The Ultimate Ballot Box

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders…”

(Isaiah 9:6)

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Today sees a political Advent take place in the UK. The Coming, or emerging, of a party to rule our lands with a mandate from us to do so (unless it’s a hung parliament!). We do not know who will be coming in to power or staying in power at the time of publishing this.What we do know is that our nations are in turmoil, there are no easy answers and no-one beside whose name we might put an ‘X’ who we whole-heartedly trust to deliver on all that we need. The truth be told, we don’t believe any candidate or party are fit and able to shoulder the responsibilities of our lives. And it would be unfair for any of us to expect them to be able to govern to the level that we all hope for.

 

Isaiah painted a bleak picture of the state of his two nations, Israel and Judah. For many of the same self-inflicted reasons as us today, the nations were in turmoil. And in the midst of  bad government, national crisis and political disarray as a result of rejection of Yahweh (God), he prophecies that a light is being switched on again in the nations; that austerity was going to be dealt with; that hope and joy were on the way.
Through a child. A son. He would fill the offices of government himself, and do it perfectly.

This is our hope today, and should be our focus; Jesus rules and reigns. Maybe not in Westminster at this point, but ultimately his perfect government will come.

Whilst we’re waiting for that in the world, we can affirm this promise to ourselves and get filled with hope for the future. We can also pray for his government to come. And most vitally, we can say today “Jesus, reign in me today. I welcome your advent into power over my life. Govern me, and I will respond to you.”

Now you know where to put your cross at the ultimate ballot box.

(By Marcus Mosey)

Why celebrate Christmas?

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  (Matthew 1:22)

December is definitely one of my favourites times of the year. The lights, the decorations, the trees… I love it.  But it seems that Christmas already starts in October! The shops don’t wait until December to start selling Christmas stuff. Even back then, you could already see some people going around the shops to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones and decorations to celebrate this time of the year with family and friends.

When I was younger, I used to believe In Santa Claus. But one day I asked my self,  “Why is Santa Claus using my mum’s bag for my presents? Doesn’t he have his own bag?”.

Since then, there was no Santa Claus for me anymore.

Three years ago I met Jesus! And then Christmas made complete sense.
I found this text, written by an unknown author, called “You can’t compare”…

“Why Jesus is better than Santa Claus? Santa Claus lives at North Pole. Jesus is all over the place. Santa Claus rides a sled. Jesus was seen on the wings of the wind and he walked on the waters. Santa Claus visits us once a year. Jesus is always with us. Santa Claus comes from the fire place. Jesus is at the door and knocking… and then, comes in our hearts when invited …”

And the text goes on. Jesus is the reason for Christmas. You don’t need to wait to see Jesus. He is already there. He lets us rest in his arms. He knows everyone’s names. He knew us before we were born. He knows our past and our future. He has a heart full of love and compassion. He offers us new life and heals the broken hearts. He became our greatest present.He died for us.

Manger at night under fog

Jesus Christ is God’s Christmas gift to you. Yet some go Christmas after Christmas, never opening the best gift of all. Why even celebrate Christmas if you’re not going to open the biggest gift? It doesn’t make sense to leave unwrapped the gift of a forgiven past, a present purpose for living, and a future home in Heaven.

God has made a way for you this Christmas to be right with him, and all you have to do is receive his gift of salvation. Will you believe it, and receive it?

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us — set us right with him, make us fit for him — we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus” (Romans 5:1)

(by Alice Lyra, sent from Brazil)

Magnified at Christmas

“And he feeleth for our sadness

And he shareth in our gladness”

(From “Once in Royal David’s City”)

I have been reflecting on the message that Derek Burnside (Principal, Capernwray Hall) brought to New Life on Sunday. Christmas really is a magnifying glass. For some, the season just makes loneliness, estrangement, poverty and the struggles of life loom larger, affecting mental health and mood. For others, Christmas is a celebration of the love, the community, the plenty, the well-being of the soul and of pocket.

And for many, a mixture of both. Sadness and gladness are magnified and amplified.

The Christ child would come to experience the extreme pain of isolation, our pain of soul and his own physical pain that we will never know. He also laughed, celebrated with others, knew companionship and could taste the joy that was set before him – reunion with his Father. Sadness and gladness. Jesus understands, and is present in both.

