Who is He in Yonder Stall? – Benjamin R Hamby (1866)

Who is He in yonder stall,
At whose feet the shepherds fall?
Who is He in deep distress,
Fasting in the wilderness?

Refrain –
’Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!
’Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all!

Who is He the people bless
For His words of gentleness?
Who is He to whom they bring
All the sick and sorrowing?

Who is He that stands and weeps
At the grave where Laz’rus sleeps?
Who is He the gath’ring throng
Greet with loud triumphant song?

Lo! at midnight, who is He
Prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is He on yonder tree
Dies in grief and agony?

Who is He that from the grave
Comes to heal and help and save?
Who is He that from His throne
Rules through all the world alone?

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen (John 21:25).

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God’s Love Casts Out Fear

Behind the house I spent much of my childhood in, there was an old, two-room shack atop a small hill. It had been a chicken coop many years earlier, but we used it as a fort and playhouse.

In the summertime, we’d have friends spend the night. One of the things we’d do for “fun” was turn off the porch light and take turns running to the playhouse to see who could stand the longest in the dark. It was a test of bravery, a challenge to the power of fear.

The Scripture says that There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment (1 John 4:18).

Fear is powerful and causes torment. The closer you get to the day of a dental appointment, the higher your level of fear. Days in advance you can smell the dental office, hear the grinding drill, and feel the so-called “pinch” of the Novocaine-filled syringe.

Love is also powerful. The mushy-gushy emotion of love can make a person do crazy things, but I’m writing of the Biblical concept of love. Love, from God’s perspective, is the choice to surrender self for the well-being of another person, especially toward an enemy, no matter how he or she responds or reacts.

God’s love casts out a specific kind of fear. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment … (1 John 4:17). God’s love doesn’t remove the fear of barking dogs, the dentist, or monsters under the bed; it removes the fear of Him and His judgment.

The Bible says God is love (1 John 4:8). As the embodiment of love, Jesus came into the world to die in the place of sinners. By faith in Him, God forgives the sin of the sinner. Standing in His grace, His child should never be afraid that something you do, or say, or think, or believe, will cause Him to reject or leave you. If you know that He loves you according to His grace rather than your deeds, and understand the great extent of His love for you, you won’t fear Him or the day of His judgment.

He has No Grandchildren

I pulled up to the front of the college classroom and saw Daniel and another student laughing heartily as they walked toward the street. “It’s good to see that Daniel has made some friends,” I said to myself.

Daniel got in the car and I asked what he and his friend were laughing about. “He recognized the car when you drove up and said, ‘Looks like your gramps is here to get you.’ He laughed when I told him you were my dad not my grandfather.

We both laughed on the way home, but do I really look so old as to be my son’s grandfather?

No one enters Heaven on a parent’s shoulders or sneaks in by hiding in the parent’s trench coat. Family ties aren’t a ticket God accepts. He has no grandchildren.

The Bible says that each of us must come to God individually. As there is no national salvation for Americans, Nigerians, or Israelis, there is no household salvation where every member of a family is saved because of what the previous generation has done. The sinner is saved through that person’s individual trust in Christ Jesus alone. And when that sinner is saved, he or she becomes a child of God.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God (First John 3:1).

Evangelism Made Simple

And behold, a man of Ethiopia … was sitting in his chariot, and reading Isaiah the prophet. So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:26, 27, 28, 30).

My wife says I have a face that makes people want to talk to me. It seems to happen everywhere I go; people begin talking to me and soon tell me their life story.

Recently Kim and I wandered through a small shop. While Kim browsed, the store owner and I began talking. She’s a native Oregonian, whose husband died three days after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. She hid herself away in an abandoned shack on the Oregon coast without water, electricity, or hope. A few months ago, she opened the tiny knick-knack store where she works each day now.

The day before we met, she’d attended a funeral that brought back all the feelings over her husband’s death. Like a hand sliding into a custom-fit glove, I shared my hope in Jesus. Me a sinner, Jesus a Saviour, no fear of death but of Heaven.

I wish the heavens had opened and she fell on her knees confessing Jesus as her Saviour, but that didn’t happen. She told Kim she didn’t know why she’d told me so much, then she walked out of the store with us and hugged me before waving goodbye.

I had no plan to share the gospel of Jesus with her that day, but God had it planned. He’d been actively at work and providentially brought me in at that moment for that purpose. That’s evangelism at it’s best.

