Friday, December 31, 2010

My Country

"My Country" is an iconic patriotic poem about Australia, written by Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968) at the age of 19 while homesick in England. After travelling through Europe extensively with her father during her teenage years she started writing the poem in London in 1904 and re-wrote it several times before her return to Sydney. The poem was first published in the London Spectator in 1908 under the title "Core of My Heart". It was reprinted in many Australian newspapers, quickly becoming well known and establishing Mackellar as a poet.

Daily Devotional Friday 31st December

““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”” - John 16:33
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
December 30: Morning

"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." - Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David's Lord and Master; see his beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at his Father's right hand, expecting until his enemies be made his footstool. "As he is, so are we also in this world." You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like him, for you shall see him as he is. Be content to be like him, a worm and no man, that like him you may be satisfied when you wake up in his likeness. That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much--much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch's head with trumpet's joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God's people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. "They shall be mine," saith the Lord, "in the day when I make up my jewels." "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof."


"Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end?" - 2 Samuel 2:26

If, O my reader! thou art merely a professor, and not a possessor of the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the following lines are a true ketch of thine end.

You are a respectable attendant at a place of worship; you go because others go, not because your heart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will suppose that for the next twenty or thirty years you will be spared to go on as you do now, professing religion by an outward attendance upon the means of grace, but having no heart in the matter. Tread softly, for I must show you the deathbed of such a one as yourself. Let us gaze upon him gently. A clammy sweat is on his brow, and he wakes up crying, "O God, it is hard to die. Did you send for my minister?" "Yes, he is coming." The minister comes. "Sir, I fear that I am dying!" "Have you any hope?" "I cannot say that I have. I fear to stand before my God; oh! pray for me." The prayer is offered for him with sincere earnestness, and the way of salvation is for the ten-thousandth time put before him, but before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink. I may put my finger upon those cold eyelids, for they will never see anything here again. But where is the man, and where are the man's true eyes? It is written, "In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment." Ah! why did he not lift up his eyes before? Because he was so accustomed to hear the gospel that his soul slept under it. Alas! if you should lift up your eyes there, how bitter will be your wailings. Let the Saviour's own words reveal the woe: "Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame." There is a frightful meaning in those words. May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah's wrath!
[Ăzarī'ah] - jehovah is keeper or hath helped.

The fact that there are almost thirty men bearing the name of Azariah is proof that it was a common name in Hebrew, especially in the family of Eleazar, whose name has a similar meaning, and is almost identical with Ezra, Zerahiah and Seraiah. See also Azariahu and Zacharias.

1. The son of Zadok and a descendant of David's high priest (1 Kings 4:2).

2. The son of Nathan, ruler of Solomon's officers (1 Kings 4:5).

3. The son of Amaziah, who was made king of Judah after his father (2 Kings 14:21; 2 Kings 15:1-27; 1 Chron. 3:12).

4. A man of Judah, of the family of Zerah and of the house of Ethan (1 Chron. 2:8).

5. The son of Jehu and grandson of Obed, a Judahite (1 Chron. 2:38, 39).

6. A son of Ahimaz and grandson of Zadok (1 Chron. 6:9).

7. A son of Johanan and grandson of No. 6 who served in Solomon's time (1 Chron. 6:10, 11).

8. A son of Hilkiah, and father of Seraiah the high priest in Josiah's reign (1 Chron. 6:13, 14; 1 Chron. 9:11; Ezra 7:1).

9. A Levite of the family of Kohath and an ancestor of Samuel the prophet (1 Chron. 6:36).

10. A prophet, son of Obed, he encouraged Asa to persevere in his national religious revival (2 Chron. 15:1).

11. A son of king Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 21:2).

12. Another son of the above (2 Chron. 21:2).

13. Son of Jehoram (2 Chron. 22:6).

14. The son of Jehoram and a captain who assisted in the overthrow of Athaliah and the elevation of Joash to the throne of Judah (2 Chron. 23:1).

15. The son of Obed who also assisted in the above task (2 Chron. 23:1).

16. The high priest who hindered Uzziah from burning incense on the altar (2 Chron. 26:17, 20).

17. The son of Johanan and a chief of the tribe of Ephraim (2 Chron. 28:12).

18. The father of Joel and a Kohathite (2 Chron. 29:12). He assisted in the purification of the Temple in Hezekiah's time.

19. The son of Jehalelel, a Merarite who also assisted in Hezekiah's revival (2 Chron. 29:12).

20. The chief priest of the house of Zadok in King Hezekiah's time (2 Chron. 31:10, 13).

21. The son of Meraioth, and an ancestor of Ezra (Ezra 7:3).

22. The son of Maaseiah, of the family of Ananiah, who repaired a portion of the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 3:23, 24).

23. An Israelite who returned with Zerubbabel (Neh. 7:7). Name also given as Seraiah.

24. One of the priests who explained the Law to the people as Ezra read it. Perhaps the same person as No. 22 (Neh. 8:7).

25. Another priest who sealed the covenant (Neh. 10:2).

26. A prince of Judah who joined in the procession with Nehemiah (Neh. 12:33).

27. A son of Hoshaiah and an opponent of Jeremiah whom he charged with false prophecies (Jer. 43:2).

28. The Hebrew and original name of Abed-nego, who with Daniel and others was carried away captive to Babylon (Dan. 1:6, 7, 11, 19; Dan. 2:17).
Today's reading: Zechariah 13-14, Revelation 21 (NIV)
View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Zechariah 13-14
Cleansing From Sin
1 "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

2 "On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. 3 And if anyone still prophesies, his father and mother, to whom he was born, will say to him, 'You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD's name.' When he prophesies, his own parents will stab him. the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 21
The New Jerusalem
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." the rest on Bible Gateway
Reading 18: God's Great Gift of Love

A Pharisee named Nicodemus came at night to ask Jesus who he was. Jesus told Nicodemus why he had come from God and what he was sent to do. Then Jesus told Nicodemus that Nicodemus would have to be "born again" of the Spirit. In a few sentences, Jesus summed up the Good News.

