To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Christ Jesus our LORD’ Category

The Miracle Of Christmas Is…

…..not the Virgin Birth. The birth of our Lord Jesus was completely normal. The circumstances were somewhat parlous, but the actual delivering of the baby, who is our Lord Jesus Christ, was quite normal. So we read in Luke 2:6-7: And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

So why all the fuss then? It is because the major miracle connected with the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world is the Virgin Conception. The fact that a virgin conceived a child is an unprecedented miracle of outrageous proportions. We read in Matthew 1:18-19 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 

Here is how God could be manifest in the flesh. It is because the seed in Mary’s womb did not originate with a man, but came there through the eternal Holy Spirit putting the eternal Son in the womb of Mary. And so the One appointed to be the Saviour arrived on that day of conception. In that small event in the womb of Mary hung the salvation of a lost world. Miniscule in physical proportions, but on the mega scale in terms of implications

Oh how great are the great ways of our God. Oh praise Him for such a perfect salvation which is ours by His grace. So go big on celebrating the incarnation of Christ tomorrow and always.

And if you are not a believer in the Christ, who was once incarnate in the womb of Mary, what is holding you back?

Love Came Down

Love came down at Christmas Time.

God gave love; He gave His only begotten Son.

He gave Him to the womb of Mary and then to the manger.

Love came down because He, being Christ the Lord, is the Saviour.

He is Jesus; He is the One who saves His people from their sins.

Love came down as promised; for Isaiah had spoken that a virgin would be with child.

For unto us a Son is given unto us a child is born and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus did not begin at Bethlehem; He had been forever and He is forever.

But Love did come down at Bethlehem. The everlasting One stepped into time. The One who upholds all things by the word of His power was found in a womb.

Love came down; pure love, holy love, righteous love, selfless love.

This is true love because it has the best interests of others at heart.

He came not to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.

So love came down into darkness. The darkness of sin overwhelmed this world. But the light of love has come and has shined. And that light beamed out in the darkness. So that the darkness did not overcome it.

Here at Bethlehem is Love; not that we loved God but that God gave Him to be punished for our sins.

Because the manger at Bethlehem begs a question; why? Why has He come? And the name Jesus gives the answer: He has come on a love mission. A mission to rescue.

And the place Calvary gives the answer. God gave Him up to death. He spared Him NOT from the cross.

But God raised Him from the dead and by doing so He said: “My salvation is complete”: it is now there to be received

So how can we doubt that God loves. Christmas declares that God loves.

So love came down at Christmas time. And who has received it?

Yes we can be the receivers of love if we receive Him who is Christ the LORD.

Love came down at Christmas time and is still around today. The Father and the Son sent the Spirit to tell us that the righteous God is the God of love.

So let us adore the lover of our souls this Christmas time.

For love came down to Christmas time and has never gone away.

Is that love in your heart?

(Originally published at Venabling on December 17 2015)

Church Newsletter

Here is our church newsletter for December 2020. It includes an article on “The Reason He Came.”

He Is Our Advocate

As we prepare for the Lord’s Day tomorrow and the worship of our Great Lord and Saviour let us consider Him whi is our Advocate.

In 1 John 2:1 we read My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Sin should not come into our lives as believers, but alas it does. In such circumstances our only hope is in the fact that we have an Advocate who is pleading our case in heaven; He is Jesus Christ the righteous One. He is there for us.

When Satan the accuser brings forth his accusations and insinuations about us as Jesus’ people we know they are only too true. We are failures and worthy of rejection and damnation. But as those scurrilous words from the evil one are heard in the precincts of heaven and in our ears, we see One step forward. He is the One who pleads our cause. He is the righteous One who died to take away all of our sins. He states how He has borne our sins and how we are accepted by God in Himself. He claims ownership of us and stakes His own reputation on keeping us for Himself.

When such a case is presented by our Advocate it always carries the day. We know this because One day he rose from the day and thence ascended to the right hand of the majesty on High. Our eternal God raised Him from the dead. Judgment is finished. The God who is the eternal judge sees us in Christ and all is well. Our sins are dealt with and His advocacy always prevails. We are eternally secure.

