17 December 2017

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

Joy to the World

And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
“He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
“He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.

(Luke 1:39-56)

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

16 December 2017

Equipping Eve: A Christmas Carol

Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim…no, not that Christmas Carol! As Christmas Day rapidly approaches, let’s pause to consider some of the hymns and songs that we sing each year in celebration of Christ’s birth.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: The War on Christmas
Equipping Eve: God With Us
Equipping Eve: The Wisdom and Witness of Anna

15 December 2017

This 'n' That

I've already admitted that I watch Hallmark movies at Christmas. With watching television comes the inevitable...commercials. There are some Christmas commercials that I actually like, because they've been around for years and remind me of a simpler time. Like the commercial for Hershey Kisses where the red, green, and silver candies play "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" — that thing has been around for ages, since 1989 apparently! Another that has always taken me back is one I've unfortunately not seen this year. It's for Campbell's soup, and depicts a snowman waddling indoors, sitting down to a bowl of hot soup, and melting away to reveal a little boy. Even though this is selling soup, for some reason it always reminded me sipping hot chocolate after playing outside in the snow.

There is one type of Christmas commercial that continually baffles me, however. It is the car commercial. A man awakes on Christmas morning to find his dream Mercedes sitting in the driveway donned with a big, red bow. The snow is falling gently all around, and he grins with glee, all his grown-up Christmas wishes having come true.

Two things: First, not to sound like a feminist, but why don't women ever get cars for Christmas in these commercials? I mean, if someone wants to send me a Mercedes, I promise I'll flash a super-big grin, even if it's not snowing, and even though I don't need or want a new car, much less such a luxury one.

Second...really? Who are these people who are gifting luxury cars to loved ones at Christmas? Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to buy your wife some piddly sweater, or even a necklace, and then find a $50,000 car sitting in your driveway from her? Awkward.

I know, I know. These commercials aren't trying to convince us to give someone a car for Christmas, rather, they are trying to get us to buy a car for ourselves because the vehicle is being offered at such a great price. Well, I won't argue that this may be the time of year to make a big purchase if it's necessary since the sales are prevalent, but I still find the whole notion of these commercials mildly hilarious. They also are blatant examples of the commercialism and worldliness of Christmas in our society. It's all about the material gifts, isn't it? Thankfully, we Christians know that there has been a priceless gift given to mankind in the Lord Jesus Christ. A fancy car will eventually break down, but our Lord is the sovereign King forever.

Now that all of that has been said, I'll be sure to keep you posted if I find a new car in my driveway on Christmas. If a few of you want to go in on that gift together, I totally understand and would support that decision.

Well, when I drafted this on Thursday, my news feed was filled with stories about Roy Moore. Don't worry, I won't subject you to any of that. Instead, I hope you'll enjoy these other links I've uncovered as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 December 2017

The Cure for 'Acceptable' Sins

Over the past few weeks, we've looked at a host of so-called "acceptable," or even "respectable" sins, and we've seen that, much to our fallen nature's dismay, there is nothing acceptable about them at all. All sin is sin against a pure and holy God. All sin separates us from our God. All sin is an abomination before God.

10 December 2017

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

What Child Is This?

Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming

08 December 2017

This 'n' That

About a month ago, I spent some time in an airport. A lot of time. A lot of unplanned time.

Delays. They happen. I'm thankful I don't travel often, and I'm thankful that, so far, I've not had to endure a delay that was too much of an inconvenience. On this occasion, I was traveling home from a business trip. I had deliberately rescheduled my flight so that I would arrive home in the evening, be able to get a good night's sleep, and put in a full, busy day the next day.

Then life happened.

I arrived at the airport, made it through security, and found my gate. I settled in to wait a bit longer than planned, because the aforementioned activities had gone more smoothly than they sometimes do. After awhile, my plane arrived, and the passengers deplaned. Everything seemed perfectly normal. But then, after another little while, I realized that we were supposed to be boarding...and we weren't. Okay, it is a major airline, after all, a slight delay is common.

Then came the announcement: the plane had been struck by lightning on its way in. Obviously, everyone who had been on board was fine, but the plane needed to be checked for damage before lift off.


Long story short, we never did get on that plane. After a couple of hours, they decided to fly in another plane. Unfortunately, that plane left late and arrived over an hour later than it should have. So, at the end of it all, while I should have landed at approximately 7:20 at my destination, I didn't actually board a plane until about 10:30 pm. Needless to say, I climbed into bed around 2:00 am and, well, that productive work day I had planned for the next day was not so productive after all.

