Friday, December 25, 2009

What is this Fragrance

I love this old French carol that describes the "change in the atmosphere" when Jesus was born. This promised child had finally come, and the air smelled sweeter, the light shone more brightly, there was music "in the air"!

The people of Israel had been waiting SO LONG for their Messiah. He had been foretold, and they knew that God would send a King of His people.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7

But they were still surprised! Surprised that their Messiah would be born a baby in a stable, and not in a palace fit for such a Kingly entrance. And who was the first to hear? Shepherds who were out in the fields, tending their sheep.

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 2:9-12

Good news of great joy! Which will be for ALL THE PEOPLE! The Savior was born. And He could be found in a manger! The shepherds knew what they had to do - they had go and find this baby.

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." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. Luke 2:15-20

Let us praise God together today for sending His son to the earth, a tiny baby born in a manger who grew up to take our sin on Himself so that we might be saved.

Glory to God in the Highest!

What is this Fragrance
Traditional French Noel

What is this fragrance softly stealing?
Shepherds! It sets my heart a-stir!
Never was sweetness so appealing
Never were flow'rs of spring so fair!
What is this fragrance softly stealing?
Shepherds! It sets my heart a-stir!

What is this Light around us streaming?
Out of the dark with blinding ray,
Purer than Star of Morning's seeming
Showing our path as plain as day!
What is this fragrance softly stealing?
Shepherds! It sets my heart a-stir!

What is this Wonder all around us
filling the air with music light!
Shepherds! some Magic here hath found us!
Never mine ears knew such delight!
What is this fragrance softly stealing?
Shepherds! It sets my heart a-stir!

Be not afraid, O, Shepherds lowly!
Hear ye the Angel of the Lord!
Bearing a Message glad and Holy
Shedding a radiance all abroad!
What is this fragrance softly stealing?
Shepherds! It sets my heart a-stir!

There, in a Manger with His Mother,
Lieth our Saviour, Born today!
Come away Shepherds; Let none other
Hinder thy coming now away!
What is this fragrance softly stealing?
Shepherds! It sets my heart a-stir!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Come, Desire of Nations

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1

Just as Israel cried out for their King to come, we cry out for the Desire of Nations to come again to establish His Kingdom of Peace on this earth.

And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
Haggai 2:7

He will come to bind the hearts of all mankind. That is our desire, as well as Christ's. Jesus asked His Father for this as he prayed before His crucifixion.

"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." John 17:22-23

Christ's second coming be the culmination of unity - but there is a lot we can do in the meantime to live in unity with our brothers, sisters and neighbors. Paul reminds us that loving one another (easier said than done!) and acting in love towards one another will unite us.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12-14

We long for our King of Peace to come and rid us of our "sad divisions." As a believer in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwells in you, and you can have the peace that the King of Peace offers.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:26-27

Christ's peace unites us in one body with all believers.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Rejoice! The King of Peace has come. I encourage this season to pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:19

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Come, Thou Root of Jesse's Tree

Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious. Isaiah 11:10

The people of Israel were waiting for this propecy to come true - that the root of Jesse would be an ensign (a sign, a banner, a signal) of their people. That He would come as their redeemer and deliverer, and He would bring peace and justice to the nations. That their King would come and be among them.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

This would not be a normal, earthly king. Rulers would fall silent before Him, King of the nations.

Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? Indeed it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You. Jeremiah 10:7

This would be a King of mercy. A King who would restore His people.

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name." Ezekiel 39:25

A King who will draw all men to Himself.

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." John 12:32

Rejoice! God has sent a King of mercy to draw us to Himself.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Come, Great Lord of Might

Ascribe strength to God; His majesty is over Israel and His strength is in the skies. O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God! Psalm 68:34-35

I've been reading through the Old Testament during this advent season and I continue to be amazed at how God spoke to Moses, audibly. After Aaron and Miriam started questioning Moses' authoriy and why he should be the only prophet, God said,

"When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD." Numbers 12:4-8

Wow. Moses, who was reluctant to be the leader of God's people (see Exodus 4), was spoken to by God, face to face. One of the more meaningful experiences in Moses' "career" must have been meeting with the Lord on Mt. Sinai.

Now the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction." Exodus 24:12

Moses was there for forty days as the glory of the Lord rested on the mountain. Can you even imagine?

Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top. Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. Exodus 24:15-18

It was the great Lord of might who met with Moses on that mountain to give him the Law. The Law was given so that God's people would know how to live with one another, and to prepare them for their eventual Deliverer and Redeemer, the One who was coming to fulfill the Law.

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." Matthew 5:17

The fulfillment of the law included Christ's suffering death and rising again from the dead that forgiveness of sins might be proclaimed to all nations!

Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24:44-47

Rejoice! The God of might sent His son, born as a baby, to fulfill the Law of Moses.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Friday, December 18, 2009

O Come, Thou Key of David

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence. Isaiah 64:1

Do you ever pray this prayer that Isaiah offered? Oh Lord, come down, and come quickly! Come and take us to our heavenly home, for You and You alone hold the key. God told Isaiah that Jesus would have the key of David, and in Revelation, Jesus calls Himself the One who has the key.

Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when He opens no one will shut, when He shuts no one will open. Isaiah 22:22

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this... Revelation 3:7

Jesus holds the key to our heavenly home. He is the only way to eternal life.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6

Today, I am grateful that Jesus has gone to prepare my heavenly home.

"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

I also rejoice that He promises that He will come again to receive me to Himself.

Rejoice! Our Key of David will come again. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Come, Thou DaySpring

On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the LORD, and the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 29:18-19

Just as the people of Israel were waiting to be brought out of their gloom, we wait to be delivered from this world of sin. We long for the Dayspring to come and cheer us with His presence.

