Christmas 2019 in America

The shepherds to whom the angels appeared that night near Bethlehem were carrying the same weight of misery that we as modern Americans are carrying.  Did you ever wonder who they were and why they were gifted with the greatest angelic light show the world had ever seen?

That question is more important than you may realize, because their story is our story.  Their situation is our situation. We share a common threat and a common enemy.  The terror that stalked their night is the very one that preys on Americans today.

The leaders of Israel had taken the Word of God and had replaced it with the traditions of men—what we now call ‘political correctness.’

Every line between right and wrong had been blurred in order to keep them in power. They used guilt to extract money and to help them maintain their control over the people. Our 21st Century Pharisees use boycotts, cancel culture, and shame anyone who doesn’t use the right pronoun, or who doesn’t share their political faith.

In the first century, Israel’s national debt mortgaged their future to a foreign power, Rome. For them it was Rome, for us it is China.

Caesar Augustus was their globalist threat—a threat that was absorbing their sacred values, freedom, and the faith of their fathers. All of which is happening right now in America.

Why were these “certain poor shepherds” abiding in the fields? Because the convulsions in their culture had resulted in widespread robbery and murder. Even shepherds had to respond to the raised threat level and protect their sheep.

Why do we in this nation live in a perpetual state of high alert? Because lawlessness has increased, just as Jesus said it would. Our cultural obsession with deviance and drugs has resulted in chaos.

Why did God choose shepherds, those who were considered the lowest of the low in Jewish society? I believe it was because they were utterly believable. Our impression of shepherds is skewed. They were not ‘90 pound weaklings,’ they were battle hardened by life. Remember that David, the boy shepherd, had killed a lion and a bear.

When the shepherds told the story of seeing angelic messengers, the people of Bethlehem believed them because their first reaction was to say to themselves, “Why would men like these tell such a lie?”

Let’s reread the word of God:

Luke 2:8 Now, there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

What is the Christmas story trying to tell us in 2019? Let me answer a question with a question. What do you think those men were like after the angels visited them? The angels brought them into a reality that nullified their daily grind. The stage lights went up and suddenly they were aware of the ‘real world’—the spiritual realm, inhabited by angels.

God skipped the theologians, the priests, and even the king.  He sent angels to lowly shepherds. How embarrassing! None of those in power, not one professional student of the Law and the Prophets received this visitation.

Every year, Christmas returns with a vengeance. How puny are man’s efforts to destroy this annual celebration. This year, Christmas comes to pull the plug and drain our fears.

The angels turned their priorities upside down. 

We know the Bible says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you,” but in our daily grind it can seem to be an impossible task.  Moments before the angels appeared, these men were on high alert and were so protective of their herd that they would have gladly fought to the death to protect their flock.  Now, they are completely oblivious to the fate of the sheep they left behind, and are hurrying to see a Baby that had been laid in a feeding trough.

Christmas beckons us to see through the lies and the boasts of evil, and remember: this will all be over soon because, in Christ, we have already won.

In the words of the timeless carol, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, “Joyful, all ye nations, rise, join the triumph of the skies; with the angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Modern pulpits have ruined us by preaching a “how to” Christianity. It seems so right to get practical teaching on relationships, money, and handling emotions. And that is the very problem—we learn to “handle our lives” and “fix” ourselves. This is not wrong if it subsequently leads to a glorious encounter with God, but what we need most at this moment is the Glory of Christmas. Glory will make our soul gaze at God, and while we gaze and are distracted by His splendor, God Himself will fix the issues of our life.

The shepherds took off in a glory-fueled sprint to the manger. It was an act of total defiance against all their fears. And that, my friend, is how we celebrate the birth of Christ—in defiance of all of our fears, and in spite of all our circumstances.  We must leave behind our “sensible selves” and become like little children.

 

 

The Best Thing I Ever Heard About Christmas

“What is the best thing I ever heard about Christmas?  How can anyone adequately answer that question?  The best music ever written was written for Christmas.  The best art mankind ever produced pays homage to that holy night.”

 

The Best Thing I Ever Heard About Christmas

By Mario Murillo

What is the best thing I ever heard about Christmas?  How can anyone adequately answer that question?  The best music ever written was written for Christmas.  The best art mankind ever produced pays homage to that holy night.

It has moved writers…yea, it has seized them.  Billions of words have been consecrated to it.  When reason screams “don’t write anymore!” Christmas moves the foolhardy to write again—to find that fresh meaning—about the most repeated story in history.

The power of Christmas turns children into righteous grownups.  Then it turns righteous grownups back into children.

