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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

December 2022

A New Force

PHILIP YANCEY

The old man Simeon, who recognized the baby as the Messiah, instinctively understood that conflict would surely follow. “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against…” he said, and then made the prediction that a sword would pierce Mary’s own soul. Somehow Simeon sensed that though on the surface little had changed – the autocrat Herod still ruled, Roman troops were still stringing up patriots, Jerusalem still overflowed with beggars – underneath everything had changed. A new force had arrived to undermine the world’s powers.

Not Hell

JÖRG ZINK

There’s nothing romantic about the Christmas story. If anything, it offers a slice of a brutal world in which a child is born on the street, so to speak, with next to nothing in the way of rights and security, and not even a home. He whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas said, even as a grown man, “I have nothing. I am nowhere at home. Even at night, I have no place to rest or lay my head”.…But now this man from Nazareth comes to us and invites us to mirror God’s image, and shows us how. He says: you too can become light, as God is light. Because what is all around you is not hell, but rather a world waiting to be filled with hope and faith.

Restoring the Broken

EBERHARD ARNOLD

The coming of the deliverer among people who groan under their need in loneliness and death must truly be a source of abundant joy. One is born who brings us the greatest thing of all: fellowship with the living God! Here is One who through his life and death brings God to all those who are willing to accept him. Christ’s birth was a prelude to his death. The lowliness of his birth, the immediate persecution by Herod, and the terrible massacre at Bethlehem – these are the signs over the manger signifying the life that awaited him; they are the sign of the cross. But they are also the sign that the broken bond between us and God will be restored.

Let It Be So

PHILIP BRITTS

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” And she answered, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” It was in this submission, this surrender and obedience, that Christ was conceived. And it is the laying down of power that is revealed in his birth.…This pattern of complete abandonment of human strength in total surrender to God’s will is of vital importance for us. It was in the surrender of herself to God that Mary became the mother of Christ. It was in her acceptance of Gabriel’s message that the great decisive event of history took place. And in our own lives, in our efforts to do right, what is decisive is that we accept and live by and surrender ourselves to a strength which is not our own, to the piercing white light of God’s love.

We Come with Open Hearts

PHILIP BRITTS

We have not come like Eastern kings
With gifts upon the pommel lying.
Our hands are empty, and we came
Because we heard a baby crying.

We have not come like questing knights
With fiery swords and banners flying.
We heard a call and hurried here –
The call was like a baby crying.

But we have come with open hearts
From places where the torch is dying.
We seek a manger and a cross
Because we heard a baby crying.

O Child, Creator of All

”O child, Creator of all! How humbly you lie in the manger. You who rule powerfully in heaven! There the heaven of heavens cannot contain you; here, however, you are held in the narrowest manger. There, in the beginning of the world, you decorated the earth with green grasses that produced seed, with fruit-bearing trees that produced fruit, you ornamented the heavens with the sun, the moon, and the stars, the sky with winged birds, the waters with fish, you filled the land with reptiles, draft animals, and beasts; here, however, in the end of the world, you are wrapped in swaddling clothes! O majesty! O lowness! O sublimity! O humility! O immense, eternal, and Ancient of Days! O small, temporal infant whose life is not yet one day upon the earth!” Adam of Dryburgh

The Morning Star

”Christ’s true greatness is that he is coming. Without this final future the whole of Christian faith would really be nothing. If only our hearts were completely gripped by this! Surely, in light of what is wrong in today’s world, we should all stretch out our hands toward that which is to come, so that at last the world may be redeemed from all its horrors and the dawn of the new day may break. We are placed on this earth in order to proclaim, in the midst of darkness, this message: The Morning Star has risen in my heart, in our hearts, and soon will rise over the whole of the darkened world. Repent! Believe in the gospel! He who is coming is near!” Eberhard Arnold.

OUR BATTLE CRY

Over the next few days I am going to share a number of Advent/Christmas quotes. Here is the first

”We are called to prove in our own lives that Christ is born, that God is with us. But we are constantly in danger of going about our business without Christ. We keep to our old ways of life and do not allow God to enter our daily affairs.…We will always have to struggle to make sure that Jesus enters our lives, and that he lives on earth, not only in heaven. This is the fight of the church in the world. We are placed in the restlessness and the anxiety of a world fraught with evil, but we have a battle cry and the joyful news: “To us a child is born!” (Isaiah 9:6)” Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Philemon:1,2: Coming Home

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:

I can’t help but feel that when somebody walks into a church there should be a sense of ‘coming home’ and a feeling of family.

For the first several hundreds of years of its existence the church met in homes. There were no formal church buildings. When Jesus spoke about building His church, He was referring to a people, not a physical edifice of some kind.

As we saw yesterday, Philemon was probably a wealthy believer who had a house large enough for the church to meet in. He gave ‘hospitality’ to the church, and to individuals (22).

Always remember that the church is not the building of brick or stone in which you may meet; the church is that community of believing people who gather inside.

But it all started in homes in the the first century.

PRAYER: Lord God, show me, please, how you might want to use my home for Kingdom purposes.

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