December 2019

Joy to the World Emmanuel is Here

Every December, for the past twenty-two years, I celebrated a birthday that forever changed my life in the most wonderful ways—the day Joy was born into the world. Literally, my little sister Joy was born this month, and I firmly believe God specifically named her because of her gifting. She has long brought joy to those around her, and I can’t imagine life without her in it. For most of our lives, she has literally been my joy, and every year as I reflect on this fact once more, I can’t help but be moved by a far greater celebration of a much more consequential birth—that’s right, the day truest Joy was born into the world. The day Emmanuel changed from prophecy to reality, the day God lit the sky with angels, filled the streets with shouting shepherds, and was born of a virgin into the world as a human baby. It was the day the world changed forever. 

The entire Bible, from creation, through the line of King David, through Isaiah’s prophecies and those of many other prophets, kept through the genealogies, sung of in the Psalms, all pointed to this one event and everything it brought with it. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given ;”(Is 9:6a). For the first time since we brought sin into the world, light broke through the dark and shone like a blazing sun in the world again. Joy wiped out the sorrows of sin. Life crushed the head of death with his heel. Fear was replaced with assurance. Prophecies became realities. Everything changed the night Jesus was born. Without his birth, there would be no cross, no resurrection, and therefore no salvation. The joy and hope of the New Testament are because Jesus was born into our world. God became a man. 

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).(Matt 1:21-23)

These verses fill me with intense emotion every time I read them. Philippians states, the name of Jesus is the name above every other name. It’s the name we know personally, both as the name of our God, and as the name that is our entire faith—God saves. Yet, after Jesus, if I may have a personal favorite name of God, it is Emmanuel. Emmanuel means ‘God is with us.’ It’s the name of personal interaction between God and man, and it’s in the present tense. God is still with us. Jesus is Emmanuel, and the Holy Spirit is Emmanuel. For all who believe, God is with us intimately and personally for the rest of eternity. Is there anything more beautiful? Could anything bring more hope and joy? Emmanuel Jesus is mine. And I am His. 

I love my little sister, and she truly is one of the biggest joys of my life; I will thoroughly enjoy celebrating her life this month. But there is no greater joy than that of Emmanuel Jesus. Christmas may not fall on his actual birthday, but I don’t think that matters too much to God in the grand scope of eternity, so I will celebrate Christmas with full abandon, because “Glory to God in the highest!” Jesus came, and as Emmanuel, he stayed—God with us.

“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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”(Isaiah 9:6-7) 

As we sing Christmas songs this month, remember the angels who sang “Gloria!” As we attend Christmas services or give our loose change to the bell ringers, remember the shepherds who told everyone what they had witnessed. As we travel to family or stay home, remember the wise men who journeyed far based on a savior, a star, and a promise. And as we give and receive gifts this year, remember the greatest gift ever given—Emmanuel Jesus—the God who saves is with us.

Merry Christmas to you all and God bless.