Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Christmas (Yeldho) Special - 2014

Volume 4 No. 254 December 24, 2014

If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_254.htm

Archives: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/Default.htm

Nativity Icon - Eastern Orthodox
Nativity ICON - (Antiochian Orthodox)

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is seen wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2:7,12). This not only represents his total submission to the human flesh, but also foreshadows His death and resurrection.

He is lying on the altar which symbolizes He is the bread of life.

The manger represents His crib, His Church, and His tomb - all in one. Note the similarity of the box (manger) to that of a casket used for burial. The wrapping of the clothes resemble the covering of a dead body in Middle East. The symbolism is very powerful here. Jesus came to the earth to die for us. He was very well aware of his ministry at the time of His incarnation. He died for us so that we can inherit the eternal life as His children.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat this bread, he shall live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. - John 6:51

TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you are not receiving your own copy of Malankara World by email, please add your name to our subscription list. It is free. click here.

Malankara World Wishes You a MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR

I. This Week in Church

1. Bible Readings for Christmas (December 25)

Bible Readings For Yeldo / Incarnation of our Lord (Christmas) (December 25)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_Christmas.htm

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (December 28)

Bible Readings For First Sunday after Yeldo (Christmas)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_1st_sunday_after-christmas.htm

3. Sermons for Christmas (December 25)

4. Sermons for This Sunday (December 28)

Sermons For First Sunday after Yeldo (Christmas)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-christmas.htm

5. Malankara World Advent and Christmas Supplements

To learn more about the spiritual significance of Christmas and Advent Season Malankara World has created special supplements so you can read all about them in depth. Click below to visit:

Malankara World Christmas Supplement
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Seasonal/Christmas/Default.htm

Malankara World Advent Supplement
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Seasonal/advent/Default.htm

We also invite you to read the Malankara World Journal Specials on Christmas in 2013 and 2012. You can read them from our archives here:

Malankara World Journal Christmas Special - Issue 185 - December 23, 2013
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_184.htm

Malankara World Journal Christmas Special - Issue 115 - December 23, 2012
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_115.htm

II. This Week's Features

6. Inspiration for Today: Jesus, our Emmanuel

7. The Greatest Event in Human History

Jesus came to earth that we might go to heaven. Jesus was born of a virgin that we might be born again. When you celebrate this Christmas season, may it be with an increased love for a Father who sent His only begotten Son - and a Savior, the Second Person of the Trinity, who laid aside His royal robes and stepped onto earth to become "obedient unto death - even the death of the cross." No wonder we say that is human history's greatest event. ...

8. Orthodox Prayer: The One Who Was Born of The Virgin

Eniyono (Emo d’Kitho/Kanyakayam) - From the Christmas Liturgy of Syriac Orthodox Church

9. The Nativity: 'Where Does God Fit In?'

In the incarnation, God says to each of us, "You are worth so much to me that in Jesus Christ I came to identify with you in all of life's sorrows and struggles. I came to live with you, to save you from your sins so that I could have a personal relationship with you. If you will let me be born into your life, everything will be different - everything will change." ...

10. All I want for Christmas

All He wants for Christmas is you.
You and I and others like us were the motivating reason for Christmas in the first place.

"But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, that He might redeem those who were under the Law…"
(Galatians 4:4).
"…that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life"
(John 3:16). ...

11. What Christmas Is About

Christ came to this earth. God came near to you so you can come near to Him - to give your life purpose and meaning, to forgive you of your sins, and to give you the hope of heaven beyond the grave. Christmas is not about tinsel or shopping or presents. Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree. Rather, Christmas is about the gift that was given on the tree when Christ died there for our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life. ...

12. Good News of Great Joy

God sends Jesus, the Messiah, out of a sense of delight and pleasure with his creation. The Messiah coming as one of us, Immanuel, God with us, is the greatest good news we could ever hope to receive. Jesus says in John's gospel, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only, begotten son; that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). ...

13. Greed vs. Joyful Giving

God is much more interested in our motive for giving than in the gift itself. If that motive is tainted with greed of any kind, the gift simply does not count. This year, before you give, ask yourself, "What's in it for me?" If the answer is "nothing," then go ahead and give the gift. Be a joyful giver. A wonderful story illustrates this. ...

