O Holy Night

Christmas is upon us again, and it seems a shame not to look at a Christmas Hymn whilst we have the chance. 

Reading around O Holy Night we learn that it is a

“well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (Midnight, Christians) written by wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau (1808–1877). In both the French original and the English version of the carol, as well as in many other languages, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus as humanity’s redemption.”

It begins like this,

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.

In the Word, ‘holy’ means to be set apart and was there ever a night like this, set apart as the night of Jesus’ birth, the day that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Luke 2.8, John 1.14)?

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
’Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

As a result of the fall in Genesis, the world was in sin and error, but the birth of Jesus offered a way for the world and everything and everyone in it to be restored to how things should be, to be restored to right relationship with God (Genesis 3, Romans 8.22, John 3.16).

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night divine!

The Word tells us that one day every knee will bow at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2.10-11). One day we will be confronted with the reality to which our faith and hope and trust are anchored, and we will bow before the Lord and hear the angels worshiping Him forevermore (Revelation 5.11-14).

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we;
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Enjoy this Christmas hymn today as we prepare to celebrate and commemorate the birth of our Lord and Saviour on that holy night!

1 Timothy 5.17-20 – The Elder Example

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Paul transitions back into how the church should be led and structured and mentions the elders who rule well. Timothy as the pastor is instructed on how to deploy elders as part of his role, as is Titus in Titus 1.5. Those who serve as elders are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. Here Paul is talking about those that give their lives to the proclamation of the Word. The honor is the respect of those being fed the Word by these men (Hebrews 13.7), but also that these men are to be employed by the church (v.18). In our modern day church this would look something like the lead pastor, the senior pastor, the teaching pastor, or however your church likes to use those terms. 

The character of the elder who preaches and teaches, the elder who serves in a spiritual oversight role, and everyone who displays elder-like character (which should be all of us), are given a stern warning when we read that as for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear

Not concealing the sins of those in leadership is a bold move for any organisation to make, especially the church. We want our leaders to be of good character, leaders we can follow with a clear conscience, leaders who will point us to Jesus in their words and ways.

Elders should be of such good character that we can say that we will not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. However, should they fall into sin, they should still serve as an example, hopefully of a contrite and repentant spirit who humbles themselves before the Lord and seeks forgiveness and restoration. 

Isn’t this the kind of character we all need to display, not just those asked to serve in a particular capacity for a particular period?

Spiritual Depression – That One Sin – 1 Timothy 1.15-16

Lloyd-Jones makes an interesting point when saying that if all the Christian life entailed was accepting salvation and going to heaven then the New Testament letters would never have been needed, and there would be no real need for the church.

His point is that we all struggle with life and will continue to struggle with life regardless of whether we have professed Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Being a believer is no guarantee that life will be smooth sailing.

He goes on to say that if you have never had trouble in your life, never battled through anything, are you really a believer? His point is that upon becoming a Christian, there will be things in our lives that we want to let go of, get rid of, or just plain run away from.

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 1.15-16

There will be things we all want to get rid of in our lives, some may take more time than others and this is ok. We know from the full counsel of Scripture that the forgiveness that Jesus offers is total and complete, and it is in this truth that we need to rest. 


Maybe there is something in your life that you look back on and cannot understand how you could be forgiven for.


This one sin can really get people down. They look at the testimony of others and say ‘Praise God, what a transformation!‘, but struggle to understand that they are also forgiven from all of their past. 

When we differentiate between sin (this one is worse than that one), we fail to take God at His Word. We fail to understand that Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, including the one sin that you feel you will never be forgiven. 

When an angel appeared to Joseph to reassure him he said this,

…“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1.20-21

The shed blood of Jesus covers all sins, and you are completely forgiven. The angel didn’t say “…he will save his people from some sin, but not that one sin you committed…”

Lloyd-Jones summarises well, and this is a great thought for us to take into today,

“You and I must never look at our past lives; we must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Christ Jesus. I challenge you to do that. If you look at your past and are depressed by it, if as a result you are feeling miserable as a Christian, you must do what Paul did…He glories in grace and says the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

Hebrews 10.26-39 – Remove, Remember, Remain

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.


What kind of people should we be?

Why should keep going to church (vv.19-25)?

What does being part of a body help us become?

We should be the kind of people for whom there will never come a time when we might give in to the temptation to declare that the whole thing was worthless (vv.26-31).

We should be the kind of people who refuse to remove ourselves from right relationship with God through a steadfast faith in the faithfulness of Jesus.

We should be the kind of people who remember what happened to us when we first gave our lives to Him (vv.32-38).

We should be the kind of people who remember the former days when after we were enlightened how we put up with and triumphed over everything that the world, the flesh, and the devil could throw at us.

We should be the kind of people who live by faith and do not shrink back (v.39).

Faith is what matters–God’s faithfulness to us, and our answering that with faith in Him.

We should be the kind of people who have faith in Jesus and preserve our souls, remain in Him.

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Is that you?

Brokenness Aside

This song by All Sons & Daughters has some deep truths in it for us. Let’s just look at the chorus.

‘Cause I am a sinner
If it’s not one thing it’s another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
But You are a Savior
And You take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful
Beautiful

Often the point we all get to before we realise that we are in dire need of a Saviour is to realise that I am a sinner. We know that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23). We also know that God is a God of justice, a holy God, and must act on sin (Habakkuk 1.13). All this point to the fact that as sinners we are deserving of judgement. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6.23).

