Second Sunday after the Epiphany: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51

Second Sunday after the Epiphany: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51
God is restoring His glory among His people.
The call of Samuel is a vivid example of what God can do in the lives of children. Samuel’s early response to God set in motion a whole process of events leading Samuel to become ‘a prophet of the Lord’ through whom ‘the Word of the Lord… came to all Israel’ (1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Samuel 3:19-4:1). Let us ground our children in Christ, encouraging them to have great expectations of what God can do in and with their lives as they grow up, loving Him. The people of Israel were ‘defeated’ by the Philistines. The greatest tragedy of this defeat was the ‘capture’ of ‘the ark of God’: ‘The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured’ (1 Samuel 4:10-11, 22). We may lose ‘goods, honour, children, wife’ (Church Hymnary, 406). The glory of God among His people – We must not lose this!
God is leading us on to His eternal glory.
Through Christ our Saviour, we are led ‘in the way everlasting’: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son’ (Psalm 139:24; 1 John 5:11). God’s great purpose of eternal salvation seems ‘too wonderful’ – ‘too good to be true’! ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from heaven and die to save a child like me, and yet I know that it is true…’ (Psalm 139:6; Church Hymnary, 385). God has a glorious future planned for us. We can hardly even begin to take it in: ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.’ We know that ‘no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ yet we rejoice in this: ‘God has revealed it to us by His Spirit’ (Psalm 139:6; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). ‘Lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:24).
We glorify God when we remember that we were bought with a price.
The Lord has placed the highest value on us: ‘you were bought with a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23). Our love for Him must be stronger than any other love. Some are under pressure, at home, from an unbelieving husband or wife. You wonder whether your Christian witness is doing any good (1 Corinthians 7:16). You feel you are getting nowhere. You feel like giving up. You feel yourself being dragged away from the Lord. What does the Word of God say? – ‘Lead the life which the Lord has assigned’; ‘Remain with God’ (1 Corinthians 7:17, 24). A difficult situation at home is just one example of ‘the world’ trying to ‘squeeze us into its own mould’ (Romans 12:2). The world will keep chipping away at our faith – until there’s nothing left. ‘Do not love the world or the things in the world… He who does the will of God abides for ever’ (1 John 2:17).
We glorify God when we are transformed by the power of His grace.
Andrew brought his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus (John 1:40-42). ‘You are… You shall be…’ (John 1:42). Jesus looks beyond what we are now. He sees what we will become through the transforming power of His grace. The ‘water’ became ‘wine’ (John 2:9). This was the Lord’s doing. In Christ, we have been ‘made alive’. This is the work of God. He is ‘rich in mercy’. He loves us with a ‘great love’ (Ephesians 2:4-5). At a wedding, Jesus rejoices with those who rejoice (John 2:1-11). In the temple, He rebukes those who are proud (John 2:13-17). There was ‘death’ in the temple. Those who were spiritually ‘dead’ acted in complete disregard for the true purpose of God’s House – ‘My House shall be called a house of prayer’ (Matthew 21:13). ‘Raised from the dead’, we receive ‘new life’ (John 2:22; Romans 6:4). Be real with Jesus. He will bless you (23-25).
—–
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year B.
Advertisements

First Sunday after the Epiphany (Baptism of the Lord): Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

