Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Then Sings My Soul--Holy

And they do not rest day or night saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God Almighty, who was and is and is to come." Rev. 4:8
When you read that, do you believe it? Do you believe that God is indeed holy? I know, that is probably a stupid question. If you believe in God, it is easy to believe He is holy. But what about believing that He was and is. That is pretty easy too, right? Yeah, He was...He created all things. Yeah, He is...He IS God after all. But that He is to come? Really, I want you to think about that for a moment. Do you really believe that God is to come. That He is coming to collect His bride, the church. He is coming! The day is near (perhaps not in our definition of 'nearness'...but near nonetheless).
That is not what this hymn is necessarily about, but since this verse accompanies that hymn, I do believe it is one we should consider. Do we believe the words we sing?
Reginald Heber wrote this hymn, along with 56 others. Having a degree in poetry from Oxford, his interest grew continually in his life for hymnody. "He sought to lift the literary quality of hymns, and he also dreamed of publishing a collection of high-caliber hymns corresponding to the church year for use by liturgical churches" (Morgan, Robert). While the Bishop would not go along with this idea, after Heber's death, His wife discovered 57 hymns in his trunk and succeeded in publishing his Hymns Written and Adapted to the Weekly Service of the Church Year.
Here is his hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God, Almighty. As you read these words, please, take them to heart. Think about them. Don't let them be empty words on your tongue, but let them be praise submitted to the throne of the Living God, who was and is and is to come!
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God, Almighty. Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee!
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty. God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.
Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee. Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea.
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee. Which wert, and art, and evermore shall be.
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee. Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see.
Only Thou art Holy. There is none beside Thee. Perfect in power, in love and purity.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God, Almighty. All Thy works shall praise Thy Name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and might! God in three Persons. Blessed Trinity.

Psalm 85:10

Reading in the book of Psalm the other day, I came across this verse. Friends, what a beautiful verse to read when celebrating the Christmas season...the birth of Christ. I do believe it perfectly captures our Heavenly Father, His Son, His Holy Spirit...and what we believe that the baby boy born to save our souls defines...who Jesus IS. He is the great I AM. I have been overwhelmed this season in reflection of my faith, what being a Christian means...and what being a Christian is not. In America, and perhaps throughout the world, God's Word is watered down in our understanding of it, and we prove our lack of faith in the way we live our lives--we do not let Scripture penetrate our hearts, minds, I have shared with you my convictions lately of reading through Scripture, becoming a prayer warrior, and the latest--reading through the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. If promises of God made thousands and thousands of years before the birth of Christ and then being one man...cannot affirm your faith--and strengthen it--I don't know what will. But I do encourage you to make the time yourself to read through some prophecies of Jesus. As much as I know God is great, marvelous, HOLY...I still am (and hope I always am!) in utter awe when I am reminded, once again, that God fulfills all His promises.
This is the verse I read that...just encompassed my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, great Redeemer, deliverer, friend. "Steadfast love and faithfulness meet. Righteousness and peace kiss each other."
Amen. Amen, amen, amen. I hope you see Jesus as unchangeable love, fulfiller of all promises, Holy, abounding in joy unspeakable, and the steady Rock in a world of crashing waves. I love Him dearly, and long to love Him more. As we wrap up this year, let's each find the time to look back through 2010 and see that God is undeniably good...Great. The Author and Finisher. Who was, and is, and is yet to come!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I am a Gentile

Friends, I was reading a new prophecy today--well, not new, because it is indeed Old Testament! But, new to me as I am reading through prophecies, this Christmas season, that Jesus fulfilled here on the earth. We know that Christ came to fulfill the law, and my oh my did He have some fulfilling to do while here!
Today I read the prophecy that Gentiles would one day be drawn into God's plan. I was overwhelmed while reading it. Before Jesus, Jews were God's chosen people. Sure, Rahab and Ruth were not Jews and were still brought into God's people, but primarily, Israel, His nation, was His chosen. Friends, today, I am who I am because Christ came into the world. I believe what I believe because Christ came into this world. I am free to 'attempt' to live as Christ, and to come before God's throne confidently because Jesus died for all peoples, tongues, nations. Hallelujah! Really, Hallelujahs are repeating over and over and over again in my mind. As soon as I'm done posting this, I'm going to go read some more beautiful words from our King, our deliverer, our Redeemer. I praise God...that I can praise God! Do you know what I mean? If not for Jesus, and His Spirit, would I even know that the Most High had a chosen people. Would I be like the armies we see in 1 Samuel, Joshua, 1 Chronicles, etc. being conquered while clinging to their idols made by human hands, refusing to believe that God is the great I AM, or would I be like Rahab, hiding God's people while putting my own life at risk, because I know wherever Yahweh is, victory is had? Oh to think I could go a lifetime without ever knowing Truth! Thank you God, for sending your beloved Son...thank You God for loving me, and the gentiles, all peoples, enough to become a man, to leave Your throne to live on this earth, that You may show us how much You care, love, cherish. Hallelujah.
Isaiah 11:10: In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples--of Him shall the nations inquire, and His resting place shall be glorious.
Fulfilled in Jesus, John 10:16: And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. (Those who were not Jews.) I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Amen. What a glorious day we are about to celebrate--Christmas, the celebration of Jesus' birth. And that birth afforded me, and all peoples, lost sheep without a Shepherd, the underserved blessing to have a relationship with the great I AM.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good News!