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:78-79 (KJV)

When He came into the world as a baby, He came to bring the light of life to those who were in darkness.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "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

This light was prophesied by Isaiah, a promise that they would no longer dwell in the shadow of death.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:12

This is the work of our great God! He answers His people who call out to Him, and delivers them from their darkness.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Psalm 107:13-15

Rejoice! God provided the Redeemer who puts away the shadow of death through His resurrection.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse

"O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:55-57

The Rod of Jesse was prophesied in Isaiah. Jesse was the father of King David, and Jesus was born out of David's lineage - a "branch" as it were out of the stem of Jesse. Isaiah said that this man would have the Spirit of the Lord, and the spirit of wisdom and knowledge and fear of the Lord (sound familiar?) and that He would be a righteous judge.

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall He slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:1-6

The people of Israel were crying out for a Messiah to save them from the tyranny of Satan. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that God had to send Jesus to become flesh and blood, just like His children, so that through His death the devil would be rendered powerless.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14-15

By His death and resurrection, His people were set free from the bondage (slavery) to sin (and ultimately death) that enslaved them.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:2

They needed a Messiah to free them from their sin, something that could not be accomplished through the law of Moses, which they were living under.

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39

The people needed a Savior.

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
Matthew 18:11

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17

Christ came to save the world from sin, and also to save us from the wrath of God.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:8-10

Rejoice! Through His birth, life, death and resurrection, we too have the power of victory over the grave!

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Monday, December 14, 2009

O Come, Thou Wisdom from on High

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Romans 11:33

As Israel continues to wait for their Messiah, and we await His second return to earth, we sing together, asking for the Wisdom from on High to come down. This Wisdom ordains the sun to shine by day and the moon by night, and turns the seasons from one to another.

Thus says the LORD, "Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name." Jeremiah 31:35

Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; You have prepared the light and the sun. You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter. Psalm 74:15-16

Jesus is this Wisdom! Paul reminds us that Jesus was not only present at creation, but He is the creator. Everything that was created was created through Him and for Him.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16

The great Creator came to our world as a humble baby, to show us the way to walk according to God's word. The people of Israel were waiting for their Messiah to show them the way of knowledge and how to walk in her path. They had heard the prophets, but they longed for their Deliverer. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that now in these last days, God speaks to us through His son. And His Son still speaks to us through His word.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Proverbs 2:6-10

Rejoice that Emmanuel (God with us) showed us how to walk the path of knowledge while He lived here on the earth. Rejoice, too, that we have God's word to still speak to us today. Take some time to read about how Jesus walked, and ask Him to show you His ways, that you might grow in your knowledge of Him so you may know the surpassing greatness of His power toward those of us who believe.

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:15-21

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Meditation on O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad. Psalm 14:7

As I was singing this old hymn (12th century!) on Sunday in church, I was struck anew by the words and started thinking about the double meaning - this hymn could have been sung by the Jews in the Old Testament as they waited for their Messiah, and it applies just as beautifully to us here today as we wait for the second coming of Jesus.

Over the next few weeks, we'll look at each verse of this wonderful Advent hymn, and meditate on what it means to wait for our Emmanuel to come once again.

God's people, who we read about in the Old Testament, had been waiting for a Savior and Redeemer to come, ever since Adam and Eve first sinned against God. We read in the early part of Genesis that God promises hope to these first humans who went against His word. Here God speaks to Satan to tell him the consequences of his deception of the people God created in His image:

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." Genesis 3:15

We continue to see God promise a Messiah all through the Old Testament.

It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Isaiah 19:20

God's people, Israel, were captive. They were literally slaves in different parts of their history, and they were also captive to their own sin. They were able to make atonment for their sin, once a year, through the sacrificial process, but as the author to the Hebrews tells us, that was just a reminder of how sinful they were. It was impossible for the blood of the animals to wash them clean of their sin.

But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:3-4

That's why Jesus Christ was sent by God. He paid the ransom for their sin (and ours!), once and for all.

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:25

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. I Timothy 2:5-6

Today, we are Israel. Jesus Christ, by His work on the cross, has made us His chosen people, and has grafted us in to Israel. Even if you weren't born into Israel, you are now a part having been saved by Christ. (see Romans 11)

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands--remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13

Israel was in exile, in a land not their own, waiting for their Messiah.

Doesn't that sound like us today? Those of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and claim forgiveness through His blood shed for us on the cross are exiles, living in a land that is not ours because Heaven is our home. I find it interesting that Peter even addresses his readers as aliens in his letter -

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. I Peter 1:1-2

Israel was in mourning until their Redeemer appeared. Just like we are in mourning as we wait for Jesus to come again and take us to place He has prepared for us. Just as they rejoiced when Messiah appeared on that blessed Christmas morning, we can rejoice, knowing that God will be "with us" (Emmanuel) once again.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Unknown author of the 12th century

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How Cheering is the Christian's Hope

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Micah 7:7

When I read the words of this hymn, it immediately reminded me of Paul's letter to the Romans. We do toil here below on earth, this place that is not our home. But our faith in Christ gives us hope, because we know we are just "passing through" this wilderness of woe.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Christ's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We have hope - hope that does not disappoint! That is an incredible encouragement to me. God gave this promise to His people long ago, and it remains true today - when we hope in Him we will not be disappointed!

...Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed. Isaiah 49:23

Our hope points us to our eternal home, our final land of rest, where we will reign with Christ and His saints. Our life in the Son is our promise of eternal life with Jesus and God the Father.

The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. I John 5:10-12

So, why we toil on this earth, dealing with the daily struggles and disappointments of living where we "don't belong," let us follow Paul's exhortation as we cry, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Romans 12:10-13

How Cheering is the Christian's Hope
Author Unknown

How cheering is the Christian’s hope,
While toiling here below!
It buoys us up while passing through
This wilderness of woe.
It buoys us up while passing through
This wilderness of woe.

It points us to a land of rest,
Where saints with Christ will reign;
Where we shall meet the loved of earth,
And never part again.
Where we shall meet the loved of earth,
And never part again.

