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Posts Tagged ‘John 1:14’

Last week I shared with you journal-contemplations from the first verse of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” As with most hymns and praise songs, it’s easy to sing through the lyrics of this carol and miss their full significance.  

By putting pen to paper, we slow our thinking and wonderful blessings begin to emerge—like increased understanding of God and his Word, renewal of the mind, and augmented intimacy with God.

Contemplations can become worship.

With that in mind, let’s savor the second verse:

“Christ by highest heaven adored”

How glorious the music in heaven must be! Rich, clear voices, every note perfectly pitched. Intricate harmonies and faultless instrumentation.

All these sublime elements come together to worship You, Lord Christ–the Anointed One–who left the magnificence of heaven to be the Savior of humankind.

Thank you, Father, for giving us a glimpse (in the book of Revelation) of the heavenly song that celebrates King Jesus. I can’t help but hear Handel’s majestic melody from Messiah for the lyrics:

I praise You, Lord Jesus, for Your splendor!

“Christ, the everlasting Lord!”

You, O Christ, existed throughout the infinite past and will prevail into the infinite future.

Though Son of God, You are also the Eternal Father, forever with us and LORD of all. Nothing is outside Your control (1).

Power often corrupts in the human realm. But You are perfect in all attributes and motivated by matchless love.

I praise You, O Christ, for the supreme grace of Your Lordship!

“Late in time behold Him come”

To those who waited for Your arrival, You must have seemed late! Centuries had passed since the last prophecy of Your coming.

“But when the time was right,” You, O God, sent Your Son to redeem us (2).

In retrospect we can see why You chose the time of Roman rule. They had established stability in their far-reaching empire, built thousands of miles of roads, and established a common language.

Such factors meant early Christians could spread the good news about You more easily than ever before (3).

I praise You, O God, for Your masterful orchestration

that’s always in operation for the benefit of Your children!

“Offspring of the Virgin’s womb”

You are the One and Only begotten Son of the God the Father, the only Man of heavenly origin who ever lived on earth.

You committed no sin. Without that absolute perfection in You, there would be no salvation for us. God made You, who never sinned, to be sin so we could be made right with Him (4).

I praise You, Righteous Savior, for Your perfection!

“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see”

You embodied all the magnificent attributes of God during Your time on earth, yet You were also human.

You dealt with exhaustion, frustration, temptations, and discomforts, just as we do. The fullness of Your glory was veiled behind the ordinariness of Your humanity (5).

How difficult that must have been to know Your full capabilities yet continually hold Yourself in check.

I praise You, Lord Jesus, for your fierce love

that compelled You to complete such an arduous mission.

“Hail th’incarnate Deity”

No one has ever lived a sinless life except You.

No one espoused wisdom as You did or performed miracles like You.

You are the radiance of God’s glory!

I praise your for your divine holiness.

“Pleased as man with men to dwell”

You chose to come to earth and dwell among us, in spite of our self-centeredness, pride, weakness, and brokenness.

Such an incredible reality!

I praise You, O Lord, for your mercy, for wanting to be with us.

“Jesus, our Emmanuel.”

You are Emmanuel—God with us (7). Once we invite You into our lives we’re never left to our own feeble devices; we’re never without Your attentive care.

In Your presence we experience joy, refreshment, help, and pleasure (8). You enhance every moment of life with Your radiant attributes!

I praise You, O Christ, for choosing to veil Yourself in flesh that we might behold You.

I praise You for dwelling with us that might enjoy You!

Notes:

  1. Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 28:20; Philippians 2:9-11
  2. Galatians 4:4-5 CEV
  3. See “The Appropriate Time” for further details
  4. John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21
  5. Daniel Ruben, http://www.fbccarson.org/harktheheraldangelssing
  6. John 10:17 and 1:14
  7. Matthew 1:23
  8. Isaiah 9:3; Acts 2:28 and 3:19; Psalm 42:5; Psalm 16:11

Art & photo credits: http://www.rawpixels.com; http://www.openclipart.com; http://www.pexels.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.worldhistory.org; http://www.canva.com; http://www.freebibleimages.org (2); http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.hippopx.com.

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The Word, Jesus, became human and lived among us (1).

 

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Think of it:

 

He is “the image of the invisible God” (2), and

“The radiance of his glory (3),

The Creator of the universe (4), and

The Sustainer of all things (5).

He is “before all things, and in him all things hold together” (6).

He is glorious in power and grandeur because

God was pleased to have all of his divine essence inhabit him (7).

 

Colossians-1-17-He-Is-Before-All-Things-blue-copy

 

Who can fathom such transcendence?

 

The Word dwelled in the perfection and beauty of heaven (8),

In an atmosphere of tranquil peace and effervescent joy,

Where every longing of the soul is fulfilled,

Where angel-songs waft on the breeze.

 

finding-heaven

 

Who can fathom such splendor?

 

Then, The Word humbled himself beyond comprehension (9).

The Infinite One entered time and space.

He submitted himself to our realm of hurt and greed and struggle.

He even accepted the confines of a helpless infant—

Unable to feed himself, dress himself, or speak.

