Christmas – They Think It’s All Over. But It’s Not…

For most people Christmas ended at 11:59pm on the 25th December. For some it ended the moment all the presents where opened, and the excitement and expectation of Christmas morning had subsided. All was left was the 11 months left until the next Christmas. Of course, Christmas is not longer the time when you receive the one special item you have waited 6 months or more for. We tend to buy what we want during the year and then just get MORE stuff on Christmas.

Even for Christians, Christmas is now over. Yet, we forget that Christmas Day is not the end of the Christmas season but the beginning!! It should be the start of 12 days of feasting and celebration of the incarnation of God!! How many of us are still celebrating and rejoicing on the 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th of December? We are NOW, on the 26th December, entering the joyous, wonderful Christmas season. That is what I like about the Church season; Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter. We get to celebrate, to fast and to feast, to meditate on God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the work of God in the world.

No, Christmas has just begun – let’s get celebrating!!

Christmas Day and Happy Birthday Jesus Church Service!

A member of our church asked if we might do a Christmas Day service at her house this year. We decided to do a Happy Birthday Jesus service. It was an informal time of worship…yes, with a cake!! It was loads of fun. And afterwards, the children played in the yard sliding down the hill on boxes. What a fun day!

A Christmas Day Devotional

The Bible says: “At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come…. the Holy Spirit …..had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace…I have seen your salvation’” (Luke 2:325-34). The story of Simeon teaches us three important truths: (1) No matter how long it takes, if you seek the Lord you find Him. Or better still, He will find you and reveal himself to you. (2) God, not you, chooses the time and the manner in which He will come to you. Simeon didn’t live to see Christ’s amazing three and a half years of ministry, he only saw a new born baby in Mary’s arms. But he saw God, and that was enough for him. (3) even though he was very devout Simeon realized that he was ready to die only when he met the Lord and embraced Him. Some of us don’t want to die until we’ve seen the world; Simeon didn’t want to die until he had seen the redeemer of the world. So the question you must answer is – have you met the Lord? Is He your personal Saviour? Only when you have the right answer, are you ready to die.

A Christmas Eve Homily

In England, the famous and the wealthy would always put important announcements into the London Times, because the right people would read about it. Ironically, you knew you had arrived if your Obituary was in the Times, but then you were unable to enjoy the accolades or status.

I wonder what you would do if you had a very important announcement to make? To whom would you make the announcement? Where would you make the announcement?

The most important announcement that has EVER been made, in the whole history of Humanity, was made in the most glorious way to foreigners and complete strangers and to the most inglorious people possible.
Is it not amazing that the first people to be seeking out the saviour of the world were Persian tourists – strangers – foreigners? They had known that something remarkable was going to happen for quite a while. The journey they took was probably 1000 miles – and probably with a huge camel caravan they traveled, on a good day, 12 miles. Therefore their journey alone may have taken anything from 80-100 days – 2.5 – 3.5 months for them to traveled to Jerusalem. Why undertake such a journey? Who were these wise men?

Of course the Bible does not tell us HOW many wise men there were. We infer three because of the gifts. Also, we often imagine these wise men as magicians, or astrologers, or philosophers. But what if they were actually believers in Yahweh, believers in the God of Israel and what if their presence was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

These wise men’s technical name was Magi. And if you remember, Yahweh blessed powerful a man who was the head of the Magi – Daniel. Daniel was a man who received remarkable prophecies about the future coming of Jesus Christ, and when he was made the head of the Magi, under both Babylon and Persian rulers, Dan 2:48 – Then the king elevated Daniel to high position and bestowed on him many marvelous gifts. He granted him authority over the entire province of Babylon and made him the main prefect over all the wise men of Babylon..

There is no doubt that Daniel would have trained many in the understanding of the Messiah and of his coming. He would left the Magi the prophecies which were in Scripture. We know this because the wise men say “We have seen his Star in the East”. Why is this so important – Numbers 24:17 says A Star will come from Jacob and a scepter will arise from Israel. They knew this prophecy.

In the wise men God was showing that Daniel’s prophecies about the Messiah was completely true and he shows this by sending a delegation from Persia. The Wise men knew who Jesus was – they bowed down and WORSHIPPED him.