Fly, lingering moments, fly, O fly;
Dear Savior, quickly come!
We long to see Thee as Thou art,
And reach that blissful shore.
We long to see Thee as Thou art,
And reach that blissful shore.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How Good it is to Thank the Lord

It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2

Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and joy are in His place.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him;
Worship the LORD in holy array.
Tremble before Him, all the earth;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
And let them say among the nations, "The LORD reigns."
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD;
For He is coming to judge the earth.
O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I Chronicles 16:23-34

How Good it is to Thank the Lord
Words from the Psalter

How good it is to thank the Lord,
And praise to Thee, Most High, accord,
To show Thy love with morning light,
And tell Thy faithfulness each night;
Yea, good it is Thy praise to sing,
And all our sweetest music bring.

O Lord, with joy my heart expands,
Before the wonders of Thy hands;
Great works, Jehovah, Thou hast wrought,
Exceeding deep Thine every thought;
A foolish man knows not their worth,
Nor he whose mind is of the earth.

When as the grass the wicked grow,
When sinners flourish here below,
Then is there endless ruin nigh,
But Thou, O Lord, art throned on high;
Thy foes shall fall before Thy might,
The wicked shall be put to flight.

Thou, Lord, hast high exalted me
With royal strength and dignity;
With Thine anointing I am blest,
Thy grace and favor on me rest;
I thus exult o’er all my foes,
O’er all that would my cause oppose.

The righteous man shall flourish well,
And in the house of God shall dwell;
He shall be like a goodly tree,
And all his life shall fruitful be;
For righteous is the Lord and just,
He is my Rock, in Him I trust.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

O Render Thanks to God Above

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 106:1

Thinking about and meditating on God's lovingkindness through the ages is a great antidote to weariness when you're feeling down. His mercy has withstood the test of time, and shall forever last. We can certainly be thankful that His mercies are new every morning!

The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

God's mercy is demonstrated through the many stories in the Old Testament, all of which point to the ultimate gift of mercy - the gift of Jesus, God's son, who took our sin upon Himself, and died in order to pay for those sins so that we could be free from our lives of death, and saved from the wrath of God.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7

I love that word to us from Paul in Ephesians that so demonstrates God's mercy toward us. He is rich in mercy: He saved us, made us alive with Christ, raised us with Him, and seated us with Him -- all so that He could show the surpassing riches of His grace, shown to us in Christ Jesus!

And His mercy isn't contingent or dependent on what we have done. He saved us, not according to what we did, but according to His mercy!

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 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 3:4-6

I love the picture of the last verse of this hymn: the writer asks that he would be worthy to see all the saints that have prospered under God's mercy so that he might join the joyful chorus in singing praise to God for His mercy, and count God's people's triumph as his own. I so look forward to that day! When we will gather with the saints in heaven and recount God's mercies from the beginning of time, through our lives, and on in the lives of others.

It brings to mind the verse from Amazing Grace:

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we've first begun.

Let's be faithful to give God glory for His mercies while we are still here on earth. May others be encouraged by our thankfulness and praise of God's great mercies, new every morning.

O Render Thanks to God Above
Words by Na­hum Tate and Ni­cho­las Bra­dy

O render thanks to God above,
The fountain of eternal love,
Whose mercy firm through ages past
Hath stood, and shall forever last.

Who can His mighty deeds express,
Not only vast, but numberless?
What mortal eloquence can raise
His tribute of immortal praise?

Extend to me that favor, Lord,
Thou to Thy chosen dost afford;
When Thou return’st to set them free,
Let Thy salvation visit me.

O may I worthy prove to see
Thy saints in full prosperity,
That I the joyful choir may join,
And count Thy people’s triumph mine!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'd Rather Have Jesus

It's been on my mind to write about this great hymn for some time. I was further prompted as I sang along with the radio last night and really began thinking about what I'd rather have Jesus than...

Jesus tells us that following Him will be costly.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26

In this country (USA), most of us will not have to worry about outright persecution. We can worship with other believers on Sunday or anytime through the week, we can read the Bible and play Christian music in our homes, and listen to it on the radio! Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ do not have that freedom.

But following Jesus may cost us other things besides our freedom. For some, it costs them relationships with family members or friends. Jesus asks us to lose our life for the sake of finding it. What does this mean for you? It may not mean forsaking literal silver and gold, but it may mean forsaking the life you imagined. I'd rather have Jesus than to have my dreams come true. That is difficult to say, but I can honestly say it.

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

Unlike Paul, I cannot say that I have suffered the loss of all things. Most of us can't. But I can agree with Paul that I would rather have Christ than have the things (material or otherwise) I have lost. Look what Paul tells us the ultimate outcome is of that gain: attaining to the resurrection from the dead!

I encourage you to meditate on these words. I pray that you will agree with the writer, that Jesus is all your hungering spirit needs.

I’d Rather Have Jesus
Words by Rhea Miller

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.

Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Be Present at our Table, Lord

This beautiful grace, sung to the tune of the Doxology, is one my extended family uses ocassionally when we gather together. It came to mind as I've been thinking about God's provision for me. He has supplied us with more food than we could ever need. He really does "stretch" our meager resources when we are good stewards of what He has given us, and when we faithfully use the funds He has entrusted to us to further His kingdom.

Just as I invite Him to present in every other aspect of my life, I want Him to be present at our table. In our conversation, in the enjoyment of the food He has blessed us with, in using the food to strengthen our bodies for service to His glory.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.I Corinthians 10:31

And just as this hymn says, as much as I am thankful for the food I have in abundance, I am even more grateful for Jesus' blood.

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13

Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood-- and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:4-6

I ask, along with this hymn writer, that just as God gives us each day our daily bread, that He would let manna to my soul be given, the Bread of Life sent down from heaven.

