saved, I invite you to come to Jesus today for salvation through His precious blood.

  I. THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS
A. A Strange Message - (That there should be life out of death. Ill. The Jews were looking for a Messiah Who would throw off the Roman yoke and give them liberty from their captors. They totally missed the fact that their Messiah would be One Who would suffer for the sins of the people, Isa. 53:1-3.) (Note: The message of the bloody cross of Jesus is still a strange message to those who have never experienced its life changing power. To them it is "foolishness". This word comes from the same word from which we get our word "Moron". To the lost the idea of trusting a suffering, bleeding man for salvation is moronic! Ill. 1 Cor. 1:21-24!)

B. A Shocking Message - (A brutal, awful death was experienced there on that cross.)The death Christ died on the cross was one of absolute torture. You and I cannot even begin to imagine all the pain that Jesus was forced to endure for our sakes. Allow me to refresh your mind this morning about the terrible price Jesus paid for you as He suffered for sin that day.
           1. Scourged - Matt. 27:26
           2. Beaten - Luke 22:63-64
           3. Spit upon - Matt. 27:30
           4. Beard Plucked from His Face -Isa. 50:6
           5. Mocked - Matt. 27:26-29
           6. Stripped Naked - Matt. 27:35
7. Nailed to the Cross - Matt. 27:38; John 20:25 (Ill. The ancient Assyrians were the first to "crucify" their victims. However, they did not nail them to cross, they merely impaled them on sharpened stakes and left them to die a horrible death that often took several days. When the Romans came along, they streamlined the method and added the little touch of actually nailing their victims to the cross. This method of death usually took several days as well.)
8. These truths don't even begin to scratch the surface of Jesus suffered for you and me, Isa. 52:14. His was a bitter cup, but one that He drank of willingly so that we might be saved, Luke 22:41-42.
(Note: To hear the details of Christ's death on the cross is disturbing! But, it is a necessary truth that mist be proclaimed and must be heard before there can be salvation. Friend, there is only one way for you to get to God and that is by the way of the cross. There is no salvation apart from faith in the work of Jesus on Calvary!)
C. A Simple Message - (Ill. Not clouded by demands and details, but delivered in simplicity and clarity.) One of the problems with the modern church is that we have tried to attach too many conditions to salvation. However, the Bible is clear when it tells us that the way to be saved is for the sinner to accept by faith what the Bible teaches about Jesus and His atoning death on the cross, Rom. 10:9-10. This is what the preaching of the cross is all about! It is not about you quitting your sins! It is about you coming to Jesus by faith! It's not about turning over a new leaf, it's about placing your faith in Jesus and Him alone for salvation!


 II. THE PURPOSE OF THE CROSS
A. About Making A Statement - Since way back in the Old Testament, the Lord has been telling me of His love for them, Deut. 7:7-8; Jer. 31:3. However, in Christ's death on the cross, God was able to declare boldly, for all to see, His boundless, matchless love for the lost of this world.(Rom. 5:6-8) The cross is God's statement of love to the world - John 15:13!
B. About Providing Salvation - The Bible, tells us that there is no other way to cleanse sin, but through the sacrifice of an innocent one in the of the guilty one, Heb. 9:22. This is seen all the way back in the beginning when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 3:21. This same line of thought continues all the way through the days of the Tabernacle and the Temple. There, sin was atoned for by the blood of sheep, bulls and goats, but it was never taken away, Heb. 10:4; Heb. 10:10-11. However, the Lord Jesus went to the cross and died for the sins of humanity. When He did, His death on the cross forever settled the sin debt of man, Heb. 10:12-14; Heb. 9:24-28! It is clear yet? If not, then listen to these two precious passages of Scripture, Rev. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:18-19. (Note: By the way, the word "saved" in this verse means, "to keep safe and sound, to rescue from all harm and danger; from destruction and from perishing!" Sounds to me like when a person comes to Jesus by faith and gets saved, it's a done deal! That person does not need to fear losing his salvation, John 10:28!)
C. About Defeating Satan - Ever since the Lucifer sinned and became the devil, he has been in the business of trying to hinder the work of God. He loves nothing better than keeping souls in bondage and seeing them condemned to Hell, Eph. 2:1-3. But, when Jesus went to the cross, I am of the opinion that the devil thought he had won the victory that day. I am sure he rejoiced when Jesus cried out, "It is finished!" But, what the devil did not know that day was that the Lord Jesus wasn't planning to stay dead! Maybe the devil should have listened closer and he would have understood that Jesus did not say, "I am finished!" He said "It is finished!" You see, when Jesus died on the cross, He did not die to stay dead, but He rose from the dead three days later and nailed old slew foot's coffin lid shut! The Bible tells us that the victory over the devil is found in the blood of the Lamb, Rev. 12:11. (Note: Satan is defeated! He may roar like a ferocious lion and he may try to keep you from God, 1 Pet. 5:8, but he has been defeated by the power of God and you do not have to remain his prisoner this morning! There is power in the blood of Jesus to set you free!)

