Sunday, September 28, 2014

Space before creation

It’s hard to imagine what space would have been like prior to creation. Take away the stars, planets and other lights and we have to presume darkness. Imagine that! God wrapped in deep darkness. Does your mind recoil at this as does mine?

There is a fascinating contrast, even paradox confronting us as we meditate upon getting a glimpse of God before creation as we know it. I’d like us to preview some verses together and allow our finite minds to go on a journey. Where will it take us? Let’s find out.

In Exodus 20 Moses has taken the nation to Mt. Sinai. The appearance of God was associated with thunder, lightning, trumpet and smoke. Moses had to ascend the mount and in verse 21: ‘The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.’ Compare Deuteronomy 4:11. 5:23.

Ps.18:9: He (God) parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.
Ps 18:11: He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him.
Ps.97:2: Clouds and thick darkness surrounds him.
1 Kings 8:12: Solomon said “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud.
Whilst the Lord God had space dressed in blackness it had no part within His nature.
Now let us contrast that with:-

Deuteronomy 4:24: ‘The Lord your God is a consuming fire…’ (Hebrews 12:29).
Ps. 104:2: ‘The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment.’

Isaiah 60:19: The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.’ (Revelation 21:23)

1 John 1:5: ‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.’

1 Timothy 6:15-16: ‘God, the blessed and only ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.’

How can these two seemingly contradictory concepts be harmonised?
I wonder if the darkness in which He covers Himself was for our benefit. Because His radiant holiness is as a consuming fire, unapproachable, God shields humanity by this canopy of darkness. If we are to meet Him we must be properly dressed to stand in His company. This is only possible when we have been redeemed from ungodliness, dressed in Christ’s righteousness and indwelt by His Spirit. The Eternal Lord God has made this offer open to all. It is received by a faith commitment of your life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. He has all which is needed to be in the Father's presence and not be consumed.

When Moses went up to meet God he was enveloped in a dense cloud. When Moses went back down the mountain he didn’t realised the change in his appearance had occurred. His face was radiant. (Exodus 34:29-30). How awesome! Encompassed by a cloud, presumably dark, he had fellowship with the Lord God and it showed. Explain it how you will, there is a beautiful spiritual insight for life and worship expressed here. In our times of being shrouded in life’s dark clouds our Lord is willing to meet us there. When we come out of that darkness there will be an unselfconsciousness of the Lord’s radiance impacting others. David, the king of Israel and writer of Psalm 139: 11–12 summed it up so well: ‘If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.’

My imagination pictures space before creation as total darkness. And yet the blazing radiance of the glorious light of the Eternal and holy triune God was there. He and He alone was the focal point across the whole of space. I wonder if it will something similar when we are caught up to ‘the Father’s house’ at the end of time. Whilst we will involved in a new heaven and a new earth once again the focal point will be God and God alone.

Therefore until then Psalm 23:4 takes on added significance and in life's uncertainty I’ll cling to the psalmist’s words: Even though I walk through the darkest valley (or, the valley of the shadow of death), I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ The Lord will walk with us and bring us into the light of His eternal day.

Devotional books by Ray N Hawkins

Children: God's special interest
From Eden with Love (about marriage)
Bethlehem's Warrior Baby (Christmas)
Captured by Calvary
Dynamic Ageing
Signposts to Happiness
We love because...(Love poems)

See under 'Books' for more details.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

God will take delight in Jerusalem

You (Jerusalem) shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her. Isaiah 62:4.

Jacob’s children are chained to this city and the land of Israel. Through nearly two thousand years of dispossession and oppression their Passover lament was ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ Nations have ravaged the city throughout history. Today it is still a centre for international dilemma and anxiety. Jesus wept over it. At the same time He knew it had a brighter destiny. Matthew 23:37-39.

The story of Jerusalem is a love story between the Covenant keeping Lord and a fickle and faithless people. Why would the Lord endure such unfaithfulness and disobedience? ‘For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.’ (Romans 11:29. We should take heart from this and the Lord’s patience and discipline on Jerusalem. Why? Because the Church isn’t any better behaved! Also, there are many of us who have been wanderers from the ‘straight and narrow path.’ We enjoy stressing the wonder of the promise nothing is able to separate us from the Love of God in Romans 8:35-39. On what do we base such an awesome hope? The apostle Paul gives an unequalled illustration in Romans 9-11. It is the Lord God’s unchanging commitment to Israel based upon His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jerusalem has a great destiny foreshadowed in Scripture. Why then did Jesus weep over it? Because He knew their obstinate, unbelieving heart and the hatred of the Gentile Nations would bring calamity before fulfilment. But the suffering Servant’s love for His city knew the prophetic writings. Did you grasp the significance of two words in the opening verse?  ‘No more’. When you read the prophets take note of these and similar words such as ‘never’ ‘never again’. They are a statement of the Suffering Servant having redeemed men and women ushering in the final aspect of His mission. The Messiah will reclaim Israel as His own. To do that Jesus Christ will be the Lord God of Hosts, the Warrior Lord.

