The People Keep a Comin,’ but the Train’s . . .

The people keep a comin’ and the train done gone. Do you remember an old Christmas spiritual called, Mary Had a Baby? Today, I think on this St. Helena Island Spiritual.

It has deep soul and sweet simplicity: Mary had a baby, yes, Lord,
Mary had a baby, yes my Lord,
Mary had a baby, yes Lord,
People keep a-comin’ an’ the train done gone.

There is natural melody, even if the true melody is unknown. But, I can’t stop thinking about the phrase,  People keep a-comin’ an’ the train done gone.

There was a lot going on then.  (Which doesn’t take away from thae fact that there is a lot going on now.) 

This story isn’t only about the past, this story is about today, right now, this very moment. Mary had a baby, yes, Lord.

So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. And Joseph also went up . . . out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to . . . Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, Luke 2:4.

OK, now it makes sense: The people keep a comin, but what about the thought, the train done gone?

The kids sing it so simply: Mary had a baby. Yes, Lord.  The familiar Bible Story, found in Luke 2 and Matthew 1.

What did she name Him? Yes Lord?
What did she name Him, yes my Lord,
What did she name Him, Yes, Lord, …

A virgin shall be with Child and they shall call His name, Immanuel. Matthew 1:23.
 Immanuel, God with us. Mary had a Baby and He is God with us. 

The people keep-a-coming, and the train done gone. Have we missed something. Have we missed the Everything?

 

The word of God is living. It’s alive. It rings true yesterday, today, and forever: At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. Luke 2:1.

We’re traveling here and there. Days are busy. We are occupied with important things. We are “counting” on many things.

Does this song bring about an urgency? Is there a “train” we might miss?

Do we really have time to seek out this Jesus?

 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

‘Mary had a baby, Yes Lord…what did she name Him? Yes,  my Lord… ‘She named Him King Jesus, Yes Lord, …the people keep a coming but the train done gone.”

Have we put Jesus in the barn?

Let us wake up to the sounds of angels. The birth announcement is made: Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid, Luke 2:8.

And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” 

 A Savior has been born to you.

To me, to you, to everyone in the whole world: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

The Immanuel has here.

He is Savior of the world. That Babe left all His glory of heaven to be born in a barn and wrapped in a few rags for me, for you. Today, the story is true.

‘Mary had a baby, Yes Lord. The glory train is here today. Let us choose to get on, right now, for Love has come.

Mary had a baby, Yes lord!
The people keep-a-coming and the train’s all mine. I see it, and I’ve boarded, will you join me this time?

 

 

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Guilty. But, Jesus

Adultery? Are we all guilty? We, believers in God through the Son He has sent- we are the  Bride of Christ. We are the Church. If Jesus is the Bridegroom, then aren’t we guilty of adultery as well, putting so much attention on stuff in this world and not giving attention to the wedding at hand?

So, the story is told in the Book of John, chapter 8,  that God has come into the temple, And He, Jesus in fact,  begins to write in the dirt: “This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  John 8:6. Two thousand years before, it was the finger of God who wrote on stone tablets, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14.

The Religious Leaders came as policemen asking  about the punishment this woman, caught in adultery, should receive.  Jesus spoke: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

One by one, they slipped away, beginning with the oldest even to the last. (Yes, this is how it is written in John 8 verse 9). ‘And Jesus was left alone – with the woman standing in the midst. “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

This is the voice of the Lord.  And she answered, “No one, Lord.”

“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (These are the words of Jesus, no pointing of the finger in John chapter 8 verse 11.)

Do you think the woman lifted her head to look in His eyes?  Jesus comes today to forgive our sin.

Am I willing to hear Him and lift up my head? Am I willing to receive his forgiveness and go – and walk in the light? No more hiding in the night.

If Jesus is the Bridegroom, and we are the Bride if Christ, shall we go now giving attention to the wedding at hand?

“The marriage feast of the Lamb ” (Revelation 19:6) is coming! Is the Bride making herself ready? Our Bridegroom, Jesus – does He have first place in our heart?

 We’ve all failed to be faithful! We’ve all missed the mark. What are we to do? We must hear the voice of our Lord:

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord requires of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

Are our ears open to hear His gentle and compassionate voice: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

I pray for myself, I pray for you, that we lift up our chins and make this very choice.

