Devotions

Category Archives: Christmas Lights

Sharing the Light • Devotion #6: “With Us”

When I think of Christmas carols, I tend to think of a song that is more than one hundred years old. I appreciate their message, heritage, and tradition, but writing strong Christian music is important today. In 2016, Life Church released a newer Christmas carol entitled “With Us.” Verses one and two cover from birth to death and to life again:

Not a king adorned in splendor, robed in glory

But a baby in a manger born to save

Not a warrior who fights His way to power

But a friend who faced the cross to set us free

Wrapped in rags, receive the gift of heaven

With a word You bring the dead to life again

You were there from the beginning of creation

With a promise to be with us in the end

The chorus reminds me of Matthew 1:23, “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” Jesus coming to Earth (Christmas) meant God is with us:

You are with us

You are with us

In every moment You are with us

You are Jesus

You are Jesus

In every moment You are with us

The bridge is from Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” It ties Christmas to our lives now:

When we don’t understand

We know You’re working

For our good, For our good

We’re trusting in Your plan

Your purpose always wins

You are with us, You are with us

“With Us” is a great reminder that Jesus is with us even today. In Matthew 28:20, we read, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Hebrews 13:5 repeats the teaching, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Christmas means God is with us!

“For I am convinced

that neither death, nor life,

nor angels, nor principalities,

nor things present, nor things to come,

nor powers, nor height, nor depth,

nor any other created thing,

will be able to separate us

from the love of God,

which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

Sharing the Light • Devotion #5: “What Child Is This?”

William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics to the Christmas carol “What Child Is This?” in 1865. It is only three verses long, but it is unique in how boldly he describes Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth in verse two:

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian, fear: for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce him through,

The Cross be borne for me, for you;

Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh,

The babe, the son of Mary!

Most Christmas carols celebrate the birth of Jesus. That is obvious and makes sense. However, this carol talks about nails and a spear piercing Him. It references the cross! Jesus came to earth to die for our sins. He was born to die. Seldom do Christmas carols associate Jesus’ birth and death together.

Peter and Noble (a couple of my former students who are now pastors) made some interesting observations between Jesus’ “start and finish.”

Birth                                      Death

Womb                                    Tomb

Mary                                      Marys

Virgin                                    Unused burial

Joseph                                   Joseph of Arimathea

Linen                                     Linens

Angels                                   Angels

Frankincense, Myrrh         Ointments, spices

Wooden manger                  Wooden cross

Matthew 1:21 tells us why Jesus came to earth, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus was born to die in our place. He came to “save his people from their sins.”

In 1 Timothy 1:15, this concept is repeated, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Jesus’ birth is so special because it was the start of a life that would make for a perfect sacrifice in death. He died so we can live – forever.

Sharing the Light • Devotion #4: “We Three Kings”

“We Three Kings,” also known as “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” is a Christmas carol that was written by John Henry Hopkins Jr. in 1857 for a Christmas nativity play.

Verse one starts off by acknowledging the gifts they are bringing. It is followed by the chorus (which is sung after every verse) saying:

We three kings of Orient are

Bearing gifts we traverse afar.

Field and fountain, moor and mountain,

Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,

Star with royal beauty bright,

Westward leading, still proceeding,

Guide us to thy perfect Light.

The original design was to have three different men sing verses two through four emphasizing their different gifts of gold (verse two), frankincense (verse three), and myrrh (verse four).

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain,

Gold I bring to crown Him again,

King forever, ceasing never

Over us all to reign.

Frankincense to offer have I.

Incense owns a Deity nigh.

Prayer and praising all men raising,

Worship Him, God on high.

Myrrh is mine: Its bitter perfume

Breaths a life of gathering gloom.

Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,

Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Gifts often play a big role at Christmas time. There may be frustration and extensive work in finding the perfect gift, but once you see a loved one’s sense of amazement and gratitude it is all worth it.

In 2 Corinthians 9:15, we read, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” Christmas is the time to celebrate as God sent His Son who is and brings the gift of salvation. The awe should make us speechless but thankful.

Romans 6:23 explains the situation, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In and of ourselves, we are in a bad place headed for the worst place. However, Jesus steps in with a gift – it is even called a “free gift.” Did you know Paul uses the phrase “free gift” six times in Romans?

The greatest response to receiving a gift is to express gratitude and then put it to use every day of your life. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh have their place, but nothing beats “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Sharing the Light • Devotion #3: “The Little Drummer Boy”

“The Little Drummer Boy” has children and adults alike singing a nonsensical phrase some twenty-one times in its twenty-one lines – “rum pum pum pum.” Feel free to add hand motions or a make-shift drum as you stroll through the verses.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum

A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum

To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,

rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,

When we come.

Baby Jesus, pa rum pum pum pum

I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum

I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum

That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,

rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,

On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum

The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum

I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum

I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,

rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum

Me and my drum.

One of the ending phrases encouraged me – “He smiled at me.” Do you pause through the day and realize that God does smile? Are our actions lending themselves to His approval and even happiness?

In Colossians 3:23, Paul writes about living life as if you have an audience of One, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” God is not like that “impossible to please” authority figure we all have experienced. Actually, His desire (and our goal) is found in His words recorded in Matthew 25:21, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

I want the last line of my biography to go something like this:

Jesus said,

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

“Then He smiled at me!”

Sharing the Light • Devotion #2: “The First Noel”

I wonder how many people sing “The First Noel” because they enjoy the music even though they do not know what “Noel” means. Noël is the French word for Christmas and is from the Latin “natalis” meaning “birthday.”

Lindsay Lowe wrote an interesting article entitled, “The Surprisingly Controversial History of the ‘Happy Birthday’ Song.” In the 1890s, Patty Hill and her sister, Mildred, composed a song that would be simple enough to sing with Patty’s kindergarten students. The original lyrics that accompanied the familiar “Happy Birthday” tune were:

Good morning to you

Good morning to you

Good morning dear teacher,

Good morning to all

Lowe wrote, “Using the same melody, her kindergarten students would sometimes swap in different lyrics, including the ‘Happy Birthday’ lyrics we know today.” It is silly to find that several lawsuits resulted in who would get the copyright and royalties for “Happy Birthday.”

“The First Noel” is basically a “Happy Birthday” to Jesus song. Verses one and two focus on the initial “party” guest:

The First Noel, the Angels did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star

Shining in the East beyond them far

And to the earth it gave great light

And so it continued both day and night.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel!

Verses three through six include the wise men. Even though the writer mistakenly viewed the wise men as only three guests, he does point out that the wise men brought three gifts. I imagine as Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt these gifts helped them adapt and survive.

A tradition I carried from my childhood into having a family of my own is having a birthday cake for Jesus and singing “Happy Birthday” to Him. We share gifts in remembrance of gifts given in the first Noel, but also as a thankfulness of the gift of salvation Jesus bought and brought for us.

This Christmas celebrate Jesus and His birthday!



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