Monday, December 31, 2012

Dec | 31 | The Glory of God is Person Who Is Completely Alive

Key Word:- BECOME

Title:- The Glory of God Is A Person Who Is Completely Alive

Philippians 3:12-14  
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I think I like this time of year. I am the kind of man who loves the planning rather than the implementation of things, so, setting out goals for the coming year is quite exciting and though achieving them will be somewhat more excruciating, I do like all the planning, all the expectation of change, all the anticipation of newness and the bringing into order of all my most disordered days. I like this time of year as well because my parents were Scots. Glaswegians to be precise. Some of you will understand then that Christmas took a poor second place during our family’s winter holiday season. Hogmanay or New Year’s Eve was the big event in our house.
In preparation for the event, my mother would clean the house, wash all her glasses and china, clean out the old ashes from the grate, get on her glad rags and then of course, together with my father all booted and spurred and suitably juiced up, would celebrate both well before and well after midnight, bringing a bunch of friends and inebriated strays home from the local pub to join them in the partying. I tell you, Karaoke is not some new torture friends! Tipply pub singers have been around a long, long time and as a youngster, up at midnight during Hogmanay, I saw many of them arrive at our house, still sloshed and singing, melancholy and teary eyed, waiting for midnight and the first foot of a tall dark stranger to enter the house at the front carrying some coal to add to the fire and bringing some good luck with him, having a wee dram and a toast of good luck, only then being allowed to leave the house at the back, taking the old years bad luck away and away forever and ever, amen. Better luck for the coming year was all they wanted. However, this fascinating combination of strange superstition and ancient practice, never ever worked; certainly not at our house anyway. Never the less, it’s a good plan to welcome guests though for in the so doing, some have entertained angels unawares and it’s an excellent picture of what we all truly desire for the coming year. Good fortune! So tonight dear friend I want you to first foot yourself into the New Year. How?

Well first of all, simply refuse to carry some of your unnecessary burdens into the awaiting future. Did He not say “cast all your care” upon Him? Yes He did! So why not finally do so tonight and then daily refuse to lay hold on them again. Is some of that anxiety bubbling up in your being and burning your voice and destroying you? Then simply refuse to carry it anymore. Choose the settling words of His grace instead, yes, cast all Your care on Him and refuse to be anxious! Be stupid in the world’s eyes and become that beaming idiot abroad and because you totally trust in Jesus to take care of you, throw your shoulders back, take a deep breath and sing a little. So tonight, first foot yourself by casting all your cares on Him, and refusing to let worry live on your back. Yes, it is as easy as that!

Oh and secondly, how about some of that old glory, that old gold of yours. Is it a bit tarnished? A bit well worn? Past deeds and good works, excellent achievements and goals achieved, are all well and good but sometimes they hang like a tarnished gold 'macho man medallion' around an open shirted hairy chest for all to see. It's very nice dear, but a bit old and a bit of a joke. So move on. Let past achievements go as well along with all the other nonsense and put that heaving chest away. Please! Tonight, let go of both the bad and let go of the old good! Forget them and move on. It's all in the past. Choose to let them go so you have freer hands to embrace a better future! Cast both the cares of your back and the weights of your front all upon Him today.

Do remember however, that in all this effort of letting go, in all this work of throwing away, so as not to be so uneasily encumbered about again in the coming year, it is important to speedily and correctly lay hold of the right thing. I mean, just look down friend, what do you have in your hand right now? Should that be there? I didn’t think so! So make sure, that you lay hold of the right thing this coming year. Reach out, strain forward toward the prize. Lay hold of that which is ahead of you. You know, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Eh? You know, that supreme and heavenly prize which God is calling us up to heaven to get because of what Christ Jesus did for us? That prize, you know? The one that gets real Christians all excited and gives them goose bumps. You know, that prize your spirit yearns for. You know, the prize that brings a warm joy to your heart when it gets a little cold. Ahh… that prize! You know what I am talking about and you do know how to set your heart on it? Don’t you?

I am not talking about just ‘Jam tomorrow’ here dear friends, for Ignatius sees this prize as a deposit in the now. In other words it is the 'purse' and not the belt; it is the 'crock' and not the crown. The prize then is the realisation of the future reward that can both begin to be spent and enjoyed right now. The prize is the realization of our incorruptible and eternal life which is rooted and enjoyed through God, because of God, with God and in God. This prize is to be 'all we truly are.'

Yes, this prize of becoming all we truly are, and is the commencement and continuing fulfilment of our eternal and happy destiny with Jesus. This prize is our tailored and thrice tested, all singing, all dancing, go faster, you can’t bend it or break it, capacity to happily become all we ever could be with Jesus. This prize, is supremely precious and highly personal and it is yours for the living this coming year. Be sure that this is the best of prizes, for this prize is the glory of God and this prize is you, fully alive!!

So, why not right now, let go and then lay hold of this prize of a life which becomes a child of God like you. Do this in the coming year by: pursuing God with all your heart; possessing who you are in Jesus and practicing what He preaches. Let the coming year then, be a pursued pilgrimage of released life for you. Yes, this coming year, why not at last become fully alive and so start glorifying God in the best ways possible. I mean come on friend, start living this year why don’t you!

Oh and finally, may I be the first to wish you, a very Happy New Year!

Listen:- May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! Philippians 4:4 TEV

Pray: - As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for You O God, for the living God! When I remember this past year, I pour out my soul within me. Let me enter the courts of this coming year of grace with the voice of joy and praise, along with a multitude of runners that keeps the pilgrim feast. O remember me my God as I remember You. From the heights of my hopes and the depths of my despairs. Lord, command Your loving kindness to caress me in the daytime, and in the nights of this coming year, surround me with Your singing songs of comfort, Your joy and consolation, Your happiness and continuing restoration, in Jesus name I pray, amen.

Dec | 31 | The Drinking Songs of The Spirit

Dream Word – OBEY

Psalms 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. NKJV

The Drinking Songs of The Spirit

Dylan Thomas, the Welsh bard who killed himself with booze at just 39 years of age, wrote, for me, one of the most influential pieces of prose ever to touch my ears and my heart. ‘Under Milk Wood, A play written for voices,’ is a most remarkable verbal wonder and the beauty of the opening words always, I mean always, moves me to tears. It took Thomas some ten years to write it and indeed, it was the last thing he ever wrote; his Magnum Opus if you will. Tonight, on this last night of the year, I refer to this play by Thomas and quote you an opening paragraph:

Listen. It is night moving in the streets, the processional salt slow musical wind in Coronation Street and Cockle Row, it is the grass growing on Llareggub Hill, dew fall, star fall, the sleep of birds in Milk Wood. Listen. It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning, in bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker and bootlace bow, coughing like nannygoats, sucking mintoes, fortywinking hallelujah; night in the four-ale, quiet as a domino; in Ocky Milkman's loft like a mouse with gloves; in Dai Bread's bakery flying like black flour. It is tonight in Donkey Street, trotting silent, with seaweed on its hooves, along the cockled cobbles, past curtained fernpot, text and trinket, harmonium, holy dresser, watercolours done by hand, china dog and rosy tin teacaddy. It is night neddying among the snuggeries of babies. Look. It is night, dumbly, royally winding through the Coronation cherry trees; going through the graveyard of Bethesda with winds gloved and folded, and dew doffed; tumbling by the Sailors Arms. Time passes. Listen. Time passes.

