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December 31, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Isaiah 60. 1-3

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

As 2010 comes to a close, God‘s mighty men will find that their past opportunities to serve are only in reflection as if in their spiritual rearview mirror. This means that they are still engaged in God‘s Word and moving forward in the journey of worship, praise and service. They bring with them the lessons of successes and failures which have served to make their witness stronger and more vibrant. They count as loss only those places where God revealed to them “I was the One speaking.” It is with that in mind that I pause for a moment and reflect on the prophet‘s declaration to the nation of Israel. While they were yet in exile in Babylon, God was the One speaking. He declared not only their return to the Promised Land but that they would receive the revelation of the Promised One. He would be the light of their day and the brightness of their new hope in a renewed world with a revitalized spirit. They would benefit from the glory of the Lord that no darkness would be able to overcome and nation as well as the leadership of those nations would be drawn to that light.

God‘s mighty men know that the Light which Isaiah spoke of was, is and will forever be Jesus the Christ. Isaiah spoke of the hope revealed with the excitement of it happening just because God said it would. Those who refuse to listen to the One speaking will remain in the darkness of doubt, despair and anxiety. This past year has been filled with plenty of darkness. The shadows loom even now. But, I would remind you that shadows exist only because there is light. The more brilliant that light shines as with the glory of God the less the shadows will exist. Some have said that the prophecy of Isaiah is what led the magi to seek the light of Heaven which would indicate the Messiah‘s coming. If this was one of those guiding lights then it was by faith they journeyed into the new year of hope which God was providing for them. It must be that same faith which will guide God‘s mighty men to find where the Christ is and point Him out where He is to be found.

Let this passage of scripture which has led wise men to seek Him lead you into the new year of faith, hope and love. Your light of wisdom and truth has come. It is even more brilliant now than it has ever been because of the trials and tribulations which have been presented and faced. Consider that the shadows are more defined now because the Light of the World is more present now than it has ever been. The grey areas are fading away and there is only black and white left to be seen for who and what they are. Be light bearers on your journey into the new year and let the light of God‘s Word be a lamp upon your feet and a light upon your path. May you become a beacon of faith, hope and love that will lead others into the light so they can enjoy the revelation of God which shall come in this new year.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the coming of a new year and the “begin again” mentality it fosters; may it foster a spiritual renewal
built on a solid promise instead of false hope built on promises rarely kept
* For those leading God’s people this weekend in worship, praise and service as 2011 begins
* For those who remain displaced due to the excessive snowfall in the Northeast and Upper Midwest and
the tragic deaths which occur because too many people are ill-prepared for cold and frigid weather
* For those in Queensland, Australia, who may remain homeless and displaced for months due to flood
waters
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and Allied forces who are
fighting to defend freedom in those countries
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and the people of Zimbabwe

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For a lovely dinner with family and friends
* For the prospect of a new year in which to serve God with gladness
* For a safe journey home and peace in the parting until we meet again

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, God, that as these mighty men of Yours prepare for the challenge of living in the new year their hearts, mind, soul and strength is being renewed even now. May their preparation to worship You in 2011 bear witness to the true source of their strength- faith, hope and love as You have demonstrated through the bringing of Your Son into our world bathed in the light of Your Glory. AMEN.

December 30, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped
him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
-Matthew 2: 11

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Keeping first things first. We have heard this priority principle oft quoted and used to help ourselves and others stay on track. If it isn’t broken then why discard it. God’s mighty men stay strong because they keep first things first. Whenever life’s priorities become jumbled and exist in contradistinction the hold on life grows weak. With the close of 2010, we must be encouraged to bring our strength into the new year 2011. What is that strength? We can take a hint from the magi who spent at least two years traveling from a distant country or countries to make it to the feet of the King of Kings. Their first priority was no secret: to worship the King whose reign would see no end. Even Herod echoed the priority professed by the magi upon their visit to Jerusalem believing the capital of Israel would be the place where the King would be found. (Strange that that truth should hold even today and it is not; at least not yet!) It didn’t mean that it was his true priority but it would make him sound as if he were a wise man, too.

