4th Week of Advent: I Wonder as I Wander

4th Week of Advent:  I Wonder as I Wander

My friend Penny is a walker (a very serious, fast walker, by the way).  But Penny doesn't just walk for exercise, she also "walks" closely with the Lord.  So when Penny shares, I listen. And when she shared about a favorite Christmas carol, it made me take notice. Why?  Because while walking, Penny has been doing what this song describes.

Read More

Advent Devotions: Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

Advent Devotions:  Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

We would give up everything we've ever written to have penned this one verse, a stanza that comes as close as is humanly possible to capturing the splendor of who Jesus is. 
Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola, p. 173-174

What is that one verse? that one stanza?  Authors Sweet & Viola are referring to the last stanza of the well-known carol, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.

In my opinion, however, it isn't just the last stanza that is all glorious with the splendor of Christ...it's the entire song. In fact, even the stanzas that were removed* from the older version are splendid indeed.  But I'm getting ahead of the story.

Read More

3rd Week of Advent: EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

3rd Week of Advent:  EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

If ever we needed to know God is WITH us in every possible way, it's NOW, after another year of the unanswerable "why's" of life.  We struggle to make sense of all the violence, suffering, and injustice we see all around us.  Though we can't know the answers, we can turn afresh to the One Who has us in the palm of His Hand. The God Who became One of us...flesh and bone and joint and sinew...who experienced every emotion possible, raw and gripping, tender and affectionate!  He felt it all!  And He feels our current struggle with us too!

Read More

Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {from nearness to oneness}

Advent Devotions:  the WITH-ness of our God {from nearness to oneness}

Jesus Christ the Son of God became one with us, so that we could be one with Him! 

This glorious truth is at the heart of the Incarnation.  God became one of us!  One with us!  Why?  So that we could experience union with God.

And that takes us back to our 3 Greek prepositions for with:  (see previous post:  The WITH-ness of our God (prepositions):

  • para, meaning beside, nearby, in the immediate vicinity or proximity, alongside
  • meta, meaning with, in close association with, in companionship with
  • sun, meaning together in intimate union, inseparable from
Read More

Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

Advent Devotions:  the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

Isn't it wonderful when someone wants to spend time with us?  Not just a token, obligatory, "showing up" to either fulfill an obligation, salve guilt, or ask for something...a real wanting to be with us.

As special as it is in human relationships, think how amazing it is when we realize that the Sovereign God of the universe has wanted to be with us!  Yes, US!  and according to the Bible words used, we see that in Jesus, our Emmanuel, He is with us on every level possible.

In the original language of the New Testament, there are three Greek words that can be translated with

Read More

Advent Devotions: The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

Advent Devotions:  The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

Joy is the flag that flies over the soul when the King is in residence!
Chuck Swindoll

Years ago, I was leading a small group of ladies through Paul's letter to the Galatians.  In chapter 5, we came to a familiar passage:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self control. Galatians 5:22-23

Julie was in that small group that year, and Julie was from Great Britain.  I asked her about Chuck's metaphor.  She assured me that it was true.  When royalty is in residence at the palace, the flag flies. It's the signal to the "subjects" that their monarch is present.

Read More

2nd Week of Advent: the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

2nd Week of Advent:  the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

"The Good News isn't just that Jesus died for our sins.  The Good News is EMMANUEL...GOD WITH US!"  So declared Deb at the end of our Bible Study.

As John and I drove home that evening, we reflected on her statement.  We recalled a conversation we had had years before when we were discussing what the heart of the gospel ("Good News") is.   The Good News isn't just that our sins are forgiven so we can go to heaven someday (and now we just do the best we can in the meantime).

Read More

Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

Advent Devotions:  the WITH-ness of our God {His Presence in prepositions}

Isn't it wonderful when someone wants to spend time with us?  Not just a token, obligatory, "showing up" to either fulfill an obligation, salve guilt, or ask for something...a real wanting to be with us.

