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Day 15: Psalm 96

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Today’s Advent devotional is centered on Psalm 96. The following are a few thoughts to consider before you read the Psalm.

 

Did you know that one of the most frequently issued commands in all of the Bible is for us to sing to the Lord? Throughout both the Old and New Testaments there are some 300 instances of singing that are described or commanded. Singing is an essential practice of the Christian life and it is one of God’s most-issued commands to us in His Word.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that none of those instances contain a qualification that says to sing only if we have a good voice, only if we feel like it, or only if we like the song or style of music.

God’s people sing.

Singing is essential to the Christian life because it is both a valuable and vulnerable way for us to express our worship to God. It’s valuable because music itself is essential to the life of every human being. Can you imagine a wedding without music? A movie without a soundtrack? No bands, concerts or concert venues? A world without music would be a dark and stale place to live. It brings color to an otherwise black and white world.

Music is valuable to us because it is able to express our praise, thoughts, hopes and fears in ways that spoken words cannot convey. When we sing, we are able to express a deeper part of our hearts than we would have ever been able to otherwise. Singing is a vulnerable thing to do because our hearts cannot hide. If we are heartbroken, a song helps us cry. If we are overjoyed, a song projects it from the rooftops. If we are thankful, singing is our offering of praise.

Singing is meaningful; it is motivational; it is powerful. It reminds us, guides us, shapes us and gives our hearts a voice beyond the spoken word.

That’s why God’s people sing.

God’s people sing as a valuable and vulnerable act of worship. As Tim Keller has said, “If you really love something, you don’t just praise it because you love it; you praise it in order to love it. When you enjoy something, you don’t just praise it because you’ve enjoyed it; you praise it in order to enjoy it more.”

Can you imagine Christmas without singing?

It just wouldn’t be the same if we decorated our homes for Christmas without Nat King Cole singing The First Noel softly in the background. How could we possibly be expected to shop at our favorite retailer without our favorite pop version of Joy to the World playing throughout the store? And what would a Christmas Eve service be without singing Silent Night together by candlelight?

We can’t celebrate Christmas without singing. In fact, we shouldn’t.

Psalm 96 isn’t a psalm about Christmas specifically, but it is a psalm that anticipates the coming of the Lord to set the world aright — to bring about the salvation that the entire earth is so desperately longing for and that has been prophesied of old.

That’s what Advent is all about: anticipating the coming of the Lord and preparing room within our hearts so that, as Oswald Chambers has said, our lives can become a Bethlehem for the Son of God.

But Advent doesn’t just anticipate the birth of the Son of God; it also looks forward to His second coming when the kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15).

How can we prepare our hearts to worship Jesus during Advent? Just what Psalm 96 commands us to do: “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.”

Read Psalm 96 with these thoughts in mind and when you’re done, sing!

 

Matt Lantz

 

Communications Dept

Communications Dept

Author Bio Goes Here

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The Christmas Story

When we hear the Christmas story we’re reminded of the miraculous birth of Christ. But God wants us to be sure and know the rest of the story. God had a purpose for sending His Son into our world. He came to be our Savior, just as the angel announced to the shepherds. But why do we need a Savior if we try to be good?

The answer is that God is perfect and holy and no matter hard we try, we are not. But God still wants a relationship with us. So He sent Jesus into the world to offer a way for sinners to have a relationship with a holy God. God placed our sins on His sinless Son on the cross, so that we might be forgiven and become a child of God. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He paved a way for us to come to God as well.

Romans 10:9 tells us that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus is the greatest Christmas gift ever given.

MSM Meeting Times

MSM families, we miss you guys! We are determined to stick together as one big MSM ministry. Be sure to check out everything happening online. We are here for you guys!

Campus Day Time Location
Fort Worth
Sundays
5 p.m.

Host Home

West
Wednesdays
6 p.m.

Host Home

South
Wedesdays
6 p.m.
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Fort Worth, TX 76107

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Willow Park, TX 76087

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5+6 Meeting Times

5+6 families, we miss you guys! We are determined to stick together as one big 5+6 ministry. Be sure to check out everything happening online. We are here for you guys!

Campus Day Time Location
Fort Worth

Sundays

4:30 p.m.
West

Sundays

1:30-2:45 p.m.
South

Sundays

5-6:15 p.m.

HSM Meeting Times

HSM families, we miss you guys! We are determined to stick together as one big HSM ministry. Be sure to check out everything happening online. We are here for you guys!

Campus Day Time Location
Fort Worth

Sundays

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Host Home

West

Wednesdays

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Host Home

South

Wednesdays

6-8 p.m.

*Every the 3rd Wednesday of the month, West campus meets at Worship Center

What is Christmas … Really?

