December 2016

Celebrate Christmas in Truth with us

I wish to encourage you to celebrate Christmas in truth

For Christians, Christmas is one of our greatest celebrations. The angel who appeared to the shepherds said it so well; “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). We praise God every Christmas because He selflessly gave without restraint; when love entered the world in the form of a baby to fulfill an intended purpose 33 years later.

About 9 months earlier an angel foretold that “She (Mary) will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Yes, Christmas is our celebration of when God stepped into human history to do what the world said would never happen. Although God didn’t do things the way the world expected, He nevertheless “so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Worship in awe

The mind blowing wonder of the Christmas celebration is that this baby Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). No other baby has, or shall ever, be born with such an eternally supreme purpose.

If Jesus had come to lead a military revolt or bring political reform, He failed. If to lead religious revival or resolve racial tension, this He also failed. Or, if He came to establish a spiritual enlightenment program, or to lavish His followers with a life style of luxury, He definitely failed. No, baby Jesus came to do that which humanity could not do for themselves; to save them from the eternal consequences of the very sins they deny being guilty of.

Consider Jesus own words; “I have not come to abolish them (the Law of the Prophets) but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword(Matthew 10:34). I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). ”Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book” (Hebrews 10:7).

Purpose fulfilled

Some 33 years after His birth, as Jesus considered the future Cross of Calvary and what that involved, He prayed; “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour” (John 12:27).

Not surprising then, that “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

While the world wants political, social, military, and financial reform, God gives us a Saviour from sins. While the world frivolously disregards baby Jesus as a fairy-tale for children, we acknowledge and worship Him as Sovereign Saviour and Lord.


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Grow in appreciation of the greatest gift

I wish to encourage you to grow in appreciation of the greatest gift.

While the giving of presents in the world is common, there is no earthly gift to be compared with the gift of eternal life in Christ. Typically, we value little the things which cost us little. This is certainly true in the self-centered, consumer driven society in which we live. However, this is NOT true of the child of God!

The apostle Paul pointed out to the Ephesian Church that at the foundation of a believer’s relationship with God is the unmerited and humanly unattainable attribute of faith. So God, of His own initiative, gifted the required faith thus equipping us to respond; “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

God is not only a Saviour by nature but a gift giver also. While salvation in and of itself cost us nothing, it did however cost someone everything. Obviously, I’m referring to Christ; “For if, because of one man’s (Adam’s) trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).

Justice was not enough

It would have been sufficient if God had released us from the judicial consequences of our sin due to Christ’s substitutional death, but God did so much more. He didn’t simply neutralise His wrath toward we sinners, no; “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Father gave our sin, accompanied by His wrath, to Christ, while gifting us with Christ’s righteousness.

While it’s true that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” it’s equally true that we sinners “are justified by his (God’s) grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). This undeserved gift becomes even more spectacular as we grow in our appreciation of the redemption we have in Christ. To be redeemed is to be forgiven, made holy, set free, adopted into God’s family, and reconciled (Romans 5:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 3:13; 4:5; Colossians 1:18-20; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:14-18). Such wonderful truths stretch our mortal comprehension to our finite limits, and simply leave us hanging in the awe of thankful faith. Praise God!

The most secure gift

As is so typical of the Lord, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). His gifts are in perfect synchromesh with the purpose of His will; therefore, we are secure in His faithfulness as the supreme and merciful gift giver (cf. 2 Timothy 2:13).

While most gifts we receive in this life don’t require any special response, other than gratitude, God’s gift does demand a response. Our only reasonable response is explained well by the apostle Paul to the Corinthians. “For the love of Christ controls (Compels) us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Today, I encourage you to grow in appreciation of the greatest gift, and consciously surrender all that you are to the humble privilege of living for Christ instead of for self.


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