The King born in a Manger

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.

The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,

The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.”

Many of us will remember singing this carol at school Nativity performances.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born in Bethlehem. Mary, a virgin, was chosen by God (Luke 1:26-33) to be his Mother, (verse 32, “and behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus”). Mary wrapped Jesus in cloths and laid Him in an animal feeding trough, a manger. (Luke 2:7)

As soon as Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden, God had promised that He would provide a Saviour who would triumph over sin and death. (Genesis 3:15) Many centuries later the prophet Micah foretold the birth of Christ. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel …” (Micah 5:2) This prophecy was fulfilled when Mary and Joseph, Mary’s future husband, had to travel to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus ordered that all the Roman world should be registered. (Luke 2:1) And so Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was crowded when Mary and Joseph arrived. There was no room at the inn. Tradition presumes that the inn was a hotel. The Greek word translated “inn” (kataluma) could be translated “guest room”. It may be that Jesus may not have been born in a stable but in a room beneath a house that was a night time shelter for the owner’s animals. Luke tells us that angels told shepherds of His birth and they ran to find him. “And the angel said to them, for unto you is born this day in the city of David (Bethlehem) a Saviour who is Christ the Lord … you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12)

Why was the Son of the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, born in such poor and humble surroundings? This humble birth sends an amazing message to us all. The All Powerful God chose to send His Only Son Jesus, our Saviour and King, as one of us, to reveal God’s character and His plan of salvation. Jesus told Philip “… he who has seen me has seen the Father …” (John 14:9)

God has promised all who truly believe that Jesus was born to be our Saviour that He will send Jesus to this earth again. This time He will come, not as Son of Man, but as the triumphant Son of God. He will be the immortal king who will set up His Father’s everlasting Kingdom on earth and reign in righteousness. Those who have believed and followed the laws of God and the teaching of His Beloved Son will be granted everlasting life.

The Ammanford Christadelphians warmly invite everyone to join them on Christmas Eve to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

Jesus, The Hope of the World.

Join us for an evening of singing, reflection, discussion and laughter, mince pies, a cuppa and a glass of mulled wine!

Festivities begin  at 4pm Sunday 24th December 2017, Ammanford Christadelphian Hall, Foundry Road, SA18 2LS.

Come and stay as long as you like. Entry is free and everyone is welcome!

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God’s Honours List

Once again  the Queen’s Birthday Honours List has been published. No doubt many of those so honoured deserve to be publically praised and rewarded. But do you know that in the New Testament there is an Honours List of men and women who faithfully served God? This list is found in Hebrews  11. Please do read the whole chapter.

Here we have a history of Godly folk who are mentioned in the Old Testament,  people who have not yet received their prize! For the writer says: “And these all (those in the chapter) having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39-40). The prize for those in the Old Testament list, which includes many who are not named, (see verses 32-38), will be awarded when those of New Testament times and we ourselves, by God’s grace, stand before the righteous judge, the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 4:1 and 8). The dominant word in Hebrews 11 is faith. “By faith” they lived their lives acording to God’s imstructions. We are told in the Bible how faith is obtained: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). In God’s Honours List, those who are motivated by His Word, the Bible, to live lives which give him pleasure  will eventually receive God’s prize. They all looked forward in faith to the Kingdom of God. (see Hebrews 11:13-16) They were so motivated by the vision of that time that it changed their attitude and lifestyle. They were happy to confess that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (see verse 13).

But the day is coming, and signs in the world indicate that it is near, when God’s citizens will receive their reward. Not a title or letters after their names. Those on the list will experience everlasting life in a planet renewed by the judgements and the mercy of God. As the apostle Paul wrote: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself” (Phillippians 3:20-21).

How can one compare the honour bestowed by the Queen, to that offered by God through the Lord Jesus Christ?

May we all strive to be on God’s Honours List!

*Quotes NKJV

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New hearts for old

Jesus tells us that the first and most important commandment of all is that we must “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) so that our love for God should be obvious for all to see. Very few hearts are as filled with love for God as they should be. King Solomon observed “the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11)

What this world needs is a heart transplant operation. Today surgeons can take the heart from a dead person and cut out the diseased heart and transplant a healthy one. We marvel at what medical science can do, yet this operation is not new.God, speaking of Israel, says, “I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”(Ezekiel 36:26) Long before man ever thought of it, God promised to cut out a stony heart and transplant it with one capable of loving Him.

