The angel makes it very clear to Zechariah the purpose of his son’s life when he says ‘he will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ This was the main purpose of the life of John the Baptist and this was something he spent his life doing. Until his untimely death he prepared the way of the Lord.
John was born for a purpose as was Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt. Jesus was born with a purpose; to die on the cross for our sins. Each of us are born for a purpose. It may take us a lifetime to discover our purpose and reason for living. Our life is not a mistake, it is part of God’s plan. To discover our purpose in life we need to prayer, study the Bible and enquire of other Christians. Our way will become clearer until we can hear the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
God’s timing is perfect; ours is not. Moses was outraged at the way the Egyptians were brutalizing the Israelites. His answer was to lash out and kill. But God knew the situation and would deal with it in His own time. Moses’s action just meant he had to flee and then wait twenty years before it was God’s timing to deal with the situation.
The disciples wanted to call down fire on unresponsive cities but that was not in God’s timing. Justice would be meted out but not when the disciples wanted it. At the end of time there will be full justice.
I have considered having a neighbours Bible meeting in my house. But is it God’s timing? One friend told me that it is a good thing so it must be right to do. It might be good but if it is not God’s timing, it would be wrong. We long for Christ to return again (well, some of the time we do) but it will not be at the time we want but when God wills. God’s timing is perfect; our is not.
Moses was tending his sheep when he saw a bush which was on fire but was not consumed. He was curious, by any standards this was unusual. He stopped in his tracks and walked towards the bush. Moses had to take that first step. If he had passed by the story of the Israelites would have been very different.
David faced Goliath. Having discarded the very heavy armour and equipping himself with his sling and a few stones, he took his first step towards the giant. As the crowd watched with their hearts in their mouths, with determination he moved in for the kill. He had to take that first step, the rest followed and the story was enacted.
The shepherds were busy minding their sheep. Their night was shaken apart when the angels announced the birth of Jesus in the village below. The shepherds needed to decide what they were going to do and then start walking. Maybe there were some shepherds who were not bothered. What a tremendous miracle they missed. But the obedient shepherds had to take that first step.
We also need to take first steps. We need to write that letter, make that phone call, send that text. We need to take steps to visit the poor and sick and take a step as we hold out the hand of friendship. Each step after the first gets easier.
A great sermon the other day on the subject of sharing God. Based on Deuteronomy 6, it was explained that this book is not a list of rules but a series of sermons. That makes it more palatable. How do we share God? It is like making a cup of tea. We all do it differently. Do we use tea bags or a tea-pot, do we have milk, put in first or second? Do we use a cup or mug (only use a saucer if you’re a cat!) Sugar, sweeteners or no sweetening? That’s about a dozen different ways.
Three basic things we need for sharing the gospel. Firstly we need knowledge. We need to study the Bible more and more, we will never know it all or come to the end of it. Then we need a love of God. Head knowledge is no good. Heart knowledge is necessary, deeper and deeper. Finally we need to know what our gifts are. We will never know everything and sometimes we need to confess that. Our strengths might be the written word, the spoken word, praying, or listening.
One phrase struck me ‘Our circle of influence is smaller than our circle of concern.’
The little girl on the bus could have only been about three years old. She was keeping everyone entertained as she shared what she could see out of the window. She suddenly cried ‘Look, Mummy, a million birds.’
There up in the blue sky was a starling murmuration. A million birds might have been an exaggeration , though there were many hundreds. We all looked up amazed at the sight as the birds swirled towards earth and then spiralled up again.
We had seen the sight before but our adult eyes had lost the wonderment of childhood. Many sights of nature can become ordinary because we have seen them so often. God has given us so many blessings, birdsong, spring flowers or the first cry of a newborn baby.
All are signs of God’s love which we need to appreciate and for which we can give Him thanks.
You can just imagine the scene. 450 prophets of Baal yelling, screaming and prancing around. They were probably cutting themselves as well as shouting to their non-answering god. By comparison Elijah stands resolute and still. He is still able to goad them. Maybe your god is deep in thought, or busy or sleeping. From morning till noon these prophets carried on their carry on.
450 against one (I notice the other prophets of God kept their heads below the parapet making Elijah think he was alone.) But this one plus God was more than enough. Our God doesn’t sleep, travel or go missing. He is always there for us, whether we are in trouble or rejoicing. We need to make sure we go to him in joy as well as in pain.
