Tag Archives: Emmanuel

Rejoice! He Ransomed Captive Israel!

I’ve been listening to the new Jeremy Camp Christmas Album, Christmas: God with Us, in my car this past week. He does one of my all time favorite Christmas songs: O Come O Come Emmanuel. Of course he does an awesome rendition. My son was with me in the car the other day when it was playing and he said, “I love the way he sings ‘Israel.’”

On a side note, my son and I were on our way to a Winter Orchestra Concert at his high school when he said this. I wasn’t thrilled about going because I didn’t expect any Christmas music at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the whole show and they played some good old traditional Christmas songs, like Silent Night and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, as well as two songs from my favorite Charlie Brown Christmas (which I still need to watch this year). The reason was that the orchestra students were told to form small ensembles and to choose whatever they wanted to play. It was such a blessing to see so many of the kids choose some of my favorite Christmas songs.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you Jeremy Camp’s rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel to get you in the Christmas spirit if you aren’t already. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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Advent Thankfulness – A Poem

Last year I wrote an acrostic poem titled Advent, and I have been astounded in the past 4 weeks how many times it has been viewed. The search terms stats on my blog show that a lot of people have been searching for Advent acrostic poems. Since it is a topic of great interest, I decided to write another one. It is quite different from the first but carries the same Great News of hope found in a manger.

ADVENT THANKFULNESS

Angels to the shepherds sing
Divine arrival of the King
Victory is now in sight
Emmanuel comes this night
Need of all mankind is met
Thankful hearts, He paid our debt

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The Problem with Santa Claus

For many people, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa Claus. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, they start looking forward to Jolly Old St. Nick bringing presents to all the good little boys and girls. Every shopping mall has a Santa Claus waiting for long lines of children to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. I’ve even known people whose only Christmas decorations in their homes are Santa themed.

Now I will admit that I have a few Santa Claus decorations and we do hang stockings to be opened on Christmas morning. We even label some family gifts as “from Santa.” The spirit of giving that surrounds Santa Claus—which started with the very first real St. Nicholas who gave presents to needy children—is wonderful.

But there is a problem with Santa Claus. The whole idea of a Jolly Old Elf bringing presents only to good boys and girls contradicts the Gospel message of Christmas. We are reminded in Christmas songs that Santa “knows if you’ve been bad or good,” and if you are bad all you get is a lump of coal.

This is the story of most major religions—that if we are good enough we will earn whatever it is we want most.

Jesus tells a different story. Immanuel, God with us, came because He loves us all whether we are good or bad. He offers salvation and eternal life to all. It’s a free gift and all we have to do is accept it to be on His list.

Santa’s list of who’s naughty and who’s nice might seem to work for making kids be good. But long ago God showed that the threat of punishment or withholding of blessings doesn’t work to make people do what is right. “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” Romans 8:3 (NIV).

That is why for me Christmas isn’t Christmas without the Christ child and most of my Christmas decorations are nativity scenes. And my favorite Christmas songs aren’t about Santa Claus but are old standards like O Come O Come Emmanuel, O Holy Night, and Mary Did You Know?

Which is why today I want to share Jeremy Camp’s rendition of that last of these on his recently released Christmas CD.

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God with Us – A Poem

I often ponder the wonder of “God with us,” but especially so at Christmas time. I am in awe of the fact that the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, He who is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, would desire to be with me. It is an amazing thing that Christ has seen fit to dwell in me, and the hearts of all believers, because of His great love for us. Of all the wonders of the world and the blessings in my life to be thankful for, it is this truth of God with us that I am most thankful for.

From a logical perspective, it all seems quite preposterous. If you were God, would you do such a thing? I’m not sure I would. I think I might leave sinful man to his own devices. But thankfully, I am not God; and God is faithful, merciful, and loving in a way I can scarcely comprehend. It is only when I seek Him with all my heart that I can even begin to fathom what He has done, and find hope in what He will do when He returns.

Do you know the Holy One, who longs to be with you? Are you in awe of His majesty? Do you ponder His great love? He is not some distant deity who desires to judge and punish you. He is “God with us.” He is God with you. He alone is the greatest gift you will ever receive.

God with Us

Glory of the Holy One, robed in majesty
Omnipresent King of kings, deserving pageantry
Deity incarnate be, because of love for you and me

Willingly He came to earth, left His throne behind
Immanuel, Son of God, seeking to redeem mankind
To leave mankind dead in sin was not what He designed
His love and mercy, on the cross, there with grace combined

Understanding His great love is for us what Christ desires
Sinners to trust in Him alone is all our God requires

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV).

