The Greatest Story – Part 9: Home

Mary sat down and let the tears fall. She watched as Jesus slept and wondered if she should join him. The tiredness felt heavy today, she tried to pray but failed to find the words. For over 3 years she’d tried to settle into the unfamiliar place, to learn a new language and accept the weird smells around her but today it was all too much. Mary wept for her homeland and her family. The nausea from the past few days lingered and Mary wondered why. Giving into her feelings of desperation Mary laid down next to Jesus and prayed for sleep to come, maybe the world wouldn’t feel so big and overwhelming with a clear head.

Joseph came home early sensing that today Mary would be struggling, it was her Mother’s birthday and Joseph knew that Mary’s mind would be drawn to the fact that she was missing out on another family celebration. There had been many tears that they had missed celebrating Jesus’ 3rd birthday with family and friends, they had held a tiny celebration, but it had held an undercurrent of much sorrow.
Joseph saw Jesus stir and smiled, he raced over and picked him up. Jesus’ excited squeals woke Mary and Joseph apologised ‘so sorry for waking you’

Mary struggled to rise ‘oh Joseph sorry I wasn’t feeling well’

‘that’s ok, why don’t you keep resting and I’ll take Jesus for a quick walk before dinner. There are some new camels to look at and you know how much He adores the strange beautiful creatures.’
Mary smiled ‘I’m sure He’d love to do anything with you but He’d be especially excited about camels.’
Joseph kisses Mary’s forehead as she laid back down ‘you look very pale, are you still nauseous?’
Mary closed her eyes and nodded as fresh tears started to flow.

Joseph bent down and hugged her as she cried, Jesus rushed in and nuzzled into Mary’s neck causing her heart to lift. She smiled and said ‘now you boys go have some fun.’

Joseph gave her a big squeeze and smiled ‘we won’t be long, you sure you’re ok?’

Mary nodded and tried not to sob ‘I’m ok, now go.’

Joseph took a moment to closely examine Mary’s face and then smiled and nodded ‘back soon’

‘Ok’ Mary kissed Jesus’ cheek and smiled as He ran after Joseph.

Mary laid back down as her stomach churned, she did feel a bit better but the nausea lingered, it just didn’t make sense or did it? Mary hadn’t experienced sickness with Jesus but she’d heard many other women did feel sick when first pregnant, could that be what was wrong? It would explain why she was feeling so emotional, Mary remembered that Elizabeth had been extremely tired for the first few weeks of her pregnancy and nauseated all day. Mary sat up. She wasn’t sure if she should be excited or terrified. She cried out ‘God thank You for this gift of new life. I’m terrified though. I long to be with family and friends who can support me through this. How can I possibly cope with 2 young children on my own?’ Fresh tears fell as Mary thought of her family, the nausea increased as her homesick heart cried out to God. Somewhere in her praying and crying Mary must have fallen into an exhausted sleep because she awoke to Joseph and Jesus making dinner. Mary rolled over and tried not to breathe in the smell of the fish they cooked over the simmering coals. Joseph saw her stir and rushed over, ‘you ok?’. Mary sat up and nodded ‘yes but I might be pregnant’ Joseph smiled, ‘well that’s exciting news!’ Mary sobbed ‘oh how I wish we could go home’ Joseph hugged her ‘I know’.  Mary clung to Joseph and cried. Jesus crawled into her lap and wiped her tears with his fingers ‘Eema’ Mary smiled, how she cherished the title of mother and how fortunate that another little mouth will soon utter those words. She hugged her boys and got up ‘let me help with dinner’.
After dinner Mary felt better and enjoyed listening to Joseph tell the story of David defeating Goliath, it was Jesus’ favourite and often requested after dinner story. Mary smiled as she watched her boys laugh and try to recreate the scenes. She wondered what the new child inside her would look like and stroked her stomach.

As Joseph and Mary laid down that night to sleep a sense of peace fell upon them both and they fell into a deep sleep. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: ‘Get up! Take Mary and Jesus with you back to the land of Israel for those who were trying to kill the child have died.’ (Matthew 2:19-20).

Joseph awoke with a start and saw that the sun was just starting to rise. He quickly arose and prayed ‘Oh Lord how I praise You and thank You for this momentous day. How truly wonderful it will be to see the faces of our loved ones again, how wonderful it will be to see the rolling hills I love so much, how truly astounding it will be for Jesus to grow up among those who will love and protect Him.’. Joseph spent more time praising God as he waited for Mary and Jesus to awake, he could barely contain his excitement and knew that Mary would share his great joy. Mary must have sensed his need to talk to her for she awoke and looked into his eyes ‘is everything ok?’ she quickly sat up ‘oh Mary it is a wonderful day! An angel visited me last night and said we can return home, oh did you hear me Mary we’re going home!’ Mary quickly jumped up and hugged him tightly with tears of joy streaming down her face ‘Oh Joseph that is such wonderful news! When are we leaving?’

Joseph laughed, ‘Well as soon as we can get organised.’

