Saturday, 25 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 25th Dec

25 December 2010
Luke 2 v. 15 - 20

‘They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.’

We’re told that the shepherds, taking God at his word, hurried off to find the baby. What did they see when they got there?  An ordinary young couple with their newborn?  People of the same social class as themselves, in humble circumstances? There was no worldly pomp and circumstance surrounding this birth, no trappings of royalty, or airbrushed celebrity status.

Like Anna and Simeon in the temple courts1, and the wise men who would follow2, the shepherds saw past the evidence of their natural eyes. They looked beyond the physical reality, and saw the greater truth: a Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord. They saw things the way God saw them. They looked with the eyes of faith.

We need to become like the shepherds, people who in every situation, take God at His word and see things as He sees them. This is the nature of repentance – to change our way of thinking - to align ourselves with God. And this is what the great figures of faith in scripture were commended for: they chose to believe God, rather than the wisdom of the world, or the ‘facts’ of their circumstances3. It is not that we ignore the physical evidence, but that we do not accept it as the greater reality.

The shepherds’ faith-response to their encounter with Jesus, was firstly to praise the Lord, and then to tell their neighbours the good news.

God has come to us, transformed our ordinary lives, delivered us from every power of darkness, made us His children and released His power among us. Let’s respond with worship and celebration, and then tell our corner of the world that He wants do it for them too.

Prayer
Lord,
Help me to align myself with You in everything.
I worship and praise You for all you have given me.
Increase my understanding of the amazing salvation I have through Your Son,Jesus,
And give me opportunities this Christmas season to share this good news with the people around me.
Amen

1 Luke 2 v. 25-28
2 Matthew 2 v.1-2
3 Hebrews 11 v. 11,12

Friday, 24 December 2010

Enriched by God's Action

I came across this quote yesterday:
"The effect of evangelism is to enrich life by God's action, no less than the 'shalom' of the whole earth" - Bishop Patrick Yu.
It strikes me that the birth of Christ was an act of evangelism - God's action enriching life bringing 'shalom' to the whole of the earth - "and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests" (Luke 2:14)
Our evangelism needs to have the same quality - based on an unshakable belief that God's action enriches life founded on our own experience of life enrichment in him.We are recipients of God's action - he has acted 'upon' us and our response at times such as this, Christmas, needs to be one of thanksgiving and appreciative worship.
Happy Christmas!

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 24th Dec

24 December 2010
Luke 2 v. 8-13

‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night’


For many in the busy, noisy, Western world, silence is both unnecessary and unnerving. A recent television programme, ‘The Big Silence’, made a fascinating exploration of the thoughts and experiences of volunteers, entering a silent retreat for the first time. In the silence they came face to face with buried parts of themselves, receiving healing, and there were several profound encounters with God.

The Bible has many accounts of people who spent time alone with the Lord, often in the desert, away from human distractions. Invariably their lives were shaped by these intense encounters.

Consider the conditions in the inn: apparently there was no recognition that the greatest event the world had ever known was taking place, no quietness to register that God himself had come to them, no room for the Word of God. But, in contrast, out on the hillside, shepherds were keeping watch; by necessity, listening to the sounds of the night. And it was to them the Word of God came, ‘a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’

‘Where shall the word be found,
Where will the word resound?
Not here, there is not enough silence,1’ wrote TS Elliot, challenging our Western busyness.

Let’s set aside some time this Christmas, even in the middle of the hectic activity, to come before God, not to pray, but to listen. Let Him come and speak His Word into our hearts, His Word that brings revelation, transformation and grace. And then let’s celebrate!

Prayer
Father God,
I live by every Word that comes from Your mouth
I want to hear Your voice this Christmas.
Help me to set aside time to be still and listen. Amen

1 Ash Wednesday 1930

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 23rd Dec

23 December 2010
Luke 2 v. 1-7

‘She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.’

At Christmas we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us – the mighty God who came amongst us and is still with us today. The circumstances of Jesus’ birth cry out to us that God comes to the ordinary, and brings redemption. It is not a tale of man’s efforts to claw his way up to an inaccessible God, but rather the desire of Almighty God to come and shed His glory in the commonplace.

