Songs for Sunday: Who You Say I Am

I love this song!

I have to tell you that it’s one of those that makes me want to throw my hands in the air, in praise and thanksgiving, every time I hear it. Yes, I restrain myself if I’m driving.

My oldest son (who is in prison, but part of the worship team there), told me they are learning it too.  Think about that for a minute as you read the lyrics.

VERSE 1:

Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost, but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

CHORUS:

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God Yes I am

VERSE 2:

Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me Yes
He died for me

CHORUS 2:

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

BRIDGE:
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

I am who You say I am

CHORUS 2:

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Can you imagine physical prisoners singing about being “free indeed”?  I just pray for all of them that the message takes permanent root in their hearts!

Who You Say I Am was written by Hillsong worship pastors, Ben Fielding, and Reuben Morgan. They have written several worship songs, including Mighty to Save and God Is Able. 

Who You Say I Am is based on John 1:12

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

and John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Who You Say I Am was released on the Hillsong Worship album There Is More in 2018

Here is a live video, uploaded to Youtube, by Hillsong Worship.

See you in church!

Connie

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God’s Amazing Plan, Part 5: The Holy Spirit

Last week, we learned that Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Father’s promise. Then He ascended to heaven. The angels told the disciples that Jesus would come back the same way he left. The disciples went back to Jerusalem, rejoicing, to wait like Jesus had told them.  They spent a lot of that time in the temple.

Let’s back up a little and look back to what Jesus said to them before His arrest. We’ve looked at them before, but lets take another look.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.(John 14:16-17)

the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,will teach you all thingsand will remind you of everything I have said to you.(John 14:26)

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. (John 14:26)

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness,because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”(John 16:7-13)

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)

Then right before He ascended to heaven, He said,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

All these scripture references are from the NIV. The King James uses the word “comforter” instead of advocate. The Amplified Bible offers “Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever—” In John 14:16.

So this promised Holy Spirit that they were to wait would bring power with Him (we often refer to the Spirit as an it, but Jesus says “he”). He will be an advocate, counselor, comforter, reminder and guide. He’s a big deal.

Now, let’s back up a little more and talk again about Jewish feasts. We’ve talked about the Day of Atonement and Passover, but there were several other feasts the God ordained for His people. In Leviticus chapter 23, God gives instructions for all the feasts. This one, called the Feast of Weeks. On the second day of Passover, they were to count off seven weeks (49 days). Then on the feast on the 50th day, They were to present an offering of new grain as well as sacrificial animals.

Greek speaking Jews in Jesus day called this day Pentecost (50). It was one of the festivals during which all men were required to come to Jerusalem. Ten days after Jesus ascension to Heaven, Jerusalem was full of Jews from all over the world there to celebrate Pentecost. Of course, the disciples were there too, just like Jesus had told them to be.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues  as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” (Acts: 2:1-13)vAct0202Dore_TheDescentOfTheSpirit

There are some who say that they disciples were in the upper room at that time because of the word “house”, but that doesn’t make any sense. That would have been where they slept. They wouldn’t have been there at nine in the morning. They were in a public place, most likely in or near the temple. Where else would all those people been able to hear the disciples speaking the wonderful works of God in their native tongues? And some people thought they were drunk, I would assume because they didn’t understand what was said, and felt the need to respond. You know there is always somebody like that. Peter had an answer for them…Peter, who had denied Jesus, then ran and hid, stood up and addressed the crowd.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. “These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.(Acts 2:14-41)

The day of Pentecost marks the birth of the church, and with the help of the newly received Holy Spirit, Peter preached the first sermon. Three thousand “came forward”.

That day the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, and Peter told the crowd that they too, could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So what does the “gift of the holy spirit” mean?

When you ask people today that question, many people talk about speaking in tongues, prophesying or gifts of healing, and those things certainly have been manifestations of the spirit (1 Corinthians 12), but that isn’t what it’s really all about.

Jesus replied,“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

How does He he do that? Guess?

By sending the Holy Spirit, God sent part of Himself.

In Romans 8 (which is an amazing chapter), Paul says,

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom 8:9-11)

In his letter to the Colossian church, he says,

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you,the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)

So what is the point of having Christ in us? Well, for one thing, He reminds us of the things we have been taught in God’s word. He tells us when we are doing wrong, He encourages us to do right. He proves we are children of God (Rom 8:15-16). He intercedes for us, when we don’t know how or what to pray (Rom 8:27-28)

So God’s amazing plan wasn’t just that he would come to earth as a human being and die for all our sins, it was also that he was going to leave a piece of Himself in each and every one of us who accept his gift. The gift is not only to help us while we remain here, but also to empower us to share the good news so that others come to Him too.

But there’s more.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor 1:21-22)

So what is to come?

Remember what Jesus said in John 14:2-3 and what the angels said in Acts 1:11?

He’s gone to make a place for us. He left His Spirit with us, to help us while He’s gone. He’s coming back for us!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess 4:16-17)

So God’s amazing plan was that He would come as a human, and live a sinless life so that He would be the perfect sacrifice for sin. That way we would be able to fellowship with Him like Adam and Eve did in the garden before they sinned. For those of us who accept His gift, he seals the deal with His Holy Spirit which He put in us to help us know Him and lead others to Him. Then when it’s time, He is going to come back and get us, so that we can live with Him, in His presence for eternity.

