New Wine for New Wineskins December 2014

By , December 1, 2014 5:43 am

GodWithUs01God With Us Means Christmas Every Day

The Black Friday 2014 shopping frenzy has begun, and reports are coming in from around the U.S. and U.K. about fights breaking out….CBS in Los Angeles reports two women were fighting at a Walmart in Norwalk, California, after a “pushing and shoving match” over a Barbie doll…. one female allegedly threw a punch, prompting sheriff’s deputies to be called to the store….Fox 59 reports two people were arrested after a brawl at a mall in Indianapolis, Indiana. Police said a male was thrown out of the shopping center for being “too rowdy,” and then got in a fight with another male in the parking lot…..In Michigan City, Indiana a video shows one man in aggressively wrestling to get his hands on a Sony speaker set…..In Manchester, England, two men were seen fighting over a TV at a Tesco supermarket…..the pair dropped the television set and a third man picked it up and walked away with the TV they fought over…..According to The Evening Telegraph, a similar “altercation” occurred at a Tesco in Dundee, Scotland, prompting the 24-hour store to close briefly…..The Mirror reports at least three people have been arrested at Black Friday sales events around the U.K. The Greater Manchester Police urged peace on Twitter: “Keep calm people!”  Social media users have also been sharing video clips of a brawl that broke at a Victoria’s Secret store in a British mall…..BBC News states that Black Friday sales have seen police called to four Tesco supermarkets in south Wales after reports of clashes between customers…..Some shoppers tweeted there had been fights……

These are just some of the headlines from a news website on Friday 28th November 2014.  With just over twenty shopping days until Christmas it would appear that the annual madness is beginning to bite as many people are caught up in a tidal wave of seasonal insanity centred on an obsession with “stuff”.

On the flip side, this week has also seen the annual Christmas food collection for local foodbanks facilitated nationally by Tesco.  The foodbank operated by New Wine Church here in Stornoway has once again been overwhelmed by the generosity of local people as they have given to the needs of others.  Reports confirm that this level of kindness has been mirrored nationwide.

However, whether we find ourselves under intense pressure to get or we are being moved by the very real plight of others to give, it is too easy for the true message of Christmas to be obscured by all of the baubles and the tinsel so that we can no longer see the Cross for the Christmas trees.

For many people all of their expectation is centred on this one day of the year – Christmas Day.  For the majority of children it is the one day of the year on which they look to receive something special, and for many adults it can be the same.

We are bombarded with advertising that builds our hopes and fuels our dreams that maybe somebody will think of us when they see these wonderful things that we have been convinced we can’t live without.

Sadly, for a lot of people their expectations will not be met, their hopes will be dashed, and their dreams will remain unfulfilled.

Even those who get what they wanted will soon realise that what promised to satisfy their deepest longings is quickly trumped by the next and latest “must have”.

Oh well, there is always next Christmas….

For me there are three little words of one syllable that I believe sum up the true wonder of the Christmas message.

No, all you romantics out there, I am not talking about “I love you“….although the three words I am talking about could easily be perceived as being synonymous with that statement.

Matthew 1: 22 – 23

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

How is “God with us” synonymous with “I love you“?  Because you want to be with those you love!

God so loved that he gave, so that he could be with us in time and we could be with him for eternity.  He has come to chaperone us through this life and at the end of it to take us to be with him forever.

One of the perennial Christmas hits that is now over forty years old expresses a sentiment that seems to have struck a chord as it remains one of the most popular Christmas songs.  The lyrics proclaim, “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day“.

If you are one of those people who wish it could be Christmas every day then I have GOOD NEWS for you – it can!  God with us means Christmas every day.

We don’t have to depend on a wish coming true because we have a hope that never disappoints because it is fuelled by the power of God’s love that is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

People look forward to Christmas for many different reasons – family reunions, parties, etc, etc.  Most folks invest a lot of time, effort, and finances into making it “a time to remember“.  However, at best it will be no more than a temporary relief from everyday life, and then it will be all over for another year.

I have no desire to sound cynical, but for many it will end in unfulfilled dreams and unrealised wish lists; for some it will end with shattered dreams or broken hearts and relationships, and for others it will unfortunately be a time of tragedy because the devil doesn’t take a Christmas break from stealing, killing, and destroying!

When the festivities are over the general consensus will no doubt be that “Christmases aren’t what they used to be” but as the months pass from one Christmas to the next there will be a growing optimism that this year will be different!

The reason that Christmas fails to deliver for most people is because they have taken CHRIST out of Christmas!  They have either never known or have forgotten that the message of Christmas is GOD WITH US – and that means that it is Christmas every day.

The church is supposed to be the light of the world but Jesus said that if the light that is in us is darkness then how great is that darkness.

Have you ever put the batteries in a torch the wrong way round?  It is still a torch but it is incapable of producing any light.

Sometimes that is what happens with the church. We get things the wrong way round and so we can’t produce any light. Our light goes out, even though – just like the torch – we have all the component parts necessary to produce light.

Any time there is a disconnect in the church it is due to a failure to take God at his word – the word of his power, a failure to take hold of the sure and certain hope that his word gives us for supernatural deliverance.  The Bible calls that an evil heart of unbelief.

