Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Faith is the Victory

In Revelation, we see what will happen after Jesus’ second coming, when God tabernacles, or dwells, among men.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”
Revelation 21:1-7

Who will inherit these amazing and wonderful things including no death, no crying, and no pain? God will be dwelling among these people - those who overcome. What does it mean to be one who overcomes?

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? I John 5:4-5

If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you have overcome! Your faith has overcome the world, -- and that is victory!

Besides everything mentioned in Revelation 21, those who have overcome have a lot more to look forward to, as they will:

Eat from the tree of life.

To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.
Rev. 2:7

Be spared from the second death.

He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. Re. 2:11

Receive a new name.

To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. Rev. 2:17

Be given authority over the nations.

He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS. Rev. 2:26

Be clothed in white garments.
Find their names in the book of life.

Have their names confessed before the Father and His angels.

He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Rev. 3:5

Be made a pillar in the temple of God.

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. Rev. 3:12

And last, but certainly not least, those who overcome will sit down with Jesus on His throne, just as He overcame and sat down with His father on His throne.

He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Rev. 3:21

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world! We are more than conquerors in Jesus’ name. Join me in praising God for His grace that makes us overcomers!

Faith is the Victory
Words by John H. Yates

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array.
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.

To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in Heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.

Friday, January 25, 2008

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
S. Trevor Francis

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

I love this hymn for the picture it paints in my mind - floating in a sea of God's love. His love is all around us, as if a current of water. It is vast, unmeasured, boundless, free. I want to love like that!

As I was listening Proclaim this morning on the radio, I started thinking about how I can love more like Jesus. On the program, Dr. Easley has been preaching through Romans, and today was a review of chapters 5-8. One word provided the answer to how, in my life, I can manifest His love toward others. Demonstrate.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

There is a lot of theology in that one short verse, but I got really hung up on the “demonstrates.” It wasn’t enough that God said He loved us, instead He showed that love by sending His Son to the cross on our behalf. He proved it through the sacrifice of Jesus. As this hymn says, He died to call each one of us His own.

So then I started thinking about my own life. How do I demonstrate love to the people around me? Do I say I love someone but my actions show otherwise? I don’t want my words to be empty. I want my life to demonstrate love - my own, and Christ’s love through me, to those around me. We are called to love one another. Indeed, one of our distinguishing marks as Christians should be our recognizable love for those around us.

Father, help me to love as you love, not just with words but with my actions. Pour your love through my heart and enable me to demonstrate my love for others, so that they will see You through me.

This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
I John 3:23

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Only Believe

Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Mark 11:23

Do you have mountains in your life that need to be cast into the sea? As this hymn says, all power in earth and above is given to Him who went to the cross for His own. He has the power to change things that seem unchangeable – and we must only believe.

For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37

This was the angel of the Lord’s response when Mary asked how it would be that she would bear a child. It was true in her circumstance and it remains true in our lives. This same promise is repeated several times in Scripture. Nothing is impossible with God. It has become a mantra in my own life when it seems like my situation is insurmountable.

With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

God has selected the paths that each one of us treads. He goes before us, and enters all the rooms, even when we believe the doors are already shut. Best of all, He never, never forsakes us. He is never gone.

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6

God can do the impossible. Whatever our lot, we are not to fear. We must only believe. Today, I cry out with the apostles,

“Lord, increase my faith!” Luke 17:5

Only Believe
Words by Paul Rader

Fear not, little flock, from the cross to the throne,
From death into life He went for His own;
All power in earth, all power above,
Is given to Him for the flock of His love.

Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe,
Only believe, only believe;
All things are possible, only believe.

Fear not, little flock, He goeth ahead,
Your Shepherd selecteth the path you must tread;
The waters of Marah He’ll sweeten for thee,
He drank all the bitter in Gethsemane.

Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot,
He enters all rooms, “the doors being shut,”
He never forsakes; He never is gone,
So count on His presence in darkness and dawn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

For the LORD is a great God and a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Psalm 95:3-7

As I concentrate on worship in this New Year, this hymn springs immediately to mind. All the plants and flowers below make His glories known! What an awesome creator we have. We certainly have much to sing about His power!

In Job 38, we get a glimpse of God’s power as He shows Job that He is God and Job is not. Think about all these examples and how they portray God’s mighty power in creation and in our lives.

Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?

Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of distress, for the day of war and battle?

Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over the earth?

Who has put wisdom in the innermost being or given understanding to the mind?

Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens and lie in wait in their lair?

Who prepares for the raven its nourishment when its young cry to God and wander about without food?

We have a mighty God who created our beautiful world, commands the sun and the moon, rules over the stars, created everything that has life on this Earth, and provides food for His creatures and His people. AND, to top it all off, everything that He created is in His care! His wonders, too many to count, are displayed wherever we turn.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count. Psalm 40:5

God in His mighty power is present anywhere that we can be. Isn’t that reassuring?

Where can I go from Your Spirit or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. Psalm 129:7-10

Today I praise God for His mighty power. And I thank Him for my mother-in-law, who, in her service of the King, leads people each week in singing the mighty power of God. Happy Birthday Mom S.! You are loved.

I Sing the Mighty Power of God
Words by Isaac Watts

I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! Psalm 150:6

My friend told me about a recent radio show. People were calling in with their resolutions. My friend told me her favorite one, and I knew I needed to adopt it immediately as my resolution.

Less whining. More worship.

The interesting thing is that more worship certainly leads to less whining. If you’re worshiping, praising God, you can’t be simultaneously whining or complaining. So I have purposed to do more praising, more worshiping, and therefore less whining.

As I heard this hymn on the radio yesterday, I knew that it would be a perfect example for writing about this “resolution.” This version contains more verses than in a typical church hymnal – more verses show us more reasons (as if we need more!) to praise our God.

He is your health and your salvation.

The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14

He shelters you under His wings.

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:1

Your desires will be granted in what He ordains.

The LORD sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. Psalm 145:14-19

He has made you: You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14

His goodness and mercy attend you every day of your life.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6

He sheds light on the darkness of sin.

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” John 12:46

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. I John 1:5

That’s certainly a good list – many, many reasons to praise and worship.

In addition to all of that, there is one phrase in this hymn that stood out to me more than it ever has when I heard it yesterday, and I have heard and sung this song countless times!

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with His love He befriend thee

Ponder anew. Think about it again. If God did what He did (sending His son as the ransom for our lives) because He loved us, what else can and will He do for us? More than we could ever ask or think.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Ephesians 3:20-21


Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
Words by Joachim Neander
Translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

God Leads Us Along

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. II Cor. 2:14

I became familiar with this hymn when it was sung at my paternal grandfather’s funeral, 25 years ago. When I heard it at 10 years old, I didn’t have the life experience to know what comfort and encouragement I would find in this hymn as I totally rely on God’s leading in my life, even as He leads through the waters and the flood.

This hymn reminds me of one of my favorite promises in Scripture, when God promises His people that although they may suffer, He will not allow them to be overcome by the waters or the fire.

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3

I love imagining God saying this TO ME, and hearing Him say “I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Our God, our Creator, promises us that we will not be overcome by our trials. He will be with us! For He is the Lord our God!

Ginny Owens, a contemporary Christian artist, wrote these words in her song, “If You Want Me To.” They provide another great look into how God will lead us along, even in the midst of difficulty.

The pathway is broken
And the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why you brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I will go through the valley
If You want me to

Now I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise
You're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
I will go through the fire
If You want me to

We can walk through these times as God calls us to, because He has called us to, and because we have assurance that He is in control. He is using these times in our lives to further refine and sanctify us, making us into the image of His son. Because of this, we can have a song in our night – even if that night is a season in our life and not just a 8-12 hour period. God will give us a song, and we can rejoice because of His promise.

The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night. Psalm 42:8

God Leads Us Along
Words by George A. Young

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.