Tag Archives: Emmanuel

Favorite Christmas Songs

The magic of Christmas is new every Yuletide. It is truly the most joyful (enduring and endearing) season and, indeed, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

favorite-christmas-songs

Such is its impact in our lives, our communities, and the world that people around the world often begin preparing for it months in advance.

Christmas trees, lights, decorations, gifts, and music – these all attest to its significance for humanity and to mankind’s desire for the peace and joy that only Jesus can bring.

Christmas isn’t magic, though it is magical. Christmas is a birthday celebrating the miraculous birth of Jesus into the world as a Babe in a manger and also His birth into our lives.

Jesus – Emmanuel (“God with us”), our Savior and Redeemer – was born that, as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen acknowledges, “man no more may die.”

Christmas music is invariably joyfulJoy to the World – because Jesus was born, sacrificed himself for us, and offers us the incredible gift of inviting us to live with Him forever in Paradise as His brothers and sisters.

Jesus truly is the reason for the season. Two millennia ago, shepherds and angels proclaimed the miracle of our Messiah’s birth. Heaven and nature has been singing ever since. Let us join our voices to that heavenly chorus.

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas songs (a few with multiple versions).

2,000 Decembers Ago Joy Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W8K3OhxVSw
Angels We have Heard on High Laura Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YyI-hS-Q1k
Breath of Heaven Amy Grant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8_475FKJWQ
Carol of the Bells Barlow Girl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0WXDp2twLw
Do You Hear What I Hear? Carrie Underwood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ad7KU9bCTAM
For Unto Us Point of Grace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGoyyDRi-_Q
Go Light Your Candle Kathy Troccoli https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9eyUgOFZf0
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Mannheim Steamroller https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXoJoHvho5M
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Nancy Sinatra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ma4lDu1RwOk
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Paige Sisters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCoy7URHuY4
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Pentatonix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku7ohU1IGls
Hallelujah (Light Has Come) Barlow Girl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e_2t4vHugo
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing Amy Grant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1m–UmRngY
How Many Kings Downhere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF952rzG3Yk
I Believe Natalie Grant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQBDtKC-cQ0
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day Casting Crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIqCtigFAXs
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear Kutless https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7aizwAprBA
It’s Christmas Mandisa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG14DXeXD3U
Joy to the World Avalon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-lKAyPYI_I
Joy to the World Mannehim Steamroller https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX5M9n7vrrg
Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy) Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC3SwhJsLqU
Joyful Joyful Casting Crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfNS0nxHXhc
Light of the World Lauren Daigle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olw5uH_fvuw
Mary, Did You Know? Kathy Mattea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I597YUXw1E
Mary, Did You Know? Pentatonix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE.
O Come All Ye Faithful Third Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsqNCWOycNw
O Come All Ye Faithful Britt Nicole https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27K59NgWsZo
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Barlow Girl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzW_PmW-LzE
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Celtic Angels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIGSuLlM-R4
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Selah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q6iesplJRM
O Holy Night Barlow Girl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLYM2WYkxEs
O Holy Night Josh Groban https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zh-yR0pbmU
O Holy Night Point of Grace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpxrK5ItgG0
O Little Town of Bethlehem Hillsong https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsXJp6A5y9Q
O Little Town of Bethlehem Jeremy Camp https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grKx1YSeLr0
Silent Night Kelly Clarkson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE1G-JdeNow
The First Noel Jaci Velaquez https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmAsVGraobU
What Child is This? Carrie Underwood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWwj5Jatc9Y
What Child is This? Faith Hill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DUhpP1w6Fc

(Please feel free to add your own to this list.)

A Fresh Start in Jesus Christ

During the Christmas season we are reminded of the birth of Jesus. The news of Jesus’ birth surely brought Joy to the World.

Fresh Start in Jesus

Why such joy? In “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” we sing these words:

“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

Hail th’incarnate Deity,

Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,

Jesus our Emmanuel.”

Jesus was pleased to clothe himself in human flesh and dwell with us. He stooped down from heaven to live with us mere mortals here on earth. This Christmas carol continues:

“Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.”

Yes, Jesus humbly gave up his divine prerogatives to live with us, suffer with us, and die for us – out of his great love for us.

Jesus was “Born that man no more may die,” that through faith in him we might have everlasting life with him in Paradise (John 3:16).

