Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:10, 11
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I am sure many people say the same. It is a time of festive joy that seems almost palpable at times. Even the normally grumpy are a bit tempered in their grumpyness. But, rather than just the festive joy, it is the reason why there is joy is what makes it my favorite. Yes, at times all the “festivness” can seem a bit overwhelming. It is in those times I must stop and remember why there can be joy at all. It is not the lights, parties, presents, or even family, it is Christ. Even if there were no festivities, there would be Christmas because, Christmas is Christ. He came, and He came for me!

Perhaps what excites me most is the fact of His coming just as it is written in the word. The angel, the shepherds, the star, the wise man, all of it. This Christmas I would like to share with you a little story I wrote some time ago about the visit of the angels to the shepherds. While it is a work of fiction, I have followed the Scriptures as well as facts of history and traditional beliefs. I trust you will find it encouraging this season. Merry Christmas!

The Castle of Bethlehem

I was with Baba, my father, that night. It had been a long day. Baba was a shepherd. But not any shepherd, he was a shepherd for the sheep that would one day be sent to the temple for sacrifice. Baba was a good shepherd, in many ways he was considered the lead shepherd for the temple flocks. All the others looked to him for leadership and teaching the ways of a shepherd. That is why I was with him that night. I had just gone through bar mitzpha and was now to learn my way as a man. The day had begun with great excitement. I would spend the next several weeks with Baba in the field learning to watch the sheep. This would be the most time spent with my father in a long time. As a temple shepherd he was almost never home, and though he cared for temple sheep he was under a rabbinical ban since he could hardly ever go to the temple for services.

It was the 9th of Tebheth and so a fast day, for the Rabbi’s believed the Messiah would come on this day, though they had said such for a long time. But Baba loved Jehovah and the promise of His coming and so we fasted. This made the day even longer. With the cold wind and wandering sheep, the hunger in my belly had grown as large as the tiredness in my limbs. Once the sun was down I was so glad to finally have some food and lay upon my rough bed and sleep.

It seemed as only minutes had passed, though it had been many hours since we had our dinner. suddenly Baba was shaking me to awake and see. It should have been dark but all around was bathed in bright light from the sky. It was then I heard him; Fear Not! By now, Baba was standing motionless with an uplifted face. I couldn’t help but stand beside him, unmoving and enraptured by what we saw before us; an angelic being shrouded in what could only be a heavenly glory. He spoke;

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)

As soon as he finished the entire night sky around the Migdal Edar was enthroned with a host of angels. Together they spoke in unison giving praise to Jehovah.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14)

I heard every word clear as if they were talking just to me within arm’s reach. And yet, as they spoke it was as if a pure and heavenly song was coursing through my very being. And then they were gone!

Baba spoke, “David, we must go.”

“Where Baba?” I replied.

“To Bethlehem. We must see this child. He is the Messiah. And Jehovah has announced to us, of all people, His birth. We dare not ignore such an invitation!”

“Yes, Baba.” Though I so wanted to be a man, I couldn’t help but take my father’s hand in mine as he struck out for the village of Bethlehem a few miles off. The other shepherds were following us. All of them!

It seemed to take us only minutes to walk those few miles to the village. It was almost as Baba knew exactly where to go. We came to the inn at the edge of the village. My uncle Abram owned this inn. When we brought the sheep for the temple to town it was in his stable that we kept them. Oddly this stable was filled with light this night. There was a young couple there. Candles were burning brightly while the cattle lowed softly.

There He was, just as the angel said. Wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger. The man kneeling close looked up as we approached. He appeared startled that all of us were there. “Yes,” he said, “can I help you?”

“May we see Him?” Baba replied.

The man just stared at first with a question in his eyes. “How did you know a baby boy was here?”

“The Angel told us.”

“An angel?”

“Yes. Just as we have found him. May we look into His eyes?”

At first he was hesitant, but then, “Yes, yes, you may come and see.”

We came to look. Each of us. One by one. A wonder began to fill my mind and heart. As we left, Baba began to chuckle.

“What are you laughing at Baba?” I asked.

“I heard today in the market some wise man came to King Herod looking for the new-born king. They went to the wrong castle. They should have come here to the castle of Bethlehem. For where the king is, that is the castle! Come, David. We must tell everyone that the Messiah has come.”

“Everyone, Baba?”

“Yes, for that is who He has come for!”

I have spent the rest of my life telling everyone I meet the story of that night. For He came for me and…

I heard the angels,

I saw the glory,

I viewed the Messiah!

Isaiah 45:17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

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Published in: on December 25, 2018 at 12:06 AM  Leave a Comment  
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A Secure Treasure

Halloween is past and Thanksgiving is soon approaching. Which means Christmas decorations are already up in certain places and the “gift giving” season is here. Of course the greatest gift ever given was that of the Lord Jesus, John 3:16. In the Scriptures He is referred to as the unspeakable gift, 2 Corinthians 9:15. God is the great gift giver. In fact Scripture tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift if from above and comets down from the Father of lights, with whole is no variable ness, neither shadow of turning.