First Sunday after the Epiphany (Baptism of the Lord): Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11
Getting our priorities right
‘Genesis’ means ‘beginning’. These opening verses challenge us to get our priorities right – (a) The priority of God (Genesis 1:1). God comes first. Before anyone else is mentioned, He is there. (b) The priority of God’s Word (Genesis 1:3). God is the first to speak. Before any human word is spoken, there is the Word of the Lord. (c) The priority of God’s Spirit (Genesis 1:2). All was ‘empty’, all was ‘darkness’, yet the ‘Spirit of God’ was at work, and transformation was set in motion. Here, we have God’s priorities, set out in the Bible’s first three verses – Putting God first and listening to His Word, we are to pray for the moving of God’s Spirit, ‘hovering over’ our lives to transform them. For those who make God’s priorities their own, there is a promise of great blessing (Psalm 1:1-2). It is the great blessing of knowing Jesus Christ, our Saviour, as ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23).
God speaks, and it is done (Genesis 1:3, 6-7, 11). God is pleased with what He has done (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12). This is the pattern of God’s original creation. It is to be the pattern of our life as a ‘new creation’ (2 Corintinians 5:17). God speaks to us and we say, ‘Your will be done’ (Matthew 6:10). We say, ‘let it be to me according to Your Word’ (Luke 1:38). God looks on such obedience, this ‘walking in the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16, 22-23), and He sees that it is ‘good’ (Micah 6:8). In these verses we read of the separation of the light and the darkness, the separation of the waters and the dry land, and the fruitfulness of God’s creation. There are lessons for us here. We are to ‘walk in the light’ (1 John 1:7). We are to let the Spirit’s ‘living water’ flow in us (John 7:39-39). Walking in the light, letting the living water flow – this is the way of fruitfulness.
Receiving strength from the Lord
‘The Lord is my Strength…The Lord is the Strength of His people’ (Psalm 28:7-8). Our personal strengthening is closely related to the strengthening of God’s people. Don’t be a ‘lone ranger’, going it alone, keeping yourself to yourself. Share your strength with others. Draw strength from them. ‘Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another’ (Hebrews 10:24-25). Where does your strength come from? It comes from ‘the Lord’ who ‘sits enthroned as King for ever’ (Psalm 29:10). We grow strong as we listen for ‘the voice of the Lord’ (Psalm 29:3-9). Don’t let God’s voice be drowned out – ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4).
Bringing sinners to the Saviour
Apollos ‘taught accurately the things concerning Jesus’. He needed to have ‘the way of God expounded to him more accurately’(Acts 18:24-26). There is always more to learn. We should never adopt a ‘know-it-all’ attitude. In ‘two years’ of ministry, ‘God did’ great things through Paul (Acts 19:10-11). Paul was moving on. His road led to ‘Rome.’ It was a road, full of blessing – ‘The Word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily’ (Acts 19:20-21). Paul was on the move. God was on the move. Wherever Paul went, there were opportunities to make Christ known. Wherever he went, people were trusting Christ. Paul was moving from place to place, bringing Christ to so many different people. People were moving ‘from death to life’ (John 5:24). This is what drove Paul on – Bringing more and more sinners to his Saviour!
Becoming fishers of men
This is a new ‘beginning.’ The prophets had spoken. Now, the Saviour has come. This is Good News. John has prepared the way. Now, he stands aside to make way for Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ (Mark 1:1, 11). Following Jesus’ baptism, there was temptation. This was Kingdom against kingdom. Satan’s kingdom was under threat. The Kingdom of God had come. Christ triumphed over Satan. In Him, we triumph when, hearing the Gospel declaration – ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’- , we obey the Gospel command – ‘repent and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:15). With the command, ‘Follow Me’, there is the promise, ‘I will make you…’ (Mark 1:17). Christ’s call is ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14). It is truth – a call to discipleship. It is grace – a call from Jesus. In Christ, we become ‘a new creation’(2 Corinthians 5:17). We become ‘fishers of men’ (Mark 1:17).
—–
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year B

First Sunday after Christmas Day: Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7 (or Philippians 2:5-11); Luke 2:22-40 The Name of Jesus is Good News. It tells us of the Saviour’s love.