So go and praise Him tomorrow like never before.

He Never Had Sex

We live in a society where there is an obsession with sex. Even in the church this can be the case. Of course, in the church the message is that sex is rightly and properly restricted to marriage. However, the message can be that if you are not married and enjoying sex then you are missing out.

However, we need to have a re-appraisal of this emphasis. One fact that should make us to re-assess our emphasis is that the most fulfilled man who has ever lived never had sex. Our Lord Jesus Christ was not a pseudo man; He was a real man. Such a scripture as Luke 2:40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favour of God was upon him, will indicate to us the reality of His humanity. Moreover, we read in Hebrews 4:15b of Him as one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

We celebrate sex in its proper setting as a rich and full gift from God. However, we do a disservice to the married and the unmarried, and to the sexually pure and the sexually messed up if we portray sex as the very elixir of life.

Knowing God and relating to Him through Christ is the very fullest experience that any human can experience. if we look for fulfilment anywhere else, including in sex, then we will always be short-changed.

Knowing God

In Luke 5:33 we see the Pharisees unhappy about how the followers of Jesus are conducting themselves. They say to the Lord “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink” (Luke 5:33). It’s almost as if they are saying your disciples seem to be enjoying themselves whilst we are stuck with the drudgery of prayings and fastings.

The Lord goes on to talk about how having Himself with them means that it is a time for celebration and enjoyment. He likens Himself to a bridegroom to make the point. When it is wedding time and the bridegroom is present: you just do not fast; you celebrate (see v34). He further says that fasting will take place when He is gone because of the passionate desire that His disciples would have to have Him with them (see v35).

This raises the question of how we use spiritual disciplines. We talk about the means of grace, such as prayer, Bible Study, fellowship and congregating as church. But are they really means of grace or are they religious pursuits which lead to us glorying in our performance and not in the Lord? That seems to be the outlook of the Pharisees. They see prayers and fastings as an end in themselves.

We so easily go in this direction. One thing that I wonder about is whether we, particularly in conservative evangelical circles, have substituted the knowledge of scripture for the knowledge of God. The knowledge of the Word is vital for us to truly know God. If we do not know scripture we will never know the true God. however, However, if we conclude that we know God through knowing the Word we are deceived. It is the difference between knowing the facts about my wife and knowing my wife in a living relationship. The facts helps me to engage in knowing my wife, but in and of themselves they fail to deliver an experiential knowledge.

So we absolutely must be studying the Word and hearing it faithfully preached and taught. But to think that in and of itself it achieves the knowing of God is a delusion. Knowing God is through the Christ revealed in scripture. The study of scripture along prayers and fastings must be mingled in to my life as I pursue God and the knowing of Him through Jesus Christ.

Alas, going back to the Pharisees, if prayers and fastings become just religious duties then we default to drudgeries and our spiritual life is defunct and we live in misery when we should be living in joy.

Fullness of joy comes when we are led to the Christ through our Saviour.

The Only Saviour

Isaiah has been described as the Bible in miniature. Its 66 chapters align with the 66 books of the bible. The first 39 chapters align with the 39 books of the Old Testament, and the last 27 with the books of the New Testament. But its immensity goes beyond those facts because it draws together all the themes of God’s workings throughout scripture and therefore, through time and eternity. The top point of the whole development of the book is the final Servant song in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

Israel as “the servant of the Lord” is messed up in their sin and rebellion, and that is displayed by their captivity in Babylon. Into that mess comes The Servant of the Lord. He comes to make everything good. At the heart of Him making all good (and Him being the foundation for all good), is His sacrificial offering of Himself for others. Isaiah 53 shows us the saving work of the Servant of the Lord who is our Saviour Jesus.

52:13-15. The Special One.

