Intimacy With God

“Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”” -Exodus 33:18-23 NIV

Intimacy with God is vital to our growth and maturity in Christ.  Relationship with God is far more important than religion, programmes, Bible studies, etc.  He desires to commune with us, to spend time with us every day.  The more we get to know Him, the more we will want to spend time with Him in His presence.  Jesus made time to spend with His Father, often slipping away in the wee hours of the morning.  Men and women of God in the Old and New Testament spent time with the Lord.  This morning we are going to look at Moses, a great example of what kind of relationship we can have with God.

Spending time with God on a regular basis seems to be difficult for many people.  For young people it can be difficult because of demands of school, friends, and extracurricular activities.  Time is hard for those who are working full time and raising a family.  Even in retirement time may be hard to find because of many commitments within the church, family and community.  Truth be told, we all have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365-366 days a year of which we can spend time with God.

We read in Exodus 33 that Moses met with God in “the tent of meeting.” Whilst he did, the people of Israel worshipped outside of their tents.  This tent of meeting was a place where God’s glory showed forth.  Moses spent time with God.  The Bible says he talked with God face to face.  This is not in contradiction with the end of the chapter where God told Moses that he could not see God’s face and live.  Face to face was a figurative expression suggesting openness and friendship.  In order for this friendship to happen, Moses gave himself completely to God.  The people of Israel worshipped God and God was pleased.

Moses relationship with God was very close.  He had one to one conversations with the Almighty God.  He was considered God’s friend.  The book of Numbers even states that Moses was closer than a friend, better than even a prophet because God talked to him face to face.  God trusted Moses.  What an honour!  We can have that same kind of relationship with God today.  This relationship is not just for the elite, it is for everyone who believes that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Do you want to be known as one of God’s friends?  Can He trust you to do as He says or pray about what He shows you?  Friendship with God is sacred and a privilege.

Moses talks with God within the tent of meeting.  In their conversation Moses asks that God’s presence would go wherever they go.  He wants God to be a part of every step and decision that is made.  In fact, he even says in verses 15- 16: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have grace in Your sight, except You go with us?  So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

When we ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives, surrender everything to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, the presence of God goes with us everywhere.  Before Christ came and tore the veil for us to be able to come before the Lord without having to go through the priest, the Holy Spirit came upon people.  His presence was visible within the tent, the tabernacle, and the temple.  His presence was not present within the hearts of everyone.  Yes, He did fill people with His presence, but because of Christ’s death and resurrection, He’s given us the key to the Kingdom, the very presence of God.  Think about it, the very God who raised Jesus from the dead lives within us through the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit!

Moses desired God’s will, presence and peace.  Moses desired God!  He saw the work of God delivering the people of Israel out of Egypt.  He knew the wonders that God could perform.  Yet, in all of this, Moses desired God.  He longed for God to show him His glory.  He could have wanted anything in the world, such as a better life in the wilderness, but Moses wanted God.

What do we want?  Do we want God, or do we want the things of God?

God longs to be desired after.  He longs for a close relationship with God.  He longs to call us friend and to be able to trust us.

God was pleased with Moses and said to him in verse 17- “I will also do this think you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”  Moses then asked for God to show His glory.  It wasn’t a selfish request, it was so Moses could know and experience God in a better way.  God told Moses he could see His glory but not His face.

Do you desire to see God’s glory?  Do you want to feel His presence?  Oh I pray that the church today will fall down to our knees and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. I pray that we will seek His face and His presence not the miracles, not the gifts, not the healings, but just God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  I believe that God will pour out His Spirit in a mighty way if we would just seek Him!

