Daily Archives: December 25, 2013



Favorite Carols: a greater day

Joy to the world
the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn –
should for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountain sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.
Psalm 98.4-9

Another favorite…or it at least is on the top ten list.

As one of the most joyous of all Christmas hymns, this carol omits references to shepherds, angelic choruses, and wise men. Instead, this hymn emphasizes the reverent but ecstatic joy that Christ has come!

When declining health forced Isaac Watts to cut back on his preaching, he turned to another task: Christianizing the Psalms.

In 1719, at the age of 45, he sat under his favorite tree on the Abney estate property of close friends with whom he lived, and penned the now famous words of “Joy to the World,” based on Psalm 98.5c6de0c7d331ad26fc3319cd7ad81c96 

Psalm 98 celebrated God’s protection and restoration of his chosen people. Watts’ carol rejoices in the same, as it expresses praise for the salvation that began when God became man. Both the psalm and the hymn also look ahead, to the second coming of Christ, when he will reign again.

Today, in a season for celebrating our Savior’s birth, Watts’ hymn beautifully expresses our joy at the coming of our Savior and shouldn’t be reserved for just this season.

My prayer for you is that you won’t just sing this hymn at Christmastime. Its joyful message shouldn’t be confined to just one portion of the year. Every day our desire should be to “let earth receive her King” as we eagerly anticipate Jesus’ coming again. Every day, our prayer should be to “let every heart prepare him room.” Joy is a choice and a state of being. It’s not fleeting like our emotions – choose this day. Choose joy.

© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/



traditions: the Christmas story

Looking back over all of the holiday traditions of my childhood, I would have to make the statementd6e07314d4a42739997d194397dc0a33 that the reading of the real Christmas story was the most meaningful. It wasn’t even a topic of discussion: whether Mom and Dad would tell us about Santa and leave it at that or if they’d combine that with the story of Jesus’ birth (or either/or).

There was no such thing as Santa vs. Jesus in our household.

Sure, all four of us (my siblings and I) knew about Santa; we all knew he wasn’t real because of how my parents talked about him. Jesus was the only thing that mattered at Christmas.

I looked forward to plenty at Christmas (preparations started in early November)

Getting a new Christmas dress

Attending Christmas services

Singing in the pageants

Playing Mary (only one year) or an angel in said pageant

But on Christmas Eve, my mom would sit in her rocker with all four of us gathered close – my brother and I on the floor and my younger sister and baby brother on her lap (up to a certain age) – and would read us the Christmas story from the books of Matthew and Luke, every year without fail (Matthew 1:18-25, 2.1-12; Luke 1.26-38, 2.1-20).

This quickly became my favorite tradition and those memories stick with me. I’ve long since grown up and left home, but that tradition is alive and well in my own home.

Yesterday was Christmas Eve. I didn’t have to attend services anywhere as I had gone out the night before. I curled up on a floor pillow with my Bible in my lap and read the Christmas story aloud, just as she did so many years ago.

I’ll admit that it is sometimes a difficult read in the fact that I’ve read it so many times, it’s easy to fall into going through the motions. I do my best to make it a point to read it with fresh eyes and God has surprised me each time I’ve made that choice. He’s brought light and truth to segments of the story that my heart accepts. Last night was no different.

While I’m still processing that, I’ll leave you with this:

Ponder what “Immanuel – God with us” means for you as you read the Christmas story with fresh eyes this year. Try it. Pray over it. You might be delighted and filled with wonder over what God reveals to you.

© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

December 25: three presents

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. – 1 John 3.7-8

Ponder this remarkable situation with me. If the son of God came to help you stop sinning – to destroy the works of the devil – and if he also came to die so that, when you do sin, there is a propitiation, a removal of God’s wrath, then what does this imply for living your life?

Three things. And they are wonderful to have. I give them to you briefly as Christmas presents.

1.       A Clear Purpose for Living

It implies that you have a clear purpose for living. Negatively, it is simply this: don’t sin. I write these things to you so that you may not sin (1 John 2.1). The Son of God appeared to destroy the works for the devil (1 John 3.8).

If you ask, “Can you give us that positively, instead of negatively?” the answer is: Yes, it’s all summed up in 1 John 3.23. It’s a great summary of what John’s whole letter requires. Notice the singular “Commandment” – This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. These two things are so closely connected for John he calls them one commandment: believe Jesus and love others. That is your purpose. That is the sum of the Christian life. Trusting Jesus, loving people. Trust Jesus, love people There’s the first give: a purpose to live.

2.       Hope that Our Failures Will Be Forgiven

Now consider the second implication of the twofold truth that Christ came to destroy our sinning and to forgive our sins. It’s this: We make progress in overcoming our sin when we have hop that our failures will be forgiven. If you don’t have hope that God will forgive your failures, when you start fighting sin, you give up.

Many of you are pondering some changes in the new year, because you have fallen into sinful patterns and want out. You want some new patterns of eating. New patterns for entertainment. New patterns for giving. New patterns of relating to your spouse. New patterns of family devotions. New patterns of sleep and exercise. New patterns of courage in witness. But you are struggling, wonder whether it’s any use. Well here’s you second Christmas present: Christ not only came to destroy the works of the devil – our sinning- he also came to be an advocate for us when we fail in our fight.

So I plead with you, let the freedom to fail give you the hope to fight. But beware! If you turn the grace of God into a license, and say, “Well, if I can fail, and it doesn’t matter, then why bother fighting?” – if you say that, and mean it, and go on acting on it, you are probably not born again and should tremble.

But that is not where most of you are. Most of you want to fight sinful patterns in your life. And what God is saying to you is this: Let the freedom to fail give you hope to fight. I write this to you that you might not sin, but if you sin you have an advocate, Jesus Christ.

3.       Christ Will Help Us

Finally, the third implication of the double truth that Christ came to destroy our sinning and to forgive our sins, is this: Christ will really help us in our fight. He really will help you. He is on your side. He didn’t come to destroy sin because sin is fun. He came to destroy sin because it is fatal. It is a deceptive work of the devil and will destroy us if we don’t fight it. He came to help us, not hurt us.

So here’s your third Christmas gift: Christ will help overcome sin in you. 1 John 4.4 says, He who is in you is greater than he that is in the world. Jesus is alive, Jesus is almighty. Jesus lives in us by faith. And Jesus is for us, not against us. He will help you. Trust him.

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org