In our own homes – let us celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

Lord, Your salvation is always Your gift.

Our salvation is never a reward that we earn. It never begins with “I” – “This is what I have done.” It always begins with You, Lord. It begins with Your love: “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). We can never save ourselves. We can only be saved by You, Lord. “Thank You, Lord, for giving to me Your great salvation, so full and free.”

“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “Thanks be to God, who, in Christ, always leads us in triumph” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

We thank You, Lord, for Your words of encouragement. where would we be without Your Word which brings such strength into our lives? In ourselves, we are so weak. Again and again, we fail You – but that, Lord, isn’t the full story of our lives. Alongside the story of our sin, there’s another story – the story of Your amazing grace. Your glory is shining upon us. We’re being “changed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). In life’s many hard times, help us, Lord, to see what You’re doing in our lives.

Soon, it will be Christmas.

Christmas a very special time of the year. What is it that makes Christmas special? It’s Jesus who makes Christmas special. Jesus is a very special Person. There’s no-one more special than Jesus. If Christmas is going to be special for us, we must see that it’s all about Jesus – nothing else, no-one else, only Jesus, always Jesus.

Jesus’ birth was a very special birth. He was no ordinary child. He was the Son of God. He still is the Son of God. He loves us with a very special love. It’s the greatest love of all. It’s the love that reaches out to us. It’s the love that comes to us from heaven. It’s the love that never comes to an end. It’s the best love. It’s the love of God: “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son …” (John 3:16).

We read, in the Bible, about the first Christmas. We read about Mary and Joseph, shepherds and wise men – but Christmas is not really about any of them. It’s about Jesus. We learn from Mary and Joseph. We learn from the shepherds and the wise men. What do we learn from them? We learn about how special Jesus is. We do not say, “Mary is special.” We do not say, “Joseph is special.” We do not say, “The shepherds are special.” We do not say, “The wise men are special.” We say, “Jesus is special.” In the Christmas story, Mary has her place, and Joseph has his place. The  shepherds have their place, and the wise men have their place. None of them can take the place of Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no Christmas.

In the season of Advent (the four Sundays, leading up to Christmas), we look forward to Christmas. We count down the days. Before the first Christmas, there had been a much longer time of waiting. It wasn’t waiting for weeks. It was waiting for centuries. People must have wondered, “Had the waiting gone on for too long?” Then, at His chosen time, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our Saviour (Galatians 4:4-5). Some people say, “All of this happened such a long time ago. What does it have to do with us?” The Christmas story may be an old story, but it is still God’s story for us. It’s the story of our Saviour.

After Advent, there is Christmas. After the time of waiting, there’s the time of celebration. What do we celebrate? Is Christmas no more than a winter festival? or Is there more to it than that? There is more – much, much more? There’s Jesus! What do we have without Jesus? – We “have winter, but no Christmas.” There is a better way than “winter, but no Christmas.” There’s the way of “Christmas in my heart” (Mission Praise, 107). What makes the difference between winter and Christmas? – It’s Jesus who makes the difference.

One week after Christmas, we move out of the old year and into the New Year. We put the past behind us. We press on into the future. Is it just a change of year – 2020 becomes 2021? – No! There’s something more than that. God is calling us to leave our past behind us. He’s calling us to step out, with Him, into His future. What will the New Year hold for us? – No-one knows – no-one but God. There may be surprises for us, but there are no surprises for Him. Whatever 2021 brings our way, we can be sure of this: God will be there, waiting for us. He will be there – to give us the strength that we need.

Christmas is just around the corner. The New Year is just around the next corner. We can’t look around the corners – and see what’s waiting there for us. Sometimes, we may wish that we could – but we can’t. There’s only one thing we can do – and it’s the best thing we could ever do. We can commit  ourselves and our future to the Lord. We can ask Him to lead us in His way – and we can follow in His footsteps, in the footsteps of His love. There may be hard times ahead of us, but we will not face them on our own. We will face them with God – and that is enough for those who put their trust in Him.

Lord, there is no better life than the life that is centred on Christ.

We may think that we’re doing all right when we’re living for ourselves – but we’re not! You call us out of a self-centred life and into a life of love, a life that is being shaped by Your love, a life that proclaims Your love – “The steadfast love of the Lord endures for ever” (Psalm 136).