Mary replied: ‘breakfast first and then we pack.’ Mary and Joseph quickly set to the tasks of the day and Jesus soon joined in the joyful mood and toddled around their feet with squeals of delight. Joseph went and made enquiries with the local merchants about the next caravan leaving for Israel. The merchants were helpful and quick to advise Joseph as he had always provided quality products and shown great integrity. Joseph smiled when he heard the news that a caravan was planning to leave in 2 days, how perfectly timed that would be. The next days flew by in a frantic excited rush and before they knew it Joseph, Mary and Jesus were on their way home. The excitement helped them persevere when the days were long and hard. Thankfully Mary’s sickness had abated as soon as they left the outskirts of town and she was able to enjoy the scenery as it passed by.

The days had taken their toll but finally they were on the outskirts of Judea, tomorrow they would be there but for tonight they simply had to rest. As Joseph fell into a deep sleep an angel of the Lord appeared to him again ‘Joseph do not go to Judea for Archelaus rules.’ (Matthew 2:22).

He awoke with his heart racing, Mary sensed his alert and quickly sat up ‘what is it?’

Joseph took a deep breath: ‘I had another dream, we cannot go into Judea for Archelaus rules.’ Mary’s heart froze at the mention of that name, she had heard that Herod’s son was even more vile and cruel than he had been. They discussed options as the sun rose. Joseph thanked the caravan leader and explained that they would visit family close by, waving them off and wishing them a safe journey. It wasn’t a complete lie as they could visit a cousin or two nearby and then Joseph felt they could make their way to Nazareth.

 

“So he settled his family in the village of Nazareth, fulfilling the prophecy that he would be known as the “Branch.” (or Nazarene).” Matthew 2:23 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Ready For Revival

A little while ago I awoke from a dream. In my dream I was in an unfamiliar place surrounded by women I do not recognise. I was praying and worshiping with them and I felt such a hunger, a longing for revival. The worship was astounding with many people down on the floor. I sensed that they were discouraged and I said: ‘we need to be ready as the weight of God’s glory is heavy.’

As I awoke I heard the words:

Are you ready?

Revival is stirring

Revival is coming

Are you ready?

The weight of God’s glory is heavy and holy

Are you ready?

Have you been preparing, waiting and praying?

Are you hungry and thirsty like never before?

Are you ready?

Because revival is stirring in many hearts

Because revival is coming ready or not!

So please get ready!
“Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the glory of your name. Save us and forgive our sins for the honor of your name.” Psalms 79:9 (NLT)
God says to the prodigal: My beloved one, you’re welcome home!1

No one has to be afraid

For love is stronger than the grave

The hand of God has made a way

His name is Jesus2

 

Fear God for He is so mighty!

Bow down with awe and reverence, for He alone is worthy.

Give Him great glory and honour, let your praises ring out!

The hour of God’s great judgement has come!

With all of your heart bow down and worship the One who created the heaven and the earth.

With all of your might bow down and worship the One who created the sea and the springs of water.

“Then I witnessed another angel flying in the sky, carrying a message of eternal good news to announce to the earth—to every tribe, language, people, and nation. With a loud voice he shouted, “You must reverence God and glorify him, for the time has come for him to judge. Worship at the feet of the Creator of heaven, earth, sea, and springs of water.” Revelation 14:6-7 (TPT)

BE ENCOURAGED

For those who have been pressing in for revival, please be encouraged and keep praying, don’t give up and lose heart (Luke 18:1).

I encourage you to:

 

Let’s pray:

Thank You that I can pray with confidence, knowing that God hears and (1 John 5:14-15).

I pray that I will be guided by the Holy Spirit every time I draw near to God and pray.

I ask for a persistent heart that asks and keeps on asking, knowing that those who keep on asking RECEIVE.

I request a hunger to seek and keep on seeking, knowing that those who keep on seeking FIND.

I desire a faithfulness to knock and keep on knocking, knowing that those who keep knocking will see the door OPENED.  (Matthew 7:7-8).

Lord Jesus I want to walk in Your ways and so I invite You to come and teach me.

Holy Spirit I invite You to come and touch my life and do a great work within.

Lord release Your great glory, let us hear the sound of Your coming. We invite You to come and fill this whole landscape with Your glory! (Inspired by Ezekiel 43:2 NLT)

Spirit of the sovereign Lord

Come and make Your presence known

Reveal the glory of the Living God

Spirit of the sovereign Lord

Come and make Your presence known

Reveal the glory of the Living God


Let the weight of Your glory cover us

Let the life of Your river flow

Let the truth of Your kingdom reign in us

Let the weight of Your glory

Let the weight of Your glory fall

 

We do not seek Your hand

We only seek Your face

We want to know You

We want to see You

Reveal Your glory in this place3

 

In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.

