JOY to the World

Joy 1

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing

Christmas has come and gone…the anniversary of our Savior’s birth. Yes there is joy because the Lord has indeed come! Just as the people of Bethlehem had the decision to have room for Jesus, so do we. Preparing room in our hearts for Jesus is the most important decision in the world that we have to make. But something to consider…for those who consider themselves as Christians and have already made room in their hearts for Jesus, we still have that choice to make every day.

Once you are saved, you are saved. But once you are saved, you are on a lifelong journey of following Jesus and deepening your personal relationship with Him. Has your heart recently prepared room for Him? Is your heart open to Him all the time? Or are you distracted or too busy to allow Jesus to continually work in your heart? Preparing room happens more than just at that moment we become saved. It’s a continual process of making room for Jesus so that He remains in the center of our hearts and lives.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy

Fields, rocks, hills and plains sing 24/7 praises to God. Everything that God created purpose is to reflect His glory. “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” – Psalm 96: 11-12

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as, the curse is found

Because the Savior reigns He conquers sin and death, and turns our mourning into dancing. In the Garden of Eden, thorns were not present until sin entered the world. Then God cursed the ground and the thorns came. But thorns will not always be, just as sin and death will not always be. The Savior has come, and the Savior has redeemed. The end has not happened yet, but we know the end of the story, the full redemption of earth. There is a blessing for every curse. Just as the whole earth was cursed (and rightly so because of sin) God’s blessings cover the earth.

Joy 2


Psalm 103 8-12 “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”




He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders, of His love

The Savior has come and was born. The Savior lived and died for you and me. The Savior rose from the grave to rule the world. But He does not rule it ruthlessly or condescendingly. He rules the world with truth, the Truth, and grace. Grace greater than you and I can show each other. Grace extravagant grace. Grace that is freshly supplied to us each moment that we need. Grace that is extended to the evilest of people in order to bring them to Himself. Jesus righteousness is placed on us when we trust in Him and that is glorious! Jesus love far surpasses anything that we can grasp or fathom. The Son of God was born in a stable, taught us about God, and died in our place so that we could be with Him for all eternity. That is wondrous love!

May your heart and home be full of joy as we close out this year and anticipate the new one to come. May we be bold enough to share this joy of Jesus that we have with our family and friends until all the world knows that the Lord has come, that our Savior reigns, that His blessings flow, that He rules with truth and grace, and that His love is incomparable to any other. There is much Joy to the World!

Comfort & Joy


The shepherds at those tidings

Rejoiced much in mind,

And left their flocks a-feeding

In tempest, storm and wind:

And went to Bethlehem straightway

The Son of God to find.

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy


And when they came to Bethlehem

Where our dear Savior lay,

They found Him in a manger,

Where oxen feed on hay;

His Mother Mary kneeling down,

Unto the Lord did pray,

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy


Now to the Lord sing praises,

All you within this place,

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace;

This holy tide of Christmas

All other doth deface.

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy

O tidings of comfort and joy

The Son of God is born. The Messiah. The one whom the earth itself has groaned for since the moment Adam and Eve desired to take matters into their own hands. He is born and the first people God chooses to share His eternal life-altering news is Shepherds. Shepherds! One of the lowliest groups on the society’s totem-poll…they were estranged and not trusted. They were poor and they were dirty. They spent their lives in fields with sheep. That’s all they did. They had nothing to their name and society kept them at arms length. But God sent His messengers to appear before them, to be the first to receive the announcement of Christ’s birth.

Shepherds had empty hands, and likely, aching hearts. These were the ones who were ready to receive Christ. Because they had nothing, without a second thought they were ready to accept everything that Christ is and has to offer. Their Savior, Emmanuel, God-with-us, has come. They jumped up and ran into Bethlehem in search of the baby Jesus. Leaving their flocks, they were willing to give up their entire livelihood in order to worship the Savior. Shepherds never left their sheep because predators would attack them, or people would steel them. But here they left their sheep, completely defenseless. Loosing their flock meant nothing to them compared to meeting the long, expected King.

