December 8 – 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, Isaiah9.2for 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 their 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. Has there every been a season where so many are concerned with so much? As we move into a new world and a new way of living, 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. 


December 7 – O Holy Night

One of my favourite hymns is O Holy Night. Reading around O Holy Night we learn that it is a

“…well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians) written by wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau (1808–1877).
In both the French original and the English version of the carol, as well as in many other languages, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus as humanity’s redemption”.

It begins like this,

“O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.”

In the Word of God, ‘holy’ means to be set apart. Was there ever a night like this, set apart as the night of Jesus’ birth, the day that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Luke 2.8, John 1.14)?

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining. ’Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

As a result of the fall in Genesis 3, the world was in sin and error, but the birth of Jesus offered a way for the world and everything and everyone in it to be restored to how things should be, to be restored to right relationship with God (Genesis 3.15b, Romans 8.22, John 3.16).

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born; O night divine, O night, O night divine!”

The Word tells us that one day every knee will bow at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2.10-11). One day we will be confronted with the reality to which our faith and hope and trust are anchored, and we will bow before the Lord and hear the angels worshiping Him forevermore (Revelation 5.11-14).

“Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we; His power and glory ever more proclaim! His power and glory ever more proclaim!”

Enjoy this Christmas hymn today as we prepare to celebrate and commemorate the birth of our Lord and Saviour on that holy night!

December 6 – The Simplicity Of Wonder

Often times nowadays when we want to tell a great story we embellish the details, don’t we? We don’t lie, but what is good we really emphasise, and what is not so great, we don’t spend much time on.

In Luke 2.7, the simplicity of the birth of Jesus is said in just 8 words,

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son…”

There is no need for embellishment, there is no need for extra details to be overemphasised, there is no need for unneeded words.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son…”

The first three-quarters of the Bible have been looking forward to this date.

The fist two chapters of Luke have dealt with events leading up to this date.

The first few millennia of the earth since the promise of Genesis 3.15 was given have been looking forward to this date.

THERE IS NO NEED TO ADD TO THE SIMPLICITY OF THE WONDERFUL EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE THAT NIGHT.

We know they changed the course of human history.

We know this is when an all-powerful creator God pierced the space- time continuum and took up residence among us.

We know that this moment is the beginning of a point in history from which much of the Western world would begin to orbit (whether they know it or acknowledge it or not).

We know.

As we move through this Christmas season day by day, it is easy to fall prey to the trappings and temptations of the season;

one more of those…

buying that extra…

hanging that additional…

eating/drinking just one more…

Really though, the simplicity of the account of Luke gives us a model for the season: truth first.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son…”

Truth first: Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.

Enjoy the accompaniments to this time of year, for sure, but always keeping the simplicity of the wondrous events of that night first and foremost.

December 5 – A Material Christmas

“Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbours, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

(2 Kings 4.1-7)

Christmas is a time often associated with excess; food, drink, gifts, decorations, money…

But what if that is not you?

What if you don’t have any of that, does that mean you don’t have a real Christmas?

Does the thought of going into a season of material excess fill you with anxiety?

In 2 Kings 4 we see a lady struggling to make material ends meet, let alone have an excess with which to feast or celebrate. Things are so bad that she is on the verge of having to give up her children to pay her debts. She is struggling to provide for her family and must have felt hopeless. She had debts and no resources with which to pay them.

SHE WAS ENCOURAGED TO PUT HER FAITH AND TRUST IN THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD AND IN HIS PROVISION.

When you think about it, this is what Christmas is all about.

This season is not for material excess, but for celebrating the miraculous and world-changing provision God made for us by sending Jesus.

As the lady was encouraged to trust in God’s provision materially, I would encourage you this Christmas season to put your hope and trust in the greater provision He made for us: the answer to our anxieties, stresses, trials and tribulations, the real reason for the season, Jesus.

No matter your material resources, putting hope and trust in Jesus, not the temporal and temporary trappings of Christmas, gives us the guarantee of God’s provision, His abundant love, His forever acceptance, and His life-changing grace.

December 4 – The Word Became Flesh

Written by Luke Patterson

“Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.”
(John 1.14)

‘Silent Night’ is one of my favourite Christmas carols. Perhaps it’s because of the pleasant melody, or maybe because I remember seeing a Christmas musical at my grandparent’s church about the writing of the song when I was young.

The imagery it conjures up is prime material for a Hallmark movie: the quiet stillness, the exhausted new mother, and the tiny infant asleep, nestled into the billowy hay of the imagined barn.

Yet, in the opening lines lies an earth-shattering truth that we often gloss over on the way to the quaint images: silent night, holy night…

WHAT IS MEANT BY A HOLY NIGHT?

Although ‘holy’ is often thought of as a synonym for sinless or pure, the primary biblical meaning of the word is ‘otherness’. Holy nights, holy vessels, holy people – the Bible talks about earthly things made holy by their consecration, or setting apart, for something special, something ‘other’.

Yet, on that night, something happened that had never occurred before: a night was made holy not by an act of consecration, but by the mere presence of the One who is altogether holy, wholly different in nature, a completely different plane of existence. The self-existent Creator who dwells outside the realm of space and time stepped into His creation and arrived via an oh-so-ordinary couple, exhausted after travel and stranded without proper accommodations.

The great I AM hallowed an ordinary night, in a very utilitarian setting, to come into our existence and live our human experience.

May we never forget His ‘otherness’, and what He gave up to become flesh and dwell among us on that very hold night.