God bless you all, if you can fast, do, if you can not, please do pray along with us.
1 Peter 2:9
Pray for grace to exercise your royal priesthod power that has been given to you from your Father in heaven and may you live royalily throughout 2015 and may you enjoy all the benefits that comes with heavenly royality in Jesus Name. Amen.
John chapter 14 verse 23
Pray that God will through the Holy Spirit, teach you how to obey and keep His word and may God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, take their humble aboard in your life, family and ministry in Jesus Name. Amen
Job chapter 42 verse 7 – 10
Pray that God will give you grace to forgive like Job did and as you do so, may God restore double to you all that you lost in 2014 in Jesus Miraculous Name, we pray. Amen.
Psalm chapter 107 verse 19 – 20
Pray that Holy Spirit will teach you this year, how to cry out to God like Jesus as our typical example, and as you do so throughout this year, may God hear you at all times, deliver you and put your enemies in confusions at all times in Jesus Name. Amen.
Extra Prayer Points say it every bit faith in You.
I pray that every word of God that i have confessed will start to transform me to the original image of God by fire in Jesus Name. Amen.
I command the Blood of Jesus to wipe away every mark of stagnancy and failure from my forehead in Jesus Name. Amen.
I ask that the Blood of Jesus will erase every evil and negative name, i have ever been called in Jesus Name. Amen.
From now on, i begin to function fearfully and wonderfully in the resemblance of God by Fire in Jesus Name. Amen.
From now on, i begin to enjoy the presence of God in my home, business and destiny in Jesus Name. Amen.
I become the battle axe of the Lord and put my enemies to flight in Jesus Name. Amen.
I refuse to lose my mind because i carry the DNA of Jesus Christ, in Jesus Name. Amen.
I am an agent of success, i shall be successful in my career, ministry, job and business in Jesus Name. Amen.
As we all wait on the Lord, may our prayers be answered, may our realtionship with the Holy Trinity, take a new dimension in this new year, our minds renewed, and our souls, spirits and households filled with unstopable joy, peace, and gladness in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.
Aba Father, I am thanking You in advance for 2015, for i know and believe that it will be a year of Divine explosion and manifestations of Your divine promises, protection, blessings and favours upon Your children in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.
I feel a certain joy in my soul about year 2015, though it would not be easy but those that diligently seek God day and night would have a cause to live in the fullness of His joy and laughter will be their portion all way through in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.
2015 is a year that many unshakeable must be shaking, right from the foundation but they that believe in the Mighty Name of Jesus, will overcome, triumph and conquer every evil winds that will blow in the Name of Jesus, Amen, Amen and Amen and because you believe in God, you obey His words and wait upon Him day and night, may your name become too hot for your enemies to mention in Jesus Name, i pray. Amen, Amen and Amen.
Recently my husband, John Hagee, surveyed the women of our church and asked the question, “What do women want in a man?” Character traits such as faithfulness, honesty, respect and good communication all figured prominently in their responses. So did romance, a good sense of humor and an ability to be a good provider.
But of the top 10 qualities expressed by the women in our congregation, godliness ranked highest as the primary character trait women desired in a man. Actually, godliness is the sum total of all the top 10 desires women want most in a man.
Perhaps you would agree with what we found. If you do, my first question for you is, “Do you know how to recognize a godly man?”
When I considered the traits that women desired most, immediately I began to think of some of the heroes of the Bible, men in Scripture whom we identify as truly godly. But have you ever wondered what it might be like to be married to one of them?
Husbands of the Bible Noah, the Scriptures say, was a “just and righteous man, blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked [in habitual fellowship] with God” (Gen. 6:9, The Amplified Bible). Now, for a moment, imagine what it would be like to be married to him.
He comes home one afternoon with architectural plans in his hands and tells you he has had a visitation from the Lord Himself. The great I AM has commanded him to do something he has never done before–with no budget and no true understanding of its purpose.
Furthermore, he says God is going to destroy all living creatures on the earth with water from the skies–a phenomenon not yet witnessed by any human being. So, he quits his job and begins his assignment.
Then Noah tells you that after his building project is completed, you and he and the children will take a long cruise. However, he doesn’t know exactly where or for how long. And there is one more catch–you must help him gather and care for those who will travel with your family, something about “two by two.”
You will have a thankless job, but he feels very strongly that he should obey the wishes of the Lord, for Jehovah God has promised to provide. Would you willingly work by his side?