As God’s mighty men consider what they will bring into the new year they must not assume the position of hoping to sound as if they are wise. Instead, they must assume the position of wise men. It is the same position taken on by the magi when they came into the presence of Jesus, even as a toddler playing outside his Bethlehem home near his mother and father. They were not dissuaded nor put off by the toddler who would be king. They had probably seen boys who would be king before in their lifetimes and in the histories of their countries which they studied. As we would say during the coming of the new year “In with the new and out with the old.” There before those wise men was the beginning of a new history, a new age, a new kingdom, a new hope and a new promise. It was a beginning they knew had to be received and proclaimed on their knees in humble obedience and allegiance to the newborn king. Their posture and posturing was one of true wisdom- they bowed down and worshiped Him. Before they even presented their gifts, introduced themselves or stated their purpose they demonstrated who they were and what was their intention. It was to worship and proclaim Him who was the object of their desire and purpose in life as the One True King.

So it should be for God’s mighty men as they come into the new year that they keep first things first. Before anything else it done- before the cheers begin, before the kisses exchanged with loved ones, before the ball drops they should fall to their knees, bow down and worship Him who is their One True King. After worshipping God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength the rest of the year should begin to take care of itself. So what should God’s mighty men bring to the new year? The gift of humility and the witness of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the coming of a new year and the “begin again” mentality it fosters; may it foster a spiritual renewal
built on a solid promise instead of false hope built on promises rarely kept
* For those who remain displaced due to the excessive snowfall in the Northeast and the tragic deaths
which occur because too many people are ill-prepared for cold and frigid weather
* For those in Queensland, Australia, who may remain homeless and displaced for months due to flood
waters
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and Allied forces who are
fighting to defend freedom in those countries
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and the people of Zimbabwe

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For a lovely dinner with family
* For good neighbors and friends
* For greetings from old friends

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, God, that as these mighty men of Yours prepare for the challenge of living in the new year their hearts, mind, soul and strength is being renewed even now. May their preparation to worship You in 2011 bear witness to the true source of their strength- faith, hope and love as You have demonstrated through the bringing of Your Son into our world. AMEN.

December 29, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped
him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
-Matthew 2: 11

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

There are many interpretations of the meanings of the gifts presented to Mary and Joseph in honor of their son, Jesus, whom they had sought from a great distance with a great anticipation. The very fact that they carried such valuable gifts was probably no secret on the road of life which they had traveled. It doesn’t take long for thieves, robbers and highwaymen to hear “good news” on the criminal grapevine. It would seem to me that these “three” gifts were accompanied by a number of people whose purpose was not only to see where they were going and to whom they were being given but to provide protection for those who bore these gifts, the most expensive one at the time of Jesus being myrrh. But while the “good news” to those who had dreams of a rich “take” by means of force crept in the shadows the “good news” for those who had dreams of new life and freedom was being illuminated by God’s mercy and grace. This “good news” of Jesus Christ would be available to anyone for the taking from shepherds to kings. This “good news” was a treasure of great price offered to any and all who would believe that this little toddler would grow up to be the promised Messiah who would open the door to God’s richest blessing- eternal life in a kingdom that would know no end. With that in mind, it seems quite reasonable that God had prepared and called for these particular gifts to be the provisions of His future and that of His earthly family. I believe they were also signs and symbols of his earthly ministry as well.

Gold was a gift and symbol of a king. It represented wealth, wisdom and power. It took great effort to gather and refine gold from the earth where it was buried and sometimes revealed by running water. The effort of those who mined for gold was dependent on great faith that there was a mother lode to be found in places where it was not easily seen but believed to exist. I suggest that gold might represent for God’s mighty men “faith.” Faith is believing in what one cannot see but still holds to be true. Faith is the basis of true wisdom. Faith is the key to true wealth and power which Peter discovered upon his profession of faith that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus gave to him the keys to the kingdom and the authority, power, to set people spiritually free from their earthly bonds. Gold would serve Jesus’ family as well as it gave them the financial freedom to leave Bethlehem behind as they had Nazareth to go where God would lead them next. It would seem that God would make the same provision for those who put their faith in Him. Mary and Joseph could not have come up with enough wherewithal to support them in such journeys; but God could and did.

