For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
As we celebrate Christmas, one great tradition is Carol singing. In the carol, ‘Angels from the realms of Glory’ we sing these astounding words ‘God with us is now residing.’ We thank God for His great work of salvation as we journey through life and it is in this journey that God seeks to be our constant companion. He wants to become our personal ‘Emmanuel’.
In His desire for fellowship and communion with His own, He teaches us how to commune with Him.
At a time when King David was being pursued by his enemies, he wrote these words:
“Show me where to walk for I give myself to you.” (Psalm 143: 8)
No doubt David felt troubled and perhaps afraid, however, he did not direct his attention to the problem. He went to the One who had the power to keep him in, and help him through his trial. Lifting his voice to God he said,
“I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done’. (Psalm 143:5)
His focus was Godward not earthbound. Keeping our focus on God is a key to living in fellowship with Him.
The book of James encourages us to: “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” (James 4:7 KJV). A fruit of submission is fellowship. Late in his life, the apostle Paul showed his ‘son’ Timothy the key to a full and joyful relationship with God.
“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear.”
(1 Timothy 1:19)
Are you getting the picture?
This Christmas, let us rededicate our hearts to Emmanuel, the one whose descent to a cradle led eventually to a cross.
“Christ didn’t only come into the world that first Christmas night in Bethlehem, but He wants to come into our lives today, and every day of the year.” Billy Graham
He has made his people strong, honouring his faithful ones. (Psalm 148:14)
In 2024, the Olympic Games returns to Paris. One hundred years ago, Paris hosted these same games and a young athlete, one of the the fastest, if not the fastest runner on the planet at the time, made National headlines for a race he never ran!
Eric Liddell, a committed Christian, decided not to race in the 100m as the heats took place on a Sunday. His obedience to God was of higher importance than winning a gold medal. He chose to be one of God’s ‘faithful ones’, despite huge pressure to run. Subsequently, God honoured this faithful man when, against the odds, Eric went on to win gold in the 400 metres race, not his strongest discipline.
Evangelist and writer Cannon J John, has just published his second volume of ‘Heroes of the Faith’, a book which gives brief biographical sketches of 60 of God’s ‘faithful ones’. They chose faithfulness over fame, discipline over defiance, purity over perversion and integrity over iniquity. God “made his people strong” as they obediently served Him. Many were honoured with much fruit for God in their lifetime.
In the Great Commission, Jesus says to his disciples:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19,20)
If you want to be one of God’s ‘strong’ people, the path to victory is the same as those ‘heroes’ who have gone before us. You must learn to lovingly, willingly and eagerly ‘obey everything’ He commands you . There may be no gold medals, but you won’t be disappointed!
“Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.”
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more…”(Isaiah 43:25)
Exodus 19 &20 are well known chapters of the Bible where we read of God preparing the children of Israel to gather round the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses ascends and receives the Ten Commandants.
This day was, and still is remembered each year among Jews during the festival of Shavuot. It is also sometimes called The Day of Mattan. ‘Mattan’ is the Hebrew word for ‘Gift’.
The Ten Commandments were God’s gift to his people. It was an act of love from a Father who wanted the best for His children. He wanted to guide them, to guard them, to protect them.
Mattan is a word that was also linked to the time in ancient Israel of the betrothal, when a bride and groom were living in their separate homes, preparing for their wedding. The groom would send the bride a gift. It was something to help her prepare for her wedding day but, more importantly, it was the sign of the bridegroom’s love for the bride. The mattan assured her that her groom had not forgotten her and that one day soon he would return and take her to his home.
We could fill books describing the countless thousands of gifts that God has showered upon us, each one an assurance, a demonstration of his love for us, a reminder that one day He is coming to take us to Himself. But these gifts are not just given in times when we walk closely to Him. He reaches out with his ‘Mattan’ even when we sin.
Isaiah 46:12-13 (NLT) speaks of God’s gift to us of forgiveness and reconciliation:
“Listen to me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right. For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now!”
Are you in need of this gift today? If so, don’t delay in drawing near to the Giver with a soft, repentant heart and discover how graciously he holds out His Mattan to you.
“I sin like a man, but He forgives like a God”.
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.