Sunday Devotional: Hark The Herald Angels Sing

“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 the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s the eve of celebrating the birth of Jesus.  This Christmas hymn reminds us of the reasons why the angels were singing that night.  Not only to celebrate and mark the occasion of the birth but what the birth meant.  It meant God and sinners could be reconciled.  It meant that Jesus was Emmanuel (God with us).  It meant the opportunity for second birth, that we don’t have to die a second death.

This is the good news.  This is the reason the angels sing.  This is the reason we should sing.  So let us do just that.

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Sunday Devotional: “Joy To the World”

“Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love”

“Joy to the World” is one of the most well known Christmas carols.  It is a song about joy and hope.  The birth of Jesus brought well needed joy and hope into the world.  Even today, the world needs joy and hope.  There is much suffering and loss.  People are hurting and wanting hope.  Jesus brings that hope.  He came to the world to bring hope.  He came to break the curse of sin.  He came to bring righteousness again.

This Christmas season, let us remember this hope.  Let us sing of this joy.  Even in the midst of hurt.  Even in the midst of sin being glorified.  Jesus came to bring real hope and joy.  Let us celebrate that.

Sunday Devotional: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

“It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.”

These are the words to the Christmas hymn “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. It is a few weeks away from Christmas and this time leading up to it is good to reflect on the hope of the birth of Christ.  Right before the birth of Christ, there was restlessness.  There was doubt.  When was the messiah coming?  Will the messiah ever come?  But the angels had good news to share that the messiah had indeed come and broke out in song about it.

Today, some 2,000 years later, we struggle.  There is a lot of suffering in the world.  Sin is condoned and affirmed in all types of ways and places.  We wonder when will the messiah come back.  But just as Jesus came the first time that first Christmas, He will come again.

So we keep hoping and keep waiting. And we sing of when the Prince of Peace will bring ultimate peace to the world.

Sunday Devotional: “O Come O Come Emmanuel”

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel”

Today is Christmas Day.  Today is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  The one who is called Immanuel (God With Us).  Before Jesus birth, there was a 400 year gap between the prophets last hearing from the Lord.  The people were waiting for the Messiah to come.  They were in bondage and needed to be freed.

However, when Jesus came He was not the Messiah that everyone expected.  He was born of a virgin in a manger in a town that was not expected to have someone of prestige be born from (Bethlehem).  But when Jesus was born there choirs of angels singing and there were shepherds praising.  And ultimately Jesus came to ransom everyone from the bondage of sin.

These are some of the lyrics of one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It has been a tradition on the blog that I post different versions of this song every year on Christmas Day.  This year here is a version by Jeremy Camp:

Sunday Devotional: Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

This is a song that Mary the mother of Jesus sung just after her visit to her cousin Elizabeth.  Mary had just received the news from the angel that she was to give birth to the Messiah.

Mary in these words reflects on God’s greatness and glory.  She shares about God’s might and holiness.  And how in all His glory, He chose someone like Mary to be the one to give birth.  She is just a humble girl but yet God will use her for His glory.

God in his goodness and lovingkindess uses us as well.  He calls us to follow Him and to help proclaim the good news of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  The message that was given to Mary is the good news that we get to proclaim as well.

As we get closer to Christmas, let us remember the great message that comes from it.  Immanuel = God with us.  What a great gift indeed.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 1:1-17

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,  and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,  and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,  and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,  and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah,  and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”  (Matthew 1:1-17)

This is the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew.  Matthew (who was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus) began his Gospel by writing down the genealogy of Abraham to Jesus.  In this he wanted to connect between the promise that God had given to Abraham and how that promise led to Jesus.

In this list of names there are some pretty well known individuals (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Boaz, Ruth, David, Uzziah) and some not well known (Shealtiel, Abiud, Zadok, Matthan).  There are some reminders of God’s work in the midst of it (Boaz and Ruth, protection through deportation to Babylon).  There are reminders of redemption (Perez from Judah and Tamar, Solomon from David and Bathsheba).  Throughout all of this genealogy, God is constant.  He was at work in maintaining and fulfilling His promise to Abraham, to Issac, to Jacob.  He kept His promise to David and to Solomon.  That promise culminated in Jesus.

As we enter into this advent season again, we are reminded again of the birth of Christ.  In that, let us remember that God was faithful in keeping His promise.  He fulfilled that promise by working in and through the lives of well known and not well known, through flawed and imperfect people.  He kept His word that a Messiah would come.  And that Messiah was Jesus.