Make no mistake this is the One in whom all God’s purposes are focused. He always operates wisely and will be exalted above all (v13). The tortuous shame that He experienced (v14) will lead on to Him blessing many, even beyond Israel as the value of His suffering is received into their lives (v15a). All this is done as God works to transform lives (v15b).

53:1-3. The Rejected One.

Very few have received Him and naturally people don’t grasp that the source of power is in Jesus (v1). This is because there was nothing impressive outwardly about Him as He came into this world (v2). People did not see Him as worth reckoning with (v3a). Generally ignored and ultimately rejected, particularly at the cross, this was Jesus (v3b).

53:4-6. The Suffering One.

Yet His life was a life where He brought good to others (v4a). Notwithstanding this when people saw Him on the cross they thought He was getting “His just deserts” (v4b). But they were so wrong! He was actually dying for the the sins of others (v6b). It was not He who had gone astray, it was us (v6a). And through the suffering of Himself we can know acceptance and healing in our souls (v5).

53:7-9. The Submissive One.

Notwithstanding the fact that He was viciously ill-treated, He was One who had a determined set purpose (v7a). He was set for the cross and nothing would stop Him. Like the lamb set for slaughter and the sheep set for shearing He went uncomplainingly (v7b). And when He arrived at the time for His demise He faces a corrupt judiciary who just wanted Him finished (v8a). There was no prospect of any future; no descendants to be thought of, it was the end (v8b). As you looked on you saw Him cut off (v8c). But as God looked on He saw Him bearing the sins of His people (v8d). According to normal process He was set for the “rubbish heap (gehenna)” grave of the wicked (v9a). But God stops that. The shame is all finished at the cross and He will have a decent burial (v9b). And so a Joseph of Arimathea came. But we must not forget that He never did anything wrong Himself: He never deserved to die (v9c).

53:10-12. The Honoured One.

There is a shift now so that we are introduced into God’s purposes regarding His Servant. He crushed Him at the cross (v10a). He made Him to fulfil the guilt (trespass) offering of Leviticus 5 to pay back in full for the sin of mankind (v10b). And so all honour is now to Him, our Lord Jesus. His blessings are manifest in the multitudes of His offspring and the enjoyment of life everlasting. This all reflected great blessing to a Jewish mind (v10c). Everything can be trusted to Him (v10d).

This is all leads us into the great salvation which the Servant brings (v11). The Lord will ultimately find every satisfaction in bringing His knowledge to bear to bless others (v11a-b). He knows the need of man. He also knows His own experience and why He went through what he did (11b). On the basis of this knowledge He, as the righteous One, removes guilt and condemnation, and thereby justifies (v11c). The ungodly are declared right; all because He bore their iniquities (v11d). He will be honoured in the end and for all eternity (v12). The great will be allocated to Him (v12a). He, as the Victor, will distribute the spoil as He sees fit (v12b). But let us never forget, it was because he died as a transgressor for the transgressors, that is you and me, that he is magnified (v12cd). On account of Him bearing our sin and interceding for us, it is now well for us in Jesus; the Servant of the LORD (v12ef). Praise HIM.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of October 2017)

How Effective is My Life?

As you read this, where is your soul with the Lord? What spiritual state are you in? And I want to know the force of these questions for myself. So I ask: where am I at with the Lord? To develop these thoughts I want to muse upon the interaction between doing and dwelling.

It is good to be active for the Lord. It is good to be among those who spend and be spent in arduous service for the Master. There is much to do; many have not been evangelised, many have not been instructed in the ways of the Lord. many are lonely, many are suffering. We need to be those who willingly and devotedly expend ourselves for the benefit of others in the Lord’s Name. However, the great danger is that we are ever flowing in service for the Master without ever asking the Master how and where He wants us to serve. We see a need and just respond. Should we not consult the Master first?

