Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Christmas meets Calvary


When angels sang at Jesus’ birth

They proclaimed, to all on earth,

Jesus would bring peace and glory

             For Christmas was Heaven’s story

                                           Revealed in the Name of Jesus

         The cross, unseen, over the manger hovered,

While straw, freshly cut, the babe did cover.

By shepherds and Magi, He was worshipped.

But on the Cross, Jesus revealed His purpose.

Christmas and Calvary forever linked.


      That Bethlehem night was bathed in light

Satan’s kingdom prepared to fight

Against He who would be the Galilean,

Their plan climaxing at Calvary’s cross  

Was Christ’s victory, Satan’s eternal loss.


     The promise of Christmas is linked with Calvary.

          We can join the Angels’ song of Jesus’ glory

For our eternal salvation Jesus achieved,   


            And offered to all who can see and believe

             The manger paved the way to Calvary!


©Ray Hawkins Dec. 2020.




Sunday, December 13, 2020

Christmas is a declaration of war!



: John 1:1-18.

 We have made it what it was never intended to be, a sweet, sentimental occasion for people to have nice, warm, fuzzy feelings. Someone is coming permeates the first thirty-nine books of the Bible. In many places there are clues to His identity and purpose, bold statements about His character and strategy. There are also metaphors pointing to spiritual realities the coming One would fulfil. 

The god of this world is no fool. As you study the Old Testament you are given insights into his attempts to prevent the Promised One from coming. This included attempts to destroy the nation of Israel, corrupt and obliterate the genealogical line and mutilate the message. Time after time it seemed Satan came close to achieving his aims. The Lord God of Hosts always came up with an answer, a master stroke, a surprise element.

Herod produced the first martyrs of Christmas. On hearing about the birth of the Promised One he ordered the death of babes two years and under in Bethlehem. The ‘Someone’ is coming was declared by the shepherds, the magi and others, to have come.  The four Gospels present their majestic portrays of the One called Jesus. It becomes clear from their writings they were convinced that this man of Nazareth was the fulfilment of the clues, metaphors and other snippets from their Scriptures. Jesus himself insisted that people examine Him and the Scriptures to make sure they matched. (John 5:39).

Part of the strategy of Jesus Christ for re-conquering the world from the powers of Darkness was to enlist men and women. They had to be convinced about Him and what He was on about. The Lord never bribed people to join his ranks. In fact Jesus spelt out loud and clear the costs involved which precede the victory celebration.

This and the following devotionals want to take you into an understanding of the ‘Battle Zone’. You will follow God’s promise of the One who is to come and how each ‘jig-saw’ piece would ultimately come together at Bethlehem. Being convinced about who Jesus is, why he came and the victory achieved gives us moral and spiritual courage. We need this to face the challenges of being in the legion of the Lord. 

Throughout both Testaments is a third facet of the coming of the Promised One. It is the statement ‘Someone’ is coming again! It is the same Jesus who came the first time to experience the cross, rise again and offer us salvation and a new destiny. When He comes again it will be to judge the world and to reign in righteousness. Those, who by faith now have declared their allegiance, will in that day share in His kingdom. 

Though the contest continues, victory is assured. Be strengthened for the conflict through insights from these devotional meditations!

copyright Raymond N. Hawkins 2020

The photo above is of George and Rita Galieh. He was a speaker and excellent violinist. She a fine singer and artist with chalk. A lovely and faithful couple in Christ's ministry.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Heaven's Life Assessment.

 What would you list as top of Heaven's Assessment Sheet in its evaluation of your life?  I'm taking a 'punt' and saying you, with most others would list 'Love!' Those who know 1 Corinthians 13:13 realise Love is greater that hope and faith. But, there was another life style quality that kept nagging me. It wanted to claim top spot.

I was pushed to my concordance to find Biblical backup to its claim. It has a case worthy of consideration.  What is the distinguishing word? 'Faithful!' Why is this  pushing 'Love' into 2nd place? We know God is Love - but how is that shown and therefore, known? 

