BIRTH PANGS (ADVENT 4)

I’m memorizing Luci Shaw’s poem: “Made Flesh.”

She reflects on what Jesus surrendered — for us.

How the Light was eclipsed in amniotic gloom.

How the Word was stern sentenced to be nine months dumb.

How the Almighty submitted to a woman’s birth pangs.

birthpangs

And then she parallels how, because of this,

she surrenders to the crush and cry of birth.

AND THAT IS THE SECRET TO REAL LIFE.

THAT FULFILLS THE REASON HE CAME.

 

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HE CAME TO RESCUE US FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN

AND

HE CAME TO RESCUE US FROM THE POWER OF SIN.

THE FIRST IS INSTANTANEOUS, WHEN WE TRUST,

THE SECOND REQUIRES SUBMITTING TO BIRTH PANGS.


THERE IS A SECRET WOVEN THROUGH

ISAIAH,

SONG OF SONGS,

& TRULY, THE WHOLE NEW TESTAMENT

THAT WE KNOW, BUT HAS IT BEEN QUICKENED IN US?

EVERY YEAR I CHOOSE A BOOK OF THE YEAR.

THIS YEAR IT WAS EASY.

unionwithchrist

THE SECRET TO BEING DELIVERED FROM THE POWER OF SIN,

AND THE SECRET TO ENJOYING GOD,

IS UNION AND COMMUNION WITH CHRIST.

ONLY THREE TIMES IN THE SCRIPTURE IS THE WORD “CHRISTIAN” USED,

BUT 165 TIMES THE PHRASE “IN CHRIST” IS USED, AND THE SCRIPTURE IS FILLED WITH METAPHORS TO HELP US GRASP THIS.

FOR EXAMPLE, IN ISAIAH 5 WE HEAR GOD SING A LOVE SONG

ABOUT A VINEYARD HE CARED FOR —

YET THAT VINEYARD DID NOT APPLY THE SECRET

AND LAY DESOLATE

 isaiah-5-vineyard 

 

IN THE SONG OF SONGS, SHE KEEPS CALLING HERSELF A VINEYARD

AND YET, SHE IS ASHAMED, SAYING, “MY OWN VINEYARD I HAVE NOT KEPT.”

dont-stare-at-me

IN OUR HEADS WE KNOW THAT JESUS SAID:

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing.

(John 15:5)

i-am-the-vine-1

BUT IF WE ARE NOT ABIDING, IF WE ARE NOT ENJOYING GOD,

THIS SECRET NEEDS QUICKENING OR RE-QUICKENING

IN OUR HEARTS.

RANKIN WILBOURNE’S BOOK HAS QUICKENED IT AGAIN IN MY HEART,

AND AGAIN,

I AM EXPERIENCING THE FRUIT OF HIS SPIRIT

AND THE SWEETNESS OF HIS PRESENCE.

I WANT TO GIVE YOU A TASTE OF THE MANY-SPLENDORED SECRET,

AND THEN, IN 2017, WE WILL BE

EXPLORING THIS SECRET IN DEPTH.

IT’S NOT NEW!

IT’S THE POINT OF CHRISTMAS.

IMMANUEL!

GOD WITH US!

BUT ITS TRUTH MUST BE CONTINUALLY REBORN IN OUR HEARTS.

FOR THIS LAST WEEK OF ADVENT, MAY YOU EXPERIENCE HIS PRESENCE.

WATCH THIS AND MAKE IT YOUR PRAYER AS YOU NEAR THE CELEBRATION

OF THE BIRTH OF CHRIST NEXT WEEK!

4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT:

1. What stood out to your from the above and why?

2. Are you experiencing His joy, His presence? If so, explain. If not, how I pray this week will be the spark that begins the fire!

Monday – Wednesday: The Secret of Union and Communion with Christ.

We we will complete the first unit of Isaiah (chapters 1 through 12) next week. My plan, Lord willing, is to begin the new year with the secret of a Christian’s joyful life — which is Union with Christ (previewed this week through verses in Isaiah) and return to Isaiah for Lent.

UNION WITH CHRIST

The first truth of being “in Christ” has to do with union with Christ, with being delivered from the penalty of sin. When we respond to what He did at the cross, He covers us, so that when the Father looks at us, so that when He looks at us, He sees Jesus. Or, as Isaiah puts it: Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)

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And how will this happen? Through the birth of a Savior, and his name shall be Immanuel.

immanuel1Isaiah prophesied that one day He would be wounded for our transgressions.

redsset643. In a sentence, explain the gospel according to Isaiah.

anchorcd0b2351-2c5b-44ab-8b6f-1ab488fe24c6_anchor-iconUnion with Christ is our anchor, delivering us instantaneously from the penalty of sin.

tillieCommunion with Christ is our engine, delivering us day by day from the power of sin.

