Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year is Dawning

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. I Timothy 1:17

Tomorrow is the first of January. Another year has passed. As we look to 2013, what are your hopes and dreams for the year? What is your prayer? How will you endeavor, with the Holy Spirit, to become more like Jesus this year?

The prolific hymn writer Frances Havergal wrote this beautiful poem in 1874 for her New Year's greeting cards. It so beautifully sums up what I hope 2013 will bring: feeling God's presence, trusting, being His witness, giving Him all the glory no matter what He sends my way.

I pray that God will be at work in me, equipping me to do His will through Jesus.

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

I pray that God will give me the perseverance to work hard, so that I can help others.

"In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

I pray that I will be a watchful waiter, ready for my Master to come for me.

Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Luke 12:36

I pray that the gospel will progress around the world; that many people will come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

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

And that through it all, God will be praised.

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

I look forward to another year of being blessed by God's mercy, faithfulness and grace.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23-24

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 rejoice in the anticipation of another year in His presence - the gladness of His shining face. Whether I am in the light, the dark, the sea, heaven or Sheol, He will be with me.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
Psalm 139:7-12

This year, I want to trust MORE in the Lord, and rely much less on myself.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

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

But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.” Psalm 31:14

I want to rest quietly in trusting the One who gave His life for me.

For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

I want 2013 to be marked by my faithful service to my Lord, of showing the world His love. I want to be His witness!

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8

I want to walk in a manner worthy of my calling.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

I want to live as an example through my actions, choices, words and behavior - that others will see what it is to believe.

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. I Timothy 4:12

On earth or in heaven, I want this to be another year for my Savior, the One who rescued me from darkness and adopted me into light. May each day bring me closer to Him, and for that, may He receive all the glory.

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. II Peter 3:17-18

Another Year is Dawning
Words by Frances Havergal

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

With most Christmas carols, and even many hymns, I think we sing the words so automatically that maybe the meaning doesn't register completely with us. The text can be simple or complex, but when it becomes rote, it doesn't pierce our hearts the way it should. I was especially struck with that notion when singing this carol this year.

There is some heady stuff in here - real, deep, theological truths that should be pondered and meditated upon - not just glossed over as if it's the millionth time we've sung it. So as we approach Christmas weekend, I wanted to really focus on the words of this great hymn, brought to us by Charles Wesley, who wrote other great hymns including O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing and Come, Thou Almighty King. (Charles wrote over 6,000 hymns in total!)

When the angels sang to herald Jesus' birth, what was the first thing they said? They gave Him glory! And after that? Announced that God and sinners would be reconciled!

You see, our sin separates us from a holy God. But Jesus was born to take our sins upon His body on the cross, and reconcile us to God. When we accept this gift by faith, we are no longer separate - we are reconciled.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. II Corinthians 5:18

All the fullness of God dwelt in Jesus who was a man, and through whom all things were reconciled through His blood shed on the cross. Paul reminds us that we were alienated from God because of our evil behavior, but through Christ's physical death we are reconciled.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.Colossians 1:19-22

Is it any wonder the angels sang "Glory to the newborn King"?? It certainly was good news - God and sinners reconciled! And because of our reconciliation with God, we can be presented before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach! God looks at me and sees Jesus! I have been made perfect through Jesus' atoning work on the cross. Glory to the Newborn King!

The second verse tells us more about who this newborn King is - veiled in flesh the Godhead see...

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 testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. John 1:14-18

Jesus was fully God and fully man. He was the Godhead veiled in flesh. John tells us that no one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten God (Jesus) has explained Him. God sent Jesus to the earth to be the sinless Savior. He was 100% God and 100% fleshly man. Hail the Incarnate Deity!

The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. Pleased as man with men to dwell - Jesus came to earth a human man and lived among us - grew up just like every other human (except without sin) - he truly is "God with us."

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23

Glory to the Newborn King!

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace - this was the child that God's people had been waiting for. Isaiah had told of Him and now He was here!

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. Isaiah 9:6

This Prince of Peace mildly (humbly) laid aside His glory to obey the Father and do His will.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7

Jesus came to save sinners. He was born that men no more would die.

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation. John 11:49-51

He came unlike any other King. Unlike other Kings, He came to serve and not be served. He came that men no more may die.

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

Glory to the Newborn King! He was born to raise the sons of earth.

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 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 15:53-56

Jesus conquered death on the cross so that we may never die, and furthermore, we would be raised with Him on the last day. God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24

Through Christ's righteousness we have eternal life. His birth and subsequent death purchased our eternal life.

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21

We have a second birth because this King was born as a baby, lived as a human, and humbly obeyed His Father even to death for our sake. Glory to the Newborn King!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Words by Charles Wesley

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"