You will understand such unmistakeable declarations do not go unchallenged. Unbelief mixed with hardened, corrupt and deceived minds will seek to occupy and destroy Jerusalem.  Such opposition endeavours to deny the Lord the city praised as the place of the great King. (Psalm 48) The sad laughter of God in Psalm 2 over their folly is recorded to warn against joining their ranks.

Isaiah 62:1 pictures the Lord God as restless. He has His own timeline for the coming events. However, the Lord waits impatiently for it to be time. He delays so that all the preparations will be completed. As with the first coming being in the fullness of time, so it will also be with His return. God’s ‘delay’ is giving men and women round the world time to move to His side. Jesus couldn’t put it any plainer than ‘if you’re not with me you are against Me.’ (Matthew 12:30)

Isaiah’s picture of the Lord God’s plan for Jerusalem is to make ‘her a crown of beauty … and a ‘royal diadem in the hand of your God.’ This will not be a secret affair It will be the God of Heaven’s vindication of His choice in placing His name in that city. We live in a World of instant news. We read of the volatile situations in the Middle East and scratch our heads about how things will ever work out. Unbelief will tell us the Bible has it wrong. It is too impossible to accept the future portrayed for Jerusalem and the Land. People said that about Bethlehem and Calvary and the return of Israel to the Land. We do not have to understand the ‘How’ but we must stand firm on the ‘Will.’

‘Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city and the mountain of the Lord of Hosts shall be called the holy mountain.’ (Zechariah 8:3) ‘I will rejoice in Jerusalem and delight in my people…’ (Isaiah 65:19) (Emphasis added)



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Son of God -The Name all will bow before

There’s an accounting that’s been set. On that day every person who has ever lived will have to acknowledge the One whose Name is above every name. Before this person kings and tyrants, peasants and slaves, Mohammed, Buddha, Popes, tribes and clans will bow. Whether this submission will be freely given or enforced will have been decided within each person’s lifetime.

Who is this person whose Name is superior to any other? What has He done to warrant such acclaim? How is it possible for Him to sit in judgement on the faith and deeds of others? Where do we find the record of this King of king, Lord of lords, and God of gods?

To take the last question first: The Judeo-Christian Bible is the source. Despite attempts to obliterate it across centuries the Bible’s Author has preserved it. Though forces have tried to eliminate the historical accuracy of its accounts, they have been foiled by archaeology. Opponents endeavoured to turn it into myth but the fulfilment of prophetic statements, especially about the promised Messiah, simply revealed their falsehoods.

How can He sit in Judgement on the living and the dead? To do that in righteousness and truth requires the ability to know all about the person. He must know the motives and the reasons for their actions or inaction. Can He weight their love or hate, their opportunities to obey the Truth and to exercise justice? Will He be able to discern true forgiveness and mercy, repentance and reformation? If He is so high and holy how can He understand the weak, frail, hurting and lost?

The One who will sit upon the throne of Judgement has two claims to it. One is by the right of His person. He is the Creator and ruler of the Universe. The details of this are acknowledge not only in the Bible but also in the heavens. They declare His existence. The other factor is that this Creator took upon Himself the failure of Adam and Eve to fulfil His instructions. To do that He, in the fullness of time, came to earth to offer forgiveness, grace, hope and a new beginning. It also required experiencing their judgement, and ours, upon our rebellion and indifference to Him. That was death. His name at that event was Jesus. It is the Name declared at the  Christmas event in fulfilment of Isaiah 7:14. Luke 1:26-35.

