Assension Sunday

Acts 1:6-11 New Living Translation

The Ascension of Jesus
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

See the source image

Ascension Day is one of the earliest Christian festivals dating back to the year 68. According to the New Testament in the Bible, Jesus Christ met several times with his disciples during the 40 days after his resurrection to instruct them on how to carry out his teachings. It is believed that on the 40th day he took them to the Mount of Olives, where they watched as he ascended to heaven.
Ascension Day marks the end of the Easter season and occurs ten days before Pentecost. Depending upon the phases of the Moon in a particular year, Ascension Day is celebrated on a Thursday. However, some churches, particularly in the United States, celebrate it on the following Sunday.
Many Eastern Orthodox churches calculate the date of Pascha (Easter) according to the Julian calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar used by many western churches, so their Ascension Day usually occurs after the western observance.

Great Things

John 3 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.Related image

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness,so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Winning the Battle

Image result for deuteronomy 20 4

Deuteronomy 20 New International Version 

Going to War

20 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them,because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” When the officers have finished speaking to the army, they shall appoint commanders over it.

  1. Sound the battle cry! See, the foe is nigh;
    Raise the standard high for the Lord;
    Gird your armour on, stand firm every one;
    Rest your cause upon His holy Word.

    • Refrain:
      Rouse, then, soldiers, rally round the banner,
      Ready, steady, pass the word along;
      Onward, forward, shout aloud, “Hosanna!”
      Christ is Captain of the mighty throng.
  2. Strong to meet the foe, marching on we go,
    While our cause we know must prevail;
    Shield and banner bright, gleaming in the light,
    Battling for the right we ne’er can fail.
  3. O Thou God of all, hear us when we call,
    Help us one and all by Thy grace;
    When the battle’s done, and the vict’ry’s won,
    May we wear the crown before Thy face.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Jeremiah 18:3-6 New International Version

So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

The hymn was inspired in 1902 by a simple prayer of an elderly woman at a prayer meeting: “It really doesn’t matter what you do with us, Lord — just have your way with our lives . . ..”

The author, Adelaide A. Pollard (1862-1934) was born in Iowa. Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck provides a detailed description of her life. He notes that following her education in elocution and physical culture, she moved to Chicago where she became a teacher in girls’ schools. In addition, she developed a fine reputation as an itinerant Bible study teacher. Later, she worked with two evangelists, one who developed a healing ministry, and the other who focused on the imminent return of Christ.

Pollard had a strong desire to be a missionary in Africa. When this plan was not fulfilled, she taught at a Missionary Training School at Nyack-on-the-Hudson. She finally made it to Africa for a brief period before World War I, but she spent the war years in Scotland. After returning to the United States, she continued her ministry even though she was in poor health.

“Have Thine Own Way, Lord” was composed during a time when Miss Pollard was trying to raise funds to make a trip to Africa. Her unsuccessful attempt to do this left her experiencing a “distress of soul.” This crisis of the soul and the simple prayer of an elderly lady provided a setting for personal reflection on the will of God for her life. After the prayer meeting, she returned home and wrote the hymn as we sing it today.

The text with its tune ADELAIDE was included in the Northfield Hymnal with Alexander’s Supplement (1907). Two changes were made for The United Methodist Hymnal: In stanza two, “Master” was changed to “Savior” and “whiter than snow” was changed to “wash me just now.” This change offers insight into the process of editing a hymnal.

The Rev. Carlton R. Young, editor of The United Methodist Hymnal, noted in his Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal: “The Hymnal Revision Committee debate on the latter change was intense and sustained. Those proposing the change stated that one does not have to be white, a North European, or Anglo Caucasian to be perceived as spiritually pure and socially acceptable. An African American member said, ‘You can wash me as much as you wish, but after you’ve finished, I’ll be just as black, which is beautiful.’ Those who wished to retain the original argue that the reference to washing was not about the pigmentation of human skin, but to the soul as in Psalm 51:7, ‘Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.'”

