In the likeness of You

GingerCatThough we are forgiven in Christ, raised to new life by Christ’s death and resurrection, we are still frustrated by our sinful nature at times: “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24). This comes after Paul has been wrestling with the fact that he finds himself doing the very sin he hates!

At such times it is great to contemplate the time when our Christlikeness will no longer be a dim reflection, but a complete replication of the perfection and glory of Christ! We will awake in His likeness. Since Jesus has been raised, sin has been conquered and we will be completed in him.
For now we wait, and hope and pray that we will see more of him and less of ourselves in the unique creation he has made us to be. Many blessings to you this Easter Sunday!

IN THE LIKENESS OF YOU
Sung by PETRA: Words and music by John Lawry and John Elefante
CD UNSEEN POWER (1991)Based on Psalm 17:15

In the likeness of You
Recreated, renewed
Let me awake forever
In the likeness
In the likeness of You

Now I lay me down to sleep, my heart and soul are Yours to keep
I close my eyes and try to see more of You and less of me
Jesus, I’m trusting in You
So while I’m sleeping keep me dreaming of when I will awake

In the likeness of You
Recreated, renewed
Let me awake forever
In the likeness
In the likeness of You

Men dream of fortune and fame, making the rules, naming the game
And men dream of things they can hold: money and power, silver and gold
Jesus, I’m dreaming of You
Take me and melt me, mold me until I am complete

In the likeness of You
Recreated, renewed
Resurrected by Your righteousness
In the likeness of You
In the likeness of You
So faithful and true
Let me awake forever in the likeness of You
The likeness of You
I want to be I want to be like You
In all I say In all I do

I see you hanging there

Christ crossI SEE YOU HANGING THERE

I see you hanging there
Nailed to a splintered wooden beam,
Drinking pain and sorrows,
Breathing agony.
And in those dark, dark hours,
As life drained from Your flesh and bones,
I know my life had its beginning at Your cross.
And I thank You, thank You:

For the cross, where You bled,
For the cross, where You died,
For the cross, Where You’ve broken Satan’s back.
For the cross, where You won,
For the cross of victory,
For the cross, Where You paid the price for me.

You were my substitute
In laying down Your life for mine,
Being cursed and bearing
The wrath of God for me.
You were crushed by sin,
Your punishment has brought me peace,
And by the wounds You suffered
I’m alive and healed.
And I thank You, thank You:

Two days in the grave,
Then You rose up from the dead –
Now You reign in glory,
Rule in righteousness.
And I was raised with You,
Free at last from all my sin,
Safe forever in the shelter of my King.
And I thank You, thank You:

Michael Sandeman
Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music

This song was released on an album titled IN CHRIST ALONE, Live Worship from CHURCH OF CHRIST THE KING, UK

The Glories of Calvary

Cross_The_PassionIt is sometimes a challenge as a Christian to explain why Good Friday is good, why the Cross is our delight, our boast. Unless you are willing to talk about God’s judgement, it makes it very tricky to explain why Jesus came at all. But that is why Jesus came – to live a perfect life then die a death where all the judgement for sin was laid on him.  Grace has come to us at such a cost – but not a cost to us! God’s boundless love held his own Son to the Cross, for us. “By our Savior’s crimson flow Holy wrath has been removed“. This is an ‘older’ song from Sovereign Grace writers Steve and Vikki Cook, but you don’t get a much better picture of the Glories of Calvary!

Listen here

THE GLORIES OF CALVARY

Lord, You’re calling me to come and behold the wondrous cross
To explore the depths of grace, that came to me at such a cost
Where Your boundless love conquered my boundless sin
And mercy’s arms were opened wide

My heart is filled with a thousand songs
Proclaiming the glories of Calvary
With every breath, Lord how I long
To sing of Jesus who died for me
Lord, take me deeper into the glories of Calvary

Sinners find eternal joy in the triumph of Your wounds
By our Savior’s crimson flow Holy wrath has been removed
And Your saints below join with your saints above
Rejoicing in the Risen Lamb

“The Glories of Calvary”, by Steve & Vikki Cook.
©2003 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Ministries.
From Songs for the Cross Centered Life.

