Advent Reader 2016

Good News: Isaiah 9: 1-7
1st December 2016

Good news is not popular with the media - it does not sell newspapers. However we all like good news.  It is especially welcome after a period of difficulty and is a panacea to doom and gloom.

The Children of Israel were going through one of their regular “bad patches” (v1-2) when Isaiah brought them some exceedingly good news (v6-7). A child was to be born - speaking of his humanity and entry into our time. A Son was to be given, indicating his divinity and eternity - certainly this was a cause for rejoicing (v3-5).

The Gospel (the good news) is the most wonderful, timeless message of God’s love for a lost and dying world. The miraculous birth, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection and, soon-to-be, triumphant return of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the best news anyone can ever hear.

No matter what kind of year we may have had or what problems we face we need to look up. The future is entirely glorious. God has promised it in His Son and He always keeps His word. The best is yet to be!


David and Rosemary Vardy

Isaiah 11: 1-6 - Looking Forward
2nd December 2016

Isaiah was a prophet who lived during a turbulent time in history.  He lived around 740 years before the birth of Christ, a period which for 50 years or so under the rule of Uzziah, had enjoyed stability and allowed Israel and Judah to become great again.  When King Uzziah died, the stability began to crumble and the powerful Assyrians began to fight wars and to claim ground. 

Into this unsettled picture comes God’s voice through the prophet Isaiah.  He looks forward to a day when not an army or kings would impact the world, but a day when an individual, The Messiah, would come.  Isaiah looks beyond the disappointments of his own age to the coming of One who would be God in the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

In Isaiah 9, he focuses on Jesus’ birth – this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus coming to earth as recorded in the gospels.  In our chapter today his prophecy concerns His second coming.  The same person, from the line of David, the ‘stump of Jesse’.   Verses 6-9 give us pictures of that day when there will be universal peace – it recalls the paradise of Eden at the beginning of God’s creation and looks forward to the day when God’s creation will be restored.

We quite rightly look forward to Christmas and remember when Jesus came to earth the first time.  Isaiah reminds us that that is not the end – we should keep on looking forward.


Alan and Julie Paterson

Isaiah 42: 1-9 - The best kind of authority
3rd December 2016

Jesus’ authority is always unexpected and surprising.  Isaiah writes about God declaring His delight in His Son, and conferring the authority on Him as ruler of His people. The Lord continues (through Isaiah’s pen) to describe how He wields this authority – in righteousness, justice and gentleness. A series of images follows that can easily be a picture of ourselves: a damaged reed, restored not broken; an almost extinguished candle fanned back to life; a prisoner set free.

We’re not used to authority in this way. As I write, any glance at the news shows more mud-flinging as two power-hungry people push themselves to the top of the voting pile at any cost, and righteousness, peace and mercy don’t seem high on the priorities.

However we are part of another kingdom where it is Christ’s values and authority that count. We join the crowd along with the eastern wise men and rough shepherds who bowed to the child Jesus and recognised something different about the One in whom God delights and puts His Spirit. This is the King whose authority we can thoroughly trust and confidently follow.


Doug Wilson

Micah 5: 1-5a: The 'but' that changes everything
4th December 2016

The ‘but’ that changes everything

Over seven hundred years before Christ, the prophet Micah levelled his warning against the ten northern tribes of Israel and the two southern tribes of Judah regarding their mounting sin, idolatry, and social injustices: Prepare to face the judgment of God who was mustering conquering armies to punish. Micah’s prophecies were ignored and in 722 BC the northern ten tribes of Israel were destroyed by the invading Assyrian armies, never to be seen again. But…there’s still Judah, right?

Micah’s prophecy was initially heeded in Judah. King Hezekiah’s repentance stayed the hand of God for a time until, in 586 BC, Judah likewise fell to Nebuchadnezzar’s conquering forces. With Israel and Judah removed, God’s redemptive plan seemed to have failed and hope was lost. But…

The small word “but” changes everything. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me One who is to be ruler in Israel.” One day Israel would again be shepherded. One day this King would rule in the strength of the Lord, and God’s people would know peace. 750 years later Hope was born in Bethlehem when God’s eternal redemptive plan came to pass in a very unassuming manner. Christmas is more than a birth celebration: Yes, there are times when all seems lost, when we have no hope…BUT God is the One whose plan is unstoppable…He is the One who seemingly resurrects hope from the ashes of defeat and despair.


