Saturday, 25 December 2010

Jesus- meek and lowly our saviour holy!

I have heard many sermons over the years on the passage there was no room for them in the inn Luke chapter 2 none of them better than C H Spurgeon's: 

The invitation
Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was being set forth as the sinners friend. Come to him, yea that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, ye that despise yourself and are despised by others! come to him publican and harlot! Come to him thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, ungaurded from your touch and unsheilded from your gaze. Bow the knee and kiss the Son of God: accept him as your saviour, for he puts himself in that manger that you may approach him. The throne of Solomon might awe you but the manger of Christ invites you. 

Demands a response

As the palace, and the forum, and the inn, have no room for Christ and as the places of public resort have none, have you room for Christ? "Well" says one,"I have room for Him, but I am not worthy that he should come to me" Ah! I did not ask about your worthiness; have you room for Him? "Oh" says one "I have an empty void the world can never fill". Ah! I see you have room for Him. "Oh! but the room that I have is so base!" So was the manger. "But it is so despicable!" so was the manger a thing to be despised.
C. H Spurgeon
Your sin is no excuse to keep you from coming to Him who came into the world to save sinners. He left the comfort of heaven for a lowly manger and later a cruel and shameful cross because He came to seek those who are lost. If you are lost this Christmas call out to Him and He will save you.
Merry Christmas

Stephen <><

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The BBC Production of The Nativity, Christmas 2010

Over the course of this week from Monday to Thursday the BBC have being showing their version of the Nativity. I am pleased to say that it followed the story line as revealed in scripture with prophetic quotes from Isaiah chapter 9 coming from the lips of Elizabeth. Their Mary was young and a real woman living in a real world rather than the  other worldly Mary of Roman Catholicism. On the down side I would have liked to see Mary do the magnficate. Joseph for the most part fit the Biblical picture (although he did blaspheme at one point) as a man of humble means but who was a good man. I think they managed to capture the difficulties that Mary, as a  very young pious woman facing pregnancy outside of marriage would have experienced. As she was treated as an adulterer by her former friends and family, shunned for a time by Joseph until he finally believed what he was told in his dream as well as carrying a great weight upon her shoulders knowing that she was unworthy to be the mother of the LORD. 

The Shepherds were fleshed out, not as rough as they would have been but miles away from a children's play, the main one was struggling to believe in God's existence as he was dirt poor and  struggling to take care of his wife and baby, so desperate he nearly took a life the same day the angel appeared. When he was in the stable he was worried that there was not enough grace for him, but he was overwhelmed with the revelation coming to one such as him. I think that was my favourite moment in the whole drama as it captured the heart of the gospel, no one is worthy but all may come.

The magi were Babylonian astrologers and had far too much understanding of Yahweh and his plans for the world but this was to help with the flow of the story. The BBC followed the fairly recent view that the star was an alignment in the heavens between three planets. They showed the movement in the heavens which captured something of how monumental the birth of Christ is to the world. The magi arrived moments after the birth, just after the shepherd and quoted scripture "we have seen his star in the east and have come to worship Him."

We quite often give the BBC a hard time for sidelining Christianity but credit where credit is due, thank you for sharing the true meaning of Christmas on prime time TV!

God Bless
Stephen <><

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Think- The Life of the Mind and the Love of God- John Piper

John Piper is one of my favourite authors and my favourite modern American preacher, I always find him dangerous though as reading him will mean a change in lifestyle. There are two Piper books that stand out Desiring God which melted my cold heart and Don't Waste Your Life which impacted my life in practical ways. Think is the latest offering from Piper and it is not written for those who want to think and do nothing else. This is a book about using the mind in pursuing the greatest treasure there is God. Piper is not a cold academic but someone who is passionate in heart and mind for God. This book is about becoming like that, to contemplate and meditate on what you read in the Bible and in good Christian books is to be changed, to be set a light. Piper himself puts it this way on page 91:

God has given us minds so that, by thinking with the Spirit's help, we can know the truth and beauty and worth of God through Jesus and treasure him above all things and spend our lives expressing this in as many ways as our minds can pursue.... Loving God with all our minds that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.     
I would offer a couple of cautions though firstly be careful what you read, make scripture a priority and check everything you read against the Bible. Secondly do your reading devotionally, good books can give you good theology but if you heart is not right it can lead to becoming a Pharisee sitting in judgement over others and becoming unteachable.
Piper offers advice how to do this from B. B Warfield, Warfield was responding to someone who said 5 minutes on your knees is worth more than 10 hours in your books. Warfield replied, "what about 10 hours in your books on your knees."

The closing chapter of the book is quite odd at first, it is the story of a man who studied a fish for several hours over several days. The point of the story is that it takes a while to meditate on a passage to understand it, but working at it and digging deep into things you have never seen before. This book made me realise I have grown a bit lazy when it comes to studying and meditating on the word of God. In the new year when the baby is sleeping consistently through the night I intend to get back into the languages so I can meditate properly on scripture. I found this a useful exercise as I studied Greek at HTC because the passage would be in my head for several days as I slowly translated it. 

I am constantly surprised how little other Christians read of their Bibles let alongegood Christian works, this means I need to be patient as God deals with people differently and to our own master we shall stand or fall . I have also learnt recently that in the pulpit you need to keep it as simple as possible because must people don't have a clue and need help to understand. It is a sin to try to show how clever you are, the objective is to show how great God is. Piper does this well in everything he preaches and everything he writes, this book is no exception read it on your knees!

God Bless
Stephen <><