Here we are at the end of another year. The older we get the faster the years seem to fly by and the more things change around us. The passage of time is made more real to us as we watch how fast our grandson is growing up. We can hardly wrap our minds around the fact that he is going to be four years old in just a few weeks.
At this time of year we like to remind you to take a look at your spiritual life. The following are the two questions we annually propose to you to help with spiritual evaluation.
- Is Jesus and His Kingdom the absolute top priority in my life? This question forces us to evaluate whether anyone or any thing has taken the place of Jesus as the central focus of our daily lives or the life of our church. If we can pinpoint anything that has crept in to that #1 spot, determine to put Him back in first place.
- Am I closer to God now than I was at this time last year? This year should have drawn us closer to God—we have needed to rely on Him more than ever. If we cannot honestly say that we are closer to God now than at the beginning of this year, some adjustments need to be made in our lives--immediately.
As we approach the Christmas season, Pastor Dwila always asks God to give a new insight or special revelation about Christmas in order to make it fresh each year. For the past few weeks the phrase, “…tidings of comfort and joy” has been rolling around in her spirit. While meditating on this phrase, there came an interesting discovery never considered before.
This phrase repeats in the chorus of the Christmas carol titled “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. This song was written in England during dark days around the year 1650. Those early lyrics were somewhat different from today’s version, but the underlying thought continued through the centuries.
The first line of the song, “God rest ye merry gentlemen…” historically meant, “May God grant you peace and happiness”. Then comes “…let nothing ye dismay”—meaning do not let anything that is going on around you bring you to dismay (meaning apprehension, panic, alarm, sadness, depression) Why? Because, “…remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day”.. Why was he born? “…To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray” Then comes the chorus, “O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy. O tidings of comfort and joy
Most of the time, people only sing that first verse of the song. But, as you examine the lyrics further, more comes to light. Verse 2) “In Bethlehem, in Israel this blessed babe was born. And laid within a manger upon this blessed morn. The which his mother Mary did nothing take in scorn…” then the chorus.
Verse 3) “From God our Heavenly Father a blessed angel came. And unto certain Shepherds brought tidings of the same. How that in Bethlehem was born the son of God by name.”—then the chorus.
Verse 4) “’Fear not then’, said the angel ‘Let nothing you affright. This day is born a Savior of a pure virgin bright. To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might’”—then the chorus.
Verse 5) “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!
By the end of the song, our hearts should be bursting with comfort and joy. The lyrics were written during dark days on the earth. Yet, there is always hope because of Jesus. Jesus freed us from all the power of the enemy. The crux of the gospel message is spelled out in the lyrics of this song.
Part of the reason people love Christmas is because of the carols. Even if they are unbelievers they will sing these carols with gusto, not realizing that they are declaring the gospel message with their words.
Oh, that the words of this song would be as seed in the hearts of unbelievers this Christmas season. May they really find “…tidings of comfort and joy” in the very words they are singing. May you too find comfort and joy as never before because of the birth we celebrate.
Comfort and joy to you all—no matter what! Love, Pastor Rick and Dwila