 

I’ve created a playlist of songs that have been encouraging me to keep pressing in:

Heart of God – Hillsong Young & Free

Here I am to worship – Tim Hughes

Oceans – Reyer

Spirit Medley – Steve Green

More – Lawrence Flowers

More – Jeremy Riddle

Move – Jesus Culture

Come and Move – Bryan & Katie Torwalt

However You want – Jesus Culture

Isn’t He (This Jesus) – The Belonging Co

Lion and the Lamb – Bethel Music & Leeland

Greatness of Your Glory – Bethel Music & Brian Johnson

Let the Weight of Your Glory Fall – Paul Wilbur

Let Your Fire Fall – Paul Wilbur

You can listen via the playlist I created on YouTube

Many blessings, Keona

Notes:

1: part lyrics of ‘Heart Of God’ written by Aodhan King and Jonas Myrin sung by Hillsong Young & Free.

2: part lyrics of ‘Greatness of Your Glory’ written by Brian Johnson, Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher and Brenton Gifford Brown (Bethel Music & Brian Johnson)

3: lyrics of ‘Let the Weight of Your Glory Fall’ written by Steve Merkel, sung by Paul Wilbur.

The Greatest Story – Part 8: Escape

Mary awoke suddenly from her dream, she reached over to where Jesus was with her heart pounding. She held her breath as she leaned over and then gave a huge sigh of relief, He was ok. She looked around the room and outside the window, all was quiet.

As her breath steadied Mary wondered what the awful dream was about? Why was her heart racing? She grabbed her shawl and sat staring at Jesus. Mary allowed the horrible images to fill her mind and the terrifying sounds to fill her ears. She recalled watching mothers have their sons ripped from their arms and slaughtered. She had heard the screams of grief as if the horrific events were happening right there in the room. What did the awful dream mean? Was it a warning? She had heard rumours that the merciless King Herod was out to destroy her precious child. Was there truth to those words? Was the terrifying dream based on the history that had transpired in the time of Moses, or was it a premonition of events to unfold. Mary took a few deep breaths, surely Herod’s insanity wouldn’t extend to those levels? If so how could Joseph protect them? What could they do?
Mary decided the best action was to pray, she reached a hand out towards Joseph and the other towards Jesus. She prayed for protection and for the cloud of fear to lift. She reminded God that He alone had given her this precious child to love, guard and watch grow. She cried out and desperately pleaded for God to send His mighty angels to protect them. She cried out for wisdom and direction knowing that they needed to keep Jesus safe at all cost!

As she prayed it felt as if the whole room was shrouded in fear, Mary softly sang one of her favourite psalms that David had written when Saul had set an ambush for him:

Oh my mighty God, protect me! Keep me safe from all my enemies, for they’re coming to kill me. Put me in a high place out of their reach, lift me up to a place so high that these assassins will never find me. Save me from these murdering men, these bloodthirsty killers. See how they set an ambush for my life. They’re fierce men ready to launch their attack against me.

O Lord I’m innocent, please protect me! I’ve done nothing to deserve this, yet they are already plotting together to kill me. Arise, Lord, see what they’re scheming and come and meet with me. Awaken, O God of Israel! Commander of Angel Armies, arise to punish these treacherous people who oppose you! Don’t go soft on these hardcase killers!

Lord, I pause in Your Presence.

Please act for in the dark they came to spy, sneaking around the city; I hear them snarling, prowling like a pack of stray dogs in the night; see how they boil over with rage, shouting out their curses, convinced that they’ll never get caught.

But I know You Lord and I hear You break out laughing at their plans, amused by their arrogance, scoffing at their sinful ways.

Praise You Lord, for my strength is found when I wait upon you.

Watch over me, God, for You’re my mountain fortress; You set me on high!

The God of passionate love will meet with me; my God will empower me to rise in triumph over my foes. Lord I beg, don’t just kill them but stagger them all with a vivid display of power. I long to see them scattered by Your armies of angels, O mighty God, our protector! Use Your awesome power to make them wanderers and vagabonds and then bring them down. They are nothing but proud, cursing liars; they sin in every word they speak, boasting in their blasphemies!

Pour out Your wrath and destroy them; finish them off! Make an end of them and their deeds until they are no more! Let them all know and learn that God is the ruler over Jacob, the God-King over all the earth!

Lord, I pause in Your Presence.

Hear my cry, for here they come again. I can hear them prowling, growling like a pack of stray dogs in the city. I hear them drifting, devouring, and coming in for the kill, they refuse to sleep until they’ve eaten their fill.

But as for me, Lord Your strength shall be my song of joy. At each and every sunrise You’ll hear my lyrics raising to Your ear. I will sing forevermore of You great love until it completely fills the air!

Oh how wonderful You are, glory-fortress, such a sweet stronghold in my day of distress.

O my Lord of Strength, I sing with joy Your praises.

O my mighty Stronghold, I sing with joy Your song!

O my powerful Saviour, I sing with joy the lyrics of Your faithful love for me!

(Psalms 59:1-17 TPT paraphrased)

Mary must have fallen asleep somewhere in her desperate prayers for although it was still dark Joseph was gently shaking her.

‘Mary, wake up. We must leave right now.’

Mary’s heart leapt with terror, ‘Is it happening? Are children being slaughtered? Are we in danger?’

Joseph looked at her with confusion, ‘I’m not sure what you think is happening but I’ve been told that we need to go. Did you see the angel also?’

‘No, I just had a vivid horrible dream that children were being killed. Oh Joseph it was awful.’