The second group of people that hear the news of the Saviour’s birth are Shepherds. Shepherds were despised by the religious leaders and by the culture generally. They were seen as dirty, hermit like, and lawbreakers. Because they spent weeks and months in the fields they could not follow the strict rule of the law or attend the festivals and worship at the temple. So despised were they that their testimony was regarded as invalid in a court of law.

God announces the birth of the Saviour of the World to these despised and ignored group of people. Why?

1. This baby was to be the ultimate shepherd – just as the metaphor stands for tending his flock and for leading his sheep, it is also a metaphor that he, just like these shepherds, would one day be regarded as a lawbreaker and be despised and rejected.
2. This baby’s ministry was going to be to the poor and ill, the despised and rejected.

Notice what the Angel says to the shepherds – not that a saviour who is Messiah was born in the city of David – but that a savior who is Messiah the Lord was born FOR YOU in the city of David. It is for YOU that Jesus was born!!

And then, the heavenly host appears praising God. The Heavenly Host NEVER appeared before, or again, in such a way in Scripture. This is a one off. Those Shepherds experienced something no human being had ever experienced or since – the Angels of Heaven excitedly praising God because the time had come for the Saviour of the world to be born.

The first to know and to acknowledge and to worship Jesus were foreigners and the despised.

As we celebrate Jesus’ birth let us remember that who we are in the world’s eyes, what we are in the world’s eyes is irrelevant. Both the foreign wise men and the shepherds had no status in Israel, or in the eyes of the religious people – but in God’s eyes they were important – so important as to be in the very center of the proclamation of Jesus’ coming!

They sought out Jesus and they worshipped Him.

Christ Has Come. He has come for US. He has come for you and he has come for me. No matter what is in your past. What you have done in the present. No matter what you think your future looks like – It is for you Jesus was born. Come to Him. Give yourself to Him this Christmas.

Christmas Eve at Christ the Saviour Anglican Church

Being a church plant and meeting in a School, we have only one Christmas Eve service. We had a GREAT time – wonderful worship, lots of fun and fellowship. Here are some pics of the Pageant rehearsal before the service. Sorry about the smudge on the camera lens!!

A Comfortable Christian?

My mentor often quotes Bill Bright – The curse of the Christian is the comfortable (this is my paraphrase!). It is astounding to me that ministers think they deserve ‘things’ as if it is a right – such as a Christmas bonus, or more commonly a raise. It often made me sick to the stomach to hear colleagues complain that they have not had a raise in salary. And I even had one person tell me not to take a ministry job because I was not paid enough!! Francis Chan nails it when he says:

God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.

Two books which impacted me in 2011 were Crazy Love by Chan and Radical by David Platt. I regularly re-read these books or least sections to remind myself of their perspective and their view of God from the scriptures.

American pastors need to shake themselves free of the curse of the comfortable – to stop seeing good salaries, good benefits, nice houses, good pensions, generous bonuses as an entitlement. To get to that point means you are really ineffective for the gospel because you will not go wherever God sends you – you will go wherever it is comfortable.

I am Having Lunch With A Parishioner Tomorrow…

…and in trying to find his office address i came across his bio. I knew he was a kinda journalist, but……

….Pete Winn joined in October of 2007 as a staff writer/investigative reporter. For nearly 20 years, he has reported on key legal, cultural, political, scientific and religious topics at the national level for online, magazine, radio/TV and print publications. His work has been quoted by, or appeared in, The Washington Times, ABC News, AP, UPI, MSNBC and The New York Times, as well as in local newspapers and on radio stations around the country.

Prior to joining, Pete was the associate editor and co-creator of CitizenLink, a daily public-policy and government-issues e-newsletter/Web site produced by the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family. For seven years, he served as head writer and substitute host for Family News in Focus, an internationally syndicated radio news-and-issues program heard on more than 1,400 stations in the U.S. and Canada.

With experience as a radio news director in both commercial and public radio, Pete is a former voting member of the Radio-Television News Directors Association of America (RTNDA). He also served as an editor for Politico: a Journal of Contemporary Concerns. He holds a B.A. degree in Politics & Government and Philosophy from Ripon College, Ripon, Wis.

A Gracious and Compassionate God: Mission, Salvation and Spirituality in the Book of Jonah by Daniel Timmer

Daniel Timmer’s contribution to the New Studies In biblical Theology is a worthy addition. His exploration of Jonah is as thorough as one will find. While this is NOT a commentary on Jonah (i.e. verse by verse) it out does most of the commentaries out there. This is a wonderful example of Biblical Theology, with Timmer exploring topics such as mission, spirituality, conversion and of course the place of Christ in Jonah. Timmer skillfully ties this book into the wider corpus of sin, judgment, the day of the Lord and the gospel. Oh how narrow and shallow is our sunday school treatment of Jonah.

