God With Us - Dec 2018

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

- John 1:14


One of the most foundational aspects of the Christian faith is that our God has come to us. No, we are not required to achieve a certain status or climb high enough to get to Him, because Christ made Himself low that we might be given access to the Father.

From the beginning God has been sovereignly working this plan to be “with” His people. In Genesis 26, we see this promise to Abraham. Declared in Exodus 29 and fulfilled in Leviticus, God says, “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.” When Moses passes on the baton to Joshua, he encourages the young leader, “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.” The list could go on…

But, of course, this earth-shattering concept of a holy God dwelling with a broken and sinful people finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, who among many names, is given the name Emmanuel (which means “God with us”) by the prophet Isaiah over 700 years before His birth. Not only would the Word become flesh to dwell among us, but He would be the means through Whom God would bring hope to this world, peace between God and man, and victory over sin and death.

Among the host of beloved Christmas songs for worship, we’ll be singing “God With Us” as a declaration and reminder that God has indeed made good on His promise to dwell with His people in the person of Jesus Christ. And let’s not forget that Jesus made His own promise to be “with us” forever (Matthew 28:20), quickly fulfilled in the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell intimately in the heart of every believer. 

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, may we enjoy the festivities of the season, but truly marvel in our great Savior who became one of us so that we may be one with Him.

God With Us

Written by Jason Ingram & Leslie Jordan

Lyrics:

You've come to bring peace
To be Love, to be nearer to us
You've come to bring life
To be Light, to shine brighter in us
Emmanuel, God with us

Our Deliverer, You are Savior
In Your presence we find our strength
Over everything, our Redemption
God with us, You are God with us

You've come to be Hope
To this world, for Your honor and name
You've come to take sin
To bear shame and to conquer the grave
Emmanuel, God with us

You are here, You are holy
We are standing in Your glory
You are here, You are holy
We are standing in Your glory, Lord

© 2018 Integrity’s Praise! Music / CCLI #193208


My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness - Nov 2018

I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

- Psalm 69:30


What are you thankful for? We toss this question around each November as we gather with family and friends… and turkey! But it’s also a key question to consider when talking about singing from the heart.

We often express thanks for family, for friends, for jobs, homes, health, and of course, food. The Bible certainly tells us to be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18), so thanking God for physical blessing is appropriate and right. In fact, Paul constantly commands thankfulness to permeate all areas of our lives (Eph 5:20; Col 2:17, 3:15-17, 4:2, etc).  

Still, as Christians, what are we to be most thankful for? You probably know the answer, but in the busyness of our lives and ironically, the joys or the sorrows of our lives, we often forget it. The greater testimony of Scripture is a posture of thanksgiving first and foremost for spiritual blessing- that God has already given us! (Eph 1:3) Over and above success in this life, Jesus teaches His disciples to rejoice that their names are written in Heaven! (Luke 10:20) When Paul thanks God in 1 Cor 15:57, he refers to a “victory” in Christ that is ultimate- that dwarfs all earthly blessing or earthly pain.

So what are the benefits of being thankful? Thankfulness is the key to remembering God’s character, His goodness, and faithfulness- remembering His mighty acts and ultimately redemptive work through Jesus. Forgetfulness was one of the biggest plagues of God’s people in the OT. But thankfulness helps us remember the Gospel when we’re so easily tempted to forget it. Whether physical blessing is plentiful or seemingly absent, thankfulness for our abundant spiritual blessing helps us magnify God in all circumstances.  

In October, Pastor Rountree preached on joy in the Lord, saying,  “every gift given to you connects you to the Giver…the most significant thing about the gift is that it should bring you back to rejoice in the Giver!... Our God is so engaged with us and committed to us in giving us things, if we just rejoice in the things and don’t see that the things are there to connect us to Him, we’re gonna miss the joy… What it really does is engage us to Christ forever, both body and soul.” Simply put, thankfulness is the path to joy.

