VIDEO What the Magi Mean to Christmas – Joy to the World

Joy to the World

The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. Psalm 98:2

Hymn lyrics and tunes stay with us when almost everything else fades. How many of us know of elderly friends, parents, or spouses with memory loss? Some of these senior saints no longer recognize anything except for the words or music of some great hymn, one they absorbed over the course of a lifetime, one that settled into the deepest spheres of their souls. Historian Ernest Edwin Ryden said, “The memory of a single hymn learned in childhood has often proved decisive in the spiritual crises of later years.”

That’s especially true for our Christmas carols, because they’re deeply intertwined with our annual celebration of the greatest gift humanity has ever received. Music brings the celebration in our hearts into fruition in our very being. It brings the joy of the angels into our lives.

Perhaps this season you’ll be in a public spot when you hear a Christmas carol playing in the background. Who knows? It might be a good opportunity to look at someone nearby and, with a smile, say, “They’re singing about my Savior.”

 

 

What the Magi Mean to Christmas

What the Magi Mean to Christmas, Part 2

 

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The “Hope for a Baby” Tree

His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22–23

After wrapping the tree with clear twinkle lights, I tied pink and blue bows on its branches and christened it our “Hope for a Baby” Christmas tree. My husband and I had been waiting for a baby through adoption for more than four years. Surely by Christmas!

Every morning I stopped at the tree and prayed, reminding myself of God’s faithfulness. On December 21 we received the news: no baby by Christmas. Devastated, I paused by the tree that had become a symbol of God’s provision. Was God still faithful? Was I doing something wrong?

At times, God’s apparent withholding results from His loving discipline. And other times God lovingly delays to renew our trust. In Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah describes God’s correction of Israel. The pain is palpable: “He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver” (3:13). Through it all, Jeremiah also expresses ultimate trust in God’s faithfulness: “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vv. 22–23).

I left the tree standing well beyond Christmas and continued my morning prayer. At last, on Easter weekend, we received our baby girl. God is always faithful, though not necessarily on our timeline nor always according to our desires.

My children are now in their thirties, but each year I set up a miniature version of the tree, reminding myself and others to hope in God’s faithfulness.

Dear God, help me trust You today even when I can’t see what You are doing. You are faithful.

The best reason for hope is God’s faithfulness.

By Elisa Morgan 

INSIGHT

The book of Lamentations expresses the grief of Jerusalem following the 587 bcinvasion of Babylon. With her walls broken, her children exiled, and survivors living in the rubble of better times, it bares the soul of a once-proud people.

In its original Hebrew language, the book is composed of five chapters of carefully constructed poems. Its finely polished composition provides literary relief to the overwhelming confusion of a nation that has lost control of its own emotions and destiny. The only hope left is in the belief that above the clouds of this dark night of a nation’s soul, there is a God who has in the past shown that His mercies and love will never end.

Mart DeHaan

Remaining in the Vine

John 15:7-17

When Jesus gave the disciples His final instructions before going to the cross, He repeated a particular word. Abide—which occurs 10 times in John 15—isn’t one we use often, but it accurately conveys the relationship between Christ and His followers.

Abide means “to remain, dwell, continue, endure, or tarry.” Can you hear the call to faithfulness in these words? Our relationship with Jesus isn’t a onetime event of salvation but a long and steady walk with Him.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). This is a fact for everyone who has been born again. But He also tells us to abide in Him (John 15:4), signifying that we have some responsibility as branches in Christ. Therefore, it’s essential that we know how to remain in Him.

Jesus says to let His words abide in us (John 15:7). Incorporating God’s Word into our minds and hearts is how we dwell with Him and learn to know Him intimately.

Obedience is another essential aspect of abiding (John 15:10). It’s like being an employee who obeys his manager’s instructions and does not take matters into his own hands. We are to rely on the Spirit’s direction instead of strategizing and making plans on our own.

Abiding in Christ also includes our relationships with fellow believers. Jesus commands us to love one another just as He has loved us (John 15:12).

God’s desire is that we bear much lasting fruit by abiding in Christ. This isn’t a sporadic endeavor done only when convenient; it’s an enduring commitment to remain in God’s Word and continue in obedience and love.

Remember Cain and Abel

“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12)

These two brothers stand as contrasting prototypes. Cain was the first child born after the Fall who embraced the “wicked one” in spite of all the firsthand and face-to-face knowledge of God’s redemptive plan and offering of grace (Genesis 4). Cain’s arrogant lifestyle is noted in Jude 1:8-11. Abel, in contrast, was a man of great faith (Hebrews 11:4) who was both righteous (Matthew 23:35) and a prophet (Luke 11:50-51).