We immediately respond with "Christmas and Calvary". So true, but how did those two historical event take place? Because, the Lord God made a promise to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 about a baby. This is repeated in Isaiah 7:14. Through centuries when God's love and grace were violated He kept His word. Read Matthew 1:18-25 as it is the culmination of God's faithfulness.  Deuteronomy 7:9 is an excellent summary of God's assessment by such people as Abraham, Sarah, Moses and Nehemiah. 'Know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him... '  

Consider Jesus. We believe He loved us and proved it in the crucible of being faithful under severe testing prior to the cross [Hebrews 2:17]. In Revelation the Apostle John records this assessment of Jesus, three times: ch1:5 the Faithful witness. Ch. 3:14, the Faithful and True witness. Ch. 19:11, He who is called Faithful and true'. In chapters 21:5 and 22:6 that which He spoke was deemed to be Faithful and True.

Yes, we are to love God and our neighbour but an interesting fact emerges from the Epistles. Individuals and congregations are commended on their faithfulness, not their love.. In Colossians, Paul seems to stress 'faithful' to this fellowship, and certain men are referred too: Chapter 1:2 'To the saints and faithful people at Colossae...' In ch 1: 7 Epaphras our... faithful fellow slave. In ch.4: 7 Tychicus and in verse 9, Onesimus, both proven faithful.   To what have they been faithful? The putting into practice the teachings of Christ. This made love for Christ tangible as they reached to win the lost and encourage the saved. The Apostle writing to the Corinthians wrote, 'It is required that Stewards [and ministers/attendants] be found faithful.'

Over and over again  this word is highlighted in both Testaments. In some of his parables the Lord commended the servant, not about worship, sermons even love but about being faithful. Matthew 24:45 and 25:21.

How do you express your love and commitment to Christ as Lord and Saviour? By faithfulness to His word. A wonderful promise is mentioned in Psalm 101:6 'Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me...' 

copyright Ray Hawkins 7/12/2020.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

I Sing but do I See?

 The Battle Hymn of the Republic stirs the soul  when heard or sung. The story behind it is interesting. However, what the words say seem to have lost their 'punch' to many in America today. 'Mine eyes have see  the glory of the coming of the Lord' is the opening line. It appears to me that there are forces in America and elsewhere   

intent on blinding the Nation to the Truths of Scripture woven in that hymn.

The Lord is portrayed as 'meek and mild' by many. They forget the military term 'Lord of Hosts' is His. He is the Commander. His 'sword' is the Word of God with which He judges the nation and individuals. Verse 3 in my hymnal mentions being sifted before His 'judgement seat'. That is our accounting time. How will any of us, and particularly those in Government 'answer Him?' Will it be with 'jubilant feet?' 

In verse 2 is mention 'His righteous sentence'. What would you think that 'righteous sentence' from the Bible might be? There are many from which to chose. From the hymn itself I wonder if it is referring to the singer's relationship of faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour? Read 1 John 3:2-3.

The mention of the death of Christ in verse 4 would seem to me to undergird the whole of the hymn. The cross isn't a piece of jewelry it is what Jesus endured to deliver us from sin, Satan and eternal death. Jesus is our reason, not merely for the season of Christmas, but for holiness, truth and defending the lives of those in the womb. It goes beyond borders to helping the impoverished and seeking justice where there is injustice, to cite a few issues.

Each verse ends with the idea that God and His word are marching. Actually, after His battle on Calvary, Jesus ascended to His Father's presence. He is seated, waiting the appointed time to return. We are the ones called upon to do the marching, the confronting, the living out of His teachings and if need be, to die for His cause.
Christians around the World, and even in America, are facing morally and spiritually difficult and even dangerous days. We need to make sure our vision from our faith is clear. We need to be confident in the person in whom we live and move and have our being, only Jesus. We need to watch out for each other, worship and share the Gospel.
May each and every time we sing 'Mine Eyes have seen the Glory' it thrills the soul.