As special as it is in human relationships, think how amazing it is when we realize that the Sovereign God of the universe has wanted to be with us!  Yes, US!  and according to the Bible words used, we see that in Jesus, our Emmanuel, He is with us on every level possible.

In the original language of the New Testament, there are three Greek words that can be translated with.  With is one of a group of many words we call prepositions.  Don't worry about the grammar of it all.  Just keep in mind that the key idea with prepositions is relationship.

Read More

4th Week of Advent: I Wonder as I Wander

My friend Penny is a walker (a very serious, fast walker, by the way).  But Penny doesn't just walk for exercise, she also "walks" closely with the Lord.  So when Penny shares, I listen. And when she shared about a favorite Christmas carol, it made me take notice. Why?  Because while walking, Penny has been doing what this song describes.

The song?  Here are the lyrics:

I wonder as I wander out under the sky, How Jesus the Savior did come for to die. For poor on'ry people like you and like I... I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall, With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all. But high from God's heaven a star's light did fall, And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing, A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing, Or all of God's angels in heav'n for to sing, He surely could have it, 'cause he was the King.

So as we get close to the end of our time of preparation,  why not "wonder as YOU wander" -- whether down nature paths or even through shopping malls?  And as you walk, meditate on all the glory of the Incarnation of our God into this world!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvADhdoQ8n0[/youtube]

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Readings for the 4th Week of Advent

Sunday -- Luke 2:1-20 Monday -- Matthew 2:1-11 Tuesday -- Isaiah 9:2-7 Wednesday -- John 1:1-18

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You might also like:

Walkin' n Talkin' with My Savior

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I love this blog post from the Voice blog.  It explains what some Christians believe is "taking 'Christ' out of 'Christmas'." by using "Xmas"  by David Capes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st Week of Advent: O Come, Emmanuel!

When I was a child, I always loved Advent.  There was a melancholia, a longing...but mixed at the same time with anticipation and hope. How did I get all that as a child?  I'm sure I didn't, except to say that maybe all the sights and sounds and smells...all the scriptures and songs and prayers and stories of the "liturgical celebration" weren't entirely lost on me, nor on many of you.  The reality of our God-Man Jesus has grown in me over the years as I've walked and talked with my Savior.

But whether you have had that sort of background as a child or not, why not journey with us these next weeks.  Take it all in as if for the first time...all the sights, sounds, and smells...all the scriptures and songs and prayers and stories.

Below are Scripture readings for every day this week.  Let the Word of God wash over you day by day.  I've linked the passages to biblegateway.com so you can change the version as you wish.

But first, enjoy this Christmas Carol to start off your Advent devotions.  It's one of my childhood favorites:  O Come, O Come  Emmanuel.

I love the intense longing expressed in this song...a longing for the presence of God Himself into our frail humanity...a presence that is our Present Reality in Christ.

Who would have ever imagined it?  God in the flesh!  C.S. Lewis was right when he called the Incarnation (God made Man, God with Us), The Grand Miracle.

Sing it with us, and let the emotion and wonder of it all bathe over you!

O Come O Come Emmanuel Selah

O come, O come, Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan's tyranny From depths of Hell Thy people save And give them victory o'er the grave Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death's dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come, And open wide our heavenly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might, Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height, In ancient times did'st give the Law, In cloud, and majesty and awe. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel. 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q6iesplJRM[/youtube]

For an interesting story behind the song, click here.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Readings for the First Week of Advent:

Sunday  --  Luke 4:16-21

Monday  --  John 1:1-18

Tuesday  --  Hebrews 1:1-14

Wednesday  --  Philippians 2:1-11

Thursday  --  Luke 2:41-52

Friday  --  Matthew 3:1-17

Saturday  --  Matthew 4:12-25

*******************************************************

The Reading Plan I'm using this year is found in The Voice, a new translation of the New Testament published by Thomas Nelson. For a free download and short video clips, follow this link:

http://www.nelsonfree.com/voicent

*******************************************************

Advent artwork courtesy of my cousin-in-law Marilyn Parente.  Of these beautiful creations, Marilyn says, "I created them using images of panels of glass I shot in Disney with a bit of clipart and some Photoshop thrown in for good measure." Thank you so much for sharing, dear sister in the Lord!

