OUTBREAK OF JOY

Isa.9:2,3 – Those who walked in darkness have seen a radiant light shining upon them. They once lived in the shadows of death, but now a glorious light has dawned! Lord, you have multiplied the nation and given them overwhelming joy! They are ecstatic in your presence and rejoice like those who bring in a great harvest and those who divide up the spoils of victory!

It seems to have been an incredible time of sorrow in Israel just before Jesus of Nazareth appeared on the scene. Being conquered and forced to live under the rule of a foreign entity apparently had squeezed all the joy out of the hearts of God’s people. Isaiah said it was a time of great spiritual darkness. That’s what made the appearance of Jesus even more profound, He introduced another kind of life permeated with joy that superseded the sorrow of heart that held the nation in bondage. His death, resurrection, and glorification opened the portal into heaven for all of us. Multitudes are being harvested and all mankind have access into a new and living way now. A new kind of life, never before imagined, is now being poured out upon us all over earth. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“A sign of the moving of God among us to fulfill this promise is an outbreak of joy! He fills our mouths with laughter as a sign that the great ingathering of the harvest is here. The phrase “They are ecstatic in your presence” refers to the heart of worship God is releasing today. The gospel will always bring joy, and those who receive good news will rejoice. This is the joy of the Feast of Tabernacles. The two great joys of the human heart come at a time of harvest and a time of victory. Human celebration at these two times knows no bounds. As the increase is brought in, victory is experienced. What greater joy is there in heaven and earth than when souls are saved?”

Maybe this current season of Quarantine is the pressure necessary to release this unprecedented move of the Spirit. His final outpouring is inevitable, the question that has to be answered, “Will you be in the middle of it?”

DOUBLE JOY

Isa.9:2,3 – Those who walked in darkness have seen a radiant light shining upon them. They once lived in the shadows of death, but now a glorious light has dawned! Lord, you have multiplied the nation and given them overwhelming joy! They are ecstatic in your presence and rejoice like those who bring in a great harvest and those who divide up the spoils of victory!

There is something about darkness that makes the light a little brighter, there is also something about lean times that makes harvest more special. That is what today’s passage is talking about. This is a prophesy that Matthew quoted in reference to the appearing of Jesus Christ on the earth the first time. He said in a time and a land of darkness the light of God would come. That was fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus Christ. This passage goes on to describe an unprecedented season of harvest. That too began to be fulfilled at the coming of Christ. Today is another season of darkness; could that be an indication of the coming of the light of God? Just as the death and resurrection of Christ marked the first fruits of God’s harvest, His final and great harvest is upon us. There is a joy of anticipation flooding His creation even now. When the gates burst with light and the unprecedented harvest is unleashed, unbridled joy will fill the earth. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this verse.

“As the light of Jesus shines on the earth, it will bring in a harvest of joy and rejoicing. The people of God are about to arise and spoil the kingdom of darkness, even as Israel spoiled Egypt and went out rejoicing. God will cause our joy to overflow like those distributing loot after a battle. Great will be the conversions, the increase, and our rejoicing. Many sons will be brought into glory as the increasing Light of Dawn appears (Heb. 2:10). With both harvest and victory in battle, people rejoice in what God has done.”

This two fold joy is already making its appearance, prophesying of that great day of the Lord just ahead. The double joy is this; unspeakable joy in His glorious presence, unprecedented joy as we see redemption of the least of these multiply into a multitude of His sons and daughters. Don’t despair at the darkness of the age, it is a guarantee of the blinding light breaking into this generation.

JINGLE BELLS, CHESTNUTS, AND OTHER SONGS

Is.9:6 – For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Are you singing this Christmas? If we are not careful, all of our troubles can steal the song from our heart. Are you stuck on roasting chestnuts and jingle bells or have you shifted over to What Child is This? One look, one real gaze at this infant King will awaken His song in your heart. This is the song that angels can’t sing because they will never know the joy of redemption. Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King. Take a look again at the ancient prophecies. Ponder the One Who is called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Join the quest for the Desire of all Nations and the Seed of the woman. Go to Bethlehem longing for the One whose goings forth are from the days of eternity. You may find yourself on your face before Immanuel, God with us.

