Thankful In Advent #24

December 24, 2014 | Posted in Devotional, Uncategorized | By

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Advent declares…. ‘THE Light shines in the darkness and darkness has not overcome it!

Darkness does not and never has stood a chance against the light. If you’re battling, know this HE wins and if you belong to Him then you win too. With Jesus the ‘futures so bright you’ got to wear shades’.

Invite Him to shine in your patch this coming year… I dare you!

Not because He’s a great folk or fairy tale or a nice thought at a dark time of year. Rather because His story is History!

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—

My dear friends past and present have an incredible Christmas and may the best gifts be found by spending time in HIS presence.

‘…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us…’       ()


Listen

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (ESV)


Listen

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #23

December 23, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

bluechristmasangel

…an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 

Peace on earth has to be one of the most evasive concepts to the untrained eye. In one sense you can’t blame people for wanting to take God to the cleaners by invoking The Advertising Standards Agency. There is hardly a festive season that passes by without some act of terrorism, major disaster or freak of nature wiping out countless human lives. I have to say I almost dread watching the news every Christmas Day knowing that somewhere, someone’s Christmas has been detonated… but then so was the first Christmas with the ‘slaughter of the innocents’…

What are we to do with the utopian dream? Well firstly understand that the Hebrew concept of peace is not necessarily the absence of conflict. Rather, it is that in the midst of conflict and trauma there is wellbeing in the heart of the believer!

A friend of mine spoke at World Peace Day about 10 years ago and shared this simple truth. ‘You want peace on earth? It starts with peace in here (tapping his chest where his heart was)!’

‘Peace on Earth’ is not some unobtainable utopian dream… it is a decree from Heaven’s Throne Room heralded by arc-angels. But, the reason it evades so many people is that it must first be encountered and make its habitation in our hearts.

As we hurtle towards the prezzies, turkey and festive chaos… my plea and invitation to you all is this. Make room for HIM in your heart this Christmas! The encounter and habitation of His peace starts right there.

We can be Thankful In Advent because ‘Peace on Earth’ starts with ‘Peace in me’.


Listen

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #22

December 23, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

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And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.

We are so familiar with the Nativity story that all the players feel like they belong in the script.

However, the shepherds were the least likely folk to be invited to the birth of not just a king but of God himself.

In Jewish lawbooks, the Talmud, it is written that shepherds were not allowed in the courts to be witnesses. In fact the Talmud instructs that no help be given to heathens or to shepherds. Shepherds were despised because they were unable to attend temple services and to keep the rituals and ceremonial laws as their flocks kept them from practicing their religion.

Shepherds were treated with the same kind of derision and distrust as travelling communities are today… the ‘lock up your daughters and valuables’ mentality.

It is to these lowly and despised lowlifes that the good news of Messiah’s birth is announced. In fact they will go on to carry that same message to others.

Here’s the sweet heart of the Nativity story… God seems to enjoy encountering, changing and using not the wise, powerful and noble, but the foolish, weak, lowly and despised ().

We can be Thankful In Advent because that means none of us are beyond His peripheral vision, His heart and His hand; and all of us can have a place in and be part of His GRAND story.


Listen

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. (ESV)


Listen

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #21

December 22, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

nativity-story

…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.

 

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

Consider the implications of this fact… When God came to earth He was adopted by someone who was not His biological father.

That is the stunning human interest story of the nativity… Joseph became a father to Jesus and loved him as his own. He loved, cared, nurtured and protected Jesus until he disappeared out of the gospels at some point after Jesus was 12.

In this simple picture is the heart of the nativity story… God came to be with us… so we could be with Him. Who ever believes in His name He gives the RIGHT to be called Sons of God. He adopted those who were not His by birth, will or nature.

We can be Thankful In Advent because He took us in, made us His own and loved us like one of the family.


Listen

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #20

December 21, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

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…opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh…

When the Magi finally find Jesus (this could have been up to 2 years after His birth. The family certainly had their own house at this point) ‘opening their treasures they gave Him gifts…’ The Magi’s response to Jesus was three fold:

1. A model of worship in ‘spirit and and truth’. They recognised the truth of who He was and gave out of their own treasures that which cost them personally!

 

 

2. This act was prophetic for Jesus. His  life and death was no accident, but prophesied in advance… They bought Him gifts:

Gold symbolic for a King

Frankincense used for the worship of God

Myrrh used for anointing the dead

Seems like the Magi had a better grasp of the Messiah than His disciples!

3. A pure reflection of God’s own heart to mankind. He opened the treasury of Heaven and gave humanity the most, valuable, appropriate, wanted and needed gift… Heaven on Earth in the person of His Son.

We can be Thankful In Advent because now we KNOW what ‘Heaven’ and the Father who ‘makes it Heaven’ are like!

