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Another striking passage from Handel's Messiah is this bit from Job.

"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. "Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; - Job 19:25-26 NASB

Job's book is thought to be the first scripture committed to writing, written even before Moses put down the Pentateuch. Job had lived through as much sorrow and hardship as any man before or since.

And yet...

In the end of his narrative, after all his friends have abused him and put him to shame, he makes this declaration. I know that my redeemer lives and that I will see Him.

It reminds me of David's understanding of death. When his infant son died, the product of his affair with Bathsheba, he ends his mourning, gets dress and returns to life. His time of morning was over, and his declarations was,

"But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." - 2 Samuel 12:23 NASB

These men both had a concept of a time after life when they would see their redeemer and their loved ones. They were ultimately headed to Him.

Job even understood the resurrection of the body. After my skin is gone, in my flesh I will see God.

Eternity was in their hearts, and they knew that this life of hardship and trial, is not all there was. There is more.

There is more.

This is on my mind, in part, because, this year, our Christmas celebration has two loved ones less around the table. Two dear saints have joined the cloud of witnesses and celebrate the incarnation from the other side of the veil. My mother and my father-in-law have been celebrating Jesus in person these past few months. What a glorious thought. They are not lost to me, to us. They simply stepped out of this mortal mess into a glorious life of communion with God.

And one day, when Christ returns, they will be given new bodies, functioning, fully healed and whole bodies, and renewed minds, with which to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And on that day, if not before, I will go to them, as David put it. Moreover, I will go to Him - I will see my living Redeemer face to face. In my flesh, I will see God.

Oh, Hallelujah. What a day that will be.

Do you have that assurance? You can. On Christmas we celebrate God's greatest gift to us, His Son Jesus. Let this Christmas be the day you give your life to Jesus, once and for all. It's simple, a simple act of your will. Own your own failure and surrender to Him. He says—well—here–I'll let Him tell it,

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. - John 14:23 NASB

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Blessings and Joy to all.

Ben

When I was younger my family went every year to hear the wonderful oratorio, Messiah, by George Friedrich Handel. The wonder, majesty, and power of this work bring me to tears every time I soak in it.

Much credit is due to the wonderful music, but at the heart of this work is the text which is directly from the God's Word. I wanted to share it with you. Why not make a reading—or better a listening with the lyrics handy—a part of your Christmas Season this year.

Merry Christmas

Ben

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George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner - Public Domain

Messiah (HWV 56)[1] is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer (which are worded slightly differently from their King James counterparts). It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.[n 1] (Wikipedia)

 

To make it a little easier to follow I put the names of each piece in bold followed by the scripture reference which was supplied by the source listed below, followed by the text of the scripture printed out in the quotes boxes.

Lyric Source - http://www.worshipmap.com/lyrics/messiahtext.html

Handel's Messiah
George Frederic Handel (1695-1759)

Part I

(1) Overture

(2) Comfort Ye

Isaiah 40:1-3

1. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. . . .

3. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

(3) Every Valley

Isaiah 40:4

4.Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.

(4) And the Glory of the Lord

Isaiah 40:5

5. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

(5) Thus saith the Lord

Haggai 2:6,7

6. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; Yet once, a little while and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come

Malachi 3:1

1. The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in:Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.

(6) But who may abide the Day of His Coming?

Malachi 3:2

2. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire.

(7) And He shall Purify

Malachi 3:3

3. And He shall purify the sons of Levi. . . that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

(8) Behold A Virgin Shall Conceive

Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:23)

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name EMMANUEL, God with us.

(9) O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion

Isaiah 40:9

9. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, and be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Isaiah 60:1

1. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

(10) For behold, darkness shall cover the earth

Isaiah 60:2,3

2. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. 3. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

(11) The people that walked in darkness

Isaiah 9:2 (Matthew 3:16)

2. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

(12) For unto Us a Child is born

Isaiah 9:6

6. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

(13) Pastoral Symphony

(14) There were shepherds abiding in the field

Luke 2:8

8. There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.

Luke 2:9

9. And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

(15) And the Angel said unto them

Luke 2:10,11

10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

(16) And suddenly there was with the Angel

Luke 2:13

13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

(17) Glory to God

Luke 2:14

14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

(18) Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion

Zechariah 9:9,10 (Matthew 21:5)

9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee. He is the righteous Savior. . 10. . . And he shall speak peace unto the heathen.