Copyright Ray Hawkins Dec 2020. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Night approaches

 Electricity has softened the darkest of nights. Torch batteries give us comfort when we are out in the country around midnight. Sitting around a campfire gives a warm, fuzzy feeling in the evening hours. All this tends to make us dilute the sense of danger in some words Jesus spoke.

  "The night comes when no one can work." John 9:4. To what was Jesus warning? A time He knew would come when to talk about who He is and what He did at Calvary and His promises to believers [and His warnings to scoffers] would be prohibited. In a sense, they will endeavour to cut off our 'spiritual energy sources. Glimpses of that night have appeared over the centuries. It was bravely resisted even at great personal cost by faithful men and women. But - do you sense there's another, more insidious move to bring the night on? 

Why would I ask this? Well, after 50 plus years in Christian ministry I've noticed the supporters of what Jesus calls Darkness are marshalling their resources. To teach about Christian morality and marriage, to oppose transgender issues [these are contrary to Genesis and Creation of Adam and Eve] and dare to show the unscientific nature of Evolution is to find yourself in trouble. Expulsion from academia, litigation and threats are more and more prevalent. John 3:19 offers us an understanding as to the 'Why'. "This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.' [The word is 'poneros' from which we get pornography]

There isn't any stated time frame when the night will come. But it is being rolled out under such slogans as 'Reset' and Black Lives Matter' and the Davos Forum and 'Build Back Better'. Globalisation is noble sounding but covers over its goal of control by 'the Elite' who know what's best for us - Ha! 

The 'Night' cannot gain power until the Christian Faith is weakened or silenced. Why? Because the Gospel reveals the heart of darkness within people and organisations. As Jesus put it, "I am come, a light into the world, that whoever believes on me should not walk in darkness" John 12:46. That is the mandate Christ gave the Church, 'Teach and make disciples.' Teach what? The grace of God, the Cross of Christ and the price of faith in Him as Saviour and Lord.This transforms the dwellers in Darkness into children of the Light. Let's keep the light shining and drawing more and more from the kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of God's Son.

Should the night come over us unexpectedly may we be found well prepared. We might be limited by threats, prohibitions and fines but remember, the darker the night the brighter the light of Christ shines. Nothing can stop our prayers. Nothing will muzzle Scripture and nothing will kill the Church. I like the assurance from Micah 7:8 'When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.' Even in such times the Psalmist gave this testimony, 'I have remembered your Name in the night, and have kept your law' 119:55.

The final word comes from Revelation 21:5 (in the Heavenly city) 'there shall be no night there.'


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Why? Because!

We may debate the ‘How’ but be in agreement on its future appearance. The Bible is specific in its references to it. What is ‘IT?” Scriptures records it as a World Government under a leader hostile to followers of and proclaimers about Jesus Christ.

An interesting fact is the mention of ‘merchants’ (Revelation 18:3). They appear as the beneficiaries under this regime, making money and exercising certain powers in accordance with the unelected Leader. Could those merchants be the forerunners of our era’s Big Corporations, Silicon Valley, Media moguls and Wealthy and influential entrepreneurs?

There is an unusual amount of pressure through certain Governments and Media which points to conditioning us to accept this projected future. A forum at a place called Davos is preparing for a One World Government. The various ‘arms’ of the U.N. support it. People such as George Soros, Al Gore. Bill Gates, Prince Charles and many, many others undergird it.

What happens, or will happen to individuals and countries who buck against this monopoly, tyranny and false religious movement?

I think it is best illustrated in what is happening to President D. Trump. I have constantly wondered why he is so maligned, vilified, opposed and undermined? It goes beyond personality. It has nothing to do with his morals. It is because he is not a globalist! He puts his country, those under his Presidency, first!

He defended his position before the ‘Davos club’ and shortly afterwards they attacked his views. He defended his policies at the U.N and they endeavoured to humiliate him. President Trump is a threat to the determined endeavours of the ‘Elite’ to control us all. He is not part of the ‘swamp’. Therefore, by hook or by crook, he must not have a second term.