III. THE POWER OF THE CROSS
(Ill. When the power of the cross is appropriated, three great and wonderful things take place. Notice what they are:)
A. Sin Dies - When a person places his/her faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, that person is forever changed! The chains of sin are broken, Rom. 6:14, and they are made into a new creature, 2 Cor. 5:17. Now, the new born believer does not have to live his life in bondage to sin, Rom. 6:6! (Ill. The blood has the power the change every life touched by it! There really is wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb!)
B. Hell Is Defeated - No blood washed, blood bought individual will ever experience the flames and fires of Hell! One of the most precious verses in the Bible pertaining to this subject is found in John 5:24. There, the Bible tells us that we will never come into condemnation! Romans 8:1 confirms this for us! Thank God, no child of God will ever have to go to Hell, Satan will not get his wish! That ought to cause us to rejoice this morning!
C. Heaven Is Delivered - The blood is the key that unlocks the gates of glory! When the blood is applied, the child of God becomes instantly destined for an eternity in Heaven with the Lord! That is His promise to every believer, John 14:1-3. And, there is only one way to get to that glorious place, John 3:3; 7.
Conc: When evangelist John Wesley was returning home from a service one night, he was robbed. The thief, however, found his victim to have only a little money and some Christian literature. As the bandit was leaving, Wesley called out, "Stop! I have something more to give you." The surprised robber paused. "My friend," said Wesley, "you may live to regret this sort of life. If you ever do, here's something to remember: 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!'" The thief hurried away, and Wesley prayed that his words might bear fruit. Years later, Wesley was greeting people after a Sunday service when he was approached by a stranger. What a surprise to learn that this visitor, now a believer in Christ as a successful businessman, was the one who had robbed him years before! "I owe it all to you," said the transformed man. "Oh no, my friend," Wesley exclaimed, "not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin!"
     Has the blood been applied to your life? Is your name written down in Heaven? Is your faith in Jesus and in Him alone?
     If you need to come to Jesus for salvation this morning, this altar is open! If you need to come and get you walk with God straightened out, this altar is open. You come while the Lord is dealing with your heart today!

Monday, February 20, 2017

What is the GOSPEL message?


 

The word gospel means “good news” and is explained by the following six key truths of the GOSPEL Journey.

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

In these two chapters God creates all of the universe and everything in it (Genesis 1:1), including the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve with purpose. He called them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) and fill the earth with their offspring. He gave them the mission of taking care of the earth and tending the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15.)
God made them to be in complete fellowship with Him and with each other. Their nakedness (Genesis 2:25) represented the fact that they had no sin, therefore no shame, therefore nothing to hide before God or each other. They regularly communed with God in the garden and had sheer bliss, pure happiness and unadulterated joy. It was during this time that they were living everyday as God intended, in right relationship with each other, God and His creation. The only command God gave to them was not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In the same way God made us to be in fellowship with Him. His original plan was that you and I were in absolute and perfect relationship with Him and with each other in total unity. God created us to be in harmony with all of heaven and all of earth. But that plan was disrupted by one evil act thousands and thousands of years ago.