Good morning, friends!
This is out of character for me, but this will be a short post:) I just wanted to post a Scripture verse that has been on my heart lately--as in, since yesterday, and I immediately memorized it. I follow Beth Moore's blog and she is encouraging her 'siestas' to memorize Scripture with her in 2011--2 verses a month. Well, I couldn't wait, and when I received an email yesterday with this verse I knew that this was the verse I needed to start with. It is where we, as Christians, start our faith. Where we begin if you will, and absolutely perfect for this wonderful Christmas season, as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour--as we celebrate the Most High becoming one of us so that we can know Him and spend eternity with Him.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good (GREAT!!! emphasis mine) news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)
Have a wonderful day, and be filled with the good news that leads to great joy!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Good morning, friends! I hope you have survived the cold front that moved through the South East earlier this week....perhaps where you live it is still sweeping your city. In Athens, we received no snow and very little rain. On the night when Atlanta and the greater ATL area iced over, I was driving pretty in no danger. Two nights ago Atlanta had 1,000+ wrecks. The tow truck companies had to shut down at 9 pm due to their trucks not being able to get enough traction to pull themselves and another car. On my way to work yesterday, cars lined 316 in ditches from Bethlehem to Lawrenceville....but from Athens to Bethlehem, all was clear. Praise God that Athens didn't freeze! And that the majority of wrecks were minor bumper to bumper hits. could have been so much worse with all the ice ATL had.
So, I am shocked at the amount of prophecies that are in the Bible. And I'm ashamed that, as a Christian, I have never looked them up before and reflected on how faithful God much He loves us...and how He has had a plan from the very beginning of time. He has a plan for me, one for you, and He knew when He made Adam and Eve that 2,000 years ago a Saviour would be born in Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, and that His Son would live to die for our wretched souls...souls that He sees as beautiful!
I have started reading the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled and posting on facebook a different one each day of December until Christmas. (I know which one I am ending with....oh I cannot wait until Christmas!) Here is the one that started it all and got me on my prophecy search throughout Scripture. Perhaps it will inspire you to do the same...
Prophecy: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." Micah 5:2
Prophecy fulfilled: "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." (Luke 2:4-7)
I hope you have a wonderful day filled with joy, Scripture, and God's love!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Then Sings My Soul--Here

Good evening! I am really excited about this song. One, because it is Christmas and I do love Christmas music. Two, because this song has a beautiful piano part to it that I just adore already know that music moves me, and my soul is greatly moved when my hands and voice are making melody together to God. And three, because this song is so beautiful and captures the mysteries that may sneak into our hearts and minds as we think about the night that Emmanuel came into the world as a baby boy wrapped in swaddling clothes.
One of the great things about Christmas carols (well, the Christian ones) is that you don't have to go searching for what inspired already know. Christ's birth. We often lose what a special holiday this is with the busy-ness of parties, gift buying, gift receiving, dinners, church concerts, etc. We also lose so many of God's blessings in the busy-ness of our every day lives. Here in America we don't take the time to just sit and think about how blessed we are...we don't take the time, or worse, don't have the time, to pray and thank God for all He has given us. Don't let Christmas pass you by without thanking God for His gift to us, His Son. And I don't mean this flippantly--Jesus is the best Christmas gift. I am so thankful that God sent Him, fulfilling over a hundred prophecies--proving faithful again that God is Truth. And by sending His Son, God came here, to be with us. He is here with us.
So here is Joy Williams' song, Here with us.
Its still a mystery to me that the hands of God could be so small
How tiny fingers reaching in the night were the very hands that measured the sky
Hallelujah! hallelujah! Heavens love reaching down to save the world.
Hallelujah! hallelujah! Son of God, servant King, here with us. You're here with us.
It's still a mystery to me how His infant eyes had seen the dawn of time
How His ears have heard an angel's symphony, but still Mary had to rock her Saviour to sleep
Hallelujah! hallelujah! Heavens love reaching down to save the world.
Hallelujah! hallelujah! Son of God, servant King, here with us. You're here with us.
Jesus the Christ, born in Bethlehem.
A baby born to save, to save the souls of man!
Oh Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Heavens love reaching down to save the world.
Hallelujah! Oh hallelujah! Son of God, servant King, here with us.