Apart from the gift of Himself, perhaps the greatest gift is that of His word. You might even make a corrallary between them as the Lord Himself exalts His word above His own name, Ps. 138:2. Such a gift is obviously precious due to its relationship to God Himself. But also because our very salvation is dependent upon our access to it, 2Tim. 3:15. If our very salvation is routed in the truth of His word then we are dependent upon Him to preserve His word. It remains a perplexing befuddlement that some Christians struggle with the simple and obvious truth of the preservation of the Scriptures.

Not only is this truth clearly proclaimed in various passages such as Ps. 119:89, Matt. 5:18; 25:35; But is also implied in many other places. For instance, take note of Deuteronomy 17:18.

Deuteronomy 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:

In the early days of the Israeli nation, even before there was a king. God gave guidelines for that future king to live and rule by, His word. The king was to have his own personal copy. He would be quite familiar with the contents of God’s word as he personally hand copied it. Here is a great practice for each Christian to follow, possessing your own copy of God’s word that you are intimately familiar with.

Did you notice though that the king’s copy wasn’t spurious, or based on his emotions or interpretations. It was based upon a sure and confident standard, …that which is before the priests the Levites. This is an obvious indication that God intended to ensure that His word would not be lost. Certainly man will be unfaithful and forget God’s truth but God would be faithful. Many years later God’s word was found by forgetful men. Not hidden in a cave in a mountain, not in the ambiguous words of a vision, but right where it was supposed to be, in the temple, 2Kings 22:8.

This “gift-giving” season, don’t forget to thank the Lord for this secure treasure, His Word!

Published in: on November 14, 2018 at 10:02 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Merry Christmas

Hebrews 1:1-3
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Christmas, many things to many people. To some a time of family and fun, to others stress and tension. But to those redeemed by the Saviour, a time to reflect on the precious truth that God became a man. Not just a human manifestation of deity, but rather, deity incarnate in the flesh of the most vulnerable of humans, an infant. No wonder Paul said, “And without controversy greatisthemysteryof godliness: (1Tim. 3:16).”

Yes, a mystery, for how could God become flesh? A mystery and a wonder! As the angel said to the shepherds, “…good tidings of great joy.” It is almost universal around the world that this is a time to celebrate the coming of Jesus. Of course there are abuses and skeptics, but should Bible believing people be deterred in the joy of Christ’s coming because of unbelief? No! As J. Sidlow Baxter says in his devotional, Awake My Heart, “However much Christmas may be abused by godless worldlings  it brings home to Christian hearts around the globe, all at the same time, that wonderful even which is the first of all strictly Christian facts, the incarnation of the Divine Son.”

Think of it, Christians around the globe all thinking of the Saviour at the same season. No wonder there is a special sense at this time of year. Or that the devil and his crowd want to imitate and corrupt such an exaltation of Jesus Christ.

More distressing than the godless worldlings is the cynical Christians who seem to delight in attacking the Christmas story. Can we not simply take the Bible at face value. He came just like He said. And, He came of us. Rather than undermine the story of His birth with endless and needless questions about which day, what season, when the wise men arrived: can’t we simply rejoice in that Christ came? A simple study of the Scriptures, as well as a review of history and astronomical events leads not to a truncated story, but a greater confidence in my Bible and joy at His birth. If you are interested in my findings, I would be delighted to send you a copy of my booklet The Day He Came. At the very least let us rejoice and share the news of the Saviour’s birth with all who will hear, just like the shepherds did!

Merry Christmas!

Published in: on December 27, 2017 at 12:20 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Merry Christmas

I trust that you had a wonderful day with your family and loved ones celebrating the birth of the Saviour. Oh, I know that there are those who insist that it certainly couldn’t have happened on this day. Others dismiss the day altogether due to the commercialization of Christ’s birth. Or, because in an ever widening circle, there seems to be no mention of Christ at all. But, was that not how it was on the day that Christ was born? The people seemed ignorant of his coming, the religious ruled were indifferent of it and to Herod it was only an irritant to be dealt with. The world has never been overly receptive to our Saviour. Why should I expect them to give Him proper admiration now?
Some year ago I wrote a little booklet concerning the day He came. As I approach the end of this day that we set aside for that purpose, I would like to share a small portion of it. The booklet was entitled “The Day He Came.” If you would like I would be glad to send you a complementary copy. And now the excerpt:

The Promise

Over 2700 years ago, there was a king who was in a rather precarious position. His nation was being threatened by two larger nations that were in alliance against him. Syria and Israel (the northern ten tribes of the descendants of Abraham) had joined forces against Judah (the southern two tribes of the descendants of Abraham). Ahaz, the current king of Judah, is promised deliverance from them, and God offers to give him a sign to validate this promise. However, Ahaz is a wicked king and not a believer of Jehovah. In an act of false piety he refuses to ask for a sign. As a rebuke, God gave the promise of a sign of His choosing, the birth of a son, the birth of a king, by a virgin.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

This was not the first time God had made this promise. It began oh so long ago in the Garden of Eden when God promised to send the seed of the woman to crush the head of man’s greatest enemy, Lucifer himself. And there had been hints of it down through time by a revelation here, an appearance of God to various people and so forth. That had been so long ago, and, over time, promises are forgotten and man becomes dull to the truth of God.