Jesus was “Born to raise the sons of earth,” that we might become children of God and heirs together with Christ in heaven (Rom. 8:17).

Jesus was “Born to give them second birth,” that we might be born again – a spiritual birth – so that we might be transformed into his likeness (2 Cor. 3:18).

Jesus has given us a fresh start!

Adam and Eve failed in the Garden of Eden and they were expelled from Paradise.

Jesus, the last Adam, has succeeded and is bringing us into Paradise!

“The Scriptures tell us, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam – that is, Christ – is a life-giving Spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45)

Jesus’ birth was a game-changerfor all of us. His birth is still recognized in our calendars, in this Year of our Lord, 2016.

Jesus came to give us new life and a fresh start. But we have a choice: Will we accept his freely-given gift or will we continue to live our lives our own way – a way which leads to destruction?

Moreover, having received Jesus’ gift of eternal life, will we live our lives as Jesus would, or will we take his gift for granted? The choice is ours. May we all choose better than Adam and Eve.

Obama and Reagan on Jesus

In Matthew 10:34, Jesus made a seemingly enigmatic statement: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword.” Jesus graphically depicted how differing views of Jesus would divide people.

Obama & Reagan on Jesus

The contrast between views could not be starker between the Left and the Right. One party removed God from its 2012 platform while the other is derided by the Left for its embrace of the Religious Right.

As usual, Jesus is the pivot point, the demarcation line, or, as He put it, the sword which divides. Jesus is either a rock of offense or the foundation of one’s faith.[1]

The head of the Democrat Party, President Obama, views Jesus as a dead social justice activist, while President Reagan, the model for most Republican candidates, viewed Jesus as both alive and divine.

Obama’s Jesus – Social Justice Activist

President Obama’s Christmas message in 2015 was simple and secular. Obama said (emphasis added),

“Today, like millions of Americans and Christians around the world, our family celebrates the birth of Jesus and the values He lived in his own life. Treating one another with love and compassion. Caring for those on society’s margins: the sick and the hungry, the poor and the persecuted, the stranger in need of shelter – or simply an act of kindness.”

With his very next words, Obama watered down the significance of both Christ and Christmas, saying,

“That’s the spirit that binds us together – not just as Christians, but as Americans of all faiths. It’s what the holidays are about: coming together as one American family to celebrate our blessings and the values we hold dear.”

Actually, no. Christmas is about worshiping the newborn Babe and risen King.[2]

While people of all faiths can certainly enjoy this festive time of year, and Americans of all faiths should certainly strive for peace and harmony, only one faith – and, in particular, one Person[3] – is the reason for the season.[4]

God blessed America because people of the Christian faith sought His will in establishing this great nation. Our political, cultural and spiritual heritage is distinctly Christian in nature.[5]

Reagan’s Jesus – Divine

In contrast to Obama’s view of Jesus as a dead social justice activist, Reagan viewed Jesus as both alive and divine.

President Reagan’s 1983 Christmas Eve address (emphasis added):

“We celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace who came as a babe in a manger. Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great teacher and philosopher. But to other millions of us, Jesus is much more. He is divine, living assurance that God so loved the world He gave us His only begotten Son so that by believing in Him and learning to love each other we could one day be together in paradise.”

Speaking of our nation’s Founder, George Washington, Reagan said (emphasis added),

“The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and Preserver.”

Endnotes:

[1]               See “Attacking the Faith: Did Jesus Say that He is God?” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-P.

[2]               See “Celebrating Christmas” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-ct.

[3]               See “Jesus, the Prince of Peace,” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-6J.

[4]               See “Not a Dickens Christmas” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-cq.

[5]               See “CPAC: America’s Christian Heritage Denied” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-8E.

Celebrating Christmas

At the center of all of the Christmas narratives is the Babe, Jesus Christ, our Emmanuel (“God with us”).

Celebrating Christmas

In the beloved Christmas carol, “O Come Let Us Adore Him,” we sing “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.” This harkens to Jesus’ birth (called the Advent or Incarnation) as recorded in the Gospel of John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

With the birth of Jesus, mankind was introduced to God in the flesh, One who could fully empathize with us and who, now, intercedes on our behalf with our Father in heaven.

Our Father? How?