John 3:1-21
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"

5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Further Study

  1. What do people have to do in order to have eternal life? (v. 16)
  2. Why did God send his Son into the world? (v. 17)
  3. Why do people love the darkness more than the light? (vv. 19 - 20)
  1. Verse 16 tells us what people have to do to have eternal life. What does it mean to "believe"? Why is this Good News so difficult for some people to understand?
  2. What do we have to do to live by "the truth"? (v. 21)
  3. What does living by the truth look like?

The reason Jesus came to earth, lived and taught among people, and died for our sins is because "God so loved the world" (v. 16). Jesus is God's great gift of love to each and every one of us.


3:14 When Jesus talked about Moses lifting up the snake in the desert, he was referring to the time the Israelites complained about the food God had provided for them. God sent poisonous snakes into the camp to punish the people. Some people were saved from death by looking up at a bronze snake that God had told Moses to make and place on a pole.

Perhaps Love

"Perhaps Love" is a song written by John Denver. It was addressed to his wife while they were separated and moving towards a divorce.
The song was recorded as a duet by John Denver and Plácido Domingo and appeared in the album by Domingo with the same title Perhaps Love. The orchestra is conducted by Lee Holdridge.
I love her and I would like to tell her, but she doesn't want to see me. She isn't on Facebook. But here 'tis. Denver had Domingo to call on to protect his back when he made this ..

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Daily Devotional Thursday 30th December

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” - John 14:1-3
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
December 29: Morning

"The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." - 1 Samuel 7:12

The word "hitherto" seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet, "hitherto the Lord hath helped!" Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honour, in dishonour, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation, "hitherto hath the Lord helped us!" We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves; even so look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys. Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received "hitherto."

But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes "hitherto," he is not yet at the end, there is still a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death. Is it over now? No! there is more yet-awakening in Jesus' likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment, the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fulness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. O be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy "Ebenezer," for--

He who hath helped thee hitherto
Will help thee all thy journey through.
When read in heaven's light how glorious and marvellous a prospect will thy "hitherto" unfold to thy grateful eye!


"What think ye of Christ?" - Matthew 22:42

The great test of your soul's health is, What think you of Christ? Is he to you "fairer than the children of men"--"the chief among ten thousand"--the "altogether lovely"? Wherever Christ is thus esteemed, all the faculties of the spiritual man exercise themselves with energy. I will judge of your piety by this barometer: does Christ stand high or low with you? If you have thought little of Christ, if you have been content to live without his presence, if you have cared little for his honour, if you have been neglectful of his laws, then I know that your soul is sick--God grant that it may not be sick unto death! But if the first thought of your spirit has been, how can I honour Jesus? If the daily desire of your soul has been, "O that I knew where I might find him!" I tell you that you may have a thousand infirmities, and even scarcely know whether you are a child of God at all, and yet I am persuaded, beyond a doubt, that you are safe, since Jesus is great in your esteem. I care not for thy rags, what thinkest thou of his royal apparel? I care not for thy wounds, though they bleed in torrents, what thinkest thou of his wounds? are they like glittering rubies in thine esteem? I think none the less of thee, though thou liest like Lazarus on the dunghill, and the dogs do lick thee--I judge thee not by thy poverty: what thinkest thou of the King in his beauty? Has he a glorious high throne in thy heart? Wouldest thou set him higher if thou couldest? Wouldest thou be willing to die if thou couldest but add another trumpet to the strain which proclaims his praise? Ah! then it is well with thee. Whatever thou mayest think of thyself, if Christ be great to thee, thou shalt be with him ere long.
"Though all the world my choice deride,
Yet Jesus shall my portion be;
For I am pleased with none beside,
The fairest of the fair is he"
Today's reading: Zechariah 9-12, Revelation 20 (NIV)
View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Zechariah 9-12
Judgment on Israel's Enemies
An Oracle

1 The word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrach
and will rest upon Damascus--
for the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel
are on the LORD--
2 and upon Hamath too, which borders on it,
and upon Tyre and Sidon, though they are very skillful.
3 Tyre has built herself a stronghold;
she has heaped up silver like dust,
and gold like the dirt of the streets. the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 20
The Thousand Years
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. the rest on Bible Gateway
Simeon, Symeon
[Sĭm'eon] - hearing, hears and obeys or hearing with acceptance.

1. The second son of Jacob by Leah (Gen. 29:33).

The Man Who Was Self-Willed

It is not easy to deal with Simeon alone, since he is always associated with his brother, Levi. "Simeon and Levi are brethren" (Gen. 49:5). Of Simeon's personal history we know little. His name implies hearing with obedience, but Simeon was deaf in the day he should have heard, and disobedient and irresponsive when his lot hung in balance.

The first thing recorded about Simeon is that with Levi his brother, he drew the sword in treachery against the Shechemites and slew all the males. When rebuked by their father, they upheld indignantly their right to act as they did. Both acted "in their selfwill" (Gen. 49:6), which means they took malicious delight in their gross crime.

Simeon next appears in the story of Joseph, who felt it would be better to retain Simeon until Benjamin had been brought to the palace. Joseph felt with his father Jacob that Simeon and Levi would be best apart. In fact, Simeon had no blessing while joined with Levi and no prosperity while he was with Reuben. When separated, Simeon, at first, did not multiply (1 Chron. 4:24-27). During the forty years in the wilderness the decrease of Simeon was remarkable. Because of the idolatry of the tribe, thousands were slain.

