Category Archives: Christmas

I Need a Counsellor!

There I said it!  I need a Counsellor! But forget the Dr Phil’s or the Oprah Winfrey’s! I need Someone who really truly knows me and really knows what is best. I need a Counsellor who fully and completely understands where I have been, and the experiences that have shaped me, the people I have encountered, the mess that I have experienced and to see how all of that combined has shaped me for what I truly am today.  I also need a Counsellor who will know what is ahead of me so He can shape me and direct me where I need to go and to do what I need to do. I need this Counsellor because the world that I live in is really complex and complicated…and the world around me is screaming for hope. There are times when I feel like I am at the end of my rope. I need someone who will understand me.

One of the beautiful Old Testament names foretold about Jesus is that of “Wonderful Counsellor”. Jesus would hold that title. He would be that Wonderful Counsellor to anyone and everyone who would look to Him in faith.

So what is it that make Jesus the “Wonderful Counsellor”?
First off…Jesus is…is the Very Wisdom of God 

1 Corinthians 1:24 “Christ [is]…the wisdom of God…” and Colossians 2:3 [In Him]…are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…”  Isaiah 28:29 The Lord of Hosts is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.”  

The perfect source for wisdom…is the Source of all wisdom…Jesus Himself! He is far more qualified than any human counsellor to speak into my life than any other so-called professional in the world. He knows all about human nature, He created me. He knows me. So why would we even bother going anywhere else until I have first of all come to Him.

Second, Jesus…Offers His WisdomHe offers us His Counsel, His Word, His wisdom…

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach…”

Life is complicated, relationships are tenuous, each situation is beyond understanding.  But Jesus offers His wisdom to us, and He give it to us liberally.

Third, Jesus…Completely Understands your struggles…When going through a difficult time, have you ever had someone say, “I understand what you are going through…”?  It seems so empty to hear and also to say…unless of course they have truly been through the exact situation. Otherwise, how can they possibly understand our problems. Every situations is so complex, so different from each other. It doesn’t matter what your struggle is…Jesus gets it… He understands it. He can perfectly and completely relate to you. 

Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus, wisdom incarnate, completely understands…He knows exactly what you are going through. When you come to Him in need of counsel He fully knows your situation. He knows your heart and mind. He knows where you have been, where you are and where you are going. 

Fourthly, Jesus Lovingly CARES For You…Because He loves you…He has your best interests at heart.

1 Peter 5:7 “God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to Him.”

Some counsellors only care as long as you can pay the bill. Not Jesus! He cares about you as a person. He cares about your character, your spiritual growth and your emotional welfare. He cares about the pain you suffer. He considers you of great value and worth. Matthew 6:26 Jesus said:

Look at the birds of the sky: they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?

He thinks so much of you that He sent His Son to die for you…to rescue you from your pain and suffering…to give you new hope, new life and salvation. God lovingly cares for YOU!

He cares so much that He will help you with your problems. He will help you deal with them. That’s why He is called Wonderful Counsellor. He’s not going to leave us to fend for ourselves. You have probably heard it said, “God helps those who help themselves.” The truth of the matter is when you have reached the bottom…”God helps those who can’t help themselves.” When you see no way out…God steps in…if you call on Him.

Matthew 11:28Come to Me, all who labor and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

That’s a promise! He will not turn His back on us…nor abandon us. God cares for us! Make an appointment with the Wonderful Counsellor today. In fact, make regular appointments to sit down with Him. Open your heart up to Him. Tell Him what is going on in your life. Believe me…there is no heartache that He can not mend. There is no problem He can not solve…because He is the Wonderful Counsellor! Then…follow His instruction.

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Do You Believe in the Virgin Birth?

Larry King, the retired CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, “Jesus Christ.” The questioner said, “And what would you like to ask Him?” King replied, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” (RZIM)

The world laughs at the virgin birth. Many think of it as some kind of weird, medieval superstition held by Christians. Sadly, fewer and fewer people, including professing Christians believe in the virgin birth…they doubt it or deny it, trying to explain it away as incidental, or not important.  There are even some pastor’s who say they may not deny the virgin birth…they just can’t teach it.