 


Listen

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #19

December 20, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

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Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him… 

And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 

The term superstar is completely overused in our society it can mean anything from someone who truly is stellar in the world of acting or music right down to the gaggle of C list celebs who are famous for… well being famous!

Jesus is the only true superstar… Yes He’s been the subject of many a book, film and song but He is the only one who came healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the unclean, driving out demonic forces and forgiving sin.

Advent is the invitation to see the ‘star’ of human history… And rejoice exceedingly with GREAT joy. Happiness is always conditional upon circumstances… I won the lottery; the right girl fancies me; I got the job I was after; Part III of The Hobbit is finally released etc.

But Joy is not circumstantial, rather it is motivated, empowered and sustained by an unshifting truth… The God of Love came down and unlocked the Love of God for anyone who will respond by Loving God. He is not just ‘God WITH us’ but also ‘God IN us!’ and that is worth rejoicing over with exceedingly great joy. Oh and last time I checked seriousness was not a fruit of the Holy Spirit!

Joy may manifest itself in a form that looks just like happiness but its stimulus and outcome are totally different.

We can be Thankful In Advent that revealing of God leads to uncontrollable joy and joy is the bread and butter of the Kingdom of God.


Listen

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #18

December 19, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

800-Herod62

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

 

When the Magi (pagan soothsayers) proclaimed they had come to ‘worship the new born king’ Herod was “TROUBLED”.

Darkness is always shaken and troubled by the worship of Jesus. It is an act of stepping over the line & declaring switched allegiance from a kingdom that has its roots in pride, rebellion and ultimately evil, to a Kingdom that is good, powerful, full of righteousness, peace & JOY… and is WITHOUT END!

Darkness is always troubled by the worship of Jesus (this is why the enemy always does everything possible to distract humans from this pursuit) and should be…because its days are numbered!

Thankful in Advent because Jesus ALWAYS shines and outshines darkness.


Listen

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #17

December 19, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

Mary

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart

The Advent story is so familiar to us we can miss whats so often is going on… Mary simply models to us the spiritual benefit in slowing down and reflecting in the detail.

The days had been heady and exhausting… angelic visitation, supernatural conception (explain that one to your betrothed…. especially when he’s not the one responsible), a near miss with divorce, hiding with your cousin whilst baby starts to show, a traumatic journey to Bethlehem, baby born in a stinking animal pen and then the arrival of the local traveller community (for that is how shepherds were treated in those days). It would have been so easy to to lose the detail amongst all the activity but we are told ‘…Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart’.

There’s something about Mary and we can be Thankful In Advent because she models for us the power of meditating on the things of God. She took all that had been said and done and held them as treasure… gems to be pondered, and I have no doubt those treasures saw her through the difficult days ahead…


Listen

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #16

December 18, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

Nativity

…because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

As many of us put up the decs and maybe even layout our nativity sets ready for Christmas its easy to to slip into an ordered mindset… the tree goes there… the wreath there… the mistletoe there… the crib and three wise men there… these are the little traditions WE always repeat in this house etc. and so on it goes.

Because of our familiarity with the story its as if all of the real nativity was an ordered set piece! Because of this we’ve woven it into a cute fairy story where everyone knows their parts and lines. But for those living it, it was a bewildering and most certainly ‘left field’ experience.

Advent is not a cutesy fairy story but rather an historical account that deals with ‘real’ life…

A teenage pregnant unmarried mother; oppressive government; homelessness; refugees in a foreign land; murder of the innocent; the working class; those who dabble in the occult…

But most of all, the aching and longing at the heart of mankind for some kind of deliverance from the pain of a world divorced from its Creator!

We can be Thankful In Advent because the Son rise HAS visited us from on high. He HAS given light to those sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death and He HAS guided our feet into the way of peace.


Listen

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (ESV)

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Thankful In Advent #15

December 18, 2014 | Posted in Devotional | By

shepherds copy

…an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord

At the time of Jesus Bethlehem was the closest to Jerusalem that you could graze animals… because of this local law Bethlehem by default became the breeding ground and key source of the Temple’s sacrificial animals.

The Temple not only had money changers at this time but also the self funding sale of pre-approved unblemished animals (who wants to bring a sacrifice miles to the Temple only to have it turned down by the priests?).

The local shepherds did not just raise the lambs they were also the first line of inspection to make sure they were fit for sale in the Temple complex… they didn’t want returns from the priests and levites!

And so as the angel host announces the birth of the saviour the shepherds were dispatched to visit Him. They were not sent just to visit a ‘New born King’ they were also coming to inspect a ‘sacrificial lamb’!

For unto you is born this day in the City of David A SAVIOUR who is the Anointed King, The Lord.

I think it was Max Lucado who wrote the following…

If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a Saviour!

We can be Thankful In Advent because our sacrificial lamb was found to be without spot or blemish… and His sacrifice rendered us un-punishable and grants us freedom from fear, because fear has to do with punishment!


Listen

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (ESV)

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