Saturday, December 09, 2017

Joy to the World!

It was a night like so many that had gone before.  Supper was over, the dishes had been washed and put away, and the tired children slowly went off to their tents, hoping for just a few more minutes to listen to their parents or relatives tell bedtime stories about life in the wilderness.  Like all nights, the sky gradually grew darker and darker, giving way to the starry host as it made its grand appearance. In the darkness, the large herds of sheep were settling into a quiet night of grazing in the fields around the little town of Bethlehem. The shepherds themselves were either sitting around a campfire or perhaps bedding down after a long day of watching over their flocks.

Suddenly, without warning, an angel of the Lord stepped out of eternity and landed with indescribable and radiant glory right into the midst of their encampment.  It was as if a doorway had been opened and the veil between heaven and earth was removed for just a moment in time – a moment that had been planned even from before the creation of the earth.

As the shepherds stood or knelt in amazement, the Gospel of Luke tells us that “the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified” (2:9, NIV).  This “glory” was the light of God’s heaven bursting forth in a way that absolutely frightened even the most hardened man or woman amongst them.  Here was light so brilliant, so glorious – so dazzling, so much like the sun, that no one could actually look at it – they could only bow down in reverent awe and wonder. What these shepherds experienced that night was the glory of God expressed through an angelic messenger!  Undoubtedly, this would be a night they would never forget for as long as they lived.  

After the first angel made his appearance, I can just imagine the choirs of heaven getting warmed up behind the scenes to make their grand entrance.  I’m sure all the angelic hosts were on tip-toe just waiting for the command to appear before the shepherds.  And how could they not?  Nothing like this had ever happened before!  This was the long-awaited moment when the Messiah would make His glorious appearance.  This was the fullness of time when Almighty God, the Ancient of Days, the Great I AM, would step out of heaven and take upon Himself a human body. 

Just think of it!  The Everlasting Father, whose presence fills the entire universe and beyond – the Eternal God who rules over billions and billions of stars decided to “become a peasant baby who like every infant who has ever lived, had to learn to walk and talk and dress himself” (Philip Yancey).  What a miracle!

But first, the solitary angel who had lit up the night-sky around Bethlehem had a message to proclaim.  It was his job to announce the coming of the Messiah with all the passion and strength of voice that he could muster.  Like the sounding of a trumpet he called out to the shepherds:

                              “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great          
                                joy….Today in the town of David a Savior has been                          
                                born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign
                                to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and
                                lying in a manger” (Lk. 2:10, 11, NIV). 

What I absolutely love about this announcement is that the angel said this was news of great joy!  What distinguishes the gospel of Jesus Christ from everything else is that it is a gospel of joy!  There is no room for sadness in the presence of such wonderful news, for the angel said that his message was one of joy and happiness!

You see, joy is what defines the gospel Jesus Christ.  Running throughout the entire Bible is the constant theme that joy is to be the hallmark or one of the main characteristics of God’s people.  Ours is not a message of sadness, but of gladness and great joy! 

How we must remember that the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news which comes to us from a good Heavenly Father who’s “love endures forever” (Ps. 107:1, NIV).  And this good God, who tells such good news, wants us to be filled with a joy that goes beyond anything – absolutely anything – the world has to offer.  
The Gospel of Luke tells us that after the first angel was finished, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel” (2:13, NIV).  It was as if the hosts of heaven literally burst out of eternity and with one voice began to praise God by saying:

                                  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on                    
                                    earth peace to those on whom his favor rests”
                                    (Lk. 2:14, NIV). 

No one seems to remember how long the angels spent ringing out their message of joy and peace.  Undoubtedly, anyone who was there that night would have been absolutely mesmerized by it all.  I’m sure it would have seemed like time stood still – and perhaps it did, for when ushered into the presence of eternity, who would dare try to check the time? 

And so, when the angels were finished their proclamation, Luke tells us that the shepherds very simply and humbly said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (2:15, NIV). 

As we consider what we have heard tonight, this same story that has been told for almost two thousand years has the power to change lives.  It changes lives through the accepting of the Messiah – the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born and who died for our salvation.  In reality, it was this salvation that the angels came to tell the shepherds about.  So, let the words of what happened in Bethlehem so many years ago grip our hearts today, especially as we receive Christ into our lives as the only One who can make life worth living.   

Monday, November 09, 2015

New Book is Now Available!


It is a joy to announce that my new book entitled From One Heart to Another is now 
available. There are a number of ways to obtain your copy:

The Book is available online at the following locations

You can also write:

New Life Church Peterborough
4014 Wallace Point Road
Peterborough, Ontario.
K9J 0E4

The cost is $17.00 or two for $30.00 if you order it from New Life Church.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Book Available Soon!

There is something truly powerful about a good story. Stories have the ability to capture our imaginations in so many different ways. The reason this happens is that stories have a way of involving our whole person - mind, will and emotions. Like nothing else, stories have a way of capturing our attention so that even years later we can still remember what was shared. This is why good communicators are always good story tellers.

