Monday, December 1, 2008

Season's Readings

This time of year I like to read things that help me focus on the real meaning of Christmas and meditate on the abiding truth of "God with us." I'll share some titles and resources that you may want to check out for some good Advent meditation.

  • Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie - This is a new book featured in a previous post. It consists of 22 relatively short chapters taken from the writings and sermons of Bible preachers and teachers past and present. All groups of Christians, laymen and ministers, should enjoy this book. From the publisher's website you can download a sample or browse portions of the book online. Available from: Amazon | CBD | CVBBS | Monergism | WTS.

  • God With Us: The Miracle of Christmas by John MacArthur - This book of about 140 pages is suitable for private use or small group study, like in a Sunday School class. The nine chapters cover different aspects of the Christmas story with one theme in mind: "This Child's birth meant deliverance for mankind. The angel told Joseph: 'It is He who will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Jesus knew that to do that, He would have to die" (p. 115). Have you ever heard a sermon on the genealogy of Christ in Matthew chapter 1? MacArthur has a chapter on this entitled, "Knots on the Family Tree." It's a blessing. Available from Amazon.

  • The King Has Come by James Montgomery Boice - 15 sermons by the former minister of Philadelphia's Tenth Presbyterian Church that show the real meaning of Christmas. "I trust that this small book of Christmas messages may be used by God to bring to many people the peace that the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ has made possible" (p. 9). You can download the table of contents and preface from the publisher's website. Also available from: Amazon | WTS.

  • Great Sermons on the Birth of Christ edited by Wilbur M. Smith - a collection of 15 sermons from preachers of the past, such as Charles Spurgeon, Henry P. Liddon, Joseph Parker, Alexander Whyte, Martin Luther, and G. Campbell Morgan. Since these are sermons they can be profitable to any believer, but this book might appeal mostly to ministers. Wilbur Smith, a 20th Century bibliophile, provides some extra features that can be a help to ministers preparing sermons or series of messages. At the end of the book are four appendices that explore the Nativity Narratives further and suggest other books on the subject. Smith also provides a biographical sketch of each preacher whose sermons he includes. Available from Amazon.

  • Christmastide in St. Paul's by Henry P. Liddon - Sermons Bearing Chiefly On The Birth Of Our Lord And The End Of The Year (1889) (Hardcover) from Kessinger Publishing. Liddon was an Anglican theologian and preacher, "an Anglican of the High Church, but fervently evangelical, with emphasis first upon the Word of God rather than upon ritual or form" (Wilbur M. Smith). Available from Amazon.

  • The Magnificat by Henry P. Liddon - Four sermons on Mary's burst of praise in Luke chapter 1: 1) Mary our Model in Praising God (Luke 1:46-48); 2) Privileges of the Virgin Mother (Luke 1:48-50); 3) Vicissitudes of Men and Nations (Luke 1:51-53); 4) God's Mercy and Faithfulness in the Divine Incarnation (Luke 1:54-55). A few years ago I read this book over the four Sundays of Advent, and I concur with Wilbur Smith that Liddon is "fervently evangelical." These sermons are a blessing. If you can find it, Klock & Klock's 1980 reprint combines this book with James Orr's The Virgin Birth of Christ. The Magnificat available from Amazon.

  • My Soul Magnifies the Lord by Martyn Lloyd-Jones - Meditations on the Meaning of Christmas. The Doctor also provides four sermons on Mary's song of praise: 1) Magnifying God; 2) The Wisdom of God; 3) The Faithfulness of God; 4) The Christian's Experience. "Here in this short compass, in a very extraordinary manner, [Mary] brings us face to face with some of the many central matters in connection with our salvation" (pp. 8-9). Available from Amazon.

  • Advent Devotional published by Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, NC - This is a free online resource you can download as a pdf file from the church's website. It consists of several short readings for each of the four weeks of Advent. Following each reading are suggestions for prayers and an appropriate Christmas hymn. Intended mainly for use in family devotions or as part of a group. Very warm. Recommended.

  • Celebrating Advent with Martin Luther - a brief article from Christianity Today by Paul L. Maier consisting mainly of several excerpts from Luther's Christmas sermons demonstrating his love for the season.

  • Martin Luther's Christmas Book edited by Roland H. Bainton - a gift edition of a book containing thirty excerpts from Luther's Christmas sermons. Supplemented by elegant illustrations of scenes from the Christmas story and two of Luther's carols. Available from Amazon.

Don't let the busyness or, possibly, the loneliness of the season rob you of the true Christmas spirit. The angelic announcement to the lonely shepherds was one of "glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10-11). Take time out frequently to meditate on the Scriptures and let the presence of God overwhelm your soul.

Feel free to share your favorite Advent readings with us in the comments.