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First in the season


These days I have been reading the historical record of life in the first century of the Roman Empire.  How contemporary it all seems to be.  Consider this description from Alfred Edersheims The Life and Times of Jesus the Messsiah:  Religion, philosophy, and society had passed through every stage, to that of despair.  Without tracing the various phases of ancient thought, it may be generally said that, in Rome at least, the issue lay between Stoicism and Epicureanism.  The one flattered its pride, the other gratified its sensuality; the one in accordance with the original national character, the other with its later decay and corruption.  Both ultimately led to atheism and despair the one, by turning all aspirations self-ward, the other, by quenching them in in the enjoyment of the moment; the one, by making the extinction of all feeling and self-deification, the other, the indulgence of every passion and the worship of matter, its ideal.

Mini Iris

Simultaneously, our Sunday school class has been focused on Pauls letter to the Colossians his epistle which some scholars say is written to the contemporary New Age, life so much in sync with Edersheims description of the world into which Jesus was born.  Paul begins his letter with the astounding statement that Jesus Himself created the universe and all things in it.  He, then, should be the focus for the minds of all believers.  Informed by the Scriptures that we who have claimed Him as Lord of our lives by placing our faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, are joint-heirs with Him, no less than brothers and sisters of Jesus.  Royal blood flows through our veins.  Ergo, we are monarchists, looking to Him in these turbulent and evil days, as the sole Ruler of our lives.  We are free from the heresies, entanglements and controversies of politics, despair, denominational infighting, and pluralism that marks our age.

I find myself re-reading the sermons by James S. Stewart, all of his books which are now in my library. In one sermon, The Final Doxology, he summarizes our Christian faith:

And if you were to try to find a single sentence which would gather up into itself these central and decisive things by which you live, could any better be fashioned than these of the seer of Revelation?  Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.  It is worth noticing that the Revised Version has turned the past tense into a present, Unto Him that loveth us.  That is the true translation.  Not only at Bethlehem where he shared our human lot; not only in Galilee, where He laid His hands on lepers sores, and bound up the broken hearted, and called the prodigals home; not only at Calvary, where His love lighted a beacon blaze which a thousand ages cannot extinguish but today, and tomorrow, and forever...Do we know that Christ who is out on the streets of the world tonight, seeking and finding the souls of men, the Christ who this very day has been drying the tears of the broken-hearted, and smoothing the pillow of the suffering, and driving devils in the name of the Lord God Almighty do we know Him?  Unto Him that loveth us now to Him whose love, though older than creation, is yet younger than this mornings dawn;  to Him whose love is perpetual unwearied intercession for our souls which will be pleading for us on the very day of Judgment; to Him who has your name written now across His heart, and will never in time or eternity let you go to Him that loveth us be glory.  That is the foundation of everything...

Northern Cardinal

.....“Let us dedicate ourselves without delay to Christ the King.  Every day of our life, let us renew and reaffirm the dedication.  And then, when “the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done,” yonder in Immamuel’s land we shall see Him face to face, the King in His beauty; and the cry of our adoring hearts will be, “Blessed Jesus, Lord and Redeemer of men – the half was never told.”