Highly Recommended.

1 Corinthians 2:10-14 – “….explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.”

One of the things which I have always felt was lacking in many Vestry/Leadership/Eldership Meetings was an element of prayer and devotions. Of course such meetings begin with prayer, but in my experience it is usually a prayer which takes barely 2, 3 mins to say. I have always thought that such meetings should begin with a period of prayer – waiting upon God and then a time of spiritual teaching / devotional to focus those present into a mindset that we gather to do God’s work, not our own. Such a time allows the past day, it’s pressures and worries, to melt into the background, as well as to allow for a mindset change. We must not bring the board room, or the business world into a spiritual meeting, and there has to be time to allow for that change.

When I arrived at my new fellowship as Pastor I was delighted to find that each vestry meeting began with a devotional – done wonderfully by the Senior Warden. Last night at vestry I talked about how, if we want to be doing the work of God and being led by the Spirit, we needed to be spiritual people – and that meant being people of prayer and the word of God. In that vain I gave each member of the Vestry a Journal, with a Bible reading Plan and an outline of Spiritual Journaling. I took this idea from Wayne Cordeiro, who developed the Life Journal. I am using a different reading plan than the life journal and so I simply bought some blank journals and inserted the reading plan, along with directions and a sample journal entry. I did encourage the Vestry to follow the Wayne Corediro’s SOAP method – Scripture – Observation – Application – Prayer. Now, this is not meant to be law, only a guide. It can be adapted and used as each vestry member wishes. The point is that we start seeking God and his spirit as individuals, as a leadership and as a church. And then we will know God guiding us very powerfully in what we do.

4th Advent – Luke 1:26-38

I like the word YES. I like to say YES and I like it when people say YES to things I want to do and buy.

My children love it when I say YES.

We all love the word YES don’t we. It is such a positive word.

This is the last Sunday of Advent. Our preparation, our waiting is nearly over. We will soon celebrate the coming of God as a human being into our world – the incarnation!!

In this season of Advent and Christmas we are celebrating God’s YES to us.

God’s YES that he would leave heaven and become a human being – God’s YES that he would provide a way out of sin for us – God’s YES that he would reconcile himself to us.

Christ’s coming into the world – God becoming a human being – God’s YES to humanity shook the foundations of creation. The Creator stepped into his creation. Philippians says that Jesus took the form of a slave, the likeness of men. This is what is meant when the New Testament talks of the great Mystery which has now been revealed – the coming of God as a human being. Christ’s coming also sent shock waves through the spiritual realm. Why does Jesus encounter so much demonic activity. Of the 61 references to demons, demon or evil spirits in the New Testament, 52 occur in the gospels. Jesus’ presence stirred up the spiritual realm. Finally, Christ’s coming impacted irreversibly the lives of those who encountered Him in the first century as it has done for all who have encountered Him since.

To believe in and to encounter the incarnation of God has consequences. It requires something from us. God’s YES to us requires a response from us. It requires us to say YES to God.

Saying YES to God is more than believing in God. I don’t know if you have ever noticed this with regards to Abraham. Abraham is credited righteousness for what? Not for believing IN God – but for BELIVING GOD. Abraham believed God.
You see, trusting / believing God is not just about accepting that God exists; or that we will go to heaven; or that he will give us good things, or that he will bless us. Ultimately, trusting / believing God is to say YES to God – YES you can do with me as you please. Yes, I utterly accept your word ad promises and will live as though they are true.

It is to place ourselves, to entrust ourselves, into the hands of God.

And to do that – to say Yes back to God – may rock the boat of our lives.

Of course, many would prefer to have a quiet life. The problem is that a quiet life and saying YES to God are not compatible! If our YES to God really means “please would you just keep the status quo” then we will soon end up very disappointed, even angry at God because God is not passive with us when we say YES to him. When we say YES to God he begins to work his purposes in us. Our yes to God means we have given him permission to act. So he begins to work his purpose for our lives. He begins to put us into situations and give us opportunities to grow and fulfill the purpose he has for us.

In our Gospel reading this morning Mary emphatically said YES to God.

