Is God for Us?

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5 NLT)

Since the creation of the world, Satan has placed doubt in the minds of men and women as to whether or not God is truly for them. He has placed seeds of doubt as to whether God truly cares for them and wants what’s best for them. When we find ourselves thinking or asking whether God is for us or against us, we can be sure that the source of that thought, that the author of that question is Satan himself. But here’s the thing about Satan: he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). His desire is to cause us to lose faith, to doubt God’s love for us, by making us think that God is not for us but against us. When things become difficult and anxiety creeps into our lives, that’s when this enemy of our souls will pounce. But, as the apostle Peter wrote, we must remember to cast all of our anxiety on God. Why? Because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Scripture is quite clear that not only is God for us, but He cares for us and truly wants what is best for us. His plan for us is always to prosper us and never harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). When we cast our burdens on Him, He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22). The God who cares about the birds of the air and the grass of the field cares even more for us (Matthew 6:26, 30). We can be sure that if we commit our lives to God, when we trust in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:3-5). God Himself has told us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

And so, we can be sure that, no matter what the enemy may try to make us believe, God truly cares for us and is for us. And if God is for us, then no one can stand against us (Romans 8:31). Not even the father of lies.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Christmas: God’s Love Letter

Christmas is God’s way of saying to all of us, “I love you.”

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)

Love letters. I’m sure that most of us would say that we love receiving them. Some even save them throughout the years, pulling them out occasionally to read them. They come from our spouses, from our children, or from others who have occupied a special place in our hearts at some point in our lives. And we treasure them because they are tangible expressions of the love that person had or has for us.

Today, we celebrate Christmas, remembering the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born into this world so that we may have eternal life. Christmas is God’s love letter to us. It is God’s way of saying to all of us, “I love you!” It is the tangible expression of the love that comes to us from our heavenly Father, the God who is love Himself (1 John 4:8, 16). Through the birth of a little baby in a stable in Bethlehem, God’s Son who would one day pay the penalty for our sins, God was showing us how much He loves us (1 John 4:9). He was saying, “I love you so much that I am sending my only Son into the world so that, if you believe in Him, you will have eternal life (John 3:16).

As we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world today, my prayer is that each of us will pause to reflect on God’s love letter, Jesus Christ, the greatest love letter ever written. And let our lives and our hearts be our love letters to Him!

A blessed and merry Christmas to all!

Jesus is the Light

In the neighborhood that I live in, Netherwood Heights in Plainfield, New Jersey, we have an annual tradition on Christmas Eve. Neighbors gather together in the morning to create luminaries, paper bags filled with sand and a candle. The bags are then transported throughout the neighborhood and placed at the curb where they wait to be lit just before it gets dark. When the sun goes down and darkness descends on the neighborhood, light from the luminaries lines the streets, and the sight is breathtaking. One cannot walk or drive the streets of Netherwood Heights on Christmas Eve and not feel uplifted.

This display of light, combined with the lights that adorn the outside of homes and shine from the Christmas trees displayed inside those homes serve as a wonderful reminder of the birth of Jesus. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was sent into the darkness of this world just as the prophet Isaiah had written centuries before that:

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (Isaiah 9:2, NLT)

Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness of this fallen world. And, as John wrote in his gospel, that light cannot be extinguished by the darkness (John 1:5). With Jesus in our lives, we have His light in our hearts. And that light can’t be overcome by the darkness of the world and the enemy of our souls who works in the darkness. Here’s the thing about darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. But when light is introduced in the darkness, the darkness no longer exists. Just as the luminaries in my neighborhood shine light into the darkness of the night, so the presence of Jesus shines light into the darkness of the world. As Jesus Himself said in John 8:12, He is the light of the world and when we follow Him, we will not walk in darkness because we have the light that leads to life.

Merry Christmas!

Lessons in Obedience

Have you ever felt that God was calling you or leading you to do something that was either out of your comfort zone or would require you to give up something that was important to you? Sometimes God does that. Sometimes He wants us to step into something that we don’t feel qualified to do or into something that will require us to stretch. And sometimes, the thing that He is calling us to requires that we let go of something. It could mean letting go of a job that we are comfortable in. It could mean a change in lifestyle. Or it could mean letting go of a personal dream to follow His plan for our lives. Whatever the case may be, what God is looking for in us is obedience.