14. Four Things You Can Do When Christmas Is Not Merry

For some individuals, the holiday season feels anything but merry and it's hard to pretend. You've lost a loved one and this season does not feel the same without him or her. ...

15. Recipe: Tom Kha Chicken Soup- Thai Recipe for Cold and Flu

The flu season is upon us and the latest flu vaccine, reportedly is not very effective in the strain of the flu that is expected this season, according to CDC. So, we are on the lookout for traditional remedies. Chicken soup is the grandma's recipe for Cold and Flu. This modified chicken soup that incorporates several spices, known to help in flu and cold, is worth trying. It is delicious, too!

16. About Malankara World

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR
This Week in Church
Bible Readings for Christmas (December 25)
Bible Readings for This Sunday (December 28)
Sermons for Christmas (December 25)
Sermons for This Sunday (December 28)

Malankara World Advent and Christmas Supplements

To learn more about the spiritual significance of Christmas and Advent Season Malankara World has created special supplements so you can read all about them in depth. Click below to visit:

Malankara World Christmas Supplement
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Seasonal/Christmas/Default.htm

Malankara World Advent Supplement
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Seasonal/advent/Default.htm

We also invite you to read the Malankara World Journal Specials on Christmas in 2013 and 2012. You can read them from our archives here:

Malankara World Journal Christmas Special - Issue 185 - December 23, 2013
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_184.htm

Malankara World Journal Christmas Special - Issue 115 - December 23, 2012
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_115.htm

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: Jesus, our Emmanuel

"Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin's womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel."

Charles Wesley, 1739

The Greatest Event in Human History

by Adrian Rogers

Some years ago, the United States sent a capsule to the moon, and for the first time a man - Neil Armstrong - walked on the moon. The President at that time said, "The planting of human feet upon the moon is the greatest event in human history."

I mean no disrespect, but he was totally wrong. The greatest event in human history was not planting human feet upon the moon but when God came to a manger in Bethlehem and His feet were planted upon Earth. That's the greatest event. We call that the incarnation.

Almighty God stepped out of heaven's ivory palaces into this world of woe and put His feet upon earth.

What good does it do us to put a man on the moon if we can't get God in our hearts?
What good is it to know how the heavens go and not know Jesus, and how to go to heaven?
What good is it to know astronomy and not know Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star?
What good is it to know botany and study the flowers and not know Jesus, heaven's sweetest rose, the Rose of Sharon?
What good is it to know geology and the ages of the rocks and not know Jesus, the Rock of Ages?
What good is it to know the events of history and not know that history is "His story"?
For it is in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah dipped his pen in golden glory 700 years before the first Christmas and wrote about the coming Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ. The "child being born" speaks of His virgin birth. The "Son being given" speaks of His eternality. He has been the Son of God, with the Father, through the ages.

"… and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

The educated man is ignorant, the strong man is weak, and the wealthy man is poor if he doesn't understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Jesus was not just another child, a Galilean peasant, a great teacher. He was supernatural. God sent a package to earth the first Christmas - a gift of deity wrapped in humanity. Never forget this: Jesus is God in human flesh.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle John called Jesus "the Word." A word is an expression of an invisible thought. You can't hear my thoughts, but you hear my words and therefore you know my thoughts. You can't see my thoughts. My thoughts are invisible. But my word makes the invisible known to you. Jesus makes the invisible God known to man. He is the very Word of God to the human race.

Jesus is also fully God. The apostle John was a devout Jew who would have an ingrained resistance to any kind of idolatry. Yet John says "the Word was God."

Everything that God is, Jesus is. Everything that God has, Jesus has. Everything that God does, Jesus does. Jesus is fully God. He is not part-God and part-man. He's not all God and no man. He's not all man and no God. He is the God-man. There has never ever been another like the Lord Jesus Christ, supernatural in His nature.

"But unto the Son [of God] he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom." Hebrews 1:8

Our heavenly Father said of His heavenly Son, "Your throne is for ever and ever, and You, My Son, are God." Jesus did not have His beginning at Bethlehem. When John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word…" it's not talking about a start but a state. There never was a time when Jesus was not. There never will be a time when Jesus is not. A billion years from now, He'll still be God. He is God from everlasting to everlasting.