We can imagine the scene in that Bethlehem inn, crowded to the ginnels, the normal business swelled with pilgrims who had come to register in the town of their birth. We can see the bustling scene, hear the noise as people ate and drank, so busy there was not enough room for two late comers. I wonder who noticed, in the midst of the laughter and talk, a man and a young woman being led away to sleep with the animals. And if they did, did they slip out and follow, to see what would take place. Did anyone in the inn that night, hear the murmur of Heaven preparing to invade earth?

What about us today? We are challenged to take time in the midst of the festive rush to allow Him to come. To allow Emmanuel, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, to invade the commonplace of our lives, and transform them with His glory. There is no relationship, problem or circumstance too lowly, or too difficult, for His notice. Let’s make room for Him to have His way with us today.

Prayer
Lord Jesus,
Thank You for wanting to shed Your glory in my ordinary life.
I invite You into   ……………………….…………………
and I look for Your transforming power.
Help me to share this good news with my friends and neighbours. Amen

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 22nd Dec

22 December 2010
John 1 v. 10-14

‘The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.’

 The story of much religious activity is man’s attempt to climb up to God, and a lot of time, effort and resource is put into its pursuit. For some, it describes the character of their Christian walk, the effort they put in to try and connect with God: ‘If only I could read the Bible more, pray more, do more, be a better person – then I would find God.’ And so the way to heaven becomes littered with discouraged and disillusioned people.

The Christian Gospel actually offers something quite different. Jewish history tells of the passionate desire of the Lord to live among His people2, and how He came and filled first the Tabernacle, and then the Temple, with His glory. Then we read in this passage that God actually became incarnate and made his dwelling (literally ‘tabernacled’) among us. The Good News is that God has come down to us to meet us where we are.

There are several challenges in this for us.
The first is to take stock. How much do we try and reach God through our performance? All we need to do is acknowledge our own helplessness, and receive Him and believe in His name.

The second challenge is to trust in His word, and delight in His Presence, to believe He has come, and is living among us.

And the third is to see His Presence touch the people around us. One of the requirements of the Old Testament priesthood was that they carried the Ark of the Covenant -a representation of the Presence of God. We, as a royal priesthood1 likewise have the incredible privilege of carrying the Presence of God to our world.

God is the one who has come to us, to be with us where we are.  What if we prayed just one thing today: Welcome Lord - I welcome you to my day, fill my heart, my home, my workplace with your presence.  What if I welcomed him to my world today - simple words?  God wants us to live a life worthy of our calling. This is not the demand of Law but rather the offer of Grace – he wants to come himself and work it in us.  And in him is everything we need

Prayer
Lord, there is nothing I can do to climb up into Your Presence.
Thank you, Jesus, that You have come, to meet me where I am.
Welcome Lord. Welcome to my day.
Fill my heart, my home, my workplace with your Presence.
I welcome You to my world today.

11Peter
2Exodus 29 v.45, 46

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 21st Dec

21 December 2010
John 1 v. 1-9
‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome1 it.’

For our forebears, this, the dark time of the year, was an anxious period: available working hours were limited, and untold menaces, real and imagined, lurked in the darkness. Today we are grateful for modern electricity artificially lengthening the days, extending our productive time and dispelling some of the terrors of the night. And in this Christmas season, festive lights make the darkness a place of wonder.

Light has two great properties: it dispels darkness, and it enables us to see. Light always overcomes darkness just by being itself. And it is only the presence of light, entering the eye, which gives us sight.

Not only are the winter days dark, but the present times can seem dark too. The Bible describes man’s internal condition as full of darkness; the darkness of fear and sin, emotional, mental and physical pain, and the darkness of alienation from God; a darkness which manifests itself outwardly in our world in a multitude of ways.

Into this darkness Christ came; not as a dim, flickering light, but as a blaze of glory. The Gospels show that in every encounter with Him, the darkness that kept mankind in bondage was pushed back, and people were able to see clearly.