December 2012, Today in the Word

Advent Devotions: Celebrating God WITH Us!

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming." It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday. Advent prepares us to celebrate  what C.S. Lewis calls the Grand Miracle...the Incarnation!

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation...God became Man.  Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this....it was the central event in the history of the Earth--the very thing the whole story has been about. Miracles, "The Grand Miracle," C.S. Lewis

Join us for the next four weeks in celebrating, through Scripture readings, songs, and devotional thoughts, the greatest miracle of all...God With Us, our Immanuel!

 

The Beauty of the Incomparable Christ...the Son of Man (Hebrews 2:5-18)

Incarnation
Incarnation

CS Lewis calls the Incarnation "The Grand Miracle."

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation...God became Man.  Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this….it was the central event in the history of the Earth–the very thing the whole story has been about. Miracles, “The Grand Miracle,” C.S. Lewis

In chapter 2 of Hebrews, we continue the thought that Jesus Christ is better than the angels...not just because He's the Son of GOD, but because He's the Son of MAN.  What an incredibly important truth for fallen man!

Our destiny that was lost (Hebrews 2:5-8) is now regained in the God-Man Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:9-18).  Here are a couple suggestions for your study of this passage:

  • Go through Hebrews 2:9-18 and see if you can give 5 descriptions of Jesus as our God-Man.  They are listed for you below,* but why not try them on your own first.
  • Spend time reflecting on how your Great High Priest has come to your aid in the past and how you need Him to come to your aid today.  Praise and pray!

*Descriptions of Jesus Christ, the God-Man:

1.  He is my Substitute (2:9)

2.  He is my Savior (2:10-11a)

3.  He is my Brother (2:11b-14a)

4.  He is my Deliverer (2:14b-15)

5.  He is my Helper / High Priest (2:16-18)

Christmas: Welcome to our World!

Christmas blessings from a branch in the VINE.
Thank you, dear readers, for journeying with me this Advent!  I hope you feel better prepared to remember our Lord, Emmanuel's coming to our earth.  I certainly do for the writing.

Enjoy this family story, my gift to you, and remember your JESUS!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; how happy is the one who takes refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8

I had good intentions.  The recipe looked easy enough, yet festive:  Chocolate Orange Cake.  I figured this year the boys were old enough to  enjoy a birthday for Jesus.  And who doesn’t like chocolate?  Even though I had been  tempted by the beautiful little chocolate cake at Trader Joe’s, I decided to take the plunge myself.  I pulled out the spring form pan (which I had worked with before) and went at it.

I wasn’t prepared for the result!  Even though my toothpick came out clean, something happened to part of the middle as it cooled on the rack!  If the whole middle had sunk a little, it wouldn’t have been that bad.  But there it was, a desperately mis-shapen birthday cake for Jesus.  My efforts at patching it up just ended in making it worse:  glaze sliding off one side, crumbs in the glaze…nothing I tried helped.

Discouraged, pressured, and ready to pitch the thing and go spend $7.99 for that cute little TJ cake, I remembered… JESUS!  I realized that He probably NEVER had a perfect birthday cake (if they even did that in those days).  Even His actual birth-day was far from perfect…no hospital, no doctor, no nursery with a clean crib and changing table, no doting relatives, no baby showers, no “home sweet home”, not even a room in a hotel…but rather a barn filled with animals, far from loved-ones, with two teen-aged parents, and unclean out-casts with their sheep for visitors!  (Of course, God couldn’t resist throwing in a few angels and a star!  But they were only “visible” to the few believing hearts).

