Above All Remember These Things

Matthew 2:3, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

Dear Friend,

Today is Christmas day, so remember this:  Yes, we live in a world of explosive insecurity.  Yes, we live in a time where disaster comes without warning and destroys lives instantly.

America has finally become the generation with nothing to look forward to.  This is a time where people are melting down because of a crushing sense of helplessness and despair.  Some react with mindless panic and rage. They shoot and kill their loved ones and then turn the gun on themselves rather than face their losses.  Others are too frozen by fear and uncertainty to do anything.  Still others frantically try to numb their despair by plunging into addictions and perversions that prior generations never imagined.

How deep and widespread is this panic?  It is so pervasive that it has seeped into the hearts of God’s people.  Many in the church, including leaders, admit that they have developed destructive addictions trying to cope with anxiety.

This Christmas threatens to be a time of very little comfort and joy.  Many who love the Lord passionately will not even celebrate it this year!  If you are under attack, if you feel the devastating sense of helplessness, then it is time for you to remember one thing about this Christmas.

Christmas is not just the story of the most important birth in history; it is the proof that an invisible force guards the children of God with unstoppable, irresistible, compassionate protection. Christmas unfolds the masterstroke of God our Father against evil.  Let me explain!

He was the most anticipated person in history and yet His arrival fooled everyone. It requires skill from beyond our planet to sneak the Desire of all nations into our world unobserved with only a handful taking notice. God can fool anyone and He cannot be fooled by anyone.

 

How deep and widespread is this panic?  It is so pervasive that it has seeped into the hearts of God’s people.  Many in the church, including leaders, admit that they have developed destructive addictions trying to cope with anxiety.

This Christmas threatens to be a time of very little comfort and joy.  Many who love the Lord passionately will not even celebrate it this year!  If you are under attack, if you feel this devastating sense of helplessness, then it is time for you to remember one thing about this Christmas.

Christmas is not just the story of the most important birth in history; it is the proof that an invisible force guards the children of God with unstoppable, irresistible, compassionate protection. Christmas unfolds the masterstroke of God our Father against evil.  Let me explain!

He was the most anticipated person in history and yet His arrival fooled everyone. It requires skill from beyond our planet to sneak the Desire of all nations into our world unobserved with only a handful taking notice. God can fool anyone and He cannot be fooled by anyone.

The Jews believed that the arrival of the long awaited Messiah, the Son of God, would be with all the pomp and ceremony possible.  They expected to immediately lay crowns and scepters at his feet, and that the high and mighty princes of the world should have been his humble servants.  He came into the world, and the world knew Him not.  Hcame to his own, and His own received him not.

It was not as if his arrival was without fireworks. The first burst of wonder came to the shepherds in Luke chapter 2.  They saw and heard glorious things concerning Him, and made them known abroad, to the amazement of everyone (v. 17-18).  After this, in Luke 2:38, Simeon and Anna by the Holy Spirit spoke of Him to all who were willing to listen.

You would think that this would have shaken the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, so that they would have finally risen up as one and embrace the long-looked-for Messiah; but no.  He continued to live for nearly two more years at Bethlehem, and no further notice was taken of him until the arrival of the Magi, the Wise Men from the East.

Trouble!  Matthew 2:3, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”  These were no singing angels. They were mere men; notable men to be sure, but still mere men. The Magi were the Persian’s philosophers and their priests.  No one could become a Persian king who had not first been enrolled among the Magi. It was their royalty that caused the ruckus.  When kings arrive and ask the local king, “Where is the real KING?” Something has to give!

 

What are we to have in this time of great darkness?  Look again at the command from Hebrews: Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

“Where is He who is born King of the Jews?”  Their question made it clear that a new power was now freely working in the earth.  Moreover, this power operated as no other power had previously operated.  This power came and went as it pleased.  It raised the humble to be a force against the proud.  Love had taken on muscle and showed that a gentle but irresistible change was coming.  A new kingdom had come and it would expand through means that nullified human force.

Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar 600 years before this day that this kingdom would come.  Daniel 2: 44, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”  

Break and consume: Here is the big picture!  The Kingdom of God is expanding. It grows by tactics and weapons that have no peer. It is breaking and consuming everything that opposes Christ.  The mustard seed that sprouted in the Bethlehem stable would grow until it absorbed every foe and fulfilled these words: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” -Revelation 11:15

Satan took the bait from Daniel’s prophecy!  Every other kingdom that Daniel referred to in his prophecy was set up by physical force. When he heard the words break and consume, the devil assumed that the Messiah would be a Jewish liberator like King David.  The devil never thought that a baby’s cry in a lowly manger was the real threat to his throne.