Today let’s meditate on the effects of light on darkness, and ask the Light of the World to come to us afresh. Let’s approach Him with a faith that expects to receive, a humility that acknowledges our need, and ask Him to shine his radiant light on our dark places, and dispel every one. Let’s ask Him to open our eyes to see clearly, and to use us to be people who shine His light in the dark places of the world around us.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, Light of the world,
Come and shine Your light in every dark place in my life, bringing forgiveness, healing, deliverance and clear sight. 
Fill me with Your light and then use me to touch the people I meet.
Thank You that You are answering my prayer even as I speak.
Amen

1(NIV alternative translation)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 20th Dec

20 December 2010
Matthew 2.13-18;

Sometimes it is right and proper for us not to be around certain people, depending on what they may have planned for us.  In this passage, Joseph is told to go to Egypt, and quick, because Herod felt threatened, and maybe even devalued, and wanted to kill Jesus, and maybe even his parents.

Herod shows a completely different characteristic to all others we have looked at this week.  The basis for this week seems to be around the issue of trust, but Herod doesn’t demonstrate any of that trust in God, he demonstrates trust in his own reaction.

The challenge for us as gods people, is to trust him, not to react as Herod did, in his own humanness, in his own threatened nature, but in relationship and trust in the living god.  We need to do what Herod didn’t, put ourselves to one side, as Jesus did when he went to the cross, and rather than reacting, or trying to contrive circumstances in our own strength, we need to trust, follow and be obedient to Gods direction in our lives.

Prayer
Lord, help me to trust you, totally and absolutely. And Lord, help me not to try and fix things in my strength, but to trust in your guidance.  Lord, help me finally to find worth and value in you and who you have called me to be.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 19th Dec

19 December 2010
Matthew 2.1-12;

This is an amazing story of how the Magi followed a star to where Jesus was.  No matter who they encountered, or what dangers they may have faced, they followed the star. 

Reason?  They understood the importance and worth of the Messiah.  They wanted to be with, to encounter the living Messiah.  Abandoning all they had, their single-minded pursuit was to bring their presents to Jesus.

Would we have done what the Magi did?  Would we have asked the king of the time, where the Messiah was?  Our challenge from the Magi is to follow wherever we may be lead, and to give an account of why we go that way.  The Magi would not have had an idea where they were going to end up, but they followed, and this is the challenge to us, to follow god, to go where he wants us to go, and to give an account of why we do this if asked.

Prayer
Lord, Help me to follow you wherever you want me to go, and give me the courage to give an account of my following you.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 18th Dec

18 December 2010
Matthew 1.18-25;

How many of us, if we are honest run away from embarrassing situations, or situations where people may ask too many questions?  If we’re honest, probably most of us!! But here we find Joseph, in a situation where Mary is pregnant and it wasn’t by him! He would have been fully aware of the questions, the comments, and judgments from others.

But what Joseph shows us is his complete obedience to what God tells him.  Unquestioningly he does all that God tells him, without thought or consideration to the consequences.  His obedience is complete and absolute and he just doesn’t listen for God’s guidance, but he hears God’s words, and he acts upon them.

The challenge to us therefore is to listen for God’s guidance in all circumstances, and to be obedient to him, regardless of consequences and our human desire to act differently.

Prayer
Lord, help me to hear your voice, to be obedient to you, and put your guidance before my own reactions.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 17th Dec

17 December 2010
Galatians 4.4-7;

If you are anything like me, you often have a timescale for when things need to happen, and all things have to fit into the timescale you set.

This passage tells us, how God recognises our circumstances, and at his time, the right time, the appointed time by him, things happen.

God enables us to live out of freedom, to live as an heir, to live as his adopted child, and this is not out of anything we have done, but purely, and only out of his grace and love for us.

The challenge therefore, for us, is two-fold: firstly to live in the existence that God wants us to live in, as his child, an heir. But secondly, to know that all things happen by his appointed timing, as he has all our best interests at heart, and therefore as we journey through life with God, we appreciate the appointed time he sets for all aspects of our life.  Trusting God is right at the centre of our relationship with him, and living in his timings.

Prayer
Lord, help me to trust you more. To know your timing is perfect, and to know you have my interests at your heart.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 16th Dec

16 December 2010
Philippians 2.5-11;

It would have been so easy for Jesus to walk around on earth in an arrogant pompous manner, knowing who he was, and ensuring that all who he came across submitted to him, his position, and who he was.

