Let’s Get Loud. It’s Christmas!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Luke 2:11-14, ESV

How very busy things get! Think of it, shepherds are meeting singing angels who are meeting people.  It must have been a bit crazy!  It’s verse 13 that, a very large group of angels made their entrance that night.  Human history is being made now, and the world has now been changed.

These are not quiet or stoic angels, rather they are a multitude of music, and they’re filled with incredible joy. A joy that can’t be contained.

And as happy as this ‘angel crowd’ gets,  it doesn’t phase them that God in heaven is now wrapped in human flesh and has been born in a manger.  Every angel and almost every person understands– this isn’t the place to have babies! 

(Angels being angels, I think they were not thrilled with this grim hospitality being shown to God.  They probably said some ‘un-angelical’ things under their breath).

But this doesn’t matter, you see this swarm of angels descend on the stinky stable. 

And they are ecstatic, belting out at the top of their lungs songs of worship and praise.  The squalid environment isn’t a problem for them.  The cow manure, sheep feces, and filthy straw can all be smelled, but that means nothing at this moment.

Friends, I must confess–my heart is very much like this dirty stable. 

Everything is so filthy, and the smell makes my eyes water, and the flies are thick and everywhere.  It is all so sad, and pathetic.  There are many others with clean, white hearts, why should He choose my heart to abide? He must clean me, wash me with His hot red blood. (1 John 1:9)

The choir is singing now, and all of them are in deep, wonderous worship.  They belt it out with the enthusiasm of rabid fans at a World Cup soccer game.  But I examine my heart I see so many issues, some things that are actually destroying me. I’m glad He’s all powerful and all loving–all the time and forever and ever.

But the angels, well, they just keep singing.

Perhaps (maybe) we need to take the hint?

“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”

Charles Dickens

 

Jesus is My Apple Tree

apple-tree

“Like the finest apple tree in the orchard
    is my lover among other young men.
I sit in his delightful shade
    and taste his delicious fruit.”

Song of Solomon 2:3, NLT

Jesus is my apple tree. He keeps my dying soul alive.

He is the subject of many different metaphors. We know him as a shepherd, a door, and bread. There are many other ‘pictures’ in Scripture, that speak of his ministry and life. There is one that strikes me today, that of Jesus Christ as a life-giving tree– an apple tree. Song of Solomon 2:3 and Revelation 22:1 are the ‘roots’ of this wondrous thought.

“On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”

Rev. 22:2

To think of Jesus as ‘the tree of life’ or an apple tree is both an honor to Him and a strength for us. We can swirl metaphors around all day and never exhaust their truths. Jesus (a.k.a. “the apple tree”) is seen imparting life and healing through his fruit. He is the source of everything good and grand in our lives. Eating his fruit is not only significant but encouraged. (Like most things in God’s Kingdom.)

The young maiden in Song of Solomon has given us her take on Jesus— her shepherd, lover, and king. She sees him as the finest in the forest. He provides shade to her, as she eats the fruit of his branches.

Oh, what a worthy picture of Jesus our savior. We can look at this all day. As we come to him we can see the One who is gifting each of us his blessings. We do well to consider him this way.  The first few lines set the tone for us.

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.”

The song, based on an anonymous poem, first appeared in a New England hymn collection by a New Hampshire preacher in 1784, so it has a history. Many people sing this as a Christmas carol, although there is nothing in the words that refer to Christmas. Go through each stanza. See if it fits you. Perhaps it will cause you to see Jesus in a new way. Here is the poem in its entirety:

Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

“Consider Jesus. Know Jesus. Learn what kind of Person it is you say you trust and love and worship. Soak in the shadow of Jesus. Saturate your soul with the ways of Jesus. Watch Him. Listen to Him. Stand in awe of Him. Let Him overwhelm you with the way He is.”   

John Piper

Wishing You a Thoughtful Christmas

Some thoughts about the meaning of Christmas:

He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.    

–Augustine

There were many who saw the babe, but did not see the salvation.  

–Author Unknown

For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all; No palace too great, no cottage too small.  

