Unending Grace: 2 Corinthians 9:8

2 Cor 9 maple leaf“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Book of Luke in song

This is a post about an album and a song which is no longer new News, but in case you missed it, it may be worth a look: Songs for the Book of Luke by The Gospel Coalition

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/11/05/luke-album-named-best-of-best/

You can follow links here to listen and access sheet music for all the songs on the album: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/lukealbum/
https://thegospelcoalition.bandcamp.com/album/songs-for-the-book-of-luke

luke-songCome to the Feast (track 9) is a song about the lavish banquet of God’s grace that abounds for any and all who would have it. Yet, it is also a call for the church to serve as heralds of this feast, both to those who know their need (the poor) and those who don’t (the rich). It comes from the parable of the great banquet found in Luke 14:16-24 where Jesus gives us a picture of the gracious kingdom of God that woos and welcomes the most broken, sinful, and lost of people. The musical style is not the mainstream. You may find it a refreshing change. (If used for the congregation, I would suggest the tempo could go up a little.)

COME TO THE FEAST

Go to the highways and hedges, go to the farthest of fields
Go and compel, the sick and the well
For our Father’s house will be filled

Go to the streets of the city, bring in the crippled and blind
All who would taste this banquet of grace
Must come and waste no more time.

Chorus
Come to the feast, come to the table
The great and the least, the rich and the poor
Come to the feast, come to the table,
Come and hunger no more

In the robe of the lamb you’ll be covered
Dressed in his pure righteousness
For all of your guilt, his blood it was spilt
So come by your Father be blessed

Words and Music by Jeff Lawson © 2012 Jeff Lawson Music

 

Don’t Burn that Bridge – from The Blazing Center

bridgeHe who demands mercy and shows none burns the bridges over which he himself must later pass. -Thomas Adams

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”. Matthew 5:7

Are you merciful? Is that who you are? Of all people on the face of the earth, we who believe in Jesus should be the most merciful. The quickest to forgive. The most forbearing with other’s sins against us. Why? Because we have received such incredible mercy from God ourselves. Each of us has sinned horrifically and repeatedly against the Holy One who will tolerate no sin in his presence. Yet he so loved us he sent his Son to become the lightning rod for the wrath we deserved. To have it strike him instead of us. Jesus got what we deserve and we received what we never deserved – Mercy. If we appreciate the mercy we’ve received, we should be quick to pour it out. And pour it out on those who don’t deserve it.

We should pour out mercy on those who sin against us. Those who hurt us. Who misunderstand us and can’t see our point. Those who insist that they are right and we are wrong. Those who don’t realize they are sinning. We should quote Jesus regularly: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” They don’t realize their sin. They don’t see their pride and stubbornness. They don’t know how much they are hurting me. Or maybe they do, but Father, have mercy on them as you have had mercy on me. And help me to have mercy on them. As John Piper says, we should:

“Be stunned that you are a beneficiary of mercy – be reminded and stunned that you and I deserve nothing but wrath from God, and in Christ receive nothing but mercy from him. Be stunned. And then pray that God would make you merciful to the undeserving.Oh, how sweet marriages would be if we stopped thinking about what we deserve and thought more about how to show more mercy – how to do more undeserved good to each other. Oh, how sweet would be the fellowship of the church if we all really felt undeserving of any good and lavished with God’s mercy. And, oh, how bright the gospel would shine if we touched the poor with Christ-exalting mercy. May God raise up many who will build, with joy, ministries of mercy to the city and the nations.”

Are you stunned by the mercy you’ve received from God? Do you reflect regularly on the mercy you’ve received? Are you a merciful person – is that who you are? Not just something you do, but something you are? Who do you most struggle to feel merciful toward? Pray for that person. Affirm that you forgive them, whether they have asked your forgiveness or not. Ask God to bless them. You and I are not yet perfect. We will need mercy in the future. We don’t want to burn bridges we’ll need to pass over later. Lord Jesus, make us merciful, as you are merciful.

http://theblazingcenter.com/2016/03/you-dont-want-to-burn-that-bridge.html

One thing 2016 will certainly bring us

Let us make crystal clear at the beginning of the year that all we will get from God this year as believers in Jesus is mercy. Whatever pleasures or pains come our way will all be mercy. . .
The fullest obedience and the smallest faith obtain the same thing from God: mercy. A mere mustard seed of faith taps into the mercy of tree-moving power. And flawless obedience leaves us utterly dependent on mercy.

