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“Joy to the World”, the most popular Christmas hymn of all time, was written by Isaac Watts in 1719. It is so familiar that we often more easily sing the words than we understand and apply them. For example, “Let every heart prepare Him room...” is a line taken from numerous passages in the Bible that command people to use great effort to make God’s truth a priority. (e.g. Matthew 3:3) The word “prepare” literally means to “build something substantial”. Applying it to our personal lives means we would expend great emotional and spiritual effort to consider the truth of God’s purposes, and then find delight in living them out in daily life.

Especially this time of year and during the uniqueness of 2020, we will find greater peace and perspective in preparing our hearts (making room) to focus on Jesus Christ than on filling our thoughts and lives with the stress of Covid restrictions or changes to our holiday plans.

The most practical ways to “prepare our hearts” is by reading God’s Word, humbling our hearts before Him daily in prayer, and treating others with respect and concern, rather than obsessing about the challenges of life.

Even as churches, we may have had to adjust our physical gathering patterns this Christmas due to some of the safety mandates. But the message of Christmas hope is made that much more real with the reminder that the birth of Christ does more than commemorate the birth of another religious leader; instead it marks the arrival of God Himself onto our sin-sick planet with the message of peace with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ

Especially during these months of distraction, I must “prepare” a special place in my heart for that message this year and confirm its truth, not only within my heart but also by living that message with a sense of positive hope. I encourage you to join me in preparing your heart to make the Christmas season of 2020 a time of “Joy to the World” with a message of hope.

Psalm 98: 1-2: "Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations."


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It’s one of my favorite quotes from Christian author, Steven Brown: “When things are the darkest, even a little light will do!” The physical attribute of light is that it will always win out over the darkness. The prophet Micah is writing some eight centuries before the birth of Christ during a very dark time in Judah’s history. The southern kingdom of Judah is about to be conquered by the wicked Assyrians, and yet in the middle of this political darkness, he declares that the “Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.” This small ray of hope will shine 800 years into the future as God keeps His promise, and Jesus Christ is born in the tiny town of Bethlehem. The same Messiah who was born in Bethlehem, grew up to give His life for our sin, rose from the dead, and will return in victory one day. We live in spiritually dark times, but that truth about our Lord Jesus is what brings us peace and perspective for the year 2020 and beyond.

 

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