O Holy Night & O Holy Day

O Holy NightIn 1847 an unnamed parish priest sent an unusual request to Placide Cappeau, the commissioner of wines in a small French town: “You are well known for your poems. Would you consider writing a poem for our Christmas mass?” Cappeau was both intrigued and honored, and he soon penned an essay called Cantique de Noel.

Cappeau felt that his poem was more worthy of a song, than just merely a poem, so he turned to his friend Adolphe Adams. Adams was a classically trained musician, but he was also a Jew. Adams said to Cappeau, “You’re asking me to write a melody for a poem that celebrates a man I do not view as the Son of God, and a poem that celebrates a day I do not celebrate?” But because his friend Cappeau had requested it, he gave it his best effort. Three weeks later, Cantique de Noel was first heard for the first at the Christmas Eve midnight mass.

Cantique de Noel quickly became popular throughout France. But when it was discovered that the lyricist Cappeau had left the church to become a socialist, and the musical composer Adams was a Jew, the Catholic Church banned the song from being sung in any of its churches. Still the song grew in popularity.

During the build-up to the American Civil War, an abolitionist named John Dwight was especially moved by a line in Cantique de Noel: “Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.” Dwight published his version of Cantique de Noel in his abolitionist magazine with the new title O Holy Night. The song quickly caught on in America.

The opening words of O Holy Night speak to our hearts today, as much as they did to those present at the First Advent—long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. To pine for something means to long painfully for something just out of our reach. It’s what the psalmist in ancient Israel capture too when he wrote, My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God (Psalm 84:2). There is a longing in all of us to know the Lord!

That’s why Christ’s First Advent is such a blessed, joyous event! In the second stanza we sing—In all our trials born to be our Friend; He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger. Indeed the writer of Hebrews tells us why Jesus was born as a human (Hebrews 2:14-18), and why we can approach him confidently (4:15-16).

Christ’s Incarnation allows us to put our faith in Him. When we do, we experience the Atonement. I like to remember this word by saying it at-onement. In other words, the Heavenly Father now sees us at-onement with His Son—when He looks at us, He sees Jesus. That’s why God forgets our forgiven sins (Hebrews 8:12)!

Then the third stanza of O Holy Night begins to tells us how we live out the at-onement every day by loving one another, enjoying His peace, living free and helping others get free too, singing joyfully to God day after night after day after night!

The First Advent was a holy night. But because Christ’s Atonement it makes us holy. So all our nights are O holy nights, and all our days O holy days, and all our work O holy work, and all our relationships O holy relationships!

Christ’s First Advent changes EVERYTHING for those who put their faith in Him. Is that you? Are you living in Christ’s at-onement? If not, you can be today by simply asking Him to come into your life.

You can check out some of the other Christmas carols we have looked at here. And check out the video of this message too—

11 More Quotes From “Our Portrait In Genesis”

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers’ book Our Portrait In Genesis is an excellent companion book when you read the book of Genesis from the Bible. I’ve already shared a few quotes from this book here, and here. Below are a few more I found highlighter-worthy.

“Degeneration and backsliding are by no means one and the same. Degeneration begins in almost imperceptible ways; backsliding in the Scriptural use of the term is a distinct forsaking of what I know of God and a deliberate substitution of something other (cf. Jeremiah 2:13). … If I maintain my right to my natural self I will begin to degenerate and get out of God’s purpose. … If I refuse to sacrifice the natural, the God-life in me is killed.”

“To experience conviction of sin is not a cause for misgiving, but an occasion for understanding the impossible things God has done in the Redemption.”

“All through, a personal crisis ought to serve as an occasion for revealing the fact that God reigns, as well as compelling us to know our own character.”

“We have the notion that it is only when we are pure and holy that God will appear to us; that God’s blessing is a sign that we are right with Him. Neither notion is true. Our Lord took care to say that God makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends His rain on the just and on the unjust. God’s blessings are not to be taken as an indication of the integrity of the character blessed, yet on the other hand the discernment of God’s character is determined entirely by the individual character of the person estimating God. ‘With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful’ (Psalm 18:25). The way I discern God’s character is determined by my own character. God remains true to His character, and as I grow in integrity I discern Him. Jacob’s undeservedness, and the fact that God continually blesses him, are brought out very clearly all through his life.”