"And great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh." 1Timothy 3:16

Jesus did not begin in a manger. He came to earth and was manifest in a manger. That little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes was the great, eternal, uncreated, self-existing Word made flesh, the One who swung planets into space. The baby in Luke 2 is the mighty God of Genesis 1 who made it all. Before Him, "there was nothing that is made." The toddler learning to walk holding Mary's hand is the eternal, uncreated God. The boy playing with shavings there in Joseph's carpenter shop is God manifested in the flesh. You may not understand that, and I can understand that you don't understand it, because the apostle Paul said, "I don't understand it." Great is the mystery of God that He stepped out of heaven and came to this earth through the portals of a virgin's womb. Isaiah 7:14 tells us He was born of a virgin. This child is the very Son of God.

"With God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1:37

I know there are people who sneer at the idea of a virgin birth. They say, "Well, how could this happen?" The angel said to Mary, "With God, nothing is impossible." If you have trouble with the virgin birth, your real trouble is with God. If God could make the first man without a father or mother, don't you think He could bring His Son into this world in a virgin birth? If you don't believe in the virgin birth, your problem is with the Word of God: it is flawed because the Word of God clearly, plainly teaches it. If Mary had a child out of wedlock, then Mary was an impure woman. And if Jesus were not the Son of God, He's the Son of Adam. "In Adam all die." If Jesus had not been born of a virgin, He would have the same human tendencies and proclivities that you and I have. By nature we are children of wrath.

If there is no virgin birth, none of us is going to heaven. Our salvation is inextricably interwoven with the virgin birth. No virgin birth, no deity. No deity, no sinless life. No sinless life, no sacrificial death. No sacrificial death, no salvation. No salvation, no heaven - no eternity with God.

Jesus came to earth that we might go to heaven. Jesus was born of a virgin that we might be born again. When you celebrate this Christmas season, may it be with an increased love for a Father who sent His only begotten Son - and a Savior, the Second Person of the Trinity, who laid aside His royal robes and stepped onto earth to become "obedient unto death - even the death of the cross." No wonder we say that is human history's greatest event.

Source: Love Worth Finding with Adrian Rogers

Orthodox Prayer: The One Who Was Born of The Virgin
Source: Eniyono [Emo d’Kitho/Kanyakayam (Mal)] -
From the Christmas Liturgy of Syriac Orthodox Church

The One Who was born of the Virgin
Without breaking - the bless'd Virgin's seal
O God, have mercy on us

The One Whom the Magi from the east
Honored with gifts - and the shepherds praised
O God, have mercy on us

The One Who crawled as a little child
In Bethlehem - was born by His will
O God, have mercy on us

The One Who was wrapped in swaddling clothes
In Bethlehem - was born by His will
O God, have mercy on us

The One Who was born from the Father
And from Mary - in the fullness of time
O God, have mercy on us

The One Who drew wise men from the east
To worship Your - honor and glory
O God, have mercy on us

The One Who gladdened those in heaven
And on the earth, - the Lord of Glory
O God, have mercy on us…Barekmor

Let us bow, worship and exalt Him
Who by His birth - saved us from error
O God, have mercy on us

The Nativity: 'Where Does God Fit In?'

By Rev. Mark H. Creech

A school teacher in England tells the story of the time she supervised the construction of a manger scene in the corner of her classroom. It was all there - the wise men and the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, the sheep and the oxen. It fascinated the children, one child especially. The teacher asked this little ten-year-old, "What is it? Why are you so taken with the manger scene? Is there something that bothers you?" With his eyes still glued to the scene, the little fellow asked, "What I'd like to know is: Where does God fit in?"

It's amazing how the modest mind of a child can raise a question of such profound import. There is a theological word used to describe where God fits into the story of the Nativity. The word is "incarnation" and it means "being or taking on flesh." In the simplest of terms, the doctrine of the incarnation means the little babe lying in a manger was God Himself, making a personal visit to the earth by robing his divinity in human form.

Today there are many critics of the teaching of the incarnation, each directing its criticisms at different points. Some say the narratives of the Virgin Birth of Christ appear in only two places in the New Testament, Matthew and Luke. They allege the rest of the New Testament is silent on the subject. Others suggest a reference to Deity was just a common way to designate a religious personality in ancient times, which was also evident in the practice of other religions. Finally, some say it just isn't possible.