John Piper

The dark canvas that points to Grace

This is such a joyful song which brilliantly describes the Joy we share in Christ. My favourite line is this: “The dark is just a canvas for Your grace and brightness.”  If this post meets you in a dark place look to Christ, the song of our hearts.

“Joy” (Rend Collective)
We’re choosing celebration
Breaking into freedom
You’re the song
You’re the song
Of our hearts

We cast aside our shadows
Trust You with our sorrows
You’re the song
You’re the song
Of our hearts

We’re dancing to the rhythm of Your heart
We’re rising from the ashes to the stars

You’re the joy joy joy lighting my soul
The joy joy joy making me whole
Though I’m broken, I am running
Into Your arms of love

The pain will not define us
Joy will reignite us
You’re the song
You’re the song
Of our hearts

The dark is just a canvas
For Your grace and brightness
You’re the song
You’re the song
Of our hearts

We’re dancing to the rhythm of Your heart
We’re rising from the ashes to the stars

CHORUS

You’re the joy
The song in my heart
The hope of my soul

In the shadows
In the sorrows
In the desert
When the pain hits
You are constant
Ever-present
You’re the song of my heart
[x2]

CHORUS

 

 

Watch “MercyMe – Greater (Official Lyric Video)” on YouTube

Greetings from school holiday land (aka teacher prep time). I’ve previously written a post about the lyrics of this song, but have just found a neat new official lyrics video that I thought I would share. It is such an uplifting and joyful tune. Blessings to you.

I JOHN 4:4-6
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

Our Saviour chose the Mercy Tree

This a beautiful song – a blessed Easter to you!
May your celebrations proclaim the grace and mercy of the empty tomb.

MERCY TREE

On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree
Every broken weary soul
Find your rest and be made whole
Stripes of blood that stain its frame
Shed to wash away our shame
From the scars pure love released
Salvation by the mercy tree

Verse 2
In the spot between two thieves
Hung the blameless Prince of Peace
Beaten, battered, scarred, and scorned
Sacred head pierced by our thorns
It is finished was his cry
The perfect lamb was crucified
His sacrifice, our victory
Our Savior chose the mercy tree

Chorus
Death has died, love has won
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome
He has risen from the dead

Verse 3
Hope went dark that violent day
The whole earth quaked at love’s display
Three days silent in the ground
This body born for heaven’s crown
On that bright and glorious day
When heaven opened up the grave
He’s alive and risen indeed!
Praise him for the mercy tree!

Verse 4
One day soon, we’ll see his face
And every tear, he’ll wipe away
No more pain or suffering
Praise him for the mercy tree

(Chorus 2x)
On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree

Official music video of “Mercy Tree” by Lacey Sturm, as seen in the film “The Cross” featuring Billy Graham. To watch the film visit http://watchbillygraham.com.

The truth that rescues, renovates and restores

rainbow treeAnd I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)

I just love the grace and truth of these two favourite passages (of mine) from God’s word. They sum up the compassionate heart of a God who would send his own son to die in order to make alive those dead in their rebellion against himself! They explain that the abundant new life we have in Christ is in no way something we have dreamed up. This is the intervention of an all-powerful God into the hearts of mortal men and women!

I also love the way the band Tenth Avenue North have described this rescue and restoration plan of our loving God (album: Light Meets the Dark). He came to bring us truth, which is his very substance. He came to bring us back to the start, to a relationship with him unhindered by our sin. He came to touch our hard hearts, to soften and make them tender and alive toward him. I trust you will enjoy meditating on the truth of these verses, particularly the grace of God which they reveal, grace which comes to us by no merit of our own.