Something began to change in my attitude toward my cake.  Now it was a picture, a “metaphor," for my Lovely Lord who wasn’t one of the beautiful people (kinda like my cake):

He has no beauty or majesty that we should look upon Him nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. (Is 53:2)

My cake began to speak to me of this Glorious One who came to earth and put up with a broken, imperfect life for my sake:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt (pitched His tent) among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,  full of grace and truth. (John 1:14).

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…who although He existed in the form of God, …emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:5-8)

So I swallowed my pride and put a little crystal nativity on top.  When it was time for dessert, I read the verses from Isaiah, and we sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.  The funny thing is that it was actually “delicious”…kinda like Jesus, huh?

Taste and see that the Lord is good; how happy is the one who takes refuge in Him. Psalm 34:8

WELCOME TO OUR WORLD
Chris Rice

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome, Holy Child
Welcome, Holy Child

 Hope that You don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

 Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

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 a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2

Advent Devotions: the WITH-ness of our God {from nearness to oneness}

star over bethlehem
star over bethlehem

Jesus Christ the Son of God became one with us, so that we could be one with Him! 

This glorious truth is at the heart of the Incarnation.  God became one of us!  One with us!  Why?  So that we could experience union with God.

And that takes us back to our 3 Greek prepositions for with:  (see previous post:  The WITH-ness of our God (prepositions):

  • para, meaning beside, nearby, in the immediate vicinity or proximity, alongside
  • meta, meaning with, in close association with, in companionship with
  • sun, meaning together in intimate union, inseparable from

We have been celebrating all month the glorious truth of Emmanuel, God with (meta) us, the Incarnation, God made Man -- in scripture, story, and song.  Last time, we saw that, during Old Testament times, God was certainly with His people, but in a temporary, transcendent, external way.  He was para, alongside, nearby so to speak.

But then Emmanuel came and everything changed!  Now God was in close association with (meta) His people.  But HOW?  That is today's question.

Let's look at the answer in 3 ways (and I promise we will finally see our last preposition sun).  Jesus is our Emmanuel, God WITH us:

  • In His Person
  • In His Passion (suffering)
  • In His Abiding Presence

1.  We've already talked about how God and man are united in Jesus Christ.  In His very Person deity and humanity are united:

images
images

 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.Colossians 2:9 NLT

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! John 14:9 NLT

And then a significant verse tucked away in John 1:1-18 (you may want to look at the entire passage):

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling ("pitched his tent") among (our word meta, in close association with) us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NIV

2.  But not only is Jesus our Emmanuel in His very Person, but also in His Passion (suffering).  It's a great mystery that God would deign to suffer and die... beyond our comprehension!  But suffer and die He certainly did, to pay for our sins and bring us to God.  In theological terms, we call that substitutionary atonement.**

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 NLT

No passage says it more clearly and poignantly than Isaiah 53, the Old Testament prophecy of the Suffering Savior.  An in-depth study of this passage reveals treasures.  However, it doesn't just spell out in detail the sufferings of our Savior in dying as an atonement for sin (see vss 5-12).  It also describes Jesus' sufferings as a righteous human growing up in a fallen world with sinful men.  Let's look briefly at verses 2-4:

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Jesus wasn't one of the "beautiful people." He was ordinary...not attractive physically.  He was rejected, despised because of his "illegitimate" status. (It was no secret that his mom had gotten pregnant before marriage.) Our Savior suffered grief and pain.  Perhaps He was thought to be "unspiritual, ungodly," because He didn't play by the "religious rules."

Does any of that sound familiar?  Well, Jesus our "God meta us" identified with us in the sufferings of our daily life on planet earth.  And because He is both God and Man, He can not only empathize, He can and does help!

