"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
December 14, 2016
Often we can hear the same thing so often that it loses its meaning. Other times we may sing a well-known song, not truly understanding exactly what the lyrics truly mean. Perhaps we have heard or sung something so often, that it's become tradition, therefore, we don't particularly listen to the message.
Isaac Watts, who wrote hundreds of songs, has been called "The Father of Hymns", due to his popularity as the first English hymn writer. He was a young man when hymns, other than the Psalms, were allowed to be sung in the Church of England. This gave way to Watts writing many beloved hymns. Some of his songs sung today are, "At The Cross", "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", "I Sing The Mighty Power of God". He also wrote one of the most well-known Christmas carols, "Joy To The World". It was written back in 1719 by Isaac Watts, so has been around for almost 300 hundred years.
The lyrics of "Joy To The World" say nothing about angels, shepherds, wise men, a manger, Mary and Joseph, Bethlehem, or what we normally associate with Christmas carols. The reason is, Isaac Watts did not pen this song to be a Christmas hymn. The original theme of this song was the second coming of Christ. He wrote these words to celebrate the rapture of the church, when Jesus returns, not as a baby in a manger, but as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!
I've found many different documentations that says that Watts wrote the words to this hymn to glorify the triumphant return of Jesus at the end of the age, rather than a song celebrating His first coming. The nations are called to celebrate, because God brought salvation to the world, through the birth of His Son.
The most well-known lyrics to "Joy To The World", that most people know the words to, is the first verse: "Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room; and Heaven and nature sing, and Heaven and nature sing, and Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing."
Isaac Watts wrote this carol based on the second half of Psalm 98.
Verses 4-6 says, "Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of a ram's horn. Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King!"
The song's second verse says: "Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns; let men their songs employ. While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains; repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy."
Psalm 98:7-9a says, "Let the sea and everything in it shout His praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth.
Verse 3 speaks of the day when there will be no more sin or sorrow: "No more let sins and sorrows grow; nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow; far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse if found."
While we're upon this earth, we are going to endure sin and sorrow and difficulties. Yet even now, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father, waiting until that perfect moment, when He'll come again and receive us unto Himself. Then there will be no more sorrow, pain, sadness, or death. No more weeping, mourning, sickness, or separation. Jesus will come to make His blessings flow! Until that day, we hold onto hope.
Psalm98:9b says, "He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness."
The last verse says: "He rules the world with truth and grace. And makes the nations prove, the glories of His righteousness; and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders of His love.
I'm sure that most of us will hear or sing this beloved Christmas carol during this holiday season. When you do so, think about the words. Yes, they can apply to what we refer to as the Christmas story -- "Joy to the World, the Lord has come; let earth receive her King." We all must prepare our hearts to receive Him as our Savior. We should rejoice and celebrate as we remember the birth of Jesus.
But also allow the lyrics to remind you of the reason why Jesus came; which was to save the world. Prepare your heart, so that when He does return again, you will be ready. Just as the promise was fulfilled that the Messiah would come as a baby, die on a cross, and be resurrected; one day "it will come to pass" that the promise of Jesus returning a second time to take all believers to be with Him forever, will be fulfilled. What a joyful day that will be when the Lord comes and the earth receives Him as King!!
There would be no second coming, had there never been a first. "Joy To The World" is about the fulfillment of what Jesus came to do in the first place. Christmas is not only a time to look back to the work that was accomplished in the past; but it's also a time to look forward to our future. This Christmas when we sing these words, we are proclaiming the ultimate joy that will one day be revealed. That is why we can sing "Joy To The World" exuberantly and whole-heartedly!!
Christmas is a time for us to rejoice and celebrate the birth of Christ. But, the greatest gift that God offered through His Son was not only His life. It was His death, resurrection, and the salvation offered to us -- as a result. That's what "Joy To The World" is meant to remind us of. The birth of Jesus was the start of His mission to save the world. And He will return again some day to claim complete victory over evil. The assurance can elevate our fickle happiness to lasting joy!
1 Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) says, "You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls."
This Christmas, transform your thoughts from the mundane to happy; then from happy to joyous, by resting in the fact that you are loved and forgiven by a great God. Joy to the world; the Lord is come!!!
I used to wonder why the song says, "The Lord is come", instead of "has come", "will come", or "is coming". I always thought it sounded like someone was torn between "The Lord is here" and "The Lord has come", and got mixed up. But now, it makes more sense.
I've been taught that many prophecies are written without tense because they may not have happened yet, but are just as certain as if they had. If I say, "I'll go Christmas shopping Friday" or "I'm shopping later", there's a little doubt. Maybe I'll try, but get interrupted. Maybe I'll finish Thursday, instead. Maybe I'll have a flat tire. But if I say, "I went Christmas shopping", that's certain. It happened, and unless I'm lying, it can't be wrong or undone.
The prophecy, "The Lord will come again" hasn't quite happened yet (at least He hasn't taken us to be with Him yet), so it wouldn't be accurate to say, "The Lord has come again". Instead we settle on "The Lord is come."
Sometimes, there can be a lot said in the choice of a single word.
Puppy Chow Candy
(For people -- not puppies!)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter
9 cups Crispix cereal
1 cup chocolate chips
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
Combine peanut butter, butter, and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute; stir. Add vanilla and stir again until well blended. Put cereal in a very large bowl. Pour mixture over cereal and mix gently to coat. Next coat with powdered sugar. To coat with powdered sugar, place the cereal mixture in a large brown paper bag. Add the powdered sugar; fold down the top of the bag and shake to evenly coat. Store in a tightly covered container or large ziplock bag.
Not scriptural, but funny (well, maybe not to the men!)!! I saw this quote:
"And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world. Then He made the earth round.... and He laughed and laughed and laughed....."
Trust will take us beyond understanding into the realm that only faith can discover. - Bill Johnson
We love you!
Loretta & Jon