In the land of Canaan, Simeon joined with Judah, and this association marked a turning point in the history of the tribe. Judah and Simeon went up together to Canaan (Judg. 1:1-3). Simeon means "obedient hearing," and Judah, "praise." The absorption of Simeon into the inheritance of Judah gave Simeon a place and work in Israel. In the final division of the land, foretold by Ezekiel, between Benjamin and Issachar, there is a portion for Simeon.

Over the gate to the Golden City, Simeon's name is inscribed - "Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed 12,000" - a way for even Simeon to enter the city of God above. From the time the Simeonites became aware of what God had done for them there was no more curse and no more captivity for them. Hitherto instruments of cruelty, they became instruments of warfare against the enemies of the Lord, ultimately earning the right to be included among the number eternally sealed (Rev. 7:7).

Self-will fittingly describes Simeon's career until he was separated from Levi. God hates self-will for He knows how it accounts for uncontrolled passions, and the failure to respond to higher appeals. Because of their self-will God, in His governmental dealings, scattered and impoverished the Simeonites. May we not come nigh their dwelling but ever seek to learn, prove and obey "that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

2. A just and devout man in Jerusalem who awaited the coming of Jesus, the Messiah (Luke 2:25-34).

The Man Who Died Satisfied

The adoration and prophecy of Simeon, who waited for the consolation of Israel and blessed the Consoler when He appeared, is rich in spiritual suggestion. This spectator of the most significant birth of all history, endued with a prophetic spirit, kept the lamp of prophecy burning when religion was at a low ebb in Israel. Simeon means "one who hears and obeys" and this saintly Simeon knew the voice speaking in the prophets of old, and obeyed the light he saw. Coming into the Temple, he took the Babe in his arms and blessed God. What a wonderful benediction his was!

At last faith had been justified and Simeon could die without fear. Have our eyes seen the salvation of the Lord? Can we die in peace? In his swan song, Simeon was not ashamed to declare that the One born in the city of David was the Saviour of the world. This was more than the letter-learned scribes of his times had discerned. These were the men who looked upon Christ as a sign to be spoken against and to whom He would become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.

With godly Simeon it was different, for he was Spirit-taught and knew that Mary's Child was the One through whom the world was to be blessed. As he eagerly anticipated Christ's first advent, are we found patiently awaiting His second advent? When He does appear and we see Him as He is, ours will be the thrill Simeon experienced as He gazed upon the Lord's Christ.

3. An ancestor of Jesus (Luke 3:30).

4. A disciple and prophet at Antioch, surnamed Niger (Acts 13:1).

5. The original name of a son of Jonas, or John, and brother of Andrew an apostle of Christ.
Reading 17: From the Beginning

The Gospel of John tells us that the "word" is not only the spoken word (the message from God and Jesus' teachings) but also the "Word," Jesus, the actual person of God himself in Christ. He is the living expression of God's presence with his people.

John 1:1-18
The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

Further Study

  1. Who was in the beginning? (v. 1)
  2. Whom did God send to tell about the "light"? (vv. 6 - 8)
  3. What was given through Moses? What came through Christ? (v. 17)
  1. What is grace? What are some of the blessings you have received because of God's grace?
  2. What did the writer John mean by "darkness" and "light"? (vv. 4 - 5)

Long before the world began, God planned to send Jesus to live among people on earth. Through Jesus, God has shown us his glory.


1:4-5 Throughout the Bible, "light" is linked with God's majesty, glory and goodness, while "darkness" is linked with Satan and evil. John used these word pictures several times in this Gospel and in his letters.

Hope for the New Year - US Campaign for Burma

There are moments when working towards democracy in Burma is difficult--when there is little light at the end of the tunnel.

For over twenty years, I have been engaged in one of the great struggles of our time. For many of those years we have ended the year without significant progress. It has been difficult coming to the office to hear about another friend thrown into prison. Or to learn about another village burned, more families forced to flee for their lives.

Please consider making a contribution to our movement today as we enter a new, critical year for Burma.

But this year is different--we have two great gifts to celebrate. For the first time since the U.S. Campaign for Burma was founded, Aung San Suu Kyi is free. For the first time, we are working in concert with our leader mobilizing people to action.

Our second gift is the progress we have made towards finally holding the military regime accountable for its crimes. For years, the international community paid no attention while the regime denied abusing ethnic groups. But this lie is closer to being confronted by the international community after decades of neglect.

So there is much to celebrate as we end 2010. We want to thank you so much for your support and making these efforts possible. Our staff is small--only five people working full time. But we manage to magnify your voice and the voices of other Burma activists on the global stage.

This is due to your support: our grassroots supporters are the biggest funders for our campaign. Without you, we could not join together to make sure that the people of Burma know they have American support. Without you, we would not be able to push policymakers in Washington to make Burma a priority. Without you, we would not be able to secure millions of dollars of aid for survivors of the regime's atrocities. Without you, we would be missing a critical link in Burma's global solidarity movement.

Please consider making a contribution to our movement today as we enter a new, critical year for Burma.

We want you to know that your contribution to USCB leads directly to lives being saved on the ground in Burma. Your contribution has a huge multiplier affect--USCB helps secure U.S. funding of millions of dollars of "cross border" aid to groups working on Burma's borders. Last year, $4 million was sent to border groups who risk their lives by providing healthcare and education to Burma's conflict areas. Since 2006, we have secured tens of millions of US dollars for cross-border aid.

Your support also has a huge multiplier affect on global Burma policy. When the US leads on Burma policy, many countries follow. For example in August of this year Obama came out in support of an investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma. In the following month, 8 other countries announced their support. Our work really spans the globe and changes the international conversation on Burma.

