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For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say, “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good. – Titus 2:11-14
How are you doing this Christmas? Is your heart overflowing with thankfulness. . . .or are you overwhelmed by circumstances and deployment, disappointed with people (or yourself), too tired to celebrate? The days are full. . . . and if you’re like me you are yearning for a chance to just “be still” and spend time with the Lord. After all, this holiday is all about Him—the One who came to seek and save, to rescue and redeem, to bring inner and eternal peace to those who know Him.
Spending time in the prophecies of the Old Testament, in the story of the incarnation as found in the New Testament gospels or savoring His truth from Genesis to Revelation restores my aching heart in a way which only our Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) can do.
Another place to turn during devotional quiet time for that “feast” of the soul is to prayers of the saints—both old and current. From my favorite collection of Puritan prayers called The Valley of Vision we find the prayer for Christmas entitled “The Gift of Gifts”:
O Source of All Good,
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.
Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.
Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draw near on wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.
Herein is power;
when Diety and humanity were infinitely apart
he united them in indissoluble unity, the uncreate and the created.
Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and
enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou hast given me so much that heaven can give no more. (p. 16)
I am also refreshed by the writing of a contemporary theologian and author, John Piper. From Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ we find this prayer in the chapter entitled “Jesus Is the Glory of God”:
Eternal Father, you never had a beginning. You will never have an ending. You are the Alpha and the Omega. This we believe, because you have revealed it to us. Our hearts leap up with gratitude that you have opened our eyes to see and know that Jesus Christ is your eternal, divine Son, begotten, not made, and that you, O Father, and he, your Son, are one God. We tremble even to take such glorious truths on our lips for fear of dishonoring you with withering and inadequate words. But we must speak, because we must praise you. Silence would shame us, and the rocks themselves would cry out. You must be praised for who you are in the world you have made. And we must thank you because you have made us taste and see the glory of Jesus Christ, your Son. Oh, to know him! Father, we long to know him. Banish from our minds low thoughts of Christ. Saturate our souls with the Spirit of Christ and all his greatness. Enlarge our capacities to be satisfied in all that you are for us in him. Where flesh and blood are impotent, reveal to us the Christ, and rivet our attention and our affections on the truth and beauty of your all-glorious Son. And grant that whether rich or poor, sick or sound, we might be transformed by him and become an echo of his excellence in the world. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen. (p. 25,26)
Merry Christmas! And in 2017 may you seek to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ, like never before!
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” — Hebrews 11:6
Bennett, Arthur, editor. The Valley of Vision (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975)
Piper, John. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004)
Questions to Share:
1. These prayers, and the accompanying Scripture, were written for you—for all of us. Take a moment to personalize them with your name or personal pronoun so that you may sense their full meaning for you.
2. Take another moment to personalize them for your spouse so that, together, you may grow closer to the Lord and to each other.