CHRISTIAN NEWS MAGAZINE FOR KERALA MALAYALEE CHRISTIANS FROM INDIA AROUND THE WORLD
SYNOPSIS

SYNOPSIS FOR SERMONS AND MEDITATIONS
DECEMEBER

By V.Rev.Thomas P.Mundukuzhy Cor Episcopa
(A Renowned Writer And Publisher. Author of many Christian Devotional Books. Sunday School Director of American Diocese, Malankara Orthodox Church.)

VISITATION OF ST. MARY TO ELIZABETH
LUKE 1:39-56

  1. Meeting of two devouted women with good intentions: service, help, communication, share, fellowship, not for gossip. Elizabeth is old, Mary is young; Elizabeth is priest's wife (prestegious), Mary is just an ordinary woman ; one is rich, the other is poor. Representatives of O.T. and N.T. The young woman's curiosity to see the old one in person.

  2. Mary from Nazareth, a city in Galilee, went with haste.(like the shepherds) in the hilly city of Judea; travelled from Galile to Judeah through hills and valleys...three day's journey. No communication systems (telephone). Hurried her visit to check the welfare of an old pregnant relative... not to check the furniture, curtains, or decorations.

  3. "Mercy and truth" have met together here (Psalm 85:10)

  4. The meeting took place at Hebron (Joshua 21:11) where the tribal fathers were burried ... Machpelah (Genesis 50:13). Jesus and John the Baptist started there life together here.

  5. Rejoice with those who are rejoiced. Elizabeth was barren, but she is going to have a child. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15).

  6. An example for the necessity of fellowship: Seeing each other and sharing.

  7. Cordial response.Welcomed Mary as "Mother of my Lord" (1:43)

  8. Helped in need (like wedding at Cana). Stayed three months. Happy about another's welfare and shared each other. Exchanged their divine experience. Mutual respect.

  9. Mary's presence thrilled Elizabeth and the baby. How about our presence? The babe leaped in Elizabeth's womb.

  10. Filled with Holy Spirit in the womb (1:45). The power of the Holy Spirit. Importance of child baptism. Objections to abortion.

  11. Their skindeep relationships: The connective tissue - Below the surface and the protective tissue - Outer surface.

  12. Mary is the blessed among women through the child from God. The direct message did not make her proud; but made her humble.

  13. MAGNIFICAT is praising God for blessing her. cf. Matthew 5:3-9. cf. 1 samuel 2:1-10; 1:46-47: Hebrews 3:18.

  14. Cordial conversdation: Enjoyed each other; praises, not goossip. An ideal conversation; not gossip, no gossip.

  15. God's mercy to those who fear Him, rather than the proud; to the lowly rather than the mighty; and to the hungry rather than the rich. God comes to help the poor and simple and not to the rich and powerful.

  16. Mary stayed there three months: to GUIDE each other: GUIDE G: Guidance U: Understand I: Influence D: Discuss E: Express

LUKE 8:1-3; 10:38-42

  1. Jesus' ministry expanded with women who supported the mission.

  2. Martha welcomed Jesus in her house but was distracted with much serving.

  3. Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to Him.

  4. The needs of the spirit are more important than the comfort of the body.

JOHN 20:1-18

  1. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene

  2. She wept for Jesus and her care and concern.

  3. Mary is the first one who preached the risen Lord.

1 PETER 3:1-7

  1. Wives should accept the leadership of their husbands in the family by honoring each other.

  2. Wives should have neat outward appearance and must have beautiful hearts with kindness and cooperation.

  3. Husbands should respect their wives giving high priority to their well-beings.

1 TIMOTHY 2:9-15; 3:11-13

  1. Modesty of dress is appropriate to faithful women.

  2. God looks not outwardly, but inwardly: 1 Peter 3:3-4

  3. Women should learn and act in public befitting to the occasion: 1 Corinthians 11:4-5; 14:34-35; Romans 16:1-15.

  4. Wife has a special responsibility to properly rear her family and manage her home.

  5. Faith, love, and holiness with self-control are requirements for salvation.

GENESIS 1:24-31; 24:15-30

  1. The birds and beasts were formed from materials taken from the earth.

  2. "Let US make man" - plural: Trinity

  3. Man was made in God's image

  4. Man has dominion over all creation

  5. Only after the FLOOD, God allowed man to eat meat: Genesis: 9:23

  6. Rebekah treated Abraham's servant and his camels well which led to choose her for Isaac.

JUDGES 4:4-16

Deborah, a judge and prophetess and Barek defeated Sisera.

