This year is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) also known as the Authorised Version (AV). These are so-called because King James the first of England authorised it in 1611. The Bible speaks of itself as the inspired word of God, and is also referred to as the Scripture(s), and also as the word of God or the word of the Lord. It is also referred to as the Holy Bible. The following are Bible quotations about itself revealing it to be the unique revelation from God to man. Without the Bible we would know nothing about God, nor anything at all about what God wants us to know.
The Bible is enlightening - The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple. Psalm 19 v.7
And Jesus answering said unto them, "Do ye not err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?" Mark 12 v.24
And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make the wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus 2 Timothy 3 v.15
The entrance of thy words giveth light; It giveth understanding to the simple. Psalm 119 v.130
It is pure - The words of the Lord are pure words. Psalm 12 v.6
"Every word of God is pure:..." Proverbs 30 v.5
It is acceptable - The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. Ecclesiastes 12 v.10
It is truth - Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17 v.17
It is to be heard - He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11 v.15
They speak of Christ - Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5 v.39
It was written that we might believe - :but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20 v.31
And that our joy may be full - And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 1 John 1 v.4
The effect of Scripture upon us - And they said one to another, "Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" Luke 24 v.32
It is to be searched - These were more noble (the Bereans) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17 v.11
To be stored in the heart - "Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul,..." Deuteronomy 11 v.18
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another;... Colossians 3 v.16
To be sought and read - Seek ye out the book of the Lord and read: Isaiah 34 v.16
They are wholesome words - These things teach and exhort (v.2). If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness. 1 Timothy 6 v.3 (4 and 5)
It is powerful - For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4 v.12
It is inspired of God - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2 Timothy 3 v.16
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1 v.21
We are to hold it fast - Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1 v.13
It has a cleansing effect - Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. John 15 v.3
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word Ephesians 5 v.26
It is a gracious word and will build us up in spiritual matters - ...I commend you to God , and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Acts 20 v.32
It is settled in heaven - For ever O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119 v.89
It is not to be added to nor taken away from - What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Deuteronomy 12 v.32
It is to be meditated on - But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalm 1 v.2
I will meditate in thy precepts,... Psalm 119 v.15 and v.78
...but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. Psalm119 v.23 and v.48
Till I come give attendance to reading....meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them;.... 1 Timothy 4 v.13 - 16
Man should live by the word of God - And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Luke 4 v.4
...that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Deuteronomy 8 v.3b
Have you ever read this unique Book from God. If not then why not start to-day and let God speak to you concerning Himself, and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
How strange that there was no room for them - not just that there was no room - but no room for them. This of course included the Lord Jesus Christ. Here was the Son of God - the Creator of the world - the King of the Jews - and one who was to become the Saviour of the World, yet there was still no room for Him. Certainly John's Gospel puts it all into perspective when he says that "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." John 1-11.
At His birth Herod the King wanted Him dead because he feared opposition, and had all the children under two years of age murdered because "he was troubled, felt mocked and was exceedingly wroth" Matt 2-5 & 16. Throughout the three years or so of the Lord's ministry there were a number of occasions when the Lord experienced the hatred and opposition of those to whom He had come, when He was "come to seek and to save that which was lost" Luke 19-10. It usually came from the religious and political establishment who tried to catch Him out by asking Him certain questions, by way of inquiry or else instigating such fierce opposition that had the intention of leading to His death John 8-59. Sometimes the reason is given as to why it did not: namely that "His hour was not yet come." John 8-20, and John 10-33. Also read John 8 33-59 for the context and note the use of the words "I am" denoting His Deity, and compare this with Exodus 3-14. Usually the hostility was as a direct result of the fact that He was the Son of God and therefore Deity as stated in John 19-7. On other occasions it was that He did that which was good and His deeds contrasted with and exposed their own evil and wickedness. This was taught by the Lord Jesus in the words of the parable Matt 20-15. Notice the sequel to this by reading up to verse 19. Clearly there was no room for Him again and even Pilate "knew that for envy they delivered Him" Matt 27-17. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, was also compelled to state at the Saviour's trial that "I find no fault in Him" and was prepared to release Him and let Him go John 19-4-6. The Roman Centurion and those with him at His crucifixion like-wise stated that "truly this was the Son of God" Matt 27-54. "as they feared greatly."
Meanwhile over the centuries, people generally have demonstrated their rejection of the Lord Jesus, by their attitude of wanting nothing to do with Him. They are in effect taking the line that the citizens took with their nobleman when they said "we will not have this man to reign over us". Luke 19-14. Another parable is the one that speaks of the rejection of the householder, by the slaying of his son. Notice the sequence of events in Matthew 21-33-46. as they are instructive - "they will reverence my son" - "this is the heir, come let us kill him" - "they caught him, cast him out, and slew him" - "the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner". Note the conclusion in verses 45 - 46, clearly no room for Him! These parables give a clue as to whom rejection is directed and why. It is ultimately rejection of God, and His claim upon us all. It is a feature of the age in which we live, to reject Divine authority, including the Word of God - the Scriptures of Truth, God's revelation to mankind, and to make everything relative including all morality. In fact God deals in absolutes, because He is a Holy God and has stated that "I am the Lord, and I change not". Malachi 3-6. Mankind acts and thinks as though God will change to accommodate our views of what we would like Him to be; perhaps we even think that He is like us. If we do then a reading of Isaiah 55v8-9 "my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord" will dispel the error, being one of the functions of Scripture, 2 Timothy 3-16.
If we persist in not finding room for the Christ of God in our little lives during our time up on earth, then there will never be room for us in God's Heaven for eternity. It can and will only ever be the torments of hell for all eternity.
There is a hymn that has been written that deals with this subject it is "Have you any room for Jesus?" The second verse is very challenging and is as follows-:
Room for pleasure - room for business
But for Christ the crucified,
Not a place that He can enter
In the heart for which He died.
