"God is God. Because he is God, he is worthy of my obedience." Elisabeth Elliot

Do You Know What Song Your Heart Will Be Singing This Christmas?

This week, I started listening to Christmas music in the car on the way to work. Our 24/7 Christmas music radio station plays everything from crooning Bing to the musical equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater. One frosty morning, fresh off my Advent devotional reading and a mug of hot tea, the radio wished me a Holly Jolly Christmas that was positively jarring.

Christmas really is “the most wonderful time of the year” for Christ-followers, but there is so much left unsaid in the average Christmas song. The spiritual discipline of reading scripture, meditating on the words of a carol, and Welcoming the Light every morning is awakening my attention to the presence of the True Light of Christmas.

Isaiah’s Four Servant Songs

Reading with the benefit of truth revealed in the New Testament, Isaiah’s four Servant Songs point to Jesus with startling clarity. One by one, they unwrap the character and the assignment of Messiah. Let the music of grace and God’s provision wash over your heart as we rehearse Isaiah’s four songs of the suffering Servant.

  1. Unstopping and Unstoppable (Isaiah 42:1-9)
    The promised Servant will bring justice, comfort, and encouragement. Best of all, he will not fail to accomplish his purposes, for he knows in advance the outcome of all his decisions and actions.
  2. For All Nations (Isaiah 49:1-13)
    The Servant will be womb-formed, and his mission is the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to his people, not merely to one nation, but to all nations.
  3. Suffering and Glory (Isaiah 50:4-11)
    Here, the Servant makes it clear that he will accomplish his purposes and God will be glorified, but it will happen through suffering. He is absolutely certain of God’s help and determined to fulfill the divine will, come what may.
  4. Humiliation and Exaltation (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
    The final song underscores the Bible’s divine authorship, for there’s no other way a seven-hundred-year-old description could contain such minute detail, as God reveals to Isaiah the brutal facts of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation. Isaiah 53 insists that Christmas joy is intimately linked with Good Friday suffering and Easter resurrection.

Christmas joy is intimately linked with Good Friday suffering and Easter resurrection.

Obedience Requires a “Flinty” Faith

Long ago, I learned that one of Elisabeth Elliot’s favorite verses came from the third servant song:

The Lord God helps me;

   therefore I have not been disgraced;

therefore I have set my face like a flint,

    and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”

Isaiah 50:7

Flint is hard and tough, and it’s a stone that, historically, has been used in making tools and starting fires. Jesus practiced a “flinty” obedience to all that our redemption required because he had a “flinty” faith in and commitment to God’s sovereign plan.

There are ten thousand points of application for Isaiah 50:7, but this is mine: I want to sing the Servant’s song of obedience.

God’s assignments do not always come with all the details I would like to have. However, his help is available in fulfilling his purposes in my life. It is my privilege to obey and to follow.

Or… Elisabeth Elliot said it so much better:

God is God. Because he is God, he is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in his holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.”

What assignment from God is requiring your “flinty” obedience today? Let’s take the grace that’s offered for this moment and set our faces toward obedience, trusting for his help which cannot fail.

"The Lord God helps me...therefore I have set my face like a flint." Isaiah 50:7

Holding you in the Light,

God’s mission–revealed in Isaiah–is the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to his people, not merely to one nation, but to all nations.

It’s Not too Late to Begin Your Celebration of the Light this Advent Season

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44 thoughts on “Do You Know What Song Your Heart Will Be Singing This Christmas?”

  1. Michele, earlier this morning I was reading in Luke where Elizabeth and Zacharias give John his name. The passage reminded me of the importance to obey quickly, yes, even when we don’t understand or have all the details. I so appreciated this post and will be sharing it in my morning group. Blessings!

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  2. Michele, Thank you for this beautiful outline of the servant songs! I have long meditated on the connection between Christmas and Easter, but sitting with these songs really brings it all together!

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  3. We enjoyed a beautiful Christmas concert last week with the group Voctave. I’d never heard of them, but now I’m ready to see them again. They did the most beautiful adaptations of Christmas music. My favorites this year will be the songs about peace. We need it badly.

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  4. Thank you Michele for the Elliott quote…I need this confidence today as we continue to weather our own Covid cases and I watch my man languish… God can heal but when and how… No idea what He’s up to. Knowing it is always for our good and His glory helps, when I can’t feel the confidence… Thank you for being there with words.

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  5. Love this post and your recap of the 4 Servant Songs in Isaiah. I am just finishing up Isaiah after nearly 2 years studying it verse by verse – and yet I still come across new stuff every day that pertains to it. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. I want to display “flinty faith,” too.

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  6. Isaiah 50:7 could have been Mary’s and Joseph’s life-verse as they traveled to Bethlehem, welcomed Jesus into the world from the shelter of a stable-cave, traveled to Egypt and then back to Nazareth, to face all the ups and downs of Jesus’ life as his loving parents. And what kind of face-of-flint did it take for dear Mary to witness the horror of crucifixion? Mary and Joseph demonstrated unwavering perseverance and utmost courage!

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  7. “The musical equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater” – Ha! I have heard some of those.
    I need to be more flinty in obedience rather than dragging my feet or peering through the hands covering my eyes from what might happen.

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  8. I hear you about the jarring, ugly Christmas sweater music, friend. You made me smile with your apt descriptions.

    Meanwhile, peaceful melodies are my preference. The words flow right up yet again from a grateful heart.

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  9. It is our “privilege to obey and follow.” So good. When I learn about other religions and other gods, I am so thankful we serve a God who outshines them all and loves us and cares for us the way he does.

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  10. I appreciate your insights about Isaiah’s servant songs that reveal Immanuel and His love for us. And such great quotes from Elizabeth Elliot, too. Thank you, Michele. May your mornings welcoming the light this Advent be blessed! And you get that rising light before any of the rest of us!!

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  11. I haven’t been listening to any Christmas music yet. I don’t know why. I’m just not in the mood for it. But I am reading a Christmas devotional. I love that Elizabeth Elliot quote. So true and so good.

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  12. “Flinty faith” … I love that description, Michele. Especially right now, I’m encouraged by your thoughts about God’s assignments and what Elizabeth Elliot said about God being God.

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  13. I usually don’t get to listen to many Christmas songs since my family complains but I have been listening to a lot of them this year since I have so much time alone in the car. It’s amazing how many GREAT songs there are but I’m also amazed at how many awful ones get made too.

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  14. Love those verses from Isaiah! I recently updated my Advent devotional book and have been very immersed in these Words and similar thoughts. Congrats on yours! Sounds lovely…I signed up!

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  15. Thank you for sharing your post on our Linky, May you have a blessed Christmas, and see you at our next Linkup on Jan 3, 2022. I have shared your post. Thanks for being part of my Tribe

    Liked by 1 person

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