Nevertheless, the assertion that Jesus is God permeates the Scriptures. The Bible not only teaches that Jesus was born of a virgin, but, as a grown man, He exercised the prerogatives of Deity and demonstrated its attributes. Without hesitation, He bore the titles and accepted the worship of Deity. His commandments were given with the authority of Deity.

More importantly, Jesus Himself claimed to be God, teaching His disciples that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9). Jesus' testimony before the Sanhedrin that He was the Messiah and that they would in the future see Him "sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" was also what clinched His sentence of death (Matthew 26:63-66). The Jewish Council correctly understood His remarks to be a declaration of equality with God and consequently they ordered His execution.

Moreover, we can say with much assurance that the differences between the stories of Jesus' birth and the stories of the births of other religious personalities are so distinct that they are beyond comparison.

Someone once asked the late W. A. Criswell, "If an unwed mother were to avow to you that her child was conceived by the Spirit without an earthly father, would you believe her?" Criswell answered,

"Yes, if the birth of that child was foretold thousands of years before;
yes, if when the child was born the angels sang and the star of promise stood over the place where the infant lay;
yes, if when the child were grown He had power over the wind and the waves, over disease and death;
yes, if when He was slain, the third day he was raised from the dead;
yes, if when He ascended to heaven His disciples through the centuries were numbered by the millions and increasing millions." [1]

The late great Bible teacher, Dr. William Evans echoes these words with a related thought:

"The narrative of the Virgin Birth need not stagger us...If the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is rejected, it must be on purely subjective grounds. If one denies the possibility of the supernatural in the experience of human life, it is, of course, easy for him to deny this doctrine. To one who believes that Jesus was human only it would seem comparatively easy to deny the supernatural birth on purely subjective grounds. The preconceptions of thinkers to a great degree determine their views. It would seem that such a wonderful life as lived by Christ, having as it did such a wonderful finish in the resurrection and the ascension, might, indeed should, have a wonderful and extraordinary entrance into the world. The fact that the Virgin Birth is attested by the Scripture, by tradition, by creeds, and that it is in perfect harmony with all the other facts of that wonderful life should be sufficient attestation of its truth." [2]

Still, unfortunately, some persist in their unbelief. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president, Dr. Albert Mohler, recently noted in 'Must We Believe in the Virgin Birth?':

"Now, even some revisionist evangelicals claim that belief in the Virgin Birth is unnecessary. The meaning of the miracle is enduring, they argue, but the historical truth of the doctrine is not really important." [3]

The doctrine of the incarnation, however, is not that easily dismissed. In fact, the entire structure of the Christian faith is built upon the Virgin Birth and the Deity of Christ. It is essential to the purity of Mary, Jesus' mother. To deny the incarnation is to contend that Mary was adulterous and that the newborn in Bethlehem's manger was illegitimate. It is essential to the Bible's authority. The Virgin Birth is taught in the opening chapters of Genesis, predicted by the Old Testament prophets, affirmed by the Gospel writers, and taught in the epistles. Rejection of the Bible's teaching that Jesus is God undermines the credibility of all its other teachings. Most importantly, it is necessary to salvation's finality. If Jesus were only human, then he couldn't have been sinless. And, if Jesus was not without sin, he couldn't qualify to pay for the world's sin by His substitutionary death on the cross.

Regardless of what some scholars may contend, the doctrine of the incarnation, the Virgin Birth, the Deity of Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary to the entire construct of the Christian religion. Mohler concludes in his article, writing,

"This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ - the virgin born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth." [4]

Mohler is right. The apostle John even made the doctrine of the incarnation a test of fellowship, arguing,

"Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is a deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves so that you don't lose what we have worked for, but you may receive a full reward. Anyone who does not remain in the teaching about Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don't say, 'Welcome,' to him; for the one who says, 'Welcome,' to him shares in his evil works" (2 John 7-10).

So, when you look at a Nativity Scene this Christmas, maybe you're like that little boy in the corner of his classroom who was wondering, "Where does God fit in?" The answer is that God was fitted into the body of the baby Jesus. What a glorious and incredible act - God became a man that He might forever dignify what it means to be a human being.

