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First Songs of Christmas - Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
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November 20, 2021 1:00 am

First Songs of Christmas - Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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November 20, 2021 1:00 am

You know the holiday tunes White Christmas and Jingle Bells, but do you know the first songs of Christmas? Author, speaker and radio host, Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth joins Dr. Gary Chapman to uncover the timeless truths found in the very first Christmas songs as spoken by Mary, Elizabeth, the angels—and more!

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Today on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, the songs of the first Christmas. No matter how fractured and messed up and imploding our world may be, when we lift our eyes up and we see the wonders of Christ coming to this earth, our hearts also are going to well up and break into the same kinds of songs that we see these precious early New Testament friends worshiping the Lord with at that first Advent.

Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Today, beloved author, speaker, and radio host, Nancy DeMoss Wagglemouth helps us return to the first songs of Christmas that can lift our hearts to a holy God. You know Nancy from her speaking and her work on the program, Revive Our Hearts, our featured resource today, just in time for a meaningful holiday season, is a new devotional based on Luke chapters one and two. It's called The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-day Advent devotional.

You can find out more about it at the website Gary, Christmas is only, what, a month and a few days away from now, and I think this conversation is going to be a great preparation for that celebration. Well, you know, Chris, all of us look forward to Christmas.

I think even non-Christians look forward to Christmas because of family relationships and that sort of thing. So I'm hoping that our conversation today is going to stimulate folks to look at the real meaning of Christmas and celebrate, and in a different way than we normally look at, because we're going to be discussing some of the songs of Christmas. So I'm excited about this interview with Nancy today. Let me introduce Nancy DeMoss Walgamuth. She has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His word is infectious. It permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily syndicated radio programs, Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him. Her books have sold millions of copies, and they're reaching people around the world. She and her husband Robert live in Michigan, and a featured resource, as I mentioned, is her latest, The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-day Advent devotional.

Find out more at Well, Nancy, welcome back to Building Relationships. Thank you, Gary. So grateful for you and Chris and Andrea and all the Lord is using you to do to invest in relationships of God's people with each other and with Him.

It's a privilege to be with you again. Well, let me begin with your assessment of what the pandemic has done to worship and celebrations like Christmas. What have you seen in the last year or so? Yeah, let me just start by saying there's some people who are going to say, why are we already talking about Christmas? But it's not too soon to start thinking because the pandemic and a lot of what has happened, the turmoil in our world over the last couple of years has really left us losing our equilibrium. One thing is that it's hard to be together.

Robert and I were just talking this morning and trying to make plans to be with family at Christmas, and we're not sure it's going to be possible. There's so much upheaval. We've become fragmented, distracted, so much anxiety. And when we are together, there's a lot of contention because of disagreements.

It's not been a hard time on relationships. And I think that's why we need the hope and the promises and even the joy that the Christmas story brings to our lives as it did the first Christmas so it still can today. I enjoy Christmas music, Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing. But the songs you want us to consider are a lot older than those songs, right?

They are. And I love those ones you just mentioned and even older ones like Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel, one of the earliest Christmas carols in the Christian faith. But the scripture gives us a hymnal with even older songs of Christmas.

We've called them the first songs of Christmas because they were songs that were sung or spoken in the events surrounding the first coming of Christ to this earth. And you find them in the Gospel of Luke, chapters one and two, two of my very favorite chapters not only at Christmas time but year round because there's something dramatic, something extraordinary, something long awaited, light piercing the darkness of this world. And it comes with a song into a world that for 400 years prior to the New Testament had not heard anything from God. God was silent and now He sends into this world His Son and the coming of Christ to this earth is accompanied by hymns and carols and songs of praise. And those have been preserved for us in the scripture so they were not only for people of that era but they're songs for us today.

Yeah. So these biblical songs are different than a lot of the holiday music on the radio and in the malls today at Christmas time. And my guess is there are many who have never considered these biblical songs. Yeah there's a lot of fun songs, cheerful songs that come with this season but the ones of scripture get to the point that relate to that first coming of Christ, the birth of Christ. And they are so rich, they are timeless, they speak to our world today much as they did, as much or more as they did to the era, that Roman Empire era in which those first believers in Christ lived. So yeah, nothing wrong with some of these other just fun celebratory songs but oh the riches and how our hearts need these beautiful scriptural songs that we find in the Gospel of Luke. So take us back to Luke and the songs that you found in the first two chapters.

