Tag Archives: Jesu

Don’t Forget the Left-Overs

Each year, after thanksgiving meal is over, I’m still excited for the left-overs – a reminder of the wonderful meal, recently enjoyed.  The bounty of food is too much for one sitting, too much even for one day.  It spills over to supper, then to Friday and further.  Back home our tradition is to pour the gravy over a plate filled with cold turkey, stuffing and potatoes and warm it up in the microwave. Best. Left-overs. Ever. I’m going to have to work this off!

The left-overs turn my thoughts toward the twelve baskets left over after Jesus fed the multitude; then to Paul’s reference to spiritual food.  Jesus always fills us to overflowing!  He meets our every need and more.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”  When we sit at the feet of our Savior, we are fed the good, spiritual food of the gospel until we are so filled, we cannot take another bite.  We must leave and rest, then work it off before we come back for more.

Here’s my point and my prayer for all of us as we enjoy the spiritual blessings this Christmas season.

  • Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Come to Christ)
  • Gobble up the spiritual food He brings. (Sit at His feet)
  • Rest in Him – (Enjoy the fellowship of Christ and His church)
  • Work it off – (Serve Christ by serving others)
  • Come back for left-overs – (Remain in his Word and let us not forsake gathering together.)

As You Wish

I’m sure that many are excited that “The Avengers” released on DVD and blueray  this week.  I know I am.  But I’m even more interested that this is the 25th anniversary of “The Princess Bride.”

I must have watched that movie a hundred times during college – mostly in my friends apartment.  It’s always been that movie that “had it all.” It has action, adventure, mystery, intrigue and the kind of quick witted comedy that will have you rolling around on the floor shouting “rewind it, rewind it!” (although that would mostly be Bryan)

In addition to celebrating this great movie, my mindset as a believer points me to the overall theme of this movie -True Love.  From beginning to end this movie offers up its model of true love with the phrase “as you wish.”  This too is how we should show our love to our heavenly Father.

In our day and with the great draw of Christian worship music, we are constantly tempted to believe that when our music in church is well done, then we’ve worshiped God well or that if we love the music, then God felt loved by us.  It’s true that singing our songs of Praise is an act of love toward God, but it is not our complete worship offering.  Yes, singing to God is commanded in scripture, but in itself, it is only a small portion of our love demonstrated.

True love for God is saying “as You wish,” then doing it daily, whole heartedly, gladly and faithfully.  Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)  But he didn’t just demand obedience, he demonstrated it by showing in one act his love for the Father and for human kind. “When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

Will you also surrender your whole obedience to God as your offering of true love? Are you willing to demonstrate “as You wish” love for Christ and keep his commands?

 

In the Garden Jesus prayed to the Father, “not my will, but yours be done.” (As You wish.)


Holy

by Matt Redman, Jason Ingram, Jonas Myrin

Verse 1
What heart could hold the weight of Your love
And know the heights of Your great worth
What eyes could look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
(REPEAT)

Chorus 1
You are holy holy holy
God most high and God most worthy
You are holy holy holy
Jesus You are Jesus You are
(Jesus You are Jesus You are)

Verse 2
Your name alone has pow’r to raise us
Your light will shine when all else fades
Our eyes will look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You God

Misc 1
(BRIDGE)
Who shall we say You are
You’re the living God
Who shall we say You are
You’re the Great I Am
The highest name of all
You’re all You say You are

Verse 3
And You will come again in glory
To judge the living and the dead
All eyes will look on Your glorious face
Shining like the sun
Who is like You God

In scripture we are instructed by the psalmist.