They obeyed the Angel’s message and followed the sign. Not that the baby was wrapped in swaddling clothes, but that that baby was laying in a feeding-troth. Because there was no crib available in the town of Bethlehem, Mary placed her first-born in a manger. But who really placed him there? God – The King of Kings – gave up His glorious throne in Heaven and descended on earth in the form of a man. God could have chosen to be born in a palace for the richest rulers of the world to see. But no, He placed himself in the place where oxen ate. A place where no mother, let alone a first-time mom, would want to place her baby. He willingly came to die, but first, He willingly came to put himself in the lowliest place a baby could go.

Jesus came for the lowly. Jesus came for the outcasts and poor. Jesus came for the regular people, like Mary and Joseph. Jesus came for you and me.

So doesn’t this cause signing praises? The news of the Gospel is the news of true love. A love that is incomparable to any other. Because God loved you and me so much, that He came down not just from Heaven to earth, but from His throne in Heaven, to the lowliest place on earth. This holy time of Christmas is truly like no other.

Jesus, Son of God, humbled himself to be born in a manger. W cannot even comprehend how far He was willing to come to tell us He loves us and wants to save us. The Shepherds were willing to leave their livelihood behind and give Jesus their empty hands and aching hearts to the One who could eternally fill them.

O tidings of comfort and joy it is indeed!

So, how far are you willing to go to follow Jesus this Christmas season?

Waited & Waiting


My favorite Christmas carol is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. During this Advent Season, we are remembering and we are waiting. Not just waiting for the day to celebrate our Savior’s birth, but truly waiting with eager anticipation and a sometimes weariness-hope for the day that our Savior will come again.

O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel

After thousands of years of waiting in expectation, the Savior did come. He was born to not only comfort the mourning or to ransom Israel from exile. But He was born to wipe every tear from our eye so that eternity will be without any mourning. He came to ransom Israel, but not with a king to destroy the Romans. He could have done that, yes. But He chose to do something far greater. He ransomed Israel with Himself – with God as man – to forgive them and ransom their hearts and the hearts of all generations. Emmanuel came also for you and me, to ransom us from our personal exiles. From the exile of sin that wages war within our hearts, that separates us from God. We can rejoice. Shall come ~ He has come ~ He will come again

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

God fulfills His promises, and the Messiah did come, through the Rod of Jesse. Christ frees us from the tyranny of Satan when we accept Jesus as ruler of our hearts and lives. More than that, His power is over Satan. Satan is continually at work to kill, steal and destroy. But his power is limited. Satan’s victories will never last, and Satan will never win – not in the end, and not eternally. In the end, God will free us from all evil, and from the power of Satan. Because of the resurrection, God already claimed victory over the grave. He was victorious, and therefore, each of us will experience similar victory over the grave. It does not keep us. Death is not the end. We are promised that we will rise again. Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel, God with us. He has come to Israel, and He has come to me. He draws near to me, and desires to be with me each moment of each day. How awesome is that?!

O come, Thou Day-Spring

Come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

My spirit is not always cheery; not even in this Advent Season. But my cheer does not have to be dependent upon me, or those around me. My cheer should come from the knowledge of Emmanuel – God with me, who has already ransomed and freed me. Just as Jesus’ voice “Peace! Be still!”(Mark 4:39) calmed the storm over the Sea of Galilee, so His voice disperses the gloomy clouds that entangle my heart and hover over my mind. Darkness and death flee at the voice of Christ because they know neither of them can win. God with us, Emmanuel, has conquered the darkest night.

O come, Thou Key of David, come

And open wide our heavenly home

Make safe the way that leads on high

And close the path to misery

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

 As followers of Christ, we are strangers in a strange land. If this earth is unsettling, and we do not quite feel at rest, then that is exactly how it’s meant to be. Our hearts yearn for something more – something always peaceful – something that will last. That something is our heavenly home – our final destination where we will forever be. How marvelous! “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:3 Just as having victory over the grave, Christ has gone before us. It’s a narrow way, but a safe way. Safe because being in the will of God is the safest place on earth. Misery will be no more, because Jesus is preparing our forever home.