“‘I can’t understand why I have no confidence in God’; the reason may be a matter of digestion, not enough fresh air, or sleep, too much tea—something slight. It is the shallow things that put us wrong much more quickly than the big things. The great object of the enemy of our souls is to make us fling away our confidence in God; to do this is nothing less than spiritual suicide. When we experience misgiving because we have sinned there is never any ambiguity as to its clause, the Holy Spirit brings conviction home like a lightning flash.”

“Prayer in distress dredges the soul (cf. Psalm 107). It is a good thing to keep note of the things you prayed about when you were in distress. We remain ignorant of ourselves because we do not keep a spiritual autobiography.”

“That is always the test of the reality of sanctification, not so much that I have received something, but that I have ceased to be my old self.”

“The warrior of God is not the man of muscle and a strong jaw, but the man of un-utterable weakness, the man who knows he has not any power; Jacob is no longer strong in himself, he is strong only in God, his life is no longer marked by striving, but by reliance on God. You cannot imitate reliance on God.”

“Authority never comes from you, but from God through you, therefore let God introduce or withhold as He chooses.”

“Beware of saying, ‘Oh well, it doesn’t matter much what I think about in secret’; it does, for the opportunity will come when what you think about in secret will find expression and spurt out in an act. The Bible always speaks of sin as it appears in its final analysis. Jesus does not say, ‘You must not covet because it will lead to stealing’; He says, ‘You must not covet because it is stealing.’ He does not say, ‘You must not be angry with your brother because it will lead to murder’; He says, ‘You must not be angry with your brother because it is murder.’”

“Four times over in this chapter [Genesis 39] is this statement made, ‘the Lord was with Joseph.’ It is the presence of God that is the secret of victory always. The fear of the Lord creates an atmosphere in which impure thoughts and unholy desires die a natural death.”

You can also read my review of this book by clicking here.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Memory Of Sin

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Memory Of Sin

     No aspect of Christian life and service is in more need of revision than our attitude to the memory of sin in the saint. When the Apostle Paul said “forgetting those things which are behind,” he was talking not about sin, but about his spiritual attainment. Paul never forgot what he had been; it comes out repeatedly in the Epistles—“For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle” (1 Corinthians 15:9); “unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given” (Ephesians 3:8); …sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). …

     If one wants a touchstone for the depth of true spiritual Christianity, one will surely find it in this matter of the memory of sin. There are those who exhibit a Pharisaic holiness, they thank God with an arrogant offensiveness that they are “not as other men are”; they have forgotten the horrible pit and miry clay from whence they were taken, and their feet set upon a rock through the might of the Atonement. … 

     May the conviction of God come with swift and stern rebuke upon any one who is remembering the past of another, and deliberately choosing to forget their restoration through God’s grace. When a servant of God meets these sins in others, let him be reverent with what he does not understand and leave God to deal with them. 

From Conformed To His Image (emphasis added)

These are good questions for Christians to ask themselves regularly: (1) Am I remembering the sins of others the way I would want others to remember my sins? (2) Am I remembering my forgiven sins the way that God remembers them (Psalm 103:10-12)?

Links & Quotes

link quote

“It has pleased God to give each one of us the same amount of time each day, week, month, and year. Time is a gift of God, and He expects us to use it wisely, in ways that overcome the foolishness of living apart from God and glorify Him in all the details of our lives (Psalm 90:12; Ephesians 5:15-17; 1 Corinthians 10:31). … The challenge of the spiritual life is to claim all our time and construct all our activities in order to pursue what we desire as the life of following Jesus. Anything that doesn’t contribute to that objective distracts from it. … What do the time and activities of your life reveal about what you desire in life and what you’re depending on to give your life purpose and joy?” —T.M. Moore

If you haven’t checked out The Bible Project videos lately, please visit their YouTube channel. They have some really cool stuff that give you an overview of a book of the Bible, and some of the major themes in the Bible. Each video is only 5-7 minutes long, but there is a ton of good insight packed into that time.

“If God did not love us unconditionally, He would not penetrate our unattractive lives, bring us to faith, unite us to Christ, give us His Spirit, and make us progressively like Jesus.” —John Piper

“The Word of God is an expansive Word; ever widening its dimensions; growing upon us; never old, ever new; in which we make continual discoveries; the same tree, but ever putting forth new branches and leaves; the same river, but ever swelling and widening; losing none of its old water, yet ever receiving accessions.” —Horatius Bonar

Planned Parenthood’s love/hate relationship with science.

The Federalist shares 10 reasons it makes zero sense to support abortion.

