Worship

Do you Really Believe Christ should get ALL the Glory?

It is easy to say, much harder to do. To give ALL the glory to Christ. It is hard to believe in our heart of hearts, because we are prone to want our own glory and our own gain. But the Bible is clear, it all goes to Christ. We want to give it to Jesus, or more accurately, we want, to want to give it to Jesus. The question I am posing today, is do you really believe Christ should get ALL the glory? Not a just portion. Not 95%. But ALL the glory.

If the vast oceans of the world were the glory of God, we are happy to give him most if it, but we have a hard time letting it all go. We want to at least keep a portion. We want the Gulf of Mexico sized glory for our selves. After all, its small in comparison to the expansive oceans of the world. Or maybe, if we are "really holy," we are okay with just having San Francisco Bay sized glory.

The Christian life is one of ambition, but not for our own gain. Our aim and ambition is the glory of God in Christ Jesus. We strive to enjoy God, bring him glory and do good to others. It is paradoxical, because in seeking glory for Christ, we actually get the most enjoyment ourselves. Seeking our own glory will leave us disappointed and distraught. We may be able to float in the sea of our own glory for a time, but eventually our boat will sink. We cannot paddle our little row boat of glory in the vast ocean for long before we are capsized. Whether in this life or the next, we will understand our folly. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).”

God deserves the glory. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36).” And our joy is found in giving it to Him.

BUT, the problem remains. We still want to keep some glory for ourselves. We don’t want to give it all to Jesus. Here are a few helpful reminders in our fight to give Jesus ALL the glory.

Remember our finitude

The magnitude of God and His glory is unknowable by human standards, or really any standard other than His own. The image of the world’s oceans as a picture of God’s glory is useful in helping us see that we so often want too keep glory for ourselves. But it is entirely inadequate in helping us actually understand the infinite glory that God deserves. We have measured the oceans. We know their coastlines and how many miles they span. People have charted courses around the world, entirely by water, and have completed their journey safely. But we cannot measure or contain the glory of God.

There is still much to be discovered about oceans, but we have learned quite a bit. On the other hand, there is far more to God than the oceans. We feel finite in comparison to the ocean, and we should. How much more in comparison with God.

When you want to keep glory for yourself, just remember that next to God, you simply don’t deserve it. And that is a good thing. If God was not worthy of all the glory, would you want to worship him anyway?

We may be able to float in the sea of our own glory for a time, but eventually our boat will sink.

Remember God’s wisdom

It was God’s wisdom that sent Christ to the cross. Seeing our need, Jesus came to save sinners. It is foolishness to the world. Why would a perfect and innocent man die the brutal death meant for the guilty? Jesus tasted death for us. That is foolishness to the world, but it is wisdom to God.

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-31 ESV)

God chose us. We didn’t do that for ourselves. God made it possible through Jesus. We don't do that ourselves. Humanity wanted to try and fix the problem on their own, and our wisest answers have always led to more religion, more work and more self-righteousness. God’s answer was to do it for us, through the humbling of Jesus in human form and the eventual death of Jesus on the cross. That is foolishness to the world, but it is the wisdom of God. God did it for us. And as a result “no human being [ought to] boast in the presence of God.” We did not save ourselves. God did. The glory belongs to him. We are the glad recipients of grace, and we should be the glad offerers of glory back to Him. So “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

On our own, we labor in vain

We must be careful to not try to do it on our own. If we want the glory, it will lead to us doing it on our own. If we believe we have done it on our own, we will be prone to seek the glory. Resist that dangerous cycle.

Unless the LORD builds the house,

those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the LORD watches over the city,

the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early

and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2 ESV)

It is foolish and worthless to attempt to do it on our own. Don’t fall into that trap. It will either fail in the short term, or worse, it will succeed and you will turn into a habitual glory seeker. Eventually you will be wanting not just the San Francisco Bay or Gulf of Mexico, you will be looking for the Atlantic Ocean of glory for yourself. But God does not share His glory, nor should He. It will not end well for you. Resist the urge now, and pursue God’s glory, not your own.