1 SAMUEL 25:1-35

  1. Mordecai and Jews mourned with fasting and weeping against the decree of King Ahasuerus, plotted by Haman.

  2. Mordecai persuaded queen Esther to act against the decree.

PROVERBS 14:1; 19:14; 31:10-31

  1. Wise woman builds her house, the foolish destroys

  2. Prudent wife has God's all blessings

  3. A man finds in a good woman security, abundance, and satisfaction

  4. She is trustworthy, industrious, resourceful, compassionate, prudent, and well-spoken.

  5. Stability, harmony, and fruitfulness are the results of a man and a woman living together in loving obedience to God.

BIRTH OF ST. JOHN, THE BAPTIST: [DECEMBER 8TH]
LUKE 1: 57-80

  1. Christ's fore-runner: Remember three times: in December, January 7th (Feast of Praises), and Augusr 29th (Beheading). From Levy tribe. Parents were from the priestly family. The last Old Testament prophet and the first Christian missionary.

  2. Born as the result of his parents' prayer and God's grace at their old age. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist were born from ol parents. Wonderful blessings to Zachariahs and Elizabeth.

  3. God perfects us in holiness through suffering. Got enough time for prayer, meditation, and reflections during the period when Zachariahs was dumb.

  4. The neighbors rejoiced at the birth of the baby. How about our neighbours? What is our relationship with them?

  5. Circumcised on the 8th day (Luke 1:59 cf. Genesis 17:11-12) as was Jesus (Luke 2:21).

  6. Zachariahs' obedience in naming the child "John" recovered his speech. Many children make parents speechless because of their violent and immoral acts; here, John makes the parent to speak.

  7. Zachariahs praised the Lord upon the birth of his son. Those who don't participate in spiritual activities get involved after the birth of a child.

  8. Spent in the desert till the day of manifestation: No social life...no eating or drinking. Because he spoke the truth, not too many friends. In the desert, spring for Hagar; God for Moses; water for Elijah; God to Isaiah. We all have to pass through the desert.

  9. "What kind of a child will be this?": 1:66

    a.

    Bears good witness (God): 1:66 - Many will rejoice - Will be great in the sight of the Lord - Not a drunkard or drug addicted -Filled with the Holy Spirit even from the mother's womb -Will turn many to God - Fore-runner with the spirit of Elijah - Prepared the way to inherit heaven (Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6) -No one is greater than John the Baptist (Jesus): 11:11 Prophet of the highest: (Parents): 1:76-77

    b.

    One who shows God to others: As fore-runner, pointed out the deterioration of the society (Luke 3:1-20). Called them "brood of wipers" (7).

    c.

    One who questions immorality and unrighteousness. Questioned Herod Antipas which brought to his beheading (Matthew 14:3-12)

    d.

    One who clears the doubts: Sent disciples to Jesus confirm: Luke 7:19

    e.

    Embodiment of humility: Just a shadow of Christ. Ate locusts and wild honey. Conscious of His own imperfection. Preached that one who is coming is mightier whose sandal trap he is not worthy to stoop down and loose (Mark 1:6). He must increase (John 3:30). Prepared the way, preached peace and guided through wisdom.

    f.

    One who baptized Jesus: Matthew 3:13-17

    g.

    One who bears witness to Christ: John 1:19-36; 3:25-36. "The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world": 1:29

    h.

    One who is prophesied about: - Identified with Elijah: Matthew 11:13- 14; 17:12 - Will send Elijah before the coming of the Lord: Malachi 3:1;4:5 - The voice of crying in the wilderness prepares the way of the Lord: Isaiah 40:3-5

  10. Father excited: Zachariahs praised the Lord (1:68). He was blessed with the birth, filled with Holy Spirit and prophesied: the song is called "Benedictus": Blessed. He praised for the coming of Messiah and His salvation (vv. 68-75; 78-79) and for the role of His son in preparing the way for our Lord (vv.76-77)

  11. The child grew (Luke 2:40) and became strong in spirit.

  12. Lived as they believed: Like Jesus, John the baptist wandered in the desert, preached God and His kingdom, criticised the people for the wrong, and both died on account for what they lived. Also tempted like Christ (John 1:19f). Descendants of Aaron and David.