Jim Leavenworth

Luke 1: 1-4 - Baby or King?
5th December 2016

Jesus - Baby or King?

The Easter Bunny, the Grinch, the Tooth Fairy, the Bogey man (for Scots old enough to remember)..........the Baby Jesus; is He just another cultural fable fed to us in childhood which we jettison as we 'grow up'?  Or is He truly the King of creation?

Luke, the doctor (a 'well educated man') tells us of 'eyewitness accounts'.  These include the family of Jesus, the disciples, and those Jesus healed among others - all probably still alive at time of publishing. He is saying to Theophilus (God seeker), "check this out 'cause I have"). Luke addresses Theophilus using the formal language of the time as this man is part of the ruling class.  However after his initial sentence (verses 1-4) Luke chooses to write the entire story of the Baby Jesus who is the King in the language of the common people - as if to say " this is for everyone not only the rich and powerful!"

As you read the rest of his 'verified, accurate account' how does that change your Christmas?

“Born that man no more may die

Born to give him second birth

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the new-born King”

Are you a faithful subject of the King or are you content for the Baby Jesus to sleep peacefully, so as not to disturb you??


Matt and Rose Gibson

Luke 1: 5-25: Set Apart for a God-filled Life
6th December 2016

Set apart for a God-filled life!

From the outset, John was to be special, so much so that an angel announced his birth! He had a special mission from God, to act as a prophet to the Israelites, he was to ‘to bring back many of the people…to the Lord their God’.

We later read that John was a very distinctive person, living in the wilderness, wearing strange clothes and eating strange food. He was definitely set apart. What about us? Are we distinctive to those around us, not so much in how we dress, but how we behave? Does our behaviour, integrity and speech point the way to Jesus as John did?

There are so many competing voices in the world today, telling us what to watch, buy and do… John was a lone ‘voice’ to the people encouraging them to follow God.

When we’re reminded that our mission is the same as John’s- to follow God’s voice and to bring people to God, it can feel overwhelming, nerve- racking, insurmountable perhaps. But then we read how the Holy Spirit is upon John’s life enabling Him to witness boldly. This encourages us to ask for that same power.

During this busy Christmas season, there are many voices and distractions. Ask God for help in sharing a distinctive message that will help bring people to meet Jesus.


David and Emma Craig

Isaiah 42: 1-9: If there's any justice
7th December 2016

"If There's Any Justice"




I would be your man,

You would be my girl,

Oh yeah,

I believe,

I do,

If there's any justice in the world,

I would be your man,

You would be my girl.


Just over a decade ago the British R&B singer Lemar topped the charts with his lament over his frustrated love.  For him there’s no justice in the fact that he’s in love with a girl who has a man already.

Never hitting the charts, but recorded permanently in the Scriptures, Isaiah sounded his concern for the lack of justice in the world. His vision of God’s justice prevailing throughout the entire earth through the ministry of His unique Servant runs through this section (verses 1b;3b;4b). Not for him any self-centred longing but the promise that the nations will experience the perfect justice of the Almighty. In the person of His Servant the Almighty Creator (v5) would launch a programme that would lead to the establishment of justice in the earth. As we watch the news bulletins today, and feel frustrated by the injustice that surrounds us, let’s remember that the final say doesn’t lie in the Kremlin, the White House, the UN or Downing Street but with The Servant of God’s choice.


Desi Maxwell

Luke 1: 26-38 Taking a risk, accepting a gift!
8th December 2016

Mary was willing to receive a gift that potentially brought with it shame, gossip, dream-shattering and potentially life threatening consequences!

Through human eyes, it is not perhaps what you would expect! Mary was not married and therefore should not have been pregnant. She would face people talking about her behind her back, she would bring shame upon Joseph and although the law does not state what should happen if the woman you are pledged to marry conceives of the Holy Spirit and is pregnant with the Son of God, it does however state that any woman who is found not to be a virgin whilst pledged to marry or after marrying should be stoned to death (Deut 22:20).

If Mary agreed to this gift she would be putting everything on the line – her reputation, her relationship, her life. Through the eyes of faith, Mary was obedient to God's rescue mission for us.

What is our risk appetite this Advent? What are we willing to put on the line for God?

This passage acts as an encouragement as well as a reminder of Emmanuel, God's unfolding redemption plan, which Mary embraced through her faith.

May our prayer be that He will help us to be in tune with His Spirit and plan.  May we take every opportunity to proclaim His name and take the gift of Jesus out to a broken world that so badly needs Him!