12/10/13 Update: Decided to link this up for the final dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night of 2013. No time to write a new one, but this is one of my favorite Christmas poems that I’ve written so I wanted to share it and the wonder of Christmas with the folks at the pub.

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The Holy Spirit – My Tuesday Three

Once again I haven’t had time to really think about what to do for My Tuesday Three for today, and so I’m resorting to just posting three quotes that intrigued me and made me think. And I’m not going to feel bad about it because every time I’ve posted three quotes for My Tuesday Three someone has said that one or more of the quotes are exactly what they needed that day.

The first quote I want to share is:

You know how it is — you say the same words, yet they mean different things to those hearing them. you offer the same touch, yet it yields different results in different lives. Some people soak up your touch; others wipe it off. You might look at these situations and get discouraged: “Fine! I just won’t do anything nice for anyone!” Yet look back at the example of Jesus.”    – Amy Nappa

I don’t know about you, but I could so relate to this quote. I desire to have Christ live in me and to treat others with compassion, forgiveness, and love. But some people just don’t seem to respond to such kindness. Instead, they cling to their pride and arrogance. But it is at such times that I am reminded of Jesus’ example of One who loved, forgave, and offered compassion anyway. I am reminded of my post from last February titled “Appreciation Not Required.” This would have been a perfect quote to go with it.

The second quote I want to share is:

When purity is reduced to legalism, our hearts are no longer free; they are focused more on maintaining rituals and customs than on living out a genuine character change.   – David Edwards

I love this quote. It is so true that purity is so much more than legalistically following a set of rules. Purity is something that is created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit. It’s not something we gain by our own efforts. It stems from a heart devoted in love to God; it grows from a simple belief in Jesus as Savior. I am reminded of a post I wrote in January titled “The Work of God Is to Believe.” This would have been a perfect quote to go with it.

The third quote I want to share is:

“The Word became flesh,” John said … He was touchable, approachable, reachable. And, what’s more, he was ordinary. If he were here today you probably wouldn’t notice him as he walked through a shopping mall. He wouldn’t turn heads by the clothes he wore or the jewelry he flashed. “Just call me Jesus,” you can almost hear him say.    – Max Lucado

This is the perfect quote for this time of year, as we approach the celebration of the Word made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us. I think Max is right that we might not even notice Jesus because He wouldn’t be all flashy and showy. He’d probably be hanging out with the wrong people. But if we stopped to take notice, I believe we would have been drawn to Him because of His kindness, compassion, and love, because of His desire to know us. These aren’t the traits that the world teaches us to look for in our leaders, but they the traits of the Savior. I am reminded of a post I wrote in August titled “Would You Recognize Jesus?” This would have been a great quote to go with it.

It’s funny how I got to the end of this post and I see a connection among these three random quotes that I chose from my Quotemeal emails in my inbox. The connection is the Holy Spirit − He reminds me to follow the example of Jesus to love anyway; He is the source of purity within the hearts of believers; and it is His work in the womb of a young virgin from Nazareth that made Emmanuel a reality.

Plus, who do you think reminded me of previous posts I had written that related to these quotes? This is just another example of how the Holy Spirit can fill a whole page with words when I sit down to the computer with absolutely nothing to write. Praise be to God.

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O Come O Come Emmanuel

We are now in the season of Advent, a time of preparation for Christmas. I decided that for Music Monday during Advent and through the day after Christmas I want to share some of my favorite Christmas songs and why I like them.

The first Christmas song I want to share is “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” It is the perfect song to begin Advent because Advent is when we look forward to the coming of Emmanuel, God with us. I love this song because it reminds me of my favorite name for Jesus, which is Emmanuel. I am always awed by the thought that God would choose to come to earth as a human being, in the body of a little baby, to be with us.

I want to share two different versions. The first is a haunting instrumental version by Casting Crowns. Even though it doesn’t have the words, I can hear the words in my head when I listen to it.

The second version is by Jadon Lavik and is more upbeat, but just as beautiful. I first heard it on a CD of various artists that I bought last year.

I hope you will allow this beautiful song to prepare your heart for the coming of our Lord, both His first coming as a baby in a manger, and His second coming that is yet to be. Emmanuel came to be with you, to know you and that you might know Him. He came to ransom you and me just as He came to ransom captive Israel. He came to set the captives free.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 (NIV).

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My Tuesday Three – A Poem

It has been a very busy week and I haven’t had time to put into writing a long Tuesday Three post. But over the past few days this poem has been floating around in my head. It’s simple, but holds a truth that I want everyone to know.