(19) Then shall the eyes of the blind

Isaiah 35:5,6

5. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.

(20) He shall feed his flock like a shepherd

Isaiah 40:11

11. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; and he shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Matthew 11:28, 29

28. Come unto [Him], all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and [He shall]give you rest. 29. Take [his] yoke upon you, and learn of [Him]; for [he is] meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

(21) His yoke is easy

Matthew 11:30

30. [His] yoke is easy, and [his]burden is light.

Part II

(22) Behold the lamb of God

John 1:29

29.Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.

(23) He was despised

Isaiah 53:3

3. He is despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. . . Isaiah 50:6 [He]gave [His] back to the smiters, and [His] cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: [He] hid not [His] face from shame and spitting.

(24) Surely He hath borne our griefs

Isaiah 53:4,5

4. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. . . . 5. . . He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:the chastisement of our peace was upon him,

(25) And with His stripes we are healed

Isaiah 53:5b

5. and with His stripes we are healed

(26) All we like sheep have gone astray

Isaiah 53:6

6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(27) All they that see him laugh him to scorn

Psalm 22:7

7. All they that see [him]laugh [him] to scorn: they shoot out their lips, they shake their heads, saying:

(28) He trusted in God

Psalm 22:8 (Matthew 27:43)

8. He trusted [in God] that he would deliver him:let him deliver him, if he delight in him.

(29) Thy rebuke hath broken His heart

Psalm 69:20

20. [Thy] rebuke hath broken [his] heart; [He is] full of heaviness. [He]looked for some to have pity [on Him], but there was none; neither found [He] any to comfort [Him].

(30) Behold, and see if there be any sorrow

Lamentations 1:12

12. Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto [his] sorrow. . .

(31) He was cut off out of the land of the living

Isaiah 53:8b

8. he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of [Thy] people was He stricken.

(32) But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell

Psalm 16:10 (Acts 2:27)

10. [But] thou [didst] not leave [his] soul in hell; neither [didst]thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.

(33) Lift up your heads, O ye gates

Psalm 24:7-10

7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. 8. Who is the King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. 10. Who is the King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.

(34) Unto which of the angels said He at any time

Hebrews 1:5 (Psalm 2:7)

5. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?

(35) Let all the angels of God worship Him

Hebrews 1:6b

6. "Let all the angels of God worship Him."

(36) Thou art gone up on high

Psalm 68:18 (Ephesians 4:8)

18. Thou art gone up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, even for Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them.

(37) The Lord gave the word

Psalm 68:11

11. The Lord gave the word: great was the company of [the preachers].

(38) How beautiful are the feet

Romans 10:15 (Isaiah 52:7)

15. How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

(39) Their sound is gone out

Romans 10:18 (Psalm 19:4)

18. their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world.

(40) Why do the nations so furiously rage together?

Psalm 2:1,2 (Acts 4:25-26)

1. Why do the heathen rage, and why do the people imagine a vain thing? 2. The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed,

(41) Let us break their bonds asunder

Psalm 2:3

3. Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us.

(42) He that dwelleth in heaven

Psalm 2:4

4. He that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision.

(43) Thou shalt break them

Psalm 2:9

9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

(44) Hallelujah

Revelation 19:6,  11:15, 19:16

6. Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 11:15. . . the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 19:16. . . . KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS.

Part III

(45) I know that my redeemer liveth

Job 19:25, 26

25. I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand on the latter day upon the earth: 26. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

1Corinthians 15:20

20. [For] now is Christ risen from the dead. . . the firstfruits of them that [sleep].

(46) Since by man came death

1Corinthians 15:21,22

21. Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

(47) Behold I tell you a mystery

1Corinthians 15:51,52

51. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed, 52. In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet;

(48) The trumpet shall sound

1Corinthians 15:52b-53

52. the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

(49) Then shall be brought to pass

1Corinthians 15:54b (Isaiah 25:8)

54. then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'

(50) O death where is thy sting?