Derek and Fiona Gordon

Luke 1: 39-45 Mary visits Elizabeth
9th December 2016

Luke 1: 39-45

Mary visits Elizabeth


Having learned from the angel that she would give birth to the Son of God, Mary hurried to visit her pregnant relative Elizabeth. The angel told Mary of Elizabeth’s advanced pregnancy so that Mary would have someone to confide in during this extremely exciting, yet scary and overwhelming time. Elizabeth had been prepared by God to understand and support Mary.

When Mary entered the house, she was probably very anxious and nervous about telling Elizabeth her news. Would she believe her? How could she explain her encounter with the angel? Would Elizabeth judge her and send her away? However as soon as Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary had nothing to explain! God had provided an understanding and caring companion for Mary.

Mary was not put through a string of awkward questions, but instead the Holy Spirit enabled Elizabeth and her unborn son (John) to know the truth. Mary was greeted with joy and blessing, and again, her faithfulness to God was highlighted to her, ‘Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil His promises to her’ (v45).

This is a great message of encouragement.  God has already prepared the path and gone before us in all situations. With the Holy Spirit in us, God gives us the strength to fulfil His will just like Mary and Elizabeth did.


Keith and Laura Thomson

Luke 1: 46-56 Mary's Song
10th December 2016

Mary was a young single woman told by the angel Gabriel she would have the 'Son of God'. Understandably she felt afraid and overwhelmed by the enormity of the news, and anxious about what others would say about her being pregnant. She also had a sense of not being worthy or deserving of such attention and honour.  

I am sure many of us can connect and relate to those feelings of unworthiness. Professionals who work with those who have addictive or destructive behaviours (whatever their 'poison': drugs, alcohol, food or gambling)  say they all share at their core a commonality of feeling unworthy or undeserving of love.

Mary realises the truly amazing gift bestowed on her. She acclaims her soul will praise the Lord and her spirit will rejoice in God her Saviour. We can all receive this amazing gift this Christmas; and experience the real love of God and the true joy that He brings to our hearts. In God's eyes we are all worthy and deserving of His love, each and every one of us matters to Him, and there is nothing to be afraid of if we truly put our trust and faith in Him.  This Christmas share this amazing gift with others, it's the best present anyone could ever receive.

Merry Christmas


Campbell and Alison Chalmers & Family 

Matthew 1: 18-25 What’s in a name?
11th December 2016

We remember being expectant parents beginning to talk about names for our ‘forthcoming arrival’.  Of course, there are so many to choose from and, it seems nowadays, the opportunity to create new ones.

As we have reflected on Joseph’s encounter with the ‘angel of the Lord’ the words ‘you are to give him the name Jesus’ stood out especially.    Not only was Joseph being told that Mary was to have a son, God had also decided on the name.  The name was to have great significance ‘because He will save His people from their sins’ (v21). Their son was to have a very special role and purpose. We wonder what Joseph might have made of all this but we read that Joseph and Mary did indeed give their son the name Jesus.    

The baby the angel spoke of has gone on to place His mark on over two thousand years of history.   At a personal level He has transformed the lives of those who believe and trust in Him.  Today, the name of Jesus is on the lips and in the hearts and minds of those who have accepted the promise of forgiveness of sin and who now enjoy an ongoing relationship with Jesus.  

Perhaps at some stage over this Christmas period we might look out for opportunities to have the name Jesus on our lips as we share the Good News with those yet to hear it?


Iain and Dorothy Liddell

Luke 1: 57-66 The significance of a name.
12th December 2016

The naming of a child is an important event, one that can give parents many sleepless nights. However, it seems rather trivial to warrant such a detailed account, especially considering everything that John and Jesus went on to do. So why did Luke decide to describe to us this incident?

Verse 59 says "On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah". We don't know exactly who "they" are.  They mostly likely include close friends and relatives, religious leaders and a doctor to perform the circumcision. Naming the baby after his father implies he will follow his father's footsteps. Given that Zechariah is a priest, this seems a good path to follow. In that circumstance, it must have required great faith for Elizabeth to stand up and insist that the child was to be named John, which we know is what God wants from earlier verses. It is also worth noting that John means Yahweh, which means ‘gracious’ in Hebrew. The significance of this should not be understated, especially given the role that John played in preparing the way for Jesus. 

What seems like a trivial incident is actually very important. It reminds us of the importance of standing up for our faith, and of the grace of God. As we go into Christmas and look forward to the New Year, we should hold both of those to heart. 


