Incipit: The Magnificat 

*The Year*

Approx. 6-8 B.C

*The Scene*

Zechariah, a priest who regularly served in the temple, had just received news that his formerly barren wife Elizabeth would bear a child in her old age. This child would grow up to be John the Baptist and so the angel Gabriel instructed Zechariah to name the child “John.” However, because of Zechariahs’ doubt, he would be silenced as a mute until the fulfillment of the Word of God through the angel Gabriel came to fruition. 

*The Contrast*

Months later, a young local commoner and virgin girl betrothed to be married; Mary, receives a similar visit from the angel Gabriel where he informs her that she too will bear a child, except, her child will be born to her while she remains a virgin because this child will be begotten of the Holy Spirit. The angel also informs the servant Mary, about her cousin Elizabeth’s child who was now in his sixth month. 
Mary, faithfully obliged to all that was spoken by the angel, received it as true and humbly accepted her fate. 

*The Twist*

Unbeknown to Mary of Zechariahs’ vision and silence, but now informed of her cousins pregnancy, she excitedly hurries to the town where Zechariah lived, and enters their home to greet Elizabeth. 
At the sound of Mary’s greeting alone the child leaped in Elizabeth’s womb and she also is then filled with the Holy Spirit. 
Speaking by the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth then acknowledges that the child Mary is carrying is ‘her’ Lord – the Lord Jesus – who would soon enter the world. 

*The Reverb*

Mary then recites what would today be known as, *The Magnificat*
I have read the Magnificat many times before, but only recently did I consider what it must’ve been like to hear the Magnificat through the ears of one person in this particular season of his life whom I believe was present in that house when Mary arrived: Zechariah. 

*The Magnificat*:

“Oh how my soul praises the Lord. 

How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 

For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, 

And from now on all generations will call me blessed. 

For the Mighty One is holy, 

And He has done great things for me. 

He shows mercy from generation to generation

To all who fear Him. 

His mighty arm has done tremendous things! 

He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. 

He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. 

He has filled the hungry with good things

And sent the rich away with empty hands. 

He has helped His servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. 

For He made this promise to His ancestors, 

To Abraham and his children forever.”

Luke 1:46-55
———
*Repentance*:

Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah for three months before Elizabeth gave birth to her child. At the time of his birth, the relatives wanted and maybe even expected that the child should be named Zechariah after his father, but Elizabeth insisted that his name should be ‘John.’
And now was the moment of decision. Zechariah had obviously notified his wife of the name the angel had spoken. Zechariah had been silenced so that he could do more listening than speaking in this next season of his life, and Zechariah had been privy to hearing what we now call ‘the Magnificat’ spoken by Mary while considering his silence and Mary’s overflowing joys from having received the Word of God by the message of the angel Gabriel. 
How would he respond? 

“He (Zechariah) motioned for a writing tablet and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, *”his name is John.”*

Luke 1:63
*Instantly*, the Bible says, Zechariah could speak again and now the first words out of his mouth were praises to God in a doxology of his own! 
(See Luke 1:68-79)
———
*The Application*:

What things has the Spirit of Jesus, or the angels of God placed before us in this season of transition and change, to stir us to repentance so that we too can carry out God’s instruction – for our own good – to move us to overwhelming joy and worship as we are being likened more and more to the image of Christ? 
Whatever comes to mind for you and I specifically today, I pray that in it we’ll learn all the more to, 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

When Satan Leads

WHEN SATAN LEADS

“Wait, what?” You might be thinking. “Satan is leading my life? No way!” But to believe that you can never – or will never- be led by demonic influence, is to deceive yourself of the true revelation of Scripture. 
Redemption has to do with being ‘redeemed’ from a situation that was destitute; even death by resurrection. 
Salvation has to do with being ‘saved’ from sin. 
So how are either of these possible realities for us today if we weren’t first susceptible to, and carried along by demonic leading at times in our life? 
But instead of swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction and living in fear of falling prey to demonic designs, Jesus instead gave us a powerful example of how by trusting in God’s Spirit in us, we can identify and challenge Satanic ploys against our life with the Word of God and live out a fearless confident and even joyful profession of faith even when situations seem destitute and trying which can have the tendency to lead us into sin. 
———-
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan *and was LED BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness,*

 *Luke 4:1*
*THE DEVIL LED HIM (Jesus) up to a high place* and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 

*Luke 4:5*
*THE DEVIL LED HIM (Jesus) to Jerusalem* and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.