At the end of this year, on this night of endings and new beginnings, I call you to listen! Time passes. Listen! Time passes. Now let me ask you, “What have you done with your time this year, these last years of your life?”

Do you believe the Gospel? Is Christ your lover? Do you take His passionate and sacrificial claims seriously? Or have you been just messing with God? Have you been conning others and just kidding yourself and your Christianity? Have you been half dead rather than fully alive to God, for God? Listen! Time passes. Listen! Time passes! Enough of this plastic pudding! Enough of this sham and shameful shallowness of a life. You had better get real this year, else you shall end up with nothing, yes with aboslutely nothing!

Dylan Thomas, created ‘Under Milk Wood’ and all its exciting cast of characters around a fictitious Welsh town called Llarregub. The town didn’t exist, it doesn’t exist and it never shall exist. It is pure fiction! I need to ask some of you tonight, I must ask some of you tonight, “Is ‘Pure Fiction’ the description of you Christianity?”

The fictional town of ‘Llareggub’ is of course ‘Bugger All’ spelt backwards, and I tell you at the end of this year, that is exactly what any fake Christianity will get you when you come to stand before the Judgement seat of Christ!

Forgive me for being a little rough with you tonight, but the day is far spent and I greatly fear that in the furious wind to come, many who profess life will not stand and many will end up with Llarregub. So, it’s time to get real with yourself friend for your sake and for God’s sake, for time passes. Listen. Time passes. Tell me then tonight, have you got life? Are you living life? Are you truly alive? Or are you in fact, tucked up in your coffin tonight?

Listen: - Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. Don't drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. ( Ephesians 5:14-20 from THE MESSAGE)

Pray:- O Lord, from the loneliness of Llarregub may all the “dickybird watching pictures of the dead” come visit me in my dreams tonight and talk to me of the redemption of my time. Time given, time spent, time often wasted. May their desperate words come upon me like wild waves that my ship would so tilt and ride, that it might split the hawsers tying me steadfast to my sorry, safe but fictional little harbour. Tomorrow O Lord, suck me out to sea and show to me the big seas of Your dreams, that I might see the Wonders of the Lord and so fill my empty hands with treasure from on high, that I might at last begin to live! In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dec | 30 | Bomb Da House!

Key Word:- CLEAN

Luke 11:24-26 
 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
 

Bomb Da House!

A common site in South Florida is to see whole houses encased in tarpaulin and wrapped up like some gigantic Christmas present without the ribbon on top! The purpose of this is 'pest control' or more particular, 'termite termination'. The whole house is about to be 'bombed' with a highly toxic 'fogger' which will penetrate all cracks and spaces and do its deadly work. Subterranean termites are highly concentrated in this part of the United States and it is estimated that across the whole of America these most destructive of insect pests cost people up to $2 billion per year in total wood damage.

It is thought that termites can chemically sense the presence of wood. The worker termites are always searching for new places of feeding. When they find it, they return to the colony to get more workers to help feed in the new location.

Essentially secretive in their feeding and design, termite infestation is usually only noticed when thorough tunneling and eating leads to structural weakening and collapse. It is said in the pest control trade that there are only two types of houses: Those under attack by termites and those that will be under attack by termites!

May I say there are only two types of Christian: Those under attack by demonic evil spirits and those that will be! Imagine if you will that your whole being is a spiritual house. It provides food, sustenance, and shelter even, for those spirits that are wandering, dry and thirsty. If we have failed in erecting barriers of protection in the form of confession, forgiveness, avoidance and warfare, then it is likely that at some point we have allowed 'access' into our spiritual house and are now secretly troubled by unwanted intrusions. Where we thought all was well, an eating has taken place below our surface. A quick temper, an annoying attitude, an unpleasant thought life, an inability to believe God, weakness in faith, the rise of old habitual sins, heaviness, depression, and the list goes on; all of these things could be indicative of secret eating, malevolent invasion, open windows, open doors and unwanted guests if you will. I am talking about oppression here rather than possession.

At the end of the year, it's probably a good time to do some spiritual fumigation, de-festation and barrier erection. Oh come on friend, get real. Wouldn't you like to be rid of that problem? Wouldn't you like to be rid of those most intrusive thoughts, those devilish doubts and those fiendish feelings? Where do you think they are coming from? You just might have a bad infestation! Demonization does not mean that you sit there with your head spinning around, puking green vomit all over the place. It usually means your ‘bothered’ and feeling dirty and in need of a good old clean. We’ve left some doors or windows open and in they’ve come, these dirty squatters, making a right old mess! We all need a good and regular clean out friends and this time of year is a good time to begin this process.

The Christian bait, the barrier and the bomb for dealing with such spiritual infestation is all one and the same. It is truth. Truth in context and truth applied. It is the truth of God’s word. It is God’s word, correctly applied. Though applied truth is not toxic, even so, truth when placed in contact with lies and deception can make life a bit messy, a bit smelly, and a little unpleasant and unhealthy for those around us. So here is my advice for safe and productive, protective cleaning:
Get with a good friend, preferably someone who knows a little about pest control. Encase your spiritual house in the tarpaulin of prayerful solitude. This is not a public thing remember; the public don't need to see. Now, remove all living things from your area, and oh yes, remove all ignition points. Turn off pilot lights. In other words if you know a thing will 'set you off,' acknowledge that before you begin, make peace with it. Now are you ready? Good. Set the bomb off!

Invite God the Holy Spirit to walk you through your spiritual house, exposing the lies and deathly destructive ways that the enemy has catacombed your foundations with. Confess your sins. Repent of believing this deathly 'stuff,' and declare that you now choose life and truth. Invite the light of His truth to explode through your whole house, exposing the enemy and exposing his lies and death. Give possession of yourself totally and completely over to God. Begin now to thoroughly reclaim your spiritual house. Once you have done this, remove the tarpaulin, and clean up any mess. Simple eh? No! For this is just the beginning.

You must understand that thorough cleansing takes time. This takes effort on your part. Often it is a continual process over many years. Sometimes the infestation is so widespread, so endemic, that you will need to bomb and clean up one room at a time. God must help you with this. The important thing is that you acknowledge the infestation and start to do something about it. Begin! Begin to hear the Word of God and keep it, begin to hear the Word of God and apply it. This coming year, begin!

Listen: - And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:27-28

Pray: - Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God. Psalm 43:3-4

Dec | 30 | Jewels In The Crown

Dream WordDESIRE

Malachi 3:17 “They shall be Mine," says the Lord of hosts, "On the day that I make them My jewels....” NKJV

Jewels in The Crown

Any kind of repentance leads to jewels and crowns and a whole lot more!

In our text for tonight the nation of Israel had been lamenting the poor results they had been experiencing in following the Lord. “It’s been a waste of time,” they said, “because the proud are still blessed, still wallowing in health and wealth and the wicked are still in power!” God replied to their complaint telling them that they had judged Him too harshly here and frankly, He wasn’t well pleased. God’s hurt indignation to His children’s charge was both heard and felt by those who loved Him and they consequently got together and encouraged one another in His faithfulness and goodness and then, imagine this, they then encouraged God in His faithfulness and goodness by meditating on His name and writing their names in a book of remembrance before Him! God's response to this act of repentant love was one of righteous covetousness! God of the angel armies says, “They are mine, all mine! Jewels in my Crown! The glory of my head, the colours of my rule! They are my kids and I will have compassion on them, I will prefer them above all others!” God was well pleased with their encouragement of Him.