ALL Glory be to Christ

This is a great song by King’s Kaleidoscope, and the lyrics are a beautiful reminder that all glory belongs to Christ:

Three Common Barriers to Hearing a Sermon

Sermons are a central feature of the Sunday morning church gathering. Especially in Protestant and Evangelical churches. Whether it lasts for twenty minutes or fifty minutes, no single portion of the morning will be given as much importance or weight. And when done properly, we can understand why, because preaching is meant to be the explanation of God's Word and exhortation of God's people. But unfortunately, there are many barriers to hearing the sermon well.

I am not talking about circumstantial impediments, such as volunteering on a Sunday, loud children or problems with the sound system. The barriers I want to discuss are the ones that hinder you from truly hearing the content of the sermon on Sunday, even when you are able to listen distraction free. When you are sitting in the pew, ready to listen, but you just can't seem engage with the sermon. Or you feel like it isn't having an impact on your life. There is a fog that doesn't seem to lift, and the words are fighting to get through like headlights in the hazy precipitation of your mind, but you leave feeling unchanged and unaffected.

There are many reasons you may find it hard to fully participate in the sermon on Sunday. Too many for me to enumerate here, but allow me to suggest three barriers, that if rightly confronted, may help you engage more this coming week.

When you hear a sermon, hear it for yourself and not your neighbor

We are prone to believe that problems exist more in others and less in ourselves. Sometimes because we are prideful and fail to understand the propensity for sin that exists in our hearts (Jer. 17:9). Or we avoid our own issues, and make ourselves feel better by focusing on the sin of others. Rather than asking ourselves how the sermon will inform our own understanding of God or the way we live, we think about how great it would have been for our friend, neighbor, coworker, spouse or classmate to have heard that sermon. You may even approach your pastor after the service and say something like this to him, "That was a great sermon pastor, I only wish my cousin Suzy would have been able to hear it."

When teenager, Deborah Hatheway, a new believer in Suffield (then part of Massachusetts, now part of Connecticut), wrote a letter to Jonathan Edwards in 1741, she asked for his advice to a young convert. He wrote her a letter with a number of points, and one of them begins like this:

"When you hear sermons hear ‘em for yourself: though what is spoken in them may be more especially directed to the unconverted, or to those that in other respects are in different circumstances from yourself. Yet let the chief intent of your mind be to consider with yourself, in what respects is this that I hear spoken, applicable to me, and what improvement ought I to make of this for my own soul’s good?" (you can read the entire letter here)

The advice was as valuable then as it is now. When you hear a sermon, listen to it for yourself, not your neighbor. There might be good application for others, and it may be given with a different sort of person in mind, but your job is not to hear it for them, but for yourself. Before asking who would benefit from hearing the sermon, ask how you can personally learn and grow from hearing the sermon.

When you hear a sermon, listen to it for yourself, not your neighbor.

When you hear a sermon, listen for what can be helpful rather than jumping to critique

In the age of podcasts and celebrity pastors, every local pastor gets compared with nationally known pastors and speakers. It is simply not fair to expect your local pastor to give sermons that compare with some of the most gifted and talented preachers in our nation. God has gifted each person in a different way and for a different task, so don't compare your pastor's sermon to the one you heard last week on a podcast by Matt Chandler, Timothy Keller, John Piper, James MacDonald or many others. It isn't helpful to your pastor. And it isn't helpful to you.

If you are wondering why you aren't getting anything out of the sermon, it might be because you are spending the entire time critiquing every word that is said and comparing them to others. Rather than spending the sermon asking yourself what is wrong with it, stop and ask yourself what you can learn and apply from it.

There is a place for critique. And we must be honest, not all sermons are good. But good sermons are often dismissed because they are not great sermons that will go viral. Be careful to not undermine the work God wants to do in you and your church community because you have spent the whole morning being critical. Your pastor probably doesn't need another critic. But he could use another person in his church who is taking God's Word, and their own growth seriously.