Frankincense was a gift and symbol of the priesthood. From synagogue to the Temple to the many shrines that stood on hills all across the region, incense was burned to help create an atmosphere of separation and sacredness. The incense was known as a perfume which would fill the place of worship and rise up pleasingly to anoint the presence of the one being worshipped. Frankincense was burned by Aaron during the Exodus whenever the nation stopped to camp and the tabernacle was erected. It was to be a thank offering to God for their deliverance. It was not unusual for incense to be burned in homes either at the dinner table or in a place set aside to remember and give thanks to God for His provision. Its smell would be a sweet reminder of the graciousness of God to bless those who bless Him. It was the role of the priest to make such an offering and provide such a teaching. Jesus Himself would be offered up to God as a thank offering. He Himself was God’s provision of deliverance from evil and into a land flowing with the metaphorical “milk and honey.” How much greater was the remembrance enhanced than when the affordable incense would be replaced with the frankincense they could not have dreamed of purchasing. What better reminder for them as they journeyed into their own wilderness experience that they were God’s people still in exile as they would be in freedom. It would remind each man who would be the head of their household, Joseph with his earthly family and Jesus with His spiritual family as well as each of God’s mighty men, that their home was more than a castle- it was a temple and sanctuary where God was known, celebrated and shared.
Frankincense would represent the hope of all believers that there was a place for them, a home, in the kingdom of God. Jesus would declare that same promise to His disciples and through them to each of us. Could it be that on the night when He was to be betrayed some of that frankincense was burning on the table prepared for them? It would have been a sweet reminder of home for Jesus- both His earthly and heavenly homes.

Finally, there is myrrh. In the days of Jesus, myrrh was even more valuable than gold. It would represent the greatest of all gifts. Of course, if you are following my logic, you will see that “myrrh” represents the greatest of all gifts- love. John, the disciple whom Jesus “loved,” taught “God so loved the world that He gave them His only begotten Son so that those who believed in Him, placing their hope and faith upon Him, would not perish but be preserved for everlasting life.” Myrrh was used in preparing the body for burial. Perhaps Mary used some at the death and burial of her husband Joseph saving some also for the time when her own son would be buried. She may have even been carrying that same oil to the empty tomb on the third day following his crucifixion, death and burial. But, it was never to be used on Jesus because His faith, hope and love of God and man reached it ultimate fulfillment in God’s promised blessing of everlasting life. How many of us keep a treasure hidden for that rainy day when all else seems lost? But, for the mighty man of God the only rain in heaven is the reign of Jesus the Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yet, it does not come without a price. The price seems to be a bitter one- death. The bitter herbs of the Passover reminded the participants of the presence of death and their deliverance from it. The bitterness of the bread dipped in the wine offered to Judas on the night of his betrayal of Jesus. The bitterness of the gall offered to Jesus as He thirst on the cross. The bitterness of disappointment and grief for the believers gathered in the upper room before His resurrection. Yet, for all of them there was relief and that anointing for life which the myrrh of God’s love, Jesus, provided in preserving those who have faith, hope and love in and through Christ Jesus. Does God’s love know any bound? We pray that it does not and that His love remains sufficient to keep us from death and bring us to life.

Is it not significant that when the magi finally arrived in Bethlehem that they found Jesus at home? He was no longer a babe in a stable manger but a toddler in a stable home. He no longer dined with the beasts of the field who bore the burdens for their masters but dined with those who loved Him for whom He would be the Master of their burdens. Just as He was seen as the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of the magi before He had fulfilled them on the cross in nearby Jerusalem, so He is ours, too. He is the greatest gift: greater than gold, frankincense and myrrh. He is the Magi from Heaven who comes to the door of our homes and presents us with the provision we need for the journey of faith, hope and love we are called to take when we believe that He is indeed the King of Kings, the Christ, Jesus of Heaven and earth.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the coming of a new year and the “begin again” mentality it fosters; may it foster a spiritual renewal
built on a solid promise instead of false hope built on promises rarely kept
* For those who remain displaced due to the excessive snowfall in the Northeast and the tragic deaths
which occur because too many people are ill-prepared for cold and frigid weather
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and the people of Zimbabwe

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For a lovely day with family
* For good neighbors and friends
* For hole-in-the-wall restaurants and their interesting owners

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, God, for gifting us with faith, hope and love. May we use these gifts to bring glory and honor to Your name as we wisely venture into all the world following the bright and morning star, Jesus, and blessing each home we come to sharing the greatest gift of all. AMEN.

December 28, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

“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. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”
-Matthew 2:9-10

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

I remember seeing the Pegasus building topper on the Magnolia Building in Dallas, Texas, grow larger the closer we got to it. Every time we would drive to my grandmother’s house, we would have to drive through the downtown area to get to the highway leading north to Oklahoma. Yes, that was back in the day. Leaving from our house, I could see it in the distance because there were very few buildings that would block it from my eyes. The closer we got to Dallas, of course, the higher Pegasus would rise in the sky until passing by at the foot of the building it would be nearly overhead. It was an amazing sight to see.

