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December 2009

Good News for 2010

2009 was a rather gloomy year what with the financial crisis, and wars still going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s time for some good news.

In Luke 2, Dr. Luke writes about shepherds watching their flock by night, when suddenly an angel appeared. At first the shepherds were afraid and must have been thinking ‘this angel has taken a wrong turn. He should be speaking to the church leaders, not us’. Or else, and now they were really shaking in their sandals, perhaps the angel had come to pass judgment on them. To their astonishment, the angel begins to speak, and they hear the greatest front-page announcement of all time! “Fear not: for behold, I bring you GOOD TIDINGS of GREAT JOY, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord”! What an announcement! Yes, many had prophesied about this event, and now it is here! Notice firstly how the angel alleviates their fear; “Don’t be afraid”. When the gospel is accepted into the heart all fear is swept away and is replaced with peace and joy. As Psalm 27:1 says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid”. Secondly, we notice how emphatic the angel is about the message he is bearing: “I bring you good tidings of, not just ‘joy’ but good tidings of GREAT joy!

Tis’ true, the gospel creates the greatest possible joy in the human heart where ever it is received. I love this statement from the great preacher, Charles Spurgeon; “Man is like a harp unstrung, and the music of his soul’s living strings is discordant, (because of sin) his whole nature wails with sorrow; but the Son of David has come to restore the harmony of humanity, and where His gracious fingers move among the strings, the touch of the fingers of an incarnate God brings forth music sweet as that of celestial spheres, and melody rich as a Seraph’s song. Would God that all men felt that divine hand.” On hearing the ‘good news of great joy’, the shepherds rushed into Bethlehem to see the baby who was to grow up to be ‘the Savour’ for all people. While most of the world recognizes that this baby was born so long ago, and many of them celebrate His birth, most leave Him there in the manger. Sadly, they forget that He grew up to become the Savior of the world. Over the years, many have written great hymns about this joyful event. In the late 1600’s, a melody composed by Johann Schop, words by Martin Janus and re-arranged by Johann Sebastian Bach, became the beautiful piece, “Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring”. This magnificent hymn is often played at weddings. Another famous hymn writer was Isaac Watts, who in 1717, wrote, “Joy to the World”, a song that announces our Lord & Savour has come.

A third and well known hymn is “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”, which has the inspired words, ‘God of glory, Lord of love’ expressed in it. The words were written in 1907 by American, Henry van Dyke and were set to the music of a hymn written by Beethoven.

The words the angel announced so long ago finds us still singing these joyful songs today. The financial news may get better or it may get worse in 2010, the wars may go on for a long time, but whatever is happening around us or to us, the GOOD NEWS is this: “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy.

For unto you, 2,000 years ago, was born in the city of David a Savior, which was, and is, Christ the Lord!” Dear Father, as we start 2010 may we go with this wonderful truth ringing in our ears; the Savior has come! May His peace and joy be ours as we face the ‘up’s’ and ‘down’s’ that are sure to come during this year. Help us to walk close to You so that You can direct and use our lives for good. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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