Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Once He Came in Blessing

This beautiful German advent hymn poignantly tells not only the birth of Jesus, but His work in our hearts today and our hope in our future with Him. Let's look at this hymn verse by verse, so rich in Scripture, and ponder these truths as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus and wait anxiously for His second coming.

Jesus came to make our wrongs right - to redress our ills. To pay for the sin that mankind had been committing since Eve gave in to the devil's temptation. Even though He is fully God, He came in the likeness of a man - taking on human form as a lowly baby.

...being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man... Philippians 2:7-8

The Son of the Most Holy God was born into this world just like every other human.

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman... Galatians 4:4

...concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh... Romans 1:3

For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Jesus was born to accomplish God's plan: to bear the cross in order that we might be saved, and giving us freedom and hope.

"You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." John 18:36-37

The truth is the gospel story - that Jesus Christ was born into the world to save sinners. That He died on the cross to save us, was buried, and rose again through God's power, conquering death and making it possible for us to live forever with Him in heaven. How cheering is the Christian's hope!

Once He Came in Blessing
Words by Johann Roh

Once He came in blessing,
All our ills redressing,
Came in likeness lowly,
Son of God most holy;
Bore the cross to save us,
Hope and freedom gave us.

Still He comes within us,
Still His voice would win us
From the sins that hurt us;
Would to truth convert us
From our foolish errors,
Ere He comes in terrors.

Thus if Thou hast known Him,
Not ashamed to own Him,
Nor dost love Him coldly,
But will trust Him boldly,
He will now receive thee,
Heal thee, and forgive thee.

He who well endureth,
Bright reward secureth;
Come, then, O Lord Jesus,
From our sins release us;
Let us here confess Thee,
Till in Heav’n we bless Thee.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Repent, the Kindgom Draweth Nigh

Today is the first day in the new church year, and the first Sunday of Advent. During Advent, we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, and look forward to His second coming.

I often think about what it was like for the chosen people of God to wait for their Messiah. And what they must have thought when John the Baptist came on the scene.

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. John 1:6-8

John started preaching a message of repentance in advance of Christ's earthly ministry. Those who believed and were baptized must have been so thankful and relieved that the coming of their Messiah was at hand!

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
"THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS,
'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD,
MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!'"
Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
Matthew 3:1-6

The message is the same today as it was those thousands of years ago. The kingdom of our God is at hand; although our Messiah has come to pay the price for our sin once and for all, we now wait for Him to come again to Earth to take us home with Him.

We must come to Him with repentant hearts, in thanksgiving for the blood that was spilt on our behalf. His call to repentance truly is a gracious one, and we would do well to answer it.

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Micah 7:18-19

Let's use every opportunity we have during this Advent season to confess His name to those around us who do not yet know Him, that they might repent and be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, for the glory of His name.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1

Repent, the Kingdom Draweth Night
Words by Anna Hoppe

“Repent, the kingdom draweth nigh,”
The herald of the Lord doth cry.
Ye sinners lost through Adam’s fall,
Will ye not hearken to the call?

Repent! The gracious call believe,
Haste His forgiveness to receive.
The Prince of Life, incarnate Word,
Life and salvation can afford.

Divine Redeemer, glorious King!
Repentant hearts to Thee we bring.
Thy holy blood for us was spilt,
Cleanse us from all the stains of guilt.

Drawn by Thy Spirit, through Thy Word,
Thine invitation have we heard.
In answer to Thy sweet request,
We come to Thee, O Christ, for rest.

Thy pardon, full, complete, and free,
Removes sin’s awful penalty.
Our Father’s love is now restored;
Thou hast redeemed us, dearest Lord.

Let us Thy Name forever bless,
On earth Thy Gospel truth confess,
Till saved by grace, through faith in Thee,
The gates of paradise we see.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How Good it is to Thank the Lord, Part V

I love how the last verse of this hymn draws from so many scriptures and their promises to us. Those who are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ will flourish and dwell in the house of God.

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

The righteous will be like a tree that bears fruit, prospering.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

This is because the Lord is righteous and just!

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

Indeed, He is our Rock!

Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock. Isaiah 26:4

An everlasting rock! That is what our Lord is to us - He never changes, He never leaves or forsakes us, He never moves. I am thankful for that!

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 23, 2010

How Good it is to Thank the Lord, Part IV

The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Proverbs 29:25

Today I am thankful for a God who can be trusted, and for the promises that await those of us who trust in Him.

Remember me, O LORD, in Your favor toward Your people; visit me with Your salvation. Psalm 106:4

He has directed His favor toward us in providing salvation through His Son. We are blessed with His anointing - He has chosen us, saved us, given us His Holy Spirit and prepared a place for us to live with Him in glory.

Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Psalm 20:6

Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we can be confident that we will be triumphant over our foes and those who oppose us. It may not be here in our lifetime or here on earth, but God's justice will prevail and the wicked will be put to flight.

My God in His lovingkindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes. Psalm 59:10

Thank You Lord, for your grace and favor in giving Your Son as a payment for my sin. Thank You that because of my faith in You, I will exult over my foes. Thank You for blessing me with strength and dignity through Your Son.

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.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How Good it is To Thank the Lord, Part III

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:6

Remember that we have been called to be thankful in all things, for this is God's will for us in Christ Jesus. It is especially difficult to be thankful when we see evil flourishing all around us and the wicked prospering before our eyes. It's difficult to understand, but if you've read through the Bible, you know that this is nothing new. Generation after generation has dealt with seeing evil prosper.

