CHRISTMAS: 3 THINGS GOD DID. ONE THING YOU MUST DO.

It is the darkest time in American History.  We yearn for peace, wisdom and safety.  We wonder about our children’s and grandchildren’s future. Our bodies succumb to weakness and pain from the raging stress of this age.

We cannot find the words for what we yearn for.  What is the miracle we all long for?  It is a work of unshakable emotional well-being.  We want an uninterrupted flow of God’s power, grace and love. But, how do we get this?

I want you to see three things God did, and one thing you must do.  We begin with the meaning of Christmas.

This year, defining Christmas is an emergency!  I do not fear for Christmas. Quite the contrary, only the Gospel has more power than Christmas.  Christmas will endure and impose its wonder on an angry world.  All of the rocks thrown at Christmas, all of the railing against it, and all of the intellectual assaults on it, will bounce off and only reinforce its supernatural nature.

Christmas must be defined, for our sake. As I surveyed the Word of God, three verses captured me, and told me the clear meaning of Christmas.

Isaiah 9:6, For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. 

John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 8:32, He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, with Him, also freely give us all things?

These verses should weaken our knees beneath a weight of eternal gratitude.

Christmas means this: God the Father gave His Son.

The human race was beyond helpless; cursed with an unlimited tendency toward evil.  Human history horrifies.  Our story is one unending night of agony. Ages of nothing but darkness.

There was only One who pierced the blackness.  His words came, and they came to stay.  Jesus kicked Satan’s teeth in, and chained him to a twilight existence.  Left with only partial use of his powers, the Devil awaits the certain doom sealed by the Cross and the Resurrection.

How do I make the miracle of Christmas my daily strength? The three verses quoted above tell us something of unimaginable wonder: Christmas is, first and last, God the Father giving His Son.  He is the ultimate Giver.  Eternity can calculate neither the depth, width, nor the height of His supreme sacrifice.

Let me repeat what I said before.  There are three things God did, and one thing you must do.

1. Jesus is a gift to you from the Father. “For unto us a Son is given.” Isaiah 9:6 begins not by telling us what was given, but to whom it was given.  Jesus is a gift to you from the Father.  You must personalize the miracle of this gift.

Religion says God only rewards those who always do right.  That leaves us out.  But Christmas says, “He is a gift to you in all of your failings and the gift is given without condition.  You need never be without Him.”

My friend, Lionel Rodriguera, once sold a house in Southern California to a working-class family.  He helped them find a loan, closed escrow, and gave them the keys.  A few days later he went to check on them and found them living in the garage.  They told him that they did not believe the house was theirs and huddled in the garage out of fear that the real owner would show up.  The hardness of the life they had experienced had given them a permanent sense of unworthiness.

How many of us are living in the garage, emotionally, because we do not accept that we are the owners of a great salvation? You are free to roam in all of the rooms of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus is a permanent gift to you.  In a world where things are constantly being taken away, how amazing it is to know Jesus will always be there!

2. You were worth the sacrifice. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Jesus said this about the value of a soul, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?” 

At an auction in New York City, a Giacometti sculpture sold for $101 million.  To me, it is ugly.  I wouldn’t have given a hundred bucks for it. The point is that no one knew its value until the auction. The value was disclosed by what someone was willing to pay for it…

Likewise, the angels did not know the price of a single human soul, until the Father gave His Son.  The darling of the universe, crucified?  Heaven bankrupted for humanity? The value that God placed on the human soul stunned and baffled the angels.

Psychiatrists tell us that we need to feel valuable to someone.  It is one of the deepest needs of mankind.  Christmas booms out to you in a loud voice, “Look at how valuable you are to the Father!”

3. How will He not? Once there was a millionaire widower who only had one son. With all of his wealth and power, he still could not prevent his son from going to war in Korea.

When his son was killed, that father could not be comforted.  He began a downward spiral, until he lived in the shadows.  A year later a package arrived at his mansion.  It contained a perfect portrait of his son in uniform.   With it was this note: “I am a young painter from Korea who befriended your son.  I painted this so that it might bring you some degree of comfort.  Thank you for your sacrifice for my country.”

That portrait hung over the mantle of the great hall of his estate until the day he died.

Soon the massive home was the site of a great auction.  Art treasures, antiques, and vintage cars drew collectors from everywhere.  Two items were auctioned off.  The third item was the painting of his son.  No one bid on the painting because the painter and subject were unknown.

The silence was broken by the long-time gardener of the estate, who happened to be there as a bystander.  “I only have a hundred dollars to my name, but that boy was like my own son.”

With that the auctioneer began to pound the podium with his gavel. “This auction is over!” The stunned audience demanded to know why.  The auctioneer announced, “The Will states that whoever buys this painting gets the entire estate.”

Likewise, whoever gets the Son of God gets the entire estate.  Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, with Him, also freely give us all things?”   How will God withhold anything you need?

So, what do you do for your miracle?  Psalm 116:12-14 says. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.”

Drink deeply from the well of salvation and call on God from a heart that is full of confidence―because of the mighty Christmas Gift.

Make this the Christmas where the miracle of what God the Father gave us, and gives us every day, sinks into our soul so deeply that it neutralizes the power of fear and dread completely.

Mechelle and I want to wish you and those you love the merriest of all Christmases, from our family to yours!

