Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Two reasons for joy this Christmas

Sea waves
"Let the sea roar, and all its fullness..."
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 96:1-13

Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day …
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful and all that is in it. 

A few days ago we read part of David's song that he composed for the celebration of bringing the ark back to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 16:23-36).  Psalm 96, my Bible's study notes tell me, is included in that song.

It pulsates with JOY. My Thompson Chain Bible lists  occasions of great joy:
1. The creation - Job 38:4-7.
2. Laying the foundation of the temple - Ezra 3:12.
3. The coming of Christ - Matthew 2:10; Luke 2:10.
4. The resurrection of Christ - Matthew 28:8.
5. The ascension of Christ - Luke 24:52.
6. The conversion of the gentiles - Acts 15:3.

We're in the Advent season, near the climax of #3. Two things strike me as I connect David's celebration song with the incarnation:

1. The essence of its joy is "the good news of His salvation." And that is the core reason we celebrate Christmas. Yes, the story of Joseph, Mary, the census, no-room-Bethlehem etc. is fascinating, the humble characters relatable, the occasion by now bathed in a romantic light. But the celebration of Jesus' birth all these many years later continues because in Jesus' coming as a human baby is wrapped up the good news of God extending salvation to undeserving us.

2. The joy of the occasion affects even nature as it anticipates the culmination of salvation.
  • Nature was cursed at the Fall. The ground, plant and animal life also suffered the consequences of Adam and Eve's sin - Genesis 3:14,17.
  • We see glimmerings of nature's release from the curse in Jesus' interactions with it - Matthew 8:27.
  • Paul mentions how "creation eagerly awaits for the revealing of the sons of God" though still "groans" - Romans 8:20-22.
  • John, in Revelation, speaks of a time when all is accomplished and "there will be no more curse" - Revelation 22:3.

Those two things—salvation and the hope of no more curse—stir up joy in me today. I hope they do in you too.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming as a baby and make possible my salvation. I am looking forward to the day when the curse of our sin will be no more. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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