SILENT NIGHT

Lk.2:7 – And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Some songs just become part of our lives and our culture, ‘Silent Night’ is one of those songs. It’s message as well as its presence carries the sense of Christmas and why the world stands still on that one day. The first verse speaks of the supernatural peace that is associated with Christ. Obviously, Jesus was in the midst of turmoil all of His life. Hostility surrounded Him but it could never get in Him. From the day He was born to the day that He was killed, anything but peace dogged His steps. There was the order from Herod at His birth to kill every child in that region from two years old down. There was the attempt on His life when He first preached in His home town of Nazareth. He was hounded and ridiculed by the religious leaders every day of His ministry until He was finally crucified. Terror surrounded Him but inside “all was calm and all was bright”. The second verse speaks of angelic visitation and shepherds trembling in fear in the presence of the Lord. It also speaks of the manifestation of the glory of the Lord as the angels announced His birth. The final verse is the best. He is acknowledged as the Son of God. What an amazing revelation, the messiah would be God’s only begotten Son. This verse also describes the radiance of the glory shining from the face of Jesus. God’s glory is always always associated with the Lord Jesus. The song ends with the whole point of why Jesus was born, His birth announced the beginning of the age of redemption for fallen man. “Who so ever” can now call upon the Lord. Here are the words to this special song; read them carefully and don’t just skip over them. There may be a blessing hidden in the words of this song for you today.

Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright

‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child

Holy infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight!

Glories stream from heaven afar;

Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night

Son of God, oh, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

WHEN THE FULLNESS OF TIME COMES!

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“The extension of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.” Is. 8:8

I can’t imagine four hundred silent years between the testaments in which the world saw no light, or no voice. Adam no longer walked in the garden, Moses had lost the shine, David no longer danced, and the glory took up its wings and left the temple. Occasionally God would appear but he would not linger. Tozer exclaimed “The eyes of fallen, sinful men were no longer able to endure the radiant majesty and glory of deity. This deep dark yawning mystery was wrought and accomplished without any compromise.” The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 4:4-7, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Gods eternal time clock was ticking.

On the Eve of Christmas we find ourselves yet again in the fullness of time. The world was a swirl opening up to receive the Christ that was to be born. Many of us have read Mary’s response to the angelic visit. She gave space for the visitation. Trappe remarks; “She made room for him, enlarged her thoughts of him and throws wide open the everlasting doors, that the King of glory my come in! My spirit rejoices and dances in God, for God is the matter and ground of my joy. The appointed time of the Father, who does all things in number, weight and measure, never comes too soon, neither stays he too long.”

Each response of Mary’s echoes prophecies from of old. She was drawing from the deep wells she had steeped herself in all throughout her life. Immanuel’s Land was cresting. Trappe says, “She had by much reading made her bosom Christ’s library” and compared her hunger as a “hunted hart brays after the water brooks, she breathes and brays after the brooks with utmost desire. This spiritual appetite and affections arises from a deep and due sense and feeling of our want of Christ, whole Christ and there is an absolute necessity of every drop of his blood.” The fullness of time comes to give us the true bread of life, the heavenly manna, the rock flowing with honey, a fountain of living water, that revives us over and over again. Let’s go and be a part of the miracle at that manger this eve of Christmas. He will meet us again and again.

“If Christ does not rule us, a mob of tyrants will. Our own passions, our own evil habits, all the fascinating sins around us. They soon cease to seem helpers, and become tyrants”. McClarens

THE SON HAS COME

Mal.4:2 -But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.

Mankind is sick. I am talking about a soul sickness that effects every part of our lives. All of us have been infected by the power of sin. This fallen condition effects our fellowship with the Lord which in turn effects every part of our being. This sickness manifests itself in our bodies as well as in our minds and emotions. The solution to our malady is seen in this prophetic promise: the Messiah would come with healing in His wings (beams). When Jesus was on earth healing was seen everywhere He went. Everything from skin conditions to blindness, paralysis to deafness was healed by His words and His touch. Just as He healed in His earthly ministry, He is the same today. He is seated at the right hand of God and the healing beams are still pouring out to whoever calls on His Name. Here is how Matthew Henry describes today’s verse.

