A Prophetic Christmas

What are you planning to give people this Christmas?

Did you buy them the latest or greatest — ?

Maybe you’re a person that thinks of gift ideas so easily that this time of year is no problem for you.

Maybe you have no idea what you can give people, and so Christmas is a time where you worry about over/under gifting.

How about a word of prophecy?

Perhaps you hear this word and think of the Old Testament guys and gals who predicted (accurately and without fail) future events concerning God’s people and God’s coming Messiah (Micah 4.8, 5.2, Isaiah9.2-7 for example). Let’s be clear: that is not what we are talking about. That ministry is no more.

However, we do read in 1 Corinthians 14.3 that those who speak a word of prophecy speak to someone for their upbuilding, their encouragement, or they consolation.

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

In contrast (on the other hand) to the gift of tongues which is personal and private (1 Corinthians 14.2, 5b, 6, 9, 19), prophecy is for others, prophecy is using your words in accordance with God’s Word to build people up, encourage people, and to console people.

So, this Christmas season, many people are so concerned with many things. Be a person who gives a word of prophecy, a word of upbuilding, a word of encouragement, a word of consolation. Second only to the unmatchable gift of God’s expressed love to you in the person of Jesus, I’m not sure there is anything more we can give people than love, upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation. 

Simeon and Salvation

Lets set the scene – so here is young Jesus, baby Jesus, and He is taken to temple (Luke2.22-23). This is before the wise men arrived, and His earthly parents offer the required sacrifice as part of the dedication ceremony for families that could not afford a lamb (v.24)., and in Luke 2.25-35 we read 

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;

 for my eyes have seen your salvation

 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.””

So here is Simeon, waiting for the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Consolation of Israel, and he takes up Jesus in his arms. He blesses God, he loves this baby despite only just having met him, so to speak, because he knows who He is, and what He is bringing…salvation.

Simeon knew that this was salvation for all, notice with me what he said…

…my eyes have seen your salvation

that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

All people, not just Israel, not just Jews, but Gentiles too, salvation is here for everyone through this person.

Though Mary and Joseph had been told that their Son was the Messiah (Matthew 1.21), perhaps they had not properly understood the global scale of what this child would accomplish.

Jesus was then, and is now, and always will be, God’s salvation.

Simeon saw, and Simeon knew. Simon knew that he saw the Lord’s salvationa light for revelation, and the glory of God. I wonder if you have ever seen Jesus like that, as your own personal salvation, as a revelation of who God is, as the glory of God walking and talking in human flesh.

If you have, then this Christmas do everything you can in your own words and ways to manifest that to others, to show others what you believe.

If you haven’t, all it takes is faith; believe Him, believe in Him, put your trust in Him, and the gift you will receive this Christmas will be the best gift ever, the gift you need the most, forgiveness and life eternal. 

Christmas Gifts

As a kid I was always excited to see what gifts would be waiting for me on Christmas morning, waiting to see what cool new stuff I could play with, or, at least, pretend to be excited about until I found something I really really wanted…encyclopaedia and shower gel, awesome…where’s the toys, the ball!

Then, when we saw my grandparents the next day, the whole thing would repeat; soap, wow, thanks Grandma, socks, awesome, thanks Grandad, super practical, but where is the new computer game?

But, little did I know, that those gifts which might have looked a little dull to me as a young boy were probably the most practical and useful gifts that were coming my way that particular Christmas. I didn’t know why I’d need a new set of compasses and rulers for school, or a pair of summer shorts when it was 2 degrees outside (that’s celsius, too) but someone did, didn’t they, otherwise they wouldn’t have bought them for me.

Think of the gifts that Jesus received from the wise men (Matthew 2.1-12); Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. These gifts might have seen a little odd, but, they had a very practical purpose. 

Last time I checked, one ounce of gold cost around BD556, and in Jesus’ time, it would have been even more valuable.  

The spices (frankincense and myrrh) were also very valuable, and at this time, may have even been as costly as gold in terms of weight. So, very practical gifts. The family could have sold them and lived off the money. But, there is also a great deal of spiritual symbolism in the gifts offered.

What did these gifts represent symbolically,

prophetically, for the future?

Gold is associated with royalty and deity in the Bible, regular folks like you and me don’t have much gold hanging around at home (I don’t anyway) and it was a gift given to kings around the time of Christ’s birth. The wise men’s first gift of gold symbolised Jesus’ role as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, God of gods. Not only did the gold represent Christ’s deity, it also represented his Kingship. Gold is often associated with kingship and ruling authority in the scriptures.

Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be, fully God. 

After the resurrection Thomas  declared,

“My Lord and My God”

John 20:28

Frankincense was a type of incense burned as a sacrifice and used by priests during services of worship around the time of Christ’s birth. 

