Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pray for Israel

Those of us who love Israel and care about both its past and its future are deeply concerned about current events in Gaza. These can only serve to increase tension in the region, as well as to inflame hatred in Israel's enemies and misunderstanding amongst her allies. The outrageous over-reaction in the name of self-defence appears ludicrous to onlookers. If the British government had reacted in a similar way during the struggles in Northern Ireland we would have seen the RAF bombing and killing civilians in Londonderry and parts of Belfast. The provocation of Israel is clear - their reaction is way ahead of what seems to be fair or reasonable force.

Yet, every story has at least two sides. There may well be Palestinian connivance in what is going on as the Hamas group in Gaza is the sworn enemy of the Fatah faction operating in the West Bank. Maybe some old scores are being settled within the Palestinian camp. Others are saying that the Israelis are trying to make up for their defeat at the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon a while back by attacking their smaller brother, Hamas, now.

Whatever the political wheeler-dealing that is going on, men women and children are dying now in Gaza, swept aside by a gigantic hand of hatred, violence and counter-force. How should we pray? Here are some suggestions you might like to add to your list:

  • Pray for believers in Jesus on both sides of this appalling conflict that they may be true to their faith whilst not denying their cultural identity.
  • Pray for the innocents in Gaza and Israel who fear for their lives now.
  • Pray for the international aid agencies trying to bring help to the beleagured people of Gaza under this infernal pounding.
  • Pray for recent developments bringing reconciliation and understanding between Arab Christians and Messianic Jews which are being jeopardised by the bombardments.
  • Pray for the church in Israel and in Gaza.
  • Pray for the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian community - both secular but heavily influenced by their religious backgrounds.
  • Pray for peace.

'For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.' Isaiah 9:6-7.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Shopping Blues

A mum was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable; and hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on the shelves, she finally made it to the lift with her two kids to leave the store. She was feeling what so many of us feel during this time of the year. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, taste all the holiday food and treats, get that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, not forgetting anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sends us a card.

Finally the lift doors opened and there was already a crowd inside. She pushed her way into the lift and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and she said, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot." From the back of the lift everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, "Don't worry we already crucified Him." For the rest of the trip down the lift was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did that, just think of how different the whole experience could be.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas rejoicing

So, just 2 weeks ago my Mum died. It was a very hard time in the months leading up to her death, and it was so difficult to watch her suffering during her long slow decline. Maybe you have a loved one going through just such a time, or have recently been bereaved, and if so, I know how you feel at the moment.

There are many tough aspects of this post-bereavement period and I really appreciate all the kindness and support that has been given to me. Maybe you will have the opportunity today to encourage or care for someone who has recently been bereaved. But the greatest encouragement I have is that because of the message of Christmas, I know that one day I will meet my Mum again.

You see, for the Christian, the sting of death has been taken away by the coming of Christ that first Christmas. He did not stay a baby, but lived a life of miracles and died on the cross for our sins. Finally, on Easter Day, he rose again from the dead, and declared that if we trust in him we will not die eternally, but will live for ever in his presence.

So I have not lost my Mum in one sense of the word, I know just where she is, - she is with the Lord, waiting for me to join her. Now that’s one reason to rejoice on Christmas Day!