“What this mercy and comfort shall bring to them: He shall arise with healing under his wings, or in his rays or beams, which are as the wings of the sun. Christ came, as the sun, to bring not only light to a dark world, but health to a diseased distempered world. The Jews have a proverbial saying, As the sun riseth, infirmities decrease; the flowers which drooped and languished all night revive in the morning. Christ came into the world to be the great physician, yea, and the great medicine too, both the balm in Gilead and the physician there. When he was upon earth, he went about as the sun in his circuit, doing this good; he healed all manner of sicknesses and diseases among the people; he healed by wholesale, as the sun does.”

What kind of infirmity are you dealing with in your life? The healing power of Jesus is flowing out today to all who reach out to Him. He heals everything from cancer to heart problems. He heals us physically as well as brings healing to our troubled hearts. Maybe you are imprisoned by sadness because of the disappointments of life. Sadness and depression often lead us to making bad decisions and even addictive behavior. The power of God in the healing presence of Jesus will heal even our broken hearts. Look to Him today. This Christmas celebrate with me the coming of our Son of Righteousness Who has risen with healing in His wings.

THE SHEPHERD KING

Jn.1:10 NLT – He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.

If you think about what John is saying in today’s verse it is actually something that goes way beyond our ability to understand. How could the creator of all things enter into His own creation? The first few verses of John 1 describes the Word as God, the Word as being the creator of all things, and now the Word enters into the very world He created. John says it like this in vs.14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”. What this is like is the author of a play entering his own play or a artist entering his own work of art. Creators live outside of their work, especially the One Who created all things. He created time and space and matter and everything else that exists. For Him to become part of His own creation is unthinkable. That is the story of Christmas. Here are some comments by C. S. Lewis about authors and plays.

“When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else—something it never entered your head to conceive—comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side.”

What Lewis is describing is actually the second Advent of our Lord. When the Creator enters into this creation again it will be over. The time for decisions and picking sides will be over, that’s what this Christmas season and this world are all about. Have you stopped and acknowledged the coming of our Lord? Has His birth effected you and caused you to see this world from a different perspective. That’s what happened to those shepherds that first Christmas. Two kingdoms collided as the Creator of all things took on a human body. The glory shone, the angels sang, and the shepherds bowed before this Shepherd King.

DRAMA QUEEN CHRISTMAS

Matt. 1:23 ¶ “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

One of the shocking things I experienced as a Christian was God’s unusual presence was with me. I have been accused of being overly dramatic but at the risk of that accusation I maintain that there is a special presence of God that I experience every Christmas time. I often remember one Christmas in particular when Parris and I stayed in the mountains of Oregon in a tent at Christmas time. We were part of a tree planting team raising money for our school that winter. Rather than break camp, which was quite an ordeal, they asked for volunteers to stay with the camp over the holidays. Parris and I and one other couple volunteered and stayed in the mountains that Christmas. It snowed that Christmas, it snowed a lot. I have never seen such quiet and such beauty as I saw that year. The most beautiful experience was the nearness of Christ. He was with us, I mean He was really there with us. Everything took on a special flare. Chopping the wood was special, getting water from the river was special, laying in the tent at night listening to the sounds of that remote forest was quite exceptional. We didn’t have many gifts or much of a fancy meal but we had a Christmas like no other; we discovered what Christmas really is; God was with us. Here are some thoughts from John Calvin on today’s verse.

“The phrase, God is with us, is no doubt frequently employed in Scripture to denote, that he is present with us by his assistance and grace, and displays the power of his hand in our defense. But here we are instructed as to the manner in which God communicates with men. For out of Christ we are alienated from him; but through Christ we are not only received into his favor, but are made one with him….in Christ the actual presence of God with his people, and not, as before, his shadowy presence, has been exhibited. This is the reason, why Paul says, that “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And certainly he would not be a properly qualified Mediator, if he did not unite both natures in his person, and thus bring men into an alliance with God.”

