Wednesday 8 December, 2021

Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:18-19

Isaiah 7:14 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Matthew 1:18-19 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

As with yesterday’s passage, we clearly see how the birth of Jesus was the fulfilment of prophesy that had been documented over 700 years before He was born. 

But in the grandness of prophecy being fulfilled, we also have the mess and the details. 

Mary would have been a teenage girl and Joseph would have been heartbroken by her pregnancy. What would I have said if I was in his shoes? What would her parents say? 

Jesus’s birth is something to celebrate, but this amazing miracle occurred during the complexity and challenges of everyday life. 

Lord help me to keep your eternal perspective and help me to live all my life in celebration of the risen King, especially when everyday life feels messy, hard or frustrating. 

Written by Ps Justin Ware 

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  1. Richard says:

    Joseph was a God fearing man , he followed God’s law. So when he finds out about Mary being pregnant and he is not the father even though he is engaged to her he wants to do the right thing and fulfill the law.

    It is clear he also understands compassion. In the society at the time Mary could have been stoned for her promiscuity. Joseph decides to do it all quietly so as not to bring disgrace to her. This risked Shane for himself that he didn’t push hard for her to be publicly shamed.

    We know that Jesus is full of Grace & Truth and that the Gospel encompasses both completely like the two sides of a coin.

    We see here that Joseph had God at heart fully by encompassing both.

    The challenge I have today is do I embrace both grace and truth fully or one more than the other?

    Father search my heart that I may embrace both grace and truth fully.

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Tuesday 7 December, 2021

Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 1:26-38

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Luke 1:26-38 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

These Scriptures foretell of the birth of Christ.  We know from these passages that it was to be a supernatural event in that a virgin would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We also learn that the virgin chosen, Mary was engaged to be married at the time and was favoured by God.  The name given to the child would be Immanuel meaning God with us which gives us an inkling that God himself would be living and breathing amongst mankind.

The book of Isaiah was written some 700 years before the birth of Jesus.  That’s a lot of warning about God’s intentions and plans!  God knew human beings needed rescuing from their sins and his answer was to send his son to live amongst us. I take heart in that God always had a plan in mind when it came to restoring our broken relationship with himself.  God’s sovereignty shines through these passages of Scripture.  As followers of Jesus, God also has a plan for each of our lives.  There are no accidents or making it up as you go along but like Mary we need to willingly and humbly agree to it.

Dear Lord, thank you for planning to send Jesus all along.  I also give thanks for the plan you have for my life.  Please help me understand and follow that plan.  Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Monday 6 December, 2021

Matthew 3:2-3

2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”

As I think about the Christmas story, I am reminded that God has always had a plan that included us. He wants to be in relationship with us. He is the one who closes the distance and outstretches His hand towards us. He is the one who initiates. He turns towards us.

In this verse I hear God telling us to prepare for His arrival. He’s on His way. But will we prepare our hearts to receive Him? Will we bow our knee and our hearts before Him and repent? This heart preparation is not just limited to the Christmas story but is also relevant for today. Will I be prepared when He comes to speak to me today? Will I be repentant?

Father God, I thank you that You are a good God and desire us to be in relationship with You. May we be found ready in our hearts, through repentance.

Written by Gab Martin

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Sunday 5 December, 2021

Isaiah 40:3-5

3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord[a]; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

These words proclaiming that God is coming as Lord and King were first spoken as words of comfort to God’s people when they were in exile. They welcomed them and anticipated being restored to their land and God’s presence returning to his temple in Jerusalem. But it’s much more than that.

We rightly remember it at Christmas, as we think about God, who created everything, stepping into his creation as one of his creatures – becoming one of us. John rightly reminded people of it as Jesus began teaching that the kingdom of God was at hand – close enough to touch. But it is much more than that.

John rightly saw that preparing the way for the coming King needed to start in our hearts. But Jesus knew that removing all the obstacles between God, the king, and his people would mean dying in our places. When he’s raised to life, it’s the beginning of God’s restored, resurrected creation.

It’s about more than God returning to live in a building. It’s about his Holy Spirit coming to live in his people. It’s about waiting eagerly for Jesus to return as King – God revealed to everyone in all his glory. It’s about Jesus bringing God’s whole plan to reconcile and renew all things to completion.

It’s about us welcoming the King into our lives. It’s about being one of the many voices proclaiming that God is coming now to everyone who will welcome him. His glory will be revealed to everyone, and we can be sure because the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Written by David Cornell

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Saturday 4 December, 2021

Psalm 146:5-10

5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. 6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. 7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, 8 the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 10 The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.