First Sunday after Christmas Day: Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7 (or Philippians 2:5-11); Luke 2:22-40
The Name of Jesus is Good News. It tells us of the Saviour’s love.
‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus has fulfilled these words (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus has come, ‘proclaiming the Good News of God.’ He tells us that ‘the time has come.’ This is the time of opportunity, the time for making our response to Jesus Christ. He calls for our response – ‘Repent and believe the Good News!’ He calls us to make our response now – ‘now is the acceptable time… now is the day of salvation’ (Mark 1:14-15; 2 Corinthians 6:2). There will come a time when the time of opportunity comes to an end. When Christ returns ‘with power and great glory’, it will be ‘the Day of vengeance of our God.’ We do not know when Christ will return. Get ‘ready’ for His Return. Put your ‘faith’in Him (Isaiah 61:2; Matthew 24:30, 36, 44; 25:13; Luke 18:8).
God has given us ‘a new Name’. It is ‘the Name which is above every name’, the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 62:2; Philippians 2:9-11). Christ loves us. He has given Himself for us. He calls us His ‘Bride’ (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2, 9). Through faith in Christ, we have become ‘the Holy People.’ Through Him, we are ‘the Redeemed of the Lord.’ We have been ‘Sought After’ by the Lord. In Him, we are ‘the City No Longer Deserted’ (Isaiah 62:12; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 1:18-19; Luke 19:10; John 14:18). ‘There is a Name I love to hear… It tells me of a Saviour’s love, who died to set me free. It tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea… Jesus, the Name I love so well, the Name I love to hear! … O how I love the Saviour’s Name, the sweetest Name on earth!’ (Mission Praise, 672).
We hear the Good News of the Saviour’s love, and we say, “Praise the Lord.”
‘Praise the Lord’. Psalms 146 and 147 began and ended with these words. Now, we find the same beginning and ending in each of these three Psalms – ‘Praise the Lord’. Our personal song of praise to God – ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock… I will sing a new song to You, O God… I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your Name for ever and ever; Every day I will praise You… My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord… I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’ (Psalm 144:1, 9; Psalm 145:1-2, 21; Psalm 146:2) – is just a small part of something so much richer and fuller – ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’ (Psalm 150:6). May these great Psalms of praise inspire us to praise the Lord more truly and more fully.
We hear the Good News of our Saviour. God has given His Spirit to us.
‘God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts’ (Galatians 4:6). The Spirit is not a reward we earn by being good people. The Spirit is God’s gift (Titus 3:5). Paul connects the gift of the Spirit with Christ’s death for us and our faith in Christ (Galatians 3:13-14). We do not come to God with our religion in one hand and our morality in the other, insisting that we deserve to be blessed by Him. We look away from ourselves to Christ – ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling’ (Church Hymnary, 83). All pride in ourselves must be brought to Christ’s Cross as we humbly pray, ‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me, break me, melt me, mould me, fill me’ (Mission Praise, 613). God has given His Spirit to us. Let’s give ourselves to Him – to ‘be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18).
We hear the Good News of our Saviour. God will complete His good work in us.
Do you feel like you can`t go on? Do you feel like giving up? Here`s God`s Word of encouragement for you: ‘He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6). God finishes what He starts – ‘He didn`t bring us this far to leave us. He didn`t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn`t build His home in us to move away. He didn`t lift us up to let us down’. In all the changes of life, we must remember this: God is faithful. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. We don`t keep going because we are strong. We are ‘kept by the power of God’ (1 Peter 1:5). In ‘humility’ let us live ‘to the glory and praise of God’ (Philippians 2:3; 1:11). ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ (Philippians 2:11) – He will give you the strength to keep going when you feel like giving up.
We hear the Good News of our Saviour. Let us offer our worship to Him.
Jesus ‘fulfilled all righteousness’ (Matthew 3:15). His circumcision and presentation to the Lord was ‘according to the law of Moses’ (Luke 2:21-24; Leviticus 12:1-8). Jesus’obedience was always more than mere conformity to ‘the written code.’ He was walking ‘in the Spirit.’ He was filled with ‘the Spirit of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 3:3, 6). His obedience came ‘from the heart’and His ‘praise’came ‘not from men but from God’(Romans 6:17; 2:29). What joy there was for Simeon and Anna! This was ‘salvation’, ‘redemption’ (Luke 2:30, 38). As you journey through life, don’t ‘lose Jesus’ (Luke 2:43-45). Keep close to Him! If you do ‘lose Him’, where will you find Him again? – ‘In the temple’ (Luke 2:46). Have you lost your way? Find your way back to ‘the sanctuary of God’ – and things will start to fall into place again (Psalm 73:16-17)!
—–
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year B.

Season of Christmas: Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day) III – Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12); John 1:1-14