"For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world." John 6:33

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." John 6:35

"I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh." John 6:51

Dear Lord, thank you for my abundant table. Do come and be among us, in everything we do, and thank you for Your Son who shed His blood for us. Keep us in Your word, that we may draw life from it, receiving food for our souls from the bread of heaven. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Be Present at our Table, Lord
Words by John Cennick

Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored;
Thy creatures bless, and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee.

We thank Thee, Lord, for this our food,
For life and health and every good;
By Thine own hand may we be fed;
Give us each day our daily bread.

We thank Thee, Lord, for this our good,
But more because of Jesus’ blood;
Let manna to our souls be giv’n,
The Bread of Life sent down from Heav’n.

Monday, September 21, 2009

By Grace I'm Saved

God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. II Timothy 1:9

I've been spending time in Ephesians - what a great book! As I was reading in Ephesians 2 this morning I was struck by the contrast between what I was like before Christ rescued me from the domain of darkness, and what I am now, living under His grace.

Before Christ:
-Dead in trespasses and sins (v. 1)
-Walking according to the course of this world (v. 2)
-Walking according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit working in the sons of disobedience (v. 2) - Yikes!
-Living in the lust of the flesh (v. 3)
-Indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind (v. 3)
-Children of wrath (v. 3)
-Separate from Christ, having no hope, without God in the world (v. 12)

This is not a pretty picture. I could have written "yikes" after every one of those. It is a sobering list.

I am thankful to God that He
-chose me in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world
-made me holy and blameless before Him
-predestined me to adoption as His child according to the kind intention of His will
-freely bestowed grace upon me through Jesus Christ, His beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Because of His great love with which He loved me, I have been
-made alive together with Christ! (Ephesians 2:5)
-seated with Him in the heavenly places! (v. 6)
-shown the surpassing riches of God's grace in kindness in Christ Jesus! (v. 7)
-saved by faith, a gift of God! (v. 8)
-created in Christ Jesus for good works that have been prepared for me by God! (v. 10)
-brought near to God by the blood of Christ! (v. 13)
-given access to the Father by the Spirit! (v. 18)
-made a fellow citizen with the saints, a member of God's household! (v. 19)
-built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit! (v. 22)

Aren't you glad for this latter list? Does it apply to you? Have you made the decision to follow Jesus and live under God's grace?

If you have, I pray that you will meditate on this list and go to the Father in thankfulness.

If you haven't, I pray that you will seek His face and put your trust in Him. If you place your faith in Him, you will be saved, (a free gift of God!) and have eternal life with Him in heaven. Don't spend another minute living in that first list of who you are without Christ. Turn to Him today and be made a fellow citizen with the saints through your adoption into God's household.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15

By Grace I'm Saved
Words by Christian L. Scheidt

By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;
My soul, believe and doubt it not;
Why stagger at this word of promise?
Hath Scripture ever falsehood taught?
Nay; then this word must true remain:
By grace thou, too, shalt Heav’n obtain.

By grace! None dare lay claim to merit;
Our works and conduct have no worth,
God in His love sent our Redeemer,
Christ Jesus, to this sinful earth;
His death did for our sins atone,
And we are saved by grace alone.

By grace! O, mark this word of promise
When thou art by thy sins oppressed,
When Satan plagues thy troubled conscience,
And when thy heart is seeking rest.
What reason cannot comprehend
God by His grace to thee doth send.

By grace! This ground of faith is certain;
So long as God is true, it stands.
What saints have penned by inspiration,
What in His Word our God commands,
What our whole faith must rest upon,
Is grace alone, grace in His Son.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bless, O My Soul, the Living God

More than a year and a half ago, I wrote about a resolution: less whining, more worship. I've fallen off the wagon a bit on that resolution, so I wanted to write about a song of praise to remind us of our great God.

First of all, we serve a living God!

My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:2

But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation. Jeremiah 10:10

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. I Timothy 4:10

Let everything in us praise our Living God.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Psalm 103:1

This hymn exhorts us that God's favor should claim our highest praise. The Psalmist reminds us that His favor is for a lifetime: that is worthy of praise!

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

We must not forget His wonders; or let them be lost in silence.

Your way, O God, is holy; what god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples. You have by Your power redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Psalm 77:13-15

He has made His wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. Psalm 111:4

It was our living God who sent His son to die for the crimes that we committed. He owns the ransoms and forgives the "follies of our lives."

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

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Our living God is a God of power! He heals the vices of the mind, cures pain and redeems our souls from hell.

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

At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.
Luke 7:21

Our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14

You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. I Peter 1:18-19

His power is even capable of repairing our decaying youth.

Who satisfies your years with good things,So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalm 103:5

He is righteous and just.

The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed. Psalm 103:6

He loves righteousness and justice. Psalm 33:5

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You. Psalm 89:14

Our living God has been working in His children for a LONG time.

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. Psalm 103:7

He gave the Law to Moses, but He sent us truth and mercy in the person of Jesus Christ to us!

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Let the whole earth His power confess! Let the whole earth adore His grace!

Let's stop whining and start worshiping!

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the LORD, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion;
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalm 103:19-22

Bless, O My Soul, the Living God
Words by Isaac Watts

Bless, O my soul! the living God.
Call home thy thoughts that rove abroad.
Let all the powers within me join
In work and worship so divine,
In work and worship so divine.

Bless, O my soul! the God of grace.
His favors claim thy highest praise.
Why should the wonders He hath wrought
Be lost in silence and forgot,
Be lost in silence and forgot?

’Tis He, my soul, that sent His Son
To die for crimes which thou hast done.
He owns the ransom and forgives
The hourly follies of our lives,
The hourly follies of our lives.

The vices of the mind He heals,
And cures the pains that nature feels;
Redeems the soul from hell, and saves
Our wasting life from threat’ning graves.

Our youth decayed, His power repairs;
His mercy crowns our growing years;
He satisfies our mouth with good,
And fills our hopes with heav’nly food.

