VIDEO “Angels We Have Heard On High” Hymn To Life.

Radiant
Dec 17, 2014

Over A Thousand People Came Together To Break a Record And Bring This Moving Christmas Hymn To Life.

The Piano Guys, Peter Hollens, David Archuleta, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir get together to sing “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

God with Us

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel. Matthew 1:23

“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left . . .” These hymn lyrics, written by the fifth-century Celtic Christian St. Patrick, echo in my mind when I read Matthew’s account of Jesus’s birth. They feel like a warm embrace, reminding me that I’m never alone.

Matthew’s account tells us that God dwelling with His people is at the heart of Christmas. Quoting Isaiah’s prophecy of a child who would be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (Isa. 7:14), Matthew points to the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy—Jesus, the One born by the power of the Holy Spirit to be God with us. This truth is so central that Matthew begins and ends his gospel with it, concluding with Jesus’s words to His disciples: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

God’s love became Incarnate at Bethlehem.

St. Patrick’s lyrics remind me that Christ is with believers always through His Spirit living within. When I’m nervous or afraid, I can hold fast to His promises that He will never leave me. When I can’t fall asleep, I can ask Him to give me His peace. When I’m celebrating and filled with joy, I can thank Him for His gracious work in my life.

Jesus, Immanuel—God with us.

Father God, thank You for sending Your Son to be God with us. May we experience Your presence this day.

God’s love became Incarnate at Bethlehem.

By Amy Boucher Pye 

INSIGHT

We can only imagine the emotions Joseph experienced when he discovered his fiancée was pregnant. But in a dream he was told that Mary’s child was conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. In obedience to this divine revelation, Joseph took her as his wife and did not consummate the marriage until she had given birth to the child.

The Father, Son, and Spirit all share in our redemption. God took on human form and came to Earth to live among us. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit now dwells within us (1 Peter 1:11; Gal. 4:6; 1 Cor. 6:19).

How does knowing Christ is present in your life through the ministry of the Holy Spirit encourage you?

Dennis Fisher

Jesus: What a Name!

Luke 1:26-33

There has never been a birth announcement equal to that of the Lord Jesus. Who else’s birth has been proclaimed by angels—not just once, but three times? First, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, informing her that she would be the mother of the Son of God, who would sit on the throne of David and rule forever. Next, an angel came to tell Joseph that the child Mary carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18-21). And finally, a host of angels appeared to shepherds, announcing that the Savior had been born (Luke 2:8-14).

Not only that, but God Himself chose the name of this special child. Both Mary and Joseph were instructed to call Him “Jesus.” Although this was a common name in Israel at that time, it took on great significance when given to the Son of God. Philippians 2:9-10 says that “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name”—and a day will come when everyone bows at the name of Jesus and confesses Him as Lord.

Yet so often today, the precious name of Jesus is used in a derogatory or profane way. When I hear people abuse and misuse His name, my first reaction is to feel angry that He’s not treated with the reverence He deserves. But anger quickly turns to compassion because I realize they do not know Him or understand how much He means to me.

What about you? How do you feel when the name of your Savior is degraded by unaware, unbelieving people? What can you do to help them see the greatness of that name and the one who bears it?

We Can Know That We Know Him

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

The apostle John’s vocabulary in his gospel, epistles, and even in Revelation is quite distinctive. The verb “know,” for example, occurs more in John than in any other gospel, and more in 1 John than in any other epistle. He emphasizes by this that the Christian life is based on knowledge. In the words of today’s verse, for example, we can test the genuineness of our knowledge of Christ as Savior by whether or not we keep His commandments. Note some of the other tests listed in John in his first epistle.

“Ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (1 John 2:29). “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (3:14). “Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (3:24). “But whoso keepeth [i.e., ‘guards’] his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (2:5). “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (5:13).

There are other similar “tests of life,” but these make the point. A person who has been really born again through faith in Christ and His saving work can have assurance of his salvation if he truly believes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; if he guards and honors God’s Word; if he manifests the presence of the guiding, purifying Holy Spirit in his life; if he keeps His commandments and lives righteously; and if he manifests real love for his Christian brethren.

This is not to say that if he fails one or more of these tests he is necessarily unsaved. There are, however, no grounds for real assurance of salvation without them. Therefore, as Paul suggests, “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). HMM

Shall not God search this out?

Amos 9

Again we will read in the book of Amos.

He first foretells the sure destruction of Israel.