1Corinthians 15:55-56 (Hosea 13:14)

55. O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? 56. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

(51) But thanks be to God

1 Corinthians 15:57

57. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(52) If God be for us

Romans 8:31, 33, 34

31. If God be for us, who can be against us? 33. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us.

(53) Worthy is the Lamb

Revelation 5:12, 13

12. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13. . . . Blessing, and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.      Amen.

 

 

Rebroadcast from Christmas 2012 - Enjoy...
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For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 NASB)

Savior

For the next 3 posts we are going to take a brief look at the Job description for a Messiah.

The first requirement is He must be a Savior.

The word Savior here is “sōtēr” which comes from the root “sōzō,” another of my favorites words in the Bible. It is very similar to the word we looked at yesterday – Shalom.

Here are some places it is used.

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."(Matthew 1:21 NASB)

For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour (Matthew 9:21-22 KJV)

And besought him greatly, saying , My little daughter lieth at the point of death : I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live . (Mark 5:23 KJV)

"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9 NASB)

So this job description includes the power to Save, Heal, and Make Whole.

I have heard it said “When Jesus saves a person, He saves the whole person.” But I will go you one better. When Jesus saves a broken person He make them whole.” [Tweet This]

This is what the writer to the Hebrews is saying:

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV)

I love this – He saves us, and keeps us saved by His constant intercession for us. What an awesome Savior we have!

BenMerry Christmas

Ben

Kingdom of Heaven"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." - Luke 1:32-33 NASB

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary to give her the good news that her life was about to be tossed into the tumbler, He included some details we don’t see in fulfilled as yet.

He tells her the Son she is to bear will be given the throne of His father David, and He will have an everlasting reign over the house of Jacob.

David’s line had lost the throne over 400 years before Christ was born. The house of Jacob had been dispersed across the known world. They had no common ruler. They were a scattered people.

When the Great Shepherd walked the streets of Galilee with a dozen followers he showed no kingly ambitions.

He made no move for political power.
He didn’t try to reestablish the throne of His father David.
He didn’t stir up the crowds that gathered to Him for a revolt.
He didn’t preach a political agenda.

So here’s the question. Is His reign a future reign. Is Gabriel prophesying of a second coming reign, where Jesus will come and rule and reign?

Or is Gabriel speaking of dominion of Christ in the hearts of the true Israel—the true people of God—the called according to His plan and purpose.

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. - Galatians 3:7

John the Revelator grabs Gabriel’s words and applies them to His second coming. He paints a picture of the heavenly throne room where God’s most honored fall on their faces before Him.

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, - Revelation 11:15-16

And so it shall be.

All that said—His reign did begin in Galilee with that band of uneducated fishermen whom He picked up along the edge of the Sea of Galilee. He began His eternal reign that day on the shore:

And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." - Matthew 4:19

They followed, and He reigned. He took His place on the throne of their hearts.

When tempted to go elsewhere, Peter famously replied:

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." - John 6:68-69

There will be a day when every knee will bow to Him and honor Him as Lord of All, but today He reigns in those like Peter who answer His call, “Follow Me.”

Truly, even in this day of gross darkness, His rule—His government is increasing. As the dark grows darker, the light continues to shine.

He’s still inviting people to follow Him and become fishers of men (and women). He’s still setting those alight who will follow and sending them into the immense darkness of our day, to shine.

He’s walking the shores of your life today and calling you to leave your nets and follow Him. He wants to give you new nets—nets for catching men and women.

And so His reign does increase even today.

Will you forsake all and follow Him?

What would that look like in your life?

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

Think on these things.

Ben

2

photo credit: produce for the week via photopin (license)
photo credit: produce for the week via photopin (license)

And at our gates are pleasant fruits,
All manner, new and old,
Which I have laid up for you, my beloved.