This was the title of a sermon I heard recently. Was it a misprint; did the preacher mean ‘Where is God.’ We need God in every part of our lives. My mind went to Ephesians 6:10-18 It is necessary to have God like an armour.
Paul starts by telling us to be strong in the Lord; a necessity in these evil days and then put on the whole armour of God. We need to search the Bible to find out what is truth. I’m hearing so many non-truths in Christian circles that it breaks my heart. hat was a strange title for a sermon. Had the typist made a spelling mistake? Should it have been ‘Where is God?’ No, there was no mistake.
The preacher then explained that we need to have God in every part of our life. We need to wear Him like clothes. My mind turned to Ephesians 6:10-18. It is a passage we know so well, but can gloss over. Paul starts by urging us to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. In this present life, as Christians we are going to need to be strong.
He says put on the belt of truth. We need the belt of truth buckled round our waist. As has been said, What is truth? I am hearing so many non-truths in Christians circles that it breaks my heart. We need the breastplate of righteousness. Our hearts need protecting; falsehoods in the heart will break our spirit and resolve. Our feet fitted with the gospel of peace. Peace, so much needed in an ever-increasing divided world.
Take up the shield of faith, so we can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. These arrows come from every direction, we need to be wrapped round with God’s shield. Take the helmet of salvation; keep our minds on God, don’t let the world’s intellect lead us astray. The sword of the spirit is God’s word. As God has written to us, we need to study His letter.
So the preacher was right ‘ Wear God.’
I was interested to read in 1 Samuel about the anointing of David as king. The three eldest sons of Jesse passed before Samuel, Eliah, Abinadab and Shammah. All fine looking lads but not king material.
It is only in the next chapter that we read David was sent to the battle lines with provisions for his brothers. He was obedient to his father but also curious as to how the battle was going. The reception he received from Eliab was not thanks but scorn. ‘Why have you come down here? and with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart; you came down only to watch the battle.’
Wow, what brotherly love is this? David arrived because he was sent , what about a few thanks for the provisions. And how damning can a brother be, referring to those FEW sheep. David’s reply is so typical of a scorned younger brother ‘Now what have I done? Can’t I even speak?’
One can just imagine what kind of king Eliab would have been. History proved that the choice of David as king was the correct one by God. Thank God that He looks at the heart and not the outward appearance.
One night when I had difficulty in sleeping, I imagined Jesus holding me in His arm as a poor battered lamb. But I wasn’t just lying there passively, I was struggling. It is sometimes like that when we hold a kitten, a puppy or even a baby. They are not content in the safe arms; they want to struggle away and go somewhere which is not safe for them. I was like that with Jesus. I wanted to do my own thing and go my own way.
It wasn’t just during that night that I was being difficult. All during life I haven’t wanted to settle down safely in God’s way. I’ve wanted to do my own thing. The grass on the other side has been greener. I know where safety lies, but it hasn’t always been attractive to me. During that sleepless night this was a message to me. I mustn’t go my own way; I mustn’t do my own thing. I long life has taught me that I am not the best judge of decisions.
Why am I so perverse? I know that God knows best; I have proved it again and again. I pray that I may stop being a struggling lamb but may become an obedient one. Therein lies safety and freedom.
I was reading Luke 15 again when something struck me. It is the chapter where three lost things are found. Firstly there is the lost sheep. The shepherd puts his life in danger to find that one lost sheep. I’m sure there are cases of shepherds losing their lives to rescue one sheep or lamb. When he finds this particular sheep, he doesn’t just get on with life. ‘He calls his neighbours and friends together and says, Rejoice with me.’ He shares his joy with anyone who will listen and probably those who don’t even want to know.
Then we read of the woman who loses one of her ten silver coins. She searches everywhere earnestly until she finds it. Then she doesn’t return to her days work, no, she tells her neighbours ‘ Rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin.’ She shares her joy at finding the coin.
Then there is the lost son. Daily the father looks for his son’s return. When it happens he throws a party, We are told , so they began to celebrate. He didn’t quietly return to his normal life. He celebrates, wines and dines with neighbours and friends. He shares his joy.
It made me think about myself. Like the shepherd, woman and father I have reason to rejoice. Jesus has died and saved me from my sins. Am I going to keep that good news to myself? Am I going to be embarrassed and shy, not telling others. Sadly that is sometimes the case. But I need to rejoice and share. That really is what I’m doing this morning. I know this message goes round the world. So I’m rejoice with me, Jesus has saved my sins.