Good News that will Cause Great Joy for All the People

Shortly after Jesus was born an angel of the Lord appeared to some shepherds who were nearby and said:

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

That is a very familiar passage of scripture to many of us and perhaps we gloss over it quickly without paying it much attention. There are some amazing truths in these words from the angel. I especially like the fact that we are told that this good news will cause great joy for all the people.

Currently there does not appear to be much good news or great joy around. Last Saturday many people’s Christmas plans were ruined following the announcement of tighter restrictions to combat the spread of the new variant of Covid-19. Sadly, due to the late change of government policy concerning Christmas, many of us will be facing a very different celebration this week then we had planned a few days ago.

However, whilst the government may have cancelled our planned Christmas celebrations, you cannot cancel Christmas itself. Why you might ask? Well because at Christmas we are remembering the birth of Jesus and that has already happened!

As we have seen in the verses from Luke, Jesus has already been born. And it is: “good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

Maybe you are feeling fed up about your Christmas being ruined? Maybe you feel totally devastated at the end of a dreadful year? Maybe you have lost all hope?

Whatever your personal circumstances remember these three things:

  • The birth of Jesus was and is still in 2020 good news.
  • The birth of Jesus did cause great joy and will still in 2020 cause great joy.
  • The birth of Jesus was and still is in 2020 for all the people.

This Christmas put your hope and trust in Jesus and know He is the “good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

Feed Yourself Daily

It is Friday night and a man arrives home from work exhausted after a tough week in the workplace. He takes off his shoes and collapses onto the sofa. His wife comes into the lounge to greet him and the following conversation takes place:

Wife: How was work today?

Man: It has been another tough day.

Wife: Would you like to have some food?

Man: No I am fine, I had something to eat on Sunday.

Wife: Yes I know but that was five days ago. You must have something to eat. It is not right just to eat once a week.

Man: But I have only ever eaten on Sundays.

Wife: I know! You need to change that habit. You must eat every day. If you do not you will starve and your health will deteriorate. You will end up dying.

I guess most of us will think the man in this situation was behaving stupidly. I mean who only eats once a week? Imagine only eating on Sundays? None of us would copy this example or recommend it to others.

However I wonder how many of us only feed ourselves spiritually once a week?

Sunday is the day we attend church and read the Bible, pray and sing our songs of worship. But do we bother praying or reading the Bible between Monday and Saturday?

All of us need to spend time with God daily, getting to know Him and having our strength renewed. If we do not do that it is unlikely we will ever grow as Christians.

Put Your Hope in Him

Last weekend the clocks went back one hour as British Summer Time finally ended this year. The days are getting shorter and the nights are growing longer. Today sunset is at 4.40pm and each day this will get earlier until during December we see it reach 3.51pm. I do not like this. In fact I find it makes me quite despondent.

To make things worse this year we also have the covid restrictions too. The rule of six currently applies to the whole of England. Many places in our country have entered tiers two and three, which prohibits the mixing of households meeting indoors. Unless the government change their mind then most of us will not be able to celebrate Christmas with our families this year.

When will these restrictions be lifted? When will things return to normal again? There does not appear to be any easy answers to these question. My understanding from listening to the government scientists is that the restrictions could last until March. That does not bear thinking about.

It is going to be a tough long winter and I am not particularly looking forward to it! One can almost lose hope when thinking about the next few months. What is the motivation for keeping on going? Can I just hibernate and wake up in April next year thinking this has just been a bad dream?

Deep down in me though there is something telling me not to give up. There is the idea of persevering and hanging in there.

I pick up my Bible and read the first verse of Paul’s first letter to Timothy:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope, “

I read that Christ Jesus is our hope. My spirit starts to rise. There is still hope. Life is still worth living. I stop looking at myself and my circumstances and instead I put my hope in Christ. I realise that my hope is found in a person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you dejected?

Are you despondent?

Have you had enough?

Do you want to experience real life?

Do you want a living and true hope?

If so then put your hope in Him!

Thanking God for all our fellow Christians

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2)

Paul starts his first letter to the Thessalonians by thanking God for all the members of the church in that city. I think the Thessalonians would have felt quite humble to hear that Paul valued them all this highly.

I wonder if we thank God for all our fellow believers that we worship with each week? Are we more likely to moan to God about the ones who we find it difficult to get along with than to thank Him for them? It is easy to thank God for the ones that we get along with but notice that Paul gave thanks for them all.

The Greek word used in verse 2 for all “pas” can also mean “every” or “whole”. So we can learn from Paul’s example here and thank God for everyone in church and yes that includes the difficult ones too!

If we do this then maybe it would help us to be more united as the body of Christ. Thanking God for all our fellow believers shows that we appreciate and value them. It will mean that we are less likely to criticise them. Imagine a church where there was no criticism but only thankfulness. That would be a wonderful place to worship and a place where Christ’s love radiates out for all to see.

Behold Christ and Be Conformed

Do you desire to be conformed to become more like Christ? If so the following quote from Charles Spurgeon encourages us to behold Christ and be conformed:

Well,” say some, “we have proceeded so far, what next shall we do? We know we have an interest in him, but we are still sensible of manifold deficiencies. Next then, let me entreat you to study Christ’s character. This poor Bible is become an almost obsolete book, even with some Christians. There are so many magazines, periodicals, and such like ephemeral productions, that we are in danger of neglecting to search the Scriptures. Christian, wouldst thou know thy Master? Look at him. There is a wondrous power about the character of Christ, for the more you regard it the more you will be conformed to it. I view myself in the glass, I go away, and forget what I was. I behold Christ, and I become like Christ.

The above quote is taken from the Old Guys website.