The regions of hell convulsed when it finally hit them that Messiah was now on earth. Evil now had an expiration date.  Intuitively, Herod felt this same dread.  As a puppet for Satan and Rome, what else could he feel?  Reason left him.  He knew he had no power over this, he knew that the Anointed One could not be stopped, yet he decided to commit a great atrocity by destroying the children of Bethlehem.

There it is! Great evil at work while at the same time the kingdom of God expands!  The Magi are led away from danger.  Joseph and Mary are warned to leave and use the treasure brought by the Magi to pay for their escape to Egypt.

You are receiving a Kingdom.  Never forget it!  Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

This is the one thing for you to remember.  God surgically injected the kingdom of God on earth; a kingdom which cannot be shaken by global warming or moral cooling!  You are inextricably connected to the story of Christmas.  It lives in you, it breathes in you, and it energizes, protects, and guides you.  It is the power of Christmas that exempts you from all of the tragic outcomes that you see around you.

Psalm 37:18-19, “The LORD knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.”

 

HE MAKES THE NATIONS PROVE

Evil men rage madly.  Tyrants and rogue nations taunt the civilized world.  Societies are unhinged by lust and addiction.  Because of villains, the candle of peace, joy, and hope flickers in the wind.

Villains come in all shapes in sizes.  They may hurl test missiles to taunt the nations.  They may hire terrorists to destabilize the world.  They may run factories to kill the unborn.  They may profit from drug addiction.  They may run a social media lie machine.  They may poison young minds in university lecture halls.  They may be the grasping, soulless politicians who will do anything to stay in power.

And they assume nothing can stop them.  They believe they shape the world.   Psalm 73: 6-9 says, “therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment.  Their eyes bulge with abundance; They have more than heart could wish. They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; They speak loftily.  They set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue walks through the earth.”

Arrogance is the hallmark of evil.  Believing you are in control is the quintessential delusion of oppressors.  How, oh man, can you believe you decide the outcome?

The boasts and actions of today’s evildoers are strangely familiar.  They remind me of that day the Wise Men arrived in Jerusalem.  The entire city was in an uproar—without invitation and warning—heads of state, kings, and potentates arrive, with a bustling entourage, and treasure.  What could this mean?

Satan had taken every precaution to prevent the Christ catastrophe.  This baby will not be born.  This light will never shine in darkness.  Yet, all the hordes of hell, and their earthly minions could not stop the arrival—the desire of ages had come.  A baby imposed its will on the whole disapproving world.

Herod oozes with hate.  He fakes homage to the new born king.  He asks the Magi to come back with the location of the child, “that I may come and worship him also.”

Angels intervene, and the Wise Men escape.  Still, Herod orders the massacre of all baby boys in Bethlehem.

What kind of insanity makes you believe you can kill God incarnate?  And how deep a hate is this, that the angel must tell Joseph “Herod will never recover from this—you must not return until he is dead.”  What madness!

It’s the madness of today.  It’s the madness of the United Nations—who do not even understand why they hate Israel.  It’s the insanity of those who want to erase the teachings and values of Christ—as if they were a disease.  It’s the petty, insufferable thinking that turned Merry Christmas into a hate crime.  It’s all the same witch’s brew that brought us the destruction of marriage, free speech, and faith.

How did Herod’s story end?  A fitting end: He died during a lunar eclipse.  God switched off Herod’s night light shortly after the birth of Christ.

The Psalmist who despaired that evil men would win saw the truth at last:  “When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me—Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.  Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.   Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment!  They are utterly consumed with terrors.”  Psalm 73:16-19

But, stars, and angels are not the only miracles of Christmas.  Classic Christmas Carols are also miracles.  How else can we explain such enduring, and beautiful songs?  Profound truth, and unequaled poetry lives in them.  We sing them so often their miraculous eloquence flies right past us.  Take for example these words from Joy to the World: “He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove, The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love.”

Let every evil doer who exalts themselves against God take heed.   He makes the nations prove!  He will make you, evil man, prove His Glory.  Not only when every knee will bow.  Long before then.  Every plan will backfire.  Every wicked plot will be confiscated, reworked, and morph into something that advances God’s plan.

Beware God hater.  The Lord of Lords is mounting a response to the madness of the world.  Your schemes will fail fantastically.

Rejoice beloved child of God.  Something big is coming.  Prepare for impossible breakthroughs.

If you battle despair take heart:  He makes the nations prove.  If darkness has weighed you down with care, let Christmas—the real Christmas—do its mighty work in your soul.

This is not just the birthday of Jesus, it is the yearly reminder that evil cannot win.

I leave you with the words of another Carol, I heard the bells of Christmas day:

And in despair I bowed my head There is no peace on earth I said

For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth goodwill to men

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep God is not dead, nor does He sleep

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth goodwill to men

 

Mechelle, our entire ministry family, and I, wish you all

of the glory, and love of Christmas   

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.