In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul tells us to pursue unity through humility. Pride promotes division, but humility nurtures harmony. He pleads with these believers to be of one mind, one purpose, and one love by laying down their personal priorities and privileges.
“The knowledge of the glory of God must be promising if it is to carry power. We must know it and believe that we are included—that the promises are ours, that the call is to us” (John Piper)
Life shakes us up. It smacks us with wind and waves. It might be a trial, suffering, a personal temptation, dealing with guilt and shame, struggling with something like anxiety or fear, or the discouraging howls of an extended spiritual wilderness. When these storms blow hard, what keeps us upright? What sustains and steadies us?
In my last post, When Christmas Loses Its Cheer, I tried to remind us that the message and meaning of Christmas offer a deeper joy than the magic Christmas. For those walking through trials and hardship, the Christmas season doesn’t have to be a letdown if it causes us see the beauty of Christ more clearly. In this post, I want to simply point to a few Christian hymns that echo how Christ’s glory and grace shines brighter in the midst of darkness and sorrow.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16)
(In yesterday’s post I shared stories of how the gathered church singing together encouraged me when I needed it most. Today’s part 2 provides more of the biblical basis for how important singing with and to one another is every week.)
In your mind, go back to a recent Sunday morning where you gathered with God’s people in your local church. One thing you did (I hope) was sing. When you sing, who do you sing to? In that scenario, do you sing to God, to other people, or to your own heart? How do you process congregational singing? You could ask, who do you sing for? Are you singing to glorify God, to rehearse truth to yourself or give voice to your beliefs, or do you sing to build up others?
(This is a repost of a blog published a few years ago. I was reminded of it while reading about the role of singing to one another from Colossians 3:16.)
I’ll state it here in the beginning. I’m more of a preaching guy than a music or singing guy. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy music or I don’t sing, outside and inside the church, but I think the preaching of the Word normally influences my personal growth more than congregational worship. Both are vital and neither is dispensable. But as a matter of preference, I personally learn more from hearing the Word taught than singing it. I hope that adds to what I’m about to tell you and doesn’t get you singers and musicians too up in arms right away.
As a church, does our culture match our doctrine? As an individual or as a family, does our culture match our doctrine?
“Gospel doctrine – gospel culture = hypocrisy
Gospel culture – gospel doctrine = fragility
Gospel doctrine + gospel culture = power”
(This is a communion meditation shared at my local church. I hope it can encourage your heart with the gospel of grace in Jesus.)
When we think about Communion we often talk about who Jesus is and what he has done for us individually. In light of today’s message, we should also think about the corporate dimension we celebrate in communion. What promises does God make to us as a body when we eat and drink? What are we saying and acknowledging to one another when we partake?
Today I came across my sermon outline (or one draft of it) and thought I would share the notes for anyone interested in studying the passage more or seeing what I preached on 12/29/13. It was the final sermon in our church’s advent series.
Revelation 21:9-27 Outline:
Dear Desire of Every Nation, Joy of Every Longing Heart.
Big Idea: Future hope sustains through present struggles.
• Future hope sustains us through present struggles.
• Our hope just around the corner is God’s presence dwelling with his purified people in his perfect place forever.
• Saying yes to this future promise helps us say no to the power and pleasure offered here.
Point 1: The Bride’s Beauty (The Bride’s Purity)
Rev. 21:9 (Rev 17-18, 19, 21)
The beauty of the bride has more appeal than the seductions of the harlot.
OT & NT imagery of a bride (Is 54:5; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27)
Revelation imagery of bride (Rev. 19:7-9; 21:2, 9; 22:17)
The Bride is the people (and a city) 21:2, 9
The Bride is contrasted with the Prostitute. Rev 17:1-6 (Rev 17-18)
John (& the angel) is using these images to show us two ways to live and the two fates of all people.
Jim Hamilton: “We need to be convinced that it is better to live for the Lamb than for the beast, with the pure bride than with the nasty whore, for eternal things rather than the temporary, to please God and not enrage him, to enter his city rather than being thrown in the lake of fire.”
• Dave Ramsey’s line: “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else” can be similarly applied in the area of holiness for exiles. Saying no to the illegitimate pleasures of this world is saying yes to the greater and legitimate pleasures of the world to come.
- Do not give up under pressures or give in to the pleasures from the world.
- Saying no now is always saying yes to something greater to come.
- The bride wasn’t always pure and beautiful but is made so in Christ. The bride’s present imperfections shouldn’t distract from her future perfection.
- Our longing are fulfilled not in the arms of the prostitute (world) but in the arms of Christ
Point 2: The City’s Splendor (The City’s Perfection)
The splendor of the city to come surpasses the allurements of this earth.
It’s a physical city (21:2, 10)
It’s beautiful (21:11, 18-21)
It’s complete (21:12-14, 15-17)
It’s perfect (21:22-25)
It’s home (22:5)
It’s God’s place (21:22-22:5)
• My failure as a husband to prepare a place for my bride in my bachelor’s pad.
• When I think of the earth I think of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Everything will pop with the glory of God. It will be a jam-packed with pleasures and gifts not as competition to God but as avenues to God.
• We might not be able to enjoy all the things we’d hoped for here (vacations, nice stuff, fulfillment) but all those thing are awaiting the bride in the city to come. We can give up some things here if we get everything there.
• One of our greatest temptations today (world, America, Indy) is becoming so comfortable and happy here that we think this is our home. We build lives as if our safety, security, comfort, leisure, and luxury is supposed to be maximized here instead of living as if we can give up things and risk everything now because we get all those things forever.
• The goodness of creation points us to the glory we will experience in the new earth. The brokenness of creation points us to a renewed earth, resurrected bodies, and reconciled relationships where fulfillment is experienced.
Point 3: The Lamb’s Glory (The Lamb’s Presence)
Rev 21:22-27 (21:22-22:5)
The glory of the Lamb outshines the heaviest darkness.
The Lamb’s presence with his people (22)
First advent: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)
Second advent: The Lamb is the temple and he dwells among his people (Rev. 21:22)
The Lamb’s glory among his people (23-26)
First advent: The magi from the east bring their treasures to the King of the Jews (Matt 2:1-12)
Second advent: The nations & kings bring their wealth & glory to the King of the world (Rev. 21:24-26)
• The relationship between first and second advent, minor but not complete fulfillment. It is the appetizer preparing us for the meal, the trailer drawing us into the full-length film.
• The longing to be known is fulfilled in God’s presence. His presence satisfies us and his glory stirs us now, and one day His presence and glory will fully complete us.
• God sees, and he knows. One of the hard things about the trials and the pain in this life is that we feel alone and we sometimes feel like God doesn’t see, doesn’t know, or doesn’t care. Isaiah 25:6-9 is the prophecy of a people in exile waiting on their God and one day seeing his face and receiving their salvation.
You can listen to the full audio here.