Singing with the King @ Christmas (6)

Christmas Star

Surely He Hath Born Our Griefs

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows!
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.

Yesterday we talked about this Advent being a celebration of the coming of our Deliverer and Savior. There is no greater Old Testament passage to explain the redemptive work of Jesus our Messiah than Isaiah 53. In verses 4 and 5 we learn there are six substitutionary acts accomplished by the Christ for us; four of mercy (taking our punishment so as to not get what we do deserve); and two of grace (taking our punishment so as to get what we do not deserve). They are:

  1. Surely he hath borne our griefs
  2. Carried our sorrows
  3. He was wounded for our transgressions
  4. He was bruised for our iniquities
  5. The chastisement of our peace was upon him
  6. With his stripes we are healed

When Mr. Handel wrote Messiah, he put this Chorus (24) in what is typically considered the Easter portion of his Oratorio. But since the very name of Jesus means “The LORD is salvation”, and will save His people from their sins, it is most appropriate to know and worship the Holy Child as not only our King, but our Savior.

Save

Singing with the King @ Christmas (5)

Christmas Star

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. (Luke 1:31-33)

It had been about 400 hundred years since Israel had heard from the Lord, and within six months, the angel Gabriel came down twice to speak of Messiah’s birth. When Mary heard the above words from him, it’s easy to skip to the part about kings and thrones and forever. (Don’t we do the same… get to the good part and skip over the hard stuff?) But the first thing Gabriel told Mary was to name Him Jesus; and we learn from another angelic vision that the Child will live up to His name: for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21).

Mr. Wesley got it right, for the first line of the above verse is: Born Thy people to deliver. The advent we celebrate is for the One Who will deliver us from our sins. The advent we expect is when He will rule as King of kings and Lord of Lords forever.

 

Singing with the King @ Christmas (4)

Christmas Star

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the shadows clear away.

When the author of the hymn came to this verse he must have had Isaiah 9:2 on his mind: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. And as he composed this verse, he visualized the host of heaven in a vanguard invading the earth, and leading the Son of God to His incarnation in a glorious, dazzling, and blinding display. All who worshiped the darkness were put on notice, the light of the world had come into the world.

And the light is still here, which is why the shadows are being cleared away and the powers of hell will vanish: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

But you are a chosen race, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Singing with the King @ Christmas (3)

Christmas Star

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

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.

Emmanuel: God with us. This was not a new concept, for Israel knew and saw on numerous occasions that God was “with” them:

You with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt, and you will say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews has met with us.” (Exodus 3:18, 5:3)

Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us. ( 1 Kings 8:56-57)

Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (2 Chronicles 32:7-8)

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. (Psalm 46:7)

Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; state a proposal, but it will not stand, for God is with us. (Isaiah 8:10)

But Emmanuel being with us is different:

By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:  He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)

Spirit took on flesh; and the Presence became a Person.

Singing with the King @ Christmas (2)

Christmas Star

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!”

Charles Wesley penned these words in the early 1700’s. And this hymn is rife with inspiration and insight.

The 1st line tells us who delivers this great message: the angels.                                           The 2nd line reveals Who is the content: the Christ child.                                                       The 3rd line shows results of this miraculous birth: peace and mercy incarnate came to earth.                                                                                                                                             But the 4th line exclaims what has happened; that which mankind has been incapable of doing, and centuries of sacrifices could not accomplish: God and sinners were reconciled.

Reconciliation literally means “according to change”. The situation between God and man had to be changed; both parties who were at enmity with one another, needed to be reconciled.

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach. (Colossians 1:21-22)

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10)

On that angel-filled night, we became witnesses to the first step of this reconciliation: The Son had come in the flesh, to earth!

Don’t miss what the Apostle Paul and Wesley were saying about our condition: we were sinners and we were enemies. But now, we are reconciled.

Our reconciliation, our salvation, became incarnate; that’s why He was named Jesus; “For He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

When you ponder His birth, may you recognize your salvation.

Singing with the King @ Christmas (1)

Christmas Star

Truth You Can Sing About!

We’re less that two weeks out from Christmas, and I wanted to pause for a time with the Psalms, and consider some of the great hymns and carols of the Christmas season. So leading up to Christmas, let’s part company with David for a time, and ponder the music which sings about the One from David’s house and line: Jesus!

Singing with the King 2.1 – The Lost Art of Selah

I had a professor who had a great saying: “Let the music sing you.” In other words, let the art move you, speak through you. There is no need for you to bring meaning, it already has its own.

Even though we don’k know the actual meaning of Selah, it is safe to assume it is a musical term, since it is only found within lyrics. The New Living Translation takes a bold step by translating it as Interlude. So buried within the Psalms, David and the other Psalmists ask us to pause a moment from the words and let the music carry you.

Unfortunately we live in a time when letting the music carry us is usually obliterated by a worship leader or praise team singer inserting an unrelated phrase like “Thank You Jesus,” or “Praise You Jesus.” Now there is nothing wrong with praising Jesus or thanking Jesus, but is that what the song was saying? Is that what the song wants us to ponder? Probably not, but people standing before the congregation just can’t let an instrumental interlude slip by without inserting some sort of vocal interruption.