Think of it. We are living in a time when we are dehumanized by the computer age. Our lives are disrupted by national and international affairs over which we have little or no control. We're constantly deceived by false messages and images in the media. Family life is falling apart. The economy is in the tank. All of this strikes at the heart of our self-worth and personal significance. The great question of the 1960s and 70s was "Who am I?" Today, the question is more, "Am I worth anything?"

In the incarnation, God says to each of us, "You are worth so much to me that in Jesus Christ I came to identify with you in all of life's sorrows and struggles. I came to live with you, to save you from your sins so that I could have a personal relationship with you. If you will let me be born into your life, everything will be different - everything will change."

Indeed, it will change. For Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. Better still, Jesus can be God with you. Will you trust Him as your own Savior and Lord?

References:

[1] W.A. Criswell, In Defense of the Faith (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967), p. 35.

[2] William Evans, The Great Doctrines of the Bible, (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1979), p. 54

[3] Albert Mohler, Must We Believe in the Virgin Birth,
http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/12/14/must-we-believe-in-the-virgin-birth/

[4] Ibid.

© Rev. Mark H. Creech

About The Author:

Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He is a prolific speaker and writer, and has served as a radio commentator for Christians In Action, a daily program featuring Rev. Creech's commentary on social issues from a Christian worldview. His weekly editorials are also featured on the Christian Action League website and Agape Press, a national Christian newswire.

All I want for Christmas

by Dr. Joe MacKeever

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…."

A few years back, the minister of music and I decided to try something different on the last Sunday night before Christmas. We had done all the pageants and children's musicals and there was nothing more that just "had" to be done. So, Ken and I came up with the idea of a "homespun Christmas," where anyone who wished could come to the microphone and sing a Christmas carol.

After all, what could happen other than a few tone-deaf members grating on our ears? Hey, it was a Sunday night. What did we have to lose?

We ended up with an irregular collection of performances. A dad and his son sang a duet that hit the occasional correct note, but they were charming and everyone loved it. A family sang harmony and blessed the crowd. There were solos and a little karaoke-type stuff. But one number in particular was unforgettable.

Someone in our congregation had put out the word that "just anyone" could come and sing. So they did. No one knew those two teenage girls. I think they came from the other side of the metro area, maybe 25 miles away. Their short dresses indicated they were not regulars in our church or possibly in anybody's church.

They sang a rather seductive version of "All I want for Christmas is you" that would not have been out of place in a smoky bar room. (Anyone unfamiliar with the song will have no trouble finding it on youtube.)

Brother Ken sat there wondering what act could best follow this and what he should say about this song.

As the sisters sat down, I went to the mike, thanked them and said,

"Yes, Jesus–all we want for Christmas is you."

"Nice save," the staff said to me later.

This is the place for a good old-fashioned "lol." Our ministers still talk about that song and that moment.

All He wants for Christmas is you.

You and I and others like us were the motivating reason for Christmas in the first place.

"But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, that He might redeem those who were under the Law…"
(Galatians 4:4).

"…that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life"
(John 3:16).

He did it for you.

(The signs that say "Jesus is the reason for the season" are exactly right, but there is a sense in which Heaven looks upon a lost mankind and says "You are the reason.")

We keep offering Him substitutes when all He wants is us.

  • "Well, Lord, since I'll not be giving myself to you, how about a little of my time….some of my money…a prayer or two. Maybe an hour of worship?"
  • "I'm willing to join the church for you, Lord, and even be baptized. Will that satisfy you?"
  • "If I go as a missionary, could I keep back some of myself for me?"
  • "I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).

This is what's going on in Micah 6 where the prophet asks, "With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high?" Micah then suggests some possibilities, the usual substitutes people have been known to offer God from the beginning of time: "Burnt offerings? Yearling calves? I know–maybe thousands of rams! And ten thousand rivers of oil! He'd surely love that! Or most of all, perhaps He would like my child, ‘the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul'?"

None of these things. They're all weak stand-ins for what God really wants: us. Micah puts it like this: "He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:6-8).

A penitent David said,

"For thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it. Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise"
(Psalm 51:16-17).

When God's messengers stand before you, they are not after what is yours but you.

"Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account" (Philippians 4:17).