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
    and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said  to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” This is in the Book of Revelation, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The Story is written, the invitations are going out! Revelation 19 reminds us: Let us be glad and rejoice, for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come.

Let us be a Bride that makes herself ready! Yes, no? We all have the choice.

 

Where’s the App? Directions? … God’s word

Where’s the App that will let me know what’s ahead? Where’s the GPS to guide me through the next step?

“Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken:” Make no mistake, the prophet reveals,  this is the word of the Lord, and He bids all to hear.

This is the voice of God’s Holy Word.  He seems to call aloud to everyone. Exclamation points in place, New International Version, Isaiah, chapter 1. 

Breathed out by the breath of God, the One who made us, not we ourselves. He sees, He watches, He’s ever present and powerful. He knows our name. He has a plan, He knows what He’s doing. His thoughts are not ours. He is God Almighty, He’s the great I AM.

Do we hear? Do we remember? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm One Hundred, eleven. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning,” found again, in Proverbs 9:10.

At this time, do we care? This is important to ask. Who’s voice do we hear?  Oh children of the world, “Wake up, fast!”

“I reared children and brought them up,
    but they have rebelled against me.
 The ox knows its master,
    the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand.”  The Lord speaks to he who has ears. Words printed in Isaiah 1.

These words came off the tongue of the Lord. His heart speaks. There are no contractions. Do we take time to see for ourselves, or do we simply think we know it all too well?

 “Woe to the sinful nation,
    a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
    children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
    they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
    and turned their backs on him.” These are the words spoken by the prophet, Isaiah chapter 1. 

The Book is living water. Are we thirsty for the well?

Where have we turned our backs, is the question. Have we turned them on God? Let’s stop and have reflection.

  “Why should you be beaten anymore?

    Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
    your whole heart afflicted.
From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
    there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
    and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
    or soothed with olive oil.” Isaiah 1: 2-6.

Which direction? Is there a remedy? Where is a reliable fix? If peace is what is desired, the accuser is not the Lord. The accuser is the devil- sin is the reproach.

But God has made a way. He is the Way, you know. He sent His Son – His blood poured out. To atone us, everyone.  To make us at-one with Him. His blood was shed to redeem us. His arm is not short, His ears hear. His name is forever, to bring hope, and peace and salvation, to all the children everywhere.

“Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; …” Isaiah chapter 1:16,17. But don’t think for a minute, that this is about you! The only righteousness in you, can be in be-liev-ing.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18.

It is time to seek the Lord.” …seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1 proclaims,  but the power behind all of this – 

is in the name of Jesus.

Remember the angel and the words proclaimed: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2 verse 10.

The Messiah is born, and a sign was given: A baby in a manger. The shepherds, the star. Have we forgotten? Are our hearts far?

Let’s turn around as John the Baptist suggested and see,  “… the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:9. 

Instead of our backs, let us turn our face – to the Lord. Acknowledge Him. Believe He came for us. Call out His name,seek His promises to guide us.

His name is Jesus, sad hearts weep no more. He has healed the broken hearted open wide the prison doors, He is able to deliver – evermore.”

If you need help with the praise part, open Psalm 111. Read aloud and watch your mind be transformed:

“Praise the Lord.

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

He has shown his people the power of his works,
    giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
    enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
    he ordained his covenant forever—
    holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise.” Psalm 111. Amen.

What’s glorious? Being together

What’s glorious? Huge colorful mountains, vast rippling seas?

Yes, and when people gather together, share the same space with no agenda except to be together and simply, be.

Let’s face it, being human in this broken world brings us all to a common bond, faced with daily struggle and trial. Not to diminish the fact that many are faced with crisis, recent loss of health or loved one, or other.

These words sound so dry, yet the pain is excruciating for one in crisis. Where hearts feel as if physically bleeding, and the pain becomes consuming. The clouds of darkness hover over and it’s hard to see any good.

But the Bible reminds us what is good, when we feel as if we are spinning in a whirlwind of pain and would rather be alone instead-“Oh, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Ps. 133:1). 

This is good. This is pleasant. Brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, moms, dads, grans and grants – not all at once, but brethren, with some common ground, being together …

In unity. This is the heart and mind of God.