When you think about it…IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE in the virgin birth, you have some PROBLEMS that you are going to have to resolve:

  • It would mean Mary is a liar…her character is questionable…and there would eventually be proof…and why would God or Mary for that reason cover up the truth for so long?
  • It would mean her son Jesus must have had a human father, maybe it was Joseph or maybe not…
  • If Jesus had not been born of a virgin, that would mean he too would have had the same human propensity to sin that you and I have
  • It would also mean that the Word of God is flawed, because it plainly teaches it prophesied about centuries before! “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son…Isaiah 7:14

In other words…if there is no virgin birth…no deity. No deity…no sinless life. No sinless life…no sacrificial death. No sacrificial death…no salvation. No salvation…you and I are not going to heaven…we are on our way to  hell. Jesus came to earth that we might go to heaven; born of a virgin that we might be born again! If you remove the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, there is nothing else in the Bible that is trustworthy and you destroy the foundation of Christianity. It is not incidental. It is fundamental to your faith!

1. Accept the Fact….THE VIRGIN BIRTH IS A MYSTERY!
Do not be afraid of “mystery” in the Bible. In your faith, biblical worldview…mystery is a part of faith. Deuteronomy 29:29The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things revealed belong to us
In Luke 1:26ff the angel announced to Mary that she is going to be with child. Now, Mary is a virgin…so Gabriel says, “Mary, you’re going to have a baby.” She asked a very pertinent question v.34How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Huge! In other words, “How is this going to happen? This is a mystery to me. I don’t get it.” We too would ask the same question.
Gabriel responds to her question Luke 1:35ffFor with God nothing shall be impossible.”

How did Mary respond? v.38Let it be to me according to your word.” She accepted the word and surrendered to it. Now did Mary “get it” completely? Probably not…but the virgin birth does not depend upon on our understanding in order for it to be true! You don’t have to understand it to validate it. There are a lot of things that we don’t understand…it doesn’t make them not true or impossible.
But some will say, “It’s biologically impossible!” But remember… “With God nothing will be impossible.” Here’s the thing…God, the Creator/Sustainer of all things is not bound by the very laws He Himself made. He is the Master and the Lord of that universe. That means…God can do anything He pleases! Why? Because He is God.

So if I believe in Genesis 1…the God who creates something out of nothing I should also be able to believe that He can make something impossible happen! Therefore I have no difficulty with the virgin birth if I believe in creation. It may be a mystery to you and me…but it is not a mystery to God. I think it was still a mystery for Mary Luke 1:38.

  • 1 Timothy 3:16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh….”

That’s what the virgin birth is all about. “…God revealed in the flesh…

Don’t worry if you can’t explain the virgin birth…Great is the mystery of godliness. We say with Mary: “How can this be”. And we can say with the angel: “With God all things are possible.”  If you have difficulty believing the virgin birth…your God is too small. Your god is in a box and he is not the God of the Bible!

2. Accept the Fact…THE VIRGIN BIRTH IS A NECESSITY…
Why is the Virgin Birth necessary? First some background…God created Adam and Eve, placed them in the Garden…instructed them they could eat of any tree except one. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The devil tempted them and so they ate…lost their sinlessness, sin entered the world through them. And death entered too…the “wages of sin is death.” The Bible then calls every person “sons/daughters of Adam”.
Now please follow this…IF Jesus was born of a woman and a man…he too would be a “son of Adam” …just like you and I. Born of a man born of a woman and that would make him  a sinner with the same propensity to sin…just like his mother and father. And if we are all honest with ourselves this morning we would recognize that we too are sinners…we are sinners by CHOICE, by PRACTICE, by NATURE…

So, to restore what was lost…God’s plan of salvation involved a perfect sacrifice to pay for the sins of all mankind…not through some animal or some super human. The sacrifice must be perfect, sinless and acceptable. So. He, the Creator, chose to take the punishment for His creation…upon Himself. So He sent His Son the Lord Jesus to earth to be that perfect, holy and acceptable sacrifice. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the “second Adam” He would make right what the first Adam got wrong. See Romans 5:12-21 This perfect sacrifice must pay the penalty for sin! “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” The price for sin must be paid. And because God is Spirit…He had to become like us, a Man, to pay that price. If Jesus had been born naturally like you and I He would have been a son of Adam, guilty of sin Himself…and as a result He could not have been a perfect substitute.