THE WISE MEN’S MESSAGE TO OUR ELECTION DISASTER.

Jerusalem was in an uproar. Heads of state arrived with their entourage, giving no advance warning. King Herod and the people wondered what it could mean. More to the point, what does it mean to us right now?

The actions of the Wise Men tell us what we should do in this cataclysmic moment in American history. Do we recognize Joe Biden as our leader, or not?

Many high-profile preachers are now telling us we should just accept Biden, and move on. One preacher, who once supported Trump, looked right in the camera and accused Trump of living in an alternate reality.

Would it be rude and unchristian of me to say that Joe is not my President? Are we damaging our witness by being rebellious toward his authority? Why can’t we just let this election fraud go―after all, we survived Obama, didn’t we?

I don’t want to foment rebellion. I do not want to walk in strife. But rejecting Biden as President is altogether the only thing my conscience will let me do. So, what do the Wise Men have to do with all of that?

Let’s read their story. Matthew 2:1-6, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’

“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

“So, they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

It was the appearing of the ‘Christmas star’ over America that brought me to this realization. The Wise Men left all and risked their lives to worship Jesus. The star invited them. The star ruined them. Their revelation of God’s work on the earth was so refined that they could see through the false kingdom of Herod.

Think of how audacious and outrageous their very first words to King Herod were: “‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” This is the same as saying, “Where is the real king of the Jews?”

They had come too far, and had paid too much, and had gone too deep into the purposes of God to worry about politics and human decorum. They did not recognize Herod as the true king. This is why Herod, along with the entire city of Jerusalem, was troubled.

The Magi understood what was really going on. Sadly, much of the church today does not. Herod was an evil man with an evil plan. This was clear to these magnificent wise men. They were there to honor the real authority, and to cooperate with the divine purpose.

They took it to the point of breaking an appointment with Herod—which was a major snub of a royal. Matthew 2:12, “Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”

They did not cooperate. They did not pay homage to Herod. They did everything in the first century that the lukewarm church and compromised preachers are telling us not to do in the twenty first.

The ‘Christmas star’ is in our sky for the first time in 800 years. Maybe it is a sign to a wounded nation. Maybe it is telling us that history is repeating itself.

There is no way that Trump is a messiah. I am not even calling him a type of Christ. However, I do not hesitate for a moment to identify who the King Herods in America are. And they have committed the greatest scandal in the history of American elections.

Just as the Magi seemed to ask, ‘Where is the real king of the Jews?’ We are asking, ‘Where is the real President of the United States?’ They had their usurper, and we have ours.

Again, Trump is not to be compared with Christ. But I will compare these compromised modern preachers to the Wise Men. These modern unwise men would have caved to the intimidation of Herod and abandoned their mission altogether.

Here is the truth: Trump won. The election was stolen. And we, like the Wise Men, must finish our mission and reject imposters. American freedom will not survive if this wicked scheme is not uncovered and punished, because the will of the majority of American voters must be vindicated.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” Will you be wise, or unwise? Yes, it will take a miracle…but this is the season of miracles.

 

 

 

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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   

The Best Christmas Quotes in the World.

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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

Peace and Joy When the World is Falling Apart.

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One of the greatest mistakes that modern preaching made was getting us all to seek peace and joy.  Peace and Joy are not things we are to go after.  They are things that God adds to those who are going after the right things.

Let me make the case by using the story of the Wise Men.  Imagine the world they knew.  Tradition says they were from the school of the Magi in Persia.  They were Kings and likely billionaires.

They came under the influence of Judaism because of Daniel centuries before and because an edict from Solomon that the whole world should have knowledge of the Lord God Jehovah.

Let’s imagine the turmoil in their souls when they saw the star.  They knew it signaled the birth of the King of Kings because they had long before come under the Spirit’s influence.

Should we go or not?  How do you prepare your kingdom for a prolonged absence?  What if our enemies invade?

Then the real question hit them.  “What if we do not go?  Imagine living out the rest of our days knowing that we were invited to the greatest event in history and we stayed home.”

They found profound peace because they said yes.  Isaiah 26:3 says,  “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

The person kept in perfect peace is not focusing on peace, they are focusing on God and in trusting God.

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The Wise Men learned that God gives peace to those who willingly endanger themselves in a divine quest.  Peace has no place with bored believers seeking escape.  Matthew Henry said, “we cannot be safe so long as we are secure.”  No matter how hard you try to secure yourself against the upheaval in the world you will still battle anxiety.  You cannot ask life to leave you alone and think God will add peace.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Peace is clearly a byproduct in this verse.  It comes from believing in what Christ did on the Cross and what He did before His Father.

Here is the danger of seeking peace while ignoring God’s call:  Luke 19:41 “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”  Let that be a warning to us all.  We must pursue the things that make for our peace.

Joy overtakes those who obey orders.  Matthew 2: 9 “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Again, joy is not a feeling you work up but a gift God adds to those who are walking by faith and not by sight.  Two years before the star rose signaling the location.  It was their duty to get there and then they could see the star once more.

1 Peter 1:8 says, “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”  Loving Him even though you cannot see Him releases joy.

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Never forget: Peace and Joy are not things we are to go after.  They are things that God adds to those who are going after the right things.