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A Joyous Christmas to You!



December 25, 2023


Today is Christmas Day, 2023, and after reading our texts for today, I want to begin my reflections by recognizing that our God, in His unfailing love from heaven, looked down upon us and saw what we ourselves are unwilling and unable to see – He saw us – compassionately, in our greatest need for reconciliation, for salvation, and for redemption. Sin has so blinded our hearts and eyes to our own hopeless condition that, in order to know it, we must be informed about it from a reliable Source external to ourselves. This is why God tells us - He “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Giver of life gave us the greatest Gift of everlasting life in the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross at Calvary. Truly, we must never forget that Jesus really is the Reason for the season. On this Christmas Day, 2023, may we thank God and praise Him for His unfailing love to us expressed in sending His Son to save us from sin, eternal death, and hell.


Psalm 147:1-11: In this Psalm, we find an answer to our question from yesterday, “Why Should We Praise God?” The Psalmist writes, “it is good, pleasant, and fitting to sing praises to our God” (verse 1). The LORD is worthy of our praise. Again, we see some of His deeds: He “builds up Jerusalem; He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds; He determines the number of the stars and calls them by name – great is our Lord!” (verses 2-5). Who among us is able to do any of that? The Psalm continues with many other glories of our God, but then, in verses 10-11, we read that “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse or the legs of the warrior. His delight is in those who fear (i.e., revere) Him; who put their hope in His unfailing love.” God has created man – even in all our own so-called “glory” – to be sensitive to love, beauty, grace, tenderness, and deep-seated joy, but sin has hardened man into a creature of hate, ugliness, clumsiness, harshness, and melancholy. These are “man’s glories,” and today, mankind is self-righteously proud of them. Without God, this is what we have become; this is what we are. But the God Who “covers the skies with clouds” (verse 8) sent His Son into the world to redeem us from “our own glories” and return us to the sensitivities of love, grace, and beauty – if only we will place our hope in Him. What a blessed hope!


In Revelation 16 today, we read John’s description of the seven bowl judgments which will eventually lead to the conclusion of God’s program on earth. These judgments include ugly, festering sores on people who took the mark of the beast; the sea, the rivers, and the springs becoming blood; the sun scorching people with fire; darkness; the drying up of the Euphrates River; and an earthquake “like none other” - followed by 100-pound hailstones (cf., verses 2-21). God will go to great lengths to gain people’s willful attention, but even with all this, they stubbornly "refused to repent” and “cursed God” (verses 9, 11, and 21).


In Nehemiah 1-2, we see Nehemiah’s personal concern for the city of Jerusalem and his prayer of praise, confession, and seeking the Lord’s favor. Such a prayer should encourage us that we may approach God in the same way. Nehemiah, who was “cupbearer to the king” (1:11), held a comfortable, responsible, trustworthy office that he was willing to exchange for the hardships of serving a greater King – the God of Israel – to become directly involved in His service and His work to rebuild Jerusalem. In chapter 2, we see Nehemiah’s request of King Artaxerxes, who, under the sovereign control of God, granted Nehemiah permission to go and carry out this mission. Of course, opposition to God’s work always obtains, but Nehemiah is unmoved by it: “The God of heaven will give us success” (2:20). God’s work cannot be hindered.


I wish you and yours a truly special and joyous Christmas Day!


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