The Christmas story teaches us a lot about obedience. In Luke 1:26-35, we read that God sent an angel messenger named Gabriel to the Galilean city of Nazareth, with a message for a young virgin by the name of Mary who was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Mary had no idea what this meant and as she tried to make some sense of it, Gabriel continued by telling Mary that she had found favor with God. God had chosen her to give birth to a son whom she was to name Jesus. And this was not to be just any child. This child would be the Son of God and would be given the throne of David. Mary questioned how this could be since she was a virgin, but Gabriel explained that she would conceive the child through the power of the Holy Spirit. And here is where Mary shows us a great example in obedience.

Mary could have reacted by saying, “No way, Gabriel! I am not even married yet. If I become pregnant, what would my family think? What would my neighbors think? And, what about Joseph? If he finds that I am pregnant with a child that he knows cannot be his, he’ll call off the wedding. My life will be ruined!” But instead, Mary’s reply was, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” I’m sure having any baby at that point in her life, let alone a baby who was the Son of God, was not in Mary’s own plans for her life. But Mary chose to accept God’s plan over her own plan. In obedience, she agreed to allow herself to be used for God’s purpose.

In Matthew 1:18-25, we are given another lesson in obedience, this time on the part of Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed. Before they were married, Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant with a child who she claimed was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph’s initial reaction was one that, from a worldly point of view, made sense. He could not go ahead with the marriage. But, since Joseph was a just man and did not want to disgrace Mary publicly, he made plans to send her away quietly. But then an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel verified all that Mary had told Joseph about the child she was carrying. When Joseph woke up from this dream, he laid aside his own plans and in obedience, he married Mary.

This Christmas, as you read or listen to the gospel accounts about the birth of Jesus, take some time to meditate on the obedience shown by Mary and Joseph. Let their example speak to you as you think about ways in which God is looking for you to lay aside your own plans and be obedient to His.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

The words most commonly associated with Advent and Christmas are peace, joy, hope, and love. The birth of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, brought all of these things. He is the Prince of Peace whose birth brought and still brings joy and hope to the hearts of men. The salvation that He brings is the gift of God’s love for us. But there is another word that comes to mind in this season of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. That word is found in the lyrics of the 18th century Christmas carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day,
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r when we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

The word that I am speaking of is found three times in this verse and every verse of this song: comfort. The coming of the Messiah, the Savior Jesus Christ not only brings peace, joy, hope, and love. It brings comfort to all who would believe in Him. As I reflect on this song and, particularly, on the word comfort found in its lyrics, I am reminded of Isaiah 40:1: “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. In verse 2 of that same chapter, God continues by saying, “Tell her (Jerusalem) that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.” In these verses, God spoke to Israel of the comfort that He was providing to His people, a comfort that came because their warfare had come to an end. God was providing His peace and His forgiveness and was restoring His people.

How appropriate a message this is in this season of Advent and Christmas for those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Because of His coming as a baby over 2,000 years ago, we can receive that same comfort. Why? Because Jesus came to put an end to sin’s hold on us. He came to put an end to the battle that Satan waged against us through temptation and condemnation. He came to bring us peace, forgiveness, and to restore us in the sight of God. And that is why Christmas brings with it tidings of comfort and joy.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Gift That Makes Jesus Smile

Written in 1941 by an American classical music composer and teacher named Katherine Kennicott Davis, Carol of the Drum is one of the most popular of Christmas carols. It was first recorded by the Trapp Family Singers (of The Sound of Music fame) in 1951. In 1958 the song reached the peak of its popularity when it was recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale and released under the name it is better known as, The Little Drummer Boy.

The song is about a poor young drummer boy who travels with the wise men to see the baby Jesus. While the wise men bring valuable gifts to give to the baby born to be a King, gifts such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the young boy has nothing to offer to Jesus but to play for Him on his drum. The gift, which came from the heart of the drummer boy, makes the baby Jesus smile. 

Christmas is a time for giving gifts. We give gifts to family and friends, gifts that tell them that we love them. And, of course, the greatest Christmas gift of all is the one that was given to the world by God, who sent His Son Jesus so that we might have eternal life (John 3:16). But what gift can we give to God? What gift can we offer to Jesus that would be fit for the King of kings?

In Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4, we read about a day when Jesus sat by the collection box at the Temple and watched as the people entering the Temple put their gifts into the treasury. As He sat there, a poor widow put in two small copper coins, which were the equivalent of about one cent. Jesus then called His disciples over and pointed out that the meager gift of the widow was of far more value than the larger gifts of those who were rich. Why? Because she gave from her heart, she gave all that she had.

Romans 12:1 tells us that the best gift that we can give to God for all He has done for us is to offer our lives as a sacrifice to Him. In other words, like the poor widow, and the drummer boy, we should hold back nothing from Jesus. That is the kind of gift that Jesus finds acceptable; it is true worship. And, just as the drummer boy’s drum playing made Jesus smile because it came from the boy’s heart, when we offer our lives as our gift, our sacrifice of worship, we can be sure that Jesus smiles at us, too.

The All-Inclusive Message of Christmas

Gospel_of_Luke_Chapter_2-10_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

After my wife and I were married, we spent our honeymoon at a resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The resort was beautiful, we had a wonderful room, there were lots of activities available, and we had three delicious meals each day. And the best part is that all of that was included in the price we paid for the trip because it was an all-inclusive resort. According to the dictionary, all-inclusive is an adjective that means including everything or everyone. Nothing or no one is left out.

In the hills surrounding Bethlehem, over 2,000 years ago, an angel messenger suddenly appeared to a group of shepherds at night, scaring them out of their wits. As they stood there trembling in fear, the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have great news for you, good news that will bring great joy to all people.” Now, I’ve read the words of Luke 2:10 many times but as I read them again recently, what stood out to me was one word, “all.” The good news that brings great joy was not just for the shepherds. It was not just for kings and rulers or for the religious leaders of the time. It was not just for the nation of Israel. The good news that the angel was bringing was for everyone. It was for ALL people!

The good news that the angel brought that night was that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem, a Savior named Jesus Christ. The baby born in Bethlehem that night was bringing salvation from sin, and He was bringing it not just for some people, He was bringing it for all people. God’s message of salvation is all-inclusive, it’s for everyone. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, when Mary and Joseph brought the baby to the temple to be dedicated, an old man named Simeon met them there. He had been promised by God that he would live to see the Messiah, the Savior. And he knew that Jesus was that Savior. He took the baby in his arms and prophesied that Jesus was God’s promise of salvation, a salvation that God had prepared not just for some people, but for all people (Luke 2:30-31).

Long before Jesus was born, long before Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be the salvation of all people, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the heir to David’s throne, an heir who would be a banner of salvation to all the world (Isaiah 11:10). God’s promised Messiah, God’s promise of salvation would be available to all the world. God’s promise is all-inclusive; it’s for everyone. No matter whether we are Jew or Gentile, poor or rich, black or white, the salvation offered through Jesus Christ is for each and every one of us who chooses to believe in Him, to accept Him as Savior, and to follow Him. Today, just as it was 2,000 years ago, the message of Christmas, the message of salvation, is all-inclusive.

The “Foolishness” of God

Adoration of the Shepherds

You are the owner of a baseball team and are in the process of trying to put together the strongest team possible with the goal of winning a championship. As you get ready to select the player to play third base, you have a choice of two players. Both are excellent defensive players, but while one is a power hitter capable of putting up big numbers, the other can barely hit his way out of a paper bag. So you choose the latter, right? … I didn’t think so. Obviously, you choose the accomplished hitter. It’s the most logical choice, the wisest choice.

While the actions and choices of man are based on what makes the most sense, what is wisest in the eyes of others, the actions of God appear to be, from a worldly perspective, foolish. In 1 Corinthians 1:25, the apostle Paul states that God’s foolishness is wiser than men and God’s weakness is stronger than men. In verse 27, Paul goes on to say that God has chosen the things that seem foolish to the world to shame the wise, and the things that the world considers weak, to shame the strong. Paul is talking about the death and resurrection of Christ here, but when you look through the pages of the Bible, you can see that this is the way God has worked throughout time.