Like Philip in Acts 9, I didn’t have any expectations or pressures to produce results. No sermons and no preaching at a staged event with a prepared script. I simply spoke to a woman who actively wanted to hear what I had to say without any pretenses. Two ordinary people. One ordinary situation. A Divine opportunity.

Each time this happens, I trust that if the Holy Spirit has been preparing the person’s heart to receive the gospel, He’ll open the door for me to share the gospel. My boldness comes from trusting that God is in control of the circumstance, the consequence, and the conclusion. Evangelism is that simple.

Crosses and Stained Glass Windows

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? (Galatians 3:1).

Our congregation meets on Sunday morning in a space that is used by many different groups during the week. The auditorium is plastered with pictures and quotations by Buddhists, Hindus, new agers, and atheists. Nowhere are there any Christian symbols except on my pulpit, which we bring out of storage each Sunday morning.

I’m not overjoyed that the space we rent is filled with symbols and platitudes of heathenism. For many, this would be terribly distracting or even angering, but not to me.

The focus of Paul’s preaching – every time – was that Jesus died to save sinners, and was raised from the dead to give them new life (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23; 2:2). In fact, his preaching was so honed in on that theme that it was as if his audience was standing there at the cross when Jesus actually died!

Every sermon I preach brings Christ crucified and resurrected. Each new year I challenge my congregation to take note of how many Sundays my sermons will center around the cross and the empty tomb. See, I don’t wait until Good Friday to preach about Christ’s death. I don’t hold off for Easter to proclaim the risen Christ. There is never a single sermon that is not centered on this pivotal theme that makes the Christian faith Christian!

We don’t need a room filled with crosses and stained glass windows in which to worship. Dead images of wood and stone are unnecessary where the Scriptures are preached. Jesus said that all the Scriptures testify of Him, so as long as the Bible is being preached, the death and resurrection of Jesus will be the center of our time of worship together.

The Parable of Old Tom Turkey the Day Before Thanksgiving

It was a chilly November morning and Old Tom Turkey’s calendar said it was the day before Thanksgiving. He fanned his feathers and strutted across the barnyard thinking, Day before a federal holiday! Great day to take it easy!

Roger the Rooster had awakened the gang as he had every other morning with his daily Cock-a-doodle-doo report, and Tom, the three roosters, and the 25 hens hustled to the feed trough. Tom held a special place in the barnyard as the only one of his kind.

Well, he’d say to the ladies each morning, I’ve lived here a while and seen everything there is to see. The sun comes up, Farmer Brown feeds me all I can eat buffet, then I spend the rest of my day eatin’, drinkin’, and bein’ merry. Today will be just like yesterday. It’s a wonderful life!

Tom did live a charmed life. The hens kept busy laying eggs. The cows chewed gum and got milked. The roosters ruled the roost. Tom just strutted. As long as he could recall, nothing ever changed day in or day out.

Farmer Brown poured the feed into the trough and everyone started eating, each pecking in their order. Of course Tom gobbled his breakfast up first.

Out the corner of his eye, Tom noticed Farmer Brown had entered Poultry Estate. While still trying to figure out what was happening, Farmer swooped Old Tom up off the ground, and with the ax in hand headed toward the chopping block. What in the world? Why, it’s the day before a federal holiday! Tom said.

Just because something happened in the past, doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever.

Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of Christ’s coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” But this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (Second Peter 3:3-7).

All Because of God’s Amazing Grace – Stephen Adams (1971)

Amazing grace – O how sweet the sound
That saved a poor sinner like me!
Tho’ once I was lost, yet now I’m found;
Tho’ I was blinded, now I see!

Refrain –
And it’s all because of God’s amazing grace!
Because on Calv’ry’s mountain He took my place!
And someday, some glorious morning,
I shall see Him face to face,
All because of God’s amazing grace!

Thro’ disappointment and danger, too,
Thro’ labors and sorrows we’ve come!
But God’s grace has guided safely thro’,
And it will surely lead us home!

Then with the ransomed around God’s throne,
We’ll praise our Redeemer and King!
We’ll tell how His mercy for sin did atone;
Thro’ countless ages this song we’ll sing:

that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7)

My Son

And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (First John 2:1).

I love my son Daniel. He is likely the best friend I’ve ever had, but he is not perfect. He has his character flaws and I know what kinds evil he is capable of committing. I know … because he gets his enormous capacity to sin from another sinner: me.

