Archive for December 2010
By David Holdaway
Stanley Jones, the great Methodist missionary doctor to India gave the following insight to help us capture the heart and meaning of the Christmas message. He describes a small child, standing before a picture of his absent father, who, turning to his mother, wistfully said, ‘I wish dad would step out of the picture!’ This little boy, said Jones, was expressing the deepest yearning of the human heart. We who have gazed upon pictures of God in nature are grateful, but not satisfied. We want our Father to step out of the impersonal picture and meet us as a person. What we long for is a personal relationship with God not just a religious understanding. No philosophy or principle is able to meet the deepest needs of the human heart.
God has revealed himself
God has revealed Himself through His creation, the psalmist could look up into the clear night sky with awesome wonder proclaiming: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim His handiwork’ (Psalm 191). Yet it is still just a picture, an insight to what God may be like, His greatness and majesty, but not enough to know Him personally.
The Jewish people had the Tabernacle and the Temple, the sacrifices and offerings, but they were still only a picture, a shadow, a type of who was to come. They had the Word of God, the Law and the Prophets, the principles of God enshrined in the Scriptures, but still they longed for a Messiah, someone to come and step out of the picture. Over 2000 years ago in the small town of Bethlehem, in moments words cannot adequately describe, God stepped out of the picture.
The impossible actually happened
When the space craft Apollo 11 landed on the moon and man took his first steps, the world looked on and held its breath. The impossible was actually happening. Just seventy years before, man could not even fly. Commander Neil Armstrong took those first historic steps with the famous words: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ It was Jim Irwin, however, another Apollo astronaut and moon-walker, who made a far more significant statement:
‘God walking on earth is infinitely greater than man walking on the moon.’
David Holdaway is a pastor and author. He has written over 20 books, including No more Fear and The Burning Heart.This is an extract from The Wonder of Christmas, and is used with permission. You can buy this delightful little book, and other publications of David’s, from his website, www.lifepublications.org.uk.This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in Life Indeed magazine November/December 2005
In an extract from the teaching given at The Faith Mission Edinburgh Convention 2007, BILL BYGROVE speaks of God’s love.
God’s love is immense in calculation
God’s love is immense, beyond measure. “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us” (Isa.55:9).
Here the writer, David, is trying to explain and describe to us the immensity of the love of God. He does it in vertical and in horizontal terms.
As high as the heavens are above the earth
Here’s you and me. We’re about to get into a space rocket. Are you dressed in your suit? Helmet on? It’s the countdown…blast off! We go up into the atmosphere, the stratosphere, into the ionosphere. Then we go beyond the Andromeda galaxy. That’s never been done before. Then we go to the outer limits of space of this vast universe. It’s amazing! The Hubble spacecraft identified planets 14 billion light years away from Earth.
Here’s you and me. We’re able to travel at the speed of light – 186 thousand miles per second, seven times round the world in one second. And yet it would take us, travelling at the speed of light, 14 billion years to get to the outer limits.
Now, said David: “For as the heavens are high above the earth [that's mind boggling in its immensity!] so great is his mercy toward those who fear him.” Those are the apple of his eye, the treasure of his heart, the object of his love, from all eternity to all eternity.
And as far as the east is from the west
That’s immeasurable, incalculable, because when we go east we eventually reach west, and when we go west we arrive at the east! God hasn’t dealt with us in the way our sins deserve. So far has he removed our transgressions from us?
I wonder if I am speaking to someone who struggles every day with guilt. Guilt has been called the “nerve end of all sorrow”. If you have been to a dentist and the drill has hit an exposed nerve end, you’ll know how painful that is. My Christian friend, perhaps you are crucified between the two thieves of yesterday and tomorrow. All your yesterdays catching up on you, you are fearful of tomorrow because of guilt.
Listen to the immensity of God’s love. Listen! “As far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Will you allow the flow of God’s Spirit to apply to your heart the truth of the immensity of God’s love for you?
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Bill Bygrove is the pastor at Bridge Chapel, Liverpool. If you visit the church’s website you will be able to download audio sermons from Bill.
ABOUT THE PHOTO:
Taken from the Hubble telescope, the illustration shows a towering “mountain” of cold hydrogen gas laced with dust. It is the site of new star formation in the Carina Nebula. The great gas pillar is being eroded by the ultraviolet radiation from the hottest newborn stars in the nebula. With thanks to NASA and The Space Telescope Science Institute.
We often learn the most from our children. Some time ago a friend of mine punished his three 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight, and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, ‘This is for you, Daddy.’
He was embarrassed by his earlier over-reaction, but his anger flared again when he found that the box was empty. He yelled at her, ‘Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside of it?’ The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, ‘Oh Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy.’
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged her forgiveness. My friend told me that he kept that gold box by his bed for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there. In a very real sense, each of us as parents has been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.
I cringe when I think of the times I have done something similar. Between all the fussing and the disciplining, I sometimes need to stop and remember what a treasure my children are (all three of them!), and how thankful I am to God for blessing me through them.
‘Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is His reward.’ (Psalm 127:3)
- Author unknownThis article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine November/December 2007
By Dave Wilson
Checking out some online archives of DJ Online News*, I came upon a reflective Christmas message from Dave Wilson that encapsulated my current thinking. Though written in 2003 its message is still relevant. — Ed.
About this time every December, the busyness of the season—holiday parties, shopping lists, mailing of Christmas cards or letters, tight work deadlines — begins competing with my heart’s desire to focus on what Christmas is really about. I want to make sure that Jesus’ name is lifted high, but invariably just dealing with the “tyranny of the urgent” is more the norm.
So how can you and I purposefully overcome our culture’s frantic pace and reclaim this Christmas for the King?
Here’s what the Lord has impressed on me:
- I need to spend more time praying together with my wife for others.
- I need to say “no” to at least as many “good” activities this holiday season as I say “yes” to — without feeling guilty.
- I shouldn’t wait until Christmas morning to read through and ponder the Christmas story.
- I need to go to bed before the 10 o’clock news.
- I need to rely on the Lord to increase my awareness of those around me who are hurting and in need, and seek to tangibly reflect Christ’s love as he directs.
Instead of waiting until January 1st to make our New Year’s resolutions, would you join me in committing — with the Lord’s help — to making this Christmas more about him than it is about us?
May Christ’s richest blessings flow into and out of your lives as you continue to grow in your daily walk with him!
* DJ Online News is distributed freely each month by www.discipleshipjournal.com. Discipleship Journal is a publication of The Navigators.
This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in FIRST! magazine November/December 2007
THE CHRISTMAS VERSION of First Corinthians chapter 13
IF I DECORATE my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shining balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
IF I SLAVE AWAY in the kitchen, baking, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.
IF I WORK at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
IF I DECORATE the spruce with shimmering angels and crystal snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
LOVE stops the cooking to hug the child.
LOVE sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
LOVE is kind, though harried and tired.
LOVE doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
LOVE doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
LOVE doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
LOVE never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.
But the gift of LOVE will endure.
This article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in Life Indeed November/December 2004