Scripture @ Sunrise 12.31.08

“You shall not go out with haste, . . . for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”  -Isaiah 52:12

Security from Yesterday. “. . . God requires an account of what is past” ( Ecclesiastes 3:15  ). At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present.

Security for Tomorrow. “. . . the Lord will go before you . . . .” This is a gracious revelation— that God will send His forces out where we have failed to do so. He will keep watch so that we will not be tripped up again by the same failures, as would undoubtedly happen if He were not our “rear guard.” And God’s hand reaches back to the past, settling all the claims against our conscience.

Security for Today. “You shall not go out with haste . . . .” As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.

Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.

[from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers]

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For the faithful few who have read this far, I thought you might find it interesting that in Trinidad, they call New Year’s Eve “Old Year’s Night.”  That’s all!  :o)  Happy Old Year’s Night!

Scripture @ Sunrise 12.31.08

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”  -Romans 8:28

A Prayer from the Valley of Vision

O Love beyond Compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

[HT: Tim Challies]

Scripture @ Sunrise 12.30.08

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me.” -Psalm 138:7)

The Hebrew rendering of the above is “go on in the center of trouble.” What descriptive words! We have called on God in the day of trouble; we have pleaded His promise of deliverance but no deliverance has been given; the enemy has continued oppressing until we were in the very thick of the fight, in the center of trouble. Why then trouble the Master any further? When Martha said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died,” our Lord met her lack of hope with His further promise, “Thy brother shall rise again.” And when we walk “in the center of trouble” and are tempted to think like Martha that the time of deliverance is past, He meets us too with a promise from His Word. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me.” Though His answer has so long delayed, though we may still continue to “go on” in the midst of trouble, “the center of trouble” is the place where He revives, not the place where He fails us. When in the hopeless place, the continued hopeless place, is the very time when He will stretch forth His hand against the wrath of our enemies and perfect that which concerneth us, the very time when He will make the attack to cease and fail and come to an end. What occasion is there then for fainting? –Aphra White

THE EYE OF THE STORM
Fear not that the whirlwind shall carry thee hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the whips of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the gale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.

The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
 The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.

Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God’s heavens, His love shall make thine,
Let no gloom dim thine eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of thy God and the blue of His sky.

The storm is thy shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes thee for safety within;
The tempest with Him passeth into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the Storm.”

[from Streams in the Desert by L.W. Cowman, December 30 entry]

Scripture @ Sunrise 12.29.08

[So this really isn’t “sunrise,” but I wanted to do the notes from last night’s wonderful message justice.]

The Tabernacle (Exodus 25)
-The only building designed by God (a picture of His salvation and purpose). 
-built on sand
Hebrews 8:5– strict guidelines to follow pattern
-Through the Tabernacle, God gives us a word picture of how to worship and come to Him.  It has to be on His terms, His way. 
-Inside the fence: bronze altar, basin, tabernacle (Holy Place: lampstand, altar of incense, table of shewbread; Holy of Holies: ark of the covenant)
-Where He could dwell with His people (same word as John 1:14– tabernacle with)
-Materials used in Tabernacle include gold (represents Deity), silver (represents Redemption), bronze (represents suffering).  They all point to Christ. 

The Ark of the Covenant
-The first thing He tells them to build.  (vs. 10-15)
-He’s putting emphasis on what’s most important
-A little less than 4’x3′
-Ark & Uzzah teaches us not to belittle the things of God.  Also, our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, don’t defile it. 
-cherubim: were also guards in the Garden of Eden
Ezekiel 1:5-14, 10:1-22         Psalm 99:1          Numbers 7:89       Exodus 31:18            Psalm 132:7-8
God is above the cherubim, they are looking down in awe.  The ark is His footstool. 
God>cherubim>ark>law
-What was inside the ark could not save them, but only condemn them. 
Top=atonement cover; mercy seat
-Once a year, the high priest offered a blood sacrifice. 
Leviticus 16:11-17– Day of Atonement
Hebrews 9:22– Christ has become our mercy seat.  vs. 11-12
1 John 4:10
Hebrews 4:16– Mercy is obtainable through Jesus Christ for me!  Access the throne of grace diligently, daily. 

*I do believe this message was recorded if you would like a copy!  My notes really don’t do the message justice.

Weekly Announcements (December 28-January 4)

LAST UPDATED SUNDAY, December 28

Monday, December 29
Review your notes from yesterday’s messages!

Tuesday, December 30
6:30-8:30 a.m.
-Men’s Morning Meditations: Men, warm up your chilly winter mornings with God’s Word, fellowship and a cup of coffee at your Pastor’s home.