  13. Great intercessor: At the beginning of the Public Celebration of Holy Qurbana.

  14. The question?: John's baptism from heaven or from men?: Matthew 21:25; Luke 20:4

"HE MUST INCREASE, BUT I MUST DECREASE": JOHN 3:30
John the Baptist sowed a big storm in Galilee. He preached for repentance and preparation to receive Jesus. Many came to seek his advice (Luke 3:10-14). His disciples got jealous of Jesus. He handled the situation smoothly (John 3:22-30). He taught them:

  1. The one who comes after him is stronger than him. He knew who he was and who Christ was. He was proud of doing his work for God.

  2. One should not assume more than what he has been given by God. If anyone is greater than us, do not be jealous.

  3. Do our duty responsibly. Jesus was the bridegroom and John was His friend - forerunner for preparation. Friends of bridegroom has a big position in the Jewish tradition. He is the communicator. He does what ever is needed for the complete success of the wedding and after he is done disappears. John did it. Now it is our duty to show Christ to others.

    a.

    "He to perish, I to perish": Some people want others to perish along with them when desperate and disappointed (Killed fellow doctors, family and himself saying "Life is not worth living." John perished but his cause lived.

    b.

    He to perish, I to establish (Philippians 3:18-19): Earthly earnings and establishments

    c.

    He to increase, I to increase.

    d.

    He to increase, I to decrease: John the Baptist, St. Stephen, many fathers, martyrs.

  4. John was nameless; just a voice: His humility: John 1:20, 23; Luke 3:16.

  5. He was selfless: Luke 3:11

  6. He was fearless: preached against the immoralities of Herod.

The child grew and became strong in spirit: Luke 1:80; cf. 2:40; 2:52

  1. Physical growth: Handsome and good health; learned a trade; strong.

  2. Mental and intellectual growth: Learned from Scriptures, parents, nature and life; Jesus surpassed the wisdom of scribes, Sadduccees, and Pharisees. Everybody surprised at His wisdom (Luke 2:47; Matthew 13:54-55); learned sevral languages.

  3. Spiritual growth: This is true with Jesus: Luke 2:49; adviced with authority (Matthew 7:29); about the temple, Sabbath, etc: Matthew 21:16; 12:6; 5:17; Isaiah 56:17; Jeremiah 7:10; abot Scribes and others: Matthew 5:20; 6:5; 16:6, 11-12.

  4. Social growth: Lived for helping others; travelled to preach and teach; mingled with all people, rich and poor.

MARK 10:13-16; MATTHEW 18:1-5

  1. Children were brought to Jesus (Baptism)

  2. Jesus' touch has special appeal

  3. Disciples rebuked

  4. Jesus noted and wanted them to bring to bless

  5. Just as children receive the necessities from their parents, we receive blessings from God, the father

  6. Jesus set a child in the midst - children at the center

  7. Be humble: Humility is the foundation of greatness.

MATTHEW 11: 11-19

  1. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus and fulfilled the role prophesised of Elijah (Malachi 4:5) so that he is the greatest.

  2. Unbelievers oppose God's kingdom

  3. Those who rejected John the Baptist and Jesus are spoiled children so that they don't deserve kingdom of God.

I JOHN 3:1-3

  1. We are all children of God

  2. We live with the assurance for the future.

EPHESIANS 6:1-4; COLOSSIANS 3:20-21

  1. Children have to obey their parents: Proverbs 6:20; 23:22; Colossians 3:20

  2. Parents should not be unreasonably severe with children, but shall instruct and correct them to serve the Lord.

GENESIS 21:1-21: BIRTH OF ISAAC

  1. As God's promise, Sarah bore a son for Abraham in their old age - Isaac.

  2. Isaac was circumcised when he was eight years old

  3. God made Sarah happy to laugh: Genesis 17:17; 18:12

  4. Abraham upon the persuasion of Sarah and the direction from God sent away Hagar and Ishmael

  5. Hagar wept over her son and God heard her voice

  6. God blessed Hagar and Ishmael.

EXODUS 2:1-10: BIRTH OF MOSES

  1. Moses was born, but his life was threatened as all Israelite male babies. Moses' act of deliverence was started as a helpless child as Jesus.