Finally, we want to let you know that the people inside Burma working for change are well aware of American support for their cause. My friends inside Burma understand that they have an ally in the United States--and they are immensely grateful for your support.

Help us give Burma's democracy activists more support by making a year-end gift today.

You are part of one of the world's most significant global solidarity movements. For twenty years we have worked to restore hope to a country that is run by brutal dictators. Our movement showed its strength when Aung San Suu Kyi was released in November due to global pressure.

But we cannot stop here. We have much to do. We need your support to make sure that Aung San Suu Kyi's latest release translates into meaningful change in Burma, not more of the same. This support comes through your calls, emails, community events, film screenings, and your financial support. As we end the year, we are grateful for your time and consideration of supporting USCB.

Thank you for all of your support for the U.S. Campaign for Burma and the people of Burma. We are truly grateful to work with you in one of the great struggles of our time.

Have a Great New Year,
Aung Din
Executive Director
Former Burmese Political Prisoner

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Daily Devotional Wednesday 29th December

““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
December 28: Morning

"The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." - Galatians 2:20

When the Lord in mercy passed by and saw us in our blood, he first of all said, "Live;" and this he did first, because life is one of the absolutely essential things in spiritual matters, and until it be bestowed we are incapable of partaking in the things of the kingdom. Now the life which grace confers upon the saints at the moment of their quickening is none other than the life of Christ, which, like the sap from the stem, runs into us, the branches, and establishes a living connection between our souls and Jesus. Faith is the grace which perceives this union, having proceeded from it as its firstfruit. It is the neck which joins the body of the Church to its all-glorious Head.
"Oh Faith! thou bond of union with the Lord,
Is not this office thine? and thy fit name,
In the economy of gospel types,
And symbols apposite--the Church's neck;
Identifying her in will and work
With him ascended?"
Faith lays hold upon the Lord Jesus with a firm and determined grasp. She knows his excellence and worth, and no temptation can induce her to repose her trust elsewhere; and Christ Jesus is so delighted with this heavenly grace, that he never ceases to strengthen and sustain her by the loving embrace and all-sufficient support of his eternal arms. Here, then, is established a living, sensible, and delightful union which casts forth streams of love, confidence, sympathy, complacency, and joy, whereof both the bride and bridegroom love to drink. When the soul can evidently perceive this oneness between itself and Christ, the pulse may be felt as beating for both, and the one blood as flowing through the veins of each. Then is the heart as near heaven as it can be on earth, and is prepared for the enjoyment of the most sublime and spiritual kind of fellowship.


"I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword." - Matthew 10:34

The Christian will be sure to make enemies. It will be one of his objects to make none; but if to do the right, and to believe the true, should cause him to lose every earthly friend, he will count it but a small loss, since his great Friend in heaven will be yet more friendly, and reveal himself to him more graciously than ever. O ye who have taken up his cross, know ye not what your Master said? "I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, he brings war. Where the light cometh, the darkness must retire. Where truth is, the lie must flee; or, if it abideth, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trodden under foot. If you follow Christ, you shall have all the dogs of the world yelping at your heels. If you would live so as to stand the test of the last tribunal, depend upon it the world will not speak well of you. He who has the friendship of the world is an enemy to God; but if you are true and faithful to the Most High, men will resent your unflinching fidelity, since it is a testimony against their iniquities. Fearless of all consequences, you must do the right. You will need the courage of a lion unhesitatingly to pursue a course which shall turn your best friend into your fiercest foe; but for the love of Jesus you must thus be courageous. For the truth's sake to hazard reputation and affection, is such a deed that to do it constantly you will need a degree of moral principle which only the Spirit of God can work in you; yet turn not your back like a coward, but play the man. Follow right manfully in your Master's steps, for he has traversed this rough way before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest, than false peace and everlasting torment.
[Nā'than] - he hath given.

1. The third child of David, born after he came to reign over Israel (2 Sam. 5:14; 1 Chron. 3:5; 1 Chron. 14:4).

2. The distinguished prophet during the reigns of David and Solomon, who brought home to David the enormity of his sin. What a piercing arrow from the divine bow that was - Thou art the man (2 Sam. 7:2-17; 2 Sam. 12; 1 Kings 1; 1 Chron. 17). Although the confidential adviser of King David, Nathan was unsparing in his condemnation of his monarch's sin. Nathan also wrote a history ( 2 Chron. 9:29).

3. The father of Igal, one of David's heroes (2 Sam. 23:36).

4. Father of Solomon's chief officer (1 Kings 4:5).

5. Son of Attai and father of Zabad, of the tribe of Judah (1 Chron. 2:36).

6. Brother of Joel, one of David's heroes (1 Chron. 11:38).

7. A chief man with Ezra at the brook of Ahava (Ezra 8:16).

8. A son of Bani who put away his foreign wife (Ezra 10:39).

9. A chief man in Israel (Zech. 12:12).

10. An ancestor of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:31).
Today's reading: Zechariah 5-8, Revelation 19 (NIV)
View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Zechariah 5-8
The Flying Scroll
1 I looked again--and there before me was a flying scroll!

2 He asked me, "What do you see?"

I answered, "I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide."

3 And he said to me, "This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 19
1 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." the rest on Bible Gateway
Reading 16: Jesus, the Son of God, is Baptized

When John grew up, he traveled from place to place telling people that the Messiah was coming and that they should change their ways. He did this to prepare them for the Messiah. Then he baptized them in the river to show that their hearts were clean. One day, Jesus came to be baptized too.

Matthew 3:13-17
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Further Study

  1. What did John say to Jesus when Jesus came to be baptized? (v. 14)
  2. What happened when Jesus came out of the water? (v. 16)
  3. What did the voice from heaven say? (v. 17)
  1. Jesus never sinned. So why did the Holy Spirit need to come down on him?
  2. Why do you think it was important that God made this announcement?