...he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted [tried or tested], he is able to help those who are being tempted....For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted [tried, tested] in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16

3.  As if all of this hasn't been exciting enough, hear this glorious truth:  Jesus Christ is our Emmanuel, God meta Us in His Abiding Presence...today!  Right now!  This is where our last with preposition comes in -- sun, together in intimate union, inseparable from.

biscuits for Jesus ingredients
biscuits for Jesus ingredients

In order to show the incredible depth of this preposition, I want to use an illustration that I've borrowed from a favorite Bible teacher, Wayne Barber.  He calls it "Biscuits for Jesus."  I've adapted it a bit to illustrate how all 3 of our with prepositions relate to each other.

There are certain ingredients that go into making biscuits:  flour, salt, baking powder, milk, sugar (if you’re Polish like me), and shortening (namely butter, if you’re Polish like me).  Anyway, as you gather the ingredients and place them next to each other on the kitchen counter, you could say that they are with each other (para, in the Greek), meaning alongside.

Then if you take them and place them in a bowl one by one, you might say that the ingredients are with each other (meta, in the Greek), meaning closely associated with.  At this point, each of the ingredients is still somewhat separate from each other.  Even in the bowl, you could skillfully separate the ingredients from each other to some extent.

biscuits for Jesus biscuits
biscuits for Jesus biscuits

BUT once you mix those ingredients together, roll them out and cut them, place them on the cookie sheet and bake them, there is no way you can separate those ingredients from each other.  There is a mysterious union of ingredients called “biscuits.”     That’s the Greek word sun, meaning united together with, inseparable from.  And this little word is our word with found in these significant Scriptures (and many more):

Since you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God… For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God… Colossians 3:1-3

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him…. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:3-11 ESV

That's right!  All of the highlighted with's in these verses are our 3rd with preposition sun, united with, inseparable from.   Now we've really plunged the depths of mystery...we are united to the Living God through our Emmanuel, God with Us.

Do you remember our summary statement from John 14?

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another [of the same kind as Himself] Helper, to be with [meta] you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with [para, in Old Testament times] you and will be IN you [in New Testament times]. John 14:16-17 ESV

How would the Helper be with us forever?  By being IN us!  United in life union...

I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Did you see that?  With (sun) and in!  You and I are united to the Living God.  We died united to Him, and now He lives His resurrection life in and through us...as us!  What glory!

...Christ in you, the hope of glory! Colossians 1:27

Take a few moments as this Advent season is coming to a close to reflect on Emmanuel Jesus, God with us.  Use the scriptures and songs in these posts and others that come to mind.  If you need a little nudge, explore these questions:

  • Are you experiencing the joy & comfort of your Emmanuel’s presence in the midst of your “everyday”?
  • Is there anything that you could take out of your life or put into your life that will “make more room” to enjoy the presence of your Emmanuel?
  • Write out in your journal your own expressions of love and gratitude to the ONE with whom you are forever united.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

images-13
images-13

**To further explore the mystery of the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, click on Lenten Meditations: a Word of Abandonment  View the entire Lenten Passion series

Rejoice with exuberance in the Amazing Grace of our Emmanuel!  Click here:

A Christmas light display :)

3rd Week of Advent: EMMANUEL, Our God is WITH Us...

If ever we needed to know God is WITH us in every possible way, it's NOW, after another year of the unanswerable "why's" of life.  We struggle to make sense of all the suffering and injustices we see all around us.  Though we can't know the answers, we can turn afresh to the One Who has us in the palm of His Hand. The God Who became One of us...flesh and bone and joint and sinew...who experienced every emotion possible, raw and gripping, tender and affectionate!  He felt it all!  And He feels our current struggle with us too!

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested... This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do... So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16 NLT

This is what we want to explore this week in our Advent devotions...God WITH us!  All the levels of God's WITH-ness!  But first, a song and our Advent readings for the week.

