Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

  • Post comments:0 Comments

by Calven Celliers

Joy to the world! the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing.

 Joy To The World, is without a doubt one of my all-time favourite Christmas carols. While it omits references to shepherds, angelic choruses, and wise men, it emphasizes the reverent, ecstatic joy that Christ’s birth brings to humanity.

For centuries hearts had yearned for God to reveal Himself personally. And then, at last, it happened. John reminds us in his Gospel when he wrote 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.” (John 1:14NIV) And for that reason, the entire festive season should be filled with rejoicing as we remember God’s great gift, the gift of salvation.

While many of us both give and receive gifts during the Christmas season, God gave us a gift we will never be able to repay. In exchange for our sins and shame, God offered us eternal salvation by sending His son, Jesus Christ, to earth as our Saviour. All we can do in return is accept this remarkable gift and pursue a relationship with the greatest gift-giver of all.” [Billy Graham]

That is why Jesus came from heaven to earth, so that you and I could have a personal relationship with Him and He could take up residence in our hearts. Jesus said, 20 …I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20NLT)

This verse screams of the very heart of Jesus and His desire to have intimate fellowship with you and me. This has been God’s heart from the very beginning of time and it will remain His heart until the end of time. Jesus offers us the opportunity to do life with Him. But notice that Jesus does not force His way into our lives, He stands and knocks, waiting for us to open the door (our lives) and invite Him in.

The real message of Christmas is not the gifts that we give to each other. Rather, it is a reminder of the gift that God has given to each of us. It is the only gift that truly keeps on giving. Jesus knocks on the door of our hearts in order to present a gift – the gift of Himself so that through Him, we may become children of God.

Is Jesus knocking at the door of your heart? Is He waiting patiently for you to open the door? Have you invited Jesus in to come and do life with you? He will not force His way in but be assured He is knocking! Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room…

 

God bless,

Calven

Continue ReadingLet Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Peacemaking and Reconciliation Initiatives

  • Post comments:0 Comments

Guest Post

For the blog today we have a portion of an article shared with us by Herman Groenewald. Herman has contributed to this blog from time to time and really has a heart for mission. The following is from the “Praying for the World” newsletter:

Peacemaking and reconciliation initiatives

Jesus taught, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ However, different situations require different kinds of reconciliation and peacemaking as there are many types of breakdowns of community. Beyond personal conflict, strife can break out along religious, political, ethnic, regional, or even, sadly, denominational lines. Reconciliation of believers one to another is a Scriptural imperative, not a negotiable extra! But in a world where such fault lines exist virtually everywhere, the power of Christian peacemaking is also a profound evangelistic tool.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. John 14:17 ESV

An example from Egypt

On April 9, 2017, as Egyptian Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday, carrying palm branches and chanting ‘Hosanna in the Highest’, coordinated bomb attacks on major churches in Alexandria and Tanta in northern Egypt left tens of people dead and hundreds seriously injured. The joyful celebration turned into mourning across the country. The attack was one in a series of attacks on churches and Christians that has left thousands dead and injured.

While many Christians struggle to choose between leaving the country or enduring more suffering, the extraordinary Christian response to the violent attacks that have taken place since 2013 has provided many opportunities for witness to the gospel and a renewed sense of mission to the larger community. Christians did not seek revenge; instead they extended forgiveness to those who murdered their loved ones.

Such powerful Christian testimonies had a lasting impact on the larger Muslim community that was stunned by the Christian response.

Meanwhile, many Christians have been empowered by the testimonies of those who boldly extended love and forgiveness, leaving them a renewed sense of mission amid suffering.

What is happening in Egypt is not a remote event in church history, but a living testimony to the power of the Christian faith.

  • Thank God for the service and suffering of the Church in Egypt. Pray for them.
  • Pray that persecuted churches everywhere will transform suffering into mission through forgiveness.
  • Pray for a zeal for peacemaking and reconciliation to spread through the whole Church.
Continue ReadingPeacemaking and Reconciliation Initiatives

Advent

  • Post comments:2 Comments

by Graham Mol

Yesterday, Sunday 28 November, marked the beginning of Advent on the Christian liturgical calendar. At New Harvest we do not follow a particular liturgy but we can still learn and benefit from these traditions as their purpose is to help us to acknowledge and meditate on the wonderful truths of God’s word.

The purpose of Advent is to help us pause from all the busyness of this time of year and be mindful of both Christ’s coming to this earth in the past and His return in the future. It is a time of preparation as we reflect on the year that has passed recognising that only Jesus can solve the ills that we face in this world. We are thankful that He stepped down from glory and intervened. Jesus is still involved in our daily lives to this day.

During Advent, candles are often lit, either daily or weekly, representing different aspects of focus during the build up to Christmas. As I read up about the different practices and traditions that are followed, I came across the following practice in lighting Advent candles: (from ourlittleroses.org)

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent, and one candle is lit each Sunday. Three of the candles are purple because the colour violet is a liturgical color that signifies a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice.

    • The first candle, which is purple, symbolizes hope. It is sometimes called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
    • The second candle, also purple, represents faith. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
    • The third candle is pink and symbolizes joy. It is called the “Shepherd’s Candle,” and is pink because rose is a liturgical colour for joy. The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.
    • On the fourth week of Advent, we light the final purple candle to mark the final week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Savior. This final candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes peace. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”
    • Sometimes a white candle is placed in the middle of the wreath; this is a beautiful modern adaptation. The white candle is lit on Christmas Eve. This candle is called the “Christ Candle” and represents the life of Christ. The colour white is for purity—because Christ is our sinless, pure Saviour.

I can definitely see how the lighting of the candles would act as a reminder of the beauty and wonder of the Christmas story. Now, you don’t need to go out and get an Advent wreath with purple candles to celebrate this season, but maybe it is a good idea to find some way to help you reflect on the significance of the birth of Christ, and what it means for us today. Small, symbolic acts are a powerful way of slowing down, taking our focus off of all that’s going on around us and placing it firmly on Christ.

My wife found this idea of a “Names of Jesus Christmas Countdown” where you can print off and cut out star-shaped ornaments that each have a different name or title for Jesus along with a Scripture reference. Each day you can hang up one of the ornaments and read the related Bible verse. This could work well as a family activity or personal devotion. We’re looking forward to sharing it with our kids this December.

Here is the link if you’d like to try it out: https://hymnsandverses.com/names-of-jesus-christmas-countdown-ornaments/

God Bless

Graham

Continue ReadingAdvent

I’m Tired

Audio Recording

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest – This is a simple, yet profound, life changing invitation to step into a life led by Jesus, in which He promises rest for the weary and burdened. Without the rest that only Jesus can provide, we begin to lean on ourselves and away from Jesus, driving our bodies, minds, souls and spirits to the brink of exhaustion, and in extreme cases right over the edge.

Sermon by Calven

Download the Summary

Continue ReadingI’m Tired