When we spend time in intimate worship of God we will become more like Him as we become like the one whom we worship.  In chapter 34 Moses goes up to meet God on the top of Mount Sinai.  He obeys God by taking two stone tablets up with him.  Whilst he was on the mountain, he spent time in God’s presence for 40 days and 40 nights.  The Lord descended in the cloud and His presence stayed with Moses.  When Moses came down from the mountain the skin of his face shone with the glory of the Lord.  It was so powerful that the people did not want to come near him, so he covered his face with a veil.  He did this until he went back up to the presence of God, then he would take the veil off.  Moses shone like the glory of God.  God’s presence was made known. Have you ever been around someone that you knew without a shadow of doubt that the presence of God was with and in them? I have honestly known a couple of people in my lifetime like this.  These people are so close to God that they shine like Him.  People were not afraid of Moses, they were afraid of the power within him, the power of the presence of God.

My friends, God wants us to experience His glory.  He desires us to be close to Him.  He longs for us to have that intimate relationship with Him.  The question is do we want it?  Do we want to have an intimate relationship with Him or just continue being a Sunday morning, open door church attender?  Do we want God, or do we just want a glimpse of Him?

This relationship is costly.  It means that we have to put ourselves aside and surrender everything to God.  It means taking time to spend it with Him instead of our own personal desires.  It means putting aside our selfishness and seek His face.  The challenge is to not allow busyness, fear and worry to get in the way.  Let’s not be like the Israelites afraid of God’s presence.  May we be willing to lay down everything and allow God to show His glory.

I promise you, when God does show His glory to us and we truly feel His presence within our lives, we will be changed.  Moses’ countenance changed after His time in the presence of God.  That power was around Moses, upon him and spoke to him on the top of Mount Sinai and in the tent of meetings.  However, that same power can live within us today!

 

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My word for 2019

Every year since 2015, I have picked a word to focus on for the year. This year’s word is peace.

Last year was a difficult year for our family due to injuries and health issues. Sadly, it seemed it would never end. Then in September, our beloved conure, Pip, died suddenly after Teflon poisoning. Pip was the family bird, and he knew all our quirks. Later, there were more injuries for Joel whilst refereeing. Josiah also suffered health concerns. Finally, to end the year, I was diagnosed with diabetes on top of my other health issues. To be honest, I was glad to see the end of 2018.

However, there were moments throughout the year where my family and I were blessed. God provided for our every need. We were given enough money to get another conure, Jude which means Praise, who has become a dear member of the family. God provided a position for me in ministry I had never thought could be possible. I asked for early retirement because I had been off work for five years, but to be honest, retiring at 42 was a bit daunting and depressive. I am so glad God is not finished with me yet. He opened the right doors and I am loving the ministry he has given me now.

There are a lot of changes coming our way as a family this year. I know I can trust the Lord because he has always been faithful to me.

However, I still struggle with the “what-ifs” in life. I understand about not being anxious or worrying. I do suffer from anxiety disorder. The “what-ifs” and “what is going to happen” questions run over and over in my mind. I pray and pray and leave them with Jesus for them to pop up later and rear their ugly faces. God has been healing my heart from worry and anxiety, but it is taking some time.

I wasn’t even thinking of a word when “peace” came into my mind. I know my heart needs peace amid all that is coming up for us.

God gave me two verses to focus on in 2019; the verses are from Isaiah 26:3-4: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT)

In order for me to live with peace in my heart, I need to trust the Lord and have my thoughts fixed on him. Paul says in Philippians to “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

My desire this year is to focus on God and not the circumstances. I trust the Lord because I know he has looked after me and taken care of me well. I pray he will give me his perfect peace that surpasses all understanding in all things.

I need to remember God is in control. He knows the future. I just need to focus on what I can do for him today. The future will take care of itself. Besides, none of us are promised tomorrow.

I desire shalom which means so much more than peace. It means well-being, tranquillity, peace, and wholeness. However, shalom covers everything the Lord wants for me and for you. I am declaring shalom for me and my family this year.

God is my Rock and my Fortress. In him I put my trust. No matter what comes up against me, God is on my side. He may not still the storms raging around me, but he can indeed still my anxious heart. I am going to be relying on him heavily for peace this year.