How many songs did you discover and who sang them? Well there are five or six depending on how you count them but we have Elizabeth, an older woman who sings songs. This is poetry, this is in the genre of song. And then we have a younger woman, Mary, maybe just a young teenage girl who speaks the song that we've come to know as the Magnificat, my soul magnifies the Lord, that's where that term comes from. And then we have Zachariah's song, he was a priest and the husband of Elizabeth. So here we have two elderly Old Testament saints who are being given the privilege of seeing with their own eyes this transition to the new covenant of grace and they speak songs that are glorious. And then we have the angels, one of the angels and then a host of the angels speaking or singing songs of praise and glory to God. And then at the very end of Luke chapter 2 we have Simeon's song, another older saint who had waited and longed for the coming of Christ to earth and when his eyes beheld it, he broke out in worship. And I believe Gary that when our eyes behold who Christ is, what he has done for us, who he is to us and in our world today and what the redemptive story is all about, that no matter what the news of the day may be, when we lift our eyes up and we see the wonders of Christ coming to this earth, our hearts also are going to well up and break into the same kinds of songs that we see these precious early New Testament friends worshipping the Lord with at that first Advent. Well I'm excited about digging into these songs. Nancy are you going to sing some of them for us as well? That would not be recommended but I'll tell you what, when nobody's listening and when the mic's not on, I do love to sing and I think we shouldn't be concerned about having, you know I think those old people who had these first songs of Christmas, they probably had scratchy voices too. They may not have been able to carry a tune so well but their hearts were tuned to the wonders of God's grace and that's what makes these songs beautiful and it's what makes our singing of Christmas carols rooted in scripture.

It's what makes them beautiful no matter how off pitch or scratchy our voices may be. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Our guest today is author, speaker, radio host Nancy Damas-Wagamath, author of The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-day Advent devotional. You can find out more and hear our program again at the website Nancy is the host of Revive Our Hearts.

She's an accomplished pianist and author of a number of best-selling books. You can find out more about her ministry and our featured resource today right there at the website Well Nancy, your devotional is for the Advent season. What is Advent and what does that word mean? Yeah there's some faith traditions that use that word more than others.

Some of us it's a little bit of a scary word because we're not as familiar with it but the word just means to come. The coming of Christ to this earth. Of course we had his first Advent which is what we celebrate at Christmas. We anticipate the second coming of Christ when he returns to this earth. That will be also an Advent. So those Old Testament saints looked forward to the Advent, to the coming of Christ. Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel. That was their heartbeat.

That was their heart cry. Well now as we sing our Christmas carols and hymns and as we read back to these first songs of Christmas in the Gospel of Luke, we celebrate that Christ has come. The longing and the hopes of all the years have been fulfilled in Christ. So we celebrate that and we do it with eyes of faith in a way that those early believers weren't able to do because this was all brand new to them. So how can these first songs of Christmas prepare us and our culture for this Advent season?

Here's the thing. We all know that this season from before Thanksgiving up through Christmas can leave us harried and exhausted and frustrated and we get out of our rhythms, we get off our schedules, we're sometimes being with people that we're not as comfortable with or that we may have maybe fractured relationships with. Christmas can be painful. I'm thinking of a couple of friends of mine who've recently lost their husbands to COVID and this Christmas is going to have a lot of pain associated with it.

Some who will be alone, some who will wish they were alone because maybe they're with people that have struggles in their relationships. So through all of this, as we look back to the scripture and we read and ponder and meditate on these first songs of Christmas, I believe God uses these to bring an infusion of perspective and hope and peace and grace. We remember who we are, who God is, who Jesus is, why he came.

