Joy to the World

God so loved the world. John 3:16

Every Christmas we decorate our home with nativity scenes from around the world. We have a German nativity pyramid, a manger scene fashioned out of olive wood from Bethlehem, and a brightly colored Mexican folk version. Our family favorite is a whimsical entry from Africa. Instead of the more traditional sheep and camels, a hippopotamus gazes contently at the baby Jesus.

The unique cultural perspective brought to life in these nativity scenes warms my heart as I ponder each beautiful reminder that Jesus’ birth was not just for one nation or culture. It’s good news for the whole earth, a reason for people from every country and ethnicity to rejoice.

The little baby depicted in each of our nativity scenes revealed this truth of God’s heart for the entire world. As John wrote in relation to Christ’s conversation with an inquisitive Pharisee named Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The gift of Jesus is good news for everyone. No matter where on earth you call home, Jesus’ birth is God’s offer of love and peace to you. And all who find new life in Christ, “from every tribe and language and people and nation” will one day celebrate God’s glory forever and ever (Revelation 5:9).

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

In what unique ways do you celebrate the birth of Jesus? How might the reminder of God’s love for the whole world bring joy this Christmas season?

Father, thank You for providing salvation through the gift of Your Son.

His Birth and Our New Birth

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” —Matthew 1:23

His Birth in History. “…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.

His Birth in Me. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:19). Just as our Lord came into human history from outside it, He must also come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? I cannot enter the realm of the kingdom of God unless I am born again from above by a birth totally unlike physical birth. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). This is not a command, but a fact based on the authority of God. The evidence of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that “Christ is formed” in me. And once “Christ is formed” in me, His nature immediately begins to work through me.

God Evident in the Flesh. This is what is made so profoundly possible for you and for me through the redemption of man by Jesus Christ.


We can understand the attributes of God in other ways, but we can only understand the Father’s heart in the Cross of Christ.  The Highest Good—Thy Great Redemption, 558 L

Into the World

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15

On fourteen different occasions, the Bible says that Jesus came “into the world.” He wasn’t simply born. He left heaven and came into the world. The Lord Himself said, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world” (John 16:28). He told Pontius Pilate, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).

Only Jesus would say something like that, for He knew His eternal origin and His divine mission.

The apostle Paul picked up on this phrase when he gave his testimony to Timothy, saying, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Jesus came into the world, that He might come into your heart. And He comes into your heart that you might come into His kingdom. The apostle John wrote, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).

That’s God’s gift to us.

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Cooperate with the Inevitable

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. —Philippians 4:11

This idea was once expressed better by a simple-hearted man who was asked how he managed to live in such a state of constant tranquility even though surrounded by circumstances anything but pleasant. His answer was as profound as it was simple: “I have learned,” he said, “to cooperate with the inevitable.”…

Though we cannot control the universe, we can determine our attitude toward it. We can accept God’s will wherever it is expressed and take toward it an attitude of worshipful resignation. If my will is to do God’s will, then there will be no controversy with anything that comes in the course of my daily walk. Inclement weather, unpleasant neighbors, physical handicaps, adverse political conditions—all these will be accepted as God’s will for the time and surrendered to provisionally, subject to such alterations as God may see fit to make, either by His own sovereign providence or in answer to believing prayer.   BAM064-065

How can I complain in the light of the wonderful gift of Your Son, born to give lifeand victory? Work Your will in my life today as I celebrate the incarnation and all that it entails. Amen.

God in the Flesh

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. —Luke 2:16

The mystery and miracle of the Incarnation—God coming to take our humanity and our flesh, yet without sin. Luke quotes the message of the angel Gabriel to Mary:

Thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest….The Holy Ghost shall…overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:30-32, 35)

The overshadowing of the Most High, the Father; the energy of the Holy Spirit; the enfleshment of the eternal Son—here were the Persons of the Godhead cooperating in a gracious act on behalf of lost men and women. JAF129-130

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,

And make us Thine alone,

Who with the Father ever art,

And Holy Spirit, one. HCL066

[The Holy Spirit] is indivisible from the Father and the Son, and He is all God and exercises all the rights of God and He merits all worship and all love and all obedience. TTPI, Book 2/046

On This Wise

Matthew 1:18

The 18th verse of the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel records, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise” (Matthew 1:18 KJV). Then follows the wondrous story of Mary, and of Joseph, of the angel of the Lord, of the choice and conferment of the saving name—Jesus.

Matthew, one-time customs house officer in the dominion of Herod, here becomes the herald of Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews. Factually and precisely, in the manner of one trained to accuracy, he points the sequence of events. I appreciate the exact precision, the luminous accuracy of Matthew’s history. The birth was “on this wise,” and not otherwise; just so, as recorded.

Let the Christmas season take you right back to the beginning, the very source of this eternal splendor. And when you see how it happened, receive with simplicity the glory and the mystery of it. We know of the lovely legends and imaginative embellishments with which adoring saints have overlaid and even obscured the Bethlehem story. We do not need such fancies; the facts alone make heaven and earth to be filled with wonder.

Matthew is clearly concerned to emphasize the fact that the birth of Jesus was not according to the normal processes of human propagation, that His mother, Mary, was a betrothed virgin, that her just and devout Joseph was both fearful and ashamed, until the Angel of the Lord reassured him.

When we testify that the birth of Jesus was “on this wise,” the divine Being revealing Himself in human nature and clothing Himself in flesh and blood, we mean a divine intervention.

There is a revelation of God in the order of the universe, and His ways are in the starry sky. But nature is an opaque medium, and she cannot show the God a sinner wants to know. She never goes out of her way to meet my need. She has no intimate touch, no saving healing word for me. Her rocks and mountains retain their dignity, and they call forth my wonder, but they frighten me. Her cascades and rivers flow on perpetually, but never wash away one of my shameful stains. Never, at any time, in any way, does the universe move toward me or draw me into forgiving intimacy.

I yearn to have someone “speak to my condition” in a way that the land and sea, and stars never can do. The Incarnation meets me there.

He came right down to me,

To condescend, to be my friend,

He came right down to me.

Albert Orsborn, The War Cry