The Word was born a Babe that we might become children of God. John 1:12 explains, “But as many as received Him, to these He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”

Why would God want to share His life with us?

The most well-known Scripture, John 3:16, tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The apostle John added, “truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3-4).

The exquisitely joyous Christmas season reminds us of our fellowship with God in Christ, a relationship which should fill us with joy. Every day. And, when we meet our Maker, we will fully experience joy forevermore.

John also revealed a little bit about that time, writing, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

Jesus became a human being so that, ultimately, we could might experience spiritual rebirth and be transformed into His image, to become like Him!

These are just a few things to ponder as we celebrate the day of Jesus’ birth.

Without Christ, there is no Christmas. But with Christ, every day is Christmas.

Not a Dickens Christmas

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a popular, perennial tale which captures the imagination, tugs at our heartstrings, and, sadly, misses the whole point of Christmas.

Dickens

Every year, new Christmas movies are released, destined to garner good ratings. Many are romantic comedy/dramas. Others address family or financial issues. Some are simply fun. And many explore the Dickensian themes of economic disparity and evil elites.

Dickens was a Unitarian” who “focused more on morality and ethics than on traditional theology,” and whose “own faith seemed to be more of a romantic, deistic, Unitarian variety.” In fact, today he would be called a social justice warrior. “Benevolence, rather than faith, is central to Dickens’s vision of the Christmas.” Hence, his harangue against the stereotypical greedy capitalist.

According to Dickens – but contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ – Scrooge was given a second chance and was able “to save himself – to become his own savior.”

In the end, Scrooge promises to honor Christmas as his path to redemption. This is idolatry and a false gospel. Like those pagans condemned in Romans 1:25 because they “worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator,” Scrooge is worshiping Christmas instead of the Babe who was born on Christmas.

But Christmas is a joyous season for one reason: Jesus Christ was born that we might be redeemed by Him and live with Him through eternity.

Virtually all traditional Christmas songs celebrate this sublime truth.

This classic song proclaims:

Remember, Christ, our Saviour / Was born on Christmas day / To save us all from Satan’s power / When we were gone astray. / O tidings of comfort and joy, / Comfort and joy. / O tidings of comfort and joy.

Remember the words of Isaiah’s prophecy: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).”

Don’t neglect the reason for the season. As you celebrate the birth of Jesus, spend time with the One whose birth we are celebrating.

Mele Kalikimaka

Christmas is indisputably the most joyous season of the year. For many Americans, 2015 will prove especially memorable.

Mele Kalikimaka

The American Northeast is experiencing record highs this Christmas season, prompting some to herald “Global warming!” (Every area of the world has its own record highs and record lows for every day of the year. It’s called weather.)

Others, especially Hawaiian shirt-lovers like me, are grateful for this temporary change of temperature, if not of venue. (Those who flew down to Florida for the holidays just for the weather may have wasted their money.)

Regardless of the weather wherever you are, may we all remember the reason for the season.

In the Gospel of Luke 2:10-11, we read: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’”

Remember, it is truly “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

May you all have a marvelous Christmas season. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:14).”

The Dawn of Hope

“the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned.” – Matthew 4:16

The real meaning of Christmas can often be obscured by the trees and lights, the fanfare and the presents. But Christmas is not about the glitter – as festive as that can be – but about the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ, who was born as a Babe to bring hope to the world.

LifeLifter10

For God so loved the world … that the Word clothed himself in humanity to dwell with us. Jesus entered our darkened world to bring us the Light that we might have the hope of salvation in him.

Christmas is a joyous season with joyful and festive songs – with good reason! Jesus was born to save his people from their sins and to bring us into a relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit that will continue through eternity.

The Good News of Jesus arrived that Christmas day, with angels and shepherds and wise men witnessing the miracle and worshiping the Messiah. Joyful adoration erupted from hearts filled with hope that God would fulfill his promises.

Jesus was born in a dying world and we, 2,000 years later, live in a darkened world. But Jesus, our Light, gives us a certain hope for the future – a hope that we can share with others.

Jesus, our Emmanuel – God with us – is indeed with us so that we have nothing to fear.

This Christmas season (and throughout the coming year), may we express the love and exhibit the hope that Jesus has given us to those still in the darkness, pointing them to the true meaning of Christmas.