Most Read in 2015

Attractions in 2015

These are the posts that got the most views in 2015.

Christmas Isn’t Over; Epiphany

epiphany-canadaMatthew 2

. . . Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

. . . the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. . . .

We are NOW in the 12 Days of Christmas. These are the days from Christmas Day until Epiphany.

Nativity scenes depict the whole of the account of the birth of Christ. Many know that the arrival of the Magi, the Wise Men, occurred after the “manger.” As the text says, “after Jesus was born” the Magi came and entered “the house.” It was probably months after the birth as Herod had all babies, up to the age of two, killed (Matt. 2:16).

In the West, Epiphany (6 January) is celebrated as “the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).”

In the East, on 6 January, the Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Theophany,  Epiphany , as the manifestation of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), at the Baptism of Christ.

Matthew 3: 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Epiphany

A Meditation for Christmastide and Epiphany: God With Us

Advent, The Shepherds’ Candle

Advent-candles-990x417

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

rembrandt-adoration-of-the-shepherds

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.–The Gospel of Luke

It will be wonderful to be glorifying and praising God in our gatherings during Christmas week. In this very familiar passage of Scripture, there is one line that seems unfamiliar, at least if we judge by our actions.

“…They made known what had been told them about this child…”

How many have heard us during this Holy Season?(link)

 

We have many wonderful works of art depicting the Angels and the Shepherds, and of the Shepherds at The Manger Scene. But how hard it is to find just one that depicts the shepherds sharing the Good News of  our Saviour’s birth.

shepherdstellstory

Can we Christians be found in that picture?

Wake Up Sleeper! Speak Up

Bonhoeffer4

. . . So I’m telling you this, and I insist on it in the Lord: you shouldn’t live your life like the Gentiles anymore. They base their lives on pointless thinking, and they are in the dark in their reasoning. They are disconnected from God’s life because of their ignorance and their closed hearts. They are people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed.

But you didn’t learn that sort of thing from Christ. . . .

Let no one beguile you with empty arguments. God’s anger comes down on those who are disobedient because of this kind of thing. So you shouldn’t have anything to do with them. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. Therefore, test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord, and don’t participate in the unfruitful works of darkness. Instead, you should reveal the truth about them. It’s embarrassing to even talk about what certain persons do in secret. But everything exposed to the light is revealed by the light. Everything that is revealed by the light is light. Therefore, it says,

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give you light.”

–Ephesians Chapters 4 & 5

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”– Eph. 5:11

“There is no difference in practice between being joint-partakers with the children of darkness and sharing their works. Such works must not be condoned or excused, but exposed for what they are.”–F. F. Bruce.

…we must admit, this is an area where we need help. Here, let us grow from the insights of John Wesley in his sermon, “The Duty of Reproving Our Neighbor.” He wrote this sermon near the end of his years, after a lifetime of practicing it and seeing the fruit of Christians doing their duty.

Chapter 1 highlighted the text of this sermon, Leviticus 19:17, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.” As we noted, this stands as the beginning context before the second great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Wesley begins, “We are to do all that in us lies to convince him of his fault, and lead him into the right way. Love, indeed, requires us to warn him . . .”

Then he makes a wise point: “We shall rarely reprove any one for any thing that is of a disputable nature . . .” (One example in our day is the dispute among some Christians about the drinking of wine or beer.) He then calls attention to “what is clearly and undeniably evil.” He gives such examples as drunkenness, cursing and swearing, and profaning the Lord’s day. (In America, where most Christians have whittled down the Ten Commandments to nine or less, we see how low we have fallen.)

But let us focus on his third point: “How, in what manner, are we to reprove them?” Noting that we are “called” to do this, he proceeds: Let us first take care that whatever we do may be done in “the spirit of love;” in he spirit of tender good-will to our neighbor; as for one who is the son of our common Father, and one for whom Christ died, . . . Then, by the grace of God, love will beget love. –From Chapter 4, Sin and Silence

invited-to-come

Love One Another and Herding Cats

love_one_another_1 John 4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

These days, trying to help Christians think straight and to take the text of Scripture seriously is akin to herding cats.

As always, the above text, “love one another,” refers specifically to our fellow Christians, not to our unbelieving neighbors or to anyone else outside the Church.

This is the special commandment which Jesus gave to his disciples. It is the sign by which Jesus said others would know that we are HIS.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”–John 13

Yes, Jesus also taught us to love our neighbor  (The Second Great Commandment). As E. J. Carnell wrote, “The responsibility to love all human beings is repeatedly set forth with such solemnity in Scripture that an unloving Christian is a manifest contradiction in terms.” (What we today call an oxymoron.)

The_Good_Samaritan

But when Jesus and John said, “love one another,” they were referring to that unique fellowship we have with all those who believe in Him.

Babylon

Baylon4

Revelation 14

Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon[f] is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”