The true joy of Christmas is not about eating nice food. Nor is it about having family around yourself to celebrate. It’s neither wearing fine clothes nor hearing carols being sung around the corner. All of these are good in themselves, in moderation of course, but they do not make up the true joy of Christmas. Never even be part of the ignoble Black Friday sale before Christmas time, there is nothing Christlike in it. Because you can still have all of them but lose the joy in pursuit of worldly festivities, in trying to imitate the world’s ways and the world’s vain pleasures.
But heart of hearts, the true joy of Christmas is in being grateful for God’s gift to the world; the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We didn’t deserve him then nor do we deserve him now, because its only the grace of God even till now. And whatever Jesus asks of us we only do it in loving obedience to the will of God.
I appreciate each one taking time to meditate and celebrate the gift of the Savior Jesus to this fallen world we live in. And since we have received this most solemn faith by the Spirit of God, let’s continue to celebrate Jesus not just on Christmas but each day we live.
To sum it all up; you can only find the true of joy of Christmas in being grateful and obedient to Jesus Christ every time and everyday!
- Jesus Christ Immanuel God is with us (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
- What is the meaning of the Incarnation of Christ? (altruistico.wordpress.com)
- Rest In All Thy Goings !!!!!! (levithetford.com)
- A reminder of God’s love for those who believe in Christ (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
- Jesus Christ Immanuel God is with us (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
- Don’t harm others on Black Friday (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
- 25 tips to prepare spiritually for Christmas (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
If a spirit gives you counsel which contradicts the teachings of the Bible, then be sure that it is not the Holy Spirit but rather an unclean and evil spirit. The Holy Spirit is, was and always will be in full alignment, with the Word of God.
The following verses from Galatians Chapter 5 makes it clear about what are things inspired by the flesh and what are the things which are of the Holy Spirit:
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Now Jesus came to Earth to preach the Gospel. And yes by all means the Gospel does include truth and holiness and the joy of the Lord. And here’s what Jesus had to say about the Holy Spirit (in John Chapter 16):
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
So then the Holy Spirit also know as the Spirit of truth will only teach you what is of God the Father through his Son Jesus and nothing profane nor heretical. And so you’d understand that any spirit that teaches you falsehood and things contrary to the Holy Scriptures is not the Holy Spirit but rather an evil and deceptive spirit. A true follower of God will therefore accept the good ie the Holy Spirit but reject the evil ie the unclean spirit every time.
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
This song reminds us of the time when Elijah the prophet and servant of the One True Living God our Lord, defeated the prophets of the Baal the false god. The Bible verses about this are from 1 Kings 18:1-40 as given below:
After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, 4 and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.) 5 And Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” 6 So they divided the land between them to pass through it. Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.
7 And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” 8 And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’” 9 And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. 11 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ 12 And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth. 13 Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”’; and he will kill me.” 15 And Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him. And Ahab went to meet Elijah.
17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.
36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:38-44)
Thank you very much indeed,
River, for your waving reed;
Hollyhocks, for budding knobs;
Foxgloves, for your velvet fobs;
Pansies, for your silky cheeks;
Chaffinches, for singing beaks;
Spring, for wood anemones
Near the mossy toes of trees;
Summer, for the fruited pear,
Yellowing crab, and cherry fare;
Autumn, for the bearded load,
Hazelnuts along the road;
Winter, for the fairy-tale,
Spitting log and bouncing hail.
But, blest Father, high above,
All these joys are from Thy love;
And Your children everywhere,
Born in palace, lane, or square,
Cry with voices all agreed,
“Thank You very much indeed.”
-by Norman R Gale (1862 – 1942)
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52)
Among the various good things Jesus is known as, he is also the Son of David. In the case of the Lord Jesus who was about to leave Jericho there was a blind beggar who needed the healing touch of the Lord. Would the Saviour of the world pass him by? Not at all, because Jesus heard his cry. If Bartimaeus would have chosen to fear the crowd he wouldn’t have called Jesus as the Son of David. Despite pressure from the crowd who tried to force him to stop crying out to the Lord, this man called for mercy from Jesus. Finally, Jesus said, “Call him” and the crowd now encouraged the blind man to come closer to Christ. Then the Lord asked him what does he want to be done for him. The blind man knew what is the most important thing for him which is nothing less than the recovery of his sight. And that is what he asked for.
Jesus then told him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And indeed the blind man was able to see. Praise be to God!
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. (Psalm 146:8)
Bartimaeus had no option. He knew it’s going to be Son of David that day who could heal him or nobody else. When he referred to Jesus as the Son of David it was a great thing to say in those times. Because the Romans hated any competitor to the throne of Israel. Also for the Pharisees it would mean someone they must not refuse to give heed to in matters of the Law of Moses. While for the general Jews it would mean he was not just their King but also their Messiah. So calling Jesus rightfully as the Son of David had serious implications and yet Bartimaeus choose faith and not fear. He kept crying out to Jesus and was not ashamed of the Lord.
I pray that more people who are in need of healing, stop getting bothered by the naysayers, and reach out to Christ in prayer. I pray those who desire healing, become even bolder that Bartimaeus. Let them be bold against their past and simply believe in the Lord Jesus. Amen.
