So we are now back to the Christmas story, and we jump straight to the birth of Jesus. Pretty soon I know, but lets focus on some of the events in this passage. One of the miracles about this whole story is how Mary and Joseph were probably still planning to give birth in Nazareth around their friends and family, but because of a new law passed by the Roman Emperor, Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem where Joseph was from. This brought everything back in line with the story set out in the prophesies of the Old Testament.
So many times we make plans for our lives only for something to get in the way, and life doesn’t go as we planned. But through that change of plan something happens where God can work, in your life and other peoples lives. God gives us free will, but He can still lead us in the right direction. Just because things don’t go your way in your eyes, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going your way in the big picture of things. This is where we need to trust God.
I certainly never planned to live in Sweden 4 years ago, and growing up I didn’t expect to be a missionary, but it can be scary when I start missing friends and family. But I need to trust God with His plan. I am around a lot of people who have been a part of His plan. Think about the some of the big changes in your life, and thank God for him being in control. Then look forwards, and choose to trust Him.
One of the common problems people have in 2014 is anxiety and worry. The world is a stressful place at the moment and it is hard to find a sense of hope when we look at the news on TV.
However our verses today talk of a hope, joy and peace that Jesus brought with Him. Coming to the end of term, a lot of you will be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel of assignments, essays and projects, and that might bring with it a sense of peace in your own lives. Hope is something that we look forward too, a time of peace, when the craziness of life can give you a break.
Think today about what kind of things you hope for in the future? God wants us to look forwards and hope for the future, and even more, trust him with our future. It can be hard to not look back, but the message of the Cross is one of hope and grace, that allows us to forget the past and look forwards and hope for a better future.
Try looking in your bibles at where else it talks about ‘Hope’. After all, it’s one of the 3 things that will remain in the end.
So reading todays verses we see Isaiah talking about a time when we won’t need the sun or the moon to provide us light, and he is talking about heaven here. There will be light the whole time, and in verse 20 we read that all your days of sorrow will end. Thats no more pain and suffering in the world.
One of the biggest questions people ask is why is there so much suffering in the world if God loves us so much. But He still has a plan and is promising to stop that, and when He does we will suffer no more. No one will. And Jesus’ return to us is the centre point of that plan. So as we remember the world expecting Jesus this Christmas, we can be expectant of an everlasting light that will actually take our sorrows away when Jesus comes again.
This is what we can expect from heaven, but what else can we expect in heaven. We spend some time thinking about what you want to see in heaven. If you have time, also look in the back of your bibles to see what else we can learn about heaven. One thing I do know is that it will be way better that we can ever imagine, beyond our wildest dreams.
Today is our first Old Testament text for our preparation for Christmas. As I mentioned in my last few talks, we can see Jesus all through the Old Testament, and here is one of the promises of the coming of the Messiah, the arrival of the one who will solve the biggest problem mankind has.
‘The days are coming … when I will fulfill the good promise I made…’ says the Lord. Have you ever made a promise that you didn’t fulfill straight away, but you know you will still do what you said? God was promising Jesus’ arrival for long time (in the eyes of Israel), but fulfilled when the time was right. Only He knew when it would be.
Are you waiting on a promise that hasn’t been fulfilled yet? Are you still waiting on unanswered prayers? Don’t give up, but keep expecting, and keep persisting in prayers. God fulfills His promises, and has a big reason for when He does, and we only see it when it happens. Jesus was the fulfillment of many of God’s promises, so today and this Christmas we can be reminded of that, and look forwards to those prayers still being answered.
My thoughts for today also include verses 5 – 8 too, and follows directly on from yesterdays verses. Here we see Jesus being referred to as ‘the Light’, and how darkness has not overcome the light, and actually darkness can never overcome light.
On Monday night, we had a power cut for an hour, and we got out all of our candles, and started to rely on non-electric light. The first feeling was shock and a little bit of fear (it was really dark), but then, as our eyes adjusted, we could still see things. Light reflects off anything and everything, and the only place that there is darkness is where things are shielding the light.
But nothing can extinguish the light that Jesus puts in us. It is always there, inside, even when we might feel alone sometimes, and in darkness in others, we need to remember that the light will always be there, the question is, how bright will we let it shine?
Those of you who have read all the gospels will realise there are big differences between Matthew/Mark/Luke and John. The first 3 give the story, (Mark is very to the point, Matthew and Luke gives more detail). John gives more explanation and meaning to these narrations. He starts with ‘In the beginning…’ Any guess to the only other time that is mentioned in the Bible? (Hint: It’s at the start…).
It is a clear link to the fact that Jesus was there in the beginning and was in God’s plans all along. The Greek word used here was ‘logos’, which means the spoken word, but to the Jews it meant ‘the word of God’. Jesus is more than just the words we read in the Bible, but someone who is alive with us today, and always has been since the beginning of time.
Today, focus on verse 4, and how John is showing us that only through Jesus we can find life, but it’s not only for us personally, but for all of mankind. It is Jesus’ gift to us, and it is for eternity.
Luke 1:26-38 (by Jason)
click HERE to download the Reading Plan pdf.
Well what better way to start the month of December than with the start of story, the visit of the angel Gabriel. I have heard this part of the bible read to me countless times when I was younger. It was the start of the Nativity Play we did at school, (I was only a wiseman’s slave, they ran out of proper parts, but I still got to wear a dish cloth on my head).
One of the things to consider today was how Mary must have been feeling during this visit. She was engaged, had so many different plans for her life, but God’s plans were so much bigger, and better. Notice in verse 30, the angle Gabriel ‘Do not be afraid’. It was big news, a big change to her life, but God is saying, ‘Do not be afraid.’
Some of you might be still adjusting to life in Sweden, some may have some big changes ahead, but God is saying, ‘Do not be afraid’. It’s His plans, He’s with you. He was with Mary, and He’ll be with you. Today, give Him your plans (however big or small) in prayer, and trust Him with them.