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Joy of Salvation

December 31st, 2016
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Revelation 12

1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.’ And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient snake called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
‘Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
    and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
    because he knows that his time is short.’
13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the snake’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the snake spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring – those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

In a worship  song Increase Your Praises to God, it says  Live the joy of heaven,joy, joy. Satan will wear the clothes of one in mourning. We are winning with his testimony and blood. This is sung by Coptics in the midst of persecution. This can be seen by clicking here.

Christianity has been described as a religion of Joy. A joy that even survives the fact that Satan is still influencing this world. Satan is even described as a roaring lion and who is aware that his time is short and so he hates Israel and the church.

It is quite a contrast to show the rage against the child that was born and the angelic joy (to be shared with ‘all people’) at the birth of Jesus right through to the joy when the final kingdom is revealed.

Luke2:10-11

10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Jesus is the source of our joy.

Yet a human stooge, Herod, becomes the one to express Satan’s rage when the Magi arrive later

And at the very end we read

Revelation19:6-7

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
‘Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.

And yet we read in verse19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.

As yet even in this hostile environment Christianity from beginning to end is a religion of joy.

John1:1-3, 14

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

We have been in the grip of grace since before we were born. God made us and he rejoiced over us. Looking at the pinnacle of his creation he said, “It is very good.”

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Before the foundation of the world this was determined. We have been in the grip of Jesus Christ from all eternity—his purpose has always been that we live as the children of light as God’s adopted children.

The grip of God is unchanging. When we say, “He’s got you,” that means he’s got you all the way through!

Twice mine means by his creation and redemption you belong to Jesus two times over—you are doubly his!

But as human beings, we sometimes do the stupidest things! Even though we are perfectly created in Jesus Christ as God’s beloved children, and even though we are always in the grip of Jesus, we keep looking for love in the wrong places. The Bible calls this sin – or lostness.

Lostness is not just what we do to ourselves when we look for love in the wrong places, it’s reinforced by what others do to us when they are looking for love in the wrong places. We are used, abused, hated, and rejected by others seeking to find fulfillment in themselves. Yes, even while in the grip, we are darkened in our understanding and we live in ignorance.

But the truth brings us great joy.

Because we have already been created and redeemed (bought back) by Christ, we can now describe our lostness inside of the context of “twice mine,” twice Jesus’!

Think of it in terms of a sandwich; we can only understand our lostness when we see it between two slices of belonging- and those two slices are creation and redemption!

We can be sure that even when you die, Jesus will never let go of you, just as we are sure that in Jesus’ death, the Father never let go of him.
Christ’s death destroys all that hurts us and hurts our fellowship with God, while his resurrection proves that nothing, not even death, can break God’s grip on us.

We see an insight in to the why Christianity is a religion of joy in Luke 15

Why would Jesus say this is a story about repentance? Does the lamb repent? All the lamb did was wander away and get lost!

Does the coin repent. The lamb and coin are found.

Who is lost and who is seeking and finding?

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Message for the Day

December Church Matters

December 16th, 2016
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This is the last issue for 2016. It features the PNG Festival, the Vanuatu Festival, the Katmandu Bible School.

To view please click here.

News

Joy 2

December 16th, 2016
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Jürgen Moltmann, one of the leading theologians of the last 50 years said, referring back to what he said in the 1970′s:

My question at that time was: How can we laugh and rejoice, when there are so many tears to be wiped away and when new tears are being added every day? ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’, complained Psalm 137, and an old spiritual asks, ‘How a play in a strange land?’

How can one rejoice when innocent people are killed in Vietnam? How can one laugh and play when children are starving in Africa? How can we dance when in the prisons of Latin American military dictatorships human beings are tortured and ‘disappear’? Don’t we live in one world? Do we have a right to joy if we do not cry out for those who suffer?

At that time the play ANATEVKA, or FIDDLER ON THE ROOF made the
circuit of our stages. It tells of Tevye, the dairyman, and his Jewish congregation in the Ukranian village of Anatevka. The Czar is oppressing them with excessive taxation.

Their sons have to serve in a strange army and fight in unwanted wars. The Cossacks initiate pogroms against them whenever it strikes their fancy to go after the Jews. Still, this small congregation of the persecuted and pursued sings the Lord’s song in an alien land.

Moltmann asks :

Are they doing this merely to forget their ugly predicament?

Are they only trying to comfort themselves by covering their sadness with happy sounds? Or is there really such a thing as freedom in the midst of slavery, joy in the midst of suffering, and praise of God in the groaning of his creatures?

Again, why do we see the early church leaving the ascended Christ with great joy, rather than anxiety about anticipated terrors?

In his talks before his crucifixion, Jesus anticipates the reality of life in this world that his followers would face after he ascends back to heaven.

Lets quickly review what he said:

John14:1,27-30

1 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Troubled and fearful would be the automatic response to what they would face.
He wants them to believe in him and receive his peace. In one sense the world hasn’t changed. But in Christ something is profoundly new.

28 ‘You heard me say, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
‘Come now; let us leave.

There is the prince of the world still actively opposed to the purposes of God. And yet he is used to reveal the purposes of God. That must really anger him.
It means an angry frustrated being is still around. There is an untiring enemy seeking whom he may devour. But he has no control or authority over Jesus. He cannot prevent God’s purposes in Christ.

John16:1-7,20-24,33

1 ‘All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.

In that sense the same liar and murderer is still influencing people. People do not know God.

4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, “Where are you going?” 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Grief, sorrow, anxiety would be the normal response. Yet Jesus is saying it is for your good I am going away.

The sending of the Advocate will change everything.

20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

What a reversal!

21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

This finds an obvious fulfillmment in the resurrection narrative, when Jesus appears in the Upper Room, and ‘they rejoiced when they saw the Lord’

But there is more to this joy than seeing a friend who was dead and is now alive.

23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

For us, the world has changed. There is a completely new confident relationship with God. We can live fully aware of our neediness. Understanding this will complete our joy!

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Message for the Day