Monday, December 26, 2011

The Powerful Presence of the Prince of Peace

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
Isaiah 25:6-9

Excerpt from “Jesus, Light of the World: Prince of Peace” – 2011-12-25
In hearing the Father’s call for is life, Jesus came down to earth, grew in grace, obediently walked into the waters of baptism, healed the sick, cast out demons, preached the gospel, and challenged the spiritually arrogant of his day. As a result, they beat him and hammered his body to a cross where He was left to die. Under the weight of our sin Jesus’ body did die - but by the power of the living God he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven – fulfilling the promise of God proclaimed through the prophet Isaiah - the completed action of God as promised.

Just before he died, Jesus cried out: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). From God’s first promise in the Garden to his birth, from his death to resurrection, from this day and on into eternity - Jesus is our fulfilled promise that our war against God! And while our battle against sin, evil and death is not completely over here on earth – we have a completed promise from God that we have victory! The “Prince of Peace” has arrived; The banquet is prepared; the covering of sin has been removed; death has been swallowed up; our tears and our reproach have been wiped away - and our battle cry is “Behold, this is our Savior! He has arrived, we are saved! Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation!”

The night before he went to the cross Jesus said: “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:32-33). The peace we are promised in Jesus Christ is a peace is a peace that is not overwhelmed by adversity, overshadowed by fear or overclouded by guilt. The peace that Jesus gives us is not the absence of war, but rather the confidence that he is with us always, regardless of trouble or trial. The “Prince of Peace” brings not the absence of danger but the overcoming presence of the living God through Jesus Christ even in the face of death. In the words of the great Puritan prayer: “I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face, for I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world.” The great Charles Wesley once wrote:

In times of trouble I rest beneath the Almighty's shade, my griefs expire, my troubles cease; Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed, wilt keep me still in perfect peace.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hope Has Come – Stephen Altrogge

Let us join with the angel voices
Let us join their happy song
All of heaven and earth rejoices
For the Lamb of God has come
He has come to rescue sinners
Come to meet our desperate need
He was born to bring forgiveness
Born for Calvary

Alleluia hope has come
Alleluia Christ has come
We once were slaves in misery
Till You appeared and set us free
Alleluia hope has come

Let us lay our gifts before Him
Let us magnify His name
With our thankful hearts adore Him
For the Lord has come to save
He has come to break sin's power
He has come to set us free
Hope was born that glorious hour
Christ the mighty King

Monday, December 19, 2011

Loving Our Children as Our Father Loves Us

He shall cry to me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.'And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him. I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens.
Psalms 89:26-29

Excerpt from “Jesus, Light of the World: Everlasting Father” – 2011-12-18
When children see their fathers passionately and intimately loving God in their everyday lives, they will become the children of God that God has purposed for them. There is no activity, no developed skill, no natural talent, no experience that can ever do that. God is our Father and we are His children. God did not sit on the sideline and encourage and exhort us; in Jesus Christ, He went in and played the game with them. Through Jesus Christ, God lived with us, loved with us, cried with us, laughed with us, hungered with us, struggled with us, suffered with us, died with us. God doesn’t just watch His children grow up, He rolls up His sleeves, gets down on the floor, and wrestles with them through the issues of everyday life with His children. We fathers are to do the same with our children, with our families. God is our “Everlasting Father.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Prevailing Power of our Mighty God

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Micah 5:2

Excerpt from “Jesus, Light of the World: Mighty God” – 2011-12-11
In all of the times of struggle, trial, pain and suffering we go through in this life - we can prevail, we can persevere in trusting, loving, seeking and gratefully finding our greatest joy and satisfaction in our “Mighty God” - when we fully embrace the reality that God has prevailed and will always prevail until the end of time. In John 16:33 Jesus tells us: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, free of our sin which so easily entangles us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. In Christ we too shall sit with the Father, wrapped in His glory, immersed in His perfect peace and joy and love. Like Thomas Edison may we persevere in the midst of discouraging odds, and as a result may our lives shine where there once was darkness. May we run the race of life like Beth Anne the marathon runner, giving our all, knowing that with the power of our “Mighty God” we will finish the race and prevail to the very end, even if it seems like all seems lost. There will be a day, paraphrasing the words of Thomas Edison, when “the sight we so long desire will finally meet our eyes” – and we will find ourselves in the presence of the light that saved us from the darkness forever.

