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Wordwise Insight, Issue #048
November 14, 2008

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free monthly newsletter of


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): An article on expectations in marriage and how they are developed

MEDITATIONS ON OUR HYMNS: Stories of two Christmas carols, "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and "Joy to the World"

MORE ARTICLES: What was the actual date of Christ's birth? And what was the origin of the Bethlehem star?

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? See below for how to send it to us.


Are you finding Wordwise helpful? And do you have your own website? We would be delighted if you would provide a link on your site to ours. This will enable your friends to find us too! Check the page on the Wordwise website called "Link to Us," and follow the simple instructions. Click on Link to Us.


The Wordwise website has a page of Christmas goodies for you or someone you'd like to pass them on to. A veritable Christmas stocking full!

☼ Stories of a number of popular Christmas carols

☼ A challenging Christmas quiz based on both the Bible and our carols

☼ Articles on the real date of Christmas, and the origin of the Christmas star

☼ A two-part Christmas Bible study

☼ A link to an excellent book about the birth of Christ

To access this treasure, click on Christmas Carol Story.

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LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION? On a Bible topic or passage of Scripture? Or one about a hymn or gospel song? Click on Questions from You.



Christian marriage preparation is becoming more of a priority as startling statistics reveal the failure of so many marriages.

QUESTION: The following article was written in response to a question about expectations in marriage. (The name of the correspondent has been withheld.) The original question was: "Should there be expectations in a marriage? Example: The husband has expectations of the wife. They are not met, and the husband wants a separation."

ANSWER: Thanks for the question. I will try to give you at least the beginning of an answer–though you need to understand I am a Bible teacher and a hymn historian, not a marriage counselor. Beyond stating some general principles, marriage issues are not my area of expertise, and I must leave the rest to others.

Before we talk about actual Christian marriage preparation, we need to look at the Bible and marriage - what does the Lord think about marriage? We know from the Scriptures that the Lord approves of marriage. He invented it, for one thing. The first thing in creation that He called "not good" was the aloneness of Adam (Gen. 2:18), and the Lord gave him a suitable partner named Eve. One whole book of the Bible (The Song of Solomon) deals with romance and marriage.

In New Testament times, when the Lord Jesus began His earthly ministry, He performed His very first miracle at a wedding (Jn. 2:1-11). And later still, the Apostle Paul compared the love of Christ for His church to the love between husband and wife (Eph. 5:25), indicating a high respect for the marriage relationship.

So, it is clear that marriage is a good thing. "Marriage is honourable," says God's Word (Heb. 13:4). But the question we need to look at is: How does a marriage become what it should be, and function in the way God designed and desires? Here are

To see the full article, click on Christian Marriage Preparation.



Life Out of Death

The scenes from the Middle East appearing on our television screens are repeatedly horrific and sickening. Soldiers firing on one another, and at civilians. Children with hate-filled faces hurling rocks and shouting defiance. Men and women weeping over the slain. Destruction, blood, and death. It is appalling. Because of that, the Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem during some years have been subdued, and attendance restricted. The site of a famous birth has become a scene of danger and of carnage.

It has not always been that way as, year by year, tourists have flocked to the town to commemorate Christ's birth. In 1865, a pastor named Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) spent the season in the Holy Land. While there, he attended the Christmas Eve service in the Church of the Nativity, believed to be built over the site of Jesus' birth. The quiet reverence of that sacred time made a deep impression on Brooks. And that striking difference, between a peaceful Bethlehem and today's bloody battleground, might well cause us to ponder the broader contrast between life and death.

It is a contrast that is central to the Christian gospel. Why does the cross, an instrument of cruelty and death, decorate our churches, and often find use as a personal ornament? For many it is because there God reached down to save lost and fallen mankind. "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us....God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (I Jn. 3:16; 4:9). Calvary, the "Place of a Skull" (Jn. 19:17) became the arena where eternal life was purchased by the blood of Christ. There is life out of death.

Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) believed that, and taught it in his church. He was known in his day as the "Prince of the Pulpit." One of America's greatest preachers, his sermons are still...

To see the full article, click on O Little Town of Bethlehem.


"Joy to the World Cottrill"

The other day, as a little project, I decided to find out how many times the Bible talks about the subject of "joy." With the help of a computer, I traced the various words found in our English Bibles--joy, rejoicing, gladness, delight, and so on. Such terms are used over 700 times! Not unexpectedly, the book of Psalms accounts for many occurrences. Praise and celebration are a dominant theme of the book.

Nearly three centuries ago, Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote a joyful paraphrase of Psalm 98 that he called "The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom." We know it as the carol, "Joy to the World." Though it is traditionally sung at the Christmas season, the psalm concerns Christ's second coming, when He will return to set up His earthly reign.

The psalm calls upon all nature to rejoice at the prospect. "Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises....Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity" (Ps. 98:4, 8-9).

For the Christian, Christ's coming and return are certainly cause for rejoicing--especially as we see the way things are going in this old world. But the subject most often associated with joy, again in the book of Psalms, is God's salvation--and by extension, rejoicing in God Himself for what He has done in saving us. That is how the joy at the Christ's coming is experienced at a personal level. A few examples will suffice.

"Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!'" (Ps. 40:16). "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you...

To see the full article, click on Joy to the World (2).


The Christmas season will soon be upon us. Here are two other articles of interest for you check out.

The Actual Date of Christ's Birth

What Was the Bethlehem Star?

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