The reality though is something very different.  Jesus took the existence of a human, and lived his life out in such a manner.  Even to the point of crucifixion, Jesus, as the son of God, could have escaped from that circumstance, as he was aware of what was going to happen, but chose to follow the root that God had laid out for him. 

The challenge therefore for us, as Gods people, is to live our lives in a non-arrogant way, submitting ourselves to the life that God has laid out for us.  To put aside all personal or selfish thought or ambition, but to live according to the values of God, and out of a close relationship with him.

Prayer
Dear Lord, Please help me to live the life you want for me, not the life that I would want for myself.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 15th Dec

15 December 2010
Luke 1: 46 – 55

 Mary’s song, ‘The Magnificat’, has been set to many tunes and sung in many Churches and Cathedrals in our country and all over the world (I’ve even sung it in Kigiryama in East Africa!).  Why is this? Surely because Mary’s words came from her heart as she responded to the Lord’s will for her.

When Elizabeth had spoken words of joy as she acknowledged that Mary was to be ‘the mother of her Lord’ (Lk 1: 43), she said, ’Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished’ (Lk 1: 45).

 After Mary had said her ‘Yes’ to God, she became a new person, at peace, able to rejoice and praise God for what He was about to do. Praise Him that He had recognised her vulnerability; that He had done so much for her; praise Him because of His holiness; that He is a merciful God, mindful of all who have called upon Him throughout the generations. Praise Him now, because He had chosen her to be the mother of His Son. She, out of all the young girls, was to have this unique experience, at once overwhelming and also daunting. The way ahead would not be easy. There would be highs and lows; joys and grief, but one thing Mary knew was that God was with her, and His love and care know no bounds.

Do you truly believe that what God has called you to do will be accomplished?  Are you certain of His guidance; His leading day by day and do you praise and thank God often, because of the privilege you have of serving Him?

Read through the passage slowly and let the words speak to you.

Prayer
Lord, help me to believe that what You have called me to do will be accomplished in Your time. Keep me praising and rejoicing as You lead me onwards and may my faith grow and deepen as I put my whole trust in You.
Amen.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 14th Dec

14 December 2010

Luke 1: 26 – 38


Mary’s story. A familiar one told many times over the Christmas period; at carol services; nativity plays; in songs and in poems,- but what do we really know about Mary besides the fact that she was the mother of Jesus. Let’s go back to the story as told by Luke in the New Testament reading.

Mary - a young girl; betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of David and probably some years older than her. One day, God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary with some startling news; she was highly favoured by the Lord and she was going to have a baby- His Son! Can you imagine the jumble of emotions that swept through her mind on hearing this? ‘I’m betrothed to Joseph. What will he say? Will he believe me? It’s a year before we are to be married. What will the villagers say when they see I’m pregnant? I can’t cope with this. It’s all too much. What can I do?  Help!’

Very quickly the angel comforts her and tells her not to be afraid. God is with her and she must call the Baby Jesus He is very special and will be a King whose Kingdom will never end (v 31 – 33).  It doesn’t really make sense to Mary and she says, ’How can it be since I am a virgin?’ She is puzzled; mystified by the appearance of this angel. What is happening to her? Again the angel speaks to reassure her. God is at work - ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon you and your child will be called the Son of God’ (v.35). Then he tells her that even her elderly relative, Elizabeth, is six months pregnant. That ‘nothing is impossible with God’ (v.37).

Mary responds in faith,’ I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said’ (v.38). No longer did she doubt, but gave herself into the Lord’s hands, ready to be used by Him.

Have you any doubts and fears about what the Lord is calling you to do for Him? How far can you trust him? Are you willing to say, as Mary did, ‘Yes. Lord, I’m ready for whatever You want me to do or be for You’? Be assured that He will be with you every step of the way, wherever the road leads.