And I know we know all that but sometimes we just get too hurried. And so my goal and burden through this 31-day Advent devotional is to have just a little nugget, a glimpse into one of these songs on each of those 31 days of the month of December and carrying us through the week after Christmas so that we don't just get that, you know, we've had this big high, sugar high and everything else high and then we get, you know, we plummet down into despair and anxiety once again. But to focus our hearts, to set our hearts on Christ and his Advent and what that means for us, to celebrate the gospel.

Jesus is God becoming man, coming to this earth to deliver us from our sins. What could be more wonderful than that? So yes, we're going to have the parties and the sadness and the tears and the laughter and the cookies and the whatever else is a part of your Christmas celebration. But at the heart, at the root of it all, my longing is that we would have a fresh encounter with Jesus, not just for us, but also for the people we're around in our families and our neighborhoods. I have neighbors who don't know Jesus, that I'm longing to have some way this Christmas of shining for them the light of the gospel, the light of Christ. So just think if in the darkness and confusion and chaos of this crazy world right now, and it's getting crazier, let's just say that, but in the midst of all that, what if we as the people of God could be filled in our hearts to overflowing with the joy and the wonder and the awe of what these first singers of those first songs of Christmas experienced? What a difference would that make in us and then around us and through us?

Yeah. So let's look at Mary's song. What do these verses reveal about Mary's heart? Well, keep in mind that Mary was a young girl.

She probably couldn't read. She probably wasn't literate, but she knew the word of God. She knew the Old Testament. She knew the promises of God. She had soaked in those promises because her song, which is one of the longest songs found here in Luke 1 and 2, it's filled with references to Old Testament prophecies and promises. And she knew them, and she knew that with the coming of Christ, these promises were being fulfilled. Now, for her to be a part of that, for the angel to come and say, not only is Jesus coming, the Son of God, but you're going to carry this baby into your womb, well, this totally rearranged and upended any plans that Mary had for what to do that time of year.

It changed everything. But I love how Mary, in her song, she worships the Lord. My soul magnifies the Lord, makes a big deal about Him, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

And then as she goes to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, the older woman with the younger woman, the songs continue to well up and pour out. And Mary says, essentially, yes, Lord, whatever you want, may it be to me according to your word. So here you have a woman of praise, a woman of humility, a woman of faith, a woman who surrenders her own body, her plans, her ambitions, her romantic life, her future marriage, everything is surrendered to God.

And that calls out to me today. I'm a much older woman than Mary was, but I have the same God. He's faithful to keep His promises. He has kept His covenant. He has shown His mercy to Mary's forefathers, to Mary's generation, to my forefathers, and to my generation, and for generations to come, He will always be faithful. That grounds us in truth, and it gives us hearts of praise.

And we respond in faith too and say, yes, Lord, whatever you want, however you want to use me, that's what I'm here for. You know, Carrie, I was just thinking about and listening, Nancy, to what you were just saying, comparing, contrasting what Mary said, may it be unto me, Lord, with what happened in the garden. There's an echo of that song of Mary's in the heart of her son who was saying, not my will, but yours be done.

Isn't there? Yes, and actually, Mary and Eve are contrasting in so many respects, because Eve, in effect, said, I'll have it my way. And Mary comes onto the scene and she says, oh God, not my way, but your way.

You have it your way, Lord. You know, I really believe, Gary and Chris and Andrea, that at any moment in our lives, we are responding as Eve did or as Mary did. And sometimes we're just, you know, balling up our, clenching our fists and digging in our heels and saying, no, I want it my way. I know what God has said, but I want it my way. We just don't believe Him and we choose to go our own way. Or we take the pathway of obedience and surrender and faith and we say with Mary, Lord, whatever you want, that's what I want. And you're right, that's what Jesus said when He went to the cross for our sakes.

So we think that the cross and death and surrender, that this is hard, but in fact, this is the pathway to redemption and beauty and goodness and all that we were created for when we surrender and we say, yes, Lord, have it your way. What was Mary's life like at this time? And why do you think she was so willing or open to accept the angel's message? You know, I think Mary's life had to be grounded in the Old Testament scriptures.