While everyone else seems to be caught up in the holiday excitement maybe you feel like you need a sign to push back the smothering cloud of disappointments and troubles. “All I want is a break in the action, a silver lining in the cloud – LORD, SHOW ME A SIGN”-Then it dawns on you – That’s exactly what Christmas is; the most beautiful sign of all. The child in the manger is a sign that Breakthrough is here now for all of us. As we stop for a moment and come again to Bethlehem- we too can find ourselves transported to a place beyond space and time. A place where our troubles get swallowed up by promises – our sicknesses are erased by scars – and our insecurities and shortcomings are washed away by the waves of love that encompass us.

All this talk of Christmas and where has it brought me? Am I still stuck on sleigh rides and candy canes or have I been captured by the eternal? If you have paused at the manger you have surely found yourself transported to another realm. In this realm our sorrows and worries disappear; as a matter of fact the person we were before disappears. We have found ourselves surprised by conception like Mary. Mary’s conception was Christ in her womb. Ours is Christ in our hearts. His presence in us guarantees that we can never be the same again. We have begun our transformation into the very image of Christ Himself.

THE WONDERFUL ONE

Isa.9:6 – A child has been born for us;a son has been given to us. The responsibility of complete dominion will rest on his shoulders, and his name will be: The Wonderful One! The Extraordinary Strategist! The Mighty God! The Father of Eternity! The Prince of Peace!

I love the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of Christ. I remember being mesmerized by these prophecies that were on many Christmas cards on that first Christmas in 1973 after I was born again. In those days, everyone sent Christmas cards. That was one of the great joys of Christmas, collecting and displaying the cards from family and friends. AsI pondered those prophetic verses that first Christmas the message of Christmas struck me profoundly for the first time. God Himself had come near. He had become one of us. He had actually taken on the body of a human, a human infant and had come to live among us. The ramifications of that revelation were deeply effecting in my life. I can’t remember any of my Christmas presents from that year but I remember this, the Son of God had come into our world. The Creator of all things somehow entered His own creation. The world could never be the same and I could certainly never be the same. The implications of the incarnation are too profound to understand. Here are some comments from one of Augustine’s Christmas sermons.

“The Creator of Mary is also the Son of Mary.

The Son of David and the Lord of David.

The seed of Abraham before there was an Abraham.

Maker of the earth and made on earth.

Creator of the heavens and created under the sky.

He’s “the day the Lord has made” (Psalm 118:24).

“He’s the light of my heart” (Song of Solomon, 3:11).

Let’s stroll in the light of His aura!

Let’s rejoice in His presence!

Let’s be truly glad He’s here with us today, of all days!”

That first Christmas for Parris and I was unforgettable. We were living in a 10 by 17 foot travel trailer and we had a “Charlie Brown” type Christmas tree. The trailer was decorated with those Christmas cards but best of all our hearts were burning with the fire of Immanuel, God with us. Christ was with us and nothing else really mattered. Maybe this Christmas you can rediscover the miracle of the birth of Christ. If that happens, everything else on the holiday schedule will not even matter.

THE PROPHETIC VOICE OF CHRISTMAS

Isa. 9:6 – For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Shortly after my salvation I found myself in Bible College preparing for the ministry. In that first semester I was taking the class of Isaiah. It was in the fall not long before Christmas when I remember hearing Isaiah’s prophesies about the birth of Christ. I was totally overwhelmed by the passages in Isaiah 7 and 9 that dealt specifically with His virgin birth and the supernatural nature of His ministry. I couldn’t fathom how Isaiah could have written those words 700 hundred years before His birth. I was getting a glimpse of the supernatural nature of the birth of Christ for the first time and I was totally stunned. God had become a man. He had become a man for me. The prophetic nature of the birth of Christ had captured me. Since then I have sensed the prophetic nature of Christmas. It hangs in the air at this time of the year. Here is how Bonhoeffer describes this verse.

“It is still seven hundred years until the time of fulfillment, but the prophet is so deeply immersed in God’s thought and counsel that he speaks of the future as if he saw it already, and he speaks of the salvific hour as if he already stood in adoration before the manger of Jesus. “For a child has been born for us.” What will happen one day is already real and certain in God’s eyes, and it will be not only for the salvation of future generations but already for the prophet who sees it coming and for his generation, indeed, for all generations on earth. “For a child has been born for us.” No human spirit can talk like this on its own. How are we who do not know what will happen next year supposed to understand that someone can look forward many centuries? And the times then were no more transparent than they are today. Only the spirit of God, who encompasses the beginning and end of the world, can in such a way reveal to a chosen person the mystery of the future, so that he must prophesy for strengthening believers and warning unbelievers.”