That is why Jesus came…BORN OF A VIRGIN. So…if there is no virgin birth there is no salvation. Jesus would not be sinless had He been born of a man and woman. In order for sin to be paid for…a perfect/sinless sacrifice had to be made. Perfect blood! Jesus was the perfect God-Man!
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” that we might be saved. Therefore, God’s answer is a sinless man, a perfect man, the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, someone who was both truly human and fully sinless.

That’s why if…no virgin birth…there is no hope of heaven. Jesus came born of a virgin, in order to be sinless. so He could do be our substitute! He died in our place to atone for our sin. So that we might be born again and go to heaven. No sinless sacrifice, no atonement; no atonement, no new birth; no new birth, no hope of heaven. He became the Son of man so that we might become the sons and daughters of God. That’s what it’s all about. That is why we have the virgin birth.

  • The fact is that Jesus, is the Son of God born of a woman..God in human flesh. He is the God-Man…fully God fully Man. He is the only One qualified to pay for our sin. This is the GOOD NEWS of Christmas!

Who is this baby born of a virgin? He is God in human flesh. “…the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He Himself had purged our sins…sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”Hebrews 1:3

Why the virgin birth? He came to earth that we might go to heaven. The whole purpose is wrapped up in the substitutionary death. You see, Isaiah 53:6All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one, to his own way; and the Lord has las on Him [on Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” You are a sinner. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” We are destined/doomed to eternity without Christ if something is not done about your sin? God will never overlook sin. So “...the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” All of our sins are laid on the sinless, virgin born Jesus…who had no taint of sin, no blame…the sinless Jesus carried all of our sin to the cross, and in agony and blood He died upon that cross to pay for our sin. Because our sin is on Jesus, thank God, His righteousness is on us. That’s good news. And the Bible says it simply,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” 

“The King of Grace”

Matthew 1:1-17behold-your-king

I have heard it said that when writing a book you want to catch the reader in the first few lines.  Most books have that line that grabs the readers imaginations or else they put it down and may never read it.  But Matthew, under the inspiration of God chooses to start his book of the Christ…with a genealogy!

Many Bible readers generally skip over genealogies…you know the seemingly endless list of names, often difficult to pronounce and seemingly unimportant names of people who lived long, long ago…But for Matthew, the Gospel writer, it was vitally important. His sole desire throughout his gospel record was to point to Jesus as the rightful King.

If someone is going to be a king their royalty will depend on their royal lineage. They must be able to prove their right to the throne. This lineage that Matthew begins with…shows the kingly line of Jesus Christ.

As a genealogy…it shows that Jesus Christ is an actual part of human history….no one can question this fact. But it also shows that all of Jewish history from Abraham was preparing for His birth…God in His divine providence ruled and overruled time and time again to accomplish His great purpose…in bringing His Son into the world.
Someone has referred to this section as “The Skeletons in God’s Closet” Because it ain’t pretty! From Matthew’s listing…we see God’s beautiful hand of grace! Jesus was sent by a God of grace to be a King of grace! He was not going to be a rock star king! Nor a king of the law nor a king of iron force…but instead a King of Grace! His royal credentials speak of royal grace! And the people He chose to be His ancestral line…reveal the wonder of His grace!..Let me tell you today…this gives me hope…in fact it gives hope to every sinner!

GOD in His Grace PROVIDED A KING…through a line…I WOULD NOT HAVE CHOSEN…
I must confess through my idealistic eyes…I would not have chosen many  on this list. But God did! Just for a moment follow along in Matthew 1:1-17 and pick out some of the well known names. These people were known for  unfaithfulness, immorality, idolatry and apostasy (walking away from God)…and yet God deals with them by grace.

Abrahamwas a liar…and Isaac learned real well from his daddy and was a liar too…and the apple did not fall far from the tree because Jacob…was a schemer and a cheat and a swindler. Judah…While Joseph was resisting temptation and living a blessed and holy life in Egypt, Judah was hanging out with his daughter-in-law Tamar, who was disguised as a prostitute and he had relations with her and got her pregnant. So their son Perez was illegitimate…born out of immorality. Goodness gracious…look al three are included as part of Jesus’ ancestors! Wow! Do you see where we’re going here?

Now, they weren’t all bad guys. Boaz was a very honourable man even though he married a Moabite woman who the Jewish Law forbid him to marry.  Some of the kings were pretty good…David was a man after God’s own heart, but if truth be told…he was a murderer and he did commit adultery with Bathsheba who is also noted here in Jesus’ lineage.