Shalom Aleichem. Peace be unto you.

Order, glory, and judgement

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever.” -2 Chronicles 7:1-3 ESV

“The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” -Haggai 2:9 ESV

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” -Exodus 33:18 ESV

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. -2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
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There are three things that are set within a pattern in the Old and New Testaments. These three things work together to bring honour and glory to God. They are divine order, God’s glory, and God’s judgement.

Whenever we see God’s glory it encompasses those who were holy and living solely for God. God set order to a world that was without form or basically a world that was disorderly. The earth was formless and chaotic. Nothing was in place until God set everything into motion. God spoke order into being. When He created Adam and Eve, they were covered with God’s shekinah glory, they had no need for outward clothing. They walked in God’s glory, slept in God’s glory, ate in God’s glory, and lived in God’s glory. Their fellowship with God was sweet. They did not have to worry about anything because everything was provided for them. Until Satan came into the picture.

Once again, he wanted the glory and honour. Thus the reason he was kicked out of heaven. He tempted Eve and of course she fell for it and ate the fruit. Then Adam although knowing what God had told him about the fruit, ate it as well. He deliberately disobeyed God and blamed Eve for his own disobedience. Because of their disobedience, they realised that they were naked. At this point the glory of God had departed from them. They lost that sweet, beautiful relationship with Him at that particular point due to disobedience. If we too disobey God after tasting and seeing His glory, we will be punished. This is discipline from a just and loving Father.

Each time God set things into motion, someone in the Bible messed things up. Look at Moses. He was a holy man, stood in the very presence of God on the top of Sinai. He had a willing heart to follow Him and to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised land. He tasted the Lord, he knew that the Lord was good. He even came down from the mountain top so full of God’s glory that others could not bear to see His sight. Moses was very close to God. However, because of disobedience, he lost the chance to be able to walk into the Promised Land. He knew what God had said and the human side got in the way and he disobeyed by striking the rock. It may seem like a minor sin to us, nothing to worry about. It may even seem like cruel and unusual punishment for Moses to miss out on walking into that land that God had promised His people so many years ago. However, because Moses experienced the shekinah glory of God, he was held to a higher standard. We too are held to a higher standard when we carry the name of Jesus as our faith. And no this is not just the pastor that has to live up to that higher standard, everyone that claims they are a Christian is accountable once we know His truth.

So, why have we not seen much of this shekinah glory? Why does it not fall like it used to in the early days? What has happened to us? First of all, the church has become too religious. We have become too comfortable, too deceived, and very unaware of our true heart condition. We have also become too afraid of the extraordinary. We need a sure foundation in their spiritual lives before they can grow in their spiritual walk. If God poured out His Spirit like He did in the olden days of the Welsh or other revivals, what a difference it would make. In the early days of the church, people didn’t care whether or not they were opposed, they were on fire for Jesus and they wanted the world to know about it. They counted the costs and realised that life with Jesus, though they had to give up everything, was far better than life without Him.

We cannot live on formula prayers. We can recite the Lord’s prayer all we want, but if we do not truly believe the truths that are stated in that prayer, what is the point? The problem is there are very few people that even attend prayer meetings within the church. And if there is a prayer meeting, it lacks passion or power in prayer. When is the last time any of us really prayed hard about something or someone? When is the last time we came before God in tears and agony over them? When is the last time we actually cried out for hours or even days for God to answer a specific prayer? When is the last time we shouted in anger at God over injustices, or pure no understanding of situations? We need passion in our relationship with God, we need power in our prayers!

But we cannot have this if we do not really know God. It’s not just knowing scriptures, coming to church, singing a few hymns. It’s about really knowing God intimately like Adam and Eve and Moses. I would love to hear from God as Abraham did, I am a friend of God. We can only love God as much as we know Him. How many of us loved our best friend or spouse before we even knew them? Impossible isn’t it. We may have that brotherly love towards them, but I am talking about intimate, passionate love. That’s what God wants from us. That can only come through a living relationship with Him.

