Month: December 2019

Advent: Faith of the shepherds

Do you find it easier to do things by yourself or if other people are doing them with you?

As we come to our final week looking at faith we see the collective faith of a group of people. The shepherds.

The shepherds were of course, the reason that so many of us have worn tea towels on our heads – or maybe that was just me!

The shepherds were just doing their job, out in the fields with their sheep. We see sheep and shepherds a lot in the Bible. Sheep are creatures who follow their master – their shepherd. These shepherds would have known their flock, and would be out in the mountainside with them in all weathers and at all times.

Suddenly, whilst they’re doing their job, an host of angels appear in the sky, praising God and then directing the shepherds to where the king had been born.

It must have been amazing, shocking, bewildering and yet, as a group of people….

They were unquestioning, they had faith that God was speaking to them through the angels, they had faith that a saviour was to be born, they had faith to follow the guidance, leave the field they knew and head to Bethlehem to see what the Lord had told them about.

Would we have responded in the same way?

Would we even have believed that an angel had appeared to us?

Henry B Eyring challenges us

“Angels, Shepherds and Wise Men sought and found peace from their faith in Jesus Christ, so will you. The Saviours birth is the gift that makes it possible for the Father to give us peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come”

What will your focus be this Christmas time? The presents or the peace of God which we can then present to others?

May you have a blessed Christmas and we’ll see you in 2020!

Advent: Faith of Mary

Self-image seems to be at height of society today. There are so many options that people have to show things of their life, and so much opportunity for people to comment.

How much do you think about the image that other people have of you?

Would you be willing to do something you knew was important with the knowledge that you would be judged by your friends, your family, the whole of society?

This is exactly what Mary did. She was a teenage girl, who was from a Jewish family, and who was pledged to be married. An angel appears to her and tells her that she will be made pregnant through the Holy Spirit, and the baby will be very special.

An unmarried woman who was pregnant, would not have been viewed well, she could easily have been denied by her family. In fact Joseph thought about it divorcing her quietly.

Mary had a decision to make, and her response was…

““I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”

Mary had followed the scriptures all of her life, she knew God, that is why she was chosen. However she had to show incredible faith in her response. As we know, faith is to have trust or confidence in something or someone. Mary must have had that faith in God. God had said that if she did this, she would be blessed. She had to have faith that God would fulfill His promise.

There are so many promises in the Bible, do we have faith that they will be fulfilled? Are we willing to go against what society says in the normal, to do something that God has asked us to do?

Mary wasn’t just a woman riding on a donkey, she made one of the biggest steps of faith that we see, she sets us a huge challenge – the question for us – are we willing to accept that challenge?

Advent: Faith of the Prophets

As we enter the season of advent we start to wait expectantly for the arrival of the King. Christmas can easily become something that we feel so familiar with that we forget, or pass over the stories of the individuals involved. Over the next three weeks we will continue to look at the value of faith, but specifically the faith of the people of the nativity.

This week the prophets. So often prophets are linked with bringing doom and gloom, messages of horrific anger. Whereas prophets, as messengers of God, as sharing what God wants for His people. They give hope, they give direction.

As we look back in to the Old Testament we can see so many prophecies speaking of a saviour coming, God sending someone to rescue his people, to bring people back to Him. People hearing that message at the time may well have been confused, especially if they didn’t see it happening straight away. However we can look back now and see that those prophecies were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.

The prophets must have had faith at the time to give those messages, especially as the message may not have been welcome by the public. We, too can now have faith that God will speak through people, and that those messages will be fulfilled. As it says in 2 Chronicles

“Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”