So today, consider these things…

– Jesus, Immanuel, is with me in my sadness or gladness.

– There is a joy that I can have because he is here, and he understands what I am feeling.

– How can I come alongside someone in their sadness, whilst also looking to join others’ gladness?

– I will magnify Jesus in the midst of magnified emotions.

(by Marcus Mosey)

The joy of the humble chosen

“Oh how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!”
(Luke 1 v 46-47)
Christmas is a great time of celebration. Like a family waiting for news of the birth of a baby and rejoicing when it comes we wait during advent for that special day of joy. But like Mary we can sing praises while we wait and like Mary we can give a reason for our praise of God – he has looked on our lowly, humble status. We are not so great, but because of what God has done for us and in us we can do great things.
“All things are possible for the one who believes.” Mark 9 v 23
Let us rejoice each day at the coming of our Messiah and believe that he can and will work in and through us for his glory!

(by Jonny Bayes)

The Present of His Presence

What is Christmas time to you? It is a personal thing. It is largely down to how you perceive Christmas through your own past experiences.

I like this phrase I once heard: ‘Don’t worry about the future as it has not yet arrived, don’t give too much concern for the past as it has gone and the here and now is a gift. That is why it is called the present!’

The Present of His Presence

 

I know people who this year will spend time grieving, being sad and even angry at Christmas time. We (me included) get so engrossed by our own personal ideas for Christmas. What special food should we eat, what special alcohol should I treat myself to, and how many presents can we push relatives into giving us. Even as Christians we can easily forget what Christmas is supposed to be about. We can too easily forget to think of others around us. A dear friend of mine lost her soulmate, husband and father to her two kids this February. I will be thinking and praying for her first Christmas without him, and also for a few others who have lost loved ones.

Advent should be a thoughtful period as we prepare to celebrate the time God gave us a way into his presence by giving us Jesus. The ultimate giftThe gift that is priceless, the gift we don’t deserve, the gift that can never be paid for. God is giving it to anyone that wants it. Ultimately it may cost you friends or family. But to be perfectly honestly, it is worth it. God gave us his Son. The greatest gift. Let His Presence be your greatest present in the present, and you will find, like God, that you will be thinking of and giving to others.

(by David Rowbottom)

The Secret Millionaire

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“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

One of the TV programmes I enjoy is one called “The Secret Millionaire”. In this reality TV series, a multi millionaire secretly comes to a town to meet with normal everyday people or organisations who are struggling with life or who needs help in one form of the other. The millionaire mixes with these people not letting them know who he/she is. the millionaire visits them in their homes, eats with them and generally tries to find out what they’re going through. In the end, there is a revelation of who the millionaire is truly is and everyone he or she came across are helped in one way or the other.

What we celebrate at Christmas is even more incredible than this. God came down in the form of Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago to reveal God the Father to us and bring us into fellowship with Him. He didn’t stop there but died on the cross for us so we wouldn’t have to bear our sin. This is the beauty of Christmas.

(by Ayo Mustapha)

Doors and Candles

Advent means “coming”, as we have already heard this week; the coming of a notable or significant person or thing. To us, it’s the coming of Jesus into the world.

Here’s a bit of an explanation of the things we equate with advent.

The first Advent calendars come out in early 1900’s, with scenes of the nativity behind each door. No chocolate! But the calendar told the story. And did you know that Advent is historically the first season of the church year?

advent-advent-wreath-burn-burnt-278624Some people have Advent wreaths. Some with just four candles, and others with five candles  (three purple, one pink and one white).
The first one stands for Hope, and is called the prophecy candle, representing the prophets who foretold Jesus’ coming.
The second one is the Bethlehem candle, marking Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
The third one, the Shepherds candle ( the pink one ). This one represents Joy at his coming.
Candle number four  is the Angels’ candle, which speaks of  the angels’ message of peace and goodwill to all.
Finally, the white candle in the centre. The CHRIST candle,  symbolising purity . This one is traditionally lit on Christmas eve.

Whether we have advent calendars to open, wreaths with four or five candles, or nothing visual at all, we can all use these four weeks to meditate and prepare our minds and hearts for the real meaning of Christmas, the coming of the pure light of the world that was born in Bethlehem for us. The light shone in the darkness, and is shining still.

(by Paul Sargent)