Do you hear what I hear? Maybe not?

“Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, ‘Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song, high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea…’

What exactly do people hear when the gospel is presented to them for the first time?  I guess it all depends on whether God has begun to open the eyes that satan has blinded and soften the hears that naturally harden toward Him with age.

This is a season of opportunity for the gospel but a hectic and often crushing one that blurs the Good News of God’s gift to mankind in the baby Jesus.  I sat at a banquet earlier this week attended by the motley crew of us who work at our local Thrift store.  Some of us are familiar with the Gospel, having found it to be Good News in our own lives.  Others are still holding it at arm’s length, or perhaps have never really heard it?   A speaker got up and talked about teamwork and community and worked his way round to sharing the essence of the Gospel.  And I wondered, what do people hear when the Gospel is spoken so clearly?  Does it even make sense?  That God is good and man is not and God sent Jesus to rescue us from a certain doom and make a way for us to enjoy peace with God… It’s bad news before it’s good news.  But it’s all so contrary to the way the world perceives and portrays God, if they acknowledge Him at all.  “Acts of God” include tornadoes and earthquakes, death and violent winds,  but Love?! Grace?!  Forgiveness?!  Somehow these go unsung.

In my reading this week, perhaps because I’ve been busy wrapping surprises, I keep seeing God’s gifts and His outrageous goodness.  Have a look with me:

And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness…Jesus Christ brought forgiveness to many through God’s bountiful gift. 

For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but we have the free gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 

…all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.  —Rom.:15-17NLT


… because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! —II Cor.9:14-15 NASB

If the Good News we preach is veiled from anyone, it is a sign that they are perishing.  Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe, so they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining upon them.  They don’t understand the message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.  —II Cor.4:3,4

Then I read this morning Paul’s continued prayer for the believers in Colosse.  Marveling at the love that already characterized their lives he prayed that they might have spiritual wisdom to live always in God-honoring ways.  And in that process they would come to know God better and better.  He also prayed that they would have endurance, fueled by the very power of God so that they might be

“filled with joy, always thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God’s holy people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us ino the Kingdom of his dear Son” 

God has purchased our freedom and forgiven all our sins (Col.1:14) through this Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmastime.  Paul spends the whole rest of  Colossians chapter  one extolling His virtues.  To know and love Him is life’s highest privilege and joy.

Do you hear what I hear?

May the joy of this Good News be a contagion to those we are near this Christmas-time!  Glory be to God in the Highest!



The Hero of our Stories

‘Tis the season to feel rushed and stressed and skip the things that matter most in favor of the things that ‘must get done’.  It’s December with its host of wonderful extras that need to be slipped into our schedules.  I haven’t made my ToDo list yet though a bright white sheet of paper sits at my side, clipped to a clipboard and ready for service.

I’m focusing on the bits before all that, taking tiny slow stitches to bind a baby quilt that will be mailed with no thought of Christmas,  just because a new granddaughter has been born…And while I stitched this bright winter’s morning I let someone else do my Bible reading for me.  [Have you tried ?  It’s just a click away, on smart phone or computer. Simple to use and a nice change of pace.]

The concept that keeps coming back to me as I listen, whether in Psalms or the prophets, Job or Genesis or the books of the Law, is that God is everything.  He’s the Creator, the Provider, the Judge, the Saviour.  He’s the one who chooses, ordains, and equips.  He’s not interested  in our sacrifices and self-sufficiency as much as our dependency and gratitude.  He is the hero of our stories.  From the beginning He has fashioned us for Himself.  He created the man and the woman and made for them a garden from which to find food and meaningful work.  And He walked with them there. Everything was perfect as long as they depended on Him for everything and walked with Him day by day.  Trouble came when they thought themselves too clever for all that.  Maybe they were missing something?!  When they leaned on their own understanding everything came tumbling down.

Enter the Son of God, born as a Man, born to serve man’s greatest need.  God, serving man, again.  How strange.  But He has done it, He continues to do it for His own glory.  He asks that we take note of His good provision and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.  And when trouble looms that we call on Him to rescue us.  That’s all.  He’s the hero. We’re the rescued.  Then all we have and are and do will reflect back to His great glory.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luk 2:14 ESV

Thoughts gathered from:  Genesis 2, Matthew 20, Psalm 50, Job 16, and the ordination of Aaron and sons in Leviticus 8. Some snippets follow…

Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ … even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mt. 20:15, 28 ESV

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. … Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving…and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me…. The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Ps.50:8, 14-15, 23 ESV

Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God,  that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor. Job 16:19-21 ESV

As has been done today, the LORD has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. … And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the LORD commanded by Moses. Lev 8:34, 36 ESV

Whatever God has called you to today, do it gladly depending on Him and thanking Him for being everything you could possibly need to bring Him glory!


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Chosen for Joy

Before we knew we were lost, we were sought.  Oblivious to our rebellion we were known and longed for.  Our Saviour’s coming was in the works before we were born…God’s great grace is phenomenal.  His love is beyond our comprehension and yet, by His Spirit He unveils Himself to us.

I am reading in Jeremiah this morning God’s pleading words to His children, His bride:

“Have I been like a desert to Israel?  Have I been to them a land of darkness?  Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We won’t have anything to do with him any more!'” 

In exchanging their glorious God for worthless idols,  and forsaking the Fountain of Life for hand-dug worthless cisterns they had  chosen for themselves a desperate bondage worse than the first.

But God…

…being rich in mercy reveals Christ, a baby come into the world to seek and save the lost, the clueless, the blind…sent to serve as a ransom, to buy back the rebel who will turn like a child and believe, marvelling at the Son who has been given for his redemption.

There was no other hope.

“Who can create purity in one born impure? No one!” (Job)

“No amount of soap or lye can make you clean.  You are stained with guilt that cannot be washed away.  I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”

But God made a way. We glimpse it this advent season in the baby lying in a manger in the dark of night unknown as yet to all but a few…but the match has been struck, the light shines…and the Good News will spread. The undeserving will find themselves chosen for joy.  The lost will be found.  The far from God will be brought near through His Son.

“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God’s presence, assured of His glad welcome.”

This is a glad welcome I want to live in, a love I want to know more deeply than I now dare to believe.  This is my prayer for you and me both this advent season:

“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvellous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is…then you will be filled with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”


Thoughts based on: Luke 19:10; Mk.10:45; Jeremiah 2, Job 14:4, Matthew 18:3; Eph. 3:12,17-19NLT