Sunday, November 30, 2008

Little Children, Advent Bids You

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. As we wait to celebrate His first coming, we also look forward to when He will come again to take us home with Him.

Although we don’t know exactly when, we can be assured that He is coming back for us for Jesus said so while He was here on 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

The Scriptures tell us that we won’t know when that will be – it could be night or day, soon or later.

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 Thessalonians 5:1-2

We know that He is coming, but we don't know the day or time. Jesus taught that it is our responsibility to be ready! Jesus told this parable in Matthew 25. We must be on the alert, and ready for His return.

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

When we go to our heavenly home, we can look forward to falling before Him and singing His praises, loving Him, serving Him and adoring Him. I know I look forward to that day!

And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever Amen." Revelation 7:11-12

Little Children, Advent Bids You
Words by Esther Wiglesworth

Little children, Advent bids you
Meet your Lord upon His way;
Watch, for now the night is waning,
Soon will dawn the endless day.

Little children, Jesus bids you
Daily pray, “Thy kingdom come”;
Watch, and wait for His appearing,
Till He come to take you home.

Little children, He anoints you
With His spirit from above;
See then that your lamps be burning
With the fire of faith and love.

Little children, when we think not
We shall hear the awful cry,
“Go ye forth to meet the Bridegroom;
Haste, for Jesus draweth nigh.”

Little children, they shall meet Him,
Faithful children of the light;
They whose lamps are trimmed and burning,
And their garments pure and white.

O how blest to fall before Him,
O how blest His praise to sing.
Love Him, serve Him, and adore Him,
In the city of our King.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Now Thank we All our God

… be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I know I have much to be thankful for, the greatest of which is a Savior who loves and sustains me. Although tomorrow is a day set aside to be thankful, as Christians, is it our calling to be thankful in all things. There is no shortage of scriptures exhorting us to give thanks to God.

…always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father... Ephesians 5:20

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18

In everything give thanks. Everything. In plenty, in want, in happiness, in sorrow, in sickness, in health, in suffering, in joy. Give thanks.

The author of this hymn, a pastor in Saxony, knew about giving thanks in all things. This hymn was written during the Thirty Years’ War, circa 1636. His city was surrounded by the Swedish army, and plague and famine were rampant. At one point, he was conducting 50 funerals each day. When the Swedish demanded a huge ransom, Pastor Rinkart left the safety of the city walls to plead with them for mercy. The Swed­ish command­er, im­pressed by the pastor’s faith and cour­age, low­ered his de­mands. Soon af­ter­ward, the war end­ed.

It is a test­a­ment to Pastor Rinkart’s faith that, af­ter such mis­e­ry, he was able to write a hymn of abid­ing trust and gra­ti­tude to­ward God.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

Hebrews 13:15

Happy Thanksgiving! May you join with the angels in saying

"Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Revelation 7:12

Now Thank we All our God
Words by Martin Rinkart

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

O Worship the King

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 95:6-7

When you are in the midst of suffering, when you are mistreated and in pain, the best way to react is by getting your eyes off your situation, and focusing on Christ.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2

This is not easy. But it is necessary. We are to be looking to Jesus as our example, and turning to Him for grace and strength.

I find the quickest way to get my eyes off myself and onto Jesus is by worshiping Him. While we are living here on earth, we have countless opportunities every day to focus on God and give Him glory through worship. And we look forward to the day when we will be with Him in heaven, and our days and nights will consist of endless worship. He is worthy!

And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." Revelation 4:9-11

O Worship the King
Words by William Kethe

O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grace, Enough for Me

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. II Corinthians 12:19

When the Savior leads you through trials and suffering, you must remember that you have a place to run to – the throne of grace.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

When you run to the throne of grace and appropriate His grace in your time of need, you are a shining example of the reality of God’s grace and His sufficiency. When others see you go through a trial and yet trust God’s purposes, they see the reality of Christ!

Your trials are not without purpose!

And they will not destroy you. They can become your platform for the reality of Christ and His all-sufficient grace.

Paul is a great example of this – God used his sufferings to spread His grace to others.

For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you…For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. II Cor. 4:11-12, 15

God’s grace takes us through our suffering. Because of that, we can say with Paul,

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
II Cor. 4:7-10

God’s grace saves us, sustains us, and is sufficient in every need and every trial. His grace is enough for me.

Grace, Enough for me
Words by Edwin Excell

In looking through my tears one day,
I saw Mount Calvary;
Beneath the cross there flowed a stream
Of grace, enough for me.

Grace is flowing from Calvary,
Grace as fathomless as the sea,
Grace for time and eternity,
Grace, enough for me.

While standing there, my trembling heart,
Once full of agony,
Could scarce believe the sight I saw
Of grace, enough for me.

When I beheld my every sin
Nailed to the cruel tree,
I felt a flood go through my soul
Of grace, enough for me.

When I am safe within the veil,
My portion there will be,
To sing through all the years to come
Of grace, enough for me.

Friday, November 7, 2008

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

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 Corinthians 2:14

I’ve been singing this song in my head a lot lately. I find such comfort in the fact that whatever befalls me, I know that my Savior has led me there, and has a purpose for it in my life. If you are walking through the water, flood or fire, you can be assured that it is He who leads you.

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 43:2-3

He leads us in paths of righteousness in order to bring glory to Himself. If you are His child, He is using this path to refine you, and make you into the image of His son so that He will receive the glory and praise.

He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Psalm 23:3

If he is guiding you a down a path that is full of trials and suffering, you can be assured that it is temporary and limited to this lifetime.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I Peter 1:6-7

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18

As God leads us along, may we have the same attitude as Paul - being willing to suffer the loss of all things for His name, and desiring to identify with Christ through His suffering.

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11

All the Way My Savior Leads Me
Words by Fanny Crosby

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.