Jesus

Our Redeemer, the Holy One, Emmanuel

Loves

Cherishes, Adores, Treasures

You

Me, Us, All the World

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Faith, Hope, Love – A Poem

One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 13:13 – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It’s a short verse, but it is so powerful. It sums up what is most important in the Christian life. If I did not have these three things, and most importantly if I did not know and share the love of God, I would be completely lost. So I decided to write my Thankful Thursday poem to celebrate the blessing of faith, hope, and love.

Faith, Hope, Love

Faith
A
lways
I
nspires
T
he steadfast
H
eart

Hope
O
vercomes and
P
eace
E
merges

Love
O
ffers
V
ictory in
E
mmanuel

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Christmas Eve – A Poem

Tonight is Christmas Eve! I am looking forward to our Christmas Eve candlelight service; it is my favorite service of the year. I awoke this morning with the joy and wonder of Christmas in my heart, and the beginnings of a Christmas poem in my head. I hope you like it.

Christmas Eve

Christ is born in a manger
Hallelujah the angels sing
Raising their voices in praise
Infant Son of God Most High
Shepherds in awe this night
Trumpets sound at His coming
Magi come from the East
Arriving to worship the King
Savior of the world, the Word made flesh

Even now
Voices praise Him
Emmanuel

I wish you all a blessed Christmas! May the praises of the King be in our hearts and on our lips this Christmas Eve and beyond.

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The Life-Giving Light

I’ve been reading (albeit slowly) through Isaiah and Romans on my Bible-in-a-year schedule. Although I am at chapter 40 of Isaiah, I keep being drawn back to a passage in chapter 26, verses 18-19.

18 We, too, writhe in agony,
      but nothing comes of our suffering.
   We have not given salvation to the earth,
      nor brought life into the world.
 19 But those who die in the Lord will live;
      their bodies will rise again!
   Those who sleep in the earth
      will rise up and sing for joy!
   For your life-giving light will fall like dew
      on your people in the place of the dead!

On the same day that I read Isaiah 26, I also read Romans 1. The person who put this Bible reading schedule together knew what they were doing by having Isaiah and Romans coincide. Paul begins his letter to the Romans like this:

This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. Romans 1:1-2.

The promised Good News is that God’s “life-giving light will fall like dew” and that “those who die in the Lord will live.” Jesus fulfilled this promise. Though nothing comes of our suffering, salvation and new life have come from His great suffering and sacrifice. The promise was fulfilled in the New Testament, but it was first given in the Old Testament. They are two parts of a continuing story of God’s love and redemption of His beloved people.

There are many who refuse to accept this promised gift of salvation from our Creator. But that’s not new, either. During the time that Jesus walked this earth as a man there were various groups of Jews with differing beliefs about God. Most people are familiar with the Pharisees, as they figure prominently in the Gospels. The Pharisees are generally known as a legalistic sect of Jews who believed in following the letter of the law, and spent a great deal of time interpreting the law. There are numerous passages in the Gospels in which the Pharisees attempt to trick Jesus into breaking the law so that they might criticize Him, such as the accusation of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11) or when Jesus healed on the Sabbath (technically against the law because it was considered work) (Mark 3:1-6).

But I digress. I really want to talk about the another sect, the Sadducees. Generally, the Sadducees were the wealthy class, the aristocrats, and were also in charge of the temple. Although they believed in God, the Sadducees did not believe in the afterlife. They believed that when a person died that was the end, there were no rewards or punishments after death. They held this belief in spite of the passage from Isaiah quoted above.

Okay, I must digress again to tell a little joke. —— Did you hear about the Jewish ruler who didn’t believe in heaven? That’s why he was “sad, you see.” —— I know, it’s stupid joke, but for some reason it always makes me chuckle and helps me remember how to pronounce Sadducees.

I read an article today about C.S. Lewis and there was one part in particular that I really liked:

Lewis didn’t write about the doctrinal squabbles dividing Christian groups of his time, Maudlin says. “He made a strategic decision early in his career to talk about ‘Mere Christianity,’ ’’ Maudlin says. “He never writes about different modes of baptism, different views of communion or anything that separates one church from another.”

That is one of the things that I have always liked about Lewis and that is what makes his classic “Mere Christianity” so wonderful. He sticks to the core of the Christian faith. All have sinned and are separated from God, but God so loved His creation that He sent His only Son to be the life-giving light for a lost world. Lewis focuses on the idea that those who die in the Lord will live!

In Jesus day there were many sects and divisions among the Jewish people. They tended to run along family lines, the twelve tribes of Judah not seeing eye to eye on many things. It is the same today among Christians. We disagree over doctrine and theology, and unfortunately let those differences of interpretation divide us.

This Christmas, I pray we would instead come together on the Gospel that is the core of our faith. Let us look to the life-giving light of the world, the Word made flesh, Emmanuel. Let us always remember that we who die in the Lord will live!

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