Advent Hymn Studies #1 – Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
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I love to study the lyrics of hymns. They often bless my heart probably because so often they are words straight from scripture. I haven’t done a hymn study in a while so I’m going to try to study some Christmas hymns during December. Won’t you come along with me?
Have you ever wondered why so many people struggle with illness and weakness? You would think that since God is a Healer that He would reach down and heal his people, especially those that are believers.
It’s a question that has been asked down through the ages, I would guess. And many have searched to find the answer. I have learned there are many reasons why God may leave us in our sickness, disability, or weakness.
I was privileged to write for Gracefully Truthful on waiting. There is so much to learn about understanding and accepting God’s timing. I offer a piece of my study here; but, please read it all at Gracefully Truthful (link at the bottom)
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
Fatalism vs Grace
Some people today, especially those without Christ, take on the same fatalistic approach as Solomon. “Que Sera, Sera – What will be, will be”. Fatalism is a doctrine teaching that events are fixed in advance and human beings are powerless to change them. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) We might as well live life and accept what happens because there is nothing we can do to alter it.
This viewpoint leaves no room for God’s mercy and grace. It says God’s will as primary. They say,
“If it’s not God’s will for me to be saved, I won’t be saved.”
In their eyes, God neither hears nor answers prayer. As Christians, we know it’s God’s grace, mercy, and love that bring us joy. We know we can talk with God, pray about our sorrows, and through prayer, effect change. He is the one who brings true peace to the human heart.
He was not rebuked for his questions; his questions were patiently answered. (Habakkuk 1:5-11)
The Lord’s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.
Understanding God’s Timing
God may not answer our questions in the manner or timeline we want, but, if our questioning is sincere, He will give us understanding and unfathomable peace. When we look back on our life, we will see that God’s timing is beautiful. I’m reminded of this prayer set to music by Maranatha Music.
“In His time, in His time. He makes all things beautiful in His time
Lord please show me every day as you’re teaching me your way
That you do just what you say in your time.”
Accepting God’s Timing
When my husband was forced from his job and we needed to move from our home and take early retirement, we wondered,
“God, what in the world are you doing?”
Sure, we had been praying about a change, but this wasn’t what we had in mind. We could only see what was plausible in the “mind of man.” But now, six years down the road, we have more understanding of God’s plans.
1) We now live near three of our children & their families,
2) we are in fellowship with several life-long friends than have been a great support to us,
3) we are within driving distance to doctors who treat my chronic illness, and
4) our daughter met and married a wonderful Christian man and they are in ministry together.
There’s more, but you get the picture. We didn’t know the plans of God whose purposes are so much more amazing than anything we could have considered. We held to prayers as Habakkuk did,
“How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence, and you do not save? Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?”
And God answered,
Look …. be utterly astounded! For I am doing something in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.” (Habakkuk 1:1-5)
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We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
Drifting from safety
When my children were small, my greatest fear was taking them shopping. My son stayed right by my side, but my daughter was the curious type. She wanted to see everything. And it would only take a moment for her to wander away from me. She was a tiny thing and could get easily hidden within a rack of clothes. I would be frantic.
I’m inspired by a godly woman from our church, Delores. A year or so before my illness, she ultimately healed from stage 4 brain cancer. She was a vivacious lady around 60 years old living life to the full. She and her husband ran the local annual rodeo and a western store.
One Saturday evening, she laid down because she had a headache. The next thing you know, she was having a full-blown seizure. Soon afterward, we learned it was cancer. I have never seen someone have such a positive attitude. It was the most beautiful thing to see. She spoke life to the entire church during her journey to heaven. She would always tell us, “I’m just along for the ride.”
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility–not willingly, but because of him who subjected it–in the hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. 23 Not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits–we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
What were the sufferings of the present time and what future glory was Paul speaking of? vs18
Persecution of the church began from the very start of the church. Immediately in Acts we find the temple police and the Sadducees putting the apostles in prison (Acts 4) and stoning the Christians, including Stephen. (Acts 7) Some of this was in the leadership of Saul (later Paul).
