I met Frank at Christmas thirty-eight years ago!
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey
“To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:77-79
The dawning of a new day! It was Christmas 1973 and my friend Leslie wanted me to take her older brother around town (Slidell) when he came in for the holidays. He was 5 1/2 years older than me so I really wasn’t reading to much into it. When I first met him, I noticed how different he was. He would listen to my music and then talk to me about the Bible, I would take him to all the hang-outs and he would tell me about Jesus. Christmas Day he gave me “All Things Must Pass by George Harrison” album with “Happy Jesus Birthday” written on it. I told him he was a Jesus Freak. He dropped out of college in Michigan in his junior year just to come and date this silly little 15 year old. We got married 8 months later. For me, Frank brought to me the greatest present ever, Jesus Christ. I can still remember the darkness and the lies my life was surrounded in. He comes to visit us with true light. He calms the past and illuminates the present and brings hope to our futures. Where there was nothing but gloom and despair, He shines as the light of life in our hearts. He is the anatole-the morning light, the rising sun. We no longer have to live with pagan beliefs or traditions from man or even Old Testament types and figures. He comes like the dayspring from on high! Are you in darkness today my friend? He will come to you and pull you from fear and from bondage. When I was in 3rd grade someone gave me a book at school entitled “A Religious Christmas”. I was mesmerized with the beautiful pictures of Jesus and the nativity, I was so clueless! He comes to us and gives us revelation! A new day had dawned upon me-it took me out of my darkness into his glorious light.
In James 1:17 it says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” My whole life needed the light to shine in every area. There is nothing worse than ignorance. Another light that turned on inside of me was realizing that the heavenly Father is a giver of every good and perfect gift, He wasn’t out to get me and in Him was no shadow of turning. Even when I am faithless He remains faithful to His promise and His word over my life.
“God is the Father of lights. The visible light of the sun and the heavenly bodies is from Him. He said, Let there be light, and there was light. What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; aye, and infinitely more.” (Spurgeon) Every good gift is from him. As the Father of lights, He gives the light of reason. The inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding, Job 32: 8. Some of you need to realize that it wasn’t God that let you down or changed on you but people. He never changes and He brings liberty to the downtrodden. My middle name is Dawn, he comes and brings a fresh new start in our lives and he arises in our hearts to bring us out of darkness.
So Christmas to me now is so very special—-it was the beginning of a whole new journey with me in God and it just hasn’t stopped!
“Welcome, all wonders in one sight, Eternity shut in a span.
Summer in winter, day in night. Heaven in earth, God in man!
Great little one! whose all-embracing birth. Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.”
Richard Crashaw (1648)
RIVER KING PROPHETS
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matt. 2:11)
These men had come prepared to worship, and they had brought gifts worthy of a king. But these gifts, these prophetic gifts, spoke about the days to come in this special infant king’s life. The first gift was gold, the royal gift that spoke of the kingdom of this unusual king. “Are you a king?” The words were strangely familiar…the words of Pilate 33 years later. Yes, He was a king but His kingdom was not of this world. Kings are not born in mangers. They are born in palaces, unless their kingdom is not of this world. This special gift spoke of the coming eternal kingdom of this infant king. He has made us kings and priests, but our kingdom, like His, is not of this world.
The second gift was opened—frankincense. This was another gift of prophecy speaking about the heavenly ministry of this precious Savior. Incense speaks of the work of priests—it speaks of prayer and worship. Of course, this is the heavenly priesthood of Jesus. Today Jesus is our heavenly priest and He represents the human race before the Father in His priestly ministry of intercession.
Finally, the last gift was opened. Joseph looked at Mary as she hugged her child closer to her breast…in her heart she knew the secret meaning of this gift of myrrh. This was a gift of spices to anoint this child for His burial. From the day He was born, He was not far from the cross. As the wise men slipped away to head for home, mixed feelings filled their hearts. They returned home another way to avoid Herod, but everyone there that day knew what the future held. The Word had been given, the prophets had spoken. “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life.”
