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“JOY to the WORLD”

Hal Habecker

Dec 24

“Immanuel” (“God with us”) Christmas Day December 25, 2022

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7.14)

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save his people from their sins."

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us" (Matthew 1.20-23).

John Donne tried very hard to express the mystery and the wonder of those first nine months and the birth of the Son of God.

Ere by the spheres time was created thou [Mary] Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother; Whom thou conceivest, conceived; yea, thou art now Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother, Thou wast light in dark and shut’st in little room Immensity, cloister'd in thy dear womb.

Portrait of John Donne, c.1595 (oil on canvas)

The eternal “immensity, cloister’d” in Mary’s womb was born on Christmas Day. Jesus is here!

Christmas (Jesus) means that God is personally with us. He came to be with us because He loves us. We are not alone. Moment by moment He is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. We will never be alone. It doesn’t matter where we live. It doesn’t matter what events we may meet in any day of our lives. It doesn’t matter whether life is hard or easy, tragic or blessed with joy, life or death, young or old. God is with us. He is with us in hardship and He is with us in death (Psalm 23.4). That’s why He came. We can always trust His presence. There will never be a moment or a day that His is not with us. Never. Whether we feel His presence or whether we feel He is totally absent from us, He is here. There is no place that He is not there. An atheist may deny His existence, but He is there, and His love always surrounds us. His love even surrounds the atheist who denies that He exists.

This is the greatest joy of Christmas day. This is why Christ came – to be with us, to die, for our sin as our Savior, and to live His life through us. He came to be with us because He loves us. There is no greater joy, and His joy gives us joy. It is as John R. W. Stott said;

“The ground of the joy of believers is that God's ‘unfailing love surrounds’ them. Human joy arises from God's love ...”

Two years ago I celebrated this truth on this Christmas day having been just diagnosed on Christmas Eve with Covid. While it has messed up our plans and had serious implications for my family, I had every confidence that God was “with us” in whatever changes it brought. God was “with us.” “Immanuel!”

Whatever concerns we and our world may be experiencing (and there are many), Jesus is with us and we can trust Him in every way.

My prayer is that you know this eternal truth beyond a shadow of a doubt. I pray that this joy and this truth will be your greatest joy and truth on this Christmas day.

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!" In 1719, Isaac Watts, the great British hymn writer, wrote these sacred words as he was inspired by Psalm 98 of the Bible. Reflect on them anew this Christmas Day of 2022.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room And heaven and nature sing And heaven and nature sing And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains Repeat the sounding joy Repeat the sounding joy Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found Far as the curse is found Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness And wonders of His love And wonders of His love And wonders, wonders, of His love

Happy Christmas Day, December 25, 2022!

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