Adam and Eve would have taught the boys (and their other children) about God and the knowledge of the sacrifice (covering of skins) for their own sin. It is clear that sheep were not kept for food (Genesis 2:16) since Cain provided food (as instructed by God—Genesis 1:29). Abel provided clothing and sacrifice.

The events of the Fall would suggest that this sacrifice was an established practice (Genesis 3, the “covering” of skins—the Hebrew word for atonement means “to cover”). Furthermore, the language of Genesis 4:3(Hebrew translation “at the end of the days”) requires a specified time period when they brought (Hebrew translation “came with”), probably to the door of the garden (Genesis 3:22-24), an offering (used consistently of voluntary tributes to God, Exodus 30:9-10). It is completely parallel to “the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” as later used by Moses in Leviticus 9:3-10.

Such specified action is hardly accidental. Thus Cain’s rebellion and heinous fratricide revealed an evil heart that would not repent. May God protect us from such evil. HMM III

God Really is love

1 John 4

1 John 4:2, 3

This is a very useful test in many cases. If any form of doctrine denies or dishonours the Godhead or Messiahship of the Lord Jesus, or makes his incarnation to be a mere myth, it is to be rejected with abhorrence. Errors which touch the person or work of Jesus are fatal.

1 John 4:6

Every spirit which does away with Jesus or dishonours him in any degree we know to be the spirit of error. This test is very simple, but very accurate.

1 John 4:7, 8

Love is the divine law of life, selfishness is sin; when grace restores us to our proper relationship with God and his creation, love is the very instinct of our renewed nature.

1 John 4:11

The master motive for benevolence is the love of God, it is an argument which will never lose its force.

1 John 4:12-18

Fear dwells upon the punishment deserved, and so has no rest. When perfect love assures the soul of pardoned sin, the heart has joyful rest.

1 John 4:19, 20

An old Latin author says, “The eyes are our leaders in love.” Juvenal wondered at one who loved a person whom he had never seen. If, then, we do not love those whom we see, is it likely that we really love the invisible God?

1 John 4:21

A Christian is one who has a solemn awe of the commands of God, hence he labours to abound in deeds and words of love, because the Lord hath bidden him to do so.

 

Bless’d be the Father of our Lord,

From whom all blessings spring!

And bless’d be the Incarnate Word,

Our Saviour and our King!

 

We know and have believed the love

Which God through Christ displays.

And when we see his face above,

We’ll nobler anthems raise.

 

Always Glory to God

The spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. (1 Peter 4:14)

When the Holy Spirit comes among us with His anointing, we become a worshiping people!

Now, that does not mean that all Christians everywhere must all worship alike—but that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit believers everywhere are united in their praises to God.

When Jesus came into Jerusalem presenting Himself as Messiah there was a great multitude and there was a great noise. Very often our worship is audible, but I do not believe it is necessarily true that we are worshiping God when we are making a lot of racket. But I think there is a word for those who are cultured, quiet, self-possessed, poised and sophisticated. If they are embarrassed in church when some happy Christian says, “Amen!” they may actually be in need of some spiritual enlightenment.

If some believer’s “Glory to God!” really bothers you, it may be because you do not know the kind of spiritual blessing and delight the Holy Spirit is waiting to provide among God’s worshiping saints. I can only speak for myself, but I want to be among those who worship!

 

Evening Brightens Into Day

“It shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” Zech. 14:7

It is a surprise that it should be so; for all things threaten that at evening time it shall be dark. God is wont to work in a way so much above our fears and beyond our hopes, that we are greatly amazed, and are led to praise His sovereign grace. No, it shall not be with us as our hearts are prophesying: the dark will not deepen into midnight, but it will on a sudden brighten into day. Never let us despair. In the worst times let us trust in the Lord who turneth the darkness of the shadow of death into the morning. When the tale of bricks is doubled Moses appears, and when tribulation abounds it is nearest its end.

This promise should assist our patience. The light may not fully come till our hopes are quite spent by waiting all day to no purpose. To the wicked the sun goes down while it is yet day: to the righteous the sun rises when it is almost night. May we not with patience wait for that heavenly light, which may be long in coming, but is sure to prove itself well worth waiting for?

Come, my soul, take up thy parable and sing unto Him who will bless thee in life and in death, in a manner surpassing all that nature has ever seen when at its best.

 

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