The Christmas season is full of stories. There are favorite movies like “White Christmas,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Elf,” Santa Claus and reindeer, and lots of traditions that go back many, many years. All of these stories share messages of hope and cheer, good news and happy days, giving and serving — and they all encourage us to look forward to a bright future.

The reason that all of these stories have similar themes is because in one way or another, they are all a reflection of the very first Christmas story — the true, real life one that happened two thousand years ago in a small rural town called Bethlehem. (The story is told throughout the Bible, but if you’ve never read it for yourself, a great place to start is Luke 2.)

The date was sometime between 3 B.C. and 6 B.C. in Israel. The Roman Empire, which controlled the region at that time, was requiring that everyone return to their hometown so that they could complete a census.

There was an engaged couple who were among the many people who had to travel home to complete their part of this census. The couple, a man named Joseph and a woman named Mary, were not well-known or uber successful. They were regular people who lived in a small town. Because they were engaged, they headed together to Joseph’s hometown, Bethlehem.

As Israelites, both Mary and Joseph had grown up learning the history of their people through the Scriptures. Israel was a very small nation surrounded by great world powers – and yet, God had always protected their people. In fact, God, had promised that a savior would one day come and save them. No one knew when that would happen, but generation after generation, the people of Israel waited with hope for that day.

Months before Joseph and Mary set off on their journey to Bethlehem for the census, one of God’s angels appeared to Mary with a very surprising message. He showed up out of nowhere one day to tell her that God was not only pleased with her, but had chosen her to be the mother of the savior that everyone had been waiting for! And while that may have been a great honor to Mary, she was confused about how that could happen because she was most definitely a virgin. The angel told her that through the power of God, she would become pregnant. This baby was God’s Son and He was to be named Jesus because He would one day save His people. And because Mary had grown up knowing these future promises of God, she believed the angel.

Months later and nearing her due date, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem for the census. Because so many people had come to town for the very same reason, there was no room available at the town’s inn. Now in labor, the only option the couple could find for a place to stay and have the baby was in the inn’s stable. So there, in a cave among the animals, the long-promised and long-awaited savior, Jesus, was born.

A few miles from that stable, a group of shepherds was laying out in a field. It was night and they were there to make sure that their flock was not harmed or picked off by animals or thieves. All of a sudden and out of nowhere, an angel appeared in the sky above them. Shocked by the angel, they were completely terrified, but the angel quickly told them that they had no reason to be afraid. In fact, they were about to receive some of the best news ever: that very night, a savior, THE Savior that they had been waiting for, had been born. The angel told them where they could find this baby and in excitement they got up and ran to find Him.

And it was just as the angel had told them: the baby was in a manger, wrapped in strips of cloth, a fulfillment of God’s great promise to them. After seeing the baby, the shepherds told everyone they met that God had indeed kept His promise and sent their Savior.

That Savior, Jesus, grew up and as God’s Son, one day gave His life for the whole world. Only a true Savior could do this — and because Jesus was the Chosen One sent by God — He could. He was crucified by the Roman government, died and laid dead in a tomb for three days. Then, by the power of God, He came back to life. Many people witnessed His death and then saw Him alive again.

Jesus, having come from God and entered human history as a baby, grew up and fulfilled the promise of being a Savior. Through His death, every person on earth can be saved and can know God personally. Because of Jesus, every person can have hope and cheer, good news and happy days, can look forward to a bright future. Through a relationship with Jesus, we can live the great joy of Christmas every day. That is what Christmas is really about.

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Christmas Gift Tags

Looking for the perfect finishing touch for the gifts under your Christmas tree? Download our custom gift tags! Just click the “Download” button below and pick your favorites to use. Whether you decide to write a note or fill in the “To” and “From” blanks, we recommend using permanent or metallic markers.

Here are a few tips for printing the labels:
Planning to tie the tags to your gifts? Download the PDF and print the pages you need on white card stock. After printing, trim each tag to size with scissors, then punch a hole at the top, thread your ribbon, yarn or twine through it and attach the tag to your gift.

Want to skip the ribbon and turn the tags into labels? Easy peasy! Print on 8.5” x 11” full-sheet label paper, then trim each tag to size and you’ve got gift labels! (Printing Tip: For best results, make sure you’re printing at 100% scale, or “actual size.” )

Merry Christmas, and happy gift giving!

9 Socially Distant Things to do This Christmas

Holly, jolly and socially distant, that’s the name of the game this Christmas season. We’ve rounded up some places in our community where you can go and safely continue favorite holiday traditions, along with a few ideas for making the most of the season at home with your family or roommates. Here’s to celebrating this year … maybe, especially this year. 

