Monday, December 22, 2008

See, Amid the Winter's Snow

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.
Philippians 2:5-8

In just a few days, we will celebrate the coming of the Lamb who had been promised to His people for many, many years. The way He came was a surprise to many. Amid the winter’s snow, He was born in a barn, and placed in a feeding trough. Those waiting for their Messiah would have never expected it. But God had the perfect plan.

God sent a baby – Jesus – who loved those in the world so tenderly that He was willing to become human and leave the bliss of heaven in exchange for a brief human life in this world of sin.

Jesus is the answer to this world of sin. His work on the cross paid the price for all sin, for all time. This was God’s plan, and Jesus submitted to the Father’s will. Jesus, being fully God, obeyed His Father and submitted to His will in taking the form of a servant and being obedient even to death on a cross. The final verse of this hymn is my prayer: Holy child, teach us to resemble Thee, in Thy sweet humility.

In this season, may we seek after Him, humble ourselves, and commit ourselves anew to obedience to God.

See Amid the Winter’s Snow
Words by Edward Caswall

See amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on earth below,
See, the gentle Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.

Hail that ever blessed morn,
Hail redemption’s happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem:
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies
He Who built the starry skies;
He Who, throned in height sublime,
Sits amid the cherubim.

Say, you holy shepherds, say,
Tell your joyful news today.
Why have you now left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?

“As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light;
Angels singing ‘Peace on earth’
Told us of the Savior’s birth.”

Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.

Teach, O teach us, holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All Praise to Thee, Eternal Lord

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. II Corinthians 8:9

This Christmas hymn written by Martin Luther beautifully contrasts Jesus’ deity and humanity. I find the words of this hymn especially poignant as we contemplate the God of the Universe becoming a man of flesh and dwelling among us; fully God and fully man.

Jesus chose a manger for His throne.

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

This is the same Jesus through whom the world was created.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. John 1:10

A manger became the throne for the One who owns the world and everything in it.

The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. Psalm 24:1

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. I Chronicles 29:11

Jesus entered the world just like every other human does; as a baby. The One whom the heavens bowed before became a helpless infant. He entered the world in the darkness of night to bring light to the world that was dark because of sin. He came

to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. Acts 26:18

Jesus did all this because of His love for us!

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

What is our response? To sing our thanks in ceaseless praise.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. Psalm 30:11-12

All Praise to Thee, Eternal Lord
Words by Martin Luther

All praise to Thee, Eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for Thy throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.

Once did the skies before Thee bow;
A virgin’s arms contain Thee now,
While angels, who in Thee rejoice,
Now listen for Thine infant voice.

A little Child, Thou art our Guest,
That weary ones in Thee may rest;
Forlorn and lowly is Thy birth;
That we may rise to Heaven from earth.

Thou comest in the darksome night
To make us children of the light;
To make us, in the realms divine,
Like Thine own angels round Thee shine.

All this for us Thy love hath done;
By this to Thee our love is won;
For this we tune our cheerful lays,
And sing our thanks in ceaseless praise.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Send the Light

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

As we look forward to Christ’s second advent, we must think about what we can do to hasten His coming. We don’t know exactly when it will be, but we do know what Jesus taught about what must happen before He comes again.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:3-14

Did you catch it? Here it is again:

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 2:14

Jesus will not come again until the gospel has been preached in the whole world. So what are we doing to hasten His coming? Peter instructs us that we should be both looking for and hastening that day.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! II Peter 3:10-12

George Ladd, in A Motive for Mission, implores all Christians to accomplish our mission of taking Christ’s name into all the world, so that Christ will return and establish His kingdom in glory. He says,

"Christ has not returned, therefore the task is not done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms of our task; our responsibility is to complete it. So long as Christ does not return, our work is not done. Let us get busy and complete our mission… Do you love the Lord’s appearing? Then you will bend every effort to take the gospel into all the world."

Not all of us are called to go to foreign nations to preach the gospel. Those of us who don’t go have two important roles: provide and pray. Most of us can financially support those who do go to preach the gospel in every nation. All of us can fast and pray. We must pray for those who are preaching the Word in far off, or close by lands, and we must pray for God’s kingdom to come.

In less than two weeks we will celebrate the light that came into the world to enlighten every man. That light must be sent out: to every tribe and nation, that they might know God who became flesh, who came that we might no longer walk in darkness. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life. John 8:12

Send the Light
Words by Charles H. Gabriel

There’s a call comes ringing over the restless wave,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
There are souls to rescue there are souls to save,
Send the light! Send the light!

Send the light, the blessed Gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light, the blessed Gospel light;
Let it shine forevermore!

We have heard the Macedonian call today,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
And a golden offering at the cross we lay,
Send the light! Send the light!

Let us pray that grace may everywhere abound,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
And a Christlike spirit everywhere be found,
Send the light! Send the light!

Let us not grow weary in the work of love,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
Let us gather jewels for a crown above,
Send the light! Send the light!