“Merry” Christmas? Bah humbug!

“Merry Christmas…” “Happy Christmas…” Will somebody please tell the world that it’s not going to happen this year… just like it didn’t happen last year!

Forgive me for playing Scrooge for a moment, but it is just a bit ironic that while more people than ever are wishing each other happiness associated with Christmas, practically no one here in Britain seems to know anything of the joy that God designed in the Christmas message!

I’m not exactly in favour of saying it, but “Happy Holidays” is at least a bit more accurate a wish for most people. All the vast majority can expect over the next few days is a short lived blast of the pleasures of food, drink and family-fun.

The harsh reality, of course, is that all the festivities in the world don’t actually solve our problems, and while postponing them for a few days can feel good at the time, we can’t escape the mess we live in. When we surface after Christmas, all the best gifts that this world can offer leave us wondering if it’s all just glitter and ribbons on an empty cardboard box.

“Good news of great joy”

When you hear that the angel announced to the shepherds that Jesus’ birth was “good news of great joy that would be for all the people,” you might be forgiven for wondering what happened to all the joy!

The tragedy is that our generation has missed the joy of the Christmas message simply because it’s almost completely lost the original Christmas message that God designed for our joy.

The double tragedy is that the message is not difficult to grasp. Understanding it is as easy as understanding two words.

It’s my prayer that this Christmas will be a truly happy one for many here in Britain as people come to understand this message of joy!

May this Christmas message from GraceLife London bless you in that way as these two words that hold the key to understanding the first Christmas are unfolded for you.

Happy viewing!

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Are you forgetting your CCTV?

Like the absent minded arsonists in this video, most people seem to forget that their movements are being constantly recorded and will one day be used as evidence against them.

How terrible it will be to be in the dock and have the video of your own inbuilt CCTV replayed. There will be no excuses possible, and no question about the verdict, just the crushing realisation that you’ve done what you knew was so terribly wrong, and now you’ve been caught, exposed and are about to be punished. 

Thankfully God offers us all the most remarkable terms for all who’ll accept them:

– Repent of your sin, confessing it and turning from it now, before you’re brought to His court.
– Beg Him for his forgiveness, and he takes the punishment on Himself, placing it upon his Son who died in the place of sinners!

Now that’s quite an offer, considering what we all have recorded!

 

 

Effective Prayer, Honest Work and a Clean Conscience

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Have you ever wondered about the role of your work ethic and your conscience in enabling effective prayer?

Definitely you’ve experienced this: that awful moment when you realise that you need God’s help, but haven’t been doing what you should.

Like the beggars we are, we go back to the throne of grace at such times, cringing perhaps that we need to cry for another demonstration of God’s unparalleled mercy… but conscious all along that we also probably need his discipline if we’re ever going to turn from our repeated failures to do what is right.

Thankfully God is unimaginably patient and knows we’re just dust, and if you don’t yet know the delights of Psalm 103 for cringing beggars, let me encourage you to go there now!

But God does discipline, and that can include unanswered prayer. No doubt you’ve seen a striking difference in this respect in some Christians lives. There are those individuals that stand out from the crowd, people who seem to be striving in everything they do to behave in that noble, honourable, excellent way that leaves them with a clean conscience, and God seems to especially attend to their prayers.

By contrast perhaps, when you want to pray, you immediately call to mind all the time you waste, your lack of prayer and study, failure to visit the sick, remember those in prison… and the list goes on.

Can you really expect God to answer your prayers?

“Well yes,” you say, and you call to mind the many times God has helped you after your cries for mercy just before you step out again to serve him, in faith and dependence on his grace. Yet in the back of your mind you know that there is a connection between our godliness and the effectiveness of our prayers, after all “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much,” is there in James 5.

Another passage that deserves more attention is Hebrews 13:18-19 where there’s a clear connection between expecting prayer to be effective, and the conscience of the one asking for prayer!

“Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honourably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.” (Heb 13:18-19 ESV)

Pray for us, says the writer to the Hebrews, because we are sure that we have a clean conscience… since/in that we’re desiring to behave honourably in all things. What he then goes on to show is the most amazing confidence in the effectiveness of their prayers, fully expecting an earlier visit to them than could otherwise be hoped for!

What if we emphasised God’s amazing grace to beggars like us to the point that we ignore the reality that God disciplines those he loves, and that his discipline can include unanswered prayer? What if there was something we needed to do in order to be able to know answered prayer?

Would that make our answered prayers something received by works and nullify God’s grace? Not at all! In just the same way when we initially repent of our sin, it is only by grace that we’re saved, through faith in Christ’s sacrifice, and God himself has to grant the repentance to us… yet there is a clear connection between our repentance and our salvation! When we delay our repentance, God delays our conversion! If we refuse to repent, we will not be saved.

So can we conclude that as long as we refuse to deal with the items on our conscience, God may just refuse to answer our prayers?

If so – there’s a clear connection between our work ethic, our conscience, and effective prayer.