Jesus said on judgement day He will be separating the sheep from the goats. There are some that will cry out and say didn’t we claim you as Lord, didn’t we go to church, didn’t we sing those beautiful hymns uplifting your name, didn’t we serve others and give all the time unto your name? And Jesus will look at them and tell them ‘I do not know you.’ But why? Why would Jesus say this? Surely if we have said to Him Lord I confess my sins, I ask you to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins, we will go to heaven. We are to work our salvation out daily, being in a relationship with Him. There is no point in giving to the church and serving in the church if we are going to neglect the poor, the down trodden, the beaten, the lonely, the hurting. If we are in relationship with Jesus, we will love them as well, because we never know, we may be entertaining angels or even Jesus himself. Jesus said whatever you have done unto these brothers you have done unto me.

If we want to see God’s glory in the church, there must be divine order in our lives. We must know God intimately. We have to die to ourselves and have no agendas but God’s. In the early church, the disciples in the Upper Room were in one accord. The interesting thing I found was that there were only a few that afternoon in the Upper Room compared to the amount of people that said that they were followers of Jesus. There was a little over a hundred and that may seem a lot but when compared to 5000 plus people, but really it is not.

Those who decide that they want to experience the true shekinah glory of the Lord will wait for Him, they will die to themselves, and they will go where God goes. All that should matter is following Jesus. Those that left Jesus, either got fed up and bored waiting, got too comfortable and just wanted it the way it had always been, or just went back to their old lifestyles. The ones that had the true desire to know God intimately, received His power at Pentecost. And when His power came, thousands came to know the Lord as their Saviour after Peter stood up and preached. They were so full of His power that the people thought they were absolutely drunk in the later hours of the morning!

It is our choice whether or not we really want to experience the true glory of God. He wants to share it with us. He wants to have that intimate relationship with us as He did with Adam and Eve in the garden. He wants to have a closeness with us as He did with Moses, David, Peter, Paul. We have to take a look at the costs of following Him and decide, is this worth it. Are we willing to stop following our own agendas for ourselves and or the church? Are we willing to die to ourselves and pursue His holiness, pursue His glory? I cannot make the decision for you. I can only make it for myself. Do we really want what God wants for us or do we just want to keep going as we are?

It is my desire to follow hard after God’s own heart. I want to experience His shekinah glory and I want to really know Him. The more I do, the more I love Him and I want to share that love. I want to be busy going where God wants and being who He has called me to be. Do you?

Feasting on the Word

Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. -Psalm 119:97
 
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. -Psalm 119:105
 
Where is your personal Bible? Is it a family Bible that sits on a shelf like an ornament? Is it just another book collecting dust? Or is it used or marked or bent pages throughout? Reading and studying God’s word provides nourishment for our growth. If we are to grow spiritually and become mature in Christ, we must feast on His word.
 
The Bible is God’s Word. In fact, more than 760 times in the Old Testament authors identify their message as the “Word of God” or repeats the phrase “the Lord says.” The New Testament also claims to be God’s Word. The Gospel message has divine authority. Jesus declared in our reading of John 8 this week that He only speaks what the Father says. The Bible has 66 books which were written over approximately 1500 years. The New Testament does not wipe out the Old Testament. Sadly, I have heard through the years that the Old Testament is no longer applicable to today and that Jesus came with the New Law which took over the Old. Jesus came to fulfil the law but not to abolish it. The Old Testament is just as important (not just Psalms by the way) as the New. In fact, the majority of the New doesn’t make full sense without the Old. And if the Old is not important, why would Jesus and Paul make loads of references to Old Testament Scriptures? Both the Old and New Testaments are essential to our growth.
 
God’s word has authority. It demands serious attention and respect. The wisdom comes from God’s Spirit who is understood by those who are mature in their faith. Others cannot understand because one they are not saved and two, they don’t read and study the Word. If we do not have the Spirit, we cannot understand the things of the Spirit. The Spirit makes known God’s Word to us. When we know the Word, we speak the Word. We then begin to make judgments about life according to the Word.
 