Lord, You’ve called us to salvation – “God has shone in our hearts … ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). You’ve called us to service – “having this ministry by the mercy of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1).

Where do our experience of salvation and our empowering for service come from? – They come from Your great gift, the gift of Your Spirit: “God has given us the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5). We fail You so often. Our faith is weak, our witness seems so ineffective – but there is more than our faith and our witness. There is Your Spirit. Thank You, Lord, for the great encouragement that comes to us from knowing that You have given us Your Spirit – the Spirit of grace, the Spirit of power, the Spirit who will lead us on to Your eternal glory.

From Bethlehem – we look back and we look forward.

If we are to come to a true understanding of the story of Jesus Christ, we must not begin by opening our Bibles at the beginning of the New Testament – Matthew 1:1. We must go back into the Old Testament. We must seek to understand what the prophets said, as they looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, the Saviour. A true understanding of the story of Jesus Christ will not leave us in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. We need to move beyond the story of Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, led on to a deeper understanding of all that Jesus came to do for us. From Bethlehem, then, we look back to learn from the prophets and we look forward to learn from the rest of the New Testament story. With great prophetic insight, Isaiah spoke of the coming Christ. He speaks of Christ’s birth, ministry, death and resurrection. From Isaiah, we learn of who Jesus was, what He did and what was done to Him. When we come to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the birth of Christ (Isaiah 9:6-7), we may well come with the question, “Who was Jesus?” When we come to study the life of a historical character, we ask our questions in the past tense: Who was Julius Caesar? Who was William Shakespeare? Who was Robert Burns? When, however, we learn more about Jesus, we discover that He is more than a figure from the past. He is the risen Christ. He is the living Lord. As we learn of Jesus’ mighty resurrection from the dead, we come to think of Him in a different way. He is different from other characters from the past. We no longer ask the question, “Who was Jesus?” We ask, “Who is Jesus? In Isaiah 9:6, we have a tremendous description of Jesus Christ – “His Name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” If, after reading this amazing description of Jesus Christ, we are still tempted to think of Him as no more than a figure from the past, we must go on to read the first few words of Isaiah 9:7 – “Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end.”Jesus Christ is alive today. He is with us now. He wants to draw out, from our hearts, the confession of faith, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). He wants to give us the peace which comes from knowing that our sins have been forgiven. He wants to give us the hope which comes from receiving the gift of eternal life. He wants to be our Friend, leading us ever more deeply into a closer friendship with Him. What will be your response to Jesus Christ? He stands among us, calling for the response of faith? As we look to the words of Isaiah 61:1-3, words which Jesus Himself used to describe His ministry, we discover that the Lord Jesus Christ, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, began His ministry with a profound awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in His life: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me” (Isaiah 61:1). When we ask the question, “What did Jesus do while He was on earth?”, we find a helpful summary in these verses. Without looking at each phrase in detail, we might draw special attention to these phrases: Jesus came “to bring good tidings”, “to give … the oil of gladness” and “the mantle of praise” (Isaiah 61:1,3). Jesus came “to bring Good News.” This is the message which was brought by the angels to the shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth: “I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). This is the message which Jesus brought to men and women during His earthly ministry. This is the message which He brings to us today. Have you received the Good News of Christ? Have you learned to rejoice in the Lord? Are you learning to praise the Lord? Let the Good News of Christ lead you to praise Him with joy, giving thanks to God for Jesus, your Saviour and Lord. There’s a Christmas song which contains the words. “Man will live forevermore because of Christmas Day.” If, however, we are to have a true understanding of the way to eternal life, we must move beyond Christmas Day to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and we must move on from there to the day concerning which the hymnwriter speaks, ” O happy day! that fixed my choice on Thee, my Saviour and my God! O happy day! O happy day! when Jesus washed my sins away.” The Gospel speaks not only of the Babe of Bethlehem. It speaks also of the Christ of Calvary and the risen Lord. When the Gospel speaks of Christ’s death and resurrection, it does not suggest that these events carry with them an automatic guarantee of eternal life. The Gospel draws our attention to the Christ who was “crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men”, after which He was raised from the dead by God (Acts 2:23-24). The Gospel does not, however, tell us only about what was done to Jesus – He was crucified by men and raised by God. It also sets before us the question: What will you do to Jesus? Will you receive Him? Or will you reject Him? “Joy to the world; the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.” “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee.” Is there room in you heart for Jesus?