When you hear a sermon, find a way to keep your mind attentive

There is a lot happening in life. You have projects to complete, groceries to buy and work to finish. Monday is just around the corner and a new week is on the horizon. When we are listening to the sermon, our minds can wander to many of life's responsibilities. These are often important and necessary things to think about and deal with, but just not during the sermon. Our inability to keep our mind on the subject at hand is a barrier for hearing the content of the sermon.

I have two very practical suggestions. First, take notes. Bring a pen and a notepad, or use the sermon notes page that you are given when you walk through the door. The notes don't have to be extremely detailed, but even creating an outline will help you stay focused. It will help you follow the general argument and progression of the sermon. And it will help you stay focused and attentive.

Second, have a place to write down the important thoughts that pop in your head, which do need to be dealt with eventually. I find it hard to get mental distractions to go away if I don't write them down. I can't let them go, because I don't want to forget to deal with them later. So they hang out in my mind, taking up space and mental energy, crowding out room for me to take in the message of the sermon. If I have somewhere to write down the thoughts that pop up, then I am able to let them go, knowing I will remember to deal with them later. I actually practice a similar habit when I am reading my Bible, praying or having a quiet time.

Be ready this week, to hear the sermon well

There are likely other distractions. If you can think of one that I didn't mention, write it in the comments section below. Otherwise, prepare yourself this week to be more engaged in the sermon content. Be ready to fight the barriers that commonly occur. Be ready to listen to the sermon for yourself and apply it to your life.

Stop Trying to Have the "Perfect" Quiet Time

Do you feel like you need to have the “perfect” quiet time? Each time you sit down to read the Bible and pray, do you feel bad if it was not earth shattering? Does your inability to ever achieve the holy grail of quiet times keep you from coming back again?

In my experience, whether it is spoken explicitly or felt implicitly, there is a sense that each and every time I take a moment to pray, meditate and read God’s Word, I need to have a ground breaking experience. Let me just tell you that you don’t. You can stop trying to have the “perfect” quiet time. Release yourself from that burden. 

The pursuit of the “perfect" quiet time is debilitating

The nobility of wanting to have the absolute best quiet time is actually working against that great desire. The weight of that high standard is crushing people, and actually keeping them from spending time with God at all. If we fail in our attempts to achieve the perfect quiet time, over time we begin to stop trying. We begin to believe that investing in time with the Lord doesn’t achieve anything anyway, and we give up.

The impossible standard we set, leaves us feeling like we have failed and that it is not worth trying again. It is like me attempting to beat Lebron James in basketball. It will never happen. I might initially think that I have a chance, and might event attempt more than once. But after getting beat down repeatedly, I would eventually give up, having determined that it just isn’t worth trying anymore.

The pursuit of the perfect quiet time is an impossible task, and because we can never achieve it, we eventually give up. Stop trying to pursue the perfect quiet time, and just start to spend time with God. Even if it isn’t earth shattering every time, over time it will transform your life into the image of His son.

You are far better off having numerous slightly imperfect quiet times than giving up in the pursuit of the perfect one.

The pursuit of the “perfect" quiet time is foolish

This isn’t just a debilitating pursuit, it is a foolish one. Because it just isn’t going to happen. The Bible makes it very clear that we are imperfect people, whom Jesus has and is perfecting. We are still in process.

We need to have accurate expectations that are consistent with what the Bible says about humans. The Bible says that we have sin in our lives. We cannot deny it, in fact, if we do then we make God out to be a liar (1 John 1). We cannot deny our finitude, and we must acknowledge its impact on all areas of life. Including the moments that we spend with God.

We will not experience Him perfectly, because we are imperfect. And it is okay. We cannot ignore it or deny this reality. Thinking that we could have a perfect quiet time is inconsistent with a Biblical anthropology. It is foolish to pursue. So, stop trying.