We cannot take what we please from the Bible and use it for our own agenda. The enemy knows passages of Scripture and knows how to manipulate them for his own agenda. Look at the temptation of Jesus for example, Jesus knew the devil’s schemes and was able to stand up against Him. Do we know God’s Word well enough to stand up to the evil one?
 
The trouble is in the world there are a lot of people who twist the Word of God and use it to further their will. God will not be mocked. Many Christians don’t honestly know the Word. They may be able to quote Scriptures and have a bit of head knowledge of what is in the Bible, however it won’t be any more than head knowledge without the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit makes God’s word heart knowledge and the more we read and study it, the more it will change us. Paul tells in Romans 12 that we are to be renewed in the mind. How do we do that? by prayer and by digging into the Word.
 
The Word of God is inspired. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit who supernaturally controlled and guided the human authors to write what God said. Let’s look at 2 Peter 1:20-21: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Our first doctrine says that we believe that the Scriptures from the Old and New Testaments were inspired by God. The Word of God is infallible. God’s word will achieve His purposes. Isaiah 55:.10-11 says “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” God’s word is accurate. The Bible is truth. What God says is true, we cannot change His Word for our own agendas no matter what we would like to do.
 
The Bible focuses on our own personal accountability. Spiritual growth requires us to believe that it is truth. We must believe that it is inspired by God through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must believe that His Word will be accomplished. We are required to respond to God’s word with undivided attention, humble submission and obedience. James 1:19-25 says: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.”
 
The Bible is a catalyst for growth. It is liken to a seed. The Word is the source of growth within our lives. Matthew 13 talks about this. May our hearts be receptive to the Word. God’s Word is the “sword of the Spirit” which is our offensive weapon against Satan. (Ephesians 6) The Word is a light for our path and the more we read it and study it the more it becomes hidden within our hearts so we will not sin against God. The Word of God keeps us from having a hard heart, making us mouldable and responsive to God’s voice. A soft heart allows the Word to grow in our lives. Look at Hebrews 4:12-13: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
 
The Bible is a ministry training manual. It must be our foundational truth for learning how to grow and minister to others. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It is inaccurate to try to apply Scripture to our lives today without accurately studying what it meant within its original and cultural concept. When you read the Word, take time to look at the culture in which was written in, as the Holy Spirit to show you how it is applicable to our culture today and then ask Him to show you how to apply it to your own life.
 
The Bible is not just to be studied in Bible groups or at church. Take time to read it, read it again, think about the context of the passage and how it applies to us today. Always seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. Memorise scriptures, apply them to your life. Pray the Word, the book of Psalms is a great book to praise God from. Be prepared to share the word at any time. If you struggle to understand the Word, switch translations, there are several out there today and ask someone you can trust to help you to understand.
 
Warning though, do not add to God’s word, do not change it or quote scriptures out of context for your own agenda. Jesus warns us about this at the end of Revelation: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Rev 22:18-19)
 
If you read the word, study the word, meditate on it, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and apply it to your life, you will be changed. You will become more Christlike and yes, some may even fuss at you for being too radical or fundamental. Don’t let that stop you. Feast on the Word, rend your hearts to God and be prepared for amazing things in your life.
 
Make it a New Year’s resolution to feast on and digest the Word. You will not be disappointed.

Advent Reading 24/25- Jesus the Baby (Christmas Eve/ Day Reading)

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.  (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.  And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He travelled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.   He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.   And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.  She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.  That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.  Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.  The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” -Luke 2:1-12 NLT

Christmas is about Jesus the baby.  For some reason many Christmas cards have Jesus with a halo around his head and soft velvety animals around the manger.  It also has three wise men bringing gifts to the new-born.  There are a few misconceptions in these images.

