THE SOON AND COMING KING

“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” – Isaiah 9:6

INGTRODUCTION

In a time of great darkness, God promised to send a light who would shine on everyone living in the shadow of death. He is both ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ and ‘Mighty God’. This message of hope was fulfilled in the birth of Christ and the establishment of His eternal Kingdom. He came to deliver us from slavery of sin.

Great Expectations

Imagine that a message has come about the visit of a great King.  This king who is coming to visit your city is of impeccable pedigree – a line of ancestors known for their great leadership qualities.  This expected King has a reputation for fairness, justice, kindness, wisdom and generosity.  All over town people’s expectations are high.  The people know that the King will not just visit and go along His way without leaving them something that will make their lives better so each person in the village has made their own list of things that they will either directly or indirectly ask from the King.  The issue of not receiving what is asked for is totally out of the question.  The awaited King is not like that.  He not only keeps His word.  He is one who is compassionate and listens to His people and so wherever He goes He leaves a train of fulfilled dreams and hopes.

The Great King

In Isaiah 9:1-7, we read of the famous prophecy at the coronation of either Hezekiah or Josiah as King of Judah “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.  In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the  future he will honour Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.  The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.  You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.  Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.  For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” 

The prophecy speaks of the close of the chapter of doom, gloom and melancholy. In verses 2 & 3, Isaiah draws a contrast between the darkness of despair and the joyous salvation which will be ushered in by the coming king, who will be the long awaited Saviour.  This passage in Isaiah is quoted extensively at Christmas time because it is the prophecy concerning the coming of the King of kings and Saviour of the world – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Later Isaiah gives us names which are descriptive of the nature, character and power of this coming King.  These names have a very special meaning to us because we know that Jesus has fulfilled every aspect of the prophecy.

Wonderful Counsellor

This coming king – Jesus, is exceptional because He is the Son of God and Son of man.  He gives the right advice because He is intimately acquainted with the counsels of God from eternity.  In fact John, one of His apostles describes Him as ‘one who was with God in the beginning’ – John 1:1-2. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God He was with God in the beginning.”(NIV) This Wonderful Counsellor is the wisdom of God our Father who has made Him our wisdom.  We can rely on Him for wisdom to handle our everyday situations and solve seemingly intractable problems.  He is our wisdom because He enables us to move beyond our selfishness, greed, unholiness and self-will and submit to God’s direction without feeling that our peers would consider us foolish.

Mighty God

The coming King is a Divine Warrior because He has supernatural skill and strength in battle.  Because He is God Himself, Jesus is able to fight and overcome every scheme of the devil concerning the lives of His redeemed.  But even more, His divine skills in battle are transferred to us through the armour He has provided us which include the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness the gospel of peace; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit as we read in Ephesians 6:13-17. “Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. – (NIV)  Through God’s might we are able to overcome one of our greatest enemies – the SELF; the I in us which insists on having its own way even if that way is against God and humanity.  The might of God, given us through the coming King, Jesus Christ, gives us power to resist the world’s seductive attractions.

Everlasting Father

This coming King is timeless; He is God our Father or better put Father for ever, meaning that the King will look after His people as a father looks after His children.  Jesus’ own promise to the disciples (and to us) is that no one can snatch us from His hands because we have been given to Him by His Father, God: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.    I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I am the Father are one”- John 10:27-30 (NIV).

Prince of Peace

As a King, He preserves commands and creates peace in His Kingdom.  He Himself is Peace and therefore brings prosperity and well-being to His people.  He does this by governing with justice, righteousness and equity.  In Isaiah 11:1-9 gives further detail about what constitutes the rule of the Prince of Peace as follows:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from the roots a Branch will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord – and He will delight in the fear of the Lord.  He will not judge by what He sees with his eyes or decide by what He hears with His ears, but with righteousness He will judge the needy, with justice He will give decisions for poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.  Righteousness will be His belt and faithfulness the sash around His waist.  The wolf will be with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together and a little child will lead them.  The cow will feed with the bear, and their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The infant will play near the hole of the cobra and the young child put his hand into the vipers nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” – (NIV)

Getting Ready for the King

During this period until soon after Christmas, let us all be meditating on the message of Christmas.  It is the message of God coming down to our level so that we will be raised to His level.  It is a message of salvation from sin, the breaking of the bonds of slavery to Satan.  It is a message of God lovingly binding broken hearts and healing diseases.  But most of all, it is a message of restoration – God restoring us to the original relationship He created us to have with Him. 