‘We can talk more on the way. We need to leave RIGHT NOW. Even before the sun rises.’

Mary quickly got up and started packing and dressing. ‘If you can load the donkey and leave room for me, I can attend to Jesus on the way out of town. If He’s feeding He will stay quiet.’

Joseph nodded and quickly packed up their things. With all the wonderful new gifts they had received they would need 2 donkeys now, Joseph counted out money for a second donkey and quickly scrawled out a note of thanks. Mary was sad that she could not properly thank Rufus and Merry but understood Joseph’s haste. They packed quickly and quietly as Jesus slept soundly seemingly unaware of the frantic activity happening all around Him.

When Mary was ready to grab Jesus and go, Joseph gave her a quick hug and guided her out the door.

Joseph quickly loaded the donkeys and they found themselves on the very outskirts of town just as dawn broke. Seeing a sheltered place to stop and recheck everything, Joseph guided the donkeys towards the shelter. Mary was grateful for the break and placed Jesus down on her shawl to give her arms and shoulders a much needed rest. She hadn’t realized how tensely she had been sitting.
Joseph took a few moments to gather a small breakfast for them and they ate in silence. The only sound was the birds welcoming in the sun and Jesus’ contented cooing. Mary decided she had better find out what the plan was, ‘so where are we going? Do you know?’.

‘Not exactly. All the angel said was to head to Egypt because King Herod was going to search for Jesus and kill Him.’

Mary gasped. Maybe her dream had been a prophetic warning? ‘Oh Joseph, this really wasn’t the life we had dreamt about was it?’

Joseph smiled ‘no, but God has chosen us to do this and I’m sure He will help us. I think I can find work there. I’ve heard about one particular town that would be remote but large enough for me to find work. I think we will go there first.’

‘Sounds good. We should get moving.’

Joseph quickly watered the donkeys while Mary bundled Jesus back up. They set off towards Egypt trying to process the reality of parenting the Messiah.

“Out of Egypt I called my son.” Hosea 11:1 

picture created using a Pixabay image

The Greatest Story – Part 7: The Temple

Mary awoke before the sun with a great excitement in her chest. While Joseph and Jesus slept she sat looking out over the landscape and prayed. Would there be great rejoicing that the Saviour has come? Would people even recognize Jesus as such? Would there be great fanfare? As Mary sat and contemplated all that could unfold, she prayed for people’s hearts to be open to receive. As the sun rose Jesus stirred and Mary attended to His needs and prepared Him for the momentous day.

With all of their bellies full Joseph, Mary and Jesus made their way to the temple. As they made their way to the temple Joseph prayed, he knew the laws so well and wanted to show his deep gratitude to God for blessing him with such an incredible gift. God had commanded Abraham and his descendants to be circumcised (Genesis 17: 9-14) and that small ceremony had been carried out when Jesus was just 8 days old. However, today marked the 40th day since Jesus’ arrival and they were fulfilling another command, the purification offering. Joseph prayed that he could find a pair of turtledove or pigeons that would be fitting to offer.

As they approached the temple Joseph felt intimidated by the size and craftsmanship on display. His trained eye could detect how painstakingly intricate the features were and he could see how much love and care had been poured into the building before him. As they made their way through the hustle and bustle Joseph did his best to protect Mary and Jesus from the crowd.

Simeon’s eyes were immediately drawn to the trio, he gasped as the gentle whisper confirmed that this was the One he had been waiting for. Simeon tried to run but his weary legs caused him to stumble, he prayed for strength and pushed through the crowd towards Joseph, Mary and Jesus. As he got closer his spirit lifted within him and tears flowed freely down his face. Finally, he stumbled up to Joseph, bowed slightly and took a few deep breaths: “Oh what a glorious day! I was promised by Yahweh that I would witness the long-awaited arrival of the Messiah!” Joseph and Mary exchanged a smile and listened with tears now flowing down their cheeks. Simeon reached out for Jesus and Mary handed him over with a smile, Simeon’s cheeks shone with his tears but there was a spark in his eyes as he praised God: “Oh Sovereign Lord how good You’ve been to me, I can now leave this world in peace for I’ve seen the promise come to pass! I hold Your great salvation in my arms, I gaze into His beautiful face and my heart rejoices. He is the great Light that will reveal God to the nations, He will reveal that which was once hidden and unknown. Oh He is the One to bring praise, honour and glory to God’s people.” (Luke 2:29-32). A small crowd gathered around and listened as Joseph and Mary stood with amazement and awe filling their hearts. As Simeon handed Jesus back to Mary he blessed them all but then paused and looked deeply into Mary’s eyes “please listen carefully” and he lowered his voice so that only Mary and Joseph could hear “this child is destined and appointed to cause many in Israel to fall but also many to arise. He will reveal the deepest thoughts of many hearts, bringing light to the good and bad that dwells within.” Simeon’s eyes filled with grief as he continued “a sword of deep and great sorrow will pierce through your very soul” (Luke 2:34-35). Mary gasped and turned to Joseph with concern in her eyes, a deep fear gripped her heart. Joseph tried to smile and reassure Mary but a troubled spirit rose within him as well. Mary looked down at Jesus with tears in her eyes,  the words “a great sorrow” rung in her ears, what had he meant. Mary prayed for strength “Lord please prepare us for what will come.”.

