Worship Song of the Month

Worship Song of the Month

February 25: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

In The Book of Psalms for Worship, a recent (2010) Psalter created by a committee of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Colossians 2:10 is printed above its version of Psalm 146. This verse proclaims, “In Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” As we conclude our comparison of Psalm 146 with Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, let’s remember that Jesus is the culmination and fulfillment of this Psalm.

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah.  O my soul, Jehovah praise.

I will sing the glorious praises of my God through all my days.

The Lord reigns forever; your God, O Zion, for all generations. 

Over all God reigns forever, through all ages he is King.

Unto him, your God, O Zion,

Praise the LORD.

Joyful hallelujahs sing.

We see Jesus displayed throughout Psalm 146. Fully God, Jesus was Lord at the beginning, involved in creation—“the Maker of heaven and earth” (John 1:1-18). He humbled himself to become fully human, but, unlike other “human beings who cannot save,” Jesus came to set prisoners free, to give sight to the blind, to care for the poor, and to release the oppressed (Luke 4:14-21). Jesus is the God of Zion, ruling forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).

In the final lyrics of “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah,” we praise God for his eternal reign and ongoing faithfulness to his people. Jesus is our faithful, reigning King. Praise the LORD!

For Reflection: Read Philippians 2:5-11. What does this passage say about Jesus’s deity and humanity? What does it say about his reign as King? Praise Jesus for creating you, caring for you, and saving you. Praise him as King, and confess him as Lord.

Worship Song of the Month

Worship Song of the Month

February 11: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

Throughout the month of February, we are looking at Psalm 146 (NIV) side by side with its metered version from the Psalter. Today, let’s look at the first and second verses of Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, starting in verse 5 of the Psalm.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.

Happy is the man that chooses Israel’s God to be his aid. He is blessed whose hope of blessing on the Lord his God is stayed.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,

Heav’n and earth the Lord created,

the sea, and everything in them.

seas and all that they contain;

He remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed.

he delivers from oppression. Righteousness he will maintain.

He gives food to the hungry.

Food he daily gives the hungry,

The LORD sets prisoners free.

sets the mourning pris’ner free,

The LORD gives sight to the blind; the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down.

raises those bowed down with anguish, makes the sightless eye to see.

The LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner

Well Jehovah loves the righteous, and the stranger he befriends,

and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

helps the fatherless and widow,

but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

judgment on the wicked sends.

A friend recently asked me if I knew of any worship songs or hymns that speak to a Biblical approach to justice.  Since then, I have looked at the songs that we sing with new eyes, to see if they speak to God’s heart for justice and mercy.  Certainly, Scripture is full of the cries of the oppressed, and we see God working his justice for the downtrodden.   

Psalm 146 is one of those Scriptures. When we read and sing Psalm 146, we praise God for his justice.  We assert that those who follow God are blessed in the present and have hope for the future.  We state that we can be assured of this, because we know God to be faithful and powerful.  His steadfastness is demonstrated in creation and offered to the oppressed.  God gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, and lifts up those who are bowed down.  He watches over immigrants, orphans, and widows.  His plans work together for the good of the upright—those who do what is right and have right standing before God, but he works against those who are wicked.

Perhaps we don’t have too many songs that speak to how we should approach justice from a Biblical perspective; maybe a few more of our songs praise God for his just character.  In praising God for his care for the oppressed and describing the kinds of justice God cares about, Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” does both. 

For Reflection:  Read 1 John 4:19-5:5. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?  Do you love the Father?  Do you follow God’s commands and seek to do what is right?  If you are loving God and loving his children, you are counted among the “righteous in Psalm 146.  Ask God to help you trust his provision—that his plans for you will be good and right, and that you will overcome the world when he returns.  Ask God to help you to love his children and to be used as an instrument of his justice and mercy to the hungry, prisoners, disabled, oppressed, immigrants, orphans, and widows. 