Now I can hear the objections; “But the Spirit was moving me to sing there.” But what if He wanted you to listen, to ponder. Let’s face it, few of us are not very good at “Being still.” Especially in the middle of a song. But isn’t stillness part of worship? Cannot God speak in ways other than words?

There are 74 occurrences of the this word in the OT, 71 of them in the Psalms and 3 in Habakkuk—who knew, Habakkuk! (Well, I didn’t know.) I would encourage you to look up an occurrence of the word, and examine the context. Where does the interlude fall within the song? What preceded it? Is there something there we need to be still and ponder?

Psalm 3 is brief, but there are three occurrences of Selah in eight verses. What is God saying between the words? Think about it.

Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” Interlude

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lordand he answered me from his holy mountain. Interlude

I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O LordMay you bless your people. Interlude

Singing with the King 2.0

When I started this blog a few years back, it pretty much was the recipient of all my theological-faith-writing-chops. Then a couple of years into it and I became an interim pastor at a Church in town, which morphed into a part-time-every-week-teaching pastor thing.

Needless to say, working on a sermon every week has taken over my theological-faith-writing-chops. And for those of you who to whom I have failed to deliver, I apologize. Hence Singing with the King 2.0.

It will be a lot shorter, there will be no fancy artwork or germane music to tie it all together. Sometimes finding the right picture, or the right song. took as much time as the writing. So for the time being, you’re stuck with just my musings, meditations, and meanderings, as we seek to worship the King.

What I write will be what the Lord brought into my path that day. So for this Sunday, it’s Psalm 62:1-2.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Have you ever tried to wait in silence for God alone?

Waiting in silence is just one word in the Hebrew and it can mean both silence and rest. Now I gotta admit that waiting in silence does not play to my strengths. I have an over-active imagination, random thoughts just pop into my brain, distractions abound, and many other aspects of my life overwhelm me and keep me from waiting in silence. And focusing ONLY on Him, there’s a whole ‘nother challenge.

But when you look at what David was in the middle of when he wrote this, I am seriously put to shame:

How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. (3-4)

Attack, batter, thrust down, speaking lies and cursing. All in a day in the life of a king. So what’s my excuse? Mine’s more drama than trauma.

We learn from David that waiting in silence for God alone has nothing to do with the conflict with his enemies, and everything to do with his commitment to his Lord. His love for God was more important that his personal safety. And we are reminded that the battle belongs to the Lord, as does our salvation.

Father, each me to “Be still and know that you are God.” Amen.

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 43

spilled wine43. Wine & Myrrh

Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. (Mark 15:22)

Much of the crucifixion narrative is not recorded here in Mark. So to get the entire landscape of what went on, it is necessary to walk through all the Gospels. But here, just before Christ is nailed to the cross, they offer Him a drink of wine mixed with myrrh.

Apparently this concoction was used to dull the senses. But Christ chose not to drink this. He chose to be fully aware of all the sins of the world that were clinging to Him. He would be conscious of each and every sin ever committed by mankind. He would feel the pain and heartache of everyone of those sins.

Do you understand why it was necessary for the Son of God to die?  No one else could fathom the length, breadth and depth of these accumulated and concentrated sins; and no one else could identify them individually—the sins and the sinners. He knows your sins—each sin, every sin—so when He stood before His Father in heaven He could say: I died for his sins. I died for her sins. He died for your sin.

Now the question is: Are we fully conscious of our own sins? Or is there some sort of variation of the wine and myrrh that is a regular part of our diet? Is there something clouding your understanding Who Christ is?

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 46

46. Cursed and Redeemed

freeChrist redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:13-14)

Christ redeemed us. There are only four occurrences of this particular Greek word. The three other passages are:

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)

So, we were redeemed from the curse of the Law to receive blessing and promise; we were redeemed unto adoption; we are to redeem our time; and we are redeem opportunities to witness to those around us. The Greek word for redeemed is exagorazo, which means to be bought out of the marketplace. When Christ redeems us, it is not simply a purchase or a ransom; rather, it is to purchase you and me for something (a blessing and promise, and being adopted); and when we redeem time—or an opportunity—we are being a good steward and a good witness.

But let’s stick to the context of the Greek her in this verse. Christ has obviously redeemed us from the marketplace of sin. We were slaves on the sales block—He bought us and made us sons and daughters.

But what about the marketplace from which we redeem time? What marketplace is that? Maybe it’s just the marketplace of life. We run through life at breakneck speeds, moving from one emergency to another. How often to we make time for the truly important things? Our Father knows we are busy—too busy.

That’s why He has given to us these two priorities:

  • The first is rather general, and therefore we need to rely on the wisdom He has given us: to redeem the things of life. And here’s where the Intentional Living verse comes in handy: Figure out what pleases Christ, then do it. There’s the answer for the Ephesians 5 passage; the answer to how we are to redeem our time.
  • The second is more specific. We are to redeem the opportunity to share Christ with others. Remember,  those who are lost are still slaves—as you once were—in the marketplace of sin, and you have an opportunity to show them how to be set free.

As Jesus Himself said: So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36) Free to redeem our days, and free to proclaim Christ’s redemption to those who are lost.