The third stanza perhaps is autobiographical, reflecting the struggle of Miss Pollard to discern God’s will for her life: “Wounded and weary, help me I pray!” This stanza also summons the “power” of Christ to “Touch me and heal me.” The final stanza invokes the Spirit to “fill” the singer, “till all shall see/Christ only, always,/living in me! The Rev. Young notes that, “In her last years she was attracted to extreme texts, living the life of a mystic.”

The Guiding Star

Matthew 2 New International Version – UK

The Magi visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:

‘“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.”[b]

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

  1. As with gladness men of old
    Did the guiding star behold,
    As with joy they hailed its light,
    Leading onward, beaming bright;
    So, most gracious Lord, may we
    Evermore be led to Thee.
  2. As with joyful steps they sped
    To that lowly manger bed,
    There to bend the knee before
    Him whom heav’n and earth adore;
    So may we, with willing feet,
    Ever seek Thy mercy seat.
  3. As they offered gifts most rare
    At that manger rude and bare;
    So may we with holy joy,
    Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
    All our costliest treasures bring,
    Christ, to Thee, our heav’nly King.
  4. Holy Jesus, every day
    Keep us in the narrow way;
    And, when earthly things are past,
    Bring our ransomed souls at last
    Where they need no star to guide,
    Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

Last night I was out Carolling with my local Salvation Army Band & Songsters. It was when we were asked to sing the above carol that I made the connection with ‘The Mercy Seat’(for those of you who do not know about The Salvation Army it has what is basically a piece of wood which acts as a place of prayer).

I also began to realise as I got into the next two verses that I suppose you could call this a prayer at Christmas time or anytime really.

Note: I aim to bring you Christmas blogs between 24th – 26th December and one will be a video.

God Bless!

Fearing the Lord

Psalm 103 New International Version

7.He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—

18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

God is Amazing

Psalm 68 v35

O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people Blessed be God!See the source image

Here we have a song that tells us off all the amazing things that God can do. Right through from a small seed till we get old, he even plans our future.

We are also reminded that Christ died at Calvary for our sins in the song.

We truly do have an Amazing God who loves, cares for each of us (believer or not). He not only loves & cares for us but he loves & Cares for the creatures of this earth and while we believe in him he is everything to us.

 

All God’s people

Ephesians 2 New International Version

Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Recently we were told at my church that the building was ‘not fit for purpose’ for a number of reasons. This obviously means looking for new premises or a plot of land to build on. We as a church also have to be seen to raise funds to help this to happen, but money isn’t the only aspect involed of course , a lot of prayer has to go into what is happening as well.

For I’m building a people of power
And I’m making a people of praise
That will move through this land by My Spirit
And will glorify My precious name

Build Your church, Lord
Make us strong, Lord
Join our hearts, Lord, through Your Son
Make us one, Lord
In Your Body
In the kingdom of Your Son

Pleasure in God’s sight

Psalm 149 New International Version

Psalm 149

Praise the Lord.[a]

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
    let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
    and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.

Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
    and sing for joy on their beds.

May the praise of God be in their mouths
    and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
    and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
    their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them—
    this is the glory of all his faithful people.

Praise the Lord.

1. Praise ye the Lord among His saints,
New songs of gladness sing;
Let Zion’s children praise and bless
Their Maker and their King.

2. Yea, let them praise His blessed Name
With all abounding joy,
The sounding timbrel and the harp
In songs of praise employ.

3. The Lord takes pleasure in His saints,
He is His people’s strength,
And He will glorify the meek
With victory at length.

4. Ye saints, by day and night rejoice,
Exult and joyful stand,
Jehovah’s praises in your mouth,
His sword within your hand.

5. This is the glorious judgment given:
His saints shall rule the earth;
Then bless the Lord, His glory tell,
And celebrate His worth.

Cleansing of Souls

Ezekiel 36 New International Version

Israel’s restoration assured

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

16 Again the word of the Lord came to me: 17 ‘Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight. 18 So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. 20 And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, “These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.” 21 I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone.

22 ‘Therefore say to the Israelites, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: it is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.

24 ‘“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the corn and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!

33 ‘“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: on the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, ‘This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”

37 ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: once again I will yield to Israel’s plea and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, 38 as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed festivals. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’