A testament to its glory is the cosmic grudge Satan bears against Christmas.  He never leaves it alone.  He must commercialize it.  In one instance—he grew so desperate to harm it—he had it banned in England through misguided ministers.  They thought it was carnal!  The London Times didn’t mention Christmas for 10 years!

Then in 1843, Charles Dickens wrote the story of Scrooge and Christmas was back.  Here—from the story—is one of the best descriptions of Christmas ever:

 “But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

However, no musician, no orator, and no artist, no writer (including Dickens), can touch the best thing I ever heard about Christmas.

The reason is simple.  The words I will refer to were forged in heaven by God Himself.  It was a note sent on ahead to explain what He meant by sending His son to earth.

“He tenderly crafted what should be said.  Then God did what every good writer must do—He made it concise.  He compressed an eternity of meaning into short, simple phrases.”

He tenderly crafted what should be said.  Then God did what every good writer must do—He made it concise.  He compressed an eternity of meaning into short, simple phrases.

Then he chose messengers whom He solemnly charged to speak these matchless words.  Relive with me that night when the best words ever spoken about Christmas were given to man.

Luke 2: 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, goodwill toward men!”

Christmas says “do not be afraid of the supernatural!”   The angels knew humans are terrified at the appearance of angels.  Fear not!  It is a normal part of the life of the righteous to see signs and wonders.

Don’t be afraid of needing miracles.  Don’t be startled by the way God answers your prayers.

Don’t let the package fool you.  Don’t let the fierceness of evil discourage you.  The mission will not be thwarted.

Not only is the supernatural normal—it is good news!  When the Holy Spirit begins to act in a sedate church, the pastor should recognize that it is not an emotional thing—not a heretical thing—but a glorious thing.  It is a takeover that will push the work of God forward.  Miracles are not a menace.  They are the perfect solution.

This will be to all people.  Christmas will not stop until it has achieved its goal.  Nothing can stop the march of the Son of God.  Don’t let the package fool you.  Don’t let the fierceness of evil discourage you.  The mission will not be thwarted.  The Kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.  And He shall reign forever and ever.

“Christmas has never been convenient.  It never asks for an appointment.  It barges in and pulls you into the dance.  It grabs you by the soul and sets it to singing.” 

This child is the perfect gift from God to you.  God has given you His best.  He has come because of your need.   Here is the absolute answer to mankind’s curse.  This cure has no side effects.  This solution does not miss the mark.  It is for you from someone who totally knows you.

Break out in Joy! Use joy as a weapon. Use joy for renewed strength.  Let joy do its job.  Don’t restrain joy because of the evil around you.  Release joy because of the evil around you.

Christmas has never been convenient.  It never asks for an appointment.  It barges in and pulls you into the dance.  It grabs you by the soul and sets it to singing.  It is not that you can’t fight Christmas…it’s that you shouldn’t!  That is the best thing I ever heard about Christmas.   Merry Christmas.

Now check out the video my son filmed of a Christmas Village I built

 

No, Christmas didn’t replace a pagan holiday

“One of the most persistent and pernicious myths is the idea that Christians stole the holiday from the pagans…”

 

Christmas has come back with a sweet vengeance.  People are saying Merry Christmas.  Stores once again use the word Christmas in their advertisement. We no longer languish under Obama’s horrid “holiday tree.”  We have, once again, a national Christmas Tree.

The main reason for all of this, of course, is President Donald Trump.  Yes, as difficult as it is for his enemies to digest, he has added Christmas to his growing list of victories.

Nevertheless, there is still strange resistance to Christmas.  Many love to rewrite history and accuse Christmas of originating from paganism.  This fake news about Christmas is also held by an unlikely source: legalistic Christians.

Yes, it’s true…a lingering religious spirit hampers many believers from rejoicing at this time of year.  They believe Christmas was appropriated from pagans.

That is why in this blog I am going to quote rather generously from an article by Jeremy Lott that nails the origin of Christmas and why you should lose the bah humbug and join the triumph of the skies.  -Mario Murillo

No, Christmas didn’t replace a pagan holiday

jeremy

, Rare Contributor

In the endless back-and-forth about the true meaning of Christmas or the War on Christmas or whatever we’re calling it this year, one of the most persistent and pernicious myths is the idea that Christians stole the holiday from the pagans.

Chastising conservative Christians in the Sacramento Bee, former talk show host Bruce Maiman cited the “fact” that “Christmas occurs on a pagan feast day, Saturnalia,” and alleges that “the earliest Christians deliberately moved the birth of Jesus to December 25, making it easier to sell Christianity to the Romans.”

