Poetry Saturday—Christ Jesus Lay In Death’s Strong Bands

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands
And brings us life from heaven;
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of hallelujah.
Hallelujah! 

It was a strange and dreadful strife
when life and death contended;
the victory remained with life,
the reign of death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith
that death is swallowed up by death,
his sting is lost forever. 
Hallelujah!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
so strong His love!—to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
faith points to it, death passes o’er,
and satan cannot harm us. 
Hallelujah! —Martin Luther

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 18

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly 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.

Jeremiah 18

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 18.] 

     These people are affecting to be the people of God—“We are the people of God, this is the temple of God…the prophets we like to listen to are those who prophesy smooth things.” … The early aspirations God stirred in them have gone, and now they simply make God and everything in connection with Him an affectation to go on their own ways. …

     There is an obstinacy that deliberately takes the law into its own hand and leaves the source of its life. There needs to be a recognition of where the source of life is and a determination to stay at it. Backsliding is the prevailing human stubbornness after the experimental knowledge of salvation. Backsliding is never spoken of in the Bible as a degenerate tendency, but as a conscious forsaking. …  

     It is no longer “Satisfy us early with Thy mercy,” but “Satisfy us with these other things, we want material prosperity and success.” … Never falter by trying to make anything lesser the cause for what is greater; for instance, trying to make health of body the cause for a right spiritual relationship, or material prosperity the cause for worshiping God, and never make obedience the reason that God is blessing you, obedience is the effect of being rightly related to God. 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

Backsliding occurs when we deliberately try to find loopholes, evasions, or excuses for not obeying the Word of God. 

Whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to make a change, we have a decision to make: we can obey or we can make excuses (which is conscious disobedience). Obedience shows we are rightly related to God. Our excuses and evasions show we are trying to get God to be rightly related to our way of thinking. 

What God is asking you to obey may be a hard thing, but it is always the best thing! Don’t evade, justify, or make excuses—simply, as the words of the old hymn remind us, trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus. 

Links & Quotes

link quote

“I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.” —C.S. Lewis

“Jesus spilled His blood for you. You can spill your heart before God.” —Max Lucado

“Too often, when issues of sexual abuse come up, the Church simply stays silent. But a Gospel-centered response to sexual violation of anyone at any age begins with understanding that silence is not an option.” Read more in The Scandal Of Silence.

An abortion clinic in Michigan was shut down for numerous health and safety violations, but now it appears it may re-open.

[VIDEO] Here’s the truth of what abortion providers do—

Eric Metaxas shares the really cool story behind the Navy Hymn.

“You can be saved, Spirit-filled, and walking holy before God, yet still be guilty of unbelief. You may think, ‘I don’t have any unbelief.’ But do you get upset when things go wrong? Are you fearful of failing God? Are you restless, afraid of the future? The believer who has unconditional faith in God’s promise enjoys complete rest. What characterizes this rest? A full, complete confidence in God’s Word, and a total dependence on His faithfulness to that Word. Indeed, rest is the evidence of faith.” —David Wilkerson

Seth Godin discusses what starts to happen when our expectations slip.

 

Poetry Saturday―And Can It Be Said That I Should Gain

Charles WesleyAnd can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain―
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace―
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray―
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own. —Charles Wesley

Poetry Saturday―There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood

William CowperThere is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more, be saved, to sin no more;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more.

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared, unworthy though I be,
For me a blood bought free reward, a golden harp for me!
’Tis strung and tuned for endless years, and formed by power divine,
To sound in God the Father’s ears no other name but Thine. —William Cowper

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Who is GodPastor Tom Kaastra continued our series The Carols Of Christmas by looking at the well-known Christmas hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful. The line he especially highlighted comes from the third stanza—Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

It is so vital that we keep both of those aspects of Jesus Christ in mind: He is both the Word of the Father and the Word become flesh. As Tom pointed out, this fact helps us answer the two most vital questions that humans have:

  • Who is God?
  • Who am I?

I can learn more about who I am when I know more clearly Who God is. And when I know this, I can more fully—as the song says—come and adore Christ the Lord.

Jesus is fully God:

Jesus revealed to us the Father’s love; after all, God is love (1 John 4:16). Jesus came to show us the love of God.

Jesus is fully Man:

  • He got tired and hungry (John 4:6)
  • He limited Himself to do only what the Father told Him to do (John 5:19-20)
  • He limited Himself to say only what the Father told Him to say (John 12:49)
  • He felt anguish and pain (Luke 22:44)

As C.S. Lewis said, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” And as sons of God, we have access to the Heavenly Father—

Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Abba! My Father! (Romans 8:14-15)

Word of the Father now in flesh appearing is cause for adoration because Jesus has made it possible for us to become sons and daughters of God!

O come let us adore Him!!

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

AdventWe began our series on The Carols Of Christmas by looking at the poem written by Charles Wesley in 1744: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus. As far as I can find, Wesley never shared where he got his inspiration for this prose, but I have a hunch that it might be from a song in the Bible called The Benedictus.

Zechariah had been unable to speak for nearly a year because of his doubt over the message God sent him through the angel (see Luke 1:5-20). When his son was born and Zechariah named him John, his tongue was loosed and he “was filled with the Holy Spirit” and burst into song (Luke 1:67-79). The first word of his song in Latin is benedictus, from which the name is derived.

Here’s what I love about both Zechariah’s and Wesley’s songs—they both look forward to Chris’t first Advent and His second Advent. Mary was still pregnant with Jesus when Zechariah sang his song, but his lyrics reflect the Redemption story that Jesus would fulfill as Emmanuel, God with us. Charles Wesley picks up this same theme, rejoicing over Christ’s birth and His imminent return.

In fact, that’s exactly the point! We aren’t celebrating Christmas as much as we are celebrating Advent. Jesus was born “when the time had fully come” for His first Advent (Galatians 4:4-5), and “this same Jesus, Who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11). That’s the message that should encourage us (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Check out the remarkable parallels between the Benedictus and Wesley’s hymn—

Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus & Benedictus

 

If you’d like to download a PDF of this side-by-side comparison, here it is → Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus & Benedictus ←

We are continuing our series on the rich, meaningful messages in the familiar Christmas carols next Sunday, and I’d love to have you join us!

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