Why we Worship

PSALM 47

Clap your hands, all peoples!
  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
  a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
  and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
  the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
  the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
  sing praises with a psalm!

Why Sing?

God reigns over the nations;
  God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
  as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
  he is highly exalted!


Why Scripture?



 
Christmas
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)


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God Is Not Dead

December 19, 2008

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote to a friend, "I do not believe anyone can be perfectly well, who has a brain and a heart." Where did he turn to find hope in his time of despair?


The Civil War was a difficult period for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His wife, Francis Appleton, died in 1861 after sustaining burns from her dress catching fire. Longfellow was devastated, and records in his journal the deep despair into which he fell.

Then, in 1864, he was reeling from the news that his son Charles Appleton Longfellow had been wounded in battle.

We hear and sometimes sing his carol I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY, and are reminded of the promise the angels gave the shepherds, that the coming of Jesus would mean peace on earth. In the middle of the Civil War, with the news of a wounded son, Longfellow fought for his faith in the midst of rising doubt that God was not in control of events.

Two key verses in this poem have fallen from use, and the poem does not carry the same power without them.

He starts off with faith and hope, that the message of "peace on earth" was vibrantly pealed out each Christmas....

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And thought how, as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men


But now in verse four, the reality of the Civil War and his wounded son hits home, and he reflects powerfully...

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearthstones of a continent
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.


Now is where we begin singing in our carol again, but without the previous two verses, the despair he is feeling makes no sense...

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”


Has Longfellow lost hope? Where will his strength come from?

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”


His faith and hope have revived. GOD IS NOT DEAD. He is on his throne, he reigns, he is in control, he has a plan, he is working his purposes, nothing is surprising him, he still has all power to control all events. Eventully, the wrong will lost, and the right will win, and the lion will lie down with the lamb, swords will be used for plowing, for they will have no other use. And that is the hope we have this Cristmas.





The Best Of All Possible Worlds

December 11, 2008

Some day, perhaps very soon, the order of this world will be turned on its head. The Second Advent will be much different than the first, and fills us with tremendous hope - to sustain us while we wait and long for the inevitable.


"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." Revelation 11:15

That baby in a manger wrapped in swadling clothes looks harmless. Don't be fooled. The poet Robert Southwell (1561-1595) got it right. There is more to Mary's sleeping child than meets the eye. Much more.

This little Babe, so few days old,
Has come rifle Satan's fold.
All hell doth at his presence quake
Tho' he Himself with cold doth shake.
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights, and wins the field
His naked breast stands for a shield
His battering shot are babish cries
His arrows looks of weeping eyes
His martial engines Cold and Need
And feeble Flesh his warrior's steed.

His camp is pitched in stall
His bulwark but a broken wall
His crib his trench, haystacks his stakes;
Of shepherds He his muster makes
and thus, as sure his foe to wound,
the angels' trumps alarums sound.

My soul with Christ, join thou in fight,
Stick to the tents that he hath pight,
Within his crib is surest ward,
this little babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
then flit not from this heavenly Boy.


Advent is not just a time of reflecting on the incarnation, as wonderful as that may be. Just as it was promised that a Savior would come to redeem his people - and he did - so we have a promise from the mouth of Jesus himself that he will come again, and set this world on its ear! Order will be restored, and Jesus will be the only name on anyone's lips.

For the Christian, this is exciting news. For the unbeliever or skeptic, this prospect is unnerving at best, and catastrophic at worst. This much is true. Jesus is coming again. It will be awesome, it will be glorious, and it will be wonderful.

From the pen of Samuel Zwemer...

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever - His promises, His power, His presence, His Spirit.  The sovereignty over the world was conferred on man in his original estate.  But his being lost through sin, was restored again by redemption. You are Christ's, and Christ is God's. 

The spirit which is bestowed on Christians carries in itself a principle which everything must eventually obey, and which will subjugate the world ever more and more, until at last the promise that "the meek shall inherit the earth" is fulfilled, and the world has become the theatre of the divine kingdom. 

Until He shall reign from sea to sea, from the river unto the ends of the earth - until every knee shall bow, of things in Heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.       







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The first advent - the incarnation of the Son of God as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem - is a reminder that God is good on his word. And He promised He would come back, and that it would be totally unexpected. Are you ready?





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