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Joy to the World, The Lord is Come

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” Psalm 98:4 ESV 

Isaac Watts was born in 1674 in Southampton England. As a child he loved creating rhymes (and was even reprimanded for it in church). He lived at a time when it was believed that only the Psalms should be sung in solemn services. Outside in the streets people merrily sang carols during the Christmas season, but inside the church the songs were serious and traditional. When he was a teenager, Isaac complained that the Psalms were too stagnant. He thought that people should be singing with joy and passion and that the songs should reflect Christian lives, not the Old Testament before Christ returned. Later in life, he was quoted as saying “To see the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces fo a whole assembly, while the psalm is upon their lips, might even tempt a charitable observer to suspect the fervency of their inward religion.” His father eventually got so tired of his teenage son’s complaining that he challenged young Isaac to write something better. This began a lifetime of hymn writing.

In 1719 he wrote Psalms of David imitated in the language of the New Testament. These hymns were based on the words of David in the Old Testament but included the gospel of the New Testament. Many traditionalists were, not surprisingly, against his new music, and called his songs “whims and flights of fancy,” but on the other hand, many prominent people supported him, such as Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, Cotton Mather, and John Wesley.

Isaac Watts is considered The godfather of modern hymn writing and many of his songs are still recognizable to us today, such as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “This is the Day that the Lord hath Made.” His most famous Christmas carol is “Joy to the World” based on the joy David sang about in Psalm 98:4 (ESV). “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” However, his words also reflect the good news that the angels sang to the shepherds the night Jesus was born. “The Lord is come, Let earth receive her king! Let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing.” Even though this song was written in 1719, the message of it is timeless. In fact, it was the most popular hymn of the 20th century (based on how many hymnals it was printed in).

I think the popularity is because the message is so simple yet so profound. The angel in Luke 2:10 (ESV) said “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The angels rejoiced and the good news of the birth of Christ was for all people of all time and for the whole world, so I agree with Isaac Watts. We should be singing with joy and passion about the miraculous entrance of our savior on the earth. “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!”

Sharing your joy in Christ,

Erin Tabor 

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of https://www.freeimages.com/photo/angel-christmas-ornament-1442351

Missing Jesus

“After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.”
Luke 2:43 NIV

Mary felt a gentle tug on her tunic.

“Where’s Jesus?”

She stooped and looked into the large brown eyes of the young boy clinging to his mother’s hand and brushed his tousled hair from his forehead. “I’m sure he’s with Joseph.”

As she lifted her gaze to his mother, tears left tracks on her dust-covered skin. “Jesus continues to remind me that he’s twelve now—’almost a man.’” She stood, brushed her wet cheeks with the back of her hand, and forced a smile. “I suppose I must grow accustomed to him not wanting to tag along with his mother on our trips to and from Jerusalem. He’d rather join in with the banter of the men at the rear of the caravan.”

She reached down and clasped the boy’s hand then continued on the way with her friend.

_________

“Where’s Jesus?”

Joseph kicked a stone along the dusty desert road and chuckled at his friend’s question. “I’m sure he’s with Mary. As much as he likes to be with the men, he worries about his mother. He knows it’s difficult for her to accept the fact that he’s no longer her ‘little boy.’” He shook his head and sighed. “She’ll adjust.”

_________

“Where’s Jesus?”

Mary’s almond-shaped eyes bulged as she stared into Joseph’s anxious face. “Isn’t he

with you?

He swallowed hard. “No. I thought he was with you.”

Her eyes darted through the crowd as she pushed her way past the weary travelers

then pointed in the opposite direction. “Joseph, go that way. We’ve got to find Jesus. I

can’t believe he’s missing!”

_________

 

“Where’s Jesus?”

What’s your reply?

Stop and look around you. Is Jesus missing from your days? How long has it taken you to notice he’s slipped into the background of your activities? Can you even remember the last time you heard his voice?

If not, don’t fret. God’s not abandoned you. Although you’ve drifted, he’s never taken his eyes from you. There’s no place he’d rather be than in the center of your activity. He promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Panic-stricken, Mary and Joseph returned to the place they’d last seen Jesus. Perhaps we should too. They found him in the temple sitting among the teachers discussing the things of the Spirit. Perhaps, we will too. When Mary asked Jesus why he had stayed behind, he replied, “Didn’t you know, I must be about my Father’s business?” Perhaps, we should be too.

Are you missing Jesus? When was the last time you opened God’s word, darkened the door of his house, or surrounded yourself with his family? Take time to be still and focus on his Word. Ask him to meet you there. You’ll find him—I promise.

Blessings,

Starr

 

No Other Name

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”
Acts 4:12 NIV 

What is in a name? In Exodus, Moses asked God what His name is, and God replied “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14 NIV). These words, translated from ehyeh aser ehyeh are boundless. In other words, God was here before, He is now, and He will be. God is self-existent.

When Jesus was born, his name was not uncommon among Jewish babies born in Israel. In fact, historians mention many other people living at that time with the name Jesus, and even the New Testament lists others with the same name. The actual word of course was not Jesus then, but Yeshua or Joshua. Yeshua is the literal Hebrew word for salvation, so it makes sense that people would name their babies after the awaited promise.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said to her “you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32a NIV). All of the boys named Jesus up until then were salvation in name only, but this Jesus would grow up to embody the word himself. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NIV). And this Jesus was not only Salvation, but God himself. We see this in the book of John, when the Pharisees were taunting Jesus and asked him how he could have seen Abraham. “‘Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!’” (John 8:58 NIV). Can you guess what word “I am” was translated from? Ehyeh. The same word God used for His own name.

It is difficult to think of a name as anything more than an identifier, but the Bible teaches us a deeper meaning. In John 14:14 NIV, Jesus said “you may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” and Phil. 2:10-11 NIV states that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

We often hear someone end a prayer with “we ask these things in Jesus name.” Maybe we hear it so often we don’t ponder the kind of power we are calling down. Next time you use these words, believe the promise that as children of God who have been redeemed, whatever we ask in the name of Jesus will be answered.

Your sister in Christ,

Erin Tabor