2018 +1 = 2019 His mercies, new every morning!

Good Monday Morning to this last day of 2018

and to this first week of 2019,  about to begin!

A few prayers to this day of transition and to start a Happy New Year!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23

Remember us, O God

from age to age be our comforter.

You have given us the wonder of time,

blessings in days and nights, seasons and years.

Bless us your children at the turning of the year

and fill the months ahead with the bright hope

that is ours in the coming of your Kingdom

You are our God, living and reigning, forever and ever.

Amen

It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a one’s progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken. St. Francis Xavier. (1506-1552 Missionary of the Portuguese empire) 

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

In the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. Billy Graham

Prayer is powerful, it fills the earth with mercy, it makes the Divine compassion pass from generation to generation, right along the course of the centuries, wonderful works have been achieved through prayer. St. Francis Xavier

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.  St. Francis of Assisi

May Adonai bless you and keep you.

May Adonai make his face shine on you and show you his favor.

May Adonai lift up his face toward you and give you peace. (Num. 6.24-26)

Blessed transition!

Happy New Year

Philemon

Watching the watches of the night

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom He is well pleased.
Luke 2: 14

Good Monday Morning to this week 52/2018

Today’s reading from the Expositor’s Bible Commentary.

Luke, whose Gospel is the Gospel of the Humanity, lingers reverently over the Nativity, throwing a variety of side-lights upon the cradle of the Holy Child.  He has shown how the Roman State prepared the cradle of the Infancy, and how Caesar Augustus unconsciously wrought out the purpose of God, the breath of his imperial decree being but part of a higher inspiration.
Now he proceeds to show how the shepherds of Judaea bring the greetings of the Hebrew world, the first waving of gratin to be accepted by God which yet will be laid, by Jew and Gentile alike, at the feet of Him who was Son of David and Son of man.

While the shepherds were “watching the watches of the night over their flock,”  referring to the pastoral custom of dividing the night into watches, and keeping watch by turns, suddenly “an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.” Now, in the dead of night, the angelic form is bright and luminous, throwing all around them a sort of heavenly halo, in which even the lustrous Syrian stars grow dim. Dazzled by the sudden burst of glory, the shepherds were awed by the vision, and stricken with a great fear, until the angel, borrowing the tones and accents of their own speech, addressed to them his message, the message he had been commissioned to bring: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” And then he gave them a sign by which they might recognize the Savior Lord: “Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.”

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom He is well pleased.

In both expressions the underlying thought is the same, representing man as the object of the Divine good-pleasure, that Divine “benevolence” in the germ, the Divine favor, compassion, mercy, and love. There is thus a triple parallelism running through the song, the “Glory to God in the highest” finding its corresponding terms in the “peace among (or to) men in whom He is well pleased on earth”; while altogether it forms one complete circle of praise, the “good-pleasure to man,” the “peace on earth,” the “glory to God” marking off its three segments.

But is this song only a song in some far-distant sky-a sweet memory indeed, but no experience?

Directly the angel-song had ceased, and the singers had disappeared in the deep silence whence they came, the shepherds, gathering up their scattered thoughts, said one to another (as if their hearts were speaking all at once and all in unison), “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass which the Lord hath made known unto us.” The response was immediate: They do not shut out this heavenly truth by doubt and vain questioning; they do not keep it at a distance from them, as if it only indirectly and distantly concerned themselves, but yield themselves up to it entirely; and as they go hastily to Bethlehem, in the quickstep and in the rapid beating of their heart, we can trace the vibrations of the angel-song.

And why is this?
Why is it that the message does not come upon them as a surprise?
Why are these men ready with such a perfect acquiescence, their hearts leaping forward to meet and embrace this Gospel of the angels?

We shall probably find our answer in the character of the men themselves. They pass into history unnamed; and after playing their brief part, they disappear, lost in the incense-cloud of their own praises.

Evidently, these shepherds were no mean, no common men. They were Hebrews, possibly of the royal line; at any rate they were David’s in their loftiness of thought, of hope and aspiration. They were devout, God-fearing men. Like their father Jacob, they too were citizens of two worlds; they could lead their flocks into green pastures, and mend the fold, or they could turn aside from flock and fold to wrestle with God’s angels and prevail.

But there must be the music hidden within. We may be sure of this, that had the angel-song had passed by them as a cold night-wind, had not their hearts been tuned up by intense desire until they struck responsive to the angel voice. Though they knew it not, they had led their flock to the mount of God; and up the steps of sacred hopes and lofty aspirations they had climbed, until their lives had got within the circle of heavenly harmonies, and they were worthy to be the first apostles of the new age, the Kingdom of Jesus.

The shepherds appear no more in the Gospel story. We see them returning to their task “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen,” and then the mantle of a deep silence falls upon them. So these anonymous shepherds, these first disciples of the Lord, having laid their tribute at His feet in the name of humanity saluting the Christ who was to be-now pass out of our sight, leaving for us the example of their heavenward look and their simple faith, and leaving, too, their “Glorias,” which in multiplied reverberations fill all lands and all times, the earthly prelude of the New, the eternal Song.

How do we reply to the song of the angels this Christmas? Do we neither shut out this heavenly truth by doubt and or vain questioning; nor keep it at a distance from us?  Do we yield ourselves to it entirely; and as they,  go hastily to “Bethlehem”, with a quick step with a rapid beating of our heart,s can so we can trace the vibrations of the angels-song?