From the Womb to the Tomb: thank You for the Time In Between

OXYGEN VOLUME 13

For so many people the time between Christmas and Easter is a whirlwind of busy-ness, and the latter holiday simply provides a welcome breather. (Is that how it has been for you?)
But I am reminded by the lyrics of this song that really it is the time inbetween Jesus’ birth and the Cross for which we must be thankful.

In that time Jesus lived the fully obedient life that pleased His Father, which we could never live. It was in this time he preached the good news that the Kingdom of God (and its King) had come. In this time he called people to follow Him. Here he was also despised, rejected, beaten and hung on a cursed tree – for us! We are the reason he gave his perfect life, a righteous life that now envelops us, if we are in Him. Hope you enjoy the song and take the time to be thankful, for the “time in between”.

Time In Between by Francesca Battistelli
You were there when your Father said “Let there be light”
You obeyed when He whispered “Son, You have to leave tonight”
To spend nine months in a mothers womb
Three days in a borrowed tomb

But it’s the time in between
That brings me to my knees
Knowing you came for me
And all that I can’t be
I’m amazed, so amazed
And I thank You for the time in between

Don’t take much for this crazy world to rob me of my peace
And the enemy of my soul says You’re holding out on me
So I stand here lifting empty hands
For you to fill me up again

But it’s the time in between
That I fall down to my knees
Waiting on what You’ll bring
And the things that I can’t see
I know my song’s incomplete
Still I’ll sing in the time in between

So many ways
Your love has saved the day
And I’m grateful for them all

But it’s the time in between
The middle of two thieves
That says everything. It’s the reason I believe
I’m amazed, so amazed
And I thank you for the time in between
Oh Lord, I thank you for the time in between

Appears on Album: My Paper Heart

The Indispensable Need for Unity

unityThis is a great discussion of the importance of unity in the Body of Christ, reblogged from Veritas et Lux.

The Devil’s Hatred of Unity:  Make no mistake.  The devil despises unity.  He will do whatever it takes to divide family and friends. He will pull out all the stops to divide a church or ministry.   And he will work tirelessly in order to divide a country.  One of the things that Satan hates the most is a unified church family.  Note several reasons for the devil’s utter antipathy of unity.

First, when God’s people are united, the body of Christ works as God intends – harmoniously.  Paul speaks of this unity in 1 Cor. 12.  ”But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that they may be no divisions in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (ESV).  Here we see that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  God is honored and glorified when the body of Christ works in a harmonious fashion; when the people of God are mobilized and faithfully exercising their God-given spiritual gifts.  Satan on the other hand, loathes the very notion of unity with a devilish passion.

Second, when God’s people are united, the gospel goes forward in great power.  We see this demonstrated most vividly in the book of Acts.  In Acts 1:8, the apostles receive a promise; a promise of the Holy Spirit’s power that will accompany their ministry as they faithfully proclaim the gospel to the nations.  In Acts 2, the day of Pentecost arrives and Peter preaches a bold sermon that results in the conversion of 3,000 people (Acts 2:41).  As the people of God devote themselves to the purposes of the church (Acts 2:42), God faithfully “added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).  In Acts 4:4, we witness the conversion of 5,000 more people as they sit under the preaching ministry of Peter.  This pattern occurs over and over in the book of Acts.  When the people of God stand united, the gospel goes forward in great power – all the more reason for the devil to despise a united church.

Third, when God’s people are united, Christ’s agenda triumphs over people’s personal agendas.  Here’s a principle to remember: Rejecting bickering results in rejoicing together.  When personal agendas are set aside for kingdom purposes, Christ’s agenda prevails.  So the devil will work strenuously to pit believer against believer.  Woe to the church who passively sits by while the personal agendas of carnal people win the day.  When personal agenda strike at the core of the local church, the devil has gained a major victory.