*Luke 4:9*
———-
Even though *God allowed* satanic leading in Jesus life during this trial of testing known today as the “Testing in the Wilderness” (as Satan is powerless to do anything against us unless he is first given expressed permission by God – *Job 1:12*) Jesus’ preparation to be victorious against any such leading resulting in sin was always rooted in an authoritative use of a well reasoned and balanced understanding of the entire counsel of Scripture. 
These are the three responses Jesus retorts in the wilderness when satanic leading undoubtedly ‘attempted’ to direct him towards sin:

*1. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on EVERY word that comes from the mouth of God.’”*

Matthew 4:4
*2. “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”*

Matthew 4:7
*3. “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”*

Matthew 4:10
——–
Please note the escalation in Jesus’ responses:
First, a firm footing on ALL of God’s Word as the foundation of His faith
Secondly, a well balanced reasoning of Scripture against Scripture. (e.g Yes it says *this* but not to the neglect of *that*) was his defence against unbalanced demands “supposedly” of God.
Lastly, an authoritative demonstration of a firmly established sense of identity *over Satan* by commanding him, *”Away from me Satan!”* and a reminder of Whose glory he was living for alone – God. 
———-
For we are NOT fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12
———-
But what happens when it becomes God’s design for you to glorify Him by not only your life, but also, by death – as Jesus and eleven out of His twelve disciples did? 
The Apostle Paul certainly recognized this when he received the prophetic Word from Agabus in the book of Acts:

After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, *he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”*
When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, *but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”*

Acts 21:10-13
———
Fast forward two thousand years. Imagine going to someone in your congregation on a Sunday morning who professes to follow Jesus and giving them a prophetic word like that! 
They might rebuke you as demonic. 
They might say, “I’ve tested the spirits and this is not from God!” (which ‘could’ be true) 
But my point is that true wisdom that comes from above is *impartial*, and the Apostle knew it. 
He recognized that this Word was exactly as the prophet said it was, *from the Holy Spirit.* But he also recognized that it didn’t mean that the men who would carry it out were from God. 
Paul was in essence going to be led by a satanic plot – but for the glory of God, because through it he would show that to suffer and die for Christ was greater by far than to live the few years of temporal life here on this earth without Him. 
Do we see Christ as this precious to us? 
I know many men and women who would be willing to die to protect the temporal lives of their children, but who would not so urgently even give a second thought to dying for the One who alone has the power to give eternal life. 
——— 
Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

John 21:18-19

Since we know that those who trust in the Lord shall never be put to shame, (Psalm 25:3) both in the good as well as the bad that stands before us each day, may we all grow just a little bit deeper in our devotion as we learn to, 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

Spiritual Retirement Planning 

SPIRITUAL RETIREMENT PACKAGES
Whenever I speak to people who’ve retired or are considered retiring, there’s usually two major considerations that they have to decide upon:
1. Will my retirement fund carry me through for the rest of my life? 
& 2. What will I do with all this free time?
———-
Having been someone who retired five years ago from all religion, these questions were very important for me to also ask myself in a spiritual sense:
1. Was the price that Jesus Christ paid with His own life on the cross – to purchase my life from death – sufficient to keep and sustain me for all eternity? 
& 2. What does He call me to now do with my freedom?
———-
And the answer for any believer is far more simple than we’d probably expect it to be:
*”Yes”* His sacrifice was more than enough! 
And so now, we joyfully spend our time offering spiritual retirement packages to the world! 
Bad credit? 

No credit? 

Reprobate? 