This Christmas turn your eyes upon Jesus. God has revealed Himself to all of us in His Son. As you look to Him don’t be surprised when the atmosphere changes. You never know, you may become a drama queen like me.

MAKE ROOM IN YOUR HEART

Lk.2:6,7 – While they were there (in Bethlehem), the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

We all tend to think that we are different and would have acted differently if we were in Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. “If I was there, surely I would have welcomed Mary and Joseph into some place rather than in the stable with the animals.” Probably not, we most surely would have responded the way everyone else did. Actually, He comes to us everyday looking for a place to dwell. We have daily opportunities to make an abode for Christ. We can make room for Him in our daily private times, seeking His presence in the Word and in prayer and worship. We can make room for Him in our daily conversation, sharing about what He has done or shown us. We can make room for Him in ministering to the hurting, attending worship services, and small groups or gatherings. e can even make room for him at work or in our daily activities. Here ares some words from Spurgeon on making room for Christ on the job.

“I address many who are working men. You are employed among a great many artisans day after day; do you not find, brethren—I know you do—that there is very little room for Christ in the workshop? There is room there for everything else; there is room for swearing; there is room for drunkenness; there is room for lewd conversation; there is room for politics, slanders, or infidelities—but there is no room for Christ! Too many of our working men think religion would be an encumbrance, a chain, a miserable prison to them! They can frequent the theater, or listen in a lecture hall, but the house of God is too dreary for them! I wish I were not compelled to say so, but truly, in our factories, workshops, and foundries, there is no room for Christ. The world is elbowing and pushing for more room, till there is scarcely a corner left where the Babe of Bethlehem can be laid.”

At Christmas we celebrate the greatest of all mysteries, the Creator became one of us and came to live among us. What is He after? He is after our hearts, that’s the place He longs to dwell.

FILLED TO OVERFLOWING

John 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Have you ever been so filled that there is no other option, you have to overflow? I guess what is really important is this question: what exactly are you filled with? In today’s verse John is describing an overflowing kind of filling. He describes fulness or overflowing as grace upon grace. So much love poured on us that it is impossible to contain it, we have to overflow. John is talking about God’s love for us and how it fills us until it begins to spill out all around us. Here is a quote from Spurgeon describing the overflowing joy that comes with being filled.

“Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of his society.”

The amazing thing about Bunyan’s words, they were written from prison. He was overflowing with a joy bigger than prison walls. It is striking that John who was exiled and later martyred and Bunyan who was imprisoned for preaching Christ both spoke of a fulness of God that transcended the rest of their lives. Nothing this world could throw at them could disrupt their joy, it was supernatural and untouchable. John Trappe also talks about this fulness found only in Christ.

“Grace for grace – “Which is both repletive and diffusive; not only of plenty, but of bounty; not a fulness of abundance only, but of redundance too. In Christians is an abundance of vessels, but in Christ, is the fount, these differ (say the schoolmen) as fire and that which holds the fire. Take a drop from the ocean, and it is so much the less; but the fulness of the fire is such, that light a thousand torches at it, it is not diminished.”

This word repletive means to satisfy, satiate, or provide something in abundance. So this fulness is provided in extreme measures and diffused everywhere we go. Redundance describes an excessive amount, way more than necessary. Trappe is describing overflow as pouring out in extreme measures everywhere we go. This is the story of Christmas, the Word took on human flesh that I can be filled to overflowing with the fulness of His grace. Merry Christmas !!!!!