The pursuit of the “perfect” quiet time isn't what God wants

God doesn’t expect or need the “perfect” you. Through Jesus, he has already made you perfect, and he is perfecting for all time those whom he has already perfected (Hebrews 10:14). God doesn’t want your “perfect” quiet time, he just wants you.

Do you think he doesn’t know that you have sin in your life? Do you think he doesn't know that you feel distant from Him sometimes, even when you are reading your Bible and praying? God knows. And He still wants you to keep investing in your relationship with Him. We are fatally flawed, but we are also radically loved.

God doesn't want you to achieve perfection on your own in order to spend time with Him. He wants you to spend time with him, and through that relationship, he will work perfection in you.

God doesn’t want you to achieve perfection on your own in order to spend time with Him.

So, if you struggle to engage in consistent quiet times because you feel the impossible weight of the elusive "perfect" quiet time, then I want to release you from that burden. And if you want some help in reading your Bible, you can read more about it here or download my e-book here.

Authentic Worship: A lesson from my son

Worship can be very simple to understand. Worship can also be very complex.

I am not attempting to navigate the various complexities of worship in this brief post. However, I was given a fresh picture of worship recently that has shaped my understanding.

It began with my son. As a father, my eyes have been opened to new understandings of how we relate to God as Father. When Jesus instructed us to pray, he began "Our Father..." In Galatians, Paul tells us that we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God. My experience as a father has helped me to have an increased understanding of how we relate to God. While my relationship to my children is far from a complete representation of my relationship to God, I have seen some things in a new way.

My birthday was a few months ago, and my wife and I went out to celebrate. We had a babysitter come over to watch our children so that we could go out. With two littles running around, dates are hard to come by, so we were excited to get out together. Unfortunately, our son had a very difficult time with us leaving that night. He really wanted us to stay home. It broke my heart to leave him as he asked us over and over again to stay home. Even though it was difficult to leave, it was necessary for the health of our marriage, so we went anyway. 

Our keen babysitter suggested that Liam and she make a birthday card for me while I was gone. He jumped at the opportunity to make a card for his daddy. They took out a blue piece of paper, folded it in half like a card and wrote "Happy Birthday, Daddy" on the cover. With colored pencils, Liam included some random marks and traced his hands a couple times. They also wrote Happy Birthday on the inside with the words, "I Love you Dad." Our babysitter gave me the card when I got home, and it was so precious.

The card was not anything special. It was actually sort of a mess. There were random marks all over, and scribbley-traced little hands. The colors didn't coordinate well, and there was a lot of blank space that had no real purpose. It was not aesthetically pleasing from a purely objective sense and I do not assume that Hallmark would duplicate this card in order to sell it anytime soon. But for me, no card that could be found in the endless racks of Hallmark or Target would be sufficient to replace the card that Liam made. It was priceless.

A short time after receiving the card from Liam, I was sharing about it when speaking to a group of students and it nearly brought me to tears.

Why would the card mean that much to me? From a design standpoint, it wasn't anything special. There was no poem. There were eloquent words. The value in the card came because it was an authentic and genuine gift from my son, whom I love dearly.

The value of our worship

My experience with the card that Liam made for me helps me understand the heart of God for His people. The value of our worship is not found in the eloquence of our speech. It isn't found in the harmony of our singing. Our worship is not valuable to God because we adhere to certain traditions. It isn't found in our ability to choose the correct songs or know all the words. The value of our worship is not in our physical posture. We are not better worshipers because we raise our hands or because we lay prostrate on the ground or because we shuffle our feet with our hands in our pockets. The value of our worship is not in the type of building we worship or the theological system to which we ascribe. It isn't because we know the definition of justification, propitiation or sanctification.

The value of our worship is found primarily in our identity as God's children, created in His image and redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Our worship is valuable not because of how we do it, but because of who we are.

The value of our worship is found primarily in our identity as God’s children.