Amos 9:1

Trampling upon the idolatrous altar at Bethel:

Amos 9:1

The pillars of the temple were to be cleft asunder, and in their fall to destroy their worshippers; while those who escaped would be pursued by justice;

Amos 9:2-4

The passage we have just read is one of the most wonderful descriptions of omnipresence ever written, even by an inspired pen.

Amos 9:5-7

They were thus warned not to rely upon past privileges. When they ceased to regard him as peculiarly their God, he made light of all that he had done for them, and reminded them of great things which he had done for other nations.

Amos 9:8-10

The prophecy we are now reading is not unmingled evil, it has also joyful tidings concerning glorious times to come.

Amos 9:11, 12

David’s royal house in the person of the Lord Jesus shall obtain more than its ancient glory; not only revolted Israel, but the heathen also shall submit to his sway.

Amos 9:13

Palestine will be fruitful once again, yea, it will become the garden of the world when Jesus reigns over it.

Amos 9:14, 15

Is it not clear from this that Israel will be gathered together under the reign of Jesus the Son of David, and restored to their own land? There is a glorious future for the Lord’s ancient people, and for us also who have come to trust in the great Son of David.

 

Made in the Likeness of Men

Philippians 2:6, 7

At this time of the year, believers all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth is one of the greatest miracles that has ever occurred, for it was a moment when God Almighty laid aside His glory and appeared on earth as a man. How wonderful, how marvelous to think that God would temporarily shed His divine appearance and actually take on the flesh of man! Yet this is precisely what happened the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

In Philippians 2:6 and 7, Paul wrote, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

Paul begins by describing the preexistence of Jesus before He came to the earth as a man, saying, “Who, being in the form of God….” The word “being” is a translation of the Greek word huparcho, a compound of the words hupo and arche. In this case, the word hupo means from, and the word arche means the first, original, or ancient. When it becomes the word huparcho, it depicts something that has always existed.

By using this key word that means to eternally exist, Paul is declaring that Jesus had no beginning but always existed. This also explains Jesus’ statement when He declared, “… Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Thus, Philippians 2:6 could be translated, “Who, eternally existing in the form of God….” In other words, Jesus’ human birth in Bethlehem was not His beginning but merely His manifestation to man, a brief appearance in His eternal existence.

Paul writes that Jesus always existed in the “form” of God. The word “form” is the Greek word morphe. This word describes an outward form, which means that in Jesus’ preexistence, He looked just like God. He was not just a component of God, nor a symbol of God; in reality, He was God. And as the eternal God Himself, Jesus possessed the very shape and outward appearance of God—a form that includes great splendor, glory, power, and a Presence so strong that no flesh can endure it.

God existed in glory more wonderful than the human mind can comprehend and more powerful than human flesh can endure. Yet He desired to come to earth to purchase redemption for man. Therefore, God had no choice but to reclothe Himself in a manner that could be tolerated by man. This is why He “… made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” This is the true story of Christmas!

The phrase “made himself of no reputation” comes from the Greek word kenos, which means to make empty, to evacuate, to vacate, to deprive, to divest, or to relinquish. Because it was impossible for God to appear to man as God, He had to change His outward form. The only way He could make this limited appearance as a man was to willfully, deliberately, and temporarily let go of all the attributes we usually think of when we consider the characteristics of God. For thirty-three years on this earth, God divested Himself of all His heavenly glory and “… took upon him the form of a servant…” (Philippians 2:7).

The phrase “took upon him” perfectly describes that marvelous moment when God reached out to lay hold of human flesh and take it upon Himself so that He might appear as a man on the earth. The words “took upon him” are from the Greek word lambano, which means to take, to seize, to catch, to latch on to, to clutch, or to grasp. This word lets us know that God literally reached out from His eternal existence, reached into the material world He had created, and took human flesh upon Himself in “the form of a servant.”

The word “form” in this phrase is exactly the same word that describes Jesus being in the form of God. It is the Greek word morphe. This means that just as Jesus in His preexistent form had all the outward appearance of God, now Jesus existed in the exact form of a man—appearing and living on this earth in exactly the same way as any other man. For a brief time in His eternal existence, Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity and literally became a man in every way.

Not only did God become man, but He took upon Himself the form of a “servant.” This is the Greek word doulos, which refers to a slave. Paul now uses this word to picture the vast difference between Jesus’ preexistent state and His earthly life.

Paul goes on to say that Jesus “… was made in the likeness of men.” The phrase “was made” is the Greek word ginomai, which means to become, indicating that this was not Jesus’ original form but it became His new form. This clearly describes the miracle that occurred when God became a man. Jesus had always existed in the form of God, not the form of man. But taking upon Himself human flesh, He was formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary and became a man.