Frankincense is a strong smelling resin that you get from the bark on a certain species of tree. The most popular use of frankincense in the Bible was the burning of incense by the priests, so, the wise men’s gift of frankincense symbolised Jesus’ priesthood

In Exodus 30.34-36, God gave specific instructions for a special blend of incense to be burned exclusively by the priest.

34 The Lord said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), 35 and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. 36 You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you.

The frankincense that the wise men gave to Christ symbolized His priesthood. The Bible plainly teaches that Christ is our High Priest (Hebrews 4.14-16). 

Myrrh is a gum-like resin, similar to frankincense, and it comes from a bushy tree.

Myrrh smells good, and it had many uses in Biblical times. Myrrh is most frequently associated, however, with suffering and death. It was often used as an embalming fluid since the strong smell would help mask the stench of a decaying body. At the death of Jesus we read this,

Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.

John 19.39

The wise men’s gift of myrrh prophetically signified that Jesus was born to suffer and die. The gift of myrrh symbolised the ultimate purpose that Jesus would fulfil, His ministry, His mission here on Earth.

So, these were not random gifts; the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh carried prophetic meanings, they meant something very practical now, but, they were really gifts for the future, symbolising Jesus’ roles as a king, priest and sacrificial saviour

The wise men travelled far to give Jesus gifts.

  • They gave Him a gift of gold that symbolized his kingship and deity. 
  • They gave Him some frankincense that symbolised His priesthood, 
  • They gave Him some myrrh that symbolised His suffering and death, for us. 

Even before they set off, before they prophetically picked out His gifts, before they put them in a nice gift bag with a tag, ‘To Jesus love Magi’, there was an even better gift given. In the ultimate expression of His love for you, God gave His creation the gift of Jesus incarnate.

He is the gift of a clean slate before God, He is the gift of reconciliation, He is the gift of eternal life, He is the gift of the opportunity to have a right relationship with God. He is the gift of forgiveness from our sins.

As with my socks and shower gel, He knew that we needed that gift, even before we did.

All we have to do is take the gift. 

Will you take it? Have you taken it?

Will you take the free gift of salvation that Christ wants to give you right now? 

I pray you do, now, tomorrow, and every day.

What Is Coming?

10 days and Christmas is here. If you are a believer in Jesus, you should be able to pull back the heavy curtain of the secular Christmas and see what it is really about, and maybe (hopefully) you have even heard your Pastor talk about the fact that Jesus is the greater and greatest gift ever given. But…have you ever stopped to think why? What is really coming at Christmas? What do we celebrate and commemorate?

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
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 Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9.2-7

We read that He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This child, the son, took on humanity to become our kinsman redeemer (Ruth 3.9) and our perfect High Priest. 

This greater and greatest gift is the gift of counsel, the only person fit to guide and direct our lives. 

This greater and greatest gift is the gift of God, the only person to have seen and to be able to show us the Father.

This greater and greatest gift is the gift of life everlasting, the only person to have walked the earth that is truly eternal, having no beginning nor end of days, and the only person able to restore us to right relationship with God.

This greater and greatest gift is the gift of peace, not as the world thinks of peace, but true, lasting, inner peace with God. 

Jesus brings a great light (v.2), complete and total victory over the power of sin and its consequences in our lives (v.4), and a great peace (v.5). The best thing is, He invites us to be a part of all of this! He is the gift of a fresh start, a chance to live the life you were made to live, a chance to have sins past, present, and future forgiven. 

That is what is coming, and that is why He is the greatest gift.

Have you taken it, will you take it?

Hebrews 11.17-22 – Future Faith // Advent

Corrie Ten Boom said

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. 

So how do we know what He is going to do in the future then?

Where does our future faith come from?

The ultimate guarantee for our future faith, the ultimate proof for us to have the kind of faith seen in Hebrews 11.17-22 is what we will gather in about 12 days to celebrate.

Even though there are so many all throughout His Word to us, the ULTIMATE proof of God’s ability and willingness to provide for you today and all of your tomorrows was sending His Son to take on flesh and live among us.

27.006

The word advent itself means “arrival” or “an appearing or coming into place.”. 

We often speak of Christ’s “first advent” and “second advent”; that is, His first and second comings to earth.

His first advent would be the incarnation, literally, when He took on flesh — Christmastime.

As the Old Testament faithful longed for their Messiah to come, so we now long for their Saviour to come again.

He did it, He came, He lived, He died, He rose, He ascended, He said He is coming again, and He will come again. The ultimate touch point of our future faith is actually in the past, Christmas, and Easter, the life, the work, the person of Jesus.

Abraham and family all showed faith in the future, all showed faith in the future faithfulness of God. Let us live our lives now as if God will be there for you and yours tomorrow. Let us use this advent season to push us forward to future faith.