Category Archives: Christmas

-Iranian AG Church Raided on Christmas

Map of Iran

   (Image via Wikipedia)

An Assemblies of God church in Ahwaz, Iran was raided by authorities during Christmas services and everyone was arrested, detained, threatened, and interrogated including the children.

Most were eventually released except the senior Pastor Farhad and his family, plus several other leaders. This is a good time to remember them in your prayers.

The strange part is that this is one of the 70 ‘official’ churches in Iran that are supposed to be allowed to worship out in the open. Nevertheless an example was made of them on Christmas.

Perhaps the authorities were frustrated in their efforts to find some of the hundreds of house churches on Christmas and they took it out on a legal church instead.            *Top

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-Merry Christmas to All

English: Nativity scenes in Sanok

                       (Image via Wikipedia)

Merry Christmas to you and yours and may God truly bless you this Christmas Day.

 

The Real Christmas Story 

Last night before we tucked the Grandchildren in bed for a long winter’s night we gathered around the Tree and carried on our family Christmas Eve tradition reading about the ‘real’ Christmas story in the Bible.

You’ve probably seen a dozen or so ‘Christmas stories’ on TV in the last couple of weeks but the real Christmas story is found in Matthew (Matt. 1:18-2:18) and in Luke ( Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-40). However, Isaiah should never be ignored:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Matthew gives us the story largely from the perspective of Joseph, including the dreams that he had and his family genealogy. In this gospel the ‘Kingship’ of Jesus is the major topic. Starting with the Davidic Kingly genealogy through Joseph and the coming of the Magi (Wisemen) who are looking for the new king. Also King Herod’s reaction is in Matthew.

The events in Luke are given to us from Mary’s view. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the coming of the child. Mary’s genealogy is also given in Luke (Luke 3:23-38), she was also a descendant of David, but not in the ‘Kingly’ line. Chapter 2 begins with the Christmas story that everyone is familiar with:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

However, nothing explains the real reason for the season better than John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  -KJV

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-Remember to Pray for These Folks This Christmas

English: Baptistery Mural, Trinity Episcopal C...

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

This is a good time to remember our Iranian brothers and sisters in Christ. Iranian authorities are threatening to arrest any Christians that outwardly celebrate Christmas this year. We have posted in the past about the continuing revival going on in Iran. Like China, it is a house church movement that is increasing through dreams, visions, and healings.

We should also remember Christians in Egypt. The recent election indicates that radical Islamists will soon be running the country. Over 60% of the vote went to Muslim Brotherhood and the more radical Nour Party. Last year during the Coptic Christmas (Celebrated in January) celebration there were several attacks on the Christian community. This year more attacks are expected since the central government no longer even tries to protect the Christians.

Again this year, we should remember Christians in Iraq. The last several years there have been incidences of Churches, Christian businesses, and homes being attacked by radical Muslims during the Christmas season.

Also, the violence continues to rage against Christian communities in northern Nigeria. There seems to be no end in sight as Muslim mullahs continually incite Muslim ‘worshippers’ to attack Christians following Friday services. Literally there is at least one violent incident a week in that country.

In America, we are still blessed and far more fortunate than most of the Christians around the world. We might have to put up with atheists kicking our Nativity scenes out of City Hall and our children no longer being allowed to sing Christmas carols in school but we can go to sleep at night secure in our homes.

What we consider as persecution here is just a minor inconvenience. We are not facing life or death situations for our faith like many around the world. May God continue to bless us all this Christmas season and may we not forget to pray for “Peace and Goodwill” for our brothers and sisters around the world who are not as fortunate.             *Top

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-“5 Suggestions for Finding More Joy at Christmas”

image

And the angel said to them,

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"  -Luke 2:10-14

Here’s some great suggestions for finding real joy during the busy Christmas season from Ron Edmondson pastor at Grace Community Church, in Clarksville, Tennessee:  “5 Suggestions for Finding More Joy at Christmas”

Here are five suggestions to greater joy at Christmas:

Lower expectations of others – We shouldn’t hold others to expectation we set for them. People, even the best of people, will disappoint us.

Increase your investment in others – Something supernatural happens when we share with others. We are to give and extend grace, as it was given to us.

Examine your life/Address known sin – You can’t have joy w/a holy God if you are living contrary to His desires for your life

Change your perspective – Choosing to be greatly joyful is not based on circumstances, but comes by perspective.

Set your eyes on the prize – If you’re struggling to find joy in life, set your eyes on Jesus; the author and perfecter of your faith.

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-Putting Christ and Merry Back into the Christmas Season

English: Nativity scene on the Buenos Aires Me...

                   (Image via Wikipedia)

There seems to be far fewer attacks upon Christmas this year. As I go out into the stores I now see a variety of signs greeting me including ‘Merry Christmas’ most of the time. Some of the same stores only had the perfunctory ‘Happy Holidays’ on their signs last year.

Maybe some of the business administrators read the same poll I did that 70% of Americans prefer the ‘Merry Christmas’ greeting to ‘Happy Holidays’. Maybe some of the businesses in their haste to be ‘inclusive’ and not to offend a few now realize they were actually offending the many instead.

Some other polls that I have read find that between 85-92% of the country celebrates Christmas in some form or another.

Even for those who are not really believers, the Christmas season still brings the story of the birth of Jesus to the forefront for a few weeks out of the years at least. Though a cursory inventory of the shows on TV demonstrates a continuing trend towards the myth of Santa Claus and his reindeer and away from the true miracle of the season. For some the season should probably be called ‘Santa-mas’.

One disturbing thing I found over the weekend is that my grandchildren really do not know very many of the old traditional Christmas carols. They stopped singing them in schools so their exposure to traditional Christmas music is now limited to home and church and the car radio.

Over the weekend I came across President Obama’s message during the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Washington DC. I think it was one of the very few times I was actually proud of this President. He actually told the real Christmas story and framed his message around the real reason for the season.

This Christmas season is a time of economic difficulty for many. I know in our own family we will not be spending as much on gifts as we have in the past. Nevertheless, this Christmas will not be diminished in any way since we plan to emphasis the ‘merry’ and the ‘Christ’ during this season and reach out to others when we can.            *Top

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