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December 12, 2021 12:54 am
This week in our Christmas series, Phil Needham discusses how we can find joy among tragedy and how God has always spoke to us through song.
Series: CHRISTMAS BREAKTHROUGH
Hi this is breathing welcome to the Salvation Army's words of life. Welcome back to words of life. I'm Cheryl Gallant and I'm Bernie dictate Bernie last week we launched our Christmas series with Commissioner Phil Needham in this series Phil is taking a few devotions out of a book he wrote a few years back called Christmas break through this week. He's discussing finding joy in the midst of tragedy and how God speaks to us in a song.
Now songs are very important to me. I know they're very important to you as well just in your general life as you're going through your every day but are there any songs that just speak to you especially when you're going through tragedy or a rough time. I mean I'm inspired by music in general.
It is a gift from God. One particular one I don't know if we give them the we have to pay any endorsement for this, but it was Steven Curtis Chapman is a great Christian singer-songwriter and he was on years ago called his strength is perfect when my strength is gone it will carry us when there's so okay. We Care you yeah I shouldn't sing the listeners probably kept them but definitely about this time of year. There's a young Christian artist Jackie Velasquez. She wrote a song called it wouldn't be Christmas without you.
She talks about hanging lights in the snowball fights. It's her favorite time of year, but you know when were all spread out all throughout. In our case, the United States and other people's cases different continents. You just miss family, particularly over what we've all been through these last two years. I grieve not being near my family as much as I wish I could be crying right, you said there is a song that I learned probably about nine years ago. Now it's called. He's always been faithful in it goes. It's a contemporary version of greatest my faithfulness to contemporary version of it goes along with that song. I'm Africa has the melody of that.
I do believe it. Yes, that is and and said that when Ellie speaks to me, especially going through rough times. Now in tough times thinking about God's faithfulness.
He's done it before he'll do it again and that he's faithful no matter what the circumstances. So that speaks to my heart particular. What a great way to communicate Christmas or communicate the message of Christmas you know God's son sent to us to save the world literally in the form of a baby yeah and if you during this Christmas season are having a difficult time. Please know that in Christ, your joy will return, and please let us know how we can pray for you.
Send us an email. firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-229-9965 hello this is Phil Needham were continuing our series for Advent and Christmas today were talking about Troy. You may want to look at Isaiah 55 wanted to the Israelites are exiled in bubble. They were virtual slaves in a foreign land there.
Joy has departed. What word is there to lift their spirits enough to see them through the ordeal, they find the words in the book of Isaiah.
The prophecy is not launched with rational arguments to put minds at rest. It begins with singing.
Isaiah sings about deserts and wilderness blossoming like crocus bursting into bloom, rejoicing with joy and singing. He sings the melodies of hope in a hopeless situation.
I cannot imagine what it was like for those exiles to be waiting years for deliverance for which they had no earthly guarantee nor observable signs could they believe Isaiah is optimism. It is easy to sing when you are disheartened or despondent. Unless of course you know will lament that patches your sadness. The book of Isaiah and other prophetic books have plenty of elements that reflect God's sadness and anger over a nation's unfaithfulness and ungodly behavior. They are love songs laden with the grief of her rejected lover who longs for the loved ones return but this song is different. It flows in a major key, it dances the good news. It pulls us out of the doldrums. It drives away fear and claims victory even before the battle, such songs are sung throughout the Old Testament whether they are great anthems of praise at the dedication of the temple for a terrifying salsa brigade at the head of Jehoshaphat's victorious army or Gideons drum and bugle corps leveling the walls of Jericho or the four adults only extravagant love songs of Solomon. Some poets intimate that God song all of creation into existence launching a song that became a world and thus his beloveds, God speaks to us in song. When we turn away from him. He laments when we follow his ways.
