Sunday, November 29, 2015

Subversive Prayer of Jesus

The Lord’s Prayer.
Prayer made headlines in the past week. An advertisement for the Lord’s Prayer to be played in cinemas was denied. Reasons given included it might offend people who are not Christians, or sympathetic to the Christian Faith.

Means Grace Prayer 2.jpgPredictably, a furore arose because the cinema’s fear of offending was doing just that. It was also breaking anti-discrimination laws. Some other religious bodies and an Atheist organisation supported the Church of England’s right to have it screened.

That is great for Freedom of speech and freedom of Religion. What was shown up in all this was the stupidity of Political Correctness. It also unmasks the subtle changes taking place to isolate Christ, the Church and weaken our Christian heritage. This can be seen in the demeaning of Christmas by certain intolerant Imams, weak city councils and indifferent politicians.

As I thought about the cinema’s reaction to the Lord’s Prayer advertisement they had a point. This finely crafted prayer, loved by many, is subversive, exclusive, prophetic and challenging. This should be a reason for not showing it, but it does say something about the human heart. Within all of us there is an awareness we all have to meet the Lord God, Creator and judge one day. There is either a fear or a joy in this prospect.

This prayer points to a future event as well as God’s expectation of us and ours of Him. Jesus gave this Rabbinic styled prayer to His disciples. It is therefore Jewish in nature and builds on what the prophets of Israel foretold. The Christian Church has claimed it for its own, as it has the right to do, without forgetting the original presentation and environment.

How is it subversive? Because it talks about ‘Our Father!’
We often forget that God is creator of us all, but He is the Father of the nation of Israel (Isaiah 64:8).

The Church is the creation of Christ through His death on the cross and resurrection. He is our Head and Lord.

Jesus didn’t have to prayer ‘our Father!’ Jesus is the Son, eternal, unique and the One who reveals the Father. (John 14:6-13.   10:30.) It is this very fact that upsets Islam. They call Jesus a liar when they say ‘God has no Son!’ However, they are correct when they say ‘Allah’ has no son – for he isn’t the eternal God of creation, redemption and Love.

It is prophetic because it points to a time when the Son of God sets up the promised Kingdom and rules the world from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2 and Zechariah 14. Etc). This kingdom is not wanted, except by those who belong to Christ. It is opposed by a counterfeit caliphate which is doing everything in its power to prevent its coming.

It is challenging because of its implied and explicit demands. The requirement to forgive can be very difficult, yet it holds within it the wonder of grace, liberty and and inner healing.

The Lord’s Prayer is exclusive. To be able to say “our Father” means a person has been spiritually born through His power. This comes about by a personal faith in Jesus as the Son of God, the promised Saviour who was crucified, entombed and rose again on the third day (John 3. Romans 10).

Maybe, just maybe, unseen forces were at play endeavouring to prevent this well known, well-loved prayer being shown. Behind political correctness and other anti-Christian actions lies the power of Darkness.

 However, John1:1-5 tells us about Jesus coming into this World and being the Light of the Word. Verse 5 reminds us of ultimate victory: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not (will not, cannot) overcome it.”

Ray Hawkins

Nov 29th 2015.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

When will Christmas End?

Christmas cake read 2010.JPGThere’s an end to Christmas and its message. When will that be? I don’t know but this I do know Christmas celebrations have a completion date. How do I know this? Because Jesus Christ will return to claim the throne of David, establish the Kingdom of God and fulfil the Christmas promises of joy and peace.

We are living in an era when various forces seem to be combining to make a premature cessation of the Christ advent. Looking at these forces, political, moral and spiritual they appear on the surface to be independent movements. However, if you have any background knowledge of Christian Scripture, especially the Book of Revelation, you see the ‘manipulator’. The atmosphere of these anti-Christian, anti-Christmas movements reeks of the Kingdom of Darkness. The apostle John in his first letter wrote ‘We know … the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.’