Not nearly as amazing, I am sure, as the Christ Star which led the magi on a two year journey to Bethlehem to coronate the infant Jesus as a king. The star rose in the east and led them to the west. It remained on the horizon to guide them on their journey around the fertile crescent which means it had a fixed point above Bethlehem. No other sources mention this star in the heavens. Even Herod’s magicians and consultants were unaware of its presence much less its source. Yet, the magi not only saw it but believed it to be the signal of a coming new age and a change in the course of history. With their eyes firmly fixed on the target they journeyed far to complete their task. Nothing would hinder them from finding the one who was to be King.

As they neared Bethlehem, leaving Jerusalem on the horizon with the temple illuminated in the distance, the star rose up in the sky until it loomed over the heads of the magi. Looking back to earth they found themselves at the door of the house where Mary and Joseph were caring for the infant Jesus. What must they have thought when they stood at the door of a house in Bethlehem instead of the temple or palace in Jerusalem? What questions did they have when they considered what was behind that door as they heard Joseph busy in his workshop as a carpenter and Mary preparing a meal while singing to her son? What ideas were building in their minds as they heard the infant son jabbering in response to his mother and father? Does this sound like ordinary people? Could it be a picture of something not too unfamiliar in our own experiences? It would be very much the same if it were not for the star overhead, the entourage of magi outside the door and the narrow street crowded with curious neighbors. And what did Mary and Joseph think when they opened the door to the Magi and all those wondering eyes? How about the infant boy, Jesus, peering from behind his mother’s tunic clutching a wooden lamb carved by his father for him to play with?

The magi were overjoyed at coming to the place of anticipation. Very few people actually get to see their dreams come true. But, as in most instances with Jesus-encounters, the end was only a beginning. The magi were God’s resources for the next leg of the journey for Mary and Joseph and their son, Jesus, the Son of God, the boy who would be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What is the next leg in your journey, mighty men of God? What opportunity has knocked on your door for the coming year? Are you ready to meet the next step of destiny in your ministry to God’s people? What challenge is being born into your life that will be confirmed by a rapping on the doorpost where the Word of God could be found? Will your response be of curiosity, amazement, denial or joy?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who worship only fear and fear mongering instead peace through Jesus Christ
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and the people of Zimbabwe

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For interesting archaeological finds such as the possible oldest homo sapien tooth found in a cave in
Israel
* For good neighbors and friends
* For surprises such as seeing Paul on television during the Louisville game
* For hole-in-the-wall restaurants and their interesting owners

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, God, for choosing these mighty men to receive Your Word and affirmation as servants and friends. You have been preparing them to step out into the world to share the good news. Now let the resources and provisions You have fashioned for them be revealed and presented so that they can be ready to answer Your call with “Here am I, Lord, send me.” AMEN.

December 27, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

“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.” -Matthew 2:7-8

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Do we dare was that Herod was anti-Christ? I am not saying he was the anti-Christ but that he was fearfully opposed to anyone who would threaten his place as ruler over Israel. He had been made ruler by the edict of Rome and only the emperor himself had the authority to establish or replace him. Yet, magoi from the east appeared on his doorstep in Jerusalem asking where to find the one born to be king of the Jews. It was known in Herod’s day that magoi were a priestly caste of powerbrokers whose purpose it was to “make kings.” Their place in the Parthian empire was respected and well-established. It was their purpose to find those who had the potential for being a king directed by lineage or by some miraculous sign and to groom them for the throne. The magoi, whose number remains unknown, were familiar with the ancient scriptures of the Hebrews. Perhaps they had learned of them from Hebrew merchants who traveled throughout the Middle East into the far eastern reaches beyond the Roman Empire. It is possible that they had copies of the scriptures which were brought into the Persian and Babylonian empires during the Hebrew exile around the 6th century before the birth of Christ. The ancient prophecies concerning a Hebrew king whose influence would challenge and change the entire world was one worth noting. They did not have to be believers in the Hebrews God necessarily but respected the Word enough to travel a great distance to recognize and proclaim the “One who would be King of Kings.” It is possible that their act of “worship” was in fact more of a coronation or at least an induction into the realm of becoming king. Their gifts would have served that purpose. The magoi were most definitely “pro-Christ.”