Our sins separate us from God. (Genesis 3)

When Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6), and thereby sinned, they immediately became aware of their “error.” They sewed fig leaves together to cover their shame and hid in the garden from God (Genesis 3:7,8). Now they were hiding from the one that they used to fellowship with regularly. Men and women have been hiding from God ever since, covering their sin and shame with the fig leaves of religion or philosophy.
God confronted them face to face. As a result of their sin there were immediate and future consequences. The immediate consequences were being banished from the garden (Genesis 3:23,24), having difficulty in childbirth (Genesis 3:16) and our work turning from a joy that we love to a job that we hate (Genesis 3:17-19).
The future consequence for Adam and Eve was physical death. God had promised in Genesis 2:17 that the day he sinned by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would “surely die.” Spiritually Adam and Eve died the day they sinned in the garden. Their souls became immediately polluted by sin and selfishness. As a result all of their offspring (and that includes you and me) were born sinful and selfish. Through Adam every person ever born is born deprived and depraved, deprived of God’s fellowship and depraved to the core (Romans 5:12-14).
When confronted by God the blame game begins. Adam blames Eve (Genesis 3:12) and Eve blames the snake (Genesis 3:13). Humanity has been playing the blame game ever since. What began as paradise unraveled with a single choice to disobey God and listen to Satan instead. Every war, famine, argument, sin and tragedy can be traced back to the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve chose to turn their backs on God for a taste of fruit.

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 – Malachi 4)

From the beginning humanity has attempted to remove the stain of sin by good deeds. When Cain offered God vegetables as an appeasement for his sin God rejected it (Genesis 4:1-4). Cain was infuriated and killed his brother Abel.
In Exodus, the second book of the Bible, God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), not to save them from their sin, but to show them that they couldn’t live up to his perfect standards on their own (Galatians 3:23-24). Instead of looking to Him in faith many of the Jews looked to themselves and thought they could please God in their own strength. But God saw their “righteous” deeds like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Even the best of their good deeds were corrupted by selfish motives.
In Leviticus, the third book of the Bible, God gave the Israelites the sacrificial system. Every time a Jew sinned he or she was to sacrifice a goat without any blemishes (Leviticus 4:27-31). Think about that. If you were a Jew in the Old Testament and had to make a sacrifice every time you lied, lusted, gossiped, complained or argued you would soon run out of goats. Other offerings included offerings of bulls and sheep.
The sacrificial system was meant to point inward, upward and forward. It pointed inward to convince you of your sinfulness. If you were honest before God then you would soon realize that you could never make enough sacrifices for your sin. It pointed upward to make you trust in God for your salvation instead of sacrifices that you could make (Psalm 51:16,17). It pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice of the lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would someday come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
The rest of the Old Testament tells the story of the Jewish people, some of whom realized they were sinners and needed God to save them (Psalm 51:1,2) and most of whom trusted in their own goodness instead of the mercy and grace of God (Isaiah 64:6).

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

When Jesus came to the earth he came as the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17) and the ultimate sacrifice (Luke 24:46). He lived the perfect life that we could not live and died in our place, for our sin. When he died upon the cross he screamed the words “It is finished” (John 19:30). What he meant by these three words was that the price for our sins was paid completely. He was fully God and entirely man. As a perfect human he could die for other humans. As the true and living God his payment for sin was infinite.
Jesus rose from the dead three days after he was murdered on the cross (Mark 16:6). He was seen by over 500 witnesses (I Corinthians 15:6) on at least 12 separate occasions over the course of forty days (Acts 1:3). Because he died our sins are paid for entirely. Because he rose from the dead we know that Jesus was who he claimed to be, God in the flesh.

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John)

The amazing thing about eternal life is that it is a free gift given to us by God through faith alone and not by any of our good deeds (Ephesians 2:8,9). Jesus paid the price for our sins when he died on the cross and all we must do is receive the gift of forgiveness through faith. When we believe that Jesus died for our sins and trust in Him alone we receive eternal life, are passed out of death into life and are guaranteed a home in heaven (John 5:24).
Eternal life is not achieved by good deeds but received through faith. It’s not a matter of trying but trusting. When we believe we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Almost the entire New Testament is dedicated to talking about this eternal life and the implications of it in our everyday lives. From John through Jude the disciples of Jesus show us how to live like Jesus intended, serving each other in love. This is the heart of eternal life!

Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (Acts – Revelation)

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead we will be with Jesus forever in heaven. When we trust in Jesus we enter into a personal, permanent relationship with God called “eternal life.”
Part of the reality of eternal life is that it doesn’t start after you die but as soon as you believe (John 10:10). This life is the joy of a real, exciting relationship with Jesus every single day through prayer, worship and living in the strength that God provides through his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
The other part of the reality of eternal life is that all who have it will be with Jesus forever and ever in heaven someday. Once we receive it is ours forever and we are his forever!
The last chapter of the last book of the Bible makes it clear that we will “rule and reign forever” with Jesus (Revelation 22:5). In essence the last chapter in the story of the Bible concludes by saying, “and they lived happily ever after.”

Saturday, January 21, 2017

WHAT BELFAST NEEDS!


WHAT BELFAST NEEDS!
Supposing you were asked today, “What does Belfast need?" how
would you answer? How many things would you suggest that might
be necessary for the improvement of the city? You might feel that
more shopping is a priority, although that is hardly likely. Maybe
better transport. Maybe better road maintenance‘ You might feel
that lower rates should be up the list. Perhaps you might step it up a
level and say that better healthcare would be the most important
maybe more jobs  and even better education for all. It is quite
possible that you would come up with many helpful ideas, and yet
miss the vital necessity. What Belfast really needs is an awareness of
God  His holiness. ..His righteousness... His hatred of sin... and His
love for the sinner.

As a nation we have drifted over the last fifty years, unwittingly,
gradually, but now we are moving at great speed away from the God
of the Bible and the God of our fathers. We no longer have any appre-
ciation of His holiness or our own sinfulness. The general attitude is
that if we are doing no harm to anyone else then what we do is our
own business. But what we do is Gods business. Not only does He
take note of everything we say and do, but the Bible makes it very
clear that He will judge us for those actions (read Ecclesiastes 3:15
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already
been; and God requireth that which is past.  Romans 2:6). Who will
render to every man according to his deeds: What Belfast needs more
than anything  our foremost need  is an understanding of our sin (read Romans
3v22, 23 ) 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ
unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all
have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  and an appreciation of the
holiness of God. Who is the Judge of all.

BELFAST NEEDS CHRIST!
What is the answer to this massive problem then? Perhaps it will be
better understood in the form of another question. Who does
Belfast need? In every election run-up there are men and women
looking for our support. They cover all shades of the political divide
and opinion. They will come to your door and ask for your vote. What
they are really saying is "Belfast needs me!” We don't doubt that we
need the best candidates to look after the city and keep things
running, but most importantly, Belfast needs Christ! Before anything
else, no matter how important to us, we all need Him. You need Him.
He is God's only answer to our need as sinners. The Province has
neglected Him. This country once respected the Bible, valued the
standards of the Bible and had a reverence for God. This land once
rang with the sound of the Gospel at street corners and in town
centres. Crowds came to hear the Gospel in large tents pitched in the
city. Missionaries left from Belfast to evangelise the world and to tell
the story of Christ the sinners Saviour. What has happened? lt all
started with that imperceptible drift. Then people began to doubt.
Before long they became dull of hearing, and the message no longer
got through. Then some began to despise the message. Today many
even deny it. Yet the Bible asks, “How shall we escape if we neglect
so great salvation?" (read Hebrews 2:3). Neglect has serious conse-
quences, and perhaps we are already reaping some of those as a
nation, but what about the consequences for you, the reader?

Politicians may promise, and for different reasons may not be able
to deliver. God makes an amazing promise to everyone today, and
the certainty is that He can and will deliver. He makes this promise to
the people of Belfast, but best of all, He makes it to you! He says that
we are all sinners and must bear the consequences because we can’t
help ourselves. Yet He loves the sinner and has sent His Son into the
world to die for such upon the cross at Calvary. What is His amazing
promise? That WHOSOEVER believes in HIM will NOT perish but will
HAVE everlasting LIFE! (read John 3:16). The greatest need we have
is of Christ the Saviour. Without Him we have no hope in time or
eternity. Without Christ we will miss Heaven and must endure the
judgement of God for ever. Would it not be wise to make the proper
assessment of your needs just now and place your trust in Him as
Saviour,  as your Saviour?

"Through this man (Jesus Christ) is preached
unto you the forgiveness of sins"
Acts 13:38

Ivan Gordon

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Reality of Christmas



What is the reality of Christmas?

