Enjoy the praise of Psalm 63 “My soul thirst for you” with photo inspire from LWillows

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Psalm 63
A psalm of David, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah

1 O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.

My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you

in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.

3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.

5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

6 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.

7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

8 I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.

9 But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
They will go down into the depths of the earth.

10 They will die by the sword
and become the food of jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God.
All who trust in him will praise him,
while liars will be silenced.

 

Fine Art Photography by Alex Bentel

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“Star Shine, Soul’s Brine”…a worship poem from LWillows

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I am covered low in love divine,
as one braced soft in sacred vine.
A wreath by day, thou lights heart shrine.
And come the night, Star shine, Soul’s brine.

The eyes of Heaven opened, revered.
Holy, holy, Our Lord comes near.
with hush of prayer I bow low, sweet with tears,
Oh Father, Abba, my Lord, You are here.

© 2017. 2015 Linda Willows

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, article by John Piper and Christmas Hymn…offered by LWillows

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Article by John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Enjoy listening to a beautiful version of this hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel

This translation of an anonymous Latin hymn doubles as a prayer for the first and second coming of Christ. It takes us into the mind of old Israel, longing for the first coming of the Messiah. And it goes beyond that longing by voicing the yearning of the church of Christ for the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to consummate the history of redemption.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we put ourselves in the shoes of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, and all the pre-Christian saints. We ponder the promises. We strain to see the dawn of salvation. But we know that when it comes, the waiting will not be over.

“This refrain reaches down into our weak hearts and pulls us up, in faith, to see the certainty of the end.”

When Emmanuel arrives — when the Dayspring rises — we learn that redemption has only begun. To be sure, it is a magnificent only. The final blood is shed. The debt is paid. Forgiveness is purchased. God’s wrath is removed. Adoption is secured. The down payment is in the bank. The first fruits of harvest are in the barn. The future is sure. The joy is great. But the end is not yet.

Death still snatches away. Disease still makes us miserable. Calamity still strikes. Satan still prowls. Flesh still wars against the Spirit. Sin still indwells. And we still “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). We still “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7). We still wait for final deliverance “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). We still “wait for the hope of righteousness” (Galatians 5:5). The longing continues.

Still Longing at Christmas

The common tune, linked with these lyrics in 1851 by Thomas Helmore, captures the plaintive mood of longing. It is not the same as the exuberant “Joy to the world, the Lord has come,” or the vigorous and bounding, “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King.” It is an excellent musical match to the mood of the song. Longing. Aching. Yearning. Hoping.

The Christian life oscillates between these two poles: the overflowing joy of the “already” redeemed (Ephesians 1:7) and the tearful yearning of the “not-yet” redeemed (Ephesians 4:30). Not that we ever leave the one or the other in this life. We are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10).

It is good to have Christmas carols that capture both dimensions of life.

My guess is that, as we move toward Christmas, most Christians experience sadness and excitement. We must never let the sadness ruin the simple joy of the children. Most of them have not lived long enough to suffer. Let them see as much brightness as they can in Jesus. But let’s not think that Advent must be all jolly and jingle bells.

The Serious Sorrow in Our Joy

“It is a wonderful thing that there are Christmas carols that are written for the real world of sorrowful joy.” Tweet Share on Facebook
About 3.7 million people will die during Advent worldwide, half a million of them children. About 105 persons every minute. Most of them without hope. A tiny fraction of these make the news — like some victims of terrorism. The vast majority groan and die unknown except to a few close at hand. Such sorrows touch every Christian. We know someone who is dying, not to mention the hundred miseries that make living hard.

It is a wonderful thing that there are Christmas carols that are written for the real world of sorrowful joy, as well as the real world of exuberant joy. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is one of them. You can hear it in the “O” that begins ever verse: “O come, Emmanuel.” “O come, Rod of Jesse.” “O come, Dayspring.” “O come, Key of David.” “O come, Desire of nations.” This is the “O” of longing.

Emmanuel’s Names

And every name for Jesus is full of hope.

As Emmanuel (Isaiah 8:8) — “God with us” — he will pay the ransom that only a God-man can pay.

As Rod of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), springing from a dead stump, he will free his people, by death and resurrection, from Satan’s tyranny, and make them free forever.

As the Day-spring (Luke 1:78) — the dawn of God’s kingdom — he will be the light of the world, and banish the hopelessness of darkness.