When God decided to choose someone to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt, someone to go and present His case to Pharaoh, he didn’t choose someone who was a great orator. He chose Moses, a person who, in his own words, was slow of speech and slow of tongue (Exodus 4:10). When Saul had fallen out of grace as king of Israel and God was leading Samuel to His new choice for king, God didn’t choose the strongest, most experienced leader available. He chose David, a young shepherd boy (1 Samuel 16:11-12). When Jesus chose the twelve men into whom He would pour out His wisdom, the men who would become His disciples and spearhead the foundation of the church, He did not choose the most educated men, such as the scribes and the Pharisees. He chose fishermen, tax collectors, and other common, uneducated men.

God’s “foolishness” is even seen in the story of the first Christmas, when God sent His Son into the world to redeem mankind from sin. God did not choose to send His Son in divine form. He chose instead to send Him in the form of a small, vulnerable human child, born not of a queen but of a young virgin girl named Mary. God did not choose to have His Son born in a palace and placed in a luxurious crib. He chose to have Him born in a stable and placed in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. When God sent His angel messengers to tell of the good news of Jesus’ birth, He did not choose to make that announcement to kings and rulers. He chose to make the announcement to a group of lowly shepherds.

As we reflect on the birth of Jesus this Christmas season, we should remember that God’s ways are greater and higher than our ways and His thoughts are greater and higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). God can work in the lives of anyone and everyone. He can use the most unlikely person to do His work here on earth. He can use me, and He can use you, no matter what or who we are in the eyes of the world.

 

The Very First Christmas Carol

Angels

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains;
And the mountains, in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains:

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

One of the most wonderful parts of the Christmas season is the carols that we begin to hear on a daily basis beginning right after Thanksgiving. Carols are heard through the PA systems at shopping malls, they are played on the radio stations we tune into in our cars, they are played on church organs and sung by choirs and worship teams, and they are played on our sound systems and MP3 players at home. There are many beautiful carols celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Among them are such beautiful songs like Angels We Have Heard on High, O Holy Night, Silent Night, and O Little Town of Bethlehem. And there are songs that speak of the angels, the shepherds, and the wise men who played a part in the story of the first Christmas.

The words and melodies of these songs are so familiar to all of us that we may often find ourselves singing along with them or humming them as we go about our daily tasks. Most of these beloved carols have been around for a long time. But the very first Christmas carol was sung over 2,000 years ago. The melody of this carol is unknown to us, but we have read or heard its words many times, especially during the Christmas season. It’s a carol that was sung by an angel choir that appeared to a group of shepherds who were tending their flocks in the hills around Bethlehem:

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, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:13-14, NKJV)

This first Christmas carol must have been sung with a joy unknown to man. The angels who sang this song were very likely present at the creation of the world and the creation of man, at which time they shouted for joy (Job 38:7). They no doubt had witnessed the fall of man and felt great sorrow as the peace between God and man was shattered. But, now they were tasked with announcing the good news of salvation. God had sent His Son into the world to provide that salvation. The peace between God and His creation was about to be restored. And so, as they delivered this message to the shepherds that night, the joy in their hearts must have been an unspeakable joy.

The words that the angels sang, God’s message for man, spoke to the salvation that Jesus Christ was bringing to the world. In his sermon titled, The First Christmas Carol, delivered on December 20, 1857, the great preacher Charles H. Spurgeon said:

“And what they said of this salvation was this: they said, first, that it gave glory to God; secondly, that it gave peace to man; and, thirdly, that it was a token of God’s good will towards the human race.”

The first words sung by the angel choir were, “Glory to God in the highest.” These are words that they likely had sung many times before as they worshiped God in heaven. But, as they sang them that day, the words probably took on new meaning. The glory of God, which existed for eternity in heaven, had now come to earth in the form of the baby Jesus. God’s glory was present to man in human form. And Jesus was God’s promise of salvation for man, a salvation that ultimately brings glory to God. Because that salvation would remove the veil of sin that separated man from the presence of God, that salvation also brought peace to man. And, as Spurgeon so aptly pointed out, that promise of salvation was “a token of God’s good will towards the human race.”

As we sing and listen to our favorite Christmas carols this Christmas season, let us remember that first Christmas carol, and let our hearts be filled with the same unspeakable joy that filled the hearts of the angel choir who sang it.

Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Love Came Down

Love Came Down

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

In 1885, English poet Christina Georgina Rossetti wrote a poem called Love Came Down at Christmas, which was later put to music. This beautiful poem, which speaks of Jesus as love incarnate, God’s love coming down to earth, is based on 1 John 4:7-11:

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

Christmas is a season marked by peace, hope, joy, and love. The birth of Jesus brought the peace of God into the world. It brought the hope of salvation to mankind. It brought joy in the face of suffering. And it brought real love, the immeasurable love of God, in the form of a baby who, though born of a human mother, was the Son of God. God sent His Son on Christmas as a sacrifice to take away our sins. And He did this not because we loved Him, but because He loved us. He did this because He loved us so much that He wanted us to be with Him forever, He wanted us to have eternal life in His presence. He did it because He is love.

As we reflect on the birth of love incarnate this Christmas, let’s remember that we should not just hold on to the love that God has shown us, but we must also show that love to others. The love of God that flows to us must also flow through us as we seek to love our fellow men. As Christina Rossetti wrote in her poem, love should be our token. It should be a sign that tells the world that we know and love God. It should be a sign that points others to Jesus, to love incarnate.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

A Thrill of Hope

O-Holy-Night

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name, all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Maybe one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever written is “O Holy Night.” The song reflects not just on the birth of Jesus Christ but also on the redemption of humanity, which was soon to take place when the baby born on Christmas Day became the man who would go to the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. It is a song of hope, a song of looking past present suffering and despair to the glorious hope of the future. Christmas is a time of peace, a time of joy and love, but perhaps most of all, it is a time of hope.

Hope is the theme of this beautiful carol. In the first verse, the song speaks of the pining of the world, a pining that came as a result of sin and error. But because of the birth of the Savior, that pining, that waiting, turns to hope, a hope that causes the world to rejoice because a “new and glorious morn” has broken. And as the final verse of the song points out, that hope is the result of the chains of sin being broken by Jesus, in whose name the oppression of sin and death ceases.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, when we turn from our sin and follow Him, we are set free from the sin that had us bound. Sin no longer has a hold on us. We can rejoice in the knowledge that the death and resurrection of Jesus have redeemed us and made us right before God. With Jesus in our lives, we are able to experience abundant joy. And, although we still go through the difficulties of life, although we still deal with sickness, with pain, and with suffering, we can hold on to a hope that will anchor us and preserve us through those difficulties.

In Romans 8:18, the apostle Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” No matter what we are dealing with in our lives right now, no matter how difficult our present sufferings may be, we can persevere because we have hope, a hope that is found in a future glory. It is a glory that will be revealed when Jesus returns. In that future glory, sickness and death will no longer exist and we will live in the presence of Jesus forever. And it is for that future glory that “the weary world rejoices.”

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Lord is Come!

joy-to-the-world1

Christmas is a time of great joy, a fact that is evident in the lyrics of so many of the songs we sing at this time of the year:

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King.”

“Joyful all ye nations, rise, join the triumph of the skies.”

“While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy.”

“How great my joy, great my joy. Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy, joy!”

Joy is also evident in the birth narratives found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. It’s a joy that exists because the Lord Jesus has come.

Before Jesus was even born, Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with her own son, the child who would one day be known as John the Baptist and would prepare the way for the coming Messiah. When Mary arrived at the home of her cousin and called out her greeting, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, who would one day be known as John the Baptist, leaped for joy. He knew that the Lord, the Messiah, was there in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:44). He had come!

After Jesus was born, an angel appeared to a group of shepherds tending their flocks. He was there to deliver to them the good news that would bring great joy: the Savior, Christ the Lord, had been born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:10-11). He had come!

Sometime after that, wise men from the East came to Judea in search of the King whose coming had been foretold. They had followed a star, which had led them to this land so far from their own. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, these wise men inquired about this newborn King. They were sent to Bethlehem to find Him. As they started on their way, the star appeared once again and they were filled with great joy (Matthew 2:10). He had come!

As we remember the birth of our Lord and Savior this Christmas season (and throughout the year!), may we be filled with great joy. He has come!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let each and every one of us prepare our hearts to receive our King!

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