Abraham was commanded by God to leave a very comfortable home and depart from his family and his country. God loves Abraham so much that He makes a special covenant with him (see Gen. 17:1-8).
He comes to you and recounts his visit with God. He persuades you to leave the dream house you just built and all that is important to you. He assures you that Yahweh has promised to bless him with descendents that will be too many to count.
Oh, and it gets better! While on your trip to “God only knows where,” Abraham convinces you to act as his sister for his protection. Even though this request from Abraham will put you in imminent danger, you finally agree.
Time passes, and the journey, which has been tough, finds you older now. You have given this man some of the best years of your life. You have a weak moment and determine that at your present age, you probably won’t produce an heir for your husband.
Therefore, you suggest–only once, I might add–that he go into your handmaiden and produce a child with her. Without hesitation he agrees–a little too quickly, if you ask me.
To add insult to injury, your favorite handmaiden, now heavy with your husband’s child, is flaunting her favored status. Would you leave your home and go with this man?
Moses was a man so loved of God that God chose him to lead His people out of bondage. Moses is the man to whom God entrusted His law. What would it be like married to Moses?
Moses is gone days at a time on spiritual mountain retreats without you. When he is home, he is overwhelmed with his task of leading millions of people somewhere, to arrive sometime.
It seems to you that you are hopelessly stuck in the desert. Moses spends most of his time in counseling sessions, trying to solve the chosen people’s problems.
He brings their problems home with him every night. Would you support this man and his ministry?.
David was a man after God’s own heart, a leader among men, a great warrior–but also an adulterer and a murderer and a failure as a father. What would it have been like to be married to him?
All these men have something in common: They were flawed individuals chosen by God to do His will. In order to accomplish their purposes, these men had to have very supportive and godly women by their sides.
Like these men, we are all flawed creatures. But there is a remarkable difference: The blood of a faultless Lamb covers us.
These men lived under the Law; we live under the grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is His mercy that keeps us from getting what we deserve and His grace that gives us what we do not deserve.
Titus 2:11-12 says: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (NIV).
With this understanding of God’s generous outpouring of grace and mercy toward us, I want you to be excited about what the Lord can do in your husband and in your marriage.
What women want in a man may not be as easily attained as we might think. In fact, what women want may not be what God wants them to have.
But He can equip you with what you need in order to be the woman, wife and mother He intended you to be. He can turn your marriage into something that resembles heaven on Earth and your husband into a godly reflection of Himself.
Men After God’s Heart A godly man must have the mind and heart of God. He must be God’s hands and see as He sees. When a godly man sees the hurting and those bound by the ravages of sin, he thinks as God thinks, in terms of love and compassion for the loveless.
On one of our many trips to Israel, John and I were privileged to witness such compassion expressed through godly men. While on our flight to the Holy Land, two of the ministry partners with whom we were traveling shared their testimony with us.
They had accepted Christ while watching my husband on television. They told us of the homosexual lifestyle they had turned away from and the new joy they’d found. Thrilled with their new life, they were now on the trip of a lifetime.
Sadly, because of their past lifestyle, one of them was suffering from AIDS. They were concerned what others on the trip might think, but my husband assured them that all would be fine.
After much prayer, the young man gave my husband permission to tell the others in our group that he was ill and needed their prayers and assistance. I remember my husband asked the Lord to prepare the group for the news regarding our young friend. He prayed, “Father, give them Your ears as they hear this news, and keep them from fear as they respond to this child of God with Your loving heart.”
The next morning during our time of devotion, we told the group of our young friend’s need for healing from this dreaded disease. With tears in their eyes, members of the group came up to him one by one and knelt around him as, together, we agreed in prayer for his healing.
But the most profound moment for me took place at the Garden Tomb. We had a time of worship and then released the people to enter the empty tomb.
One by one they went in. My husband and I were watching these precious pilgrims experience a very solemn moment when something beautiful happened. The young man with AIDS was sitting several yards from the tomb because the large stones of the Garden made it difficult to maneuver his wheelchair.
Two of the men from our group went to him and placed their arms under his body. He anchored his frail arms around their shoulders as they carried him toward the tomb.
The people who were gathered around the doorway made a path for the three men to enter the dark mausoleum. All was quiet as they bowed their heads and prayed. The three men walked out of the tomb with tears flowing down their faces.
My husband and I felt privileged to see a demonstration of the heart of the living God arising out of that empty tomb.
