Category Archives: Christmas

Silence . . .

silence

Four hundred years of it to be precise.

No prophecy.

No revelation.

Nothing.

Did HE forget about US?

I know we have forgotten Him many times. But, did He finally give up on us?   We are living as captives in our own country, it is occupied territory. Did He forget His promise? We are supposed to have a KING, not some emperor in  far away land.

Which reminds me, aren’t we supposed to be the nation others look to for hope? Because, right now, I can’t remember the last time I had hope. I remember being taught the songs of our people. Songs of hope, songs of joy, songs of expectation, songs of exultation,  and songs of lament. Lately it is one of those last ones that springs to mind. You know the one, it starts out, “How long, O Lord? How long?”

Indeed, how long? . . .

AND THEN! . . .

Then, an angel of the Lord  stood before  us,  and the glory of the Lord  shone around us, and we were terrified.   But the angel said to us, “Don’t be afraid,  for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  Today a Savior,  who is Messiah  the Lord,  was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you:  You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”   Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth  to people He favors!

Wait, what?

A Baby?

No, not just a baby, a savior. Finally! A Savior! Descendant of Kings.

Can it be?

Dare we hope?

I have to see this for myself.   And there He is! So tiny, so frail, so ordinary. Wait! No, not ordinary. Just normal, like me. But He is so much more too. He is special. The angel called Him a Savior, our Savior. My Savior.

Wow! Now my soul is reminded of another song. This one is at the end of the book. It goes like this (in case you don’t remember it),

Praise the Lord

Hallelujah!

Praise God in His sanctuary.

Praise Him in His mighty heavens.

Praise Him for His powerful acts;

praise Him for His abundant greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast;

praise Him with harp and lyre.

Praise Him with tambourine and dance;

praise Him with flute and strings.

Praise Him with resounding cymbals;

praise Him with clashing cymbals.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.

Hallelujah!  

Indeed, Hallelujah!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Doxology, GRACE, Joy, Psalms

Rejoice! A King is Born!

God throughout history has issued many commands.  He has demanded obedience, worship, faith, and fear.  But on this night He commands men to rejoice!  He tells us to give Him glory.  In the silence of a field populated by sheep and shepherds God sends His angels to proclaim the greatest announcement — EVER!

God became a man!  The eternal became time-bound, the perfect became like us.  Not like the rich and powerful, but like the poor and the lonely.  He was born in a barn.  Not a clean, neat, picturesque Norman Rockwell-like barn, but a filthy, smelly, manure filled place where animals live.

And He was BORN.  The sovereign King of all the universe had His umbilical chord cut and His diapers changed.  He learned to walk and talk.  He fell and scraped His knees.  He who had never felt pain or discomfort came to know and take on all of ours.  And when He was born he was put in an animal’s feeding trough.

He was frail, and weak.  He was a baby.  He who had spoken galaxies into existence now had to cry to be fed.  The one who designed the seasons now suffered from the heat and the cold.

The one who had eternally existed in the glory of the throne room now shared space with sheep and oxen.

There had never been a stranger event in all of History.  God had become a man.  So when the angels said rejoice they were not talking about a simple minute of awe and wonder.  The angels were talking about a new and incredible event that would forever cause men everywhere to sing!  The angels announced the birth of the Son of God.  And His birth is what we still celebrate.

God became flesh.  God came to be with us so that we might one day be able to be with Him.

Word of God become flesh.  God with us, Emmanuel!

He also became sin for us that we might become His righteousness.  It was not just the birth of God incarnate the angels announced.  It was the birth of a Savior!

So as you worship the Christ today remember He is not a babe in a manger.  He is the King of Glory come to redeem us from sin.  He is God in the flesh.  He is the Messiah.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.  He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He is the Wonderful Counselor, and the Prince of Peace.  He is our propitiation, and our atoning sacrifice.  He is Jesus!

Glory to God in the Highest!

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Doxology, General Thoughts, The Gospel

The Babe and The Lamb

Sorrow.  It is an emotion we feel too little of.  Why sorrow?  Because there is blood on our hands.  Blood?  Yeah, blood.  Innocent blood at that.  I am a murderer.  I killed the Son of God.  I am guilty.

 

There is no sugar coating it.  There is no downplaying possible.  The Holy One,  Jesus, the Righteous.  That is who I killed.  I pointed my finger at God and cursed Him.  I drove nails through the hands and feet of His son and I mocked His death.

 

And then God spoke.

 

He did not speak words of wrath or condemnation.  He spoke words of love, and forgiveness.  He spoke of reconciliation.  He spoke of adoption.  He spoke of peace.

 

You see I live in the 21st century.  Jesus lived in the 1st century.  But God knew me (the real, evil, wicked, wretched me) before He spoke the universe into existence.  And still He decided that He would send Jesus, His only Son, to be born of a woman and to live upon the earth He Himself cursed because of my sin.

 

He did nothing wrong!  Not a single solitary thing.

 

But we killed Him anyway.  Because if we didn’t we would have to admit that we were sinners.  We would have to look Him in the eye and see reflected there the sad truth.  The truth that His very presence was evidence that we were (and are) in desperate need of a Savior.  Maybe if we silenced Him we could stop hearing the silent accusation of our conscience — GUILTY.