The prayerful consideration of the whole of this hymn should be spiritually profitable to all.
There was no room for the Son of God then, but is there any room with you, for Him, now?
There had been various times in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ when people had sought Him. There were, for example, the wise men in Matthew 2.1-4., then there were his parents as they searched for Him over a period of three days in Luke 2.43-47. There was Zacchaeus who climbed up the sycamore tree, for he sought to see Jesus; who He was Luke 19.1-5. Even King Herod desired to see the Lord Jesus, but soon with his men of war set Him at nought Luke 23.8-11. In the next verse no. 12 we see how Herod and Pilate became friends. Quite interesting that, how two enemies could unite in their opposition to the Christ of God. At the time of His crucifixion there were the soldiers, who "sitting down watched Him there", Matthew 27.36. All of these occasions were before the death of Christ. When we come to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus we find that there were those that sought the Lord Jesus again; but He was not to be found because "He is not here He is risen" Matthew 28.5-7. Whilst he was on earth He was to be found, because He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He was the Saviour of the world. After His resurrection he only appeared to His own, never to those who had despised and rejected Him. These are sobering thoughts, because those people had their opportunity, and some had taken it, but others had not.
The application of such scriptures must be that when confronted with the Gospel message and the claims of Christ we need to respond whilst there is still time. How many have heard the Gospel even decades ago, but have never taken the opportunity to get saved - to ask the Lord Jesus to forgive us for all our sins - and to repent of them and turn to Him in faith. We may have a superficial interest in Him, but so did so many in His day but they never trusted Him for salvation. At His crucifixion people were glad to be rid of Him, and just longed to have Him out of the way. Those people got their wish but where are they now. The Bible tells us that "as it is appointed unto man once to die but after this the judgement" Hebrews 9.27. This means that Pilate, King Herod, the Roman soldiers, the Scribes and the Pharisees, and the individuals in the crowds: if they never repented of their sins, having crucified the Son of God, will one day stand before God to be judged. What a terrifying thing to be judged by the one that they had condemned to death and so cruelly treated, and when they had the opportunity to respond in faith - how different things could have been. So incidentally will we stand before Him on that great and terrible day, if we don't receive the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, and turn to Him in faith, whilst there is still time. ":behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of Salvation" 1 Corinthians 6.2b.
Is found in Matthew 22-42, and was asked by the Lord Jesus Christ. This question is personal as it is directed to us as individuals. It is also a question that demands an answer, and the answer that we give will reflect what we really do think of the Christ of God.
The question is one that comes in the time of the ministry of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but was one that was answered at the time of the Christmas narrative, by the attitude and behaviour of those who were present at the time of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, or at least had heard of His coming into the world.
The narrative shows that there were a number of different people, who all had opportunity to respond and indicate what they thought about the Lord Jesus. Joseph, who was the husband of Mary was told of the name that was to be given to Him - namely "Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins," Matthew 1-21, and so it has ever been that all who have ever trusted Him for the forgiveness of their sins have found Him to be true.
Herod was another who had heard of the one that had been born, but "he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him," Matthew 2-3. Interesting! Why should any king be troubled at the birth of a baby? Note that the Lord Jesus was born King: not, to be King, Matthew 2-2. Perhaps the thought of Christ having a claim on our lives troubles us, maybe we feel that we're not going to be in control anymore - but then look where man has got himself by not allowing God and His Son their rightful place in the affairs of men. Needless to say, Herod had murderous objectives in order to be rid of the Lord Jesus, Matthew 2-16. Nothing had changed thirty-three years later when the Lord was crucified and the leaders and people of Israel, in effect demonstrated that they "wouldn't have this man to reign over us" Luke 19-14, as stated in the parable.
The wise men were a good deal different, because they came to worship Him, Matthew 2-2. This means that they appreciated Him and recognised His worth. Do we recognise the worth of the One who is sinless? (unlike ourselves). Do we appreciate He who left heaven, John 6-42, and came to live amongst men, John 1-14 - going to Calvary's cross, Luke 23-33, and there to die for our sin, 1 Corinthians 15-3, and thereby providing for our soul's salvation Romans 10-9?
We meet Simeon and Anna in Luke's Gospel, Luke 2-2 and 36. It was, Simeon, who "was waiting for the consolation of Israel", and God didn't disappoint him. Neither incidentally will He ever disappoint any who ever come to Him through His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Simeon also blessed God, as he held the Lord Jesus in his arms, v.28. When did we last bless God for the gift of His Son?
Anna, also gave thanks to God, and it is to be noted that she also spoke of Him, v.38. - Is God not well pleased when we speak well of His Son? Read Malachi 3-16 in the Old Testament for a similar thought.
The last to consider are the shepherds watching their flocks by night, Luke 2-8. It was to them that the angel came, and "brought tidings of great joy" leading to their resolve to "go and see this thing which is come to pass", which the Lord had made known to them, Luke 2-15. What a wonderful thing to have it made known to them by God Himself, concerning His Son from Heaven. Their attitude is revealed in the statement that "they made haste to see Him," Luke 2-16. Is our attitude to the Lord Jesus such that we have a desire to know Him, "who is Life Eternal", John 17-3, to see Him, and therefore to "be like Him for we shall see Him as He is", 1 John 3-2, and be with Him, "which is far better", Philippians 1-23? One effect of the hearing that the shepherds had been told, was that Mary "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart," Luke 2-19.
There is one Person, however, whose thoughts on the Lord Jesus Christ are not revealed in the narrative, but they are there in Scripture just the same. These are found in Matthew 17-5, and occurred over thirty years after the Saviour's birth. If God's thoughts are that He is "well pleased with His beloved Son", then should we not accept God's attestation of His Son? - hear Him, and accept Him for the loveliness of His Person and the work that He alone accomplished for us at Calvary; realising too, that God has revealed Himself to us, and indeed, "spoken to us by His Son," Hebrews 1-2; even in the days in which we live. He is still Emmanuel - God with us, Matthew 1-23.