How remarkable that Gabriel who stands in the presence of God comes to this insignificant place called Nazareth. Don’t let this pass you by too quickly. The God of the Universe had seen Mary, this insignificant, poor woman and had included her into his plan to reveal His purposes. Don’t ever think you are too insignificant for God to use you powerfully!!

God chose not to come into a home of wealth, or privilege but to be born as the majority of humanity is born – into poverty. Notice the Angel’s opening line, “Hail, O Favoured One, the Lord is with you.” The word here for favour is Kharetoo – which means to honor with blessing. Later the Angel says “Do not be afraid, for you have found favour with God” – and the word favour there is slightly different, Kharece, which means the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace. The point is that 1. Mary is about to be honored with a blessing and 2. That blessing is going to require Mary to be governed by divine power.

The Angel’s declaration to Mary was that her life was about to be forever changed. And not in an easy way – in fact far from it.

Mary was almost certainly a teenager – anywhere between 14 and 16 years of age – betrothed to Joseph. Now in the Jewish custom, betrothal was more than what we would consider engagement. When Bethrothed the couple would be regarded and known as husband and wife and in some cases were known to live together until the Wedding feast. But the normal practice was that they would have lived apart until the wedding feast. Only divorce or death could terminate this betrothal.

If Mary and Joseph had been, as expected, living apart until the wedding feast, for Mary to tell Joseph that she was pregnant would have meant only one thing to Joseph – that she had cheated on him.

The shame associated with a woman cheats outside of wedlock was, in those days, huge. The law demanded death – Deut 22:23-24 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.

By Mary’s day, stoning would have been improbable. But that this was a scandal of huge proportions we know from Matthew 1:19. Joseph had no desire to make this public. His plan was to divorce her – send her away quietly. The public shame for Mary & her family would have been terrible. Joseph was a man who followed the law of God and he could not associate himself with such a violation of the law. To have married Mary would have brought the scandal into the public eye, because she would soon show her pregnancy, and everyone would have known that Joseph could not have been the father because they had been living apart. It would have also said two things about Joseph 1. He knew Mary had broken the law and had been unfaithful to Him, 2. He would accept the illegitimate child as his own, both of which would have been condemned by the religious leaders of Nazarath.

By saying YES to God, Mary’s reputation (and Joseph’s) would probably forever be in ruins. Her life would be tarnished within her community and she was likely known as the woman who got pregnant by another man before her marriage. Let’s be honest – what would YOUR reaction have been if Mary’s family had been YOUR neighbor, and Mary’s mother told you that it was OK that Mary was pregnant because it was God’s will!

No wonder the Angel said to her “Do not be afraid.”

The accumulation of centuries of prophecy was about to be fulfilled – in this respect Mary was Blessed. Jewish women longed to be the mother of the Messiah – it was their dream. But God also knew that Mary was able to endure what was to come – this was a hard road for her to travel.

Did Mary understand the ramifications of her decision to say to the Angel Gaberiel “May it be to me as you have said.”? I think she did. To know that you were about to become pregnant in her culture while not yet living with the man she had been betrothed to had massive implications.

As Advent, and our time of waiting comes to an end and we prepare to celebrate God’s coming – his Incarnation, are we ready, are able to say YES to God today? YES we believe You Lord – We believe every word – every promise – every command and we will live in that belief? Are we willing to say YES to God and all that goes with it – to accept that such a decision may not just change some things in our life, but that it may radically change the whole course of our life? The world may not understand some of the things we may do, or that God may ask us to do. Maybe our reputations may take a hit, or God may ask us to give something up, or to be involved with something that we thought we would never be involved with? Or to go on mission instead of having a vacation. Maybe some may be asked to give up their lives for the gospel.

This is what the incarnation – the coming of Christ – requires us to do.

Mary’s YES forever changed the whole direction and content of her life.

Of course when we say YES to God we know that our lives are in the hands of the eternal Creator of ALL things. Maybe the Angels words to her “The Lord is With you” and “You have found favor with God” made Mary aware of the closeness of the presence of God. For despite all the difficulties that Mary was to endure by saying YES to God, in that YES comes a promise from HIM that HE will be with us – HE will uphold us, to carry us, to strengthen us in the difficulties we face and ultimately carry us through death into eternity.

