The Person Christmas Celebrates — Hymn 4

Silent Night

O Come, All Ye Faithful

What Child Is This

Angels We Have Heard On High

All these beloved Christmas hymns exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, boldly proclaiming Who He is and why He came. Since my childhood, I’ve cherished each of them, growing more fond of them once I became a Christian. I love these hymns because they celebrate God’s incarnation. All Christians probably love them for the same reason.

Another beloved Christmas hymn stands out to me as perhaps the one that most magnifies Who Jesus Christ is. Its lyrics beautifully portray His glory and His humility. Maybe the other hymns I’ve mentioned do the same, but this hymn strikes a chord with me far more deeply. Over the years, it seems to grow more profound and wonderous in its depiction of the mighty God as the offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Enjoy these powerful lyrics that exalt our precious Lord Who was born to give us second birth. May your Christmas be filled with glory to the newborn King!

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The Person Christmas Celebrates — Hymn 3

At this time of year, we generally think of a helpless Infant wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Now, there’s definitely wonder in the truth that God Incarnate came to earth as a Baby, dependent on His mother and her husband for His basic physical care. If that concept hasn’t filled you with awe and amazement at least once in your life, it should!

But Jesus is much more than a Baby in a Bethlehem manger. The shepherds and wise men, while they didn’t understand that this Child was the God Who rules all nature, knew that He was Israel’s promised Messiah. “Christ the Lord,” the angels had told the shepherds.

Our sentimental images of Christ’s birth often cause us to forget His power and majesty as the sovereign Lord Who governs all creation. I therefore encourage you to step back from thoughts about a Baby for a moment, and to meditate on Who this fairest of all Babies truly is. As you think about this Son of God and Son of man, you’ll remember that glory, honor praise and adoration belong — now and evermore — to Him.

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The Person Christmas Celebrates — Hymn 2

It’s no accident that my articles on this blog tend to emphasize God’s holiness. Unlike generations before us, present-day Christians care little about fearing the Lord, preferring to see Him as a Butler, a Buddy or (worst of all) a romantic/sexual Partner. Such casual attitudes towards the Creator and Sustainer of the universe very much require a counterbalance. I have no problem helping to provide that counterbalance.

Ah, but I must guard against being unbalanced in the opposite direction!

Providentially, I spent most of last week working through Psalm 103, in which David lists the Lord’s tender qualities. This psalm brings out His beautiful sympathy towards those who fear Him, illustrated by His commitment to completely separate our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west.” Out holy God is also our compassionate Father. Jesus is our sympathetic Friend.

Our sympathetic Friend should be celebrated this Christmas. As we remember Him coming into the world as a Man Who understands our frailties, we rejoice that He is our dearest Friend.

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The Person Christmas Celebrates — Hymn 1

I purposefully didn’t watch the Macy’s Thankgiving Day Parade this year (or did the COVID-19 panic cancel it?), but I’m pretty sure it concluded with Santa ushering in the Christmas shopping season. And a society known for thumbing its nose at Christianity suddenly focuses on celebrating a Christless Christmas.

We struggle as Christians to keep our gaze on the Lord Jesus Christ amid pressures to buy everyone the perfect gift, decorate our homes and send cards. Though we sincerely desire to keep our attention on Him, we find ourselves pulled into the secular aspects of the season. It’s hard!

So in these four Sundays before Christmas I’ll post hymns reminding us of Who our Lord is. This week let’s enjoy this beautiful adaptation of Psalm 23 as it describes His function as our Shepherd.

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Isaiah’s Christmas Hymn

Strictly speaking, Handel’s Messiah probably isn’t a hymn. Yet he uses Scripture throughout the work, weaving a rich theology that steadily brings attention to Christ. Maybe in that respect we might consider it as a beautiful series of hymns — largely from the Old Testament.

Of course, Handel’s most famous movement in the piece is the Hallelujah Chorus. Indeed, he packed it with marvelous bits of theology about Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Powerful stuff!

But another movement, taken from Isaiah 9:6, ties Christ’s reign as King of kings and Lord of lords to His birth. While not as fully developed as the Hallelujah Chorus, this movement reminds us that the Son given to us is infinitely more than a Child.

Since I won’t blog again until December 26, I leave you with Isaiah’s Christmas Hymn and wishes for a Merry Christmas from both me and John.

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Life Gets Uncomfortable And Joyless

At this time of year, expectations soar. We long for that perfect holiday, when friends and family fulfill all our secret desires, having no needs or wants of their own. Of course, we take it for granted that we and our loved ones will be happy and healthy.  It’s Christmastime, after all, and life should be a living Norman Rockwell painting.