But, Herod’s desire to “worship” Him, the One who would be King, most certainly did not fall into that category. He may have, at first, been flattered to hear the queries of the magoi believing they were speaking of himself as one “born to be king of the Jews.” However, it did not take long for him to realize they were speaking of another whose authority and kingship existed beyond his power to control or manipulate. It was even outside of that of the Roman emperor. But, Herod was not ignorant. He knew of the validity, at least in the eyes and ears and minds of the people, of the prophecies which predicted the Messiah’s birth. Now his own fear took over. He had a decision to make. Should he flatter and align himself with this boy-king and hope his own position could be solidified through an alliance? Should he continue to keep the alliance he already had with Rome intact by discovering the identity of this infant king and let Rome handle the threat herself? Regardless, his purpose was not to worship the Christ. His desire to celebrate the birth of the Messiah as scriptures foretold was misguided and mistaken. His fate was certainly sealed by his decision to not honor the One born King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Lord of Lords. It is no different for those who have had the truth revealed to them who then choose to act unwisely against the Christ and all the faith, hope and love He desires to bring into the world.

God’s mighty men are indeed king makers in that they herald His coming, making straight the paths of righteousness and proclaiming allegiance to Him whose Kingdom shall know no end. By their declarations of acceptance and allegiance Jesus Christ becomes King of their heart, mind and soul. It would seem fit to “choose wisely” as did the magoi from the east.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who worship only fear and fear mongering instead peace through Jesus Christ
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially the bombings of schools in retaliation for destroying Taliban offices and
hideouts
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and all the world that their eyes be opened to the healing and prosperity which is
already theirs

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the gift of prophecy as we see the Christ-celebration for what it is as a challenge to be wise men
seeking Jesus and proclaiming the truth for the world to hear
* For good neighbors who are watching over our home while we are ministering to family
* For the blessing of family and friends who receive one another in faith, hope and love

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, God, for revealing Your truth to these Your mighty men through the Word which is hidden in their hearts and the signs which are placed daily before them guiding them to the places where the truth needs to be proclaimed. May their journey be complete and their joy be great. AMEN.

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December 26, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

“Now Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews’? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. “ -Matthew 2:1-2

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

It is fitting that Christmas 2010 be followed by the first day of the week, a day committed to bringing praise, worship and service to Jesus Christ in worship. Leading up to our Christ-celebration there is a focus on what we can bring to the world in honor of the newborn King who is our Savior and Lord. We bring the Word of prophecy, faith, joy, peace, love and personal witness and testimony. Our giftings are the expressions of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ whose promised Spirit is upon us to build up the body of Christ into its fullest maturity and stature before all the world. The use of these spiritual gifts nurtured by the fruit of the spirit help bring others into their own understanding of Christ so they can receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior.

Now Christ has come into the world. He has established Himself in our midst through a life of service and with a sacrifice of mercy and grace on the cross. In His obedience to the will of Our Heavenly Father, He was removed from the cross, released from the tomb and is not seated at God’s right hand to command the angels in their service to man and God. He has been glorified by God in His fullness of love and to the completion of joy. The angels and the shepherds were heralds of His coming and the disciples were proclaimers of His ministry. The Church continues this caring and sharing to this very day. Yet, there is another element in the Christian life that cannot be forgotten. It is represented by the maggot, or magi, who came from the east following the Christ star which appeared uniquely in the heavens and led them to the place where He could be found. That Star appeared upon His birth in the heavens; it took the place of the angels who must have carried it to its position high above the horizon. Its presence was a signal to these wise men who were looking for a sign of fulfillment and transition. It would be a sign of hope that the world would no longer serve itself and ask the same of its people. Instead, the world would see its true King and commit itself to worshipping Him alone in service, praise and stewardship.

The wise men brought gifts fit for a king. They were not to curry His favor. They were not meant to bargain for advantage or special dispensations. They were not meant for anything but to show gratitude for the privilege of seeing what they had hoped for in their lives- for the dream to come true. Perhaps these gifts represented the pearl of great price which was purchased by selling all they had. They came to give everything to the King of Kings. They brought themselves to the King, the Christ in our Christmas. It was not a gift meant for others but a gift meant solely for Jesus just as Mary broke open the alabaster jar of nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair.

In a season fit for a king when we share gifts of favor and love with family, friend and stranger, we must consider well how to prepare ourselves for giving the gift of our lives to the King of Kings. What under the tree would Jesus have found with His name on it to identify the gift we chose just for Him? On this day of worship has our journey brought us to the feet of the Savior with gratitude and thanksgiving and humbled joy?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who are leading God’s people in worship, service and praise in this advent season; especially as
we close in on the day of celebration of Christ the King
* For those who are barely even surviving without hope and peace; those who have lost their
joy voice or have never even found one; for those who have not yet opened the gift of faith which God
has shared with them through Jesus the Christ
* For those who will discover a renewed meaning of Christmas as celebrating the fullness of
new life through the gift of a child
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and for those who
put more faith in weapons than in the power of God to enforce ideologies instead of God-
centered obedience; especially the bombings of schools in retaliation for destroying Taliban offices and
hideouts
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and all the world that their eyes be opened to the healing and prosperity which is
already theirs

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For the gift of remembrance as we see the Christ-celebration for what it is as a challenge to be wise men
seeking Jesus
* For good neighbors who are watching over our home while we are ministering to family
* For the blessing of family and friends who receive one another in faith, hope and love

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Thank you, Father, for reminding us how and why we exist in the world today and for the opportunity to share that life and message to bring hope, peace, joy and faith to others so they will know and share the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. AMEN.

