O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

Silence can be more profound than words. It has a weight of its own. Silence, especially from a loved one, can become unbearable. It can accompany anticipation, precede disaster, or indicate rejection. Often, we don’t know what it portends.

The last words spoken between God and man before Christ’s coming are recorded in Malachi. The emotion of God seeps out in every verse, beginning with, “I have loved you.” (Malachi 1:1) Like a husband in pain, God recounts Israel’s unfaithfulness. The book almost reads like a cross-examination in court. The charges are simple and the proofs of unfaithfulness are easy to see. God’s final words are full of pathos:

4:1“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules[q] that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

And then….silence.

For 400 years. No prophecy. No songs. No warnings. No words of love. For generations.

And then something happened, something so wonderful we celebrate it to this day. God spoke again–breaking the dark, long silence of an age. Like the sun rising over the horizon and shining on a frosty earth, angels came and told us everything was about to change. The advent of our Savior had arrived.

Elizabeth Hiett

Isaiah 40:8 Treasuring God’s Word Together–With Charles Spurgeon

spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon–arguably one of England’s greatest preachers. I say, definitely great hair.

“Now that is a cry that we all need to hear — the death-cry of all creature-confidence for man at his very best is only like grass in the flower. It will be mown down in due time, but if the scythe comes not near it, yet will it fade in its season, for it is a transient thing, and every hope and confidence which is based upon that which is seen must be temporal and must pass away. All the joy that you have tonight — all the hope and all the confidence you have which is based upon an earthly thing — must by degrees all disappear. Nothing is eternal but that which springs out of the eternal. Unless our hope be in the Lord alone, that hope will at some time or other fail us; and this is a cry we need to hear because, until we are sick of the creature, we shall not turn to the Creator. Till we have done with false confidences, we shall not make God our trust.”

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.”  Isaiah 40:8

The Lost Art Of Feasting

large_the-lost-art-of-feasting-retjrwiuArticle by

Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

 

We might suppose that overstuffed American bellies would hardly need any instruction on feasting. So many of us have grown so accustomed to having so much to eat. Then here comes Thanksgiving. Just put it on autopilot. Fasting is the discipline today that is grossly under-served; no need to consider feasting.

Not so fast. It’s true that fasting is sadly overlooked, and too often forgotten. And yet, perhaps counterintuitively, true feasting is also in decline through familiarity and lack of spiritual purpose. Most of us have never given any serious thought to what it might mean to feast with Christ-honoring intentionality.

We’ve grown dull to the wonder of ample food and drink through constant use, and overuse. When every day is a virtual feast, we lose the blessing of a real one. When every meal is a pathway to indulgence, not only is fasting lost, but true feasting is as well.

Feasting as a Spiritual Joy

The Bible is replete with the goodness of food and the holiness of feasting. God in his goodness made his creation edible. He made trees “pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Genesis 2:9), and created us to eat his world: “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29). Then after the flood, he extended the gift to eating animals: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Genesis 9:3). But distinct from the kindness of God in everyday food is the special grace of a feast.

In the Old Testament, God structured the seasons and years of his chosen people with fast days and feast days. Then he sent his Son as the great culmination of his nation’s feasts. Now those who make up God’s multinational people through Christ are no longer under obligation to practice Israel’s ancient feasts and rituals (Colossians 2:16). They were “a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17). Christians are free to feast — or not to feast:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5–6)

But what we’re not free to do is feast in a way that dishonors God. And forgetting him altogether is profoundly dishonoring. As Christians, we want to learn to feast in such a way that we’re tasting God’s supernatural goodness as we enjoy natural tastes.

Not the Same as Indulging

Feasting is not first about the food. It is foremost about the Godward celebration of some specific occasion together. Good food and drink, in abundance, come in alongside our corporate focus to accentuate the appreciation and enjoyment of God and his kindness. The heart of feasting is not the food itself, but the heart of the feasters. A true feast is bigger than the food — infinitely bigger. The center is God and his greatness and grace toward us in Christ.

For Christians, feasting is not the same as mere indulgence. There is nothing particularly Christian about eating and drinking more than usual. What makes feasting a means of God’s grace for nourishing our souls is explicitly celebrating Christ together in faith. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Easter, a birthday or anniversary, when we feast as Christians, we celebrate the bounty and kindness of our Creator and Redeemer. Feasting in Christ is no mere physical event, but deeply spiritual.

Prepare the Way for Feasting

Good preparation for a good feast typically begins before the feast day — not only in our planning, but in our pattern of eating. When our normal daily consumption is characterized by sufficient restraint, then feasting is something we can rise to on special occasions, by faith and in good conscience, rather than being the baseline of everyday eating. If you’ve so overindulged leading up to the feast that you feel a need to count calories at the feast, something is not right. Daily restraint both keeps our stomachs primed for times of fasting (so we’re not miserably famished) and makes possible a kind of special indulgence on feast days.

But exercising self-control in eating and drinking as a habit of life is only a prerequisite to good feasting. For a big Thanksgiving dinner to honor God — and feed not only our stomachs, but our souls — we need a few simple, but significant, steps to make it holy.

continue reading here….rest of post

Hey, I’m Back! (from Uganda and a hiatus…) — verticalthinking101

Wise words from one of our young adults 🙂

Well, actually, I’ve been back for almost an entire summer and school semester. At least, physically back. I gave myself a little bit of time to re-adjust to American life and mentally shift from Uganda to America again. It took me about four months to fully adjust to Uganda after I arrived there, so I […]

via Hey, I’m Back! (from Uganda and a hiatus…) — verticalthinking101

Treasuring God’s Word Together: Philippians 2:5-8

matthewhenry

Matthew Henry is our genius in residence. After all, if you can write a commentary on the WHOLE Bible with a quill pen..well…your just plain awesome.

“The great gospel precept passed upon us; [is] to love one another. This is the law of Christ’s kingdom, the lesson of his school, the livery of his family. This he represents (v. 2) by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. We are of a like mind when we have the same love. Christians should be one in affection, whether they can be one in apprehension or no. This is always in their power, and always their duty, and is the likeliest way to bring them nearer in judgment. Having the same love. Observe, The same love that we are required to express to others, others are bound to express to us. Christian love ought to be mutual love. Love, and you shall be loved. Being of one accord, and of one mind; not crossing and thwarting, or driving on separate interests, but unanimously agreeing in the great things of God and keeping the unity of the Spirit in other differences.” Matthew Henry 

Philippians 2: 5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

 

Scribblings on Philippians 2:12

heartbarbedwire

When we find ourselves free from the fear of death

free from slavish obedience to our passions

graced with access to all wise counsels

empowered by God himself

and loved forever,

Let us now work it out,

Live as the new people we are–

Ready to see the One Who did this all for us

To find Him pleased

And to find that we have loved

The consummate Lover of all.

 

 

 

 

John Piper: Why Do We Celebrate the Protestant Reformation? — bonhoefferblog

October 31, 2016 John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory. Today is Reformation Day, October 31, 2016 — the 499th anniversary of […]

via John Piper: Why Do We Celebrate the Protestant Reformation? — bonhoefferblog