GOD CAME NEAR

“His kingdom will never end.” LUKE 1:33

She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. “His kingdom will never end.”

He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.

Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat.

Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter. She touches the face of the infant-God.

from GOD CAME NEAR

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Dark Nights—God’s Light

Pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him. 1 TIMOTHY 2:1

You wonder if it is a blessing or a curse to have a mind that never rests. But you would rather be a cynic than a hypocrite, so you continue to pray with one eye open and wonder:

about starving children
about the power of prayer
about Christians in cancer wards …

Tough questions. Throw-in-the-towel questions. Questions the disciples must have asked in the storm. All they could see were black skies as they bounced in the battered boat.… [Then] a figure came to them walking on the water. It wasn’t what they expected.… They almost missed seeing the answer to their prayers.

And unless we look and listen closely, we risk making the same mistake. God’s lights in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them.

In the Eye of the Storm

Power, Love, and a Sound Mind

“For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

This little verse is full of information. In the previous verse, Paul insisted that Timothy “stir up” the gift that he had received and use it as it was intended because God did not give us a “spirit of fear.”

The Greek word deilia, translated as “fear,” stresses timidity or cowardice as opposed to terror. God’s gift does not function well if we are too timid to use it. His gift has power, love, and a “sound mind.”

The gift is not power. God’s gift (whatever it may be) comes with dunamis–the innate ability to carry out the gift. All the Twice-Born are given “the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). Whatever the Holy Spirit has gifted us with upon our entrance into His kingdom (1 Corinthians 12:11), He has also given the necessary power to implement and use that gift.

Your gift also comes with love. Again, “love” is not the gift but part of the character of our Lord Jesus and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Were it not for the reflection in us of the unilateral and sacrificial love of our Redeemer, these supernatural gifts could be misused, distorted, and abused for personal glory. Diotrephes misused his gift, failing to use the spirit of love (3 John 1:9).

Sophronismos is the unique Greek word used to describe the spirit of a “sound mind” that is given to us with our gift. It’s a combination of the Greek verbs translated as “to save” and “to control.” Its basic meaning would be “safe control” or “wholesome control”–perhaps even “control that saves.”

With our spiritual gifts comes the perfect combination of abilities that empower the gift, the love that keeps the gifts focused on others, and the “safety controls” that keep it from doing damage unwittingly. HMM III

And when forty years were expired

And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush… saying… I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.” (Acts 7:30, 32, 34.)

THAT was a long wait in preparation for a great mission. When God delays, He is not inactive. He is getting ready His instruments, He is ripening our powers; and at the appointed moment we shall arise equal to our task. Even Jesus of Nazareth was thirty years in privacy, growing in wisdom before He began His work.—Dr. Jowett.

God is never in a hurry but spends years with those He expects to greatly use. He never thinks the days of preparation too long or too dull.

The hardest ingredient in suffering is often time. A short, sharp pang is easily borne, but when a sorrow drags its weary way through long, monotonous years, and day after day returns with the same dull routine of hopeless agony, the heart loses its strength, and without the grace of God, is sure to sink into the very sullenness of despair. Joseph’s was a long trial, and God often has to burn His lessons into the depths of our being by the fires of protracted pain. “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver,” but He knows how long, and like a true goldsmith He stops the fires the moment He sees His image in the glowing metal. We may not see now the outcome of the beautiful plan which God is hiding in the shadow of His hand; it yet may be long concealed; but faith may be sure that He is sitting on the throne, calmly waiting the hour when, with adoring rapture, we shall say, “All things have worked together for good.” Like Joseph, let us be more careful to learn all the lessons in the school of sorrow than we are anxious for the hour of deliverance. There is a “need-be” for every lesson, and when we are ready, our deliverance will surely come, and we shall find that we could not have stood in our place of higher service without the very things that were taught us in the ordeal. God is educating us for the future, for higher service and nobler blessings; and if we have the qualities that fit us for a throne, nothing can keep us from it when God’s time has come. Don’t steal tomorrow out of God’s hands. Give God time to speak to you and reveal His will. He is never too late; learn to wait.—Selected.

“He never comes too late; He knoweth what is best;
Vex not thyself in vain; until He cometh—BEST.”

Do not run impetuously before the Lord; learn to wait His time: the minute-hand as well as the hour-hand must point the exact moment for action.

Why wilt thou fell the goodly cedars of Lebanon?

“Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” John 17:24

O death! why dost thou touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches weariness hath rest? Why dost thou snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight? If thou must use thine axe, use it upon the trees which yield no fruit; thou mightest be thanked then. But why wilt thou fell the goodly cedars of Lebanon? O stay thine axe, and spare the righteous. But no, it must not be; death smites the goodliest of our friends; the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why? It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer—”Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” It is that which bears them on eagle’s wings to heaven.