Teach us, Lord, to trust You, to love You and to serve You.

Help us to think about our trust in You, our love for You and our service for You – Are they growing stronger or getting weaker? May there be less unbelief and more faith in You, less half-heartedness and more love for You, less laziness and more serving You with commitment that keeps on going when we feel like giving up.

Lord, You have saved us. Help us to serve You.

Help us to begin with worship. We cannot work for You if we’re not learning to worship You. Help us also to live for You. We cannot serve You if we’re not learning to live for You. When life, worship and service are brought together, our words and our actions will proclaim Your greatness. We will be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Every part of us will say, “To God be the glory! Great things He has done.”

Let’s think about the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas – What does it mean in the countdown to Christmas Day? What will it mean for us when we’re in the middle of January? What will it mean six months from now? Christmas is coming. Jesus is coming. Christmas comes. Christmas goes. Jesus comes. Jesus stays. When Christmas comes to an end, Jesus doesn’t leave us. When Boxing Day begins, Jesus is still with us.
Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus is more than Christmas. If Christmas was all that we had, would we really be saying, “I wish it could be Christmas every day”? Wouldn’t we be asking, “When does everything get back to normal”? Normal? What is normal? Normal seems so unexciting. Normal is this – Jesus is with us. He’s with us every day. Our ordinary days are very different from Christmas Day. Can we ever say, “This is just an ordinary day” – when Jesus is with us every day?
Soon, Christmas 2020 will be behind us. The old year will come to an end. We’ll be into the New Year. The years come. The years go. Jesus remains the same. He’s our ‘Forever Friend’ – our faithful Saviour. He’s “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). When Christmas 2020 has been forgotten, Jesus will still remember us. When New Year Resolutions have been abandoned, He will still be our Friend and our Saviour. We forget. Jesus remembers. There’s never any problem with His memory. There is, however, one thing that He does forget. He forgets our sins! – “I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 10:17).
How does Jesus forget our sins? – He could remember them. There’s no problem with His memory. He chooses to forget them. There’s no problem with His love! “I will remember their sins no more.” – That’s not a bad memory. That’s love. It’s great love. It’s the greatest love of all. It’s the love of Jesus – our great Saviour.
When Christmas comes, let Jesus come to you. He won’t come and go. He comes to stay. Here’s a prayer you can pray. It’s not just a prayer for Christmas Day. It’s a prayer you can pray right now. “Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.” This is the true meaning of Christmas. It’s more than that. It’s what life is all about. “If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let Jesus come into your heart.”
We wish you happiness – at Christmas and in the New Year. We wish you more than that. We wish you a happy life. “Happiness is to know the Saviour, Living a life within His favour, Having a change in my behaviour, Happiness is the Lord.” When Christmas is over and the New Year has begun, may each of us join, with Paul, in saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). 
May God bless each of you – at Christmas, in the New Year and every day: “May God’s blessing surround you each day, as you trust Him and walk in His way. May His presence within guard and keep you from sin, go in peace, go in joy, go in love.”

Help us, Lord, to look back with thanksgiving and to look forward with faith.

Help us to remember the past and to prepare for the future.We’re to learn from the past. We’re not to live in the past. Learning from the past doesn’t mean getting locked in the past. There are things that belong to the past, things that should be left in the past. They’re not the most important things. They’re things that should be allowed to die. There are, however, things that must never be allowed to die – the love that comes to us from You, the faith that trusts in Jesus, our Saviour; and the hope that arises in our hearts when the Holy Spirit makes His home in us (1 Corinthians 13:13).

We thank You, Lord, that Jesus went to the Cross for us.

Jesus didn’t stop halfway. He didn’t opt out at ‘the eleventh hour.’ He didn’t give up. He kept on going. What was it that kept Him going? – It was His love for us. Thank You, Lord, for the love of Jesus – real love, wonderful love, perfect love, complete love, eternal love.

A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11).