Worship Song of the Month

Worship Song of the Month

February 4: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah

This week, I invite you to read my blog post on Ephesians 5, which, for me, is a “life passage” for worship.  In Ephesians 5:19, we are instructed to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.”  This directive has become a bit of a theme for me, as I try to include both hymns and songs in our worship repertoire on Sunday mornings and in our “Worship Song of the Month” devotionals, and also to choose some hymns and songs that are based on Psalms. 

This month, we will be singing a hymn that is even more directly tied to the Psalms. Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah is an example of what we call a metrical, versified, or rhymed Psalm. Throughout the month of February, we will look at Psalm 146 (NIV) side by side with the metered version, and enjoy singing what is essentially Scripture itself.

Today, let’s look at the first verse of “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah.”

Praise the LORD. 

Hallelujah, praise Jehovah.

Praise the LORD, my soul.

O my soul, Jehovah praise.

I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

I will sing the glorious praises of my God through all my days.

Do not put your trust in princes,

Put no confidence in princes,

in human beings, who cannot save.

nor for help on man depend.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;

He shall die, to dust returning,

on that very day their plans come to nothing.

and his purposes shall end.

In this part of the Psalm and song, we instruct our souls to praise the LORD (in all caps, meaning Jehovah or Yahweh or I AM). We call him by his most intimate and holy name, and then we commit to worship him our entire lives. We remind ourselves to put our trust only in God, not in earthly rulers or leaders or human helpers. Our plans and the plans of those on whom we would rely will ultimately end. Only God’s purposes extend beyond a lifetime, from generation to generation, throughout eternity.

For Reflection: Remind your “soul” of all that God has done for you. Remind yourself that, even when you fail, leaders fail, or the people around you fail, God never does. Commit to praising God for the rest of your life. Praise the Lord!

Worship Song of the Month

a “life passage” for worship

In seeking to worship God how he desires to be worshipped, Ephesians 5 has long been one of my guides.  In a chapter devoted to instructions on how to walk in love and light—not in hypocrisy or foolishness—comes this beautiful exhortation: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.  Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:18-20). 

Allow me to expound on what these verses mean to me.

First, when we come to worship, we are to be filled with the Spirit of God, who gives joy and purpose beyond what we can get from earthly stimulants (like alcohol), and who leads us to obedience and transformation (not debauchery).  In true worship, we are not just given a temporary “high” or a momentary “fix.”  Instead, through worship, we are renewed in our desire to, and given the means to, obey.  We exchange our foolishness for an understanding of what the Lord’s will is (verse 17).

In addition to the command to “be filled with the Spirit,” we are also commanded to sing!  Maybe you’re not a big singer.  Maybe you would rather just listen to the band or the choir and not ruin the beauty of the music.  In this time of covid precautions, maybe you are at home watching a live-stream and feel silly singing out loud.  Maybe it’s uncomfortable to sing in a mask.  Or maybe singing is discouraged by your church for safety purposes.  But to sing is one of the few commands for worship that is reiterated over and over again in Scripture.  If God has commanded you to sing, will you obey?

We are also told to sing and make music “from our hearts.”  As a worship leader, this one is tricky.  How many times have I had to focus on the notes or the tempo or the mix?  How many times have I simply tried to sing the right words, never mind understand what I’m singing?

For all of us, there can be distractions in worship.  Our minds wander, or we just don’t “feel it.”  I tend to think that this is okay; I tend to think that singing is a spiritual discipline, much like prayer or Bible study, something that we need to do (after all, it is a command) whether we feel like it or not.  My dad preached a sermon once that stuck with me, in which he drew out Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  My dad said that we often mix up these two phrases and think that where we put our treasure demonstrates where our heart is.  Though that is likely true, my dad said that the exhortation in this verse is actually the other way around:  Put your treasure where it should be, and your heart will follow your treasure.  Scripture commands us to sing.  So sing, and your heart will follow. 

