We Three Kings/Wise Men Still Seek Him

 

This Hymn always causes me to stop, ponder and realize that the joy of Christmas brings the sacrifice of the cross. Just reading the verses says it all, proclaiming the fullness his purpose. As you read the first four verses, there is a heaviness as you realize he came as a sacrifice.

  1. We Three Kings of Orient are bearing gifts, we traverse so far
  2. Gold to crown him a King-Over us to reign
  3. Frankincense to declare his deity as our God-Worship him, God on high
  4. Myrrh, a bitter perfume to anoint him for burial-Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying

The verse ends with the words “Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone cold-tomb.”

Several years ago I wrote a blog called “Sunday’s comin!” The first four verses of this Carol feel like Friday night- sealed in a stone cold-tomb.

But the carol doesn’t end here. NO! there is more. Oh! the joy of singing the last verse.  Sunday’s coming!

Verse five:

Glorious now behold him arise!

King, and God and Sacrifice!

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Earth to heaven replies.

Yes! Hallelujah to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Passover lamb, the Risen Savior and Prince of Peace

This Christmas be like the wise men of old. Seek him, worship him and proclaim his Glory!

 

 

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Mary, Did you Know?

 

Oh! The joyous sound of carolers singing the familiar songs of the past. Some written hundreds of years ago and others written within the past few years. All proclaiming the miracle of the ages: the entrance of the infinite King of Kings, God himself, into our finite sinful world.

He chose two young, innocent regular people like us to usher him into this life. Mary and Joseph.

What were they thinking when the Holy Spirit informed them of this unique, supernatural event that was to take place? Fear? Excitement? What we do know for sure is that they were humble and very obedient and after the angel’s visit to Joseph it seemed they never wavered.

As a mother I know what it is like to look into the sweet face of your newborn. The wonder. The joy. This tiny innocent face so precious. I’m sure Mary felt the same as most all mothers feel at that intimate moment. Love. Joy. Peace.

Then shepherds arrived, telling of the angel’s visit and proclamations! Knowing the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy and his birth, what were her thoughts? Did she and Joseph discuss all of these strange, wonderful events?

This newer carol has captured my heart, describing these first moments of his arrival into our cold, dark world.

Take a few moments today to listen to this song. Let these words take you back to that cave 2000 years ago and stand in wonder and worship of the child born that night.

“Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city. This is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12. GW translation)

 

 

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Why Bethlehem, the Redeemer City?

Jehovah had spent four thousand years preparing, creating, and setting the stage for this moment in history. It is totally amazing to see how it all came together in a tiny little hamlet called Bethlehem.

Judah’s tribe was known as the redemption tribe because of the law of the kinsman redeemer. This law was initiated when a husband died and left his widow with no children. This law stated the nearest male relative would marry the widow to provide an inheritance for her and also to carry on the dead man’s name. Through a series of events found in Genesis 38, Judah’s tribe originated based upon this law.

Moving along the family line, 1 Chron. 2:51 tells us, Salmon, of the redeemer tribe of Judah, married Rahab, the courageous woman of Jericho, and was the father of Bethlehem. It was in Bethlehem where Boaz, son of Rahab, married Ruth to redeem the inheritance of her dead husband and Bethlehem became known as the redemption city. King David and Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, were both from Bethlehem of the bloodline of Judah.

And Bethlehem, meaning the “house of bread” was and still is known for its delicious bread. In the house of bread, the Bread of Life was born.

Not only was this the land of the redemption tribe of Judah, in the redemption city of Bethlehem, but it was also the place where the sacrificial lambs for the Temple were born. It was necessary for Jesus, our Passover Lamb, to be born in the redeemer city of Bethlehem, known as the house of bread, in the redeemer land of Judah of the bloodline of the redeemer tribe of Judah.

“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David (Bethlehem) a Savior (Redeemer), who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 NKJV)

Again, why Bethlehem? Of course Bethlehem! No other place in the earth could have received the Savior of the world, the Redeemer, the Passover Lamb.

jesus-birth

O Little Town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still
The dear Christ enters in

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Songwriters: Jeremy Michael Lubbock / Pierre Marchand / Sarah Mclachlan. © The Bicycle Music Company

GOD AND MAN AT TABLE

God Incarnate

As I sat at the piano, playing and singing some Christmas carols, another song came to my heart. This is traditionally a song sung for times of communion, the Lord’s Supper, in a corporate gathering. Brother Bob Stamps, then chaplain of ORU with assistance from David Stearman, composed this song back in the ‘70’s during our time at ORU. Gazing at the nativity figures on my piano I had never considered this as a Christmas song, yet it totally expressed the meaning of the birth of Jesus. His birth opened the door for everyone to come: shepherds, kings, wise men and women. My brother-in-law used to say “The ground is level at the foot of the cross with a sign that says ‘whosoever will may come.”