And we may say with our self righteous judgement…it’s just not the lineage that I would have chosen. I would have chosen…you know pretty people. The best and the brightest. People who look good on a royal resume.  Kind of like when Israel chose Saul to be the first king of Israel. They chose him because he looked like a king!  He was handsome and stood head and shoulders above the rest. All in all he looked  like a king. But make note… Israel chose him to be king…God didn’t.  God instead chose David. A little ruddy shepherd boy that wasn’t even worth bringing in from the field to see the prophet. But doesn’t that show God’s goodness and mercy?

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t just choose the best and the brightest?
He chooses to work through the weak, imperfect things of this world that we might see His grace/strength. God’s glory shines through this motley group of people…that’s the way that God works. People who were in no way qualified to be in the human lineage of the Son of God…

LESSON #1 God’s Choice is Not My Choice…
God’s ways are higher…than my ways…(Isaiah 55:8-9) you and I may look at the exterior…and maybe we are quick to make a judgement…but God is the One who looks at the heart…God is the One who looks at the heart He is the Potter who makes His vessel the instrument of His grace!

LESSON #2…GOD in His Grace…Chooses to Work Through Imperfect People…
Jacob is a great example. Known for his deceitful scheming, yet it is through Jacob that God would lead and sovereignly rule and overrule in his life to bring him to the point of submitting to God.
Just look at all the imperfect examples of faith full believers in Hebrews 11…
LESSON #3…GOD in His Grace…Chooses to Use the Weak Things of the World…
All of these men listed were sinful and often known for some kind of weakness or unfaithfulness But God was continually faithful to them…and His grace was always with them, even when they were in trouble or even in times when God was rebuking them. (See: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
LESSON #4…God in His Grace…Chooses to Use the Outcast…
Tamar…(v.3) In Genesis 38  Tamar, the recently widowed daughter in law of Judah, acted as a prostitute and tricked her father-in-law Judah into making her pregnant so that she could continue the line of her husband. Despite her prostitution and the incest…God’s grace fell on her and her son to be born as well as Judah.
Rahab…(v.5) In Joshua 2 also was a prostitute and a Gentile, a foreigner, living in Jericho. But she, in faith courageously rescued the 2 Hebrew spies. Not sure how she came to faith but somehow she knew about God and His people. By faith she knew she had better intervene on behalf of her family. She would marry Salmon and become the mother of Boaz, who would become king David’s great grandfather.
Ruth…(v.5) – She too was another foreigner, a Moabite and was under the Old Testament curse against Moabites found in Deuteronomy 23:3No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever”. She was a descendent of the incestuous Lot. But we love Ruth. Her story of faith and commitment God has resounded for generations!
Bathsheba…(v.6) was the woman involved in David’s scandalous affair and cover-up. She would become the mother of the next king, Solomon.
So as you can see in this list you have some great people…but you have people with a scandalous past. You have men, women, adulterers, prostitutes, heroes, and Gentiles. And Jesus is the Saviour of them all. “Right from the start, Matthew is telling us that Jesus is immersed in the grit and the grime of fallen humanity…” To the world Jesus’ way seems foolish…but to those who are being saved it is the power of God! (1 Corinthians 1)

So what? God in His grace…took a lineage of broken, sinful, imperfect people and outcasts and used them for His purposes and His glory. He can do the same thing with us today. He can take worthless broken vessels like you and me and cleanse us with His blood and fill us with His presence and use us for His purposes and for His glory. No matter who you are, people like you are already part of Jesus’ story. Right from the start, God chooses the most sinful, broken, and unlikely people – people like you and me. (See Matthew 9:13) Tell me Matthew didn’t have this foremost in his heart  as he walked with his Master and listened to Him speak and reach the last of people!
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSE1. AWE-Some wonder…this is our Jesus!  The King of Grace! It makes me want to sing of His grace…His love and mercy!
2. KNOW that God includes you and me…the fact that God uses these imperfect, weak people reminds you and I that God will take us and use us for His own purposes. Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners who did not come to call the righteous but sinners…to call the Zaccheus’ the Simon Peter’s, James’ and John. Reflected in His choice of disciples! JESUS CHRIST IS THE KING OF GRACE!