God, the One Whom sent His Son to earth, to show us the Way, and even how to pray, in this very familiar manner: Our Father in heaven. The Bible doesn’t say, “My Father in heaven,” it says, “Our Father …”

Oh, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

There is usually food involved in all this. And this involves hands, and so becomes need for helpers. Ice breaks, hearts beat again, by the simple warmth of togetherness.

So, somehow today, I hear words in my ear, “Just do it!”  Get together and celebrate life. Celebrate all things beautiful.

And may we remember that we are being prayed for by the One who holds our heart, even it be bruised and broken, He tenderly cares.  Jesus prayed to His Father:

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—” The Book of John, chapter 17, verses 20-22.

Jesus has given us the glory that the Father gave the Son? Maybe we don’t experience that glory until we ‘let go’ of all we’re holding on to, and ‘let God’ bring us to a place of unity.

” … complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:2-4).

Could it be, that the One who made us, knows what will bring us happiness?  Unity, all glorious.

How can we understand God’s glory? Hear the prayer of the Son:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” John 17 verses 1-5.

A time to gather together. This brings glory to the Father. But perhaps, so much more that we can comprehend at the moment.

Unity opens us up that we might have confidence and joy for all of eternity: “…that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21).

Christ the center, that we might all someday see …

 

“Can we reason together?” asks the LORD

“Oh world, are you angry and troubled? Do you forget to walk careful with fear … not ‘fear’ as you listen to restless thoughts of man, but ‘the fear of the LORD’,  which is the beginning of wisdom. (1)

“Look out!” they yell and seek their own view. “Look up!” My voice speaks. I give peace, hope, and understanding to you.

“The church has caused great pain and appears to have pointing fingers.”

“Don’t you see, it’s the sin of man that brings condemnation? I have come. I AM Savior. There is no condemnation to those who are in Me.”(2)

“Come, and let us reason together. Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (3) I was sent by My Father, and willingly died on a tree.”

But that could not hold Me. I rose from the dead.(4) Where do you set your mind? Where is your mind set?  Look to Me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.” (5)

“I will show you great and mighty things that you know not yet. (6) I Am the LORD.”

Don’t look out toward the strife and the wars, Look Up to find wisdom to cope. “Set your mind on things above, not on things of the world…”(7)

“I didn’t leave you as orphans alone, (8) I left you with My Spirit and the Word. Receive Them. Don’t reject. “Be still and know that I Am God.” (9) Pull the Good Book from off of the shelf. Have an open heart and mind, and see …

for …

yourself.

I love you with outstretched arms forever. If I seem distant, I dwell in thankful hearts and praises.

Look up to Me. My name is Jesus.”

(1) Proverbs 9:10.

(2) Romans 8:1.

(3) Isaiah 1:18.

(4) Matthew 28:6.

(5) Matthew 11:28.

(6) Jeremiah 33:3.

(7) Colossians 3:2.

(8) John 14:18.

(9) Psalm 46:10.

“Once For All (Free From the Law).

Phil P. Bliss sat down yesteryear and penned in simplicity,  words that today ring sweet to the ear:
“Once For All (Free From The Law).” “Free from the law, O happy condition! Jesus hath bled, and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Grace hath redeemed us once for all.”

The hymn is a tool that the good Lord uses, to get His children’s eyes back on His promises.

What are God’s promises? We forget so quickly. The whirl of the world, it’s noise and distractions, get our attention from the solid Rock that lays  our foundation.

“Once for all, O sinner, receive it! Once for all, O brother believe it! Cling to the cross, the burden will fall; Christ hath redeemed us once for all!”

Cling to the cross instead of a host of other things, yet so oft we choose fear, rather the freedom the cross brings .

“Now are we free, there’s no condemnation! Jesus provides a perfect salvation; “Come unto Me” O hear His sweet call! Come and He saves us once for all.”

These words are amazing, so gloriously true, that they need to be repeated, and brought back ‘anew.’

“Now we are free, there’s no condemnation! Jesus provides a perfect salvation; “Come unto Me” O hear His sweet call! Come and He saves us once for all.”

Children, perhaps we’ll never sing this old hymn, and many of us have no idea the melody within,

But today with thankful hearts we’ll read it and agree, that these very words ‘lift us’ on wings.

Above the melancholy world, let us fly with faith,  as our sight sees and believes impossible things.

No matter what happens, God is our Father. He knows our name. We are not forgotten . Let us remember: He’s still on the throne. No matter what – what’s going on!