 

the_baby_jesus_nativity_scene_manger_spirit_hd-wallpaper-1287447

 

For a time, the Word relinquished the privilege of words.

And the most important event of all history took place in a stable-cave, where

God’s infinite love was wrapped in swaddling cloths, and

The most important Person of all history was placed in an animal feed trough.

For this King, no trumpets heralded his arrival to the royals in their castles,

No loud pronouncements proclaimed his birth to officials in their chambers of government.

Instead, an angel choir hailed His coming to humble shepherds on a hillside.

 

cole-angel-shepherds

 

Who can fathom the glory of such humility?

 

The Word grew to manhood and proclaimed the way to know God as Heavenly Father (10).

The Word spoke radical truth about believing in him and receiving eternal life (11).

The Word sacrificed his life that we might escape darkness

And live forever with him in the kingdom of light (12).

 

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Who can fathom such love?

________________________________________

  1. John 1:14
  2. Colossians 1:15
  3. Hebrews 1:3
  4. Colossians 1:16-17
  5. Hebrews 1:3
  6. Colossians 1:17
  7. Colossians 1:19, ISV
  8. John 6:38
  9. Philippians 2:7
  10. John 1:9
  11. John 5:24
  12. 1 Peter 2:9

 

(Art credits:  www.inkwellgreetings.com; http://www.knowing-jesus.com; http://www.churchofchristarticles.com; http://www.hdwallpapers.cat; http://www.chrusler.org; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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I love decorating our Christmas tree, even though it takes at least two days.

Two days?” you ask.  “Why so long?”

There are several very logical reasons – if you are me.

One:  It takes time to arrange the branches.  We have an artificial tree, you see.  (Cut evergreens don’t last long in Florida because of the heat, and Steve and I like to decorate right after Thanksgiving.)  That means, before decorating can begin, the tree has to be assembled and the branches spread out.

Two:  It takes time to string the lights.  Although pre-lit trees are convenient, they often include too few lights.  The rule of thumb is 100 lights per foot.  We put 1,000 lights on our eight-footer.  Some are tucked in, some arranged on the tips of branches.  This creates a tree that truly glows.

Three:  It takes time to hang the decorations — the ultimate 3-D jigsaw puzzle of Santas, angels, and miniature manger scenes, animals, toys, and traditional ball ornaments.  Dozens and dozens of them.  (And nearly all given to us by family, friends, members of the churches we’ve served, and students from my classes.)

Long ago I worked for a creative designer.  One aspect of her business included decorating Christmas trees for banks and businesses.  She taught me several tricks for creating a stunning display.  I’ve already shared the first rule:  Use lots of lights.

Two:  Consider the size, theme, and material of each ornament.  Try not to hang several Santas, or a group of red decorations, all together.

Three:  Just as lights are tucked in or perched on branch-tips, it’s important to do the same with ornaments.

Four:  Use the tree lights as spotlights for the ornaments, as often as possible.

A beautiful, glowing Christmas tree is in the carefully executed details.

tree 2012

(Photo taken before the last step:  settling the treetop angel in place.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Something else that’s found in the details?  Wonder.

Yes, that statement could be applied to decorations.  There is a sense of wonder when studying a breath-taking display.

But more significant?  The glorious wonder to be found in the carefully executed details of the Christmas story, the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Beyond the familiar events of angel visitations, a trip to Bethlehem, Baby Jesus laid in a manger, and a shepherds’ hurried trek to see the newborn Messiah, there is much to appreciate in the details.

For example:

One:  Little did Caesar Augustus know he was being used by God to fulfill an ancient Messianic prophecy, when he decreed the census that sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.  “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,…out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).  God is sovereign — even over those who do not know him.

Two:  Observe whom God chose to notify first about this pivotal event in history–the birth of his Son.  Shepherds!  Members of the lowest class in Jewish society!  Perhaps God wanted us to know that wealth, position, and even the respect of others is of little consequence in his eyes.  What does matter?  Faith.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

The shepherds did believe – in the old Messianic prophecies and in the angel’s message:  “Today!  Right now!  In the little town of David, your Savior, the Messiah, has been born” (Luke 2:10-11)!  Those sheep herders scurried off to Bethlehem as fast as they could go.  And their faith was highly rewarded.  They were first to see the long-awaited King of kings, the Messiah.  Their lowly position in society didn’t matter.

Three:  Most wondrous of all?  The Son of God, who was with God and was God from the very beginning, became human (John 1:1-2).  The One who created all things (Colossians 1:15-16), chose to become a helpless baby, and embrace every aspect of the human experience through thirty-some years of earth-dwelling.

I like the way Eugene Peterson says it:  “God became one of us and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message)!

And how do we respond to such wondrous details?  We follow the example of those shepherds.  We praise and glorify our God for all the things we have heard and seen, which prove what we’ve been told (Luke 2:20).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I DO praise you, Heavenly Father, that early in life I heard about your Son and your gift of eternal life.  I invited you into my life, and have experienced your love, joy, and peace, just as you promised.  In fact, I have seen many of your promises fulfilled in my life and in the lives of others.  You have proven to me over and over that what we’ve been told in scripture is indeed 100% truth.  With Mary, I exult:  “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47a)!

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