What think ye of Christ?
Many down through the ages have asked these two connecting questions. Perhaps one of the first to ask the question was the Pharaoh of Egypt, in the days of Moses. "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice..." Exodus 5.2. This is a telling question because he was aware of the fact that God had a claim upon him, and called for his obedience. Things have not changed because in the days of the apostle Paul, he could state that "God ...now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" Acts 17.30. It is important to know and accept by faith that "God created man in his own image" Genesis 1.27. Notice the double emphasis "in the image of God created he him". The sad sequel to all of this is that man has created his own gods. Again the apostle Paul could speak to Greeks who were regarded as cultured yet they still thought of God as unknown, but Paul was able to teach them that He was knowable; at the end of which there were those that believed. Read about this in Acts 17.22-34. The truth of the passage is still for us to-day.
The question may be of course: How can we know. The answer is that God has revealed Himself in the Person of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ; in other words what we see in Christ is what God is like. The Lord Jesus said that "...he that hath seen me hath seen the father" John 14.9. This may bring us to the question, is there a definition of God; this is very succinctly summed up in the title "..the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" Ephesians 1.3.
Another question may be "What is it that makes God a person". The following are a few statements found in scripture, that emphasise that God is a person.
He lives - Psalm 42.2 speaks of the psalmist's soul thirsting for the living God. By implication how could God create all that is living and breathe the breath of life into the man's nostrils so that he became a living soul, if God Himself was not a living person, Genesis 1.21 and 2.7.
He communicates - and expresses Himself, Exodus 33.11. God has also spoken to individuals such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel and David. Hebrews 1.1-2. tells us to whom and through whom he has spoken, as well as the all important fact that He has finally spoken to mankind by His Son. The importance of this is that God will not communicate with man through any anyone else.
God has a will - Psalm 40.8 Mark 3.35 and Luke 22.42.
He can also reason - Isaiah 1.18.
God also thinks - Jeremiah 29.11 and Psalm 139.17.
God responds to what He sees and will also initiate action. Genesis 6.5-8 and Exodus 3.7-8.
God also has feelings and emotions and the following is a brief list with the Bible references.
|Love||Jeremiah 31.3||Anger||Psalm 85.5|
|Desire||Psalm 51.6||Joy||Nehemiah 8.10|
|Delight||Proverbs 11.1||Zealous||Exodus 34.14|
|Grief||Judges 10.16||Affliction||Isaiah 63.9|
|Pity||Psalm 103.13||Compassion||2 Kings 13.23|
There are many other passages of scripture that describe who God is and what God is like.
He is self sufficient and self existent and eternal. This is summed up in the phrase that He is "I am" Exodus 3.14. and Revelation 1.8. In the latter passage the thought relates to the Lord Jesus Christ - "which is, which was, and which is to come". Compare this with Hebrews 13.8.
God declares that he is the only God and none at all can compare to him. "..I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God" Isaiah 44.6. "...and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me." Isaiah 45.21.
He is eternal and incomparable "Who is like unto the Lord our God who dwelleth on high" Psalm 113.5.
God is also unlike us, in that whereas we are subject to change, He isn't, and neither does He. This should give us assurance in that we can place our faith and trust in Him because "I am the Lord and I change not" Malachi 3.6.
Going back to the passage in Acts 17. God is one who can be known. This was the reason that John was writing "..unto you fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning" 1 John 2.13.
God is also very different from us in both thought and deed. He says Himself that "..my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." Isaiah 55.8. Read the previous two verses for context.
God is the God of heaven, and that is where He dwells, but we are on earth, Ecclesiastes 5.2. such a thought should humble us especially when we think that the world should revolve around us. However the wonder of God's love and His concern for us is that His Son the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth in order to save us. This is also the meaning of his name Emmanuel - God with us, Matthew 1.23.
God is also the creator of this vast universe in which we live. Much can be said about the wonders of creation. The first five words of scripture are some of the most sublime words in the Bible and state the fact of creation even though we believe them by faith. They don't invite discussion, only belief. Should we even dare to argue against statements of scripture, then the book of Job has the very question for us. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth" Job 38. 4. - Well where were you?
As we further consider what God is like, look at the following and read the references in scripture.
He is a God of love, he always has been even if we think otherwise - John 3.16 and Galatians 2.20.
He shows grace and mercy, in fact "He delighteth in mercy" Micah 7.18. In order to help us to understand the difference, just consider that grace is giving to us that which we don't deserve, whereas mercy is withholding from us that which we do, on account of our sin.
God forgives us our sins which are against him. Luke 5.21. Remember King David's penitential Psalm - "against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight" Psalm 51.4.
He is a God of justice and judgement. We find that justice and judgement are the habitation of His throne, Psalm 89.14. This will be seen universally when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth and rules and reigns through-out the millennium.
He desires fellowship with and worship from mankind. Genesis 3. 8-9, Psalm 29.2, Revelation 5.14 and Exodus 34.14.
God out of his great love for sinful mankind has provided for man's salvation and the means of entrance into heaven and the presence of God. This provision is through the person and work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Timothy 2.3- 5.
God cares for all mankind irrespective of who they are and what they have done or even think of him. This is sometimes spoken of as the providential care of God. Matthew 5.45 and 1 Peter 5.7.
God is long suffering and patient "...not desiring that any should perish" 2 Peter 3.9. He is also known as a God of patience and consolation, Romans 15.5.
God is also good and it is the "goodness of God that leadeth thee to repentance" Romans 2.4. and he is also impartial in his dealings with mankind "for there is no respect of persons with God" verse 11 of the same passage.
God is a God of order. Read the account of the Lord Jesus bringing order and stability in to the life a "certain man" in Luke 8.26-36, note especially the result of what the Saviour did for him in verse 35. God would also have order in national life as well as family life too - 1 Peter 2.13 and Ephesians 5.22-25 and Exodus 20.12. It is the family as well as the nations that God has instituted for mans well being. At this point read God's thoughts on rebellion in 1 Samuel 15.23.
