- God’s Christmas Playlist: O Come, All Ye Faithful
- Matthew 11:28-30
- Lyndol Loyd December 15, 2019
I love Christmas music. As soon as Thanksgiving arrives, I’m all about switching over to one of my Christmas playlists, which are incredibly diverse in content. I like listening to all of the classics like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland, and “The Christmas Song” (a.k.a. – Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…) by Nat King Cole. I also love more contemporary Christmas music as in every single song off of both of Chris Tomlin’s Christmas albums, and of course, I love Christmas hymns like “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “Silent Night.”
With so much great Christmas music out there, it got me thinking. If God had a Christmas playlist, what songs would He have on it? If God had a Spotify account, what would be His jam?
During this season of Advent, we are spending some time taking a closer look at some of the songs of Christmas that convey the story of Christ’s birth and the reason for Jesus coming to us in human form. As you just experienced, our song for today is “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”
It is a favorite of many of us. However, if I’m entirely candid with you this morning, I would have to confess that sometimes I hear this song, and it feels daunting to me. I wonder if that thought might not resonate with some of you as well. Think about the first line of the song, “O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!”
The reason I say it can feel daunting is because sometimes life has a way of leaving me feeling anything but faithful and joyful and triumphant. In fact, sometimes what we end up feeling is defeated and depressed or doubtful.
It can make you feel like, “Man, I don’t know that I’m the One who is supposed to come. I’m not sure that song describes me and how I’ve been feeling lately.” We don’t always feel like our lives fit with what the very first line of this song says.
For some of us, maybe it’s in the faithful side of things. Perhaps you knew God called you to do something, but once you got here it’s much more difficult than you first thought. You wonder, “God, did you really call me to do this?” Maybe you are struggling through a faith issue, or maybe it’s a trial that is causing you to question some things, so you find yourself becoming a little bit doubtful.
Maybe it’s in the joyful side of things. I don’t know if you’re like me, but joy can quickly get sucked out of a room. Maybe you don’t enjoy shopping all that much to begin with, but anybody who goes shopping this time of year, it can be a trial and a tribulation for you! My deal is I get to the end, and I’m ready to check out, I look at two different lines, and they have the exact same number of people in them. Every time, I pick the wrong one! I don’t know if you can relate, but I end up in the line with the person who is writing a check! Who writes checks anymore? The coupon lady is also in my line! Then, I’ve got the person that picked up an item that doesn’t have a bar code on it, and they’re calling for a price check, and we all know there isn’t anybody back in that department bringing a price check up here! We’re sitting there forever! My joy is gone!
Maybe you feel that way sometimes. That’s a silly example, but, many times, some things are much more wearisome that can steal and rob us of our joy. We just find ourselves not feeling joyful.
Maybe it’s in being triumphant. That’s a word we don’t use a whole lot today because many times, we feel more defeated than we feel triumphant, don’t we? We look on at our finances, and we think we would be in a better position, and we just don’t feel triumphant in that area of life.
Or let’s say the school calls to notify you that once again they are having some kind of behavioral problem with your child and you think, “Not again! I thought we were finally getting past all of this.” You feel totally defeated as a parent.
Or maybe it’s in your marriage, and you figured that after twenty years you would be at a different place in your marriage. “How did we get here?” You feel defeated.
Sometimes we struggle to feel faithful, joyful, or triumphant. Sometimes we struggle with not feeling like we are any of them.
For me, as I begin to look at this song, I begin to ask this question, “I wonder who it is that Jesus calls?” The good news is, it’s not exactly the faithful, joyful, and triumphant who He calls at the onset. In fact, I want to take a look today at who it is that Scripture reveals to us that Jesus calls.
- Jesus calls the weary and the burdened.
We see this in Matthew 11:28, where Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus calls the weary and the burdened. I can’t help but think that maybe weary and burdened describes more than a few people who are listening to the sound of my voice right now.
We talked about this a couple of weeks ago when we examined the song, “O Holy Night,” and how it has the line in it that states, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” I don’t know about you, but I certainly find it to be a comforting thought that Jesus understands the concept of weariness and that he wants to meet us in the midst of it.
We don’t serve a God who says, “Once you get your life together, and you’ve sorted out your mess, then you can come to me.” No, we have a God who calls us to come to Him when we are weary and burdened.
- Jesus calls the sinners.
Matthew 9:12-13 says, “When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.’ Then he added, ‘Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.” For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.’”
How many of us know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are sinners? Yes, that’s me. The good news is that even while we are in the midst of our sin, Jesus invites us to come.
It’s almost like you could rewrite this song a little bit and have it say, “O come all ye sinners, ye weary and burdened.” But here’s the thing, the good news is that Jesus doesn’t leave you there.
He may call you in a state of being weary and burdened. He may call you realizing that you’ve tried everything else that you know to try, and it’s just not been working for you. But that isn’t the whole story.
