Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 1 No. 44 December 22, 2011

Christmas Special Edition

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
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Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
Table of Contents
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Malankara World Christmas Supplement

Ecumenical xmas program-Columbus, OH Malankara World Christmas Supplement is our Christmas gift to you. Has plenty of articles on Christmas, devotionals, prayers, homilies and sermons and bible studies. In addition, there are also plenty of Christmas stories, Inspirational stories, articles on handling the stress during the holiday season, tips on celebrating Christmas on a budget, recipes for delicious Christmas dishes and plenty more. Please visit: Malankara World Christmas Supplement -

Ecumenical xmas program-Columbus, OH
Ecumenical Christmas Program, Columbus, Ohio

Editor's Note
Merry Christmas As we have noted during this advent season, Christmas signifies two things, viz.,
  • God keeps His Promises
  • God works through ordinary people to do extraordinary things

Throughout the year, we also emphasized that Jesus taught a different kind of leadership - namely a servant leadership. In Christianity, a leader is the one who serves. We had given enough scriptural validation to these points in our previous MW Journals and in MW website.

When we hear of Christmas, we recall the incarnation of God as a human being. Jesus' arrival as a vulnerable baby was a marriage between divinity and humanity, a day when "the two became one." On the first Christmas, Christ's sanctifying presence built a bridge between a sinful world and a holy God, opening the door for you and I to become part of His family.

What is the most significant in the redemption of the God's plan for humanity is the death and resurrection of Jesus. Incarnation was the enabler of the process. The season of Advent was traditionally used to commemorate both the first and second coming of Christ. Scripture refers to the second coming of Jesus as the great wedding feast of the Lamb, when Christ, the Bridegroom, comes for His Bride, the Church, never to be separated from us again. Death, sorrow, and sin shall be no more. It will be fulfilling of another promise made by God, viz.,

"…This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." - Acts 1:11

"Jesus declared it; the angels confirmed it; and the apostles explained it over and over again—Jesus is coming again. And that’s really the greatest promise of Christmas. While Jesus came once to die, He’ll come again to reign forever. So as you celebrate Christmas this year, remember that truth that the same Jesus born in Bethlehem will one day rule the world with truth and grace."  - Dr. Jack Graham

"The real Christmas comes to him who has taken Christ into his life as a moving, dynamic, vitalizing force. The real spirit of Christmas lies in the life and mission of the Master....

"If you desire to find the true spirit of Christmas and partake of the sweetness of it, let me make this suggestion to you. During the hurry of the festive occasion of this Christmas season, find time to turn your heart to God. Perhaps in the quiet hours, and in a quiet place, and on your knees—alone or with loved ones—give thanks for the good things that have come to you, and ask that His Spirit might dwell in you as you earnestly strive to serve Him and keep His commandments." - Howard W. Hunter

So stop and reflect on the blessings God has showered on us during the Christmas season. We do not deserve those; that is why they are presents from God to us.  We read in Psalm 51 that God is not looking for any sacrifices. 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise' (Psalm 51:17). Jesus showed the value of humility by the way he was born in a manger. His first visitors were the socially outcast and shunned shepherds. Let us give to the baby Jesus a broken and contrite heart as our gift during this Christmas season.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Please remember us in your prayers.

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Dec 25)
Sermons for This Sunday (Dec 25)
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.

Sermons, Homilies and messages for Christmas can be obtained in Malankara World Special Christmas Supplement

More Sermons

This Week's Features

Ultimate Gift
Ann Landers wrote about a person she knew who said the greatest gift he ever received in his life was a note his dad gave him on Christmas. It read, "Son, this year I will give you 365 hours. An hour every day after dinner. We'll talk about whatever you want to talk about. We'll go wherever you want to go, play whatever you want to play. It will be your hour." That dad kept his promise and renewed it every year. There is no greater gift we can give than ourselves.