  2. Amram and Jochebed (6:20) were his parents. Moses' sister was Miriam : Numbers 26:59

  3. Like Noah (with his family), Moses found refuge in an ark.

  4. Moses: He who was drawn out

  5. God provides shelter to those who seek for Him.

I SAMUEL 1:20-28; 2:18-26: BIRTH OF SAMUEL

  1. God answers Hannah's prayer

  2. Hannah dedicated her son to God's service, keeping her vow: Psalm 22:25

  3. Samuel grew in stature: in favor with God and men: Luke 2:52

  4. Eli's sons grew in evil dealings and wickedness. So they were punished: 1 samuel 6:9-10; Hebrews 10:26-31

PSALMS 127:1-5

  1. If God is ignored, efforts to develop a family or community will be fruitless.

  2. Apart from God, even hard work will not pay

  3. Children are a gift from God

ISAIAH 62:1-12

  1. God redeems and sanctifies His people

  2. God blesses those who serve Him

  3. God guarantees strength to those who are righteous

  4. God makes the journey easy for those who truly wants to come to Him.

REVELATION TO ST. JOSEPH: DECEMBER 15TH
MATTHEW 1:18-25

  1. "You shall call His name" (1:21): Revelation to Joseph about the birth of jesus Christ; ""You have a name that you are alive, that you are dead" (Revelation 3:1): St. John writing to the Church in Sardis. You are a paralyte, sick; our people in all places and venues, but something is missing; perplexed like Joseph; need some insight and help.

  2. A devout man: Joseph was son of Jacob and husband of Mary (Matthew 1:16). He was a descendant of Abraham and David, 75th generation from Adam (Luke 3:23-38). He was a carpenter, originally from Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth. James, Joseph, Jude and Simon were his sons from his first wife. Joseph was a just man like Job. His simplicity, sinceriety, purity and open heart rebelled his thoughts and feelings - an embodiment of patience and self-control. Not angry against Mary. Joseph was unaware of what was going on as Mary did not reveal her divine revelation to any one. Joseph planned to divorce her in secret . cf. Deuteronomy 22:23-24; 24:1. Not happy about other's misery. Gossip? Wanted to put her away privately. Didn't want to humiliate Mary. No escapism or hatred but only concern. Covered her from stoning (Deuteronomy 22:24). Most people try to cover their own weaknesses and publicize other people's problems. The public "make it or break it."

  3. Are we giving the kind of importance to Joseph, Jesus' "father" (2:48) as he deserves? God opened a new way to Joseph when all were closed. God saves us from trials, troubles and tribulations. Joseph's mental agony. The responsibility of a betrothed man (Deuteronomy 20:7) cluttered in his brain. Suspicion could lead to family breakdown. God's intervention in times of problems. Revealed the reality of God's conception: Jesus: The Lord is our savior. God came in Jesus to deliver us from sins. Thus the prophecy (Isaiah 7:14) was fulfilled. As in the past (Hebrews 1:1), the Lord revealed the special circumstances in a vision. cf. Matthew 2:12, 19; the birth of Samson through angel.

  4. Revelation to Joseph four times: Matthew 1:20; 2:13; 2:19; 2:22..

  5. The call: "Joseph, son of David" (Matthew 1:20): The rod from the stem of Jesse: (Isaiah 11:1)

  6. First record of the work of the Holy Spirit in New Testament times. To Zachariahs and Mary (later to the shepherds), angel appeared. Here just a dream...may be his thoughts of the days. His tentative thoughts submitted before God. He believed the dream fully. The dream of Martin Luther King: "I have a dream" Children's Christmas dreams: "The third day of Christmas daddy sent three golden rings, two diamond necklaces, and a pot full of silver coins." D R E A M S D: Didactic Learning R: Reflections E: Experience A: Accountability M: Modelling S: Spiritual Power

  7. This dream revolutionized the family life of Joseph. Acted upon God's direction (cf. Abraham) as instructed by the angel in the vision, the dream elevated and strengthened his relationship with Mary.

  8. Broad minded Joseph: Extend our activities to various fields (Psalm 139); Enlarge path not to slip (2 samuel 22:37); Extend the field (mission field); Extend giving habits.