December 22, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Matthew 1. 25b

“And he gave Him the name Jeshua.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Who was the first man on earth to declare Mary’s son Jesus, the Son of God? You are correct, it was Joseph. Inspired in a dream, Joseph followed the command of God given by an angel of the Lord and named the baby Jesus. Joseph had to be a man of great faith, a mighty man of God, because God appeared to him in a dream as he had for prophet, priest and king before him and he obeyed the directions which he was given. As in the great theological treatise of our day, The Santa Clause, believing is seeing. That is the description of faith. Even today, people in and outside of the church still put their faith in what they can see. They ask for signs to be given as keys to unlock the door of possibility, potential and prosperity. Yet, when the signs are given few people see them because they really aren’t looking for them. Their vision is determined on conditions and deals which go to serve their purpose. Signs and wonders serve God’s purpose instead and require people to act before the response and not in knee-jerk reaction to God.

In this season of Christ-celebration, it is the duty of God’s mighty men of faith, hope and love to be the first responders to the gospel which still needs to be preached to the world. It is not what people will say or do in response to the Word which is brought before them that is immediately important. The significance of the Word comes in the desire of the mighty man to obey the command to go into all the world and declare that Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord of Life. God’s mighty men are seed sowers and then gatherers of the harvest which God will nurture, cultivate and bring to fruition. This season of hope, peace, joy and love is filled with seeds ready to be shared across the face of the earth. In fact, hope, peace joy and love are the seeds ready to be shared. Do so faithfully, let the seeds fall where they may, give God the glory for the harvest which is to come just as Joseph took Mary to be his wife and determined to name the baby Jesus because He would save His people from their sins. Isn’t that what every mighty man of God wants for Christmas- that his people be saved from their sins?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will love to bring their faith to the world and who will bring their love faithfully
so that more people will receive their salvation and call Jesus by name as their Lord and
Savior
* For those under the storm in Europe that they receive God’s provision in a very present time
of need and for those who will serve them; for those impacted by the large snowstorm off the
West Coast
* For the safety of those who will be travelling over the holidays
* For peace on Capitol Hill and goodwill among senators, representatives and the people whom
they serve
* For those in Haiti still struggling to put their lives together and for those who are assisting
them; nearly 1500 people have died due to cholera with over 25,000 hospitalized
* For the cessation of violence in Mexico and God’s banner of love and protection over all the
people
* For all our troops stationed here and abroad defending the right of people to be free; especially
throughout the Middle East where the conflict is political and military but the solution remains
spiritual
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East with Israel, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan,
Afghanistan, North Korea and South Korea
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and the people of Yemen

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For changes in the season as a remembrance of a needed change of heart
* For the season of “bringing to the Lord”

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

God, let Your Word be heard in the words and works of these mighty men as they share the seed
of Christmas so that eternal life can be born in them and joy be complete. AMEN.

December 21, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 6.42

“They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How
can He now say, ‘I came down from heaven?’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

What is it that we think we know about Jesus, especially when it comes to the winter Christ-celebration? Looking at the world it would seem that many are only familiar with who Jesus is (a good teacher, a moral man, a good friend) but not truly knowledgeable and wise about His identity and purpose (King of Kings, Lord of Lights, Mighty God, Prince of Prince, Savior, Messiah.) If there is a missing of the meaning of Christmas it is because people are not aware of the Christ in Christmas in their heart, mind and soul or they have grown complacent in the matters of faith, hope and love. When Jesus was teaching in Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee He must have been just as much at home there as He was in Nazareth. The people there were familiar with Him and His family and claimed knowledge of who He was as a man born to earthly parents. But, they did not seem to know His true heritage as one born as the Son of God and the Son of Man. Their lack of this spiritually intimate knowledge kept them from embracing the deeper, greater and richer truths which He had to share. It is those truths that not only would have set them free from the constraints of worldly thinking influenced by sin but would have made them truly prosperous in the fruit of the Spirit- peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