We often find ourselves caught up in words and tangled in lies. Maybe it’s words spoken in anger to our children. Maybe it’s words said in frustration to our spouse. Maybe it’s bending the truth into a lie to make ourselves look better at work. Maybe we lie to ourselves and say that ‘just once‘ is ok, ‘this time I’ll do it, next time I won’t‘. Whatever it is, we all fall short of the glory of God, and if it’s not one thing it’s another.

All this may get us down, all this may leave us feeling hopeless. Is our conclusion going to be Romans 6.23? But, as sinful as we are, Jesus is even more righteous. As deceiving as we are, He is even more pure and holy. As irrational and unpredictable as we are, He is unchanging (Malachi 3.6, Hebrews 13.8).

Whilst we are not to use this as an excuse to do what we want (Romans 6.1-2), we are to take comfort and encouragement that Jesus is a Saviour and He takes brokenness aside and makes it beautiful.

Rather than taking our anger, frustration, guilt, shame, tiredness, inconsistencies, and apprehension out on those closest to us, there is only One place to take it. 

Take all of this, and any other burdens you are carrying, to Jesus and watch Him take brokenness aside

Romans 2.1-5 – Me? Never.

We finished yesterday with a long and lewd list of sins that God has very clearly told us will lead to eternal separation from Him if we practice. The kicker was the last statement, not only those who practice, but those who give approval too. If you think about it, if you are endorsing and approving something, you are as good as doing it, you are saying that morally, you believe it’s ok.

The human part of us then looks at this list and becomes ultra defensive, ultra moral, and ultra judgmental. Something like 

Me, no, I would never A/B/C”, 

That’s horrible, I never…”. 

Paul starts chapter two by addressing this very attitude,

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

We know that at some point in our lives, we have walked this way. We know we were under bondage to something found in vv.26-31. They are a pretty all-encompassing group of flaws in the human condition. Paul is saying look, if you pass judgement on those who are still struggling and suffering with these sins, as a lifestyle, you condemn yourself, because we have all been there.

Here in this passage we see the way out of such bondage;

God’s grace past, present, and future. 

Paul writes do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience; kindness towards our old self, forbearance with our slowly learning and sanctifying self, and patience as we work towards who we will be one day. God treats us this way in order that we repent, which means to turn away from the old and head actively toward the new. This is not to be confused with remorse, feeling bad about what you did but then heading back to it.

We really should lose the judgemental, ultra moral mindset when confronted with a list of sins like Paul presented here, and humbly think, and know, that we too were once slave to this way of life. 

Through His amazing, saving, justifying, sanctifying, and ultimately glorifying grace we have been set free. We are free to turn away from the lives we once lived, and to move toward the life that He wants us to live, which simply has to begin, continue, and finish with faith in Jesus. 

When we see others still living this way, let us not judge. Let us thank God that we no longer are slave to sin, let us pray for those still under its grip, and let us model with our whole lives what faith in Jesus looks like. 


Point to ponder – Who was the person who didn’t judge me for living in sin, but instead showed me what a life lived by faith in Jesus looked like?


Prayer – Father again we ask that you help us not to judge those who are living in sin. We know this is your job, not ours. We also know that at one time we lived like this, but we also know that in an amazing demonstration of your love for us, Christ died for us whilst we were still sinners. For this we say thank you. For you kindness, forbearance, and patience we say thank you. Help us today to live a life of continued faith, of continued repentance, in your unending grace. Amen.

22.04.19 – Romans 6.12-14 – Instruments for righteousness

In the fourteenth century two brothers fought for the right to rule over a dukedom in what is now Belgium. The elder brother’s name was Raynald, but he was commonly called “Crassus,”a Latin nickname meaning “fat”.

After a heated battle, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him and assumed the title of Duke over his lands. But instead of killing Raynald, Edward devised a sneaky solution. He had a room in the castle built around Crassus, a room with only one door. The door was not locked, the windows were not barred, and Edward promised Raynald that he could regain his land and his title any time that he wanted to. All he would have to do is leave the room. The obstacle to freedom was not in the doors or the windows, but with Raynald himself. Being grossly overweight, he could not fit through the door, even though it was of near-normal size. All Raynald needed to do was slim down to a smaller size, then walk out a free man, with all he had had before his defeat. However, his younger brother kept sending him an assortment of tasty treats, and Raynald’s desire to be free never beat his desire to eat (adapted from EnduringWord).

Today Paul writes on how we should use our bodies (your members) to please God,

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Paul has previously written that we are to consider ourselves dead to sin (6.11) in such a way that as the ways of the world have no influence over someone who has passed away, the ways of sin are to have no influence over us. Rather, Paul writes to the Romans, we are to present our bodies, our whole selves, to God as those who have been brought from death to life. 

Isn’t that what we celebrated yesterday? Being brought from death to life?

Isn’t that what Paul wrote about in 6.4-5? 

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

See, the Easter story isn’t self-contained and separate from the rest of God’s Word to us. It is one wonderful, seminal, foundational, and formative part, for sure, but the interconnectivity and interconnectedness of God’s Word is mind-blowing. 


Sin now has no dominion over us, death has no power over us, for we are not under law but under grace. We truly have been raised to a new life to walk in newness of life. 

All this considered, considering that sin no longer reigns over us, that we have a choice to not obey its passions, we have the power in us to make this choice, the logical question is how are we presenting our bodies?, and to what are we presenting them?


Point to ponder – Am I presenting my body to sin’s passions, or as a living sacrifice to God?

Prayer – Father, we thank you for the world-changing, paradigm-shifting events that took place on that first Easter weekend all those years ago. We thank you that one consequence of that is the fact that we can now present our bodies to you as instruments of righteousness, and that you have broken sin’s hold over us. Amen.