Song of Songs 7:13 NKJV

As we see life through the eyes of this beautiful bride, we find she welcomes her Husband, the Shepherd King, with pleasant fruit at the gate - both old fruit and new, laid up for her beloved. What a ripe (I couldn’t resist) image this paints.

As they live their life together, and they labor in the fields and gardens before them, she offers fruit to the Lover of her soul. And right there at the gate.

There was a day when her garden was locked. (Song 4:12)

There was a day when the door of her chamber was closed to Him and He bid her open. (Song 5:2)

Today He is welcomed with pleasant fruit, both new and old.

What does this offering of fruit say? How does she welcome the Lord as He returns - or perhaps as they return together. I like that image. She has prepared for their return, and then joined Him in His labor. When they return together, He is welcomed. Notice it is fruit she has laid up for Him. She isn’t scrambling to find something to offer her Lover. She does not have to stir up her devotion in order to draw Him to her worship service. She has an overflow of fruit.

Let’s unpack a bit.

Whats fruit does she offer her beloved?

Let’s start with Isaiah’s prophecy. In Isaiah 5 we read that the Lord planted a vineyard and expected fruit—grapes—and returned to find nothing but wild grapes. He says in explanation:

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! - Isaiah 5:7 ESV

Two forms of fruit that please the Lord are justice and righteousness.

We, on our own, will never walk in either, but through the blood of Jesus and the outpouring of His Spirit, He has given a heart that beats for justice, He has given us an appetite for righteousness.

Paul tells us of the fruit of the Spirit—love characterized by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—fulfilling the Lord’s desire for a people who walk in justice and righteousness. (Galatians 5:22-23)

It’s intrigues me—this call for justice and righteousness—justice would be an outward display of goodness while righteousness would imply an adherence to that which is right in oneself. So in this simple two-fold call, He looks for inner holiness and outward demonstration of love.

He was disappointed with Israel’s fruit offerings. He called them wild grapes. But the fruit the maiden lays up for Him is pleasant.

Another aspect of fruit borne in the life of a believer is the fruit of our lips.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. - Hebrews 13:15 ESV

I’ve heard someone say they didn’t understand how people can walk into church of a Sunday morning and vault right into full praise and worship mode. This person didn’t get how anyone could immediately be caught up in the presence of the Lord.

And yet the writer to the Hebrews makes it plain that we are exhorted to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to our God - the fruit of our lips acknowledging His name. If our mouth is constantly offering up praise, we will have an abundance to offer at the gate.

It’s Psalm 100 that tells us:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! - Psalm 100:4 ESV

Praise and Thanksgiving are in fact the gateway to His presence.

Finally, one more area of fruitfulness in the believer is in those we have brought with us to follow the Shepherd King. Like Philip to Nathanael—there are those to whom we say “I have found the Messiah, come and worship Him with me.”

What offerings of pleasant fruits have you laid up for the Lord? What have you left at the gate of your dwelling to greet Him as He comes?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Shine where you’re screwed in.

Ben

6

three_crosses_on_kreuzberg_mountain_bavaria_germany

We are looking at this entry in my church home’s statement of faith.

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

There are 5 words in this faith statement, which are more important than any of the definitions and questions we have been studying. They are:

“Lord Jesus Christ as Savior”

The most important thing to understand about salvation is the WHO of it.

It’s fine to understand all these doctrines and ideas, but Jesus actually answers all my questions.

Jesus – His name means Salvation.
Jesus – He is the Grace – the gift of God.
Jesus – He is the author and object of our faith.
We may be saved from sin, but we are saved to Jesus.
It is Jesus who promised never to leave me or forsake me.

Our Savior is given the title, Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s break that down.

First and foremost we must recognize Jesus as Lord. It is no mistake that Jesus is called Lord and Savior, not Savior and Lord. The church over the centuries has often turned this around to it own detriment.

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. - 2 Peter 3:18 NASB

Skye Jethani, [who is among other things the Executive Editor of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal and one of the co-hosts of a great podcast, The Phil Vischer Podcast] says the gospel in its simplest form is ‘Jesus is Lord.’

