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God’s Promises (12-01-23)

Bible Readings: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60. 1 – 3)

All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1. 22 – 23)

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’ (Luke 1. 54 – 55)

A Thought

The beginning of a New Year is the season of New Year’s Resolutions. Many of these will be little more than good intentions which will have already fallen by the wayside by now. Not so God’s promises. God’s promises have stood firm for centuries.

The story of Jesus doesn’t begin with the Christmas nativity tableau. The story begins with promises made hundreds of years before. Isaiah was an Old Testament prophet. Together with men like Micah and Daniel, his eyes were fixed on what was going on around him. He saw corruption, injustice, and spiritual waywardness. However, Isaiah’s heart and mind were rooted in God, in his truth, his teachings and his plans. He had a deep conviction that God was loving and compassionate. Isaiah looked beyond the struggles of his own generation to a future time when God would send a Saviour.

The book of Isaiah is a book full of hope, not a vague wishful thinking type of hope, but a hope rooted in the promises of God. Matthew quotes Isaiah in his narrative about the birth of Jesus, emphasising the promise that Jesus, the living Lord, has come into the world and he is always with us. God’s promises are steadfast and certain, made to ‘our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever’ and handed down from one generation to another.

God didn’t just plan for Jesus, he planned for the whole people of God who would follow him. When we align ourselves with the promised Son of God, we become a part of the promised people of God, we become servants, light bearers and world-changers with him.

Christmas has come and gone and the decorations are all securely packed away for another eleven months, but Emmanuel, God with us, is still beside us throughout the coming year. Let us determine to arise and shine the light of Christ around us during 2023 as a sign of God’s unfailing promises to this and every generation.

A Prayer

written by Robin Gamble, leader of Leading your Church into Growth

Lord Jesus, help me to become like Jesus. You sent him to this world, to be a servant, to bring peace, to shine light. So send me to my world to serve, to pacify, to shine for you. Amen.

Christ, be our light, Bernadette Farrell

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