Verses for reflection:
- Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)
- You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols. Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.” (Isaiah 42:7-9)
- And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.
- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18)
Verses for reflection:
- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.(John 10:10)
- But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.(Ephesians 2:13)
- But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:7-9)
- According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:2)
- How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the Holy Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14)
- And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)
- I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)
All praise unto the Lord Jesus who made us more than servants because he made his friends. Thanks be to God who reveals his wisdom to his beloved people so that they can act wisely in words, action and prayer. O Lord by your Holy Spirit help us to intercede for the worst of all sinners so perhaps they may repent and given glory to you. Amen.
There was a time when Abraham interceded for the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah. But first let’s understand why was Abraham even given that opportunity by the Lord. Let read Genesis 18:17-21 as mentioned below:
16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
The Lord had willed to punish Sodom for their sin. Why so? Because there was an outcry against not just Sodom but also it’s partner city Gomorrah. The nature of their sin was very grave, it was sexual perversion; homosexuality (Genesis 19:1-22 confirms that was indeed homosexuality). Again, there were people who were complaining against them unto God. Might be these cities could have abused people from outside their area but God knows best! So, the Lord decided to get all these allegations examined and if these were false, he’d tackle the complainers and if true then he’d act against the two cities mentioned earlier.
God had a choice to not tell Abraham about what he wanted to do. He is the Lord and he can do anything (Some people find it hard to accept this simple truth but have no issues if God gives them good health despite their hate towards the Lord. Pathetic!). However, God also knew that he had given Abraham a great heritage and if you read the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Luke 3.23-38 you’ll realize that Abraham was the human ancestor of Christ! This meant that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham. We know the Messiah is none other than Jesus himself. So, the Lord then gave Abraham the knowledge of divine judgement against Sodom and Gomorrah. Now, let’s read Genesis 18:22-33 as mentioned below:
22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
The above verses show us very clearly that the Lord had a listening ear for appeals of mercy in the times before the Gospel was ever preached. And yes, he heard out Abraham. Now, there was no manipulation nor overwhelming exchange of words, just a simple conversation. Abraham did not justify the lifestyle of Sodom and Gomorrah’s inhabitants. He knew God was not joking about these cities. So he appealed by the way of righteousness. And the Lord God did give heed to his words and even for the sake of 10 righteous was willing to spare the entire city!
Now the reader might wonder how on earth did Abraham expect even an ounce of righteousness to be present in these ‘Sin Cities’ . So here’s what’s the answer, read all of Genesis 14 (this chapter has another great meaning, if you read closely. Hint; look for the place where it mentions Melchizedek the king of Salem) and you’d realize that Lot who is the nephew of Abraham was a sojourner in Sodom. Among various cities captured by Chedorlaomer king of Elam and his allies, Sodom and its inhabitants were taken captive. Obviously Lot was taken captive. Then Abraham and his allies, with 318 warrior men of Abraham fought and defeated Chedorlaomer (difficult to pronounce, I admit! Maybe the phonetic method will help; ked·or·lä·o’·mer ) and reacquired Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people. Post battle, with even the Sodomites rescued, the king of Sodom wanted to negotiate with Abram (who God later renamed as Abraham). And this king honored his commitment to Abraham. Here are the specific verses:
21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.” (Genesis 14: 21-24)
Though Abraham was not interested in Sodomite wealth, all due to his loyalty to God, there were a few of his allies and his own fighting men who had eaten a few of the spoils of war. So for that he did bargain. And the king of Sodom, despite his wicked nature of allowing sexual perversion, still didn’t go back on his commitment. It’s possible that Abraham saw that as a small potential for change in the general nature of Sodom and Gomorrah but God knows best. If you look at this incident of the Elamite invasion of Sodom from another angle you’ll know that Abraham already rescued them once even though Sodomites were sinners. That was a physical rescue. He could have only chosen to rescue his nephew Lot and Lot’s possessions and people if he wanted to!
Now, as time passed by Abraham got a chance to spiritually rescue them. He interceded to the Lord God for them, perhaps the Lord would spare them. Notice, he didn’t even name Lot as one of the reasons for sparing these vile cities (read Genesis 18 again, if you want to) but was focused on the overall number of righteous of those regions.
Bringing this to the Christian experience or better still the Christian reality, it’s a very prudent thing to pray for the repentance of sinners. If you have a specific sinner or a group of sinners in mind and feel that you ought to intercede for them, then feel free to to pray for them. You can even pray for paedophile’s to cease and desist from their crimes and let go of the children they are manipulating! Maybe the sinners you are praying for will turn away from their sin, believe in the Gospel and NOT go to hell but rather be with the Lord Jesus forever!
You can refer to the below verses:
- Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. (Isaiah 59:14-16)
- If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. (1 John 5:16)
- First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)
- Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things (Hebrews 13:18)
- The generosity of Abraham at Mamre (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
- Prayer for deliverance of children from child molestors (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
- When will you speak up against injustice? (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)
- Jesus Christ Immanuel God is with us (disciplesofhope.wordpress.com)