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 and offering, and come into His courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness, tremble before him, all the earth. Psalm 96:7-9

This instruction means for us to acknowledge out-loud the attributes of our creator God – to give him the credit, respect and honor he deserves because of his character.  So in this song we attribute or ascribe several things to God and we do this as one body, a family.  Here is what we are ascribing to the Lord in this song;

  • Holiness (You are Holy)
  • Power (your name has power to raise us)
  • Glory (all eyes will look on your glorious face)
  • Great love (what heart could hold the weight)
  • Great worth (or know the heights)
  • And in case we miss anything we declare (You’re ALL you say you are)

As we ascribe to the Lord the glory due him, we also declare that this is true of his Son, Jesus.  Jesus demonstrated these things to be true in his life, death and resurrection.  He showed to us the character of the Father.  So we are indeed singing of Jesus, the God-man when we sing to the Lord.  After asking his disciples “Who do people say that I am?” he asked a more personal question.  “Who do you say that I am?”  Matt Redman’s song Holy gives us the opportunity to answer that question in unity singing, “You’re the living God,” “You’re the great I AM.”

As you worship the living God this Sunday may your worship be a sweet sweet sound to his ear, and may your singing be an extension of your obedient life.  This is our reasonable offering.


Before the Throne of God Above

Before The Throne of God Above

by Charitie Lees Bancroft


Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.Image result for Charitie Lees Bancroft
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

As worshipers under the new covenant established by Jesus, we approach the Father, in and through the Son.  In the old testament, God set up a model by which an earthly high priest would enter the Holy place to offer sacrifices first for himself and then for all the people under his priesthood.  This sacrifice was temporary and did not last.  The high priest would need to return and offer sacrifice again and again.

The writer of Hebrews explains how Jesus is King AND Great High Priest forever – “in the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek was King of Salem and was also priest of God Most High.  Abraham came upon Melchizedek in the Valley of Shaveh.  To learn more about Melchizedek, here is a message on him from D.A. Carson. 

I would encourage you to read Hebrews.  Try to do it in one sitting, or in as few sittings as you can.  We are so used to memorizing the chapter and verse of a piece of scripture that too often we miss the panoramic view of what is really being presented. (Ok, this was a side note.)

The writer of Hebrews presents Christ’s worthiness as the One who presents the sacrifice on our behalf.  Add to that, the sacrifice which Jesus presents is Himself.  The only One worthy to present the sacrifice also presents the only Sacrifice worthy of being presented!

“But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  Hebrews 7:24-25.

Recognizing Jesus incredible worthiness in his priesthood is appropriate when we worship.  I’ll even go as far as saying that it is crucial to Spirit and Truth worship for it is by his act that we are made worthy to come before the Father.  And only in and through Jesus can we offer worship worthy of our Lord.  And that’s why we sing it.

Father, thank You for the worthiness of Your Son, Jesus!  Because of Jesus, the plea for our pardon is perfect.  Because Jesus is the worthy offering AND the worthy presenter, ALL accusations against us will fail.  How blessed we are to own the privilege of entering into Your presence.  How privileged we are to sing Your praises and the praises of Your Son!  May the name of Jesus be blessed forever! Amen

 

Do you sing Before the Throne of God Above in your church?  What other songs do you know that present the utter worthiness of Christ as great high priest?


Let My Words Be Few

Let My Words Be Few

by Matt and Beth Redman

You are God in heaven and here am I on earth
So I’ll let my words be few
Jesus I am so in love with You
And I’ll stand in awe of You
yes I’ll stand in awe of You
and I’ll let my words be few
Jesus I am so in love with You

If you grew up in church you are probably familiar with the story of Job.  Even those outside church life have likely heard a version of Job’s story.  Job was a man who went through great tragedy at the hand of Satan because Satan wanted to prove to God that Job only loved God because God had blessed him greatly.

If God knows our future, then we can assume he had a grasp on Job’s as well.  He allowed the test.  Satan wasted no time.  He hit Job with incredible tragedies.  He takes his property and his children.  Of course, this hit Job hard.  Imagine how you would have reacted.  Job was human just like you and me.  He was devastated, torn-apart.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Job 1:21-22

Satan couldn’t believe it.  So he went to God again and suggested that it was Job’s health that kept him from cursing God. Again, God allowed Satan to attack Job, but this time Satan struck Job with sores from the “sole of his foot to the crown of his head.”