He sees th’oppressor and th’oppressed,
And often gives the suff’rers rest;
But will His justice more display
In the last great rewarding day.

His power He showed by Moses’ hands,
And gave to Israel His commands;
But sent His truth and mercy down
To all the nations by His Son.

Let the whole earth His power confess.
Let the whole earth adore His grace.
The Gentile with the Jew shall join
In work and worship so divine,
In work and worship so divine.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord

I'm doing a topical study on Satan and spiritual warfare, and today I was studying the beginning of the story of Job. In addition to what I learned about Satan and how he gets his power, I was reminded about Job's faith and his response when faced with tremendous adversity. I think we all have a lot to learn from Job and his attitude in the midst of suffering.

Let's look at what happens in Job's life, as it is reported to him almost simultaneously in the first chapter of this book:

1. The oxen and donkeys were attacked and stolen by the Sabeans.
2. The Sabeans murdered Job's servants who were with the animals.
3. Fire fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants.
4. The Chaldeans stole the camels.
5. The Chaldeans also murdered the servants who were with the camels.
6. All of his children died when a strong wind toppled the house in which they were dining.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me, and probably not to you either. Our struggles pale in comparison. But how does our response to our struggles compare with Job's? Here's what happened next:

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. Job 1:20-22

Job has just been told that many of his livestock are gone, his servants were murdered, and ALL of his children are dead. And he fell to the ground and worshiped! He blessed the name of the Lord, and did not sin nor blame God.

I can almost imagine Job singing this hymn (of course it hadn't been written yet!) or something similar as he worshiped. Job fully understood the sovereignty of God. He knew that whether the path would be smooth or rough, it would be the best for him because God had ordained it.

The story gets worse for Job. In the second chapter, Satan smites him with boils from his head to his feet. He is urged by his wife to lay aside his integrity and curse God. But he doesn't.

But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10

He knows what happens to him is in God's hands - and he leaves it there. He doesn't choose his lot - he knows that God has a plan for what is happening in his life.

I think there are several key lessons from these two brief chapters in Job.

1. We have a choice about how we respond when faced with adversity. We can choose to grumble to ourselves, complain to others, and blame God, or we can choose to worship God as the sovereign King who has a plan for our lives; He gives, and He takes away.
2. When we grumble, complain and blame God we are sinning. When we worship, we are obeying. We can choose to sin in response to suffering, or we can choose to obey.
3. We can be an example to others of living out faithful lives in the face of adversity. When others see us handling struggles in a way contrary to the world's notion of dealing with adversity, they will see lives consecrated to God's will and purpose.
4. God is worthy of our worship and praise in all circumstances. He is in control and can be trusted as our Faithful Guide.

Whatever you're facing today, large or small, know that the God of the Universe has ordained it for you, to sanctify you and to bring glory to Himself. I encourage you to face your suffering with worship, and to say along with Job, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord!"

Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord
Words by Horatio Bonar

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.

Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not, if I might;
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So I shall walk aright.

Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me
My poverty or wealth.

The kingdom that I seek
Is Thine: so let the way
That leads to it be Thine,
Else I must surely stray.

Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my Guide, my Strength
My Wisdom, and my All.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Isaiah 2:5

As I wrote earlier about Jesus being the light of the world, I was thinking about this hymn and my desire to walk as a child of the light. What does it mean to walk as a child of the light? This hymn tells me it means to follow Jesus. That led me to the Scripture to see what is says about walking as a child of the Light.

Therefore do not be partakers with them [the sons of disobedience]; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:7-12

Paul tells us that we are to walk in all goodness, righteousness and truth as we try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. This theme is repeated in Paul's epistles. One of my favorite passages in Scripture is this prayer that Paul has prayed for the people at Colossae, that they will please the Lord in everything they do.

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. Colossians 1:9-12

And look what Proverbs tells us: there is great reward in doing what is pleasing to Him!

When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7

When I am walking as a child of the Light, when the Star of my life is Jesus, He guides me in His will and doing what He requires.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Of course, our ultimate reward for walking as children of light comes when we see Jesus face to face! When we have run the race here on Earth and God calls us to our heavenly home, we will live with Jesus for eternity. Let us stay focused on that day as we walk in all righteousness, learning what is pleasing to Him!

"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Revelation 22:12-13

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
Words by Kathleen Thomerson

I want to walk as a child of the Light
I want to follow Jesus
God set the stars To give light to the world
The Star of my life is Jesus.

In Him there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The lamb is the Light of the city of God
Shine in my heart Lord Jesus.

I want to see the Brightness of God
I want to look at Jesus
Clear Son of righteousness shine on my path
And show me the way to the Father.

I'm looking for the coming of Christ
I want to be with Jesus
When we have run, with patience, the race
We shall know the joy of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Light of the World is Jesus

In the last few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about the sin in the world, and the antidote to that sin: Jesus. Sometimes I feel like I'm overwhelmed by the sin around me: in the world at large, in my city, in my neighborhood, in my family, in myself. So many people, even those who know the truth and the instruction of Christ, choose to live in a way that is not up to His standard; and that is sin. The whole world truly is lost in the darkness of sin.

"This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." John 3:19-21

Jesus spoke those words when He came to earth thousands of years ago. And they still ring true today. We have the Light - Jesus - but men love the darkness rather than the Light. Many people can't even understand or comprehend the Light because of the darkness that surrounds them.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5

Those of us who walk with Jesus have the light of Life, "no darkness have we who in Jesus abide." This is why Jesus came - to get us out of 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

We walk in the Light when we follow our guide.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "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

Those who dwell in darkness can get out - by trusting in Jesus and putting faith in Him. By following Him and leading a life marked by one who has been saved; a life in the Light. This light and saving from the darkness was prophesied many years before Jesus came, giving hope to those who were waiting for the Messiah.