The Macedonians did so well in their giving. "They first gave themselves to the Lord and (then) to us by the will of God" (II Corinthians 8:5).

Paul said to the Corinthians, "For I do not seek what is yours but you" (II Corinthians 12:14).

And that's the point.

The Lord does not accept substitutes. (Jill Briscoe suggests this is what Moses had in mind that day on the backside of Horeb when God fingered him as the deliverer of His people from Egypt. In essence, Moses said, "Here am I; send Aaron." That wonderful line is the title of Mrs. Briscoe's unforgettable book.)

The Lord Jesus said, "Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? And in your name cast out demons? and in your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 7:22-23).

He wants you.

If He gets you, He gets everything you have.

And that's why, for some in the crowd, the thought of His getting you sends panic throughout your system.

What Christmas Is About

by Greg Laurie

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
- Isaiah 9:7

As we look at our world today, we realize that part of the promise of Isaiah 9:6-7 has not yet been fulfilled. The Son has been given. The Child has been born. But He has not yet taken the government upon His shoulders. We do not yet have peace with judgment and justice. But the good news is that there will come a day when Christ will return. He will establish His kingdom on this earth. And it will be the righteous rule of God Himself.

Before Jesus could take the government upon His shoulder, He had to take the cross upon His shoulder. Before He could wear the crown of glory as King of Kings, He had to wear the shameful crown of thorns and give His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The first time, a star marked His arrival. But the next time He comes, the heavens will roll back like a scroll, all of the stars will fall from the sky, and He Himself will light it.

Christ came to this earth. God came near to you so you can come near to Him - to give your life purpose and meaning, to forgive you of your sins, and to give you the hope of heaven beyond the grave. Christmas is not about tinsel or shopping or presents. Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree. Rather, Christmas is about the gift that was given on the tree when Christ died there for our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life.

Source: Excerpted from 'Every Day with Jesus' by Greg Laurie, 2013

Good News of Great Joy

by Margaret Manning Shull

One of the wonderful aspects of the Christmas season is the celebration of unique and sometimes quirky family "traditions" that make the season special for each one of us. In my family, we had several Christmas television specials that became part of our celebration ritual. One of my favorites was "A Charlie Brown Christmas." I loved the music by Vince Guaraldi that undergirded the animated characters and plot; I loved the fact that Charlie Brown finds the lowliest Christmas tree for the pageant, and I loved Linus's gentle, yet poignant reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. I will never forget his slow walk to the center of the stage with thumb in mouth and blanket trailing behind him.

To this day, his recitation from the second chapter of Luke still gives me goose bumps. Tears of joy and beauty easily fill my eyes as I hear his small, childlike voice proclaiming the powerful message of God's good news for the whole world:

And the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom God is pleased'" (Luke 2:8-14).

In recalling Linus's recitation, I've been thinking about the message of good news the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that starry night. I think about what a contrast that message is to our prevailing "bad news" messages today. Random violence, terror, and wars continue; thousands dying of Ebola in West Africa; an increasingly hostile political climate; and news of illness and loss of life among friends and family. It is hard not to feel at times that the world is full of bad news.

As I juxtapose the bad news of our world with Luke's message of good news, I have to wonder if it's just wishful thinking. In light of our bad news world, what is good about the good news?

Notably, the angel proclaims that salvation has come in one "born this day in the city of David, who is Messiah." For those poor shepherds, this was indeed good news! Their deliverer had come to rescue them from Roman oppression, and now all of Israel would be restored under the rule of God's messiah.

But this good news would go beyond the boundaries of ethnic Israel to the whole world. The good news of God's promised Messiah demonstrates God's favor towards 'all people.' "Glory to God in the highest," the angel host proclaims, "And on earth peace among men with whom God is pleased."