Christmas Message From Holy Father

by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

In his epistle to his disciple Timothy, St. Paul wrote:

"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh." (1Timothy 3:16)

Dearly beloved: While we ponder this great mystery, the mystery of the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in flesh, we stand astounded by the attitude of the Virgin Mary, how she stood the awesome miracle of the holy incarnation and what happened to her, inside her, with her, and in front of her !? While she is the simple young girl who wasn't Fourteen years old yet?! She is a mother nursing her divine Son, wrapping Him and laying Him in a manger, in a barn in Bethlehem because they had no room! We are also surprised by the words of the angel Gabriel to her when he announced the holy conception: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus . . . He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest." (Luke 1:30) O angel Gabriel, where is the greatness of Jesus? Where is His kingdom? And where is His throne?

Yes indeed, His kingdom is not of this world. Even if all the priests of the earth and all its rulers ignored His existence, yet heaven glorified Him and the angel announced His birth to the shepherds. No wonder that we see the Virgin Mary and her betrothed not finding a place so they found an oxen and donkey's barn in order for Christ to be born there and His mother wraps Him and lays Him in a manger ... Due to His birth there, that manger was transformed to a sacred place and became the eyeball of all Christians where kings of the earth come and take off their crowns and bow their heads and moreover worship the One Who was born there. Yes indeed, that manger was the befitting place for Jesus the Savior Who descended from heaven to teach us humility which will become the cure from the sickness of pride. He became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross to abolish the sin of disobedience of God's command in paradise., "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

The manger is the fitting place for the One Who came to serve and not to be served and offer Himself a ransom for many. He started His Godly mission by setting Himself in a down-to-earth manger so that the other side of His life will be the cross of shame carrying it on His shoulder in front of a loathing crowd shouting: Crucify Him, crucify Him. Then He was hanged on it and being laid in a new tomb which He didn't possess ... Did He possess anything of this world? He Who when the scribe asked Him saying: Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go, and Jesus answered: "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Mathew 8:20)

Yes indeed, believers will remain surprised and baffled while reading the story of the Redeemer's birth due to its simple words and style whereby children can understand it in details and at the same time great philosophers can understand its meaning and realize the divine mysteries. This is what Jesus meant when He prayed to His heavenly Father regarding His mission in flesh: "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes." (Mathew 11:25)

God concealed His mysteries from those who consider themselves wise in order to put to shame the wisdom of this world. He didn't have a place in their midst nor was He born from the daughter of the wealthy parents or philosophers or scientists, but He was born from a poor and orphan girl the Virgin Mary. Yet she was the descendant of kings, priests, and prophets. He wasn't laid in a golden or ivory bed, neither His body was wrapped in soft silk. Rather He was wrapped in cotton and laid in a manger, in a barn in Bethlehem the small village so that whoever seeks Him will find Him.

This is His practical heavenly message, that we learn meekness and humility from Him so that we lift the heavy weight of arrogance, conceit, and pride from within ourselves. Hence we will obtain peace with God, with ourselves, and with everybody.

Yes indeed the Christmas message is a message of love and humility. We see Him today in the millions of homeless children, along with their parents, starving while we are enjoying many luxuries. Every needy or poor or orphan or pitiable widow is Jesus' little brother representing the poor Child Jesus.

Why don't we then abide by the commandments of Jesus Who will judge the humans on the last day according to their merciful deeds plus their faith in Him.

Don't we long to stand on His right side with those who will here His sweet voice saying: "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me ... Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (Mathew 25: 34-40)

During these days my brethren, and while we are celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus in flesh, did we prepare a place for His birth in our hearts? Did we tell our children the story of His miraculous birth, and about His mother the poor orphan and virtuous saint the Virgin Mary? Do we feel while we are celebrating our religious rituals during this happy occasion that Christ in with us and among us sharing in the joy of this feast? Or we are strangers to Him and He is far away from us? He was named Emmanuel that means: God is with us (Mathew 1:21). Did we accept Him as our Savior and believe in the mystery of His incarnation and redemption? Or we are performing our feast's rituals as a routine duty that has an appearance of deity but has lost its power because our spirituality has become mere a social custom unrelated to the spirit?

