So, This is Christmas?
(by Bjorn Schmid, November 2023)
“The silly season is here!” so many people say. Why? What is silly about it?
Is it silly to celebrate a baby born in an animal keep in a town in the middle-east some two thousand years ago? Is it silly to sing of the angels, shepherds and wise men who came and celebrated this baby? Is it silly to thank God for lowering Himself to become a helpless human infant in order to grow up like us and become the perfect atoning sacrifice for all people for all time?
Or is the silliness about some other things that have been added to the occasion, much like the money changers that this baby threw out of the temple some 30-odd years later? Trees, Santa, Reindeer, excessive food and drink, and presents unlimited. Black Friday, Christmas and New Year sales! Holidays and entertainment in every place and for every budget (?)!
Or is it silly because for many it’s the only regular time they go to church? Maybe the only time people see their families/friends/neighbours together? Maybe the only time of they year they feel safe to smile at strangers and wish them a ‘seasonal greeting’. Maybe the only time of the year they even notice their neighbours!
I actually don’t think any of the above is ‘silly’ as such; what’s ‘silly’ is that people feel they need to wait for a time of year to do things they’d like to do but don’t, because it’s considered ‘silly’ to do these things when others are not also being ‘silly’, at least the ‘others’ that matter to them.
And who are the ‘others’ that matter? Are they the actors and singers that are thrown at us through the media? Are the speakers in parliaments and in public forums or intellectual circles those whom we like to model ourselves on? Or is it popular bloggers and on-line celebrities that show us how to talk and behave? Maybe church leaders or sports stars? Are any of these people worthy of our trust in how we should live?
God came himself and showed us God’s way for people to live. He modelled the perfect human for us and all who seek God with their hearts hunger to talk and behave like Jesus Christ. He was, and is, the perfect role model for us on every occasion and in every circumstance.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27 NIV)
I say “and is” because He did not leave us with just the written Word as transcribed by the apostles and disciples who lived with Him, which became the New Testament in the Bible. He gave us Himself as the Holy Spirit to be with us and within us (if we invite Him), who will transform our hearts and minds to be the ‘image’ of Jesus.
When you live 24/7 together with God, you are never without His perfect guidance and wisdom. When we want to know the best to do or say in any situation, we ask Him honestly and are willing to follow His direction. Better and more accurate than any human-made smart device connected to the Internet!
So what do we do this Christmas? We do what we do everywhere and every day: we become Jesus to all those around us.
We greet and bless people like Jesus would. We do all our work, chores and duties to the best of our ability, just like Jesus would. We face our unfavourite relatives and work colleagues like Jesus would; with His love (which makes it much easer than us trying to love them by ourselves). We seriously smile, laugh wholeheartedly, joke cleanly, and treat all people as our honoured guests. That’s not letting anyone walk over us like a doormat of course, but projecting the unshakable and unyielding love that God has for us out into the world – true light.
Do we preach, persuade and condemn evil? Maybe, but only through the Holy Spirit and always in love and grace, never with condemnation of people – just gentle admonishments and encouragement towards God. Allow Him to convict people and be there to pray for them.
People today are starving for genuine role models of good and life: be that, in Christ. Be a spotlight of His love highlighting Him to all people around you; they will see Him when they are ready, but to start with they will take inspiration from your example. Salt and light we are, and salt and light is so very needed in today’s unanchored confused and angry communities.
“Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
(Psalm 37:3-4 NIV)
Here’s an idea: read the whole of Psalm 37 each morning this December. Read it slowly, take in each verse or stanza and digest it in your mind, soul and spirit. Ask the Lord to rest His grace on you and ask Him to speak through you – surrender yourself to Him each day to testify of His love in everything you do and say. Howzat?!
May His peace which passes all understanding be with you this Christmas and into the following years to come.
PRAY FOR SWEDEN
(by Bengt Sjöberg)
Sweden is often described as a secularized country where Christian faith is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The traditional free church communities also have some problems in reaching out, and the free church as a whole is now slowly shrinking.
There are positive examples also:
- People gather for prayer in many places. Several gang criminals have accepted Jesus and share their faith openly among their friends, in tent campaigns, visits to youth prisons, etc.
- A growing number of New Age and occult groups have experienced the power of deliverance through salvation.
- Many ethnic churches have been started, reaching out to their fellow countrymen but also winning ethnic Swedes to accept Jesus.
We pray that the enthusiasm and commitment of these immigrant churches will spread to Swedish churches and that ways will be found to work together to win Sweden for Christ.
Many Christian churches spend a lot of time on LGBT issues. The state and municipalities are pushing for homosexuals to be married in churches, otherwise subsidies will be cut. Pray for more focus on winning people for God and leading them into a Godly relationship.
In 2023 there have been many shootings and murders between different drug networks. There is one murder a day plus shootings and explosions.