The godly man sees the scarred hands of his Savior when he reaches out with his own hands to his wife, his children, or a stranger in good deeds and kindness.
Finally, a godly man must learn to say no to the world. The world does not recognize the righteousness of the God whom we serve.
So they came up to Baal-perazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baal-perazim. —1 Chronicles 14:11
Baal-perazim literally means, “Lord of the breakthrough.” Because David sought God’s direction first (v. 10), he knew it was God’s victory. David acknowledged God as the One who brought about his victory. He said, “I couldn’t have done it if God had not gone before me.”
There will be many battles to fight this year, but realize that you are not standing alone. The God you serve is the Master of the breach, and the battle is not yours, but His. When you seek God first in the matter, you can be assured of the victory.
The battle belongs to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47). So, never defend yourself. Let Him be your strong tower, your defense, and your refuge. Why are you trying to fight battles He has already won? Put on His armor and go forth in His Spirit, not your own might and power (Zechariah 4:6).
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Every time you resist temptation, you will see the devil flee from you this year. So give God the glory.
Lord, grant me the boldness to resist temptation
at every turn. I know You have given me victory
over the devil. So I praise Your name for
defeating the devil on the cross and
giving me the power through Your
blood to breakthrough sin and
live victoriously. Amen.
The days in which we are living are some of the most exciting in history. But they are not without peril. The kingdom of God suffers violence (see Matt. 11:12), yet these are still times of hope and peace for those who know who they are in Christ. In order to survive the onslaught of the enemy against us, we had better learn to become women who are mighty in spirit.
Perhaps my best example of such a woman is my mom, Gaynell Chavis Jacobs. Unassuming and unpretentious, Mom was baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit and raised 12 children to know, love and serve the Lord. She was an extraordinary prayer warrior, and when she would lay hands on the sick, they would be healed.
We all have this potential because Jesus declared: “Great works shall you do because I go to my Father” (see John 14:12). The Spirit of Christ will enable you to walk into a room and have every demon of hell walk out. He will empower you to speak God’s Word in a way that will change the atmosphere and the situation.
We are going to need this power. I believe we are in for the fight of our lives until Jesus comes back. There will be times when, despite our being Spirit-filled, we will encounter assaults from hell that are designed to stop us from doing what God has called us to do.
The devil is not after you because of who you are but because he knows what God has put in you and what God can do through you. In the natural, the giants will always appear bigger than you are, but in the supernatural, you can see through the eyes of the Spirit, just as Caleb did when he declared, “We are well able to conquer [the land]” (Num. 13:30, The Living Bible).
I’m sure there are many strategies for becoming mighty in spirit. But during the course of my life, I’ve found six practices to be very effective in overcoming the power of the enemy and walking in victory.
BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR CALLING In Galatians 1:15-16 Paul wrote: “Even before I was born God had chosen me to be His, and called me–what kindness and grace–to reveal His Son within me so that I could go to the Gentiles and show them the Good News about Jesus. When all this happened to me I didn’t go at once and talk it over with anyone else.”
When you are confident in your calling, you don’t have to seek anyone’s permission or approval. You know you are called because of the witness of the Holy Spirit inside you, but Satan will try to make you doubt that your calling is real.
I can recall an incident that happened to me when I first went out as a soloist in full-time ministry. During a service, a young girl, who was possessed by demonic spirits, lunged toward me, screaming obscenities and totally disrupting the meeting.
I could have given in to fear and intimidation, but I chose to put the enemy under my feet, and the girl was completely delivered and set free. Today, deliverance is still a vital part of my ministry.
God never told us that we were going to float along on this journey to become all that He destined for us and never have another problem. But He did promise us this: ” ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you’ ” (Is. 43:2, NKJV). You must decide now that you’re going all the way.
HAVE STRENGTH IN ADVERSITY When I left home to pursue God’s call on my life, I knew it was not going to be easy. I’d made up my mind to follow hard after the Lord, but I remember a very discouraging time in my life while I was in college.
I had just lost my mom. My father had already passed away. Trying to go on with my life while dealing with my intense grief was very difficult. Finally, I decided to abandon my plans and go back home.
