VIDEO The Night Before Christmas – Brandon Heath

Dec 13, 2009

“Some friends of mine wrote this song, and I’ve never heard the tension of that holy night captured so well in a song,” Brandon said. “It’s so well crafted, so well written. This song is appropriate far beyond Christmas because the birth of Christ literally changed history.

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Remembering Advent, Overcoming Frustration

It is December and the season of Advent is upon us!

A time to remember and consider how God in all His glory humbled Himself and came into our world. A time of expectation and hope. A time of looking forward to the promise of redemption and a new world order.

In so many ways, this struck a chord with me, especially in light of recent happenings. Serving as a volunteer doctor in Papua New Guinea, there were a number of times I have gotten irritated at the people and the way things work here. I was frustrated at how things are so different from back home and how I have to deal with the inefficiencies and (to me) incompetence here. I was frustrated with how messed up and “beyond hope” the society is.

I was on call last week when the Emergency Room nurse called me at about 5 in the morning. I had just reached home after seeing a patient and barely warmed my bed. Once again, Nurse L failed to identify herself over the line despite repeated reminders. I had told her twice that same night to identify herself when calling, as I can receive calls from six different locations and need to know where to go.

“Doctor! There is a patient with very severe bad chop-chop (a local term which refers to severe stab wounds and bush knife attacks), severe injuries, and profuse bleeding! I need you here now please.” I jumped out of bed, threw on my scrubs, and drove down to the Emergency Room (ER) quickly. At 5:30 a.m., the hospital was deserted and since the patient was supposedly at the point of death, I parked right outside the ER door but made sure to leave sufficient room for a second vehicle should another casualty arrive. I quickly entered the ER and saw Nurse L scrubbing the patient’s arm. No vital signs had been taken, and no attempts at intravenous cannulation to resuscitate the patient.

After snapping at the nurse to quickly get his vital signs and start an intravenous therapy, I proceeded to examine him, assess the severity of his wounds, and control his bleeding. In the meantime, Nurse L sauntered to the counter and slowly gathered the equipment. In the end, I had to take the patient’s vital signs myself. I subsequently found out that he got injured due to a drunken bar fight. His assailant was an off-duty policeman who was also drunk.

I spent the next two-and-a-half hour resuscitating him, getting X-rays, repairing his cut muscles, washing out and treating his open fracture, and stitching him up. Nurse L sat at the counter and didn’t help. It was 7:45 a.m. as I threw in my last stitch. Morning ward rounds start at 8:00 a.m. and I had not slept all night, had not had breakfast, and had not even had a chance to relieve myself.

Another ER nurse bugged me for the third time about moving the on-call vehicle parked out front. An issue that was not urgent and perhaps even a non-issue considering that I had left sufficient room for another vehicle! I felt like strangling someone.

Finally, I somehow managed to hit the ward on time at 8:00 a.m. to start work, finish my rounds, and then head to the Outpatient Department to see patients. Like all days, there were some patients who were a joy to see and some who just got on our nerves. There were some patients who came bearing huge bags of fruits in gratitude during their reviews, thankful for the help we rendered, and there were others who threatened to hurt or kill us, who disrupted hospital activities and functions over bad outcomes that would have happened even in the best hospitals in the world.

As I reflect on how the sovereign Creator of the world could humble Himself to come into our fallen world, to live among a people that do not love nor honor Him; how He too experienced fatigue, thirst, hunger, grief, and pain; how could I possibly hold on to my thoughts and gripes about life here? How can my leaving the comfort of my home to work among the people here and the little inconveniences and annoyances I face compare with the Almighty King leaving heaven and coming down to earth to dwell among broken people such as us?

As I consider such thoughts this Advent and dwell in expectant waiting for Christmas where we commemorate Jesus’ coming into the world, I think about and wait in eager expectation for His second coming into the world—where the new world order He initiated 2,000 years ago will be completely fulfilled and the world restored to His intended plan. I anticipate the day of His return when the work I do each day to relieve suffering and heal brokenness does not merely delay an eventual death but finds fullness of meaning when all is made whole, and suffering and death is no more.