Today, these gifts from the wise men are still speaking to us. Have you received Jesus and His heavenly kingdom or are you still stuck in the kingdom of this world? Have you tasted the fellowship that comes to you from the Father as you enjoy the intimacy this heavenly priest has made available to all of us? Finally, have you stood with these wise men, gazing at the child in Mary’s arms knowing He came to die—He came to die for you? Embrace His love today…after all, He has loved you from eternity!
SINGING LIKE ANGELS
Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
The angels were accustomed to being in God’s Glorious presence, but this caught them by surprise. The Son of God had become part of His own creation. The angels had worshipped Him for ages, but this was something quite different. They could now see the beginning of God’s glorious plan unfolding. Christ would pay the ultimate price to rescue the fallen sons of Adam, all the angels could do is sing in response. They had been amazed at the greatness of His creative powers displayed in His creation, they were daily aware of His majesty and beauty in heaven, but this was the ultimate. God’s grace was beginning to be unveiled in his plan of redemption, all the angels could do is sing. The sudden appearance of Christ as a baby born to a virgin was more than they could contain, they had to sing. Their singing awakened the sleeping shepherds, hopefully their voices have awakened you. The angels were not even the object of God’s merciful act of redemption, if the angels are singing, what about us? Jonathan Edwards spoke about the angels singing in stunned response to God’s mercy, check out his words.
“Surely, if the angels are so astonished at God’s mercy to you, and do even shout with joy and admiration at the sight of God’s grace to you, you yourself, on whom this grace is bestowed, have much more reason to shout. Consider that great part of your happiness in heaven, to all eternity, will consist in this: in praising of God, for his free and glorious grace in redeeming you; and if you would spend more time about it on earth, you would find this world would be much more of a heaven to you than it is. Wherefore, do nothing while you are alive, but speak and think and live God’s praises.”
Much of the world lies in a spiritual state of sleep today. Like the shepherds of old, the sound of shouting and joyful worship can awaken them from their slumber. I’ll never forget the singing that first awakened me from my sleep many years ago. I was out on the lakefront in New Orleans and heard the simple songs of some teenaged Christians. They were playing simple songs on their guitars accompanied by joyful voices. Their simplicity and sincerity pierced my heart. It was those songs of joy that awakened me that night. Maybe you are asleep like the shepherds long ago, maybe this Christmas you will be awakened by a song.
SHOCKED INTO REALITY
Luke 2:9-14 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
People sing for all sorts of reasons. Some sing the blues, some sing about their dreams, and others sing about the great accomplishments of heros. In Mexico singers are hired to court lovers. But why are the angels singing. If you think about it, the angels were singing over these shepherds at their amazement at the grace of God being extended to sinful man. They were singing in stunned amazement that the object of their affections had actually become a man Himself. They were singing because this great king was showing His love to fallen man through this incredible act of humility. He had not only become a man, but He was being born to a young jewish girl in a manger. What an amazing picture, great is the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jonathan Edwards spoke about these singing angels in one of his first sermons, check it out.
“Let those who have been made partakers of this free and glorious grace of God, spend their lives much in praises and hallelujahs to God, for the wonders of His mercy in their redemption.
When you praise Him in prayer, let it not be with coldness and indifference; when you praise him in your closet your whole soul be active therein; when you praise Him in singing, don’t barely make a noise, without any stirring of affection in the heart, without any internal melody. Surely, you have reason to shout, cry “Grace, grace be the top-stone of the temple!”…
Surely, if the angels are so astonished at God’s mercy to you, and do even shout with joy and admiration at the sight of God’s grace to you, you yourself, on whom this grace is bestowed, have much more reason to shout.”
It is so easy for the indifference and apathy of the world and worldly people (not to mention apathetic Christians) to effect us. People express their emotions for touchdowns and bonus checks, how about some passion for the mercy and grace of God. Christmas is the celebration of God’s love displayed to fallen man by the birth of His Son. If that is the case, we need to join with the angels. Just as the shepherds were shocked into reality by the shouting angels, maybe someone you know will be awakened this Christmas by your singing and shouting for joy.