On the day I was preparing to leave I suddenly thought, Maybe I should go to church one more time and say goodbye to my friends and my pastor. At the close of the Wednesday night service, my pastor called me onto the stage and said to me: “God says to tell you, ‘You are not your own, you have been bought with a price. I have chosen you and appointed you to go to the nations of the earth, so you can’t do what you want to do. My strength is made perfect in your weaknesses, for when you are weak, then I am strong.’ ”
Without anyone touching me, I was slain in the spirit. Hours later, when I got up, I had a new confidence, a greater boldness and a determination to go on that hell could not touch.
Jesus said: ” ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you’ ” (John 15:16).
You, too, are not your own. Be strong and don’t abandon your calling.
DEVELOP GODLY CHARACTER When David wrote, “Assign me Godliness and Integrity as my bodyguards” (Ps. 25:21, The Living Bible), he must have understood that, ultimately, if your character is ungodly, it doesn’t matter how sweetly you sing or how people respond to your ministry. It is a grave mistake to put all your energies into your “kingdom work” and leave little or no time for intimacy with the Lord. You can begin to live to be seen by others and forget that character is who you are when no one is looking.
Isaiah said: “Be clean! You who bear the vessels of the Lord” (52:11, NKJV). There are times when I can’t do what I want to do. Paul says we must make faithfulness our goal. “Consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Morever it is required in stewards that one be faithful” (1 Cor. 4:1-2).
Leave a good example for those who will come behind you, unlike King Saul, who was anointed but lost his kingdom and his life. King David was anointed, also, yet he fell into a trap due to his unruly passions.
You must be painstakingly conscientious about everything–attitude, lifestyle, personal worship and gifts. The enemy of your destiny has already been defeated, so don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by his devices.
PRACTICE VIOLENT FAITH I believe that sometimes we come up against things in our lives when simply believing won’t be enough. I can remember a time when I was very sick with bronchitis, which, according to my doctor, had turned into pneumonia. At this point in my walk with the Lord, I was determined to go to the next level of faith, so I rejected my doctor’s recommendation of hospitalization and returned home.
For three weeks I was isolated from my husband, Jamie, and our two girls. I was believing for a miracle and expecting an angel to walk into my upstairs bedroom and lay his hands on me. Instead, as I lay in bed, I heard the Lord saying: “Get up out of this bed, go downstairs and command this junk to get out of your house and out of your body.”
I got up, realizing now that this was an attack from the devil to take me out. I opened the front door and stepped out onto the porch in the dead of winter. I was desperate. I had a word from the Lord, and I needed a miracle!
I lifted my voice and said: “In the name of Jesus, bronchitis, pneumonia and everything associated with it, get out of my body….You cannot stay, and you will not stay. On the authority of God’s Word and through the name of Jesus, you will leave right now!”
Immediately I felt an overwhelming breath flow through my body. That kind of attack has not been back at my house. All you need is one word to see God do the miraculous.
Violent faith combines determination with spiritual aggressiveness and raw, if you will, guts. Violent faith is Abraham standing on top of a mountain, preparing to sacrifice his promise (Isaac) to God (see Gen 22).
It’s Esther going into the king’s chamber for the sake of her people, saying, ” ‘If I perish, I perish!’ ” (v. 4:16). And it’s Peter taking the crippled man by the hand, saying, ” ‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk,’ ” then jerking the man to his feet (Acts 3:6, NKJV).
Violent faith will cause you to do things in the supernatural that make no sense in the natural. As you practice it, your prayer life and hunger for God will increase, and there will be a determination forged in you that nothing can shake.
BE PERSISTENT IN PRAYER The apostle Paul gave us a formula for getting our prayers answered and tearing down the enemy’s strongholds. He wrote these powerful words: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18, NKJV).
Jesus said: ” ‘Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you’ ” (Matt. 7:7, NLT).
Don’t give up. Pray again. You may be feeling right now that you have tried, cried, prayed and fasted without results. With as much compassion as I can write this, I would tell you that what moves God more than anything is faith, violent faith!
Taking back what is yours from the forces of darkness takes courage and is not for those who are passive or faint of heart. It is for the person who would say: “This is it, I am drawing the blood line today. It will never be the same again.”
You can exercise this kind of faith, too. You can choose to say, “I know what the outcome of this thing is going to be, so I am going to lift my head up and rejoice, because right now the Father God is working it all out.”