Finally God is Holy (Hebrews 7.26, and 1 Peter 1.15) meaning that He is separate and utterly righteous with a hatred of iniquity and wickedness, but a great love for us all as individuals, and desiring that we repent. It is important to note that God cannot sin and neither can He lie Titus 1.2.
There are many things that can be said about the character and person of God. Only by reading the Scriptures for ourselves will we find out. God has revealed Himself in the Bible and in the work and person of His Son - the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us read the Scriptures for ourselves 1 Timothy 4.13, believing God's Word John 20.31, and trust Christ for Salvation, Acts 4.12, and all by faith, Ephesians 2.8.
It is the age old question asked by Job, a man in the Old Testament, about 4000 years ago. The book of Job in the Bible is full of questions. There are at least 300 of them in the book for man has always wanted to know the answer to the questions that life poses. Many have believed in an afterlife. Last year London hosted two exhibitions pertaining to men who were convinced of an afterlife that they or theirs made elaborate preparation for it. I refer to Qin Shi Huang and his terracotta army (at the British Museum) and Tutankhamen and his treasures of gold (at the Millennium dome). They lived at separate times, were separated by many miles and lived in different civilisations but both men (and there have been thousands others like them) had sophisticated preparation made for the afterlife.
Why? Man has sought a utopia, a paradise throughout the ages. It may be that he seeks it on this earth but he is aware that even if he finds it he cannot ever hope to dwell there forever for he is subject to death.1 It may be that he does not see that utopia is experienced in this world and then he must believe in the hereafter. Whatever their views of the afterlife one thing is clear from the discoveries at Xian, and on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor, that these men believed that there was such a thing. It is modern man who, largely, has rejected the concept and the reality of an afterlife. In so doing he has also rejected the existence of God and the need for accountability to a higher being.
And yet man, in general, has always sought God. Whether he thought God was the sun, or the moon, or the stars, or the rain or even that he didn?t know, he has always sought for God. The Bible talks of people in Greece worshipping the unknown God. Some have raised great monuments of sacrifice to appease the god that they worshipped. I am thinking of Chichen Itza from the Mayan civilisation located in Mexico. Some have offered vegetables, others animals, some have even offered fellow human beings. Primitive man did this and so have men from quite advanced civilisations.
Appreciation of a deity, or a god, is not the domain of monkeys whose limbs work in a similar way to ours. They do not take a pile of stones, form an altar, make a fire and slay a fellow animal and offer this to its god. It is mankind that has done this. No matter how clever man becomes or his society becomes there is still a desire for things other than those that he can see, smell, taste, touch and hear. That is because there is a spirit in man as the book of Job chapter 322 lets us know. It is powerful men like Qin Shi Huang who have made elaborate preparation for the afterlife down through the years.
God says that there is an afterlife. He does not call it by that name for He speaks of eternity and eternal life. He is the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity3. It was His Son who said, 'I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish'4. God says that the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord5. As a gift it is not the realm of the healthy, wealthy or wise alone. It is offered to anyone and everyone, as God is always fair and just6. It is not something that I can purchase, for which I can do the preparation and yet I am to be prepared for what lies beyond death.
It was the Lord Jesus who paid the price for sin when He died at Calvary. God was never satisfied with all those animal sacrifices that were offered in the Old Testament. And yet each one pointed to the time when His Son would offer the perfect sacrifice that satisfied and appeased God. He gave His life to ransom mine. Look at the nails and the crown of thorns for God has never forgotten them but look beyond them to see that men did not take His life but He laid it down7. I cannot plead for justice before God. My only plea is mercy for God to remove my sins8 and make me fit for the eternal life that He alone offers. I need that sacrifice. Then all that is to be done is to accept what the Lord Jesus has done and prepared for me and accept the gift of eternal life. Refusal to accept the gift for whatever reason means that there can be no home in heaven. There is no need for elaborate preparation. Everything that needs to be done to secure eternal life was done 2000 years ago at Calvary. All God asks of me is to believe and receive and eternal life is mine.
1. Job 14.14
2. Job 32.8
3. Isaiah 57.15
4. John 10.28
5. Acts 6.23
6. I Peter 3.18
7. John 10.18
8. Luke 18.13
In this very strange time of panic in the financial sector of the whole world, we want to point you to "The Rock" on which your life can be based. A foundation which will NEVER be affected by the FTSE or global markets or any other factor that currently could be causing unrest or even fear in your heart.
"The Rock" that we speak of is our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Bible when Simon Peter, one of the disciples, answered the Lord's question as to who people said He was - replied: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God". Jesus replied "On this Rock I will build my church." 1
On this absolute truth - that Jesus is, was and ever will be The Son of The Almighty and that He came to this earth to walk among ordinary people and show God's love but primarily to lay down His life as payment to God for the sins of each one of us - on this truth our present and future can be safely founded.
The events at Calvary's cross were always God's plan - don't think for a moment that Jesus was overtaken by events. He said "No man takes my life from me, I lay it down of myself and will take it again"2 Jesus rose from the dead, proving to us that God Almighty had accepted His sacrifice.
Simple, childlike faith in what Jesus has done for YOU and an admission by you to God that you cannot do anything about the problem of your sin yourself, will result in your future being secure with God in heaven regardless of what happens here. You can then begin to "Lay up treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also."3
If you truly ask God to open your eyes and heart to His truth you will find that the verse that says "A man's life does not consist of the things that he possesses"4 will be true of you.