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

Those of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior and walk in the light look forward to the day when we will join with other believers in heaven. The last stanza of this hymn encourages us about that day: we will not need sunlight because the Lamb is the Light in the City of Gold! The Lord God will illumine us!

And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:5

Coming soon...more thoughts on Light and living in the Light.

The Light of the World is Jesus
Words by Philip Bliss

The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Like sunshine at noonday His glory shone in.
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see:
The Light of the world is Jesus!

No darkness have we who in Jesus abide;
The Light of the world is Jesus!
We walk in the light when we follow our Guide!
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Ye dwellers in darkness with sin blinded eyes,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Go, wash, at His bidding,and light will arise.
The Light of the world is Jesus!

No need of the sunlight in Heaven we’re told;
The Light of the world is Jesus!
The Lamb is the Light in the city of gold,
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jesus Loves Me

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-18

I've been singing this song lately with my 2 year old nephew. It does my heart good to hear him sing these words, and I especially love the stress he places on Yes. It's like he's brimming with confirmation and confidence as he sings, "YEEESSSSS! Jesus loves me!"

This was written as a children's song, but the words are really quite profound. I encourage you to really stop and think about these words the next time you sing this song.

Jesus loves me. He loves me so much that He gave up His own life.

...walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:2

He obeyed His Father, and humbled Himself, even to the point of death on a cross, so that our sins would be covered and our future would be secure.

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8 Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood... Revelation 1:5

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. I John 5:11

What is our response to this love? To live for Him.

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. II Corinthians 5:14-15

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20

Jesus Loves Me
Words by Anna Warner and David McGuire

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! This I know,
As He loved so long ago,
Taking children on His knee,
Saying, “Let them come to Me.”

Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Yes, God is Good

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

Creation sings the goodness of God! I've said it before, but it bears repeating. I notice it in every season, but this summer has me thinking about it more than usual. Even as I was sitting in a meeting this morning, looking out the window at all the beautiful plants and flowers raising their heads to the sun, I couldn't help but think "Creation just seems to shout 'to God be the glory!'"

O taste and see that the LORD is good... Psalm 34:8

When I think about the science behind what we take for granted every day, that the sun will keep its trackless way - it doesn't fall or even move! - that rain pours on the earth, that the stars shine in the night to light up the sky - it is amazing!

Think of what it takes for rain to fall: water has to evaporate from some large source (like an ocean or a big lake), move across the sky, condense into water, and then be released to fall to the earth again. And it can't condense into one gigantic drop or that would annihilate or at the very least flood the population - it condenses into lots of tiny little drops that provide nourishment to the plants and the food that we eat! My explanation is not scientific in the least but I hope you can see my point - God working in creation shows us His goodness. Rain itself is a miraculous event. Balmy air and falling rain are pictures of God's goodness to us.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

This hymn was written for children, so the truths are relatively simple, but also profound when you think about them more carefully. The rushing breeze, the hills that have forever stood, the roaring seas, they all say "God is good."

What I love about this hymn is it acknowledges that creation sings God's praises and goodness, but then it exhorts US to sing His praises even louder!

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely. Psalm 135:3

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant and praise is becoming. Psalm 147:1

I encourage you to take special note today of how creation is singing God's praise, and then join in the song yourself, acknowledging God's goodness and thanking Him for it.

Yes, God is Good
Words by John H. Gurney

Yes, God is good; in earth and sky,
From ocean depths and spreading wood,
Ten thousand voices seem to cry,
“God made us all, and God is good.”

The sun that keeps his trackless way
And downward pours his golden flood,
Night’s sparkling hosts, all seem to say,
In accents clear, that God is good.

The merry birds prolong the strain,
Their song with every spring renewed;
And balmy air, and falling rain,
Each softly whispers, “God is good.”

I hear it in the rushing breeze;
The hills that have for ages stood,
The echoing sky and roaring seas,
All swell the chorus, God is good.

Yes, God is good, all nature says,
By God’s own hand with speech endued;
And man, in louder notes of praise,
Should sing for joy that God is good.

For all Thy gifts we bless Thee, Lord,
But chiefly for our heavenly food;
Thy pardoning grace, Thy quickening word,
These prompt our song, that God is good.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

He Set Me Free

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

I've been thinking a lot about freedom as we approach the holiday this weekend when Americans celebrate being set free from the rule of England. Galatians 5:1 keeps resounding in my head: It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Have you ever thought about this? Freedom.

Because of Christ's atoning work on the cross of Calvary, we are set free from sin. Jesus became a man made of flesh and blood so that He could be slain, ridding the devil of his power over death. Jesus' sacrifice set us free from the slavery of sin.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14-15

Sin leads to death and eternal separation from God. But there is life in Jesus Christ!

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:2

When Paul wrote to the Galatians, reminding them that it was for freedom that they were set free, he was exhorting them not to fall back into their usual pattern of trying to live by the Law. We know, by studying the Scriptures, that no person could live up to the requirements of the Law. (I know just by looking at myself!) That's why God sent His son Jesus to redeem us - we could never earn or be "good enough" to merit His favor. Through Jesus, we are freed from death and sin, things that we could never be free from under the Law.

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39

Being free from sin has a great reward - our benefit is sanctification (being made holy) and eternal life!

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. Romans 6:22

Remember that it was for freedom that you were set free! When you celebrate our national holiday this weekend, praise God that you are free from sin because of His great love for you!

He Set Me Free
Words by Haldor Lillenas

My soul is filled with joy and gladness
Since Jesus came to me.
His love has banished all my sadness,
From sin I am set free.

He set me free, He set me free,
I was blind, but hallelujah, now I see!
I shall ne’er forget the day
When He washed my sins away,
And He set, He set me free.

The Comforter divine is dwelling
Within my soul today;
His love to others I am telling
Since Jesus came to stay.