We probably feel like we know the Christmas
story word for word. After all, this story is
the centre of our Christmas celebrations
and festivity. Yet, have we lost some of the awe and
humbling wonder that the birth of Christ demands of
us? Has this story become so familiar that it is reduced
to being mundane and ordinary? The birth of Christ
was never meant to make things feel festive once a
year; the reality of this event should shock us and
leave us praising God in reverent fear.

As Christians, it can he easy to consider the Christmas
story as simply an evangelistic opportunity; yet there is
a depth to this story that can still powerfully challenge
us within the church as well. Let’s look at some of the
details of the Christmas story to be reminded again of
the reality, love and hope revealed by the birth of Christ.


The ugly truth

In many parts of the world Christmas is presented
as a time of fun, family and food. There's shopping
to do, decorations to put up and presents to wrap.
But the tinsel doesn't really cover up what our world
is actually like. Wars are being fought; people are
seeking refuge in foreign countries; poverty increases.
And even within the ‘Christmas environment’ many of
us will be sufferinging with pain, grief, illness, rejection
and loneliness.

Christmas, we know it today, can’t cover the ugly
truth of our broken world. It is full of sin and suffering
now; and it was full of these things when Jesus was
born.The traditiional nativity scene often forgets the
selfishness, horror and violence that surrounded the
birth and early years of Jesus life.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in
the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the
east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has
been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star
in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and
all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all
the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he
inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is
written by the prophet: ’But you, Bethlehem, in the land
of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My
people Israel.’ ” -—Matthew 2v6 (emphasis added)

  Herod, the governing king in Jerusalem, is often
remembered in our nativities as the ‘evil ruler’
determined not to lose his throne to the supposed
“King of the Jews”. However, we rarely consider the
reaction of the Jews in Jerusalem who were just as
“troubled” as Herod.
   When Herod sought advice on this new—born
King, the religious leaders in Jerusalem were able
to quote the Old Testament prophecies about
the coming Christ. They know the promises, but
we are not told that they rejoiced when they
heard news of His birth. It is probably quite safe
to assume that they, along with “all Jerusalem”,
were disturbed! In the same  way there was “no room for .
{Mary and Joseph] in the inn” (Luke 2:7), there was no room
for the coming Christ in His world. Even His own people,
equipped with Scripture, did not want Him (John 1:11).
  Later, when Herod realised that the wise men were not
going to help him find this new born King, he took drastic
measures to destroy any threat to his rule:  

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by
the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent
forth and put to death all the male children who
were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two
years old and under, according to the time which he
had determined from the wise men. Matthew 2:16.

   Unsurprisingly, even though we include the wise
men in our nativities, this massacre is hardly ever
mentioned. It is a horrific crime and not something we
want to dwell on. Yet it did happen, and it is included in
the Bible for us to reflect on, rather than forget about.
While we will not have done anything as atrocious as
Herod, his single-minded determination to hold on to
his power and status is something that can resonate
with all of us. Surely this is a picture of what our lives
looked like before we gave them to Christ: we wanted
to be in full control; our way was most important, even
if it hurt others; we didn’t want God. to be king; we did
anything to quiet Him or remove Him from the picture.

   In the real Christmas story, the ugiy truth of sin is
clearly revealed, along with its devastating effects. Yet
the Creator did not come in anger or judgement, but
in a tiny, helpless baby. God’s intention towards our
rebellious world couldn’t have been made any clearer.
He had not come to destroy; He came as a gift of hope
and love to a world that didn’t know Him and wasn’t
looking for Him.

The saving love of God

   Although we might think of Christmas as a
 time of ‘escapism’, the intention of the biblical
 narrative couldn’t be any more different.  Jesus‘
birth was not one of fantasy/—He wasn’t born in a rich
palace with midwives on hand to support Mary. If He
had, what would it have said about God’s gift? That it’s
only for the rich and powerful? Or only for those who
are worthy in some way? The actual events and details
carry a very different message.

