Day 2/12 – Candlelight Carol (Christmas Songs Countdown)

From Australian a cappella vocal group, Idea of North, on the album ‘This Christmas’ from (2012). The song is based on a carol by John Rutter (2001). Listen below or find more info here.

Candlelight Carol

Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
Christ our Redeemer asleep on the hay
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
A child with his mother that first Christmas Day

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Gloria! Gloria in excelsis deo
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour
But Mary will rock him and sing him to sleep

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Gloria! Gloria in excelsis deo
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

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Day 1/12 – ‘Help from Heaven’ (Christmas songs countdown)

In the twelve days remaining until Christmas, I thought I’d share some of the best songs I’ve found floating around on the ridges of various compilation CDs. This first one comes from ‘These Christmas Lights’ (2016) by Matt Redman.

There is a moment, every heart needs a rescue
There is a season, every soul needs a break through
Help from heaven, we all need help from heaven

There is a whisper, a voice of hope inside you
There is an answer, a name above to guide you
Help from heaven, we all need help from heaven
Help from heaven, help from heaven

When the world is on our shoulders
And we need a hand to hold us
When no miracle is found, still believe, oh
When the sea of night surrounds us
And all questions try to drown us
Just believe, just believe in help from heaven
Help from heaven

There is a reason, those tears will not be wasted
There is a future, for all those broken pieces
Look to heaven, all we need is help from heaven
Help from heaven

When the road ahead is hidden
And we need a new beginning
When the battle’s closing in, still believe, oh
When we step in to the promise
And the hands of grace that hold us
Just believe, just believe in help from heaven
Help from heaven, help from heaven

Taking heart and holding on, hope is closer than we know
Hand that will not let us go, help from heaven
Taking heart and holding on, hope is closer than we know
Hand that will not let us go, we all need help from heaven

The Bridge – Casting Crowns

Lyrics:

Oh, you lead us home

Oh oh

 

The world’s getting darker by the day

I’m on my knees but don’t know what to pray

The broken things that broken people do

But knowing just how far You came for me

Gives me hope for every soul I meet

There’s no one so far gone that You can’t reach

So reach through me

Let them see, Lord, let them see

 

Your love is the bridge

You built with a cross

And Your truth is the light

That searches for the lost

Your grace won’t stop reaching

Your mercy won’t let go

‘Cause Your love is the bridge

And Your truth leads us home

Oh, You lead us home, Oh

 

You never told the broken they were whole

You spoke the truth that healed their broken souls

You’d never leave us here to fight alone

With love we earn the right to speak Your truth

It’s not just what we say, it’s what we do

I want to be a bridge that leads to You

So reach through me

Let them see, Lord, let them see

 

No rescue so relentless

No greater love than this

Where sin leaves a canyon

Your love builds a bridge

 

Writers:

Mark Hall, Matthew West, Bernie Herms and Seth Mosley

Be Essential Songs (BMI) (admin at EssentialMusicPublishing.com). My Refuge Music (BMI) (adming at CapitolCMGPublishing.com). Hickory Bill Doc / So Essential Tunes (SESAC) (admin at EssentialMusicPublishing.com) (C) 2018 Provident

C.S. Lewis: Embrace the Adventure

Image created by RBarrett 2018

From ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ by C.S. Lewis

Just a little truth and encouragement from C.S.Lewis:

from “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S.Lewis

Are you amazed that you belong to Christ?

BEAUTY-OF-THE-CHRIST“If you really see and feel your helplessness and God’s deliverance, you will be amazed that you are a Christian. You will be amazed that your heart inclines to the beauty of Christ. You will be amazed at every good resolve, and every impulse to praise, and every good deed.”

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/six-practical-reasons-free-will-matters



Faith in our strong God magnifies Grace

father holding hands with daughter walking in shallow water at beachToday’s post comes from John Piper, but his childhood story struck a chord with me. I can faintly remember a similar moment when my dad rescued a mini-me  from under a freak wave at the beach (in his good shoes). I trust you will find this an encouragement:

I do not nullify the grace of God. (Galatians 2:21)

“When I lost my footing as a little boy in the undertow at the beach, I felt as if I were going to be dragged to the middle of the ocean in an instant.

It was a terrifying thing. I tried to get my bearings and figure out which way was up. But I couldn’t get my feet on the ground and the current was too strong to swim. I wasn’t a good swimmer anyway.

In my panic I thought of only one thing: Could someone help me? But I couldn’t even call out from under the water.

When I felt my father’s hand take hold of my upper arm like a mighty vice grip, it was the sweetest feeling in the world. I yielded entirely to being overpowered by his strength. I reveled in being picked up at his will. I did not resist.

The thought did not enter my mind that I should try to show that things aren’t so bad; or that I should add my strength to my dad’s arm. All I thought was, Yes! I need you! I thank you! I love your strength! I love your initiative! I love your grip! You are great!

In that spirit of yielded affection, one cannot boast. I call that yielded affection “faith.” And my father was the embodiment of the future grace that I craved under the water. This is the faith that magnifies grace.

As we ponder how to live the Christian life, the uppermost thought should be: How can I magnify rather than nullify the grace of God? Paul answers this question in Galatians 2:20–21, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God.”

Why does his life not nullify the grace of God? Because he lives by faith in the Son of God. Faith calls all attention to grace and magnifies it, rather than nullifying it.”

http://www.desiringgod.org/books/future-grace

Back to 3:16 – Your reason for hope (1 Peter)

sunrise for hope1 Peter 3:14-16 (NIV)
14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  

Greetings fellow bloggers,

It is nearly three years since I stalled in my exploration of the Three Sixteens, but today is the day to jump back in. With only four more of these 3:16 verses to go, perhaps I will make it to Revelation by Christmas! (If you missed all the earlier posts, on Matthew 3:16 through to James 3:16, then I’d encourage you to go back to the start and check them out.)