Of course, we have Old and New Testaments today, but grounded in His ways. And you think that Mary lived in Nazareth, which was a rugged, harsh town. It was a center of travel and commerce and there were a lot of rough-hewn people around then and in those places. And the whole Roman Empire was, we think of governments and nations and the world today as being corrupted and like it's never been as bad.

Actually, it has been as bad before. The Roman era was a wicked era and she lived as a young Jewish girl surrounded by this Gentile pagan culture and even many of the Jews had forsaken the Lord. And then I also think, this just struck me a few minutes ago as we were talking, that here was Mary on that first Christmas in a makeshift birthing room separated by miles from her family, from her friends, from all that was familiar, from all that was comfortable. And I know this Christmas there will be those who are separated from family, from friends, for whom God has placed them in uncomfortable places and settings. And if nothing else, we all feel the encroachment of darkness and evil around us. But set against that dark backdrop of Mary's era is this gem of her faith and her yes, Lord. And why shouldn't and why couldn't that be you and me today?

Set against the backdrop of evil and sin and travel problems and supply chain problems and empty shelves and all the things they're warning us about that are maybe getting worse, probably getting worse. But against that backdrop, why shouldn't we as Christians be the ones who are magnifying the Lord, exalting his name, praising him, worshipping him, filled with joy in our hearts, not from what this world can give us, but from what the indwelling Christ gives us. That's why I love this woman and I love how she speaks to us in our world today. Talk about her willingness to accept what from the human perspective was impossible to have a baby.

No man is involved in this. It's a superhuman thing. What does that say about her trust in God? Well, she acknowledges that this is impossible.

How can this be? And I've had a little bit of a similar conversation with the Lord many times over the years and I felt that he called me to something that seemed impossible. When we started Revive Our Hearts, I'm going, I can't do this.

I can't do this. And that's essentially what Mary was saying. But I love what the angel said to her, the power of the most high, the Holy Spirit will come upon you and overshadow you. You're not the one who's going to do this, Mary. You're just making yourself available.

You're just saying yes. You're just surrendering your body and your future to the Lord, but he will do these great things. And she says this in her song, he has done great things for me. So we come to the Lord in our hard places. Lord, I can't love that family member.

I can't raise this child for whom no textbook was ever written. I'm so sad. I think of widows and people who are alone and Lord, I just can't press on.

This has been an era of such anxiety and depression and discouragement and the holidays can be a recipe for more of the same. But as we lift our eyes up to the Lord, he reminds us I can do this. I can do it in you. I can do it through you.

I can do it for you. It's not your power. It's the power of the Holy Spirit. It's not even our faith really, except that he gives us the faith to believe that he is real.

He is good. He can be trusted. And I think that when we as believers live as believers, that that really makes a mark on our world. They see that we don't have to cave to the pressures emotional and mental and governmental and political and all this stuff. Yes, it's very real. We don't pretend like it's not happening. But in the midst of that all, we have a source, a spring of joy and peace and grace that is only possible through Christ in us. Because many of us face what seem to be impossible situations in life, right? I mean, on a rather regular basis.

We do. And that's why I love these songs. They're scripture.

They're not just like made up songs. This is inspired by the Holy Spirit. And as we focus on these words, the Mighty One has done great things for me.

His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. As we soak in these words, which is what we're doing in this 31-day Advent devotional, we're soaking in these, we're meditating, we're reflecting on these scriptural items. And what it does is give us a fresh infusion of hope and the promises of God and the goodness and faithfulness of God. And we cling to that sometimes with just raw, naked faith, saying, Lord, this seems impossible. But through you, all things are possible.

And I'm going to believe you. You know, Nancy, as you were reading those words from Mary, I felt encouraged just hearing you read those words. That's why I think devotional like this is going to be so helpful to all of us as we move into this Christmas season. How does Mary's song remind us of the unchangeable characteristics of the Lord?

Well, it's important for us to see that because we can just think these are old-time characters that you see in Christmas plays with sheets on for robes and eight-year-old kids playing Mary and a baby doll playing Jesus. And those can be sweet, but the reality is that these songs point us to deep, rich theology, which is who God is, how we're supposed to think about God. And Mary, along with these others who have the songs in Luke 1 and 2, they talk about the promises of God and the character of God to their fathers and their grandfathers. Today I'm thinking about the fact that 71 years ago today, my dad, who was a young man who was a rebel and far from God, had no interest in spiritual matters. He was brought into the hearing of the gospel. God reached down and saved him and transformed his life.

