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A Christmas Panorama

“…And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” That is from Luke 2:14 in the King James Version of the Bible. It was a message meant for all mankind, carried by angels to announce the birth of the long-expected Messiah, the peace-offering of God. Most of us use the name “Christ,” rather than “Messiah,” due to influence of the Greek language. I hope that you believe the message the angels brought.

Most ancient cultures, in the form of stories and myths, have retained some memory of God’s prophecies concerning the Savior of mankind. The mythological records don’t give us the detailed record that we have in the Bible however. I wish that all the prophetical and historical information concerning Jesus could be pulled together into one panoramic writing about Christmas. I guess it’s better to do something halfway, rather than to do nothing at all, so I’m writing a few inadequate words for the sake of Christmas.

After Adam and Eve chose to rely upon their own fragmentary comprehension of “knowledge” rather than to trust God, God gave us (Genesis 3:15) the first biblical hint of the virgin birth of a savior. It is the “seed” of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head, and finally bring peace to the earth. Only this “Seed” can fulfil the promise of God. The leaders of nations have long promised world peace, and the Antichrist will promise world peace, but only Christ can bring it to pass. Sad to say, that will only happen after mankind has brought the world to the brink of total destruction.

Unless you have studied genetics somewhat, you probably will not completely understand the following statement. According to the biblical account of his birth, Jesus would have received all of his human DNA from his mother, none at all from a human father. He would not have had the normal Y-chromosome DNA inherited from a human male, but only what he directly inherited from God. That’s why the Bible didn’t say “the seed of the man,” in Genesis 3:15 (reference Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, and my April 2012 post, “Genetics and Jesus”).

The prophet Isaiah may have been considering Genesis 3:15 and other such verses when he understood that a child would be born to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). It is foretold in that verse that the child will be called Immanuel (God with us). In that name, “El” is the short form of the Hebrew word for God, and you also see the word “man.” “Man” in Hebrew however, is the word for the bread from heaven that fed the Israelites during their wilderness trek. We get our word “manna” from this.

Amaryah is a biblical name meaning God has promised. What has God promised? The secret is in the name itself. “Amar,” means “promise.” “Yah,” is the shortened form of “YHWH,” the personal name of God. “MarYah” is an Aramaic name for Jesus. In “MarYah,” you can see the name of the virgin mother Mary, and Yah, the name of God the Father. God has promised himself (Immanuel, or Emmanuel) to us.

When an angel informed Mary of her conception, she questioned how that could happen without seed being implanted by a man, yet she believed the answer that she was given. In Matthew 1:20-23, an angel told Joseph in a dream to give Mary’s child the name “Jesus.” The angel then reminded Joseph of the prophecy of Isaiah. I haven’t the time to go into detail but according to Old Testament prophecy, the Christ’s given name would be “Jesus,” (ref. the Septuagint translation of the name Joshua as “Jesus”). The name “Immanuel” (or Emmanuel) tells us who he really is, “God with us.”

In Luke 2:10, the announcement of the advent of Jesus the Christ is called, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The fact that we don’t yet see peace on earth doesn’t mean that God has abandoned his desires and plans for the earth. In the song, Bells on Christmas Day, there is a line; “Then in despair I raised my head, there is no peace on earth, I said.” We will all probably feel that way at one time or another in our lives, but the way we feel will not cancel God’s promise. Ideals should not be abandoned just because they are difficult to establish, and God is not a quitter.

Sometimes in the past, for just a little while, the coming of Christmas has interrupted the bitter conflicts of war. In some cases, common beliefs in Christ between countries have prevented them. A great monument called the “Christ the Redeemer of the Andes,” (not the great statue in Rio with a similar name) is erected at an elevation of 12,572 feet on the border of Argentina and Chile. It commemorates a peaceful resolution avoiding a war between the two countries because of their common submission to Christ.

One meaning of the word “mass,” refers us back to the communion, the bread from heaven broken for us (Matthew 26:26), the word “mass,” being taken from “maza,” a Greek word for a barley cake. Merry Christ’s mass! Spend the Holyday with your family, and remember the birth of our Lord and Savior. He will yet bring “Peace on Earth.”

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A Song In The Night

The pursuit of happiness often leaves misery in its wake. Dear God, we want to reach out to those around us who are hurting, and we pray for them everyday. We pray for those who must helplessly watch their loved ones fall deeper into despair. Many of us have been there in both situations. Even if we could go to the cross for others, as you did Lord, sometimes things can’t be helped. Sometimes the darkness gets such a hold on the human soul that there seems to be no hope.