That is Paul’s final words to the Church in Rome, Now to him who is able to strengthen you & according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith. When we say yes to God – it is God who strengthens us to do the things he calls us to do and it is God working in us that brings about the obedience of faith – that is living OUT our faith.

When Mary said yes, as she entrusted herself to God – as we entrust ourselves to God and say yes, we are saying, it’s not by our strength but God’s, it not our effort, but God in us that will take us through, and will accomplish all that he desires for us.

Can we say this morning with Mary “YES Let it be to me according to your word.”

I pray that we would – and that in the weeks and months ahead we would be transformed into his likeness.

The Need For A Mentor…

Moving States can be tough. My family and I moved to a different State in September as I took the Pastorship of a church. We left behind friends, which made us sad. A number of months before we moved I started attending the Bible Study of one of the Pastors who I served with on the Ministerial Association. Both his Bible Studies, and his preaching (which I listened to online) quite simply fed, restored, encouraged and blessed me on a very deep level. He is one of the best preachers I have heard and one of the most spirit filled pastors I know. When we knew that we would be moving I asked if his church would be our ‘sending’ church, and if he could be a mentor / spiritual advisor for me. He accepted. The books he has recommended to me have been wonderful and the encouragement he has given me has been spot on. We all need a mentor – no matter what stage of life we are at or how experienced we may feel we are. I thank God for this man and his wife and his church. They spoke wisdom into our lives when we needed it. And they lifted us up when we needed it. And they spoke truth into our lives when we needed it.

As we start a new ministry / calling here in our new church, things are going well. Some of the ideas, thoughts, practices and teachings which I was not able to implement in my previous church are just fitting so well here. I am once again enjoying ministry and excited at the leading of the Spirit. All of which is by no small measure the result of the ministry of this pastor who has encouraged me. PRAISE GOD!!!

Advent – Isaiah 64:1-9a; 1 Cor 1:1-9; Mark 13:24-37

Complacency is a dangerous thing.

The dictionary defines Complacency as a feeling of uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements 0r self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies

Being complacent means we stop being self aware – or generally aware. We stop looking. We stop learning. We stop being prepared.

One writer has said: Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. “Good enough” becomes today’s watchword and tomorrow’s standard.

Complacency happens when we lose sight of why we are waiting and what we are waiting fir.

How are we at waiting? Having to wait for ’things’ is not popular today. If a web page is 3 seconds to slow to turn we get itchy!!

Most people today consider waiting a waste of time or just an inconvenience. It can be frustrating to wait. Our culture today says “get going” “do something” “move onto the next thing.”

Yet Scripture is full of waiting – waiting for God to act, to speak, to move.

Today we begin a season in the church, Advent, which is all about waiting. Firstly we prepare to celebrate the end of the waiting of Israel for the Messiah. They had waited centuries and centuries for Him – and now he is coming. Secondly we focus on and mediate on the waiting we are going through for Jesus’ second coming and end of our age.

As Christians we are not to be complacent. We simply can’t. And this means we must know why and for what we are waiting.

And the area where Christian’s have become complacent the most is the end times. How many Christians could truthfully say they awoke this morning excited because today many be the day of the second coming.

Are we really ready to receive the arrival of the Lord of Glory who comes to judge the world, knowing our hearts and who will expose and lay bare publicly all that is in us! Are we ready for that? Are we ready in our hearts and minds for Jesus to come this afternoon?

In our reading from Isaiah, this prophet called and anointed by God, is ready for God to come and act. But he knows the score. He knows the reality of the situation. Isaiah acknowledges that all have sinned – that none of us are clean. That none of us is worthy. And yet despite this he longs for God to come and act powerfully because he knows that despite sin God is merciful. Notice v4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear no eye has seen a God besides thee who works for those who wait for HIM!!

God will protect, bless and do great things for those who WAIT for him. God will come in power for those who WAIT for him.

So, what doe sit mean for us to WAIT.

HOW are we to wait for God.

We too often see waiting as something which is passive—not doing anything; sitting still. But that is not what waiting is like in the Bible. Waiting is seen as an active thing.

One writer has said that “Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.”

Notice that. Biblical waiting requires PATIENCE & EXPECTATION. Are we patiently waiting with expectation for Jesus to come back!
Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given. – G. Campbell Morgan
As Christians we should be experts at waiting actively—having patience as we await what would be the most incredible event in the history of the world—the day Jesus steps back into this world!