- That the rising spiral of violence can be broken and that people in the criminal networks are saved and transformed by the power of God.
- For wisdom, courage and action for the Government, the Parliament, police and other authorities for wisdom to make the right decisions.
- For churches around the country, that Christians go out with the gospel of Jesus and in different ways constitute a positive presence on the streets and squares. Pray for vulnerable areas. We pray for churches starting up in these marginalized areas.
Pray for Christian media, publisher, pray for a film producer who is working on a movie about a gang leader who has been saved and is now preaching the Gospel in schools and institutions.
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)
The Lord’s Timing
(by Lee-Anne Byrne)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.”
(Proverbs 3:5-7 NIV)
Gods timing and purpose is such a mystery. In my life, many things have happened that I cannot fathom.
I do find sometimes it’s clear when the Lord lays his hands on a project I’m doing and miracles can happen. A sweet thing it is to have a project blessed by the Lord. I often do sand art stories and collaborations, for weddings, churches, launches or conferences. These can be performed on stage, or just videos. When a timely project falls in my lap from a strange lot of connections, where so many things have to line up to go right, it’s not just coincidence but by the Lord’s design.
Recently, a project literally fell out of the sky from a brother in Christ, a songwriter and performer I have known since I was 13. I did think about the design for a month or so.
There were so many options for producing the design in the medium I use to create with, but I can’t believe it came together in just one/two hour takes. Normally, I would need to film a number of times as well. Many things in my life have had to come together to produce this art piece including my surviving a rare and very deadly cancer and escaping domestic violence.
Sometimes things I do feel really forced and difficult. At those times I wonder … did I seek the Lord enough before accepting the project? Some come easily some don’t. Behind it all is a God who is a designer and creator mastermind with us as his hands.
We who are flawed compared to our God with an extremely limited idea of what we are doing and how to do it. Our projects are so meagre and meaningless compared to God’s projects and the scale of his plans … maybe it doesn’t matter if they don’t all flow or turn out perfectly.
I feel it’s all about the Lord working on us to re-design our character or sculpt us gently. To let us have free will where we may fail. He teaches us without force, but with the end result to prepare our soul for eternity.
I do believe God uses his saints to improve the world, wasting nothing in our earthly life. No experience we go through is useless.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
(Romans 8:28 NIV)
This eternity we are hoping for sounds like it will be a much more complex fourth, fifth or six dimensional world, physical and spiritual. This eternal kingdom is where we will reign with Him as his heirs who are made in the image of our glorious creator.
I really love it when He takes the reins and everything just flows here on this earth, it’s a pure joy.
Here is a Christmas blessing to all the prayer saints and warriors.
Christmas is Here Again, Mirusia and Lee-Anne Byrne Sand Art on YouTube
Pray for Sport and Recreation
(by Bjorn & Lilian Schmid)
Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
(Psalm 96:1-3 NIV)
- Declare that Christ Jesus is the only Lord and King over the Sphere of Sport and Recreation.
- Pray that He is glorified in and through all sport and recreation activities, and that all anti-God actions are exposed and defeated.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
(Psalm 96:4-6 NIV)
- Pray for people working in the Sphere of Sport and Recreation: participants, trainers and coaches, equippers and catering, event and activity designers and organisers, agents and publicists, those in administration, governance, regulation and security, and for chaplains.
- Pray especially for those in the public eye; that they come to understand that they are just human and not gods – all fame is fleeting and will pass.
- Pray also against corruption and fixing of events; against dishonesty for personal gain – pray those involved in this come into a fear of God, repent, and are reconciled to God.
- Pray for the protection, strengthening and encouragement of Christian chaplains and their families.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.
(Psalm 96:7-10 NIV)
- Pray for the departments and portfolios in your local, state and federal/national governments that support, regulate and finance sport and recreation.
- Pray for other government and non-government bodies that manage, support and fund sport and recreation groups and activities.
- Pray that these governing bodies will maintain policies of fair opportunity for people of different faiths and backgrounds, not allowing or encouraging bias or prejudice to flourish – pray for them to unashamedly take on God’s principles as written in the Bible as their official guidelines.
- Pray that Christian chaplains will have favour with all sport and recreation authorities to minister Jesus unhindered to all people in all places and venues.
- Pray for the establishment and maintenance of public thanks and prayer to God at the start of public and private meetings of all governing bodies.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
(Psalm 96:11-13 NIV)
- Pray that God raises Christians in the Sphere of Sports and Recreation to become key gatekeepers in the sphere, and to be open witnesses of His love for all people.
- Pray that all events will open first by glorifying God and giving Him thanks for His grace and mercy, and that all participants, staff and viewers will be touched by the Holy Spirit.
- Worship the Lord and shout His names to silence the darkness being attempted by the enemy of God in this Sphere – HALLELUJAH!!!