Thursday, December 26, 2019

God Can

God can rescue, God can save.

He can do exactly what he likes with his creation.

It is up to Him.

He made us, we are his creatures, in his image, but fallen.

He has chosen to save us. He decided on a rescue plan. He didn’t have to. He could have destroyed us all in Eden, before the generations happened.

We are not beyond his ability to destroy us all now.

Yet he loves us with a deep and faithful love.

He is slow to anger, and abounding in this steadfast, faithful love.

His nature and desire and plan is to rescue us, but he does this his way, on his terms.

We are simply witnesses to his action of redeeming the lost. We are of those he has rescued and continue to struggle with the living out the truth of his deep love for us.

There is a parallel world, for want of a better term, a world that lives in the now with only occasional reference to our true identity. In the west, there is the regular Christmas and Easter salute to an ever less relevant Saviour named Jesus.

That he is to reappear in power and glory, all nations, all peoples, all creatures bowing by necessity to his utter moral glory and confessing his greatness, is hardly a consideration in this parallel world. Instead, we have societies, somehow existing and functioning in the here and now, with self-determined goals, plans, projects and morality.

Economy, environment, equity and success are the call of the west, with ever a judging eye on ourselves and our neighbours, looking down on anyone and anything that does not hold to its common and morally acceptable goals.

Within this parallel world, each citizen has a role and expectation which does not necessarily include allegiance to God, does not necessarily allow time or give worth to religious practice.

So a struggle is there by necessity, for people of faith.

That God allows this bubble of humanity to persist and function as though he does not exist, is notable. It is commonly interpreted as his weakness, lack of relevance or simple non-existence.

Possibly like the wisp of steam from a long dead volcano, that no-one ever expects to erupt.

So confident is society regarding this irrelevance, that appeals are made, by those of us aching for change, apoeals to try and convince people to return to faith, appeals aided by the skill of orators and musicians, yet often with minimal result. Appeals with added bonuses such as the promises of wealth or acceptance, given by people manicured to radiate positiveness, to sweeten the message.

Conferences are held to train people in the calling of others into faith, and there are quiet moanings regarding the slow demise of the church in western society.

But God can save and he can rescue, he has  every resource at his bidding and he will choose to save or not to save, to open eyes or close them, as he sees fit. It is a sign of His judgement on such a self-confident, self- determining society, that he remains remote and absent from the life of that society.

Yet we as a society are restless and full of insecurity, which we believe we are responsible and able to correct. Global warming, currently is  our mutual albatross, our weight of guilt that we must atone for, and as the zealous blow the trumpets of reform, woe to those who are neutral or unmoved. The future demise of our globe is on their shoulders.

Existential guilt must have its object, currently it is climate change.

And guilt itself is an abandoned topic, people do not acknowledge this state or emotion, though most anger and depression are side effects of consciences in turmoil.

But when God chooses, his love will allow a flooding of the Holy Spirit to engulf our world, and nations will transform, expressing their new found gift of repentance and faith in multitudes gathering to honour God’s word and each other, to confess our sins and tear our robes in recognition of our deliberate and terrible back-turning on the unquestionable truth of the coming of our Saviour and Lord; Jesus, the Messiah.

There is only one name under heaven by which all men, all people, can be saved, none other but the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The "Why' of Christmas

We are a fallen race.
The bible explains that Adam and Eve, after being created by God, were placed in the Garden of Eden. In that Garden, there were all sorts of plants, with enough variety to satisfy any person.
Also, there was the tree of life, and then the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
For reasons that are beyond our understanding, God placed that tree there with a simple warning, don’t eat that fruit, or you will die.

Sadly, after being tempted, both Adam and Eve ate of the fruit and they died.

Before they died, they had children, and each generation has died off, up to the present, which includes us.

The sinfulness that erupted with the eating of that fruit has been passed on to every generation. That is why we all sin, even when we are young. I’ve watched my children, my grandchildren, and myself. We start sinning at a very young age. Deliberate acts, biting snatching, hurting.
We need to teach our children to obey, for some reason, we don’t need to teach them to disobey.

This is called original sin.
Baby brown snakes may be cute, but when they grow up, they are poisonous.
Tiger cubs are cute, but even when they are raised in human care they can unpredictably kill, even their owners.
Baby humans are cute, but when they grow up they sin, some sooner than others. Most murders occur within family members.

If we are to have true fellowship with our maker, the creator of heaven and earth, then this problem of sin must be dealt with.

Over the years and centuries, people of faith rose up, Abel, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, the prophets.

These and others were great people, who served God and our world in outstanding ways, yet they all were sinners, and in and of themselves, they could not undo the curse that came on us in the Garden.

To do that we needed someone special, really special.

That person had to be, themselves, without sin, and without a desire to sin, like no one ever before him, or after him. They then would have to be willing to take on the sin of every other person in the whole world, willingly, even though they themselves were innocent.

This person, to represent humanity, had to be a human, a true human, fully human. Like a repeat Adam, but before the sin, and able to withstand every temptation.

The way I am describing this, is like someone trying to solve a problem of logic, like a mystery game, but in an emergency, you do what has to be done, ready or not. You do what you decided to train in and be ready for.

Jesus was not an answer to a dilemma of morals vs saving humanity. Jesus was not the missing puzzle piece that God finally worked out in order to sort out the world.

When Adam and Eve bowed to the temptation and took the fruit, God was not caught by surprise. Yes, he was sad, and upset, maybe like when a parent finds out that their child is using drugs, even though everything they’ve been taught from childhood is not to use drugs,
But God was invested in Adam and Eve and all of creation, with his whole being. So invested, that he would give up his one and only dear son, allowing the heavenly fellowship to be interrupted by our selfish, stupid sin.
The incarnation is the term we give to God becoming man.

Jesus was always with God, was always God, as we read from the Gospel of John, but at that moment when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, God became flesh, a helpless embryo, needing human sustenance and human care. That embryo was truly human, but was not fallen. He was wonderfully pure, without sin, and without desire for sin, as all of us should be.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us.

This is the incarnation, this is Jesus, this is Christmas.

The grace of God appeared.
If you watch some of those restoration shows, sometimes people will spend amasing amounts of money to restore say an old motorbike, or toy car or something to being like brand new, or sometimes, better thatn it may have ever been, and the money they spend seems like a total waste, except to the owner of that toy or motorbike.

Grace is the goodness and willingness of God to do something effective, no matter how expensive, to fix our inability to have fellowship with him.

Grace is God’s willingness to not just overlook our sin, but fill the deep and painful hole in the middle of our hearts, that the explosion of sin causes.

Grace is Gods willingness to tie up all the loose and smelly ends that we deliberately forget to do, not really having the abilty or desire, in our weak attempts to be godly.

Grace is God’s willingness to visit the ugliest, most repulsive prisons that are home to angry criminals intent on destroying anything good. His willingness to send an innocent child into the midst of a politically and religiously corrupt nation.

Grace is God’s immense and unrelenting love made into a man, Jesus. And God’s grace appeared at that very first Christmas.

Jesus came as an infant, helpless but pure, able to pass the tests that Adam and Eve miserably failed, and willing to take on our humanity and sinfulness and bear it on a cross until every sin and every sinner is fully judged, sentenced, and the punishment complete.

Jesus is the cure to the disease we didn’t believe we had contracted. The hereditary disease of rebellion against God.

He came into the world willingly, and gave his life willingly, rising from death powerfully, ascending to heaven, gloriously, and promising to return irrefutably as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.