So that brings me to this thought, there is something mysterious and supernatural about Christmas. It seems to build up until Christmas Day when it literally fills the atmosphere. What is that? It is the Lord’s confirmation of the importance of His Son’s birth. As the day draws closer we too can prophesy with Isaiah, “A child is born for us, a son is given to us, His name is called Wonderful”.

FOR YOU

Is. 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I love the personal nature of Christianity. Our God is not some impersonal being who is far off and removed from our lives, He is personal and wants involvement in our lives on a continual basis. One of the historic doctrinal heresies is called deism. Basically it teaches this “The belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws. Deism thus rejects the supernatural aspects of religion, such as belief in revelation in the Bible, and stresses the importance of ethical conduct.” DICTIONARY.COM That is a scary definition! To me, it is perilously close to much of modern day Christendom. Many Christians are taught biblical principles but have no personal intimacy with God. Christmas changes all of that! The message of Christmas is that this Child was born for you. He came to bring us into an intimacy with God. Here are some thoughts from Luther on how Christ was born for us.
“The Gospel teaches that Christ was born, and that he did and suffered everything in our behalf, as is here declared by the angel: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” In these words you clearly see that he is born for us. He does not simply say, Christ is born, but to you he is born, neither does he say, I bring glad tidings, but to you I bring glad tidings of great joy. Furthermore, this joy was not to remain in Christ, but it shall be to all the people. This faith no condemned or wicked man has, nor can he have it; for the right ground of salvation which unites Christ and the believing heart is that they have all things in common.”
So Jesus was born for those who come to Him. In His day, not everyone received Him. Even many of the most religious missed Him because of this intimacy thing. We can become so technical in our faith that we miss the personal nature of His love. For us a Child is born.

THE PRINCE OF PEACE

Is. 9:6 For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

wand the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The Prince of Peace was one of the great Messianic titles spoken as a prophecy over the coming Savior. What a great promise, He would be the Prince of Peace. Our world needs this Prince right now. It only takes a moment to watch or read today’s headlines to discover the need for this Prince of Peace. Just yesterday I read of carjackings, a shooting in the mall apparently about some sport shoes, violence and beheadings in the Middle East, threats of cyber terrorism; peace seemed nowhere to e found. The problem is this, this violence and unrest flows out of the very heart of man. We don’t need a political change, we need a heart change in order for peace to come. John Piper spoke about three areas that Christ brings peace to in one of his Christmas messages. Check out his thoughts.

“My great desire for you this Christmas is that you enjoy this peace. We know that there are global aspects to this peace that lie in the future when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). When, as Isaiah says, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isa. 9:7).

But Jesus has come to inaugurate that peace among God’s people. And there are three relationships in which he wants you to pursue this peace and enjoy this peace. Peace with God. Peace with your own soul. And peace with other people, as much as it lies in you.

And by peace, I mean not only the absence of conflict and animosity but also the presence of joyful tranquility, and as much richness of interpersonal communication as you are capable of.”

Piper spoke of three areas we each need peace in our souls. First, peace with God. This is what Christmas is all about. We have peace with God through forgiveness. Sin steals our peace, forgiveness restores it. Secondly, we need peace with ourselves. This peace with ourselves is a direct result of having peace with God. We are no longer conflicted, His peace has flooded our souls. Finally, we need to have peace with others. This peace often begins as we extend the forgiveness God has given to us in Christ to others, even those who have hurt and offended us.

So, may the peace of God reign in your soul this Christmas time. The prophecies have been fulfilled, the Prince of Peace has come.

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR

Is. 9:6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

If it wasn’t for God’s word I think I would go crazy. The culture of the world has gone totally off of the rails, God’s word is the tool that centers us and holds us up when everyone around us is making bad decisions. The Lord has used His word to convict me, guide me, comfort me, correct me, encourage me, heal me, and equip me. When I was newly saved, His word gave me assurance of salvation. Several times cults and false teachers tried to lead me in a different direction in life and God’s written word was there to guide me back into the right path. When I was struggling about direction for my ministry The Lord came to me in His word to give me clear direction about His purpose and plan for my life and ministry. Throughout history The Lord has always met His people through His word. Luther spoke about his doubts when he was criticized for his reformation teaching, the word of God was like a staff he leaned on when the persecution became unbearable. here is something Luther said about The Lord as our Counsellor.