Wednesday, December 31
7:00 p.m.
– We will continue our “What We Believe” series.  Nikki will be teaching the kids from Mark 4 about the lamp and the mustard seed. 
Happy Birthday to Sis. Jennie! 

Thursday, January 1
Happy Birthday
to Sis. Barbara! 
Happy New Year! 
-Have you hidden God’s Word in your heart this week?

Friday, January 2
How about that Sunday School Lesson?!?!
-Have you collected any recycling items (newspapers, cardboard, office paper, ink cartridges, cell phones, etc.) to donate to the Lexington Rescue Mission (to provide medical needs)?

Saturday, January 3
Lexington Rescue Mission Block Party 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at 649 N. Limestone St. 
-Have you prepared your heart for worship?

Sunday, January 4
10:00 a.m.– Sunday School (John 16)
Devotion: Steve D.
11:00 a.m.– Sunday Morning Worship (2 Peter 3)
Ushers: Tom & Roger (alternates: um…)
6:00 p.m.– Sunday Evening Worship (Exodus 25)
Happy Birthday to me! 

Missionary of the Month:
BFM General Fund

Directory Info:
Have you given Sarah your updated directory information?  If not, feel free to e-mail it to her A.S.A.P.!  (Remember, the sooner she gets all the info, the sooner you have a new church directory in your hands!)
Info needed: names, address, home phone, cell phones, e-mails, birthdays, anniversary, whether or not you want e-mails about church stuff
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Links of the Week:

Scripture @ Sunrise 12.25.08

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  -Luke 2:11-14

“Disturbing Christmas”
by C.J. Mahaney 12/23/2008

The days before Christmas can be a tiring season of preparation, planning, shopping, and wrapping. But I think as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations, dinners, travel, and gift giving, it’s equally important that we pause and prepare our souls for Christmas.

During this time of year, it may be easy to forget that the bigger purpose behind Bethlehem was Calvary. But the purpose of the manger was realized in the horrors of the cross. The purpose of his birth was his death.

Or to put it more personally: Christmas is necessary because I am a sinner. The incarnation reminds us of our desperate condition before a holy God.

Several years ago WORLD Magazine published a column by William H. Smith with the provocative title, “Christmas is disturbing: Any real understanding of the Christmas messages will disturb anyone” (Dec. 26, 1992).

In part, Smith wrote:
Many people who otherwise ignore God and the church have some religious feeling, or feel they ought to, at this time of the year. So they make their way to a church service or Christmas program. And when they go, they come away feeling vaguely warmed or at least better for having gone, but not disturbed.
Why aren’t people disturbed by Christmas? One reason is our tendency to sanitize the birth narratives. We romanticize the story of Mary and Joseph rather than deal with the painful dilemma they faced when the Lord chose Mary to be the virgin who would conceive her child by the power of the Holy Spirit. We beautify the birth scene, not coming to terms with the stench of the stable, the poverty of the parents, the hostility of Herod. Don’t miss my point. There is something truly comforting and warming about the Christmas story, but it comes from understanding the reality, not from denying it.

Most of us also have not come to terms with the baby in the manger. We sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” But do we truly recognize that the baby lying in the manger is appointed by God to be the King, to be either the Savior or Judge of all people? He is a most threatening person.

Malachi foresaw his coming and said, “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” As long as we can keep him in the manger, and feel the sentimental feelings we have for babies, Jesus doesn’t disturb us. But once we understand that his coming means for every one of us either salvation or condemnation, he disturbs us deeply.

What should be just as disturbing is the awful work Christ had to do to accomplish the salvation of his people. Yet his very name, Jesus, testifies to us of that work.

That baby was born so that “he who had no sin” would become “sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The baby’s destiny from the moment of his conception was hell—hell in the place of sinners. When I look into the manger, I come away shaken as I realize again that he was born to pay the unbearable penalty for my sins.

That’s the message of Christmas: God reconciled the world to himself through Christ, man’s sin has alienated him from God, and man’s reconciliation with God is possible only through faith in Christ…Christmas is disturbing.

Don’t get me wrong—Christmas should be a wonderful celebration. Properly understood, the message of Christmas confronts before it comforts, it disturbs before it delights.

The purpose of Christ’s birth was to live a sinless life, suffer as our substitute on the cross, satisfy the wrath of God, defeat death, and secure our forgiveness and salvation.

Christmas is about God the Father (the offended party) taking the initiative to send his only begotten son to offer his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we might be forgiven for our many sins.

As Smith so fitly concludes his column:

Only those who have been profoundly disturbed to the point of deep repentance are able to receive the tidings of comfort, peace, and joy that Christmas proclaims.

Amen and Merry Christmas!