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.  Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10

And Job’s story goes forward.  He curses the day he was born. (shades of Jimmy Stewart) His three “good” friends advise him to repent from what ever it is that God is punishing him for. (Job knows in his heart that he has been obedient to God) Job pleas to God. Job blames God. Job hopes in God. Job questions God.   Then finally God answers.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Job 38:1-3

After the Lord questions Job, (I hope they were rhetorical questions) Job puts his hand over his mouth.

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?  I lay my hand on my mouth.” Job 40:3-4

In our modern English Job was saying this; You are God in heaven and here am I on earth, so I’ll let my words be few.

Father, sometimes we get carried away with ourselves. Too often we speak when we should be listening.  Oh how we cheaply view Your glory when we question your wisdom in our circumstances. You told us that in this world we would have trouble, but You also reminded us that You have overcome the world.  Let us not be surprised at the many trials we face, nor doubt Your presence with us during our trails.  Indeed let our words be few.  We love you, Jesus, amen.

Have you ever had a time in worship where all you could do was stand or sit in silence?  Does this song by Matt and Beth Redman speak to your current experiences in your walk of faith in Jesus?  Let us hear about it in the comment section.


Forget the New Resolutions – Just Be New

I didn’t make any “New Year’s” resolutions this year… There. I said it. Each year I make a few and always fail to follow through.  I start off well, but inevitably, I always regress back to the norm.  What I need to do is redefine what my normal is. I need a new normal.

2 Corinthians 5 talks about a new normal.  It would be a good place for all of us to begin the New Year.

If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.  And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.  Either way, Christ’s love controls us.  Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.  So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.  At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view.  How differently we know him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Cor 5:13-17

Perhaps the reason many of us continually fail to follow through on our resolutions is because we make resolutions based on living for ourselves.  Too often I fall into the trap of thinking that God’s whole existence is to make MY IDEA of “the good life” become a reality for ME. “I can do all things, through him who strengthens me” is not a verse about ME.  It is a verse about CHRIST!  I can pursue God’s will in every circumstance!

When I try to live for God, in my own will, it doesn’t work out.  I fail.  It’s a trap to try and conveniently add Christ into OUR old normal.  HE doesn’t fit there!  The only way to grab hold of the new life is to die to the old one.  Whoever belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The OLD LIFE IS GONE.  We are foolish when we try to go back to the old life and live in our will. Let us all fully embrace the New Normal – this new life, in Christ.  And may we never, ever let go of him.


Gospel Theology in our Christmas Carols

We love singing all the Christmas carols this time of year.  It’s because we are so mindful of Christ birth. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  this will be a sign to you; You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Most of the time (because we’re in a hurry) we only sing the first and maybe the last verses of these great carols!  Shame on us!  And shame on you, worship leaders!  We are leaving out some really important theology and as a result robbing our congregations of knowing more about the Christ, the promised One.

We sang some carols today during a monthly lunch gathering of senior adults and a retired pastor leaned over to me – after we sang all four verses of “Joy to the World” –  and he commented on how we seldom sing all the verses.  He was right.  Patience is a virtue and the fruit of the spirit.  We miss out on so much when our impatience leads us to skip verses such as;

No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found
far as, far as the curse is found.

You won’t hear this verse sung in arrangements on any Disney Christmas albums.  So if yours is a Disney Christianity, you can stop right here. You need not read any more of this article.  However, if the Christ you worship at Christmas is more than just a baby born in a manger, if to you, He is the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Emmanuel, and the One Peter confesses “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God,” then lets take a look at the oft excluded verse 3 of Isaac Watts’ “Joy to the World.”

We start this verse with “No more let sins and sorrows grow or thorns infest the ground” and we recognize the fall of man.  This is the story we know from the opening chapters of the Bible when Adam and Eve – of their own free will, and tempted by the serpent – disobeyed God and ate the fruit from the forbidden tree.  When they confessed that they had ignored the one instruction God had given them, He cursed the serpent, then He cursed the woman and the man and he cursed the ground.

“Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field” Genesis 3:17

“He comes to make his blessings flow.” What kind of blessings?  We often think of blessings as ‘stuff’ that is not the case here.  Jesus is the blessing from God – the One who brings salvation from this curse.  Watts appropriately uses the verb “flow” because Jesus is the Living Water.  He is the curse lifter, the Redeemer of the earth.  He is the Promised One that the prophets spoke of.  He clothed Himself in our injured flesh and entered a world that had been cursed – a result of a fallen humanity.  He died a sinners death, was buried and rose again bringing us eternal life and returning to us the fellowship between God and mankind that we haven’t been able to know since the garden of Eden.  And He will come again and the curse will be completely lifted and we will once again enjoy the fullness of His presence.

Far as the curse is found.” The blessing of Jesus is also relief from the curse.  He will return again to gather his children and resurrect the dead in Christ.  The curse will be lifted and he will make all things new again.

“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street.  On either side was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it. and His bond-servents will serve Him;” Revelation 22:1-3

“And behold, I am coming quickly.  Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7

Christ has not yet returned.  Verse three is sung in anticipation of His second coming.  In this one carol, sung at Christmas time, we celebrate His first coming and we also, with our spiritual eyes, look forward to His return.


The Music of Christmas

This past weekend the Choir and Drama teams presented our Christmas program.  What a fantastic job these wonderful people do each year!  I have such a privilege to work with singers and actors who love Christ and long to see Him lifted up.

Notice I purposefully used the word presented rather than performed.  In today’s culture, anything put to music is expected to be for the purpose of entertainment.  Entertainment is defined as [a : amusement or diversion provided especially by performers <hired a band to provide entertainment> b : something diverting or engaging: as: a public performance.]

We greatly desire to overcome this expectation for music and drama in the church. Our motivation is not to perform but to encourage.  I believe that churches should have a different motivation for the way they use music and drama.  We hope to see music used in the more Biblical practice of encouraging the fellowship of the family of believers – to remind ourselves and one another of the richness we have in Christ Jesus.  On Sunday, in particular, that we would Marvel at the Manger and how Jesus chose to come at the humblest of times in the poorest of places and present Himself to the least of all peoples.

The root word Entertain has a slightly different definition –[a : to keep, hold, or maintain in the mind <I entertain grave doubts about her sincerity> b : to receive and take into consideration.]  That is our goal! – to “maintain in the mind” that Christ is Lord – to “receive and take into consideration” that He Who was born in the manger was and IS the Son of God.  We use music and drama because it helps us in our efforts to “maintain in the mind” and “take into consideration.”

The challenge we undertake each year is to remind the body that Christ is the center, not only of Christmas, but of our very lives.  All of us need these constant reminders.  We long to lift Him up through the songs and scripts we present, but we also hope to use those songs and scripts to challenge the church body to lift Him up with their lives – to weave Jesus in to the fabric of their everyday lives.  Accordingly, on Sunday, we ended the morning with a congregational song declaring Jesus to be the Messiah.

Jesus Messiah
by Chris Tomlin | Daniel Carson | Ed Cash | Jesse Reeves

He became sin who knew no sin
That we might become His righteousness
He humbled Himself and carried the cross
Love so amazing love so amazing

His body the bread His blood the wine
Broken and poured out all for love
The whole earth trembled and the veil was torn
Love so amazing love so amazing

Jesus Messiah Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer Emmanuel
The Rescue for sinners
The Ransom from heaven
Jesus Messiah Lord of all
All our hope is in You
All our hope is in You
All the glory to You God
The Light of the world
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all
The Lord of all
The Lord of all

 

Lord of ALL! Lord of the season. Lord of the church.  Lord of our homes.  Lord of our song!  Lord of our friendships.  Lord of my life.  Lord of all we say and do.  He is the Messiah and He is LORD!