He's been in heaven now for over 40 years. But I think about how God drew my dad to himself and showed his mercy and his grace. And that encourages me today. When I need mercy, I need grace, and I want to pass that on to the next generation.

So that's what these songs do. They say God has been faithful to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to our fathers. He will be faithful to us, and he will be faithful to those who come behind us.

How many parents today are struck with terror and fear about their children growing up in this crazy world? But as we soak in the character of God, we're reminded God doesn't change. He is faithful. His promises are true. We could trust him. They could trust him back in those old days. We can trust him today and those who are coming behind us.

That's the legacy we want to leave for them, to know that God is faithful and he will keep his covenant promises to all generations of those who fear him. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, New York Times best-selling author of "The 5 Love Languages" . Our guest today is Nancy Damas-Wagamith, author of our featured resource The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-day Advent devotional.

Find out more at Nancy, I know that you and Robert have to see beyond the pain and the struggle that you've gone through. Talk about your personal story of believing that God is the same today as he was 2,000 years ago. Thank you, Gary. It's been hard, but it's been sweet. And the it is that right as the pandemic began in March of 2020, my precious husband of less than five years at the time was diagnosed with first one cancer. And then no sooner had we gone through dealing with that surgery and reconstruction for the melanoma, then he comes up with another cancer, no history of any of this. But now, you know, this past year went through chemo with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and many people have followed our journey and have prayed for us.

We're so, so grateful. We didn't know what the outcome would be. And, you know, none of us knows what the outcome is going to be health-wise or families. The COVID year has had so many unexpected encounters for people with hardship, and some much harder than ours.

I was speaking this last weekend at a conference, and I was able to have Robert stand up with me and to let them know that his doctor recently told us that he is in complete remission. And the people cheered because they'd been praying, they'd been longing for that. But seated right there on the front row in front of me at this large conference was a woman who is in the process of dying of cancer and may not make it till Christmas, will not be here long unless the Lord miraculously intervenes.

And I had to look into that woman's eyes, but I saw on her face peace and a smile. And she was doing what Proverbs 31 says, the woman who trusts God does, she laughs at the time to come. She doesn't dread it. She doesn't fear it. It's hard.

It is hard. Here's a woman who is weak. She's frail.

She's losing this earthly body. We were blessed that God has restored or is in the process of restoring health to Robert. But we promised each other back before we knew what the outcome would be, and we don't know what may come yet in days to come.

But right now, it's looking good. The prognosis is good. But we said to each other when we didn't know, we're going to trust God. We're going to keep our eyes on Him, and we're going to say yes, Lord.

We're going to thank Him when we get good reports and good scans, and we're also going to thank Him when we get the ones we didn't want, the answers we weren't hoping for. And we're going to anchor our lives in Christ, because the thing that matters most is our eternal relationship with Christ. This earth, however long or short our time here may be, it's so short. Many of the people who sang these first songs of Christmas in the New Testament, they were elderly people.

They weren't going to be here for very long. But they saw Christ ascended and raised and seated at the right hand of God ultimately, and they saw the throne of God and the triumph of God's kingdom over the kingdoms of this world. And they chose to believe and to cling to those promises and to know that in the end, all would be well. God's kingdom would come.

God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. That's what Robert and I have chosen to do. We haven't always done it perfectly. We've shed plenty of tears. We've had some really hard moments, but we've looked at each other and said, you know what? God is still God.

He has not changed. And if this is the experience He's entrusting to us, we're going to receive it. We're going to say, Lord, redeem it for your purposes in us, through us to others.

I don't know what all His purposes are. I won't know this side of heaven, but I trust. We trust. Nancy, I'm identifying with what you say, because 10 years ago, my wife went through cancer and the chemo for a whole year and lost her hair and weight and all that. But today, 10 years later, she's fine. She's cancer free. And we rejoice in that.

