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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Inspired by . . . What Child Is This?

We've all laughed over those cute videos of children singing the wrong words to popular songs and Christmas carols. 
"While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground, a cake of "Velvet" soap came down and clean socks shone around!"
Misunderstood lyrics actually have their own name; mondegreens. This term was coined back in 1954 by Sylvia Wright after, you guessed it, a lyric she had misunderstood as a child.

While I'm sure some of the lyrics in today's carol have been misunderstood there is no mistaking the message or the answer to the title question: What Child is This?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

The words are clear enough, once you get past "laud" which means: praise, but what of their meaning?

The Christmas miracle - God made man. Omnipotence and weakness.
The mind of God contained in human flesh and bone. Tiny hands that hold the power to heal and raise the dead.

This is a lot for anyone to grasp, whether you're one or ninety-two.  Dare we believe it? God's promise. Here, now, among us?

A Savior.

Yes. Believe.

The hope of the ages fulfilled. Yet not completely. Has has come. He IS come. He will come again. This time there will be no lap to lay on. Only knees that bow. The wonder we have now, at His birth will be quite different when the trumpet blows, calling us home.
"He became incarnate to have a life to live in our place and to have a life to give in our place. That is what Child this is."
Our hope remains.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

In this world of instant gratification, none of us have to wait very long for anything. And when we do, we don't like it very much. But some of us have waited. We've waited for things more important than a cup of Starbucks or a driver's license.

We've waited for love. A place to call home. A loved one to come to know Christ.

Or a baby.

The children of Israel had been waiting, too. For a very, very long time.

They had been waiting for a Savior. A Redeemer. A King.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
This ancient advent hymn, translated for us by John Mason Neale, was once part of the medieval Roman Catholic Advent liturgy. On each day of the week leading up to Christmas, one responsive verse would be chanted, each included a different Old Testament name for the coming Messiah. We sing this hymn with the already-but-not-yet sense of waiting. We wait as the exiles did, yet our wait is different.

For He has come.

To the manager . . .  the Word made flesh.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
As we wait for Christmas, as we wait for God's help in the trials and tribulations of this life, we can sing this carol with hope and with confidence. Because we know He is returning . . . 

. . . as King!


1 O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

2 O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go. Refrain

3 O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

4 O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o'er the grave. Refrain

5 O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death's abode. Refrain

6 O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light. Refrain

7 O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Inspired by . . . God has no grandchildren

The cold, icy tendrils of air swoop down from the north leaching the color from my garden, blackening and curling leaves. Soon the wind will follow, sending the leaves hurtling through the air and leaving branches bare.  Like skeletons exposed.

It is a bit like reading about Israel's descent into disobedience.

The book of Judges can be tedious reading and often confusing at times. But there are valuable lessons to be gleaned from studying the text and none more important than what we learn in the first two chapters.

At the beginning of Judges, we find that Joshua has died leaving the tribes of Israel to complete their conquest of Canaan on their own. Yet, they were not alone. God was with them and He gives them specific instructions. He calls Judah first. However, instead of relying solely on God to deliver the enemy into their hands as He has promised, Judah immediately turns to their kinsman, the Simeonites for help. 

The arm of flesh will always fail where the hand of God beckons us forward in faith.[click to tweet]

The rest of chapter one lists the failures of the tribes to drive out their enemies from the land God wished them to conquer.

We often think we are getting away with our evil because God is so patient with us. 

We're not.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Gal 6:7)

The disobedience of Israel's founding fathers opened the door to a future of calamity. God keeps His word. Both the blessings and the curses.

At first glance, it may appear that the failure to drive out the enemy from the land was Israel's biggest mistake. It wasn't. Verse 10 in chapter 2 reveals their greatest failure.
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

Despite God's warning in Deuteronomy 10, the parents failed to communicate to their children the power and work of God. Rarely does a powerful work of God move into the next generation. Each person must have their own relationship with God.

Without this personal relationship, Israel quickly descended into chaos. Each person doing what was right in their own eyes. 

We see the tragic, ping-pong effect, Israel's sin results in enslavement and they cry out to God for help.

We see sorrow but not repentance. Sorrow for the consequences of their actions but no repentance for the actions themselves.

This may not seem like a relevant subject to discuss as we approach the season of Advent. Yet what better time of year to fulfill the edict of Deuteronomy 6:7 and 11:19?
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  (Deu 6:6-7)
The holiday season often provides an opportunity to slow down and gather with family and loved ones. Why not share how the Lord has worked or is working, in your life?

Be a light in the darkness, pointing the way to the Person of Jesus Christ. It may save a life or even a future generation.