VIDEO When Love was born

Dec 17, 2010

Created for a church carol service at Street Baptist Church (www.streetbaptist.co.uk), Dec 2010. All pictures were obtained from Creative Commons sources. The song is by Mark Schultz, released by Word Records, Oct 2009, seemingly as a single

Let Us Keep to the Point

“…my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” —Philippians 1:20

My Utmost for His Highest. “…my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed….” We will all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus the areas of our lives He has asked us to yield to Him. It’s as if Paul were saying, “My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest— my best for His glory.” To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. An undue amount of thought and consideration for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision, although we cover it up with the pretense that it is others we are considering. When we think seriously about what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He doesn’t know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point— He does know. Shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in this one thing only— my utmost for His highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.

My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness. “Whether it means life or death-it makes no difference!” (see Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.

by Oswald Chambers

God Is Our Loving Father

Luke 15:11-24

Humanity tends to project its own faulty habits onto God. Consider how God’s love is often seen: Many people assume we must barter, plead, or try hard to earn the Lord’s favor. But as the Prodigal Son learned, the Father’s love is unconditional.

The wayward boy returned home, not expecting to be loved as before; all he hoped for was a place among the family’s servants. Imagine the son’s delight at his dad’s greeting of a hug and a celebration. The boy’s actions surely didn’t merit an outpouring of affection, but Jesus’ parable is all about a Father who doesn’t give people what they deserve.

A love based on conduct would keep people wondering, Have I done enough? Instead, God cares for you simply because you’re you, and He expects nothing in return. Consider the Prodigal’s life after his homecoming party. He didn’t move into the servants’ quarters and go to work. He was reinstated to his place as the second son of a wealthy man, with all of the privilege that entails. In the same way, believers are the Lord’s cherished children (2 Cor. 6:18). When God looks at His loved ones, He doesn’t focus on their past failures, faults, or sins. He sees the heirs to His kingdom—men and women who love Him and desire to spend eternity in His presence.

No matter how far we may wander from the Lord’s perfect will for our lives, we are always welcome back. The Bible teaches that God’s love cannot be lost, regardless of sin or poor decisions (though we may have to live with the consequences). Our Father’s arms are always open.

Peace Like a River

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

The beloved hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” has been a source of much comfort to many. The hymn was written in memory of the author’s four precious daughters who had just perished in a shipwreck and his wife barely rescued. Through it all, the couple maintained faith in their sovereign God and could say through their tears:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Our Lord has not promised us a life of ease, free from heartache and tragedy, but He has promised to be with us. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).

God’s promise of provision to Israel applies, in principle, to us. “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour” (Isaiah 43:1-3). We can be content, whatever comes, knowing He is with us.

The prerequisite for the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” promised in our text is that we be anxious “for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3). JDM

Jesus: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

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Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah’s magnificent prophecy spans not only history, going from creation (e.g., 42:5) to eternity (e.g., 9:7), but also geography, with an interest ranging between God’s own people through all of humanity (e.v., 2:2). Containing both words of hope and horror, its key theme is God himself, who is referred to hundreds of times.” —Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary on the Old Testament

In the first chapter of Isaiah, God expresses his dissatisfaction with the sacrifices Israel offered (Isaiah 1:11–16). On the outside, they are doing exactly as God asked: they sacrifice rams and bulls, fat and blood, lambs, goats, and incense. They honor the Sabbath. They have a system for remembering when to feast and celebrate what God has done (Isaiah 1:14).

But God says their sacrifices are meaningless. “I have had enough . . . I do not delight . . . bring no more.” Quantity is not the issue. Quality is. And it’s not a matter of extravagance. Their elaborate prayers use their lips and their hands (Isaiah 1:15) and look great on the outside (Matthew 6:5), but there is no heart behind them.

Other religions made sacrifices to their gods because they believed they were feeding them. The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary says, “Popular Israelite religion frequently forgot that God was not actually fed through sacrifice and sought to manipulate him through such offerings.” They forgot why they were making sacrifices—they thought they had to feed the God who created the world. But God wasn’t dependent on the Israelites and their sacrifices. They were dependent on him.

The Faithlife Study Bible says, “An increase in offerings is meaningless without a change in attitudes. The sacrifice fundamentally represented Israel’s relationship with Yahweh, by which Israelites acknowledge dependence on Him. There was no point in going through the motions if they’d abandoned that dependence—either through idolatry or pride in their self-sufficiency.”

The sacrifices were meant to be an external symbol of an internal process: repentance (Isaiah 1:16–20). The FSB says “God calls for inward repentance after condemning the empty efforts of outward observance.” They were cleaning the outside of the cup, while filth festered on the inside (Luke 11:39).

The system God established for dealing with sins had been abused for too long. The death of innocent animals was not enough for guilty humans to see the error of their ways (Hebrews 10:4). The status quo wasn’t working. Isaiah called for change in the present, and pointed to a bigger change in the future (Hebrews 10:10).

Isaiah 9:6 introduces Israel to powerful names for a son who was yet to come. Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.

The people of Israel didn’t crack open their New Testaments to John 3:16 and say, “Hey, that’s Jesus!” They looked to the current line of David for an immediate answer—someone who could live up to these prophetic titles. The Faithlife Study Bible reminds us that “the prediction of a future ideal Davidic ruler point ultimately to the Messiah, but immediate hopes for Judah’s future would have been directed at the Davidic line, continued through Hezekiah.”

But there was a problem. Some of these titles could only be attributed to God. No man could measure up to names like “Mighty God”—that’s blasphemy (John 8:58–59). As he so often does, God had a different plan than man.

People can’t overcome sin by their own power. The sacrifices which were once acceptable to God had become useless buckets on a sinking ship. God needed to intervene, or the world would drown in sin.

No matter how mighty God made a man, that man could never save Israel from sin—he himself would be corrupted by it (Romans 3:23). The names of this future son were only fit for God because God was the only one who could solve the problem.

They needed a Wonderful Counselor: someone who could give them the wisdom they needed to truly repent (James 1:5, Hebrews 2:18).

They had a Mighty God, but they needed a personal relationship with him (John 1:10–13, Colossians 1:15–16).

With Abraham, they were entitled to an earthly inheritance, but through their Everlasting Father, they had an eternal one to aspire to (Hebrews 9:15, Romans 8:16–17).

And to abolish the old sacrificial system which put a bandage on their sin, they needed the Prince of Peace to restore them (Ephesians 2:13–18, Philippians 4:6–7).

The Christmas season is a time to celebrate the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “For to us, a child is born, to us, a son is given.” Remember where that son came from (John 3:16), and glorify God for providing the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.

by Ryan Nelson

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2

Thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: … and thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every
morning: … and when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.

[Jesus] is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. — The smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Pray without ceasing.

Exodus 30:1, 38. Hebrews 7:25. Revelation 8:4. 1 Peter 2:5. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Sing to the Lord a new song

Sing unto the Lord a new song. Isaiah 42:10.

Sing aloud unto God our strength; make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. — He hath put a new Song of Songs in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. — The joy of the Lord is your strength. — Paul … thanked God, and took courage.

Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Psalm 81:1,2. Psalm 40:3. Joshua 1:9. Nehemiah 8:10. Acts 28:15. Romans 13:11-14.