Fourth, when God’s people are united, God is greatly glorified.  When forgiveness is at the center of a church family and grace marks the ministry, people are encouraged and God receives the glory.  When selfish agendas are cast aside, God is glorified.  When “pet projects” are shelved in order to defer to a higher purpose, God is glorified.  Paul notes, “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 4:15, ESV).

We have uncovered some reasons why the devil hates unity.  But it does not end here.  Satan not only hates unity; there is something he loves, namely, division.  The devil relishes a people who are divided.  He is eager to promote division, especially in the church.  So notice several reasons for the devil’s love of division in the church.

The Devil’s Love of Division 

First, when the church is divided, effectiveness fades.  Nothing could be more plain.  When people are at war, the troops lose strength and effectiveness wanes.  Quite honestly, division takes work.  And while the people who are engaged in division grow weak, it is the faithful efforts of shepherds that are ultimately affected.  I often wonder if people who spark division really understand how pleased the devil is with their work.

Second, when the church is divided, ministry morale declines.  This principle is related to the previous one.  For whenever division takes root in a church, ministry morale by definition will be on the downgrade.

Third, when the church is divided, the flesh is stirred to action.  I have learned from experience that when a group fosters division in a church, their sinful activity has a stunning effect.  It actually brings out the worst in people.  It serves, if you will, as a sin catalyst – igniting the flesh in people who moments before were faithfully serving God.  It is no wonder that the devil has such a passion for division.

Fourth, when the church is divided, the gospel is tarnished.  I was never much of a math student but here’s an equation I understand and have seen firsthand over the years.  Gossip + division = a lack of love.  And if we take John 13:35 seriously and affirm that people will recognize that we are disciples because of the love we show one another, it stands to reason that a divided church actively and aggressively tarnishes the gospel.  Francis Schaeffer rightly notes that the “final apologetic” is our love for one another and the unity expressed in the context of relationships.  I’m convinced that Satan is perfectly happy to see the gospel being proclaimed by a divided church – because the luster of the gospel is being adulterated which results in a weak, tepid, and ineffective message.  May God help us!

Fifth, when the church is divided, the Holy Spirit is quenched and grieved.  When Jesus prayed the High Priestly prayer in John 17, he said, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21, ESV).  In other words the Trinity, has from all eternity been in perfect fellowship and unity.  So when disunity invades a church, it strikes at the core of who God is.  Division militates against what is precious to God, namely, unity.  The Holy Spirit, therefore, is quenched and grieved when division puts a stranglehold on unity.

Sixth, when the church is divided, God is not glorified.  Of course, whenever a church is divided, God is not honored.  And when God is not honored and glorified, we find the devil grinning ear to ear.  I heard a pastor say a few days ago that he “does not believe in the devil.”  Now the arch-enemy of our souls is really smiling.  He’s not only managed to spark division in the church; he’s convinced one of the leaders in the church that he is only an imaginary enemy.

So we come back to the primary assertion, namely, there is an indispensable need for unity in the church of Jesus Christ.  A church that fails to live up to the biblical ideal is a disobedient church; a church that is marginalized; a church that is weak and ineffective.  May God give us strength to obey the mandate before us.  May we stand side by side in unity all for the great name sake of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Christ has Risen . . . indeed”

he is risenThere aren’t many songs with the word “indeed” in the title, but indeed, this one is worth it. It would be great for your Easter Sunday celebrations! Keith and Kristyn Getty have managed to capture the awesome significance of the resurrection of Jesus. He’s alive! We have this hope in Christ because He is alive. Praise God! (If you click the song title below you can watch a clip of the song. Here is a link to sheet music). Blessings!

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed

How can it be, the One who died,
Has borne our sin through sacrifice
To conquer every sting of death?
Sing, sing hallelujah.

For joy awakes as dawning light
When Christ’s disciples lift their eyes.
Alive He stands, their Friend and King;
Christ, Christ He is risen.