Lord, you know the terrible nightmares I used to have, dreams of being wrestled and crushed by something invisible in the darkness. Coming to faith in you Lord Jesus changed that dream, and your name would come to me even in my troubled sleep. I was no longer paralyzed by the dream, but I became able to struggle against the grip of the darkness. I thank you Lord that now I haven’t had that nightmare in years. Hope in you Lord, made the difference. Hope is alive.

We usually don’t know how troubled those around us really are but right now Lord, I see someone sinking. Help us Lord not be as helpless as I once was in that dream. I pray Lord that you, with or without the hands of another human being, break the chains of darkness that are wearing away a precious life. Help those of us who believe in you to not be so helpless when nightfall is around us. You went to the cross for us, but you are alive again, and hope is alive.

God is love; eternal happiness is only with you, and in your kingdom there will never again be a need or desire to pursue it further. Happiness will be a bird in hand, free to fly as never before. Time, that taunts and tortures us now, will be meaningless in the light of forever.

Yet Lord, I pray for happiness here and now, and joy in our journey. I pray this for my friend. My friend confesses your name, but even Christians still need you. We yet need you almost as much as those who don’t even want to know you.

The pursuit of happiness is many times in vain, but if we follow you Lord, you will one day take us there. Your hope is a song in the night (Psalms 42:8). It wavers, but it lives. Wouldn’t we be surprised if we could see, as God has seen, the chains that hope has broken when it was thought to be dead.

“Isn’t it strange to be alive?” A child once asked that question of me. Yes, it is very strange that life of any sort exists? How could there be anything? There should be absolutely nothing.

Evolutionists and theists are on even ground at that point. Most evolutionary thinkers have been taught to begin with the Big Bang Theory, but that is the wrong place to start. You must have something to begin with before it could explode, and where did the “something” come from. Nothing should exist.

Let’s begin with nothing. We could say, “In the beginning nothing collected itself into something.” That doesn’t work very well does it? Nothing is nothing, and can do nothing. It can’t evolve into enough matter to explode into the heavens and the earth. It can’t explode into anything.

Atheists question where God came from. That’s a fair enough question, and one that only God can answer, but where did anything come from? God could just as well exist as anything else. Isn’t it very strange that we exist? Let’s look for evidence for God, because when you begin with nothing, you get nowhere.

In this world, no presentation of evidence will ever be perfect, and none of our presentations of God are complete. Many times however, we won’t begin to grasp the depth of a mystery until we begin to investigate it. We have to ask the right questions.

There is a book that is every bit as mysterious as life itself. You won’t really know it though unless you do a very difficult thing; lay aside prejudice and misconceptions, and study it in sincerity. It is actually a compilation of books, some of which are much older than others and differing in significance. Some of it is only meant to be applied to the particular people to whom it was written; some of it is for people of the future, but much of it is for all of us.

The book contains a special revelation and understanding of the past, present, and future of life on the earth. It’s relatively simple to dismiss the Bible if you know little about it, but the closer it is examined the more mysterious it is found to be. It displays a world of historical information. Here and there it exhibits kernels of knowledge that mankind did not possess at the ancient time of the writing.

It also displays foreknowledge of the path that mankind is taking through the passage of time. Some events have occurred since the time of the foretelling, and others are proceeding step by step in the day in which we live. I don’t believe that every detail of our lives is predestined, but that the knowledge of God takes our plans into account. God has traveled to the future and he isn’t going to be surprised when we get there. In John 5:39, Jesus said of the Old Testament, “Search the scriptures, they testify of me.”

The word “script,” has multiple meanings. It can refer to the style of the written letters of a document and provide insight into the origin. “Script,” can refer to the original manuscript of a writing as opposed to a copy. Variation of copies can provide clues concerning the content of the original document, as well as to its age, especially if the translators and copyists have held proper reverence for their sources. “Script” can mean the written part of a story that is to be played out.

We are looking into the mystery of the Script of life itself, its truth of the past, present, and future. We are searching for the revelation of God contained within it. I do not believe that chance created us, and all the material universe, from nothing.

I do not believe that man could have dreamed up such a scientifically complex book as the Bible. I do not believe that we fade into nothing and nowhere when we leave this world. I believe that God was the beginning, and that at the end is Jesus, the new beginning (John 1:1-5,&10-14).

I think it is as if, from God’s perspective you and he are alone in this world. He has the time for you whether or not you are conscious of him. It is very easy to be unaware of God because we are born into a world that is alienated from him. To be “conscious” means “to know,” and the similar word “conscience” means to “know guilt.”

Our con-science can trick our consciousness so that we are unaware of God, and so that we try to avoid the thought of him. Our conscience stands between us and God, magnifying the differences between us, telling us only distorted versions of the truth. We begin to try to find other, more “comfortable” explanations for life.