God desires our hearts

Flowing out of our identity as God's children, our worship is meant to be marked by hearts of humility and love. God says that he desires "steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6)." More than our sacrifices or our traditions, God wants our hearts. He desires for us to offer Him pure and authentic worship in response to His character. As we learn more about God and are reminded of His love through Jesus, we respond in worship. God wants our hearts. He wants our real, raw and authentic worship.

The card Liam gave me was not special because of its quality. It was special because Liam is my son. It was special because as my son, Liam wanted to give me a card to express his love and appreciation for me on my birthday. I have tried to remember this in my worship lately. My worship to God is special because I am His son. As His son, I want to give Him worship as an expression of my love and appreciation to Him as my Father God.

Preaching the Gospel to Myself

A number of years ago, I read a book by author Jerry Bridges called Growing Your Faith. I cannot remember where or how I came by the book, but God used that book in powerful ways during a transformative time in my life. One of the practices I learned from Jerry Bridges in that book is something he calls, Preaching the Gospel to Myself (pg. 133). It was a very brief part of the book, but still impactful. His discussion of preaching the gospel to himself received about half a paragraph, but it stuck with me. I began to put it into practice in my own life as well, and it has had a profound impact.

What does it mean to preach the gospel to myself? How does it work?

The actual practice is quite simple. I pick out five different passages of Scripture that highlight the truths of the gospel message. There are many to choose from (I have included some suggestions below), but I just choose five. When I am having my quiet time, I will recite these five passages to myself as a constant reminder of the gospel. I usually write each of the five passages out into my journal, and then I just turn to the page with the verses and read them to myself. Whenever I start a new journal, I choose five new passages that I will use to "preach the gospel to myself." 

Increases our love for Jesus

One of the reasons I have found this practice helpful is because it reminds me of what Jesus has done, and this increases my love and commitment to him. Our love and appreciation for Jesus is directly impacted by our recognition of the significance of what he has done for us on the cross. Jesus tells a short parable in Luke 7:41-42:

"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

The answer to that question is that the one who was forgiven the greater debt will love him more. Jesus is suggesting that our love for him is tied to our understanding of the degree to which we have been forgiven. Ultimately, we all suffer an infinite debt before God because of our sin. Jesus offers himself as a sacrifice to satisfy that debt. Therefore, the one who loves Jesus the most may not always be the "worst sinner," but rather the person who most recognizes the great debt that has been paid on their behalf.

When I preach the gospel to myself each morning, it reminds me that Jesus loved me first. It reminds me that the innocent God-man became sin on my behalf, that I might become the righteousness of God in him. It reminds me that I was once a child of darkness, but now I have been called into the light. It reminds me that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It reminds me that Jesus took upon himself the iniquity of us all. When I preach the gospel to myself, it reminds me of the truly good news that is found in the gospel, and it increases my love for Jesus.

It gets the gospel in our head

The second reason I have found the practice to be helpful is that it gets the gospel in my head so it is there when I need it most. For example, I am thinking about the times when I have repented of a sin, but I still feel a deep sense of shame that goes beyond healthy conviction or remorse. I need the truths of the gospel available and ready, like tools in a tool belt.

Another time when I need these gospel truths is at the end of a long day that just didn't seem to go as I had planned. The days when I wake up late and get angry with my wife and kids. The days I am late to work. The days I don't contribute well in meetings and discover that a project I was working on had failed miserably. At the end of these days, I often feel terrible and I need to be reminded that in the gospel, I am more loved than I ever thought possible.

I also need to remember these gospel truths after my day goes exceptionally well. At the end of those days, I can often find myself trusting in my own "righteousness." I can find myself believing that I have earned something from God, when in reality, even on my best days, I am still desperately in need of the salvation and life that Jesus offers. It is good to remember the gospel at the end of those "good days," when pride can creep into my mind.

We need to get these gospel truths in our head like tools in a tool belt, so they are ready and available when we need them. My brother is a trained electrician and he has collected a significant amount of electrical tools over the years. Many of these tools are not ones that I own, nor will I ever probably own. He often has many of his most important and useful tools with him in his truck, so they are available when he needs to use them. It is not uncommon for him to be at my house, discover that we need something electrical fixed, and run out to his truck to retrieve the tool he needs to fix our problem.