It is the same available truth which God continues to make known to the world through Jesus Christ as it celebrates His birth by loving one another as God has loved them. Notice I dare to say as we love one another as God has loved us. That love is known specifically as we recognize the Christ in Christmas. How we recognize the Christ is known by what we bring to Christmas in our celebration as prophets, angels, shepherds and chosen parents of the children of God. God’s mighty men are not just familiar with what town and family Christ is from but whose He is in the Kingdom of God. He is God’s only Son whose earthly and resurrected life is given to us. He is the Savior of the world through whom each mighty man has life and has it in an abundance that overflows out of and into eternity. It ought to be the hope and joy of each mighty man to say “Is this not Jesus, whose Father is God alone, our brother not by any blood but His own which He shed for our atonement and not by any Spirit but His own which He has given us for our encouragement and strengthening to bring the Word of God into the fullness of the place where we live?” Which Jesus will others know because of us? Shall it be God’s only Son whom we love, adore and worship or just the son of Joseph and Mary whom we know as neighbor or friend or co-worker?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will love to bring their faith to the world
* For those under the storm in Europe that they receive God’s provision in a very present time
of need and for those who will serve them; for those impacted by the large snowstorm off the
West Coast; for those impacted by the Christmas Island tragedy this weekend
* For the safety of those who will be travelling over the holidays
* For peace on Capitol Hill and goodwill among senators, representatives and the people whom
they serve
* For those in Haiti still struggling to put their lives together and for those who are assisting
them; nearly 1500 people have died due to cholera with over 25,000 hospitalized
* For the cessation of violence in Mexico and God’s banner of love and protection over all the
people
* For all our troops stationed here and abroad defending the right of people to be free; especially
throughout the Middle East where the conflict is political and military but the solution remains
spiritual
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East with Israel, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan,
Afghanistan, North Korea and South Korea; especially in Iran today where a strong
earthquake has taken seven lives at the very least- may it serve a reminder that we are not
totally in control of the world in which we live so we must put our lives into the hands of God
to care for us at all times
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and the people of Yemen

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For changes in the season as a remembrance of a needed change of heart
* For the season of “bringing to the Lord”

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

God, how You have changed the way we see ourselves by bringing the truth to live in Your Son Jesus who is the Christ. You have made Him a part of our lives as well as making our lives a part of Him. As these mighty men share the joy of this season of Christ-celebration may Your family continue to grow as the truth of Jesus is reclaimed and proclaimed through faith, hope and love; especially love. AMEN.

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December 20, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 3.16

“For God so loved the world that He brought His only begotten Son into that world so that
whoever would believe that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, would not perish
in an eternal death but receive everlasting life.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

How great is the gift of love you have received in the Christmas of your life? Christmas celebrates the day when Jesus came into the world according to God’s plan so that a personal relationship with Him would be known as possible and not just plausible. Constantine determined that the celebration should be recognized on the 25th day of December. That celebration was placed at the darkest time of the year (in the northern hemisphere) to bring a witness of Christian hope which would overwhelm the pagan witnesses of how the world believes there is hope in human efforts to appease the gods.

Too often the concept of appeasement is confused with the ideal of love. Ideal love is certainly not an appeasement or a working of some kind of agreement to be in relationship with someone else based on conditions and terms. In fact, if the relationship is based on appeasement and conditional terms then it is quite possibly not love at all. At least not perfect love or a love relationship that moves one another toward perfection and everlasting life. It is because the world still had a difficult time (and still does, I am afraid) with understanding God’s desire and purpose for a true love relationship with His creation and they with Him that He chose to demonstrate it by sharing His Son with the world as the greatest gift that can ever be exchanged.

