- God’s Christmas Playlist: O Holy Night
- Lamenations 3:20-26
- Lyndol Loyd December 1, 2019
We’re so glad to have all of you with us for the opening week of our Advent message series, “God’s Christmas Playlist.” For many of us, the moment we pass Thanksgiving on the calendar, the playlists on our electronic devices shifts from that which we usually listen to Christmas music. For some of you, that shift takes place closer to Halloween, but you get the idea.
During this season of Advent in which we prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we are going to take a look at some of the most beloved Christmas songs and the inspiration for them that comes from scripture.
We’ve just experienced the first song on God’s Christmas playlist, “O Holy Night.” For many, this is a favorite. We can only imagine what it would have been like to be there on that holy night.
I think about the manger scene, and I always look forward to having it on display in our home. As a matter of fact, we just put it out this past week. I have such special memories of setting up our nativity scene with our girls each year. You have the cattle and the sheep, Mary and Joseph, the angels, and of course, you have baby Jesus. I love having it present in our home. For me, there is something both comforting and wonderful about it.
However, I honestly think that the manger scene, as meaningful as it can be, in some ways actually does a bit of a disservice to our understanding of what that holy night would have been like because our nativity scenes tend to sanitize the account.
Reality is there was a teenage girl that was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and she and her fiance travel on the back of a donkey. Now, you have to picture this, she is nine months pregnant riding on a donkey, and they traveled somewhere between 80 and 120 miles.
Now, I’ve taken Joni to the hospital to have babies twice. Once, we went in a Mercury Sable, and the other time it was in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I can’t even imagine us making that fourty-five minute car trip n the back of a donkey.
Then they come into town and there’s no place to stay. There’s no inn. They go to what most scholars believe was kind of like a cave. It was a place where the animals would go to get some shelter in rough weather.
Mary is giving birth in the worst environment possible. We’re talking about unsterile, no epidural, if you can imagine, a little girl screaming her head off. I mean, it was chaos, it’s screaming, it’s panic, and this is what’s going on inside this little cave, as Mary is giving birth to the Son of God.
Now, in this song, “O Holy Night,” there’s a phrase that I want to zero in on, and I believe every time you hear this song, the phrase will jump out to you, and the song will never be the same for you.
Here’s the phrase I want to look at, “a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
If there are two words that accurately describe our world today, I’d say it’s “weary world.” Wouldn’t you agree? I mean, it’s just overwhelming, there’s so much anxiety. People fear what’s going on in the economy, and relationships are messed up, and sickness and health-related issues are commonplace, and families are struggling. It’s almost like we’re fighting to stay above water, and I think so many people today relate to that phrase, “the weary world.”
But what I love about this song is it says there’s a thrill of hope. Imagine in the chaos of this holy night, there’s a thrill of hope that maybe, just maybe, those who were putting their faith in God, for centuries, had hoped that one day the Messiah would be born.
On that day, everything would be different forever and ever, and you can hear that kind of faith that there’s a thrill of hope, and suddenly, the weary world does what? The weary world rejoices!
I pray to God that if there’s any weariness in you that you will experience a thrill of hope and inside your weary world, you will find the faith to rejoice.
Because even in the chaos of our lives and the darkness of night, there is a new and glorious morn. Moving forward, I want you not to just think about that holy night, but I want you to think about what happens the next day when the sun comes up, the Savior has been born, and everything is different because a day with Christ can change everything.
Let’s focus in on “a new and glorious morning.” I want to take you back to the Old Testament, to the Book of Lamentations. The context of Lamentations in the year 586 B.C., Jerusalem fell, and the people were as distraught as you could possibly imagine. The prophet Jeremiah, was lamenting, whining, and hurting along with everybody else. He pours his heart out, full of hurt in this text. Beginning in Lamentations 3:20, we see a switch, where he moves from his mourning to a moment of faith. I love this, he says, “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.” In other words, Jeremiah isn’t living like an ostrich with his head in the sand in denial. He is living in full awareness of his situation.
Then he goes on in verse 21 to say, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this.” I love this. He’s saying, “I’m going to call this to mind. I know it’s there, but it’s not at the front of my mind, and I’m going to place it at the front of my mind. I’m going to call this to mind, and because I remember this truth, I will have hope when no one else does because I know this to be true. I call it to mind; therefore, I have hope.”
Then he goes on to say in verses 22-24, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him!’”
He loses himself, and he starts talking to God, and he declares, “Great is your faithfulness.” It’s amazing what a new day with Christ can bring. I want to show you some truths that can bring you a thrill of hope when your weary world is in darkness.
- A new day with Christ brings exactly what you need.
Every new day with Christ will bring you exactly what you need. I didn’t say what you want, because what you need and what you want are sometimes different things.
How many of you know, every now and then, you just have to talk to yourself and preach to yourself some truth? You open up God’s Word, you call it to mind, you say to yourself, and you remind yourself of the truth of God. I say to myself: “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”
The Lord is my portion. What does that mean? Well, it could mean any number of different things. Some scholars believe, and I tend to agree, that it likely is referring back to the time when the Israelites were wandering in the desert, and God would provide for them their daily portion of heavenly manna. Everyday when they would awake, God would give them exactly enough food for that day.
If they ever tried to hoard the food and hold some over for the next day, the food wouldn’t last, it would rot. God was trying to teach them that they need Him every single day.
Just like in the New Testament when Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Our daily bread, because we need God every single day. I call this to mind, and I say to myself, The Lord is my daily portion, He is exactly what I need. The good news is, I want you to understand, God is already in tomorrow, and He has everything you need for tomorrow, whatever it brings. He is already absolutely there.