Let us prepare a place for Christ in our homes and in our hearts and souls so that we live, not us, but He lives in us (Galatians 2:20)

My beloved: We cannot shy away from the bloody and painful events that are happening in our countries: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine, in addition to what humanity is facing all over the world: injustice, bias, persecution, famine, depression, sadness, and sickness. It is all due to spiritual wars launched by the enemy of goodness and humanity, albeit the enemy of God against God and believers. But the Lord Jesus taught us through His incarnation that He came for the whole human race and specially to the weary and heavy laden, as if even when He is a young Babe laying in a manger, is stretching His arms and inviting the people as He invited them later: "Come to Me, all you weary and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Mathew 11:28-30)

Even if we do not know what the days and the upcoming nights are hiding surprises, good or bad (God forbid), but we know one thing: That God Almighty controls the world's events. That is why we are confident because we took "Emmanuel" Who is our God, a companion for us in our course of life. He is the way that we walk through, and He is the life that we live, and He is the truth that we hold dear. For He said about Himself: "I am the way, the truth, and the Life." (John 14:6)

Let us with firm faith repeat with St. Paul the apostle: "If God is with us, who can be against us? He Who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter'. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus the Lord." (Romans 8:31-38)

May the Lord accept your fasting and prayers. May the feast of His birth in flesh be a means for blessings to you all and benevolence to our beloved countries.

This is what we relay to you. May His grace be with you.

Editor's Note: Translated by His Eminence Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan. Message was edited. The full message can be read in Malankara World.

Featured This Week: Christ the Lord

by Ryan Duncan

And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7

The Christmas story is one of the most amazing moments in the Bible, probably rivaled only by the crucifixion. It's the story of Christ's birth, the moment when God took on human form. In the bright lights of the holiday season, it's easy to miss the true wonder and raw power of its message. That's why, when I came across a modern day retelling of the Christmas story, a whole new side of Christ's birth was revealed to me. The story went something like this:

"Once upon a time, somewhere in North Dakota, there lived a rather unremarkable young couple whose names were Joseph and Mary. Joseph was a tradesman who worked in a factory for minimum wage. Mary was his fiancée, a High School dropout who lived with him in a small apartment, and who was currently pregnant. By the worlds standards they were nothing special, but still, they were good people who loved God and loved each other.

One year, Joseph's company announced it was going to hold a conference in Chicago, and all employees were expected to attend. The couple couldn't afford to fly, so the two of them made the three day trip to Chicago in Joseph's run down old Ford, only to find on their arrival that all the hotels had been booked for the week. The two of them searched and searched, but even the smaller motels were full to bursting. Finally, one of the motel managers took pity on them.

'It ain't much,' he said, 'But if you're really desperate I can get some blankets and a few inflatable mattresses, and the two of you can sleep in the garage next door.'

With no other alternative the couple accepted. That night, Mary went into labor. Joseph called for paramedics, but for some reason they never arrived, and Mary was forced to have her child in a garage with no medical attention and only Joseph to help her. When she finally gave birth, they wrapped the baby in the few blankets they had and lay him in an old cardboard box the manager had been using to recycle old newspapers.'

Strange, isn't it? I feel like we often romanticize the Christmas story. We imagine Christ's birth happened on a peaceful, starry night, in a warm and cozy stable surrounded by well-trained and cleanly washed animals. In reality, it was hard, painful, dirty, and depressing, but so much more incredible. The God of our universe, the Holy Being who created the earth, who set planets in motion, the God who existed before time itself began, stepped down from his heavenly throne so that he could be born as one of the lowest of beings, in one of the lowest of places. A sacrifice he made so that we may one day be reconciled to him. This Christmas season, take a moment to read the story of Jesus' birth and look at it with new eyes.