Lee Qian

Luke 1: 67-80 Faith in the silence
13th December 2016

In this passage Zechariah shows how much faith he has in God’s ancient promise of a Messiah, even after there had been four hundred years of silence from God. When God seems silent with us we often feel ignored.  Zechariah shows that, no matter how long it takes, God will fulfil His plan in and for each of us. We have a God whom we can trust with our future. 

Zechariah did not know how John would prepare the way for the Messiah, or that he would be the one who baptised Him, or even that he would go on to be martyred. What he did know was that God had promised to use him to further His plan.  That was enough for him to fully put his faith in the Lord.

As we come through the Christmas season and continue into the New Year, we should always remember that God has a plan for us even though we do not know every detail.  We should never lose faith even when God seems silent. 

I know who holds the future, and He’ll guide me with His hand;
with God things don’t just happen, everything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow, with its problems large and small,
I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to Him my all.

(Alfred B Smith & Eugene Clarke; 1947)


Nathan Mair

Luke 2: 1-7 Jesus’s birth – historic, prophesied and humble
14th December 2016


Our passage today, though short, has so much to tell us.

* Jesus's birth was historic.

We see in verses 1-2 Jesus's birth in its historical context.  This is no mere myth, it is a glorious event in history.  It is not a fairy story to teach us some nice moral message, but something that actually happened in time and space, something of unparalleled significance.


* Jesus's birth was prophesied.

In verse 4 we read that Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, the town of David, and that Joseph belonged to the house and line of David. The Jews were eagerly expecting their Messiah, the "Son of David", and Jesus was that longed-for Messiah.


"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

though you are small among the clans of Judah,

out of you will come for me

one who will be ruler over Israel,

whose origins are from of old,

from ancient times." (Micah 5:2)


* Jesus's birth was humble.

Jesus's whole life was marked with humility; from the outset where we see the very Son of God placed in a manger, to the ultimate humility of His death on the cross.  This was the longed-for Messiah coming into history; not the warrior King some expected, but a humble servant who would give up His life that we might live.


Kenneth Douglas

Luke 2: 8-21 The Good News: Love, Joy, Peace.
15th December 2016

The angels came singing from clouds up above; 
the bright star a spotlight on our Prince of Love - 
how awesome to think what it must have been like 
to be in that stable on that holy night.

(Brenton Prigge, 2005)


“An angel of the Lord appeared, and the glory of the Lord shone around them”…The angel reassured the shepherds “fear not” (v9-10), just like God reassures us today.

“The shepherds said “let’s go and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” (v15).

The angels made the noise, but it was God who spoke and still does today.  God speaks to us all in different ways and uses us to save His children, not for our glory but for His.

The shepherds must have been ecstatic when they saw Jesus lying in a manger.  When God speaks to us today, do we listen and do we go out of our way to do what He wants and glorify His wonderful name, like the shepherds did?

This is the greatest news ever, the announcement of Jesus’ birth, and it is to be celebrated every day, not just Christmas Day.


   “O Lord God, shine on us and keep us all strong,

   The time may be short, or the time may be long

   We can’t know the day but from now till then

   Lord we’re living Your way”


Janet Dunbar 

Matthew 2:1-12 The journey of the wise men
16th December 2016

The Bible does not tell us how many wise men there were, nor where they came from. It simply says ‘wise men from the East’ (v1).  By the time they arrived in Bethlehem Jesus would have been a toddler. The journey they made would probably have taken several months.

These men probably were not Jews.  We see God’s grace and mercy including both Jew and Gentile at this point in history. These astrologers had an experience of God’s grace. They arrived in Jerusalem and asked: “‘Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?  We saw His star when it arose, and have come to worship Him” (v2). The objective of their journey was to worship Him. In the New Year ahead, may each one of us make worship of our Lord Jesus Christ a priority, be it private, family or corporate.

These men were guided by a star, which eventually stopped over the house where Jesus was. God’s guidance today is through His word and the Holy Spirit. In Jerusalem notice how God uses deceitful Herod and the religious leaders using Micah 5:2-4 to send them to Bethlehem. Herod’s plan was to destroy Jesus, the religious leaders had no desire to worship Jesus.

Finally, the gifts they brought are significant. Gold speaks of Kingship; Jesus is King. Frankincense speaks of the office of High Priest; Jesus is our great High Priest. Myrrh speaks of Death thus pointing forward to the atoning death of the Saviour.

May all our worship be acceptable to our beloved Lord.