Now the eschatological application of this verse is at the end of days. However, the implication of these verses are both profound and near. I would suggest that anyone who WOWS the Lord with repentance, and then WOOS Him with dedication, will be regarded as precious, granted the gift of discernment, the power of His protection and the covering of His provision.

Now, if that’s not encouragement enough to repentance and recommittement at this time of year, then friends, I don’t know what is. Do you want to be a jewel in His crown? Well this coming year, get wooing and get wowing!

Listen: - "On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him." Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.And the day which is coming shall burn them up,"Says the Lord of hosts,"That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,"Says the Lord of hosts. "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant,Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers,lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." Malachi 3:17-4:6 NKJV

Pray:- Lord, at the end of this year, I choose to rest in Your goodness. Yes Lord, despite all indications to the contrary, I acknowledge Your majesty, I bow down to Your omnipotence, I tremble at Your justice and rejoice in Your mercy. In Jesus name I praise You, amen!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dec | 29 | Believing, Way Beyond Any Reasonable Doubt

Key Word:- BELIEVE

Title: Believing, Way Beyond Any Reasonable Doubt

Luke 1:20 
“But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

Dear Archangel Gabriel,

I do hope this little letter finds you well and happy. Standing always in the presence of God must be an unbelievable experience! Sorry, I shouldn’t have used that word, you know, “unbelievable,” as I know how much it seems to annoy you. However, it’s a good introduction Gabriel because that is what I want to really speak to you about, you know, belief!

You see, it seems to me that you angels and dare I say, you in particular Gabriel, are pretty unbending when is comes to believing words from God. Now don’t get me wrong here, I know that’s the right thing to do, however Gabriel, you’re a bit brash with us humans aren’t you, a bit unmerciful, a bit robot like, a bit inhuman really in applying that principal of total belief and consequent judgment for any hint of unbelief! That’s pretty frightening for us sir, ‘cos I am assuming that you are indeed a person of great authority and power, with the ability to smite at will. (Poor Will, he’s always getting in the neck! Just a little joke there Gabriel : -))

Look Gabriel, Zacharias is my case in point. As a young and righteous newly wed, he was exceptionally disappointed (cultural understatement!) when his wife Elisabeth could not and would not fall pregnant. How many long years followed then Gabriel, when their daily prayers for an opening up of her womb came up to the throne of God? How many Gabriel? Come on, you know, you stand in the presence of God after all. It was a lot wasn’t it? No doubt you are also aware that as the flower of Elizabeth’s womanhood shrivelled and fell to the ground and old age crept upon them like a mangy dog with fleas, their prayers, virtually whimpered out as they resigned themselves, with lots of regret, to the good will of their good God. You know all this though? Then, as Zacharias gets the job of burning incense in the temple of the Lord, you turn up in all your magnificence and scare the poor old guy almost out of his holy little socks. Man! You put him on the spot didn’t you? An old geezer like that, he could have had a heart attack! Then out of nowhere when his little heart is still all a racing you smilingly announce (I am assuming you were happy for him) that he is going to have a child, a son, already named John who is going to be magnificent in the Kingdom. Marvellous news I agree, but a little overwhelming don’t you think?! All those years of praying with no answer and then when it’s way, I mean way past midnight, you turn up in all your glory, scare him almost to death and then answer all his deepest desires. Seems like Christmas already eh! Especially for old Zachy baby.

Now then honoured Gabriel, listen in, for here is where I take umbrage with you. I do not and say again, I do not think it unreasonable for an old man, well frightened and well advanced in years, to have just a little bit of doubt slip out of his mouth. Saying “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years,” is not unreasonable is it Gabriel? Of course not! However, I beg to suggest, that your response of striking him dumb just because he didn’t believe your words was not only unreasonable but down right insensitive, embarrassing and frankly, on your part, very, very rude. Hence the reason for my letter. Mr Gabriel. This is just not on.

The problem with you angels, if I might say so without being disrespectful, is you're so inhuman and that being the case, are so, well so, non-linear. Time has passed you know? Duh. Didn’t you see that Zacharias and Elizabeth were both past it? He knows it, she knows it, but it seems you don’t care about it. Oh no! Time in your gross non-linear thinking is completely irrelevant to you. What does it matter to you if all your equipment is shrivelled up, unattractive and not in best working order, so what! “God’s said it, you’d better believe it!” That’s your very inhuman approach isn’t it? I mean, what does it matter if the answer to their prayers at their age is now so very inappropriate? Old people with rheumatism, smelling of “Ben Gay” and “Vicks Vapo-rub” taking care of a small child, come on! Social services would never allow a kid to be adopted by people this old. Zachy knew this. Completely inappropriate timing Gabriel, completely inappropriate! Didn’t you see that? Oh no, obviously not, it was wham bam thank you maam, smack him in the gob and so, “because you didn’t believe,” nine months of being dumb and stupid looking! Ha! What an unmerciful, unthinking, and completely inappropriate response on your part mate. Completely inappropriate. I’m sorry, but I’m annoyed and these things just had to be said.

Well Gabriel, I shall close now, hoping that when we meet you will have learnt to be a little bit more linear in your understanding and a bit more merciful when it comes to just a little reasonable doubt. More human maybe. Please don’t get annoyed when we simpletons don’t believe beyond this reasonable doubt. I think it is because unlike you, we live such linear lives.

It’s hard for us to believe beyond reasonable doubt, even though you Gabriel seem to find it oh so very easy. I suppose standing in the presence of God so often and for so long seems to help you with this? We know all things are possible with God. We know that, honest we do. It’s just that unlike you, we don’t really know that it means that ‘He will take care of every little speck of a thing related to and regarding His spoken word that requires us to believe beyond any reasonable doubt.’ Do you see what I mean? I think maybe you do. Anyway, I hope this clears matters up a little and assists you in all your future dealings with the elderly. Don’t bother replying, I know you are busy, but remember when you are dealing with us, “think linear!”

My kind regards, yours disappointed of Tunbridge Wells, etc… etc…

Listen: “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:36

Pray: My Lord Jesus, thank you for your servants, all the angels of the Most High God. In the coming year please make us as unswerving in believing as those angels of Your light, in Jesus name we ask it, amen.

Dec | 29 | He’s Good! He’s ‘Ebeneezer’ good!

Dream Word – PREPARE

1 Samuel 7:3-5 Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, "If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. And Samuel said, "Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you." NKJV

He’s Good! He’s ‘Ebeneezer’ good!

Standing some 600 feet above the plane of Gebeon, Mizpah, ‘The Watchtower,’ at the time of the prophet Samuel, had become the religious and political centre in times of national emergencies. Here Samuel called the whole nation together for a time of repentance and revival, in that he was calling them back to their vows and thus back to their first love! At this time of year I can think of no better call to send out through 'Whispering Word', no better call to be sent out from God the Holy Spirit within you, no better call than this deepest of all of God’s calls, which is “Come back to your first love and come back now, in all your faithfulfullness!”