The Greek word for pleased literally means "to think well of, to approve, or to take delight in or pleasure." So often, perhaps influenced by bad news all around us, many of us struggle with a foreboding sense that God is angry with us, smoldering with rage and wrath against us. But the angels declare the exact opposite—and this is indeed, good news! God sends Jesus, the Messiah, out of a sense of delight and pleasure with his creation. The Messiah coming as one of us, Immanuel, God with us, is the greatest good news we could ever hope to receive. Jesus says in John's gospel, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only, begotten son; that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

In the face of the bad news of our world and in our lives, the good news of God should resound in our hearts and minds as we enter the Christmas season: God is with us, God is pleased with us, and God loves us! Jesus inaugurates the reign of good news, his shalom, even in the face of bad news. All are invited to share in this good news. The good news of God's reign exists even in the midst of crisis. The good news of God's reign offers hope that Immanuel has arrived in Jesus. And even when the news is overwhelmingly bad, the promise resounds: "In the world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). This is indeed good news.

About The Author:

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

Source: A Slice of Infinity
Copyright © 2014 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, All rights reserved.

Greed vs. Joyful Giving

by Mary Southerland

"Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily.' 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NCV)

We make a living by what we get out of life, but we make a life by what we give … and how we give it. I am convinced God loves to see us give for no other reason than the joy of giving.

When our children were in middle school, we owned what I affectionately called a "Mini-Gym." It was actually a set of bar bells, a weight lifting bench, and a few free weights. Both Jered and Danna loved their "gym" and used it almost every day.

When Christmas rolled around, we learned that two of their good friends, Jeff and Jeremy, were not going to have much of a Christmas because their dad had lost his job. Jered came up with a plan.

"Mom," he said, "Danna and I have talked about it. We think that Jeff and Jeremy would love to have a gym like ours, but we don't want them to know we gave it to them because they might be embarrassed. What do you think?"

I thought I was in the presence of two joyful givers, and quickly joined them in their plan.

A few days before Christmas, Jered and I took the gym apart and loaded it in our car. Danna found a huge red bow and made a sign that read, "Merry Christmas!" We blew up a bunch of balloons and dug out some Christmas lights.

Sneaky? Oh, we were the epitome of sneakiness! We enlisted the help of a neighbor who had a key to our friend's house. Her job was to let us know when our friends left and then unlock the back door so we could complete our mission. We parked down the street until the neighbor called, giggling, to let us know the coast was clear.

Once we were inside, we raced to assemble the gym, tie the balloons, and tape the lights to the front door. We then high-tailed it home as if the FBI was hot on our trail!

The neighbor called with a final mission report. Minutes after the boys and their mom returned, she heard shouting and "whooping and hollering."

Mission accomplished! And the joy of that Christmas still lingers today.

Greed doesn't hold a candle to joyful giving.

Greed is never satisfied and never at rest. There is always something more to be gained and someone else to outdo.

Greed promotes motives that are self-serving, not God-honoring.

Greed loves a prideful heart. Oh yes, I am familiar with this one. My pride is at stake, so I give to impress others. People are watching, so I give to gain their approval.

Greed cooks up a batch of fear and guilt, spreads it across our lives, and we give, hoping to buy God's forgiveness from our sin. How foolish! That gift has already been given.

God is much more interested in our motive for giving than in the gift itself. If that motive is tainted with greed of any kind, the gift simply does not count. This year, before you give, ask yourself, "What's in it for me?" If the answer is "nothing," then go ahead and give the gift.

Be a joyful giver.

Let's Pray

Father, You have given me so much. Thank You for the blessings in my life. Thank You for meeting my every need. Please help me give with a joyful heart. I want You to be pleased and honored by the gifts I give this Christmas.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now it's Your Turn

Read Proverbs 11:24-25 "Some people give much but get back even more. Others don't give what they should and end up poor. Whoever gives to others will get richer; those who help others will themselves be helped."

What truths about giving do you see in these verses?
How can you apply those truths to the gifts you give this Christmas?
Have you considered the fact that your gift may very well be the answer to someone's prayer?

Source: Girlfriends in God

Four Things You Can Do When Christmas Is Not Merry

By Leslie Vernick

For some individuals, the holiday season feels anything but merry and it's hard to pretend. You've lost a loved one and this season does not feel the same without him or her.

You're recently divorced and the traditions and celebrations you shared as a family are now gone along with your wedding ring. Or you live alone and the holidays only magnify your isolation and lack of family or close friends.