“The Truth Is Who You Are”

It would be easier if You were just a thought in my head
Simply something that I once read
A belief needing my defense

And it would be easier if You were something I once knew
A hope just to hold on
But You’re holding out Your hands

You came to take us back to the start
You came to touch the hardness of our hearts
You gave us truth, that truth is who You are, it’s who You are

And it’s not enough to just say, “I believe”
‘Cause truth is that talk is cheap
So grace give me eyes to see

You came to take us back to the start
You came to touch the hardness of our hearts
You gave us truth, that truth is who You are
It’s who You are

Flesh and blood You offer us
Oh, to eat the bread and drink the cup
Oh, to taste, to see, to feel, to touch
Emmanuel, God with us
Emmanuel, God with us

‘Cause You came to break the chains apart
To wake the dead and the sleeping of our hearts
You gave us truth that truth is who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You are
It’s who You are

Here is a video commentary by the lead singer, explaining more about the meaning of the song:

God rejoices in his loving initiatives

rejoiceI’ve recently been studying the amazing covenant promises of God and tracing them through his Word (as part of my external studies with Moore College, a subject called Promise to Fulfilment). While reading that famous passage about God establishing relationship with us and writing his law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-36) I was reminded of a less famous but equally gracious promise located nearby. Here it is:

“They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”
(Jeremiah 32:38-41 NIV)

These verses have been highlighted in my old NIV bible for a long time. The passage contains so many elements of grace and blessings unimaginable! God is the one who ‘inspires us to fear him’ and gives us ‘singleness of heart and action’. Our faith is a gift; the Spirit is a gift that enables us to follow him and secures our relationship with him. God gives this and does this because it brings him pleasure; he rejoices in doing good to us. We can rejoice that he has ‘assuredly planted’ us in Christ, in his growing family of believers, the Church. We have a home in heaven that Christ is preparing for us. None of this is down to us, to our own making. God graciously provided our salvation and he rejoices in it. How could we do anything else?

Four little girls, suffering and God’s perfect peace

4girlsspaffords1You’ve probably heard of Horatio Spafford. You may realise he is the author of the hymn “It Is Well” (When Peace Like a River) and that he suffered the tragic loss of his four daughters before penning those now famous words. But here is a little more background you may not be aware of, along with an interesting question from Tim Keller:

“Horatio Spafford was an American lawyer who lost everything he had in the Chicago fire of 1871. Only two years later, he sent his wife, Anna, and their four daughters on a ship across the Atlantic Ocean to England. The ship hit another ship and began to sink. As it was sinking, Anna got the four little girls together and prayed. The ship went under the water, and they all were scattered into the waves, and all four little girls drowned. Anna was found floating unconscious in the water by a rescue ship. They took her to England, and she cabled Horatio Spafford just two words: “saved alone.”

spaffordWhen Spafford was on the ship on his way to England to bring his wife home, he began to write a hymn – “It is well with my soul… When peace, like a river…” Those are the words he wrote.

Here is what I want you to think about: why would a man dealing with his grief, seeking the peace of God – the peace like a river – spend the entire hymn on Jesus and His work of salvation? And why would he bring up the subject of his own sin at such a time? He wrote:

My sin, oh, though the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.

What has that got to do with his four little girls who are dead? Everything!
Do you know why? When things go wrong, one of the ways you lose your peace is that you think maybe you are being punished. But look at the cross! All the punishment fell on Jesus. Another thing you may think is that maybe God doesn’t care. But look at the cross! The Bible gives you a God that says, “I have lost a child too; but not involuntarily – voluntarily, on the cross, for your sake. So that I could bring you into my family.”

In that hymn you can watch a man thinking, thanking and loving himself into the peace of God. It worked for him under those circumstances. It worked for Paul under his circumstances (Phil 4:6-13). It will work for you.

– Timothy Keller, “Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering”, p.311-312

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

You can listen to a new arrangement of IT IS WELL by Todd Fields. Find it here on Spotify (our church songlist for 2014).