You might be saying, “I can’t Robert. You don’t know how much I have lost this year of my love, of myself, of my devotion, of my passion. I can’t Robert, because you don’t know what precious things once given to me by the Lord of love, are now out of my hands and in the possession of my enemies. I can’t come back.”

May I tell you tonight, that in this very area of ‘The Watch Tower’ just some twenty years previous, the Israelites suffered two catastrophic defeats at the hands of the Philistines and in the last battle with them, the Israelites had lost the very Ark of God to their enemies. The support of the mercy seat was gone! The very place where the manifest presence of God once touched down and illuminated a gathered nation, was gone! In comparison to this, what have you lost? Maybe indeed something as precious. Yes, maybe indeed. Never the less, Samuel calls Israel to repentance and recommitment and tonight dear friends, I do the same and in so doing would like to point out just three things to you.

Firstly, that when Samuel called the people together for national repentance their enemies heard of it, the same enemies that had routed them some twenty years before and had robbed them of their preciousness, heard of it and in the hearing, came up to the Watchtower to trounce them once again! Be prepared for a fight then, for any recommitment will be resisted and that by the mightiest of evil manifestations.
Secondly, that the Israelites were not a little perplexed when this happened and cried out to God for help, indeed they had Samuel cry out to God on their behalf. So pray dear friends and then get people who have power with God to also pray for you! Pray for help!
Thirdly and finally tonight, that when on the back of a blooded sacrificial lamb they prayed for help and deliverance, God thundered against their enemies and Israel rode on this shock wave of the Most High and thoroughly routed their enemies, even the enemy that had slaughtered them not once, but twice some twenty years before and had robbed them of all their preciousness. He shall do the same for you.

In these dog days of the year’s end, go to Watch Tower of your heart and repent and recommit yourself to your first love and have the honour of restored victory made your portion once more. When you have done this, set up your own stone of help, so as you consider and look down the past years of your life, you shall be able to say, “Despite it all, up to now, the good Lord has helped me. He’s very good. He’s Ebeneezer good!”


Listen: - And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Then Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us." So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 1 Samuel 7:9-13 NKJV

Pray:- Lord, tonight I gather myself at the Watchtower of my heart and survey all my battlefields of defeat and places of victory. Father, I recommit myself to You. Jesus, I turn my heart in love to You and tell You that I shall love You more and with that shall also love you more with greater passion. Thunder O God against my foes, put a sword in my hand and an unrelenting swing in my arms until I have pursued them and lain them dead and bloodied at my victorious feet. Help me to gather up the stones at the end of this old year and write in blood upon the rocks that ‘up to now, the Lord Himself has been my helper.’ In Jesus name I ask it, amen!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Dec | 28 | Sanity! The Advantage of Listening to Vintage Verbosity

Key Word:- CONSIDER

Title:- Sanity! The Advantage of Listening to Vintage Verbosity


Isaiah 28:23  
Give ear and hear my voice, Listen and hear my speech.

“Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in, onto the crashing waves. To step out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is…” So goes the opening lines of Casting Crowns choicest song on choosing truth. Got it? Choosing truth!

I will act on what I truly believe. Action is based on what we truly believe, on what drives us deep down inside. This internal engine of basic belief and pushing progression, is in turn fuelled by high-octane words, or voices, if you will. It is frightening to hear the voice in your heart echo in your head. Friend, you do not have to be insane to hear voices. Believe me, we all do.

Bosses, spouses, children, relatives, friends, dogs, cats, radio, email, fax, pop ups, instant messengers, texting, talking pages, cell phones, landlines, iPods, iPads, Tablets, DVDs, CDs, internet broadband, web casting, podcasting, television, video, news, PDAs, magazines, soaps, movies, newspapers, advertising, billboards, are all voices, all selling, buying, dying to be vying for just a little piece of your already overwhelmed attention. Voices are heard all over the place and are all-intruding. These demanding sales voices, for that is mostly what they are, are most disconcerting, but it is the other voices that are the most damaging and hurting.

The internal voice of conscience for example, if it still hasn’t had it’s beak fully seared in the hot houses of our silly little hearts, every day begins its squawking, constantly repeating the truth to us of His broken laws. Yes, that often and mostly all bombastic bird of condemnation, often squawks it’s insane accusation, chattering away like “Polly the Parakeet” high on speed, until for the Christian, that great bird, bigger than our hearts, bigger than our conscience, that larger dove, that blessed ‘Paraclete,’ swoops upon the scene and drowns out the squawk of conscience, by singing His even louder song of loving forgiveness. Even so, conscience can still be that all too prevalent and troubling voice.

As well as the squawking, the internal voice from the place of unhealed pain can still cry out from the wet chasm of open wounds, whilst the untrusting, self-protecting voice cries, “Watch it! Careful now, not too much information. Don’t trust, back off, hide, don’t reveal, don’t let them see!” These deep wounds and their bodyguard are debilitating and minimising voices from a place of pain that needs the quieting and healing oil of the great Samaritan poured into it beyond measure and then lovingly massaged into silence. The voices of deep wounds and self-policing, self-protection, speak very loudly don’t they friends?

In addition, the voices of internal declarations and self-curses which we have installed in our own self-protected lunacy, can appear like armed security officers, rude and not listening, commanding us to “cease and desist” from freedom and any attempt at bounded perimeter crossing, openness, and reaching out again. These security voices will not listen; they only speak loudly, protectivly and proudly.

Lastly and most disconcertingly to our inner ears, are the demonic voices which we have allowed to laugh and lie through our open windows and cracked doors. They squeeze themselves in on our weakness and stand on lost ground preaching lies, telling disconcerting tales and interrupting every holy thought.

Now, because belief still needs the fuel of high-octane words, voices to kick it into action if you will, these other loud and speaking voices will never let faith flourish. So yes, out of all we listen to today, we need to actively take the advice of Casting Crowns and “choose to listen and believe the voice of truth”. You see there is an advantage to listening to vintage verbosity and that advantage is a rich red clarity, yes, it is nothing short of sober sanity. So, be sure to get into to the Word of God this coming year, and get the Word into you. Do have your reading plan ready to begin on January 1st? Then get to it guy; get to it! Because you will be listening to loads of voices in the coming year; make sure your hear the voice of truth.

Listen: “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.” John 8:43-44

Pray: Lord the devil has within his dominion the capacity to make ears deaf to Your word. Lord, now, and in this coming year, plant a seed of desire that will grow into a tree of satisfaction, planted by the waters, which are ever budding with ten thousand open ears, all attentive to Your voice of truth. In Jesus name I ask it, amen.

Dec | 28 | ‘Die Hard 42’ - Applying Newness

Dream WordCLEAN

Luke 11:24-26 "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first." NKJV

‘Die Hard 42’ - Applying Newness

Will you allow me tonight to take a practical principle from the spiritual reality that our text places before us tonight, for in England, these are the dog days of the Holiday season, those quite few hours, the darkest and quietest of all maybe, between the passing of the night and the coming of the dawn. Christmas is over and everyone is waiting expectantly for the celebration of the coming New Year. Plans and preparations are afoot!