It really is fine, though, because I am thankful no one was hurt in the initial incident, and I'm thankful that I and my fellow passengers didn't have to board a plane with potential damage.

This whole backstory is leading to this, though. As I sat for what seemed like endless hours in this tiny airport, eventually, the nighttime cleaning crew arrived. You see, in a small airport, everything—everything—closes down by 8:00. Even the restaurants. Yeah...

So as I sat there, tired, a bit frustrated, and desperately wanting to be home, I watched this cleaning crew essentially begin their work day.

And they worked. Hard. They were detailed, sweeping and dusting under and around the chairs, and they clearly had a system so that they could work together to get the job done. What was also striking was that they were friendly. Here they were, doing a job that most of us would consider to be an unpleasant one, and they managed to be affable and amiable to those of us who were waiting on our hopelessly long-delayed flight. As someone who tends to appear standoffish when I am focused on a task, I found this convicting. As someone who was tired and a bit grumpy, I found their demeanor to be uplifting. No, I had no profound conversation with any of them, but simply watching their diligence and determined approach to their work made me admire them. May we all be so dedicated, even when performing the most mundane or menial tasks.

As Christians, we more than all others have reason to perform our work with resolve and thankfulness. We are, after all, to do all things as unto the Lord. He has placed us in our circumstances, whether at work, school, or home, and so we perform our daily duties with diligence and zeal to please Him. He is a good, gracious, and merciful, no matter our circumstances. May we always keep that truth at the forefront of our minds.

Well, speaking of cleaning, I have a feeling there's something around here that needs to be cleaned. While I go check that out, why don't you take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

06 December 2017

Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Pride

We are proud of our children, proud of our friends, proud of our homes, proud of...ourselves. We are proud of our accomplishments, proud of how we have averted disaster, proud of our successes. We are a proud people. Yet even as Christians we often forget that every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17). What has come to us, whether joyful or trying, has been handpicked and hand designed by God.

03 December 2017

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

The Lord God said, "And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel." (Genesis 3:15)

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (Genesis 49:10)

A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel. (Numbers 24:17b)

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” (Acts 3:22-26)

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

02 December 2017

Equipping Eve: God With Us

The Christmas season is upon us! Let’s turn our focus away from the busyness and distractions the world brings us this time of year and instead look upon the One Whom we celebrate this season: Immanuel, God With Us.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

The King's Supernatural Birth (S. Lewis Johnson)
God's Gift of Christmas (John MacArthur)

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Simeon's Psalm
Equipping Eve: The Wisdom and Witness of Anna
Equipping Eve: The Incarnation

01 December 2017

This 'n' That

Look! A perfectly posed Christmas devotional picture!
I'm sure this happened completely by accident.
Well, December is finally here! I know some of you are celebrating by busting out your Christmas sweaters. Others of you are moaning because the days are passing by quickly and there's simply too much that still needs to be done. Others of us are too busy with non-season specific duties (i.e., work) to even think about the holidays, even though we'd love nothing more than to (for once) actually enjoy the season.

One thing that I find helpful during the month of December is to find some sort of advent study that will keep me focused on Christ and His incarnation. I know—some people hear "Advent" and assume a legalistic, ritualistic motive, but that is hardly the case. Unless, of course, you consider study of the person and work of Jesus Christ to be empty and merely ceremonial, but I doubt that is true of any of my wonderful readers!

Your Advent study does not have to be anything formal. You might simply determine to read and study through specific, relevant texts from the Old and New Testament. Or perhaps you might study through a book or two on the topic of Christ and Christmas. John MacArthur's small book, God's Gift of Christmas, is a good resource and a great gift idea. I recently downloaded The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation, and am looking forward to reading that. James Boice's The Christ of Christmas and The King Has Come are also accessible resources. The ministry of Naomi's Table also offers an Advent project idea that parents may enjoy walking through with their children.

Whatever December has in store for you, I pray that you will, above all, keep your eyes, heart, and mind fixed firmly on the person of our great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know I say that often, but we live in a world that seeks to keep us too busy to meditate on the Word our Lord has given us and on our Savior who is revealed therein, and, without daily time in the Word and prayer, we will easily be swept away by those many distractions.

I hope that this post isn't a distraction for you. If it isn't, then I hope you enjoy the few minutes you'll spend enjoying your week in review (kind of):