Out of a mountain of failures, a light was born. Out of our mountain of our failures, Jesus was born. God is still at work prevailing and persevering in the lives of those who trust Him, who love Him, who seek Him, and who gratefully find their greatest joy and satisfaction in Him. The truth of history tells us that God will prevail. In the season of celebrating the birth of God’s promised hope, may you know the never-ending joyful reality of the prevailing love of our “Mighty God” - that powerfully persevered on the cross of Calvary, and that will continue to joyfully prevail and powerfully persevere in every struggle, every trial, every pains and every suffering you experience in this life. Because our “Mighty God” persevered and prevailed, someday we will also persevere and prevail, and be with him in glory!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Emmanuel – Chris Tomlin

What hope we hold this starlit night
A King is born in Bethlehem
Our journey long, we seek the light
That leads to the hallowed manger ground

What fear we felt in the silent age
Four hundred years can He be found
But broken by a baby's cry
Rejoice in the hallowed manger ground

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
God incarnate here to dwell
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Praise His name Emmanuel

The son of God, here, born to bleed
A crown of thorns would pierce His brow
And we beheld this offering
Exalted now the King of kings
Praise God for the hallowed manger ground

Oh, praise His name Emmanuel

My Soul Magnifies the Lord – Chris Tomlin

Good news of great joy for every woman, every man
This will be a sign to you, a baby born in Bethlehem
Come and worship, do not be afraid

A company of angels ”Glory in the highest
And on the earth peace among those on whom His favor rests”
Come and worship, do not be afraid

My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord
My soul magnifies the Lord
He has done great things for me
Great things for me

Unto you a child is born, unto us a Son is given
Let every heart prepare His throne in every nation under Heav'n
Come and worship, do not be afraid

Of His government there will be no end
He'll establish it with His righteousness
And He shall reign on David's throne
And His name shall be from this day on
Wonderful, Counselor, Everlasting Father

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Story of Christmas - An Animation

The Wonderful Will of God’s Sovereign Plan and Purpose

“Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”
Isaiah 46:9-11

Excerpt from “Jesus, Light of the World Wonderful Counselor” – 2011-12-04
We are entering a season when we remember and celebrate the wondrous fulfillment of God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Jesus Christ, emptied Himself from God, entered this world as a human being and lived as God among us. He hungered, he laughed, he cried, he slept, he ate, he got tired, he got hurt, he loved, and he was hated. He lived a common human existence in our midst. In being God among a people who see themselves as their own god, Jesus found Himself beaten, whipped, crucified and murdered on a cross. Those who killed him buried him in a tomb, hoping to bury their own guilt and pride and egos with him. But much to their chagrin Jesus rose from the dead, walked this earth, then rose again into heaven glorifying the name and honor and power of the one and only God who faithfully carried out the promise and purpose and plan He had made before creation ever existed. All according to Gods is will, God’s plan and God’s purpose. The birth of the Savior some 2000 years ago was an act of God’s will which caused a wonderful thing to happen to us because of God’s steadfast love for His people which was carried out according to His sovereign plan and divine purpose. Because it is so, we now have opportunity to be loved, to be forgiven, to be cleansed, to be restored, to live the life God created us for. All according to God’s sovereign plan and divine purpose - Jesus was and is our “Wonderful Counselor.” God has a will, a sovereign plan and a divine purpose for each one of us.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Psalm 22 - Ryan Ferguson

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
"He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"
Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet-- I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
Psalm 22:1-31