Prayer
In my moments of doubt or fear, assure me, Lord, of Your constant presence and grant me that peace that comes from knowing I am in the place where I can serve You best.
Amen.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 13th Dec

13 December 2010

Luke 1: 67 – 80


Today we have a passage that was at one time very familiar to those who attended ‘Morning Prayer’. It’s called ‘the Song of Zechariah’, or as we knew it, the ‘Benedictus’.
Here Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, praises God for keeping His covenant; His promises to His people, even before these events have happened. He rejoices that now they are able to serve God without fear,- all their days. Most of all, though, he speaks of John, his son, (v 76-79), who was to prepare the way for the Lord. He would prepare peoples’ hearts to receive the coming Messiah by challenging their ways; calling them to repentance and granting them forgiveness of their sins.

Zechariah speaks of God’s mercy; of His ‘tender mercy’ and of the light to come, Jesus, who was to say, ‘I am the Light of the world’, (John 8 v 12).

In his old age Zechariah is not thinking of himself. He points to his son, John, who was born to serve God in a special way, - as His messenger. Zechariah’s reaction is to praise God. To look to the time when the promised Messiah would come, and it would be his son who would, ‘make ready the way of the Lord’ (Isaiah 40 v3); his son who would be called, ‘the prophet of the Most High’.
His joy flowed out in praise to God. He rejoiced for his son in the knowledge that he, too, would be serving the Lord. What a privilege that is. Zechariah’s humility shows in the words he speaks and in his love for God.

Dare we ask ourselves, ‘How good am I at praising the achievements of other Christians?’  or ‘Do I wish it was me being praised.?

Prayer 

Lord God, give me a heart to praise You at all times; help me to rejoice when others are rejoicing and keep me humble as I serve You and walk in the way of peace.
Amen.

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 12th Dec


12 December 2010
Luke 1: 57 – 66

Decisions; decisions! How good are you at making choices? Special choices, especially when it comes to naming a baby. Would you consult books to find the meaning of a name? Or choose a family name,- one that’s been passed down through the generations?  Or, perhaps, a popular name of the time, or place where the baby was born,-and in recent months we had an example of this with little baby Florence!

Reading this passage from Luke 1, you will see that this is nothing new! Elizabeth’s relatives and friends were just the same thinking her baby might be called after his father, - but, no! she says quite simply, ‘He is to be called John’ ( v.60). But they couldn’t understand this and thought it best to ask his father what name he wanted.  Zechariah was still silent, but wrote down, to their astonishment, ‘His name is John’. This is a shorter form of Jehohanam meaning ‘God’s gift’ or ‘God is gracious’.  Immediately Zechariah’s silence was broken. He had done as the angel had said, (v.13), and he began praising God for His gift of a son.

The people were amazed; filled with awe. There must be something special about this baby, they thought. What would he be? It was obvious the Lord’s hand was with him.
Contrasting emotions.  Again we find disbelief in the choice of name; surprise that Zechariah chose the same name as Elizabeth; and awe. God at work in ways we least understand to fulfil His promises, made many years before, that He would send a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord, (Isaiah 40 v.3).

We ask, ‘What is going on. I don’t understand?’ Zechariah showed that he had taken note of what the angel said to him in the Temple, even though he hadn’t fully understood; that he was prepared to trust God’s word, after his initial disbelief, and doing this he was released from his silence.

Is there something for us here? That sometimes we need a period of silence in which to think over what God is saying to us and to be prepared to go along with His will whatever that might be. ‘God works in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.’

Prayer

Lord, help me to remain faithful to Your least word of command, even when I do not understand what lies ahead.
Amen.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 11th Dec

11 December 2010
Luke 1: 5 – 22

This week we are going to consider some amazing stories found in Luke chapter 1. Maybe they should be headline news!

Zechariah – who was he?  One of the Temple priests; married to Elizabeth. Both very elderly; a childless couple; very devout.

One day it was his turn to go in to the Temple to burn incense at the time of the evening sacrifice, according to their custom, while the worshippers were praying in the outer courts. Then something strange happened. An angel appeared by the altar and Zechariah was completely taken by surprise; startled; scared! The angel reassures him that he brings good news,- very unexpected news as it happened.

