God and Sinners Reconciled

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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 the angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
*

I enjoy listening to Christmas hymns and songs. When I hear Christmas music “out of season” (for me that is before Halloween), it is unusual, but not offensive. I love the familiarity of the songs and the reminders of what we are celebrating: the best songs call attention to the newborn King!

We are desperate for peace on Earth. Sometimes we are even desperate for peace in our homes. I think it is safe to say we all have something that is out of place or causes our heart to ache. It could be a strained relationship or a hope that is unfulfilled. And we seek peace — sometimes in places where peace cannot be found. Our peace can be compromised by what we have done and by what we have left undone. And yet God desires for us to be reconciled to Him so much that He has made the way, through Jesus. He is our Peace.

God providing a way for our peace and for sinners to be reconciled to Him is a pretty big deal. And singing the words (even if your heart struggles) feeds your spirit.

Thank you, Father, for providing peace and mercy through Christ. His birth ushers in our path for reconciliation to You. Let us make space for Your work to be done in and through us.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* Words written by Charles Wesley 1707-88

Bid our sad divisions cease

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

There are times unhealthy relationships are unresolvable. It can be an unfortunate, but sometimes there is a necessary division.

Any division is sad, but there are divisions over the smallest things: misunderstandings blown out of proportion, hearsay, conjecture, and assumptions — these are all a part of sad divisions. It’s sad because it is unnecessary. If people would just take time to clarify and understand and not jump to conclusions, probably a lot of heartbreaking divisions would not even be.

It is important for me to consider my role in relational divisions. How do I perpetuate problems? How does what I say or do cause a seed for division? Sometimes it happens and I am completely unaware.

As long as there is sin in the world and humans who operate in the flesh, there will be sad divisions. But I can still pray for peace and seek to share His peace with those around me. These divisions are just a part of a larger battle, but He is the King of Peace!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. [Ephesians 6:10-20, ESV]

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

Disperse the gloomy clouds

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

The closer I am to God, the more joyful I am. I think it has to do with my perspective and how He shifts it to more of a Kingdom orientation. That isn’t to say there aren’t gloomy clouds, but when I am in His presence, the clouds are more easily dispersed.

I love how many spiritual songs and hymns are so relatable! It’s as if these authors have also struggled with similar life situations. We are all human and can learn from the experiences of one another. We are created by the Life-giver and we should be sharing life-giving words with one another.

The closer I am walking with God, the more encouraging I am. His Word fills me up and those words naturally spill out in conversation.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

Close the path to misery

Oh, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

There is a path to misery.

Sometimes I have been railroaded down it by circumstances mixed with the company I kept. Sometimes a bout with depression can send me on the path to misery, but it’s not a journey I wish on anyone. Sometimes, our life isn’t actually very miserable but we find ourselves feeling miserable and that is a often a choice. It would be important to get to the root of the misery.

I am not a psychologist. I know I have a positive temperament and I don’t know whether it is a nature or nurture thing. I watched my mom deal with difficult things and it was rare for her to show she was discouraged. Others I know take a tiny negative thing (yes, a very insignificant happening) and it triggers them to an outburst that makes it seem like their world is collapsing.

I do not get it.

I pray that God closes that path to misery for me. But He doesn’t promise that at all.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. [James 1:2-3. ESV]

Joy in the midst of devastating circumstances is not something I have perfected. God’s Word says to count it all joy but I think the best I can wrap my head around is give me peace in these circumstances. We do all have different definitions of trials but I look at the difficult things in my life and it pales in comparison to the difficulties of others.

Lead me to the path that leads on high!

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Mighty power to save

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse’s stem,
From ev’ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow’r to save;
Bring them in vict’ry through the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

Heavenly Father,

My heart is heavy knowing so many who do not trust in Your mighty power to save. I cling to the knowledge that You do care for the unbelievers — that you seek those lost sheep. I pray for hearts to be open to hearing Your call. May the barriers to faith be removed. May there be a growing self-awareness of the need for Your Son, the Savior. Thank You for providing The Way, The Truth, and The Life in Jesus!

… he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. [Luke 15:3-7, ESV]

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

In cloud and majesty and awe

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

I love reading the Old Testament. God’s patience with His people is abundant. If I was in a place to see some of the kind of activity He showed in the time of Moses, I surely would have been in awe at His majesty. But I particularly intrigued by how God moved His people with the pillars of cloud.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. [Exodus 13:21 ESV]

I am often in awe of the work that God does. And when I am still long enough to consider it all, His majesty comes through loud and clear. His ability to create, resurrect, release, and redeem can overwhelm me because I have seen it in my own life.

But those clouds —

I could benefit from seeing them. Sometimes seeing a very direct message or path is helpful. But, God probably knows it is better for me not to have such direct instruction. When I am seeking Him daily, my days go better. My life may not be smoother but I am more at peace. Even in the midst of some chaos, God calms my heart and gently leads me in the way I should go. With my eyes on Him, my direction is in His direction.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66

Our Wisdom from on High

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

How often do I forget that I don’t have to know everything myself?

God is my wisdom!

Do I see His face in the decisions that are ahead of me? Do I remember that He who created the Earth and everything in it can see the way through my struggles? Can I rely on Him for provision and strength?

God always has the bigger picture in mind and He is working to prepare my heart and mind for what is to come while providing for all I need today. He is the one who knows it all — from the past to the future and intricately weaves it all together. I pray that I always seek His path of knowledge and not what the world deems “wise”.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Neal, 1818-66