The child with four amazing titles

The title of my Christmas message this year is “The Child with Four Amazing titles”.

Now in the Bible we see that Jesus is given many names. All of these names refer to some aspect of who He is and what He does. He is given names like the King of kings, the Lord of all lords, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Alpha and the Omega, the Lamb of God, the Bread of Life. He is also called the way, the truth and the life.

In today’s Christmas message I want to look at one verse from the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah. This verse was written some 700 years before the first Christmas, but it was written about Jesus. The verse comes from Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6.

It says, “For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

In this verse the baby Jesus is given four amazing titles. Today, I want to look briefly at these titles.

1) Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor

Wonderful Counselor – what a great title. I don’t know about you, but sometimes in this life I need a wonderful counselor. Like most of us, sometimes I just don’t know what to do and I need help.

One of my favourite memory verses comes from Proverbs 3.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 also says, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

It is great to know that I can pray to Jesus and ask for His wisdom and His guidance. It is great to know I can call on someone whose thoughts are higher than my thoughts. When I do call on Him in prayer, I find that before long the right path to take opens up.

Not only is prayer a great way to find guidance, but also are Jesus’ words in the Bible. In His famous sermon on the mount we see there are so many great truths contained for everyday life.

A quick scan of the Sermon on the Mount shows us how to have the right attitude to life, how to pray, how to respond when people wrong us, how to live in a marriage relationship, how to use our money and possessions, how to be generous, and how to be a true follower of Jesus.

These are timeless truth for how to live, how to relate to each other and how to relate to God. In fact, when He finished His sermon people were amazed. Matthew 7:28-29 tells us, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, 29 for He taught with real authority–quite unlike their teachers of religious law”.

So not only can we pray and receive direction from our wonderful counselor Jesus, but we can also read His words in the Bible.

2) Jesus is our Mighty God

The second amazing title in this passage is mighty God. In His time on earth Jesus showed His power and glory in the way He lived and interacted with those around Him. Shortly after the sermon on the mount, Jesus moved out into the world and did a number of amazing miracles.

As we saw a few weeks ago, Jesus performed a number of miracles including…

The healing of the man with leprosy (Matthew 8:1-4), healing the Centurion’s slave (Matthew 8:5-13), the calming of the storm (Matthew 8:23-27), healing the  Paralytic man who was brought by his friends (Matthew 9:1-8), Jesus raised the Dead Girl to life (Matthew 9:18-26), Jesus healed the Sick Woman who touched His cloak (Matthew 9:20-22), He healed the Two Blind Men (Matthew 9:27-31), and He drove the demon out of the Mute Man (Matthew 9:32-33).

In performing these miracles Jesus showed that mighty God is a title that sits well on Him. He healed the sick, drove out demons, calmed the storm and He even raised the dead. Jesus showed that He had power that is not of this world. He did things that no mortal man could do. He did things that only God could do.

At times in life when we feel weak and we don’t think we can do the things we need to do, it is great to know that we have Jesus we can call on for help and strength. The Bible tells is we can do all things through Christ who is our strength (Philippians 4:13).

This Christmas we know that help from “Mighty God” is just a prayer away.

3) Jesus is our Everlasting Father

The third title is “Everlasting Father”. This title shows that Jesus is eternal.

John 1:1-4 reminds us that Jesus is eternal. “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He existed in the beginning with God.  3 God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him.  4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.

When I first got interested in reading the Bible in my early 20s, I thought that Jesus came into existence when He was born at Christmas time to Mary.

Before long I realise that Jesus was there at the creation of the world. He was there when Adam and Eve were created. He was around when Noah build his ark, He was around when Moses led the people of Egypt to freedom, He was around the great kings and prophets walked the earth in Old Testament times. Then 2000 years ago He walked the earth to show us what God is like, to show us how to live, and ultimately to show us how much He loves us by dying on the cross for our sin. Now He has returned to heaven and He promises to come back for us one day. This is the great hope for all who trust in Jesus for their salvation.

Again, everlasting father is a wonderful title. It helps us to know that when we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we are not just trusting in a baby who grew into a man who walked the earth some 2000 years ago, but we are putting our faith in someone who is eternal and everlasting. And as Colossians 2:9 tells us, “For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body”.

Everlasting Father is a title that sits well on Jesus.

4) Jesus is our Prince of Peace

The final title in this verse is “Prince of peace”. Another great title that was given to Jesus.

It doesn’t take much to see that the world desperately needs a prince of peace. When we read the newspaper in the morning or watch the nightly news we see peace is needed. At times it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all.

However, when I get troubled by world events like terrorism, wars, floods, earthquakes, famine and the like, I close my eyes prayerfully and think about the prince of peace. The one who came from eternity, was born in a manger at Christmas, lived amongst us and gives us His peace.

There are two great verses that still my heart and mind when I am worried…

In John 14:27 Jesus said these words to His troubled followers when they were afraid, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.”