We should never separate the word of God from the Holy Spirit because they are designed to work together.  Some folks want to be word people and others want to be Holy Spirit people but God wants us to be word and Holy Spirit people.

Religious tradition (the only thing that can separate the word from the power and render it ineffective) has done a number on the reality represented by the three simple words GOD WITH US and so the focus has changed to thinking, speaking, and acting more as though it is about US WITH GOD.

It has become more about heaven when we die – US WITH GOD – than the manifestation of heaven on earth – GOD WITH US!

Religion never allows you to live in the now of your salvation and always has you looking back to history or looking forward to some future time.

If we think it is more about US WITH GOD then we will spend our time trying to get and keep ourselves right so that we don’t lose our place with God. Our relationship with God will be motivated more by fear than by faith.

Remember, the first words of the Christmas message are FEAR NOT and it’s supposed to be all good news from then on.

And so when we grasp that it is GOD WITH US it changes everything.  It’s all about him and what he is doing and what he can do.

He has taken his place with us and he has promised to never abandon us.

Matthew 28: 20

“….I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Hebrews 13: 5

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Who is making these promises?  He is with us!

GOD WITH US means Christmas every day!

John 14: 18

18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

We have a Father who is the giver of every good and perfect gift and whose character of giving never changes.  He is Father Christmas and GOD WITH US means Christmas every day!

Jesus Christ – the Anointed One with his anointing – is the author and the finisher of our faith and so we should never fall back into thinking it is down to us.  All we bring is our faith – our expectancy that he will do what he has promised to do and what he alone can do.

The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  That is the gift that keeps on giving.

GOD WITH US means Christmas every day!

Jesus said that we would do the same works that he did.  So we run around trying to do the same works and a lot of the time we fail miserably.  Because we forgot something else that he said that allowed us a clearer insight into how that will happen with guaranteed success.

John 14: 10

10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

Jesus was saying that the Father would do the same works through us that he did through him.

Acts 10: 38 tells us that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power and that he went about doing good and bringing healing to the oppressed because GOD WAS WITH HIM doing the works!

And now GOD IS WITH US – and so it is Christmas every day!

Christ the Anointed One with his anointing of the Holy Spirit and of power is in us and so we can expect the manifestation of God’s glory and the expression of his supernatural goodness!

Paul says….

Colossians 1: 25 – 27

25 ……I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

We don’t have to wish that it could be Christmas every day – we have a sure and certain hope that it will be Christmas every day.  GOD WITH US means Christmas every day!

Hebrews 6: 17 – 20

17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability (unchangeableness) of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable (unchangeable ) things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation (comfortparaklesis – the strengthening presence of the Comforter [parakletos] – the Holy Spirit who is God with us), who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

We are now part of that royal priesthood which is not a priesthood of the law but of blessing and the covenant of grace…

Hebrews 7: 11 – 12, 15 – 19, 26 – 28

11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law…….

…..15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” 18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God…..

26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.

In Colossians 1 we are warned against drifting from our position in Christ…and in Hebrews 2: 1 we are again exhorted to give careful attention to what we hear lest we drift away.

If we drift it is because we aren’t anchored securely.  Hope is our anchor and it is secured in the revelation of God’s love for us. God loves us and because he loves us he is with us.
GOD WITH US means Christmas every day!

Through the blood of Jesus, God has brought us into his presence where we stand before him holy, blameless and completely without fault.

We are living in days when we are going to see the Anointed One with his anointing reveal God’s glory in greater ways and to a greater extent than we have ever seen before.

Philippians 4: 13

13 I can do all things through Christ [the Anointed One with his anointing] who strengthens me.

The glory of the new covenant declares that it is by grace that we are saved through faith, and not by works. If we don’t properly and fully transition from the old to the new covenant we will continue to fall short of God’s glory because our works will never be good enough.

Under the old covenant of law it is all about us with God, and us maintaining our place with God through works.

That’s why the law says, “You shall not…you shall not…you shall…you shall…”  Go back and read it for yourself in Exodus 20.

The old covenant of law is all about us working. But under grace it is God who works. In fact, it is God who has already worked and everything he now does arises out of what he has already done.

Hebrews 8: 7 – 12

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Check the difference.  It’s no longer God saying, “You shall not…” or “You shall….” any more.  It is God saying, “I will…..

Now, through faith, we rest in His “I will’s” as He works in us, through us and for us…..

GOD WITH US means Christmas every day.

We know what his will is because his word is his will.  We know that he wants to save, to heal, and to deliver.

We simply need to begin to see that it is him who does the work.  We simply believe and speak the word and he comes and does the work.

Matthew 11: 28 – 30
(The Message)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

How could Jesus say this?  Because he knew that the Father would do the works that confirmed the words that he spoke.  The more we rest in Him, the less stress we will experience and the greater the success we will have.

The more we let go and let God, trusting in the Anointed One with his anointing and resting in Him, the more we will discover that we really can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  He will strengthen us and work mightily in us to give us good success!

It is time to stop wishing and let hope do its work.

GOD WITH US means Christmas every day.

We already have eternal life – the gift that keeps on giving!

GOD WITH US means Christmas every day.

 

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