When you read the accounts of the birth of Jesus you will notice the Name given which goes beyond the Greek Jesus or Hebrew Joshua. Jesus is called ‘The Son of God.’ Here is the distinctive claim about Jesus. During the time of His earthly ministry the Jewish people wanted to stone Him for this, as it made Him, rightly so, equal with God. Peter, one of His disciples came to the conviction that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of God (Matthew 16:16) which further adds to the meaning of ‘Emmanuel’ God with us. Now all of this is beautiful and poetic but can it be true? Remember this Jesus was crucified for blasphemy. There can be only one of two answers. He is a fraud and rots in the tomb or He is who the Bible portrays Him to be. How?  Because He conquered Death and reversed the judgements of The High Priest and Pilate. They were wrong. The prophetic scriptures were and remain right! (Psalm 2. Romans 1:1-4 Revelation ch.4 & 5 Philippians 2:6-11).

Therefore the name He bears is unique (John 3:16) and the message of the gospel about Him is this: ’These are written that so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.’ (John 20:31)

Some try and tell us that Allah and Yahweh are one and the same terms for God. How can that be when Islam declares God has no Son. The Bible and the Koran are from two entirely different sources. What they say about Jesus are totally opposed one to the other. The Koran portrays Jesus as a prophet who lies and is a coward, certainly not worth a second thought. The Bible written across two thousand years and numerous authors, endorsed by historical records and prophetic statements declares the Jesus – His historical name, is the Messiah –the promised redeemer – and at the same time – The Son of the Living God. To believe in Him on that basis is to know forgiveness, a new beginning in time and a new destiny in eternity. It means also that on that accounting day you will gladly bow before Him and praise His Name as your Lord and Saviour, giving thanks to God the Father for Him.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

From Despised to Exalted - Jesus.

“Did you hear that? He has confessed to saying he is God. He has blasphemed. He is guilty of
death!” The rest of the Sanhedrin agreed. Jesus had condemned himself. What brought this about? He was put under oath as to whether or not he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  In Matthew 26:64 came his reply “Yes, it is as you say. But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  This was a quote from Daniel 7:13.

The authorities had him in their grip. This Jesus had beaten them in debates, spoken harshly against their abuse of power and charmed the people with parables and miracles. This man some of them must have known or known about since childhood caused them nothing but trouble. He claimed he and the Father were one (John 10:30) and to see him was to see the invisible Father (John 14:9). How outrageous. Now he must die.  And he did on the cross under Roman supervision.

Why then do untold millions worship Him? Why do others fear and fight against Him? It is a waste of time if He is dead. It is obscene if the criminal charges of blasphemy under Jewish law and insurrection in Roman law are valid. What caused this catastrophic upheaval and the cancellation of the verdict? The resurrection from the dead on the third day! This was foretold by Jesus Himself using the illustration of Jonah. It is also underscored in Isaiah 53:11–12.

We look upon the resurrection as securing our salvation. True! However it goes way, way beyond that. It is the seal of validation to who Jesus is, what He has achieved and the endorsement of the truth of Scripture. No other record could express this so succinctly and powerfully as the few words of Thomas in the upper room a week after the resurrection. Thomas the doubter wasn’t present the previous week and said he would not believe until he saw and touched the nail and spear prints in Jesus body. When Jesus came to him this disciple cried out: “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28)

Two thousand years later these words still resonate with awe. However, we may miss a mind shattering concept for this Jewish man, as well as the other Jewish followers. To call Jesus not only the Christ (Messiah) but ‘Lord and God’ would have challenged his creed. ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’ (Deuteronomy 6:4). Jesus didn’t rebuke him or deny it. Now this presents us with a dilemma. Can this be true? Is it in harmony with the thirty-nine books Thomas believed in? What does this mean for understanding the very nature of God?

The Christian Faith holds to and bears witness to the Triune nature of God. To our understanding God is, Father, Son (Word) and Holy Spirit, one God, three personalities. In Genesis 1:26 we get our first glimpse of God. ‘Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”’

Elohim is the descriptive word for God used in the Genesis verses. This term for God is plural in form. It is expressing plurality in unity and is a feature of the Bible’s understanding of the greatest of great mysteries, God Himself. For when Elohim is used in relation to God it is always accompanied by verbs and adjectives in the singular. In Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning Elohim created’, the verb ‘create’ is singular. In Deuteronomy 32:39, “See now that I myself am He! There is no god (Elohim) besides me.” Also read Isaiah 45:5, 22-23 and elsewhere.