God literally took upon Himself the “likeness” of a man. The word “likeness” is the Greek word homoioma, which refers to a form or resemblance. This refers not only to Jesus’ being made in the visible likeness of men, but also in the human likeness of men. In other words, when Jesus appeared on this earth, He came in the actual form of a man and was just like man in every way.

Jesus was so completely made in the “likeness” of men that Hebrews 4:15 declares He was even tempted in every way that men are tempted. It says, “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

So we see that when God the Father sent His Son into the world, Jesus left His heavenly home and took upon Himself human flesh. And because of this great exchange, He has stood in our place; He has felt what we feel; He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; and He intercedes for us with great compassion as our High Priest.

At this time of the year, we are prone to think of Jesus as a little baby in a manger in a Bethlehem stable. Certainly this is true, but we should never forget that Bethlehem was not Jesus’ beginning. It was merely a brief appearance in His eternal existence.

Out of His deep love for you and me, Jesus was willing to leave His majestic realms of glory to enter the realm of humanity. Shedding all His visible attributes that were too much for man’s flesh to endure, He dressed Himself in the clothing of a human being and was manifested in the flesh. That little baby in Bethlehem was the eternal, ever-existent God Almighty, who dressed Himself in human flesh so that He could dwell among men and purchase our salvation.

God’s great love for us drove Him to come down to our level so He could understand us better and later become an effective High Priest on our behalf. Think how wonderful it is that God loves us to such an extent!

When Paul started this text on God becoming a man, he started by saying, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). You see, God wants us to have the same mind or attitude that was demonstrated in Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus was willing to go this incredible distance to reach us, to love us, and to redeem us, we should desire to do the same for others!

This, then, is one of the primary messages of Christmas: We should be willing to divest ourselves of our privileges, such as the convenience and comfort of self-consumed living, and do whatever we can to reach out and help people. This is what Jesus did for us, so shouldn’t we do the same for others?

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I thank You for loving me so much that You would leave Your realms of majestic glory to come dwell among men. If it had not been for Your great love that compelled You to come and redeem me, today I would still be lost in sin. Because You loved me so much, You were willing to come to this earth and purchase my salvation. You were born as a baby in Bethlehem, yet You always existed, and You came here with a definite plan to save me from an eternity separated from You. Thank You so much for coming Lord. Thank You for loving me enough to temporarily shed Your glory and become a man so You could pay for my sin and save me to the uttermost!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh! Before He was ever born as a baby in Bethlehem, Jesus always existed, for He is God Almighty. His birth in Bethlehem proves how vast His love is for me. He so desired to have me as His child that He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. And because He dressed Himself in flesh and lived as a man for thirty-three years, He understands everything I face and every temptation that comes my way. Oh, how wonderful it is to know that Jesus loves me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. When you think of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, do you ever think of how He existed before He was born in Bethlehem?
  2. What do you think it was like for God to shed His glorious appearance and to take upon Himself the flesh of a human being?
  3. How does this revelation of Jesus’ act of ultimate humility affect you personally?

Jesus left His heavenly home and took upon Himself human flesh. And because of this great exchange, He has felt what we feel; He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; and He intercedes for us with great compassion as our High Priest.

 

Seven Resolves Of Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758)

Jonathan Edwards, perhaps more than any other person, laid the foundation of Christianity in early America. He, along with George Whitefield affected “The Great Awakening,” the first of several major revivals in the USA.

 

1. “Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God… ”

 

Jesus: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4b) (See Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Galatians 6:14; Philippians 1:11; 1 Peter 2:12)

 

2. “Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.”

 

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” (Romans 6:13) (See Romans 6:6, 14; 7:15-23; 8:1, 2; Galatians 5:16-18, 24; 2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Peter 2:11)

 

3. “Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor… ”

 

Get rid of allslander… ” (Ephesians 4:31b) (See Proverbs 11:9; Titus 3:2; 1 Timothy 5:13; 1 Peter 3:16)

 

4. “Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”

 

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11) (See Psalm 1:1, 2; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:19)

 

5. “Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.”

 

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) (See Psalm 26:2; Lamentations 3:40)

 

6. “Resolved, to strive my utmost every week to be brought… to a higher exercise of grace… ”

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… ” (2 Peter 3:18b)

 

7. “Resolved, never henceforward, until I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.”

 

For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the LordWe belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7, 8a,c) (See 1 Chronicles 29:14; Luke 9:23, 24; Romans 12:2; 14:7-9; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Colossians 3:17)

 

 

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