 He says three things:- that Zechariah’s prayer has been answered; that his wife would have a son; that he was to call the baby John.
Not only this, the angel has more to say about the baby. Look at verses 14 – 15 and see how many times he says of the child ‘he will’. He will be someone who brings joy to many; he will be great in the sight of the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit; and many will return to the Lord because of him. His mission will be to prepare people for the coming of the Lord.

But Zechariah finds all this far too difficult to believe. ‘How can I be sure?’ he says. Wouldn’t you be asking questions, too? It’s in our nature to want answers; to have everything made clear. But the angel had been sent by God to Zechariah and God’s word was to be trusted. So, the angel says Zechariah will be silent, because of his disbelief, until John is born.

Does this seem harsh or is it a challenge to us to trust in God’s word even when we cannot understand,- cannot fathom out the mystery of what is going on in our own situation? Trust that God has an overall plan and He knows what He is doing. He always has our best interests at heart.

Prayer.
Lord, in the sudden surprises of life, take away my fears; help me to listen for Your voice, and always to trust Your word.
Amen.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 10th Dec

10 December 2010
Malachi 4:1-6

                “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.  And you will go and leap like calves released from the stall”

Yesterday we looked at celebration.  We turn our attention to what is thought to be an opposite – Reverence.  This has been defined as “a feeling of profound awe and respect and often love”.  Malachi gives us another promise – if we revere God’s (Jesus’) name God himself will shine on us.  Christmas is a time of tinsel, sparkles, lights, candles and tales of angels’ glory – yet God says there is a brighter light that will shine upon those who awe, respect and love his great name: The Light of the world will shine upon us – this brings healing and freedom.

Have you ever seen a cow running?  I have, and I can assure you it is a funny sight to behold.  Firstly, I’m not sure cows are made to run!  - They lumber.  Secondly, they lumber with abandon!  They don’t care about what other cows think of them – they are truly free in a way that often we are not.  Reverence for God’s name releases His blessing upon us so that we can live in his light as restored (healed), free people.  This in turn leads us to a deepening reverence for him.  Yet again, we have much to be thankful for.

Response
  • Think of as many titles for God that you know from the bible.  Which ones can you relate to most?  Spend time writing or speaking out your thanks for these names that have brought freedom into your life.
  • Watch the short video showing a running cow by clicking on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkurN6ZLhMc – Ask God to give you the freedom and abandon of a running cow.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 9th Dec

9 December 2010
Micah 4:1-5

                “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord”

I love a party!  It’s great to get together with friends and celebrate something – weddings, birthdays...did I mention Christmas?  Christmas is a party season – the work do, family stuff, big meals and celebration – but what has this got to do with Micah 4?

The mountain of the Lord’s Temple (v1) is the place of praise and God’s presence – it is symbolically where the people went to celebrate the Lord’s goodness.  I wonder what we will celebrate this Christmas.  Will we celebrate the break from work?  Perhaps you’ll celebrating seeing family and friends again?  Perhaps the carnivores are celebrating the coming turkey curries and stuffing sandwiches?!

Verse 3 tells us that many nations will say “Let’s go to God’s party!”  Ok, so I paraphrased, but it makes the point.  Lots of people from all over the world are going to come to God’s presence to praise and celebrate all that he is doing.  We see this around the world – the good news of Jesus that started to be sung out on a shepherds’ mountain near Bethlehem has spread like a virus to all nations of the world in 2000 years.  We are all invited to come to God and join in the party of people who are celebrating Jesus this Christmas.  How amazing is that!

Respond
  • Why not invite some friends round and have a dinner, afternoon tea or a full-blown party to share hospitality and Jesus in conversations and celebration
  • Get to MSC or Central Gathering  or 9am Communion on Sunday and put on your dancing shoes – the king has come from the mountain to the town and he’s looking for a party!

Prayer
Lord Jesus
Focus our attention on you.  In amongst the tinsel remind us that you are the focus of the celebration.  Lead us to the mountain of your presence to celebrate your goodness.
Amen.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Imitation

I have been thinking a bit about imitation. We are told to "be imitators of God" (Eph 5:1), 1 Thess 1:6 goes further encouraging imitation of Paul, Silas & Timothy as well as the Lord. 1 Thess 2:14 commends the Thessalonica church for imitating the church in Judea. Paul urges the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:16) to imitate him and in Hebrews there is encouragement to imitate the faith of others (6:12 & 13:7).