On the other hand, my sister died at the age of 58 with cancer. So what you're saying, sometimes God chooses to give us extended life, and sometimes He chooses to take us. But either way, He's God. I remember that song.

I don't know the whole song, but the line is, when you can't see God's hand, you trust His heart. Yes, yes. And that's what I hear you all doing. And His heart is always good, and His purposes are always good. God can be trusted to write our story.

Yeah, absolutely. Which sounds like the name of another book you wrote. It's a book God's writing in our lives that we can trust Him to write our story.

Right. Let's look at Elizabeth's song. Tell us about Elizabeth and what we learned through her song. Well, here we have the contrast between Mary, the young woman, the young teen woman who had never been married, and Elizabeth, who had been married for many years to a priest, Mariah. They are a godly couple, righteous couple, holy couple, seeking God, fearing God, serving God. And yet, for years, they had prayed for a child, and God had not given them the child they longed for. Because you see, God is writing a story that is bigger than the story we would write.

It is greater, it is grander, and it is better than any story we would write. But now, as an elderly couple, in the fullness of time, God said to them, I'm gonna bless you with a child. When they were way past childbearing years, there was no way they could have a child at that season of their lives. But again, this is supernatural, which is what the gospel is all about. And Elizabeth and Mary connect, the younger woman and the older woman, even as the Old Testament transitions into the new covenant. And these two women come together, and Mary approaches Elizabeth, and Elizabeth realizes that this is the promised son of God that Mary is carrying. And Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cries out, and she blesses Mary, and she blesses the son that Mary is carrying in her womb. And she exalts the son of God above her own miracle son that she is carrying in her womb. And then she says to Mary, blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. The song of Mary's sometimes is referred to as the beatitude, the blessing.

She's saying blessings to Mary, blessings to the Christ that Mary is carrying, and blessed to those who believe that what God has said will be fulfilled. You have to see the hand of God in that, don't you? When she sees in the womb of Mary that this is the Son of God, I mean, man, the whole thing in these two chapters just reveals so much God's hand, God's sovereignty.

Wow. And that's what God wants us to see, Gary, in our lives and in our walk, is the miraculous, the supernatural, the presence of Christ, the character of God, the faithfulness of God. These are not like dusty old stories that we just bring off the shelf with our Christmas decorations once a year. This is the gospel. Christ came. He was born.

He came to die. And all of this is baked into these early Christmas songs. They're songs of blessing, and they encourage us, even when Elizabeth speaks blessing to Mary, as we encounter others, even family members that haven't blessed us. How can we use our words to bless them, to point them to Christ?

This challenges us to love Christ and to love the gospel, but also to be carriers of Christ and the gospel to those around us in our world. Talk a bit about the angels and their role in the Christmas story. Oh, the angels. And we have such, I think, I don't know what the word is, puny pictures of these angels in our heads.

They're like cute little cherubs flying around in long dresses. And boy, in the scripture, when people saw angels, they fell on their faces. These are mighty servants of the Lord, and they're messengers from God, and they bring messages from God's throne to people on earth.

And they did this several times. They came to Joseph. They came to Mary. They came to the shepherds on that Judean hillside the night Jesus was born. And the darkness of that hillside, the darkness of that night burst into flames of light as the angels brought the message that God has come to earth. A savior has been born today. And God didn't send the angels to the, you know, Herod's palace or Caesar's palace or to people who were too busy doing other stuff to notice.

He sent it to just a band of common working class, lower class workers on that late night hillside. But they believed the message of the angels. And it was a message of joy. In an era, think about the fact that for 400 years, God had not spoken to anybody.

He had been silent. And now the skies burst forth with these messengers from heaven. And I just imagine these angels had been waiting, I don't know if they have time in heaven, but for hundreds of years, can we go now? Can we go now? Is it time? Can we go down and tell them? And God says, just wait, just wait.

I'm supplying this a little bit of imagination here. But in the fullness of time, at just the right moment, God sent these heavenly messengers to bring a message of glory and great joy for all mankind. The earth was in darkness and in depression and discouragement and sin and sin's night. But God's light brought joy to this world.