This Getty hymn focuses our hearts and minds on the immeasurable riches of God’s grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).

My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness

Written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Lyrics:

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness
And clothed me in His light
And wrote His law of righteousness
With power upon my heart

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly
Whose every promise is enough
For every step I take
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To him who reigns above
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace
Whose every thought is love
For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King
So I will give my life, my all
To love and follow him

© 2003 Thankyou Music / CCLI #193208


Show Us Christ - Oct 2018

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

- John 6:66–69


We sing about many aspects of our faith: giving glory to God, retelling the wondrous Story of the Gospel, celebrating the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, expressing our love for God and dependence on His grace and mercy. No doubt we seek to sing Scripturally-based songs, but how often do we sing songs that petition God to transform us by His powerful Word?

This beautiful and simple song is just that. It’s a humble prayer of preparation and yearning for God to impress His Word upon our hearts by the power of His Spirit in such a way that our lives bear the fruit of the Gospel as a response. At the heart of this prayer is the centrality of Christ. What great privilege we have as Christians on this side of the Cross, with the joy of seeing Christ as the fulfillment of God’s written Word (Matt 5:17) and the very Word of God in flesh (John 1:14).

This is a perfect song to sing before hearing God’s Word preached, but it’s also very relevant to sing afterwards! The truth is we need God’s help to prepare us beforehand, give us the ears to hear during, and apply His Word to our hearts even after we sit under the teaching of Scripture.

With so many worldly voices competing for our attention, may we cling to God’s Voice, spoken to us in His living Word. For as the disciples recognized: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).

Show Us Christ

Written by Doug Plank & Bob Kauflin

Lyrics:

Prepare our hearts, O God
Help us to receive
Break the hard and stony ground
Help our unbelief

Plant Your Word down deep in us
Cause it to bear fruit
Open up our ears to hear
Lead us in Your truth

Show us Christ, show us Christ
O God, reveal Your glory
Through the preaching of Your Word
Until every heart confesses Christ is Lord

Your Word is living light
Upon our darkened eyes
Guards us through temptations
Makes the simple wise

Your Word is food for famished ones
Freedom for the slave
Riches for the needy soul
Come speak to us today

Where else can we go, Lord?
Where else can we go?
You have the words of eternal life

© 2011 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)/ Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Churches. / CCLI License# 193208


Come Thou Fount - Sep 2018

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

- 1 Corinthians 13:12


This is one of the tried and true hymns of the church, sung by generation after generation. These beautifully poetic lyrics express a heart-felt dependence on the Lord for what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He will do (Phil 1:6). Though this world seeks to pull us away from God, the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus has drawn us close, decisively securing our place as God’s children, redeemed by His blood (John 10:28).

Do you feel apathetic towards worshipping with God’s people? Ask for God to “tune your heart to sing His grace.” Do you doubt God’s goodness towards you? Look back and remember what Christ has done. Do you feel your heart wandering? Throw yourself on the mercy and grace of our good God. Believe the promise, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

A few years ago, I came across this lesser known 4th verse and immediately fell in love with it! Taking us on a journey as many of our hymns do, this final verse turns our affections towards the future, our heavenly hope in Christ. No longer will we suffer the stain of sin. No longer will we be prone to wander. No longer will we ache with pain. For will see the Lord face to face, with renewed hearts, worshipping in His presence (1 Cor 13:12). Oh, what joy! Indeed, come Thou Fount of every blessing.

What’s that word mean?

Ebenezer – “stone of help” from 1 Sam 7:12, a declaration and remembrance of God’s divine help

Interposed – to place in between, Jesus’ blood shields us from the righteous wrath of God

Fetter – A chain of restraint, expressing the desire for God’s grace to keep us ever so near to Him

Come Thou Fount

Written in 1758 by Robert Robinson
(4th Verse added by Bradford J. Brown)

Lyrics:

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Full arrayed in the blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day

© Public Domain