He is here. He came to save the souls of man. He came that I may have a relationship with Him, and that you may have a relationship with Him. Don't let this Christmas season pass you by without you turning your hearts towards the One who is the greatest gift of all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Until Only Love Remains

Good morning, friends! I have stumbled upon a new artist, and her music moves me to tears as she pours out Truth from God and the yearnings of her heart. Let's talk about God's love for a moment. This last week of my Biblestudy online (via email) we were discussing Believing in God but not wanting to change, or believing that God cannot change you. A huge lie that swarms our world today is that if God loves us, why would we need to change. Well, Romans 12:2 teaches us to "be transformed by the renewing of our minds"...a transformation that is continual. The renewing of our minds should be a prayer on the forefront of our lips each day: God, please create in me a pure heart, renew a right spirit within, restore unto me the joy of Thy Salvation, and liken my mind, my thoughts, to Yours, that I may dwell on only things that are noble, lovely, pure.
That is a difficult prayer. A prayer not to be taken lightly, but to be laid before His throne in utmost dependence on our Saviour. So why, if God loves us where we are, should we change at all? Because of His great love for us, He does not want to leave us where we are but longs to draw us into abundant life with Him. And if we love Him, and have asked Jesus to save us, we recognize our great need to be healed--rescued, redeemed--from our depraved being. When we love God, we hunger for His power to be at work within us, changing us...drastically...for His Kingdom. A dear friend taking part in the biblestudy online said that this is the way our changing life as a Christian should be: "If we aren't dead, we aren't finished."
Can I hear an Amen?!!!
With that being said, and without further ado, this is JJ Heller's song, 'Only Love Remains.' What a painful, yet beautiful, process when Christ strips away our old self and cleanses us into His Bride!
Scenes of You come rushing through, You are breaking me down.
So break me into pieces that will grow in the ground
I know that I deserve to die for the murder in my heart
So be gentle with me, Jesus, as You tear me apart
Please kill the liar, kill the thief in me
You know that I'm tired of their cruelty
Breathe into my spirit, breathe into my veins
Until only love remains.
You burn away the ropes that bind and hold me to the earth
The fire only leaves behind whatever is of worth
I begin to see reality for the first time in my life
I know that I'm a shadow, but I'm dancing in Your light
Teach me to be humble, call me from the grave
Show me how to walk with You upon the waves
Breathe into my spirit, breathe into my veins
Until only love remains

I don't know about you, but if I'm asking God to breathe into my spirit and into my veins until only love remains, that changing taking place in me will be continuous until the glorious day that He calls me home.
I love you! Have a beautiful day, and let God humble you and burn the ropes that bind you to this earth until only His love remains.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Then Sings My Soul--Reconciled

"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afriad, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.'" Luke 2:10
Good tidings of great joy it is! When Charles Wesley became a Christian, he could not stop writing hymns. Each one he wrote, he packed with doctrine, with the words exhibiting strength and sensitivity, beauty and theological brawn. He didn't want any one tinkering with any of his 6,000 hymns. In a hymnal of his he wrote:
"I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I
should long ago hae inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to
stir up a nest of hornets...I must beg two favors: either to let them (my hymns)
stand just as they are, to take things for better or worse, or to add the
true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page, that we may no longer
be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men."

