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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Not just a merry, but a deeply "Mary" Christmas

mangerscene.jpgDear Friends of Wales Awakening:

It seems hard to believe that suddenly Christmas is upon us once again, but here we are already. And as the pace and pressure of the secularized commercial holiday build up all around us, it's nice to step back from it all and enjoy a historic viewpoint from a much simpler time 2000 years ago.

There was nothing to distract from the pure adoration of God's inconceivable gift of grace and salvation in the baby Lord Jesus. The expressions of wonder in this painting are quite touching. And although they couldn't grasp the massive impact this event would have on humankind, they are totally entranced by the sublimity of the moment.

Mary's heart no doubt is overwhelmed with wonder and astonishment as the words of the angel come flooding back to mind. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." as we read in Luke 1:32-33.

It is no surprise then, when after visiting her cousin Elizabeth months later, from an overflowing heart Mary burst into her wonderful song in verses 46 onwards. maryandelizabeth.jpg"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior... for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name... His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation... He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts... He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors."

Then just six weeks later Joseph and Mary take their son to the temple for the rites of purification and sacrifice. And Mary's heart is once again embroiled december17sunrise.jpgwith the words of Simeon in Luke 2:34-35, "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Throughout the ensuing centuries, it has been far more than Mary's heart and soul that have been pierced through. And so it will be until the day of His coming again. As it says in the Revelation of John 1:7, "'Look, he is coming with the clouds,'and 'every eye will see him, even those who pierced him'; and all peoples on earth 'will mourn because of him.'"

Our prayer for this Christmas time is that our own souls be pierced by the magnitude of Christ's coming. And especially we pray for the unsaved whose own sins also pierced the Savior. We pray that they will be enabled to mourn through conviction as the thoughts of their hearts are revealed, to rejoice in salvation, and to cry out with Mary, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior... for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.'"

May you have a blessed and deeply meaningful Christmas with your families and loved ones,

Dick & Gladys


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The surprise of snow, and the call to come clean...

december17snowsunrise.jpgDear Friends and Prayers:

After a delightfully unexpected snowfall over the weekend, I went out for a ramble yesterday morning before it melted off. My love for winter's cold and snow from my long-ago younger years has never left me. So when the rare opportunity presents itself for snowy adventure, I just can't stay indoors.

In the middle of a hilltop field I watched breathtaken as the sun slowly climbed upwards behind the heavy clouds to the east. I don't recall ever having seen dome-shaped aurora like this before, and found myself in teary-eyed worshipful wonder. How great is our God, and how amazing that He lets Himself be found when we seek Him!

There is something so beautiful about the pure whiteness of freshly fallen snow. It provides such a clear picture of the Lord's words in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together,' Says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow...'" Perhaps this is what moved me to tears. This experience became a prayer for revival, that people would be impacted by God's glory, be humbled by His greatness, be brought to repentance from their godless ways and turn to Him for salvation and cleansing.

december17snow-northwales.jpgThere was such a clear sky, after chapel time and breakfast, we the short drive to the coast near Cardigan to have a look towards North Wales. They get some serious snow up there, and mountains were just glowing in the sunshine. Although they are more than 60 miles away, they were striking in their grandeur, even at that distance.

So once again we are amazed at the extraordinary privilege God has given us to live in such a remarkably beautiful land, and pray for these people who can't see beyond the natural beauty into the heart of their Creator. It is this stark contrast between the physical evidence of His goodness and the darkness of spiritual blindness which engulfs the people that constantly affects our hearts.

Just the fact of living here, constantly aware of our calling, moves us to a compassionate plea that they come to know the Good Shepherd and be able to call out, "Abba, Father." It is such a tragic and eternal waste of life when they could simply look up and turn to God.  Just as the word says in John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."

So are also so thankful for the many wonderful friends the Lord has given us here over the years. We know of course that we are never really alone, because the Lord is ever present with us. But having fellowship dec17leesNus.jpgwith like-minded saints is a constant source of strength and encouragement is we press on towards the mark set out for us here. We highly value and appreciate so many people who have taken on God's heart for Wales and are also praying for revival in this precious land.

Besides many who are native to Wales, there are many who have come here from other countries - some as close as England and others from as far away as Korea or South Africa. The section titled, "Restoration of Israel's Remnant" beginning with Zephaniah 3:9 says, "Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder." And this is the joy we know, that we serve the King of Kings shoulder to shoulder with many awesome saints. Each in their assigned place and sphere, but together in the army that God is raising up.

No matter what part of the world we are in, although we may feel like just a remnant at times, we know God's promises are for a mighty incoming harvest for His kingdom. And so, "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Dick & Gladys 


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

A supernatural lens, and a focus on Israel...

dinashead1217.jpgDear Praying Friends and Saints:

While driving over the ridge from Newport towards the Gwaun Valley this morning, this view just demanded to be captured. The variety of colors over the sea in the distance were far more than the little lens of my phone could do justice to, but perhaps you get the idea.

It seems the same thing happens when we are trying to capture the goodness and the glory of God with our limited human abilities. We can catch a far-off glimpse, but not much more. I love the portion in Job 26 when, after describing the majesty of the universe and God's almighty power, he says in verse 14, "Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?"

But then in Christ, we receive this awesome super-duper telephoto lens that enables us to see beyond what the natural eye beholds. Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17-18, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling..."

So there is this invitation from the Lord to know ever more of His glory and grace. And this too is our prayer for revival, that the eyes of the unsaved be opened to behold His glory and embrace God's offer of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus.

Last week we had the privilege of attending a small gathering at the Bible College of Wales to pray for Israel and celebrate all that God has done for prayer4israel4.jpgthe Jews. Wednesday the 29th of November marked exactly 70 years ago to the day that the United Nations passed the resolution to create the State of Israel. And much of our prayer had to do with this same desire for revelation and revival for God's chosen people, that they come to know Him as Messiah and Lord of all.

There were displays set up to help stimulate prayer in four specific areas, complete with some scripture references, and I'd like to share them here. This one was Pray for salvation of the twelve tribes of Israel. All ages, from all nations, including secular, religious, orthodox, holocaust survivors and military. Genesis 22:17, "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies." Genesis 49:28, "All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing." Exodus 28:21, "And the stones shall have the names of the sons of Israel, twelve according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, each one with its own name; they shall be according to the twelve tribes." Acts 15:31 "When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement." 1 Timothy 2:4, "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Revelation 21:12, "Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, prayer4israel1.jpgand twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel."

The next station was Pray for assimilated Jewish people in the nations. A rediscovery of their Jewish roots, and for Cyrus-like people to help them get back to Israel. Isaiah 45:3, "I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, am the God of Israel."

Another area was to Pray for Aliyah. God's promise to bring the Jewish people back to Israel and make them clean. Isaiah 35:10, "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isaiah 43:5-6, "Fear not, for I prayer4israel2.jpgam with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not keep them back!' Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth." Ezekiel 36:24-27, "For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean..." Ezekiel 37:12-14, "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel... I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land..."

What beautiful promises God has made to His people. And so as we continue to pray for revival, let's keep in mind the importance of praying for Israel as an integral part of our prayers. A key for empowering our prayers are God's words to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

What a blessing is ours to be enabled to bless others in Jesus' mighty name,

Dick & Gladys


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