John 4:24


Neil and Barbara Innes

Luke 2: 22-40 - Waiting Expectantly
17th December 2016

In this passage we hear about Jesus being brought to the temple for the first time, and we learn about the people who had been waiting for this day to arrive.


Mary and Joseph were required by Jewish law to bring Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, but they had to wait the allotted time before doing this. They must have felt great anticipation about presenting their son to the Lord, and when the day came they‘marvelled’ at what was said about Him.


Simeon, a man described as ‘righteous and devout', had also been waiting for this day. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would see Christ before he died. He must have been excited and perhaps relieved when the Holy Spirit revealed that the day had arrived. Not only would he meet Christ but he would also know that he would then be dismissed and his service would be complete.


We also hear about Anna, an elderly prophetess. Had she also known that she would meet Jesus that day? Certainly she recognised the baby as the Messiah that God’s people had been expecting.


This year as we anticipate and prepare for the arrival of Christmas I hope that we will also take time to be still, to pray and to wait expectantly for the Lord.


“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”

(Psalm 27:14)


Ellen Hardie

Luke 2: 41–52 Where to find Jesus
18th December 2016

In this passage, we read about the Passover festival when Jesus was only 12, and how Jesus stayed in Jerusalem to listen to the religious teachers and ask them questions.

(Verse 47) All who were listening to Jesus were amazed at His understanding. I really reflect on how this applies to me, and how young Jesus was in this passage.  It shows the need for having a childlike mind (not childish) when it comes to believing. Children are much less likely to be wary of being told the truth; they will most likely accept it. I think that is how we all should be when we think of Jesus and the message He brought to the world.

In verse 48, Jesus’ parents were clearly frantic that he had not returned home.  Three days later they found Him in the temple, and I love the response that Jesus gave: “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” It shows the necessity of seeking and being in God’s presence, worshipping Him through prayer and song, and how important it is to ask when we do not know the answer.

As it approaches Christmas, it is important to not lose focus on what Jesus is teaching us. Be ever-looking to God for guidance and in the midst of the festive season, remember why Jesus is so important and why we should listen to and strive to be like Him.


Sarah Mair

Luke 3: 1:20 John the Baptist paving the way for Jesus
19th December 2016

In verses 1-2 Luke grounds this passage in historical context, before then going on to put John the Baptist’s ministry into the context of Old Testament hope (v4-6) for the coming of the Lord.

John brings the word of God, and his instructions may seem ordinary (v10-14) but it is in these ordinary things that we can show our true love for God. So how can this apply to us today? What would John the Baptist say to us?

In verse 16 John points to Jesus, making it clear, that his baptism is a symbol for what God will do in Jesus.  John’s baptism is different from Christian baptism. John looks forward to Jesus, paving the way for Him and anticipating the Spirit’s arrival; whereas Christian baptism assumes Jesus’ provision of the Spirit.

Luke uses this passage and John the Baptist’s preaching in two ways. He prepares the way for the Messiah and he informs the people of God’s standard of righteousness (v17). John warns the people to prepare to be open to God so we can see and experience His grace. God wishes us to stop and reflect on where we are with Him and to take fresh action, if necessary.

Why not take some time today to find out where we are with God. Reflect on your relationship with God and spend some time in prayer to Him.

Thank you,


Mirjam Scheffler

Luke 3: 21-38 Who is Jesus?
20th December 2016

"Let's make America great again...", "Let's take back control...".

We are well used to politicians inviting us to follow them; to place our trust in them.  Around 2000 years ago a man invited people to do something similar, although actually something altogether more radical. Jesus' call was to "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me". He makes the same call today. He is asking us to trust Him with our lives.

So who is Jesus?

In today's verses we firstly encounter Jesus at the dramatic event of his baptism: Jesus is baptised, His Father speaks audibly and the Holy Spirit descends. The Holy Trinity acting in unison; Father and Spirit endorsing and blessing the Son. Surely He is the Son of God.

The following verses are more prosaic and it's tempting to skip them. To do so would be to miss something critical. The list records the line from which Jesus comes. He is indeed the Son of Man.

God has a great plan for this world: nothing less than the defeat of evil and death, the reconciliation of men and women with God and the creation of a new heaven and earth where there will be no more crying, suffering or pain. To achieve all of this, mankind's sin has to be dealt with. Justice requires that mankind pays the price for these wrongs. But what man or woman could make right such a wrong? Only God Himself.