The only problem with this criticism is that it doesn’t make one lick of historical sense.

Saturnalia was celebrated not on December 25 but on December 17 through 23. December 25 was during the throbbing “Oh please kill me” dry-out period between Saturnalia and New Year’s. It was thus a horrible time for sermons or celebrations – and Christmas was always a mix of both.

If you want to understand the calendaring of Christmas, look not to Rome but to Bethlehem – or, more broadly, to Judaism. The Talmud records a tradition that all especially righteous men die on the day of their conception. This figured greatly in how the church father Hippolytus figured Christ’s birth.

The accepted day of Jesus death was March 25 and so, writes religion know-it-all Michael Voll in Cracked, “Jesus’s conception must have also taken place on March 25th. Then basic biology tells us that nine months after conception comes the birth: December 25th.”

As for the very minor pagan festival of Sol Invictus, which people sometimes throw out when you shoot Saturnalia down, Cracked concedes that it did take place on December 25, but there’s an embarrassing rub. Turns out it “wasn’t created in until A.D. 274 (well after Hippolytus did his hump-math) by the Roman Emperor Aurelian.”

According to Voll, this late date for the smallish festival in fact raises the “good possibility that Sol Invictus was created to provide a pagan alternative to the Christian celebration, rather than the other way around. So hey, there you go, Christians: Go find that hippie neighbor and give him a nice, long lecture about stealing your dang holiday.”

Or perhaps, in the spirit of the day, you could just say “Merry Christmas” – and forward him this article.

No, Christmas didn’t take the place of a pagan holiday

No, Christmas didn’t replace a pagan holiday

jeremy

, Rare Contributor

In the endless back-and-forth about the true meaning of Christmas or the War on Christmas or whatever we’re calling it this year, one of the most persistent and pernicious myths is the idea that Christians stole the holiday from the pagans.

Chastising conservative Christians in the Sacramento Bee, former talk show host Bruce Maiman cited the “fact” that “Christmas occurs on a pagan feast day, Saturnalia,” and alleges that “the earliest Christians deliberately moved the birth of Jesus to December 25, making it easier to sell Christianity to the Romans.”

The only problem with this criticism is that it doesn’t make one lick of historical sense.

Saturnalia was celebrated not on December 25 but on December 17 through 23. December 25 was during the throbbing “Oh please kill me” dry-out period between Saturnalia and New Year’s. It was thus a horrible time for sermons or celebrations – and Christmas was always a mix of both.

If you want to understand the calendaring of Christmas, look not to Rome but to Bethlehem – or, more broadly, to Judaism. The Talmud records a tradition that all especially righteous men die on the day of their conception. This figured greatly in how the church father Hippolytus figured Christ’s birth.

The accepted day of Jesus death was March 25 and so, writes religion know-it-all Michael Voll in Cracked, “Jesus’s conception must have also taken place on March 25th. Then basic biology tells us that nine months after conception comes the birth: December 25th.”

As for the very minor pagan festival of Sol Invictus, which people sometimes throw out when you shoot Saturnalia down, Cracked concedes that it did take place on December 25, but there’s an embarrassing rub. Turns out it “wasn’t created in until A.D. 274 (well after Hippolytus did his hump-math) by the Roman Emperor Aurelian.”

According to Voll, this late date for the smallish festival in fact raises the “good possibility that Sol Invictus was created to provide a pagan alternative to the Christian celebration, rather than the other way around. So hey, there you go, Christians: Go find that hippie neighbor and give him a nice, long lecture about stealing your dang holiday.”

Or perhaps, in the spirit of the day, you could just say “Merry Christmas” – and forward him this article.

The Best Christmas Quotes in the World.

christmas insert

 

The asteroid did not hit Washington D.C. as the Mayans promised.   So, as a consolation and a break from all of the insanity I  humbly and confidently present to you the best Christmas quotes in the world.  And I dare you to disagree!  (Or to add more of your own!)

  Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it.  Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it.  ~Richard Lamm

Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.  ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby.

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank.  People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’  or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!’  ~Dave Barry, “Christmas Shopping:  A Survivor’s Guide”

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.  ~Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.  ~Carol Nelson

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  ~Roy L. Smith

Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.  ~W.J. Cameron

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.  ~Burton Hillis

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!  ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries.  ~W.J. Cameron

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.  In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.  ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

Isn’t it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for – I don’t know what exactly, but it’s something that you don’t mind so much not having at other times.  ~Kate L. Bosher

Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.  Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.  ~Francis C. Farley

Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age.  ~Carrie Latet

G. K. Chesterton

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? – G. K. Chesterton

 I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph. – Shirley Temple

The only blind person at Christmas time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.- Helen Keller

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’. Bing Crosby

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.- Dave Barry

“Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”  ― Ronald Reagan

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” ― Sigrid Undset

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ― Andy Rooney

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” ― Jay Leno

“Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.