BORN IN ETERNITY
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John1:1,14,18)
In the gospel of Luke and in Matthew there is an emphasis on the human birth of Our Savior. John’s account is much different. John turns immediately to the eternal nature of Jesus Christ. John is focused on the blazing Glory of the Son of God. His account does not have the taste of a casual observer but the sense of someone entranced in the Glory of the eternal Son. His first words capture the essence of his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, And the Word was God”. In verse 14 you hear the evidence that settled everything for John: “we beheld His Glory”.
That was it for John! He had seen the glory of the Lord. John had not been present at the manger scene and he had not been there with the shepherds, but John saw the empty tomb for himself. The power of death had been crushed, the eternal Son had defeated death on the cross, and He was truly alive forever more.
For us today 2,000 years have passed since the birth of Christ. The wise men have been gone for generations and the shepherds are just figures on a Christmas card today, but the eternal Son is still alive. The Word has taken on human flesh. I may not have been with John at the empty tomb, I never heard the angels sing, and I have never followed a star across the desert, but I, too, have seen His Glory. Christianity is alive and well today because of the testimony of people like you and me who have tasted the goodness of God for ourselves and have embraced the truth of the gospel. As John said, no one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, He has declared Him.
Today Jesus is still the Word who became flesh, and He still tabernacles amongst us through our own personal testimony of Jesus. He is still “declaring Him” through your life and testimony. May the eternal Son declare His Glory in you and through you this Christmas!
CHARLES WESLEY’S ANGELS
But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings;
and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. (Mal 4:2)
You can tell a lot about what is going on in a culture by the songs they sing. We have been affected more than we know by the songs written in special times of God’s awakenings throughout history. One of the special times was the 1740’s. One of God’s instruments in those days was a song writer and preacher by the name of Charles Wesley. Our churches still sing many of his songs, but the whole world sings one of his Christmas songs known as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. This song is filled with worship and great theology about the unveiling of God’s love to man. One of my favorite parts of the song goes like this:
“Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.”
What an incredible thing that today in malls, shopping centers, church services and Christmas programs around the world, this special message is being proclaimed. Hail the Sun of Righteousness who brings the revelation of God’s love and forgiveness to our hearts. Hail the Sun of Righteousness who is risen from the dead with healing for our bodies. Hail the Sun of Righteousness that has given us the second birth that men no more may die. Today the angels are singing, “preach it again Charles,” as his words are being sung amongst the nations. This Christmas, listen carefully to the old songs; you never know, you may hear the angels singing just like the shepherds from so long ago. As you do, your world will begin to change. Like the shepherds long ago, like Charles Wesley 250 years ago, the birth of Christ will become a living reality inside of you. When that happens, you will know what life is all about and you will know why you are alive, and you will know for yourself why the angels are singing!
BORN FROM THE EARTH
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen 2:7)
Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven. (Ps.85:11)
As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.(1 Cor.15:48,49)
The Bible is filled with rich nuggets of valuable truth, sometimes it seems that we are miners seeking the hidden riches of God as diligently as a prospector mines for gold, only our discoveries are far more precious. At first glance, the scriptures for today seem unrelated, but upon further examination we find the priceless thread of revelation that brings them all together.
These verses declare to us the powerful truth of Christ’s identification with the human race. Just as Adam was a man of the earth, formed from the dust of God’s creation, Christ Himself became a Son of Man. He was born of a virgin, He took on human nature, He truly became one of us. This is the powerful message of Christmas: the Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us, we have seen His Glory, the Glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Truth has sprung out from the earth as the scriptures have said. Christ has been born in a manger in Bethlehem. The wise men came from the east after seeing His star in the heavens, the temple shepherds came after the angelic visitation.
We come today, observing His Glory in the written Word. Many people never saw the star in the sky, most casual observers never heard the angel’s song, and today, many Bibles lay unopened leaving the priceless treasures undiscovered. But to those who have been given eyes to see, we are following the star, we are singing with the angels, and we are mining for the hidden treasures of God’s Word longing to catch a glimpse of the Glory that is shining through the ages.
Today, open up your Bible—it is your most precious earthly treasure! Value its contents because it contains the hidden treasures of God. Like the wise men of old, we are searching for the hidden treasures of God. Maybe those all around you have shut their ears and closed their hearts, but your eyes are wide open, beholding the Glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ.