But there is a further danger and that is that we get serving without getting the energy to serve. The energy to serve comes to those who take time to dwell with the Lord, look upon the face of the Master and contemplate His glory. One the dangers of our age is that of activism. We must be up and doing. This is good, But doing without dwelling soon leads to drudgery. If we are not knowing the Master through dwelling with Him then we will not be fruitful. As our Lord said in John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 

Where is the tendency among us to spend time stopping and beholding the beauty of the Lord. As I mention these things I am drawn to the comparison of Martha and Mary. Martha was the activist; Mary was the contemplative one. The Lord’s summary observation about them as He spoke to Martha was “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41b-42).

The danger is that we start to think that the contemplative person tends towards inactivity and achieving nothing. But that is not the case. The one who stops to contemplate the beauty of the Lord will want to serve the Lord and on account of being more in the presence of the Master will tend to be more effective in service.

So what of me and what of you? For those of us with activist tendencies we need to make sure that our laudable desire to be up and doing for the Lord is not just a fleshly impulse. We do that through fighting to spend time with the Lord. For those of us of a more contemplative disposition we need to make sure that that tendency does not just lead us in to being sedentary mystics who are engaged in spiritual exercises, but not in gazing on the Lord.

And amidst all this we discern that the dwellers are the ones who end up being the effective doers. The Lord makes His work to continue through the dwellers who flow out from His presence in mighty power.

Our Satisfied God

There is only one being in the universe who is self-satisfied. That being is our God. That being is the God who being One exists in three persons. In the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit there is perfection and each finds full fulfilment in this sharing together. There is no stifling of their persons in this serene atmosphere of perfect Oneness.

As the being created of God, as head over His whole creation whether animate or inanimate, we are formed in the image of God. That image has been marred disastrously by sin. Notwithstanding this, the reality remains that we who are in the image of God have been made for fellowship with God. And it is only when we connect into the all self-satisfied God that we enter into satisfaction.

Satisfaction seeking is a phenomenon which is essential to our human existence. The idolatrous practices that we engage in are an expression of a search for meaning and satisfaction. Driving these pursuits is the mantra “And when I am satisfied I will be comfortable with who I am”.

Alas the satisfaction seeking in this world does not deliver because the place of all satisfying rest, God Himself, is eschewed. We only enter into satisfaction when we enter fellowship with the God is is essentially self-satisfied.

The Word of God says For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Pet. 3:18). The purpose of God is that we should be brought to Himself. The purpose of Christ coming to this world was that we should have a relationship with God. And this is NOT misery and it is not just something that some who are of the more religious bent might find beneficial. It is the finding of life and that in all its fullness.

Our God is Life and offers that life to us, His image bearing creatures. Oh come enter in and enjoy. Enjoy God; enjoy life.

The Bible’s Key Verse

I am thinking here about the key verse for understanding the Bible. I believe it to be Matthew 1:1. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

This verse is the verse which sums up what has gone before in the Old Testament and declares what are the fundamental characteristics of Jesus Christ. He is the man in whom the people of God are formed and find their “place” (Son of Abraham) and He is the King who has come to rule His people (Son of David). 

The rest of the bible is about unfolding everything developing out of these terms: Son of Abraham and Son of David. 

So when you are reading the Old Testament laws, remember where you are headed for; you are headed for Matthew 1:1. With that in mind your understanding of the Old Testament will be enhanced and there will be much excitement with all the anticipation of our Lord Jesus coming into the world.

And when you read the New Testament remember where you are coming from; Matthew 1:1. And that will colour and cohere all your understanding of the declaration of the focus and maker of all history and the key individual of eternity; our Lord Jesus.

The fulfilling of the Abrahamic covenant and the Davidic covenant in Jesus Christ have the following blessed outcomes for us:

  • We are the people of God. By faith we are attached to the seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ.
  • We are in God’s place. As Abraham was promised a land for his descendants to enjoy God’s blessings, so we have a land to enjoy God’s blessings. We are “in Christ” and thereby we are in the most blessed place to enjoy God’s eternal blessings.
  • We have a Ruler. We have a ruler greater than Israel’s greatest ruler. We have our Lord and King Jesus under whose rule we delight to be.

 

 

 

Tag Cloud