Advent Musings

As I reflect upon the season of advent, I am constantly challenged by how deep in meaning this season is. Not only is it a time of looking back at the 1st coming of Christ in Bethlehem, but a looking forward to His return as King of Kings. As I reflect on the preparation of His first coming, I have to ask – am I truly ready for His second? I know so many people who aren’t, that it saddens me. Then, I get to thinking that I know even more who will celebrate Christmas without knowing what they are really celebrating. It is like going to a birthday party for the son of a neighbor of a friend of yours. You kinda know them a little, but you know you are out of place at the party.
That is what Christmas is for people who are not God’s children. They are at His Son’s birthday party, but they are outsiders, missing out on the real excitement and meaning.Only those of us in the family of God can truly celebrate Christmas. I guess that is why I don’t get too upset with the over commercialization of Christmas. People aren’t believers so why shouldn’t they behave as they do? They don’t ruin my Christmas – I am focused on God and His great gift.
As I wrote yesterday, we can take a lesson from Hanukkah and make sure our light is shining outward, as a witness this Advent season. Perhaps if we do, if we tell people of Christ’s first and second comings, they will be able to truly join the party.

Excerpt From A Heart Hungry to Worship (Free on Kindle this weekend)

The Holy Spirit has instructed Philip to make contact with the Ethiopian and he does so. Running alongside the chariot, he hears the eunuch reading from Isaiah. In those days, it was customary to read aloud, not silently when one read to their self. Philip asks him a simple question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” The English translation does not do justice to the original Greek wording. Philip’s question really asks the eunuch if what he is reading has any meaning for him, if what he is reading makes any sense.

The response is so telling! It is a response of frustration, discouragement and disappointment. “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” Despite his apparent regalia and retinue, no one in Jerusalem had taken the time to answer his questions. No one helped quench his thirst for the knowledge of the One True God. He had a copy of the Scriptures, but could not understand what the words meant. He could read them, he was an educated man fluent in languages, but the meaning, the import, and the supernatural impact of the words eluded him.

There is a reason why the Bible says that only those who are spiritual can understand spiritual things.[1] Until a person comes to submit their life to the Lord Jesus, the Bible depicts them as spiritually blind, unable to see or comprehend spiritual truths.[2] They need the Holy Spirit to open their spiritual eyes and illuminate their minds. Often, the Spirit uses believers, like Philip, in that process.

The Ethiopian invites Philip up into his chariot and asks him a question about the passage he is reading. “Who is the prophet referring to?” Without being able to identify the subject talked about, a person cannot make a proper interpretation. Philip begins introducing the Ethiopian to Jesus through this passage. The Book of Isaiah was tailor-made for a person like this Ethiopian. It’s in Isaiah that many prophecies of Jesus’ birth and reign are found.[3] It’s in Isaiah where one finds promises to eunuchs of their inclusion in God’s Holy Temple[4] alongside other worshippers of God. Isaiah described God Himself, high and lifted up, as having compassion on people who have wandered away from the truth; who are like sheep.[5]

Philip begins with the passage the Ethiopian is wrestling with and uses it as a springboard to tell the story of Jesus, God’s Messiah. As Philip expounds the meaning of what the Ethiopian was reading God’s Spirit illuminates his mind. Now, he realizes how a person is to worship God. Now, he realizes that it’s not at a Temple made by human hands but through faith in Jesus Christ that a person comes to approach God. As they pass by some water, he interrupts Philip to ask, “Is there anything that hinders me from being baptized right now?” He understands; he wants to identify with Jesus Christ and he desires to proclaim his newfound faith.

Water baptism was quite common in those days. In Judaism, it stood as a symbol for a Gentile’s repentance and conversion to Israel’s religion. In Christianity, it stands for each person’s repentance and as a symbol of his or her submission to Christ’s Lordship.

Philip baptizes the Ethiopian, which shows us an important picture. Philip, an olive skinned man, baptizes the Ethiopian, a black man, into the fellowship of the church. Philip, a former adherent to Judaism, and the Ethiopian, a former adherent to the religion of Meroe, become equal in standing before Christ. In Christ, racial barriers, national barriers, cultural barriers fall. Each person finds themselves equal at the foot of the Cross.


[1] 1 Corinthians 2:13-16

[2] 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

[3] Isaiah 7:14, 11:1-16

[4] Isaiah 56:3-8

[5] Isaiah 6:1-4, 53:6

Hymn Devotions Day 19 – We Have Heard The Joyful Sound

DAY 19 – WE HAVE HEARD THE JOYFUL SOUND

Is there any message more wonderful than that of “Jesus saves?” As we receive the blessedness of redemption, we cannot help but to spread this gospel, this good news, to every land.

It is a message for people everywhere, in every land. It is a message that transcends cultures, language barriers, economic barriers, racial barriers. Lost, spiritually blind, dead in their trespasses and sins, dying without hope, people need this message. They need this message more than they need any other message because it brings the hope of God to their lives. It is appropriate to shout at births – Jesus saves. It is appropriate to shout at funerals – Jesus saves from eternal damnation! Look to Jesus and live.

How can we keep such a wonderful message to ourselves? When millions shall walk in gloomy darkness, how can we not share the gospel light? Jesus, and only Jesus, saves. Don’t look to anything else, only Jesus. Don’t rely on anyone or anything else, only Jesus. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved but Jesus’. Shout salvation full and free to all who will listen, because it is our song of victory over sin and death, Jesus saves!

 

            Lord, help me to be faithful in proclaiming the message of salvation to everyone. Let me be unashamed to proclaim “Jesus saves” to every person I meet. Help me to be not just filled with compassion for the lost, but moved to action by proclaiming the way of salvation through the person of Jesus Christ.

 WE HAVE HEARD THE JOYFUL SOUND – Priscilla Owens

We have heard the joyful sound

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Spread the tidings all around

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Bear the news to every land

Climb the steeps and cross the waves

Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Waft it on the rolling tide

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Tell to sinners far and wide

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Sing ye islands of the sea

Echo back, ye ocean caves

Earth shall keep her jubilee

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

 

Sing above the battle strife

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

By His death and endless life

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Sing it softly through the gloom

When the heart for mercy craves

Sing in triumph o’er the tomb

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

 

Give the winds a mighty voice

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Let the nations now rejoice

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Shout salvation full and free

Highest hills and deepest caves

This our song of victory

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Hymn Devotions Day 12 – I Love To Tell The Story

DAY 12 – I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY

       The history of this hymn and her sister hymn Tell Me the Old, Old Story is fascinating. Taken from a long poem, some fifty stanzas written by Katherine Hankey, both songs draw a person to realize just how precious sharing the gospel truly is.

The first reason to tell the gospel story is, of course, because some have never heard. How sad that some 2,000 years after being given the command to go into all the world we have not been completely obedient.

Another reason is also mentioned in the hymn. Those who know the gospel best still long to hear it again and again. It never gets old. It still amazes everyone when they reflect on the depth of love that God has for us. We still marvel at Jesus’ sacrificial death. We still cry on Good Friday and jump and shout triumphantly on Easter Sunday.

When we arrive in heaven, our song – the song of redemption, will be unique in the cosmos; and we will never get tires of it. 

Lord, I love to tell the story of Your salvation. From the choosing of Mary and Joseph as Your earthly parents to the birth in Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary, the story is marvelous and amazing. How deep Your love is. How merciful Your actions. Help me to tell the old, old story, both to those who have never heard and to those who long to hear it again.

 

I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY by Katherine Hankey

I love to tell the story of unseen things above

Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love

I love to tell the story because I know ’tis true

It satisfies my longings like nothing else can do

 

I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems

Than all our golden fancies of all our golden dreams

I love to tell the story, it did so much for me

And that is just the reason, I tell it now to thee

 

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat

What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet

I love to tell the story, for some have never heard

The message of salvation, from God’s own holy word

 

I love to tell the story for those who know it best

Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest

And when, in scenes of glory, I sing a new, new song

‘Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long

 

REFAIN:

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory

To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love

 

It Isn’t Fair

It Isn’t Fair
“It isn’t fair! It can’t be right!
I now protest with all my might!
I raise my voice both loud and strong,
It’s wrong, my friend! It’s wrong, it’s wrong.
“It’s wrong, I say, dead wrong, indeed!
That’s why I weep and beg and plead.
It is a black and wicked sin
To keep the light from dying men!
“I plead the cause of men afar,
Unsaved, unloved, untold they are.
Why have we been so late and slow?
Why have there been so few to go?
“Unsaved, unsought and still untold,
Because we love and hoard our gold!
How dare we show such selfish greed?
And keep the truth from men in need?
“Let’s follow Jesus’ last command!
Let’s take the light to every land!
This truth is plain: the need is great.
The time is short; the hour is late!
“Let’s not linger, rest or sleep,
But rise and go and give and weep!
And quickly tell a dying race
Of Jesus’ love and power and grace!
Fred D. Jarvis (June 1984 Pulpit Helps)