I Believe in one God, the Triune GOD, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
God has a special place for the nation Israel. The Church has not replaced Israel. The Church is the Bride of Christ. This is what Paul wrote about his own kinsmen in chapter 9 of Romans
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all,blessed forever. Amen.
And then he shares this great good news, that eventually the nation Israel will be restored both physically and spiritually.
The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation: Romans 11:25-29
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
We get excited about getting together as a family during Christmas. it can be both exciting and frustrating time because on one hand you are excited about the family members or relatives visiting you but at the same time it can cause lots of anxiety. You have to figure out all the details like how long the guest will stay, where you are going to put all the guests and then cooking for all the guests etc etc. The list goes on. Some don’t invite anyone because it is a burden and lots of work and preparation. Some don’t have desire to invite. Some don’t care about others. Some wants to keep it between them and their family. Its just a family time.
Let me give you my commentary on Luke Chapter 2. Joseph and Mary had to go back to Bethlehem because of the decree of Emperor. I think they were hoping to see their family members and relatives and friends in the town of Bethlehem after a long time. I am guessing there may be other family members of Joseph who may be visiting the town for the same reason of getting registered and be counted in the census. It was Joseph’s home town. There were lots of expectations of getting together with their other relatives and friends.
“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, ..” Luke 2:4
But they were shocked and heart-broken! Joseph and Mary could not find any relative or family member or even a friend who could invite them into their home! This is how Jesus and Mary and Joseph were treated by their home town friends and relatives. No one wanted to invite them into their home. (plagued by Bethlehem syndrome! ) This was a reception and hospitality JESUS received 2000 years ago at His First Coming.
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
So they have to spent their time with the cattle. Do you have a place for JESUS in your celebration? Or you have kept him outside because you are too busy in your celebrations.
[Here is a practical lesson from the story of Christmas. Don’t be a #Bethlehemite!(see footnote) So often we think Christmas is all about me and my family. On the contrary, I would suggest that its a time when you can open your home and heart for people. Its an opportunity to share your love and your Savior with the people. There are many who are neglected , ignored or overlooked during the Christmas time because of bitter feelings, unforgiving hearts and hatred for particular people group or persons. Make a list of your Guests for this Christmas. In your list include orphans, single moms/ dads, widows, singles, elderly people or strangers! (new person in your church, in your neighborhood)] Remember you don’t need a big house but a big heart full of Christ’ love!
Even today, we see JESUS does not get the reception, people have kept Jesus out and replaced him with worldly traditions. Celebrate Christmas with JESUS CHRIST and with Share Him with those who do not know the real reason of Christmas. Christmas is all about JESUS. Invite HIM into your heart and home today.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20
JESUS is also preparing a place for you. At His Second Coming, He will take you to be with Him.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3
(#Bethlehemite is one who does not show or provide hospitality)
We at our home have started playing Christmas songs. There is something about Christmas time and music. It feels you with excitement and joy. I have always wondered what was it likeon that night while shepherds were in the field, there shone around them glory of the Lord and the angel shared good news of Jesus birth. Later we read there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying ( singing),
“ Glory of God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
I believe this was one of the most melodious music fell into the ears of Shepherd. Shepherds in the middle-east/ east have always played music (pipe or flute )or sang songs while grazing flocks. It must have been a treat for weary shepherds to hear heavenly music with the message of hope and joy.
Think about the message of the music and songs. Share and sing Christmas songs/hymns of hope, joy and peace with your family, friends, and even with foes! People need to hear music of hope and joy in the midst of fear and despair.
At Jesus’ Second coming, we know one of the musical instruments that will be sounded. This will be a very different sound/music.
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” I Thessalonians 4:16
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Mathew 24:30-31
Enjoy your Christmas music and Anticipate the trumpet sound at any moment. Christ is coming soon! And then we will be singing a new song and play new music (Revelation 5:9-14 ) only if we have truly accepted the message of angels’s Christmas music as did the shepherds.
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
Some of you have already put your Christmas lights up and some of you are going to put up soon. Christmas time is a joyous time and it seems everywhere you go to- like shops, malls, streets and houses in your neighborhood are all glittering and shining with the lights.
When Christ was born, there was a Star shining in the east in the night. Wise men from the east came, .. and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Mathew 2:2. There was not only a Star that was shining, but Jesus who was the Light Himself came to call us out of the darkness into His marvelous Light. Are you walking in the light? Paul was changed forever when he was confronted with the Light- Jesus Christ on the way to Damscus. (Read Acts 9) “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5
At His Second Coming, it will again a night but without a light or a star, it will be a dark night. “….those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Mathew 24 :29-30.
Do you have the light? Jesus said ” I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”. Its not about the lights on the house but the light in the heart !
Are you expecting a gift?
Christmas is a time when people give gifts or receive gifts. The shepherds were told that you will find your gift wrapped in swaddling cloths. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
The Word of God encourages us to receive Christ Jesus who is God’s indescribable gift for mankind! ( II Cor 9:15) “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: ” John 1:12
There are also gifts stored for those who are looking for His Second Coming! “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:8