When we preach the gospel to ourselves it is like putting tools in our gospel tool belt. We won't always know when we need to be reminded of the gospel, but we know that the tool will be there when we need it most.

Passages that Preach the Gospel

There are many passages that we can use to preach the gospel to ourselves. Here are a few suggestions that you could begin using right away (all verses are in the ESV):

2 Corinthians 5:21

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Romans 8:1

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Isaiah 53:6

"All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all."

Ephesians 2:4-5

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved"

Psalm 103:12

"as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us."

Ephesians 1:7

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,according to the riches of his grace,"

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason[a] together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool."

Here are more passages that you might consider using when you preach the gospel to yourself: Romans 4:7-8; Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:12;

Do you have any suggestions?

If there are other passages that help you remember the gospel, please include them in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

Jesus I My Cross Have Taken

I love this song. And I love the way that Indelible Grace sings it here. Enjoy!

Here are the lyrics.

Jesus, I my cross have taken, 
All to leave and follow Thee. 
Destitute, despised, forsaken, 
Thou from hence my all shall be. 
Perish every fond ambition, 
All I’ve sought or hoped or known. 
Yet how rich is my condition! 
God and heaven are still my own.

Let the world despise and leave me, 
They have left my Savior, too. 
Human hearts and looks deceive me; 
Thou art not, like them, untrue. 
O while Thou dost smile upon me, 
God of wisdom, love, and might, 
Foes may hate and friends disown me, 
Show Thy face and all is bright.

Man may trouble and distress me, 
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast. 
Life with trials hard may press me; 
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest. 
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me 
While Thy love is left to me; 
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, 
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure, 
Come disaster, scorn and pain 
In Thy service, pain is pleasure, 
With Thy favor, loss is gain 
I have called Thee Abba Father, 
I have stayed my heart on Thee 
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather; 
All must work for good to me.

Soul, then know thy full salvation 
Rise o’er sin and fear and care 
Joy to find in every station, 
Something still to do or bear. 
Think what Spirit dwells within thee, 
Think what Father’s smiles are thine, 
Think that Jesus died to win thee, 
Child of heaven, canst thou repine.

Haste thee on from grace to glory, 
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer. 
Heaven’s eternal days before thee, 
God’s own hand shall guide us there. 
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, 
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days, 
Hope shall change to glad fruition, 
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

 

The Weary World Rejoices

On the eve of Christmas, we are invited to consider Jesus. As the sun rises tomorrow, it will bring with it the anticipation of presents, family and celebration. Many will gather around their tree, sipping coffee and opening presents. Others may pack the car to drive to a family member’s home. Whatever and wherever we find ourselves as dawn breaks tomorrow, there will be many things to consume our minds and attention. The family, gifts and festivities of Christmas are worthy to enjoy and celebrate, but let us not pass through the day without remembering Jesus.

The old Christmas hymn O Holy Night has impacted me in a new way this Advent season. In particular, portions of the first verse.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

The breaking of a new and glorious morn is a compelling phrase. The sun rising on a new day elicits many connotations and imagery. The night is a dangerous and scary time for the most vulnerable and oppressed. Whether it be a city under siege, a man or woman living on the street or a traveler on a journey, the rising sun brings fresh heat, light and hope. In the same way that the sun brings the hope of a new day, Jesus has broken into our weary world with a new and glorious hope. Long lay this world in sin and error pining. Long have people felt worthless and hopeless in this life. Jesus has brought something new. Jesus has brought worth, value and dignity to the human soul. Jesus has brought hope to this weary world.


As the sun rises on Christmas day, before we think about the presents, the festivities or the warm coffee brewing downstairs, may the breaking dawn bring Jesus to our minds. Jesus, who has brought a new day to our world. Jesus, who invites us to follow him, removing the stain of our sin, bringing dignity and hope to our weary soul.