Devotional – December 26, 2020
Carolyn Wood’s Devotional
JOY TO THE WORLD!
For it is the God who said, Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
…who, though he was in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form. Philippians 2:6-7
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” Luke 2:13-14
For you know the generous acts of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
As we wait attentively in His Presence, the Light of the knowledge of His glory shines upon us. This radiant knowledge transcends all understanding. It transforms every fiber of our beings: renewing our minds, cleansing our hearts, invigorating our bodies. Christ asks us to open ourselves fully to His Presence; and be awed by His glorious Being.
Try to imagine what He gave up when He came into our world as a baby. He set aside His Glory so that He could identify with mankind. He accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions—a filthy stable. That was a dark night for Him, even though angels lit up the sky proclaiming, “Glory!” to awestruck shepherds.
When we sit quietly with Jesus, the process He went through is reversed in our experience. As we identify with Him, heaven’s vistas open up before us—granting us glimpses of His Glory. I became poor so that you might become rich. Sing hallelujahs to His holy Name!
God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. I John 4-15-18
He subdues the ancient gods, shatters the forces of old, he drove out the enemy before you and said, “Destroy!” Deuteronomy 33:27
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5
Jesus is the gift that continuously gives—bounteously; with no strings attached. Unconditional Love is such a radical concept that even His most devoted followers fail to grasp it fully. Absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth can cause Him to stop loving us. We may feel more loved when we are performing according to our expectations. But His Love for us is perfect; therefore, it is not subject to variation.
What does vary is our awareness of His loving Presence. When we are dissatisfied with our behavior, we tend to feel unworthy of His Love. We may unconsciously punish ourselves by withdrawing from Him and attributing the distance between us to His displeasure. Instead of returning to Him and receiving His Love, we attempt to earn His approval by trying harder. All the while, He is aching to hold us in His everlasting arms, to enfold us in His Love.
When we are feeling unworthy or unloved, He says “Come to Me”. When we do, we need only to ask for receptivity to His unfailing Love.
JOY TO THE WORLD! – 1719
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. Psalm 98:4
Until Isaac Watts came along, most of the singing in British churches was from the Psalms of David. The church – especially the Church of Scotland—had labored over the Psalms with great effort and scholarship, translating them into poems with rhyme and rhythm suitable for singing.
As a young man in Southampton, Isaac had become dissatisfied with the quality of singing, and he keenly felt the limitations of being able to only sing these Psalms. So he “invented” the English hymn.
He did not, however, neglect the Psalms. In 1719, he published a unique hymnal – one in which he had translated, interpreted, and paraphrased the Old Testament Psalms through the eyes of the New Testament faith. He called it simply, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.
Taking various Psalms, he studied them from the perspective of Jesus and the New Testament, and then formed them into verses for singing.
“I have rather expressed myself as I may suppose David would have done if he lived in the days of Christianity,” Watts explained, “and by this means, perhaps, I have sometimes hit upon the true intent of the Spirit of God in those verses farther and clearer than David himself could ever discover.”
Watt’s archenemy, Thomas Bradbury, was greatly critical of Watts’ songs, which he called whims instead of hymns. He accused Watts of thinking he was King David. Watts replied in a letter, “You tell me that I rival it with David, whether he or I be the sweet psalmist of Israel. I abhor the thought; while yet, at the same time, I am fully persuaded that the Jewish psalm book was never designed to be the only Psalter for the Christian church.”
“Joy to the World!” is Isaac Watts’ interpretation of Psalm 98, which says: “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth” (verse 4).
As he read Psalm 98, Isaac pondered the real reason for shouting joyfully to the Lord – the Messiah has come to redeem us. The result, despite the now-forgotten criticisms of men like Bradbury, has been a timeless carol that has brightened our Christmases for nearly three hundred years.
To me, “Joy to the World” is a song that we should be singing every day of our lives, greeting the morning with praise and thanksgiving as we proclaim JOY TO THE WORLD! Love and joy to you!
Celtic Women: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDmIddF7DfQ
David Archuleta w/ Mormon Tabernacle Choir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4CSJvzGai4