And in Philippians 4:7, the Apostle Paul who was one of the leaders in the early church said, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Story of Peace

Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally, the great day of judging arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered.

The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled.

As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd.

A mirror-smooth lake reflected a perfect scenery of rolling hills with a perfectly blue sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.

The man with the vision uncovered the final painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace?

A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky cliff; the crowd could almost feel it’s cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-grey clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a tiny tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls.

A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her chicks. With her eyes closed and her wings covering her little ones who were oblivious to the storms, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.

This picture was declared the unanimous winner.

Jesus, as the prince of peace, can give us peace. A true and lasting peace that is not of this world. It is the peace of heaven. If you want to experience true and lasting peace this Christmas, it is found in the prince of peace.

Closing

So, as I close, I want to wish you all a wonderfully happy, safe and blessed Christmas. It is my hope and prayer that this Christmas you will experience the love of the child who grew up to be a Saviour with four amazing titles – the wonderful counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting father and the prince of peace.

If you have not made your connection with God, I would encourage you to  click on the “Peace with God” link to find true and lasting peace this Christmas.

Merry Christ everyone.

What should a Pastor do?

What should a Pastor do? We all have our ideas of what the Pastor should do, but I think it is important to start from what the Bible says. When I got my first job as a Pastor I decided to look at the Pastor’s role according to the Bible.

The term Pastor only appears once in the New Testament. This might surprise some, as it did me when I looked it up first time. So what is the context of the one time it is mentioned?

Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”

This is the only reference to the Pastor. The role mentioned above is an equipping role. Equipping the people of God to do the work of God in the church and the world. I asked someone at the denomination that I am apart of and they said the same thing. The Pastor is there is equip the church to do the work of ministry, not do the work of ministry on behalf of the church.

So the Pastor’s role is a teaching and equipping role. This happens through sermons, Bible studies, and encouraging the church in their faith.

The interesting thing that I also found is the Greek word used for Pastor is Poimen. This is translated as Pastor in the above passage, where in other places it is translated as shepherd. This is where the Pastor as a shepherd image comes in.

In 1 Peter 5:2-3 it says, ” 2 Be shepherds [Poimen] of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. ”

The second role of a Pastor is to shepherd God’s flock. To watch over them, look out for them, counsel them, provide an environment where they can grow in their faith in Christ, living out a godly life as an example and to lead them with the other Elders to the place where God wants them to be.

Pastors do so many things but the two main roles they will be accountable to God for is equipping the church members to do the works of service and shepherding the flock entrusted to their care.

Another interesting thing about the of the role of a Pastor comes for the Greek word for flock – Poimnion – this means a group of believers. The Pastor (Poimen) looks after the flock (Poimnion). The key focus of the Pastor should first and foremost on the group of believers they are overseeing.

It is a really interesting exercise to research the biblical role of the Pastor. With people expecting so much of Pastor’s and the many different roles they undertake, equipping and shepherding needs to be the main focus.

God Bless,

Dave

House church facination

I have always been interested in house churches. I attended one several times as a newish Christian and I just loved how relaxed and informal it was. There was a meal, singing, prayer, Bible reading and a lot of times to ask questions and talk about life following Jesus. I really enjoyed it a lot.

I recently found an article on smallgroups.com about Starting a House Church by Larry Kreider and Floyd McClung. It is an excerpt of their book by the same name. It is one I recommended here.

In the article they list five things to consider when starting a house church. These are…

1. Pray first

2. Know whom you are called to reach

3. The size of the house church matters

4. Meeting frequency

5. Meeting components

All of these make really good points and suggestions to think about from two very experienced leaders in house church circles.

The one that really jumped out at me was point 2 – Know who you are called to reach. They talk about having a vision to reach new Christians or people who are genuinely seeking God. But they found people who were Christians for a long time came along and that shaped the group.

I find the whole idea of house churches really fascinating. If you are interested in reading the full article, you can find it here.

God Bless,

Dave

Books that impacted me part 5

I have always been interested in house churches. I love reading about them and hearing the impact they make in communities.

Over the years I have always enjoyed the mid week home group or Bible study more than church on Sunday. I just like the way you can get to know people better and pray with others in the smaller setting.

One book I have really enjoyed in Starting a House Church. It is full of practical advice and stories of how they are changing the world. It has always made so much sense to me when I read about them.

Here is the blurb…

There’s a new way of doing church and it’s taking North America by storm! Here a recognized authority on the house church movement and a popular speaker and pastor share their expertise in starting and maintaining a healthy house church. Together they look at current and future trends in the house church movement and provide best practice models for planting and leading house churches. Also, they explore how house churches are not always the same as simple cell-groups or small groups, especially in the areas of leadership and money. Readers will discover all the information they need to begin a house church in their community.

The underground church in China

I just watched this video about the underground church in China. I love how they just have small home churches in their buildings and focus on sharing with their neighbours. A great strategy…