Source: Devotional. Ryan Duncan is the editor of

No Room in the Inn

by Greg Laurie

She brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. —Luke 2:7

In these days of modern technology, we never miss a thing with TiVo, voice mail, DVD recorders, and camera phones. But even though our toys keep us from missing a phone call, they can also cause us to miss the real reason for the holiday season.

You can watch Christmas disappear in front of your eyes, in a heap of shredded wrapping paper, and find yourself saying, “I was so busy shopping, so busy attending this, going to that, that I think I actually missed the point of Christmas.”

It might be surprising to know that the majority of people missed the very first Christmas as well. People just carried on with business as usual, paying no attention to what was happening just a few feet away.

In Luke chapter 2, we are introduced to an innkeeper who had no time for Christmas. In this familiar story, Mary and Joseph came to the innkeeper for a room, but because his inn was full, he turned them away.

The only place he had for this young pregnant woman and her husband was a stable, a cold, dark, and damp stable—which was more than likely a cave. He was too preoccupied with other things to make the time for Christmas.

There are people like this in the world today. They don’t necessarily oppose or hate God outright. They are simply preoccupied. God and spiritual things do not concern them. Their interests lie more in what can immediately satisfy their own physical needs. The innkeeper was too busy to make room in the inn for the soon coming Messiah.

Let me ask you this: have you made room for Jesus this Christmas? If not, there is still time to refocus and make room for Christ this Christmas, today!

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Book: 'With Christ In the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray

Lesson 18: Prayer in Harmony with the Destiny of Man
[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]

'He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?—Matt. xxi. 20.
'And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'—Gen. i. 26.

'WHOSE is this image?' It was by this question that Jesus foiled His enemies, when they thought to take Him, and settled the matter of duty in regard to the tribute. The question and the principle it involves are of universal application. Nowhere more truly than in man himself. The image he bears decides his destiny. Bearing God's image, he belongs to God: prayer to God is what he was created for. Prayer is part of the wondrous likeness he bears to His Divine original; of the deep mystery of the fellowship of love in which the Three-One has His blessedness, prayer is the earthly image and likeness.

The more we meditate on what prayer is, and the wonderful power with God which it has, the more we feel constrained to ask who and what man is, that such a place in God's counsels should have been allotted to him. Sin has so degraded him, that from what he is now we can form no conception of what he was meant to be. We must turn back to God's own record of man's creation to discover there what God's purpose was, and what the capacities with which man was endowed for the fulfillment of that purpose.

Man's destiny appears clearly from God's language at creation. It was to fill, to subdue, to have dominion over the earth and all in it. All the three expressions show us that man was meant, as God's representative, to hold rule here on earth. As God's viceroy he was to fill God's place: himself subject to God, he was to keep all else in subjection to Him. It was the will of God that all that was to be done on earth should be done through him: the history of the earth was to be entirely in his hands.

In accordance with such a destiny was the position he was to occupy, and the power at his disposal. When an earthly sovereign sends a viceroy to a distant province, it is understood that he advises as to the policy to be adopted, and that that advice is acted on: that he is at liberty to apply for troops and the other means needed for carrying out the policy or maintaining the dignity of the empire. If his policy be not approved of, he is recalled to make way for some one who better understands his sovereign's desires' as long as he is trusted, his advice is carried out. As God's representative man was to have ruled; all was to have been done under his will and rule; on his advice and at his request heaven was to have bestowed its blessing on earth. His prayer was to have been the wonderful, though simple and most natural channel, in which the intercourse between the King in heaven and His faithful servant man, as lord of this world, was to have been maintained. The destinies of the world were given into the power of the wishes, the will, the prayer of man.