- If your marriage is struggling, what I hope you’ll understand, is God is in tomorrow waiting for you, and He is what your marriage needs.
- If you are weak today, God is already in tomorrow, and His strength is made perfect in your weakness.
- If you are down and depressed today, He is already in tomorrow, and He is your joy. He is the lifter of your head.
A new day with Christ always brings exactly what you need, and what you need is the presence of God, His reality, His strength, His power, His goodness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him. A new day with Christ brings us exactly what we need.
- A new day with Christ brings us the hope to keep going.
A new day with Christ brings us the hope to keep going. It’s the thrill of hope in the weary world. It’s the thrill of hope and faith when all we see is darkness. It’s the belief that there’s a new morning coming in the middle of the chaos of the night.
Lamentations 3:25 says, “The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.”
Someone said this, and I think this is interesting, “We can live forty days or so without food. We can live eight days or so without water. We can live four minutes or so without oxygen, but we can only live a few seconds without hope.”
I believe there are too many people today who are trying to survive with a very hope-deprived life. They’re struggling to find places to put their hope. In fact, they’re putting their hope in the wrong places.
Some of you know how the stock market can be a risky place to put your hope. If you put your hope in your company, you may get let down. Put your hope in another person, and they may not come through for you. Put your hope in some outcome that you need, and you may not get exactly what you thought should happen. The reason is, we’re putting our hope in the wrong places. When we put our hope in the wrong places, we start to end up hopeless, and we become a weary world that wonders where is anything good, because our hope is in the wrong places.
I love what Hebrews 10:23 says, “Hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
I love that picture. Let us hold onto it. Hold onto it for your life. Those of you who are Christians, grab hold of the hope that we profess and don’t ever let go. Don’t ever let go because He is faithful who promised unto us.
The challenge today is that I believe there are too many that are letting go of the hope that we profess and we’re grabbing onto all of the fear and anxiety of the darkness of the night. We’re letting go of the truth of God, and we’re hanging on to all of the lies of the evil one.
We need to do the exact opposite; let go of the fear, let go of the anxiety, let go of the stress, let go of the panic, let go of the doubt, and hold on to the hope that we profess. Hang on to the promises of God and don’t let go, don’t ever lose hope of what a new day in Christ can bring. Don’t ever lose that hope. Somebody here needs to hear this. Don’t give up. Don’t give up the hope. There’s a weary world, yes, but in the weariness, there’s a thrill of hope, and the weary world can rejoice. There is a new day coming, I’m telling you, a new day with Christ can change everything.
- A new day with Christ brings the help that you’re seeking.
Lamentations 3:26 tells us, “So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”
Sometimes you have to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Some of you need the salvation of your souls, and you need to know that you need to be saved and forgiven by God.
Some of you already have been born into the family of God. You need to be saved out of a difficult situation. I’m always amazed, and I want you to think about this and never lose sight of this thought, it’s amazing, it’s unbelievable, you cannot fathom what a difference one day with Christ can make. You can never, ever, ever, ever even put into words the difference that one day with Christ can make.
Lazarus, in the New Testament, had been dead for four days. He was so dead that he smelled bad. The King James version says it best, ‘He stinketh!’ You know you’re dead when you stinketh in the King James version!
Four days, everyone had given up hope. Jesus shows up, looks at the stone, looks into the grave and says, “Lazarus, get up buddy, come forth.” Lazarus walks out, and I’m here to tell you, Lazarus would say, “It’s amazing the difference that one day with Christ can make.”
There was a woman who for twelve years was suffering with an issue of blood. For twelve years, can you imagine the pain, the embarrassment, the humiliation, the torture, the private suffering of her soul for twelve years? Every day, hoping this will be the day, maybe this will be the day, oh my gosh, am I stuck with this? For twelve years the agony. One day, she sees Jesus and touches the hem of His garment, and she’s healed. She would tell you that you can’t even describe the difference that one day with Christ can make.
One man, for thirty-eight years, since the day he was born, was unable to walk. He was at the pool of Bethesda one day when Jesus came up and said to him, “Pick up your mat and walk!” After thirty-eight years of being unable to walk, this man gets up and walks. He would tell you, “It is amazing the difference that one day with Christ will make.”
Some of you are in the weary world right now. I’m telling you, there’s a thrill of hope that will make your weary world rejoice. There is a new and glorious morning that is coming. You may look at your marriage and think, “It could never be what it should be.” I’m telling you that it’s amazing the difference that one day with Christ can make.
Some of you are sick in body, or someone you love is sick in body. I’m telling you that we serve a God that is able to heal. Whether He heals or doesn’t heal the way we think He should, in the presence of God and His goodness, it’s amazing the difference that one day in Christ can make.
Some of you right now are in the night. And all of a sudden, in the middle of this weary world and the darkness of the night, you’re reminded that because Jesus was born, you can have hope. Because Jesus is here, you can have hope in the middle of the night. Because a new day with Christ, I’m telling you, it brings exactly what you need. It may not be what you want, but it’s always exactly what you need. A new day with Christ gives you the hope to keep on going. A new day with Christ can bring you the help that you are seeking.
Romans 13:11-12 will become a new favorite, “This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.”
For some of you, that is the salvation of your souls. For others of you, that is the salvation out of darkness. The day is coming, and the night is almost over. The sun always rises again. The Son of God has risen, and because He was born into this weary world, there is a thrill of hope. For yonder breaks, a new and what? Say it with me, “A new and glorious morn.”