Beneath the Surface

sydney-harbour-fireworks

All over the world last night there were events such as this, where millions of people gathered to celebrate a new year.

While they had the public’s attention, the real power in 2014 was being unleashed in thousands of smaller gatherings ranging from 5 or so to perhaps a thousand.

New Year’s prayer vigils in every little town and many little churches invoked God’s blessing in their communities in the year ahead.

I took part in such a meeting, from 9pm to midnight- and it was the best three hours I have invested in a long time.

Happy New Year!

Reflection on Jeremiah 31:7-14

joy

The Lord commands us “Rejoice!”

For He will restore and pardon

Those whom He has punished

The nation of His heart.

Where we are scattered,

He will gather like Israel

restored from the four corners

Like sheep gathered under a shepherd

What bounty, what provision

For a nation, food and wine

For a people joy and gladness

All at the hands of the Lord.

Do you know Him?

Do you know the Lord?

Turn to Him and come back home

You will find deep joy in Him.

Reflection on Matthew 1:18-25

Scripture
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name of Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Observation
Mary discovers she is pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, Joseph decides to divorce her quietly.
An angel appears to Joseph telling him that the child has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will have a son who is to be named Jesus.
This all happened in order to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah- The virgin will conceive and bear a son and they will call him Immanuel- God with us.

Application
The Christmas story is told so often that we become overly familiar with it, losing all the wonder that should be there.
Apart from the outrageous claim that this baby conceived outside of marriage is the Son of God, there is the extraordinary faith of two ordinary people.
Mary, a virgin, meekly (probably anxiously) accepts her responsibility to bear and nurture the Saviour.
Joseph, a man of great integrity and gentleness, comes to accept the preposterous story of the baby’s origin and plays his own part in raising the son.
Mary and Joseph were uniquely equipped for their roles. When God calls us to a task, he always supplies everything we need.

Prayer
Thank you  Father for the example of Mary and Joseph in accepting your commission. Help me to discern your plan for my life and to follow that plan. Amen.

Barbie Breathitt: God Wants to Open Our Eyes to See So that We Can Know Him in a New Way

Barbie Breathitt:
God Wants to Open Our Eyes to See So that We Can Know Him in a New Way

Barbie BreathittGod Is Spirit, and He Communicates In Spirit and In Truth

When the two disciples walked the road to Emmaus, they encountered Jesus. The two men saw Jesus, they walked and talked with Jesus, yet they did not recognize Him as the resurrected Lord (see Luke 24:17). Jesus had taken on a new, glorious form – as He often does.

Jesus sometimes comes in a form we are not familiar with, and it offends our minds. Jesus is the Son of God and Son of Man, the Word, the Lamb and the Lion, the Advocate, Friend, Defender, Provider, Lord and Savior of the world, and so much more. God is Spirit, so He communicates to us through the Spirit of Truth. The Bible tells us that where two or more are gathered “I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).

Road to EmmausThe disciples felt that they knew this man who walked and talked with them. Jesus asked, “What are you discussing?” They answered Him:

“‘But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.’ And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:17, 22-27).

Their understanding was quickened by His spiritual Words of wisdom. They listened as Jesus, the resurrected Son of God, the Master Teacher, taught about Jesus the Prophet and Seer. Their spiritual ears bore witness to His greatness, but their eyes did not recognize Him in the natural because He came in a different form – Jesus had entered into His glory!

God Wants to Open Our Eyes to See So that We Can Know Him in a New Way

And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. Luke 24:28-29

Jesus always desires to take us farther down the road than we are willing to walk with Him. We set the limits on the heights, depths, or distances Jesus can take us. But in His mercy and great grace, He is willing to recline and rest with us. He will bless us and commune with us until we are ready to take the next step. We are destined to know Him from glory to glory.

Jesus continued to commune with the men as they rested around the dinner table. Jesus remained with the men until their eyes were opened to see Him for who He is and to discern truth.

When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. Luke 24:30-31

When Jesus broke the breadThe disciple’s eyes were opened to recognize Jesus when He broke the communion bread. Jesus came to share a meal with the disciples to release the promises of the words He had spoken on the road to Emmaus. Prophetic promises are released in the covenant meal of communion if we are able to rightly discern His body. The bread represented His body that had been broken for the salvation of the world.

But God healed Jesus’ broken body. Jesus walked and talked in resurrection power. When the disciples recognized Jesus in His resurrected state, He vanished from their sight. When our dim eyes are opened to see at one level or dimension, Jesus will start the process of enabling us to see Him on an ever-increasing level of clarity.

Once Jesus vanished from their presence, “They said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’ And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, ‘The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.’ They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:32-35).

Our hearts burned within usWhen we discover who Jesus is at one level, He will empower us to know Him in a deeper and more profound way. Our hearts are ignited to burn with a passionate love. The living, resurrected Word will manifest in flesh once again.

 

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Reflection on Romans 1:1-7

Scripture

who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ.

Observation

The gospel was promised long before the birth of Jesus. He was promised by the prophets, declared with power by the Holy Spirit and by his resurrection to be the Son of God.

It was for Christ that Paul was called to be be an apostle, and we were called to belong to Christ Jesus.

Application

The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were not random events thought up on the spur of the moment. The Old Testament scriptures point to Jesus. The Holy Spirit validated His teaching, but above all, the resurrection proves that He is the Christ.

He calls us to follow Him to what Paul calls “the obedience that comes from faith.” In the Old Testament times, the Law showed people what to do in order to please God. Now, our relationship with Christ shows us what to do.

The events we celebrate at Christmas bring in a new age- one in which everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike, is invited into a life of dedication to the Father.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for calling me into your glorious kingdom. Help me to be faithful and obedient. Amen.

Reflection on Isaiah 7:10-16

Isaiah-7-14-kjv

Scripture

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and she shall name him Immanuel”

 Observation

King Ahaz of Judah is threatened by an alliance between Israel and Syria, Ahaz is worried, but the Lord, though Isaiah, tells him not to be afraid.

 Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask the Lord for a sign. Ahaz refuses, so Isaiah gives him one anyway.

 A virgin (or young woman) will bear a child and call him Immanuel. By the time the child is old enough to choose right from wrong, the lands of the kings Ahaz fears will be laid to waste.

Application

While this prophecy refers to the immediate time of King Ahaz, it also speaks of the birth of Jesus, our Immanuel.

 Jesus is the saviour who has, in a manner of speaking, laid waste to the lands of our enemy the devil.

 Because of Jesus we have nothing to fear from the evil one.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the message of Christmas- Immanuel, God is with us. Thank you for the knowledge that you are always with me. Amen.