SING, WE THE KING WHO IS COMING TO REIGN – MHB 116 (verse 1& 5)

1 Sing we the King who is coming to reign,
Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain,
Life and salvation his empire shall bring
Joy to the nations when Jesus is King.

Refrain:
Come let us sing: Praise to our King,
Jesus our King, Jesus our King;
This is our song, who to Jesus belong:
Glory to Jesus, to Jesus our King.

5 Kingdom of Christ, for thy coming we pray,
Hasten, O Father, the dawn of the day
When this new song thy creation shall sing,
Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King.

Stay blessed!

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THE HOPE OF ADVENT

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!” – Acts 2:1-8

INTRODUCTION

Advent,” says Pope Francis, “is a journey toward the horizon of hope. Does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God”. A hope that does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful!”

During Advent, we are invited to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord – to wait in joyful hope for His return in glory at the end of time and to prepare for the annual celebration of His birth.

REFLECT

The Holy Spirit’s arrival was a fulfilment of Jesus’ promise and also John the Baptist’s words about the Holy Spirit’s baptizing with fire (Luke 3:16 – John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But One who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.), and of the prophet Joel’s words about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29 – And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.).

Tongues of fire were the sign of His arrival.

Why tongues of fire? Tongues symbolize speech and the communication of the gospel. Fire symbolizes God’s purifying presence, which burns away the undesirable elements of our lives and sets our hearts aflame to ignite the lives of others. On Mount Sinai, God confirmed the validity of the Old Testament law with fire from heaven (Exodus 19:16-18). At Pentecost, God confirmed the validity of the Holy Spirit’s ministry by sending fire. At Mount Sinai, fire had come down on one place; at Pentecost, fire came down on many believers, symbolizing that God’s presence is now available to all who believe in Him.

RESPOND

God made His presence known to this group of believers in a spectacular way—violent wind, fire, and His Holy Spirit. Would you like God to reveal Himself to you in such recognizable ways? He may do so, but be wary of forcing your expectations on God. In 1 Kings 19:10-13, Elijah also needed a message from God. There was a great wind, then an earthquake, and finally a fire. But God’s message came in a “gentle whisper.” God may use dramatic methods to work in your life—or He may speak in a gentle whisper. Wait patiently and always listen.

A PRAYER FOR HOPE

Heavenly Father,

Advent is a time for remembering and reflecting on the birth of Your Son and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Father, I pray that You will turn our hearts toward You as Christmas approaches.  Let us not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season this year and miss the chance to celebrate the gifts of hope, peace, joy, love, that You sent to us on that first Christmas day!

Father God, every word in scripture points to the gift of hope that we have because of Christ Jesus.  The Christmas story wasn’t the beginning of that message of hope because the old testament is full of glimpses of Your plan to redeem Your people and restore them into a relationship with You, but we are able to truly begin to see and understand just how great Your love for us is when we read the story of Jesus’ birth in Scripture.

You showed us a glimmer of that hope as You chose to send Your Son into this earth through a family tree that was a little bent and scarred.  We glanced it again as You chose a tribe that was small and a city that was lowly. We are grateful that You didn’t send Your Son to be birthed in a fancy palace among the wealthy and the elite, but our King of kings and Lord of lords was born among common shepherds and livestock in a barn.

The family wasn’t ideal.  The surroundings weren’t grand.  The situation wasn’t without its’ difficulties, however, You came in the midst of all of that.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  God in the messy.  God in the dirty.  God in the difficult and the troubled. 

Your plan to redeem and restore mankind was to dwell among us, fully God and fully man.  You chose to come to earth enrobed in the fragile soft skin of a newborn baby and set aside all of the glory of heaven for one purpose.  You came to be with us.  You came to love us.  You came to die for us, so that we might live.

Help us to see that You are with us.  Nothing is too difficult, too messy, or too dirty for you.  Jesus came to give us the gift of eternal life through the salvation that only you, our Heavenly Father, can give when we believe in Your Son, repent of our sins, and confess Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

That first Christmas, You gave us the gift of hope wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  Thank you, Father, for your immeasurable gift.

We are bold to pray like this because of this precious name of Your Son and our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ. With thanksgiving Amen.

MHB 150 – THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE

1 Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,

When Thou camest to earth for me;

But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room

For Thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

2 Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,

Proclaiming Thy royal degree;

But of lowly birth cams’t Thou come to earth,

And in great humility.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliot, 1836-1897

Remain Blessed!

