VIDEO The Hopes and Fears – Broadway Presentation

The Hopes and Fears

Grant us that we… might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. Luke 1:74-75

When Phillips Brooks wrote the carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” he coined a phrase that sums up our emotions about Christmas: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” It’s too beautiful a line to alter, but let’s remember that the hope of Jesus overcame the fears of all the years. Because of Jesus we can release our fears, anxieties, apprehensions, and nervous sorrows.

When you read through Luke’s Gospel, beginning with the Nativity, you keep running into the phrase, “Do not be afraid.” The angel said that to Zacharias in Luke 1:13, to Mary in Luke 1:30, and to the shepherds in Luke 2:10. Jesus later told Simon Peter in Luke 5:10: “Do not be afraid.” And He told a worried father named Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only believe” (Luke 8:50).

One of the most powerful prayers is found in Luke 1:76-79, when Zacharias prayed that God would enable us to serve Him without fear all the days of our lives. Whatever is bothering you today, don’t be afraid. Serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of your life.


Complete 2-Hour Broadway Presentation

Ponder It

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

During Oswald Chambers’ years at the Bible Training College in London (1911–15), he often startled the students with things he said during his lectures. One young woman explained that because discussion was reserved for the following mealtime together, Chambers would frequently be bombarded with questions and objections. She recalled that Oswald would often simply smile and say, “Just leave it for now; it will come to you later.” He encouraged them to ponder the issues and allow God to reveal His truth to them.

To ponder something is to concentrate and think deeply about it. After the events leading to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, followed by the appearance of angels and the shepherds who came to see the Messiah, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). New Testament scholar W. E. Vine said that ponder means “to throw together, confer, to put one thing with another in considering circumstances” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).

When we struggle to understand the meaning of what’s happening in our lives, we have Mary’s wonderful example of what it means to seek God and His wisdom.

When we, like her, accept God’s leading in our lives, we have many new things about His loving guidance to treasure and ponder in our hearts.

Father, guide us by Your Holy Spirit as we consider Your great love and embrace Your plan for our lives.

Allow yourself a few minutes of quiet during this busy season to sit and listen for what God might be saying to you.

By David C. McCasland

INSIGHT

Shepherds were considered to be irreligious because their shepherding work prevented them from performing their religious obligations at the temple. Because they were in contact with dead animals, birds, and insects, they were rendered ceremonially “unclean” all the time (Leviticus 5:2–5; 11:4–43). It’s noteworthy that the birth of the Messiah—the Lamb of God (John 1:29) who is called our Good Shepherd (10:11)—was first announced to despised shepherds!

K. T. Sim

Just One of a Kind

Matthew 1:18-25

By all outward appearances, Jesus was just an ordinary Jewish baby. He didn’t arrive with a halo or the visible presence of God’s glory. Apart from divine revelation, no one would have known that He was unlike any other human being ever born.

Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds all learned of Christ’s uniqueness from angels. But today we have the inerrant, divinely inspired Word of God to tell us who He truly is.

Jesus didn’t have a human father. In fulfillment of a prophecy given hundreds of years earlier to Isaiah (Isa. 7:14), Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin’s womb.

He existed eternally before His birth. Another Old Testament prophet wrote about this baby born in Bethlehem, saying, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic. 5:2).

Jesus was both born and given. The Lord declared that “a child will be born” signifying a human birth, yet at the same time “a son will be given” (Isa. 9:6). God gave His Son so that all who believe in Him could receive eternal life.

This baby is the Savior. He was destined to “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). That’s why Joseph was told to name Him Jesus, which means “Yahweh is salvation.”

As Christians, we may be aware of all these truths. But it’s easy to get caught up in the sentimentality of the manger scene without falling down in worship at the wonder of God in human form. So let’s pause to consider how we truly view Jesus at Christmastime in order to give Him top priority.

When God Did Become Man

“Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands.” (Hebrews 2:7) 

We cannot comprehend what it meant for the infinite Creator God to become finite man, even coming “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3). Nevertheless, we can, and must, believe it, for “every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (1 John 4:3).

The Scriptures have given us a glimpse of the “emptying” that His incarnation required—the setting aside of certain outward aspects of His deity. He had been “so much better than the angels” (Hebrews 1:4), but He had to be “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9)—“put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18).