Drive-Through Holiday Lights 
This is the year for drive-through holiday light displays! Really, could they be any more perfect? There’s no getting out of the car required and plenty of dazzling holiday lights to see. Luckily, you can have your pick based upon where you live and how far you want to drive. There’s Radiance in Weatherford, Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway, Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie and Christmastime in Texas located in Joshua. 

Walk-Through Holiday Lights 
There are several places in the Metroplex where you can enjoy incredible light displays while keeping to the outdoors. Luminova at Globe Life Field is keeping crowds at a limited capacity so that you have space to wander through its three million lights of creative holiday landscapes. And don’t forget about The Modern Lights in Fort Worth! You can walk the grounds of The Modern off of University Drive and 7th Street after sunset and take in the incredible feat they’ve accomplished of wrapping every limb of every tree surrounding the museum. 

Holiday in the Garden 
On Saturday, Dec. 12, Christmas is coming to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden with Holiday in the Garden. There will be food trucks and live music (including the Fort Worth Opera who will be delivering strolling performances throughout the garden), an artisan market and a Christmas tree farm. It looks like an ideal day in Fort Worth for Christmas! 

Watch The Nutcracker from home 
This year instead of heading downtown to Bass Hall, you can take in the incredible leaps, spins and tricks of the Texas Ballet Theater from home! They will be streaming performances of The Nutcracker December 14-26. Sorry, no precipitation comes with the purchase of your tickets — you’ll have to find your own way for snow to magically fall from the ceiling … just like in Bass Hall! 

Panther Island Ice 
Panther Island Ice, Fort Worth’s outdoor skating rink, is open with limited capacity this year for all your Christmas-skating dreams come true. Reserving space for your group ahead of time is required, so make sure to plan out when you want to go this year. 

Coyote Drive-In 
The beloved drive-in theater is a great way to watch a holiday movie safely with others. Plan an outing with friends and park next to each other — you’ll still be watching together, but from your own car/bubble of space. You’ll want to check the theater’s website for updated showings. They play Christmas movies throughout the season. 

I Love Christmas Movies at Gaylord Texan 
Do you love classic Christmas movies? Then you may want to check out the Gaylord Texan’s new immersive Christmas experience. The exhibit, appropriately dubbed I Love Christmas Movies, has recreated famous movie scenes from the likes of Elf, The Polar Express, A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation that you can step right into and enjoy. Masks are required and social distancing will be observed throughout the experience. 

Go big at home 
What if you make this Christmas extra festive at home? You could make a plan for a special service project every week or a schedule of holiday recipes to try out. You could order Christmas pajamas for your whole crew, hang twinkle lights everywhere or have a virtual ugly Christmas sweater contest with your family over Zoom by using your leftover wrapping, bows, ribbon and such. 

Christmas Eve at Christ Chapel’s Internet Campus 
Are you looking for a way to celebrate on Christmas Eve? Christ Chapel’s Internet Campus is streaming services all afternoon and evening. You’ll get to mark the holiday with a community of friends, sing some holly jolly holiday songs and hear an encouraging message to send you off into Christmas Day. Plan to join us at live.ccbcfamily.org. 

Holiday Bucket List

While you’re spending more time at home this holiday season, why not make a holiday bucket list for those long winter nights and weekends? Click below to download a bucket list. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started: bake cinnamon rolls for neighbors, watch a favorite holiday movie, write and mail notes to family members you won’t be seeing over Christmas, go to a Christmas Eve service, make paper snowflakes. 

Holiday Scenes

Leave it to the internet to create some seriously delightful holiday scenes to play in the background of your day! While you’re busy at home working, cooking, helping your kids with school or just hanging out, any of these scenes are sure to bring some cheer and probably a few chuckles. 

Classic Yule Log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LssTi4X8jY 
 
Beach Bonfire (for anyone missing the beach this year): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wesLXOzom24

Snow-covered Mountain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V37Q3l6AFAU

Sleigh Ride with Real Reindeer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dHETOyiE6U 

Log Cabin with Crackling Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9caj-VdGzM

Christmas Village with Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjMLWXOK_vM

Captain America’s 1940s Living Room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBi29OnappU&feature=emb_title

Cat Riding a Roomba: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1Xkt1E7PJY&feature=emb_title

8-Bit Yule Log: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSO-iitdc2k

Snowy Train Ride: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=facDr2lTAUM

Hulu Holiday Scenes: You’ll need a Hulu subscription to stream these, but Hulu has amassed a small army of holiday scenes to bring delight your way. Their collection includes a Gingerbread Home Remodel, a thrilling Thermostat War (a must-watch if you’ve ever worked in an office setting), a Puppy White Elephant Party and a Sap Story (yes, that’s sap falling out of a tree — it’s riveting and oh-so-soothing). Just look for the “Holiday” tab the next time you open Hulu.