Last week following David Pawson’s Practicing the Principles of Prayer when I felt an emotional alarm go off I prayed for guidance. The emotion seemed rationally justified, but was it really?
Then I opened a post by Michael Wilson. Preoccupied by the emotion I wasn’t paying attention to his words until I saw the following quote which I couldn’t ignore:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 King James Version
My prayer was answered. The emotion vanished as a false alarm.
There are some who would be eager to explain prayer away or, barring that, smother it in New Age sentimentality. I’ve been deceived by both in the past. I wonder how much power they still have over me.
Its spines stood out in shiny red with body black against white wall. Its web seemed barely there at all but formed a sticky prison bed.
The traps effectively were spread to catch deception in midair. The truth exposed each lie out there and everywhere we heard the crash. The busted celebration bash had cursed repentance, scorned good prayer.
Ronovan Hester challenges us to write a décima with the rhyme word “bash” in the D position of a rhyme pattern ABBAACCDDC.
Dale asks us to “show us your Christmas” for the Cosmic Photo Challenge. On my walk on Christmas day I spotted these flowers among others.
My smile this week for Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile is much the same as it has been. In particular I was wondering if I would find anything to photograph on December 25th worth posting to meet Dale’s challenge. Sometimes I’m too distracted. There are times I am so preoccupied I forget to take photos. I smiled with relief when I spotted these flowers. I don’t know why I saw them. I must have missed them on previous walks. Perhaps they weren’t blooming then.
I started reading David Pawson’s Practicing the Principles of Prayer this past week. I am beginning to understand prayer as a human privilege. Since prayer is a conversation, it is also never done alone. In order to bring that point home, I keep reminding myself to vocalize my prayers with words, not just thoughts, even if I speak only in a whisper.
I suspect I’ve thought of prayer too often as some sort of mindless, staring-at-my-navel meditation. That, I see now, is done alone and it is not as valuable as I once thought. It has been an awakening for me to get past that. By awakening I don’t mean that “woke” stuff where sleep-walkers bend a knee to the idol-of-the-day, but a real awakening.
I love the traditional celebration of Christmas on December 25th especially as Mario Murillo presented it yesterday in his post. However, placing the actual birth of Jesus at the beginning of the Jewish calendar, that is, on Nisan 1, opens up, for me, an unexpected fulfillment of prophecy.
Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Christian pastor, made the case that Jesus was born on March 20, 6 BC. If you watch the 28 minute video, When Was Jesus REALLY Born??, (Jim Bakker Show November 12th, 2012), look for the following: 1) In the spring lambing season the shepherds would be in the fields at night attending the birth of the lambs. 2) These lambs from Bethlehem were the temple sacrificial lambs. By pointing out the sign of “a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12 NIV), the angel was telling the shepherds to also attend the birth of Jesus. 3) Central events in the life of Jesus occurred on Jewish holy days: the Lamb Selection Day (Palm Sunday), Passover (Crucifixion), the Feast of First Fruits (Resurrection), and Shavuot (Pentecost). If His birth were a similarly central event it would likely occur on Nisan 1, the beginning of the Jewish calendar. 4) The birth year of 6 BC is suggested by an unusual occultation of Jupiter by the Moon in the constellation Aries that the Magi, or Zoroastrian astrologers, would have noticed in the spring. This would point them to the birth (occultation) of a king (Jupiter) in Judea (Aries). 5) The Tabernacle took nine months to complete like the period from conception to birth of a baby. It was set up on Nisan 1, “on the first day of the first month” (Exodus 40:2 NIV).
As Jonathan Cahn mentioned at the end of the video every time we receive Jesus it is day one, a new beginning. That would include today, December 25th, as well. And so I wish you a Merry Christmas and a new beginning.
The winter solstice doesn’t bother us. It happens this time every year. It comes and goes. A few might care to know, But no one feels any fear.
A birth we celebrate about this time That happened once in ancient days Still moves the heart with joyful gratitude. We rise with shepherds singing praise.
Far be it from Joseph to doubt the angel even when he felt overwhelmed.
There wasn’t a guest room available but they could stay in the courtyard where animals were kept along with the other travelers the inn could not accommodate with rooms. While Joseph prepared a place for Mary and him to sleep her labor began. She gave birth under the stars wrapping her child in cloths and laying him in a manger.
Shortly after the birth shepherds found the child. They told everyone about an angel, the sign of a baby in a manger, and how the horizon filled with a heavenly host giving praise.
For a better understanding of what actually happened, see Matthew 1 and Luke 2. I owe the idea of a “courtyard” to David Pawson who described what the inn may have looked like in a lecture, The Church and Christmas – The Truth About Christmas Part 2 (starting about 20:00).
This week for the Cosmic Photo Challenge Dale asks us to feature our favorite photos of the past year under the theme of “cream of the crop”. Above is a fall view of Lake Michigan from the top of the ravine at Lake Bluff, Illinois, and the other shows a cup of goji berry tea next to my prepared notes for a meeting.
What made me smile this past week (for Trent P. McDonald’s The Weekly Smile) was a realization of the significance of various personal events over the past year, some very small, which made possible other such events. By contrast many public events of 2020 were awful, but these more private ones I think of now as Red Sea moments (Exodus 14) where I had to go from one side to the other of some situation with a command to do so, or else. When I imagine what my life would have been like today if I had not obeyed these commands I am overwhelmed with joyful gratitude.
I doubt the Israelites felt comfortable crossing the Red Sea given those ominous mountains of water on both sides, but if they had not obeyed, they would have had to face the Egyptians behind them. Imagine their gratitude at the privilege of being guided from one shore to the other.
The realization that made me smile this past week was the sense that I was not alone and I might well have become lost if I didn’t go forward. There are those who might choose to explain such commands or guidance as the workings of my imagination. However, there is a difference between imagining how the Israelites must have felt to experiencing it oneself. Remembrance brings forth gratitude and gratitude put a joyful smile on my face.
Listening to Crystal Grimes’ performance of her arrangement of “The Friendly Beasts” was the first time I think I’ve heard the song. However, it felt very familiar and beautiful. Merry Christmas! It is coming soon.