But God never forgets. He always keeps His promises. God was the founder, controller, and fulfiller of all time. The promise was at hand. The fullness of time had come. That fullness was the day He came.

Galatians 4:4-5
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

The Story

A poor Jewish couple made their way to the city of Bethlehem. They had been traveling for three days. Nazareth was roughly 60 miles from Bethlehem, but the journey was longer on account of taking the long way around to bypass Samaria. Mary was quite far along in her pregnancy, and Joseph was thankful for the donkey. Even though it was old and a bit sway-backed, it was better than Mary having to walk all that way. Caesar had decreed earlier in the year that all the empire was to be taxed and pledge an oath of allegiance to him. The Roman Senate had bestowed upon him the title “Pater Patriae” and was requiring all the citizens to pledge allegiance to him. It was rumored that there had almost been a rebellion among the Pharisees in giving this allegiance. Herod the king was livid about it and had fined all of them (estimated at 6,000). Pheroras’s wife (Herod’s sister-in-law) had paid their fines to release them. There was always a great amount of intrigue about the palace and Herod’s family. All this hubbub was of no concern to Joseph and Mary. They were simple folk from Nazareth and had only been married for six months, he a simple carpenter and she a young maiden expecting her first born child.

It was fortunate for them that this Tebheth had had less than the normal rainfall, as the old Rabbis would say “Good is the year when Tebheth has no rain.” And good it was as so many were on their way to their ancestral homes for the census. While this increase in travelers made procuring lodging a bit of a difficulty, it did greatly cut down on the threat of bandits.

As they came into the valley surrounding Bethlehem, they were reminded of why this town was called the “house of bread.” The green of the olive trees mingled with the colorful blossoms of the almond and peach. The beauty of the valley was a welcome sight to these travelers. Evening was approaching as they entered the city. Bethlehem was buzzing with people. From all over, people had come to register for the census. Joseph could tell that Mary was exhausted and needed to rest. He went from house to house and all the inns, yet there was no room to be found this night. In desperation he came to the last available door to request lodging.
“I am sorry, we are all full; you will have to look elsewhere.” Joseph almost turned away, but then looked at the inn keeper pleadingly.
“Please sir, my wife is with child and her time is near. Is there no place where we may find shelter?” The inn keeper was about to turn them away with even more vigor until he saw Mary. She looked much like his own daughter, and of the same age. A thought flashed through his mind of how he would like his daughter to be treated in similar circumstances.
“Alright, but all I have is the stable behind the inn. The temple shepherds keep their lambs there when they come in from the field. Right now they are out by the Migdal Eder and will not be in for a few days. You may stay there until you can find more suitable accommodations.”
“Thank you, sir. May the Lord Jehovah greatly bless your generosity!”
“Yes, yes, yes. I will see how you are faring in the morning.”

Joseph led Mary to the stable and settled his wife as best he could amidst the typical items one would find in a stable. Mary soon fell asleep. As soon as the donkey was attended to, Joseph did likewise. It was late in the night when Mary woke him.
“Joseph, it is time. The child is coming!” In a short time, Joseph was holding a little boy in his arms. As he looked into his eyes, there was a feeling that filled his heart that he could not explain. All the events of the previous year were running through his mind: Zacharias the priest’s vision of the angel Gabriel, the appearance of the angel to Mary, the pain he felt when he heard that his betrothed was with child, the confusion of what to do, the words that the angel spoke to him. Now here he was holding the child Jesus in his arms.
“Sir, may we see the child?” Joseph was brought out of his thoughts with the coming of some shepherds. Without even thinking, he held the boy so that the shepherds could see him. They all fell to their knees and gave praise to God.
“How did you know that there was a child here?” Joseph asked the shepherds.
“The Lord sent an host of angels to give us word that the Messiah was born this very night and told us where to find him. Those directions led us to this very stable.” As fast as they had come the shepherds left singing and praising God for the child.
“Yes,” Joseph though to himself, “this is the Messiah. That is what the angel said…”

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Whatever your position concerning Christmas day and its observance, He came. He came for us. For that we can all be thankful for it certainly was “good news for all men.”

Published in: on December 26, 2015 at 1:00 AM  Comments (2)  
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