Of course, I also appreciate in Ephesians 5:19 the freedom that is given to us to sing a wide variety of songs in worship.  When I choose songs for worship services, I try to choose music that reflects this freedom—free poetry as well as poetry in stanzas; Scripture texts as well as songs written from the hearts of Christ-followers throughout history and today; teaching texts filled with deep truths as well as devotional lyrics meant to give us space to reflect; psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. 

I also see in this passage the encouragement for our singing to be directed towards both God and each other (“sing and make music… to the Lord”, “speaking to one another.”)  This is one of the reasons why I feel that individual worship is not a substitute for our coming together on Sunday mornings to worship.  In our culture, we sometimes feel that having a personal relationship with Jesus is enough and we don’t need to go to church.  But our worship is meant to encourage, exhort, and build up Christ’s Church.  We are supposed to speak to one another through our worship.

Finally, in these verses we are told to “always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 5:18-20 beautifully sums up how our worship reflects the Trinity.  We are to sing by means of (“with,” “from”) the Spirit, to the Father, in the name of Christ.  To me, the communion of the Trinity when we sing brings such meaning and purpose to my worship!

As I mentioned before, these three little verses follow teachings on how to live godly and transparent lives; our worship should be a reflection of and impetus for how we live.  And what follows these verses is this: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (verse 21).  When we come together as a church to sing, we demonstrate submission to one another.  We demonstrate submission to one another when we sing a song that we may not like that much, but the person next to us loves.  We demonstrate submission when we sing loudly despite not enjoying the sound of our own singing voice.  Or, conversely, we demonstrate submission when we hear and enjoy the worship of the people around us, regardless of their musical capability. We demonstrate submission when we come together in a space with people of a variety of life experiences, economic statuses, ethnicities, and ages to sing in worship of our shared God.

I encourage you to make Ephesians 5 one of your “life passages” for worship.  This coming Sunday, when you join with God’s people in worship, do not be foolish but grow in your understanding and obedience.    Be filled with the Spirit.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.  Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.  Give thanks to God the Father, in the name of Jesus.  And submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

Worship Song of the Month

Worship Song of the Month

January 28: Only a Holy God

In our first devotional on Only a Holy God, we focused on God’s sovereignty, beauty, and power.  In our second devotional—for kids too!—we were encouraged to get “up close and personal” to God, to see his character in focus. Today, I’d like put this into practice by looking a bit more closely at these three attributes of God’s, in the hope that we will respond with a renewed passion for worshipping our holy God.

In the first verse of “Only a Holy God,” we proclaim God’s sovereignty over creation, political rulers and situations, and darkness of all kinds—physical, emotional, and spiritual.  To some, the idea of God’s sovereignty and control negates personal responsibility or threatens autonomy.  But the Bible is clear that we will give an account to God for our individual actions (Romans 14:12).  Instead, God’s sovereignty—his vision to direct and his power to execute his plans—should bring us great comfort.  When we see God acting in Scripture for his glory and the good of his people, we are given confidence that God will complete the work he began (Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 10:23)—in us and in the world.  C.H. Spurgeon said, “The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head.”  Do you believe that God is in control?  Does this truth comfort you?    

As we sing the second verse of “Only a Holy God,” we praise God for his beauty, with lyrics like splendor, majesty, and justice.  Scripture is full of glimpses into God’s beauty (I think of the story of Christ’s transfiguration in Matthew 17), and we also see reflections of God’s beauty in everything he has created—including the bodies and faces of people made in his image.  But now we see only incomplete images; how wonderful it will be to one day see him face to face!  King David, in Psalm 27:4, expresses his longing to seek God and gaze on his beauty.   And Corinthians 3:18 says that we who “contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.”  Do you take the time to contemplate and gaze on God’s beauty?  Does God’s beauty amaze you?

In the third verse of “Only a Holy God,” we sing of God’s power, glory, and triumph.  Christ’s power to rise from the dead is the basis of our faith and the reason for our hope.  I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s argument that, “if Christ has not been raised, [our] faith is futile; [we] are still in [our] sins” (1 Corinthians 15:18).  If Christ did not rise from the dead, conquering death and sin, we have hope only for this life.  “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!” (vs. 20), giving us hope that we too will live forever with him.  Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead?  Does this truth fill you with hope?