Joseph plays a critical part in God’s witness of loving the world. Joseph was asked to believe that the baby which grew in Mary’s womb was the Son of God and her virginity was intact. He was asked to love this unwed and essentially orphaned teenage mother-to-be and become the role model of spiritual manhood for the savior of the world and His mother. His was an awesome responsibility of doing what no man had been asked to do before. It wasn’t without spiritual counseling and encouragement that he accepted the charge. That in and of itself says that love cannot go through the world solo. Instead, it is a journey which cannot be undertaken just from human perspectives. What is needed is God. We cannot truly love others unless we understand the love of God for us even when, and especially when, we do not think we are capable. There is hope that we can bring into the world that not only is God love but that God loves us and desires that we receive the very best He has to offer. That is why I want to draw your attention to the day of Christmas in your life. What day have you established as that day when Christ was born into your world so that you could be born into His? December 25th can be that day when all believers can celebrate together. It can also be that day of reminder which says we are to brought into the world to nurture others in whom He can and will be born.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will love to bring their faith to the world
* For those under the storm in Europe that they receive God’s provision in a very present time
of need and for those who will serve them; for those impacted by the large snowstorm off the
West Coast; for those impacted by the Christmas Island tragedy this weekend
* For the safety of those who will be travelling over the holidays
* For peace on Capitol Hill and goodwill among senators, representatives and the people whom
they serve
* For those in Haiti still struggling to put their lives together and for those who are assisting
them; nearly 1500 people have died due to cholera with over 25,000 hospitalized
* For the cessation of violence in Mexico and God’s banner of love and protection over all the
people
* For all our troops stationed here and abroad defending the right of people to be free; especially
throughout the Middle East where the conflict is political and military but the solution remains
spiritual
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East with Israel, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan,
Afghanistan, North Korea and South Korea; especially the Middle East with a severe storm
moving through that area bringing rain and snow and tremendous temperature changes
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and the people of the Wallis and Futuna Islands

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For days of rest to do a different kind of work
* For the season of “bringing to the Lord”

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

God, be reborn in us today and let Your love be perfected as we share the joy of knowing, receiving and giving that love to a world who desperately needs it. AMEN.

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December 19, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Matthew 1. 22-23

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be
with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel- which means God
is with us.’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

The prophets brought the Word of God which proclaimed the Messiah’s birth.
The angels brought announcements of peace and joy to celebrate His birth.
The shepherds brought the stories of how His birth came to be known to them.

We are to bring the Word of God into the world sharing the declaration of peace and joy that is available to all. What better way than to share our stories of how His birth and our rebirth because of Him came to be?

But none of this would be as it was if it had not been accepted by Joseph the carpenter chosen by God to be Mary’s husband and the earthly father of Jesus. Joseph was a mighty man of God’s Word. Because He believed in the Word of God angels could not only speak to him but he would listen. He heard their own announcement to him of peace and joy. His fear and anxiety were put to rest because he loved God. It was love that brought him to his senses and allowed him to be a vital partner in bringing the Son of God into the world as God planned. Joseph’s love created a safe place for Mary in his heart and in his home. Joseph’s love gave opportunity for the prophecy of old to be fulfilled. His love for Mary showed respect which true love births in all those who honor God. The story of salvation through the Son of God being carried in his betrothed’s womb would be his own. So much was this his story which he brought into the world through love that he named the baby “Jesus,” meaning “God is salvation.”

Surely the gift of Christmas is a love story. It is a story of God’s love for His people. It is a story of a love so committed and real that God would give His own Son into the care of those very people so they could be saved. I do not know what Mary and Joseph had prayed to God that would lead God to choose them to be the parents of His Son. I believe it was a prayer of need for purpose and a place in the world. I believe it was a prayer for inclusion and meaning for two people who were trying to find themselves worthy in the world. There is far more to their story than we might ever know but I have no doubt no matter what theirs was, is and forever will be a story of love which gave birth to the gospel of new life for us all.

As you consider what you can bring to this season of Christ-celebration perhaps you will hear and know that it is your own story of salvation which should be shared with the world just as Mary and Joseph did those many years ago.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, praise and service faithfully and lovingly
this weekend
* For those who will love to bring their faith to the world
* For those under the storm in Europe that they receive God’s provision in a very present time
of need and for those who will serve them
* For the safety of those who will be travelling over the holidays
* For peace on Capitol Hill and goodwill among senators, representatives and the people whom
they serve
* For those in Haiti still struggling to put their lives together and for those who are assisting
them; nearly 1500 people have died due to cholera with over 25,000 hospitalized
* For the cessation of violence in Mexico and God’s banner of love and protection over all the
people
* For all our troops stationed here and abroad defending the right of people to be free; especially
throughout the Middle East where the conflict is political and military but the solution remains
spiritual
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East with Israel, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan,
Afghanistan, North Korea and South Korea; especially the Middle East with a severe storm
moving through that area bringing rain and snow and tremendous temperature changes
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For Mission Waco and the people of Vietnam

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* For God’s love and mercy
* For the season of “bringing to the Lord”

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

God, Your love is so needed and so welcome. Hear Your mighty men who call out to you today for the strength and direction of sharing their own story of Your love for them. May they bring peace, joy and courage to the living of faith in these days. May their witness help to bring others to know You and accept Jesus, Immanuel, as their Lord and Savior. AMEN.

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