With sin all this underwent a terrible change—man's fall brought all creation under the curse. With redemption the beginning was seen of a glorious restoration. No sooner had God begun in Abraham to form for Himself a people from whom kings, yea the Great King, should come forth, than we see what power the prayer of God's faithful servant has to decide the destinies of those who come into contact with him. In Abraham we see how prayer is not only, or even chiefly, the means of obtaining blessing for ourselves, but is the exercise of his royal prerogative to influence the destinies of men, and the will of God which rules them. We do not once find Abraham praying for himself. His prayer for Sodom and Lot, for Abimelech, for Ishmael, prove what power a man, who is God's friend, has to make the history of those around him. -- Read the rest of the lesson in Malankara World.

Previous Lessons (Archive)
The Power of Prayer for Others

by Dr. Jack Graham

"To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power." - 2 Thessalonians 1:11

Not long ago, I woke up early for some reason with a strange, urgent need to pray for a member of our church. Now, I hadn’t thought about this person in several months, but I had been meeting with him and helping him through some problems in his life before he abruptly stopped making his regular appointment.

So I went ahead and got up and spent some time in prayer for him. The very next Sunday, just a few days after I prayed, I walked into church and he was the first person I saw. Imagine that… I didn’t see him for months, God lays him on my heart to pray for, and he’s the first person I see the very next Sunday!

So we sat and talked for awhile, and I had a great time just encouraging him and praying for him. He told me what God was doing in his life, and I let him know God was still laying him on my heart. It was wonderful!

This experience reminded me of the powerful impact prayer for another person can have. When you pray for others, God is supernaturally allowing you to bless them and make a difference in their lives no matter where they are. So do this: make a list of your top five people you want to pray for, spend time praying for them over the next few weeks, and watch God do something great!


Source: Powerpoint Devotional


by C. H. Spurgeon (1852)

When once I mourned a load of sin;
When conscience felt a wound within;
When all my works were thrown away;
When on my knees I knelt to pray,
Then, blissful hour, remembered well,
I learned Thy love, Immanuel.

When storms of sorrow toss my soul;
When waves of care around me roll;
When comforts sink, when joys shall flee;
When hopeless griefs shall gape for me,
One word the tempest's rage shall quell--
That word, Thy name, Immanuel.

When for the truth I suffer shame;
When foes pour scandal on my name;
When cruel taunts and jeers abound;
When "Bulls of Bashan" gird me round,
Secure within Thy tower I'll dwell--
That tower, Thy grace, Immanuel.

When hell enraged lifts up her roar;
When Satan stops my path before;
When fiends rejoice and wait my end;
When legioned hosts their arrows send,
Fear not, my soul, but hurl at hell
Thy battle-cry, Immanuel.

When down the hill of life I go;
When o'er my feet death's waters flow;
When in the deep'ning flood I sink;
When friends stand weeping on the brink,
I'll mingle with my last farewell
Thy lovely name, Immanuel.

When tears are banished from mine eye;
When fairer worlds than these are nigh;
When heaven shall fill my ravished sight;
When I shall bathe in sweet delight,
One joy all joys shall far excel,
To see Thy face, Immanuel.

The Nativity of Christ - Christmas Day - What Can We Learn From the ICON?

Orthodox Nativity ICON

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Before us lies the icon of the Birth of Christ which explains the whole meaning of today's Feast.

In the bottom left-hand corner the newborn Christ is being bathed. Here is proof that God truly became man - you cannot bathe an idea or a myth or an angel. However, this bathing has another meaning too - it prefigures the future Baptism of Christ by St John the Baptist.

In the bottom right-hand corner stands the Righteous Joseph, the Betrothed. He stands far off, showing that he is not the father of the Christ-Child. He only protects the Virgin. The Devil is trying to tempt him. But as we know from the Scriptures, Joseph rejected these temptations and protected the Virgin until the end. He appears then as an example to all men, who are called on to protect women.

On the centre right stand the shepherds who have come to worship Christ; on the centre left stand the angels who have come to do the same. We are reminded of the hymns of the Church - that the heavens rejoice and the earth makes glad, that heaven and earth are united by God become man.

