Sunday, December 18, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Excelsis

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.


While pondering the word, "Excelsis," I was so captivated and inspired by this hauntingly beautiful and anointed song by Christy Nockels, Wrap This One Up... Oh, the call of a shepherd in a field nearby, to tend and to carry his flocks by night. They were not ordinary sheep; they were set apart, born to be Passover lambs. And when a spotless male was born, he was held on the manger floor. Swaddled up just to keep him calm until his time, and the shepherd sang: Wrap this one up. He is a lamb without blemish. Wrap this one up. He'll make his way to the temple. Born for sacrifice, he'll join the others and pay the price. Wrap this one up. Wrap this one up.

Oh, the call of a mother in a town nearby to tend and to carry on this holy night. Not an ordinary Child, but the Son of God, Breathed by the Holy Spirit. And when the Baby King was born, He was held on the manger floor. As she swaddled Him up, she knew His time would come as she sang: Wrap this one up. He is the One that we adore. Wrap this one up. He'll wear the crown forevermore. He's come for you and me. He'll finally set us free. Wrap this one up. Wrap this one up. He's the One. Gloria! Gloria! Gloria! Sing Gloria! In excelsis Deo! Gloria! Gloria! Gloria! Sing Gloria! In excelsis Deo!

Oh, the call of a Savior on a hill nearby. All alone, He would carry the weight of all mankind. Becoming the curse for us, He gave His life for He knew that His time had come. Wrap this one up. He is the lamb without blemish. Wrap this one up. He paid the price, and it is finished. That death would have no sting, He rose in victory! Oh, hallelujah to the King! Gloria! Gloria! Gloria! Sing Gloria! In excelsis Deo! Gloria! Gloria! Gloria! Sing Gloria! In excelsis Deo! In excelsis Deo! In excelsis Deo!


Gloria in excelsis Deo is Latin for, Glory to God in the highest from Luke 2:9-14 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.'"

Pastor John MacArthur states: “This is where all heaven breaks loose. They can only be restrained for so long. The birth of this child having been laid in the feed trough in anonymity at first and then this monumental announcement to the angels that even involves a whole heavenly host of angels praising God and affirming peace on earth toward men with whom God is pleased. The angel says, "A Savior who is Christ the Lord."  There is no question, there's no need for clarification as to who is this child because the angel tells us in very explicit terms."

First, the child is Savior. That's the great affirmation of the angel, "I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people."  And what is the good news that produces universal joy?  "A Savior has been born." The word "savior" implies that we need to be saved from something. “Saved” is a synonym for “rescued.” It's a synonym for “delivered.” And it implies that there's some kind of threatening condition. There's some kind of dangerous condition, some kind of desperate condition, some kind of deadly condition from which we need to be rescued. The universal problem from which the Lord sent a Savior to deliver us is the problem of sin and guilt. It's to rescue us from the consequence of our sin. You have broken the law of God and you are on your way to eternal hell and you need to be rescued from sin. 

His title is given here, Christ the Lord. That is to be understood that He is both Christ and Lord.  He is both Christos and kurios. He is both Christ and the Lord. When it says this is the Savior who is Christ the Lord, you'll notice and it will be true every time it's used in the Bible to speak of Jesus Christ or of God, it's a capital "L." To say that this child is Lord, listen very carefully, is to say that this child is God.  Lord is intended to imply in the Greek all that is implied by the Hebrew word Yahweh, the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew name for God.  To say that Jesus is Lord is to say that Jesus is God first and foremost. And let me say this as clearly and simply as I can and you need to remember this, the most fundamental and basic confession of Christianity is this, Jesus is Lord. Without that you don't have Christianity. It means to say that Jesus is God and all that that implies.  And if you're God, that implies sovereignty and authority. The selection of the word kurios here for Lord; that's a very important selection.”

Lord (kurios from kuros = might or power) Kurios means supreme power with authority with legitimacy.  It is a word that expresses an authority that is valid, lawful, and legitimate.  And kurios is used here. Jesus is legitimately, validly Lord. He is Lord lawfully. He is Lord legally. He is Lord by virtue of nature who He is. So the root idea of kurios is legitimate sovereignty, legitimate authority. The ultimate legitimate authority in the universe is God. The writers of the New Testament use kurios all the time.  It has become, in the Greek language, of course, the name for God. So when it says Jesus is Lord, when it says you must confess Jesus as Lord, you are confessing Him as God with all that that implies. That implies authority. That implies sovereignty.”

