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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Justin Taylor quotes historian Paul Maier:

You may be surprised to hear this, but believe it or not, if you are ever asked which is the one figure from the ancient world on whom we have more primary evidence from original sources than anyone else in the world, the answer is not Jesus or Saint Paul or Caesar Augustus or Julius Caesar—none of those. Alexander the Great? No, no.

It is Herod the Great, believe it or not. Why? Because Josephus gives us two whole book scrolls on the life of Herod the Great. And that is more primary material than anyone else.

Justin continues,

Tony Reinke has a helpful podcast interview with Dr. Maier about the paranoid tyrant who ended up killing three of his sons on suspicion of treason, putting to death his favorite wife (of his ten wives!), killing one of his mothers-in-law, drowning a high priest, and killing several uncles and a couple of cousins. They also talk about Herod’s plot to kill a stadium of Jewish leaders, and whether there are any doubts in Dr. Maier’s mind about the historicity of the slaughter of the innocent male children recorded only in Matthew 2—and why there isn’t any collaborating evidence in the historical record.

 

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Watch John Piper read his Advent poem The Innkeeper.  It’s a good read and it is on sale for a limited time.  Click here.

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A rich hymn!

OK, Christmas is past, and this is one of the songs that when sung is usually done so around Christmas.

But it is one of those songs that is so rich in theology and steeped in biblical truth that it should ring out all year long.

Kevin DeYoung writes about the story and the truth behind this carol “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.”  Read about it here–and don’t wait for 11 months to do so!  It will bless your heart today! Here’s an excerpt:

The hymn/poem originally contained nine verses. The song tells the story of redemption. Verse one speaks of the Son’s eternal nature. Verse two is about creation. Verse three chronicles the fall. Verse four moves into redemption with the virgin birth. Verse five links the Christ child to ancient prophecies. Verse six is a chorus of praise to the Messiah. Verse seven warns of final judgment for the wicked. Verse eight tells of men, women, and children singing their songs of praise. And verse nine concludes the hymn with a song of victory to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Most Christians will recognize many of the verses, but sadly not all.

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The wise men: what faith!

These verses [Matt. 2:1-12] show us a striking example of faith. These wise men believed in Christ when they had never seen him; but that was not all. They believed in him when the scribes and Pharisees were unbelieving; but that again was not all. They believed in him when they saw him as a little infant on Mary’s knees, and worshiped him as King. This was the crowning point of their faith. They saw no miracles to convince them. They heard no teaching to persuade them. They saw nothing but a newborn infant, helpless and weak, needing a mother’s care like any of us. And yet when they saw that infant, they believed that they saw the divine Savior of the world! “They bowed down and worshiped him” (v. 11).

We read of no greater faith than this in the whole volume of the Bible. It is a faith that deserves to be placed side by side with that of the penitent thief. The thief saw someone dying the death of a criminal, and yet prayed to him, and “called him Lord.” The wise men saw a newborn baby on the lap of a poor woman, and yet worshiped him, and confessed that he was Christ. Blessed indeed are those who can believe in this way!

~ J.C. Ryle

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The Christmas Gift Exchange

From Eddie at Facets of Grace: click to englarge.

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”He was poor, that he might make us rich.
He was born of a virgin that we might be born of God.
He took our flesh, that he might give us His Spirit.
He lay in the manger, that we may lie in paradise.
He came down from heaven, that he might bring us to heaven….

That the ancient of Days should be born.
that he who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle….
that he who rules the stars should suck the breast;
that a virgin should conceive;
that Christ should be made of a woman, and of that woman which himself made,
that the branch should bear the vine,
that the mother should be younger than the child she bare,
and the child in the womb bigger than the mother;
that the human nature should not be God, yet one with God

Taken from Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, pages 196

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Last year the best one of these featured Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

This year goes to this one which features some of the best Christmas carols ever!

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Matthew Hoskinson, pastor of First Baptist Church of NYC:

This past Sunday one of our men, Eric Wurthmann, led our congregation in a prayer of praise. I received his permission to post it here for your contemplation and joy.

Lord God, we thank You

for the Grand Miracle of the Incarnation –

that You sent Your Son into our world.

 

We know that we, Your creation,

could never become equal to You –

but You,

the great God and Creator of the universe,

could come down to us,

could humble Yourself

to the point of becoming a human being,

in the person of Your Son.

 

We thank You for preparing a nation, Israel,

who were given Your law, the Torah,

and who knew that an atonement, a sacrifice,

was necessary because of our sin.

 

And finally, at the time You determined,

a baby was born to a Jewish girl,

Miriam, the wife of a carpenter –

and His name was Jesus,

Yeshua,

Savior,

because He would save

His people from their sins.

 

Lord, we praise You,

for You did not send

only a one-dimensional,

verbal explanation of who You are –

instead You sent Your Son,

Your living Word,

the translation of Yourself

into our language, in our world.

 

How humbly You came into this world –

a helpless baby,

born to poor parents.

You were of the kingly line,

a descendant of David,

yet born in a country

that was under the occupation

of a foreign power.

 

As the prophet said,

You had no stately form or majesty

that they should look upon You.

Yet those who were closest to You

worshipped You as God.

 

Eventually the powers of this world

killed You,

shedding Your blood.

And yet, because You are God,

Your life was not taken from You,

but was given by You.

You, being God, became Yourself

the ultimate sacrifice

and atonement for our sin.

And in Your resurrection,

we are also resurrected,

reconciled to God

and given eternal life.

 

Lord Jesus, we thank You for this miracle –

the baby born at Bethlehem,

God with us,

Immanuel.

In Your Name we pray – Amen.

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“Tis’ the most wonderful time of the year . . . and it’s a unique opportunity to give the good news of Jesus to your unbelieving family.

Randy Newman’s book, Bringing the Gospel Home, is a resource meant to equip Christians in how to talk about the gospel in their closest relationships. Because of the book’s relevance in this season, Crossway is currently offering a free download.

David Mathis recently extracted some practical ideas from the book in connection to all the family gatherings accustomed to the holidays. Here are those ten points again, or in his words, “a few thoughts from a fellow bungler to help us think ahead and pray about how we might grow in being proxies for the gospel, in word and deed, among our families.”

Read the rest here @ Desiring God blog.

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