27 December 2020 (Sunday After Christmas Day Morning Prayer) Ephesians 3:6
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, who the Almighty Father gave to save us from the bondage of sin and eternal death. This year, we walked through many difficult situations because of the pandemic COVID-19. Even Christmas was very different because of the restrictions. We could not meet our families and friends. On this last Sunday of the year, as we look back at the year, let us give thanks to our heavenly father for His goodness, protection, grace and mercy on us.
During Advent season, we meditated the ‘reason for the season’ in the previous weeks. Once we have received Jesus, we begin our Christian life. As said in Ephesians 3:6, we are called to be “fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel”. Today, I would like to meditate about on the next steps for us as Christians based on Galatians 3:27. Let us first invite our Heavenly Father to interact with us. Let us pray.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight O LORD, rock, saviour and redeemer. Amen.
The dictionary defines Christian as “relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings.” Many people think that they are Christians because they are born in a Christian family. Some think they are Christians because they are going to church regularly. Some think they are Christians because they hold Jesus in their life. Galatians 3:27 defines Christians as those who “have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ”. Anyone who holds Christ in their life is a Christian. I would like to meditate on the three stages of Christian life.
The first stage of Christian life is being delivered from the bondage of sin and Satan
The first step of the Christian life is being delivered from bondage of sin and Satan. Prophet Isaiah says in chapter 9:2, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined”. We can read in Matthew 4 that this prophecy was fulfilled on Jesus’s birth. The first Adam had God’s breath in his nostrils. Jesus, the second Adam, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit, He was begotten not made. The first Adam yielded to temptation and fell into sin and humans continues to live in Sin. Jesus came as the second Adam and overcame temptations to liberate humans to inherit eternal life. The first Adam lived in the Garden of Eden when he fell into sin listening to the serpent’s words. The second Adam overcame temptations in the wilderness by the Word of God. The one who overcame the devil in the wilderness, started preaching about the kingdom of God. Matthew 4: 17 says “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus came to save humans who were living in the darkness of sin and began to preach calling the people to repent. Jesus came in human form and overcame temptations with fasting, prayer and the Word of God. He expects the same from us and to follow His example. Being delivered from the bondage of sin and the service of satan is the first step in any Christian’s life.
The second stage of Christian life is becoming Jesus’s disciple
After overcoming the temptation in the wilderness, Jesus chose His disciples and began His ministry. He chose His disciples from different disciplines. Today, all those who believe and profess their faith in Jesus Christ are His disciples. Jesus expects a few very important qualities from us, his disciples:
- Denying ourselves, taking up the Cross and following Jesus: He said in Mark 8:34, “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”. The first step of being a disciple is denying ourselves, taking up our Cross and following Jesus.
- Humility and obedience: Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. Like Jesus we are to humble ourselves and be obedient in all aspects of our lives.
- Bearing fruit: John 15 verses 5 and 8 say, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples”. We who are disciples are branches in the vine of Jesus. As disciples of Jesus, we are expected to bear fruits as branches for the vine.
- Loving one another: Jesus said in John 13:34&35: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”. As Jesus’s disciples, we are to love and care for one another, bearing one another’s burden.
- Evangelising: We who are his disciples, are given a commandment: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. We have the responsibility to spread the gospel to all nations. Jesus’s first disciples baptised nearly three thousand people in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
The third stage of Christian life is delighting in the Lord
Isaiah 58:14 has a promise for those who delight in the Lord: “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it”. This is one of the conditional blessings in the Bible. The whole Isaiah chapter 58 gives the instruction to receive the blessing from God. I would like to read a few verses from Isaiah 58: “to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words”. God is expecting us to live our Christian life by doing these in our day-to-day lives.
We have celebrated the birth of Jesus. Jesus came so we can be delivered from the bondage of sin and Satan. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”. Like Jesus, we can be delivered by the Word of God and listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Once delivered, we are to live as Jesus’s disciples. Christian life is not only a life of prosperity. We have to take up our Cross and follow Jesus and our Lord will strengthen us for the path we have to take. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up”. Are we humble and obedient before God? Luke 6:44 says, “For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes”. Are we bearing fruits for Jesus? In Matthew 22:40 Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. How is our love towards others? Do we share each other’s burden and uphold one another in prayer?
Are we delighting ourselves in the Lord? I recently read a quote:
“When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.”
The purpose of Jesus’s birth is for us inherit everlasting life by being His disciples. A disciple’s life is not a cakewalk or walking on a red carpet. In Mark 8:34 Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”. In Matthew 7:13&14 He said it is a narrow way: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Are we willing to deny ourselves, carry our Cross and walk through the narrow path?
I pray, we who have celebrated the birth of Jesus, are delivered from the bondage of sin and Satan. I pray we who are Jesus’s disciples are able to deny ourselves, take up our Cross and follow Jesus. I pray we are humble and obey Jesus in all walks of our lives and bear fruits for Him. I pray we love one another and carry the Gospel to all the nations. I pray we delight ourselves in the Lord and are His witnesses in all that we do as we step into another New Year. Amen!