Saturday, December 25, 2010

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I read these lyrics...and sing this song. And I weep. So often become numb to what we sing. Not just Sunday after Sunday, but Christmas after Christmas. We know these songs by heart, but read these lyrics... They are passionate. Desperate. Full of angst. Full of longing for their Savior. The Israelites faced trial. They saw persecution. They knew desperation. Over and over, they turned their backs to the Lord, and over and over, He called them back. They fled to the Promised Land, only to be led to wonder in the wilderness because of their sin. The "originals" never saw the Promised Land. Moses never saw the Promised Land. There is a silence for 400 years that these people waited for Jesus...O Come, O Come Emmanuel...

That silence was broken by the beautiful and reconciling cry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in that lowly stable in Bethlehem.

He has come! He was brought us up from the grave...He has taken us from death and guilt and sin and shame. He has come...He humbled Himself and came as a baby. He lived life as a human does so that He would be our sympathetic High Priest. He came and He won. He releases the bonds of death and removes His children from the tyranny of satan. He has come...

I can't help but want to cry all over again "O Come, O Come Emmanuel!" Oh, Jesus come...come back and once for all, defeat death. Oh, Jesus come. Come back and free Your people forgive! Remove death and suffering, sadness and weeping...destroy darkness and once for all, cast satan and evil away forever. Come Jesus! O Come Emmanuel! Come and rescue us, once for all.

I yearn for that day.

As we celebrate Christmas, I pray I pray I pray we don't forget the magnitude of what Jesus did. He rescued the unrescuable. He saved the unsavable. He loves the unlovable. Nothing in us could have ever done this...He had to come because we could NOT enter heaven or stand before the holiness of God without His propiation, His blood...our atonement.
Oh, praise God!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I do not account my life of any value...

Paul is saying goodbye to the church of Ephesus in Acts 20 - encouraging and exhorting them, warning them, sharing his last bit of Holy Spirit driven knowledge. I couldn't get over verses 22-25::

"And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again."

Bam. Sit on that for a little bit...

Paul knowlingly was going into a situation that he knew would ultimately lead to his death. (to live is Christ and to die is gain! Phil. 1:21) He was constrained, controlled by the Holy Spirit- obedient and ready and willing to go and do what was called of him, because JESUS WAS WORTH IT! He was told that in every city - everywhere he went - persecution awaited him. In light of this truth, He boldly declared that he did NOT account his life of any value or precious to himself. His goal was the glory of God.

Is yours? Is mine?

We are so quick to shy away from "persecution" - we play with the fire of infidelity and impurity because we don't want to look abnormal or ultra religious to our peers. We accept and participate bullying, gossip, slander, impure speech, hate, bitterness because we care more about what people think about us than obeying Jesus Christ. We don't want to be "radical" (which is obedience...)  for the sake of the cross because we may lose popularity, or friendships, or status. How are we so quick to forget how radical Jesus was for our sake? We are so afraid of not being "liked" or "accepted" that we can't stand up for our faith. Why?

This dude left the people he loved, the church he shepherded - knowing he would NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN - to go be persecuted, hated, and eventually killed for his First Love, Jesus Christ. Pauls life, his comfort, his earthly desires...he counted them as NOTHING, as rubbish (Philippians 3) compared to knowing Jesus Christ. He was not precious to himself because Jesus was his ultimate, his prize, his joy, his fulfillment, his satisfaction, his desire...

Oh Jesus, may I, may we, say the same for You. Remind us that You are our First Love and YOU ARE BETTER.