Penniless? 
That’s okay! God is in the business of retiring you from trying to fix yourself and earn your way to heaven (which is impossible anyway) to instead come and receive His loving grace which alone has the power to transform! 
And you certainly don’t want to miss this offer! 
– Full reconciliation to your loving Heavenly Father

– Abounding in joy

– Unshakable peace

– Understanding and insight

– & freedom from sin and death! 
If you can find a better offer than that – take it! That’s how confident I am that you never will.
———–
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf:
Be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20

So, want to put an end to worrying about your eternal future? 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

​OUR ONLY DEFENCE 

I was once pulled over and ticketed and had to appear in court in hopes of a reduced fine. Expired sticker; borrowed car; totally my fault for not thoroughly inspecting the vehicle beforehand. But as always, God used the opportunity to teach me more than I expected. 
As I sat in the court room and observed the long line of people approaching the judge ahead of me, I saw something pretty interesting. 
Most of the people were there for cell phone related driving offences, and some of the people had made some pretty drastic changes between the ticket and their court date to their vehicles as their defence. 
“I installed a $500 handfree device in my vehicle dear judge” one man said in hopes of avoiding the $300 and 3 points for ‘using a cell phone while driving’ charge. 
But after a few of these excuses, the frustrated judge stopped the precedings and stood up to address the entire court room. 
“it’s very good that some of you have done something something to correct the issue that caused you to be pulled over and charged, but cell phone bans in vehicles have been around for years now. You should’ve known this and done something about it ‘before’ you got pulled over.”
After that, no one went up with an excuse for their charges any longer. What the judge said made a great deal of sense, and anyone who was honest enough with themselves could easily recognize that what the judge said, was just!
As I thought about this, I envisioned the terrifying day of judgment upon the world where God will make known to us all the unforgivable sin of not having acknowledged His Son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and being born again. 
I thought of the many excuses that undoubtedly people would try to present… “I only did that particular thing when I was younger God!” or “After I sinned, I felt really bad and never did it again God, so I don’t see why I needed Your Son Jesus!” 
And all excuses will be silenced by the Eternal Judge for a similar reason as the earthly judge. He might say:
“Although you all learnt from your mistakes and changed for the better, that doesn’t mean that the offence of your sinful disposition that you have is completely gone. It simply means that you are learning not to act upon it anymore, and realize the harms it has caused you. But since that offence from your sinful disposition that caused you to act that way in the first place exists in all of humanity, nothing any of you offer of your own doings will ever suffice to exempt you from the judgment you rightly deserve for sinning against Me. But since Jesus My sinless lamb was slain to take the punishment you all rightly deserve, if you had put your trust in Him, then the punishment for your sins would’ve been absolved on account of His offering, because unlike you, *He had no sin* of His own, and was able therefore to offer Himself in your place.”
———-
Just like that courtroom was filled with various people of diverse beliefs, when they stood before the judge, they were all without excuse. 
Although I personally know Muslims, Buddhists, and Altruists who profess to have turned their lives around from some very outrageous lifestyles to become humble and even loving people, and I even applaud their efforts to better themselves and their own lives here on earth in this way, I realize that their change will amount to nothing in eternity if they don’t deal with the stain of sin against their soul that comes simply on account of this inherited sinful disposition from Adam, that Jesus’s sinless blood alone has the power to cleanse. 
Muhammad was not sinless. He was a man like you and I. And Buddha certainly was not sinless. The proof is in their deaths – they died just like all men do. 
But God’s great validation of the sinless and therefore acceptable offering of Christ’s life was in His glorious resurrection from the grave! 
Because of this, we can have great assurance in the hope we profess, because it is placed in someone who not only rose from the dead, but who is alive forevermore!
If you haven’t yet placed your trust in Jesus, I hope you’ll deeply consider all these things I have taken the time to write to you these past months and years, and make that well-grounded, overwhelmingly evidentiary – leap of faith and place your trust in Christ! 
———
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

This has now been witnessed to at the proper time

*1Timothy 2:5-6*
With tears I implore you, 
Trust ♔ Jesus!