As I have said many times before, there are many forms and stages our relationship with Jesus progresses through, but we must first come to Jesus as servants. When we are called to Him, we must respond with a resounding ‘YES LORD’ in our hearts.

In fact, that might just be the best practical definition of faith. Faith is a life that said ‘yes Lord' to Jesus. [Tweet This]

Kim Josephson, who led me to faith, often proclaims, “You must make Jesus, your Master, your Lord, your King, your Boss.”

Next we see His name, Jesus, means Salvation.

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. - Matthew 1:21 NASB

God has exalted Jesus to the highest place, and set His name, Jesus, above every name that is named.

… God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:9-11 NASB

which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, - Ephesians 1:20-22 NASB

Finally, He bears the title Christ. (No, Christ was not Mary and Joseph’s last name.) Christ means anointed one. It would be the Greek word used to refer to the Jew’s Messiah. When the woman at the well saw that Jesus was looking directly into her heart she ran through the city calling:

Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ? - John 4:29 NKJV

So you see, when we say Lord Jesus Christ, we have said a mouthful.

Jesus is Lord – is He yours?
Jesus is Savior – is He yours?
Jesus is Christ – is He yours?

Will you bow your knee to this King of King and Lord of Lords?

It is the only path to Salvation – sozo.

He is the Grace of God.

A life long YES to Him is the only saving faith.

Ben NelsonThanks much for stopping in today.

See you again tomorrow.

Ben

If you missed the beginning of this series you can catch up here:

Salvation

From what do we need saving?

Grace and Faith

5

First - let me say

HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2014  - We welcome you!

There - now that that is done, let me travel back in time a few days to last Sunday.

When you read the title of this post you probably said: Aren't we done with Christmas yet? - almost - I promise - at least here.

I had the privilege of preaching in my home church - Pascack Bible Church, in Hillsdale, NJ last Sunday, December 29, 2013 (I know - sounds like ancient history, doesn't it?)

Anyway - it was the last sermon in a series our Pastor, Chet Klope, walked us through this advent season, and I thought I would share it with you here.

Here is the link on our Church website to the audio of the sermon, and a place you can download it so you can take me for a walk as part of your New Years Resolution to move more.

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Angels From The Realms of Glory

Ben NelsonSpeaker: Ben Nelson
Series: The Songs We Sing As part of our Advent sermon series, “The Songs We Sing”, Elder Ben Nelson unpacks the deep meaning behind the powerful carol, Angels From The Realms Of Glory, including two lesser known verses.
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Below, for those of you who would rather read than listen is my sermon prep notes - the audio is pretty close, but this is not exactly a transcript.Once again - Let's walk together in blessing in 2014!
Ben

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Come and Worship 

Christmas is over. 

This year it seemed like a long haul, what with the Christmas commercials staring in September. Yes – September

No big surprise that yesterday my girls saw Valentine’s decorations in the Mall.

Many have eaten way to much. There was one 7-day stretch where I ate at 7 holiday meals/buffets, and believe me the 7 days were not the only things stretching.

Many have spent way too much.

I’m tired of the Christmas commercials.
I’m tired of the Christmas music playing in every store.
I’m tired of the ever-present Santas.
I’m tired of the elf watching my every move.
I’m tired of red and green.
I’m tired of the pine needles littering my living spaces.
If I hear one more rendition of “I’ll be home for Christmas” I think I might be sick.

So today when you walked into the sanctuary and the usher handed you a bulletin with yet another Christmas carol sermon… well, I get it. OK?

What I am defiantly not sick of is the story of the incarnation.

Paul captured its essence in one of my favorite passages in the Bible.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-- even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:5-11 NIV

Jesus is God. He always has been God.
There was never a day when He was not God.

But Paul tells us here He emptied Himself.

He took off His kingly robes

He set aside His omnis – Omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence.

He did not lose them, He simply took them off, set them aside for a time. They still belonged to Him, and He still had access to them. There were times in His ministry when He slipped back into them.

On the mount of transfiguration recorded in Matthew and Mark He slipped back into some of His heavenly garments and Peter, James, John, Elijah, and Moses got a glimpse of His deity – His majesty – His glory.