I love this song by Michael Card.  Michael is a Bible scholar as well as a musician, and it shows up in his music.  In this glorious song, there are several Scriptures expressed musically.  What a celebration of the amazing truth of God's WITH-ness!  The verses of Immanuel reference two beautiful prophecies in the Old Testament book of Isaiah:

The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). Isaiah 7:14 NLT

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2 NLT

The song continues with, comes back to, and ends with this glorious truth in the repeated chorus:

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? ...Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow —not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love... —indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 NLT

Sing, rejoice, celebrate our Immanuel!

IMMANUEL Michael Card Album: Joy In The Journey

A sign shall be given A virgin will conceive A human baby bearing Undiminished deity The glory of the nations A light for all to see That hope for all who will embrace His warm reality

Chorus: Immanuel Our God is with us And if God is with us Who could stand against us Our God is with us Immanuel

For all those who live in the shadow of death A glorious light has dawned For all those who stumble in the darkness Behold your light has come

Chorus: Immanuel Our God is with us And if God is with us Who could stand against us Our God is with us Immanuel

So what will be your answer? Will you hear the call? Of Him who did not spare His son But gave him for us all On earth there is no power There is no depth or height That could ever separate us From the love of God in Christ

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSEqXbnOrQU[/youtube]

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Readings for the 3rd Week of Advent:

Sunday -- Luke 12:49-53 Monday -- 1 John 2:24-29 Tuesday -- Luke 1:8-23 Wednesday -- Matthew 1:18-23 Thursday -- Luke 1:24-38 Friday -- Luke 1:39-56 Saturday -- Luke 1:57-80

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We recently viewed again The NATIVITY STORY.  It is one hour and forty minutes well-spent...very moving!  You will be blessed! Here's a link to the entire movie:

 [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meIDz98MFBs[/youtube]

Advent Devotions: Hail, the Incarnate Deity!

We would give up everything we've ever written to have penned this one verse, a stanza that comes as close as is humanly possible to capturing the splendor of who Jesus is.Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola, p. 173-174

Hark the Heral Angels

Hark the Heral Angels

What is that one verse? that one stanza?  Authors Sweet & Viola are referring to the last stanza of the well-known carol,Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.

In my opinion, however, it isn't just the last stanza that is all glorious with the splendor of Christ...it's the entire song.  In fact, even the stanzas that were removed* from the older version are splendid indeed.  But I'm getting ahead of the story.

The creation of this classic hymn was not without some conflict and "cut and paste."  Apparently, according to my sources (Wikipedia and Christianity Today), there were at least four people involved in its composition:

  • Charles Wesley (the original writer, 1739, and founder of Methodism),

  • George Whitfield (a fellow student and colleague with Wesley and a Calvinist, who did some of the "cutting and pasting," much to Wesley's chagrin),

  • Felix Mendelssohn (a composer who didn't think this piece of music fit for sacred lyrics),

  • William H. Cummings (an English musician who in 1855 put the lyrics to Mendelssohn's piece).

But despite all that this piece of sacred music had gone through in its 100+ years of "evolution," it was regarded as one of the Great Four Anglican Hymns and was published in The Church Hymn Book in 1872.

Gordon Giles in his excerpt in Christianity Today, Dec 2007 asserts,

"Hark! the herald angels sing" has become part of the institution of Christmas, and ... it also sounds out some wonderful theology, musically reminding us that Jesus, the "newborn King," is "Prince of Peace," "Sun of Righteousness," "Everlasting Lord," "Incarnate Deity," and, best of all, "Emmanuel" — "God with us." Whatever its creators would have thought about the hymn as it currently stands, it endures as a reminder of the great gift that our Father God has given us in his Son Jesus Christ... Excerpted from O Come Emmanuel: A Musical Tour of Daily Readings for Advent and Christmas. Copyright ©2006 Gordon Giles.

Take a look at this hymn from the Biblical/theological viewpoint.  The following is a Bible study my husband, John, developed  a few years ago for a small group study.  May you be blessed as you meditate and rejoice in Jesus, our Emmanuel, God Incarnate.

images-1

images-1

Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing!