As a Bible believing Christian, I applaud President Trump for His ‘America First’ and M.A.G.A. I don’t know his relationship with or faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. This I know, he deserves our prayers as he wears and bears the undermining of his character and Presidency. In my opinion his Presidency has achieved more than others more lauded for doing less.

Just because, at sometime in the future, a One World Government will eventuate, we should not capitulate. ‘Bring Back Better’, ‘Reset’, B.L.M. Global Warming etc are masquerade words to lull you into complacency and compliance.

Jesus calls us to stand for His Truth in the midst of deception. He calls us to be ‘Lights’ in a dim and darkening World. He calls us to talk about and share the Gospel to a Society more intent on saving the trees than serving the Lord, or even hearing about Him. 

So, get dressed for the tough times ahead. Grow in Faith and understanding. Do your exercises in prayer and worship and be encouraged by the Fellowship of the Church. There is a possibility we will need all the grace of God to stand true to Him in coming days.

©Ray Hawkins November 2020.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Knowledge and power.

In previous eras there was an encouragement to learn.  Knowledge was touted as the gateway to a better life, job and understanding of creation. Lack of knowledge kept a person or society in ignorance, ill health, poverty and servility. Hosea put it this way 'My people are destroyed by lack of knowledge' (Hosea 4:6). 

 Though still true in many ways, especially in undeveloped countries, there has been a subtle twist to this old proverb. 'Power comes to the ones who control the knowledge'. In the Westernised cultures this is becoming more and more evident and more and more concerning. What Daniel 12:4 foresaw is our daily experience: 'Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.' We are bombarded with news, views, apps, F.B. telephone, newspapers, Hollywood and silicon valley etc. etc. etc. 

However, most of us absorb without discernment. It isn't until we are 'scammed', pilfered, exploited or otherwise hurt that we realise our knowledge was faulty and/or manipulated. This has emerged as a huge problem in recent elections, press briefings on the 'corona-virus' and reporting on persecution of Christians, especially was in Africa. 

What was assumed but nor written in the proverb 'knowledge is power' was the word 'Truth.' It is only Truth which produces helpful and healthy knowledge. It is only Truth that prevents power from dominating, crushing or corrupting those in 'Power.' If Truth was the pre-requisite for issuing information can you imagine the shock-waves through Governments and media, business and relationships and dare it be said, in Denominations and Missions.

Unfortunately, Truth is crucifiable in this World where Untruth, Half-Truths and out right Lies are the masters. Maybe that is one of the issues we have to face as Christians. Jesus is 'The Way, the Truth and the Life' and He was opposed and crucified. But, He could not be entombed but rose again. So it is with Truth. At present in Australia there are those who are 'crucified' for speaking the Truth from a Biblical Worldview. Martyn Iles from Australian Christian Lobby wrote:

Well-respected GP Dr Jereth Kok lost his medical licence because a review board in Victoria didn’t like the way he expressed his opinions about issues like transgenderism on social media.

·        A proposed law in Victoria would prevent Christians from working as chaplains – affecting not just chaplains but also the many students who rely on their care and support.

·        Brisbane mother Katrina Tait faced an inquiry from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board after she supported ACL’s petition against the promotion of ‘Drag Queen Storytime’ to protect children.

·        A Christian couple in WA, the Hordyks, had their application to become foster parents terminated because of their Christian beliefs. 

We who follow the One, Jesus, who is the Truth and His Word, which is Truth must seek to know Him and be prepared to experience some form of 'crucifixion' for our stand. Take comfort in the fact that our Lord promised to provide and guide and turn our night into day.

Hosea quoted the Lord God as saying 'I desired\mercy, not sacrifice and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.' 6:6. In his final letter, Peter gives good advice for living for the Lord in a godless world: 'Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' 2 Peter 3:18.

The final word for us in our lifestyle is a quote from Ephesians 4:15, ' Speak (hold) the Truth in love'. Both are, sadly, in short supply.

Ray Hawkins.