Jesus is the light of the world that we celebrate at Christmas. The following quote is a good reminder that we carry this light with us. Let's keep our eyes open for opportunities to bless others.
"The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because his manifestation in the world must be through us. Every Christian is, as it were, part of the dust-laden air which shall radiate the glowing epiphany of God, catch and reflect his golden light. Ye are the light of the world – but only because you are enkindled, made radiant by the one light of the world. And being kindled, we have got to get on with it, be useful. As Christ said in one of his ironical flashes, “Do not light a candle in order to stick it under the bed!” "
All of us know people who have experienced a lot of pain and hardship in life. Broken homes, broken relationships, broken promises, broken people.
The following quote from John Stott is worth considering. We worship a God who knows our pain. May we all seek to bring the presence of Jesus alongside those who are hurting.
"I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as “God on the Cross.” In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us."
Having mentioned British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge in the message on Sunday, I thought the following quote from him is appropriate. Our world is scrambling for answers. Jesus is the Answer.
"It is precisely when every earthly hope has been explored and found wanting, when every possibility of help from earthly sources has been sought and is not forthcoming, when every recourse this world offers, moral as well as natural, has been drawn on and expended with no effect, when in the shivering cold every stick has been thrown on the fire, and in the gathering darkness every glimmer of light has finally flickered out – it is then that Christ’s hand reaches out, sure and firm, that Christ’s words bring their inexpressible comfort, that his light shines brightest, abolishing the darkness forever."
Source: Confessions of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim
We as Christians sometimes wonder how God will use us in his kingdom work. We face personal challenges and question how this can be a good thing. The following quote from Oswald Chambers gives some insight. God sees further than we do.
"Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, “I cannot stand anymore.” God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands."
Source: My Utmost for His Highest
As we look ahead to a new year, we do it without fear of the future, or succumbing to despondency that things will never get better. In Christ we are given hope.
Desmond Tutu, the South African bishop who passed away Sunday at the age of 90, provides us with encouraging words along the lines of hope:
"I am always hopeful. A Christian is a prisoner of hope. What could have looked more hopeless than Good Friday? But then, at Easter, God says, “From this moment on, no situation is untransfigurable.” There is no situation from which God cannot extract good. Evil, death, oppression, injustice—these can never again have the last word, despite all appearances to the contrary."
Reflecting today on the privilege of living in a free country, and grateful for the lives given in service (including an uncle I never met). Also reflecting on the words from Revelation 22 and the crystal clear Water flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. It is the Water of life. Thank you Jesus!
It is Water that brings healing and bears fruit. This healing will come to the nations. We must admit that we have it good in this land, and our Canadian complaints about government weigh very lightly on the scales of any hardship or injustice.
But there are peoples in places like Sudan, Afghanistan, and Myanmar that are desperate. Many are running for their lives. They cry out for healing. They cry out for safety, they cry out in grief and sorrow. They walk by faith.
O for the day when the children of God around the world will taste that Water! And will see His face!
Jesus says,"Look, I am coming soon!"
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people.
Are you facing a storm in life? Tired from adversity? Here are words of encouragement from Frances J. Roberts in Come Away My Beloved. Receive them as words from the Lord.
"You need never fear whether I will be faithful to you, for if I have never failed anyone else, why would I fail you? You have an innumerable company of spectators cheering you from the ramparts of heaven, reminding you of what I did form them, and encouraging you that the struggle is not interminable; surprising soon it shall end in victory for you also - if you endure faithfully.
Do you fear the weakness within your own self? I have put it there to drive you to Myself. I may never answer your prayers to be made strong, but I will give you the same promise I gave the apostle Paul, that in your weakness I will be your strength. It is still true that my grace operates most effectively when you have a conscious sense of need - yes, even a desperate awareness of your own complete helplessness."
The Good News of Jesus is the best message we could hope for. Forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life. Yet it remains a message that must be accepted and a gift that must be received. The following from C.S. Lewis offers important truth.
"God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on his side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else – something it never entered your head to conceive – comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side."
Given the challenges that many families are experiencing these days in our church and community and our conference, and also the painful events in the news, I thought this quote from Edith Stein was worth sharing. As believers we view the realities of earth through the lens of heaven. Blessings!
"To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one’s feet on the earth, to walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels – this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth."
We have such a treasure in God's Word. Many have tried over the centuries to discredit the Bible, but it remains as God's trustworthy and true revelation to us. His enduring communication of love and faithfulness.
I came across this poem by John Clifford that expresses it well:
Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith's door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
When looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers worn with beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he; then with a twinkling eye,
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."
And so, I thought, the anvil of God's Word,
For ages, skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed - the hammers gone.
Pastor Ward Parkinson