Season of Christmas: Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day) III – Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12); John 1:1-14
Good News
‘Good News’- Let us ‘shout for joy’. ‘Good News’- Let us sing ‘songs of joy’.
There is the Good News of God’s reign – ‘Your God reigns’.
There is the Good News of our redemption – ‘The Lord has redeemed’ us.
We are not to keep the Good News to ourselves. This ‘news of happiness’ is to be shared with everyone. We must let ‘all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God’.
‘Christ died for our sins’- This is Good News.
Christ was ‘raised on the third day’- This is Good News.
‘Jesus is Lord’- This is Good News.
This is the Good News we must ‘pass on’ to others. In our world, there is so much bad news. We must not let the Good News be drowned out by the bad news. We must make sure that the people hear the Good News – loud and clear (Isaiah 52:7-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Mission Praise, 249).
God loves us.
‘Exalt the Lord our God… Make a joyful noise to the Lord’ (Psalms 99:5,9; 98:4,6; 100:1).
We are to worship the Lord with joy. We are to glorify God. We are to enjoy Him.
In our worship, we must never forget the holiness of God: ‘He is holy! … The Lord our God is holy!’ (Psalm 99:5, 9).
In our worship, we rejoice in the love of God: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever… He has done marvellous things!’(Psalms 100:5; 98:1).
The God of ‘awesome purity’ loves us with the most perfect love of all: ‘No earthly father loves like Thee…’ Let us worship Him with holy fear and heartfelt love: ‘O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears… with trembling hope and penitential tears! Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art, for Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart’(Church Hymnary, 356).
Let us worship Christ – our Lord and our God.
From the heights of heaven and the depths of suffering, ‘God… has spoken to us by His Son’ (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Jesus Christ is God’s ‘Word’ to us. He is ‘the Word’who came from heaven: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. He is ‘the Word’who came to earth: ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…’ (John 1:1-14).
In heaven, He is worshipped by angels: ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him’(Hebrews 1:6).
On earth, ‘He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone’(Hebrews 2:9).
We see the greatness of Christ in both His heavenly glory and His saving grace. None can compare with Him. He is our Lord. He is our Saviour. We consider all that He has done for us – ‘the nail marks in His hands…’- and we worship Him – ‘my Lord and my God’(John 20:19-20,24-28).
Keep your eyes on Christ: the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He is the Beginning. He is also the End (John 1:1-3; Revelation 21:6).
He is ‘the Word… made flesh’. ‘We have seen His glory’(14). This is only the beginning. When He returns, we shall see His glory – ‘we shall see Him as He is’(1 John 3:2).
From Him, there is creation (John 1:1-3).
From Him, there is salvation (John 1:12-13).
In Him, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:29, 32-34).
He is the Word of God, the Lamb of God and the Son of God (John 1:1, 29, 34). When we look at Jesus Christ, we see God – ‘the ‘Word was God’(John 1:1), ‘No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known’(John 1:18).
Do you want to know what God is like? – Look at Jesus (John 14:9).
What do we see when we look at Him? – ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’(John 1:29).
—–
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year B.
The same readings are suggested for Year A and Year C.

Fourth Sunday of Advent: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 (or Luke 1:47-55); Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Fourth Sunday of Advent: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 (or Luke 1:47-55); Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38
Look beyond David. Look beyond Solomon. Jesus Christ is the King of kings.
David was king. God was looking on to the next king, Solomon. Knowing the kind of man Solomon would become, God speaks of chastening: ‘When he does wrong, I will chasten him.’ This chastening is an expression of God’s ‘steadfast love’: ‘Those whom I love, I rebuke and chasten’. How do we respond to God’s chastening? Don’t be like ‘Saul.’ He was ‘put away from’ being king because of his continual disobedience. ‘Be zealous and repent.’ When you are being chastened, don’t forget the love of God: ‘The Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’ Why does God chasten His children? – ‘He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.’ Beyond the ‘pain’ of ‘discipline’, there is ‘the peaceful fruit of righteousness’ (2 Samuel 7:14-15; Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-11).
Come to Jesus Christ and say, “I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever.”
‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness through all generations’ (Psalm 89:1). Many years have passed since these words were written by the Psalmist. Many generations have come and gone since Jesus Christ came to our world. The years come and go. The centuries run their course. One generation gives way to another generation. Time moves on relentlessly. None of us can halt the march of time. Many changes have taken place over the course of time. There is something which must never change. The Lord is to be praised ‘for ever.’ He is to be praised ‘through all generations.’ We must look back and remember. Jesus Christ was crucified for us. Jesus Christ has risen for us. This is the Good News which inspires our praise: ‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever…’
Come to Jesus Christ and say from your heart, “I love You, Lord.”
There are two great ‘songs of praise’ here (Luke 1:46-55, 67-79). God was doing ‘a new thing.’ His people were rejoicing in Him. Great things were happening. Greater things were going to happen. Soon, the Saviour would be born. The birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-66) – This was great. The birth of our Saviour – This would be even greater. Mary and Zechariah felt the touch of God upon their lives, and their hearts were filled with praise to God: ‘When I feel the touch of Your hand upon my life, it causes me to sing a song that I love You, Lord. So from deep within my spirit singeth unto Thee, You are my King, You are my God, and I love You, Lord’ (Mission Praise, 753). John was ‘in the wilderness.’ He ‘became strong in spirit’ (Luke 1:80). May God help us to grow spiritually, even when life is not very easy!
Come to Jesus Christ and let Him make you strong for God.
Paul was writing to a Church with big problems (Romans 16:17-18). Deeply influenced by the wrong kind of people, the Church gets bogged down in ‘dissensions and difficulties.’ Critical, fault-finding people exert an extremely divisive influence. They look after their own interests. They only think about themselves. Nothing else matters to them. They manipulate other people – to get their own way. They go out of their way to get their own way! The problem may be great – but the power of God is greater (Romans 16:19-20)! Strengthened by ‘the God of peace’ and ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’, let us press on in ‘obedience’ to God, claiming His victory over ‘Satan.’ Let ‘the preaching of Jesus Christ’ make you strong for God (Romans 16:25-27).
Come to Jesus Christ and let the Holy Spirit come upon you.
God was about to do ‘a new thing’(Isaiah 43:19). It was centred on Christ, though John also played his part (Luke 1:31-33, 16-17). There were obstacles – Zechariah and Elizabeth were ‘old’ (Luke 1:18), and Mary had ‘no man’ (Luke 1:34). What were these obstacles to God? – Nothing: ‘with God nothing will be impossible’ (Luke 1:37). How are we to respond to God’s ‘new thing’? – ‘let it be to me according to Your Word’ (Luke 1:38). How will God’s ‘new thing’make progress among us? – Through the power of the Holy Spirit: ‘he will be filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 1:15), ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you…’ (Luke 1:34). ‘Holy Spirit, we welcome you… Move among us with holy fire… Let the breeze of your presence flow… Please accomplish in me today, some new work of loving grace, I pray; Unreservedly have Your way…’ (Mission Praise, 241).
—–
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year B.

