VIDEO Inspire Your Christmas: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”  Luke 2:13-14

Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth, and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.” Joyful, all ye nations, rise, join the triumph of the skies; with angelic hosts proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is about the incarnation based on the text of Luke 2—the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds. Rather than focusing on the Authorized Version’s “on earth peace, good will toward men,” the writer of the hymn, Charles Wesley, focused on what the incarnation really meant to people like himself: “God and sinners reconciled.” Wesley had been involved in the Christian “religion” all his life but only experienced a true conversion to Christ by faith at age 29 in 1738. He wrote this theologically deep hymn just one year after his conversion.

Don’t let Charles Wesley’s story be yours—a knowledge of Christianity without knowing Christ. This Christmas make certain you have been reconciled to God through faith in His incarnate Son.


Luke 2 – Skip Heitzig

The Giver’s Delight

Today's Devotional

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:11

Remember Tickle Me Elmo? Cabbage Patch Kids? The Furby? What do they have in common? Each rank among the twenty most popular Christmas gifts of all time. Also included on the list are familiar favorites such as Monopoly, the Nintendo Game Boy, and Wii.

We all delight in giving gifts at Christmas, but that’s nothing compared to God’s delight in giving the first Christmas gift. This gift came in the form of a baby, born in a Bethlehem manger (Luke 2:7).

Despite His humble birth, the Child’s arrival was proclaimed by an angel who declared, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (vv. 10–11). Following this magnificent news, a “heavenly host” appeared, “praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’” (vv. 13–14).

This Christmas, enjoy giving gifts to your loved ones, but never lose sight of the reason for the giving—the spectacular favor of God on His creation crystallized in the gift of His own Son to save us from our sin. We give because He gave. May we worship Him in gratitude!

By: Remi Oyedele

Reflect & Pray

Why is Jesus the greatest Christmas gift you ever received? How can you share this gift with others more effectively?

Father, thank You for Jesus—the greatest gift of all!

A Perfect Sacrifice

Leviticus 22:17-21

In the Law, God gave the Jews strict rules regarding sacrificial animals. Each was to be without defect, or He wouldn’t accept it—in fact, when the Israelites offered blind, lame, and sick animals, the Lord angrily called them to account (Mal. 1:8).

The early system of spilling blood to cover sin foreshadowed the Father’s ultimate redemption plan: He gave His Son to die in the place of corrupt men and women (John 3:16). To be an acceptable sacrifice, His Son would have to be perfect too, and only a member of the Trinity would be able to remain sinless in life on earth.

But divinity could not be bestowed on a child after birth. That is, the sacrificial Lamb needed to be both God and man from the moment of conception. So Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and came from heaven to Mary’s womb without human intervention. Unlike every child born of a woman and a man, Jesus arrived by the Holy Spirit, untouched by Adam’s original sin.

Our salvation depends upon Jesus’ flawless nature because, as God made clear to the Israelites, only a perfect sacrifice would do. Jesus was the perfect Lamb, unblemished in every way, and that’s why God accepted Christ’s sacrifice. The way we lay claim to the offering made on our behalf is by placing faith in Him.

Do you trust that God’s demand for justice was met through Jesus’ death? Do you believe that His death frees you from the condemnation your sins otherwise deserved? If you’re unsure, take a moment to reflect on God’s sacrifice, and ask Him to guide your heart.

Zechariah’s Visions on Transition to the Branch

“Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.” (Zechariah 6:11-12)

The instructions to Zechariah focus on setting up model leaders for Judah. Joshua is crowned high priest, and crowns of authority are issued to others who had returned with Ezra and Zerubbabel (Zechariah 6:14). These were all to be a memorial toward the future coming of the Branch who would come and complete the work of God (Zechariah 6:12-15).

The role of the Branch is told to Zechariah earlier in the fourth vision among the myrtle trees. He would be the servant who would do the Lord’s will as the Branch of righteousness who was the “stone” with “seven eyes” (Zechariah 3:8-9).

The promise of ultimate rule is clear in Scripture (Isaiah 9:7 and Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:15-16). The impact of this prophecy in Zechariah extends to the millennium and even into eternity. “And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you” (Zechariah 6:15).

The little band of remnants needed assurance from their Lord. They, like us, needed to shift their eyes beyond the moment to the end-game. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). HMM III

Steps Ordered by the Lord

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

—Psalm 37:23-24

To the child of God, there is no such thing as accident. He travels an appointed way. The path he treads was chosen for him when as yet he was not, when as yet he had existence only in the mind of God.

Accidents may indeed appear to befall him and misfortune stalk his way; but these evils will be so in appearance only and will seem evil only because we cannot read the secret script of God’s hidden providence and so cannot discover the ends at which He aims…. The man of true faith may live in the absolute assurance that his steps are ordered by the Lord. For him, misfortune is outside the bounds of possibility. He cannot be torn from this earth one hour ahead of the time which God has appointed, and he cannot be detained on earth one moment after God is done with him here. He is not a waif of the wide world, a foundling of time and space, but a saint of the Lord and the darling of His particular care.    WTA003-004

I worship and praise You for this: “the absolute assurance that his steps are ordered by the Lord.” And for the fact that “misfortune is outside the bounds of possibility.” What a privilege to be “a darling of His particular care.” Wow! Amen.

 

I am the way, the truth, and the life

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.—John 14:6.

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.—John 20:29.

 

The Way, the Truth, the Life Thou art,

This, this I know, to this I cleave,

The sweet new language of my heart,

“Lord, I believe.”

I have no doubts to bring to Thee,

My doubt has fled, my faith is free.

Harriet McEwen Kimball.

We have been placed upon the Way. We have been taught the Truth. We have been made partakers of the Life. The Way must be traversed; the Truth must be pursued; the Life must be realized. Then cometh the end. Our pilgrimage, long as it may be or short, if we have walked in Christ, will leave us by the throne of God; our partial knowledge, if we have looked upon all things in Christ, will be lost in open sight; our little lives, perfected, purified, harmonized in Him whom we have trusted, will become, in due order, parts of the One Divine Life, when God is all in all.

Brooke Foss Westcott.

 

Love is the life of faith, obedience, the life of love. Yea, rather, Christ Himself is the life of the soul.

Edward B. Pusey.

 

Anger to Love

“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19

God never turns from His love, but He soon turns from His wrath. His love to His chosen is according to His nature, His anger is only according to His office: He loves because He is love, He frowns because it is necessary for our good. He will come back to the place in which His heart rests, namely, His love to His own, and then He will take pity upon our griefs and end them.

What a choice promise is this — “He will subdue our iniquities”! He will conquer them. They cry to enslave us, but the Lord will give us victory over them by His own right hand. Like the Canaanites, they shall be beaten, put under the yoke, and ultimately slain.

As for the guilt of our sins, how gloriously is that removed! “All their sins,” — yes, the whole host of them; “thou wilt cast” — only an almighty arm could perform such a wonder; ‘into the depths of the sea” -where Pharaoh and his chariots went down. Not into the shallows out of which they might be washed up by the tide, but into the “depths” shall our sins be hurled. They are all gone. They sank into the bottom like a stone. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!