Mary felt a hand upon her arm and looked into the eyes of Anna, Mary smiled and noticed that Ann’s gaze was firmly fixed upon Jesus as she began singing:

“Long awaited precious promise
Son of God and son of man
Heaven’s glory in a manger
Has come to us in Bethlehem

Messiah
Messiah
A baby born to save us all
Messiah
Messiah
On our knees we fall

All we longed for, all we needed
Shining in this child’s eyes
Hope forever, death defeated
Because of this one holy night

Messiah
Messiah
A baby born to save us all
Messiah
Messiah
On our knees we fall

O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
Christ the Lord

Long awaited precious promise
Coming back again

Messiah
Messiah
A baby born to save us all
Messiah
Messiah
On our knees we fall
On our knees we fall”

(Lyrics of “Messiah” written by Francesca Battistelli / Jeff Pardo / Molly Reed)

When her song had finished Mary handed Jesus to Anna and watched as she showed him around the crowd with great pride, as if He was her own precious child. Mary sat and chatted with Anna while Joseph took Jesus and the birds further into the temple for the ceremony. Mary’s heart broke as Anna shared her story, Anna had been married for only 7 years before her husband suddenly passed away, since that day she had stayed in the Temple worshipping God night and day. Mary marvelled at this woman’s devotion to God, she could see by the lines on her beautiful face that it had been decades, Mary prayed that she would also become an example to other women. When Joseph and Jesus returned Mary thanked Anna for her beautiful song and they made their way back through the crowds.

Notes:

The painful process: The last 2 parts (6 & 7) have been excruciatingly difficult, but this week in particular. There has been ALOT going on physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I’m needing divine assistance like never before!

I sense that there is so much I could research and write about but I have such limited time and ability. I also don’t want to get so bogged down in research that I have no energy to write.
Arghhh! As frustrations and tiredness mounted tonight (Thursday) I considered not publishing because it was simply too hard. But I really wanted to try so I put on my worship music and set time aside to write with the aim to proof read in the morning and publish 1 day late.

Praise God, here it is!

I love the way that the process is described here:

“Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed; an architectural one, where it is constructed; and finally, a textile one, where it is woven.”  Walter Benjamin, One Way Street And Other Writings

Quote discovered at goodreads

Messiah YouTube video

Pixabay image link

Praying for Tasmania

With my beautiful state being devoured by bush fires the situation feels overwhelming. I wonder how can I possibly help?

I believe in the power of prayer and I feel that’s what I’m called to do.

I believe that prayer is not passive but powerful. 🙏🏻

Here is my prayer:

Lord we find ourselves in a desperate situation for the ground is cracked from the lack of rain on the land; the farmers are distressed, they have covered their heads in shame.

Our parched land is now being devoured by fire, people and animals are being displaced.

Grief abounds.

O Lord God, our numerous sins testify against us but we ask Lord for You to act now for us and for Your name’s sake.

Let the faithless witness Your faithfulness!

Almighty God our backslidings are countless; we acknowledge that we have sinned against You. We know and acknowledge, O LORD, Our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers; for we have sinned against You.

Lord there are NO idols of the nations who can send rain! We know the heavens cannot give rain of their own will. For it is You ALONE, O LORD our God who causes the heavens to pour forth Your life-giving rains! Therefore we will wait and hope confidently in You, for You are the one who has made all these things the heavens and the rain.

(JEREMIAH 14:4, 7, 20, 22 AMP paraphrased)

Lord God Almighty, our creator, we ask You to once again declare:

“Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Rain it down! Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the Lord, created them.”

(Isaiah 45:8 NLT)

Let repentance, righteousness and renewal be seen in our land.

Holy Spirit comfort those affected and let them taste and see that God is so very good!

I pray that what comes next will be a mighty testimony to the grace and goodness of God.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“So God we pray to You

Humble ourselves again

Lord would You hear our cry?

Lord will You heal our land?

That every eye will see

That every heart will know

The One who took our sin

The One who died and rose

Spirit of God

Breathe on Your church

Pour out Your presence

Speak through Your word

We pray in every nation, Christ be known

Our hope and salvation, Christ alone”

Part lyrics of “Heal Our Land” songwriters: Cody Carnes / Scott Ligertwood / Kari Jobe / Brook Ligertwood

Heal Our Land’ – Kari Jobe – YouTube video link

“Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down

Oh, Comforter and Friend

How we need Your touch again

Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down

Let Your power fall

Let Your voice be heard

Come and change our hearts

As we stand on Your word

Holy Spirit, rain down

No eye has seen, no ear has heard

No mind can know what God has in store

So open up Heaven, open it wide

Over Your church and over our lives”

Lyrics of “Holy Spirit Rain Down” written by Russell Fragar

Holy Spirit Rain Down’ – Heritage Singers – YouTube video link

Let us draw near to God.