“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”

― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Part Two: Christmas was designed to destroy our fears.

Now we continue with the last two kinds of fear that Christmas is designed to destroy.

The fear that you are helpless: Luke 1:29-33 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.   He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.   And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary’s fear of the future was justified.  She seemed trapped in a cruel drama.  She felt the crushing blow of forces she could not control.  We can see ourselves in it right now. There are a million new ways for modern life to make us feel helpless.   Right now we face the specter of government out of control.  There are only two ways left to see life today. It is either a cruel joke or it is a plan that will bulldoze whatever boulders and fallen trees that try to block our path. Here is how we can relate to her fear.  The first is that we feel that our government has turned against us.  The obscene greed of CEO’s plundered Wall Street and our retirement accounts with it and our leaders turned a blind eye to it.

This is what Mary and Joseph felt when Caesar Augustus’ law forced them to return to Bethlehem to pay taxes. This was not favor this was tyranny!  Yet a closer look reveals that government edicts must surrender to divine providence.  Prophecy trumps policy!  This was not a case of Mary being forced to go to Bethlehem but of Caesar being manipulated into writing a law that would fulfill the words of Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me, The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

God holds the strings not government.  He sets one up and takes another down.  The favored ones live on a plane of protection that is not known to mortal man.  Everything that comes at you must come through divine permission…that is favor!  Favor is a sense of peace that God is in control, not in a distant passive way but in an aggressive and immediate way that works to our advantage and for our good.  Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

 The fear of interrupting your schedule to celebrate: Luke 2: 8 “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

The story of the shepherds is a story of men out on the job, taut with tension, facing the threats of poachers, Romans and wild animals. They were watching their flocks knowing at any moment they might lose their livelihood.  Many of you can feel the drain of the long hours you must work.  Money pressures the keep us running.  We dare not stop lest we fall hopelessly behind.   The very idea of taking time out to celebrate can strike fear in our heart.

But, you also know that there is a deeper voice calling.  Here is what you need to see: THIS IS CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION!  There is nothing that the enemy wants to steal more from you than celebration.  It is the goal of the devil to make stop rejoicing.  There is a critical difference between joy and rejoicing.  Joy is the emotion of victory, rejoicing is the victory party.  As we said at the beginning of this letter, Christmas is an interruption.  The message of the angel was simple: “you have to go and celebrate. Go! We will watch the sheep.”

Jesus Himself modeled this truth for us when He wanted to celebrate the last supper.  The disciples had no idea how to accommodate Him.  After all they were in hiding because of threats on Jesus.  They thought, “Can we risk such rejoicing in this dark time and even if we wanted to how can we do it?  The Lord simply said “go to this address and tell this man we need his upstairs banquet room and he will give it to you.”  Bingo!   They had a party hall.

If you take the time to rejoice this Christmas, God will not only provide the party, He will give you an abiding peace and joy you will throughout your life.  After Christmas you must reenter the theater of the absurd and see the rest of the play, but so what.  Now you know better.  Now you know what the caroler meant when he wrote: “Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies!”

 

 

How Christmas was designed to destroy fear.

Christmas is designed to destroy our fears.

 Imagine people gripped with panic and trembling at what might happen next.  Frantically, they seek ways to cope with the avalanche of terror.  Now there is the baleful knock of the wolf at the door!   The creature outside is the future, howling destruction!  Then just as suddenly, the house lights go up to reveal that this night terror is but a play.  Spontaneously, the audience and the cast retire to the grand lobby of the theater.  There they find a sumptuous feast awaiting them!   Celebration breaks out.   Laughter replaces weeping. Fond memories swallow fearful expectations.  The best music ever reawakens the innocence of childhood.  The delightful memory of simpler times overtakes them.  Aromas they have missed all year waft over them from the kitchen.  Silver bells ring out the call to rejoice; forget bills, aches, pains, threats and past hurts!  This is Christmas.  Everything is right with the world.

 No one wants to leave the grand lobby to face the second act, however, they all must.  The cast will return to the stage and the audience will resume its place in the hard demands of everyday life and the din of modern times.  This time however, they know better. They return with a deep sense that the life they once feared is a temporary reality.  They carry in their soul the great hope that one day soon the Lion is coming to finish off the wolf and the house lights will stay up and of His reign there will be no end.