Parents & teachers, check out what Tim Elmore says we often forget when we are helping our students solve problems.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Parents! I do hope you are all endeavoring to bring your children to Christ by teaching them the things of God. Let them not be strangers to the plan of salvation. Never let it be said that a child of yours reached years in which his conscience could act, and he could judge between good and evil, without knowing the doctrine of the atonement, without understanding the great substitutionary work of Christ. Set before your child life and death, hell and heaven, judgment and mercy, his own sin, and Christ’s most precious blood; and as you set these before him, labor with him, persuade him, as the apostle did his congregation, with tears and weeping, to turn unto the Lord.” —Charles Spurgeon

“The role of God’s Word is to feed faith’s appetite for God. And, in doing this, it weans my heart away from the deceptive taste of lust. … As I pray for my faith to be satisfied with God’s life and peace, the sword of the Spirit carves the sugar coating off the poison of lust. I see it for what it is. And by the grace of God, its alluring power is broken.” —John Piper

“This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.” —G.K. Chesterton

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking … yourself is talking to you!” —Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Planned Parenthood updates:

Ultrasounds = good for saving babies, bad for Planned Parenthood’s business.

Earlier this week I shared a list of companies who support Planned Parenthood (at least PP had listed them as supporters on its website). Here’s what these companies said when they were contacted by The Daily Signal. Good news: It appears that many of them are not supporting PP financially.

PP cartoonHopefully this cartoon doesn’t describe you… (click the link or the picture to see the rest of it).

Salty Disciples

The hope of gloryWho are Christ’s disciples? Is it only the people who walked Earth at the same time and place as Jesus? Was it an exclusive club of the 12 men Jesus selected as His apostles? Can anyone be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Great questions!

First of all we must know that discipleship is not something we DO; it’s who we ARE. We have to start thinking of discipleship like a job search, where we need to have the right education and experiences that will build up our spiritual resume, and then Jesus will “hire” us to be one of His disciples.

We do the being, and Jesus does the preparingAnd Jesus said to them, Come after Me and BE My disciples, and I will MAKE you to become fishers of men (Mark 1:17, AMP). We are to just BE with Jesus, and being with Him will prepare us to be made into something else.

We don’t negotiate with Jesus on how much time we can give Him. We don’t say, “As soon as I get through this busy time in my life I’ll follow you” or “After the kids are grown, then I’ll have more time for you” or “As soon as I get my business situation taken care of.” Jesus wants us to come to Him just as we are right now—Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be My disciple. (Luke 14:33, MSG)

As a disciple of Jesus we don’t try to act a certain way, we simply AREYou ARE the salt of the earth… (Matthew 5:13). We can do this because of the Atonement (or as Oswald Chambers says, the “at-onement”). You are in Christ, and He is in you—when God sees you, He sees Jesus; when others see you, they see Jesus. 

Here’s the amazing thing: God wants to use you to show Jesus to others. God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ IN you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

Make it your goal to simply be with Christ, and then be prepared for His God’s glory to be on display in you. You will then BE salt and light to a needy world!

Thursdays With Oswald—Christ’s Perfection In You

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Christ’s Perfection In You

     Paul does not say, nor does the Spirit of God say anywhere, that after we are born again of the Spirit of God, Jesus Christ is put before us as an Example and we make ourselves holy by drawing from Him. Never! Sanctification is Christ formed in us; not the Christ-life, but Christ Himself. In Jesus Christ is the perfection of everything, and the mystery of sanctification is that we may have in Jesus Christ, not the start of holiness, but the holiness of Jesus Christ. …  

     Those of you who are hungering and thirsting after holiness, think what it would mean to you to go out tonight knowing that you may step boldly into the heritage that is yours if you are born of the Spirit, and realize that the perfections of Jesus are yours by His sovereign gift in such a way that you can prove it experimentally!

From Our Brilliant Heritage (emphasis added)

Oswald Chambers says there are three Mysteries that are impossible for us to fully grasp with our natural minds: (1) The Triune God—Father, Son and Spirit all equally God; (2) The Incarnation of Jesus—fully Man and fully God; and (3) Christ in us.

Yes, it’s a mystery, but it’s true! Jesus doesn’t want to be your Example. He wants to be in you, and wants you to be in Him. His desire is that you are at-onement (that’s what the word atonement means) with Him, so that when people look at you they see Jesus.

You don’t have to earn this, or try to work it up in your life. If you have invited Jesus into your life, He truly is IN you—all of His perfection is IN you! Ask the Holy Spirit to make this real to you today.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,820 other followers

%d bloggers like this: