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All beings change but God. All things change but heaven…Our circumstance may change. Our relations and friends may depart one by one. Our souls in a single day pass through many fluctuations of spiritual feeling. But He who chose us to be His own, and who has kept us to the present moment, is our covenant God and Father forever and ever, and will never throw us off and cast us away. “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.”
~Octavius Winslow, Christ’s Sympathy to weary Pilgrims
Change seems to be one of the themes of every New Year. Many things have changed in our lives throughout this year; many things will be changing as we live through another year. Yet, in all these changes there is something that never changes. We know that Christ’s love and promise to save will be as strong for his children has it has always been and will always be. We can look, through this truth, upon all the changes which have happen and will happen and see them with hope and courage.
My power cord has return! I should be back up and posting here soon.
I forgot my laptop computer power-cable back in Knoxville. So I have about a 70% charge until it is shipped to me. Because of that posting is either going to be few or nothing till it comes.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.
At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!
~Liturgy of St. James, 4th Century
‘Jesus’ is a very encouraging name to heavy-laden inners. He who is King of Kings and Lord of lords might lawfully have taken some more high-sounding title. But he did not do so. the rulers of this world have often called themselves Great, Conqueror, Bold, Magnificent, and the like. The Son of God was content to call himself ‘Saviour’. The souls thich desire salvation may draw near to the Father with boldness, and have access with confidence through Christ. It is his office and his delight to show mercy. ‘God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved’ (John 3:17).
~J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew, p.5
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
I posted this earlier this year but I believe it would be good see the importance of the virgin’s birth as we come upon Christmas. These reasons are taken from Sinclair B. Ferguson book, The Holy Spirit.
5 reasons why the virgin conception-birth is important:
- The action of the Holy Spirit (coupled with the absence of conception ‘by the will of man’, J. 1:13) points to the sovereign newness of the work God is accomplishing,
- While Mary is involved in the virgin conception she is completely passive in it, because it is the direct result of the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit. Here, as Barth underlined, over against the place given to Mary by the Roman Catholic theology, the active contribution of humanity in providing salvation is nullified.
- The human nature which was assumed by the Son of God was created ex nihilo, but was inherited through Mary. It is our human nature, ‘addicted to so many wretchedness’, as Calvin vividly puts it. Subject to the pains and temptations of this life, his human natured needed to be acted upon by the Holy Spirit in order to be sanctified.
- Only by the work of the Spirit could the divine person of the Logos assume genuine human nature, come ‘in the likeness of sinful man’ (Rom 8:3), and yet remain ‘holy, harmless, undefiled’ (Heb. 7:26, AV), ‘the holy one’ (Lk. 1:35).
- The revelation of the virgin conception by the Spirit forbids any adoptionist Christology.
- There is no room for the notion that the man Jesus of Nazareth becomes the Son of God by adoption….The modern addiction to a Christology exclusively ‘from below’ is a truncated pneumatology as well as a deformed Christology.
- The conception of Jesus by the Spirit underlines both his identification with our frailty (he assumes our nature at its smallest and weakest) and his essential distinctiveness, not in relation to the reality of his humanity but in relation to his liability to guilt.
- The work of the Spirit preserves both the reality of his union with us in genuine human nature, and his freedom from the guilt and curse of Adam’s fall (Rom 5:12-21).
- The conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is the mode by which the Father’s sending of the Son is effected. As such, it underlines the principle that, in the work of redemption which Christ spearheads, each person of the Trinity is engaged.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23)
The first thing which we ought to consider in this name is the divine majesty of Christ, so as to yield to him the reverence which is due to the only and eternal God. But we must not, at the same time, forget the fruit which God intended that we should collect and receive from this name. For whenever we contemplate the one person of Christ as God-man, we ought to hold it for certain that, if we are united to Christ by faith, we possess God.
~John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists
From the squalor of a borrowed stable,
By the spirit and a virgin’s faith;
To the anguish and the shame of scandal
Came the Saviour of the human race!
But the skies were filled, with the praise of heav’n,
Shepherds listen as the angels tell
Of the Gift of God, come down to man
At the dawning of Immanuel
King of heaven now the Friend of sinners,
Humble servant in the Father’s hands,
Filled with power and the Holy Spirit,
Filled with mercy for the broken man
Yes he walked my road, and He felt my pain,
Joys and sorrows that I know so well;
Yet His righteous steps, give me hope again –
I will follow my Immanuel!
Through the kisses of a friend’s betrayal,
He was lifted on a cruel cross;
He was punished for a world’s transgressions,
He was suffering to save the lost
He fights for breath, He fights for me
Loosing sinners from the claims of hell;
And with a shout, our souls are free –
Death defeated by Immanuel!
Now He’s standing in the place of honour,
Crowned with glory on the highest throne,
Interceding for His own beloved
Till His Father calls us to bring them home!
Then the skies will part, as the trumpet sounds
Hope of heaven or the fear of hell;
But the Bride will run, to her Lover’s arms,
Giving glory to Immanuel!
“What God did when He sent His Son into the world is an absolute guarantee that He will do everything He has promised to do.”
A tender shoot has started
up from a root of grace,
as ancient seers imparted
from Jesse’s holy race;
It blooms without a blight,
blooms in the cold bleak winter
turning our darkness into light.
This shoot, Isaiah taught us,
from Jesse’s root should spring;
the Vrigin Mary brought us
the branch of which we sing:
our God of endless might
gave her this child to save us,
thus turning darkness into light.
~Otto Goldschmidt (1829-1907)
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;
See how the shepherds, summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither bend our joyful footsteps;
Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.
~Words: John F. Wade, circa 1743. Verses 1-3 & 6 translated from Latin to English by Frederick Oakeley, 1841; verses 4 & 5 translated by William T. Brooke (1848-1917).
The trumpet child will blow his horn
Will blast the sky till it’s reborn
With Gabriel’s power and Satchmo’s grace
He will surprise the human race
The trumpet he will use to blow
Is being fashioned out of fire
The mouthpiece is a glowing coal
The bell a burst of wild desire
The trumpet child will riff on love
Thelonious notes from up above
He’ll improvise a kingdom come
Accompanied by a different drum
The trumpet child will banquet here
Until the lost are truly found
A thousand days, a thousand years
Nobody knows for sure how long
The rich forget about their gold
The meek and mild are strangely bold
A lion lies beside a lamb
And licks a murderer’s outstretched hand
The trumpet child will lift a glass
His bride now leaning in at last
His final aim to fill with joy
The earth that man all but destroyed
~Linford Detweiler“The Trumpet Child”from the album The Trumpet Child by Over the Rhine.