The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of Jesus' work on earth. The Holy Spirit came down to give him the power to do miracles and heal people, to teach, and to do all the other things he came to do. God called Jesus his Son, encouraging him and announcing to everyone that he was the Messiah.


3:13 The Jordan River runs north to south from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. The distance between the two seas is 65 miles, but the Jordan, because it winds its way south, is actually 135 miles long. Before modern times, the Jordan was about 100 feet wide and three to ten feet deep, except when heavy rains in winter and spring caused it to flood.

I Can See Clearly Now

"I Can See Clearly Now" is a song written and recorded by Johnny Nash. It was a single from the album of the same name and achieved success in the United States and the United Kingdom when it was released in 1972. It was covered by many artists throughout the years, including a 1993 hit version by Jimmy Cliff.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Daily Devotional Tuesday 28th December

“Of David. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—” - Psalm 103:1-2
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
December 27: Morning

"Can the rush grow up without mire?" - Job 8:11

The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case? Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received from his hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my integrity? Then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord's right hand planting can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend him out of love to himself are his own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in thee, and not in the mire of this world's favour or gain.


"And the Lord shall guide thee continually." - Isaiah 58:11

"The Lord shall guide thee." Not an angel, but Jehovah shall guide thee. He said he would not go through the wilderness before his people, an angel should go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel's guidance: he himself leads the van. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice the word shall--"The Lord shall guide thee." How certain this makes it! How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious "shalls" and "wills" are better than men's oaths. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Then observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes, but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at his heels, we shall not err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in. If you have to change your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast among foes, yet tremble not, for "the Lord shall guide thee continually." There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God, and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. "Jehovah"--mark the word--"Jehovah shall guide thee continually."

The Woman Who Was Healed by a Touch

Scripture Reference: Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48

This sick, anonymous woman must have been emaciated after a hemorrhage lasting for twelve years, which rendered her legally unclean. She could not throw herself, therefore, at the feet of Christ and state her complaint. Her modesty, humility, uncleanness and pressure of the crowd made close contact well-nigh impossible, hence her eagerness to touch in some unnoticed way the hem of His garment. Who was this woman of faith? The primitive church, feeling she was entitled to a name, called her Veronica, who lived in Caesarea Philippi, but in the gospels she is enrolled in the list of anonymous female divines. There are several aspects of her cure worthy of note-

She Was Cured After Many Failures

What this poor woman really endured at the hands of the medical men of the time is left to the imagination. What a touch of reality is given to her story by the knowledge that she had suffered many things of many physicians and was no better but rather "grew worse." Where men failed, Christ succeeded. Down the ages men and women which no agency could reclaim have been restored by Christ. What is not possible with men is blessedly possible with God. Her disease was of long standing yet she was swiftly healed, for as soon as she touched the hem of His garment, "straight-way the fountain of her blood was dried up." If a person suffers for a while from a complaint and seeks no medical advice, but in the end goes to the doctor, he invariably says, "You should have come to me sooner." But it is the glory of Christ that He can heal those who come late to Him.

She Was Cured With the Utmost Rapidity

Mark's favorite word, "straightway," which he uses 27 times in his gospel, is in most cases related to Christ's rapid cures. How swift He was in His relief for the suffering! As at creation, so in His miracles of healing, "He spake and it was done." Spiritual parallels of His instantaneous power can be seen in the conversions of Matthew, Paul and the dying thief. Many of us, too, can testify to the fact that He can transform character in a moment of time. The term Jesus used in addressing the nameless sufferer suggests that she was still young, though wasted and faded by her malady which made her look older than she was. But the nature of her disease and the age of the one afflicted made no difference to Him in healing the sick and saving the lost. As Jesus passed by the withered fingers of the woman brushed the border of Christ's sacred dress, and all at once her thin body felt the painless health of her girlhood return. A strength she had not known for 12 years renewed her being, and she knew that Christ had made her whole.

She Acknowledged Receipt of the Benefit Bestowed

As soon as the woman touched Christ's garment, He felt that "virtue had gone out of Him," and turned about and said, "Who touched me?" The disciples mildly rebuked Jesus by saying, "Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?" Perhaps her touch had been unnoticed by the eyes of those around, and she must have been one of many who touched the Master that day as he proceeded on His errand of love, but a touch of faith could not be hidden from Him. Quickly the Physician saw the patient, and trembling with self-consciousness but too glad and grateful to falter, she confessed to her touch of His robe. "She told him all the truth." She experienced that open confession is good for the soul. What a glow of gratitude her countenance must have had, as she publicly stated that her burden for twelve years had rolled away!

She Was Commended for Her Faith

The crowd who listened to her confession also heard the Saviour's benediction, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." As a true daughter of Abraham (Luke 13:16), her faith is crowned by the Master. Hers was not faith without a touch, or a touch without faith. Believing, she appropriated and was healed. "Daughter," was an endearing term for Jesus to use. Some tender insight of His own must have prompted Him to use it. As Theron Brown puts it so beautifully-

The restored sufferer would never forget the friendly benignity that assailed her with one indulgent epithet or the sympathy in that endearing term by which the Messiah of Israel recognized her as His own.... She cherished her debt to the Man of Galilee.