I love New Beginnings! Every Lord's day for me is the beginning of a brand new week! So you can imagine how excited I get about the coming of a brand New Year and all the New Year’s resolutions, New Year plans, and New Year actions I have lined up. However, I am sure you will agree with me when I say that often, it is only a very few days into the New Year, when the old habits so completely take over your life once more, that disappointment, disillusion, settled acceptance and sameness, take up their residence in the house they were so determinedly thrown out of just a few days previously. Why does this happen?

Well it is a true saying that “Old habits die hard!” In other words, habits are so linked to ways of thinking, so rooted to heart attitudes, so entrenched in the groove of our life, that resolution alone will not break them! No it takes nothing short of mental, emotional and physical annihilation to get rid of them! If you're going to be a pussycat about your New Year’s resolutions, then in a few days they will have vanished like the morning mist. Some things in you have to die this New Year and friend, it is you that is going to have to kill them!
So tonight, here a just four short thoughts for you to consider, to ruminate on and to hopefully, put into action:

1. Identify those things which have to go

2. Identify those things which are perpetuating the existence of those things you wish to eliminate. Consider:-
a. What location do they thrive in –CHANGE them
b. What thought processes feed them –MODIFY them
c. What heart desires attract them – KILL them

3. CHANGE MODIFY & KILL are however not enough. At best they will leave a yawning vacuum which will be filled and usually by things nastier than you tried to get rid of. No honest, this is a terrible spiritual principle, ‘A vacuum of vacant badness, will attract more of the same!’ So, it is absolutely necessary and life-giving to yourself, that once you’ve created a space, you must fill it with good things!
a. Change – Get some different friends, catch a different train, get up at a different time, read some different books, watch some different movies, etc etc. CHANGE=DIFFERENT

b. Modify your thought patterns. Open the Scriptures. Memorize a verse per day; a promise to be yours. Read it out loud. Read it aloud some seven times per day!

c. Kill your sinful, unhealthy, death-laden desires. Show no mercy to them, do not heed their pleading screams. Kill them! Then go and court some more, no really, stir up the good desires in whatever righteous way you can. Think about how to do that! What GIVES YOU LIFE?

4. Yes, old habits die hard, so the last thing I want to say to you tonight is get ready for the long, long haul. For you must consistently apply the newness. Indeed, I would say to you tonight that the main key to opening the newness of the coming year is CONSISTENCY.

This year, if you follow my advice, you shall see the Lord Jesus like never before and others still mourning will not believe your fresh new vision and the change wrought in you!

Listen: - Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. Mark 16:9-11NKJV

Pray:- Lord, help me to prepare to throw these scabby things out of my life! Lord, heal me, help me and fill me with a passionate and merciless consistency that this coming year, I might see You as I have never seen You before. Amen Lord, amen!
 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dec | 27 | Talking Tsunamis

Key Word:-TRUST

Title:- Talking Tsunamis

Matthew 24:7,8  
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Now dear friends, stick close to my words this morning, right to the end and you shall be rightly encouraged. However, before we get there today, we must traverse some terrible terrain. So stick with me right to the end.

As we move towards the end of the year, it has been my observation that in my whole life, whenever I arrive at this point of observing my planet and its peoples, I am amazed at the advances in technology and medical care, in fashion and in fun. Yet when I examine the human condition expressed in community, both local and global, I despairingly come to the same conclusion: nothing changes; nothing gets better. Indeed, things are getting worse. (Stick with me now, stick with me.)

Our text today is part of an answer given by Jesus to a particular question posed by the disciples sat with Him on the Mount of Olives. He has just wept in anger and despair over the coming desolation and destruction of Jerusalem, when they ask, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) We have no time today to proceed to cover His reply with an eschatalogically fine-tooth comb. Let’s just be a little shaken today when Jesus says in effect, “It’s gonna be bad and it’s gonna get worse!” (Stick with me now, stick with me.)

Tsunamis are viewed by the scientific community as natural disasters. Tsunamis are still currently viewed by the financial community as “acts of God,” that is, actions that are both terrible and out of their control. Tsunamis are viewed by the victims as inexplicable. I met an old lady, a Christian, who after many years was still suffering the after effects of holidaying with her husband on a secluded beach, where a freak wave reached onto the shore and before her face, snatched her loved one away to a watery grave. The sea reluctantly but eventually gave up its dead and she spent the next few weeks battling to get the corpse of her beloved, back to the dry ground of her homeland to be buried. As she recounted her story to me, her face and especially her eyes, were a constant witness to the fact that she had never really recovered from this. There are some things we must never recover from. (Stick with me now, stick with me.)

There are some things we must never recover from and despite government control of battlefield information, there are horrors that must not be hidden from us. Despite the glib mental sickness smiles of made up news presenters, that can through shiny teeth and loud lip gloss, tell of both death and destruction and the drop of a few degrees in temperature in the same smiling sentence, there are things we must be sad and very sorrowful about. Remember, no anaesthetic lasts forever. Jesus replies sadly and honestly about the signs prefixing His return. It would appear that the enemy will try to apply a scorched earth policy to His impending arrival, as well as Jesus Himself “eating up the ground” before Him in righteous indignation. Look. What is to come is not lovely! Look. It is not lovely!

At the end of this year let us talk tsunamis. Let us look at the devastation around us. Let us lay aside our numbing Novocain and see that all these things are indeed but the “beginning of sorrows”. Prophecy shall be fulfilled and friends, before we get to a better chapter, we must read ourselves through this next horrific one.

So how can we possibly be encouraged by what we see around us? Well in truth we cannot. Except that Jesus foretold that this is how it should be. His word is true, and if His word regarding these things is true, then so are His other words. All His words are true. He shall make all things well. Yes, in the end, He shall make all things good.

Listen: “Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money (including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions) and be satisfied with your present (circumstances and with what you have); for He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. (I will) not,(I will) not, (I will) not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor (let you) down (relax My hold on you)! (Assuredly not!) So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm (I will not fear or dread or be terrified). What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6 AMP

Pray: My Lord, I will not fear, even though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; even though its waters roar and be troubled, even though the mountains shake with its swelling. For I know that there is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God. Amen and amen.

Dec | 27 | Proclamation, Provision, Peace & Power

Dream Word – REST

Esther 6:6-9 So Haman came in, and the king asked him, "What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?" Now Haman thought in his heart, "Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?" And Haman answered the king, "For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: 'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!'" NKJV

Proclamation, Provision, Peace & Power

I was awoken in the night with these words in my ears and I believe it is because they mean something to me, indeed, they are special to many and to most.

Our text for tonight is taken from the story of the wicked Haman! He hates the Jews, but is about to have is hatred and jealousy found out and gruesomely rewarded. The evil which he intended for others and their families is about to be visited upon him and his family! It’s historical fact and yet it still makes a great operatic score and oratorio and dare I say, that it would also make a fantastic pantomime! Maybe I go too far!

Haman, just a chapter previously has been boasting about being blessed by the king, most evidently seen in his riches, his children, his status and so forth. These things most certainly meant something to Haman that’s for sure. Now for tonight, let’s lay aside Haman’s megalomaniacal tendencies and obvious demonization and look at his desires. Speaking as a man, I find that frighteningly, his desires and satisfactions are in fact the same strong driving forces which I find in me and I tell you, their fulfillment are also seen as marks of blessing even in the church, for who does not want to be seen to be blessed by the King, seen to be honoured by the King, seen to be provided for abundantly by the King, seen to be granted peace and seen to be given power to reign by the King? Yes, in our society, possessions are power, but in the church, possessions are not only power, but they are affirmed to be outward proclamations of providential blessings and divine honour from the King and oh what peace such possessions bring us and oh what accompanying power they can bring to us within the church. Maybe I go too far.