By Jaryl Kok

A Necessary but Challenging Lesson

Psalm 27:14

Have you ever wondered why the psalmist coupled the admonition to wait for the Lord with encouragement to be strong and courageous? The reason is that sometimes delaying is the hardest thing to do. In fact, practicing patience is one of the most important lessons in God’s School of Obedience—it’s essential that believers learn to wait upon Him.

Modern culture is in such a hurry. Gotta have it now! Gotta do it now! We’ve been primed to stay in a permanent state of readiness. It takes courage to be still when the world is rushing past. It takes strength to obey when everything in us hollers, “Go!” while God is whispering, “Wait.” But people are quick to act because they are afraid of missing out on something. Believers who buy into that attitude make a move and then hope the Lord will bless them.

God leaves nothing to chance. He does not place a decision before us with the hope that we’ll make the right choice. That would be irresponsible and out of character. The Father is more than willing to show His children what to do, because He is personally interested in their welfare. But until the Lord makes clear what is the way forward, we’ve got to pause and wait.

Waiting upon God is not passivity. It is not laziness. Nor is it an excuse for avoiding responsibility. In fact, the opposite is true: People who seek God’s will are those who pause to pray, search Scripture, and perhaps even fast before taking action. And in the meantime, they are still serving God wherever they can.

Zechariah’s Visions: The Eyes of the LORD

“For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes….his seven lamps….those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” (Zechariah 3:9; 4:2, 10)

All of the visions among the myrtle trees promise a future in which the Lord rules the world from Jerusalem. Each of the visions also speak of angelic and God-ordained agencies that are used throughout history to accomplish His will. Those insights also bring serious questions about the nature of God’s sovereignty.

What is the need for horsemen that walk “to and fro”? What about the “eyes of the LORD”? Assuming that the lamps and the candlestick and the olive trees are pictures of God-ordained human involvement (as other Bible passages would confirm), what roles would they play?

There is obviously much that we do not know about the heavenly sphere of operations. It does appear, however, that the omniscient Lord and Creator has allowed others (including angelic beings) to participate in His creation and development of the eternal state to which everything is inexorably moving. We know that “the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Psalm 76:10).

We, God’s twice-born, are given the privilege to preach the gospel by which others are saved through the power of the gospel. We are to be witnesses, speakers, testifiers, workers of the ministry, about which even the angels themselves are curious (1 Peter 1:12).

Apparently, the sovereign Lord is developing an on-the-job knowledge that He will put to use in the eternal state. Meanwhile the Adversary (Satan) is constantly opposing and attempting to confuse both the message and the messengers. But the “great and precious promises” of God will not be thwarted (2 Peter 1:4). HMM

As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you

Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you.—1 Samuel 12:23.

MORE things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like, a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
ALFRED TENNYSON.

PERHAPS we do not think enough what, an effective service prayer is, especially intercessory prayer. We do not believe as we should how it might help those w*e so fain would serve, penetrating the hearts we cannot open, shielding those we cannot guard, teaching where we cannot speak, comforting where our words have no power to soothe; following the steps of our beloved through the toils and perplexities of the day, lifting off their burdens with an unseen hand at night No ministry is so like that of an angel as this-silent, invisible, known but to God. ELIZABETH RUNDLE CHARLES.

Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbor on our knees. CHARLES H. BRENT.

The deep things of God

The deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. — It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

John 15:15. Matthew 13:11. 1 Corinthians 2:12. Ephesians 3:14-19.

Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end

Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. John 13:1

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. — Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. — A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. — Christ … loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.

John 17:9,10,15,16. John 15:9. John 15:13,14. John 13:34. Philippians 1:6. Ephesians 5:25,26.