Let the Heavens Rejoice!

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Let the Heavens Rejoice!

By Patricia Knight

It was near the first century A.D., in Bethlehem of Judea, when Jesus, the Son of God, was born on earth. An angel previously had assured His mother, Mary, that Jesus would be the long-awaited Messiah promised to the Israelite nation. Shepherds visited the infant; an angelic choir sang glorious refrains; Magi traveled from distant foreign countries to visit the newborn King.

The Jews were a conquered nation, ruled by Herod the Great of the Roman Empire. Herod was ruthless, a schemer who clawed his way to the top of the political scene, maintaining discipline with secret police. He couldn’t tolerate competition. Even an infant King was a political thread to him. Herod’s family members were victims of his violent tendencies. He killed two of his ten wives, two sons, and his in-laws, among others.

Magi from the east stopped at the palace in Jerusalem to inquire regarding the whereabouts of the newborn King of the Jews, whose supernatural star they had been following for months. King Herod instructed his chief priests and teachers of law to research the Old Testament. The Magi were then directed to Bethlehem with a secret command from King Herod to report back to him details about the newborn King.

While visiting Jesus, the Magi were warned by angels to return home via an alternative route, avoiding their planned stop at King Herod’s palace. When the Magi didn’t return to Jerusalem, Herod suspected he’d been tricked. He immediately gave an order that all boys age two and younger be slaughtered throughout Bethlehem and its vicinities, according to when the Magi indicated the first star appeared.

Imagine the horror and helplessness the families endured when their toddler sons were selectively slain for no reason other than the king decreed it. The soldiers stormed every house searching for victims, their orders non-negotiable. What an agonizing massacre, a mass killing simply to validate one man’s pride.

Were Herod’s oppressive, totalitarian tactics so unlike the style of anarchy we are witnessing in our modern world? In geographic pockets around the world, terrorism has become the rule of the land. Cities and entire countries have collapsed. Christians, particularly, are beheaded or tortured for their faith in God. Women and children are brutalized or annihilated. At the very least, families are separated or displaced.

We gasp in horror when atrocities are committed within our own borders. As in King Herod’s day, the heinous acts are rationalized to promote personal power and greed. There is little interest in discussing or compromising issues of mutual importance. Have our governments made progress in peace-keeping methods since ancient times?

The Israelites had grown weary of waiting for the promised Messiah over the previous centuries. As Roman tyranny grew more suffocating, the Jews were anticipating a political savior to release them from servitude to Rome.

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But, the angels announced a Savior who would accomplish so much more—deliver His people from sin and death, a miracle that compelled the angels to sing at Jesus’ birth: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

We cannot ignore the nefarious worldwide brutality prevalent today. Neither can we allow a foreboding shadow of fear to invade our Christmas joy. However, we are capable of minimizing the negative effect on lives as we pray for peace and hope in an exploding world.

The cacophony of threatening chatter is heard from around the world, bombarding our minds with pessimistic messages. Discouragement develops easily if we allow our minds to get mired in the news of abominable current events. The good news is that God is the author and embodiment of all hope. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

Hope is confident expectation, a reliance on God’s blessings and provisions, not equated with unfounded optimism. We enjoy blessed assurance of our future destiny based on God’s love and power. As humans, we are incapable of conjuring up hope with personal efforts. Hope is a gift from God. “May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Hope resides in God, revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, and demonstrated in the death of Jesus on the cross, further reinforced by His resurrection from the dead.

Unlike world forces of evil, God is creative, powerful, and authoritative. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, able to calm our fearful spirits with His peaceful, trustworthy assurances. He encourages us to come to Him for soothing peace of mind and a joy-filled heart. Let us worship Him with enthusiasm and gratitude, as the shepherds and Magi did following Jesus’ birth over two thousand years ago.

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy” (Psalm 96:11-12). 

God created the earth and everything in it with an unfolding plan for the future that will lead to Jesus’ second coming to rule all nations in peace. God is in control. Let us praise our Lord for His magnificent plans that encourage hope. Vow to claim sovereign triumph in the midst of human chaos, as you give glory and gratitude to Jesus on His birthday this year.

Sunday Praise and Worship: Let it Rise

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Today we praise and worship our Lord with the song “Let it Rise” by Big Daddy Weave. Beloved, our awesome God deserves all of our praise and glory! He alone is worthy of such praise. He is our great I AM, our All in All, and a host of other glorious and awesome names. Psalm 138 expresses this kind of praise and worship very well.

Psalm 138 

¹ I will praise You with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing praises to You.

I will worship toward Your holy temple,
and praise Your name
for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
and made me bold with strength in my soul.

All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord,
when they hear the words of Your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
Though the Lord is on high,
yet He regards the lowly;
but the proud He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
against the wrath of my enemies,
and Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
do not forsake the works of Your hands.

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

New King James Version (NKJV). Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday Praise and Worship: Give You #Glory

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Have you ever pondered the many blessings we receive from God? Yes, even in the midst of trials, when we feel despair or frustration, we can choose to focus on God instead of ourselves and our circumstances. This opening passage of Psalm 115 is a wonderful way to remind ourselves why we need to praise our Lord:

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”

—Psalm 115:1-2

I love the song “Give You Glory” sung by Jeremy Camp because the simple lyrics glorify and praise our Lord Jesus so well. Please join me with  your heart, voice and hands raised high in giving the Lord the glory that is due Him. Praise Him forever! 

We give You glory,
Lifting up our hands and singing holy,
You alone are worthy
We just want to touch Your heart, Lord, touch Your heart
Glory, lifting up our voice and singing holy,
You alone are worthy
We just want to touch Your heart, Lord, touch Your heart

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

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We will glorify the great I AM

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Here we are on another beautiful Praise and Worship Sunday!

Beloved, no matter what you’re going through today, I want to encourage you to ponder the infinite love of our great I AM as you watch the wonderful video below, “We Will Glorify,” sung by Twila Paris. I’m sure many of us have often sung this in church over the years.

I’m sure we can all agree that our great I AM is more than worthy to be glorified!

Then Moses said to God,
“Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them,
‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

And God said to Moses,
“I AM WHO I AM.”
And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel,
‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
—Exodus 3:14-14

If for any reason you cannot view the video, you can read the lyrics here


New King James Version (NKJV) 
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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