We tend to get this idea in our heads that Christian leaders have everything in perfect order; that they are always holding a good hand. We think that they have had a great Christian life and have never been tempted to sin or been through troubled times. But this is far from the truth. When we look through scripture we find that God oftentimes chooses the weak or the least expected to do mighty things for Him.
I have said many times that we need to have more times of testimony. Times when we share about our troubles and weakness. And then also to share how God has gone through the fire with us. How can others be encouraged or know that God is an amazing God when we aren’t sharing these things?
As I picked up Phillip Yancey’s memoir, Where the Light Fell, I found the story of his life heartbreaking. But I learned some things in my reading that I will share with you today.
The Amplified Version of Romans 2:4 describes the riches of God as “kind, tolerant, and patient; withholding His wrath.” Paul is reminding the saints of how God’s kindness led them to repentance. How He gently, drew the Romans to Himself, waiting patiently for them to turn to Him.
God is Long-Suffering
David knew of His patience and loving-kindness. It has been over a year when Nathan confronted his sin, David begged the Lord to restore fellowship with Him. The first thing David said was, “Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion.” (Psalm 51:1)
God’s Loving-Kindness is for Anyone
God did deal with him according to His loving-kindness and He still does for us. This kindness was not just extended to David but to anyone who would repent and turn from their sin. My heart cannot grasp how good, kind, and patient God has been, not just to His own people, Israel, but for all of us.
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” –
In conclusion, while kindness may come more naturally for some, true kindness is a Fruit of the Spirit. It develops out of our willingness to fully surrender to the Holy Spirit. In her book, Jesus in Me, Anne Graham Lotz writes,
“While you have the Holy Spirit within you, the cooperation of your full surrender, obedience, and faith is required to activate it.”
She quotes Dr. Alan Redpath, Moody Church,
“it is a moment-by-moment surrender to the moment-by-moment control of the Holy Spirit”
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,because he trusts in You.
I was born on a Wednesday.
The following Sunday, I was in church and nearly every Sunday since then. My family was one who found themselves at church every time the doors were open. We also had family devotions … often. Sometimes this was at breakfast, other times, in the evening before bed. Every summer, we attended Holiness Camp .. even though we had a dairy farm to run, these times were not ignored or skipped. But these things, in themselves, did not save my soul. They were instrumental, but I had to make the decision to follow Christ myself. Each person must trust in Christ. Each one must personally make the decision to follow Him. As it is often said,
“God has no grandchildren.”
You cannot enter heaven on the coattails of your parents.
Trusting in Christ Will Cause You to Know Peace.
I think it was Rev Kelsey at Bethany UMC in Canton, Ohio that would end every sermon with a prayer that said something like “If there is anyone who has not responded to your call to salvation, let him have NO PEACE until he does so.” I did not appreciate this prayer. I felt it was an attack on me. Until the day I walked the aisle and gave my heart to Jesus.
During my teen years, a bumper sticker came out that said:
By then I had given my life fully to the Lord and I really could appreciate the fact that peace comes from knowing Christ. That prayer by my pastor has stuck with me and it’s a prayer that I use as I pray for my children and my siblings’ children, “That they may know peace”. I pray that God will give them no peace until they surrender their lives fully to him. I pray that the sin in their lives will become so distasteful that they cannot enjoy it. And, instead, it will recall to them the things they learned growing up. And that they will be drawn to the Prince of Peace.
More Thoughts on Peace
I was recently honored to write about the Peace of God for the Gracefully Truthful Community. Click and follow the link below to read more thoughts on the peace of God.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
Throughout the Bible we see that the godly are not exempt from troubles; however, God is always near to us. He is ever watching and He will help us through. Isaiah always shared comfort in that God was walking through those trials with us. He hears our cries and He provides what is needed as we go THROUGH the trial.