If life is a highway, most of us are racing down the interstate, hitting the breaks in the congestion, overheating our engines, and running out of gas. Well, take a detour for a moment and read Psalm 37:7. Think of this verse as a winding mountain road with relaxed speeds, glorious overlooks, and scant traffic. Now consider: This detour is the quickest way to the destination. We can accomplish so much more when we’re relaxed as we trust the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
Resting in the Lord means recognizing He’s in control. Your problems are His concern, and His promises are your inheritance. You may have reasons to worry, but you have better reasons not to. The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms, and the Lord knows your needs before you even ask. He will take care of you.
Resting in the Lord is the exact opposite of the spirit of our age. But who wants the spirit of this age anyway? Let the Spirit of God fill you with all joy and peace as you rest in the Lord.
Jesus, I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.
Jean S. Pigott
“Are you drunk?” I asked him over the phone. “No,” he replied.
Thank God! It was my neighbor, Andy, and he had finally called me back. I had gone over to his house and banged on the door, but he didn’t answer. I called his landline and even texted him that I was going to the beach to see if he wanted to go along. Nothing. I didn’t get an answer until I was at the bank, a few miles from home.
His first reply came in the form of a text. It was in two parts. His first text read, “I.have problt.” The second text simply said, “Lrmd.” What the heck did that mean? Then it hit me! “I have problems.” So he had missed a few keys, which had propagated my question about his level of sobriety.
So, why the urgency, you ask? First, you need a little background on Andy. He’s that guy who always loans me his trimmer when I have to attack our hedges. My wife has frequently delivered baked goods to his home to build a neighborly bridge. He’s the watchdog who always blows the whistle on anything suspect at our house while we are out of town. He’s quiet, unassuming and a genuinely nice man.
Andy grew up in church. However, once he married his second wife, a woman from Thailand, he abandoned Christianity for Buddhism. He followed the god of his wife and even had a Buddhist shrine in their third bedroom. They have been married for four years, and on this particular day, she had packed up and left.
The day before, Andy’s wife had called the sheriff’s office, citing that her husband was suicidal. After 20 hours, he was released. My wife had noticed the police cars, and after briefly polling the women in the neighborhood (these ladies know everything), she found out what had happened. She was concerned. I was not.
As my wife left our house that day, she called my cell from the end of our driveway. “Honey,” she said, “I don’t mean to be Mrs. Kravitz, but can you spy on Andy?” You old guys remember Gladys Kravitz, right? You young guys can Google her. Obediently, I went to check the mailbox and saw Andy’s wife packing her car.
An hour later, my wife returned home and alerted me that Andy was now mowing the grass. “Go talk to him,” she urged. But by the time I managed to get out the door, Andy was back inside. He had mowed half the yard. Now I was beginning to get worried, since he had just mowed three days ago.
Altering my plans for the day, I decided to stay close to home, in case Andy returned my call. And he did. After he denied being drunk, I asked him if everything was OK.
“No, not really,” he slurred, “I have problems. My wife left.”
Fearing that the suicidal tendencies were legit, and knowing that his wife was gone, I asked if I could come over.
I let my family know the plan. Earlier, my wife had wanted to knock on his door herself. I said, “No way,” recalling that suicidal people frequently take others out with them. “Andy would never hurt me,” she said, “I bring them cinnamon rolls.” Fortunately, he had called, and I was on my way over.
I stopped at home to grab our daughter’s friend, Justin, to tag along (mostly for my safety). When Andy answered the door, I knew that he was a) heartbroken and b) hammered. So much for not being drunk.
Once inside, the old sales guy in me took over. I always had one more question. The topics were all over the map, including his wife, his ex-wife, his kids, employment and his drinking. Justin just hung out behind me on the floor while I assessed Andy’s condition.
Then the topic of God came up.
In less than three minutes, Andy went from “Why would God care about me?” to “How do I get God in me RIGHT NOW?” We prayed the prayer of salvation together, and the party in heaven commenced. In one day, Andy went from a suicidal Buddhist whose wife left to a forgiven son of the Most High God.
Time is short. Intentionally build relationships with your neighbors and co-workers. Your mission field is right next door. It’s not a question of if, but when God will call them. Their eternities hang in the balance.
Remember, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15).
David Dusek is founder and director of Rough Cut Men Ministries and author of Rough Cut Men: A Man‘s Battle Guide to Building Real Relationships With Each Other and With Jesus. Rough Cut Men has been presented to NASCAR teams, at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy, at military bases around the world and at hundreds of churches and men’s conferences of every denomination. To find out more about the Rough Cut Men, or to book David for an upcoming men’s event, please check out roughcutmen.org.
