Posts tagged ‘John’

December 31, 2014

Great is Thy Faithfulness

by Bethany

Daily Reading
Malachi 4 (Listen – 1:19)
John 21 (Listen – 4:10)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

— Lamentations 3.22-23

Thomas Chisholm was born in Franklin, Kentucky, on July 29, 1866. He grew up in a log cabin and, at 16 years old, became a teacher. When he was 27, he had a conversion experience during a revival led by Dr. Henry Clay Morrison.

Chisholm ended up becoming a Methodist minister for a year before resigning because of his poor health. Over his lifetime, he wrote 1,200 poems, which appeared in many Christian periodicals. He also served as an editor of the Pentecostal Herald in Louisville for a short time. In 1909, he began his career as a life insurance agent in New Jersey.

In 1923, when he was 57 years old, Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” He submitted it to William Runyon, who was a composer affiliated with the Moody Bible Institute. Runyon set the poem to music and Hope Publishing Company published it the same year in which it was written.

On this last day of the year, may we look back and remember the faithfulness of the Lord so that, as we look forward to the mystery and unknown future of 2015, we trust in the One who has proven Himself faithful already. For “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price … He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” [1]

[1] Revelation 217, 20-21 ESV

Great is Thy Faithfulness (Listen: Harding University Concert Choir – 1:35)

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Refrain

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Refrain

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
December 30, 2014

As with Gladness Men of Old

by Bethany

Daily Reading
Malachi 3 (Listen – 3:16)
John 20 (Listen – 4:20)

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

— Revelation 21.22-27

William Chatterton Dix was born in Bristol, England, on June 14, 1837. His father, who was a surgeon and a writer, gave him the middle name Chatterton as a nod to Thomas Chatterton, a poet about whom he had written a biography.

After Dix completed his schooling, he became the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland. Although this was his vocation until the end of his life, Dix was also a hymn writer. Over the course of his life, he wrote 40 hymns, including “The Manger Throne,” from which “What Child Is This?” is taken.

On January 6, 1859, the day of Epiphany, Dix was sick in bed. While housebound, he wrote “As with Gladness Men of Old” to celebrate the visit of the magi. He first published it in 1867 in his Hymns of Love and Joy. The carol points back to the star that was seen by the magi in Bethlehem and forward to the light of Jesus seen by the nations in the New Jerusalem.

As with Gladness Men of Old (Listen: Kings College Choir, Cambridge – 1:35)

As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
December 29, 2014

Handel’s Messiah

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Malachi 2 (Listen – 3:08)
John 19 (Listen – 6:45)

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
— Revelation 19.16

Charles Jennens was a collaborator of Handel’s who struggled with depression following the suicide of his younger brother,” writes Mitch Davis who recently completed a documentary on Handel’s Messiah. Jennens’ brother was reportedly talked out of his faith at university and subsequently took his own life. Davis continues, “Jennens craved the spiritual solace he found in the exalted strains of Handel’s music and sought to combine that music with the scriptural words that comforted him during his depressive bouts.”Jennens composed the libretto of Messiah from translations of the Bible from the King James Version and the Book of Common Prayer.

Handel bounced from patron to patron throughout his career. Poor management of money and the resulting large shifts in his income, led him to become significantly indebted in London. Additionally, Handel’s first biographer John Mainwaring observed that Handel, ”paid more attention to [food] than is becoming to any man.” Handel eventually became overweight, but was known far wider for English tabloid reports on his temper. In one argument he threatened to throw a soloist out a window, in another he escalated a verbal fight until a friend stabbed him with a sword. (Handel was spared as the sword was blunted by a metal button.)

Mesmerized when he saw Jennens’ impassioned libretto, Handel worked feverishly on an oratorio, completing it in less than four weeks. Messiah was a turning point for Handel; its success freed him from his debts, and he became extraordinarily generous with the wealth his fame allowed. Something beyond material success seems to have happened as well. During the composition, Handel had what some call a spiritual epiphany. “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself.” Handel wrote as he composed the Hallelujah Chorus. “Whether I was in the body or out of my body when I wrote it, I know not.”

”Even when the subject of his work is religious, Handel is writing about the human response to the divine,” observes Harry Bicket, the director of The English Concert chamber orchestra. It’s clear both Jennens and Handel found personal grounding in Messiah and wanted to share that experience with others. Messiah seems to be both both men’s declaration that Christ is sufficient in the chaos of the world. They approached Messiah as we should too, drawing solace and strength from the glory of Christ.

Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah (Listen: London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir - 4:23)

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,

King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
December 26, 2014

Good King Wenceslas

by Bethany

Daily Reading
Malachi 2 (Listen – 3:08)
John 19 (Listen – 6:45)

Now when they heard these things [the history of Israel’s rejection of the prophets of the Lord, including Jesus] they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

— Acts 7.54-60

Today, the day after Christmas, marks the second day of Christmas, when – as the song goes – “my true love gave to me, two turtle doves”. Although rumors have it that the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was a clandestine catechism intended to teach children biblical truth, the actual meaning and origin of the popular carol is unknown. What is known, however, is that the twelve days of Christmas anticipate the visit of the magi, which is celebrated annually on January 6.

In addition to being the second day of Christmas, December 26 is also a public holiday in countries that celebrate Boxing Day. Traditionally, Boxing Day was a day when bosses and employers gave their servants “Christmas Boxes” filled with gifts, bonuses, and food. Since they would have worked on Christmas, the servants took the day after Christmas as a day of rest and family visitation. Today, Boxing Day is mainly known as a bank holiday.

The “Christmas Box” tradition of Boxing Day may have its origins in St. Stephen’s Day, when churches in the late Roman and early Christian era would place metal boxes outside their buildings to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen. Also celebrated on December 26, St. Stephen’s Day is a national holiday in several countries, e.g., Germany, Ireland, Philippines. Stephen was the first follower of Jesus to be killed for his faith.

In 1853, John Mason Neale wrote “Good King Wenceslas,” which became popularized as a carol to be sung on St. Stephen’s Day because the “Good King” “looked out “on the Feast of St. Stephen.” The carol is a legend based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia, who was considered a martyr and saint after his death in the 10th century. It celebrates his alms-giving to the poor.

As Christians, of course, we do not look to the Good King or Stephen for our faith; we look to Christ alone. He is the model to follow; his loving charity is the one to emulate. The love that we show others is a glimpse of his glory, not ours.

Good King Wenceslas (Listen: Downhere – 3:03)

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel

“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

 ___________________________________

Weekend Readings

Saturday: Zechariah 14 (Listen – 4:05); John 17 (Listen – 3:31)
Sunday: Malachi 1 (Listen – 2:54); John 18 (Listen – 5:18)

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
December 25, 2014

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Zechariah 12 (Listen – 2:42)
John 15 (Listen – 3:45)

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

— Matthew 1.22-23

“Caesar is Lord,” the people would shout as his ornate chariot traversed the streets of Rome. From viaducts to philosophy, architecture to economy, none surpassed Rome. Their elite culture was the hope of the world — and it spread like wildfire, consuming much of the known world. Because Rome’s cultural dominance gave it seemingly limitless potential, it was stunning when the empire began to decline.

In the end, Caesar proved not only unable to save his empire, but even himself. The fall of Rome was earth-shaking, plunging civilization into what historians have long-called, “The Dark Ages.” For hundreds of years battles raged endlessly, pestilence and plague spread freely, and chaos seemed to gain the upper hand all too regularly. The period isn’t significantly brighter in church history. Scripture was largely inaccessible, starving the Church of sound doctrine and increasing the growth of folk religion, superstition, and far worse. (The groundwork for the devastatingly fractured interpretations of Scripture that lead to the crusades was formed during this time.)

“O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high, and order all things far and nigh,” wrote an anonymous monk sometime before 800 C.E. The words to “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” cry out from the depths of the Dark Ages, longing for God’s presence, Emmanuel, to rescue humankind. In more ways than one, the unknown author behind this song is an outlier. The lyrics show intimate knowledge of Scripture in a time of illiteracy, and the author seems acutely aware of humanity’s limits. Even if there were a vision for restoration present, no one on earth would be sufficient enough to bring it to be. 

O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven’s peace.

“Jesus is Lord,” is a revolutionary claim. It upends not only global empires, but whatever each of us would enthrone on our own heart to save us from the insufficiency of our world. Christmas day celebrates the coming of an all-sufficient King. He is both the wisdom we long for and the power we need. He is God, and we long for his presence to heal our world and restore our hearts. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Listen: Francesca Battistelli – 4:20)

Verses in italics are less commonly sung.

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 Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Refrain

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
from ev’ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come
and open wide our heav’nly home;
make safe the way that leads on high
that we no more have cause to sigh.

Refrain

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

Refrain

O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven’s peace.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 167 other followers