“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 TPT

“Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” Hosea 6:3 NLT

“So let us know and become personally acquainted with Him; let us press on to know and understand fully the [greatness of the] LORD [to honor, heed, and deeply cherish Him]. His appearing is prepared and is as certain as the dawn, And He will come to us [in salvation] like the [heavy] rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” HOSEA 6:3 AMP

Tas SES posted the following information on Facebook:

Tasmania Fire Service are continuing operations on a number of Bushfires throughout the state – please keep up to date with all relevant information.

❎ Road Closures – on the Tasmania Police website Community Alerts

🔥 Bushfire incidents – on the Tasmania Fire Service website

➕ Official Whole of Government emergency information – on the TasAlert wesbite

🎧 Emergency radio broadcasts – on ABC

Tonight (Wednesday) we had some rain fall on the North West Coast, thank You Lord. More, much more please.

Keep safe.

I’ll continue ‘The Greatest Story’ next week.

Many blessings, Keona

Greatest Story – Part 6: Lasting Legacy

Joseph and Rufus left the house while it was still dark to attend a sunrise prayer meeting, their departure had stirred Mary slightly but when she had rolled over and snuggled under the covers the warmth had lulled her back to sleep. A little while later Jesus had awoken her as the first rays of light had appeared. Mary had enjoyed the glorious display of colours as she fed Jesus looking out over the rooftops. She sat and thanked God for the brand-new day and smiled as the dim light became orange and then red and finally gold. She marvelled at how the brilliant colours needed to be watched closely as they appeared for only a brief moment. Mary leaned her head against the wall and thanked God for the safety they had found, Joseph’s distant cousin Rufus had been an amazing host to them and Mary cherished her moments of chatting to Merry.

Jesus had a full belly just as Mary’s stomach made its discomfort known, she quickly changed Jesus and got herself dressed before going downstairs. Merry was already up and had breakfast almost ready “oh good morning, I was just about to bring breakfast to you.” Mary smiled and sat at the table, “thank you but you don’t have to wait on me, let me help today.”. Merry placed breakfast in from of her and gently took Jesus from her arms, “eat up and we can discuss the to do list shortly”. Once a hearty breakfast had been consumed Mary and Merry quickly passed the morning with chores and by midday the men had returned to enjoy lunch with them. Afterwards, as Jesus slept in Joseph’s arms, the 4 adults chatted about their family’s lines. Joseph talked in great detail about how the redemption and faithfulness of God overlooked so many faults.

It had been Adam and Eve who had first bore the deep grief of sin, their banishment from the garden of Eden brought a struggle into their lives that had almost broken them. Their precious firstborn son, Cain, had allowed anger and jealousy towards his brother Abel to overtake his heart resulting in murder. Adam and Eve were granted a new son, Seth, who then gave birth to Enosh, it was at this time people first began to worship the Lord by name (Genesis 4).

Enosh was followed by Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch (who lived in close fellowship with God), Methuselah, Lamech and Noah. It was in Noah’s time that sin ruled people’s hearts and all that they did was wicked and evil in the sight of the Lord but in amongst the horridness Noah found favour with God because he walked in close fellowship with the Lord that produced righteousness. God revealed a plan to Noah that would cleanse the earth of its wickedness, and God made a covenant with Noah that he and his family would live. Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, worked together to build an ark that had kept them safe during the flood that destroyed the earth and its inhabitants (Genesis 6 – 9).

Shem then became the father of Elam, who became the father of Arphaxed, who became the father of Shelah, who became the father of Eber, who became the father of Peleg. It was then that the people of the world were divined in different language groups. Peleg was followed by Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah and Abram (Genesis 11). The story of Abram and Sarai, who later became Abraham and Sarah, was often reflected upon by Joseph and his family because Abraham was considered not only their ancestor but the father of faith for all.  Abram had followed God’s instructions to leave Haran and head to the land of Canaan. It was beside the oak of Moreh that God promised he would give Abram the land of Canaan and numerous descendants.  The decades that had followed saw Abram and Sarai battled long periods of doubt and wrestle with the consequences of rushing the promises of God. But finally, after much wait, their long-awaited promised child Isaac was born and brought much delight and laughter to his parents (Genesis 12-21). Abraham prayed and carefully sought the right wife for his son Isaac and Rebekah brought much comfort to Isaac after the loss of his mother.  Rebekah gave birth to twins Esau and Jacob who were vastly different in personality and skills. Esau loved the outdoors and was a skilful hunter whereas Jacob had a quiet temperament and enjoyed being at home. Exhaustion and extreme hunger led to Esau giving away his firstborn rights for a simple bowl of stew! Thus Jacob, with also a little trickery by Rebekah, was elevated to the place of firstborn (Genesis 24-27).

Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps and urged his son Jacob to seek the right wife. It was between Beersheba and Haran that the Lord appeared to Jacob and confirmed the promise made to Abraham saying: “the land you’re on belongs to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth and spread out in all directions – to the west, east, north and south. In fact all families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. Do not fear for I will protect you wherever you go and once day bring you back to this land. I will never leave you and I will give you all that I have promised.”.