1: Matthew 16 v 16 & 18
2: John 10 v 17-18
3: Matthew 6 v 19-20
4: Luke 12 v15
It is thought that Saul was born about 2 a.d. in the city of Tarsus, a university town known for its stoic philosophers and culture. His family were most likely wealthy as they had purchased Roman citizenship; the cost at the time being 500 drachma and 1 drachma being a days pay. That means that the ordinary citizen would have to save all their earnings for a year and a half. Something most would find impossible to do.
Around the age of 14 Saul was sent to study at the university under GAMALIEL, the grandson of HILLIEL, one of the great rabbis who preside over a college of about 1,000 students. Saul was thus already amongst the elite of his generation and supposedly graduated with honours.
His intellect is unquestionable; he spoke Greek, Latin and Hebrew, three very difficult languages. His epistles contain quotations from several philosophers.
Physically he wasn't much to look at. Paul himself in 2 Corinthians 10:10 refers to people describing him as having "a bodily presence that is weak and his speech contemptible". He doesn't refute the description.
He rose rapidly to a position of authority amongst the Pharisees, at the time of the stoning of Stephen, which was three years after Christ's crucifixion, Acts 7:57 tells us that the mob, "laid down their coats at a young man's feet, who was called Saul", so he was probably in his late twenties.
Paul himself states in Galatians 1:14, "I was advancing in Judaism beyond many contemporaries amongst my countrymen, being extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions".
And that took some doing amongst the Pharisees who were the strictest sect amongst the Hebrews. They had expanded the 10 commandments to 613 and in addition had a list of 1,521 things not to do.
As an example they were forbidden to spit on the Sabbath in case the spittle disturbed the dust and it could be construed as cleaning. Likewise their women were forbidden to look in a mirror on the Sabbath incase they spotted a grey hair and absent-mindedly plucked it out which could be classed as cleaning themselves - presumably they didn't wash on the Sabbath either.
So Saul had achieved high rank amongst this very strict sect and had been given the commission of seeking out Christians and punishing them. He took to his task with great enthusiasm.
Acts 8:3 says; "As for Saul, he made havoc of the Church, entering into every house. And hailing men and women committed them to prison".
Ironically in causing the Christians to flee he helped to spread the Gospel, for Acts 8:4 says "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word". So perhaps God was using Saul even then?
Acts 9:1 tells us; "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings, and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord went to the high priest". No wonder ANANIAS was terrified when the Lord instructed him to: "Arise, go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus; for behold he prayeth".
ANANIAS must have wondered what he had done to offend God to be given the task of seeking out this terrible man. He answers, "Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy Saints at Jerusalem".
After the stoning of Stephen when Saul asked the high priest for a warrant to allow him to persecute the Christians in Damascus they granted his request straight away, such was his authority.
A thoroughly unpleasant young man who you certainly would not want to meet.
Paul later describes himself as being the greatest of sinners, yet as Saul he would not have agreed with this description, for Saul regarded himself as a fervent upholder of the commandments, and it was this fervour, his self righteousness that was an offence to God.
The self-righteous are as devoid of true righteousness as the unrighteous. The major difference between the two is the unrighteous sinner acknowledges his unrighteousness but the self-righteous denies it.
The unrighteous knows he is a sinner, is ashamed and admits his need of the grace of God. The self-righteous boasts he is a saint and is proud of what he thinks he is and declares his sufficiency through works and merit.
The unrighteous desires to be better; the self-righteous believes he could not be better.
The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18: 9-14 gives a vivid portrayal of this.
Paul admits in Philippians 3: 1-11 that he was the epitomy of a self-righteous sinner:-
"If anyone thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, [self-righteousness], I more so".
As Saul he made seven boasts: -
1 - Of his covenantal ancestry: "circumcised on the 8th day" - making him superior to those not born under the covenant, also those who came under the covenant by conversion and were thus circumcised as adults.
2 - Of his ethnic background: "of the stock of Israel" - that he was born into the nation that God called, "a holy people to the Lord your God...chosen...for himself; a special treasure above all the people who are on the earth".
3 - Of his tribal ancestry: "Of the tribe of Benjamin" - Benjamin being one of Jacob's favourite sons by Rachel. The tribe that joined Judah in the reconstituted Israel following the death of Solomon. Saul gloried in his denominational ancestry.
4 - Of his pious purity: "a Hebrew of the Hebrews" - considering himself to be the purest of the pure. The epitome of what the pure should be.
5 - Of his legal strictness: "concerning the Law a Pharisee" - in his words "according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee".
6 - Of his religious fervour: "concerning zeal persecuting the church" - He was eager to exterminate not convert those who differed with him in religion.
7 - Of his irreproachable self- righteousness: "Concerning the righteousness which is the law, blameless".
Finally, he boasted that nobody could rightly accuse him of breaking ANY of Gods commandments. A self-righteous fool indeed.
In Saul's mind his persecution of the Christians was his duty as a custodian of the Torah.
His offence at the Christian message was not the affirmation of Jesus' messiah-ship, but the attribution to Jesus of a saving role, which robbed the law of all its value in the matter of salvation. Saul was violently hostile to the Christian faith, (followers of 'The Way' as the early Christians called themselves), because of the importance which he attached to adherence to the law as the way to salvation.
His persecution of the Christians was venomous and he laid waste to their church and pursued them unto death.
Yet through Gods saving grace he was shortly to become patient, kind, enduring, self-sacrificing and a missionary to the gentiles.
Let us return to the stoning of Stephen in Acts 6: 8-15 and Acts 7: 47-60, Stephen makes an eloquent statement including a precis of the scriptures from Abraham to Solomon.
Saul heard these words and was unmoved, 'his heart was not pricked'.
Notice that during the stoning Saul 'looked after the coats' he was much too much above soiling his hands himself.
So here we have Saul, a self-righteous bigot from a privileged background, well educated, a man of position and power. Respected by his own kind, feared by others.
He had everything going for him, a glittering career laid in front of him.
