The Good Shepherd

Ezekiel 34:7-16 New International Version 

“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals,and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

Help From Heaven

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

1I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

2My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber;

4indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The Lord watches over you—

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

6the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.

7The Lord will keep you from all harm—

he will watch over your life;

8the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121 is a Psalm of Praise reminding us that if we lift up our Eyes unto the hills we will receive help from The Lord. We are also told in the psalm that the Lord will protect and watch over us.

Wisdom

Proverbs 1 V 1 – 7

Purpose and Theme
1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behaviour,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,[a]
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.[b]
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools[c] despise wisdom and instruction.

Whilst my grandmother on my mothers side was alive she was a very wise Christian woman and my brother and sister and myself along with many others felt that we could come to her with any problem and she would usually provide us with a wise answer or solution

Teach Me

Photo by Wolfgang on Pexels.com

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.
3 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 honour
    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.

The Promised Land

Image result for The promised land

Psalm 121 New International Version 

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

1.
To the hills I lift my eyes,
The distant hills before me;
Hills that rise to reach the skies,
And spread their glory o’er me.
Planted by omnipotent hand,
By divine appointment they stand,
To the hills I lift my eyes,
The beckoning hills before me.

2.
Eyes may scan the dizzy height,
And human feet stand on it;
Only faith, in mystic flight,
Can see the realms beyond it.
Steeper than the mountains of time,
Higher than the loftiest climb,
O’er the hills I lift my eyes;
From thence my help is coming.

3.
To the hills I’ll turn again,
Away from earthly slumber,
There to gain the topmost plain;
May naught my way encumber.
On the highest summit I’ll stand,
There to view the long-promised land;
Though my eyes look to the skies,
I lift my heart to Heaven.

 

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!