All are welcome, shepherds and kings

GOD AND MAN AT TABLE

by Dr. Robert J.(Brother Bob) Stamps

O, welcome, all ye noble saints of old                                                        As now before your very eyes unfold                                                    The wonders all so long ago foretold.                                                     God and Man at table are sat down

 Elders, martyrs, all are falling down;                                           Prophets, patriarchs are gath’ring round.                                         What angels longed to see now man has found:                                  God and man at table are sat down.

Who is this who spreads the vic’try feast?                                        Who is this who makes our warring cease?                                     Jesus, Risen Savior, Prince of Peace.                                                     God and man at table are sat down.

Beggars, lame, and harlots also here;                                        Repentant publicans are drawing near.                                    Wayward sons come home without a fear.                                        God and man at table are sat down.

Worship in the presence of the Lord                                                   With joyful songs and hearts in one accord.                                        And let our Host at table be adored.                                                       God and man at table are sat down.

When at last this earth shall pass away,                                           When Jesus and his Bride are one to stay,                                            The feast of love is just begun that day.                                               God and man at table are sat down.

 

 

God and Man at Table are Sat Down

Take a moment this Christmas.

Stop and Breathe. Share Communion.

After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about?

(copyright Song Solutions, UK/Eire and Capitol CMG Publishing, USA.)

 

 

 

Silent Night

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It’s Christmas and my cups are out! Can’t help but smile when you sip hot coffee from a cheerful Christmas mug. This year as part of my own devotion I plan to read a Christmas carol each day. The words are so rich, and I don’t want to miss the message behind the words. Often they were composed with a specific purpose, other times written from a moving experience of the heart, but they always tell the story of salvation in the language of music. Who doesn’t get teary eyes watching little boys in bath robes and sweet little girls with crooked halos singing “Away in a Manger.”

Today the song on my heart is Silent Night. Most of us know the story of the broken organ in a small Austrian village. Joseph Mohr, the priest, had just watched a troupe of traveling actors present the nativity play and his heart was deeply moved. Rather than going home he walked in hushed silence to a hill overlooking the little village. His heart swelled as he reflected on the birth of the Messiah in the stillness of the snowy evening. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Could he visualize the events that quietly took place so long ago in another small villiage in Israel? In Bethlehem? “Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild.”

Suddenly that tranquil night was filled with light and angels! “Shepherds quake at the sight!”

The next day he shared this moment and poem with his friend and fellow priest, Franz Gruber. Franz composed a simple melody on the guitar and Silent Night was sung in the tiny little villiage of Oberndorf, Austria, at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Silent Night

By Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber

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 Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, 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.

 

Silent night, holy night, Wondrous Star lend thy light;
With the Angels let us sing Alleluia to our King.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

The first verse ends with “sleep in heavenly peace.” I hope today you will sing all of the verses to this beautiful carol and may you also sleep in heavenly peace, because he came.

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“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)

When My Heart is Overwhelmed

53384266861__6A804B9E-63C0-4B76-B89F-432DBC9A3513December First! Christmas decorations up. Christmas cups in the cupboard. The tree, decorated by the sweet hands of grandchildren shining cheerfully in the corner of the living room.  And even a few presents wrapped and under the tree.

This morning as BJ and I sat having our own devotions, with tears in his eyes he read:

“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed;

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61, NKJV)

Several years ago from the southern tip of New Zealand (where the sign pointing south said, “Next stop, Antarctica”) BJ and Joseph, our son, released the sound of the shofar and   worshiped the Lord. Truly from the ends of the earth they had cried out to Him.

Then picking up my own devotional book I read: “From the ends of the earth will I cry out to you. And when my heart is overwhelmed, Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

What are the chances? Always 100% with God! This morning our hearts were overwhelmed with His presence, His goodness and His love.

But what does this scripture have to do with Christmas? Everything! Life without peace is totally overwhelming. From the first fig leaf, we have tried to cover ourselves, tried to hide, seeking for a safe place. From the very beginning he heard our cry and sent a baby to answer that cry. God came down, dwelt with us, loved us and became our cornerstone, a Rock that is higher than we are. Jesus, son of man, Son of God.

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The ROCK that is high than I

Are you overwhelmed by the rush of the Christmas season? Overwhelmed by what is happening in our nation and world? Overwhelmed by situations in your own life?

Cry out to Him. Run to the Rock that is higher than you are. A Rock that is higher than any situation that presents itself today. This Christmas season each time you see a manger remember He came, not just as a baby but as a Rock. No longer a baby in a manger, He is the risen King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Fully, abundantly able to answer even the smallest cry from a hungry heart.

 

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He Came

He Came.

In the still quietness of a manger, He Came.

In my heart, desperate for peace 45 years ago, He Came.

In the heartbreak of losing a precious loved one, He Came.

In the excitement of the birth of our children, He Came.

In the hustle and bustle of opening presents, the chaos of big families and in the company of just a few, He comes.

His presence is evident in Tree ornaments, on billboards, in store windows and in the hearts of His people.

Today, look around in your home, in the streets and on the faces of friends.

Breathe deeply the truth of His word.

christmas-manger-pictures-mucbnplx

HE CAME!