It is truly astounding the way such rich theology is anchored at this point in nearly every New Testament book. Admittedly, the more memorable verse sometimes does fall at 3:15 or 3:17, but this one starts in 15 and carries on.

Firstly, some context. In Chapter 3, Peter has been writing about submission to Christ and to each other, about our witness, and suffering in doing good. Verse 14 says, if we are doing what is right and suffering for it it, we should not fear the threats and slander of mere humans. These should be of no consequence to us (which is much easier said than done, right?). In fact, Peter says we are blessed/rewarded for the suffering we must endure, as we seek to live a holy life. This right behaviour ‘in Christ‘ (done in his strength and for his sake) is further described in verse 16. Other people are going to speak maliciously against us, but Peter says that when we act in good conscience, the slanderers who criticise our good behaviour will ultimately be put to shame. That’s tough for them, but good for us. (However, you certainly wouldn’t want to be doing ‘good things’ with that motivation in your heart – to shame others!)

So, what is the heart of the matter in this 3:16?

As I said before, verse 16 begins in 15, and it starts with a big BUTBut in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. In the midst of suffering and slander, revere Christ. This is Peter’s solution.

The presence of the BUT tells me that our natural inclination is to do just the opposite. Our natural reaction is NOT to revere Christ as Lord. Instead, we hold the opinions and power of mere humans as being more important than that of Christ. We are naturally afraid of living in a way that brings suffering for following Christ (verse 14). That is the precisely the way the World lives –  fearing one another, and the power that others’ have over us, yet constantly seeking the approval of those very people.

That’s why Peter has to say, “But . . “ do this instead! Honour Christ. Fear Christ.

Rather than fearing Man, we Christ-followers are to revere Christ as Lord, to recognise that He is the Lord of this universe and He holds ultimate power. Because He will Judge each of us, He is the right person to fear. And when we fear the right thing, everything else falls into place. When we fear the Lord, the suffering that brings blessing for us also brings hope and peace!

This is what Peter alludes to in verse 14, which is a reference to Isaiah 8:12-15:
12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.” (NLT)

In the fear of the Lord there is refuge and sanctuary. In fearing the Lord we find peace and confidence (we are not frightened), because we revere the true power! Isn’t that astounding?

Perhaps it is only when we patiently suffer for Christ that we find the strength and opportunity to express the HOPE that is in us.

What an encouraging bunch of verses we have here, which remind us that our strength comes from Christ! The meat in the sandwich (verse 15) is honouring or revering Christ, which brings us hope and a readiness to share the hope. This hope allows us to cope with the suffering wrapped around our hope, as we live for Christ in a world that despises him, and us.

Ultimately Peter’s message is this:
As you live for Christ, you will suffer – but you will be blessed and strengthened in your hope as you honour Christ as Lord of your life.  

That sounds like a pretty significant message to take away.
Thanks for another great 3:16, Peter!

(Note: If you have ever wondered how we got chapters and verses in the bible, you can read about it here.)

Perseverance

Just a little of my daughter’s graphic work at university this year. The best reminder!

Alternatives to pride

‘Yes, I know one doesn’t even want to be cured of one’s pride because it gives pleasure. But the pleasure of pride is like the pleasure of scratching. If there is an itch one does want to scratch: but it is much nicer to have neither the itch nor the scratch. As long as we have the itch of self-regard we shall want the pleasure of self-approval; but the happiest moments are those when we forget our precious selves and have neither, but have everything else (God, our fellow-humans, animals, the garden and the sky) instead.’

From The Collected Letters of C S Lewis Volume III

How do you measure if Christ is growing in you?

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If you want to get serious and take an honest look at your Christian walk, then these eight questions (from Tim Keller’s book Center Church) will be very helpful. They have been effectively crafted to make you take a good look at your progress in becoming more like Christ. Talk them through with your growth group or a spouse or close friend or prayer partner. Pray about them too! They won’t make you feel comfortable, but since when was change comfortable? God is most definitely in the business of changing us.
 

  1. Do you have spiritual assurance of your standing in Christ? How clear and vivid is it?
  2. How does the Holy Spirit bear witness with your spirit that you are his child? Are you conscious of a growing spiritual light within, revealing more of the purity of the law, the holiness of God, the evil of sin, and the preciousness of the imputed righteousness of Christ?
  3. Is your love for Christians growing? Do you find yourself have a less critical, judgmental spirit towards weak Christians, those who fall, or those who are self-deceived? Have you been cold to anyone?
  4. Is your conscience growing more tender to convict you of the very first motions of sin in the mind, such as the onset of resentment; worry, pride or jealousy; an inordinate desire for power, approval and material comfort; and an over-concern for your reputation? Are you becoming more aware of and convicted about sins of the tongue, such as cutting remarks, rambling without listening, deception and semi-lying, gossip and slander, inappropriate humour, or thoughtless statements?
  5. Do you see signs of growth in the fruit of the Spirit? Can you give examples in which you responded in a new way – with love, joy, patience, honesty, humility, or self-control – in a situation that a year or two ago you would not have?
  6. Are you coming to discern false, idolatrous motives for some of the good service you do? Are you seeing that many things you thought you did for God you are actually doing for other reasons? Are you coming to see areas in your life in which you have resisted the Lord’s will?
  7. Are you seeing new ways to be better stewards of the talents, gifts, relationships, wealth, and other assets that God has given you?
  8. Are you having any seasons of the sweet delight that the Spirit brings? Are you finding certain promises extremely precious? Are you getting answers to prayers? Are you getting times of refreshing from reading or listening to the Word?

Discussion Questions for GOSPEL RENEWAL (from chapter 6 of Timothy Keller’s Center Church, 2012)