I once believed the theory of Evolution. Now I know it’s only a modern myth that provides a temporary escape from personal responsibility. The theory creates a mosaic from billions of puzzle pieces of life, forcing them together in ways to roughly fit our picture of “NoGod.”

Most of those who teach Evolution are responsible people, having “learned” the theory from generations of respectable “teachers.” Ultimately, the theory offers no real hope for man. Many try to mix the theory with Christianity, but evolution is truly the cornerstone of Atheism. It would be bad enough if evolution were true. Instead, it is one of the most intelligently crafted deceptions ever to exist. It’s no wonder that so many young people are drifting into atheism.

God is not the oppressor, but man has portrayed him that way. Mankind has built a wall that becomes a cross to God, and God meets us there where he is crucified. On his part, it is an attempt to reach us, to break down our violent rejection of him. He stands on a nail, and reaches out for us, as far as our nails in his hands will let him reach.

His crown is of thorns, and “the best of us is a briar.” Our rejection of his loving forgiveness can result in a final and total alienation. This is happening even now, and people don’t know that God is dying, trying to save us from this terrible separation.

God will live on for the sake of those that he can finally touch. He will live, and we will live, and in an eternity beyond the reach of time, all tears will be wiped away, and nothing will stand between us and God. Our conscience will become clear, and we will see God as he really is (1st. Corinthians 13:12). We will become fully conscious for the first time.

The Life Of God

The life of God is more important than my own. I can hardly do anything to help myself or anyone else, but God can bring us back to life. He lives to mend our hearts desires, and to give them to us in a world without end. Obviously, the existence of God is more important than my own.

On the day that we meet our maker, nothing will shine except that which we have sacrificed to help our fellow human beings along their way to God. There is much done “in his name” that doesn’t reflect God’s love for the world. Such ignorance, and any “sacrifices” that were for our own glory do not qualify as self-sacrifice. Only that which is done for his good name’s sake is real. It is then part of the Lord’s own cross, and of his own sacrifice.

God could have done nothing more noble than to come into this world as one of us, and die drawing us into reconciliation. While the evil things of life are evidence that something is seriously wrong, good things are evidence that God is good. That is plain scientific reasoning, but every good thing that I can think of is often misused. There is no further need for proof of the existence of evil. We can each see the evidence in our own mirrors.

All of us need however, to know that God is good, and that he cares for us in spite of the way things are at the moment. There is nothing that can show the love of God so plainly as his cross, either today or in the world to come. Now that I have understood this, when life is painful, as it often is, I can look at Jesus on the cross and see that he bears our blame too much already. I can’t rightfully blame God for anything. He’s not the cause of our problems, but along with us is a target of them.

It is very important that we treat other people with fairness and compassion; for love, beauty, and the good things of life, when not abused, can help us to see through the mists into another world. There will be a new world where we can truly belong. If we could only grasp how important our lives and happiness are to God, it would make a tremendous difference, even now in this world.

It is as simple as Matthew 1:23. Immanuel; God is with us, in the joy, and through the pain of life and death, and into the Everlife (ref. “Come To The Everlife” by Stryper).

I don’t know why you are hurting, or how you may relate to others in your pain. Only God knows all the reasons and the depth of our suffering; God is not the reason for our pain, but he understands. Some people become angry with themselves, with God, or with everyone. The same person may react in different ways at different times. People who are hurting may wound other people in turn, even if only through the empathy of others. The ripples often run much deeper though. Loneliness begets loneliness. Emptiness leads to emptiness. Our frustration creates frustration in those around us. We lash out at others, dragging them down with us. Sometimes this is even intentional. It is difficult to believe but sometimes people take pleasure in the suffering of others.

Don’t make the common mistake of blaming this mess of a world on God. There are several things that the Bible says that God is not, or is not to blame for. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love (2nd Timothy 1:7). God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1st Corinthians 14:33). When Elijah had been instructed to come out of a cave where he was hidden, first there came a terrible wind, then an earthquake, followed by a fire. The Bible says that God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire (1st Kings 19:11,12). Elijah heard him afterward as a still small voice.

“Never blame the rainbows for the rain.” Don’t blame God for the problems of life. On the sea of Galilee, when a storm threatened his disciples (Mark 4:37-39), Jesus “arose and rebuked the wind.” That implies that the storm had an outside cause. There is such a thing as judgement, but the undiscerning and unaffected either think it’s all or nothing; some think it non-existent, and others imagine it in every instance. Job’s “friends” insinuated that his suffering, even the loss of his children, was due to God’s judgement of him (Job 4:1-5:4), but God judged that they were wrong (Job 42:7-8). Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

The Bible says that when one hurts, we all hurt (1st Corinthians 12:26). We are all in this together, but there is a spirit of misunderstanding and deception that often plays us against each other. It can sometimes turn us against God, but remember that when we are hurt, God is hurt (Isaiah 63:9). Don’t forsake prayer regardless of the situation. I think that God is the actual target, and that his love for us makes him vulnerable. I believe that we are being used as human shields by a deceptive enemy in an all-out war against God. I understand why people seek an escape, but ultimately there is no real hope apart from Jesus.