When I get discouraged about the evil in the world, the sin running rampant, the endless ruin - I do turn to God in thanksgiving for the truth I know to be rock solid - God is still on His throne.

God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne. Psalm 47:8

One of my favorite verses in all of hymnody is this verse from "This is my Father's world."

This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done!
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

Even though the wrong seems strong, GOD IS THE RULER! He is still on the throne. The battle is not done! Jesus, who paid the price for all this sin, will be satisifed - earth and heaven will be one!

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

We have a new heaven and new earth to look forwarde to, a place where righteousness dwells.

But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. II Peter 3:13

Come before Him with thanksigiving - for God is on the throne, and righteousness will reign!

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.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How Good it is To Thank the Lord, Part II

"Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?" Exodus 15:11

How are you doing in being thankful in all things? If I were to get a report card, I'm afraid it would say "needs improvement." I have asked the Lord to change my heart and give me an attitude of thanksgiving in all things; but it often comes down to a conscious choice; choosing to be thankful even when I don't think the situation warrants it.

I will say, though, that when I ponder and think about God's creation and His wondrous works in our world, my heart brims over with thanksgiving and praise to His name. I give Him glory for His creativity, goodness and love. I never tire of the changing seasons, the amazing animals, plants and life systems in our Universe, even the rain, snow and hot sun, as it shows forth His sovereignty and control of our world.

Indeed, He has wrought great works, as this hymn tells us.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. I Chronicles 16:8-10

I was thinking about this hymn as I heard some things on the news last night. It is evident in stories around us that the foolish man knows not the worth of God's wonders and His thoughts. Nor, the man whose mind is of the earth. As we put on the new self (our life in Christ), we are called to keep our eyes on things above and not get mired up in the things of earth.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

As I come before Him today with thankfulness for His wonders and the works He has wrought with His hands, I want to join Eliphaz in his exhortation to seek God who does great and unsearchable things. Because of our great Savior, the helpless have hope and unrighteousness shuts it mouth. Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord!

"But as for me, I would seek God, and I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the fields, so that He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He frustrates the plotting of the shrewd, so that their hands cannot attain success. He captures the wise by their own shrewdness, and the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted. By day they meet with darkness, and grope at noon as in the night. But He saves from the sword of their mouth, and the poor from the hand of the mighty. So the helpless has hope, and unrighteousness must shut its mouth." Job 5:8-16

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.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How Good it is to Thank the Lord

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

With Thanksgiving approaching, I want to take some time to reflect on how the Lord has blessed us and how we can show Him our gratitude. We'll look at this hymn based on Psalm 92, one verse at a time, and tune our hearts toward thanksgiving.

The Psalmist reminds us how good it is to thank the Lord and sing His praises.

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, with the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre. Psalm 92:1-3

Psalm 92 is not the only place giving thanks is mentioned. By my count, we are exhorted to "give thanks" in 37 different Psalms! In fact, in Psalm 106, the Psalmist pleads with God to be saved and brought together in order to give thanks!

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations, to give thanks to Your holy name and glory in Your praise.
Psalm 106:47

It is GOOD to thank the Lord!

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.

I hope you feel God's love each morning with the morning light - for He has woken you up and given you breath for another day! And at the end of the day, we can tell of His faithfulness in leading us, giving us safety, giving us life, bringing us to the end of another day.

It IS good to sing His praise, to have an attitude of thanksgiving in everything He brings to us. It is not easy, but it IS possible! I challenge you, for the next day, to give thanks in everything, as Paul exhorts us in I Thessalonians (at the top of this post). I will be participating in this challenge as well, and I look forward to how God will change my heart because of it.

It is good to thank the Lord!

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.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pray When the Morn is Breaking

Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
Psalm 54:2

I don't know how you feel about yesterday's election; for me, there is both gratitude and disappointment. I imagine it's the same for most people; you're pleased about some people serving and displeased about others.

As I've been thinking about it today, I have to keep reminding myself that no matter how I FEEL, there's one thing that God has instructed us to do through His word in relation to this subject that is not dependent on who is in office: we are to pray for our leaders.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. I Timothy 2:1-4

We must pray for those in authority over us, including those in elected office, so that we may lead a quiet life in godliness. We need to pray for our leaders: national, state, and local, that they will turn their hearts and minds to Christ, and that they would seek to make decisions in line with His word and for His glory.

If our leaders are not saved, we need to pray for their salvation, as God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Let us commit anew to praying for our leaders, that they may have wisdom, discernment and integrity and that they will seek the Lord and His will for our nation, our states and our cities.

Pray When the Morn is Breaking
Words by Jane Simpson

Pray when the morn is breaking,
Pray when the noon is bright,
Pray with the eve’s declining,
Pray in the hush of night:
With mind made pure of passion,
All meaner thoughts away,
Low in thy chamber kneeling,
Do thou in secret pray.

Remember all who love thee,
All who are loved by thee,
And next for those that hate thee
Pray thou, if such there be;
Last for thyself in meekness
A blessing humbly claim,
And link with each petition
Thy great Redeemer’s Name.

But if ’tis e’er denied thee
In solitude to pray,
Should holy thoughts come o’er thee
Upon life’s crowded way,
E’en then the silent breathing
That lifts thy soul above
Shall reach the thron├Ęd presence
Of Mercy, Truth, and Love.