As the Key of David (Isaiah 22:22), he rescues us from hell, locks the door behind us, unlocks the door of heaven, and brings us home.

And as the Desire of nations (Haggai 2:7), he will draw the ransomed from every people and make them a kingdom of peace.

This is who Jesus is. This is what he already achieved and will complete. And so with every verse, the refrain reaches down musically into our weak hearts and pulls us up, in faith, to see the certainty of the end.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Artistically, the rhythm of plaintive longing in the verses, punctuated with powerful bursts of joy in the refrain, are, to my mind, just about perfect. The mystery and the wonder of Christian living are captured. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Already. But not yet. Fulfillment of glorious promises — yes! But consummation in the new earth with new bodies and no sin — not yet. We are left confident, but still crying out: “O come, O come, Emmanuel.”

© 2015 John Piper

 

Conversations about “Belonging” as we approach Christmas….offered by LWillows

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This is the most special time of year. I cherish every chance to see holiness. It is everywhere I turn and like the beautiful Christmas trees that I have seen -it branches widely and graciously from the bottom up as well as from the shining star at the top!

Today I returned from a warm gathering of friends, each who described a family Christmas tradition that was most treasured over the years. Later, the theme of “Belonging” came to my heart. This was a new thought for me. I did not have a family near for many years and though I have had many solitary Christmas eves both because of travel and circumstances, I had no common traditions with my friends. Family did not arrive, there was no festivity nor the delight of a home to decorate though I do have wonderful memories.

I reached into the far into the past to offer a tradition from childhood. I think that I jumped 60 years back from the fear of speaking about now and looking like I did not “belong”. I ending up rambling on and on like a lost child. (an orphan vs heir?)

Later that afternoon I was stirred by the word “Belonging” in my heart by Spirit. I knew that I needed to deepen my “family relationship” with Lord Jesus. This was the real hope and joy of all Christmas tradition. If a tradition is a long established custom, then from my own earliest childhood prayers, I desired to know Jesus. Any action that followed that would be the custom. Whoever I was with formed my understanding of belonging.

Now that I am mature, I can re-form and return all of my longings to be with Christ. To me, that is one way of Be-longing to Him. I reach with joy to His Love; it is not far off, it is here.

I am hoping that share this experience with others might offer hope and encouragement especially if as you approach Christmas, you find yourself far from home or desiring to be home, in a distant place, in a season of your life when you are alone or perhaps desiring to create a special reason for coming together to celebrate.

We have every hope to live in Faith, to celebrate, for The Son of God is born in a miraculous and Holy way.

We Belong to God, who formed us with Love, sees us each in every moment of our lives; is so near that He feels each breath before it touches the air. Belonging to him also means that He has redeemed me. I am in His Family. The relentless love that pours upon me is designed to outpour as my cup overflows. His Grace and Mercy moves through us and amongst us. It increases the belonging of The Family of God.

© 2017 Linda Willows

Isaiah 43:1
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!

He has called us all by name. We all belong to Him!

I found this article about “Belonging” and enjoy sharing it:

“Belonging”

© 2012 Mark D. Roberts

Psalm 100:3 reminds us that we belong to God. The Common English Bible states: “Know that the LORD is God—he made us; we belong to him.” The Hebrew original of the last phrase can be literally translated, “we are his.” The next part of the verse reinforces this truth by adding, “We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture.” Thus, we belong to God because he made us to be his very own people. He continues to watch over us as our good shepherd.

What difference does it make that we belong to God? This simple truth can transform our lives. It can give us profound reassurance of our self-worth. We matter because we belong to the Creator of the universe. The fact that we belong to God also gives order to our lives. We are first and foremost God’s people. Thus, all of our other roles in life must be seen in the light of this primary reality. You may be a lawyer or manager or teacher, but you are first of all one of God’s people. You may be a father or a mother or a friend, but you are first of all one of God’s people. How you live in each of these other roles will be shaped by your primary relationship to God as someone who belongs to him.

Sometimes, when life is hard, or when we’ve turned away from God for an extended season, we can wonder if we still belong to him. The good news of the Gospel is that nothing can ultimately keep us away from God and his love. As it says in Romans 8:38-39, “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” This means that nothing, NOTHING, can erase the fact that you belong to God through Jesus Christ. What great news!

The Theology of Work/ The High Calling