Joseph paused and looked around “it was there at Bethel that Jacob built the memorial pillar to become a place of worship. It was there that Jacob begun the tradition, that we follow now, to give a tenth of everything to the Lord.” (Genesis 28). Mary snuggled Jesus close to her chest and thanked God for her faithful ancestors and prayed that Jesus would influence the world around Him just as His ancestors had and leave a lasting legacy.

Rufus filled their cups with wine and continued where Joseph had left off. Poor Jacob fell in love with Rachel immediately, but after working for 7 hard years to earn her hand in marriage he was tricked into marrying her older sister Leah instead. Jacob was given Rachel but had been required to work another 7 years. Jacob prospered greatly through all his hard work and his father in law, Laban, saw his riches increase. Leah gave birth to Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah but it was quite some time before Rachel was able to conceive, finally giving birth to Joseph. (Genesis 29-30).

Jacob and his large family returned to his brother Esau and made peace, it was then that Jacob could return to Bethel and settle. Not only was Jacob given a place to reside but also a new name Israel because he would become the father of a great nation and kings would be among his descendants (Genesis 34-35). Rufus recalled with much sorrow and sadness in his voice the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, it had overwhelmed them so much that murder stirred in their hearts. It was Reuben who had tried to reason with his brothers and suggested throwing Joseph down a cistern so that he could later come back and rescue him. However, when Reuben left the scheming brothers alone they sold Joseph as a slave and pretended that he had been killed. Jacob had grieved greatly for his son almost to the point of death. Whilst Joseph endured much hardship he was eventually rescued by finding favour with Pharaoh himself.  As Joseph’s years in Egypt had dragged on his brothers’ lives had continued as normal with them taking on wives and having children. When the famine hit hard Jacob urged his sons to go to Egypt for food. Joseph recognised his brothers immediately but they did not recognise him, after some testing he revealed himself to them and was able to save his whole family because of his high position. Joseph had declared to his brothers: “what you intended for harm God used for good and I’m able to preserve my family from this famine because of my position of favour”. Jacob had rejoiced greatly over seeing his precious son again and Joseph was able to meet his brother Benjamin (Genesis 37, 39-47).

Judah, the third in line, was elevated to become first and his son Perez (mother Tamar) carried on the family line (Genesis 29:35, 38, 46, 49; Micah 5:2 & Hebrews 7:8).

Followed by Hezron (Genesis 46:12),

Ram (1 Chronicles 2:9, Ruth 4:19),

Amminadab, Nahson (Numbers 1:7),

Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse (1 Chronicles 2:9-12),

and David who became King (1 Samuel 16).

Mary’s heart sparked at the mention of Kind David, she smiled as she recalled the many songs and Psalms she had sung since an early age. Mary spoke out about how David’s Psalms had touched her heart like none other and confessed that she often found great comfort in singing the songs he had written. The others nodded in agreement and Mary reflected about how David’s heart had been stained by adultery and murder. But then she smiled as she remembered and spoke about David’s redemption story, God’s grace had been extended mightily to David. Even to the point that a mighty wise king had followed when Solomon took the throne. Mary’s eyes filled with tears as she recalled the many kings that followed with great rebellion and idolatry in their hearts. It wasn’t until Zerubbabel, another relative that both Joseph and Mary shared, that righteousness came back into their family line. Zerubbabel had been a wise governor of Judah who had been filled with integrity when he returned from exile in Babylon, his heart had been set upon rebuilding the temple.

Mary’s line then followed with Rhesa, Joanan, Joda, Josek, Semein, Mattathias, Maath, Naggai, Esli, Nahum, Amos, Mattathias, Joseph, Jannai, Melki, Levi, Matthat and her father Heli (also know as Eli) (Luke 3:23-38).

Joseph recalled how his family line had spilt from Zerubbabel to Abihud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Akim, Elihud, Eleazar, Matthan and Jacob (Matthew 1:1-16).

With the hour now late they all made their way to bed. As Mary lay in the dark she cherished the conversation and pondered on the many mysteries that she had been taught. From the earliest moment there had been a promise that a woman’s seed would bear forth the Messiah, the Promised One, it had been one of the most puzzling mysterious that many had wrestled with. Many saw the man’s seed as the more powerful lineage so how could the messiah come from the woman’s line? Was it God’s redemption at work, Eve had corrupted Adam resulting in sin  and separation from God, was that why Mary was used to bear the Messiah? Was a simple woman the key to bridging the gap?

Mary’s weary brain simply couldn’t put all the pieces together, her eyes felt gritty and heavy but her heart was beating fast. As she took a few steadying breaths she tried to relax her body and eventually welcomed a deep peaceful sleep.

 

“… “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed him Israel. Then God said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants!” Genesis 35:10-11 NLT

God keeps His promises,

He is faithful for a thousand generations, 

and lavishes unfailing love

on those who love and obey Him.

Deuteronomy 7:9 & Psalm 105:8 

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9 NLT

“He always stands by his covenant— the commitment he made to a thousand generations.” Psalms 105:8 NLT

 

To read more about the women of the Bible Francine River’s has a Lineage of Grace series.