When Saul set off on the road to Damascus every circumstance of his life was against him becoming a Christian. He had been reared as a Pharisee steeped in the Jewish religion, an avowed enemy of Christ, he had heard the Gospel message and his heart had not been moved, he was not seeking salvation - he thought he already had it through his observance of the law and he was actively engaged in eliminating 'The People of the Way'.
Saul had no desire to become a Christian but God had other plans for him.
The details of Saul's conversion can be read in Acts 9 verses 1 to 22.
What could have wrought such a dramatic and immediate change in such a despicable man?
Nothing less than, as he attests himself, he saw Christ resurrected in the Glory.
Nothing else could have caused him to give up everything he had - he lost his job and the power and status that went with it; he lost his family and friends - as Pharisees they would have cut him off completely, they would have had nothing to do with a Christian never mind one who preached to the gentiles.
He turned his back on everything that the day before had been the entire fabric of his life, his entire way of life.
Nothing less than seeing Christ resurrected could have kept him steadfast to his new life when he became Paul. We might think we sometimes have a hard time as Christians but Paul underwent so much more.
He spent the rest of his life travelling and spreading the Gospel, he did not live off those he visited he paid his own way as a tent maker. During the next thirty years he was stoned, shipwrecked three times, flogged with thirty-nine lashes on five occasions, beaten with rods three times, imprisoned at least twice and spent most of the time in inhospitable countryside in fear for his life. (See II Corinthians, Chapter 11 versus 23 to 31 for a full account).
Yet through all this, his faith never faltered, his message never altered.
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3 vs 23
The wages of sin is death.
But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6 vs 23
If God could save one such as Saul, which he did: then he is able to save you as he did me.
"Those that earn money earn it to put into a bag with holes" - Haggai ch.1 v.6
It's a quote from the Bible, written a long time ago. God was explaining that life can seem very futile. We are sure the description is a good one for what we are told is the current "Credit crunch" or perhaps even better a definition of inflation.
"Every man did that which was right in his own eyes" - Judges ch.21 v 25
This is what we see so often around us, it amounts to selfishness and a total disregard for God, His laws and guidelines or even the norms of society.
You would think that the Creator could be relied upon to give advice to the creature but so many of us think that we can "go it alone"
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbour as yourself" - Matt ch. 33 v 37/39
This is a stunning verse and the Lord Jesus Christ put it forward as the best, most successful way to live.
Maybe you have tried lots of things and been disappointed.
Perhaps you think you know what the Bible has to say. God had the Bible written to guide us through life, and to tell us about the great sacrifice His Son made in coming here to live as a perfect man.
So that He could die on the cross as a perfect man.
To take away the sin of the world, so that those who believe on him and trust in Him could be made perfect.
Why would He do that?
Because He loves those who have done wrong to be made right, and wants them to be in heaven with Him.
Perhaps you could look again at the message of the Bible. It is the most relevant book ever written.
If you don't have a Bible and would like one, free of charge, please get in touch.
If you do have one and have taken it off the shelf to have another look, may we suggest that you start to read in the New Testament, possibly the Gospel of John. Then it would be great if you got in touch to let us know what you think.
This month shall be unto you the beginning of months
Most people at some time or another have expressed a wish for a new beginning, and many people may have made a resolution to do better or forsake a bad habit from the beginning of the new year. We have all at some time or another resolved to be different, perhaps because of dissatisfaction with our way of life.
The children of Israel were God's people, (Exodus 9:1) and they were in bondage in Egypt, (Exodus 2:23). God had determined that they should be brought out of Egypt (Exodus 6:6) into the promised land (Exodus 13:5) so that they could live for Him and serve Him (Exodus 8:1). The start of this was to be marked by what God called the Passover, and it was to be to them the beginning of months (Exodus 12:2). As we consider that, what a wonderful thing that God should devise a new beginning for mankind, and how reassuring to think that it was all of God's doing, and that a person's life could even start with God. How infinitely better then, to ask God and then allow Him to change us and our lives, rather than trying to change ourselves or our own way in life. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). God's interest in us and His thoughts towards us are ever and always for our spiritual and eternal well-being (Jeremiah 29:11).
God's intention was that the children of Israel should be brought out from the bondage that they suffered under, and to leave behind the old life. We too need God's salvation, so that we can become something for God, like His Son (Romans 8:29), and "in Christ a new creature --- behold all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). In order for them to be redeemed the children of Israel had very simple instructions to follow. It is all detailed in the second book of the Bible - (Exodus 12). They basically had to take a lamb, keep it, then kill it, and finally apply the blood, and make sure that they were sheltering in their houses when the angel of death passed over. This required two things from them and no more: these things were first of all obedience (obedience is rarely a persons strong point), (see 1 Samuel 15:22), and secondly faith (Hebrews 11:28). This means simply trusting God and taking him at His word, just as the Psalmist did, (Psalm 56:11). If they did what God had commanded them, then they would be safe and secure (Exodus 12:13).
If we move forward to our present day then God would have us be saved by simply trusting and believing on His beloved Son - if our desire is to be saved and be right with God, then all we have to do is to "believe on the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ"., and then we shall be saved (Acts 16:31). Just as the Passover Lamb was slain and it's blood was shed so that those individuals sheltering in the house and under the blood could be redeemed; so it was that Christ died and shed His blood at Calvary when He was crucified, so that He could become our substitute (Hebrews 9:12-14), and "bring us nigh unto God" (Ephesians 2:13). dying for us as individuals (Romans 5:8) and for our sins too (1 Corinthians 15:3); this as was the case with the children of Israel, that we "might be delivered from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10), and "be saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:9). The plan of Salvation is all of God, but the response is our responsibility, for which one day "every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12).
These words were spoken by Hagar, Abraham's wife's handmaid, (Genesis 16:13). The words and the acknowledgement behind them reveal a level of understanding of God that is becoming increasingly rare in our society to-day.