In the garden of Gethsemane, as Judas and those who came to arrest Him approached, there was one moment when He stood up to “greet” them.

Do you remember how it went down? Jesus, out of the predawn mist asks the oncoming army, “Whom do you seek?”

The leader of the mob sent to arrest him called out “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus spoke again and the strangest thing happened. He said “I AM” and all six hundred of the soldiers, the high priests and temple guards – everyone – fell to the ground.

He clearly never stopped being God. But the scripture tells us He humbled himself.

  • He took off His royal robes and put on swaddling clothes.
  • He stepped down from His kingly throne and lay down in a manger.
  • The same mouth that uttered the words “Light Be” and exploded the universe into motion, now cooed and dr00led and spit up on His mama’s shoulder.
  • The same mind that informed Solomon would soon sit and learn from the Spiritual leaders as a young boy in Jerusalem.
  • The Captain of the Lord’s army, who lead Joshua into battle against Jericho, would soon be taken captive by a Roman cohort.
  • The same lungs that breathed breath into the dust of the ground and called forth Adam, would heave with the words, ‘it is finished’ and then be still for three days.
  • The same Christ, this same Jesus, who condescended to put on flesh, would again put on immortality, and ascended into heaven.
  • This same Jesus who talked baby talk and ate baby food will one day judge all men dead and alive.
  • This same Jesus who was mocked and scorned and crucified is the One before whom every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess.

And that is what I love about Christmas.

One thing that strikes me in the Christmas story is the worship of this King of Kings when He does not appear to deserve or even desire worship. And I am not just talking about doting parents and grand parents. The story of the incarnation is full of folks who stopped what they were doing and worshiped this tiny king in a tiny town outside Jerusalem.

The carol we are considering this morning walks us right through the list of worshippers in a beautiful progression.

Angels 

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

So it is a quiet night over Bethlehem. Smarter folks than I say it could not have been winter. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that it happened on the day of some ancient Jewish feast. Perhaps Pentecost. The original feast of Pentecost or Shavu'ot – the feast of weeks.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no proof for this, and of course this is the day God chose to fulfill the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. But to the Jews it was the celebration of the day the Law was given. It was the day the Word became “stone.” What better day for the Word to become flesh.

Anyway, an angel shows up and starts talking to some shepherds. Next the sky is full of angels. (I wonder if it would have looked like a new star in the sky from far off in the east!– hmmm)

You see the angels, who had an inkling of what was actually happening, came from all over the earth. I wonder if every angel in creation came to see this great unveiling of God in flesh.

The angels have come to worship the newborn king.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Shepherds

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:

Why shepherds?

Why not fishermen?

Why not tax collectors?

After all, that’s who Jesus picked when He was picking disciples. I don’t think there was a single shepherd in the whole flock.

But that night God sent the angels to tell shepherds.

Perhaps it was because they were the lowest of the low.
Perhaps it was because they were the most down trodden.
Or maybe it was because a thousand years earlier there was a shepherd boy who sat in these same fields under the these same stars and talked to God.
Perhaps it was because a millennium earlier Israel had a shepherd savior when they were faced with a giant problem.

I don’t know why God picked shepherds, but I know what the shepherds did.

They left their flocks and ran to worship Jesus.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Wisemen

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

Again we must tweak the traditional Christmas story with what the Bible says. These “wise men” may not have shown up on the scene for up to two years, and for the record, we really don’t know how many came, just that the gifts listed were three, gold for His royalty, incense to depict the intercession He would make for us, and myrrh for the death He would die.

I know the Christmas cards have them arriving while Jesus was still in the stable, but the Bible tells us they came to “the house.”

One of the reasons I think it may have been as much as two years later is that after quizzing these magi, Herod had all the male children, two years of age and younger slaughtered based on the time these sages indicated.

Can you imagine this brutality? This is a part of the Christmas story we would like to forget, but it is not forgotten. Herod’s holocaust against the children of Bethlehem is recorded for all eternity.

Matthew 2:16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

How did these sages, from far off lands, know a king had been born to the Jews?