And this particular hymn is indeed beautiful, strong, and packed with doctrine. I'm thankful that although George Whitefield, in 1753, changed the first verse slightly, he left the Truth of our Saviour in the words. And now, this hymn is a Christmas favorite! Originally it read, "Hark, how all the welkin rings, 'Glory to the King of Kings.'" Welkin was an old English term for 'the vault of heaven....oh friends. How the vault of heaven must have rung so loudly when our Saviour was born!
Hark! The Herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye nations, rise! Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold He come, offspring of the virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus as Emmanuel.
Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace, hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings;
Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Love as the Most High Loves

Good evening, friends! I'm finding that during the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas), it is more difficult to stay well-blogged! I feel so busy, all the time...and I don't even have kids! I can't begin to think how crazy life will be when I'm trying to stay up to date with my blogs on here and I have little boy Seals and little girl Seals fighting in the background over playing GI-Joes or My little Pony. (Then again, I could just blog about that, couldn't I?!)
I've spent the last several weeks going through a video study in Women's Biblestudy at my church--Loving Well, by Beth Moore. Tonight was the conclusion of it, and whew, do I want to learn how to love well! But to love well, we need to know what it is like to be well loved. And I am incredibly thankful that God loves me so well. Through His love pouring out on me, I pray that He teaches me how to overflow His love onto other people.
Romans 5 teaches us that if we are to love those who are easy to love, those who love us, we are just like the rest of the world. But if we want to love like the Most High, we must love our enemies. Friends, it is difficult to love our enemies. It is hard to even grace someone with a smile if/when they mock us, hate us, and/or hurt us. But...weren't we all enemies of Jesus. Yet He was born for one purpose. To die for us. To love us. To take on our sin, and be gracious towards us with more than a smile...with His blood. And in the midst of torture on the cross, of suffocation, He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
I don't know about you, but for me, as a Christian, those words mean the world to me. They do. How deep the Father's love for us! How vast beyond all measure! That He, my God, my King, the Most High, should give His only Son, to make this wretch, this broken, sinful woman that I am, to make me His treasure!
In learning to love like Christ loves, we need to have hearts for the world. Not just hearts for those that make us happy to love them. Sometimes we need to get down into the dirt (not in a sinful way, but in an uncomfortable, hard-to-love way) and beyond our comfort zone so that God can teach us how to love better. Loving doesn't always come easy, but if we are saved, then God is transforming our lives. And He really does transform our lives! And as He is transforming us, it goes without saying that He is healing us. Beth Moore wraps up her Loving Well study by saying this: "If we do not pour our lives into other people, we will never be completely healed." Friends, that rings more true to me than I can ever describe. I never feel God's presence more, His love more, His compassion more--never more like the hands and feet of Christ, as His body--than when I am serving others for the sake of His Name. And while I'm serving Him, rather than myself, His healing power is at work, continually transforming my life. Amen!
"Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." Isaiah 58:6-11
Lord, make your waters flow over my bones, and into my garden, that I may learn to love others well, as you have loved me, perfectly.

--Inspired by Beth Moore's 'Loving Well' series.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Then Sings my Soul--My Advocate

Good morning! I hope you are having a wonderful day, despite the chilly temperature. This Hymn Wednesday is going to be a little different, in the sense that I have no story to go along with why this hymn was written, when it was written, or where it was written. There is little that can be found on Charitie Lees Smith, who was born in 1841, but this familiar hymn which is grounded in Scripture, I have concluded is perfect to kick off this Christmas Season. So while I cannot give you background on it, nor can I tell you anything about Charitie's life other than she was a daughter of a minister in Ireland, and later widowed in life--twice--I can tell you this hymn is one of my absolute favorites (get online if you have the opportunity and listen to Shane & Shane sing it with Bethany Dillon, is breathtaking) and it's words come straight from Scripture.
What better way to celebrate this season than to celebrate the reason why God sent His Son. Here is 'Before the Throne of God Above:'
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea (Heb. 4:15-16)
A great High Priest whose name is love (Heb. 4:14)
who ever lives and pleads for me (Heb. 7:25)
My name is graven on His hands (Isa. 49:16)
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart (Rom. 8:34)

When Satan tempts me to despair (Luke 22:31-32)
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there (Acts 7:55-56)
Who made an end to all my sin (Col. 2:13-14)
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on him and pardon me (Rom. 3:24-26)

Behold Him there the Risen Lamb (Rev. 5:6)
My perfect, spotless, righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30; 1 Peter 1:18-19)
The great unchangeable I AM (Heb. 13:8; John 8:58)
The King of glory and of grace.
One in Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28)
My life is hid with Christ on High (Col. 3:3)
With Christ my Savior and my God (Titus 2:13)

And that is why I must echo Shane & Shane's chorus, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Praise the One, Risen Son, of God! He lives, He lives! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the One, Risen Son, of God!