What kind of heart do we have? Do we need a change of heart? This is one operation which we can each perform for ourselves. God admonishes us saying, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions; lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the LORD GOD so turn and live” (Ezekiel 18:31-32)

The world around us is dying of heart disease. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked and therefore it dies. Our only hope is to get a new heart, one filled with love for God. Paul, the apostle, tells us that if we believe in our heart that God raised Christ from the dead, we shall be saved, “For with the heart one believes and is justified…”(Romans 10:10). As a result, we are to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience …”(Hebrews 10:22)

Jesus, the great physician, tells us that “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”(Matthew 15:19) These are killing diseases. An operation is imperative to prevent death!

A new heart is our only hope. God says of His people, “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”Jeremiah 24:7

If we will turn to God He will give us a new heart. The operation is guaranteed to be successful. Not only will we survive the operation but we will live forever. God says, “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruits of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

 

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The truth of the empty tomb!

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I want to be direct and talk about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not just because it’s Easter time (a very good prompt of course) but because it is vital. It is the foundation of the Christian faith. Perhaps you do believe that “Christ died for our sins…that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. ( 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

I do hope you will find these thoughts positive and reaffirming. However, you may be sceptical or just cannot accept it. Well, perhaps what follows will be food for thought!

Jesus of Nazareth is an historical figure, real and recorded in the literature of the era. He was known as a Jewish teacher who was crucified as a criminal, a death his followers did not expect. Amazingly however, within weeks, they turned from dejection and inertia to become an active, vital and very convincing force. They preached at home and abroad that Jesus had risen from the dead and had been seen by many of them. Saul, a resolute enemy and persecutor of Christians, became utterly convinced. (Acts 8) He became known as the apostle Paul, the foremost preacher of Jesus Christ. He committed and ultimately gave up his life for his risen Lord. These facts about what happened 2000 years ago are on record.

Roman and Jewish enemies could have stopped the movement in its tracks and shown it to be false simply by producing Jesus’ body. But the tomb was empty and the body gone! The tomb was sealed and a guard had been placed there to stop his disciples from removing his body.

The apostle Paul said of the resurrection” I am speaking true and rational words” (Acts 26:25).

Many have spoken irrationally and falsely about the empty tomb. Many theories have tried to explain away Jesus’ resurrection but all disappear when the evidence is judged fairly and squarely. Some maintain that Jesus appeared dead but had merely swooned and then revived in the cool of the tomb. He had then escape. Hardened, seasoned soldiers and their centurion knew a dead, lacerated body when they saw one. Jesus had been pierced in his hands and feet, had hung on a cross in the heat of the day and, just to make sure that he was truly dead, the soldiers pierced him with a sword in his side !His followers would have looked desperately for signs of life as they prepared his body for the tomb. What is more, how could a man, so badly wounded have removed the huge stone sealing the entrance?. He would then have to evade the guards! Clearly impossible!

The truth of the empty tomb is that Jesus is alive and “declared to be the Son of God in power…. by his resurrection from the dead.”( Romans 1:4)

This wonderful ‘outside our experience’ supernatural fact is pivotal. It is the centre of the truth of the Bible. The grave could not contain him because he alone was sinless. His life, freely given, can save us and reconcile us to God. His resurrection is the assurance that God will raise and judge many at Christ’s return to our earth. (Acts 17:31)

So, as Paul says “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8)

(All quote from ESV Bible)

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It’s Christmas Countdown!

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Black Friday is already behind us. Ahead lies the anticipation of Christmas, with excitement, and perhaps panic and sheer hard work for those who have to pull it all together. It’s just what we Britons do, spurred on by the media, many people over indulge in food and drink and generally having a good time.

Perhaps this assessment of the festivities is a little cynical. After all, beneath the tinsel and tack there is much charity and goodwill. There is, too, for some, the real reason for Christmas – remembering the Birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago. Nativity plays familiarise us with that Bible message. Seasonal services in church and chapel remind us that Jesus is real, his existence a fact of history.

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Many passages from the Gospels (Good News) of Matthew and Luke ring out clearly with authority and excitement. Hear the Angel Gabriel’s message to Mary “….the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – The Son of God”. Luke 1:35

Nine months later an angel pays a night time visit to Bethlehem’s hill country bathing shepherds and their flocks with the light of God’s glory.

His message “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord”

”… and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God …”Luke 2: 11&13.

Why such rejoicing for a baby? Decades later the apostle Paul writes “… Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” 1 Tim 1: 15. Jesus did this by living a sinless life, dying painfully and then being raised to immortal life “Consequently He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him since he always lives to make intercession for them”. Hebrews 7:25.

Have you ever noticed that nowhere in the Bible are believers told to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but they are commanded to remember his death? “Christ… will appear a second time…to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” Hebrews 9:28

Now that is something to celebrate!

(Quotes from English Standard Bible, ESV)

*To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk. Our next public meeting will be held at 6pm on Sunday, in our hall, Foundry Road, Ammanford. All are welcome to attend!

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