There is everything that is Biblical about laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven. There is everything Biblical about longing to hear in heaven those most marvellous of words ever spoken to any individual, “Well done you good and faithful servant!” Yes, there is everything Biblical about seeking crowns and commendations in heaven. In heaven, in heaven, in heaven! The New Testament is a heavenly book and for Christians all of this heavenly seeking, makes us other world people, makes us strangers and pilgrims, makes us true disciples of Christ.
It seems to me that we have, for convenience sake, maybe even for covetousness sake, taken the Old Testament material and the earthly promises and blessing made to Israel and made them New Testament signs of accomplishment, badges of honour if you will, marks of a man of God in this world and I tell you that the desire in me to possess these things, is a great one and it is fanned into roaring flames by the church of today.

Tell me, just what is your rod of measuring success, both for yourself and for other men? Might the following of this lie also get you hung on a gallows? Maybe I go too far. What do you think?

Listen: - These are the things I want you to teach and preach. If you have leaders there who teach otherwise, who refuse the solid words of our Master Jesus and this godly instruction, tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. Eventually there's an epidemic of backstabbing, and truth is but a distant memory. They think religion is a way to make a fast buck. A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough. But if it's only money these leaders are after, they'll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. (1 Timothy 6:2-10 from THE MESSAGE)

Pray:- Lord come temper all my desires with the honesty of heaven, in Jesus name I pray, amen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dec | 26 | Bloody Mary

Key Word:- OBEY

Title:- Bloody Mary

Luke 11:27  
In addition, it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts which nursed you!”

So what do you do with the Christ Child the day after He is born? Ask any mother and she shall tell you: You take care of Him.

The hungry little Jesus has no doubt by now already been fed several times by his mother; washed, cuddled and caringly cosseted. She has counted each finger and each tender toe, shook her little head, stared into His seeking eyes, whilst speaking several sweet hello's. Kissed his cheeks, held His dangly little head in the palm of her hand and kept Him warm in the darkness of the tomb like manger. Mary, just recently having delivered her child, will indeed now daily hold in her loving hands, her own deliverer, her own salvation and even the salvation of the world. Imagine how special a person you would have to be to have been chosen to be the caring intimate of God, the gentle mentor of Jesus, the cleaner-upper after, the teacher, the trainer, the nurse, the advisor, the counsellor. Mary was indeed among all women, most blessed! Imagine that.

Soon Simeon, over a pair of white and bloodied, dead turtle doves, shall speak of this child’s destiny and of God’s Salvation, of Israel’s Glory, of the light of the gentiles, of the revealing of hearts and the rising and falling of many over this little, oh so little baby. And with ghastly words, shall begin to prepare even Mary’s own dear soul for the hurt that only a mother can experience, “Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also,” Luke 2:35. Ignorance is better methinks, than for years to come, to carry this shadow of hurt alongside the joy of raising up Jesus. Though God knows best and maybe she needed to know this now, even from this great distance, so to be prepared for the horror she would witness on Calvary’s tree. Imagine Mary’s bloody heart. Just imagine that.Now look at God’s grace, for together with Mary’s swallowing of this bitter medicine from the mouth of old Simeon, comes heaven’s honey from the lips of old Anna. For at the instant the message of the inevitable and coming piercing was given to Mary, Anna arrives on the scene performing two most important things. First, she gave thanks and second, she proclaimed with joy! She gave thanks to the Father for the gift of His Son and she then spoke of Him, with utter and fervent, expectant excitement, to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
In this coming year friend, so soon now to be upon us, when the Father gives you some bitter medicine, look for the accompanying honey. God will always make the bitter, sweet. Always! Imagine that.

In this coming year friend, so soon to be upon us, may you find your self in the temple of the Lord. Find yourself under the red dove of peace. Find yourself under the sacrifice. Find yourself humble before your God. Imagine that.

In this coming year friend, so soon to be upon us, may you seek out the Simeon’s of Zion. Seek out those who walk close with the Father. Seek out those who have the ear of Jesus; seek out listening and proclaiming saints. This year, may you walk with the old giants. Imagine that.

Finally, in this coming year friend, so soon to be upon us, I ask you to seek out Jesus. Walk so close to Him, that you too, like awesome Anna, will be able to speak of Him to all those who look for salvation in Jerusalem. Many do dear friend; many still do. Imagine that.

Listen: And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!”

Pray: Father, may the reality of your presence be manifest in me and amongst us all in this coming year of our Lord. Amen.

Dec | 26 | Blinded By The Light

Dream Word -INTEGRITY

Isaiah 42:16
.......I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. NKJV

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, for centuries, this day after Christmas has been called ‘Boxing Day.’ The etymology of this term is mostly concerned with employees of various sorts, receiving what can only be termed as a ‘Christmas Bonus’ which was given in compensation for their work during the last year or, their work of just yesterday. In any event, these goods, be they brand new or sumptuous left-overs, were given in a box to the less fortunate, hence the name, Boxing Day! I do hope you get a bonus gift this Boxing Day.

Boxing Day in my time and culture is almost as important as Christmas Day, in that it is a continuing of family get-togethers and yes indeed, another meal as big, if not bigger than Christmas day, has been served, incorporating most fully the tastier left-over’s of Christmas lunch! For the chefs of houses, the constant cookers at Christmas time, having the means to produce new dishes and reheat those of yesterday is very important then, so you will understand my disappointment of today, when late last night I had to turn off the AGA, because for some unknown reason, it was popping and overheating. I did of course turn it on again today, however because of its design, the AGA took some 8-10 hours to get up to usable heating speed.

The ‘AGA’ is more of a living creature, or more of a way of living and is a Swedish ‘stored-heat stove and cooker’ invented by Nobel Prize for Physics winner, Industrialist, Dr. Gustaf Dalen. Now, although Acetylene was discovered in 1836 by Edmund Davy and was rediscovered in 1860 by French chemist Marcellin Berthelot (who in fact coined the name ‘acetylene’) it was in fact Dr. Dalén, who whilst working with this most explosive of gases, invented ‘Agamassan (Aga),’ a substrate of Acetylene, to absorb the gas itself and thereby allow safe storage and hence commercial exploitation. So, in 1906, the good Doctor became Chief Engineer at his Gas Accumulator Company (manufacturer and distributor of acetylene) which industrialised the gas and commercialised its use!

Not only was acetylene used in small old fashioned motor vehicle carbide lamps, but also in the vast setting of lighthouses! Indeed, many ‘Dalén lamp’ lighthouses are still in operation today. It was his invention of the ‘solar flow control valve’ that allowed the acetylene lamps used in sea buoys and unmanned lighthouse, to automatically turn themselves off when it was daylight. This invention not only saved 80% of fuel, but also got Dalén his Nobel Prize for Physics. It was his brother, a most famous ophthalmologist, who collected Dalén’s prize that year, because Dalén himself, had been injured and permanently blinded in an acetylene explosion earlier in the year. So, the man that discovered the brightest of lights in his time, was in fact made blind by it!