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GOD MAKES LIFE GOOD

“Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.” – Job 37:14

We live in troubled and uncertain times where basic values and integrity have been pushed aside. Sadly, many people have given up trying to promote a sense of morality and have chosen to just go with the flow.

If you are in this position, then, like Job, you should pause and consider God’s wonders.

Reflect on the wonderful deeds of God. Out of chaos and darkness, He created this beautiful earth. He loved us so much that He saved us from the bonds of sin and death. Through the life of Jesus, He gave us an example of the fullness of life.

Praise Him for all His wonderful deeds and for His indescribable grace.
Lord, You fill my heart with gladness. Thank You for Your glorious deeds I see all around me every day. Amen.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Grace from Each Moment.

A NEW YEAR WITH GOD

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” – Psalm 32:8.

The prospect of a new year can be exciting because of many new possibilities and opportunities, but also disquieting if you face the future with anxiety – wondering whether the problems and disasters of the past will repeat themselves.

International crises, financial setbacks, as well as personal problems and disappointments tend to cloud our vision of the future.

Always remember that you can place your hope in the omniscience of God. He truly cares about you and He loves you deeply. Believe in the promises of Jesus and approach the new year in His loving presence. He will guide you through the labyrinth of life because He knows what is best for you.

Prayer: You are truly a God of love! Thank You for sending Your only Son so that I, too, can be saved. Amen.

 

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Grace for Each Moment.

ONE BIG REQUEST

John 15:16

Yesterday we looked at God’s promise in John 14:14. Too often people take the verse to imply, “If you ask anything, I will do it.” They overlook the most essential phrase: “in My name.”

Asking in Christ’s name has two meanings. First, believers are welcome to make requests that align with God’s purpose and plan. To do that, we need to ask Him if our prayers match His will. God has several ways of assuring followers that they are on the correct path. For instance, He may increase right desires or decrease wrong ones. Another possibility is that He will use His Word to redirect a Christian’s steps or confirm that the believer is going the right way. Either way, God will make a path for the man or woman who seeks to do His will.

Second, invoking Christ’s name means that we desire to glorify Him instead of ourselves. James gives this warning: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). To understand that, let’s consider those who are trying to pray their way out of a financial hole as an example. The question is, Does a person want to get out of debt so that he has more for himself or so that he can use the excess in God-honoring ways? Motives are apparent to God, and He will not encourage ones rooted in sin.

In the name Jesus Christ, there is abundant power. However, calling upon Him in prayer is not a magic charm to get what we want. Rather, it is a signal that we are laying down our personal desires and our own way of getting things done. In so doing, we commit to follow God and bring honor to Him.
Bible in One Year: Luke 2-3

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PURPOSE AND PRAYER

”‘I know what I am planning for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you a hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you’” (Jeremiah 29:11-12 NCV).

Is there anything God can’t do? There are a lot of things God can’t do. He can’t deny himself. He can’t be evil. God is good, so by nature, he cannot do bad things. Everything God does is good. And so, because God is good, God’s plans for your life will always be good.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “‘I know what I am planning for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you a hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you’” (NCV).
Do you see the connection between prayer and God’s plans for your life?

I’ve said this many times, but I’ll say it again: You are not an accident. There is a purpose for your life. There are accidental parents, but there are no accidental children. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did, and he wanted you alive.
Now, God didn’t have to create a plan for your life. He could have just let you be born and then wander around aimlessly.
But God has never made anything without a purpose. Everything has a purpose and a plan. God gave you a plan for your life. Why? Because he loves you. He is a good God, so he put a lot of thought into creating you.

And now you may ask, “Well, how do I know God’s plan?” God’s plans for your life are revealed and realized through prayer. The more you pray, the more you’re going to understand God’s plan for your life. When you pray to him, he listens, and he answers and reveals more of himself to you.
STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren

GOD FORGIVES YOU. NOW FORGIVE YOURSELF.

”He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve . . . He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:10, 12 NLT).God always gives us what we need, not what we deserve. Psalm 103:10, 12 says, “He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve . . . He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (NLT).
Instead of giving us the punishment we deserve, Jesus Christ paid for all our sins and all our wrongs. I like that the Bible says, “as far as the east is from the west,” because there’s no end to east and west. There is a north pole, and there is a south pole. But there is no end from east to west. God has simply taken our sin and wiped it out!
And if God has forgiven you, then you need to forgive yourself.