In the fourth verse of “Only a Holy God” we respond to God’s sovereignty, beauty, and power with praise.  Only a God who is sovereign—working out a plan for our salvation—could rescue us from our failing.  Only a God who is beautiful would offer his only son to give us beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:3).  Only a God who is powerful to conquer death, could invite us to worship him for eternity.  Do you know this holy God?  Do you worship him?

For reflection:  Read Psalm 96.  Ask God to give you comfort, amazement, and hope in his sovereignty, beauty, and power expressed in the Psalm.  Worship God in the splendor of holiness.

Worship Song of the Month

Worship Song of the Month: Kids’ Edition

It’s been a while since I’ve written a “Kids’ Edition” devotional, so I thought I would share a story for kids—and for all of us—as we look at our Worship Song of the Month Only a Holy God.  This story reminds us to get “up-close and personal” with God.

This past summer for our son’s sixteenth birthday, we visited Niagara Falls.  My husband David and I had seen the Falls many times, but it was great to be there with our kids—several of whom were experiencing these waterfalls for the first time.  A first for all of us was hiking up the side of the American Falls.  We donned our ponchos and walked down to the bottom of the Falls. 

In my opinion, the Falls are even more beautiful up-close.  We touched the mossy rocks, felt the mist spraying us, and reached into the falling water.  And looking up, the Falls loomed over us—tall and majestic. 

As we walked up the steps next to the Falls, the water at our feet increased and the mist became heavier.  Partway up, a landing was set up so that we could try to walk towards and under the Falls—emphasis on “try.”  The power of the water pushing us back was amazing, and the rushing sound of the water was overwhelming. 

Later that day, our family also got to ride in a giant boat that takes passengers as close as possible to the curve of the Canadian Falls.  The closer we got to the Falls, the more the boat was rocked back and forth by gusts of wind, and spray washed over us in waves.  At one point, a burst of wind and water knocked us all back so hard and suddenly that everyone on the boat screamed in unison. 

Experiences in nature can remind us of the beauty and power of our God, who created everything in the world.  And in the same way that getting “up-close” to a natural wonder increases our appreciation of that wonder, we need to get up-close to our holy God to truly know and experience how wonderful he is. 

When was the last time you prayed by yourself, not just with your family or in church?  When did you last read your Bible?  Do you ever sing worship songs when you are alone?  I encourage you this week to get “up-close and personal” with God.  Find a book of the Bible that interests you, and start to read a chapter each day.  Write down a sentence or two about what you read, so that you can hear what God is saying to you.  Then take a moment to pray and maybe even sing. 

As we sing in our Worship Song of the Month, “Only a Holy God,” God invites us to worship him. So, go ahead—get up-close to our sovereign, beautiful, powerful, and holy God.

“Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

“By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:7-8)

Worship Song of the Month

Worship Song of the Month

January 14: Only a Holy God

I don’t know about you, but I feel a need for expressing and hearing a singular message this month, which is why I chose Only a Holy God as our Worship Song of the Month.  The invitation of this song is simple:  Come and worship the holy God.

In the first verse of “Only a Holy God” we worship God for his amazing sovereignty.  Who else commands all the hosts of heaven?  Who else could make every king bow down?  Who else can whisper and darkness trembles?  Only a holy God.

In the second verse, we praise him for his beauty.  What other beauty demands such praises?  What other splendor outshines the sun?  What other majesty rules with justice?  Only a holy God.

The third verse proclaims God’s power.  What other glory consumes like fire?  What other power can raise the dead?  What other name remains undefeated?  Only a holy God.

Finally, in the fourth verse, we see our failures in light of God’s sovereignty.  We see our unworthiness in light of his beauty.  And we see we can only worship such a powerful God—calling him “my” holy God—because he invites us.   Who else could rescue me from my failing?  Who else would offer his only Son?  Who else invites me to call him Father?  Only a holy God.  Only my holy God.