Whilst Dr. Dalén was recovering at home, he was exposed to the vast amount of work his wife did in trying to prepare and cook for the family. From this now well informed and well cared for position, whilst blind remember, he invented the AGA cooker! Gustaf Dalen, a remarkable philanthropist sharing his Nobel Prize money with his staff! A great optimist and humanitarian, he left inventions in the world which are still being used in both large scale commercial arenas and in the home even today. What he discovered and utilised both hurt him and blinded him, but it did not stop him being a blessing to his family and to others both in his own time and there on after. Admittedly he had help from his family and friends, but Dalén did not allow his handicap to destroy him.

Many of us are going into a New Year handicapped in some way. Maybe the handicap is all the more bitter because it was gained whilst trying to do good, whilst trying to pursue and utilise the light? As far as I can ascertain, Dalén was not a Christian, but you are! The Father said to Israel, the apple of His eye, that He will bring them by a way and lead them in paths not previously known and in doing so He will make the crooked places straight. This is a great promise for the New Year. Take it, it’s a bonus gift for you this Boxing Day.

Listen: - These things I will do for them, and not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16d NKJV

Pray:- Lord, please be my Keeper, be my leader, be my light this coming year, in Jesus name I pray, amen!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dec | 25 | True Wisdom Out of a Christmas Gone Crackers!

Key Word: CONSIDER

Title:- True Wisdom out of a Christmas Gone Crackers!

1 Kings 4:33,34  
Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.

Tom Smith invented the cracker in 1848. Now for my American friends, let me tell you that a cracker has nothing to do with cornmeal, grits or liquor! No sir, at this time of year, a Christmas cracker is an integral part of every British celebration.

Around the meal table at Christmas, at every place today there will be silver cutlery and a shining cracker. Upon being seated, the first thing that will be done before eating will be to, pull the crackers! A small cardboard tube covered with brightly coloured and twisted paper at the ends, the Christmas cracker will be pulled apart by two people. A small strip of chemically impregnated paper is eventually popped apart producing a small bang, and out of the fun packed centre of the cracker will fall the contents of the cardboard holder. Usually a paper hat, an unnecessary plastic object that will never be seen or used again, maybe a balloon and most definitely, a small piece of paper containing the lamest joke you have ever heard or a daft piece of Christmas wisdom. Ah, I remember and always look forward to the Christmas wisdom of crackers!

Political correctness is rampant at the moment. Today, even 'Google the Good,' will have some completely Christmas disconnected imagery on its main search page and the sound of “happy holidays” from every politically correct goods outlet, is still ringing in my ears. I was out shopping just yesterday (I’m mad I know!) and saw not one ounce of happiness in tons and tons of overweight and over spent, sick, sad and surly shoppers. I am no grinch at Christmas time but I tell you friends, Christmas is being so successfully redefined and its partakers so alarmingly reconditioned, that there is no Holy day and there is no happiness. Let’s face it shall we, take Christ out of Christmas and all you are left with is a mess. It’s all a bit mad, it’s all a bit bonkers and it’s all a bit crackers really!

The only way we can redeem the situation is to instil some Christian wisdom back into the leaders and the landowners, the moneymen and shareholders, the decision makers and agenda shakers. But it must be the sweet smelling, stargazing, treasure carrying, come to worship, camel riding, desperate “We Three Kings of Orient Are” kind of wisdom which we see in the Bible. A wisdom which seeks and speaks of Jesus.

The world shall speak of everything except Jesus this Christmas, and seek happiness and joy at the bottom of empty glasses, empty flashing lights and red ripped up paper. Let us make sure that we, His purchased people, seek and speak of Jesus, the Lord of the Universe and Saviour of the world, at this wondrous time of year.

Happy Christmas!

A poem: - Still Looking - Still speaking

Wise men speak of trees
From the Cedar to the Hyssop
Springing from the wall
From the Aspen to the Alder
Beside the water fall

Wise men speak of animals of creeping things and fish
Of birds and bees and smooth black cats
That lap the dainty dish

Wise men sing of love and capture moments in a jar
Wise men suck the juice of days
Wise men shop at Spar

Wise men count the fallen ticks
Of old clocks running down
Wise men number muscles
That help create the frown

Wise men follow after
Wise men follow far
Wise men seek the Saviour
Beneath the wandering star


Listen: 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 have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” Matt 2:1-2

Pray: King of all days, oh so highly exalted, glorious in heaven above. Humbly You came to the earth you created, all for love’s sake became poor. So here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that You’re my God. You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. Thank You my Lord, thank You.

Dec | 25 | Re-Gifting

Dream Word – CONTINUE


2 Samuel 24:24a Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” NKJV 

Re-Gifting

Now that all the business of the day is over and you have had the discipline to take the time to come aside a while and reflect upon Jesus and His Word, may I say to you that I hope your day has been both enjoyable and profitable. Of course, I do hope you got some gifts as well and that some of you even got some gifts that are going to be useful to you in the coming days! Oh and by the way, may I ask you what gift you gave to Jesus today? It’s an interesting question isn’t it? I mean, just what do you give to the God who has everything?

Unfortunately, God does not possess everything. For example, He may well be waiting for the fulfillment of some of those vows you made to Him in the oh so, long ago. Or, He may not have the attention which He requires from you. Maybe, He may not have the obedience which He would like to see from You. He may not see the fruit He expected in You. He may not see your wallet as open as much as he would like to. He may not have your ears and as yet, good grief Charlie Brown, He may not even have your heart.


Now, though some of these things I mention, which God does not yet possess, are frankly more our filial duty than gifts, more a farmers expectation, more a Master's demand if you will, or a friend's desire, rather than a gift to be given to Him at Christmas time, never the less, may I ask you to consider your own heart's response to a gift you may have received yourself, which has been well thought out, tailored to your dreams, and costly to the giver. Surely such a gift would always warm and bless your heart. I wonder tonight then the manner in which we give even that which is rightfully owed, will never the less be received as a gift and that with great joy by the receiver?

I think tonight is a good night to apologize to Jesus for our forgetfulness, by maybe deciding to deliver to Him tomorrow, something that will bless His heart. Christmas is always a good time to re-gift ourselves to God. Don’t you think?

Listen: - My son, give me your heart, (Proverbs 23:26a NKJV)

Pray:-
When the music fades, all is stripped away and I simply come
Longing just to bring something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart
I bring You more than a song for a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You. it's all about You, Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus

King of endless worth no one could express
How much You deserve, though I'm weak and poor
All I have is Yours, every single breath!

Matt Redman

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dec | 24 | The Baby Jesus. A Lovely Little Body but a Horribly Big Skull!

Key Word:- BECOME


Isaiah 7:14  
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

The Baby Jesus. A Lovely Little Body but a Horribly Big Skull

It is a well-known fact that childlessness is hereditary; if your parents don’t have children, then in all probability, neither will you! Unless of course, you are a miracle baby. Enter Jesus, stage right.