 

But even at His execution we condemned ourselves.  We drove the nails and with each blow we proved our depravity.

 

The amazing part is that God knew what we would do.  Jesus knew that to be born was to ultimately be tortured and executed in the most horrendous way we could possibly imagine.  And yet He chose to come!  He chose to die.  And today He chooses to forgive.

 

You see, just as Christmas proves our guilt, it also provides hope.  Jesus came to earth because we needed a Savior, and that is why His birth is to be celebrated!  But His birth would give little hope if it were not for His death.  And His death would have nothing but terror for us if not for His grace and mercy.

 

We are, all of us, guilty.  Yet in spite of our guilt God chooses to love and forgive us.  We cannot forget, especially at this time of year, that we should look to the manger with hope and joy, but with sorrow too.  For if in the stall we do not see both a babe and a lamb we have missed the point.  He who brings us life and joy and peace bought it with His blood.  We, the guilty, are made righteous.  He the innocent is made The Passover Lamb.

 

So, please, this season worship the babe in the manger, but don’t forget He is also the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, and that He was slain for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, GRACE, Joy, SIN, The Gospel, Worship

Now about that Grinch!

I have often been accused of being the Grinch.  People think I don’t like Christmas.  To be honest I can understand where they get that impression.  So let me take a moment and set the record straight.  I don’t hate Christmas.

I do however get frustrated by all the baggage people  bring to Christmas.  I am not a fan of how people add to Christmas.  Christmas is about remembering  the birth of the Son of God.   It is about God stepping into time .  It is about the beginning of hope.  Christmas is about God being faithful to His promise.

I get frustrated because we talk about Jesus being “the reason for the season” and then act as if Jesus came for us to have a reason to act happy eat too much and then give Jesus a brief nod on Christmas day or Christmas eve.  We may even read the accounts in Luke or Matthew and pray.  But is that truly making “Jesus the reason for the season?”

Many a person hangs lights and decorates a tree that has no clue about the Savior whose birth gives them a reason to make merry.  But the angels whom the Lord sent to announce the birth of Jesus did not talk about parties and cookies.  The angels did not talk about trees and lights.  The angels declared the birth of a Savior!

We all live in a world torn apart by hate and fear.  We live in a world ravaged by the effects of sin.  Christmas is the first gleam of light that will one day drive all darkness away.  It is about the hope that one day all that is wrong will be made right, that all the pain will be soothed, and all the tears will be wiped away.

Christmas is a yearly reminder that this world is not as it should be.  It is a reminder that Christ came so that one day this world may be a thing of the past to make room for a new heaven and a new earth.

I love Christmas!  I love the Savior whose birth we celebrate.  And I love the hope that Christmas brings with it.  I may not get all excited about lights and tress and cookies etc.  But I am not a Grinch either.  I am just trying to look at Christmas in a way that is consistent with my beliefs.   I believe that Christmas must have a very specific focus.  I believe the angels said it best, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

There is no greater cause to celebrate than this!  God with us.  Emmanuel!

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, Joy, Thankfullness, The Gospel, Worship

Love by decision

Tonight is Christmas Eve.  Many will stop and think about the night over 2000 years ago when Christ was born in Bethlehem.  Many will think of the manger, the shepherds, and, of course, the Baby!  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is a good thing to remember what God did.  How HE sent His son to become a man.  How Jesus was born in a cave used to keep livestock.  How His birth went unnoticed by anyone in the town.  How God took it upon Himself to reveal His Son’s birth to lowly shepherds.  I love all of those little details of the story.

But tonight I think of something different.  Tonight I am reminded that this plan was THE plan.  I mean, the one who designed our bodies, who put stars in motion, who scooped out the oceans with his hands, planned Christmas.  Christmas was not plan “B”.  Christmas was the plan from the beginning.  The omniscient God of the universe decided that creation was still worth it despite the fact that if He said, “let there be light” that darkness would also ensue.  He knew that His creation would rebel against Him and hate Him.  He knew the atrocities that would be committed.  And He knew that it would take the sacrifice of His Son, in the most brutal execution His fallen creatures could devise, to bring us back to Himself.

Tonight I sit here thinking,  “He knew all of that before He spoke a single atom into being, and He did it anyway!”  There are two conclusions you can draw from this.  One, God is a deranged madman with a predilection for self inflicted pain.  Or, two, God wanted us to know how good He is.  He wanted to show us what love looks like.  He wanted to show us what grace is like.  I think that the second option is the more difficult to fathom, but it is the truth nonetheless.  God knew what every one of our failures would look like.  He knew the details of every evil deed we would commit.  He knew it all.

Tonight I sit here thinking of the indescribable love that Christmas represents.  A love that knew no limits.  A love that was pure and self-sacrificing.  A love that was meant to bring peace.  A love not one of us could earn or demand.  A love beyond words.   The words that come closest to describing the love of God for us in sending Jesus are from the Apostle Paul who wrote this,  “But God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Tonight I am speechless so I will borrow the words of the angels, “Glory to God in the Highest!”

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, General Thoughts