Old Testament passages for the final week of Advent reflect on prophecies, which are fulfilled by Jesus’ birth. Isaiah 7:10 recounts the story of King Ahaz, king of Judah at a time when Judah was facing a foreign invasion. Ahaz hoped for help from the king of Assyria. The prophet Isaiah, however, downplays human-oriented deliverance and instead points to God’s divine intervention to bring about his kingdom—an intervention that would come through a baby born in Bethlehem. Isaiah says, “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
We see something similar happen in 2 Samuel 7:1 when God corrects King David’s human plans by revealing his divine plan. When David starts to make plans to build a temple for God to dwell in, God counters that he himself will build his own “house” through the dynasty of David, ultimately dwelling among his people as God with us—Immanuel—in Jesus Christ. God promises that he will make for David a great name, give his people eternal rest from enemies, and give him an everlasting kingdom (Isaiah 7:9); these promises are fulfilled in the coming of Jesus.
Micah 5:4 looks forward to how God will rule over his people through Jesus: “He shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord…And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.”
In Psalms 80:1 we see the psalmist praying for deliverance and restoration. Because of God’s past deliverance, the psalmist calls for God once again to let his face shine upon his people so that they can be saved. The Gospel of John says that those who have seen the face of Jesus Christ have seen the face of God (John 14:9). In Jesus Christ, God fulfills his promise of salvation by making his face shine upon his people.
Psalms 89:1, Psalms 89:19 shows God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. God said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations’” (Psalms 89:3). God said he would be faithful to David, and through Jesus, God keeps his promise.
New Testament Readings
New Testament readings for Advent IV continue to reflect on God’s faithfulness to his promises. The gospel was “promised beforehand through [God’s] prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:2). The good news of salvation is that God has been faithful to his promise to David in sending Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.
Hebrews 10:5 reminds us that Christ’s coming obliterates the old system of sacrifice, through the sacrifice Jesus made for us, once for all. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9-10). Jesus’ birth points us forward to the cross. As Karl Barth put it, “Except we see the Cross at Golgotha we cannot hear the Gospel at the crib of Bethlehem.”
Gospel readings for Advent IV tell the story of the angel coming to Mary and Joseph to announce Christ’s birth. In Matthew 1:18 the angel Gabriel tells Joseph that Mary “will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This fulfilled what the Lord had promised to the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:22, from Isaiah 7:14).
Luke 1:26 tells another more of the story and connects Jesus’ birth to the lineage of David. The angel tells Mary that her son “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
The Symbolic Spirituality of the Fourth Week of Advent
The Jesse Tree and Advent Wreath both bring to conclusion the theme of repentance throughout the Advent season. The Jesse Tree tells the story of God bringing his people out of exile through Jesus Christ, and the Advent Wreath expresses the peace that we experience through God’s redemption.
The Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree in Advent III felt somber; Israel was in exile, and there was little hope in sight. But the story now takes a positive turn with the arrival of the one who paves the way for Christ. God’s promise has arrived, and by telling the stories of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57, Luke 3:1, Luke 7:18), Mary (Luke 1:26), Elizabeth (Luke 1:39), Zechariah (Luke 1:57), Joseph (Matthew 1:19), the Magi (Matthew 2:1), Jesus (Luke 2:1), and Christ (John 1:1), the Jesse Tree becomes fully lit. The story that God began with Adam reaches the top of the tree with the arrival of the Second Adam, Jesus, who reverses the curse of sin by crushing the head of the serpent on the cross.
The Advent Wreath
On the last Sunday of Advent, a fourth candle on the Advent Wreath is lit. Traditionally, this purple candle has been called the “Angel Candle” and represents the peace that Christ’s birth brings to earth. All four of the candles around the Advent Wreath are now burning, each at a different height. Only one candle remains: the center, white Christ Candle that is lit on Christmas Eve, representing the pure Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world.
The Advent season is a journey through the biblical story that shows us how “all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 2:20). Advent points us to Jesus, just like all Scripture. At his first coming, which we celebrate at Christmas, Jesus showed us his humility, his love for us, and his heart of grace toward sinners and sufferers. At his second coming, which we look forward to in Advent, he will complete what he started at his birth, bringing a final end to suffering, sin, and death, restoring his creation, and setting up a new kingdom of righteousness and peace. God keeps his promises.
