VIDEO Mary Sweet Mary

Nov 21, 2010

This songs can be found on Selah’s “Bless The Broken Road – The Duets Album.” Soon we will be celebrating once again the birth of our Savior and King. It really is amazing when you stop to think about how the birth of one small baby changed the world.

The Most Christmasy Book in the Bible Isn’t What You Think


Christmas bible


What do you think is the most “Christmasy” book in the New Testament?

The obvious frontrunners are Matthew and Luke, especially their opening portions. One of the reasons these books will show up so often in Christmas-time sermons and Bible studies is that they were so self-conscious in their desire to continue the story of Israel begun in the Old Testament. Think of the way the words of Mary and Zechariah in Luke 1 both refer back to God’s promises to Abraham.

They knew their Bibles. They knew to anticipate the advent of a Messiah, though neither could have possibly known the role they would individually play in that coming.

That’s why Christmasy books such as Matthew include special quotations from the Old Testament:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matt 1:23; cf. Isa 7:14)

But if self-conscious continuation of the Old Testament story is what makes a book Christmasy, there’s another New Testament book that needs to be discussed. It’s a book which focuses heavily on Jesus and shows how the Old Testament pointed forward to his coming. I encourage you to consider using this book in your Christmas sermons and lessons this year, even in your personal advent Bible reading. It’s the book of Hebrews.

Psalm 110 and Christ’s first advent

Hebrews includes a whopping ten references to Psalm 110, seven of which refer to Jesus.

A little Hebrew knowledge is key to interpreting this psalm, specifically the all-important opening line of verse 1—which just so happens to be the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament.

The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

In Psalm 110:1 we find two Lords. One is referred to as Yahweh (יהוה). By a tradition that goes back at least to Luther, this covenant name of God (cf. Isa 42:8a) is translated with “LORD” in all caps. The other is referred to as Adonai, and by that same tradition, it is translated with “Lord” in title case. This word can refer to human lords and masters (see Isa 24:2b).

So in Psalm 110:1, “the LORD says to my Lord” is, in Hebrew, “Yahweh says to my Adonai.”

Unquestionably, this first LORD is the creator-God himself, the Holy One of Israel. But who is the second “Lord”?

To answer that question, notice what Yahweh says to David’s Adonai: Yahweh promises this Lord the place of honor at his right hand, and then urges/promises him, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” Who does that sound like? Who gets to sit next to God’s throne and gets to himself be a king?

When David wrote this psalm he could not have known quite how Yahweh would use David’s own lineage to bring about this rule. He couldn’t have known the role Christmas would play in bringing God’s anointed King.

Christ as King

Evangelical Christians tend to think of Christ’s incarnation, entirely properly, as bringing salvation. The one inspired interpreter of the incarnation who had the closest connection to it, Mary herself, opened her beautiful Magnificat with praise to God her “Savior” (Lk 1:47). Later, at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, Zechariah praises God for “rais[ing] up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Lk 1:69).

But both Mary and Zechariah also saw political significance in Christ’s first advent. The salvation they saw—and this is especially true of Zechariah’s prayer—was not merely spiritual. Mary prays, “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones” (Lk 1:52). And look at how Zechariah defines “salvation” as he continues his prayer:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

When Zechariah said “salvation” in that prayer, he meant physical deliverance “from the hand of all who hate us.” Mary and Zechariah saw through prophetic eyes that Jesus would rule, that he would be King.

Back to Psalm 110

This brings us back to Psalm 110, and quotations of it in the book of Hebrews. Mary and Zechariah (and many faithful children of Abraham before them) looked forward to Christ’s coming with eager anticipation—and so should we. As we remember Christ’s first advent this Christmas season, we should stoke our anticipation of his second advent. We need salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, too—even as we pray that they will share in the gracious salvation we enjoy. And though Christ is now ruling in the midst of his enemies (Psalm 110:2), we must long for the day when the LORD will say to our Lord Jesus Christ, “I have now finally made your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Psalm 110:1; cf. 1 Cor 15:24–26).

The incarnation marks the first scene in the climactic act of God’s redemptive drama. It is right to celebrate that scene. But Mary and Zechariah knew what we ought to know, that there is more work for the Christ to do.