First, Jesus didn’t come with a halo alongside Mary and Joseph, if he did many people would recognise him and probably thought there was something strange about him.  Isaiah spoke of Jesus being simple and all throughout the New Testament, Jesus is spoken of as being humble.  There may have been some cute little animals around Jesus but more than likely the donkey which Mary and Joseph rode on as well as the sheep that were brought with the shepherds.  And the greatest misconception are the wise men.  We don’t know if there were three of them, we just assume because of the three gifts.  It could very well been an entourage of men from Babylon and the east.  They arrived in Bethlehem when Jesus was a child more than likely a toddler about 2 years old.

No, I am not trying to disprove the nativity story.  Christmas is indeed about the baby Jesus, but more so his incarnation.  This is the story of God coming to earth as a human.  Christmas is about God’s love stretching beyond heaven’s door to earth.  His birth linked all people together, not just Jews.  God called the shepherds first to witness this beautiful incarnation.  They were of little importance, bottom of the food-chain as far as prestige went.  Jesus came as the Saviour to all nations.  Thus, the reason the wise men came from the east to worship him.  He included the lowest of the low to the richest and most knowledgeable men.

Even as a baby and a child, Jesus created turbulence.  His existence caused a stir and demanded a response.  People either loved or hated him, accepted his love and try to squash it.  Herod tried to get rid of him by murdering all boys 2 and younger (see Matthew 2:13-18), very much like the Pharaoh did when Moses was born.  And just like Moses, Jesus was spared because of God’s intervention.  Moses was a saviour for the Israelites in the Exodus to the promised land.  Jesus came as the Saviour for the whole world.

I know in some parts of the world, Christmas seems to be a swear word.  The reason is simple, people are offended by the message of the incarnated Jesus.  We will cause offence by just being Christians.  This should not come as a surprise to us as Jesus said this was going to happen.  People are offended by Jesus because it goes against their selfish desires.  Sadly, people hate God even though they don’t even believe exists.

God desires everyone to come to know him as their Lord and Saviour.  God wants us to be the bearer of his love.  The question I have for us, if we were tried in a court of law, under oath, for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence in our actions and words to convict us?

Jesus is the incarnation of God himself.  Give thanks to God for his ultimate gift of love.  Spend time today and tomorrow especially, to worship this amazing God.  Jesus came to set us free.  He came for the rich and the poor.  He loves everyone.  Christmas is about Jesus- the baby, the incarnation.  May He be born in us.

Today’s Prayer is the Lyrics for O Holy Night, don’t just sing it, really read and breathe in the words:

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God bless you all.  Happy CHRISTmas!

For further study: Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2

Extra Scripture Readings:   

Thank you for joining with me in this journey studying the names and getting to know about Jesus.  Today we celebrate Jesus and his incarnation.  We celebrate with family and friends, sharing and opening gifts, sharing food and fellowship, taking time to remember the most wonderful gift we could ever receive.  Instead of writing a devotion today, I am going to re-share scriptures about Jesus’ arrival.  Ponder on these and give thanks to JESUS- the greatest person on earth and in heaven.  He is worthy of all our praise.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  -Isaiah 9:6 NLT

 All of this occurred to fulfil the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!  She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” –Matthew 1:22-23 NLT

I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. –John 8:12

I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.       –John 6:48-51

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the broken-hearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favour has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. –Isaiah 6:1-2

John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” –John 1:29

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. –Revelation 19:16

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.      –John 1:14

I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. –Revelation 22:16

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”  Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. –Revelation 5:5-6

You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  –John 15:14-16

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Song of the living God.” –Matthew 16:15-16

I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  –John 10:11

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”  “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” -John 8:57-58 NIV

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”  –John 11:25-26

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”  –John 14:6

 

Advent Reading Day 23:  Jesus is I AM (Part 2)

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”  “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” -John 11:21-26 NLT

Christmas is a time of hope.  Hope because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  Jesus brings hope where there is despair, power into difficult situations, and peace that surpasses all understanding.