God should be regarded for who He is and what He is. He is omniscient - all knowing, omnipotent - all powerful, and omnipresent - everywhere at the same point in time. God is not restricted as we are, He "neither slumbers nor sleeps" (Psalm 121:2-4). God notices "and is a God of knowledge and by Him actions are weighed" (1 Samuel 2:3). He hears and is ready to act. The Psalmist declares that "Thee Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand and seek God" (Psalm 14:2). What did God see and find? "There is none that doeth good, no not one" (Psalm 14:3b) - See also Romans 3:10-18.
It is "the fool who says in his heart there is no God" (Psalm 14:1 and 53:1-2). It is the man and woman of faith who recognises that God is a God who sees and notices all. It is recorded of the Lord Jesus Christ that He knew "what was in man" (John 2:24-25 see also Acts 1:24 and 15:8) - of course He would and still does because He has created man. It has to be asked if our actions are those of people who realise that God sees all, and knows all, not only our deeds but our thoughts as well. These thoughts from the Scriptures are very sobering, because they indicate the fact that the God of the universe takes note of every thought we have ever had and every deed and action that we have ever done.
It is all too easy to be carried along with our little lives here on earth - lives that "are as a vapour" (James 4:14), and yet either forget or never even be aware that there is a day of reckoning that is coming when God will "judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31). For the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, this will be at the judgement seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). There we shall be judged for our actions as believers taking into account our motives, It will not be for our sins, because Christ "His own self bore our sins on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). Sadly, if we have never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation there is only "a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation" (Hebrews 10:27). This need never be our lot, because trust in Christ and his sacrificial death for us at Calvary, will bring salvation that we all need, if we wish to be with the Him in Heaven.
We all need to lead and live our lives in the light of Calvary and where it is we wish to spend Eternity. If we can say with Hagar "Thou God seest me", then how has that affected the way that we live and the response to the Lord Jesus Christ and His offer of salvation, for truly "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Such is the greatness of the Love of God, and our eternal destiny is dependent upon our response.
The Bible speaks of better things to come, (Hebrews 11:40) and who would deny that sometimes their thoughts have dwelt on future better things. Even with the weather we are often looking forward to better days and see things in the spring as a token of better things on the way.
As we view the world around us, we might think that things only get worse, and ask the question "where will it all end". We are to realise though, that God is in control, and that he wants the best for mankind (John 3:16).This though can only be so through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). The Lord Jesus came to deal with our sin that has so blighted us and the world in which we live (Hebrews 9:26). In order to have any hope of eternal life and a future home in Heaven we need to have our sins forgiven. The question was once asked, "Who can forgive sins but God alone" (Luke 5:21). This was in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ, who because He is God, is able to forgive us (Luke 7:49). The wonder of God's Love is that we can be forgiven for all that is past, (Jeremiah 31:34), and have the assurance that we are right with God through faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Bible would indicate that all sin is against God (Psalm 51:4), and that God will not have sin in his presence (Habakkuk 1:13). Sin has to be dealt with and the Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who is both willing and able to deal with it. The reason for this is that He is the only one who is sinless, three times over the Bible witnesses to the fact that He is the one without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22, and 1 John 3:5), and therefore when He died at Calvary, he died for sins not his own, but rather for the sins of the of the whole world (1 John 2:2). His sole purpose in coming to earth was to die to save individuals in the world from their sins, and to give them eternal life that they may never perish (John 3:15 and 10:28). In the Old Testament sin was dealt with by the sacrifice of certain animals, but they were continually sacrificed; when Christ died his sacrifice for sins was once and for all, never to be repeated (Hebrews 10:10-12).
All of this should give us confidence to place our faith and trust in God's well beloved only begotten Son, so that we can be assured of the forgiveness of our sins, (Isaiah 32:17 and (Hebrews 10:22), and a home in heaven for eternity. With this we can then truly look forward to "better things to come", and in the meantime on earth, be in the good of all that God wants for us.
Isn't it good once again to see so many fields locally that have been harvested. It only seems a very short time ago that we saw the new green shoots poking up through the tough brown earth. But the year has moved on, the crops have grown and ripened, the harvest has been taken in and the straw bailed.
This puts me in mind of a parable Jesus told of a wealthy farmer. You can read about it in the Bible, The gospel of Luke chapter 12 verses 15 - 21
This man had had a bumper harvest and realised that he needed to pull down his barns and build bigger ones (Obviously before the days of planning restrictions!). No problem with that you may say, a wise decision. The problem was that the farmer says to his soul "You have many goods laid up for many years, take your ease, eat, drink and be merry".
In the next verse we read 4 very stark couplets;
BUT GOD (said) YOU FOOL THIS NIGHT YOUR SOUL (will be required of you)
None of his wealth would be any good to him if he had no soul. Only God knows when "your soul will be required of you".
It is vital that we all, individually, take time NOW to get right with God. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to be our Saviour.
Much of the time we act as if we will live for ever. The truth is that we will.
Our decision about whether or not to repent of our sins and take Jesus Christ as our Saviour will determine whether that is eternal life in heaven or eternal death in hell.
So if you have had a bumper year this year, well done, enjoy the proceeds but we urge you to get right with God FIRST.
Please feel free to contact us for literature, discussion or comment. We would be delighted to speak to you about the reality of having peace with God, and the change it has made in our lives.
"But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a women, made under the law. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Galatians 4v4-5
The passage of Scripture tells a great deal about the coming into the world of the Lord Jesus Christ - God's only begotten Son. It tells us that it was in God's time; not ours. The Bible tells us that it was "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us". God in His great love, saw the need to send His Son in order to deal with our sin. He didn't send anybody else not even angels, only His well beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It had to be that way because only God can forgive sins, and the Lord Jesus was also the only one who has ever lived who is without sin, He did no sin and in Him was no sin. The Son came in willingness, and in obedience to the Father, and he lived every moment of His life in pleasing God.