BECOMING A GOD SEEKER
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey
During the month of December we all should reflect on the group of people that in a moment became “God Seekers”.
1. We will start with the Wise men- Seeking God with all of your might no matter the cost-
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw they young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped.” Matt. 2:10
True Worship demands more than a prostrate body, it involves the costly treasures of one’s heartfelt sacrifice. We must have depth to our seeking. The wise men went home another way, knowing that they had disobeyed the King’s orders.
2. Zacharias- Seeking God no matter how painful the circumstances become- When being told from the angel Gabriel that he and his barren wife would conceive said, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” Luke 1:18. The hopeless barrenness of his natural condition spoke out in unbelief. Heaven silenced Zacharias voice until John the Baptist was born. Even when we are brought low when the Christ child comes to us, we will be brought into a broader place like Zacharias.
3. Joseph- Seeking not his presence only but walking in obedience-“Then Joseph being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” Matt.1:19 Joseph stepped into a whole new world upon being aroused from sleep that night. Immanuel himself had come into Joseph’s heart and it required absolute obedience.
4. The Shepherds- A God Seeker is willing to maintain an open heart, a broken heart and a humble heart. “So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, Let us now go to Bethlehem, and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” Luke 2:15 The shepherds that night went from talking about idle speculation and chit chat to seeing angels singing. At that moment eternity broke threw and their lives were changed. They took a different course than what they had been taking. They responded to the visitation. Have you become a God seeker and continued along the way? He will come to you and speak your language. To the shepherds he came to them by night while they were with the sheep, to the wise man he showed up as a star. He comes to us everyday in our own language. Robert McCheyne said, ” A calm hour with God is worth a whole lifetime with man.” The chit chat is over when God shows up.
5. Mary- Seeking God despite the cost it requires- “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Being a God seeker puts us on a journey with Christ that this world will never understand. Mary began to take it all in all the way to the cross. She too, needed a Pentecost. I pray during this season that you practice the presence of Jesus even more than ever before. Seeking Him above all other things, and that’s how you become a God Seeker!
A WOMAN SHALL COMPASS A MAN
How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man. (Jer. 31:22)
This is one of the Old Testament prophecies that historically has been applied to the virgin birth of our Lord. In the 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible (actually, this was the first Protestant Study Bible) the editors applied this verse in Jeremiah to the virgin birth of Christ and also to the future fruitfulness of the spiritual Jerusalem.
Think about it… the Lord has created a new thing in the earth: a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son. No one but the Lord would ever do such an unusual thing—actually the most impossible of all of the miracles in the Bible, the birth of Christ without a human Father. If Christianity was a man made religion, no one would have had the audacity to try to sell the virgin birth. Man would have pitched something somewhat more believable. The Lord loves to shock the minds of man; born of a virgin, born in an animal stall, probably the feeding trough of a farm animal…talk about unprecedented.
What do you think Joseph’s family thought about the virgin birth, or Jesus’ brothers and sisters, or even the neighbors in Nazareth? No, the virgin birth has always been a hard sell.
Matthew Henry also taught that this “new thing” was referring to the birth of Christ. Here are his thoughts about this passage:
“Many good interpreters understand this new thing created in that land to be the incarnation of Christ, which God used with an eye on bringing them back to that land, and which had sometimes been given them for a sign. A woman, the virgin Mary, enclosed in her womb the Mighty One; for so Geber, the word here used, signifies; and God is called Gibbor, the Mighty God ( xxxii. 18), as also is Christ in Isa. ix. 6, where his incarnation is spoken of, as it is supposed to be here. He is El-Gibbor, the mighty God. Let this assure them that God would not cast off this people, for that blessing was to be among them.”
Our modern world, and many modern preachers and teachers have moved far away from the supernatural nature of Christ, His life, His ministry, His birth, and His death. Maybe it’s time to return again to the ancient paths and follow the Lord down the path of His amazing supernatural plan. Christmas, the virgin birth, this is unprecedented—only God could come up with something like this.
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 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.