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The Dark Side of Christmas

The Dark Side of Christmas

Text. Matthew 2:13 -23

The birth of the Saviour is a reason to rejoice!. That’s certainly reflected in the biblical narrative of the birth of Jesus. The Magi:- Matthew 2:10 – John the Baptist, Luke 1:41 – Mary. Luke 1:46 – The angels. Luke 2:10 – The shepherds. Luke 2:20 It’s a time of great rejoicing, and rightfully so. But not everyone rejoiced and it is to those tragic events we turn this morning:-

1. The Situation where Evil Flourished.
A group of pagan, gentile astrologers had been led by God to come to Jerusalem. They weren’t sages, they weren’t kings and there may or may not have been three of them. They were people whom the Jews would have despised and had nothing to do with; secular atheists who believed in a pagan form of religion. When then are they part of the narrative of Christ’s birth? God brought these unworthy Gentiles to Christ, just as he had brought the filthy outcast despised shepherds to Christ.
So they reach Jerusalem, and they seek for the one who is born King of the Jews, and they go straight to the palace, – just where you’d expect a king to be born, and they meet Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of Israel. It’s fair to say that although Herod was troubled, he didn’t quite believe these men, for he could easily have sent a group of soldiers with the Magi, to take the life of the Messiah. Instead he insists that if and when they find him, they should return to him, so he can go worship too. They do find him, but they don’t return! That’s when we begin to see… Read more…

Peter’s Final Words. 1 Peter 5:10-14

Peter’s Closing Words

Text. 1 Peter 5:10-14
So we come to the very last paragraph in Peter’s letter to the suffering church. He’s going to sum up everything he has written in just a few words, and and the first sentence of this is a prayer. It’s an interesting prayer, for you would expect Peter to pray that their suffering be removed from them. That’s what I would pray for others, especially for fellow Christians. I would ask God to remove all suffering from them. But Peter doesn’t pray like that. He prays that their suffering would be SHORT and would be BEARABLE and would be beneficial FOR THEM! That’s because… Read more…

The Christian Life Is… Matthew 16:24-28

The Christian Life is…

Text: Matthew 16:24-28
What does it mean to be a Christian? – How many different answers would you get to that question? A good person – ‘good living.’ An intolerant bigot, who is a homophobic hater, who wants to deny women the right to abort their children, – a ‘healthcare’ denier… Or, rarely in this world, a faithful disciple of Jesus, humbly surrendered to his will, seeking to live according to his Word in a manner which is pleasing to him. Let’s see what Jesus says on this matter. In this passage, a very sombre, weighty passage indeed, Jesus describes the Christian life for us, and he doesn’t dress up his words to make them more palatable. He tells us that the Christian life is:- Read more…

You Can’t Have Christ Without the Cross. Matthew 16:21-23

You Can’t Have Christ Without the Cross

Text Matthew 16:21-23
In our last study in Matthew 16, we saw Jesus pronouncing a blessing upon Peter. ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’ Within a very few verses, just a short time later, it seems that the blessing has been completely reversed, ‘Get behind Me, Satan.’ Why the reversal, and why the strong language? Let’s explore this interesting passage… Read more…

The ‘Church’ in Matthew 16:16-19

The Church in Matthew 16:16-19

Text Matthew 16:16-19
Jesus is teaching his disciples about the church. So, what can we learn about the church in this passage?

1. The Church Has Muptiple Facets! I will build My church
What does the church that Jesus built look like? It is…

  • Universal and Local! Elect from ev’ry nation, yet one o’er all the earth, her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth; one holy Name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses, with ev’ry grace endued.   Yet the truest form of the visible church is the local assembly – a group of believers meeting together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They may be just a handful, or a great number, but where the Word of God is being preached, the sacraments righlty observed and church discipline being exercised, there is a church, entire and complete, yet part of the worldwide universal church, the body of Christ.
  • Invisible and Visible. Again, there are those whom God has called to be part of his church, and only He knows who they are. But there is a church that can be seen – what we might call Christendom. It’s a wide definition – for it must include everyone from Roman Catholics to Free Presbyterians! Even the Mormons and the JW’s want to describe themselves as ‘Christians.’ – Yet we know that not all that glitters is gold! Just because a church or a denomination or an individual describes themselves as ‘Christian’ – that does not mean that they are part of the church that God has called for himself and redeemed. The REAL church is not the church that we see, but the church that God sees!
  • Militant and Victorious. The church is made up of those Christians who are still in the battle, still in this life, and the believers who are already victorious, who are gathered around the throne in glory. One church! Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One, and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.

Read more…

The Enemy of the Soul – 1 Peter 5:8-11

The Enemy of the Soul

Text 1 Peter 5:8-11
I can’t remember when I last spoke about the devil – and its never something I’d do in a Sunday service. I’d rather point people to Christ than give any credibility to the enemy of the soul. Yet it’s a mistake to ignore him. As Christians we need to know who that deceiver is, where he came from and what he’s up to. and of course, what his eventual end will be. There’s lots of Biblical teaching about the person and work of the devil that will not fall into the remit of this study so, all we want to do in this study is to see what Peter wrote’. But first… Read more…

Christian Character in 1 Peter 5:5-11

Christian Character

Text 1 Peter 5:5-11
We have already ready read what Peter wrote to the church leadership, about how to shepherd the flock in dangerous times of persecution. But he doesn’t stop there. He writes another paragraph to ‘younger people.’ Now we have already seen that when he writes to elders, he’s not addressing old people, but elders in the faith, mature Christians, who are in leadership positions in the church. So who are these ‘younger people?’ The amplified Bible sometimes helps us with this. It translates, ‘Likewise you younger men, of lessor rank and experience.’ This admonition is for all of us. So, what is his exhortation?

1 Be Humble. 5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who described a political opponent as’a modest man, with much to be modest about?’ Churchill meant it as an insult, but to be a believer is to willingly apply that description to oneself. The Christian is indeed to be a modest person, for we are continually confronted with the truth that we are worthless sinners, who were eternally lost until Christ rescued us from our sin. This truth should render us very humble indeed. Practically, this means:- Read more…