Convinced

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39


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What is Christmas All About?

Christmas is all about the name of Jesus–Immanuel, God with us.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

In his meditation on Isaiah 7:14, Spurgeon says “This is His name, “God with us”—God with us, by His Incarnation, for the august Creator of the world did walk upon this globe! He who made ten thousand orbs, each of them more mighty and more vast than this earth, became the inhabitant of this tiny atom! He who was from everlasting to everlasting, came to this world of time and stood upon the narrow neck of land betwixt the two unbounded seas! “God with us.” He has not lost that name—Jesus had that name on earth and He has it, now, in Heaven! He is now, “God with us.”

Check out the video below and rejoice in Immanuel!

Oh, may God teach you the meaning of that name, 
Immanuel, “God with us”!

Immanuel.

It is wisdom’s mystery,

“God with us.”

Sages look at it and wonder.
Angels desire to see it.
The plumb-line of reason cannot reach half-way into its depths.
The eagle wings of science cannot fly so high
and the piercing eye of the vulture of research cannot see it!

“God with us.”

It is Hell’s terror!
Satan trembles at the sound of it.
His legions fly apace,
the black-winged dragon of the Pit quails before it!
Let Satan come to you suddenly 
and do you but whisper that word,
“God with us”
—back he falls—confounded and confused!
Satan trembles when he hears that name,

“God with us.”

It is the labourer’s strength—
how could he preach the Gospel,
how could he bend his knees in prayer,
how could the missionary go into foreign lands,
how could the martyr stand at the stake,
how could the confessor acknowledge his Master,
how could men labour 
if that one word were taken away?

“God with us,”
is the sufferer’s comfort,
is the balm of his woe,
is the alleviation of his misery,
is the sleep which God gives to His beloved,
is their rest after exertion and toil.
“God with us”
is eternity’s sonnet,
is Heaven’s hallelujah,
is the shout of the glorified,
is the song of the redeemed,
is the chorus of angels,
and is the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky!

God with us.

God with us.


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Plunge Into the River of Life

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
–Romans 6:4

I have seen boys bathing in a river in the morning. One of them has just dipped his toes in the water, and he cries out, as he shivers, “Oh, it’s so cold!” Another has gone in up to his ankles, and he also declares that it is fearfully chilly. But see! another runs to the bank, and takes a header. He rises all in a glow. All his blood is circulating, and he cries “Delicious! What a beautiful morning! I am all in a glow. The water is splendid!” That is the boy for enjoying a bath! You Christian people who are paddling about in the shallows of religion, and just dipping your toes into it—you stand shivering in the cold air of the world which you are afraid to leave. Oh, that you would plunge into the river of life! How it would brace you! What tone it would give you! In for it, young man! In for it! Be a Christian, out and out. Serve the Lord with your whole being. Give yourself wholly to him who bought you with his blood. Plunge into the sacred flood by grace, and you will exclaim—

Oh, this is life! Oh, this is joy,
My God, to find thee so!
Thy face to see, thy voice to hear,
And all thy love to know.”

From Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, “Our Resurrection and Newness of Life”, preached Easter morning, March 29, 1891.


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Lonely at Christmas

The Cayman Islands is a wonderful place to live–white sandy beaches, clear blue seas, mild temps year round, great food–what you would expect on a tropical island. Some would even call it “paradise”. It seems idyllic, but for many, this beautiful place can be quite lonely. Most of the island is populated by ex-pats–people who work in Cayman but whose native country is elsewhere. Because of this, most people are far away from family and friends, and many find it hard to live here. Missing special birthdays, not being able to comfort or serve grieving or ill family and friends, longing for the familiar–can lead one to become very homesick. Not being with family and friends for holidays, especially Christmas, can make you feel very lonely.

I read this helpful quote from Elisabeth Elliott, and will be praying this for those who are experiencing loneliness this Christmas.

Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.

Remember that you are not alone. “The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage.” (Deut. 31.8) Jesus promised His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always.” (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.

Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.

Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.

Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.

Do somethings for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God’s peace that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.

“The important thing is to receive this moment’s experience with both hands. Don’t waste it. “Wherever you are, be all there,” Jim once wrote. “Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

taken from Passion & Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control by Elisabeth Elliot


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Thankful for Others’ Mercies

Last week was a week of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, specifically for the way He has worked in the lives of many of our dear families, friends, and church body to bring physical healing in the midst of pain and suffering. When doctors have braced some families for the worst, their loved one pulled through for yet another night, when CAT scans and biopsy results were feared, the Lord poured out His grace in clear scans and noncancerous results.

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness,
and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
(Psalm 107:8 KJV)

We know that we should rejoice with those who rejoice, but too often another person’s cause for rejoicing just floats aimlessly past us like dandelion dust. The Lord is worthy to be praised, whether we see His mercy extended in someone’s life or our own.

I read the following quote recently and was freshly stirred to contemplate what it will like to have “perfected praise”. It is taken from George Whitefield: Daily Readings, March 12 entry.

Those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ never lack matter for praise and adoration; those who have such continual scenes of his infinite goodness presented to their view so that their souls are duly affected with a sense of his universal love, cannot cease to call on heaven and earth, men and angels, to join with them in praising and blessing that high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity, and daily pours down his blessings on the whole race of mankind. But few have arrived to such a degree of love as to rejoice with those that do rejoice, and to be as thankful for others’ mercies as their own. This part of Christian perfection, though begun on earth, will be consummated only in heaven, where our hearts will glow with such fervent love towards God and one another that every fresh degree of glory communicated to our neighbor will also communicate to us fresh thankfulness and joy. That which has the greatest tendency to generally excite fallen men to praise and thanksgiving, is a sense of God’s private mercies and particular benefits bestowed upon us. As these come nearer our own hearts, they affect us more, and as they are proofs of God’s special favor, so they cannot but sensibly touch us; and if our hearts are not quite frozen, like coals of a refiner’s fire they melt us down into thankfulness and love. It was a consideration of the distinguishing favors God had shown to his chosen people Israel, and the frequent and remarkable deliverances wrought by him on their behalf, that made the holy Psalmist break out as frequently as he does in Psalm 107, in this moving exclamation, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!