"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.'" We've come to the pinnacle. We've come to the transcendent high point. We've come to the highest point of thought and action, the highest truth of all truths. What is it? It's the glory of God. What you see here is the highest thing that can occur in the universe, the created universe. The highest thing that can occur in the created universe is that God is glorified by His creatures. And that's exactly what you see the angels doing.  This is the purpose of the good news is to save sinners so they can join angels in giving glory to God. The ultimate is always to glorify God. The highest, transcendent pinnacle of all thought and action, the reason for everything, is to glorify God. "Suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host." Multitude refers to a large group. They were saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among men with whom He's pleased."

What were the angels praising God for? They were praising God because Jesus was born.  They were praising God because the Savior had come. They were praising God for the Savior who is Christ the Lord.  You see, they knew what was going on. They knew Jesus as the second member of the Trinity. They knew Christ before the incarnation.  They had been associated with Christ in heaven before the incarnation.  They knew of His glory, they knew of His riches, they knew of His majesty.  They were also aware of the Fall of man. They had been informed also that God had provided a way of salvation for man. They knew that prophecies had been made that a Messiah would come, a Savior would come, a sacrifice would be made.  They understood the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, to some degree. They understood that all those animals had to be offered and they couldn't take away sin but they would picture One who would come and die and would.”

The angel had given the report to Joseph, "You shall call His name Jesus for He'll save His people from their sins."  They knew what was going on.  They knew the work of saving man.  They knew that there would come a Savior who, while maintaining perfect righteousness and holiness, would also bear sin. They knew that God would not spare His own Son but give Him up for sinners. They knew that the Son, though rich, would become poor for the sake of undeserving sinners. They knew that He would vicariously bear their curse and take their punishment. They knew that the Holy Spirit would condescend to convict sinners and bring them to salvation, regenerate them and then take up residence in that sinner's heart. They understood the birth of Christ. They understood that He would enter into a condition of poverty, that He would become poor so that sinners could become rich. They understood this and they were praising God because they were seeing God's grace on display. They were seeing God's mercy. They were seeing the salvation plan come to its glorious fruition. They were thanking God for His indescribable gift. They were looking into the things that Peter says angels desire to look into but cannot fully comprehend because they can't experience grace and mercy and forgiveness because holy angels are sinless. That's what's going to go on in heaven forever and ever and ever.  Both the angels and redeemed souls in glorified bodies of men and women are going to spend forever and ever and ever and ever glorifying God in heaven, glorifying God in the highest, which is heaven, because He brought peace to the lowest, which is earth, and granted it to those in whom He chose to delight.  He gets all the credit. The purpose of everything then is that God will be glorified and forever and ever and ever we will glorify Him.  We could sum it up by saying the purpose of salvation was to bring glory to God in heaven from angels and from saints and we will see that and participate in it when we get there.”


We may not have been there with the shepherds that night when the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest," but today we can join David in Psalm 29:1-2 as he proclaims, Give honor to the Lord, you angels; give honor to the Lord for his glory and strength. Give honor to the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. In this psalm, he calls on the angels and all God’s people to join him in ascribing honor and glory to the Lord for his strength, his glory, and his holiness. “Give God the credit for the great things he does! Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness!” he urges us. David knew that the greatest thing in all our lives is to worship God. That’s what we were created to do. When we give honor to God, he blesses us and lights our path. When we look at his glory and holiness, he gives us his perspective, and everything else pales in comparison. But when our busyness pushes worship aside and our focus gets off of God and onto the things of this world or ourselves, we lose our way. Darkness and emptiness begin to envelope us. Do you want the joy of knowing God and experiencing his love? Take a few minutes to read Psalm 29 aloud and join with the angels in heaven as we worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness!

Lord Jesus, forgive me for getting wrapped up in myself and my tasks and forgetting to give You credit for all You are doing and have done in my life and in the world around me. Create in me a heart of worship. This day I give honor to You and worship You for the glory of Your name, for Your amazing strength and might, for the splendor of Your holiness! I join the angels who sang on the night You were born, "Glory to God in the highest!" In Your precious name I pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on Psalm 29:1-2  … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Psalm 29:1-2  …pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on
 Psalm 29:1-2 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


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