And the angels were the ones He entrusted to take that message. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Our guest is Nancy DeMoss Wagramath. And our featured resource is her book, The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-day Advent devotional.

You can find out more at Nancy, we were talking before we took the break about the shepherds. And once they encountered the message of the angels, they left, right? I often wonder who took care of the sheep. Well, in our crushes, they have their sheep with them, so I don't really know. But you know, we have reason to believe that the sheep that they were caring for and the place where they were caring for them may have been actually the sacrificial lambs that were being tended to and cared for in anticipation of the observance of Passover. And what a picture of how Jesus, the Son of God, is also the Lamb of God who came to give His life as those sheep would have been sacrificed as Old Testament sacrifices now was being born, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Now, those shepherds probably didn't know all of that, but it makes sense that they made haste. If you're using the old King James, they went to Bethlehem to see what had come to pass.

And then I love that they didn't stay there forever. They went back and they couldn't stop telling people, this is what we've seen, this is what has happened, this is the message we've heard. And doesn't our world need today to have people who have experienced the reality of Christ in their lives, have had their sins forgiven, have new life in Christ, telling the message?

I'm just thinking as we're talking about nurses and doctors and neighbors and people that Robert and I have encountered in the past, this past whole pandemic and cancer season. We've developed relationships with, but they need Jesus. And oh Lord, would you just give us words, would you open our mouths to tell them how they can have hope and that joy has come to the world, joy to the world, the Lord has come. That's a message God has entrusted it to the shepherds back then. Shepherds aren't going to tell it today. We're the ones who need to do that.

Yup. May God help us. You know, another character in the story of Christmas is Zechariah, who you mentioned earlier, a priest and the husband of Elizabeth. And in his song, he says, and I'm quoting here, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. What does this statement say about salvation and what does it mean as to why it's included here in the Christmas song? That's a line from a longer hymn of sorts that Zechariah speaks and it's long, but it's beautiful. And this precious line tells us that the birth of Christ is about salvation.

It's not just a cute little Christmas play thing. It's not just, you know, for ringing bells and singing songs and decorating our houses, but this is a matter of salvation. And the word to be saved in the scripture has to do with being rescued, with being delivered. Well, that means you got to be rescued from something. You got to be delivered from something.

What is that? What is the enemy that we've been saved from? It's from the clutches of Satan who kept this world in bondage and darkness and sin. It's from the slavery of sin. And Jesus came to set us free from all of that, to save us, to rescue us, the hand of all who hates us, who hate us. Satan hates us. He wants to keep us in bondage. He wants to keep us in sin and nature's night, as one of the Wesley hymns says.

And so the coming of Christ, even as Zechariah was celebrating the birth of his son, John, John the Baptist, but the greater celebration was the one who would yet be born, Jesus, the Son of God, who has come to save us from our sin, to save us from the darkness of this world. Listen, our world needs so much. We all know. But our world doesn't need new political leaders or new news commentators or new employers or new business practices. I don't mean we don't need those things, but that's not our greatest need. Our greatest need is for our souls to be saved from the sin that has put every one of us in bondage. And this is good news for all people. So my hope is, as believers, that we don't get distracted in arguing about masks and mandates and vaccines and all the other things we could be arguing about today.

And now, you know, it won't be long before there'll be another election season upon us. And we can get so caught up in all that stuff and miss the greatest and deepest need of the world, which is for a Savior. Jesus has come to save us. And those he saves will reign with him here on earth. Listen, the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. And he shall reign forever and ever.

Amen. Hallelujah chorus, right? So this is why, of all people, we should be people of hope and joy, as Zachariah was in his season. The last two songs are spoken by Simeon and Anna. Tell us about who they were and why their songs are important for us. Oh, I love Simeon and Anna. And they're not the best-known characters of the Christmas story.

They actually come just after the birth of Christ, which is why we added the week after Christmas into this Advent devotional. So we don't leave out Simeon and Anna. But here were two elderly Old Testament saints who were in the temple. And for years, decades had been longing and waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled. And they had not seen and they had not seen.