Who is the wicked one’? The Devil! His aim is to rid this world of the moral and spiritual values God requires. Do you want to have a glimpse of the coming world? Do you want to have an insight into its devilish delights? Read the book of Revelation. When a society rejects the moral code summarised in the Ten Commandments lawlessness takes over. Denying Yahweh’s existence and promoting ‘you are a piece of celestial junk’ destroys life’s meaning and hope.

Why is there such a self-destructive intent in drug taking and binge drinking? It is the devil’s delusion promising self-realisation. It promises to take a person out of their horrid existence and into euphoria. The end result is a degraded life and if unchecked an eternal death.  Why link drugs with the Devil? The word used for sorceries in Revelation 18:23 is Pharmakia from which we get pharmacy. It is this misuse of chemistry by which the occult enslaves unsuspecting lives. You can see evidence of its poison even now in communities.

PC250141.JPGThe first Christmas came in the fullness of time. It was promised. It took time for all the necessary facets to come together. It happened. Its purposes are still being talked about, believed in and rejoiced over. The person whose name adorns this event still receives the worship, allegiance and service of those who call Him “Saviour and Lord!” Unfortunately, many of them are cruelly persecuted for their faith. If Heaven has a gallery of heroes of the Christian Faith there would be a gallery which features the martyrs. In a sense Hebrews 11 gives a brief list of such faithful people. In Hebrews 12:1 they are called a ‘cloud of witnesses’ whose example is to encourage us. In Revelation 6:10 the martyrs slain on behalf of the word of God cry out: “How long O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  What they are calling for is the completion of the Christmas promises.

There are many promises recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. They deal with Jesus being King over the nations, He will be Saviour, Christ the Lord and the Light to the Gentiles. Christmas was the necessary first part in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. Part of the promises linked to Christmas have been made possible because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Some are still outstanding. They cannot be fulfilled until Jesus returns, as He promised. Until then, disciples and followers of Christ will celebrate the Bethlehem event. Some will do it in peace. Others will do it under threat of severe repercussions. All believers will long for the time when Christmas will no longer be celebrated for all it stands for will be accomplished.

Then there will be peace on earth. Then goodwill prevails. Then Jesus reigns from Mt Zion. Then justice and righteousness permeates life. Then the kingdom of Darkness and its citizens are no more. Until then, use Christmas as a time to honour the Lord, celebrate His entry into our scene and to look forward to His return. That will ensure you a ‘Merry Christmas’ under the smile of God.
Ray Hawkins November 23rd 2015.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Christmas - No Compromise

bethlehemswarriorbabysmall (2).jpgThere’s a madness spreading across the world breeding antipathy and hostility to the Christian faith. This plague is infecting countries and community with a long history of Christianity. Civic and Church leaders are losing moral strength as they are confronted by an influx of people with this antichrist fever. Not wanting to offend such people, those in Government make excuses for expressing sympathy by undermining their Christian Heritage. As the Christmas season draws near this well-meaning empathy is actually desecrating the name of Christ.  Some areas of Germany are calling the Christmas season ‘Festival of Lights.’ In Australia Christmas Nativity scenes in some communities are banned. It is politically incorrect to wish someone “Merry Christmas”.  A Muslim cleric said to be part of the Christmas celebration and wishing another “Merry Christmas” was worse than murder.

 Some well-meaning and ‘nice’ Christians are going along with this nonsense. Such ‘jellyfish’ believers are in actual fact betraying the Faith.  We may debate the date but not the fact of the birth of Jesus. Our authority for this event and who it reveals are *Prophetic Scriptures *Eye witness accounts in the Gospels.  *The Church, which, without the other two and the historical facts of Christ’s birth, life and resurrection, wouldn’t exist. We also have to remember the apostles and many first century believers in Christ paid for their faith with their blood. Our response, as Christians should be similar to those over the centuries who called Jesus Lord, ‘No Compromise.’

