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Christmas 2020 will go down in our memories as one of the most unusual in recent history. For many people it will also be the most difficult Christmas they have ever experienced.
Some people will give thanks to God today, because they know it is the right thing to do. However, their gratitude may be mingled with sadness, loneliness, and worry about the future.
As we consider this Psalm, let’s recall that God is bigger than our circumstances, that his character is perfect, and that he is active on our behalf.
Thanks with the Whole Heart
The thanks that was expressed in this Psalm followed a very difficult time in the lives of God’s people. A single speaker expressed the feelings of all of the people.
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul. (Psalm 138.1-3)
Christmas Day reminds us that God is about birth and new life. Jesus entered our world as a baby, so that he could give us life from God himself.
As we are confronted with a Christmas Day that is quite challenging, we give God thanks from our whole heart because of what he has done for us through Jesus.
John’s Christmas story was different from the other Gospel writers. He wrote this: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1.14).
When John used “the Word” to describe Jesus, he bridged the communication gap between all of the different cultures of his time. The Greeks, Romans, and Jews could all relate to that term.
Jesus came to earth to pull back the covers that concealed God’s true nature. As he revealed the glory of the Father, we learned that God is full of grace and truth.
No matter what is happening in our lives today, we can be assured that God’s nature is steadfast love and grace. We also know that his every word is true and that he is faithful in every way.
After Jesus was born, Joseph had to take his family to Egypt because a corrupt and evil king wanted to kill the baby. The Psalm alludes to trouble in verse 3 and gives thanks to God for his deliverance.
As we live in troubled times this Christmas Day, let’s remember how God has been faithful to care for his people for generations.
In the Psalm, both great kings and lowly servants were called upon to praise the Lord.
All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away. (Psalm 138.4-6)
The best leaders are those who know and live by the “ways of the Lord.” It is tragic that so many leaders choose arrogant self-will over humble obedience, as did Herod.
The king heard of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. He and all of Jerusalem trembled when they learned of this event. Instead of giving Jesus the honor he was due, Herod sought his death. (See Matthew 2.1-18).
Lowly shepherds followed the Christmas Star to the manger where Jesus lay. A manger was nothing more than a feed trough for the humble birth of God’s Son and our Savior.
Verse 6 tells the story of two reactions to the revelation of God’s word on the first Christmas Day. God is high above all, but he regards the lowly. Shepherds have the great honor of being the first to meet the new born King (See Luke 2.8-20).
The haughty, represented by King Herod, remain far away from God in fear and self-will.
As we praise God this Christmas Day, let’s join those who humbly know and live by the “ways of the Lord.”
God Is With Us
The writer of this Psalm knew God through experience. God was more to him than a collection of good ideas. God was a reality, who acted on his behalf.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138.7-8)
Many of us have seen the Christmas story portrayed in elaborate settings that were complete with live animals and dramatic productions. We have also seen the story displayed in simple “bathrobe drama,” put on by children.
The emotions of grand productions and the sentimentality of seeing our children perform will soon diminish.
The reality of a personal experience of God’s grace that delivers us from trouble will last an eternity.
Christmas Day 2020 will go down in history as a very difficult one for many. Let’s press in to God and refuse mere sentimentality or tradition. Let’s strive for an encounter with the living God and his grace.
As we know and do God’s will and as we experience his activity in our lives, we will be able to join the Psalm writer in giving God the utmost of praise.
May We Pray for You?
Maywood Baptist’s prayer team is honored to pray for you. Please email me your prayer requests at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. We will pray for you.