Friday, December 14, 2018

Advent Words: O is for O Holy Night


O is for O Holy Night

Christmas carols and hymns like O Holy Night are very familiar to most of us. We sing them year after year, having memorized them from childhood. Many were written during times when a majority of the population were illiterate. The carols and hymns became a popular way to teach and tell the Christmas story. O Holy Night was originally a French Christmas poem written as a commission for a clergyman who wanted a poem for Christmas mass The poet used the Gospel of Luke as a guide for his poem. It was later set to music by a famous French composer. In the mid 1800's the song captured the attention of an American writer and abolitionist, who was drawn to the first four lines of the second verse. The hymn would eventually become a standard part of our Christmas music repertoire.



In many ways, when we sing these songs at Christmas, we are singing God's Word to one another. I will list some Bible passages you can read to see how deeply theological this Christmas hymn is. 

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Luke 2:8-9; Matthew 2:1-2.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Romans 3:10-18; Romans 8:22; 1 John 3:1-5

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Romans 8:19-22, 24; Romans 13:12; Romans 5:1-2; Romans 15:13
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;

Philippians 2:9-11; Psalm 95:6; Luke 2:14
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.

John 13:34-35; Mark 12:30-31: Romans 13:10: Ephesians 2:14-17; Ephesians 5:1-2
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.

Psalm 107:13-16; Philemon 16; Psalm 9:7-10; Psalm 103:5-6
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.

Psalm 103:1, 19-22; Psalm 145:21; Psalm 150:1-6
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Revelation 5:11-13; Revelation 7:9-12

Enjoy digging in to just a few of the many verses that give meaning to the lyrics of O Holy Night.





Share your creative response to the Advent Words challenge in our private Facebook group  Join here:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wordschallengegroup/

If you belong to the Everyday Journal group that I co-lead with Valerie Sjodin and Bernice Hopper, Advent Words will be our theme for December.

Share on Instagram and other social media with the hashtag #adventwords2018.

Check out my Pinterest board for this challenge and see some of the wonderful and diverse creativity of Advent Words 2018 participants. https://www.pinterest.com/marynbtol/advent-words-2018-challenge/

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Advent Words: N is for Noel


N is for Noel


"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." ~Luke 2:16-20

Our word Noel comes from the French "Les bonnes nouvelles" which means the Good News. In French Noel means Christmas, as in Joyeux Noel or Merry Christmas. The word has been used for centuries in Christmas carols, such as The First Noel.  More recently Chris Tomlin introduced a song titled, Noel, and sung by Lauren Daigle which captures the story of Christmas well.


Love incarnate, love divine

Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore

Noel, Noel

Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel

Son of God and Son of man

There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord 
He shall reign forevermore

Noel, Noel

Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel

Noel, Noel

Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us

Noel, Noel





Share your creative response to the Advent Words challenge in our private Facebook group  Join here:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wordschallengegroup/

If you belong to the Everyday Journal group that I co-lead with Valerie Sjodin and Bernice Hopper, Advent Words will be our theme for December.

Share on Instagram and other social media with the hashtag #adventwords2018.

Check out my Pinterest board for this challenge and see some of the wonderful and diverse creativity of Advent Words 2018 participants. https://www.pinterest.com/marynbtol/advent-words-2018-challenge/


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Advent Words: M is for Mercy


M is for Mercy

Zechariah's Song:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our ancestors
    and to remember his holy covenant,
    the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
    and to enable us to serve him without fear
    in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:67-79
Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist. Scripture tells us that he was a priest and descendant of Aaron, that he was elderly, and that he and his wife, Elizabeth, had been unable to have children. One day Zechariah was lighting incense in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared. The angel told him that Elizabeth would be pregnant and bear a son, who they were to name John. This son would be "great in the sight of the Lord" (Luke 1:1:15)  and he be used by God. Scripture says of him:

"He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”         Luke 1:16-17

Zechariah had a hard time believing the angel, and because of his unbelief the angel told him he would be silent and unable to speak. He remained silent until the day of the birth of his son John. We are told by Luke that Zechariah was then "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:67) and his first words after months of silence were to sing the words of that which sis known as Zechariah's song in Luke 1:68-79.

The angel of the Lord had spoken to Elizabeth as well, and they knew that Mary carried the the son of God, they knew their son's role would be to prepare the people for the Lord's coming. In his joy at the birth of his son, Zechariah praised God for the mercy He had shown them ~ not only mercy for them personally in bearing a child, but mercy for God's people as well, in sending the Savior.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

    because he has come to his people and redeemed them."






This Savior is the One who would bring salvation. The One who had been promised from the kingly line of David. The One who would fulfill the promise made to Abraham that all the nations on earth would be blessed. The One who would rescue God's people from bondage and fear. The One who would enable God's people to serve Him "in holiness and righteousness".


Zechariah's son John would be used by God, "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High". The prophet of the Most High would prepare the people for the Son of the Most High. John would make clear to the people that God's mercy had come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. "Because of the tender mercy of our God" salvation has come! Light has come! Peace has come!