Why is Christmas so offensive? Depending upon the belief of the person the celebration of the birth of Christ upsets their tolerance. Atheists are rankled by anything which points to the creator, redeemer God. Muslims deny the claims of Jesus, especially about Him being the Son of God. Jews reject Jesus as their promised Messiah. In the final analysis all this angst is directed to the Church and the Bible. The books of the Bible have one major theme – Jesus! In the 39 books of the Old Testament He is the promised someone who is coming. In the four Gospels, Jesus is the promised someone who has come. In the twenty-three other books of the New Testament Jesus is the promised someone who is coming again.

Every Christmas and every Easter and Passover the non-Christian belief system is given a pounding. This happens at Christmas through church services, greeting cards, nativity scenes, music and the church providing Christmas cheer to the hungry and destitute. Handel’s marvellous music of the ‘Messiah’ must disturb those who reject the coming of Jesus to be the Saviour of the World. This would be especially true of militant Islam which disallows music in their culture. Who can blame them! They have nothing to sing about, either to their god, his interest in them, or about their hope of being accepted by him!

It is time for Christians to stand their ground. It is time to be gracious in the face of being charged as bigots. It is time to challenge political correctness when it tries to silence our voice from speaking the truth of God’s Word. It is time to pay the price for teaching the message of grace, mercy, judgement and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ. It is time to pray for those who are intent upon nullifying, undermining and destroying Christ and His Church. It is time to cancel out compromise.

May the Lord bless you this Christmas! As you celebrate the birth of the Son of God may He fill your heart with wonder! In wishing others, friend, family or foe, “Merry Christmas” let it be our expression of faith in the Christmas event.

©Ray Hawkins November16th 2015.

If anyone is interested in finding out more of what the bible says on Christmas get ‘Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby’ by Ray Hawkins. Available in Christian bookshops and also as an Ebook from Amazon and Goodreads. RRP $10:00.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Am I looking for Myself

question mark.jpg“I don’t know who I am any more” came from a woman desperately trying to find answers to her life and why she had become entangled in mess upon mess. It is the cry of many, often unexpressed and hidden behind smiling faces, busy schedules and loud singing of religious songs.

You would imagine that with all the self-help books on shelves, Website information for stressed out people, Jet setting lecture scene ‘self-awareness’ Gurus plus psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and religious groups no one would be ignorant of ‘who and what they are’. However it seems that the more such groups proliferate the more the confusion grows. Each can claim authority from being a ‘founding father or mother’ or from their  experiences. What seekers need to check out is the basis for their teaching and therefore the truth of such claims.  Short term remedies for life's big questions can lead to dead-ends or disillusionment. 

The unquestioning acceptance of evolution erodes the meaning of life. Promoted by mass media and vested interests the young especially are influenced by it. The results are depressing. No sense of destiny, no appreciation of the worth of another, a spiritual void and no answers to the moral mess and suffering in the world. Could this be an underlying gnawing in their heart which contributes to self-destructive addictions and behaviour? Another person left spouse and family with “I need to find myself.” That person never found herself.  To have any hope of understanding who you are, why you are, what can be done for you requires an authoritative manual. Within such a book directions for enjoying life and relationships must be listed. Also, when we fall-over there needs to be a promise of a new beginning. Fundamental to all this is to be shown the Creator’s purposes and to answer the ‘why’s’ of living in a messy world.

If evolution is the creator, there is no blueprint. That means there are no answers only superficial, short term pain removers for the confused, broken hearted and morally bereft. If there is the Creator who in the beginning set things in motion, then there is a Blueprint. Such a Creator would not leave His masterpiece (you) without insights as to who you are. The Creator’s Blueprint is revealed in the Bible. Its information is simple yet profound. Scripture has clear and concise directions to understand yourself and what the future holds.

