Thought for the Week - 23rd DecemberPastor Gareth Watkins
1 Timothy 3: 16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.
Luke 3: 2-6
2 …the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough ways smooth;
6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”
Luke 2: 8-11
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
God loves us so much that He sent His son for us!
For us there is born a saviour who is Christ the Lord. The world can say what it likes. This story, this history, the whole thing for mankind – the world has never had an experience like it. The whole of creation has never had an experience like this before or since.
God sent a part of Himself, in the form of Jesus Christ, into the world because He loved us so much. He sent His own son into the world. It’s the greatest act of love that we’ve ever seen. The effect of it shook the world. It shook the entire world, not just Israel.
The natural world was affected. The spiritual world was affected. The world of men would never be the same again from that time on. The world at that time was changed from that point on, never to be the same again, because of the birth of Jesus Christ.
With all that we see and know. With all of men’s knowledge and education. Christ came into the world as a light into this dark place. He came as a result of God trying to come down to us.
God Himself is trying to bridge the gap between His light, His Holiness and His righteousness, and us. We are a sinful, dark and selfish people. We love sin, we love darkness rather than the light of God, and we are selfish in our inner beings. That’s who we are.
His gift was to come down to us. He stooped down to us, like he did in the Garden of Eden when he breathed life into the dead bones of Adam. It’s like that with us. He breathes a life into us because of Jesus Christ. We wouldn’t have life like that if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ.
He came as a child. God came down to man where man could not go up to Him. The testimony of it we hear and feel each week in church. We feel a change in the spiritual atmosphere where God touches us, we feel Him. He bridges that gap that exists because of our sinfulness, our darkness and our waywardness.
Because of God’s love and the light He poured into this world through Jesus Christ, can see differently. There’s a hope for us where there was no hope. Christ broke those chains that hold and bind us. That darkness can be pierced. Those circumstances that hold us can be changed. Christ gave us a victory that made a way for us where there was no way.
These scriptures show us a description of who the Jesus Christ was going to be. He was going to be born in the flesh; He wasn’t going to be a strange spiritual person or a spirit itself. He was going to be justified. He was going to be the rightness of God before us in the spiritual and physical world. He was going to be seen by the angels. He was going to preach amongst the gentiles. He wasn’t just for the selected few – He was for all of mankind. I am thankful for that. We wouldn’t be here and wouldn’t exist in the way we do now. We’re here because God sent Jesus Christ, and the life that He’s brought through history brings us to this point in 2018.
It makes you wonder what the life of God has for us in 2019. It’s exciting!
John the Baptist went out into the desert. He’s got rough old clothes on and wasn’t there to impress the Pharisees and educated people. He was there for the ordinary people. He says it exactly like it is. He was in the wilderness crying out that all flesh will see the salvation of God.
The opportunity is there for everyone. All mankind, whoever they are and wherever they are, will have the opportunity to see the salvation of God. We’ll all have the opportunity to see the salvation of God. Never has the world had an experience like that before. It was always kept for the ones and the twos who were brought up in it, or educated in it. It’s for all mankind. John the Baptist declared it. It is as it’s written.
Why did John say that we needed salvation and a saviour? He knew the condition of man. God, through His writers, knows the condition of mankind and gives the writer the inspiration what to say, and they speak about the condition of man.
We all sin. We all need a saviour to save us from that sin. John said that God was sending someone to save us from that sin. That saviour came in the form of Jesus Christ and saves you and me. The outworking of it doesn’t make you a different person. But suddenly God starts to come in. He changes the circumstances, allows you to accomplish something, and breaks into the situation. He’s with us in the ordinary things. The evidence for it is in 2018.
We read the angels say “do not be afraid”. We can understand these men being afraid. Fear does come upon people. People do get afraid of all manner of different things. But in this situation the angels say not to be afraid. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, so where does fear come from? When God is right in the centre of things, those fears are gone. Don’t be afraid about what you’ll see before God because God will take you into new experiences.
This isn’t a dead faith. This is a going onwards unto eternity. Jesus Christ came from the God of eternity, we’re not going to learn it in one lifetime. God is a God of eternity. We’re people who are going onto eternity. We’ll never learn it all. We’ll start with one little step after one little step. God is with us saying don’t be afraid.
What a wonderful God who stooped down to us! He sent His son for me and you. What an act of love!
Paul speaks of these things across the New Testament. I feel as if like he’s almost speaking to me. Read these words as though they were written to you:
Ephesians 3: 16-17
16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love
It’s not all about the outer person. All of us are weak. All of us need strength. All of us need that place where we are built up in our faith. We all need that extra touch of Christ, where Christ can be deep inside of us. We can be built upon in terms of being grounded in His love.
There’s a building process at work. We start off, we gather and gain. We go on in God and get stronger and stronger. He puts His faith into us. He gives us strength. He brings His love to us, His peace, His knowledge and His assurance. We become far different that the people we start off being.
God will grant according to the riches of His glory that our inner man will be filled with Christ Himself. We will be grounded in His love.