Tag Archives: advent

Prince of Peace

Most of the time, Christmas can feel anything but peaceful.

Fridges packed to the rafters, gridlocked roads, houses filled with family and inflatable beds, the idea that we are celebrating the Prince of Peace can feel almost comical.

And yet the Hebrew word often translated as peace is far more than our idea of peace begin related to tranquility.

Shalom.

Shalom doesn’t represent a feet up with a glass of wine kind of peace (not that we need flee from these moments should they arise) but something far deeper. It’s about wholeness and completeness, where nothing is missing.

Calling Jesus our Prince of Peace is a reminder that we can have no shalom apart from God, He is the only one who can complete us and nothing; not presents, not a job, not family, nothing can fulfil us apart from God through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

And Jesus demonstrates the promise of shalom; it’s not that He had a trouble free, peaceful life – it’s that He himself was at peace with God and with himself. It’s the promise that Jesus Himself makes. In John 10:10 He says:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Whatever thief comes to steal our shalom; loss, mental illness or fear, Jesus came as the baby born in a Bethlehem stable so that we may have shalom in its midst.

So whatever guests Christmas brings; we at ThinkTwice wish you the shalom that comes from the Prince of Peace.

 

 

 

Everlasting Father

It’s never occurred to me until I began this series quite how strange it feels for Jesus to be referred to as Everlasting Father.

And yet here in Isaiah’s messianic prophecy, we see that he speaks of the coming Messiah as Everlasting Father.

Isaiah is talking about Jesus as the Father of the nations, the King, whose rule over earth and heaven would be without end.

And after a year of swift change in the governmental powers over our world, it’s a huge comfort that the one who will rule forever is one who has walked in the shoes of the least.

In trusting Jesus, we aren’t entrusting power to a politician or a celebrity; but to the King who will reign forever.

His royalty is demonstrated in the gifts He is given by the Magi; the NIV tells us that they offered baby Jesus their treasures – but they also offered Him gifts that marked Him as a king. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were traditional gifts to bring before a monarch, but they also marked the path that Jesus would walk in His life and death; gold for a King,  frankincense for a Priest, myrrh to prepare for his life-saving death.

It also tells us what kind of King Jesus is: He is not a tyrant like Herod, only interested in his own agenda and power, He is loving and cares for his people, he will provide for them and He will offer Himself again and again until He is emptied.

 

 

Mighty God

Mighty God.

When I think of something mighty, I think of a herculean figure, physically strong and powerful.

And yet in the Christmas story, Jesus is frail human baby, not a warrior.

It reminds me of what Jesus gave up to become Mary’s child.

He traded the throne of heaven for scratchy straw, the power of the cosmos, for the weakness of a child.

Christmas is the story of Jesus doing just that; not as a social experiment, but as an act of love to show us that God would go to any lengths to call us back to Him.

This Mighty God of heaven shows Mighty love for us.

It means that when we pray to Him, we aren’t addressing someone who answers wishes like a pantomime fairy godmother, we are praying to someone who can move mountains. Psalm 50 proclaims:

“The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to where it sets.”

We can trust in God’s strength that spoke the earth into being because He showed us that He was willing to become weak.

I don’t just trust Jesus because He walked the darkest path.

I trust Him because I know He is greater than the darkness.

I trust Him because I hold the hope of heaven for earth.

“Taking heart and holding on
Hope is closer than we know
Heaven will not let us go
Help from heaven.”
Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin

 

 

 

Wonderful Counsellor

Having a counsellor isn’t uncommon in 2016. Whether it be to manage a mental health condition, deal with loss, navigate relationships or overcome some tangled thought patterns,  the time when people assumed therapists made you lie on a sofa Freudian-style are long gone.

The word comes from the idea of being advised and yet what we see here in Isaiah’s description of the Messiah being a wonderful counsellor is far more than a dispenser of useful advice; it’s far more than the amazing skilled and trained work of today’s counsellors. It’s counsel that can be applied as readily to world leaders debating laws, to children searching for a forever family.

Because what Jesus brings however, is not just knowledge, He brings Himself. As John’s gospel reminds us

“The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.”

The Wonderful Counsellor prophesied by Isaiah moved into a neighbourhood to go through the whole spectrum of human emotion; from the brightest joy to the most desperate hopelessness,  to bring man and God together in a way that no-one, not even the most studious of Jewish Rabbi’s – would expect.

Christmas tells us in the most powerful way, that Jesus is the Wonderful Counsellor who not only offers a listening ear, but offers himself so that whatever we face; whether it be the depths of depression or the terror of a refugee fleeing from home.  Jesus is the only one who can ever say completely honestly

“I know how you feel”.

It’s the truth of this Wonderful Counsellor who was born as a refugee baby, rejected by society, abandoned by His friends and murdered.

As Timothy Keller writes:

“The incarnation means that for whatever reason God chose to let us fall . . . to suffer, to be subject to sorrows and death—he has nonetheless had the honesty and the courage to take his own medicine.”

When we lose family,  friends fail us and mental health services seem unattainable, Jesus was our Wonderful Counsellor yesterday, our Wonderful Counsellor today and our Wonderful Counsellor forever, until the day when He wipes every dry every tear from our eyes.

This Wonderful Counsellor is why whatever circumstance we face; we can know that the Christmas story holds our greatest comfort.