Proclaiming God’s Glory

One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is that people tolerate — and sometimes even enjoy — hymns that celebrate Christ’s incarnation. What a glorious thing! Granted, many have little idea of what the hymns actually mean, but they sing them anyway.

Maybe we can use these beloved hymns as springboards for telling others that God the Son became a Man so that He could shed His blood to atone for the sins of all who will believe. For instance, the angels in the hymn I’m featuring today shout “Glory to God in the highest” because the Savior had been born. We can share this popular hymn and then explain why the angels had such tremendous joy. Joy that could cause our friends to sing their own praises to God.

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Holy Infant And Returning Ruler

Although I’ve only recently learned that Isaac Watts based Joy To The World on Psalm 98, and meant it to be a celebration of Christ’s Second Coming, it belongs to Christmas. Obviously, Christ couldn’t come a second time without coming the first time. So we can sing this hymn at Christmas to praise Him for His Incarnation, rejoicing that it marks the beginning of redemption.

But the hymn also pulls us beyond the benign image of a “holy Infant so tender and mild” to remind us that He rules the world and makes the nations bow to the glories of His righteousness. In such bowing, as we see Him execute judgment with equity, we’ll be overwhelmed with the wonder of His love towards those who believe in Him.

John and I wish you a Merry Christmas filled with wonder at this Infant King Who Came, and will come again.

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The Incarnation Never Gets Old

I love many of the traditional Christmas hymns, with their bold declarations of the Lord’s Incarnation. Indeed, His Incarnation is one of my favorite doctrines! Those Christmas songs usually contain verses that secular people, presumably embarrassed by the frank theology they convey, omit. Evidently, the moral implications of Christ’s deity bothers them.

But I digress. As much as I love traditional Christmas hymns, occasionally I find a  contemporary Christmas song that focuses on the Lord’s Incarnation. So today, just to do something a little different, I thought I’d feature a contemporary song that still expresses the wonder of God made flesh to dwell among us.

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Our Turn At The Manger

The Christmas story can often make me  a little jealous of the  shepherds and the Magi. Those men saw the Messiah (and knew Him as the Messiah) in His infancy. What a marvelous privilege for them to kneel before Him, knowing that He brought the promise of salvation for all who would believe on Him!

Yet, every time you or I come before the Lord Jesus Christ in adoration, worshiping Him for Who He is, we share in the privilege that those men enjoyed. Like them, we hear the tidings of great joy. Like them, we can offer Him our most valued treasures.

The hymn I want to feature today encourages me to recognize that, because of God’s grace, He gives me the same honor of bowing before Him that He bestowed on the shepherds. And as the Magi could offer Him gold, frankincense and myrrh, so I can present my body as a holy offering to Him. And He extends that same grace to you, if you’ve placed your faith  in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

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Emmanuel Has Come

Israel labored under oppression in Biblical times. It cried out for the Promised Messiah. Yet, unable to discern that He would have a first and then a second coming, they failed to recognize Him.

This haunting hymn, however, reminds me that Christ will rescue His true people, Jews and Gentiles alike, from the ultimate oppression of sin and eternal damnation. His promises to Israel’s faithful remnant extends to those of us who, although we are Gentiles, believe in Him as a result of His grace.  As we await His return, let’s rejoice that He came to Israel the first time.

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Undistracted Christmas

Christmas calls us, first and foremost, to worship Christ. Not surprisingly, our increasingly secular culture, with its growing animosity to the Lord and all He stands for, tries desperately to have a December holiday that marginalizes Christ.

The angels who heralded His birth to the shepherds in Bethlehem knew, however, that the Child born that night deserved universal worship. He came as God Incarnate–the King of kings Who will someday return to reign over His creation.Though His birth was undeniably obscure, all of heaven understood its significance: the Lord of heaven and earth had come to liberate His people from their own sin!

Thus, Biblical Christians persevere through the secular distractions of the season, convinced that presents and family and decorations (while nice) must never eclipse Christ. This season should renew our desire to give Him the praise, honor and adoration that only He deserves, as today’s Christmas hymn reminds us.

 

Rejoice! He’s Coming Again!

Israel suffered bitterly, first during its 400-year exile in Egypt and later the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. They yearned for their promised Messiah to deliver them. And, while those who are Israel in name only reject the fact that Christ made His first appearance 2000 years ago, the Jews who have accepted Him look forward to His restoration of their Promised Land when He returns.

I’m not well-versed in eschatology like Fred Butler or Elizabeth Prata, so please don’t press me for details on this restoration. But I praise the Lord that His first coming provides assurance of His second (and final) coming. Yet I rejoice in knowing the remnant of Israel that belongs  to Him will one day have their long-awaited Emmanuel.

True Christians also long for Christ’s return. As our culture increasingly celebrates sin, and as Islam nears its goal of world-domination, those who honestly follow Christ and believe Scripture can count on experiencing persecution. Like the true Israel, we long for Christ to deliver us. Today’s Christmas hymn reminds me that our Emmanuel will return to restore His Church. Yes–I rejoice!