CHORUS
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! 
Oh, sing hallelujah. 
Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed; 
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. 

Where doubt and darkness once had been,
They saw Him and their hearts believed.
But blessed are those who have not seen,
Yet, sing hallelujah.

Once bound by fear now bold in faith,
They preached the truth and power of grace.
And pouring out their lives they gained
Life, life everlasting.

CHORUS

The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save.
He frees our hearts to live His grace;
Go tell of His goodness.

CHORUS
He’s alive, He’s alive!
Heaven’s gates are opened wide.
He’s alive, He’s alive!
Now in heaven glorified.

Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Ed Cash; © 2012 Gettymusic and Alletrop Music (BMI) (adm. by MusicServices.org)

Grace has “Overflowed” in song

I’ve recently discovered an Ausoverflowtralian songwriter, Trevor Hodge, who is churning out heaps of inspiring tunes that are both filled with the Gospel of grace and easy to sing together – what a great combination! This song is but one of many. It has a lively tune with a challenging reminder, that the “riches of Your grace have raised us up to live in Him always – and bring You praise”. This is what we were made for. Not for us, but for the glory of God.
You can listen here, and then follow the links to Trevor’s own website where the lead sheets are free to download. Thanks Trevor! You can also read about two of his songs we have taught at Cafe Church this year: ‘See the Man‘ and ‘No Other Name‘. These are in my post about New Songs for 2013.

OVER FLOWED

We will exalt Your name, O God
We will rejoice in what Youʼve done
That one so high should come so low
Resolved to die so all can know

In Christ, Your love has overflowed
The debts we owed have been all wiped away
And now, the riches of Your grace
Have raised us up to live in Him always
And bring You praise

Weʼve been created in Your Son
To do good works You have prepared
To serve the poor, the captives – free
To be Your light, that all may see

The Church of Christ to love as one
Display Your Kingdom, now begun
To serve the poor, the captives – free
To be Your light, that all may see

from No Other Name, released 29 August 2011

Holding on to what we already have in Christ – Philippians 3:16

walkToday we have arrived at Philippians 3:16 in the Three Sixteens series. Let’s start by looking at the verse in a few different versions:
But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. NLT
Only let us live up to what we have already attained. NIV
In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Holman

At first glance it seems this 3:16 has little content to grab hold of and provides little encouragement. But if you think on it a while, possibly the reverse is true! There is huge encouragement here, as Paul points us to what we already have in Christ, urges us to keep hold of it – and live up to it!
So what have we already attained?
In verses 8-11 we find out what Paul is referring to as he urges us to “hold on” and “live up to” the privileges we have IN Christ:
“. . . I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Knowing Christ surpasses all else. If we are in Christ we are secure, we are united with Him in his sufferings, death and resurrection. We are not self-righteous, but we have the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith! We are right with God, we are holy and acceptable to Him because we are IN Christ. A great analogy for this is being clothed in Christ’s “robes of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10, Revelation). We are wrapped up in Christ’s perfection, our sins are completely covered. When God the Father looks at us He sees the righteousness of Christ his perfect Son.

What great progress we have made – if we are found IN Christ. Let’s live up to it! We don’t have to attain or achieve anything. This is pure grace! I love what the Holman translators have done with the verse: we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. We should live up to the truth that we have the righteousness that comes from God – so let’s live in a manner worthy of what we have attained. Let’s be “killing sin” as John Piper puts it, by the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word).

Blessings to you as you seek to live up to Christ’s righteousness today. How will you go about that?

“Come as you are and He will cleanse you. You are guilty; your pardon is of God” –Charles H. Spurgeon

Two great Keller quotes

GOD'S GRACE IN HANDS“Christ will do everything for you, or nothing. You cannot combine merit and grace.”

“Human beings will only be drawn out of themselves into unselfish acts of service to others when they see God as supremely beautiful.”

Tim Keller