 It is Christmas 2012 and not since October of 1929 have Americans felt this kind of fear.  This fear has spilled over to the Church as saint and sinner alike are cutting back on everything in anticipation of even more severe times ahead.  Many churches have let talented staff go and have halted vital services seeking to be wise with their dwindling resources.

In the face of such setbacks how should we celebrate Christmas this year?  Is a subdued, cut rate celebration is in order?  NEVER!  That kind of Christmas is way out of order.  We are not saying that you should load up your credit card and deal with the shock next year.  Nor are we prescribing a Disneyland denial.   Instead, we want a revelation of Christmas to overwhelm all of your fears.

December 25th is by definition a defiant holiday, a divine interrupter of worry and dread.

From the moment that the star appeared, a glorious triumph of the skies ensued and it interrupts again each year at this time.  (Before we go on, we must let you know how much we owe to my father in Christ, Ralph Wilkerson for the revelation that you are about to read.  Thanks Dad, for showing us the power of the Christmas.)

The Nativity is too big a miracle to adequately cover in any letter.   Instead, we want to focus on four amazing encounters with angels that prove Christmas is designed to destroy fear!  In fact, the Angels greeted each of the four main characters in the Christmas story with the very same greeting: FEAR NOT!  There is no doubt that fear was their primary target. When these heavenly visitors found each chosen vessel they confronted that person’s specific anxiety.  Then they instructed them to act against the grain of their dread and worry.   There were four different kinds of fear that the angel of the Lord attacked.  These also happen to be the fears that we facing now.   So, sit with us now.  Find yourself in the Christmas story and let an Angel touch your spirit.

The fear that God does not answer prayer!  Luke 1:1114 “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.

We are bombarded with images of dread.  So much of that we have taken for granted has vanished.  The things we counted on to help us climb out of debt are proving to be brittle handrails.  CEO’s have ravaged companies and destroyed the retirement of millions.  Politicians have lied and lied to cover their lies.  Both Republican and Democratic leaders look utterly incompetent to handle crisis at home and abroad.  Everywhere we look, we see another broken promise.  No wonder the devil tempts us to wonder if prayer itself will also fail!  We may ask “does God hear my cry? Has He forgotten the promises He made to me?  Will I find surpassing peace, tangible breakthroughs and victory over my threats if I keep on asking, seeking and knocking?”

If ever there was a poster child for this condition it was Zacharias the priest.  Luke chapter one shows us that he walked in integrity.   However, the cold, cruel world created by Roman occupation and the wicked compromise of his fellow ministers had hardened him with unbelief.  His acts of worship in the temple once drew deep reverence, expectation and wonder.  Now they were the perfunctory acts of a burned out man.  Even his prayer for the Messiah to come and deliver Israel was reduced to rote.  There is nothing more heart-rending to witness than a child of God mumbling catatonic prayers in quiet despair.

The warrior angel gloriously startled him to jolt him out of fear!  What an eloquent rebuke!  “Hey!  Wake up, God heard you, He never forgot!  I am here to set you back on course and to fulfill the deepest desire of your heart.  You are going to have great joy after all!”

The fear that you must put away your dream: Matthew 1:19-24 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 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. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife.

Joseph was an honorable man and he feared what society would do to the woman he loved.   Right now, Americans are afraid of what this crisis will do to the ones they love.  In a time when so many things seemed to have gone up in smoke it seems right to hunker down and brace ourselves for years of shortages.  Whether it is global warming or a moral cooling the logic of the moment seems to be to expect the worse.   He had night terrors voices that ran worst case scenarios in his mind.

Do you really want to prescribe a future of bleak limits to your children?   Everyone needs to know that their child will be safe on the way to school and on into their future.   However, children should not be warned to seek a career they can “fall back on.” They should be inspired to get a God given dream that they can throw their hearts into!   That kind of dream is so big that the facts don’t count and the flood of immorality will never stop it.

Not only this, but our children need to see us pursuing our dream.  We must remember that these hard times will not last but our dream will last.

It broke Joseph’s heart to think that he had to hide the woman he loved in order to save her.  While he was fretting over all of this the angel’s message loud and clear, “Do not fear current conditions. Why?  It was all summed up in this explosive statement: “what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”  Since your dream is of the Holy Spirit nothing can stop it!  Paul said “He that began a good work in you will complete it to the day of Jesus Christ.”

 Check back for Part Two Later Today!