Looking Ahead

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As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,

and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:3-14

———

Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis Christianity lays upon the doctrine of the world to come. Right there lies its immense superiority to everything else within the whole sphere of human thought or experience. When Christ arose from death and ascended into heaven he established forever three important facets; namely, that this world has been condemned to ultimate dissolution, that the human spirit persists beyond the grave and that there is indeed a world to come!

The church is constantly being tempted to accept this world as her home, and sometimes she has listened to the blandishments of those who would woo her away and use her for their own ends. But if she is wise she will consider that she stands in the valley between the mountain peaks of eternity past and eternity to come. The past is gone forever and the present is passing as swift as the shadow on the sun dial of Ahaz. Even if the earth should continue a million years, not one of us could stay to enjoy it.

*We do well to think of the long tomorrow.*
– A. W. Tozer

———-

With earnest anticipation,
 

Trust Jesus!

New Car Smell

A photo by Dietmar Becker. unsplash.com/photos/8Zt0xOOK4nI

 

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

*That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:17-24

———-

Imagine with me that you owned a car. It was smelly, rusted, and broke down all the time. The ‘check engine’ light was constantly on, the washer fluid bottle had a leak so that it never retained any fluid, and the passenger door was held shut by a belt from the inside. It had cardboard to replace the back quarter window, and the driver window didn’t roll down at all!

You were ashamed of the car.
Your parents were ashamed of the car.
Even the police were ashamed to pull over this particular car for fear that they’d have to get near the smelly thing.

———-

Now imagine that this morning when you woke up, you found that there were now TWO sets of keys on your previous key chain…

And sure enough, when you went out to the driveway, there was now TWO cars sitting there:

a brand new fully loaded vehicle in your name and even your favourite colour…

And as always, your old broken down smelly vehicle.

Question:
Which would you choose to drive today?

———

When the Scripture says to ‘put on the new self’, in essence, what it’s saying is, “It’s okay… Go ahead and get into the new car!” While all the religions of the world are saying “just fix up your old car!”

But when Jesus Christ died on the cross and you believed, you were made completely and totally BRAND NEW!

But every day we have the choice between which of these two ‘selfs’ we’re gonna walk in – the old self with its corrupt desires – or the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness!

This is the power of transformation… When you inform your old self that the new self led by the Spirit is now in control!

It may take some time, but soon enough, you’ll find yourself so comfortable in your new car getting used to a ‘non-smelly’ vehicle. One where all the lights, wipers, and windows are powered, and work! One with seat warmers for the cold days and where the doors actually lock and you even have an alarm system. One that goes for service regularly so that all the fluids are continually topped up!

And the best part is, not only is this new car fully insured from bumper to bumper so that you can have peace and assurance no matter what may come your way, but it’s also rigged with a free OnStar system that gives you a direct link to the manufacturer who offers navigation and roadside assistance so never again are you ever driving alone!

This is a picture of the new life that God has welcomed us to!

But only One person in all of the universe holds the key to your new vehicle . . .

No matter your credit score or financial standing, he has already made a way 2000 years ago for you and I to experience this new life!

The only question is,

Which key will you choose today?

———-

Therefore, I urge you brethren, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2
 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

Joy Filled Hardships

hardship1-300x300

 

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:1-5

———

It is certainly the mark of a peculiar people who find occasion for rejoicing in the face and midst of suffering.

Yet, we should not consider it awfully strange since by the same token, we also profess our allegiance to a King who was inaugurated into his Kingdom by giving his very life for his people – suffering so that he could be made perfect to accomplish the will of God. (Heb 2:10, 5:8)

Though no trial seems pleasant at the time, let us fix our eyes far beyond these things that now stand before us knowing that they are simply the birthing pains for something so exceedingly awesome that we will altogether forget our every pain one day when we see the fruit of those labours complete.

Until then, ‘hope’ is bringing a bit of that expected joy of the future, into the here and now to press us along.

Faith beyond mere sight, until our sight grows up to be as certain and far reaching as our faith…

The vital lens.

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!