Zechariah's song gives us the story of God's mercy to His people in the gift of His Son.









Share your creative response to the Advent Words challenge in our private Facebook group  Join here:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wordschallengegroup/

If you belong to the Everyday Journal group that I co-lead with Valerie Sjodin and Bernice Hopper, Advent Words will be our theme for December.

Share on Instagram and other social media with the hashtag #adventwords2018.

Check out my Pinterest board for this challenge and see some of the wonderful and diverse creativity of Advent Words 2018 participants. https://www.pinterest.com/marynbtol/advent-words-2018-challenge/









Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Advent Words: L is for Love


L is for Love

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."  ~1 John 4:9-10



Love is not simply a characteristic of God or somethings He does. Love is who God is. In fact, the verse right before the above passage in 1 John says, "God is love". (1 John 4:8) It is His very nature and being, just as holiness is. God is holy and God is love. All that He is and all that He does is holy and loving. His most holy and loving act was in the Incarnation. He sent His Son into the world for us as the ultimate act love. We did nothing to earn or gain this loving act. In fact, the Bible tells us that there is nothing we can do, no act worthy of gaining God's love. Why? Because of sin. Sin entered this world through the act of man in the beginning and separated us from God's favor. But God had a plan to restore His favor on us. Paul says it this way in the book of Romans:

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8

And again Paul describes it in the book of Titus:

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."
Titus 3:4-7

We were powerless to earn His love. We did nothing. We were separated from God because of sin; yet this did not stop a loving God from repairing the breach that stood between us. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." ~ 1 John 4:10

This is love ~ the Incarnation. God sent his one and only Son into the world.
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
~Poem by Christina Rossetti, 1885

Advent is a celebration of waiting and preparing for the love God sent into the world in the birth of His Son and our Savior at Christmas.








Share your creative response to the Advent Words challenge in our private Facebook group  Join here:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wordschallengegroup/

If you belong to the Everyday Journal group that I co-lead with Valerie Sjodin and Bernice Hopper, Advent Words will be our theme for December.

Share on Instagram and other social media with the hashtag #adventwords2018.

Check out my Pinterest board for this challenge and see some of the wonderful and diverse creativity of Advent Words 2018 participants. https://www.pinterest.com/marynbtol/advent-words-2018-challenge/


Monday, December 10, 2018

Advent Words: K is for Kingdom


K is for Kingdom

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:32-33


"But about the Son he says,“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." Hebrews 1:8


Throughout the pages of the Old Testament are woven the promise of a king who would come and rule in justice, righteousness and mercy. He would be a Redeemer King who would rescue God's people and bring them promised salvation. 

The promise of the coming king would first be made to David, that this king would come from his descendants: 
"He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son...Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever." 2 Samuel 7:13-14, 16

The prophet Isaiah continued to proclaim God's promise of a king:
"For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this."

Isaiah 9:6-7


The arrival of the Messiah inaugurates the reign of the promised king. In the gospels, and especially Luke's gospel, the use of the term the "kingdom of God" is frequent throughout the book. The kingdom of God is used to refer to God's rule and reign, and more specifically in the gospels, to God's reign in the hearts of men. 

Let's take a brief look at what Luke tells us about the kingdom of God:

We are told in the very beginning, with the angel's proclamation of the arrival of God's Son, that the Son "will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:33

Jesus spent his life on earth preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. Luke 4:43, 8:1, 9:11, 6:16.

To the poor He promised they would possess the kingdom. Luke 6:20

To the disciples He revealed the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom. Luke 8:10

He sent the Apostles out to preach the kingdom and show the kingdom's power with healing. 9
Luke 9:2, 9:60.

Jesus proclaimed the kingdom was here now, yet was also coming in the future. Luke 10:11, 11:20, 17:20-21, 21:31.

He called His followers to seek God's kingdom first, before all else. Luke 12:31

He proclaimed that the kingdom belonged to children and to those who were childlike in receiving it: Sincere, open, fully trusting and completely dependent on God. Luke 18:16-17

Jesus proclaimed that God is pleased to give His followers the kingdom.

Blessed are we, whose God is the Lord, for we have a righteous, just and merciful King, who has brought us into the the kingdom of God!

Into our hopes, into our fears
The Savior of the world appears
The promise of eternal years
Christ the Messiah


He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore
Unto us a Child is born
The King of kings and Lord of lords
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore

He Shall Reign Forevermore by Chris Tomlin






Share your creative response to the Advent Words challenge in our private Facebook group  Join here:   https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wordschallengegroup/



If you belong to the Everyday Journal group that I co-lead with Valerie Sjodin and Bernice Hopper, Advent Words will be our theme for December.

Share on Instagram and other social media with the hashtag #adventwords2018.

Check out my Pinterest board for this challenge and see some of the wonderful and diverse creativity of Advent Words 2018 participants. https://www.pinterest.com/marynbtol/advent-words-2018-challenge/