Well, this word Magi is not a word that the Jews would have used to describe anyone in their world. It seems to have had Babylonian origins and so many scholars believe these “wise men” were not from the Far East – aka the Orient – but rather they were from Babylon.

Babylon was the land of Israel’s captivity, and it was in Babylon where Daniel and his crew Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ascended from slavery to positions of honor, and Daniel in particular was given authority among the magicians and soothsayers.

It seems credible to me that Daniel would have told those in his circle of the promised Messiah. It was after all his great hope of deliverance.

So, these wise men, sages, soothsayers, whatever make their way from Babylon to Bethlehem and there they worship this child king.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Saints

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Next we come to Simeon and Anna.

Simeon was an old man who lived in Jerusalem, and had been told by the Holy Spirit that before he died he would see the Lord’s Christ.

When Jesus enters the temple on His eighth day to be consecrated, in accordance with Jewish law, Simeon speaks a wonderful prophecy over the child.

Anna was a widow who had been serving in the temple for decades, and now was eighty-four years old. As soon as she laid eyes on the child she began to rejoice and spread the news of the Messiah’s birth to everyone she saw.

These saints worship the child king.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

This is where our hymnal stops, but there is more to this carol. We will look at two more verses to bring it home.

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.

You see, without Christ, this Messiah, this Savior, we are doomed to the hopelessness of life in slavery to sin, and the endless pain and suffering, the darkness and anguish of an eternal hell and separation from the One who so dearly loved us.

The solution?

Repentance

Repentance has a really bad reputation these days

What do you think of when you think of repentance?

Do you think of men in sandwich boards crying in the streets: the End is near!
Do you think of people weeping at an altar.
Do you think of guilty feelings.
Do you think of failure.
Perhaps you conjure up remembrances of childhood punishment.

Maybe you feel like repentance is nothing but an endless, useless saying “I’m sorry” to God and then getting up and falling right back into the same sin.

But in reality:

True repentance connects you with the mercy that paid the price God's justice demanded, and breaks the chains of sin.

Repentance is one of the greatest gifts ever offered by our Wonderful Lord.

Repentance – true repentance is a gift with a promise.

God gives repentance, and if we will accept this gift and walk through repentance from start to finish, in the end, we will have victory and freedom from that sin. The reason we continually fall back into the same sins, is that we never fully repent.

We just feel sorry

and guilty,

and go back for more.

Paul describes repentance in 2 Cor 7:10-11

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. –2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV

So then repentance breaks the endless cycle of sin and guilt and gives us the ability to live free and worship Him.

There is a moment when we begin this process with God. We come to Him with realization of our sin and our separation from Him. We see the doom of our current course, and turn toward Him.

The day of our salvation is the day we stand [or kneel] before Him and declare our need for forgiveness and our willingness to follow Him wherever He might lead.

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:

And so we have come full circle.

There will come a day, when not only those of us who choose to worship, but all creation, above and below will bow their knee. Remember where we started:

at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Phil 2:10-11

And so I close with an invitation to you

Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn king

Don’t be one of those who bows only when there is no choice.

Join the angels, shepherds, sages, Simeon and Anna, and all those who call on the name of Jesus today in bowing your knee to Him.

It’s no mistake that you are reading this today. God is offering you the opportunity to bow before the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is offering repentance and salvation to you today.

Did your spirit jump when I said you could be free from that sin that keeps you chained? That was God offering you the gift of repentance, and the promise of freedom.

Do you wonder about where you will spend eternity today? Do you have a longing, a stirring right now within you to have relationship with Jesus?

Today is your day. Today is the day of salvation. Don’t wait one more minute. Don’t resist this opportunity.

Come and worship, Come and worship, Worship Christ the Newborn King.

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He Shall Reign Forever And Ever

Yesterday evening I was reading about how "The Church" is losing relevance and how it is impossible for it to have both relevance and moral authority simultaneously.  The inevitable result is supposedly a decline into total insignificance.  (Alas)
Well this morning I was sitting in bed, praising the Lord, and praying in tongues.  A vision came to me of a stone on the top of a hill that got loose and rolled down the hill.  As it rolled it grew larger and larger.  When it got to the bottom of the hill it crushed an image (a statue) that represented all of the kingdoms (governments and cultures) of this world. [read more...]