Others dread Christmas because it conjures up bad memories of holidays past. There wasn't peace, joy or good will. Only drunkenness, disappointment, conflict, and hurt that continues to rage wild even if you wished it wouldn't.If that's you, or someone you know, let me share a few things that might help you get through these next few days.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Give yourself permission to grieve and process your pain. As Christians, sometimes we feel guilty for having negative emotions. Jesus knows how you feel and you never have to pretend with him. Take some time to journal out your questions, your emotions, or your complaints as David did when he wrote his psalms. He often discovered after writing, he not only felt better but he experienced God in a new way.

Daily look for the good. When we're in pain, it's hard to be intentional and look for the good tucked within each day. Before you go to sleep, scan the past 12 hours of your day and ask yourself what happened today that you're most grateful for? Write it down. Keep a gratitude journal of the things you have to look hard for in order to see. The Lord tells Isaiah, "I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name" (Isaiah 45:3).

Do an act of kindness for someone you don't know well. We can always find someone who is in need of a kind word, a good meal, a meaningful card, a hug, or a little bit of our time. Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. While you may not feel like it, give something of yourself to someone less fortunate. It will bless you as you bless another person.

Allow yourself to receive. Sometimes we'd rather sit home and eat a can of cold soup than accept an act of kindness from another person. We're embarrassed and don't want to feel needy. Yet God may have put you in someone's heart in order to bless you.

I remember early in our marriage my husband became ill with a life-threatening problem. Our family didn't live nearby but the people from our church rallied around us and not only loved us through it, but also provided cash for us to pay for some of the expenses.

It was humbling but it met our financial need and it touched our hearts. Let yourself receive their act of kindness. You both will be richer for it.

Christmas gives us a reason to be joyful but not in the way we usually celebrate it. Christmas isn't about trees and gifts and carols and special cookies. Christmas is good news. Emmanuel, God is with us.

He sent Jesus so that we might know what God is like. Spend a few minutes just pondering Luke's description of this miracle when he says,

"Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide us to the path of peace." Luke 1:78,79.

If you find yourself in a dark place this Season, I pray that you will experience that light and path to peace.

Recipe: Tom Kha Chicken Soup- Thai Recipe for Cold and Flu

by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

The flu season is upon us and the latest flu vaccine, reportedly is not very effective in the strain of the flu that is expected this season, according to CDC. So, we are on the lookout for traditional remedies. Chicken soup is the grandma's recipe for Cold and Flu. This modified chicken soup that incorporates several spices, known to help in flu and cold, is worth trying. It is delicious, too!

Ginger and Chili are known to be great for cold and flu. Ginger helps to soothe upset stomachs, and provides relief from muscle soreness, cough and other aches and pains. Chilies are great at warming you up when you get the chills. (It also awakens the taste palette of Mallus.)

Tom Kha Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock or vegetable broth
¼ pound chicken, ground or diced small (you can substitute tofu for a vegetarian version)
1 teaspoon chili paste (adjust amount to your taste.)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
Salt to taste
1 small onion, diced small
½ stalk celery, diced small
1-2 mushrooms, diced small
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 scallion, diced finely
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients except second tablespoon of lime juice, scallions and cilantro into a medium stockpot. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for one hour.

2. Add second tablespoon of lime juice and serve, garnishing with scallion and cilantro.

Yield: Makes 2 servings

Source: Thai Recipe - Adapted from Ty Fun Thai Bistro by Angela Townsend, The Plain Dealer.

About Malankara World
With over 6000 articles and hundreds of links to outside resources covering all aspects of Syriac Orthodoxy that are of interest to Family, Malankara World is the premier source for information for Malankara Diaspora. In addition to articles on spirituality, faith, sacraments, sermons, devotionals, etc., Malankara World also has many general interest articles, health tips, Food and Cooking, Virtual Travel, and Family Specific articles. Please visit Malankara World by clicking here or cut and paste the link on your browser: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/default.htm

Malankara World Journal Subscription

If you are not receiving Malankara World Journal directly, you may sign up to receive it via email free of cost. Please click here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Register/news_regn.asp

You can contact us via email at mail@malankaraworld.com

Malankara World Journal Archives

Previous Issues of Malankara World Journal can be read from the archives here.

You can contact us via email at mail@malankaraworld.com

Thank you for your help and support.

Malankara World Team

Malankara World Journal is published by MalankaraWorld.com http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/
Copyright © 2011-2014 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.