When we sing “Only a Holy God,” we affirm that God alone is holy—always right and good—not me, not you, not any of our leaders or favorite spokespeople.   We are reminded that God alone should be worshipped—put above all of our other principles and priorities.

The invitation to worship is for our gatherings on Sundays and for our daily lives: Come and worship the holy God.

For Reflection:  Read 1 Chronicles 16:7-36.  How are God’s attributes of sovereignty, beauty, power, and holiness celebrated in this passage?  Worship him, and thank him for inviting you to worship him. 

Worship Song of the Month

Facebook Test

As a Christian, I try to only argue with Christians on Facebook.

Yes, I know that sounds counter-intuitive.  But I feel that, first of all, Christians should be able to understand each other, because we have a similar framework through which we view the world. 

Similarly, I tend to extend more grace (I know, sad) to non-Christians, because if they are misled, it may be because they don’t have this same framework of Christ and his teachings.

Thirdly, Christians being true to Christ—his word, work, and witness—is the most important thing to me.  People who follow Christ should have similar priorities, and if they don’t, perhaps it is my responsibility as their sister to correct them.  Right? 

Well, if there’s anything this attack on the United States Capitol building has taught me, it’s how much I don’t know. 

I don’t know how to respond to the onslaught of arguments—from Christians—that predictably enter my Facebook feed.  There are arguments on one side, arguments on the other, arguments in-between.  Even arguments about what we should be arguing about.  Everyone is arguing that s(he) has more figured out than the person (s)he’s arguing with. 

I don’t know how not to think less of the people (Christians in particular) who are arguing, especially if they’re arguing for or against something with which I disagree.

I also don’t know how to convince these Christians not to think less of me.

I know (or think I know) what’s wrong, but I don’t know (or sometimes I think I do) which wrong takes priority over which other wrong. 