Yahweh or Jehovah is the covenant name for God to Adam, Abraham and Israel. The quote from Deuteronomy 6:4 is their creedal statement. It could be translated ‘The Yahweh, our Elohim (plural), the Yahweh is One.’ We get a sense of that in Isaiah 6:3 when we hear the Seraphs singing to God “Holy, Holy, Holy”. In Revelation 4:8 the similar refrain is repeated. Does this help you to understand the cry of Jesus on the cross when He said “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”? There on the cross was the one called Emmanuel, God with us. For the first and last time in eternity and time God the Son was cut adrift from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Christ’s cry expresses the unfathomable cost the Godhead was prepared to pay to redeem you and me. Finally when commissioning the apostles and others to worldwide evangelism Jesus told them to baptise believers into the Name (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirt.

If we are honest with ourselves and our theology trying to grasp the concept of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9 KJV) leaves us gasping. This is why, I believe, the Bible directs our attention to Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. He is understandable. We can relate to Him. Our Lord also stressed the point that ‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.” (John 12:44). When we claim Jesus as our Christ (Messiah) and Saviour He promised to come and dwell within our being. Surely a wonderful yet mysterious gift of grace. Too few realise an awesome fact mentioned by the apostle John. 1 John 2:23–24 ‘whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.’ And do not forget that you are called the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in the most awesome result of the cross and resurrection when Jesus becomes our Lord and Saviour the Triune God transforms our lives. We are no longer slums of sin. We become the temples of the Living Triune God. Praise His Name!

Below are a small selection of references to show you how the God of the Old Testament revealed Himself in Jesus of the Gospels and the other 23 books. This isn’t exhaustive. Do your own cross referencing. Then you will stand with Thomas and recite his words to Jesus “my Lord and my God.”

Yahweh                                             Title                                       Jesus

Exodus 3:14                                         I AM                                         John 8:58.  18:5-6

Isaiah 40:28.  60:2                            Creator                                    John 1:3. Colossians 1:16

Isaiah 45:22.  43:11                            Saviour                                   John 4:42.   Titus 1:3-4.

Isaiah 60:19-20                                   Light                                       John 8:12

Psalm 23:1                                          Shepherd                                 John 10:11

Isaiah 41:4                                         First & Last                               Revelation 22:13

Hosea 13:14                                        Redeemer                                 1 Corinthians 10:4

Isaiah 45:23                                       Lord                                           Philippians 2:11

Psalm 35:23                                       My Lord & my God                 John 20:28

Joel 2:32                                             The Name of the Lord            Romans 10:9-13


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

1st - 5th September 2014
Rebecca's Dream

(Even Before March 2014)


Carol Preston

About the Book

Rebecca Oakes is thirteen years old when her mother, Suzannah, dies in the small town of Marengo, New South Wales, in 1873. With her older brother and sisters soon involved in their own lives, Rebecca is left alone to care for her ageing father. But Rebecca has a dream for her own life. She wants to make a difference to the world around her; a world where it is hardly possible for a woman to get an education, where women have no rights, no vote, no voice. Rebecca will have to fight the systems of her time if she is to achieve her goals. She must find the courage to stand against sexual and religious prejudice, and resist the pressures of even those close to her, in order to make her way towards her dream, influenced by one man who hates her, who will do anything to thwart her plans, and another man who loves her, and will do anything to make her happy.

Rebecca’s Dream is the second book in the Oakes Family Saga. Background notes and discussion questions are available for book clubs.

About the Author

Carol lives in Wollongong with her husband, Neil. She is a psychologist and has a part time private counselling practice, as well as being an author and speaker. Carol enjoys spending time with her children and four grandchildren, as well as bushwalking, gardening and holidaying overseas with her husband. One of her hobbies over many years has been family history research. It was this research which started Carol on the journey of writing novels.
Her first trilogy is about the Oakes Family; Suzannah’s Gold, Rebecca’s Dream and The Price of Peace, which takes the reader from 1838 when her great great grandmother, Suzannah Casey was transported from Ireland, through to the end of the First World War when Suzannah’s children and grandchildren are involved in the battle, not only to survive the war but to survive the waiting at home. The first two of these have recently been re-released by EBP. Carol’s fourth novel, The Face of Forgiveness, is about two young women who are transported to Australia in 1839. The most recent of Carol’s novel is a series based on her mother’s family, which begins with the First Fleet of convicts to Australia. These include Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets, and Truly Free.
For more information about Carol’s books and her other interests she can be contacted on her website:, on her Facebook author page:

or her Amazon author page:

Mary, my wife who is a reader addict, has read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. She also recommends the previous books in this family saga from Carol Preston