Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Day

From the Bible, Matthew chapter 1 verses 18 – 25 -

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”


A Poem -

Silence of the night is broken,
Wondrous news by angels spoken;
Of God’s love the sign and token:
Jesus Christ is born.

Rough the manger where they lay Him,
Swift the shepherds as they seek Him,
Glad return with news about Him:
Christ the Lord has come.

Wise men from the East are trav’ling,
New-born King in Judah seeking,
Kingly presents with them bringing:
Gifts for Christ the King.

Son of God, once Child most holy,
Found no more in manger lowly;
In Himself fulfilling wholly
God’s eternal plan.

Lowly birth to death on Calv’ry,
Life laid down for sinners freely,
Now for those who trust Him only:
Saviour, Lord and King.

© Jean Stapleton 2011.


C H Spurgeon’s Evening Devotional for December 25th

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/morneve.d1225pm.html

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.”

Job 1:5

What the patriarch did early in the morning, after the family festivities, it will be well for the believer to do for himself ere he rests tonight. Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Come, believer, in what have you sinned today? Have you been forgetful of your high calling? Have you been even as others in idle words and loose speeches? Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice. The sacrifice sanctifies. The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness. This is the best ending of a Christmas-day—to wash anew in the cleansing fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it be so good tonight, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood; to them sin, great as it is, is nevertheless no cause for despair, since they draw near yet again to the sin-atoning victim, and their conscience is purged from dead works.

Gladly I close this festive day,
Grasping the altar’s hallow'd horn;
My slips and faults are washed away,
The Lamb has all my trespass borne.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Medical Research Council announces ME/CFS research projects worth £1.6m

http://www.meassociation.org.uk/?p=9760

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has awarded more than £1.6m for research into the causes of the debilitating condition chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME).

The investment will fund five new projects to investigate the mechanisms and underlying biological processes involved in the illness, which could eventually lead to better diagnosis and the development of more effective treatments.

CFS/ME is a complex and debilitating condition that affects around 250,000 people in the UK , including children. Symptoms include profound physical and mental fatigue, muscle and joint pain, disturbed sleep patterns and concentration and memory problems. The combination and severity of symptoms varies from patient to patient, making it a difficult condition to diagnose and treat.

Professor Stephen Holgate, Chair of the MRC’s Population and Systems Medicine Board, said:
“There is a pressing need to understand the causes of CFS/ME, and the MRC is delighted to announce substantial funding to address this. The quality and breadth of the scientific proposals we received in response to our funding call exceeded expectations and led to us funding more studies than we had originally anticipated.

“We’re especially pleased that the five new projects address many of the priority areas identified by our CFS/ME Expert Group in collaboration with charities and leading researchers in the field. We hope the awards will drive forward the research agenda in this area, paving the way for new diagnostic tools and treatments.”

Dr Charles Shepherd, member of the MRC CFS/ME Expert Group and trustee of the ME Association, which has agreed to provide £30,000 to co-fund one of the five projects, said:
“The ME Association is very pleased to learn that the MRC has followed up the research priorities identified by the Expert Group and agreed to fund five high-quality studies that aim to identify important biomedical abnormalities that may be involved in the underlying cause of CFS/ME.

“The patient community will particularly welcome research involving biomarkers/biological fingerprints, which could lead to a diagnostic test, and immune system abnormalities, which could lead to more effective forms of treatment.

“The fact that one of the studies is being co-funded by the charity sector marks a much needed step forward in co-operation between patients and researchers in this field. This initiative could be utilised to help fund additional research involving the priorities not yet covered by this announcement.”

The MRC has striven to stimulate high quality CFS/ME research for a number of years. Most recently the specially constituted MRC CFS/ME Expert Group, which involves leading researchers in the field and related areas, along with representatives from two CFS/ME charities, identified six priority areas where important research questions remained unanswered.

In February 2011, the MRC issued a £1.5m call for proposals in these areas, aimed at encouraging fresh partnerships between established CFS/ME researchers and those with strong scientific credentials, but new to this field. The key areas were:

• Nervous system disorders
• Cognitive symptoms
• Fatigue
• Immune dysregulation (eg. through viral infection)
• Pain
• Sleep disorders

In response to the high quality of the applications received, the MRC decided to provide an extra £150,000 to support the package of successful projects. The awards range in total value from £120,000 to £450,000 and the successful applicants were:

· Dr Wan Ng, Newcastle University
· Professor Julia Newton, Newcastle University
· Professor Anne McArdle, University of Liverpool
· Professor David Nutt, Imperial College London
· Dr Carmine Pariante, King’s College London

While the applications addressed most of the priority areas highlighted in the call, the MRC will announce shortly how it plans to stimulate research activity in those areas which were not covered.


 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Strength for the day

I found this hymn on another blog (click here) and the owner very kindly said that she was happy for me to post it here.

The hymn is based on 2 Corinthians 12 v 9-10:

"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."

Let me but hear my Saviour say,
"Strength shall be equal to the day,"
Then I rejoice in deep distress,
Leaning on His sufficient grace.

I glory in infirmity,
That Christ's own power may rest on me;
When I am weak, then am I strong,
Grace is my shield, and Christ my song.

But if the Lord be once withdrawn,
And we attempt the work alone,
When new temptations spring and rise,
We find how great our weakness is.

I can do all things, or can bear
All sufferings, if my Lord be there:
Sweet pleasures mingle with the pains,
While His kind hand my soul sustains.

Isaac Watts, 1674 - 1748

Thursday, 1 December 2011

A Christmas Message and A Christmas Carol

I know that for many the run up to Christmas started weeks ago, but at the start of December, take some time to get back to the real meaning of Christmas -

A Christmas Message – “Who Is This Saviour?” This was preached by Pastor John Thackway on Christmas Day 2010. To listen to it please go to -

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=122510630590

And one of my favourite Christmas Carols -

Angels, from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth:

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant light:

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star:

Saints before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord descending
In His temple shall appear:

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you - break your chains:

(James Montgomery, 1771-1854)