Alas, we often face disappointments throughout the year. Worse, hardships and trials don’t take a break between November 30 and January 2. As a matter of fact, we feel disappointments all the more acutely  this time of year precisely because we cultivate expectations of perfection.

Life gets uncomfortable and joyless at many times of the year. In those bleak times, however, Christ calls us to find our comfort and joy in Him rather than in our circumstances. As we remember the amazing story of His birth and the reason for His first coming, we remember that Christmas isn’t about our temporal desires, but instead about Him. And such realizations bring tidings of comfort and joy.

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Singing Christmas Theology

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing has been my favorite Christmas hymn for most of my Christian life. It’s packed full of solid Biblical doctrine ranging from the Incarnation to regeneration, always bringing us back to His glory.

Singing this beloved hymn grows more meaningful each year as I notice new depths of theology in its familiar verses. As a result, I love it even more now than I loved it as a new Christian. I pray that you’ll discover truths about our wonderful Savior every time you sing it too.

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Saturday Sampler: December 9 — December 15

Snowmen Sampler

So often, Leslie A writes things in Growing 4 Life that make me want to jump out of my wheelchair, do a happy dance and shout “YES!” at the top of my lungs. To see a blog post that gives me such a giddy reaction, read Is There More Than One Way to Interpret Scripture?

Speaking of posts that resonate with me, go over to Possessing the Treasure and read The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship by Mike Ratliff. He accurately diagnosis major problems among evangelicals and prescribes the remedy.

Elizabeth Prata also has me ready to do a happy dance because of her essay, Another good reason to develop discernment, which appears in The End Time. It’s incredibly refreshing when a well-known discernment blogger writes an article like this! But my poor wheelchair is beginning to look awfully empty!

One of the reasons I love living near Boston is its rich literary history. Several years ago, John took me to Longfellow’s house in Cambridge to celebrate my birthday. So I appreciate Barry York’s A Lesson Learned in Longfellow’s Home in Gentle Reformation. I don’t know if Longfellow truly knew Christ,  but the poem still has tremendous power.

The lady who blogs at Biblical Beginnings writes Movie Review — Polycarp. After reading her review, I got my husband to pull this movie up on Amazon Prime. Except for the hokey lighting behind Polycarp’s  head during one of his prayers, it’s an excellent film. And as we see persecution approach Christians in the United States, this movie offers wonderful encouragement.

Having a range of personal struggles and sorrow over the death of my former prayer partner, I appreciate Jessica Jenkins’ When Christmas Doesn’t Feel Merry in Biblical Woman this week. If you’re hurting, please make time to read this piece.

Allen Nelson IV, writing for Things Above Us, shows us How Not to Be a Heretic this Christmas as we contemplate the Incarnation. Don’t miss this short but comprehensive look at five common errors in understanding Christ as 100% God and 100% Man.

Do you need 5 Reasons To Read The Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing? Then Stephen Altrogge’s blog post in The Blazing Center is perfect for you!

 

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A Simple Narration Of A Profound Story

Luke’s account of Christ’s birth is cherished, familiar even to small children. Yet nothing could be more awe inspiring than angels appearing to outcast shepherds, inviting them to be the first witnesses of Israel’s long awaited Messiah. What comfort and joy they must have experienced to know that the Savior came for His stray sheep — for despised shepherds considered too filthy to enter the Temple and offer their own lambs!

There’s an added sweetness to the story when you hear the innocent voices of children recount it in song. They don’t understand all the ramifications of it, but they know that angels don’t appear to shepherds on a regular basis. And they know that Jesus brings comfort and joy.

As you listen to children sing this Christmas carol based on Luke’s beloved account of Christ’s birth, remember that underneath the straightforward narration lies the profound truth that Christ our Savior came to save His stray sheep from Satan’s power, even when society told us we are worthless outcasts. There simple tidings of comfort and joy couldn’t be more profound!

 

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Starting Advent Sunday Hymns

I seriously considered breaking with my tradition of posting Christmas hymns during the month of December. It seemed all too predicable. Too expected!

But think about all the predictions the Old Testament prophets made about the coming Messiah. Each prediction filled believing Jews with hopeful expectation, knowing that Messiah would bring freedom. While most Jews ended up missing Messiah when He came, some actually did understand Who He was.

This Advent season, perhaps we need to expect Christ’s Second Coming, which He Himself predicted. He was faithful to fulfill the predictions of the prophets; should we expect anything less now?

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