Do it all for the Glory of God

In his first letter to the church in Corinth the apostle Paul said the following words: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Whatever and all are big words! They seem to cover everything. Surely there must be some areas that they do not cover?

I spend my day at work looking at boring spreadsheets. It can be very difficult to motivate myself sometimes.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I work in a supermarket serving customers all day, some of whom are rude to me. I do not enjoy my work.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I work in a factory on a production line doing a mundane task for the whole day.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I am a manager at work and I get grief from both my team and the senior management team. I am stuck in the middle and have had enough.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I serve coffee at church each Sunday after the service. I do not think anyone appreciates what I do,

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I spend all week preparing the bible study for my housegroup and people often do not show up. I have had enough.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I have spend several hours learning how to operate the software so that we can stream our church services as we cannot fully open yet due to the coronavirus restrictions. However, all people do is complain when anything goes wrong.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I am a youth leader at church and have become disillusioned that a number of our young people have stopped coming along. I have just found out that they are now going to the trendy church on the other side of town. I wonder why I bother?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I am a pastor at a struggling church. It is really hard work and I am feeling that I have failed the church.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I open up our church building each Sunday and get all the chairs out. I then stay afterwards and put them all away. No-one else offers to help. I feel unappreciated.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I have been cleaning our church for 25 years and never get a word of thanks.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I give up several hours each week to run the local scout group. I am not sure people understand or appreciate my commitment to the group.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I make no apology by finishing with the same verse used throughout:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

The Last 4 Months of 2020

Yesterday was the 1st September and we are in the last 4 months of 2020. Summer is now over and autumn has started. The temperatures will start to become cooler and the days will continue to get shorter.

Normally at this time of year there is the expectation of new beginnings as the new academic year starts. Young people will be changing school years, joining new schools and going onto further and higher education.

In our churches September usually sees the reopening of the various groups that have had a break during the summer holidays.

However, this year has been very different due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year as we face the last 4 months of 2020 there are many concerns including:

Will there be a second wave of coronavirus?

Will the schools be able to return successfully?

Will unemployment increase when the government furlough scheme finishes?

Will there be cuts in government expenditure or increases in taxation to pay for the cost of the lockdown?

When will people be able to go on foreign holidays again without worrying about having to quarantine on their return to the UK?

When will churches be allowed to meet and worship without restricted numbers? When will we be allowed to sing in churches again?

In the midst of all these concerns it is very easy to be discouraged. However the following words that Paul wrote to the church in Philippi are ones that I personally find very encouraging. The amazing thing is that Paul wrote these incredible words whilst in prison!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)

Yes things may not be great at the moment, but let us focus on these words and ask God to renew our hope in the truth of what Paul wrote here.


We Are What We Read

Paul told the Galatians that you reap what you sow. Spurgeon in the quote below, taken from the Old Guys website, says something very similar in regard to the books that we read. Basically we are what we read. That’s worth pondering.

“Certain insects assume the colour of the leaves they feed upon; and they are but emblems of a great law of our being: our minds take the hue of the subjects whereon they think. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Readers of trash become trashy; lovers of skeptical books become skeptical; and students of the Bible, who are in real earnest, become biblical, and display the qualities of the Bible. If you read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the word of God, the qualities of that word will be displayed in you. A man fed on Bibline is a man indeed. In the history of heroes, there are none who show so much moral muscle and spiritual sinew as those who make the word of God their necessary food.”

Do We Value the Scriptures?

I recently read a book which contained some biographical sketches of twelve reformers. Many of these men suffered persecution for preaching the truths of the bible. Whilst some of them e.g. William Tyndale paid the ultimate price for wanting to make the scriptures available in ordinary people’s mother tongue.

These men truly valued the scriptures. The question for us today though is: do we value the scriptures?

I’m not sure about you but I have at least six different printed translations at home. Additionally I have access to many more electronically. I am literally spoilt for choice.

I know there are still many people around the world today who do not have access to any scriptures or if so they may have to share it with other people. Yet often they have a love for the bible that I do not.

Psalm 119 contains many verses expressing the psalmist love for the scriptures including:

  • I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (v16)
  • My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. (v20)
  • How I long for your precepts! (v40)
  • for I delight in your commands because I love them. (v47)
  • The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (v72)
  • How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (v103)

How we need to ask the Lord to give us a new love for His Word, to value and love it like our brothers and sisters of old did.

I Trust in Your Unfailing Love

Yesterday was the 100th day of lockdown and during the last three months we have all had to get used to various changes to our usual normal way of life.

This weekend sees the easing of some of the lockdown measures in England with bars and restaurants being allowed to open again. Also, social distancing rules are being changed from 2 metres to what is described as “1 metre plus”.

On a personal note, whilst it’s good to see some of the lockdown eased, I am disappointed that there are still restrictions on churches meeting. Churches are allowed to open for private prayer and services. It is possible to hold weddings with up to 30 guests. However, singing is not permitted! Although I understand the reasons why, it is sad that we still do not know when we will be able to gather together for worship in the normal way again. (UPDATE – Since I posted this I have come across further information on the current rules regarding worship including this from the BBC website).

I think the online services have worked very well at my church, but it is not the same as worshipping together in the normal way. I had been a bit discouraged recently, as the end of the church restrictions still seems to be in the distance with no end date in sight. However I was looking at Psalm 13 and found encouragement in the final 2 verses.

“But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.” (v5-6, NLT)

As we move into the second half of 2020 let us keep our eyes on the Lord. Events in the world may discourage us but if we focus on God and trust in his unfailing live, then we will find encouragement and hope. Although circumstances may change in this world the Lord does not.