If there is a word that we often use to describe what Christmas is all about, it’s the little word “joy.” Several of our favorite carols mention it: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,” “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice,” “Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies, with th’ angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem.’” It’s so easy to feel joy when we sing these wonderful songs.
At the heart of the Christmas message is joy. Unfortunately, too often we’ve got the wrong idea about joy. We tend to connect it with happiness and think that joy depends on our circumstances. You can’t have joy by going from one party to another or frantically racing through the shopping quadrant and out of town shopping centres. In fact, going shopping at Christmas time can become an excellent way to lose our joy.
Where does Christmas joy come from? Listen to the words of Luke 2:8-10 and see if you can discover the answer: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
The angel came with: “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” What is this “good news of great joy?” Verse 11 has the answer. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
If you are looking for Christmas joy, I suggest that you can find all you need in this single verse. The joy of Christmas is JESUS, a Saviour has been born.
Have you made room for Jesus in your 2017 Christmas celebrations? If not, why not?
Have a joyous Christmas!
Ps Arnallt Morgan
'Chill out' with Jesus
‘Chill-out’ with Jesus!
Have you ever felt that life has become so hectic that you feel unless you have a break you’ll ‘crack-up’?
Ever felt like saying: “stop the world, I want to get off”?
Living in the West and particularly in Britain has become so stressful. Life has become ever so fast. We find that we have less time for family, our friends, community and ourselves. We have programmes, targets and deadlines to meet and not enough time to do everything.
Our busy lifestyles have robbed us of so many important things.
Parents spend less time with their children than what they used to. We engage very little with our neighbours today and having a chat over the garden fence has become a thing of the past.
The disciples of Jesus at times found life to be hectic, so much so that Jesus had this to say to them in Mark 6:31: “Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.” (NLT)
God does not expect us to be machines that work seven days a week. We need time off and this is part of God’s economy for mankind.
As we live in this fast world, not only do we need time to relax, but also time to relax with Jesus: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
When was the last time that you experienced what it is to ‘chill-out’ with Jesus?
Why not take time simply to:
1. RELAX IN SILENCE.
More often than not, we come to God from a place of rushing. It’s either a quick ten minutes before going to work or at the end of a busy day when we’re tired and exhausted. God sometimes wants us to come to Him from a place of rest.
We have been made to think that relaxing in silence is wasting valuable time when in fact relaxing in silence is valuable time with God. We need to seek God from a place of peace as we rest and relax in His presence.
The Psalmist says: “Be silent, and know that I am God!” (NLT)
2. BECOME AWARE OF GOD’S PRESENCE
As you relax in silence, allow yourself to become aware of the presence of God. Our God is omnipresent which means that no matter where we are God is there. What we need to do is become aware of His presence.
Baptist minister Roy Searl once said: “The one in whom we live and move and have our being dwells within us, closer to us than we often realise, who knows us better than we know ourselves, who loves us far more than we can ever love ourselves. He is the compassionate, gracious Father who calls us his child.” – What we need to do is to be still and experience His loving presence.
C. S. Lewis said: “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.” – If this is true, then we need to feed on the presence of God.
3. ENJOY HIS LOVE FOR YOU
Each of us needs to be loved. From the cradle to the grave man yearns and longs for love. The greatest need and desire of the toughest ‘tough guy’ is to be loved!
We all know theoretically that God loves us and we’ve all sung the hymn “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” However, when was the last time that you just spent some time enjoying His love for you?
Listen to the words of Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, so I am constant in my affection for you!”
4. SURRENDER YOURSELF TO GOD
Surrender each and every part of your life to God. Surrender your body, thoughts, emotions, wills, joys, pains, the things that disturb you; the issues that excite you, those that you care for and all that you pray for. The old hymn writer penned these words: “All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give.”
5. ACCEPT YOURSELF
Accept the fact that you’re not perfect. Accept the fact that you may not have the gifting to be what you would like to be. You are what God has made you and He loves you just for being YOU!
6. REPENT AND RECEIVE FORGIVENESS
Unconfessed sin and failure can oppress and hinder seeking God in prayer. Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray for forgiveness of sins.
By confessing our sins with genuine repentance and genuine humility, we embrace God’s forgiveness, mercy, love and grace.
7. ASK IN FAITH
Bring your needs and the needs of others before Him in prayer. Don’t just ask, but ask in faith. Believe that God answers prayer and can intervene in your life and the life of others in a miraculous way. Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
‘Chill-out with Jesus and tell him about your needs.