Encouragements: He Shall Reign Forever And Ever.

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My dear friend Larry posted this, and it fits in wonderfully with my Messiah musing, so I thought I would share it with you.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by

Merry Christmas

Ben

 

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Messiah Score

If you spent any time at Another Red Letter Day last Christmas, you know I am a fan of Handel’s Messiah. I posted the lyrics here, which, by the way, are 100% taken from scripture.

This time of year I put it on what ever device I am using and listen through it a number of times, and because it is all scripture, often the words jump off the device and get deep into my heart, demanding response.

On my drive to work yesterday, the I was struck by this bit from Malachi 3:

And He shall purify the sons of Levi. . . that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. ~ Malachi 3:3

Ok – so here’s the thing. We Christians get hung up with the fact that we fall short of God’s grace, and spend wwwwaaaaaaayyyyyyy too much time feeling unworthy.

Get this:

One of the things the Messiah did in the incarnation, or perhaps I should say in His death and resurrection, was to purify those of us who worship Him.

The sons of Levi were the priests and those responsible for leading the nation in worship.

He came to purify those who worship Him, and for the record, He was completely successful.

He has given us the ability to offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

[At this point we all lift our hands and shout - Hallelujah.]

So what are you going to do with that?

Here’s a thought

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:1-2

RECAP

He has made us worthy, purified us, so that we can make offerings to Him. And what offering shall we bring? How about our purified selves, ready to live (or die) for Him, and with open minds to the transforming Word of God so that we continue walking down the path toward more and more purification.

Let it be so in me today Lord!

Ben NelsonGod bless you all!

Thanks for stopping in.

Merry Christmas

Ben

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NASB)

Mighty God

In this prophecy we have come to the most controversial note. Anyone who looks at the life of Jesus, even from a natural standpoint, and is not predisposed to hate Him would probably be OK with every name on this list with one exception.

There is enough empirical evidence that He did miracles – wouldn’t historians of the time have debunked all the talk of Messiah if no one ever saw or experienced His powerful touch?

Anyone who reads the Beatitudes, the Golden Rule or the Prodigal Son would agree that He was a great Counselor.

I suppose Father is a bit tricky since He never married or had earthly children, but the way he Fathered the multitudes with His words, healings, feedings, etc – no big problem here.

Clearly a man of peace – never raised His voice in His own defense as He was unjustly accused, tried and executed.

But Mighty God? Has Isaiah gone too far? Is this over the top?

Many Christians would point to His calming of the sea as to where His God robes were in full view, or perhaps when He was walking on the water, or multiplying the loaves and fishes.

But according to Jesus himself, this was not an exposé of Jesus as God, but rather the man, Jesus, full of the Spirit of God, who descended upon Him in the River. (He told us He only did what He saw the Father do, and that the works that He did, we could do the same way – eyes on Jesus)

I do believe there were 5 guys who got to see this “Mighty God” aspect of Jesus when He walked the earth. – Peter, James, John, Moses, and Elijah.

It was only on the mount of transfiguration that Jesus slipped back into the Mighty God Robe that He set aside just before stepping into that Manger.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11 NASB)

[Sorry – I can’t break that bit up – my word processor was offended when I tried to only put the highlights in.]

Jesus emptied Himself, and took on the form of a servant.

But know this: HE IS MIGHTY GOD!

He has picked up that wonderful robe, and is seated on the throne of heaven, rising now and then to greet His loved ones into their eternal home.

Hey - I know the robe is not a perfect image, but it helps me understand the difference between Jesus wanting us to walk like He walked. We are tempted to say, I can't do it because He was God and I am not. Yes, He was, and IS God, but chose to walk as a man filled with the Spirit of God, as a demonstration of the "normal Christian life." He never stopped being God, but that does not excuse you from walking like Jesus.

That’s my Jesus!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in today.

See you tomorrow.

Ben

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