There’s this guy in the Bible, King David, who committed adultery and then, to cover it up, had the woman’s husband murdered. Those are pretty big sins—murder and adultery. Did David deserve to be forgiven? No. Did David deserve mercy? No. But David knew that God is a good God, and so he asked for mercy. He prayed: “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2 NLT).
If you are struggling with a big sin right now, you need to go read all of Psalm 51. The entire psalm is based on who God is, not who you are.

Let me make this really clear: God forgives you not because you’re good but because he is good. He is a good God, and he has a good plan for you—even when you blow it big-time. Nothing can separate you from his love!
STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren

BE READY

‘You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’
Luke 12:40 NIV

We know that one day Jesus is going to come back again. So we need to be ready for Him. He may come tomorrow, in a year, or even after our lifetime – so we need to make sure we’re prepared. Jesus said: ‘You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him’ (v.40 NIV). Jesus compares us waiting for His return to a manager who has been put in charge of the servant’s food allowance while the master goes away.

The Message version sums up the story like this: ‘He is a blessed man if when the master shows up he’s doing his job. But if he says to himself, “The master is certainly taking his time,” begins maltreating the servants and maids, throws parties for his friends, and gets drunk, the master will walk in when he least expects it, give him the thrashing of his life, and put him back in the kitchen peeling potatoes’ (Luke 12:42-46 MSG).

Imagine if we all started living in an un-Christlike way, treating other people badly, disobeying rules, and putting ourselves first. There would be chaos. But, even worse, imagine if we were living like that, and then Jesus showed up. He saw the way we were living. Would He be pleased with how we were behaving? This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, we all make mistakes, and that’s why God’s grace and mercy are so amazing. But what it does mean is that we need to be trying to live in a way that glorifies Him.

He knows when we are trying to live in a Christlike way. He sees our heart.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Word for You

THE CONSEQUENCES OF IMPATIENCE

Luke 15:11-21
How serious is a lack of patience? We generally write it off as inconsequential. It’s often seen as a weakness rather than a sin—after all, it’s not as bad as adultery, theft, or murder. But have you ever considered what your impatience reveals about your attitude toward God?

When we demonstrate an inability to tolerate delay, we are telling the Lord, “I don’t trust Your timing; mine is better.” Can you see the seriousness of this attitude? Impatience is a display of pride because we are elevating our understanding above that of our all-knowing God.
The prodigal son’s journey toward disaster began with impatience. He wanted his inheritance immediately and was unwilling to wait. After taking matters into his own hands, he faced the following consequences:
He brought sorrow on his family. Likewise, our impatience hurts those we love.
He left the security of home. When we run ahead of God, we often leave behind the voices of reason and wisdom in our life.
He found himself in ruin. God’s blessing accompanies our obedience, so we stand to lose a great deal when we ignore His timing.
He felt unworthy. We don’t experience fellowship with the Lord when impatience keeps us outside of His will.

Although the prodigal son was welcomed home, he could never regain the inheritance he’d lost. We, too, must often live with painful consequences as a result of jumping ahead of God. Let’s remember it’s better to wait patiently until the Lord moves us forward.
Bible in One Year: Acts 10-1

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries

WORRY DOESN’T HELP, SO WHY WASTE YOUR TIME?

“Do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:6 NIV).

Worry will kill your joy and cause you stress. We tend to expect the worst in life. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, they affect 18.1 percent of the U.S. population.
But worry isn’t just a mental issue. It’s a spiritual one. It’s assuming a responsibility that God never intended for us to have. It’s playing God and trying to control the uncontrollable.

There was once a scientific study on worry that discovered:
40% of our worries never happen
30% of our worries concern the past
12% of our worries are needless worries about our health
10% of our worries are insignificant or petty concerns
8% of our worries are really legitimate concerns
Worry is worthless. It can’t change the past or control the future. It only messes you up right now. It’s an incredible waste of energy. It’s stewing without doing. When we worry about things, they get bigger and bigger.

The Bible says, “Do not worry about anything” (Philippians 4:6 NCV). It’s one of the hardest commands to obey. It’s even more countercultural when you consider where Paul was when he wrote it. He was sitting in a prison waiting for the emperor to execute him.

Worry is something we learn to do. You must practice worry to get good at it. If it is learned, it can also be unlearned.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (NIV).

Jesus gives us the ultimate antidote to worry. Live one day at a time. God will take care of tomorrow.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Dailt Hope with Rick Warren