Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Child of Promise

The voice of the Father thundered from the throne:

"Today is the day of salvation! Today is the day of my favor!"

A shout of praise erupted in the throne room that shook the very foundations of heaven. Gabriel remembered His mission to the young Galilean girl. What an honor it had been to deliver such a message!

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!...The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:31-33; 35)

There was so much anticipation wrapped up in this day.

As one who was privileged to stand in the presence of God, Gabriel had come to understand how much the Father loved His children on the earth. His attention was often turned toward them, His eyes searching the world, looking for those whose hearts were fully committed to Him. He had masterfully formed them with His hands, imprinted them with His image, and breathed His breath into them to give them life.

To see them suffering in their fallen state was heartbreaking to Him. They had turned from Him countless times, followed their own ways, forgotten how He had rescued them time and time again. They had run after other 'gods', not listened to His voice. Oh, how they had pierced themselves with many griefs! Despite their wickedness, and despite all of the ways that they had hurt Him, His heart was set on loving them, and that love would endure forever. If only they understood how much He loved them.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, He had spoken to His people through the prophets, but in these last days He would speak to them through His Son. For God in all His fullness was pleased to dwell in Christ, and through Him, God would reconcile everything to Himself. Yes, Jesus would be the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, the visible image of the invisible God to a world full of orphans, alienated from their Father.

Today was the day that Jesus, the God-man, would draw His first breath on earth and set in motion God's mysterious plan of redemption and salvation. It was not the will of the Father that any of His little ones should perish. He longed to give them eternal life, and that life was found in knowing Him, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He had sent.

It was time.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said.

"I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God and saying, "Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased." (Luke 2:8-14)

Gabriel and the host of heaven returned to the Father rejoicing. What a celebration filled the heavens! The Father lifted His voice and proclaimed:

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Today a child has been born, a son given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end!"

"Indeed, I will put My Spirit upon Him, and anoint Him to bring Good News to the poor. I have sent Him to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come!"

What Good News! The angels sang and rejoiced, giving praise and glory to God: "Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings! Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth! Glory to the newborn King! Glory to the newborn King!"

As Mary gazed into the eyes of her baby she remembered all that Gabriel had spoken to her regarding the child, and she treasured these things in her heart.

Jonathan McGraw

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pete's Update

About six months I, along with a team from Pensacola, Florida, visited a beaten and battered people tucked away in the jungles of Southeast India. They had endured persecution at the hands of their radical Hindu neighbors. They suffered the destruction of some of their homes and the taking of much of their lands. They walked great distances for the water they needed to survive since they were not allowed to use the Hindu well a few steps away. These issues however, were not the primary source of their defeated condition.

As we met and talked with them the root of their downcast spirit was revealed. They told us, “We are Peter.” They held on to this identity because in order to spare their lives and the lives of their children they had denied Jesus when confronted by angry Hindu mobs.

I don’t know if I ever enjoyed bringing the good news of the kingdom more than I did that day. We shared with them that in fact they could claim Peter as their identity in Christ. I also reminded them that 40 days after Peter denied Jesus he preached at Pentecost and we are told thousands were saved. The application was also clear as I reminded them to embrace this part of their identity as well. I told them it had been 15 months since their failure and it was past time to move on and engage, like Peter, what God had in front of them.

They seemed overjoyed by this news and even relieved. Maybe you have experienced the joy and relief of no longer being identified by your failures but by what God was doing in you instead. Still, I wondered as I flew back into India this time what we would find in this remote village. As we trudged 8 miles up the mountain to see them I was excited to see what God had done.

As we gathered the believers for worship and to feast on fresh pig, the atmosphere was much lighter than in our previous visit. As we worshiped I marveled at the fulfillment of their prophetic identity with Peter. It was now much more complete. I realized sitting in a church that had doubled in size over the last 6 months it seemed they too had been preaching and displaying the Gospel of the kingdom in their region. This proclamation, like Peters', had resulted in many being aded to their numbers. Currently, In that small village, the believers outnumber the Hindus and the resulting change is palpable.

It’s so like the enemy to bombard our minds with reminders of our failure in an effort to frustrate and even halt the destiny we have in front of us. I’m thinking this happens not only in obscure villages in India, but maybe even here in the United States. As we wage war for the nations, and even for our own nation, maybe it’s good to know that the primary battleground is in the mind.