Jesus is near. Emmanuel has come. And He promises to come again and take us home. Because of these, we have a true and lasting reason to rejoice. May your heart be encouraged with the reality of the nearness of our Savior this Christmas.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Shall come ~ He has come ~ He will come again


The Nearness of Jesus


“Be near me, Lord Jesus

I ask Thee to stay

Close by me forever

And love me, I pray

Bless all the dear children

In Thy tender care

And fit us for Heaven

To live with Thee there”

Be near. Stay close. Love me. I want to always be with you.

Children have this down pat. Not just the simple Christmas hymn, “Away In A Manger,” but the main points in the last two verses of the song. Children ache to be near those they love. Once they are there, they just want to stay. As they sit on your lap or hold your hand, they are silently asking to be loved. When they are assured of your love they do not want to leave.

As adults, and especially in America, we are instructed to be independent, and self-sufficient. We enjoy spending time with people we love, but where is that longing to stay? We are afraid of ‘overstaying our welcome’ or thinking about the next thing to be done that day. We want to be loved, but are often too proud or insecure to show those around us how much we do need to be loved.

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 19:14

Where did not just our dependence, but longing for God go? Are we too proud or too scared to realize the true need we have of Jesus being near? You see, the “nearer” you are to a person, the better you are able to tell them if they have spinach in their teeth. The longer some “stays close by” the greater chance there is of them seeing your internal spinach. Oh, I mean, flaws. 😉 And love? Well love is accepting all the blemishes and choosing to see the best in you. Each of these things requires risk. But this is why Jesus came as a baby in that manger.

The King of kings and Lord of lords abandoned His heavenly thrown and entered earth, in a stable for heaven’s sake, and in the form of a human baby. As a human, Jesus was able to relate to us, and be as near to the human race as He possibly could – by lowering Himself to become one of us. Yes, Jesus remained fully God, but somehow someway, he was fully human too (yet without sin).

Although Jesus has long sense returned to His rightful home, enthroned on high, He is still very near. Jesus wants to stay close because He loves us. Because He loves us, He desires that we spend eternity with Him. When Jesus was born, He was nearer to us physically speaking in the way that you could touch him, see him and audibly hear his voice. As a man, Jesus was able to relate to us and understand personally and experience deeply the joys and sorrows life gives us. He was near with the twelve as they lived life together. He laughed with friends. He reached out and touched the sick. Jesus came to earth to be near to us. But 2,000 years later, Jesus’ nearness is still here.

One of my love languages is physical touch. I concur with people who say they would love to have Jesus have skin on again. I mean, a hug from the Son of God?!? That would be the best. A friend of mine made a good point relating to the nearness of Jesus and this common desire. Some ladies mentioned how cool it will be in heaven asking people; “What was it like to walk with Jesus on earth?” I will never forget her response. Without skipping a beat she said, “They’ll ask us, what was it like having the Holy Spirit living inside of you?!?” You see, for those of us who truly believe, the Lord is always near.

The nearness and closeness of Jesus is something many Christians desire. It’s something this Christmas season I especially am longing for. We won’t receive a “hug from Jesus with skin on.” But you may recently or in the past truly sensed the presence of the Lord. It is however, important to remember that even with or without ‘sensing,’ Jesus is always near – because the Holy Spirit has been promised to us.

So, to experience the joy of Jesus presence this Christmas, here are some thoughts. I truly believe all of these are examples in how the nearness and closeness of Jesus is felt in our lives.

Do we delight in His presence? Do we take the time to be still and know that He is God? Do we pause when we pray and actively listen? Do we get absorbed reading Scriptures and sigh when we put the book down? Jesus is near to us. All we have to do is open our hearts and invite him to enter our space. Ask him to stay. Humble yourself like a child and don’t be afraid to ask to be loved.

The final verse reminds us that we are His Children, and as such God will bless us – even when those blessings come in disguise. And trusting Jesus as our Lord indeed fits us for Heaven. We can delight in the hope we have that we will be able to get that hug from Jesus, and spend Heaven in His presence.

May the nearness of Jesus fill your heart with comfort and peace this Christmas.