We are to have an UPWARD imitation of God - if you look at Ephesians 5 we are to engage in imitation as 'dearly loved children', living 'a life of love', a sacrificial life like Jesus. If we are imitators of God the giving of our lives will be evident. I have seen many different church environments over many years and the ones that are missional, and have a transforming effect on the world around them have in common sacrificial living in one form or another. The readiness to keep dieing for the sake of the gospel.


We are to have an INWARD imitation of other churches. 1 Thess 2:14 makes the link, in reference, to sharing in the same kind of sufferings between the churches of Judea and Thessalonica. We are to stand together, seeking to continue to hold firm to the gospel of salvation. I know that for Kairos imitating other churches will mean mutual support and learning from others on a similar journey to us. 


We are to have an OUTWARD imitation of the faith of others, those who have "inherited what has been promised" Hebrews 6:12. I know that as I hang around with people of faith, who have demonstrated the things of faith in their lives, I become increasingly effective as a person of faith. 


It seems to me that I have a choice.... to imitate or to vegetate. Imitation implies sacrifice that leads to fruitfulness, alignment that leads to mutual blessing and learning from others that leads to kingdom effectiveness. Vegetation comes when I am not prepared to lay down my life, align myself with other Christians and learn from anybody but myself.

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 8th Dec

8 December 2010
Amos 9:11-15

                “In that day I will restore...I will repair...and build”

Restore.  Repair.  Rebuild.  In our passage we see God’s promises being made, and it’s all positive.  We often think Jesus came just to remove sin and set people free (which he did!)  – Yet this passage of prophesy points to some great ‘presents’ from the Lord.

We all turn our thoughts to what we will give and receive for Christmas.  I suspect the majority focus on thinking about what they will get for Christmas.  God is very well organised about his Christmas gifts to the world - Through Jesus he restores our lives – he replenishes what has been lost and fills us with spiritual fruit, gifts, creativity, beauty and truth.  Jesus repairs our broken souls – he heals our hurts; forgives our wrongs; touches our hearts.  Jesus rebuilds our lives – he heals the sick; supplies our needs; strengthens us.

The day of the Lord brings with it great blessings – it is a great day for those who are found in Christ!  How amazing is God?!  Praise God that he has indeed blessed us more than we normally give him credit for!!

Response
  • Make a list of all the things God has done for you (you could do this as a family)
  • Spend time with God praising (perhaps in song) him for restoring, repairing and rebuilding your life
  • Write a thank you letter to God for his work in your life

Prayer
Lord,
You are the master restorer.  Without you our lives would be in ruins.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you have done and continue to do in our lives and world.  We praise you Jesus. 
Amen.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 7th Dec

7 December 2010
Amos 5:18-24

Has Amos been in the sun too long – out tending his sheep he has heard from God and the judgement he hears of is rolling off his tongue like molten lava down a mountain.  Read the passage again and see – from verse 18-23 judgement is being declared and it seems that nothing can stop it. 

We then come to verse 24:

                “But let justice roll on like a river,
                Righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Hundreds of years later a ragamuffin bunch of Sheep herders are drinking and laughing round a warm fire.  All of a sudden the sky is ablaze and heaven’s song fills the air with a message of hope,

                “today...a Saviour has been born...peace to men” (Luke 2:8-14)

And so begins “the day of the Lord” – With the declaration of the Saviour born of peace and hope for all peoples everywhere and for all of time.  God’s kingdom is ushered in and Amos’s prophesy of a coming justice and righteousness begins to be acted out in our world.  Justice brings peace to people.  As his people this continues through us.  We are bearers of Christ’s justice, righteousness and peace!

Response/Challenge:
As we think about being participants in God’s kingdom will we consider giving to just causes – charities and organisations that help the oppressed, the hungry and the homeless – perhaps as we think about Jesus’ message of justice and peace we will be touched to direct some of our giving to those who need a merry Christmas most.  In this small way perhaps God’s Kingdom rule of Justice comes to people who need peace and hope.