The wonder of Jesus is that as a man He can atone for sin on behalf of all mankind and that as God Himself that atonement is sufficient to fully pay the price for all that sin.

So who is Jesus?

Son of God. Son of Man. Saviour. King.

Praise His holy name.


George Campbell

Colossians 3: 15-20 Christmas…live it!
21st December 2016

In this passage there are lots of points to think about and these are a few thoughts on what I have read.

In life God wants you to live a faithful and honest life and do more than just attend church. He wants you to be part of a Christian community and teach people about Jesus and help others in need.

Lots of people think Christmas or Easter is all about the presents and chocolate but it's not (well a bit of it is). It is a celebration and it is a time to make sure you think about Jesus and remember that in praying or singing to Him He will listen to you.

The meaning of songs and hymns like Christmas carols are easily forgotten but songs are not just supposed to be sung, they are to be thought about. Singing songs about God is like praying - God hears you if you mean it.

Sometimes we need to let go of the bad stuff that happens to us and let the good news of Jesus into our lives and shape our lives around it. Whatever you do or say, do it for Jesus, thanking God through Him.


Matthew Haddow



Matthew 2: 13-18 A Royal Refugee
23rd December 2016

In recent weeks we cannot fail to have missed the photographs of our Royal Family touring Canada. The smiling and obedient children, the warm welcome from their hosts, and the pomp and circumstance which surrounds such a trip.  All of this seems in stark contrast to the images of desperate refugees fleeing war-torn Syria and Iraq. Terrified faces, danger at every turn and facing an uncertain future often with no-one to welcome them at the other end.

In our Advent reading today, we discover such a family fleeing their home, called in the dead of night to abandon everything and escape for their lives. Yet this is no ordinary family with no ordinary child. For in this passage we encounter Immanuel, born amidst the brutality of Herod’s regime. Our Saviour, the King of all creation, forced to flee from the horrors of the land into which He was born, becoming a refugee and stranger in a foreign land. What a challenge to our worldly view of ‘royalty!’

We encounter too a courageous earthly father, Joseph, who responds in faith; no hesitation, no questioning, to the voice of God. He understands the urgency of the situation, leaving everything behind. Abandoning a livelihood, travelling to a new place, leaving treasured possessions and family; these are as much the hallmarks of the refugee plight today as in biblical times.

Sadly, this Christmas, we will still see people fleeing horror in their homeland and the vulnerable being threatened. But into this darkness comes God, offering light and salvation to all. Truly, He has experienced all that life here can bring. ‘Deliverer delivered’ He offers us an eternal inheritance and resting place which cannot be taken away. This year, may we have the listening heart of Joseph to marvel again at the humility of Christ and the awesome power of God.


Stephen and Louise Liddell

Matthew 2: 19-23 Mary and Joseph’s obedience
24th December 2016

After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph travelled to Egypt to hide from King Herod who wanted to kill Jesus. This passage tells us how once Herod had died, God told Mary and Joseph to travel to Israel and warned them in a dream not to go to Judea but to go to Galilee instead. 

We can only imagine how stressful it must have been for Mary and Joseph to move around and have their plans changed - especially with a young baby! However, they were obedient to God's calling and their obedience 'fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that He would be called a Nazarene' (v23). 

Obedience not only means obeying God's calling when life is good.  It also means obeying God's calling when what He wants us to do is not the easiest option, and may seem inconvenient. Sometimes that calling may even seem dangerous and only for God's glory and no personal gain. But we know that we can always trust that God's ways are the right way and we can be sure that 'in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.' (Romans 8:28).


Andrew and Karen Sim

John 8:12 Jesus: The reason for the season
24th December 2016

What do you think of when you think of light? A torch to help you see at night? A candle? The sun that brings life? Maybe love, goodness, happiness?

The word light appears many times, over 300 times in fact, throughout the Bible. I think this passage looks at light as a symbol for God’s presence. God is light. His presence, His salvation, His revelation. When Jesus says “I am the light of the world”, we are reminded that Christ is a reflection of this Holy God. The One who created all things, the One who is always there, the One who never changes.

I think during this Christmas season it is so easy to get tied up in the tinsel or lost in the crowds at the German market or knee deep in wrapping paper, that we forget to remember why we celebrate Christmas. Jesus came into this world so that we might ‘see the light’, see God, and that we might have the “light of life” restoring our relationship with the Almighty God.

In the run up to Christmas, it is so important to remember these things, and put Jesus at the centre of everything we do.