“Wonderful He is called because of the wonderful way in which He leads us, while allowing us to be buffeted as heretics and sinners hated of God. This defamation continues all the while the church is here on earth. But it is difficult for Christians to bear, not only to be disparaged this way by the world as the worst, most shameful people under the sun, but also to be tortured by their own flesh to feel and think in their hearts that God is angry with them. Here good counsel is needed to help Christian believers bear up, for if I, forever and a day, am called a heretic and my teaching is disparaged as having mislead the whole country and the people, fearing and feeling always with trembling heart that God would slay me, I would not be able to survive for long. Then I need to have Christ stand by me with His good counsel, putting a staff in my hand.”

Moves of God are threatening to worldly people. These folks may have a form of religion, but when the real thing shows up, criticism becomes unavoidable. It is in these times especially we have to depend on our Counselor. We look to Him in the written word, He responds in clear, unmistakeable guidance. As the end of this age approaches, the attacks will intensify. Not only will they be stronger, they will also become more stinging because of where they come from. Luther was attacked by the church. He was part of the church. He was a priest, a monk, and a college professor. It was the counsel of God that strengthened him in those difficult times, God’s word will strengthen you as well.

WONDERFUL

WONDERFUL

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.( Isa.9:6)
What a description of this infant king born in Bethlehem. The prophet said, “His name shall be called Wonderful”.

This word “wonderful” in the Hebrew language is pele’. This is a powerfully descriptive little word about the very nature of this special child. This word means ‘wonderful’, ‘supernatural’, ‘incomprehensible’, and immediately tells us about the supernatural nature of Christ and everything related to Him. Albert Barnes spoke about the wonderful qualities associated with Christ:
“Anything which is suited to excite wonder and amazement, from any cause, will correspond with the sense of the Hebrew word. It is a word which expresses with surprising accuracy everything in relation to the Redeemer. For the Messiah was wonderful in all things. It was wonderful love by which God gave him, and by which he came; the manner of his birth was wonderful; his humility, his self-denial, his sorrows were wonderful; his mighty works were wonderful; his dying agonies were wonderful; and his resurrection, his ascension, were all suited to excite admiration and wonder.”
There was nothing ordinary about His life, but His birth could only be described as wonderful. Born of a virgin, born in an animal stable, His birth was announced by angelic appearances, and signs in the heavens were seen from hundreds of miles away. He was worshipped by kings and shepherds, but despised and feared by those in positions of power. Civilization itself is centered on the birth of the child with the ‘wonderful’ Name.
The Name of Jesus Christ has always carried that supernatural, wonderful quality about it. It is by faith in that Name that we receive salvation; it is through the power in that Name that the chains of sin and addictions are broken from off our lives. There are healing qualities in His Name—everywhere He goes, people are healed from their diseases. Fear and depression are subject to that Name, and the devils themselves flee in terror at the mention of the Name of Jesus. This special season, begin to recognize and honor the wonderful and supernatural nature of your relationship with Christ. As you do, you will recognize just how wonderful He is to you on a daily basis.

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR

Is. 9:6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah used the word Counselor to describe the nature of this wonderful child, born of a virgin in Bethlehem. Actually, He is the embodiment of counsel itself, after all, He is the Word that became flesh. The Father in heaven is unlimited in wisdom, the bible clearly teaches the all knowing characteristic of our Lord. Then comes the amazing part, this infinite wisdom and counsel were revealed to mankind at the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the word that came to dwell amongst us. Jesus is the revelation of the wisdom of God, He is that wonderful Counselor that Isaiah spoke about. Adam Clarke spoke about the the unveiling of the wisdom of God in this man called the Wonderful Counselor.

“Logos, which signifies a word spoken, speech, eloquence, doctrine, reason, or
the faculty of reasoning, is very properly applied to him, who
is the true light which lighteth every man who cometh into the
world, John 1:9; who is the fountain of all wisdom; who giveth being, life, light, knowledge, and reason, to all men; who is the grand Source of revelation, who has declared God unto mankind; who spake by the prophets, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, Re 19:10; who has illustrated life and immortality by his Gospel, 2Ti 1:10; and who has fully made manifest the deep mysteries which lay hidden in the bosom of the invisible God from all eternity, John 1:18.”

Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Today, this wisdom and counsel is available. How do I get it? It is very simple. This wisdom is available to us in Christ. If you have Him, rather, if He has you, you have access to the hidden wisdom of the ages revealed in the person of Christ. Embrace His love, seek after the Lord, you will find Him to be the Wonderful Counselor in your life.