We could say a lot more about that, but we’ve gone long here. We may do another series just on the subject of eternity…or at least the little bit we know about it.

I have to ask. Do you know Jesus? Have you accepted the gift he freely offers? If not, please don’t wait. Accept Him as your savior and your Lord today. Get buried in the waters of baptism and rise up to walk in your new life! Will your life be perfect? Of course not, we still live in a broken, fallen world, but you’ll be able to say with the apostle Paul:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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: 35-39)

Hallelujah!

Connie

God’s Amazing Plan. Part 3: If You Want Something Done Right…

I closed my last post on this subject by saying “It’s time”, then I left you hanging for over a year. For that I apologize.

In the 400 hundred years or so since the close of the Old Testament, the children of Israel had been under the rule of the Persians, the Greeks under Alexander the Great, The Syrians under Seleucus (one of Alexander’s generals), The Egyptians under Ptolemy (another of Alexander’s generals),  The Syrians under Antiochus Epiphanes (who tried to exterminate them), themselves under the Maccabees, and finally, the Romans.

God’s timing is always perfect. He had told Micah the messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
(Micah 5:2)

Mary was chosen to be the mother of the messiah, but she was in Nazareth, and she was poor. Isn’t it amazing that Caesar Augustus chose that particular time to order a census?

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:1-7)tLuk0215Dore_TheNativity

In the first two posts, we looked at the hints of God’s plan for redeeming mankind. By the time of the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the Jews (as they were then called) were fully aware that the Messiah was coming. They just weren’t expecting him to come like he did. They definitely weren’t expecting him to be born in a stable.

They had definite ideas of what the Messiah was supposed to do. He would be a great ruler, who would rid them of the Romans, and restore Israel as it had been under David and Solomon. That was how they understood the Old Testament prophecies, but there were some things they missed. To be honest, I don’t know how they could have understood.

We have looked at Isaiah 9: 6-7 before, but let’s look at it again

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.

Verse seven describes the Messiah they were expecting, but go back to verse six. It says the child will be called “Mighty God”. Wait a minute. No one gets to be called “God” but God. Anything else is blasphemy. How could this person be called “God”?

If He is God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God, and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18)

The Word was God. Since the Word became flesh, that means God became flesh. God became a human being. Jesus said as much Himself.

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:54-58)

Jesus called Himself “I am”. He was calling Himself “God”, a stoning offense to be sure, unless He was telling the truth.

So part of God’s amazing plan was that He would come to live among us as a human being.

I am not even going to pretend that I understand how the Trinity works. I don’t know how God could be Father in Heaven, and Son on Earth, but I know that He was.

Ok, but why would God do that? What is the point? Well, I guess you can say “If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself.” In order for mankind to be redeemed, there would need to be a blood sacrifice, because;

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (Lev 17:11)

The animals sacrificed had to be perfect. They had to be “without spot or blemish”. A human stand-in for mankind would have to be perfect too. Do you know anyone like that? No, I don’t either. There isn’t anyone.

God knew there was no way that any human being would ever be able to live a sinless life, but He could. The “Word” was with God from the beginning, was in fact, God, and then became flesh and came to live with us. Jesus was God coming to earth as a human being, to live as human beings live. He had the same physical needs, and He was subjected to the same temptations (Matt 4). The difference is that He didn’t succumb to the temptations. He remained sinless, and as such was able to be the perfect sacrifice for sin.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)

All of that was laid out in the prophecies too, but they just didn’t get it.

We’ve already looked at portions of Isaiah 53, but let’s start at the end of Chapter 52, and read through 53.

13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.

1Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 52: 13-16; 53)

I have to wonder who the learned men; the rabbis, the scribes, etc, thought Isaiah was talking about? Did they understand this was about the messiah? Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they did what many of us do when we come to a passage we don’t understand.  Maybe they just skipped over it.

John the baptist understood.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

Jesus told both His disciples and His enemies, several times that He would die. He told them why He would die, and that He would be resurrected.

 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:13-17)

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again (Mark 8:23)

 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (John 12:31-32)

In John 14, Jesus tells his disciples (and us) the plan, but they still didn’t get it. When he was arrested, tried, found guilty and crucified, they were heartbroken, terrified and confused.

tLuk2334Dore_TheCrucifixion

Jesus was crucified during time of the Passover. Like the lamb without defect, he was sacrificed, and his blood covers us, saving us from the second death. Paul says,

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5:7)

In the last post, we read that on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would offer a blood sacrifice for himself, and then one for the people. This was the only day of the year the priest could go behind the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. (Ex 26:33)

This was not a little flimsy curtain. From what I could gather from different sources, it was something like 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick.

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Matt 27:50-51)

The Most Holy Place was no longer hidden. How do you suppose that happened?

God sacrificed Himself for us, so that we could be reconciled to Him. A Day of Atonement would no longer be necessary.

the veil was Torn

John says,

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30)

When Jesus said “it is finished”, He meant His redemptive work was done. He gave up His own life, to atone for all of us.

That part was done, but there was much more to come.

Connie