And while we can never predict when Jesus will return – Jesus has said that there will be signs – signs that confirm that it is coming and should enable us to continue to actively wait. In Mark 13, Jesus interweaves prophecy about the end of Jerusalem with prophecy about the end of time. Prophecy often has two fulfiments – a historical one and an end time one. Jesus warns the people about the terrible fall of Jerusalem – those listening would experience it. And what they experience – the suddenness, the destructiveness, the fear that the world is ending is a taste of what will happen in the day of Jesus’ return. But Jesus says that just as you can tell summer is coming because of the tender leaves on the fig tree, So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near… What are these things? Well, that is told in v4-23: false messiahs come; nation will rise again nation; earthquakes; famines; persecution of Christians; brother will deliver brother; children will rise against parents; the desolating sacrilege set up in the temple.
The point is not ‘when’ does this relate to. Every age has such things. The point is that we as Believers, in every generation, are not discouraged or become complacent in our waiting because what we see is what Jesus said would happen.

We are IN the last days now. The resurrection of Christ and his Ascension has happened. We are in the midst of the great commission to call the world to believe in Jesus. And we are 2000 years closer to that day when the Lord Jesus returns.

We are on the approach to those final days. It may be 10 years, twenty years, 200 years in the future, or it could be this afternoon.

Regardless of how much more we are to wait, whether or not it will be in our lifetime, we are told to be prepared, to be awake and alert, and to hold our nerve in the approach to the end times.

As Christians we are to be a people who UNDERSTAND what to expect, as the last days grow nearer.

So how exactly should we wait?

2 Peter 3 says this: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, 27 the heavens will disappear 28 with a horrific noise, 29 and the celestial bodies 30 will melt away 31 in a blaze, 32 and the earth and every deed done on it 33 will be laid bare. 34 3:11 Since all these things are to melt away 35 in this manner, 36 what sort of people must we 37 be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, 38 3:12 while waiting for and hastening 39 the coming of the day of God?

We must be alert, active and praying. We must be growing in our faith and in our walk with God. Conducting our lives in holiness and godliness. All in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is Paul’s point in our epistle reading. If v1-9 were all we had of 1 Cor we would think the church in Corinth was thriving. How could paul possibly be talking about this Church, especially in light of what he is about to say in the letter. But what Paul does here is to state the spiritual reality of the Corinthians, not where they were at that specific point. Although they were not walking IN IT at the time, and had many issues, the fact of the matter was they had given their lives to Christ – confessed him as Lord and Saviour and that was spiritual reality. And so, even though they had problems, paul encourages them in this truth to show them what real and true in the Spiritual realm. And the reality for the Church in Corinth was:

1. They had received God’s grace that is in Christ
2. They have been enriched in Christ, in speech and knowledge
3. They do not lack any spiritual gift as they wait Christ’s return
4. Christ will strengthen them until the end
5. They will appear blameless before Jesus
6. God is faithful

All of which is true for us individually, and as a Church as we await the coming of Christ.

So in order for us to wait actively – to be praying, alert, growing in faith and holiness we need to know that we HAVE God’s grace; that we are enriched in Christ; we have all the spiritual gifts we need to help us in our waiting; and that Christ has promised to keep strengthening us until the end.

So, actively waiting is to be a people who are continuing to grow in our relationship with Jesus; a people who are maturing in our faith & prayer life; trusting in God for our needs, and expectant each day that maybe this is the day!!

But just as important as being prepared ourselves, there is another aspect to our waiting.

We must be announcing this rescue to all people.

Surely we must be expending energy warning people of what is to come. We know the rescuer. Surely we MUST be telling people to trust in Jesus.

If we are truly aware of what is to come then that should spur within us a passion to bring as many people into the Kingdom of God as we can. We should be walking the decks of the sinking ship screaming for people to get into the life boats!

We know that not all people will accept the gospel – the road to destruction is wide and many follow it, Jesus says, but the road to eternal life is narrow and few find it. This tells us clearly that not all will accept the gospel. We must understand this.

We know what is coming.

And as we look around, our hearts should break at those who are oblivious of what is coming.

So, as we enter into this season of Advent – meditating on preparing ourselves for the Messiah’s coming, Let us not be complacent about the coming of the end of the age. Let us be active – let us be signs, mouthpieces, living examples of the gospel – that Jesus is calling all people to turn to him – to flee from the judgment to come, and run into Christ, where we will spend eternity.