“Peace on earth, goodwill to men”
I don’t know what your year has held. Perhaps like mine it has had its hard days amongst the good. But as we during these final few days of Advent look towards Christmas we get to celebrate that amongst the messy, the hard and the difficult, God is with us.
No matter what is going on in your life, no matter the hard times or the heart breaking. No matter the injustices or the wrongs, we can let the truth of Christmas resonate in our hearts – that God is with us. You see even in the midst of the sometimes not so merry circumstances Jesus – Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counsellor is there with us. The promise of peace on earth, goodwill to men is an invitation for us today, a reality for us today.
We celebrate at Christmas not only that Christ was born but that He lived and lives today!
“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.” (Isaiah 9:6)
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15)
If there is one thing that has struck me afresh this year with Christmas, it is that it is a story of travellers. Of Mary and Joseph who would travel to Bethlehem to fulfil the prophesy of where the Messiah would be born. Of travelling Wise men following a star seeking a King. Even Angels travelling from Heaven to bring the good news. The shepherds leaving their flocks to go and seek the baby that the angel told them about. And of a God that would travel to earth to become a baby.
We are all travellers too. Travelling through life seeking an encounter with God. Maybe this Christmas you are seeking the joy that comes from Jesus. You might need from Him the peace that passes all understanding, the everlasting hope that only He can provide. Or maybe this year you wish for a fresh revelation of the love that Jesus has for you.
As we journey towards Christmas Day, and as each day we journey with God, may you find in Jesus what your heart needs.
Life is busy and often all go. But several times a day, I have an “enforced” rest. A time when I sit, holding my little baby in my arms for his bottle. It is in these precious times that we will look into each other’s eyes. I’ll whisper words of love to him, share dreams and hopes. It’s an intimate moment.
It reminds me in some ways of the traditional Maori greeting, the Hongi. This is the pressing of one’s nose and forehead to another person at an encounter, a time of greeting. The Hongi is the exchange of the ha, the breath of life. A sacred ritual that from its action causes two people to share breath.
For us Christians, this breath of life is the promise of Christ. That in our hardest times, in our times of weariness or waiting, in our times when we are acutely aware of our weakness, God is there with us. Sharing our breath, sharing our pain. But also bringing His Light, bringing His strength, bringing His Spirit.
This Christmas may we know the breath of Heaven anew. That God would bring His light to our darkness and would be forever near.
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
“Is everything sad going to come untrue?” (Sam Gamgee to Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings)
“[Some mortals] say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” (C.S. Lewis)
There are words that do not exist in Heaven. Words that are not uttered. Sickness. Poverty. Pain. Disease. Disability. Death. The moment we step into eternity they will all fall away. There is no place for them, no memory of them left in Heaven. Here on earth though, we look around and the evidence of the fallen world is everywhere. Those words that bring such pain and devastation are spoken, endured and lived with.
But the promise that we have in Jesus, is that there will be a new day and those words will cease to exist. Our pain will be non-existent, not even a memory. Every sad thing will come untrue.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21: 4-5
On earth as it is in Heaven – for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Come Lord Jesus.
“The fears are paper tigers”
Fear in the right situations is good and provides us with a healthy caution. But more often it just produces undue stress and anxiety. It will often start as a mere thought that then creates emotions that then impact our decisions and actions.
Fear is a weapon of the enemy. He uses it to manipulate our behaviour. Fear can stop us from walking in our destiny and can destroy our enjoyment of life. And that is exactly what the enemy wants to achieve!
Fear is after our faith. In fact fear is the opposite of faith. It causes us to doubt God and to make our fears the loudest voice in our lives. When we are in faith, it opens the door for God to work in our lives. Fear does the opposite and gives the enemy control.
We need to learn not to fear the fear! To see our fears as paper tigers. For paper tigers cannot harm us. For fear is not reality. It says in Psalm 23 “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” A shadow, like paper tigers cannot cause us harm, for God is there with us.
We need to face our fears with faith.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, NIV)
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
“Our hearts will take us where our heads can’t fit.” (Bill Johnson)
My nine year old is studying space at school. He has us outside most nights pointing to the various constellations and planets that he can now recognise. With it has come a plethora of questions. Questions of Galaxies and Universes. Imaginations of what it would be like to live on Mars or travel in space. Questions too as to what people who lived around the time of Galileo and Copernicus believed about space. Did they know of the existence of other galaxies? Did they think travelling to space would ever be possible? Staring up at the stars ourselves, it is even hard to think that such a thing actual occurs today.
Back in the 16th Century I don’t think they would have been able to conceive how much more there is to know about space. Just as we know today that even with our advancements in technology and accumulated knowledge we are still only scratching the surface of what space holds.
It’s rather like our faith. We only see in part and cannot fully comprehend God, His love for us and His ways. A lot of the time we won’t have all the answers for what happens in life or know why things occur. It wouldn’t be faith if we could reason out and comprehend all. Faith is about mystery. It is about choosing to trust in God and place our complete confidence in Him despite what we face or even what others say.
We can be assured though of this, God loves us and is true to His promises. Lysa Terkeurst puts it well when she said “If God is good and God is good to me, then I must fill in the gaps of the unknowns of my life with a resounding statement of trust. God is good at being God. I don’t have to figure my present circumstances out. All I have to do is trust.”
“We will not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but will be strengthened in faith, giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what He promised He is able to perform.” (Romans 4:20-21)
“The walk of faith is to live according to the revelation we have received, in the midst of the mysteries that we can’t explain.” (Bill Johnson)