   A birth for everyone: Jesus’ birth plunges us into
the real world. Imagine the anxiety of Mary and Joseph
as they tried to find somewhere to deliver the baby;
or the unclear future that lay before them as they fled
to Egypt to escape Herod (Matt. 2:14). Jesus was born in
the stark reality of poverty, uncertainty and weakness.
As we are told by the apostle Paul: Christ “made
Himself of no reputation . , . coming in the likeness
of men” (Phil. 2:7 emphasis added). He wasn’t born in “the
likeness of rich, powerful, self-sufficient people”; by
His own choice, Jesus was born amongst livestock in
thc humblest of circumstances, and then placed in a
feedling trough. We are told in the book of Hebrews that
Jesus can fully “sympathise with our weakness” and he
was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin”
(4v15). It wasn’t just that Jesus looked like us; He became
like us, suffering through hardships and trials, even
from the day of His birth. He truly became one of us.
Jesus really is for everyone. He was born in a stable
(or cave of some sort) crowded with animals. It wasn’t a
high—profile, ‘private property’ kind of place; there was
no lock on the door to keep the world out. In fact the
first visitors to see the baby in the manger were people
of relative unimportance: shepherds (Luke 2v15-16). They
didn’t stumble onto the scene, but were invited by "an
angel of the Lord” (\/.9), Jesus came that all would he able
to find Him and know Him personally.
   A rescue for everyone: Jesus was given two
powerful names at His birth:

  "You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His
people from their sins.” —Matthew 1:21 (emphasis added)

  "The virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and
they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated,
”God with us.” Matthew 1:23 [emphasis added)

   The promise of these names should leave us in
absolute awe. Jesus was born into a world not ready
for Him or looking for Him, yet He came to "save His
people” and be “God with us”. These are the names
God instructed to be given to His Son. Their message
doesn’t rely on our circumstances or how well we
are doing; it’s His mission to save us and make us
His again. Jesus’ names show His rescue can be for
everyone because it depends only on Him.
   A sacrifice for everyone: Jesus was called another
name at the beginning of His public ministiy; one
which adds some crucial explanation to the Christmas
story “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of
the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus wasn’t just born amongst
livestock, He was born as “The Lamb”.
   Lambs were very significant in Israel’s worship
towards God. God’s law required lambs to be sacrificed
as sin offerings (Lev.4v32), guilt offerings (14:12) and
other forms of offering. Yet the most important lamb-
sacrifice happened during the Exodus, when God freed
the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt (Ex. 12). Every
Israelite family was told to slaughter a lamb and put its
blood on their doorposts. When God then visited Egypt
in judgement that night, whenever He saw the blood
on the doorposts, He passed over that house. He only
brought death to the firstborn in the Egyptian houses,
where this payment of blood had not been provided.
   Jesus, "The Lamb of God”, is the fulfilment that the
Exdus “Passover Lamb”, and all the other sacrificial
lambs, pointed to. He wasn’t just born to teach and
lend us. He was born to die. In a similar way to the
Passover lambs (who died in place of the Israelite
born born), Jesus paid for “the sin of the world” for us by
dying in our place. He brought an end to the need for
sacrifices, taking away “the sin of the world” for good.
   Jesus didn’t die for innocent people, who were just
in the wrong place at the wrong time. And Jesus didn’t
die for His friends. Jesus died for His enemies: messed
up, broken people who have no relationship with God
and no way of making things right on their own. Now
anyone who puts their faith in Christ can enjoy a life
and eternity of “God with us”.

The hope of His return
   The Lamb was sacrificed when He was brutally
executed on the cross. His mission complete,
“He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His
head, He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). The mission,
predicted in the manner of His birth, was complete.
We are told: “after He had offered one sacrifice for
sins forever, [He] sat down at the right hand of God”
(Heb. 10:12). The way to God was made open for us and
the rescue was cornplete—Jesus “sat down”.
Of course, this is not the end of the story. Jesus’ first
arrival on earth also gives us a glimpse of His promised
return. God came to live among us, and now we wait for
the day when we will live with Him forever. As surely as God
kept His promise to enter our world and free us from sin, He
will keep His promise to return on that final day.

We need to learn the lessons
of Christmas and apply them to Jesus’ return. When
Jesus was born, few looked for Him, few expected Him
and many were troubled by Him. Which category do
we fit in as we wait for Him now? Are we like Herod,
who didn't want his world to be disrupted? Are we like
the religious leaders who ‘knew’ about the promised
Christ but didn't want Him to come? Or are we like
the often forgotten Simeon (Luke 2:28-32 and Anna
Vs36-38) who had been waiting eagerly for Jesus and
rejoiced when they saw Him?