I found the book: ‘Jesus’ Family Tree : Seeing God’s Faithfulness in the Genealogy of Christ‘ by Rose Publishing a great resource for this blog.

The Greatest Story – Part 5: The Promised One

As Mary slept she dreamt of a man with clothing stained red marching with great strength. As the man marched closer to Mary she heard Him declaring: “It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation! It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!”

Mary ran after Him and heard Him continue: “The time has come I will avenge My people, I alone will ransom them from their oppressors. I come to tell the world of God’s unfailing love. I will praise my Lord God for all He has done. I will rejoice in His great goodness to Israel, for He extends mercy and love. God has sent me to His people for He longs to become their Saviour. He has seen their great suffering and He personally rescues them. His great love and mercy is here to rescue and redeem them. He has lifted them and carried them.”

In her dream the man had led Mary to the Red Sea “people need to remember the days when Moses led the people out of Egypt. When the people doubted and feared for their lives the sea was parted and they walked across on dry land. As soon as they were safe on the other side the seas swallowed up their enemy. Let the people disown their stubborn rebellious hearts!” (Isaiah 63). Mary’s heart filled with grief and her eyes wept as she listened.

Then Mary was in a great throne room and she could see a giant golden throne, as her eyes tried to process all that she was seeing the man declared: “The Lord God Almighty will raise up a righteous descendant from the line of King David. This man will be a great King who rules with great wisdom doing what is just and right throughout the land. His reign will never end. His name will be the Lord is Our Righteousness.’ The man turned to Mary and continued ‘Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.’ (Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah 33:15-17)

Mary tried to grasp all that the dream was revealing to her and she struggled to wake so that she could share this wonderful revelation to Joseph. She awoke tangled in the bedding, sweaty and with her heart pounding. As if he had known her heart Joseph arrived in her room just moments after she had woken. Mary took a few steadying breaths and quickly relayed the wonderful messages from her dream. Joseph sat with a stunned look on his face. Eventually Joseph found his voice and said: “I don’t know why but I’ve been reflecting a lot on what Daniel wrote long ago” Mary nodded “I know I have been reflecting on many of the promises of old as well.”.

“The thing that puzzles me is that Daniel wrote that the Messiah would come with the clouds of heaven, with great authority, honour and sovereignty over all the nations. It even states that every race and nation would obey His eternal rule because His kingdom will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus’ arrival was far from spectacular.” Mary smiled “yes I know, hidden in a stable rather than arriving on clouds. Revealed to those considered of lowly stature, the shepherds, who worshipped Him with such adoration.” Mary smiled at the memory of seeing the shepherds eyes filled with wonder and their excited chatter that had filled her heart with joy.

They both sat in silence for a few moments before Joseph continued: “But Jesus was also revealed to those considered wise and knowledgeable, the Magi’s confirmed Micah’s prediction of Him being born in Bethlehem but there are still many Israelites scattered and they have not returned yet from exile so the undisturbed peace still seems far off! How can our small child possibly contain all of that which is promised?” (Micah 5:2-5)

Mary nodded still trying to process her own thoughts.

“I mean we both think that we have seen the coming of the great prophet who was predicted to rise up just before the Messiah. Elizabeth’s son, John, is believed to be that prophet but he is still a child himself, how can he possibly prepare the way? Can our son really be the Promised One who will be like a blazing fire that refines metal or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes? How is any of this possible?” (Malachi 3:1-2)

After many moments of silence, where both Mary and Joseph were lost in their thoughts, Jesus stirred. Mary spent time attending to His needs and then Merry announced that dinner was ready. Joseph and Mary, carrying Jesus, made their way downstairs.

Marry rushed to grab Jesus and allowed Mary to eat while she fussed over Him. Mary smiled and sighed, how wonderful it was now that it was just the 5 of them. With both Mary and Joseph wrestling with some big questions Rufus and Merry delighted in helping them to unpack all the thoughts racing through their minds. With Jesus being the only child in the home he was doted on by all of the adults and Mary appreciated greatly the help and extra hands.

After their lovely meal Mary spent time unpacking the revelation that Jesus could be the Promised One. As the hours ticked away scriptures were recited and passionately discussed before Mary’s weary body demanded sleep. Thanking everyone for their insight and encouragement Mary carried Jesus up the bedroom where she prayed for a deep sleep.

 

The Promised One – Jesus.

God’s extravagant love gift

to the world. 

(John 3:16)

 

“For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.” John 3:16 The Passion Translation

 

Sara Strong “It’s very significant that the shepherds were the first to be told by the angels that a baby had been born who was the Messiah who would save Israel and all the world, and the first to visit the baby Jesus lying in a manger. At that time, shepherds were the lowest in the social hierarchy; they were despised because they lived out in the fields with their sheep and didn’t fulfil the requirements of the Jewish law.  So God chose the least and the lowest to see the glory of the angels announcing the Messiah’s birth, the baby born in a stable, the most humble place, because there wasn’t room for him in an inn. So God’s Son, sent to share our humanity and to die for our sins, came to a mother and father not endowed with any wealth, in the humblest of circumstances.”