 –Phillips Brooks

Rejoice, that the immortal God is born, so that mortal man may live in eternity.    

–John Hus

His poverty was so great that He was born in another man’s house, and buried in another man’s tomb.    

–John Boys

It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the most profound unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. God became man; Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the incarnation.  

–J.I. Packer

Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.  

–Corrie Ten Boom

The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.  

— J.I. Packer

There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the donkey understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today.    

–Thomas Merton

Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man – His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God – when we present our bodies a living sacrifice.   

 –Vance Havner

The idea that there’s a force of love and logic behind the universe is overwhelming to start with, if you believe it. Actually, maybe even far-fetched to start with, but the idea that that same love and logic would choose to describe itself as a baby born in shit and straw and poverty is genius, and brings me to my knees, literally. To me, as a poet, I am just in awe of that. It makes some sort of poetic sense. It’s the thing that makes me a believer, though it didn’t dawn on me for many years.    

–Bono

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the incarnation. They say that God became man.   

— C.S. Lewis

Infinite, and an infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms. King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph. Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son.   

–Charles Spurgeon

Carols stir us. Holy words inspire us. The golden glow from the manger warms us. A little religion at Christmas is fine. But that glow in the manger comes from the Light of the world. It exposes evil and either redeems it or destroys it. The babe in the manger is far more than an object for sentimental sighs. He is the Son of God who must be accepted as ruler – or confronted as rival.  

–John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.  

–Charles Dickens

Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and a nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chilled hidebound hearts.  

–Lenora Mattingly Weber

Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn king.”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.

–Charles Wesley

This Gospel anticipates a world far different from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, where it is “always winter, and never Christmas.” The promise of the Gospel is that it is “always Christmas.”  To be “in Christ” is to enjoy each morning as a Christmas morning with the family of God, celebrating the gift of God around the tree of life.  

–Kevin VanHoozer

The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.  

–Stuart Briscoe

Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear. Jesus was born to die.    

–John MacArthur

When It’s Far Too Dark

Depression has been called the “common cold” of mental disorders, and one source estimates that it disrupts the lives of 30 to 40 million Americans.

But for many, a cold isn’t even close to describing their depression; it’s often very challenging and very destructive.
Here are nine things you must do right now:
  • Avoid being alone.  Force yourself to be with people. (I know “force” is a strong word, but if that is what it takes!) You must find fellowship now.
  • Go to church. God’s people and wise elders can direct and guide you. The Church is God’s way of helping you walk through darkness and depression. They’re to be a source of authentic blessing to those who struggle.
  • Seek help from medical professionals. This will probably require some humility.  Reach out to someone who will understand. (There meds that might help you.)
  • Sing out loud. It sounds crazy, but music can uplift your spirit as it did for King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23). Get an iPod and fill it with good music. Praise and give thanks.  This can really push back the darkness.  
  • Lean heavily on the power of God’s Word. Write out verses; listen to the teachers Tear apart a book of the Bible and then put it back together!.
  • Read the Psalms, for these really are God’s medicine for your spirit. Each one of them are divinely inspired; they have been tried over and over through many centuries by believers as a book of prayer. They’re for any need you might have.
  • Learn conversational prayer. Talk to your Father as you would talk to a friend. He’s waitung for you to come closer. Don’t get religious here, rather just talk to Him. Also, listen. He likes to talk too.
  • Rest confidently in the presence of God’s Spirit.Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance” Psalm 42:5. 
  • Remember that God is not against you, He is definitely on your side. He’s very close to you right now. “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18.

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?”

Romans 8:31-32, Message

“God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns”

Philippians 1:6

Please keep coming back to Brokenbelievers. 

Use the search button on the site. You’ll find lots of good teaching which can help you sort things out.  There over 1,400 posts available here, and we maybe can help. And if you comment on any post, or via email we’ll read it, so much of this ministry comes when we connect with each others like this. 

Linda and I are no meand medical professionals, however, I’m an evangelical pastor, and Linda is a wise believer who has lived through many storms. We both have been challenged with being disciples of Jesus, having had our times in the dark. We promise to help, if we can. 

And we both can pray.

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