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.
During Christmas we always go to see the lights in different places of our town. There are some houses where one can see nativity scenes displayed in the yards. I have noticed Joseph standing behind Mary. And they both are beholding the baby (Jesus) placed in the manger. Often after seeing that, my mind has always wandered to the time past and I had wondered about Joseph, who remained silent and never questioned. He kept doing whatever he was told to do and remained obedient and even remained righteous and pure in his relationship with Mary till the birth of Jesus. I believe he was still trying to make sense of all these things in his mind. It was beyond his comprehension! But Joseph remained submissive to the will of God. The nativity scene is a beautiful picture of two ordinary people who were willing to risk and give up their social standing. I am amazed and inspired by their willingness to be scrutinized and ridiculed by their friends and their community.
Remember Joseph was going to put her away secretly after he came to know that Mary is with child. Who told him? How did he come to know.? We do not know, but it seems it became evident after three months of pregnancy. It was obvious that few people came to know about Mary and the news reached to him. I believe when he heard the news, he was both shocked and heartbroken. He must be tormented by hundred of thoughts, things and questions in his mind after hearing this ridiculous bad news. But he remained calm under these circumstances. He must be asking, “Why all this happened to me?’ His dreams of being happily married to Mary shattered.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. “ Mathew 1:18-19
Joseph came to know about the pregnancy of Mary after three months because Mary went to her cousin’s place soon after she received the message from the Angel, Gabriel. Luke 1:56 He was thinking of what could have transpired in the three months while she was at her cousin’s place. He must deliberating what are his options and what is the best way to deal with this situation. He remained thoughtful and concerned about Mary and her future.
“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”. Mathew 1:20
“Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife.” Mathew 1:24
Again, this was not an easy thing for him. It was a shameful and sinful thing for a young woman to be impregnated before lawful marriage in that culture. The culture in which he was living, would have stoned Mary to death. Unlike today’s culture in the west, where hundreds of babies are born out of wedlock, but no one cares or dares to ask question to young people. Many don’t think it is a wrong thing or sin!
He found out that it was a God’s plan for him and Mary. The angel told him “don’t be afraid”. Joseph was willing to be submissive to the heavenly voice of the Angel. He must have told his parents, relatives and friends that he will not give up on Mary and will take her as his wife. He was going to do one big ridiculous thing which was unheard of in that culture. We do not know the Bible describes him, that “he was a just man”. There are handful men in the NT who are called “ just or righteous. He was the first “just man of New testament” we read about in Mathew 1:19. He did exactly what just man must be willing to do for the sake of Christ. He was willing to be ridiculed and scorned by his friends, family members and neighbors.
Are you willing to be ridiculed by your friends, relatives, and countrymen? Christmas is hijacked by postmodern culture. People don’t want to say “ Merry Christmas!” but “ Happy Holiday!” People want to sing “Santa Baby, ” “ twelve days of Christmas” Rudolf the red nose deer” etc.
- Please say “Merry Christmas” to everyone.
- Play Christmas Hymns and songs.
- Hang Star or a Cross in your window or in your yard.
- Make Christ known and be known for your faith.
Don’t be afraid, let the world ridicule you. Let them say whatever they want to say about you and your faith.
Be willing to be ridiculed this Christmas!
Peter forewarns Christians in his epistle that in the last days they will be mocked for their belief in Christ’s Second Coming!
“… knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4
Don’t be afraid! Be willing to be ridiculed for your Faith!! Don’t give up, Jesus is coming again soon!
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 !
We would like you to pray for our Church in HP, INDIA. The Church got started in 2008. Last Sunday during the worship service a group of Hindu Militants attacked our Church Pastor and the small congregation. They abused him and beat him up. They have asked him to leave the town, since he is living in a rented house. He has two little sons. They have threatened his landlord and asked his landlord to move him and his family out from the house.
Please pray for him and his family and the Church people. It is a very small group of 18-20 people. The authority of the town did not even care to help him nor did the police.
RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal are Hindu Militant groups. They have been persecuting and attacking Christians all over India. Even though these groups are not in majoritybut their population is growing and there are people who can be classified as silently excepting it or their conscious does not bother them. They have facists agenda: One group, one religion, one language. RSS is a Hindu terrorist group. Its believes that humanity has only one faith and one culture that is Hinduism. It has a very simple slogan
These groups have infiltrated the police force, government offices and other high offices of India. They have political entity called BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party). They believe India is for Hindus only. They have falsely accused Indian churches and pastors of converting people by giving money. No charges have ever been proved in any places. India government does not give any protection to Christians. More people have been killed or injured by these Hindu Militant groups than any other Militant groups in the last ten years. Extremist Hindu groups are offering rewards of money, food and alcohol to mobs to kill Christians and to destroy their homes in India, according to aid workers in the eastern state of Orissa.*
US and Great Britain must bar members of two radical groups widely linked to the worst anti-Christian violence witnessed in India since Partition from entering the country. Since these groups are funded by the sympathizers and well wishers living in UK and US and Hindu groups based in these two countries.
*The US-based head of an organisation that runs several orphanages in Orissa, one of India’s poorest regions, has claimed that Christian leaders are being targeted by Hindu militants and now carry a bounty on their heads. “The going price to kill a pastor is $250 US dollars,” Dr Faiz Rahman, the chairman of Good News India (GNI), said.*
*A spokesman for the All India Christian Council (AICC) said: “People are being offered rewards to kill, and to destroy churches and Christian properties.”*
(*excerpts taken from other sources)