In the top right-hand corner the angels look up to heaven and down to the earth and to men. We recall their words: 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all men'.

In the top left-hand corner the Wise Men are coming with their gifts - gold for their King, incense for their God and myrrh for their Priest. They have come from human wisdom to worship Divine Wisdom.

At the top of the icon we see a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, reflecting the light of the Holy Trinity. Below it even the beasts bow down in worship of Christ.

In the very centre of the icon, wee see the Holy Virgin lying down. On her clothes three stars are visible, one for her virginity before the Birth of Christ, one for her virginity which remained intact during the Birth, the third for her virginity after the Birth. She is with the Christ-Child, the God from before all the ages. He is clothed in pure, white swaddling clothes which stand out from the darkness of the cave where He has been born.

This is not only the icon of the Birth of Christ, it is also the icon of the Burial and the Resurrection of Christ. The present and the future come together here. The swaddling clothes resemble the burial shroud, the cave resembles the tomb, from where Christ rose. His destiny and all our human destiny are portrayed here. For this icon is not only an icon, it is also a map of our souls.

Without Christ our soul is like a dark cave. Empty, cold and unlit. With Christ, they are light, white, warm. All human problems stem from this one source, that we have not put Christ at the centre of our lives, as He is in this icon. Every human sorrow, every difficulty, every grief comes from the absence of Christ, not only individually, but also collectively. Why, whole peoples have fallen into sin and come into humanly insoluble difficulties because they have fallen away from Christ. Every sin is a falling away from Christ, a failure to put Him in the centre of our lives.

Let our prayer on this feast day be that Christ might be born in the hearts of us all and might become the centre of our lives.

Christ is Born!
He is born indeed!

Source: St John's Orthodox Church, Colchester, UK

A Son is Given

by Lasserre Bradley, Jr.

God’s judgment is just as terrible as his salvation is wonderful. Nowhere is this made clearer than in the Isaiah 9, as the Lord describes in vivid detail the impending doom that He will bring to those who have continued in rebellion against Him:

The Lord shall set up the adversaries…against him, and join his enemies together …and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” (9:11,12).

Describing here a judgment in which an entire nation is devoured, or “eaten alive” as we might say, God says even this destruction will not satisfy His righteous anger against them. His anger is still not turned away; his hand of judgment is still not finished inflicting punishment. In verse 19, God says that “the people shall be as the fuel of the fire,” yet again the phrase is repeated: “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” (21). In other words, no amount of temporal punishment can satisfy the eternal justice of a holy God. Even after we are brought to the grave, God’s anger against sinners is not satisfied, is not finished.

It is in the midst of this stark reality that we read the promise that Handel’s Messiah has so famously, memorably, and beautifully celebrated: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: 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” (verse 6). And with the backdrop of God’s insatiable justice, we are made all the more appreciative of this prophecy.

Unto Us a Child Is Born

Just two chapters before, Isaiah had stated that “the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (7:14). Immanuel means “God with us.” We might expect, though, that the sign that God himself—Creator, King, and Judge—had come to live among us would be mountains melting (like at Sinai), sinners being slain (like Uzzah coming in contact with the ark), and the glory of God forcing us all to our faces (like at Solomon’s temple dedication). But instead the sign—all the more remarkable for its unexpectedness—will be a virgin-born baby.

Larry King, the talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he couEcumenical xmas program-Columbus, OHxxxxtorical figure. He replied, “Jesus Christ.” The questioner then inquired, “What would you like to ask Him?” King said, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” Truly, this sign was so striking, so unmistakable that unbelievers millennia later would still recognize the force of it.

And when Jesus Christ fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy by being born to the virgin Mary, angels would reiterate the truth that this miraculous child was born “unto us” by declaring: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Not for angels was this sacrifice made, not to perfect people was this gift given, but this child was born into the world to save sinners from their sin (Matthew 1:21).