Third Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126 (or Luke 1:47-55); 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Third Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126 (or Luke 1:47-55); 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28
God has given us the Good News of salvation: Jesus Christ.
‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus has fulfilled these words (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus has come, ‘proclaiming the Good News of God’. He tells us that ‘the time has come’. This is the time of opportunity, the time for making our response to Jesus Christ. He calls for our response – ‘Repent and believe the Good News!’ He calls us to make our response now – ‘now is the acceptable time… now is the day of salvation’ (Mark 1:14-15; 2 Corinthians 6:2). There will come a time when the time of opportunity comes to an end. When Christ returns ‘with power and great glory’, it will be ‘the Day of vengeance of our God’. We do not know when Christ will return. Get ‘ready’for His Return. Put your ‘faith’in Him (Isaiah 61:2; Matthew 24:30, 36, 44; 25:13; Luke 18:8).
God has given us a solid Rock for our faith: Jesus Christ.
‘Those who trust in the Lord… cannot be moved…’ When we put our trust in the Lord, we are like the ‘wise man who built his house on the rock’. His house ‘did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock’. When we do not put our trust in the Lord, we are like the ‘foolish man who built his house on sand’. His house ‘fell with a great crash.’ ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain’ (Psalms 125:1; 127:1; Matthew 7:24-27). ‘Jesus Christ’ is the ‘sure Foundation’ upon which our faith is built. He is ‘the solid Rock’, our ‘mighty Rock of spiritual refreshment’ (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:3-4; Church Hymnary, 10, 411). ‘Christ died for our sins… He was raised on the third day’. Let us rejoice in Him: ‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy’ (Psalm 126:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
God has given us a Song of praise: Jesus Christ has come to our world.
There are two great ‘songs of praise’ here (Luke 1:46-55, 67-79). God was doing ‘a new thing.’ His people were rejoicing in Him. Great things were happening. Greater things were going to happen. Soon, the Saviour would be born. The birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-66) – This was great. The birth of our Saviour – This would be even greater. Mary and Zechariah felt the touch of God upon their lives, and their hearts were filled with praise to God: ‘When I feel the touch of Your hand upon my life, it causes me to sing a song that I love You, Lord. So from deep within my spirit singeth unto Thee, You are my King, You are my God, and I love You Lord’ (Mission Praise, 753). John was ‘in the wilderness.’ He ‘became strong in spirit’ (Luke 1:80). May God help us to grow spiritually, even when life is not very easy!
God has given us a glorious Hope: Jesus Christ is coming again.
Do you feel like giving up? God is not about to give up on you: ‘He who calls you is utterly faithful and He will finish what He set out to do’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). He has a great future for us: ‘God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). We look forward to the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘The Lord Himself will descend from heaven’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16). We look forward to heavenly and eternal glory: ‘We shall always be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is the kind of encouragement we need. We are to remind one another of these things: ‘Comfort one another with these words’ (1 Thessalonians 4:18). We are ‘to encourage one another’ to go on with the Lord. Let’s ‘build one another up’, encouraging each other to build on ‘the Rock’ which is ‘Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Matthew 7:24-27).
God has given us Himself: Jesus Christ is God.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He is the Beginning. He is also the End (John 1:1-3; Revelation 21:6). He is ‘the Word… made flesh.’ ‘We have seen His glory’ (John 1:14). This is only the beginning. When He returns, we shall see His glory – ‘we shall see Him as He is’ (1 John 3:2). From Him, there is creation (John 1:1-3). From Him, there is salvation (John 1:12-13). In Him, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:29, 32-34). He is the Word of God, the Lamb of God and the Son of God (John 1:1, 29, 34). When we look at Jesus Christ, we see God – ‘the ‘Word was God’ (John 1:1), ‘No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known’ (John 1:18). Do you want to know what God is like? – Look at Jesus (John 14:9). What do we see when we look at Him? – ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).
—–
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year B.