A Prayer of Thanks to God Who Blesses Beyond Measure

Father, You are my great Provider.  You love to give good things to Your children.  You have blessed me with every good thing.  Sometimes Your blessings have been answers to my prayers; A lovely wife, kids who love You, a home for my family.  The very best gifts from You are the ones I wasn’t wise enough to ask You for – things at the time, I didn’t even know that I needed; Grace, Mercy, Salvation. While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.

You provide my daily needs, may I not take them for granted.  I bless You, Provider, for daily food to sustain me and clothes to warm me.  I bless You, Healer, for bringing me and those I love through times of sickness and pain.  I bless You, Mighty One, for giving us Your strength and power as we work for the sake of Your gospel.  I bless You, Creator, for the beauty You show us in a sunset and in a starry sky.  I bless You, Deliverer, for saving me from the death blow of my enemies.  I bless You, Prince of Peace, for making a way that I may enter Your presence free from the wrath I deserve.  I bless You, Friend of sinners, for Your intimate fellowship that brings me such joy and satisfaction.

And in case I haven’t said it before, I want to thank you for the suffering and hardship You have, in Your wisdom, allowed in my life.  Though I am not yet the completed work You have designed, You are shaping me with these trials.  If it were not for the trials, I would not have experienced Your Spirit teaching me endurance which builds and shapes my character.  And You have shaped that character that my hope would be fixed on Jesus alone.  As You say in Your Word;

Romans5:3-5 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Thank You, Lord, that You have restored friendships that I had broken with harsh words or disagreements.  Thank You that Your ways are better than mine.  Thank You for Your forgiveness which has allowed me to forgive others who may have wronged me.  Thank You for not allowing my sins to devour me and destroy my life.  By Your forgiveness You have rescued me.

Your love, oh Lord, reached out to me when I was completely helpless to save myself.  I give You thanks. Even now I am completely powerless to do anything outside of Christ living in me.  In Christ, I can do all things.  Outside of Christ, I can do nothing of any value.  Thank You for Jesus, Who is the Christ, Your Son; and YOU ARE ALIVE!

You alone are God.  You alone deserve to be God.  You dwell in light unapproachable, yet You welcome me in as a child coming home.  Bless Your Name!


Do What Is Good

Every day you live, you can Make A Difference.  Each day holds new opportunities to do good.  Opportunities which are different for each of us and have specifically been designed for us.  In fact, you and I have appointments today with people whose names we do not yet know. And those appointments will call for us to “do good.” You’re skeptical, I can tell.  If you don’t believe me read this… Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planed for us long ago.”

We know our time on this earth is brief.  Scripture declares it and we see evidence everyday that life is short.  It would be such a waste to live that life only for ourselves, especially in the light of Eph 2:10. God has made us His masterpiece.  He specifically designed us to do the “good things” and he planned these “good things” long ago specifically for us.  WOW!
Another verse – This one’s a favorite. Galatians 6:9-10 “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” YES! do good to everyone, ESPECIALLY other believers and DON’T EVER STOP doing good.
I believe that all of us want to do good.  But, in a world turned upside down, where evil is declared good and good is deemed offensive, it’s difficult to know where to begin.   Do you lack ideas in your personal campaign to do good?  Here are some starters.
Tithe to your church and then give above that.  Find a place to serve within your church and then find a 2nd place to serve.  Go to Bible Study and Worship faithfully, then stay a little longer to encourage others. Too easy?  Scripture does say “especially to those in the family of faith.”  We can’t just ignore that because it seems obvious.  We are biblical to start with these three things and springboard from them.
Now for the “don’t ever stop” part of the Galatians instruction – But lunch for a friend.  Serve the meal at a homeless shelter.  Invite friends over to dinner.  Send someone an encouraging message on facebook.  Send an elderly widow a bouquet of flowers.  Rake your neighbors yard when he is out of town.  Have a Daddy/Daughter date or a Mother/Son date.  Tell someone that Jesus loves them.  Hold the door for a stranger.  Sponsor a child.  Help an elderly shopper with his/her cart.  help a friend with a repair. Tell someone they are doing a great job.  Tell others that you love them.  Make A Difference.