You’ve probably noticed at least one of the countless “Keep Calm” posters that seem to be popping up all over social media sites bearing imperative phrases that are as cutesy and quaint as “Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake” and as instigative and contradictory as “Keep Calm and Punch People in the Face.”
A Google search will inform you that the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was created in 1939 by the British government just before World War II began with intentions to boost morale. The British public, having just been made aware of a prediction of mass air attacks on major cities, were encouraged to carry on with business as usual. (Easier said—despite the advantage of a delightful British accent—than done!) Keep calm and have a crumpet. Have a spot of tea. Don’t panic; just “carry on.”
More than 2.5 million copies of the poster were printed and set for distribution upon the invasion of Britain by Germany. Fortunately, this never occurred, and so the poster was never seen by the public—at least not until the year 2000, when a bookseller stumbled across a copy buried beneath a pile of books bought from an auction. Since then, the poster has been reissued by a number of companies promoting a wide range of products and also by individuals sharing their own unique brands of humor, motivation and stress management, as you saw in the aforementioned examples.
My favorite “Keep Calm” poster simply reads “Keep Calm and Keep Waiting on God.” If King David were reigning today, I can imagine he’d have it framed and hanging in his living room (by a window overlooking green pastures and still waters, of course!) beside his book of Psalms, opened to the 130th, which reads:
“I wait for theLord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope. My soulwaitsfor the Lord More than those who watch for the morning— Yes, more thanthose who watch for the morning” (vv. 5-6, NKJV).
There may not be much merit in eating a cupcake in an attempt to keep calm. One is certainly not made calm by punching people in the face. (One is usually incarcerated.) But continuing to wait on Godalways generates a sense of peace, an uncanny wave of calm that originates in our spirit and manifests itself in deep breaths of incomprehensible contentment.
This past weekend I heard a story of a few young brothers who were playing tag outside near a freshwater lake in Florida. The boys’ father had to go in the house to take a phone call, but before leaving, he sternly instructed the elder son to make sure the youngest—just 3 years old—didn’t get too near the water’s edge because he didn’t know how to swim.
No sooner did the man go inside than one of his sons cried out that his little brother was in the lake; he’d tried to tag one of his brothers who quickly evaded his touch, sending the younger one over the edge.
The father ran full speed across the pier and dove into the murky water. He spent a full 60 seconds swimming blindly, reaching out desperately for his little boy. He came up gasping for air and asked the others if they’d seen anything, any movement or air bubbles.
Nothing. All was smooth on the surface.
The father dove back down, this time frantically exploring the underside of the pier. Spreading his body out as far and wide as he could, hoping to feel the hand or foot of his drowning son, he crashed again and again against the wooden pillars. At last, after what seemed like an eternity within an airless, mud-colored cave, he felt his son’s tiny body wrapped tightly around one of the columns.
The father climbed his way out of the watery nightmare and carried his son to shore. After spitting up bit of water, the little boy was perfectly all right and eager to resume playtime with his brothers.
What struck me most about this story, more than the boy’s miraculous rescue after upwards of three minutes under water, was his response when his dad asked him why he was clinging to that pillar.
“Because,” the boy said, “I was just waiting for you to come get me.”
It was as simple as that. This helpless 3-year-old didn’t know much, but he knew the most important thing: He could count on his father. As long as he just kept calm and kept waiting, his dad would show up, scoop him up and carry him up and into the light.
This story is a beautiful parable demonstrating what it looks like to keep calm and keep waiting on God. How often in life are we that lost and imperiled child with deep waters swirling all around us and no way of escape? And how often do we just keep calm and wait for God to come and get us? Probably not nearly enough.
Isaiah 40:31 tells us that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, soar like eagles and run without growing weary. Science also confirms the importance of staying calm amidst stress and danger with numerous studies that show keeping one’s cool can reduce the risk of acquiring neurological illnesses in old age.
When we allow anxiety to have control over our thoughts, words and actions, the result can be catastrophic. An overload of stress means an overwhelmed nervous system. When your nervous system is stressed, panic attacks, nervous breakdowns, and depression are often the result. Be wary of “mild” stress, too. Headaches, stomach aches, and digestive disorders may not seem like a big deal, but they can lead to conditions that are much more devastating, such as heart attack and stroke due to high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.
Thankfully, there are proven ways to combat stress and wash away worries. Doctors suggest:
Taking a vacation
Listening to relaxing, soothing music
Do deep breathing and/or muscle relaxation exercises
Personally, I’d start with the last bullet point: pray. I will honestly confess that I don’t always bow my head when I feel stress coming on. Indeed, the enemy will do everything he can to distract and dissuade you and me from going before the Lord with our problems and fears; he doesn’t want us to wait for God but to toil to find our own solutions. Why? Because after millennia spent observing and afflicting followers of Christ, Satan knows we are most powerful when we’re on our knees, that we’re strongest when we’re staying still, holding fast to our faith in God like the little boy with the pillar.
When we take a moment to pray amid the chaos howling like a wicked wind and the worries filling our minds like a flood, we are given the strength to wait and to sing with David, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” We are given the faith to wait for our Abba Father to find us in life’s darkest moments, wrap His arms around us, and carry us to shore.
“Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7, NLT).
Growing up, we never had PlayStation, Wii or Xbox. We lived on a small ranch in Colorado and had a lot of work to do. Cleaning stalls, painting fences, irrigating the pasture and picking up rocks (Colorado soil grows rocks) were necessities of the life we lived.
My brother and I are only 17 months apart in age, and we were really each other’s entertainment. We spent a lot of our spare time riding our bikes and creating adventures. Our imaginations worked overtime to invent new games. Cowboys and Indians was a favorite, as well as building forts and hideouts. We even had a secret place in the hayloft of the barn.
Kids today simply have no idea what fun can be had without a remote control in your hand. When we did get a gift, it was usually educational. It was not unusual for us to get boxes of books to read. Every young boy should read the Sugar Creek Gang series.
One Christmas, I received one of my favorite presents ever—a microscope. It was probably my fascination with a magnifying glass that led to the microscope. A magnifying glass is so very cool. If you angle it just right with the sun, you can start a leaf on fire (which is of course not what it was designed for). Better yet, you can inspect something tiny like an ant, and see all of the details: Eyes, antennae, legs, even miniscule hairs.
The microscope takes that exploration to a whole new level. A blade of grass or a drop of pond water has a dimension that you could never see without magnification. Discoveries are unearthed, which give you a totally different perspective from what you have experienced with the naked eye.
Psalm 34:3 says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me” (emphasis added).Many times in the Psalms, David expresses a desire to magnify the Lord. His relationship with God was so meaningful that he wanted to magnify it. David was not satisfied with the God that he could “see” with the naked eye. He wanted to know the intimate details of God—the entity and substance of the Holy One that could only be known through magnification.
His soul thirsted for God. He longed for intimacy. It was not enough to dwell in the shelter of the Most High; David wanted to abide in the very shadow of the Almighty. Hear this: If a person does not have that kind of longing to know God, there is a very good chance he has never met Him. He has never become a child of Jehovah. The longing has been set within us. So, how do we magnifythe Lord?
Of course, God’s Word, fasting and prayer are critical to an understanding of the minutia of God. However, David adds another facet in Psalm 69:30. He says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and shallmagnify Him withthanksgiving” (emphasis added). He added worship—worship that is a lifestyle.
My dear friend Charles Billingsley is an anointed vessel, gifted to move believers into a Holy realm—a realm of worship where you are ushered into the presence of God and the worship is so powerful and fervent that God almighty becomes very vivid. God’s character and virtues are literally magnified in your mind, soul and spirit.
This week in your Christ walk, magnify the Lord. Go to the deep places with Him. Don’t be satisfied with a Sunday morning snack. Dig into His Word. Spend time in His presence. Look at Him through the magnification of scripture and prayer. You might even try fasting. Put the flesh aside.
Allow your mind and spirit to discover things about God that are intimate, personal. Don’t be satisfied with the outer courts. Worship Him in the Holy of Holies. It is there that you will see God magnified.It is there that you will sense a nearness that will leave your soul longing for more. And remember, God wants to know you as well. He is the Great Pursuer. Seek Him, as He is seeking you. Magnify Him. You will discover things that you never knew—new things, profound things and life-changing things. I promise.
PRAYER POWER FOR 12/02/2013
This week spend time in His presence by starting your prayers with praise and adoration. Use scripture to help you express what’s in your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you verbalize your worship in deep ways. Continue to pray that God will give you opportunities to share His love and provision with those in great need around you. Thank Him for His constant protection and companionship. Remember our military and their families as well as Israel and our allies.
Pray that President Obama and those working with him would rely on God for wisdom and guidance in making decisions affecting the nation and the world. Continue to pray for revival. Psalm 34:3; Psalm 69:30.