Second Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

Second Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
‘The Lord is the everlasting God… He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak… those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…’ (Isaiah 40:28-31). Far too often, we say, ‘I can’t’when we really mean ‘I won’t’. ‘I can’t’- This is an insult to the power of God. The Lord calls us to do something special for Him. We say, ‘I can’t’. What are we really saying? This is what we are saying – ‘Lord, I don’t believe Your promise – “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”’. Don’t say, ‘I can’t’. Don’t get so busy with other things that you fail to wait upon the Lord and renew your strength. When the Lord calls you to serve Him, say, ‘Yes, Lord, I will wait upon You. I will renew my strength. I will do Your will’.
O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee. Send a revival. Start the work in me.
We are to pray for revival – ‘Restore us again, O God our Saviour… Will You not revive us again that Your people may rejoice in You?’ (Psalm 85:4, 6). We are to pray that God will ‘grant us His salvation’. We are to pray that ‘His saving presence will remain in our land’. We must pray that ‘His glory may dwell in our land’ (Psalm 85:7, 9). We are to pray for real listening – ‘I will listen to what God the Lord will say’- , a real turning to the Lord – ‘turning to Him in our hearts’- , and a real sense of His blessing – ‘He will speak peace to His people’ (Psalm 85:8). Prayer for revival does not begin as a prayer for others. It begins with ourselves: ‘O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; send a revival – start the work in me’. It begins with this prayer: “Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine; fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine’ (Mission Praise, 587).
Centred on Christ, our life is filled with grace and glory.
‘Grow’ in Christ and give ‘glory’ to Him. Centred on ‘our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’, our life is filled with ‘grace’and ‘glory’. From Him, we receive ‘grace’ – ‘From the fulness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another’. From Him, we receive ‘glory’ – ‘I have given them the glory that You gave Me’ (2 Peter 3:18; John 1:16; 17:22). Where does this life of grace and glory begin? It begins with God. In ourselves, there is sin. In Him, there is salvation. ‘He is patient with us.’ He waits for us to ‘come to repentance.’ He shows us our sin so that we might learn to look to our Saviour – ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation’ (2 Peter 3:9; 2 Corinthians 7:10). Turn to the Lord. Let it be real. Let Him lead you in His pathway – the pathway of grace and glory.
In Christ, we become a new creation.
This is a new ‘beginning’. The prophets had spoken. Now, the Saviour has come. This is Good News. John has prepared the way. Now, he stands aside to make way for Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ (Mark 1:1, 11). Following Jesus’baptism, there was temptation. This was Kingdom against kingdom. Satan’s kingdom was under threat. The Kingdom of God had come. Christ triumphed over Satan. In Him, we triumph when, hearing the Gospel declaration – ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’- , we obey the Gospel command – ‘repent and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:15). With the command, ‘Follow Me’, there is the promise, ‘I will make you…’ (Mark 1:17). Christ’s call is ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14). It is truth – a call to discipleship. It is grace – a call from Jesus. In Christ, we become ‘a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become ‘fishers of men’ (Mark 1:17).
—–
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year B.