Lazarus died and was in the tomb for at least 3 days.  Martha met Him and was clearly upset with Jesus.  She trusted Him but wondered why it took so long for Him to return when He knew His friend was poorly.  She had a good relationship with Jesus and therefore was able to share what was on her heart.  Despite the pain that Martha was feeling, she said to Jesus, “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Martha had faith that Jesus could do what He said He could do.  She believed Jesus was the Christ.

Jesus said “I AM the Resurrection and the Life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.”

What a blessed hope that we have eternal life and will live forever with Jesus!  Hallelujah!

Jesus is our Hope today.  Hope for life, hope for eternal life, and hope for abundant life.

Our physical bodies will die, no one can escape that until Christ returns.  However, those who believe in Jesus can expect our spiritual souls to never die.  Our souls will continue to live on for eternity.  Jesus proves His claim to Martha of being the Resurrection and the Life as He raised Lazarus from the dead.  He sees her faith and responds out of love for His friend.  Lazarus had been dead for four days.  Mary did not understand either why Jesus did not come sooner. She declared that Lazarus’ body would be smelling awful and it would not be right to open the tomb.  However, Jesus asked several of the people there to open the tomb.  He lifted His eyes toward Heaven and prayed a simple prayer and then asked Lazarus to come forth.  Lazarus walks out of the tomb to the shock and joy of everyone witnessing what just happened.  Of course, we know that later Lazarus died again, but his spiritual body still lives on.

Jesus brought life into a seemingly hopeless situation.  How many times have we prayed for something to happen and it just seems like we are hitting a wall?  Jesus changed the life of Lazarus. Jesus was empowered by God the Father and the Holy Spirit; the power raised (power of faith) raised Lazarus from the dead.  Jesus gives us eternal life, because of His own resurrection.  The power of the resurrection is ours, we can seek God to change seemingly impossible situations.

What situations or parts of our lives can Jesus’ resurrection power change? Are there areas within our hearts that we need to be recharged?  Do we truly believe Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life?

Prayer:

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For further study:

Isaiah 25:8; John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58

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Advent Reading Day 22: Jesus is I AM (Part 1)

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”   God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” -Exodus 3:13-14 NIV

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”   “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” -John 8:57-58 NIV

Jesus is I AM. He is complete, one with God, and is God. God is the only one who used the name I AM before Jesus was born. The Hebrew for I AM is Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (I am, will be what I am, will be). When God told Moses what to tell the people and Pharaoh, he told him to say Ehyeh (I am, I will be) has sent you. God is Living, Almighty, Holy, Ever Present, Ever Powerful, Ever Wise. God is Everlasting, our Creator, our Provider, and our King. Jesus declared He is indeed I AM. John starts off his gospel with the words “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Jesus was there in the beginning of time, he helped with creation, he saw the fall of man, the flood of Noah’s time, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, and so on. Jesus saw the plight of man and out of love he was sent to earth for us. What an amazing Saviour and Friend!

Winds and waves obeyed Jesus. In the middle of the storm with the disciples in the boat, Jesus stood up and calmed the seas. He even walked upon the seas and told Peter, “Don’t be afraid- It is I” translated as “Don’t be afraid- It is I AM.” Demons bowed down to Jesus acknowledging him as “I Am.” When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane and the people arresting him asked Jesus to identify himself, he declared “It is I, or I AM.” At this, his enemies fell to the ground because they could not stand in the presence of the Almighty God. James said that demons even believe in God, they know Jesus is I AM, they were defeated by Jesus on the cross and in the resurrection and will be finally put in their place when Jesus returns.

No matter what you are facing today, know that I AM is with you. Despite the storms you are in, Jesus calms the storm and if not, he calms your inner soul. I AM is powerful, he is holy, he is almighty, he is God!

Prayer:
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For further study:
Matthew 16:15-16; Mark 14:61-62; Revelation 1:8, 17; 21:6

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