This Advent, revel in the rich interplay of Old Testament and New Testament themes the season affords us.

by Mark L. Ward, Jr

Created To Praise

Psalms 103

Do you ever wonder why you exist? Day-to-day activities and worries pull us in so many directions that most of us seldom think about the goal of life. But our Creator made us with a purpose: to glorify Him (Isa. 43:7).

In His Word, God is emphatic that we are to testify to His faithfulness and His mighty works. Jesus Christ considered this important as well—when teaching His disciples how to communicate with God, He began His well-known prayer with adoration of His Father (Matt. 6:9).

Why, then, do we tend to give so much attention to our petitions but so little to praising God? Perhaps some believers consider themselves too time-constrained to spend “extra” prayer time praising the Lord. Others may feel awkward expressing their gratitude to Him. Yet no excuses are acceptable. Psalm 103:2 tells us to remember God’s benefits so we will humbly glorify Him. This psalm also explains how to lift the Father up with our words—specifically, we should praise God for His character and for His work in the past, present, and future (Ps. 103:2-8, Ps. 103:19).

The Old Testament’s primary words for “praise” refer to spoken words, music, and gestures like raising hands and dancing. But we can also glorify Him in other ways, such as through actions, thoughts, and creativity.

Praise may be something foreign to you. But it’s the very purpose for which you were created. Observe how the Father is exalted in the Psalms and throughout the Bible. Then worship Him with praise as you spend time basking in His presence today.

Salvation in the Spirit

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

Nicodemus was confused the night when Jesus first spoke of the necessity of the new birth and then equated it with the symbol of baptism. Christ then indicated that the reality in both was the supernatural work of God, the Holy Spirit. “Except a man be born of water [that is, the Spirit], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [with ‘and’ understood as ‘even’].”

The miracle of regeneration is thus a work of the Spirit, and just as “the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). It is not some soul-winning methodology but the Holy Spirit who does the work, and He (like the invisible wind) may work in a great variety of different ways.

This work of the Holy Spirit in bringing salvation to the unsaved is so great and so complex that it must be described in a variety of figures to convey the whole reality. In the first place, He must bring conviction of sin and the need of salvation. “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).

Then, as the sinner repents and believes on Christ, the Spirit baptizes him into Christ. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). As a member of Christ’s body, he is made a partaker of His resurrection life. Simultaneously, “after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13), and “the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16). All of this becomes the mighty miracle of spiritual birth. “According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). HMM

A Thirst for God

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. —Psalm 42:1

In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct “interpretations” of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.

This is the only real harbinger of revival which I have been able to detect anywhere on the religious horizon. It may be the cloud the size of a man’s hand for which a few saints here and there have been looking. It can result in a resurrection of life for many souls and a recapture of that radiant wonder which should accompany faith in Christ, that wonder which has all but fled the Church of God in our day.

O Lord, I pray that a thirst for You may build and grow, may prove unquenchable and may indeed result in a recapturing of “that radiant wonder,” both in my own faith and in that of the Church. Amen.

Man Has Lost God In The World Today

Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to dust. (Psalm 104:29)

The average person in the world today, without faith and without God and without hope, is engaged in a desperate personal search and struggle throughout his lifetime. He does not really know what he is doing here. He does not know where he is going.

The sad commentary is that everything he is doing is being done on borrowed time, borrowed money and borrowed strength—and he already knows that in the end he will surely die! It boils down to the bewildered confession of many humans that they have lost God somewhere along the way.

Man, made more like God than any other creature, has become less like God than any other creature. Created to reflect the glory of God, he has retreated sullenly into his cave—reflecting only his own sinfulness.

Certainly it is a tragedy above all tragedies in this world that love has gone from man’s heart. Beyond that, light has gone from his mind. Having lost God, he blindly stumbled on through this dark world to find only a grave at the end!

All my springs are in thee

All my springs are in thee, and if thou hast all thy springs in God, thy heart will be full
enough. If thou dost go to the foot of Calvary, there will thy heart be bathed in love and
gratitude. If thou dost frequent the vale of retirement, and there talk with thy God, it is there
that thy heart shall be full of calm resolve. If thou goest out with thy master to the hill of
Olivet, and dost with him look down upon a wicked Jerusalem, and weep over it with him,
then will thy heart be full of love for never-dying souls.