Hark!  The herald angels sing,Luke 2:13 “Glory to the newborn King! Luke 2:14 Peace on earth and mercy mild, Luke 2:14 God and sinners reconciled.”Luke 2 :14; Rom 5:8-11; II Cor 5:18-19 Joyful, all ye nations rise,  Luke 2:10; Luke 2:32 Join the triumph of the skies; With angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem.Luke 2:11 Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heaven adored;John 17:23-26; 15:9; 3:35; Matthew 3:17Christ the everlasting Lord! Luke 2:11 Late in time behold Him come, Galatians 4:4Offspring of a Virgin’s womb. Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:34,35; Galatians 4:4 Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hebrews 10:20; Romans 8:3; John 1:14Hail the incarnate Deity.Colossians 2:9 Pleased as man with man to dwell,Philippians 2:5-8Jesus, our EmmanuelIsaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Matthew 1:21,25 Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!John 1:14; Isaiah 9:6 Hail the Son of Righteousness!Malachi 4:2 Light and life to all He brings,    John 6:35, 8:12, 10:2, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:5 Ris’n with healing in His wings.Malachi 4:2 Mild He lays His glory by,  Philippians 2:5-8 Born that man no more may dieJohn 3:16; 1John 4:9, 3:2 Born to raise the sons of earth;I Corinthians 15:20-28, 35-49; Philippians 3:20-21 Born to give them second birth. Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-88), George Whitfield (1714-70), Music: Mendelssohn, from a chorus by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47), adapted by William H. Cummings

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Two versions of this glorious carol...take your pick or enjoy both :)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19w0IHPL4X0[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiP6HtIaJ70[/youtube]

 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*Stanzas removed by George Whitfield:

Come, desire of nations, come, Fix in us thy humble home; Rise, the woman's conquering seed, Bruise in us the serpent's head.

Now display thy saving power, Ruin'd nature now restore; Now in mystic union join Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam's likeness, Lord, efface, Stamp thy image in its place. Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us thee, though lost, regain, Thee, the life, the inner man: O, to all thyself impart, Form'd in each believing heart.

An added tidbit:

George Whitfield changed Wesley's line, "Hark, the herald angels sing!  Glory to the King of Kings!" to the current "...Glory to the Newborn King!" What do you think of the change as well as the removed verses (above)?

2nd Week of Advent: the Really Good News -- GOD with US!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.Luke 2:10 NIV

adventwreath_2c
adventwreath_2c

"The Good News isn't just that Jesus died for our sins.  The Good News is EMMANUEL...GOD WITH US!"  So declared Deb at the end of our Bible Study.

As John and I drove home that evening, we reflected on her statement.  We recalled a conversation we had had years before when we were discussing what the heart of the gospel ("Good News") is.   The Good News isn't just that our sins are forgiven so we can go to heaven someday (and now we just do the best we can in the meantime).

The heart of it all is GOD is with US!  In Christ's own Person, heaven and earth meet and kiss, so to speak!  In His very own Self, God and Man are forever joined.

Michelangelo's Adam
Michelangelo's Adam

Because of His Person and His Work, Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, joins those of us who were once enemies, alone and without hope, to the Living God.  Now we are friends of God, His children...dare we even say it? in union with Him! GOD with US!  And that is truly News that is GOOD!  And there's a Bible word for that -- reconciliation.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:21-22 NIV

This week, rejoice in the truly Good News:  GOD with US!  No more chasm* between God and us...Emmanuel has come!  (Romans 5:1-11 and 2 Cor 5:16-21) Enjoy singing and meditating on this rich carol.  We'll explore it more next time:

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

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 angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem Hark!  The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heaven 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!”