No one, no matter how clever, can get inside of a person to see all the heart and mind’s complex ‘machinery’. That is God’s realm. What He has revealed about our inner being and the mess its gets into and the remedy for it, needs to be taken seriously. A careless attitude will continue a wasted life lived in the vanity of human speculation. The end result of that will be mess upon mess, broken dreams and a fear of standing before the Creator. Sure, it may mean that we need wise and Godly counsellors and other professional people to walk with us and be there for us in our journey. Yes it may mean that there will be the need for calling upon God to forgive us. It will mean working with Him as He begins to transform our views and lifestyle. Undoubtedly there will be tough decisions to make and accountabilities to undertake. However, when you know that the end result is worthwhile you are prepared to pay the price. For a ‘new you’ rises above the past with forgiveness known and hope for the future possessed.

The following testimony is dramatic. Our lives will probably not be of similar magnitude. However, as he says, if God can do it in my life, God can do it to anyone willing to trust Him.

“I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and violently arrogant but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.” (Paul to Timothy.) As Paul faced execution on Caesar Nero’s order for his faith in Jesus, Paul wrote ‘I know whom I have believed am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him against that day.’  When ‘that day’ came he could say “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me … but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

That’s knowing who you were, who you have become and where you are going. All because of God’s grace and His manual for life.

©Ray Hawkins Nov 9th 2015.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Children of the Childless

Ray's Children's cover.jpgIn recent days Children and China have been in the news. That country is going from a one child per family policy to double that number. This is for economic reasons. It caused me to think about a piece I wrote some time ago and included in my 31 day devotional,
 ‘Children – God’s Special Interest.’

With so much tragedy and turmoil in Africa and the Middle East there are many orphan children. Church and non-church groups are reaching out to these traumatised children in a variety of ways. God has a deep interest for their welfare. Those who exploit children are under severe judgement with eternity in unpleasant isolation awaiting. That’s for another blogspot. Today’s is about those who are childless and yet have many children in their care and on their heart.

 Out of His own experience, Jesus makes a promise to those denied either intimate companionship or progeny. Insight into this promise flows from Isaiah 53. Here is recorded the Servant of Yahweh taking upon Himself the role of the sacrificial lamb. In verse 10 we read, ‘…though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days…’
Jesus was single. He had friends, though no intimate relationship. Children He loved, yet was father to none. Through His sacrificial, substitutionary sacrifice, the Lord gave His redeeming and resurrection life to all who put their trust in Him. The cross made it possible for Jesus to have spiritual offspring.

 In Matthew 19:12, the Lord acknowledged there would be some disciples who would remain single. Any number of reasons causing, or leading to, such a status could be listed. The wonder in the mind of the hearers was that such people were not excluded from fulfilling an effective ministry within the Kingdom of God. In fact, their singleness or childlessness, when devoted to God, becomes an unparalleled opportunity.

In city slums, suburban ghettos, isolated villages, children, and others, are being cared for in the Name of Jesus. Many of these carers are single, usually women. Their mother’s heart however, will not be denied. To the disadvantaged, neglected, forsaken, orphaned, or bereft children such a woman becomes ‘mum.’ Within her shadow there is safety, warmth, hope. She is there because of the redeeming love of Jesus. From the fulfilment of Isaiah 53 this lady raises spiritual offspring unto the Lord. For her the words of Isaiah 54:1 become both a song of joy and a badge of honour. ‘Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord”

For the childless couple the same holds true. To paraphrase a response of Jesus, ‘behold, my sons and daughters which the Lord has given me!’ There are various ways by which children in need can know the tender care of a servant of the Lord. Such compassion may be face to face, or across distances. Child sponsorship through a Christian organisation offers a unique opportunity for all to be a parent, an elder brother or sister, to someone around the corner, or across the globe.
Life is unfair. Those denied an intimate relationship or of progeny can rise above it without rancour through walking by faith with Jesus. Those who are robbed of mother, father, or relatives even, can discern that unfairness fading away because of the grace of Jesus. For it is in the service of the Lord such unfairness is over ruled through the bringing of the two together. The cross transforms unfairness into ground on which there will be children to the childless, a parent for the orphan. In the words of Isaiah 56:5 ‘I (the Lord) will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.’

 Ray Hawkins Nov 2nd 2015.