Powerful Dream

 

 

 

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:20-21)

 

 

 

 

Reflection:
In all that God was doing He did not for a moment forget a man called Joseph, whose life also was to be changed forever. When he found out that Mary was pregnant Joseph could have publically broken off the proposed marriage and exposed Mary not only to shame and ridicule but to the harsh provisions of the law. Because he did not want to do this he considered divorcing her quietly.

It was probably too much to expect that Joseph would unquestioningly accept Mary’s account of what had happened. It had never occurred before in the history of the world and would undoubtedly never happen again. He must have been bitterly disappointed and hurt at what he saw to be a terrible betrayal of their relationship and a rejection of their planned future.

God did not hold this against him but instead sent an angel to him in a dream. So vivid was the experience and so real the message that Joseph, on waking, seems not to have hesitated but to have believed and obeyed God immediately. We can read these words very easily – but perhaps need to ask ourselves what sort of a dream would cause us to both change our minds and our planned course of action so dramatically. The question would arise again when we ask what sort of a dream would cause us to wake the next morning and immediately set about taking our family to live in Egypt – as Joseph was to do later.

God was working powerfully and specifically, and was ensuring that His word was received, understood and obeyed. He had also chosen His man very carefully. Joseph and Abraham are just two examples of people who heard and obeyed the word of God. The fruit of their obedience would turn out to be far greater and more important than they could have imagined at the time.

We must not underestimate what God might do in and through us.

Response:
What will be my legacy?

Prayer:

Father it is difficult to say at times but – Your will be done on earth (in my life) as it is in heaven, Amen.

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Word became Flesh

“You will be with child and give birth to a son,
and you are to give him the name Jesus”
(Luke 1:31)

Reflection:
After four hundred years of silence God spoke twice within the space of a few months. The first was to Zechariah and the second to Mary. In both cases the message was delivered not by a prophet but by the angel Gabriel – underlining its tremendous importance and implication. They both concerned the birth of a child – firstly John the Baptist and then Jesus.

The message to Mary contained three important elements.  Firstly ‘you are to give Him the name Jesus’ – which indicated that His mission would be to save.

Secondly, ‘He will be great’ – for He would also be called ‘the Son of the Most High.’ – This was an acknowledged messianic title and Mary would have understood it that way.

Thirdly, ‘He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.’ –  Here was a fulfilment of prophecy.

Gabriel painted for Mary a picture of a child who would be Saviour, Son of God and King – three stunning titles. Mary was both ‘greatly troubled’ and obviously mystified by the message that Gabriel delivered – and would have been overawed when He explained further,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God … For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35-37)

Both from the message and the manner of His conception Mary would have known that this would be no normal child. And when she had the time to let it sink in and  to reflect on it all, she would come to terms with the growing realisation and understanding that for all eternity she would be the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, the real miracle of Christmas is not the Virgin Birth. The great and awesome wonder is that God Himself should choose to come amongst us in human form. He put aside His majesty and glory to become like one of us – in order to save us from our fallen condition and from eternal separation from Him.

Prayer:

Lord God, help me to see beyond the human form of Jesus and to glimpse the reality of the Almighty, Majestic Creator humbling Himself to my level so that You could find me and lead me home again. Amen

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(Picture: Nicolas Poussin, The Annunciation, 1657, National Gallery, London)

Remain in Christ

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith … Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful …. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”
(Hebrews 10:22-24)

 

Reflection:
In the Temple worship access into the Holy of Holies was ‘forbidden except for one person (the high priest) on one occasion (the Day of Atonement) on one condition (that he took with him the blood of a sacrifice)’ (John Stott). Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Law and accordingly through Him access into the presence of God Almighty is now open to all believers all of the time.

As a result the writer of this letter urges his readers to respond in three ways.

“Let us draw near to God.” There is no barrier and we are called to enter into and remain in God’s presence through our faith in Jesus Christ and all that He has achieved for us.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” Notwithstanding the fact that many have fallen away and the world has turned away we hold onto our sure expectation that the Lord will come again in all His glory – and that we will be with Him. He has promised it and He is faithful.

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on.” Encouragement and example are great attractions. As we remain faithful in worship and ministry, and invite others to join in or stay with us it may keep them from falling away or bring them back. Relationships are a greater attraction than legalisms!