Well on the eve of God’s official birthday, let’s celebrate what actually happened and take in the wonder of it all, for Joseph having wandered from Inn to Inn trying to find a place in Bethlehem, (they couldn't get a room because they were Jewish), has his wife Mary, about to give birth in a stable. Out in the cold fields under an open and starry sky, stinky footed, sin defeated shepherds, quietly wash their socks by night, only to be very soon surprised by a multitude of celebrating and proclamating heavenly hosts, all singing and dancing in the dark, dank fields of Bethlehem of a Saviour born in a manger. Yes, it’s Christmas time in Bethlehem and Mary shall give birth to the Messiah, the promised Saviour of old. However, it’s not His miracle birth the angels are celebrating, no! On this most wonderful night of nights, the heavens are rejoicing in totality over the cord separating arrival of the Saviour. For you see, what is going to happen physically is in fact the most beautiful, but the most natural thing in the world: Childbirth! No, despite the rejoicing of the angels, this is not the miracle of Christmas. So where is it?

The Scriptures are clear that life begins at the point of conception. So the real miracle actually took place nine months previous at the home of Mary in Galilee at that very point of conception. You see at Christmas we must remember that the Christ, already given the name Jesus by His Father, had been with us for the full term of this pregnancy, a whole nine months; and hidden away in Galilean embarrassment and obscurity! Yes embarrassment! For a virgin conceived! “Oh really,” said the neighbours. “Yes really!” was God’s happy reply.

A virgin conceived a child from the Almighty. A virgin conceived and carried within her the Holy thing! God clothed Himself with flesh and quietly grew from molecular proportions within the warm womb of this frightened yet faithful young virgin, to be the baby of nine months, popping His head out into the world in a stable on Christmas morning, to the young boy posing eternal questions in the temple, to the young prophet terrifying all the religious hypocrites around the roads to Jerusalem, touching the lost and the leprous, dining with the downcast and outcast, loving the lame to leaping joy, the unseeing to sight sublime and raising the dead to live again. Aged thirty three, He will lovingly release the whole world of the weight of its amassed and terrible sin, and place them all upon his magnificent and manly shoulders and take them to Calvary’s cross, where with shredded flesh and pierced head, with holy hands and love set, love sick heart, He shall pay in full the penalty we all so deeply deserve and buy us back from the devil.

The purpose of the conception was always Calvary and Mary knew it. She shall watch Him there and Scripture shall again be fulfilled, when a sword, more terrible and sharp than the sword of the wraith witch king, hot from the burning coals of hell, shall pierce her pitiful little mummy’s heart, when they take down her lovely and beloved son’s broken and bloodied body from the terrifying cross. But today it is Christmas Eve. All is bright and all is white. Tomorrow the promise, indeed all the promises from Adam onwards, all the deliberations and plans between the persons of the Holy Trinity, all that is yet to come in the eternal ages now bound up and encased in the organic safe of Mary’s marvellous little womb, shall be born! Even Mary's personal Saviour.

Yes, Mary, though a most magnificent woman, from her own lips rightly testifies that she was a sinner, in need of a Saviour. The miracle is that God took residence in her womb, took DNA and sustenance from her body and became fully human, in need of her tender care and loving direction. This virgin conception of the Christ child is no invention, no trap, nor trick, nor contrivance. This virgin conception is necessary, unsullied, pure, holy, and immaculate. There was no sexual intercourse with God the Father as some have taught over the centuries, else she would not have remained a virgin. No, from the text and the tenor of the Scriptures, we can make a reasonable assumption that within the home, the room and the womb of Mary, nine months ago, there was an “enveloping in a haze of brilliancy”. Possibly Mary was surrounded by a shining cloud of brightness which infused her whole being and touched her with preternatural influence, as God clothed Himself with flesh and to the astonishment of gaping mouthed angels, stepped through the shining protected portal of eternal proportions and contracted Himself to embryonic dependence.

The real miracle of Christmas friends, took place nine months ago! Tomorrow the safe and natural arrival of the Christ child will be celebrated when Jesus pops out his gentle head and begins His own independent journey towards His prepared destiny outside the city walls of Jerusalem, all the way to that grotesque Golgotha, that hard and horrid, place of the skull. That is what Christmas is all about dear friends. Amidst the snowy white, is the flowing red of blood that will be shed for us and the living verdant green of life, that shall be given to us.

Listen: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” And Joseph and His mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:29-35

Pray: O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.

 

Dec | 24 | ‘Libera Me!’

Dream Word – HOPE

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. NKJV

‘Libera Me’

Last night I attended a typical Christmas Carol Service. The theme of the short message began with asking the question “What do Christmas Carols say to us?” I found this to be both an interesting general question and a most penetrating personal question.

As for me, I am mostly unmoved by Christmas Carols. I can muster up just enough gusto to sing but one Christmas Carol, and that maybe but once a year! After that, my yawning boredom closes both my heart and mouth and I long for deliverance. There is however one Christmas Carol that I would love to sing daily, but am rarely able to do so.

The Carol I am referring to is most interesting because the tune is in fact taken from a Roman Catholic Requiem Mass. Yes, the tune is taken from a 15th Century French Franciscan Nun's funeral procession, which in Latin is called the ‘Libera Me’ or, ‘Deliver me.’ How appropriate for bored old me and how amusing, that thousands of jolly carollers are completely unaware that they are in fact singing a funeral dirge! Hilarious!

The word 'Antiphone' is made from combining two Greek words: first ‘αντί’ meaning ‘opposite,’ and then ‘φωνη’ meaning voice. Antiphone refers to two choirs singing the same musical piece, but in alternation. This style of singing is found in the early church, even in Israel of old and most definitely a copy of the heavenly form of angelic style of praise and worship. From the earliest centuries of the church these Antiphones have been sung on every Lord’s day evening and what are known as the ‘O Antiphones’, have always been sung just during the seven or eight days prior to Christmas. Each of these ‘O Antiphones’ are titled by both one of the names of Jesus and one of His attributes:

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Adonai)December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Sunrise)December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O Emmanuel)


Now, when taken backwards, the first letters of these seven titles form a Latin acrostic of ‘Ero Cras’ which translates in English to ‘Tomorrow, I will come.’ In Medieval times, an eighth Antiphone was added entitled ‘O Virgo Virginum’ or, ‘O Virgin of Virgins,’ with the acrostic now becoming ‘Vero Cras’ or Truly, tomorrow I will come!” How awesomely wonderful is that!

I am telling you this tonight, because the Christmas Carol which I would like to sing every day but cannot, is the translation of a 12th Century Christian Latin text, which is thought to be a metrical version of a collation of these self same Advent Antiphones. The opening words of each stanza of my favourite Carol was originally translated “Draw Near.” Today though we are more familiar with the translation which begins, “O Come.” I rarely make it through to the end of this Carol, because my heart fails me, by producing fountains of shuddering tears as my spirit weeps in the deep and desperate longing of the fulfillment of this most marvellous of Christmas Carols.

The response of my spirit that the Carol “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” produces within me, is a deep set comfort, it tells me that though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I am in fact a child of this Great and coming King and that above all things, my deepest being longs for His sunrise to dawn upon my soul. Longs for it I tell you, until I am sick with longing. Let me ask you the same question asked of me last night then dear freind, “What do Christmas Carols say to you?”

Listen: -O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Pray:- Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death, on that awful day when the heavens and earth shall be shaken and you shall come to judge the world by fire. I am seized with fear and trembling until the trial is at hand and the wrath to come: when the heavens and earth shall be shaken. (The English translation of the ‘Libera Me’)