 

Readings for the 2nd Week of Advent:

Sunday -- John 5:17-24

Monday --John 5:25-47

Tuesday -- Matt 9:32-38

Wednesday -- Mark 8:27-38

Thursday -- Mark 9:33-37

Friday -- Mark 10:13-31

Saturday -- Luke 19:28-40

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Connect to the Voice blog for a free download of The Voice translation and a video of the Christmas story from The Voice.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_sQohBF0Kk&utm_medium=email&utm_source=voicenewsletter&utm_term=20121205&utm_campaign=thevoice&utm_content=[/youtube]

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

*Navigator Bridge illustration  This diagram is very familiar to many Christians.  But whether it's familiar or new to you, why not click on the link and rehearse afresh the glory of our reconciliation through the Incarnate Christ, our Emmanuel.

bridge illustration
bridge illustration

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thank you to Ann Voskamp for sharing this awesome story...the Truly GOOD NEWS.  It's a MUST SEE!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNDtHdG5mVk&feature=em-share_video_user[/youtube]

christmas trees at honey run 2011
christmas trees at honey run 2011

Advent Devotions: The Mega-JOY of Emmanuel

London_Trooping_the_Color_02

London_Trooping_the_Color_02

Joy is the flag that flies over the soul when the King is in residence!Chuck Swindoll

Several years ago, I was leading a small group of ladies through Paul's letter to the Galatians.  In chapter 5, we came to a familiar passage:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self control. Galatians 5:22-23

Julie was in that small group that year, and Julie was from Great Britain.  I asked her about Chuck's metaphor.  She assured me that it was true.  When royalty is in residence at the palace, the flag flies. It's the signal to the "subjects" that their monarch is present.

Julie, Robin and me at BE

Julie, Robin and me at BE

How fitting a metaphor this is!  When the Lord is present to believing hearts, JOY results!

A few years later, this really hit home again!  We were celebrating Christmas in my home school moms Bible study group that year by sharing our favorite Christmas song/carol.  In almost every case, the over-riding response to the coming of our Lord, our Monarch, the Promised One was...JOY!

We found this to be especially true in the Scriptures surrounding the coming of our Emmanuel, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Look for yourself:

It begins with the coming of John the Baptist, Messiah's forerunner:

Luke 1:12-64 -- promise to John's father Zacharias When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.  But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.  He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth...When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

Luke 1:44-45 -- John in Elizabeth's womb encountering Jesus in Mary's womb! "...As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"

Luke 1:46-55-- Mary's response to Elizabeth “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior...."

And continues with the angels and shepherds:

Luke 2:10-20 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”...The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

138_5228

138_5228

And even extends to the foreign Magi [my favorite!!!]

Matthew 2: 1-10Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”... they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. [literally, they rejoiced vehemently with MEGA-gladness!]

These are just a few instances.  Why not search out for yourself, in your favorite Christmas songs & Scriptures, the amazing response of JOY to the presence of Emmanuel, our King Jesus, in a believing heart?

Then let's turn away from the glitz and glitter of the season and focus on HIM, the true cause of our JOY and delight!

138_6545

138_6545

Two awesome songs for your time of worship:

[youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz5_g80q_NM']

JOY Selah

Every breath of air Was a silent prayer I was longing for Your face

And I wondered why All the years went by Without a single trace

Anticipating, Lord, we've been waiting Just watching the days come and go But now we know

Joy and the angels sang There was joy Let the whole world know this Joy, our King has finally come Joy, here is the Promised One

Set the captives free Tell the broken reed Hope has been restored And the one who cries For a wandering child Her tears are not ignored

Father in heaven, You gave us reason to see past the pain of today We celebrate

Chorus

Unending hope for all time When the King of the ages arrived

Chorus

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pn8dW_p-j0[/youtube]

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Kaden the student

Kaden the student

Bible Study Here are a few more passages to take a look at:

Nehemiah 8:10

Psalm 16:11

Luke 24:36-53 -- encountering the Risen Christ