Christmas Notes: The New Year (Hope)December 31, 2016
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.
Hebrews 12:1b-2a, NASB
Christmas carols have been sung, and now the New Year is on the horizon. Consider these beautiful verses written by Frances Ridley Havergal, the nineteenth-century British poet and hymn writer—as contemplation on the coming year:
Recommended Reading: Psalm 96:1-13
Another year is dawning, Dear Father, let it be,
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee;
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.
Another year of service, of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, Dear Father, let it be,
On earth or else in heaven, another year for Thee.
Lead on, O King eternal, we follow, not with fears. For gladness breaks like morning where’er Thy face appears.
Read-Thru-the-Bible: Revelation 20 – Genesis 4
From Tightly to Lightly
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
The Pew Research Center has noted that, for the first time in 130 years, more young adults (ages 18-34) are living in their parents’ home than in any other setting (32.1 percent as of 2014). Some left to go to college and returned, while some never left at all. While there can be practical reasons for this arrangement, it has the effect of blurring the line between childhood and adulthood.
Genesis 2:24 uses a key word to describe what eventually should happen: “leave.” That verse refers to a young couple leaving their parents to be married, but it also suggests something parents must prepare for: their children leaving the nest. The job of parenting is multifaceted, but it can be summarized as the process of preparing children to leave. Parenting is teaching children the slow process of transferring trust and dependency from parents to God—learning to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Wherever your children or grandchildren are in their life journey, make sure you are transitioning from holding them tightly as children to holding them lightly as young adults.
The surest way to make life hard for your children is to make it soft for them.
Revelation 18 – 19
Glory Is the Goal
Devotional by John Piper
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)
Seeing the glory of God is our ultimate hope.
“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). God will “present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).
He will “make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:23). He “calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). “Our blessed hope [is] the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
Jesus, in all his person and work, is the incarnation and ultimate revelation of the glory of God. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). “Father, I desire that they . . . may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24).
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed” (1 Peter 5:1). “The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
“We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7).“This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). “Those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).
Seeing and sharing in God’s glory is our ultimate hope through the gospel of Christ.
Hope that is really known and treasured has a huge and decisive effect on our present values and choices and actions. Get to know the glory of God. Study the glory of God, the glory of Christ, the glory of the world that reveals the glory of God, the glory of the gospel that reveals the glory of Christ.
Treasure the glory of God above all things. Study your soul. Know the glory you are seduced by, and know why you treasure glories that are not God’s glory. Study your own soul to know how to make the glories of the world collapse like Dagon (1 Samuel 5:4) in the pitiful pieces on the floor of the world’s temples.
Devotional excerpted from “Rebuilding Some Basics of Bethlehem: The Centrality of the Glory o
A Bible Like Mom’s
…hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
In her book Parenting with Scripture, Kara Durbin wrote, “When I was little, I wanted a Bible just like my mom’s, and I was thrilled when I received one as a present. As I grew up, I underlined verses as I memorized them and marked ones that spoke to me about a particular topic. I loved being able to flip through, finding familiar passages with my notations in that big book. It made God’s Word feel like home to me.”
Kara went on to say that when she got to college her Bible was falling apart and had to be replaced. She painstakingly transferred every underlining and notation to her new Bible, and that’s the Bible she still uses.1
Our children need to see us maintaining our own personal relationship with Christ. They can spot hypocrisy faster than anyone. But if we truly love the Lord and His Word, they will notice. Our greatest legacy is the living faith that makes others want a Bible like ours, because a Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.
Instill in your child a habit of turning to the Scripture to answer questions…it will serve as the guidebook for life.
1Kara G. Durbin, Parenting with Scripture (Chicago: Moody, 2012), 22.
Revelation 5 – 9
I wonder if we have not demeaned, even desecrated, the wonder of authentic love by reducing it to little more than a fuzzy feeling. One cannot overemphasize the tenderness of love, but love is far more than that. True love brings a rugged persistence, an all-out commitment, a painful endurance, a purity of practice, a passion for sacrifice! As much as I am enamored by “puppy love” at times, I am far more impressed with the depth of boundless and unbounded love.
In the days following Christmas, it is almost natural to find our mood something like that of the brilliant lights we have just unplugged. Guests go home. Decorations come down. Celebrations cease. Life resumes with a little less fanfare perhaps. Reminding me even of things I hadn’t considered, the poet W.H. Auden describes the letdown of Christmas almost too well:
Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes…
There are enough left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week--
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully--
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away…
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension…(1)
For Auden, in the days after Christmas, we step down from the heights of the holiday and along with our colored lights return to dimmer realities: daily life and its monotony, despairing headlines, another year of wearisome failures, blind spots and missteps. Writing in 1942, Auden’s sense of the dismal reality of life after Christmas was likely heightened by the uncertainties of war and the certainty of violence. For many, Christmas indeed serves as a moment of respite in the midst of harsher realities that promise to recommence. For others, the season itself is disheartening and the aftermath is more of the same. Regardless, the picture W.H. Auden paints is one in which many can enter.
Yet Auden’s attempt to describe life after Christmas is more than an offer of depressing, cynical poetry. For Auden, we must come down from the heights of Christmas in order to embrace again the world in all of its brokenness and finitude, in order to truly receive the Child whose arrival was not marked by lights and decoration but the slaughter of the innocents at Herod’s orders and the attention of a few outsiders in an unknown stable in a rural town. Auden reminds us that the time after Christmas is the time when Christ can step into the thick of our lives as he intended. Writes Auden:
To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
In the countercultural Christmas story that sits quiet and unassuming beside the holiday rush toward a peak event in December, Christmas day is not the end point. In the ancient Christian tradition, Christmas day was only the beginning of Christmas, marking a celebration that that lasted twelve days. The ancient church recognized that what happened on that quiet, dark night in Bethlehem could not be easily received. They needed twelve days to receive the mystery that might otherwise be overlooked, sentimentalized, or relegated to background music: Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. O Come, let us adore him.
In the bleak moments of late winter, Christmas is not anti-climactic; it confronts us all the more. It was precisely into a dark and uncertain, dismal and post-festive reality that the Child came near in the first place. Christmas is the startling reminder that God has not forgotten, though in the thick of our rush and routine, our despairing headlines and blinding self-interest, we may have overlooked or forgotten the Child. Yet here, in the quiet and empty days after celebrations have ceased, the sights and sounds of God appearing among us can better be noticed and more intentionally received. If Advent brings the world’s attention to the sounds of one who stands at the door and knocks, and Christmas day marks the culmination of that knocking in the cry of a newborn king, the days thereafter usher us further into the presence of a God who not only knocks and draws near, but has opened wide the doors of the kingdom that he might be met face to face.
Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) W.H. Auden, Collected Poems, ed. Edward Mendelson (New York: Random House, 1991), 399.
More to the Christmas Story
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
When reading the Christmas story in Luke 2, we usually stop halfway through the story, with Jesus still in the manger. But the last half of the chapter talks about what happened when Jesus was eight days old (verse 21); forty days old (verses 22-38); during His childhood (verses 39-40); when He was twelve years old (verses 41-50); and as a teenager and young adult (verses 51-52). That last verse—Luke 2:52—is our goal for our children—that they will mature as He did: mentally (in wisdom), physically (in stature), spiritually (in favor with God), and socially (and men).
As a parent, take time to think and pray through difficult situations concerning your child. Ask God to enable your child to grow up like Christ—in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Despite frightening headlines and cultural pressures, our God sits firmly on His heavenly throne and promises to give us the strength and wisdom to build Christian households filled with godliness and laughter.
David Jeremiah, in Hopeful Parenting
Revelation 1 – 4