Dec 23, 2008
I Believe – Natalie Grant. A stirring song which captures the true meaning of Christmas – that God would send His son to save someone like me. This is no fairytale. The baby in the manger was to become to be a willing and perfect sacrifice for my sins. God – in human form – was bruised, beaten and killed – for me. How deserving, therefore, is He of my praise and thanks.
Music is “I Believe” by Natalie Grant from album, “Believe” (2005) Clips from “The Nativity Story” and “The Passion of the Christ”.
“He is not here; he has risen from the dead.” LUKE 24:6
When John arrived at the empty tomb the burial wraps had not been ripped off and thrown down. They were still in their original state! The linens were undisturbed. The grave clothes were still rolled and folded.
How could this be? …
If for some reason friends or foes had unwrapped the body, would they have been so careful as to dispose of the clothing in such an orderly fashion? Of course not! But if neither friend nor foe took the body, who did? …
Through the rags of death, John saw the power of life. Odd, don’t you think, that God would use something as sad as a burial wrap to change a life?
But God is given to such practices:
In his hand empty wine jugs at a wedding become a symbol of power.
The coin of a widow becomes a symbol of generosity.
And a tool of death is a symbol of his love.
from HE CHOSE THE NAILS
You will be judged in the same way that you judge others. MATTHEW 7:2
We condemn a man for stumbling this morning, but we didn’t see the blows he took yesterday. We judge a woman for the limp in her walk, but cannot see the tack in her shoe. We mock the fear in their eyes, but have no idea how many stones they have ducked or darts they have dodged.
Are they too loud? Perhaps they fear being neglected again. Are they too timid? Perhaps they fear failing again. Too slow? Perhaps they fell the last time they hurried. You don’t know. Only one who has followed yesterday’s steps can be their judge.
Not only are we ignorant about yesterday, we are ignorant about tomorrow. Dare we judge a book while chapters are yet unwritten? Should we pass a verdict on a painting while the artist still holds the brush? How can you dismiss a soul until God’s work is complete? “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again” (Phil. 1:6).
In the Grip of Grace
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
The little phrase “things not seen” is used three times in the New Testament, and interestingly enough, these refer to the past, present, and future works of God with respect to the things that are seen.
At the beginning of the “faith chapter” of Hebrews occur these remarkable words: “Now faith is . . . the evidence of things not seen. . . . Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:1, 3). That is, the material things of this present world were not made of pre-existing materials; they were supernaturally created by the word of the Creator! These things which are now seen provide evidence (or better, the “conviction”) of the things not seen–that is, of God’s creative work completed in the past.
The “processes” that are now seen (as distinct from the “materials”) date especially from the time of the great Flood. The “things not seen as yet” by Noah–that is, the present atmospheric circulation, the present hydrological cycle, the present seasonal changes, and many other key phenomena of the present order–all were instituted in the days of Noah when “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:6).
Finally, “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for . . . the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Just as surely as the materials and processes of the present world once were unseen, but now are easily seen, so the future eternal world will soon be clearly seen when Christ returns. HMM
“Walking in the midst of the fire.” (Daniel 3:25.)
THE fire did not arrest their motion; they walked in the midst of it. It was one of the streets through which they moved to their destiny. The comfort of Christ’s revelation is not that it teaches emancipation from sorrow, but emancipation through sorrow.
O my God, teach me, when the shadows have gathered, that I am only in a tunnel. It is enough for me to know that it will be all right some day. They tell me that I shall stand upon the peaks of Olivet, the heights of resurrection glory. But I want more, O my Father; I want Calvary to lead up to it. I want to know that the shadows of this world are the shades of an avenue—the avenue to the house of my Father. Tell me I am only forced to climb because Thy house is on the hill! I shall receive no hurt from sorrow if I shall walk in the midst of the fire.—George Matheson.
“‘The road is too rough,’ I said;
‘It is uphill all the way;
No flowers, but thorns instead;
And the skies over head are grey.’
But One took my hand at the entrance dim,
And sweet is the road that I walk with Him.
“‘The cross is too great,’ I cried—
‘More than the back can bear,
So rough and heavy and wide,
And nobody by to care.’
And One stooped, softly and touched my hand.
‘I know, I care. And I understand.’
“Then why do we fret and sigh;
Cross-bearers all we go:
But the road ends by-and-by
In the dearest place we know,
And every step in the journey we
May take in the Lord’s own company.”
“Acquaint now thyself with Him.” Job 22:21
If we would rightly “acquaint ourselves with God, and be at peace,” we must know Him as He has revealed Himself, not only in the unity of His essence and subsistence, but also in the plurality of His persons. God said, “Let us make man in our own image”—let not man be content until he knows something of the “us” from whom his being was derived. Endeavour to know the Father; bury your head in His bosom in deep repentance, and confess that you are not worthy to be called His son; receive the kiss of His love; let the ring which is the token of His eternal faithfulness be on your finger; sit at His table and let your heart make merry in His grace.
Then press forward and seek to know much of the Son of God who is the brightness of His Father’s glory, and yet in unspeakable condescension of grace became man for our sakes; know Him in the singular complexity of His nature: eternal God, and yet suffering, finite man; follow Him as He walks the waters with the tread of deity, and as He sits upon the well in the weariness of humanity. Be not satisfied unless you know much of Jesus Christ as your Friend, your Brother, your Husband, your all. Forget not the Holy Spirit; endeavour to obtain a clear view of His nature and character, His attributes, and His works.
Behold that Spirit of the Lord, who first of all moved upon chaos, and brought forth order; who now visits the chaos of your soul, and creates the order of holiness. Behold Him as the Lord and giver of spiritual life, the Illuminator, the Instructor, the Comforter, and the Sanctifier. Behold Him as, like holy unction, He descends upon the head of Jesus, and then afterwards rests upon you who are as the skirts of His garments. Such an intelligent, scriptural, and experimental belief in the Trinity in Unity is yours if you truly know God; and such knowledge brings peace indeed.
She that was healed wist not who it was.” John 5:13
Years are short to the happy and healthy; but thirty-eight years of disease must have dragged a very weary length along the life of the poor impotent man. When Jesus, therefore, healed him by a word, while he lay at the pool of Bethesda, he was delightfully sensible of a change. Even so the sinner who has for weeks and months been paralyzed with despair, and has wearily sighed for salvation, is very conscious of the change when the Lord Jesus speaks the word of power, and gives joy and peace in believing.
The evil removed is too great to be removed without our discerning it; the life imparted is too remarkable to be possessed and remain inoperative; and the change wrought is too marvellous not to be perceived. Yet the poor man was ignorant of the author of his cure; he knew not the sacredness of His person, the offices which he sustained, or the errand which brought Him among men. Much ignorance of Jesus may remain in hearts which yet feel the power of His blood. We must not hastily condemn men for lack of knowledge; but where we can see the faith which saves the soul, we must believe that salvation has been bestowed. The Holy Spirit makes men penitents long before He makes them divines; and he who believes what he knows, shall soon know more clearly what he believes.
Ignorance is, however, an evil; for this poor man was much tantalized by the Pharisees, and was quite unable to cope with them. It is good to be able to answer gainsayers; but we cannot do so if we know not the Lord Jesus clearly and with understanding. The cure of his ignorance, however, soon followed the cure of his infirmity, for he was visited by the Lord in the temple; and after that gracious manifestation, he was found testifying that “it was Jesus who had made him whole.” Lord, if Thou hast saved me, show me Thyself, that I may declare Thee to the sons of men.