Real Man

“The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us”
(John 1:14)

Reflection:
Jesus was both fully God and fully Man.

  • He was born to a human mother through the Holy Spirit
    • Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35
  • His human ancestry reaches back to David, Abraham and Adam
    • Matthew 1: 1 – 17; Luke 3: 23 – 38
  • He grew and learned as a human, obeying His human parents
    • Luke 2:51-52
  • He grew hungry and needed to eat (Matthew 4:22) and thirsty and in need of drink (John 4:7). He was weary after travelling (John 4:6) and He needed sleep and refreshment (Matthew 8:24).
  • He endured Satan’s temptation
    • Luke 4:1-13
  • He had the normal human emotions of love and compassion (Matthew 9:36), anger (Matthew 21:13, Mark 3:5), He wept (John 11:35) and experienced inner agony (John 12:27).
  • He died and was buried like all humans
    • Luke 23:44-56

It is because Jesus was fully human that He could represent us on the cross and die on our behalf. And it is because of it that He is also enabled to fully understand and sympathise with us, recognise the power of temptation and minister God’s love and mercy to us as the “High Priest forever.”

“For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:16-18)

God is not an impassive observer of our little lives. He became as one of us, associating fully with us in His baptism, walking our roads, breathing our air, working our work, touching our lives and allowing us to touch His. In becoming fully man He becomes more fully real – so that John could write,

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete” (1 John 1:1-4)

Response:
He knows me because He has been me

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You understand who I am, the way that I feel and the joys and agonies of my life. Please touch my life with Your life and help me to receive all that You are and all that You have done for me. Amen.

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My Lord and My God

“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God”
(John 1:1)

Reflection:
Jesus Christ is God. He is not a man or an angel with extraordinary powers. He is God. Scripture is clear on it and so was He.

  • “We wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)
  • “Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20)
  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1)
  • “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7)

Jesus Christ Himself was clear about it.

  • “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)
  • “The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied” (Matthew 26:63-64)
    • The religious leaders understood quite clearly that Jesus was claiming equality with God. To do so was considered blasphemy and was punishable with death.

Jesus Christ exercised the authority and prerogatives and power that are God’s alone.

  • He forgave sins on His own authority –
    • “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (Mark 2:10-11)
  • He raised the dead
    • “Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”(\John 11:43)
  • He demonstrated His power over nature
    • He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:39)
    • He turned water into wine (John 2:7-11)

Jesus Christ was in all ways and at all times fully God – however He became also fully man as we shall see. For today we acknowledge that He is in truth God and, as His name Immanuel reveals, He is “God with us” This is the wonder of the Incarnation.  This Jesus Christ who came to seek, to save and to give us new and eternal life is indeed God.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

Response:
My Saviour is “My Lord and my God!”(John 20:28)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus as I acknowledge Your humanity help me to acknowledge too Your divinity and to be silent in wonder, love and praise. Amen.

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Holy God

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3)

Reflection:
God is not merely a supreme force. God is a Person whose most identifying characteristic is Love. We were made in His image and something of that remains in us. We are called in the great commandments, in the new commandments of the Lord Jesus and in the identifying characteristic of the Holy Spirit to be a person and a people characterised by love. This means that we will become more like God.

However we must always be aware that God is not like us. For God is Holy. That means that He is totally different to fallen humankind. There is no stain or hint of sin about Him or near Him – in fact He is as far removed from sin as the Sun is different to the flame of a match. Sin cannot exist in His presence. God has said of Himself in comparison to humankind –

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

This means that God’s Love is Holy. There is nothing selfish, self-centred, conditional or limited about His Love. It is a Love that seeks to give and to bless and to forgive – even at great cost to Himself.

It also means that God’s Righteousness is Holy. He can never be swayed or bribed or influenced away from what is right. Which is why His forgiveness could only be achieved by His taking into Himself the sin of all humankind and suffering the consequences Himself.

Also God’s faithfulness is Holy. Having committed Himself He will not withdraw from or forsake what He has undertaken nor will He turn away from His daughters and sons. It is due to that faithfulness that He has not, and will not, take back from us His great gift of the freedom of choice given to us in the beginning. But He has also not abandoned us to the consequences of our actions.

God’s justice is Holy. When He calls on us to forgive it is not to infer that the sin and pain are inconsequential. On the contrary He has told us that “I will repay.” We forgive the sins of others because God will hold them to account. And should He forgive them it is because He has taken their sins with Him to the cross as well as ours.

God’s mercy is Holy. He loves and forgives and heals and supports and transforms and understands at a level that we cannot begin to recognise or understand. And, when we sin again and crawl back to Him again, His Spirit whispers to ours “My grace is sufficient for you.”

God is Holy – and through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit He invites us to become a part of His holiness, beginning now and stretching through the limitless reaches of eternity.

“And we .. are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

Response:
Receive and lay your fourth foundation stone for the year – God is Holy and is transforming me.

Prayer:

Lord God, make me holy even as You are holy. Amen.

