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.”

 

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

 

Who were those shepherds who saw the angels that Christmas night?

Who were those shepherds who saw the angels that Christmas night? The answer to that question is more important than you know.

They are us. Their story is our story.  Their situation is our situation. We share a common theme.  We share a common enemy.  The terror that stalked their night is the very one that preys on the hopes of believers today.  They are so much like us!  Their future was sold to pay a debt to a foreign empire.  For them it was Rome for us it is China.  Their leaders forged an unholy alliance with Augustus Caesar.  Our leaders appease our enemies, attack Christian values and apologize to the world for our greatness.

The faith of their Fathers was diluted by false ministers and mocked by pagans. Our Faith suffers the same fate! Their weak economy created a crime wave that forced them to stay out in the fields watching their sheep. We spend hours at our job, actually hoping for overtime and then the final insult of a cruel commute home.  Can you relate to getting through a day by choking down emotions and robotic ally doing your job?

What do we want most for Christmas?  Let me brave an answer.  What we want most in all of this mess is good news.  We could sure use some good news!  It would be so wonderful to see the unrelenting torrent of scary headlines, dire predictions and disappointing reports swallowed up by good news! But what would be good news to you right now?  What message do you need from God right now?

What we want most is a visitation of God.  It is easy to think that we want something else but nothing would help us more, nothing would do the job better, nothing can compare to it.

San Jose California 1982:

I watched San Jose enveloped by the Glory of God.  It was a time when the economy was as bad as it is now.  The prime rate soared to 22% and unemployment was even worse than today.  Yet thousands crowded into the meeting every night for 22 weeks!  The atmosphere in the building evaporated fear and worries.

Yes, the people needed jobs desperately but somehow it was overruled by the Glory.  Each night they sang their hearts out, each night tears of joy washed away the cares of their life.  Other things became important.  Something priceless had come to them and they were not about to let human concerns rob them of this precious moment of their life.

I am a Pentecostal it is that simple.  I know what it means to have the Holy Spirit drench me. I know that when the Spirit of God is upon me fear, worry and anxiety vanish.

What the Angels did is turn 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 ago these men were taut with tension and defensive of their herd to point where they would have gladly have fought to the death to protect their flock.  Now they are ready to run to a manger oblivious of the sheep they leave behind.

Yes we need jobs, healing and many other things but what we need most is the Glory.  Glory will make our soul gaze at God and while we gaze distracted by His splendor God will fix the issues of our life.  Modern pulpits have done us a great disservice by focusing on “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 the bait of Satan: to get us to strive and fret and battle by our wits and not by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  What leaders are failing to do is to seek and obtain a move of God among their people.

Why did God skip the theologians, the Priests and the King and send these angels to the shepherds?   This is the question of the ages! How embarrassing to all of those in power and to all of those who made a life out studying the prophets, reading the times and being “in the know” who were overlooked in favor of these shepherds!

We are constantly trying to qualify for a career, a credit card, a club or some kind of status but are we qualified for a visitation of God?

What if something good can come out of these “bad times”?   Maybe it was an worse time back when you had money and toys.  Maybe in these hard times you are holding your loved ones closer, praying a little deeper and trying a little harder to be humble and grateful.  Maybe instead of suffering, you are merely getting into position to be visited by God.

Who were those shepherds that saw the angels that Christmas night?

 

Who are these shepherds? The answer to that question is more important than you know.

They are us. Their story is our story.  Their situation is our situation. We share a common theme.  We share a common enemy.  The terror that stalked their night is the very one that preys on the hopes of believers today.  They are so much like us!  Their future was sold to pay a debt to a foreign empire.  For them it was Rome for us it is China.  Their leaders forged an unholy alliance with Augustus Caesar.  Our leaders appease our enemies, attack Christian values and apologize to the world for our greatness.

 

The faith of their Fathers was diluted by false ministers and mocked by pagans. Our Faith suffers the same fate! Their weak economy created a crime wave that forced them to stay out in the fields watching their sheep. We spend hours at our job, actually hoping for overtime and then the final insult of a cruel commute home.  Can you relate to getting through a day by choking down emotions and robotic ally doing your job?

What do we want most for Christmas?  Let me brave an answer.  What we want most in all of this mess is good news.  We could sure use some good news!  It would be so wonderful to see the unrelenting torrent of scary headlines, dire predictions and disappointing reports swallowed up by good news! But what would be good news to you right now?  What message do you need from God right now?

What we want most is a visitation of God.  It is easy to think that we want something else but nothing would help us more, nothing would do the job better, nothing can compare to it.

San Jose California 1982:

I watched San Jose enveloped by the Glory of God.  It was a time when the economy was as bad as it is now.  The prime rate soared to 22% and unemployment was even worse than today.  Yet thousands crowded into the meeting every night for 22 weeks!  The atmosphere in the building evaporated fear and worries.

Yes, the people needed jobs desperately but somehow it was overruled by the Glory.  Each night they sang their hearts out, each night tears of joy washed away the cares of their life.  Other things became important.  Something priceless had come to them and they were not about to let human concerns rob them of this precious moment of their life.

I am a Pentecostal it is that simple.  I know what it means to have the Holy Spirit drench me. I know that when the Spirit of God is upon me fear, worry and anxiety vanish.

What the Angels did is turn 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 ago these men were taut with tension and defensive of their herd to point where they would have gladly have fought to the death to protect their flock.  Now they are ready to run to a manger oblivious of the sheep they leave behind.

Yes we need jobs, healing and many other things but what we need most is the Glory.  Glory will make our soul gaze at God and while we gaze distracted by His splendor God will fix the issues of our life.  Modern pulpits have done us a great disservice by focusing on “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 the bait of Satan: to get us to strive and fret and battle by our wits and not by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  What leaders are failing to do is to seek and obtain a move of God among their people.

Why did God skip the theologians, the Priests and the King and send these angels to the shepherds?   This is the question of the ages! How embarrassing to all of those in power and to all of those who made a life out studying the prophets, reading the times and being “in the know” who were overlooked in favor of these shepherds!

We are constantly trying to qualify for a career, a credit card, a club or some kind of status but are we qualified for a visitation of God?

What if something good can come out of these “bad times”?   Maybe it was an worse time back when you had money and toys.  Maybe in these hard times you are holding your loved ones closer, praying a little deeper and trying a little harder to be humble and grateful.  Maybe instead of suffering, you are merely getting into position to be visited by God.