“Children of God O glorious calling! Surely His grace will keep us from falling; Passing from death to life at His call, Blessed Salvation once for all.”

“Once for all, O sinner, receive it! Once for all, O brother, believe it!”

“Cling to the cross, the burden will fall; Christ hath redeemed us once for all!”

This is a hymn from days gone by, but the message is unchanging, for us all, for all time.

“Cling to the cross, the burden will fall; Christ has redeemed me once for all!”

 

Written in 1745, timeless for me, myself, and I …

Old words opened and brought to the light of my eyes, speak as if they were penned today that I might recognize,

Something that’s contrary to my wants and ways through the years, and even despised by my open – yet oft’ times, closed ears:

“With broken heart and contrite sigh,
A trembling sinner, Lord, I cry;
Thy pard’ning grace is rich and free:
O God, be merciful to me!”

Written by William Williams in 1745, repentance in prose so that man might identify.

But our culture and we, are often offended by this. Only because the devil himself has twisted God’s grace.

“I smite upon my troubled breast,
With deep and conscious guilt oppressed;
Christ and His cross my only plea:
O God, be merciful to me!”

And on occasion, when I feel I’ve  got it all down, the next thing I know, is I’m on the ground.

“Far off I stand with tearful eyes,

Nor dare uplift them to the skies;
But Thou dost all my anguish see,
O God, be merciful to me!”

 William Williams in 1775 was simply writing what he felt inside, he penned from his heart, but it was also for this day for me,  for myself, for, I.

“With alms, or deeds that I have done,
Not one sin’s pardon can be won;
To Calvary alone I flee;
O God, be merciful to me!”

The exclamation point is not mine. It was written in this hymn and it must needs remain for all of time!

“And when redeemed from sin and hell,

With all the ransomed throng I dwell,
My raptured song shall ever be,
God has been merciful to me!”

Because God is merciful, gracious and compassionate. Because God paid it all and looks not on all my accomplishment. He is forever the same. He is ‘slow to anger’ and He hears my plea:

“O God, be merciful to me.” Today and tomorrow. Let me think on You and Your goodness, and forget all my sorrow.

That I might have a story, all for myself, that You Lord, heard my cry and have filled my life with Your love’s wealth.

Amen, and Amen. Does anyone agree? Let us all say together, Amen!

Hymn by William Williams, 1745.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3.

“He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3.

Sometimes, when there is nothing to hold on to, or it seems as if there is no place to go, refuge and comfort for the soul can be found in God’s Holy Word alone:

“He heals … Psalms One Hundred Forty Seven verse Three.

and maybe that’s as far as we can go somedays. But there is hope in the words, ‘He heals.’

Because, God’s Word is true. He speaks what is. Whether we can believe it or not. There is no shadow of turning with God. God is love, (1 John 4:8). 

God doesn’t get moody and irritated. He doesn’t just walk out the door. He doesn’t give up on anybody. He is Holy and righteous. God is all-together lovely. God is love – yesterday, today, and forever.

There is no One like God. Doctors can bring about healing, but ‘He heals.’

He is big enough for our unbelief. He loves in a way that’s never-ending. Can we ever fully understand all that?

He knows this broken world we live in, so His perfect word spells out in black and white letters on the page: “He heals the broken hearted.”

And maybe we can only get that far, but when we close the Book, we grope for some light in the dark tunnel. And, it shines,

so gently,

so quietly,

but it’s there:

‘He heals the broken-hearted.’

And, nothing makes sense, and the pain is unbearable, but then those words come back in a whisper, and somehow,

I’m not sure how,*

but the thoughts make the next breath possible to endure: ‘He heals the broken-hearted.’

And God, who is amazing and knows everything, knows that the Book will be opened again, just to look at what’s next.

The black and white letters on a page, that’s all they are, but Somehow so much more.

God, He breathed out the words, and whether or not, right now we can even believe they are true, God says, He not only heals, but He  binds up … their wounds.”

*Yes, we can actually Know how.

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three in One. They will never leave us. The Holy Spirit reveals what is true, and the mystery is, in our hunger and thirst, we finally seek, Truth:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4: 7-9).

Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

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

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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 8:34-38)

This is a comfort to our affliction: “Thy Word has given me life.” (Psalm 119:50.

“He heals. The broken-hearted. And He binds up their wounds.”