Jesus: the reason for the season.


Naomi Parks

John 6:35 Provision for all
25th December 2016

While shopping for Christmas dinner, people often ask - "Do you think we've enough food to feed everyone?” - before putting more into their trolleys!

On a hillside one day Jesus performed a miracle: after giving thanks, he fed 5,000 hungry people with five loaves and two fish. Everyone was satisfied - twelve baskets of leftovers were collected. (John 6: 1-13)

The next day a crowd came, hoping possibly for more free food, and to witness another miracle. As Jesus spoke to them, the people recalled that their ancestors while journeying through the desert, had received manna to satisfy their hunger. (John 6: 31-34)  Jesus made clear it was God who provided the manna to sustain them for forty years. Jesus explained that God used it to teach them that their lives depended not merely on the food they ate but on their spiritual relationship with God. (Deut. 8:3) Jesus spoke of it as a picture of Himself, "the true bread from heaven".

Jesus replied "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)  Just as God provided the Israelites with manna, bread from heaven, so God sent Jesus to this earth. He lived, died and rose again on the third day. Jesus is alive. He is "the living bread" and is offered to everyone who believes and trusts in Him.

As our physical bodies require food for health and growth, so we need to feed on God's Word to sustain our souls and grow spiritually in our faith. As we journey through life, it is essential we take time to read God's Word and pray to our Heavenly Father every day and not just at Christmas.



Edith Smith

Hebrews 1: 1-3 Jesus: God revealed
26th December 2016

It feels there is little more to say after reading this passage, it is too extraordinary. It must have been even more amazing for the Hebrew audience who first read and heard these words, and understood who Jesus really was.

It shows me again how man could never have contrived or imagined such an incredible story, and while the passage is so deep, it is so simply said.

The verse reminds me of a question: if God could become a person, what would he actually be like? What would His thoughts, wants or plans be for us (if any)?  Before I was a Christian this would have been such a strange question to consider, leading to a very flawed answer.  But if we were to ask God a question, which He invites us to do, the answer is clear.  Jesus tells us that those who see Him and listen to Him, are listening to God.

In many places we are told Jesus is seated on the throne, but this King did what we could not have conceived, by lowering Himself to deal with our sin, and we are given His declaration and promise: 'It is finished' (John 19:30).

As we approach Christmas, we see God's incredible and surpassing plan begin with the birth of Jesus, who becomes the mediator of God's grace to each of us.


Adam Bishop

John 10: 11-18 One flock, one shepherd
28th December 2016

In this passage Jesus is trying to get the Pharisees to recognise Him - but they will not listen. They would have been familiar with the idea that a religious leader could be a shepherd (like Moses and David from the Old Testament) but would have been confused by Jesus adding that He is the "good" shepherd and speaking of His authority to lay down His life and take it up again. This idea splits the crowd, with some people beginning to recognise who He could be. 

As new parents we were particularly struck by verse 14: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me”.  The verses earlier in the chapter talk of Jesus’ sheep recognising His voice (v3-5).  We have been incredibly blessed and filled with joy as our daughter starts to distinguish our voices and realise that we are her parents, rather than generic providers of milk and constant nursery rhymes. We believe it also brings God great joy when His people recognise Him and realise the importance of developing this relationship. He delights in watching us grow and develop as Christians.

Jesus also teaches of the diversity of His sheep and looks forward to a time when we will all be “one flock” (v16). It is sometimes challenging to see this in a world which is so divided, even (or especially!) amongst Christians.  However we are all united by the knowledge of our Saviour and His death for us. Christmas is traditionally seen as a time of unity and coming together.  Our prayer is that this will last for more than the festive season.


Tim and Fiona Buick

John 11: 24-26 The difference between knowing and believing
28th December 2016

An elder, who shall go unnamed, made a fleeting comment to me recently regarding scripture, which struck a chord.  He said something along the lines of: “We are too often trying to work things out with our head, instead of our heart”.


It is not the first time this year that I have been able to identify with the character of Martha, and hear Jesus mentioning my name in place of hers.  I wonder how often the lessons of scripture evade us because we say with Martha, “I know…”.  Jesus does not need to address Martha’s lack of knowledge.  He is anxious to address her belief, to ensure that knowledge is passed from her head to her heart.


It is no bad thing to grow in knowledge, particularly when it is accompanied with a deepening love for God and for one another (Philippians 1:9).  However, sometimes it is better to “resolve to know nothing, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).  Sometimes it is better to empty ourselves of what we think we know, and let Jesus show us the difference between what we know with our heads and what we know with our hearts.