   The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the
night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then
sudden destruction comes upon them . . . But you,
brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day
should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of
light and sons of the day. We are not of the night
nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as
others do, but let us watch and be sober.
I Thessalonians 5:2—6 (emphasis added)

   We are told that Christ’s return will mean
"destruction” for many; this should spur us on to
share the good news of Jesus with those we know.
For those of us who already trust Him, it means a
fulfilment of “God with us”. We will finally be with
Christ in His home, safe and secure with Him. As
the  promised Christ should have been central to
the Israelites hope, so too should His promised
return be what we are watching for and expecting.
Christmass is a powerful reminder that the end of the
story is yet to come!

Responding to Christmas

As well-known as the Christmas story is,
 crucial details and implications can quickly
 be forgotten. Most notably is the fact that
God had a choice. He chose to become a weak human
child. He chose to come to earth and be our sacrificial
Lamb. We can decorate this story with tinsel, stars and
presents, but that should never mask the purpose of
Christ’s entrance to our world: to suffer and die for us‘
   There is nothing wrong with joining in with the
fun and festivities of the Christmas season, of course,
but how might we also respond to the reflections in
this word
   Honouring Jesus as our King and sacrifice:
Jesus, “being in the form of God, did not consider it
robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of
no reputation. . . He humbled Himself and became
obedient to the point of death, even the death of
the cross” (Phil. 2v6-8). The mind-blowing truth of
Christmas is that our Creator God, who holds the
world in His mighty hands, became our sacrifice for
sin. Although we too frequently consider this to be
‘normal’, it should shock us every time we think of it!
   A powerful example of the kind of reaction Jesus’
sacrifice should stir in us can be seen at the last
supper before His crucifixion. Jesus wrapped a towel
round His waist and knelt down to wash his disciple's
feet (John 13v2-17). Peter was shocked at seeing his God
kneeling before him, lower than the lowest servant, to
clean him. "You shall never wash my feet! he exclaimed
(v 5) How could his Lord think of lowering Himself and
doing a servant's job?
   Yet Jesus reply: Ïf I do not wash you have no place
part with Me"(v8) Jesus "humbled Himself" on the
cross and became nothing to save us. The shock Peter
felt during the last supper is the shock of Christmas!
How could the King of the universe become such a
nothing for us? How could He have come to die for us?
   If we are to submit to Jesus and honour Him, we
must not just honour Him as King, but also as our
personal sacrifice for sin. As shocking as it is, we
cannot ignore this essential part orf His work in saving
us. It is very humbling to realise Christmas-and
Easter- fulfil the image of God kneeling before us,
wearing nothing but a towel, in order to wash us and
make us clean so we can enter His home.We can only
come to Him in awe with humble thanks and prasie,
relying on Him to do the work of savation for us.
   Sharing the message for everyone, with
everyony: Jeus came to pay for "the sin of theworld"
(John1 v29). His rescue is for everyone - this includes the
people we look at and say "They will never believe” or
"I can't ever see them singing praises in church.”
   The real Christmas story gives us a horrible glimpse
of how devastating and useless it is to fight against
God. We need to take this image of sin seriously.
Those who continue as God’s enemies are headed for
destruction. And so we need to take the wonderful
rescue seriously too. The people around us don't
desperately need to hear just that Iesus came to earth
as a Baby - they need to hear why. He came to rescue
them personally and to sacrifice Himself in their place.
   As great as it is to invite friends and family to our
Christmas church services and events, those things
can’t take the place of praying for the unbelievers we
know and seeking opportunities to share our faith and
hope with them. If we are deepiy impacted by the reality
of the Christmas story, we will be much more ready to
share why Christmas is so important to us personally.
   The Christmas story is not just a tradition or
outreach opportunity, it is God Himself leaving His
throne in heaven to save us. It shows us just who our
God is and what Christ was willing to do out of His
love for us. Reflecting on this story will help us stay
“rooted and grounded” in His love, so that we “may
be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the
width and length and depth and height—to know the
love of Christ which passes knowledge; that [we] may
be filled with ali the fullness of God” (Eph. 3;17~19).