Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

When we stop to really think about the Christmas story, it is quite incredible. Jesus, a king, left His perfect throne in heaven to come to Earth as a baby in order to ultimately save us from death and eternal separation from God. He left His kingly crown FOR ME. And when it was time for Him to be born, he wasn’t even born in a palace or even a modest home, he was born in a BARN or more likely, a cave, and put in a manger, a trough!

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

Talk about humility. God took on human form, humbling Himself, becoming like men even though he was fully God, so that He could grow up and taste death for everyone.

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

Paul challenges us in his letter to the Philippians to have this same humility.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil 2:5-8

Jesus obeyed God even to the point of death. Paul’s letter goes on to exhort us to all things without grumbling or complaining. I know I fall short of that on a regular basis. Jesus is our example. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death. In comparison, we don’t have much to grumble about…

This beautiful Christmas carol tells the story well. After each verse we have the opportunity to confirm our willingness for the Lord to dwell in us: “O come to my heart Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for Thee.” In the last verse we see what we can look forward to in glory: God’s voice calling us home saying “There is room at My side for thee.”

Together, let’s live with the humility of Christ as we look forward to His victorious coming.

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne
Words by Emily E. Elliott

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

When the heav’ns shall ring, and her choirs shall sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Day of Redemption

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." Luke 2:8-15

As we continue to wait for Jesus’ return to Earth, we can only imagine what it must have been like for the people to realize their Deliverer had finally come. As we see from the account in the Gospel of Luke, the shepherds were surprised to see the angels that night. They got the news from the angels and went straight to Bethlehem to see this new King who didn’t come in the form they were expecting: He came as a baby, a gentle, tender baby who was resting on a pillow of hay when the shepherds came to worship.

Their day of redemption had come! Christ, who came into the world to save it, was born and the Earth rejoiced. As this hymn says, earth’s darkness is gone! The prophecy from Isaiah had come to fruition.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. Isaiah 9:2

Jesus truly brought Light to the world. He is the True Light.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. John 1:9

Hail! Hail! Day of Redemption! Jesus’ birth and death saves us from our life of sin and makes us His children. We are adopted as sons, hallelujah!

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5

Day of Redemption
Words by Flora Kirkland

The day of redemption hath come with a song—
The song of redemption from sin so strong.
The angels first chanted it over a hill;
As Christmas returneth it echoes still.

Hail! Hail! day of redemption!
Hark the angel chorus rings!
Hail! Hail! day of redemption!
Bow before the King of kings!

Redemption most wonderful! Gift from the sky,
Redeemer most gentle, so low to lie!
O herald so glorious sent from above,
To speak to the shepherds of God’s great love.

O marvel of tenderness! Marvel of light!
The King from the glory, so wondrous bright!
Is resting all quietly, pillowed on hay,
And gone is earth’s darkness! Behold! ’tis day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wake, Awake for Night is Flying

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. I Thess., 5:1-2

Wake, Awake! The bridegroom is here! Don’t you look forward to that day, when we’ll hear that call, and arise to meet Christ, our bridegroom? This wonderful Advent hymn helps us look forward to that day, when we, with the choir immortal, will gather round His dazzling throne.

In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus reminds us that we don’t know the day nor the hour of our Lord’s returning. Through this story, He tells us to be ready: to have our lamps trimmed and oil with us, so we will be ready to meet Christ. In the story, five of the virgins forgot to bring oil. They had to go buy some, and by the time they got back, the bridegroom had come, and taken those who were ready into the wedding feast, and SHUT THE DOOR. The five who weren’t ready did not get in.

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.

Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.

The foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the prudent answered, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
Matthew 25:1-13

Awake, Jerusalem, at last! Will you be ready when Jesus comes again?

"There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Luke 21:25-28

Straighten up, lift up your heads, your redemption is drawing near! That is great news. I am looking forward to that day when we will rise from our gloom and see our Lord come down all glorious, in truth victorious. Come, Lord Jesus!

Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying
Words by Philipp Nicolai
Translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth

Wake, awake, for night is flying;
The watchmen on the heights are crying:
Awake, Jerusalem, at last!
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices;
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past;
The Bridegroom comes, awake;
Your lamps with gladness take;
Alleluia! And for His marriage feast prepare
For ye must go and meet Him there.

Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Lord comes down all glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious.
Her Star is risen, her Light is come.
Ah come, Thou blessed One, God’s own beloved Son:
Alleluia! We follow till the halls we see
Where Thou hast bid us sup with Thee.

Now let all the heavens adore Thee,
And saints and angels sing before Thee,
With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone;
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where we are with the choir immortal
Of angels round Thy dazzling throne;
Nor eye hath seen, nor ear hath yet attained to hear
What there is ours, but we rejoice and sing to Thee
Our hymn of joy eternally.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Beauty of Praise

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. Psalm 30:4

Briggie urges us to Praise God in all circumstances.

I write about how we have so many reasons to praise.

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

We have so many reasons to praise! God, our Savior, Redeemer and Friend, the King of Heaven is worthy of our praise. This hymn just starts to scratch the surface of the many reasons we have to praise the Lord.

Through Christ’s work on the cross, you are ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven.

…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. I Peter 2:24

So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. Matthew 15:31

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

God has shown great grace and favor to our ancestors, and to us. He certainly is slow to chide and quick to bless.

But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Psalm 86:15

Need another reason? God is glorious in faithfulness.

For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

He saved us not according to what we have done, but according to His wide mercy.

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:5-6

We are born, live, die. We are fickle, we change our minds. God does not. He stays the same. I praise Him for that. I praise Him that the same God who made a covenant with Abraham, who chose David as the King of Israel, who met Saul on the road to Damascus, is the same God who relates to me! He does not change.

For I, the LORD, do not change. Malachi 3:6

We certainly have a lot to praise God for. I hope you will join me in praising Him today.

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
Words by Henry F. Lyte

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

Angels, help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Carnival of Beauty

It's my turn to host again, and the theme this week is the beauty of praise. Please submit your entries to carnival.of.beauty@gmail.com by Thursday midnight your time.

For more information on the Carnival of Beauty, see Amanda at Following an Unknown Path.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Words by Charles Wesley

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season where we remember Jesus and His coming to earth as a baby. For many, many years, the Jews had waited for their Messiah, the One who would set them free from their fears and sins. The Law couldn’t do that. The Law, and the sacrifices associated with the Law, could never set them free, it only reminded them of their sin.

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. Hebrews 10:1-3

They needed a Savior, the Hope of all the earth, to redeem them and deliver them from their life in the Law. Jesus was this Savior! He was born to deliver God’s people, born just like you and me, but without sin. Can you imagine what the shepherds must have thought when the angel came to tell them that the Savior they had been waiting for was finally here? And not only that, he was a BABY! In a manger of all places!

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:8-12

Jesus was the long expected Savior born those many years ago. And just as in the Advent season we reflect upon Christ coming to earth as a baby to grow up to save His people through His death on the cross, we now await His second return to earth. Some day, soon I hope, He will come to bring those who have believed in Him home with Him, to live with Him forever. Jesus Himself promised this when He was here on this earth.

"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
John 14:2-3

That day is coming when Christ will bring His kingdom and raise us to His glorious throne. Are you ready?