8. GIVE THANKS AND PRAISE
The fruit of encountering the presence of God and being aware of His grace and mercy should be one of thanksgiving and praise. The psalmist instructs us this way: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.” (Psalm 105:1-3).
Augustine of Hippo: “The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.”
‘Chill-out’ with Jesus: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Ps Arnallt Morgan
Jesus is Unique
JESUS IS UNIQUE
I am constantly enthralled by the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. It is impossible to seriously study the Bible without coming to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is different from all other men in history (Patriarchs, Prophets, Priests and Kings).
Among the leaders and founders of world religions, the distinctiveness of Jesus Christ is clearly visible. I am reminded of the words of Samuel Stennett in a hymn that was regularly sung when I was a young Christian:
No mortal can with Him compare
Among the sons of men;
Fairer is He than all the fair
Who fill the heav’nly train.
Jesus is unmatched in history—His very being cries out for us to entrust our lives to Him. Jesus Christ is:
Unique in substance: He alone is both God and man (John 10:30). Unique in prophecy: No other leader’s life was foretold so clearly and accurately (Micah 5:2). Unique in mission: Jesus alone came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Unique in birth: Only Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23). Unique in ability: No one but Jesus has the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). Unique in existence: Jesus alone existed before the beginning of time (John 1:1-2). Unique in position: No one else is equal with God (Philippians 2:5-6). Unique in reign: Only Jesus reigns forever (Hebrews 1:8).
No one in history is like Jesus. He alone deserves our trust, and He alone is the path to God.
No other name can save me,
No other name beside,
But Jesus Christ the risen Lord,
Who once was crucified. —Brandt
Ps Arnallt Morgan
Celebrate the Ascension of Christ
Celebrate the Ascension of Christ
Thursday 25th May 2017 is the day that the Christian Church celebrates the ascension of Jesus Christ.
If we gloss over the truth of Ascension Day then we rob ourselves of a most important doctrine, for without the Ascension, the work of Christ would be incomplete.
Perhaps because Ascension Day falls on a weekday it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This is a pity because it is full of significance in the historical life of Jesus when on Earth - and his continuing ministry for us in heaven.
George M Philip said this: “His ascension into heaven and His being seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty is the climax of the whole of His life and work. It is the seventh and final ‘peak point’ in the experience of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: His birth, His baptism, His temptation, His transfiguration, His crucifixion, His resurrection and His ascension. Here is the climax of it all. He came, he lived, He died, He rose, He ascended into the presence if the glory of the Father, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
Although the Ascension occupies a place on the church’s calendar, it is far from being prominent in Christian thought. It seems to be overshadowed by Good Friday and outshone by the glory of the Easter morning. Unfortunately this means that many Christians miss the tremendous truth that the Ascension of Jesus Christ has to teach us.
The gospel writer Luke is renowned as a careful historian. When he recorded the birth of Jesus he rooted the event in its historical setting within the Roman Empire. He continues that same preciseness at the end of our Lord’s earthly ministry by recalling the place of the Ascension - at Bethany. He dates the event - 40 days after the resurrection on Easter Day. He emphases the presence of eyewitnesses - the Ascension took place, he writes; "before their very eyes" (Acts 1:9). Yes, the Ascension was a real event of history.
John MacArthur wrote these words: “The story of Jesus began in heaven when He left and came to earth. And it ends when He leaves earth to return to heaven. The story began with condescension and ends with ascension. Began with incarnation and ends with exaltation. Begins with expectation and ends with consummation. It began with the Son of God being born of a virgin, descending to earth and it ends with the Son of God being born from the dead, ascending to heaven. The story began with hope unrealized and ends with hope fully realized. It began with a promise and ends with a fulfilment and a new promise.”
Let me highlight some of the importance of the ascension:
1. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has been exalted as Lord, Prince and Saviour
2. The ascension of Christ reminds us that it was He who has sent the Holy Spirit to empower believers.
3. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has gone to begin the preparations for our eternal home.
4. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has taken the headship of the church.
5. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has defeated Satan.
6. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has passed the work of evangelism to His followers.
7. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has given ministry gifts to His Church
8. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has begun the blessed work of intercession on behalf of His people
9. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He now stands ready to return in God's perfect time.
Sing, O heavens! O earth, rejoice!
Angel harp and human voice,
Round him, in his glory, raise
Your ascended Saviour's praise.
Ps Arnallt Morgan