All posts by Henry / Audrey

AN INVITATION

Last week I got a letter from a former student. She thanked me for sending her a note at a crucial time in her life. In fact, it motivated her to go quit a job she didn’t really like, and go back to school. That incident made me think that a small gesture by one person can sometimes make a big difference in another person’s life. Often we stifle such an impulse to reach out. We think, “What difference can a note or a phone call make? Besides, she’ll probably think I’m being an old busy body.” For my former student that one note had significant effect. This is one of the ways God works in His world. As a Christian, I believe that God’s Spirit prompts us, and we do well to pay heed.

We’ve flipped the calendar to a brand new year, 2016. It’s a time of reflection about life–its purpose and value–and about the future. So, today I would like to make a small but important suggestion to you, the person reading this ad. Come join us for one of our church services. Or phone one of our pastors. It may be the initial step toward a beautiful change in your life. You may not earn a degree, but you can gain much more! As Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28)

By Sarah Vandergugten

CHRISTMAS IS OVER. NOW WHAT?

Christmas is over, and we are back to everyday life.   When my Christmas is over and the hectic business of celebrating is behind me, I like to take time and examine my gifts.  If it is a toy, I will play with it, if it is something else I will examine its uses etc.  In relation to this website and how we have been discussing Christmas, I would like to examine the gift that God gave us at Christmas.  In Isaiah 9 we read:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,

We received a Son.  As we have discussed in earlier posts, a Son who would take upon himself the punishment that we should receive because of our sins.  That is quite a gift, but to whom did God give this gift.  In Matthew 9 we read:

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

God gave his Son to those who needed to be saved.  He gave Him to humble people who were aware of their many shortcomings.  Who were not proud, and thought that they could find “good” within themselves.  Those people did not receive a Son for they considered themselves “righteous”.  It is the people who “hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” as Jesus taught in the beatitudes in Matthew 5.

That is who will receive this gift of a Son.  No special requirements, memberships or talents, except the knowledge of our own worthlessness without God’s saving grace.  A hunger and thirst for righteousness.  That is the person who has received this gift.  And there is no reason why that could not by you.   Pray that God will show you that you too have received this gift.

Now that we have this gift, let us unwrap it.  What do we do with it?  What is it good for?  So many questions.  The first thing we therefore should be doing is to take the time to understand this gift.  To read the directions if you will.  Knowledge is necessary to get the full benefit of this gift.  The study of the bible is very important for us to understand this gift.  In Paul’s letter to the Philippians we read “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight”.  To fully understand Christ, and who he is and what he has done for us, we need to have knowledge.  That knowledge comes from opening up God’s Word.  That knowledge comes from spending time in the scriptures and delving there for the gems of knowledge that will bring us the understanding of our relationship with God.  No, being a Christian is not just celebrating Christmas, it is much more and the treasures that come to us as we learn more and more of God’s mighty deeds in our lives and in our history are beyond measure.  But that is for another post.

 

You are invited to join us in a discussion of this post online or join us every Wednesday evening from 7:30 till 8:30 in the meeting room of the Semiahmoo library on 152 Street in South Surrey.

 

CHRISTMAS IS ON DECEMBER 25. SO WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?

The Winter Solstice is the time of the longest night and the shortest day. The dark triumphs but only briefly. For the Solstice is also a turning point. Beginning here the nights grow shorter and the days grow longer.  Slowly the bleakness of the dark is replaced by the increasing light of the sun. Many of the customs associated with the Winter Solstice such as St Lucy’s Day, Saturnalia,  New Years and Twelfth Night, derive from stories of a mighty battle between the dark and the light, which is won, naturally, by the light. The lighting of bon fires and the feasting of the crowds were believed to take away the darkness and gloom of midwinter.

So is this a good time to celebrate the birth of our Saviour?  The truth of course is that any day might have done, but by choosing the middle of winter, the church also described the nature and the purpose  of the birth of Christ.

The people of the world, (and many still today) celebrated the end of the dark times and the beginning of a change in the light of the day.  This does indeed describe the events of the birth of Christ.  Christ of course had been a reality for the people of Israel since the beginning of time.  He had been foretold over the centuries.  The place of his birth had been recorded by the prophets and many of the circumstances of his life here on earth were already known to those who could understand the meaning of the prophesies, especially by the prophet Isaiah.  The coming of Christ into this world as a man marked the beginning of the end of the great battle between God and Satan.  Christ came to defeat the work of the Devil and to save mankind from the evil desires of Satan by fulfilling the will of His Father.  So what better day is there to mark this event than the day upon which the darkness begins to be conquered by the rising of the sun for certainly the rising of the SON brought light to this world.  The pagan people knew a little about this.  They knew that there was a battle going on and that it had to do with darkness and light.  But they had forgotten the promises of the Almighty, that He would bring someone to defeat the devil and set all mankind free.  So they tried to do this on their own.  They believed that their celebrations and carousing would dispel the darkness.  And for a little time it did, but soon again the darkness came back, because man cannot overcome the judgement of God.

The darkness of the winter, the dying of the plants and the cold that is common to this time of the year in our part of the world, is not the way the world was initially created.  It is what the world became after mankind broke the ties with God, after we tried to do things our own way.  Christ has come to take away the groaning of creation and return mankind to paradise.  This is not done by our feasting, but by Christ’s faithful sacrifice on the cross.

Satan has been defeated.  God in his mercy allows Satan still some room to tempt and torment.  The fullness of sin must be completed, and the fullness of the number of the elect must be reached.  Each day that God waits, is a day in which mankind has the opportunity to repent from his sins and turn to Christ for the deliverance that each man needs.  We see all the evil, hate and warfare around us and might wonder why it is not over.  Every Christian prays daily for the returning of Christ to put an end to this dark and painful world, but each day that we wait is a day in which we can repent from our sins and turn to Christ for the deliverance from sin and Satan.  In the meantime the darkness continues around us, but we can already see the light in our lives.  We can already taste the treasures and pleasures of Paradise.  Not fully yet, but just a little taste that gives us hope and confidence in God’s promises and the life eternal.

Does it disturb you that Christ had to do this for us?  Couldn’t we have done this ourselves?  We saw how the pagans tried to do this for themselves and were hopelessly caught up with the annual returning of the darkness in their world.  There was no peace for them.  If we had to rely on our own “goodness”, we would be equally frustrated by the returning of the darkness in our lives.  But it is not up to us.  God does all the work.  Christ, God’s Son has already done it all and all we have to do is to believe.  Believe? Believe that Christ had paid your debts.  And that leads us then with determination to a life of thankfulness where we try to keep God’s commandments.  Not so that we can be saved, but because we were already saved by Christ.

I think this is a big deal, do you?