I don’t know when to respond, and I don’t know when to ignore. 

~~~~~

I would like to be more like the apostle Paul—whom I personally think is the best arguer in the Bible (feel free to argue this point).

When a faction arose in the Christian church stating that people could only belong to Christ’s Church if they followed Jewish laws of circumcision, the apostle Paul strongly condemned this additional test of belonging to God’s people.  He stated that “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6). 

The other day on Facebook, I was accused of not being pro-life.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am pro-life and have been all my life. (“If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Philippians 3:4-6).)  But in the context of this accusation, I tried (and I think failed) to communicate that, though I am pro-life, that is not my identity or priority.  Christ is. 

What is your Facebook test that I am a follower of Christ?  Is it that I be pro-life?  Anti-racism?  Pro-democracy?  Anti-socialism? Anti-Trump? Pro-Trump? Anti-rioting?  Anti-election fraud?  Anti-censorship?  Anti-media?  Leftist?  Conservative?  Moderate? 

I’m not saying that I don’t think some of those things are good and some are bad.  I personally feel strongly that Christ-followers should be some of those things and not others.  I understand the desire of Christians to say to their brothers and sisters – your viewpoint is WRONG! 

But perhaps those conversations should be happening privately, in the context of relationship—for the sake of Christ and his Church, and for the sake of the world—who I fear, are no longer hearing our main message. 

When Paul defended himself before the world, he gave his testimony and pointed to Christ and Christ alone.  It was in private letters to the churches with which he had relationship that he argued for the rightness and wrongness of particular actions and beliefs. 

I guess Paul’s response to the circumcision faction sums up how I feel about the attack on the Capitol building, in particular how the demonstration has once again stirred up passionate arguments among Christians.  Come on, people, I want to shout (and need to shout to myself), “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love!”  And, “as for these agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12).

Worship Song of the Month

Worship Song of the Month

January 7: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Come, promised King!

As we sang Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus throughout Advent, we looked forward to our celebration of Jesus’s birth. We wondered at the simultaneous majesty and intimacy of the Desire of Nations becoming the joy of our longing hearts. 

On the second and third Sundays of Advent, we sang the story of his birth in verses 2 and 3, reflecting on Jesus as the promised Dayspring, Rod of Jesse, and Redeemer.  We saw that Jesus claims these titles not only for the Israelites, but for all who would believe in him, for all who would call on his name (John 11:51-52, Acts 2:38-39, Romans 9:8, Galatians 3:26-29, John 1:12-13, etc…).  

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we sang the final verse of “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” and now we turn to the expectation of his return.  Jesus has been born—a child and yet a King; now, we anticipate his rule. We long for the day when Jesus will come to establish his reign.

At that time, the nations will come streaming to the Desire of Nations to worship him.

The Dayspring from on high will shine with everlasting light.

The Rod of Jesse will stand in full bloom, overflowing with the branches of his children.

And we will reign with him, completely free from the curse of sin and death, because of the all-sufficient merit of our Redeemer.

In this final verse of “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” Wesley revisits his theme of majesty and intimacy—recognizing that Jesus’s reign will be both in us and in the world, both in our hearts and on his throne.  While we wait for his return, we call on his name and ask him to be our Desire and Joy, Dayspring, Rod of Jesse, and Redeemer.  We ask him to reign, by his own eternal Spirit, in our hearts alone—and, when he returns, to raise us to his glorious throne.

For Reflection:  Read Revelation 22.  What does this passage say about Jesus as the Desire of Nations, Dayspring, Rod of Jesse, and Redeemer?  What does it say about his coming reign as King?  Today, ask Jesus to reign in your longing heart.  And together with John, the author of Revelation, and with Wesley and Hunt, the authors of “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” pray:  Come, Lord Jesus.  

Worship Song of the Month

Worship Song of the Month

December 24: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Come, Rod of Jesse!  Come, Dayspring and Redeemer!

The second and third verses of Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, written by Mark E. Hunt and inserted between Charles Wesley’s verses, summarize the story of Jesus’s birth and proclaim the reason for his birth.  On this Christmas Eve day, it is appropriate for us to sing these words, and to recognize who Jesus is and why he came.  

Jesus is the promised Dayspring from on high.  Using the King James Version of the Bible, Hunt references Zechariah’s prophetic declaration that “the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).   I love this idea of Jesus as the dawn, the sunrise.  When we come to know Jesus, our hearts and minds are enlightened with the knowledge and understanding of salvation (Luke 1:77), and our lives emerge from darkness into forgiveness and mercy (v. 77-78).  And as we come to know him more and more, his light grows and spreads on our paths, lighting the way (vs. 79).  

Jesus is the promised Rod of Jesse.  We know that Jesus is the fulfillment of a great many Old Testament prophecies, including those which spoke of his lineage.  Jesus descended from King David, who was the son of Jesse.  Isaiah 11:1 declares:  “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”  When we proclaim that Jesus is the Rod of Jesse and the Son of David, we declare that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised to the Israelites–a Messiah who would be their Savior, King, and Priest forever (Jeremiah 33:15-18).  But we also recognize that these promises are not only for Israel, but for all who believe in Jesus.  As Isaiah 11 continues in verse 10:  “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek him.”  

Which brings us to this:  Jesus is the promised Redeemer.  He came to earth to “taste our sadness” and “bring us gladness.”  He came to rescue us from the darkness of sin and death.  He came to die on the cross.  Galatians 3:13-14 says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Jesus, whom the prophets called Dayspring, Rod of Jesse, and Redeemer, came to save not only the Israelites, but all of God’s people who come to him by faith.

“This the everlasting wonder:  Christ was born the Lord of all!”   

For Reflection:  Read Isaiah 9:2-7.  What does this passage say about Jesus’s roles reflected in the titles Dayspring, Rod of Jesse, and Redeemer?  Praise Jesus for who he is, and thank him for coming to bring you light, include you in his people, and save you.