He sings his pleasure. He is the Pied Piper of a fallen world, luring us with this love song, not some cheap sentimental love song know a love song with pain and suffering and enormous sacrifice for us. His beloveds, and when we are lured by such a song we answer in the words of Paulus Gerhardt's him what language shall I borrow to thank the dearest friend for this lie dying sorrow. I pity without end home make me the line for ever and should I fainting the Lord.
Let me never, never outlive my love to the such answering songstress song from deep within us from our souls, we are singing to our divine lover. We are entrusting our lives to the one who gave his life for us.
Even though our present circumstances may not seem to prove his loving presence. We believe that he will not abandon us, and that he will have a future and a hope for us. This is the kind of assurance, the Israelites needed God gave Isaiah the words of the music to sing his assurance of their future.
It began with the vision of joy song with the imagery of new life bursting forth is a vision they could picture because they had seen the world come to life in springtime. There was little joy under the ongoing circumstances, but there was joy in their future. We live many centuries later, the Christ has now come in the flesh of the world still mourns in lonely exile the joy we sing still directs us toward the future to a promise still to be fulfilled.
Yes we feel the joy, but it doesn't settle us down as if the future has arrived. Rather, it pulls us forward and says that if we live the joy it will spread far and wide, pulling others in too often, perhaps we lose the joy because we are depressed by a world being torn apart by hatred and violence. Discouraged by the seeming complacency and dysfunction of other Christians paralyzed by our own personal compromises and failures. There is plenty to rob us of our joy in the lifelessness of some congregations can add to the sadness almost 300 years ago when Isaac Watts was a teenager he came home from a Sunday worship service, complaining of how sad and Solomon drive the hymns sung by the congregation were his father suggested he write some new hymns with more life and joy really did over 600 of them over a lifetime. One of them is among the most buoyant of Carol's. Can you imagine not singing Joy to the world this season. We love to sing it in a loud voice, and with a snappy tempo were singing with all of heaven and nature the fields of floods, rocks, Hills and Plains repeat the sounding joy.
It's a privilege we get to join in. We should pay special attention to the second phrase of the Carol, the Lord is come not has come is come the whole Carol is in the present tense. It calls the earth to receive her King now. It calls us to open our hearts to him today. Let every heart prepare him room. If we do not re-open our hearts to him again this Advent season. How much meaning this the Bethlehem miracle 2000 years ago have for us it would be a stale gift.
It seems to me this is the key to the last first diverse is a bold statement that Christ rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glory of his righteousness, and wonders of his love present tense. We do occasionally see glimpses of his rule in righteousness. But this world has a long, long way to go. Why is that perhaps the answer lies with church inhabitants, whose hearts do not prepare him room Christians locked within the dirge of a Dalton compromise Christian religion. Christians who don't have the compassion encourage of a joyful heart.
Christians who do not really sing while they march there with this into the world. Isaiah saw the future selling it lifted even though he didn't know when it would actually come we didn't know the twin we do know that Christ was the fulfillment of the promise of a new kingdom of love and righteousness. We are now called to sing Christ's new kingdom with joy and live it with conviction. If enough of us do that last verse of the Carol will prove accurate, the glories of Christ's righteousness and the wonders of his love will become more and more apparent in a world moving toward Christ's second advent. When the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. Please join me in this prayer God of hope, save me from the weakness of spirit that belittles my own ability to stand up against the bleakness around me and the influences of those forces that undermine your kingdom. Give me your song and the courage to sing it in a strange land.
Give me melodies that convey the joy that nothing can take away prepare my heart for a new and needed way for you to come to me this season. I pray this in the name of the Christ who drew me to himself with a joyful love song. I could no longer resist a man the Salvation Army's mission doing the most good means helping people with material and spiritual needs become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army visit Salvation Army USA.org to offer your support and love to hear from you. Email us email@example.com or call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at PO Box 29972, Atlanta, GA 30359 tell us how we can help share prayer request or share your testimony. Would love to use your story on here. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes. Your favorite podcast store and surely give us a rating to search for the Salvation Army's words of life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes extended interviews and more.
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