Response:
Be a witness through faith, hope and love in all the stages of life.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus help me please to remain faithful and true to You at all times and to encourage others in the same way. Amen.

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Resting, Reigning, Waiting

“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time
 he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool”
(Hebrews 10:12-13)

Reflection:
Jesus resting – from His labours; Jesus reigning – in majesty and power; and now Jesus waiting.

This understanding was first stated in Psalm 110 and Jesus referred it to Himself. It contains all the elements of resting, reigning and waiting.

  • “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Psalm 110:1)

Whilst He rests and reigns He also waits in the confidant assurance that all His enemies will be subdued and His kingdom will come in all its fullness. It is also clear that this waiting is not a blind and careless assumption that evil will eventually wear itself out. On the contrary the Godhead continues to act.

  • “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit …. until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Psalm 110:1)

So God continues to work in and through and around our lives and situations to answer the prayer that He taught us.

  • “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)

The Revelation given by the Father to the Son, by the Son to John, and by John to the Church, leaves us in no doubt whatsoever.

Prayer:

Lord establish Your Kingdom rule and authority in my life so that I may be a part of the answer to Your prayer. Amen.

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Lord and King

“He sat down at the right hand of God”
(Hebrews 10:12)

Reflection:
The second insight we gain from this scripture comes from where Jesus is sitting. He sits at the right hand of God – in the place of the highest possible honour. It is the supreme place of majesty, power and authority in the entire created order. And from here Jesus reigns.

  • God “raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:20-22)

It is from here that

  • Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to His people on the Day of Pentecost
  • Jesus continues to send out His people on mission and ministry to the lost and suffering
  • Jesus continues to give light, life and power to His teaching through the Holy Spirit

Although the powers of evil have not yet surrendered Jesus showed quite clearly during His earthly ministry that He is able to exercise authority over them. When He decides that the time has come He will exercise that authority fully and finally.

Prayer:

 Lord the kingdom, the power and the glory are Yours now and forever. Amen

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Jesus Resting

“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of God”
(Hebrews 10:12)

Reflection:
When Jesus had ascended into heaven – after His death and resurrection –  He sat down at the right hand of God.

The first insight we get from this is that He – like God on the seventh day of creation – was now resting. He had done what He had set out to do and, as He had said from the cross, it was now finished.

 “After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3)

The priests of Israel continued their ministry every day of the year and, as no chairs were provided in the temple, they stood at all times. Jesus, our great high priest, having offered the one, perfect and sufficient sacrifice of Himself, was not required to do anything further in this regard– and so He sat down.

What God had taught us through the prophet Isaiah was shown to be true of the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)

Prayer:

Thank You Father that no further action is required on Your part to provide for the forgiveness of our sins and to open the way for us to come into Your presence. It has been done. Amen.

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Jesus the Priest

“Now there have been many of those priests,
since death prevented them from continuing in office;
but because Jesus lives for ever,
he has a permanent priesthood”
(Hebrews 7:23-24)

Reflection:
High Priest is one of Jesus many titles and descriptions of His ministry.

The Levitical priests of Israel were appointed in terms of the Law. Their appointment was temporary as they would in due course die. One would be selected as the high priest. He would enter the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement to place the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant as God had prescribed.

In addition, and because of the sinful character of both priests and people, there were a number of sacrifices prescribed by the Law.  Some of these had to be repeated daily. They were temporary expedients because of the ongoing sin. But they were also a continual reminder that only the sacrifice of blood could deal with sin, and this would involve more than just the death of an animal.

“But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4)

Jesus was appointed apart from the Law. He lives forever and so His appointment is permanent and eternal.

Like the Levitical priests He was ordained to offer a sacrifice to God – to satisfy the provisions of the Law. However, where their sacrifices had to be repeated daily because of their own ongoing sinfulness, His sacrifice of Himself for our sins was a one, perfect and sufficient sacrifice. It gained eternal redemption and salvation for those who put their faith and trust in Him.

“He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:25-26)

Jesus is the fulfilment of the priesthood in every way. His life was sinless, His sacrificial death complete and His intercession on our behalf eternal. He is forever in the Holy Presence of God Himself.

Prayer:

Thank You Lord Jesus for being both our sacrifice and our high priest – holding us before the Lord God Almighty and enabling us to come into His presence. Amen.

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