The grace of Jesus hath abounded
For all my sins I see,
Salvation walls have me surrounded,
From sin I am set free.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Waited for the Lord my God

Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay. Psalm 40:17

There are seasons in our lives when the Lord calls us to wait. Waiting is hard. Waiting patiently is even harder. We are "programmed", at least in this day and age, to want things and answers right here and right now, this minute. The age of the internet and news 24/7, on demand, has taken away our sense of patience and waiting (at least for me personally).

I've been thinking a lot about some of the Old Testament stories and the waiting that had to be done by these pillars of our faith. Abraham was promised by God that he would be the father of nations. And then he waited many, many years until his only son was born. Moses and the Israelites were promised their own land, and they waited, and wandered, 40 years in the wilderness. Joseph prospered under the Lord's guidance, but he still had to wait out his time in prison (after he was wrongly put in prison!) for several years until the Lord rescued him.

As I think about these stories, I also think about what was accomplished in the waiting. God used these times to increase His people's faith, to test their obedience, to give them special gifts and opportunities to proclaim their devotion to the One True God. The waiting was not in vain.

What are you waiting for? Is there a prayer unanswered in your life? What are you learning during this time of waiting?

Most importantly, how can you use this time of waiting to bring glory to God? The Psalmist says,

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:3

How can you praise God in the midst of this waiting? I know that in my situation, I want to bring all the glory to God, so that others will see and put their trust in the Lord. I want my waiting to be a demonstration to both unbelievers and believers of my unwavering faith in my Deliverer. I hope that living out this belief, especially in this time of waiting, will cause others to take notice, and ultimately, put their faith in the Lord, the One who will hear my cry and put my feet on solid ground!

I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2

I Waited for the Lord my God
Words from the Psalter

I waited for the Lord my God,
Yea, patiently drew near,
And He at length inclined to me,
My pleading cry to hear.

He took me from destruction’s pit,
From out the miry clay;
He set my feet upon a rock,
And steadfast made my way.

A new and joyful song of praise
My thankful heart He taught,
A song of glory to our God
For all that He has wrought.

And many who behold how good
The Lord has been to me
Shall learn to fear, and in His Name
Their trust shall henceforth be.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

O Father, You are Sovereign

For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back? Isaiah 14:27

In this uncertain world, and these very uncertain times, it is so reassuring to know one thing for sure: God is in control. He, the King of the Universe, is sovereign over all His creation. He created the heavens and the earth with His VOICE, and the winds and seas still move in obedience to Him.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. Genesis 1:1-3

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Psalm 103:19

God is sovereign over His creation - and that includes us! Nothing can thwart the plan that He has for each of us, and for this world as a whole.

Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. Psalm 135:6

We would be wise to daily acknowledge God's sovereignty and submit our will to His.

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

God's will and sovereign plan does transcend time and space, chance and change. We certainly do not have the capacity to understand it.

Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5

However, we do have the capacity to trust Him, knowing that His will is best.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10

I'm not saying trusting is always easy. Often it's not. When we suffer and walk through the wilderness, it is often an act of our will to trust. We must trust out of obedience to Him.

Even in our hurt and pain, we can rejoice that the Lord is sovereign over our situation! He is the Lord of human pain, and His sovereignty includes His plan for turning our pain into heavenly gain.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. I Peter 5:10

Your suffering is being worked to perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you! If your suffering is a result of your obedience to Christ, be strong and courageous in your obedience and in doing what is right. God, your faithful creator, can be trusted!

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
I Peter 4:19

And in your suffering, remember to keep rejoicing, because your Sovereign Creator has ordained this for you.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. I Peter 4:12-13

You can take heart that your suffering now, as awful as it seems, will be forgotten in a moment when compared with what is to come.

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 we look forward to that glory that is to be revealed to us, we trust Him to bring that day quickly; when every knee will bow declaring Him Lord of heaven and earth.

Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
Isaiah 45:22-23

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

We have confidence that God is sovereign over all, including over Christ's triumphant return - and we trust Him to bring it about in His perfect time. Until then, we live our lives full of adoration and praise, worshiping our Sovereign Father; to Him be honor and eternal dominion!

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
I Timothy 6:13-16

O Father, You are Sovereign
Words by Margaret Clarkson

O Father, You are sovereign in all the worlds you made;
Your mighty word was spoken and light and life obeyed.
Your voice commands the seasons and bounds the ocean’s shore,
Sets stars within their courses and stills the tempest’s roar.

O Father, You are sovereign in all affairs of man;
No powers of death or darkness can thwart Your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending, supreme in time and space,
You hold Your trusting children secure in Your embrace.

O Father, You are sovereign, the Lord of human pain,
Transmitting earthly sorrows to gold of heavenly gain.
All evil overruling, as none but Conqueror could,
Your love pursues its purpose – our souls’ eternal good.

O Father, You are Sovereign! We see You dimly now,
But soon before Your triumph earth’s every knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us our faith springs up anew;
Our Sovereign Lord and Savior, we trust and worship You!

Friday, June 5, 2009

We will Extol You

Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you. Deut. 32:7

When I was writing about remembering, I "remembered" that there was one key element that needed to be brought up: telling the next generation of God's faithfulness.

I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.
Psalm 45:17

We must be diligent to pass on the stories of God's faithfulness from one generation to the next. Our children should grow up hearing us tell of the daily graces flowing from the Mercy Seat and the hand of God at work in our lives, whether the events are large or small.

Over and over in the Psalms, we hear about the importance of sharing God's greatness with the next generation.

We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. Psalm 78:4

One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

We must remember to TELL the stories of God's faithfulness to the next generation. Share your stories, and also your parents' stories, the ones you grew up hearing. Let's show these children that God's faithfulness really does flow from one generation to the next.

We'll pass on the endless song from age to age, telling all His wonders, secure in His love and faithfulness.