Happy Christmas!
Philemon

 

A wideness in God’s mercy.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Luke 1. 28

Good Monday Morning to this week 51/2018

With Christmas a week away, discovering the real Christmas message requires looking beyond the all-too-familiar holiday experiences. “Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and all His love was poured into Mary as she fell into favor with God.

Key statements we read again and again:

“God with Us” In Exodus, God appeared over us, in the cloud, as a pillar of fire, or on the mountain. But now, in a common feeding trough, He became Immanuel

“Good News of Great Joy”  The good news transcended politics, languages, and geography. A Savior is given to all mankind, making us the recipients of
God’s good will and favor.

“Lying in a Manger” We must marvel at the humble entrance of the Eternal, Almighty Creator, God, into our world. The Savior of mankind, found lying in a manger, a (feeding-trough), thus giving the shepherds a specific sign to guide them to the Christ-Child.

In the world that God created, there was no room for Him at the inn or anywhere. To have “God with us,” the God-Child entered the world in a place where few would even notice.

God’s return in Jesus to His creation wasn’t “good news” to everyone. No ruler was willing to abdicate their throne. No palace opened their gates to welcome the King of kings or the Prince of Peace.

God, who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and all-righteous, longed to touch everyone — the beggar, the prostitute, the leper — presenting Himself, a helpless infant, “lying in a manger.” Common folks can never visit the palace of a newborn king, uninvited. But kings and princes can visit mangers.

The Nativity scene isn’t designed “only” to put us into a festive “holiday mood.” It should stir us to the very depth of our souls. How will we respond to the Divine Designer of the universe who sacrificed everything to bring us back into a relationship with Him!

And Mary said in Luke 1: 46-55 from The Message:

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Wishing a great week in these waves of His mercy!

Philemon

 

Therefore I hope in Him

Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!”
Lamentations 3:22-24
Good Monday morning to this week 50 of 2018

The other week we passing through town in Lomé listening to a Christian radio station as we drove through hectic and busy traffic. The traffic is slow, busy, and whenever at a red light there are motorbikes in front, behind and on both sides of the cars. I see the many families or mothers with 2 or 3 children on the motorbikes and pray for their protection.
As I am deep in thought with all the many thoughts of those on the “moto-taxis”,  I hear a song a hymn translated to French that has accompanied me for all of my life. As a child we used to sing it in church or hear parents and elders sing it.

Thomas Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life. Born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky, Chisholm became a Christian when he was twenty-seven and entered the ministry when he was thirty-six, though poor health forced him to retire after just one year. During the rest of his life, Chisholm spent many years living in New Jersey and working as a life insurance agent. Still, even with a desk job, he wrote nearly 1,200 poems throughout his life, including several published hymns.

Chisholm explained toward the end of his life, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

Just think, with each new day, God gives us the chance to prove His faithfulness.
His mercies are new every morning, no matter what.

Great is thy faithfulness
Thomas Chisholm – 1925

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
2
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
3
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

How many millions has this hymn blessed down through the years? The suffering man who penned it could still look to the goodness of God and His loving care in the middle of trouble. If you are suffering today,  struggling with untold and seemingly intolerable burdens, this a prayer for you, He has not forgotten you. He is faithful, a loving Father who has engraved you on the palms of his hands. (Isaiah 49:16.)

A prayer, a proclamation, a wish, a truth, a hope and much more!
A prayer of protection for all the many people on the “moto-taxis” of Lomé
A prayer for the many suffering in Yemen, Syria, Irak, Somalia, Burundi, Cameroun,
A proclamation for communities, homes, families and you as individual.

Wishing a good start to this week.
Philemon

You did it for me

Matthew 25:40

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Good Monday Morning to this week 49/2018

This week I was able to help someone out practically. It was cool to have the right thing available to help this person, to receive exactly what they needed at that time.
The incident was quickly forgotten and all the other busy meetings and concerns of the day continued. The next morning I went for breakfast and someone approached me and said with a very thankful voice and mannerism.

Thank you so so much for what you did for me!

I was surprised, glad that in such situations I’m not too spontaneous, so I waited and thought hard …. and luckily they then helped me out.

Thank you for what you did for my friend!

I was humbled, moved, truly surprised. I’ve been thinking about the spontaneous little act of kindness and then I receive such a blessing of thankfulness.

This is huge, this I need to remember, this I need to learn.

It gets even better!
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Wow, this answer of the friend, who thanked me for helping her friend out, this is
Kingdom thinking, these are the thoughts of our King, this is His nature, his approach, and the way he sees things.

I am blown away by this, this morning.

How great is the condescension and kindness of the Judge the King, our Saviour of the world, thus to reward our actions, and to consider what we have done to the poor as done to him!

The surprise expressed is not at their being told that they acted from love to Christ, but that Christ Himself was the Personal Object of all their deeds: that they found Him hungry, and supplied Him with food: that they brought water to Him, and quenched His thirst; that seeing Him naked and shivering, they put warm clothing upon Him, paid Him visits when lying in prison for the truth, and sat by His bedside when laid down with sickness. This is the astonishing interpretation which Jesus says “the King” will give to them of their own actions here below.

I wish you a blessed week in all you do for Him!

Philemon