My kids are shocked (as they are every year) to find Christmas stuff out in the stores in September. But this year Christmas will come a little early to the Whitacre home too, because yesterday was the release of the new Sovereign Grace Christmas Album: Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus in Song.
The reality of the incarnation, the Son of God taking on our flesh and bones to save us, will be an eternal source of wonder, gratefulness, and joy. These fourteen songs are an attempt to capture that mystery in song.
This album is unique in that it accompanies a family devotional and classroom curriculum written by Marty Machowski which are designed to build gospel hope and enduring theological depth into your celebration of Christmas. You can find more information on those here:
“Jesus went without comfort so that you might have it. He postponed joy so that you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so that you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow. He had no real fellowship so that fellowship might be yours, this moment. This alone is enough cause for great gratitude!” ~Joni Eareckson Tada
“A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it.” ~D.L. Moody
“Things put into the furnace properly can be shaped, refined, purified, and even beautified. This is a remarkable view of suffering, that if faced and endured with faith, it can in the end only make us better, stronger, and more filled with greatness and joy.” ~Timothy Keller
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1:6-7
“The life of giving is not an empty life…it is the first step to encouragement, to clearing your mind, to being fulfilled. Scripture is very clear on this—if you seek to be full, give…When you empty yourself for others, God fills you up. But not so you can suddenly retire with your little packet of joy. God gives to us so that we may give. We give, He gives us more, with which to give more…Christ’s life given up for others is the centerpiece of our faith. Our lives given up for others is the centerpiece of our faithfulness. The glory is that, in both cases, death is not the end. Christ has died for us for all time. But the trail he blazed does not end in the grave. He tells us to follow, to imitate him.” ~Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst, pp. 13-18
“You are more wicked than you ever dared believe but you are more loved than you ever dared hope. Don’t be too proud to accept what the gospel says about your unworthiness. Don’t be too despondent to accept what the gospel says about how loved you are.” ~Tim Keller
“Believer, here is encouragement. Are you praying for some beloved one? Oh, do not give up praying, for Christ is ‘mighty to save.’ You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty….Jesus is ‘mighty to save,’ the best proof of which lies in the fact that He has saved you.”
“Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?” asked some one of a mother. “Because,” said she, “I find nineteen times is not enough.” Now, when a soul is to be ploughed, it may so happen that hundreds of furrows will not do it. What then? Why, plough all day till the work is done. Whether you are ministers, missionaries, teachers, or private soul-winners, never grow weary, for your work is noble, and the reward of it is infinite. The grace of God is seen in our being permitted to engage in such holy service; it is greatly magnified in sustaining us in it, and it will be pre-eminently conspicuous in enabling us to hold out till we can say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Ever feel like you have nothing to show for all your hard work in the home? You make lunch for littles only to sweep more crumbs off the floor. You organize a closet only to have it get cluttered again. You train your children and they throw a fit at the family gathering. You serve your husband but he doesn’t seem to notice.
What’s the point?
Nothing drains our zeal for homemaking like the feeling of futility. As the wise man in Ecclesiastes asks: “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecc. 1:3)
His answer is as (apparently) disheartening as it is realistic:
“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, andthere was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecc. 2:11, emphasis mine).
This is reality—the reality of your life and mine, your homemaking and mine—without Easter Sunday. Nothing to be gained. Worthless. Pointless. A waste of time.
But the cross of Jesus Christ, and his resurrection from the dead, changes everything. Not only has death been “swallowed up in victory” says Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55, but also the futility that flows from death. Because of the resurrection, our work is not a waste of time.
“Therefore [in light of the glorious resurrection], my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
What should we do in light of the resurrection? Here in this verse God tells us: “stick with it” “don’t give up” “keep working.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only certifies that “it is finished,” it tells us to “get going.”
The resurrection motivates us to work hard, for all work done “in the Lord”—for his glory and in his strength—is not in vain. It is not pointless. Because of the resurrection all floor-mopping and sippy-cup-filling done “in the Lord” will last forever.
Sure, if we work in our home for human applause our work will be in vain. Our family will never appreciate us enough. The world will never esteem us enough. Even if we seek our own personal satisfaction or fulfillment, we’ll come up empty. Nothing will be gained. We might as well go chase the wind.
But if we abound in the work of the Lord, for the sake of the glory of our Lord, we can be absolutely sure it is not in vain, as surely as we know that our Savior rose from the grave.