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.
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.
HE CAME TO RESCUE US FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN
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
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.
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
IN THE SONG OF SONGS, SHE KEEPS CALLING HERSELF A VINEYARD
AND YET, SHE IS ASHAMED, SAYING, “MY OWN VINEYARD I HAVE NOT KEPT.”
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.
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,
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.
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)
And how will this happen? Through the birth of a Savior, and his name shall be Immanuel.
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 Christ can do. Rankin Wilbourne says we tend to associate holiness with people 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.
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!