Bethany Lutheran Brethren Church
Staten Island, NY

Bethany Blog

Bethany Blog

Check out Sunday's Messages and Devotionals from Pastor Paul Couch!


“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” Philippians 4:4-5

The shouts of old still ring out in the night, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14).  The excitement of the first proclamation of this amazing truth must have stirred the hearts of the original hearers.  What a great and glorious scene that must have been.  Awe mixed with fear, only to be met with assurance and joy.  But this was not the first news of such an event; no this was years in the making.

From the beginning, the hope of One who would come and save us from the effects of our sin was proclaimed; “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15).  Even from the great men of old, this message rang out, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers.  You must listen to him.” (Exodus 18:15).  Yet this was not a message given to single man, but to many.  Even among the kings, this message was known, “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1).  This same king rejoiced at how his Lord would bring him life by His mighty hand, “I have set my Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let you Holy One see decay.  You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at you right hand.” (Psalm 16:8-11).  The soul jumps at such a thought, of life and joy that can be given to us by a God who possesses all things.  But who is this Holy One, this one that would not see decay, whose enemies would be put beneath His feet?

In our minds we picture a great warrior, unequaled in valor and filled with compassion.  This would be a man that every eye would look upon and see greatness and power.  This would be without question, without doubt.  But the mind is not the final authority, our imagination is not the guide to truth.  The words of an ancient book speaks of the One who would be sent.  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6,7).  And this Child will be no ordinary child.  Humble will be His birth and humble His upbringing, but this will be a Child like no other.  For what child has ever been written of in this manner; “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us).” (Isaiah 7:14).  A later observer would make this profound statement about this child, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).  And this Child’s name:  Jesus.

And more would be written about Him and the hope that He would bring to the whole human race.  “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.  I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6, 7).  Jesus would bring us freedom and hope.  He would step into the darkness and bring the light of hope and truth.  And this is the light that we celebrate.  This is the hope that brings us gladness and joy.  Even as a servant of God would put it; “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel”  (Luke 2:30-32).

Today, rejoice. Although Jesus was born thousands of years ago, today He still lives.Today he still sets the captives free.Today He still brings the light of salvation to all who call on His name.Call on His name today and rejoice in the Lord.