And so here’s the point that Paul draws from God’s gracious gift of His Son: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).


Jesus does wonders, as God incarnate: “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).

But Jesus does not just do wonders, He is wonderful!

Jesus is the only human being in all of history, who was able to choose the time, place and circumstances of His birth. And what does He choose? He chooses the scandal of illegitimacy, as He was conceived out of wedlock. He chooses an uncomfortable one to two week journey for His parents from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census. He chooses to be born not in a palace, but a draughty stable in the middle of the stench of animal faeces and urine. Just imagine as that little baby - Jesus - drew His first breath, the Son of God's nostrils were filled with the stench of animal excrement. So ... what does this say about the God who chooses these circumstances for Himself?
"The Father's Heart for You this Christmas" Berni Dymet

They sang, the story out, for they could not stay to tell it in heavy prose. They sang, "Glory to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men." Methinks they sang it with gladness in their eyes; with their hearts burning with love, and with breasts as full of joy as if the good news to man had been good news to themselves. And, verily, it was good news to them, for the heart of sympathy makes good news to others, good news to itself.
"The First Christmas Carol" C.H. Spurgeon

This is the message of Christmas! It is God's gift to the world that attaches meaning to our tradition of exchanging Christmas gifts. It is in giving, as God gave, that we discover the true spirit of Christmas. Let us meditate for a moment on what it was that God gave the world that first Christmas.
"The Greatest Gift" Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Source: OneVoice Devotional. Lasserre Bradley, Jr. is with Baptist Bible Hour

The Antidote to Fear

In a Peanuts cartoon, Linus tells Charlie Brown, "When I hear those coyotes howling at night, it totally depresses me.  I start to feel lonely ... Then I get scared."

Charlie Brown says, "I thought holding onto that blanket made you secure."

Linus replies, "I think the warranty has run out."

Isn't that true for us? We fear life, we fear death, and everything in between. We are afraid of little things like a black cat crossing our path or spilled salt. Or, leaving our home at night lest we become a victim of crime. Or, the fear that floods our hearts as we wait for the doctor to
tell us if we have cancer. Or, the fear that startles us when the shrill sound of the telephone jolts us awake in the middle of the night.

The antidote to our fears is found in the coming of Christ into the world. The first words of Adam were "I was afraid." But the first words at the birth of Jesus were, "Don't be afraid."

Ian Chapman, Don't Be Afraid

Cafe - Christmas Recipes
God's Sign of Love
A young girl ran away from home to get married. Her father was angry and said he would never forgive her or ever want to see her again. She was sorry and wrote long letters seeking forgiveness, but still the father remained unforgiving. She eventually had a son. One day, when the boy was old enough to run and play, an idea came to her. Why not send her son to her father. He would be a living letter telling her father of her love for him and that she still very much wanted his forgiveness.

They drove to grandfather's house. The boy had not been there before, but the house was as his mother remembered it. She told the boy to knock on the door. When Grandpa answered, he was to give him a big hug and a kiss. The boy went to the door, knocked, grandfather answered, the boy reached up, kissed him and give him a huge hug. His heart melted and the father
motioned for the girl to come in as she was standing just a few feet from the door.

Reconciliation happened that day just as reconciliation happens this night between God and his children. Jesus is God's sign of his love for us and his power to forgive us our wrongs.

Tim Zingale, Christmas Colors

Humor: Actual Signs from Hotels around the World

In a Tokyo Hotel:

Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to do such a thing is please not to read notis.

In a Bucharest hotel lobby:

The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.

In a Leipzig elevator:

Do not enter lift backwards, and only when lit up.

In a Belgrade hotel elevator:

To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.

In a Bangkok dry cleaners:

Drop your trousers here for best results.

In a Paris hotel elevator:

Please leave your values at the front desk.

In a Japanese hotel:

You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:

Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop:

Ladies may have a fit upstairs.

(from The Daily Dilly)

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