The Name, ‘Jesus’, means ‘Saviour’ (Matthew 1:21). Focus your thoughts on Him: the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is a prayer to help you make your response to Him: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us, You are one with us, Mary’s Son. Cleansing our souls from all their sin, pouring your love and goodness in; Jesus, our love for You we sing, Living Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us, born as one of us, Mary’s Son. Led out to die on Calvary, risen from death to set us free, Living Lord Jesus, help us see You are Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, we would come to You, live our lives for You, Son of God. All Your commands we know are true, Your many gifts will make us new, into our lives Your power breaks through, Living Lord’ (Mission Praise, 435).

Lord, there is one love that is greater than any other love.

It’s Your love for us. You gave Your Son for us. When we think of Your love, when we see Jesus, crucified for us, help us to open our hearts to Your love. Help us to receive Your love, to rejoice in Your love and be renewed by Your love.

Sometimes, we wonder, “What’s the world coming to?”

When, Lord, our minds are filled with many questions, help us to hear Your answer: Christ is coming to the world. Sometimes, it seems to us that everything’s hopeless. We try – and we fail. Show us, Lord, that there’s something else. There’s something more than “Always look on the bright side of life.” There’s something that keeps us going when we feel like giving up. Thank You, Lord, for Your love – it never comes to an end.

Learning from the shepherds and the wise men

The shepherds and the wise men seem so different from us! Everything seems so long ago and so far away! Are they really any different from us? Can we dare to forget the lessons we learn from the shepherds and the wise men? Some may say, ‘It was different back then. Life was so simple. Now, there are so many distractions. There are so many other things for us to do’. Listen to this kind of talk, and you are listening to the voice of Satan! The devil will fill our lives with all kinds of things. He will keep us so busy that we forget all about worshipping Jesus! More than ever before – in our world of so many distractions – we need to learn from the wise men and the worshipping shepherds. Make time to ‘worship Jesus’ (Matthew 2:2). There is nothing more important than this – ‘glorifying and praising God’ (Luke 2:20).

Teach us, Lord, to walk with You, in love. 

May we be deeply appreciative of Your love for us. May we be radically transformed by Your love for us. Your love does not leave us where it finds us. Your love changes us. It makes us new men and women – people who are learning to love You with the love that You have poured into our hearts.

We thank You, Lord, that Jesus has “come to us.”

Jesus has been born as “one of us.” We thank You that He was “led out to die on Calvary.” He has “cleansed our souls from sin.” We thank You that He has “risen from death to set us free.” He has “poured Your love and goodness in.” May “Your power break through into our lives.” Help us, Lord to “live for You” (Patrick Appleford).

‘The old, old story – it is ever new’.

With each passing year, we move further away from the time when Christ was born. Further away from the time when He was born, but not further away from Him – He is still ‘Emmanuel… God with us’ (Matthew 1:23)! We may never visit the place where He was born. Many visit Bethlehem as tourists without becoming worshippers. They look at the place where He was born – but they do not love Him! They have ‘no room’ in their hearts for Him (Matthew 2:7). There is a place where you can find Jesus. Love will grow, worship will become real, when you find Him – in your heart! ‘O come to my heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for Thee’ (Mission Praise, 697). Don’t just remember His birth. Experience it – ‘O Holy Child of Bethlehem… Be born in us today’ (Church Hymnary, 172).

Lord, You “comfort us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

You turn our times of trouble into times of great blessing. When bad things are happening to us, You keep on loving us. You don’t leave us on our own when the going gets tough. You’re with us in the good times – and You’re with us in the bad times. How do we know that You love us? – Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). Thank You, Lord, for Your love. It’s the only love that keeps on going when we feel like giving up. It’s the love that keeps us going, the love that assures us that You have not forgotten us. Your promise is still true: “I will never leave you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Lord, these are not only words to be spoken at the end of a service of worship. They’re much more than that. They’re life-changing words. They speak to us of Your blessing. They point us to Jesus, our Saviour. They remind us that Your love is an ‘always and forever’ love. They remind us that “the Spirit is poured upon us from on high” (Isaiah 32:15). Help us, Lord, to live as people who are loved, saved and empowered.

God bless you all.

Charlie


Let us keep on praying for our troubled world: “Ask the Saviour to help you – comfort – strengthen and keep you. He is willing to aid you. He will carry you through.”

3 thoughts on “In our own homes – let us celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

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