What a great word – “blessed.” It reminds me of the beatitudes in Matthew 5 where Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who mourn…”

The Passion Translation replaces the word ‘blessed’ with “What happiness, what delight…” Isn’t that a great definition of Christmas!? Christmas brings a joy that permeates all of humanity – at Christmas we are all at our best. As the angels declared, “on earth peace, good will among men” (see Luke 2:14 KJV).

But this ‘blessedness’ that God intended was not for one day only. This “happiness”, this “delight” was to be a perpetual state of joy – predicated not on a day, but on a Person. This state of delight happens when Jesus becomes our help, when He becomes our hope. It is Jesus who frees us for ourselves, our sin, and our ‘prisons’ of guilt and shame. It is He who helps us see the truth that we are loved and precious to God. It is Jesus who lifts us up when we’re down, who constantly watches over us and sustains us when we’ve got nothing left. This is the blessedness of Christmas.  

Wouldn’t it be great if we could experience the blessedness of Christmas everyday of our lives? God thought so too. That is the true meaning of Christmas!

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Friday 3 December, 2021

Isaiah 2:2-5

2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

“In the last days…”  For many years, I have heard so many prophecies of “when” this will be, might be, etc… but as a child of God, I can trust and rest in the fact that only God knows.  He is in control and in preparation.

V 3 says:  Many people will come and say…”come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord…”  This makes me wonder could we be too distracted or too busy with the “world” that I don’t hear the call?  Am I prioritising Church, gathering together, Connect Group, reading, praying, worshipping, to ensure that I hear….  It goes on to say that He will teach us His ways, SO THAT WE MAY WALK IN HIS PATHS.

We can look forward to one day Jesus will be revealed to all as The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He will rule.    His Church will be established as the highest of the mountains.

What I love about this is in V4.  There will be no more armies, navies, airforce – no longer will nations be fighting or training for war or buying arms or submarines!  Peace will come.

My question is:  Are we in preparation?

Lord Jesus you love everyone.  Give us all a passion for your House and for your Kingdom.  May it become our priority to see your Kingdom come and Your will be done.  Amen

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Thursday 2 December, 2021

Isaiah 11:1-5, 10

11 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

Today we are reading one of many passages in the Old Testament that prophesies clues about the promised Messiah. In this particular prophesy, we are told that the coming Messiah would come forth from the ‘roots of Jesse’, meaning that He will be a descendant of Jesse, the father of King David. 

Jesus, was indeed, a descendant of Jesse and David, and also fulfilled many other Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah, including that he would be born of a virgin woman in the town of Bethlehem.

What follows in this passage is a beautiful description of the Messiah, our Saviour Jesus – full of the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, righteousness and faithfulness. These are all qualities that make for a wonderful Saviour, and one could easily fill up multiple blogs unpacking each one of these qualities.

But what really struck me today is the phrase, “He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears, but with righteousness He will judge the needy, with justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth”.

As humans, what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears is the main way that we judge life, judge others, and judge the world around us. With this limited understanding, just reading our daily news feed can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair about the world.

As we approach this Christmas season, I have been reflecting on a line from my favourite Christmas carol, O Holy Night – “The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…”.  

When Jesus came to earth as our Messiah, He ushered in this new era of hope. Although we may feel weary, and our human eyes and ears may tell us that our world looks hopeless, God does not see things this way. The Saviour of the world is still looking after the earth and will bring his righteous justice to all. 

Rejoicing in the hope that Jesus is at work, both in the weary world and also in our own particular life story, is a choice that we can make each and every day.

No matter what life looks like to our human eyes, we remember that “yonder breaks a new a glorious morn”. So today, once again, with gratitude we fall on our knees and worship Jesus, the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Wednesday 1 December, 2021

Isaiah 9:2-7

2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”

Wow what a great scripture.  I am drawn to the fact of walking in darkness.  This is such a powerful image.  All too often I have walked in darkness – not sure where I am going, feeling alone and lonely, abandoned even at times.  Darkness can be all encompassing, it can surround us, and even seem to wrap us up in its’ tentacles.  Yet here, Isaiah prophecies that those who walked in darkness have seen a great light.  Whether the darkness was the futility of their minds, or the darkness was the oppression of another nation, or the darkness is the result of our foolish decisions or the oppression of an unjust boss or colleague, or the state of our mental health – there is light coming!  We will see the light.  Isaiah is prophesying that there is light and it is coming and even if you have dwelt – that is stayed in darkness for a period of time, perhaps a long period of time – light is coming!

We can see this in the Advent story – the coming of Jesus – but what of our Advent story – where Jesus – the Light of the world comes into our lives – where His coming brings light into our worlds – transforming them.

Father I pray that for everyone reading this today we would reflect on the truth that the Light has come and that we each would have a personal Advent – the coming of Jesus as light to our lives.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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