The eternal Word “was God” (John 1:1), but it was necessary that “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). “The world was made by Him” (John 1:10), but “the princes of this world . . . crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).

He “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6). That is, He was not fearful of losing His deity and, therefore, did not have to cling to His divine nature and attributes as He became man. Thus, He “made himself of no reputation” (emptying Himself of the outward form of God) “and took upon him the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).

Yet that was only the beginning. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He suffered hell for us, that we might enjoy heaven with Him.

Because He was willing to be so humiliated, He will one day be crowned with glory and honor. “God also hath highly exalted Him, . . . that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:9, 11). HMM

Babylon is fallen, is fallen

Revelation 14:6-20

Revelation 14:6, 7

The gospel shall yet be preached in every part of the world. The day will come when the Holy Spirit will arouse the missionary spirit, and many shall go forth to preach the word. Would to God that the time were already come. Cannot we each do something to hasten it?

Revelation 14:8

The Babylon of religion will soon fall when the gospel is everywhere proclaimed. She has a presentiment of this, and therefore endeavours to keep her victims from knowing the way of salvation.

Revelation 14:9-11

It will be a dreadful thing to be in any way identified with religion. The warning here given is most terrible. Let us flee from every form of religion, as Lot fled out of Sodom.

Revelation 14:12

Myriads were martyred by religion, but their blood shall be avenged.

Revelation 14:13

Their persecutors cursed them, but the Lord writes them down as blessed, and their works shall live on to bless future ages. “To die for the Lord, as well as in the Lord, is,” says Latimer, “the greatest promotion in the world.”

Revelation 14:16, 16

Jesus will trust no angel to gather in his wheat, he brings his people into his garner in person.

Revelation 14:17, 18

Here is the judgment of the ungodly. The gathering of them is left to an angel, who cuts them off roughly when they are ripe for vengeance.

Revelation 14:19, 20

By this terrible image the total crushing of the wicked is set forth, with special reference to the persecuting religion. Foxe tells us that the religion  boasted that they would ride up to their saddle-girths in the blood of the Lutherans. How terribly will the Lord punish cruelty!

 

The Lord shall come! but not the same

As once in lowliness he came;

A silent lamb before his foes,

A weary man, and full of woes.

 

The Lord shall come! a dreadful form,

With rainbow wreath and robes of storm;

On cherub wings, and wings of wind,

Appointed Judge of all mankind.

 

Lost Joy and Wonder

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. (Luke 2:10)

It is tragic that men and women everywhere are losing the sense of wonder, confessing now only one interest in life—and that is utility! Even Christmas Day has been degraded.

We ignore the beautiful and the majestic, asking only “How can I use it? How much profit will it bring?”

The believing children of God once upon a time saw God in everything. They were enraptured with everything before them. There was no common hill—they were all the hills of God! There was no common cloud—they were the chariots of God! They saw God in everything: in our day we never look up in happy surprise!

But let me tell you that it has been a never-failing delight throughout my years to watch little children on Christmas morning. The gifts may be humble, but the child’s burst of spontaneous delight and wonder is genuine and rewarding. That incredulous look in the child’s face—everything is full of wonder and beauty!

Sad, indeed, for adults to lose the wonder in worship—for worship is wonder and wonder is worship!

 

Over Jordan With Singing

“Thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee.” Deut. 33:29

That arch-enemy, the devil, is a liar from the beginning; but he is so very plausible that, like mother Eve, we are led to believe him. Yet in our experience we shall prove him a liar.

He says that we shall fall from grace, dishonor our profession, and perish with the doom of apostates; but, trusting in the Lord Jesus, we shall hold on our way and prove that Jesus loses none whom His Father gave Him. He tells us that our bread will fail, and we shall starve with our children; yet the Feeder of the ravens has not forgotten us yet, and He will never do so, but will prepare us a table in the presence of our enemies.

He whispers that the Lord will not deliver us out of the trial which is looming in the distance, and he threatens that the last ounce will break the camel’s back. What a liar he is! For the Lord will never leave us, nor forsake us. “Let him deliver him now!” cries the false fiend: but the Lord will silence him by coming to our rescue.

He takes great delight in telling us that death will prove too much for us. “How wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?” But there also he shall prove a liar unto us, and we shall pass through the river singing psalms of glory.

 

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