God, as Jesus Christ, put himself within our reach. He became vulnerable, became God incarnate, to use a more religious sounding term. It is a theological mistake to try to set him on a pedestal out beyond the stars somewhere. That isn’t what he wants (Revelation 21:3-5)). He wants his presence to make a difference in our lives, here and now in this world, and in the next, and not to have to leave us to our own devices.

By the way, the word “world,” (werald, or weralt) means “old man.” According to the dictionary, it comes from the old English words “wer,” which meant “man,” and “eald,” an ancient spelling of “old.” By the same token the word “werewolf,” for the fictional creature of horror stories, simply means man-wolf. This changing world is often the real horror story. I don’t need to try to tell you all about it. We all hear a bit of the news. All of us have our own experience.

In my short lifetime the world has begun to grow old, but I think that this is only the temporal reality. God has promised to eventually create a new heavens and a new earth. He will have to, for man will destroy this one. No deception or misunderstanding will ever darken the new world (2nd Peter 3:13). The hearts of its inhabitants will be ready for a new day (Hebrews 8:10). It will be what God wanted from the very beginning.

Wherever we are or whatever we are going through, we are not as alone as we may feel. God is with us. It is a simple matter to be found; all we have to do is call (Acts 2:21). As the world goes on, the good shepherd is searching through time for his children yet unborn.

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1st Corinthians 14:33). Remember that verse, and that we should not blame God when life leaves us dumfounded. Man has created an environment that isn’t conductive to reason or peace, and there is little time to figure life out. Sometimes even truthful people word things poorly, and sometimes there are no “right” words. We misunderstand a lot of things. The truth of life is not going to come easy.

God is not the creator of confusion, yet there is a fight over practically every word of the Bible, as well as over everything else in the world. All human beings suffer from the effects of Eden’s tree of knowledge (Genesis 3:1-5). A little bit of “learning” along some branch of knowledge and we think we know what we need to know. All people in all fields disagree amongst themselves, and the best ideas and explanations are often lost in the babel.

False beliefs, lies, things that are not true cause our confusion. Some people call it all “God’s will,” but it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Man however, is very creative when it comes to falsehood (Romans 3:4). Much of what we’re taught is purely theoretical, and at the same time man has forgotten the more important things (Romans 1:28, 1st Corinthians 8:2, & 13:2).

I honestly believe that God deeply desires to prove himself to man, but how is the best way to do this with such unreasonable creatures? The ways in which we attempt to test him are shallow and unfair. Our “tests” for God are usually ultimatums requiring him to override the freewill of other human beings or to cater to us in some way.

Before the fall of man, nature would have been a good witness for God, but now it seems to tell two different stories. Nature yet testifies of God, but it also shows evidence that something is very wrong with our world. Besides knowing that God exists we also need to understand that he is good, and that we fall somewhat short of that concept.

Knowledge can be abused and used deceptively, and we have an adversary who is “a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). The “forbidden fruit” has infected the interpretation of all knowledge. How is God supposed to prove his love to a dying world which cannot be sustained in its present condition? What would it take to actually change this insane world? Perhaps, very carefully chosen words could say it, if we had time to listen, but not in the babel where we exist.

What if God were willing to come down to us, die with us, offer resurrection and paradise to whoever will trust him (Luke 23:42-43, John 3:16). According to the Bible record, that’s what God has done. His suffering and death on the cross proves his love to us in a way that nothing else would. God becomes one of us, and his cross cuts through all of man’s high-minded theological confusion. It cuts to the heart of love. God is offering us a new world where confusion does not reign, and lies can’t divide us (John 10:10).

Satan is a liar, and the father of it. By persuading Adam and Eve to believe a lie in the garden of Eden, he stole the life of mankind. Don’t let the thief by whatever trick of ideology or theology destroy the simplicity of the words of the promise of Jesus. Talk is cheap among human beings but that isn’t God’s fault.

People treat words as meaningless, and that leads to more and more trouble. It means that God had to sacrifice himself in order to reach us. Sometimes, even that doesn’t touch us. Please believe the records of Jesus contained in the Bible. Believe the evidence. It makes sense. Then trust that his sacrifice will sustain us. In time, beyond the final Antichrist, we will experience the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus. It isn’t a testimony written in words only but in the life-blood of our creator. (Hebrews 1:1-2).