Prayer
Lord, in Jesus we see the fulfilment of prophesies of justice.  May this be extended through us, your Church, as you fill us with a desire to see justice, righteousness and peace extended to those in the margins.  Amen.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 6th Dec

6 December 2010
Joel 2:28-32

                “I will pour out my Spirit on all people...everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved”

Joy to the world!!!  As we go through the next few days of readings you might be surprised to see passages that reflect “fear and trembling” as well as “joy to the world”.  Look at verses 30-31 in today’s reading – sound full of joy? (I think not!).  So what is this “Day of the Lord” we are reading about? 

The day of the Lord refers to the complete coming reign of the Christ – his reign will be one where judgement falls on the unrighteous, as well as His Spirit being poured out upon God’s people.

Within these two opposites we see in verse 32 that God is fair – everyone who calls on the name of God will be saved.  Which name?  The name of Jesus!  Every person is invited into God’s outpoured blessings. 

Reflection to Response:
  • When reading these verses do you find yourself struck with fear of God’s outpoured wrath, or more with joy at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
  • Read the passage again slowly.  Ask God to highlight something from it today.  Wait on him.  As him to give you more of his spirit right now, and wait expectantly until he speaks?
  • Pray for your family and community to call on God’s name today.


Prayer
Father God…As we remember that Jesus was sent to proclaim your Kingdom in the power and leading of the Holy Spirit we ask that you would also send us out with confidence in your Word (Jesus) and in the power of your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name
Amen.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 5th Dec

5 December 2010
Isaiah 60: 1-5

The call in the opening verse is to Jerusalem – the Jerusalem, which shall be when she is restored in glory and beauty. Then the city will be the centre of all the world’s light - for the glory of the everlasting God will rest upon her and will radiate round the world. This coming of the great blessing of the Lord is the coming of the new dawn.

Though all the earth around will be shrouded in darkness, on this people the divine light will shine. The effect of this will be that the nations will flock to rejoice in the great light that is shining and they will bring with them their treasures. These verses speak of the Church.

In verses 19 – 22 of Isaiah 60 are a description of life in the Jerusalem that is to come. In this city the inhabitants will not need the sun or the moon to give light but the Lord shall be an everlasting light and God will be their glory and beauty. The days of mourning will be ended and peace and righteousness will become the government of the entire civic life.

This description of the coming city is repeated in Revelation 21: 23-24. The gates of the city will never be closed and nothing that defiles shall enter the city. Those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life will inhabit this wonderful city.

What a great future is in store for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life – those who have received salvation provided by the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ.

Prayer
Thank you Father for sending Jesus – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world so that we may enjoy great blessings in the present and the future.

Kairos Advent Devotional 2010 4th Dec


4 December 2010
Isaiah 40: 1-11

Here we have the theme that God will restore the exiles to their own land. This passage is absolutely full of deep spiritual understanding. These are indeed wonderful tidings and are absolutely relevant to us today.

Firstly is the message of comfort breaking through the time of doubt and trial. The time of divine punishment is near to an end and the prophets are urged to speak to the people but soon all Israel is summoned to proclaim the glad tidings. The New Testament is our authority for applying the words of this prophecy to the coming of the Redeemer (Matthew 3; 1-3). The message of divine comfort to disturbed hearts is one of the greatest elements of the gospel.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord (v3). This is taken from the Eastern custom of sending men to prepare the way before a monarch’s visit. John the Baptist fulfilled this mission.

The word of comfort is not dependent on man’s endeavours but it is entirely dependent upon God’s sovereignty and mercy. Vain is the hope of man who relies on himself but in the Lord Almighty there is redemption and in the midst of all changing things God’s word stands for ever (v8).

In verse 10 God is revealed as infinitely strong – He will come with might and his arm will rule for Him.

V11: God is revealed as infinitely tender
1. He will lead His flock like a shepherd
2. He will gather the lambs in His arms
3. He will carry them
4. He will gently lead those that have their young

It is this might fact that calls Zion to rejoice greatly. Behold your God. These are indeed glad tidings of great joy to all the people. This is our God.

Prayer
Thank you Father that you are the God of all comfort and that You are my good shepherd.