So you have the realization, “I need Jesus.” When you call on Him, something beautiful happens. Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Some of you who are here or who are listening right now are realizing that God wants you to know that you can become a new person, some translations say a new creation, the old is gone, and the new is here. Weary, burdened, and sinner don’t have to be the tag lines describing the quality of your life.
Jesus helps us to become a new creation. Which begs the question, if He doesn’t leave us weary, burdened sinners, what does He help us become? If we become this new person, this new creation, where does He take us? That is a great question, and I want to talk about that a little bit. Let’s talk about what it is that Jesus helps us to become.
- Jesus helps us to become more faithful.
In fact, in Hebrews 12:2, the Bible says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and the perfecter of our faith.” Our faith comes from the One who authors it; it comes from Jesus. He gives it to us, and then He goes about the work of perfecting it.
How? Glad you asked. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” Hearing God’s word builds our faith. Let me demonstrate what this means. Let’s just take a moment to get incredibly practical this morning.
Some of you are here and you are going through difficult or challenging circumstances. Maybe you have a friend or family member who is on hospice care or someone in your life who is facing a tough diagnosis. I want you to know that God sees you. He knows your need, and He wants to build your faith.
Maybe you are going through some kind of adversity, and you just keep wondering to yourself, “Why is this happening to me? God, why is this taking place?”
Maybe you have experienced the death of a dream? Maybe your faith is floundering, and you feel so very tired and weary from it all? Please know that God cares about what is taking place in your life.
Let me read a passage of Scripture to you from Isaiah 43:2-3, and as I read this, I pray that you will feel your faith being built. Those of you who are having a faith trial, listen to God’s Word which says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames, they will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Jesus helps us to become more faithful as we are in His Word. God’s Word permeates our being as it gets inside of us. Jesus helps us to become more faithful.
Could it be that God’s directive to you this morning would be to spend more time with Him by reading His Word because He wants to build your faith?
- Jesus helps us to become more joyful.
We actually see joy talked about in the Scripture as a fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5, the Bible says that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy.
What are we talking about here? It’s like an apple tree that produces an apple because it’s an apple tree. It does not have to try any harder to create an apple. It can’t just squeeze out an apple; it doesn’t work.
It’s that same way with us; our joy comes from a right relationship with God. It’s not something that we can produce on our own. In fact, the Bible says that when we receive Christ, God puts His Spirit inside of us, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.
One of the fruits of that Spirit living in us is joy. But please understand that joy and happiness are worlds apart. Someone explained it this way, “Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Jesus.”
Happiness depends on happenings. It depends on what’s going on with me right now. Do I really like what’s going on with me right now? Do I not like what’s going on with me right now? And that determines my state of happiness.
But joy comes from Jesus. Joy comes from way down deep. It comes from something that’s not a part of this world. It comes from something that is placed in you by the living God and put inside of your spirit. Out of that overflow, a fruit of the Spirit of love and joy comes out. We see this in the Christmas story.
In Luke 2:10-11, the angels have come and are proclaiming to the shepherds who are out watching over their flocks by night. The Christmas story says, “But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all of the people.” Why? Because “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…” and to you…and to you… a Savior has been born, and that causes great joy. You see, Jesus can help us to become more faithful. Jesus helps us to become more joyful.
- Jesus helps us to become more triumphant.
It is all too easy for us to become isolated and to feel like we have to face whatever comes our way in life all alone. It is really difficult for us to feel triumphant in the face of adversity and challenges when we are fighting life’s battles in our own strength. You can do that, but the tendency will be for you to end up feeling defeated.
But here’s the thing for those of us who call ourselves Christians, for those of us who are seeking to live in relationship with Jesus Christ, God is on our side. If He is for us, who could ever be against us? But far too many of us fail to live in the reality that God has our backs.
Often during the season of Advent, we read from the prophecy accounts of the Old Testament that were written about Jesus hundreds of years before His birth.
One of those is Isaiah 9:6-7, where the Scripture states: “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, the 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.”
That’s pretty triumphant right there. This passage of Scripture is prophesying about the coming of Christ. Now at Christmas time we see Jesus as a young baby in the manger scene. Look at any nativity scene, and that is how you will see Jesus portrayed.
But please understand this, the little baby who is found in the manger is also the King of kings and He is the LORD of lords, He is the Alpha, He is the Omega, He’s the Beginning and the End, He’s the Author of life, He’s the Prince of Peace.
He’s the Author of our faith, the perfecter of it. He is the One who spoke everything into existence. He is the bread of life; He is our salvation. He is the lifter of our head. As the song says, “He is born the King of angels, and we come to adore Him, for He is Christ the Lord.” That’s pretty triumphant. We have to understand who it is that stands with us.
My prayer is that as you hear this truth that has been ringing throughout the ages in the lyrics of this Christmas song that you will feel it is referring to you and not to someone else. Not because we are especially faithful, joyful or triumphant on our own, but because, by the transforming grace of or Lord, Jesus Christ, we can be.
O come all ye faithful, be joyful, and triumphant! Come to Bethlehem, and come and see born the King of Angels: O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, for He is Christ the Lord.