GOD IS WITH US!

 

CS LEWIS

Cathy Photo

CATHERINE DONOVAN 

C.S.Lewis’ words to me mean: “Emmanuel” (God is with us); Fatherhood; Redemption, an Eternal inheritance, Hope and purposed to do great things in Christ Jesus.

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JOY TO THE WORLD!

 

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ESTHER KING, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST

Ah! My favourite Christmas carol… not because my middle name is ‘Joy’ and not just because I love the stirring musical arrangement. Most importantly the lyrics, rooted in Scripture and written by Isaac Watts, are INCREDIBLE.

Here they are – clear those throats and sing them out with gusto! Or venture onto YouTube and find a recording to listen to (Here’s a modern version which includes the 3rd verse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mnC8zMiwaQ):

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Saviour reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Joy to the WorldNor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Beautiful! Check out John 1.1-18 and Psalm 98 then take a moment to reflect. Are you starting to really feel the joy?

I love the ‘present continuous’ feel of this carol. It celebrates the birth of Jesus – ‘the Lord is come’ – but as well as invoking the nativity story in your mind, it encapsulates the entire significance of what Jesus has done for us.

Why is it we sometimes miss out the third verse when we sing this congregationally? Is it the use of ‘heavy language’ such as ‘sin’, ‘sorrows’, ‘thorns’ and ‘the curse’? Yet look again and here’s the truly amazing news of the Gospel. Because Jesus has defeated sin and death, we’re set free from their power! And there’s no dark, cursed corner where God can’t make his blessings flow!

The Lord reigns and he’s not just our ruler but our saviour! And how does he rule? With ‘truth and grace’ and the way he interacts with us, ‘the nations’, speaks of both his glorious righteousness and wonderful love!

I love the way the carol reminds me that it’s not just us praising the Lord with joyful and thankful hearts but all of creation, everything He has made, the entire universe. Lord open my eyes to see how everything in all creation points to you and your goodness!

Finally, don’t miss key call to action in the carol. To truly experience the joy, the earth first has to receive its king. To truly mean what we sing, we must first prepare room in our hearts, putting Jesus at the centre of our lives and acknowledging him and him alone as our Lord and saviour. Lord, please help us to do this. Amen!

JUST DON’T DO IT!

LESLEY NEW PHOTOMy lovely sisters, please don’t let this most wonderful time of year be your most stressed, getting in debt, losing the plot and getting indigestion time of year! Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. Don’t let your ‘HO, HO, HO!’ turn into ‘OH, PLEASE NO!’…………
Christmas is absolutely not about frantically buying things we don’t need and often can’t afford. It’s not about stressing morning ‘til night over complicated menus, a perfectly decorated tree, exquisitely wrapped gifts or being the world’s best hostess.
This time of year is an opportunity to fill our eyes with wonder, our homes with love and laughter and our souls with gratitude and praise. Amid all the busy-ness let’s remember what this season is all about. There would be no Christmas celebrations at all, had our loving Father not sent his beloved Son into this sin-sick world to be our Saviour.
lesley christmas thoughtsSo this year, let’s refuse to make it complicated. Take the pressure off yourselves, ladies. Over the years I’ve found it’s been the simplest, least expensive things that have made the most precious memories. Don’t give in to feelings of inadequacy and panic. Don’t stress over long lists of things that don’t matter. Instead think of the little ways in which you can easily express love and enjoy being together. If you do, I guarantee your family, your friends and your own well-being will be very, very blessed!

HE’S IN THE WAITING!

 

LESLEY NEW PHOTO

LESLEY GRINDROD, contributor for today’s blog post

A huge part of our lives as followers of Jesus here on earth revolves around ‘waiting.’ I’ve no idea how many times the Bible tells us to wait (it must run into the hundreds at least) but it’s pretty telling that one of the fruits of the Spirit is patience!
But waiting is SO hard, isn’t it? Even waiting for a bus causes me to grumble, shuffle my feet and constantly check my watch! I must be one of the most impatient people I know – ask Neal. He only has to respond with “Wait a minute…” when asked to do something, to be confronted with the most un-holy displays of impatience, ingratitude and frustration!
In Titus chapter 2 Paul describes how we ladies should behave as we wait for ‘the blessed hope – the appearance of our Lord Jesus.’ Verses 3 and 4 tell us we should be full of dignity and self-control, Take-Courage-He-is-in-the-Wait-Bethel-In-Due-Time-Blog-400x400displaying solid faith, generous love, and patient endurance; loving, respecting and caring for our husbands, children, our homes and each other. We should always model behaviour that will point those who see us to Jesus!
Oh my, such beautiful words (who wouldn’t want to live like this?) but how horribly tough they are to put into practise! But my dear sisters – ‘practise’ is the key word here! It’s only as I repent over each stumble, each impatient word and deed, that I grow in my ability to ‘wait with patience.’ I need to constantly practise being patient, practise being loving, kind and respectful, practise living my life as an example of Godly behaviour, just as a musician needs to practise their instrument. All the while trusting my heavenly Father to forgive my mistakes, clean me up, and set me off again on this bumpy road called life.
Living ‘right’ while we’re waiting relates to every part of our lives. I’m pretty sure we’re all waiting for something – a promise as yet unfulfilled, an improvement in our finances or health, the salvation of a loved one, the restoration of a broken relationship. But whatever we’re waiting for, the message is the same: “…Live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope ….”Titus 2:12-13
Here’s a beautiful example of ‘Godly living while waiting.’ My son and daughter-in-law have been waiting for 12 years for a baby of their own. Despite the many disappointments and ever-present heartbreak, they purposed to honour God by bravely sharing their difficult journey through infertility with other couples facing similar problems. They’ve organised several Bible-focused retreats with expert speakers and ae6b231aa4f6720ab0c19ae058175512worship leaders to encourage, support and pray with precious couples who were utterly weary and disillusioned. God has greatly blessed these events over the years.
Then suddenly in April this year their miracle happened – they became pregnant! And on Friday last week my tiny little grandson, Ezra, made his appearance, 7 weeks early but absolutely perfect in every way!
So be encouraged my dear sisters. Whatever it is we’re waiting for, let’s hold onto God, believe His Word, trust Him for the future and be determined to live ‘right’ in the waiting.