I often hear parents whose children are accused of heinous evil say, “Frank is a loving and good guy. I just can’t imagine him doing what he’s accused of doing.” They are ignorant parents.

When Daniel is wrong, he is wrong. I am not so blind as to dismiss his wrongfulness. When he is wrong I admit his sin and refuse to defend him or his actions, but I will stand with him because he’s my son. There is a difference between defending a wrongdoer and standing with a wrongdoer, a difference we usually miss.

God condemns sin in His children. Our sins are just as offensive to Him as the sins of Satan’s own family. Knowing our sins, God cannot simply look away, wink, and pretend we are angels. The Bible says that God chastens us, yet lovingly, when we violate His will. Love doesn’t accept sin. Love confronts sin because the divine Lover seeks what is best for the sinner; sin is never what is best.

As redeemed children who still sin, God doesn’t say, “Oh, he didn’t do anything too bad.” That would make God a liar. Instead He disciplines us for our sin while remembering that Jesus, our Advocate, died for our sins, His blood removing the eternal penalty of separation from God. Nor does our Advocate turn a blind eye to our sin. He admits that we’ve sinned, yet He stands beside us, having taken our sins upon Himself at Calvary so that in His wrath, the Father might remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2).

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son Whom He receives (Hebrews 12:5-6).

Glass

Glass is made by super-heating ordinary sand to 3,090 degrees (1,700 c). The sand, which is mostly made of silicon dioxide, melts and becomes a liquid. That liquid can then be shaped, and as it cools it becomes clear and re-hardens.

Years ago I watched a glass blower at work. He dipped a long hollow tube into the molten sand and gently blew through the tube, rolling the cooling liquid into a vase, an ornament, and then a simple drinking glass. Once each object was fully cool and hard, they were put on display or sold for practical purposes like drinking from or letting light in through the wall of your home. The finished product revealed the existence, skill, and power of the creator.

A glass vase reveals many things about its creator, but there is much more that can’t be known from his work. But suppose the glass-blower came to your home. You could see his work, talk to him, ask questions, and get to know him for who he is. Seeing him in person would give you greater insight into his personality, power, and purpose.

The universe reveals the existence, power, and skill of God.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1).  Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

However, the creation is incapable of showing many things about the Creator: His personality and purpose, love and grace, mercy and justice. We know He exists and is powerful, but to know more we must either get to Him or Him come to us.

The Bible says, No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18). In other words, because God is invisible, Jesus became visible to reveal the Father to us. Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Today, Jesus is in Heaven. The Revealer of God the Father doesn’t walk among us, but He has left His revelation. The only way we can know God, His works, and His purpose is through the pages of the Bible.

Looking for Their Last Job

Many pastors spend their lives looking for their last job; that one congregation they can comfortably minister to until their dying day, having made a name for themselves. It’s a church abounding in kindness and love toward the pastor and his family. There’s a constant buzz of fresh activity and money is seldom a problem. There are lots of children to watch grow up and marry without the usual burdens that come from an elderly congregation, and it all grows around a thriving community of people who worship because it’s what they long to do.

Isaac Mathembe isn’t looking for his last job. This young Kenyan isn’t a “comfortable” pastor.

Isaac, his beautiful and strong wife Tabitha, and three children, live in the town of Kangundo, Kenya, but his congregation is a long distance from his home. His desire has long been to go into villages and towns where there are few or no Bible-believing churches and begin gathering believers together under a tree or in a small store-front building to worship. At first it may only be his family, but that doesn’t matter. He preaches the Word of God and invests himself in discipling whomever God brings along.

When a man teaches the Scriptures to the few, God raises up and gifts some of those few to be new leaders. Propagating His Church is Christ’s business, not ours. Then, after a season, it’s appropriate to turn the congregation over to the leaders who have been trained in the Bible. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul did and you can read about in the Book of Acts.

Such ministry is very difficult. Relationships come and go. The appearance of failure is a daily reality. Long-term comfort and safety don’t exist. Monetary gain eludes. There is no time for playing golf. Towns and villages and neighborhoods need the Good News of Jesus. Men of such a heart are Gospel pioneers – not settlers.

Pray for my dear friend Isaac, and those courageous men like him, who aren’t looking for a place to settle into an easy retirement, but actively work to see the Good News of Jesus spread in every city, town, and village.

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).