This book contains a short collection of stories that have appeared in newsletters, Web blogs, church bulletins and a variety of other formats that have been used to help communicate eternal truth in ways that people can understand and embrace. By sharing real life experience and inspiration from a number of sources, Bill Clark takes the reader on a journey that will inspire hope and faith and ultimately create strength for the road ahead.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Real Bargain

In his autobiography entitled A Song of Ascents, E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973) tells of his early years of ministry in India when he struggled with what he called “nervous collapses.”  His problem seemed to revolve around his inability to cope with the stress and strain of working with the different groups of people he was called to serve while in India.  But more importantly, he came to realize that he was trying to preach beyond his own experience.  He just didn’t have the inner resources that were needed to sustain a ministry, let alone say something that would bring depth and meaning to those who would listen.  And so, as is often the case with the preparation of those who would serve God’s purpose, Jones realized that he had come to the end of himself.  In what he referred to as his darkest hour, he went to the Central Methodist Church in Lucknow, India, to seek God in prayer.

     It was during this time of prayer that God spoke to Stanley Jones by asking, “Are you yourself ready for the work to which I have called you?”  Jones’ response was simple, yet direct and honest: “No, Lord, I’m done for.  I’ve reached the end of my resources and I can’t go on.”  The Lord’s reply was: “If you’ll turn that problem over to me and not worry about it, I’ll take care of it.”  Later, Jones confessed that his eager reply was, “Lord, I close the bargain right here.”  Immediately he got up and knew that he was well, for as he explained it later, “A great peace settled into my heart and pervaded my whole being.  I knew it was done!  Life – abundant life – had taken possession of me.”  He said, “I seemed possessed by life and peace and rest – by Christ Himself.”

     Herein lies one of the most important keys to a life of victory.  On the other side of surrender is the promise that Christ Himself will fill our lives with His presence!  This is why the apostle Paul could write, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:3, 4, NIV, italics added).  It is this act of surrender – the giving over of one’s life to the Lord – that makes all the difference.  As we yield to Him, we begin to discover a fresh awareness of His presence and a new ability to accomplish His will for our lives.  Of course, the reason for this is that the life we find is God’s own life dwelling inside the surrendered believer.  This is what Stanley Jones experienced – and what every believer can discover as we set our focus on Christ, so that in all things “he might have the supremacy” (Col. 1:18, NIV).         

     What a joy it is to know that everything in life can be sorted out because Christ Himself holds you firmly in His hands.  That is why we should take the Lord’s words to Stanley Jones seriously, for He promises that if we turn everything over to Him, He will take care of each and every situation.  And like Jones, our willing response can be:  “Lord, I close the bargain right here.”

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Kingdom of God and Covenant

We have learned that the kingdom of God can be defined as the rule of God in the lives of His people. 

      In other words, to be in the kingdom is to live in willing submission to God’s rule.

As we proceed in our study, we must understand two very important points:
·        God’s kingdom is founded on covenant.

·        The very essence of covenant is worked out in relationships.
1.      The Importance of Relationships
-        Our God is a God of relationship.

-        Everything that God created, redeemed and blessed was with a view to an ongoing relationship with Himself.

-        This is why, when speaking of relationships, the New Testament never uses sentences like the following:
·        Let’s go to church.
·        I’ll see you at church next week.
·        Let’s check out that church.
-        Such terminology tends to make “church” something separate to the living of one’s life.

-        Consider the following verses of Scripture:

            ·       Romans 12:5 says, “each member belongs to all the others.”

·        Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.”

·        Hebrews 13:1 says, “Keep on loving each other as brothers.”

·        1 Peter 1:22 says, “love one another deeply, from the heart.”
-        On the importance of strong relationships, Bryn Jones has written, “A church is only as strong as people’s relationships.  Churches don’t usually collapse because of doctrinal differences; they fail because of Christian’s failure to relate.”[1]

 2.      The Covenant Family
-        God’s intention is that His kingdom be filled with people who are joined together in covenant relationship.

-        Charles Simpson has pointed out that “The purpose of covenant is to produce a family.”[2]

-        Since we know that it has been God’s desire from all eternity to produce a family for Himself (see Titus 2:14), we must understand that such a family is made possible by the covenant God made available to us in Christ.

-        Both in the Bible and in secular history, a covenant brought parties into a bond of family who were not blood relatives previously.  It bound them to each other.  This is why the simplest definition of the word covenant is “to bind together.”

-        In the Old Testament, one of the chief concerns the Lord had regarding His people was the condition of their hearts. 

-        Deuteronomy 5:29 says, “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!”

-        From this, we must understand that the ability to keep covenant begins in the heart.  It follows that an inability to keep covenant reveals a problem in the heart.

[1] Bryn Jones, Joined in Covenant (Leicester: Harvestime, 1990), p. 12.
[2] Charles Simpson, Christian Life Seminar Booklet, p. 9