She Has a Place in Legend

It is said that this woman who was healed of her plague walked with Jesus as He went to His cross, and that seeing His blood and sweat, she drew out her handkerchief and wiped His brow. Later on, as she reverently caressed the piece of linen, she found the image of the blood-stained face of Jesus imprinted on it. Face cloths for the Roman catacombs alleged to hold the impress of His features were called Veronicas. About a.d. 320, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea and a dependable historian records that when he visited Caesarea Philippi, he heard that the woman healed of her issue of blood out of gratitude for her cure had erected two brazen figures at the gate of her house, one representing a woman bending on her knee in supplication - the other, fashioned in the likeness of Jesus, holding out His hand to help her. The figure had a double cloak of brass. Eusebius adds this explicit statement as to these figures, "They were in existence even in our day and we saw them with our own eyes when we stayed in the city." The well-known Sankey gospel hymn recalls and applies the story of the nameless woman whom Jesus healed-

She only touched the hem of His garment,
As to His side she stole,
Amid the crowd that gathered around Him,
And straightway she was whole.

It is encouraging to know that His saving power this very hour can give new life to all who by faith take hold of His skirt (Zechariah 8:23).
[Ĕlĭm'elĕch] - god is king.

The husband of Naomi and father of Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah (Ruth 1:2, 3; Ruth 2:1, 3; Ruth 4:3-9; 1 Sam. 17:12).

The Man Whose Ways Contradicted His Name

It is one thing to have a good name, but a different matter altogether to have a life corresponding to that name. Elimelech's name implies that God is King, an expressive name given him by godly parents when the nation followed the Lord. But Elimelech belied the name he bore, for had he truly believed that God was King, he would have stayed in Bethlehem in spite of the prevailing famine.

But one might argue that it was a wise thing to do to leave a famine-stricken land for another land where there was plenty of food for his family. Surely that was a journey any father would undertake to save his dear ones from starvation. But Elimelech was a Jew and as such had the promise, "In the days of famine ye shall be satisfied." Had he firmly believed in the sovereignty of God, Elimelech would have remained in Bethlehem, knowing that need can never throttle God. Had he not declared that bread and water for His own would be sure? Alas, however, Elimelech did not live up to his wonderful name! In going down to Moab, he stepped out of the will of God, who had forbidden His people to have any association with the Moabites. In Moab, Elimelech and his two sons found graves. Yet such a wrong move was overruled by God, for as the result of it, Ruth the Moabitess returned to Bethlehem with Naomi, who was to become the ancestress of our blessed Lord.
Today's reading: Zechariah 1-4, Revelation 18 (NIV)
View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Zechariah 1-4
A Call to Return to the LORD
1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:

2 "The LORD was very angry with your forefathers. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty.... the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 18
The Fall of Babylon
1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted:
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
She has become a home for demons
and a haunt for every evil spirit,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.... the rest on Bible Gateway
Reading 15: The Visit of the Magi

Several months after Jesus was born, Magi (traditionally called wise men) came from the east to Jerusalem asking about a new king. First, they asked King Herod, who was a friend of the Roman rulers, where to find the one they were looking for. Then they traveled another five miles to the town where Jesus lived in order to find him.

Matthew 2:1-12
The Visit of the Magi
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

6 "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Further Study

  1. Whom did the Magi say they were looking for? (v. 2)
  2. What was the name of the king who was disturbed when he heard of another king being born? (v. 3)
  3. What did the Magi do when they found Mary with her child? (v. 11)
  1. Why was King Herod disturbed when he heard that the Messiah had been born? What did he think the Messiah would do?
  2. Why do you think the Magi didn't go back to King Herod?

The Magi were the first to acknowledge Jesus as a king. This affirmed what the angel had said to Mary: Jesus would receive the throne of David, and his kingdom would have no end (see Luke 1:32 - 33).


2:2 Astronomers have explained that the star of Bethlehem was a comet, a nova or an alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. But history does not record that anyone besides the Magi saw this star. Apparently the star was a celestial phenomena God created just for this occasion.

Monday, December 27, 2010


"She" is the title of a song written, recorded and released by Charles Aznavour and Herbert Kretzmer.
It reached number 1 in the UK single charts in 1974, but was not successful in the USA or France. The song was recorded by Aznavour in several different languages aside from English, namely French and Italian, as well as Spanish and German.

Daily Devotional Monday 27th December

“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”” - Luke 2:28-32
Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening
December 26: Morning

"The last Adam." - 1 Corinthians 15:45

Jesus is the federal head of his elect. As in Adam, every heir of flesh and blood has a personal interest, because he is the covenant head and representative of the race as considered under the law of works; so under the law of grace, every redeemed soul is one with the Lord from heaven, since he is the Second Adam, the Sponsor and Substitute of the elect in the new covenant of love. The apostle Paul declares that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him: it is a certain truth that the believer was in the loins of Jesus Christ, the Mediator, when in old eternity the covenant settlements of grace were decreed, ratified, and made sure forever. Thus, whatever Christ hath done, he hath wrought for the whole body of his Church. We were crucified in him and buried with him (read Col. 2:10-13), and to make it still more wonderful, we are risen with him and even ascended with him to the seats on high (Eph. 2:6). It is thus that the Church has fulfilled the law, and is "accepted in the beloved." It is thus that she is regarded with complacency by the just Jehovah, for he views her in Jesus, and does not look upon her as separate from her covenant head. As the Anointed Redeemer of Israel, Christ Jesus has nothing distinct from his Church, but all that he has he holds for her. Adam's righteousness was ours so long as he maintained it, and his sin was ours the moment that he committed it; and in the same manner, all that the Second Adam is or does, is ours as well as his, seeing that he is our representative. Here is the foundation of the covenant of grace. This gracious system of representation and substitution, which moved Justin Martyr to cry out, "O blessed change, O sweet permutation!" this is the very groundwork of the gospel of our salvation, and is to be received with strong faith and rapturous joy.