And here we are in the Roman Empire and the priests are corrupt and the Romans are corrupt and everybody's corrupt and the world is in bondage and night. But they kept believing God. They kept waiting.

They kept longing. They kept praying. And they were there in the temple when the infant Jesus was brought by Mary and Joseph to be dedicated as the Old Testament law required. And we have the story of Simeon reaching out his hands and taking this baby Jesus in his hands. It says he lifted his hands. I don't know if he lifted them up above his head as if giving this child to God or acknowledging that this child was God or I don't know how he held him. He spoke to Mary, the mother, about the pain and the anguish that she would one day experience giving a hint of the cross that was to come that Jesus' life would be given for the salvation of the world.

But Simeon says, Oh God, now I can die because my eyes have seen what I have longed for. And then comes Anna, this elderly widow. And she wasn't the one who was going to get a lot of press or her name on a billboard or on a highlight or nobody was tweeting about Anna in those days. She was kind of a nobody, but she was a woman who was centered in Christ. And I know some elderly praying widows and older women who kind of fit this category.

In fact, when I get old, that's what I want to be is an Anna. And here she is. She sees Christ.

She recognizes who he is and she does two things. One, she worships. She praises God for the fulfillment of his promise. Let's not forget to worship this Christmas.

Let's not let it pass us by with all the activity. And that's why this Advent devotional is such a help to center us on worship. But it didn't end there for Anna. It says, Then she went and told others about what she had seen. She told others who had been waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled. So not only did she worship, but she witnessed. And what an opportunity this is for us to be worshipers and to be witnesses of the fact that God has fulfilled his promises.

That there is no president or prime minister or king or ruler or army or politician or official. There is nobody who can resist the gospel and the power of Christ from coming and visiting our world today through his people. So we sometimes feel powerless and small and insignificant, and we are. But God is so great, so powerful. His gospel is so powerful. It can overcome all the bad news of our day. So let's be attentive to people that God has put a seed of longing in their hearts. People around us, people in our workplace, people in our community, our neighbors, our family members, and say, Lord, how could I tell them that there is hope, there is life, there is grace, there is salvation through Christ, and that that's what this season is about. So may this be a season of worship and witness and the powerful message and truth of Christ going out in this year through us as his people, even as it rang out into the hearts of these saints in Luke chapters one and two.

Well, you know, Nancy, listening to you as we just kind of gone through these songs, I know in my own heart, I am excited about walking this year's journey toward Christmas. And I do believe that the devotional you put together is going to help a lot of us make the most of this season because, as you said earlier, we're in crisis and all kind of things are going on in our world that some of us haven't seen before. So give us a final word as we come to a close today.

What would you like to say to us? Well, our world is still in darkness, still in chains, still enslaved to rebellion and selfishness and sinfulness, but Jesus has come. We've had his first advent. We look back on it. We celebrate it, but it's not just something that happened thousands of years ago.

It did happen, but now Christ is alive. He is in this world through the power of his Holy Spirit living in us. And our job, our calling, our privilege as those who've met Jesus, who've encountered him, who have him living in us, is to share with others that good news that light has triumphed over darkness, life has triumphed over death, the holiness of God has triumphed over the sinfulness of man, and there is grace, there is mercy for all who will believe and be saved. We celebrate that, we share it, and we live it out so that others can see the reality of Christ in us. And I'll tell you, as we've been talking, my own heart has been warmed and inspired and just infused with fresh hope of what gospel opportunities there may be before us in the weeks ahead.

May we take advantage of those. Well, I think that's true for all of us, and I trust true for all of our listeners as well. Thank you, Nancy, for being with us today. Thank you, Gary. What a treat to hear from Nancy DeMoss-Walgam of today and our featured resource, the new book, The First Songs of Christmas, a 31-day Advent devotional, meditations on Luke 1 and 2.

You can find out more about it right there at And next week, after you've enjoyed your Thanksgiving celebration, come on back for questions about your relationships. Don't miss a post-Thanksgiving Dear Gary broadcast. Our thanks today to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Todd, and in Michigan, Phil Kraus. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-20 12:36:09 / 2023-07-20 12:54:13 / 18

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