Annemarie Douglas

John 14:6 Jesus answered: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
29th December 2016


This Christmas time we have remembered again that God’s Son came to earth as a baby so that everyone who believes in Him might have life. And not any life; eternal life starting right now in the presence of God! Jesus’ birth is celebrated each year as it means that God Himself (I AM) did something we could never do: provide the way, not a way, for us to be reconciled with and have access to God the Father. We cannot be forgiven and accepted into the holy presence of God on our own, we need Jesus!

This verse is often overlooked because of its flagrant exclusivity. Jesus is claiming to be the truth out of all the other “truths” out there! But “Truth by definition excludes” (Ravi Zacharias, Jesus among other gods).

I trust this Christmas has been a time when we shared without shame the name of Jesus and the hope that He brings with our colleagues, our friends and our family. May God help us to share boldly the joyful news that comes with Jesus’ birth! We are blessed in Christ: in Him we are saved, redeemed, forgiven, and adopted as God’s sons (Eph. 1).

Father God, thank you for blessing me in Christ.
Thank you for giving me new life.
Please give me a deeper desire to know You better Lord, so that
I might live a life that pleasesYou.
Bring renewed hope and joy in you to all of Your children this Christmas.



Susan Buchan

Isaiah 53: 1-12 The humanity of Jesus
30th December 2016

This passage would more commonly be associated with Easter than with Christmas as it evokes the image of Jesus’ suffering en route to and on the cross. But that moment was the culmination of a full life lived, a life that starts at Christmas. As we have considered the baby Jesus, the prospect of His destiny is always casting a shadow. But I wonder if Mary thought of this passage? Did she know what was to become of her firstborn child? We know following His birth and the visit from the shepherds that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2: 12).

This passage speaks of the human-ness of Jesus - an ordinary man apparently punished by God, “a man of suffering and familiar with pain”. His humanity is perhaps most apparent when we consider Him as a baby: vulnerable and helpless. It is a helpful reminder to us that Jesus knows what it is to live a tough life, He has experienced it!  Jesus chose to be obedient to God, being made in human likeness and He trusted in the purpose of and the victory that His suffering would achieve.

We often consider the divine nature of Jesus, but take time to consider His humanity. Pray that we, like Him, would be obedient to the Father.


Colin I’Anson

Isaiah 53: 1-12 The humanity of Jesus
31st December 2016

This passage would more commonly be associated with Easter than with Christmas as it evokes the image of Jesus’ suffering en route to and on the cross. But that moment was the culmination of a full life lived, a life that starts at Christmas. As we have considered the baby Jesus, the prospect of His destiny is always casting a shadow. But I wonder if Mary thought of this passage? Did she know what was to become of her firstborn child? We know following His birth and the visit from the shepherds that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2: 12).

This passage speaks of the human-ness of Jesus - an ordinary man apparently punished by God, “a man of suffering and familiar with pain”. His humanity is perhaps most apparent when we consider Him as a baby: vulnerable and helpless. It is a helpful reminder to us that Jesus knows what it is to live a tough life, He has experienced it!  Jesus chose to be obedient to God, being made in human likeness and He trusted in the purpose of and the victory that His suffering would achieve.

We often consider the divine nature of Jesus, but take time to consider His humanity. Pray that we, like Him, would be obedient to the Father.


Colin I’Anson

John 1. 1-18 This passage is amazing!
1st January 2017

The apostle John does not shy away from making big statements throughout his gospel, but he starts with the biggest and most beautiful.  Jesus Christ is God!

These days you can say almost anything without causing offence, but to say that Jesus is God offends people. It is however, ultimately what we believe and what encourages us.  He was there with God at the beginning of all things and gave light and life to all of mankind - to you and me.

And more than that?  Yes, much more; that He came to us; to live with us and to be seen with us, to show us the mystery of God, only previously glimpsed at by a few of our Old Testament heroes.

We see God's faithfulness made real in the sacrifice that He made by sending His Son to die for us, to open a way of salvation to come back to Him.  If you believe in Him, His grace permits you to become part of God's family.

As we come to the end of one year and look hopefully, joyfully and expectantly to the start of another, we need to remember that God is with us.  He has always been with us and will continue to be with us.  The Christmas story is the wonderful truth that our God came to be with us, here on earth...and never left!

Jesus Christ is God.  Hallelujah, what a Saviour.


Neil Main