He was born of a woman, indicating that although He was the Son of God he became human. "He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men". Yet He was without sin. He was truly God but became truly human. He became that which he had never been before, but never ceased to be that which He had always been. He was born under the law and was the only one to have perfectly kept the law. Please note though that we can never be saved through striving to be like Christ, but only by faith and trust in Him, believing that He died for us as individuals. Lastly we are to note that it was to redeem us or bring us back to God that He came to earth. He died that we may be forgiven and that we might be adopted and born again into Gods family. What wonderful news all of this is at any time of the year to hear that God should ever think upon us and send His beloved Son to die for us that we may be forgiven and live eternally with Him in the Glory of heaven, where nothing defiles. Christ has done it all; will you accept Him as your Lord and Saviour.
'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved'. These words spoken by Jeremiah the prophet in about BC 600 still have a modern ring to them some 2600 years later. For some people late August/ early September have a sadness associated with the month. The mornings and evenings getting progressively darker, the days gradually get colder, and the summer holidays so long anticipated are probably now just memories and photographs on film or computer. Whilst the autumn often has sunny days and beautiful colours, there is a sense that these lovely days won't last, the cold of winter will come and the joy of spring is some 6 months or so away.More importantly, for Jeremiah, there was a spiritual aspect to this saying. He was concerned over the failure of people to take up the help, or salvation, that there was to be found in God. Jeremiah's concern has a strong relevance in 2005. God's love for us is real and so great, The Bible says that He finally sent the Lord Jesus Christ, his only son to show us the way. The Lord Jesus died upon the cross at Calvary that he might save us from the judgement of sin, to give us peace with God, and an inheritance in heaven. Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ anyone, and everyone, can experience peace with God, and a knowledge that their sins have been forgiven. As you drive around Hurst village and see the fields harvested and being prepared for autumn sowings reflect on what Jeremiah had to say - 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved'
Spring is a great time of the year for the promise of new life. The long dark days of winter receive a jolt when summertime breezes in and the daffodils burst forth in radiant new life. Daffodils are amazing flowers. Months ago maybe you planted those apparently dead and dry bulbs into the cold dark earth, trusting that the wonder of new life will be fulfilled in due time. Doesn't it make you think, when the small green blade appears? It is against all the odds naturally speaking, and yet, the promise of new life is there for all to see. One thing marks out the true Christian. He lives in the power of new life today and will appreciate it in all its fullness tomorrow. Many will remember how the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, was taken and by wicked hands crucified. When the stone was rolled across the entrance to the tomb where His body laid, man thought that was the end of Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, remarkably, the One who had the right and authority to lay down His life was the same One who had the right and authority to take it again. Despite the might of the Roman guard outside the tomb, three days later the ultimate power of heaven was seen as the angel rolled back the stone, so man could see for himself "He is not here, for He is risen". The promise of New Life has become reality. The Bible says, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things are past away, all things have become new". Becoming a Christian is a life changing experience. The certain promise of new life commencing in time and finding fulfilment in eternity. It cannot fail. It's guaranteed by the Man from eternity who finished the work of the Father in time and is now seated in glory. We would encourage you to read the Bible for yourself, or alternatively, contact us for further details.
It has become a familiar expression in recent days. People from different backgrounds and persuasions have been to see the film, even those who perhaps would never go to churchwhich is interesting. If you wanted to find out more about Jesus Christ and what Christianity is all about, the cinema would not usually rate as your primary source location. I wonder if you have ever dropped into your local church for an hour or so to find out more. It would be worth it, and you will find that there is no entry fee! Churches, of course, come in all shapes and sizes, and what they stand for and teach can be as varied as the different building designs and shapes. The film, the Passion of Christ, may have raised questions in your mind and you would like to know more. So if you are genuinely interested in discovering more about that unique Man - Jesus Christ, Son of God - begin by taking a look at the Bible, it contains the full story, which the film could never provide. Take a look at the gospels, perhaps the book of Mark or John. You will find them towards the beginning of the New Testament (Check the index in the front of any Bible or New Testament). They will tell you about the Man from eternity, who came into time for you. Yes, you as an individual. Why? Because He loves you! Pretty amazing, and that is just the start! Can I just encourage you? Seen the film? Now read the book!
Personally I really enjoy it - although I must acknowledge that my wife does most of the onerous work of buying, writing, and sending Christmas cards, and much of the food buying and cooking! I still enjoy giving and receiving presents and having close family and friends together for meals or walking together beside the Kennet and Avon canal, or along the river at Henley or Marlow during the Christmas break. Christmas often divides people, some prepare for it well in advance, Christmas presents often being bought in the January sales 11 months before; whilst others seem to only start thinking about it just after lunch on Christmas eve! God prepared for it hundreds/thousands of years in advance. Almost from the beginning of the Bible God, through various prophets, had been telling people that He was going to send his Son who would be someone very special. This special factor, for me, is still found in the Christmas story in the Bible. The wonder that God's Son came into this world but was found wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger in Bethlehem. The truth is heard in the message of the angel "a Saviour which is Christ the Lord." The excitement of it is seen in the song of the angels "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men". The great thing was that God wanted his gift to be seen and enjoyed by all. He didn't approach one, or two, in high office or in seats of power. He took his message to hard working shepherds - those looking after their sheep by night and invited them to find the Saviour by finding the baby in the manager. Later God would speak to those wealthier - wise men from the east, who would bring the child, God's Son, gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We also read that, having found him, they worshipped him. Christ's coming into the world was all part of God's plan to rescue mankind. Christ's birth was not sufficient to save us, it took his death upon Calvary's cross when God placed mans sin upon him to complete the remedy and make it possible for us to be right with God. Christmas services are very special to me. If you are able to join us at the Gospel Hall over the Christmas time we would be delighted to see you. If you cannot join us I would ask that you find time over this busy period to spend a few moments thinking about the greatest gift of all time, the gift of God's Son and find in him the message of the angel - "a Saviour which is Christ the Lord".