I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. Psalm 89:1

We Will Extol You
From Psalm 145, paraphrased by J. Nichol Grieve

We will extol You, ever blessed Lord;
Your holy name forever be adored;
Each day we live our psalm to You we raise;
You, God and King, are worthy of all praise,
Great and unsearchable in all Your ways.

Age shall to age pass on the endless song,
Telling the wonders which to You belong,
Your mighty acts with joy and fear relate;
Praise we Your glory while on You we wait;
Glad in the knowledge of Your love so great.

You, Lord, are gracious, merciful to all,
Close to Your children when on You they call;
And slow to anger, merciful and kind,
In Your compassion we Your blessings find.
We love You with our heart and strength and mind.

This is a Time to Remember

Remember His wonders which He has done; His marvels, and the judgments uttered by His mouth. Psalm 105:5

This hymn was written to commemorate special events in the life of a church - dedications, anniversaries, etc. But I think that it's important for us to DAILY remember the greatness of the Lord and His faithful leading.

Remember is a word commonly used in the Bible. God instructs His people throughout His word to remember certain things. These things are to be remembered as reminders of God's faithfulness to them and His covenant and promises.

Moses said to the people, "Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place And nothing leavened shall be eaten." Exodus 13:3

Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

He also gave them physical reminders, such as the clothing they were to wear to remember the commandments.

"It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God." Numbers 15:39-40

When God gives His people the law in the Old Testament, He reminds them again and again about where they came from, and how He saved them. This verse is repeated over and over again.

But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. Deut. 24:8

"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." Deut. 8:2

Sometimes when I read these passages in the Old Testament, I think, "Man, these Israelites must have been really dense! They wandered in the desert for 40 years. Why did God have to keep telling them to remember this? Wouldn't they always have it in the back of their mind?"

But then I think about me, and my sinful self, and how quickly I forget God's faithfulness to me through saving me from an eternity separated from Him.

It is good to remember that this story started long ago. The Bible has a constant theme running through it from beginning to end: that God remembers His covenant. He reminds His people throughout the Old Testament that He remembers His covenant, and as people living under the NEW covenant, we know that He sent His son to earth to take our place on the cross - He provided a means by which our sin was paid for and we were reconciled to Him. Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is good to remember; to remind ourselves of His grace that falls like rain, His Spirit that leads us and His son's pardoning blood.

This is a Time to Remember
Words by Bryan Jeffery Leach

This is a time to remember the greatness of the Lord.
He has so faithfully led us as promised in His Word;
He has so bountifully given His grace like freshening rain;
He has so lovingly pardoned and made us whole again.

This is a time to remember the glories that have been;
This is a time to press onward to vistas yet unseen;
For Christ is alive in His people, He meets us face to face;
He grants us the power of His Spirit to serve Him in this place.

This is a time to remember the church is His, not ours;
this is a time to surrender ourselves, our wealth, our powers;
this is a time to be servants - to give ourselves away,
Building the church of the future until the coming day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thy Word is Like a Garden, Lord

I've been meditating on Psalm 119 lately. That, combined with seeing all the plants and flowers bloom this spring, made me think of this gem of a hymn.

I really appreciate the way the writer compares God's word to the garden, a mine, a starry host, an armory. These are all very vivid word pictures as we think about the Scriptures, how we use them, and how to apply them in our lives.

You have ordained Your precepts, that we should keep them diligently. Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes! Psalm 119:4-5

God's word has something for us, every single time we open it. Whether you have two minutes or two hours, the Holy Spirit will use that time to inspire, encourage, challenge and exhort you as you read and study the truth.

I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.
Psalm 119:15-16

God's word was written for our instruction.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

The Scriptures provide a guidebook for our lives - instruction on how to live in obedience to Him so that we will bring Him glory, and be light to those around us who don't know the Savior. His word truly lights our way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

His word also provides us with the weapons we need to face each day as we live as aliens on this earth. He has told us that our battle isn't a battle against other flesh, but against other-wordly forces.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

How fortunate it is that in this same passage, He gives us what we need to fight the battle!

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13

The full armor of God includes the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (v. 17). Knowing His word gives us the knowledge, strength and ability to ward off the forces of darkness.

My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. Psalm 119:109-110

Oh, may each of us come to love the precious word of God! May we explore the mine, glean fragrant flowers and find our trusty armor there.

O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Psalm 119:97-104

Thy Word is Like a Garden, Lord
Words by Edwin Hodder

Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, with flowers bright and fair;
And every one who seeks may pluck a lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there.

Thy Word is like a starry host: a thousand rays of light
Are seen to guide the traveler and make his pathway bright.
Thy Word is like an armory, where soldiers may repair;
And find, for life’s long battle day, all needful weapons there.

O may I love Thy precious Word, may I explore the mine,
May I its fragrant flowers glean, may light upon me shine!
O may I find my armor there! Thy Word my trusty sword,
I’ll learn to fight with every foe the battle of the Lord.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Under His Wings

Hide me in the shadow of Your wings from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me. Psalm 17:7-8

The Lord has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. Even when times are tough, when the tempests are wild, we can trust Him for He has made us that promise. Just like the author of this hymn, I am confident that He will keep me, because He has redeemed me and I am His child!

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!" Isaiah 43:1

When we are afraid, or we face times in our lives that are tough, it is a wonderful assurance to know that we can hide under God's wings and safely abide. We know that no one or nothing can sever us from His love!

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

Because we can abide safely with Him, we know that He is our refuge in times of sorrow. When Earth has nothing for us, we know we can run to Him for comfort and blessing.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. II Corinthians 3:1-5

Under His wings. There I will hide until life's trials are over. When will that be? When Jesus returns to earth and comes to claim us and establishes His kingdom forevermore.

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."
Revelation 21:1-4

Until that day comes, I will hide in the shelter of my God and Savior. He will protect me, keep me, shelter me, love me and comfort me.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!" For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. Psalm 91:1-6

Under His Wings
Words by William Cushing

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.