The reason God’s people in Isaiah were a desolate vineyard is because they were not in communion with Christ. They had no power to live the Christian life. If we see spending time in the Word or worship as boring, we will not hunger for this. Our hearts must be stirred with excitement at what communion with C16fb9350d27323b290a36810351a6749hrist can do. Rankin Wilbourne says we tend to associate holiness with 56012753809cc84eea7883d4fb069946people like Mrs. Oelson from Little House on the Prairie who felt her behavior was better than the of everyone else. Yet Mrs. Oelson was not truly holy, or she would have been both happy and beautiful. Instead, she was neither.

Holiness, that state that comes from abiding in Christ and allowing Him to prune you quickly of any known sin, leads to both joy and beauty. The kind of beauty we see in a blossoming branch,and the kind of joy we see by the close of this opening section in Isaiah.isaiah-12_3

I know these truths, yet Wilbourne’s book has quickened me, making me desire holiness, so that I’m steering away from sins I minimized, justified, and allowed to steal my joy and beauty.

4. According to Psalm 32:3-4, what does a lack of holiness lead to?

 

5. According to the following, what follows holiness:

    A. John 14:21

    B. John 15:10-11

6. What does holiness mean to you? Do you desire it?

Thursday-Friday: Christmas Message from Rankin Wilbourne

This is just 23 minutes, bracketed by Comfort Ye My People. Im hoping it will whet your desire to get and read his book — for it just might change your life.

7. Share your notes or thoughts.

8. What is your take-a-way this week and why?

 

Christmas Eve Thoughts — a picture and a song…

 

P. S. I was smiling the other day thinking about how several of us were marveling that Christmas comes in the dead of winter — forgetting about the part of the world where Christmas comes in summer! :-) But truly where I am, it is nippy. This is the view from my living room today! I’m quite thankful for a warm house, a roaring fire, and hot chocolate!

icydockThis scene and this song seems quite appropriate for our last week of Advent, just before Christ breaks through!

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Joy to you all at Christmas! I finally heard the sermon this morning before work…on my way now. My family are at the beach in Mexico & I’m working all weekend, but Praise God for time with Him & the chance to take His light into other homes. I pray that is what I can do…take His light & love & compassion. Its been so busy at work I’ve been a bit burned out, but the Lord refreshes me each day. I loved the sermon. Yes, may I truly receive that God desires to make His home in me! Oh Jesus, open the eyes of my heart & be born again in me today.      Susan:   I also have LONGED for my family & husband to go to church with me at Christmas. It’s hard, & I pray that the Lord will fill u & lead u & draw your family to Himself.  I hope to go to a Christmas Eve service after work today & then to friend’s home .  Love to u all. He is with us…Immanuel  :)

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Merry Christmas Eve Everyone!!!!! :D
My takeaway:  In Christ grace and power to live as Christ called us to, get married!  I just began reading the book Union With Christ.  Rankin Wibourne articulates so well what I have pondered in my heart for many years!  My young Christian life began very works-focused (and largely miserable!)  Then, about 7 years ago, I really began to understand grace (there is nothing I can do or not do to make God love me any more and nothing I can do or not do to make Him love me any less…He loves me because of Christ’s finished work on the cross and my operative word was REST!)  I think for me, grace was what my weary soul truly needed and it never felt like an excuse to sin.  However, I could see that in some settings Christians were almost using grace as a reason to not “press on to the high calling of Christ.”  Rankin talks about the fact that the only way these two concepts (grace and living a set-apart life that Christ calls us to) can both have the “volume turned 100%” is through union with Christ.  When the Word became flesh and later died for our sin, this union became possible!  

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Mary — so glad you are reading it and liking it!

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Yes — Merry Christmas Eve to all!

    Reply

    Merry Christmas Eve!!

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Merry Christmas everyone! May our Lord Jesus who IS our Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace be with all of us. Many of us celebrate Christmas with hidden sorrow in our hearts over fractured relationships, health problems,  loved ones far away from God….and much more He knows, He understands, and He has not left us alone.

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Merry Christmas all, whatever you circumstances – whether the day is busy or quiet, happy or bittersweet. It is my first Christmas without my Dad (Mom has been gone for 9 years) and with a son in Kuwait, but we just spent the better part of an hour on “Google Hangouts” in a 3-way video chat with my Kuwait son, and with his family (2 young sons, a wife, and in-laws) in Nova Scotia while they opened Christmas stockings. Thank you, God, for amazing technology and tech savvy kids! Now going off to church! I find it lovely for Christmas to arrive on Sunday!
 
Hugs to you all here on Dee’s blog! May the peace of God rest on you!

    Reply

    Diane–thinking especially of you with your son so far away–blessings to all of you!

      Reply

      Thanks, Lizzy. We are doing fine.

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upcoming bible study I read in the blog 

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