"Lo, I am with you alway." - Matthew 28:20

The Lord Jesus is in the midst of his church; he walketh among the golden candlesticks; his promise is, "Lo, I am with you alway." He is as surely with us now as he was with the disciples at the lake, when they saw coals of fire, and fish laid thereon and bread. Not carnally, but still in real truth, Jesus is with us. And a blessed truth it is, for where Jesus is, love becomes inflamed. Of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus! A glimpse of him so overcomes us, that we are ready to say, "Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me." Even the smell of the aloes, and the myrrh, and the cassia, which drop from his perfumed garments, causes the sick and the faint to grow strong. Let there be but a moment's leaning of the head upon that gracious bosom, and a reception of his divine love into our poor cold hearts, and we are cold no longer, but glow like seraphs, equal to every labour, and capable of every suffering. If we know that Jesus is with us, every power will be developed, and every grace will be strengthened, and we shall cast ourselves into the Lord's service with heart, and soul, and strength; therefore is the presence of Christ to be desired above all things. His presence will be most realized by those who are most like him. If you desire to see Christ, you must grow in conformity to him. Bring yourself, by the power of the Spirit, into union with Christ's desires, and motives, and plans of action, and you are likely to be favoured with his company. Remember his presence may be had. His promise is as true as ever. He delights to be with us. If he doth not come, it is because we hinder him by our indifference. He will reveal himself to our earnest prayers, and graciously suffer himself to be detained by our entreaties, and by our tears, for these are the golden chains which bind Jesus to his people.
Reading 14: Mary and Joseph Present Jesus at the Temple

Forty days after his birth, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem. They were obeying religious laws that Moses had given the Israelites long before. They went to dedicate their firstborn son to God and to offer sacrifices.

Luke 2:21-40
Jesus Presented in the Temple
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Further Study

  1. Why did Mary and Joseph go to Jerusalem? (vv. 22 - 24)
  2. How did Mary and Joseph react to what Simeon said? (v. 33)
  3. How old was Anna? What did she do every day? (v. 37)
  1. How did Simeon's blessing confirm who Jesus was?
  2. Why did Mary and Joseph marvel at what was said about their son?
  3. What were Simeon and Anna waiting for? What kind of people were they?

Simeon and Anna were faithful people with hearts that were open to God. Even though Jesus was very young, it was clear to Simeon and Anna that he was the Messiah the Jewish people had been waiting and hoping for.


2:24 To observe the Law of Moses, a woman who had given birth to a son was to wait 40 days; then she was to sacrifice a lamb and either a dove or a pigeon. If a woman could not afford to bring a lamb and a dove or pigeon, she was allowed to bring two doves or two pigeons.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cronyism, ALP, Fairfield

The SMH article is headlined "Cronyism just won't save a desperate Labor" and it's listed activity is not exhaustive, but symbolic. They give some compelling examples, but there is so much more.

In a recent 'discussion' I had with the Advance newspaper for Fairfield I had questioned why students were going home so early this year. One ALP supporter gushingly assured me that schools were finishing the year as normal .. but they weren't and I found out why. Usually schools finish about the 20th of December. This is because staff are expected to work a 201 day year and the education department generally won't let staff finish before the 20th, and the unions insist that there be some shopping days before Christmas.

2010 was different though. The 21st was a Monday and so schools ended up finishing on the 18th. One imagines the Department didn't want to fight over the Monday as a last day of school. However, the cherry on the top was taking two school staff development days from next year and placing them at the end of 2010. Children finished up on the Wednesday 16th. This meant that there were two school days without kids before the election which would allow the ALP to address school staff without kids. Joe Tripodi and his follower for Fairfield went to Fairvale HS and spoke extensively after the Principal ordered the staff to listen to their message. I am sure similar events were carried out around the state .. of course the conservative coalition would not have been invited. Maybe the Advance were right, it was business as usual.

Daily Devotional Sunday 26th December

“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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” - Isaiah 9:6

Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon
December 25: Morning

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." - Isaiah 7:14

Let us today go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in him, and can sing, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord and our God, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire. Let us notice at the very first glance his miraculous conception. It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son. The first promise ran thus, "The seed of the woman," not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise. Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to his human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that he may be formed in us, the hope of glory. Fail not to note his humble parentage. His mother has been described simply as "a virgin," not a princess, or prophetess, nor a matron of large estate. True the blood of kings ran in her veins; nor was her mind a weak and untaught one, for she could sing most sweetly a song of praise; but yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she stood affianced, and how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!

Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.


"And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually." - Job 1:5

What the patriarch did early in the morning, after the family festivities, it will be well for the believer to do for himself ere he rests tonight. Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Come, believer, in what have you sinned today? Have you been forgetful of your high calling? Have you been even as others in idle words and loose speeches? Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice. The sacrifice sanctifies. The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness. This is the best ending of a Christmas-day--to wash anew in the cleansing fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it be so good tonight, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood; to them sin, great as it is, is nevertheless no cause for despair, since they draw near yet again to the sin-atoning victim, and their conscience is purged from dead works.
Gladly I close this festive day,
Grasping the altar's hallow'd horn;
My slips and faults are washed away,
The Lamb has all my trespass borne.
Reading 13: The Shepherds and the Angels

Bethlehem was ordinarily a quiet town. But on the night that Jesus was born there, something happened outside of town--something spectacular!

Luke 2:8-20
The Shepherds and the Angels
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Further Study

  1. Who appeared to the shepherds out in the fields? (v. 9)
  2. What did he say? (vv. 10 - 11)
  3. What happened after this angel made his announcement? (v. 13)
  1. Why were the shepherds terrified to see the angel and "the glory of the Lord"? (v. 9) How would you feel if you were camping out and saw this phenomenon?
  2. What did the shepherds do after they went to see Jesus in the manger? Why?

The story of Jesus' birth had to be told, and the shepherds became witnesses to the indescribable miracle of the Messiah's coming. This story has amazed people for centuries, just as it amazed the shepherds and the people they told.


