Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
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
Christmas is not just a religious festival that we Christians observe. In all that we do in the presence of non-believers, we are making cosmic claims, and we believe them to be true. Put another way, the celebration of Christmas presents a challenge to all the historians and thinkers who want to reckon without Christ, who want to interpret what is going on around them without reference to Him.
But the Bible teaches us the meaning of history. What is it all about? In what context should we seek to understand the Crusades, the Age of Exploration, the Reformation, the Colonial Period, the Industrial Revolution, the War Between the States, and the first moon landing? What is the basic context of all of this? What are we doing here?
The history of the world cannot be understood apart from the history of the kingdom of God. History must be organized with reference to the Church, the center of the kingdom of God. And what is the kingdom of God like? We have it on reliable authority that the kingdom of God is like a certain king who arranged a wedding for his son (Mt 22:2). There it is. The history of the world, and of our nation, is like wedding preparations.
Sometimes chaotic, sometimes disorganized, but with joy driving it all, the wedding day approaches.
At first, we know nothing of it, but then the invitations go out. The Lord Jesus is born of a Virgin and arrives among us. He proclaims the truth and a handful starts to get ready. He pays the dowry in His own blood, and more begin preparing themselves. The Spirit is poured out, and we realize that the banquet is intended to include all men. The preparations will be far more extensive than we first thought, and so we get to it.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the preparations that we forget the wedding, and we lose our place. In such times, it is good to get out the invitation and look at it again. That is what we are doing every Christmas. Unto us a Son is given.
*Our Father and most gracious God, we are grateful that You have invited us to this wedding. We pray that we would labor faithfully in preparing for the celebration and that when we arrive at that day, we will be dressed in the kind of wedding garment that only You can give. We are grateful for the perfect and sinless life that Jesus lived, and for how that life began at Christmas, and how it was all lived for us, and on our behalf. We are so grateful, and we pray to You now in the name of Jesus, and amen.*
– Douglas Wilson
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Yes, Mary knew.
Election 2016 has revealed that many of us trust more in politics than we do in Jesus.
– J. D. Greear
Sometimes in churches we get the impression that God exists to help me do better in life. He is my lifestyle coach, and with a bit of luck and a favorable wind, and if I “pay” Him enough with prayer and a bit of well-chosen religious activity, then He will line up His energies behind my goals. He will help me achieve what I want.
The truth is the exact opposite. You and I need to ask God what He wants and then line up our goals behind His, rather than expecting Him to line up His goals behind ours.
Married for God by Christopher Ash
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.