BRIGHT MORNING STAR

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS- “O HOLY NIGHT DIVINE WHEN THE STARS WERE BRIGHTLY SHINING”

“I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” Rev. 22:16

We’ve all felt it; the thick darkness of the night. When one was in their unrenewed state; they could look forever and feel the dark, disordered and the deluded. Night was a hopeless, lifeless, breathless blanket all meant to smother. But then the kindness of our savior appeared and dispelled the night! O night divine! For He is the morning star! The star that announces to the night that light is approaching! Christ comes to put to an end to our endless night! Our Aijeleth Shahar! (star of the morning in Ps.22) The morning star always shines brightest when the darkness is about to dissipate and the day is about to break. He comes as “the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings”. He comes as the herald of the Dawn. He becomes our Star and our Sun in the spiritual sky. “He comes to usher in the unclouded and eternal glories of the everlasting kingdom.”

(Clark) O how divine the night becomes when the day star appears! Star shine in the darkness when there is no other light to cheer us and they serve to regulate our seasons. Christ becomes our guide in the storms of night! “He is the revelator of great unseen realities being the harbinger of the day!” (Gill) This star charts our course early as well as late all the days of our lives. It is the light to see with when we are faced with blindness, our guide when the way is hindered. “He will be the eternal pledge and joy of a life that will be for ever young, of energies that will accumulate without end, of a service before the throne that will always deepen in its ardor and its triumph, of discoveries in the knowledge of the Eternal which will carry the experience of the blessed from glory to glory in a succession that cannot close.”( Moule)

And if that isn’t enough He becomes a flood of light upon us. In the Bible Illustrator it says; “His lustre cannot now be withdrawn, nor can men refuse to open their eyes to its presence. He is the Morning Star of all humanity, the brightest light that has ever dawned upon the world — that guides us onwards to the eternal day. He abides a steady, ever-shining light. All others are flickering torches, throwing a momentary and misleading glare, then waning and dying out.” O NIGHT DIVINE!

Enjoy the Advent Season when all around us is His light!

CHRISTMAS MYSTERY

1 Tim.3:16 – And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

God was manifested in the flesh,

There is something amazingly mysterious about the birth of God’s only begotten Son. As Augustine constantly preached, “He was born of a human mother without a human father, He was born of the heavenly Father in eternity without a mother”. The birth of God’s only Son, who has existed long before the virgin conception and birth, is the greatest of all mysteries. The eternal birth and generation of the Son of God is even harder to fathom than the virgin birth of the Son of Man. How could someone who has always existed be begotten? How could a woman without a human mate conceive and have a Child? Both are beyond human reason and are stumbling blocks to the unrenewed mind. Never the less, I believe God’s only begotten Son was carried in the womb of a virgin teen aged jewish girl, was born in an animal stable, lived a sinless life, and died an unjust death to redeem me from my sin. Great is the mystery of Christmas. Here are some thoughts from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on this Christmas mystery.

“Holy theology arises from knees bent before the mystery of the divine child in the stable. Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ — that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve. How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ…. If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.”

So this Christmas I am going to drink from the Christmas cup of theology. This is where my life begins, this is where I choose to stay.

THE TERROR OF THE MANGER

Matt.2:1-3 – Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

The weakness of God always defeats the power of the most powerful men and empires. Think about it, Herod and his soldiers fell before the power of the manger. Rome itself, ultimately fell before the manger and the cross. God has hidden His omnipotent power behind the weakness of the cross. His weakness destroys the power of this age. Today’s scripture says that all Jerusalem was troubled at the news of Christ’s birth. For those who have eyes to see, they tremble in godly fear before the manger, the lost lash out in fear trying in vain to stop the kingdom of God. Here is how Bonhoeffer describes the powerful in this world and their response to the cross and the manger.

“For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ. No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged…”

In today’s world, not much has changed. The powerful and the self important ignore the cross and the manger as they go about their daily agenda. They may give lip service to some belief In God and may even attend a church but their hearts are far away from the cross. They may have some sort of Christmas celebration but the message of the manger is far away. Only the humble can bow before the manger and only the broken can yield to the cross. This Christmas season let’s take time to humble ourselves before the Lord and His revelation of Himself in the birth of His Son.