2:14 The hymn of the angels is called the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," which is the refrain of the song "Angels We Have Heard on High" that we sing during the Christmas season. The phrase "Glory to God" praises the majesty of God, who dwells "in the highest" in heaven.
Luke 2:20: The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The BEST E-Card you will ever get

Check out for the jordan vid and don't forget to thumb me and feel some empathy next time you send ecards. They're like sending magnets to people except less useful. Just joking, I know it's the thought that counts. Hope you're all well and that you have a lovely holiday season. Be well, be safe and be happy.
I thought the best ecard I would ever get would have Nat in it. I was wrong.

Daily Devotional Saturday 25th December

Christmas Day

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” - Luke 2:16-20
Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening
December 24: Morning

"For your sakes he became poor." - 2 Corinthians 8:9

The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor." As the rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren unless of his substance he ministers to their necessities, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members), it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless he had imparted to us of his own abounding wealth, and had become poor to make us rich. Had he remained upon his throne of glory, and had we continued in the ruins of the fall without receiving his salvation, communion would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Belial to be in concord with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be compassed, it was necessary that the rich kinsman should bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, that the righteous Saviour should give to his sinning brethren of his own perfection, and that we, the poor and guilty, should receive of his fulness grace for grace; that thus in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and so be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship. Poverty must be enriched by him in whom are infinite treasures before it can venture to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness ere the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe his people in his own garments, or he cannot admit them into his palace of glory; and he must wash them in his own blood, or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of his fellowship.

O believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus "became poor" that he might lift you up into communion with himself.


"The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." - Isaiah 40:5

We anticipate the happy day when the whole world shall be converted to Christ; when the gods of the heathen shall be cast to the moles and the bats; when Romanism shall be exploded, and the crescent of Mohammed shall wane, never again to cast its baleful rays upon the nations; when kings shall bow down before the Prince of Peace, and all nations shall call their Redeemer blessed. Some despair of this. They look upon the world as a vessel breaking up and going to pieces, never to float again. We know that the world and all that is therein is one day to be burnt up, and afterwards we look for new heavens and for a new earth; but we cannot read our Bibles without the conviction that--
"Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Does his successive journeys run."
We are not discouraged by the length of his delays; we are not disheartened by the long period which he allots to the church in which to struggle with little success and much defeat. We believe that God will never suffer this world, which has once seen Christ's blood shed upon it, to be always the devil's stronghold. Christ came hither to deliver this world from the detested sway of the powers of darkness. What a shout shall that be when men and angels shall unite to cry "Hallelujah, hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!" What a satisfaction will it be in that day to have had a share in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have aided in winning the victory for our Lord! Happy are they who trust themselves with this conquering Lord, and who fight side by side with him, doing their little in his name and by his strength! How unhappy are those on the side of evil! It is a losing side, and it is a matter wherein to lose is to lose and to be lost forever. On whose side are you?
Reading 12: The Birth of Jesus

God had promised the people of Israel a Savior. Through the prophets, God had told them how the Savior would come and what he would do. All the things the prophets had said about Jesus' birth came to pass. Mary gave birth to Jesus in the town of Bethlehem, an ordinary, quiet place.

Luke 2:1-7
The Birth of Jesus
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Further Study

  1. Why did Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem? (vv. 1 - 3)
  2. What was another name for the town of Bethlehem? (v. 4)
  3. Why did Mary put the baby in a manger? (v. 7)
  1. Can you think of some of the prophecies that were fulfilled when Jesus was born? Look back to the previous readings if you need to.
  2. Why would God want his Son to be born in such a poor and ordinary place?

That night in Bethlehem, God came down to earth in the form of a little baby. God gave Jesus a humble beginning so that everyone could understand that he came to bring salvation to all people, even the poorest and lowliest. Jesus was born human, like us, so we could relate to him. He was God so that he could save us from our sins and give us new life.


2:7 The manger Mary laid Jesus in was a trough or open box used to hold grain or grasses to feed livestock. The area around Bethlehem has many limestone caves that were used in Bible times to shelter and feed animals. Although we think of a stable as a wooden building, the stable Jesus was born in may have been a cave located behind an inn.
[Jĕz'reel] - god sows.

1. A descendant of the father of Etam (1 Chron. 4:3).

2. The symbolic name of Hosea the prophet's eldest son, who was so named seeing God had avenged the blood of Jezreel (Hos. 1:4, 5). Also symbolic name of Israel (Hos. 1:4, 11), and the name of towns (Josh. 15:56; 1 Kings 21:23).
Silent Night
by Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Friend to Friend

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. I imagine if you're like most of us, you are still scurrying about with last minute Christmas preparations. What do you think the angels were doing on that first Christmas Eve? Do you think the heavenly host had one last choir practice before their concert on the hillside? Do you think God was making sure that everyone was in their proper places on the kingdom stage before the curtain rose on the grandest drama of all time? Do you think the Holy Spirit was hovering low over the entire world, stirring the hearts of men and women to receive the greatest gift of all?

I'm not sure what was happening in the heavenly realm the night before Jesus was born. But I do know that my heart is aglow with the joy that tomorrow we celebrate Jesus' birth once again.

Perhaps you have sung Christmas carols hundreds of times in your life, but today, I encourage you to pause and read the words to one of my favorites as if you are seeing them for the first time. Read slowly. Ponder the words. "Glories stream from heaven afar"...picture it. "With the dawn of redeeming grace"... savor it. "Christ the Savior it born"... celebrate it.
Silent night, holy night
All is calm all is bright
'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Let's Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, my heart quietly waits in anticipation of the grand celebration that tomorrow brings. Thank You for the gift of Your Son. Thank You for redeeming grace.

Today's Advent reading is from the Girlfriends in God devotional ministry.