Every time a believer mounts from this earth to paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer. A good old divine remarks, “Many times Jesus and His people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your knee in prayer and say ‘Father, I will that Thy saints be with me where I am’; Christ says, ‘Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.'” Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with you too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the King should step from His throne, and say, “Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another, which shall be answered?”

Oh! I am sure, though it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, “Jesus, not my will, but Thine be done.” You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life, if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite direction—”Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” Lord, Thou shalt have them. By faith we let them go.

He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed

“And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed.” Matthew 26:39

There are several instructive features in our Saviour’s prayer in His hour of trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from His three favoured disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial. Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the Church, will not suffice, these are very precious, but the best beaten spice will smoke in your censer in your private devotions, where no ear hears but God’s.

It was humble prayer. Luke says He knelt, but another evangelist says He “fell on His face.” Where, then, must be THY place, thou humble servant of the great Master? What dust and ashes should cover thy head! Humility gives us good foot-hold in prayer. There is no hope of prevalence with God unless we abase ourselves that He may exalt us in due time.

It was filial prayer. “Abba, Father.” You will find it a stronghold in the day of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject, you have forfeited them by your treason; but nothing can forfeit a child’s right to a father’s protection. Be not afraid to say, “My Father, hear my cry.”

Observe that it was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Cease not until you prevail. Be as the importunate widow, whose continual coming earned what her first supplication could not win. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

Lastly, it was the prayer of resignation. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Yield, and God yields. Let it be as God wills, and God will determine for the best. Be thou content to leave thy prayer in his hands, who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold. So pleading, earnestly, importunately, yet with humility and resignation, thou shalt surely prevail.

Time of Year to Remember

Death – 60 seconds to understand 60 seconds with God…

For the next 60 seconds, set aside whatever you’re doing and take this opportunity!

Let’s see if Satan can stop this.

THE (SCIENTIFIC) DEATH OF JESUS

At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty.

At the time crucifixion was the “worst” death. Only the worst criminals were condemned to be crucified. Jesus was to be nailed to the cross by His hands and feet.

Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long.

The nails were driven into His wrist.
Not into His palms as is commonly portrayed.
There’s a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder.
The Roman guards knew that when the nails
were being hammered into the wrist,
that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus
to use His back muscles to support himself
so that He could breathe.

Both of His feet were nailed together.
Thus He was forced to support Himself on the single nail
that impaled His feet to the cross.
Jesus could not support himself with His legs
because of the pain, so He was forced to alternate
between arching His back then using his legs just to continue to breathe.
Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage.

Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours.

Yes, over 3 hours!
Can you imagine this kind of suffering?
A few minutes before He died,
Jesus stopped bleeding.
He was simply pouring water from his wounds.

From common images, we see wounds to His hands
and feet and even the spear wound to His side…
But do we realize His wounds were actually made in his body.
A hammer driving large nails through the wrist,
the feet overlapped and an even large nail
hammered through the arches,
then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear.
But before the nails and the spear,
Jesus was whipped and beaten.

The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body.
The beating so horrific that His face was torn
and his beard ripped from His face.
The crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp.
Most men would not have survived this torture.

He had no more blood to bleed out,
only water poured from His wounds.
The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters
(just less than a gallon) of blood.

Jesus poured all 3.5 liters of his blood;
He had three nails hammered into His members;
a crown of thorns on His head and, beyond that,
a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into His chest.

All these without mentioning the humiliation
He passed after carrying His own cross for almost
2 kilometers, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones
(the cross was almost 30 kg of weight, only for its higher part,
where His hands were nailed).

Jesus had to endure this experience,
so that we can have free access to God.

So that our sins could be “washed” away.
All of them, with no exception!

JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR US!

He died for us! It is easy to pass jokes
and false witness statements by e-mail,
but when it comes to God,
sometimes we feel ashamed to forward to others
because we are worried of what
they may think about us.

60 seconds with God…

For the next 60 seconds, set aside what you’re doing
and take this opportunity!

Let’s see if Satan can stop this.

All you have to do is pass this on pray for those who spread God’s Word …AND… Take a moment to appreciate the power of God in your life, for doing what pleases Him.

If you are not ashamed to do this, please, follow Jesus’ instructions He said (Matthew 10:32 & 33):
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before My Father in heaven; but whosoever denies Me before others, I also will deny before My Father in heaven.”

If you believe, share this message…
But send it only if you believe in
Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Yes, I love God.
He is my source of life and my Savior.
He keeps me alive day and night.

Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13.

Share this to all those you love.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid”..