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Almighty Father

“What may be known about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities
–his eternal power and divine nature–
have been clearly seen,
being understood from what has been made”
(Romans 1:19-20)

Reflection:
God is omnipotent – His power is unlimited and eternal. We see something of it in the glory and extent of His creation and in the power that has sustained and developed it over the ages. He is able to do whatever He wishes in order to achieve His will and purpose, no matter what the circumstances at the time – as Scripture records. And as the Angel Gabriel said to Mary,

“Nothing is impossible with God” 
(Luke 1:37)

God is omnipresent – He is fully present everywhere.  He is not spread out over His creation so that parts of Him are in different places. All of Him is present everywhere all the time – with all of His supreme glory, authority and power.

God is omniscient – He is all-wise and all-knowing. He has a perfect awareness of everything that has happened, is happening and will happen everywhere, in heaven, upon earth and throughout His vast creation. He knows the full details of every person’s life – who they are, why they are, how they are, what they are, what they have done, are doing and will do – as well as every thought of yesterday, today and tomorrow and what has given rise to such thoughts. He knows and understands each and every one of us fully and completely.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD”
(Psalm 139:1-4)

God has a plan and a purpose for His creation and His people. He has been and is at work in history, in ways we may not see or understand, to accomplish His purposes. Because He has allowed us, and respects our, free will we are not His slaves or puppets – rather He invites us to be a part of the journey with Him. The fact that history is filled with tragedy and trauma is an indication of how that free-will has often been exercised. However He is still supremely God and will ensure that indeed His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This is the God who has invited us to call Him Father as we become His daughters and sons – and the One who has promised us that

  • “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)
  • “nothing .. in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)

Response:
Receive and lay your third foundation stone for the year – God is able to look after me

Prayer:

Father Almighty, forgive me for the times when I doubt Your love and commitment to me. Please help me to entrust myself into the fullness of Your loving care and protection. Amen.

——————–

God is Here

 

“In the beginning God created
the heavens and the earth”
(Genesis 1:1)

Reflection:
Scripture is very clear on this point. It does not delve into the details of ‘How” but constantly keeps its focus on “Who’. God is the creator of everything.

  • Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3)
  • “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3)
  • “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17)

This tells us some things about God. Firstly, everything that was made had its intentional beginnings in God. He created by His will and power. The details, the process and the time involved are not the concern. What is being stated and emphasised is that God, and God alone, is the Creator.

Secondly, it reveals to us that God is not a part of His creation. He is separate from it and is not dependent upon it in any form or way. He is in a sense above and beyond it – what we mean when we say He is transcendent.  He is not bound by the laws of nature that He put into place – and may, for His own good purposes, override all or any of them.

However, although He is separate from His creation He has not set it in motion and left it. He is also ‘immanent’ – that is, His presence and power not only surround it but are present in every part and aspect of it. David recognised this and expressed it beautifully.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”  (Psalm 139:7-12)

The Mighty God of Creation is not on the outside looking in. He inhabits every part of His creation to such an extent that we are never away from His presence. Wherever and however we are He is there and aware in all His power and glory and love.

Tennyson had it right when he said, “Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet”

Response:
Receive and lay your second foundation stone for the year – God is here!

Prayer:

Father thank You for being so close to me at all times. Please help me to walk in the continuous awareness of Your presence and love and to trust You in all things. Amen.

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But God

“In the beginning God”
(Genesis 1:1)

Reflection:
There was a beginning for life as we know it. When that happened God was there. In fact He existed quite independently before this beginning. He Himself had no beginning in terms of our understanding for time itself is His creation – and so the Psalmist exclaims,

“Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God”
(Psalm 90:2)

For us He is the beginning and the end. Our beginnings are in Him and our end is with Him for there is no existence without Him.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the Beginning and the End”
(Revelation 21:6)

His eternal Being is revealed throughout Scripture.

  • “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
  • “For this is what the high and lofty One says– he who lives forever” (Isaiah 57:15)
  • “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. “(Exodus 3:14)
  • “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!“(John 8:58)

And finally these glorious words of mystery and revelation.

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1-2)

At the beginning of this new year our first foundation stone and great security is God Himself. He who was the beginning is also in the beginning of 2018. He who is also the end will be too at the end of the year. And, no matter what course the year might take, His great promise in and through Jesus Christ is this,

“And surely I am with you always,
to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20)

We hold on to these great truths even when the clouds are dark and all is confusion – for God is working His purpose out and His kingdom will truly come in all its fullness and glory. Tennyson had this to say,

Act first, this Earth, a stage so gloom’d with woe
You all but sicken at the shifting scenes.
And yet be patient. Our Playwright may show
In some fifth Act what this wild Drama means.

Response:
Receive and lay your first foundation stone for the year – God is!

Prayer:

Almighty God, I acknowledge you as the eternal One – supreme and in control at all times. Thank You that I may call You Father and entrust myself to You completely. Amen.

———————

The Coming Year

2017-01-01

“I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely
into the unknown.’

And he replied ,
‘Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you
better than light
and safer than a known way !’

So I went forth
and finding the Hand of God,
trod gladly into the night .
And he led me towards the hills
and the breaking of day in the lone East.”

 

———————

(Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957)

May God bless us all throughout 2018 –
and enable us to walk forward with our hands in His,
as He leads, directs and encourages us in
accordance with His promise.
Thank you for your company and support in our journey this past year.
May His Light shine ever stronger for you as you press on with Him.

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