  9. Did not decide in haste. "Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19).

  10. Solve the situation in private: Matthew 18:15.

  11. Joseph was a devoted husband. Took Mary to Bethlehem, his difficulty to find a place for birth, his departure to Egypt with the mother and the child, return (travelled altogether about 500 miles), trip to Jerusalem with the child at the age of 12 (Luke 2:41-52). Silent worker. Only very few appearances. Died before crucifixion, as mother was entrusted with John, the disciple.

  12. Commitment is important for a successful family (like Joseph). Commitment: Not with any one else/No cheating; Time together: "What do you want?" - No car, money, but would like to do things together. Appreciation: Hugging, encouraging, communic-ation Coping with crisis: Unemployment, family problems (Professor: wife left, brother had cancer, children in drugs - changed the pattern of life)

  13. Joseph was righteous and virteous: took the child and mother to the temple for dedication and worship; took to Egypt for protection.

  14. Spiritual wellness: Honesty, responsibility, charity, and tolerance; Church, confession, communion.

  15. Heavenly vision (Acts 26:19): Revealed religion: "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." God became man. Our goal is to reach Christ.

  16. Many have no revelations or dreams about the future: Judas, Ananias and Saphira. So many still alive.

  17. Where there is no vision, there the people perish: Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah - all had visions.

  18. God calls in vision: Saul was called and became Paul through vision; Elijah's experiences.

  19. Response: St. paul fought good fight.

JOHN 6:30-46

  1. Manna gave only temporary physical strength. The true bread from heaven would give eternal life.

  2. Jesus is the bread of life (First of Jesus' seven "I am"s. Jesus fully satisfies the deepest need of the human heart.

  3. Jesus came to do the will of the Father. jesus doesn't reject anyone who comes to Him. God doesn't want anyone to be lost. Those who believe in Jesus get everlasting life.

  4. Because the Jews knew the family of Jesus, they complained that His claim of a heavenly origin was incredible.

  5. God brings people to Jesus. The road to salvation is open to all.

1 PETER 2:11-17

  1. Nonbelievers shall glorify God by observing our good works.

  2. Disobedience to God. Established social institutions dishonor Christ.

  3. The purpose of the government is to punish evil doers and encourage good.

  4. The believers shall live in love: Matthew 22:37-40

  5. Make His will our will: Luke 22:42

GALATIANS 1:11-24

  1. Paul received the Gospel directly from God by revelation

  2. Paul changed completely from persecutor to Christian advocate

  3. When Paul was called to preach among the Gentiles, he readily accepted it

  4. He spent time in Arabia after the conversion

  5. The Churches in Judea praised God on account of Paul and thus recognized the truth of his image.

GENESIS 13:1-11

  1. Abraham became rich, but did not forget to call on God

  2. Strife between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot

  3. Abraham's solution: Letting Lot to choose whatever he wants

  4. Lot chose the better part: Greed determined choice.

ISAIAH 1:2-9

  1. God's call to repentance

  2. Israel rebelled against God: ox knows its owner and donkey its master, but Israel forgot God

  3. Because of this, spiritual sickness and desolation.

SUNDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS
LUKE 3:23-38; MATTHEW 1:1-18

  1. Lord is our dwelling place in all generations (Psalm 90:1-2; Acts 3:25)

  2. Remember our ancestors: Sunday of remembering the generations - geneology of Mary in Luke and that of Joseph in Matthew (1:1-17). Luke starts from Joseph and ends with Adam, thus 56 persons in 77 generations from Jesus back to Adam. Matthew starts with Abraham and ends with Joseph. Joseph as Adam's son and Adam as God's son . From Abraham to David 14, from David to Babylonian exile 14, and from exile to Christ 14 generations are remembered thua 42 persons representing 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus. Researching the roots to prove that Jesus is an actual Jew and their promised Messiah thus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 11:1-2). Christ rules over David's throne for ever. cf. Luke 1:32-33. God's covenant and His grace to Abraham: Luke 1:54, 73 All the families shall be blessed: Genesis 12:3 Woman's seed bruise the serpent:Genesis 3:15-16 We are God's children: 1 John 5:2; 3:1 We have to do His will: Matthew 12:50 Call Him Father: Matthew 6:9 Faithful are sons of God: Romans 4:13; John 1:13. By faith Abraham became heir All generations will be blessed: Acts 3:25. From the beginning he was elected for our salvation: Ephesians 1:4-6. Remember our ancestors. Offer divine liturgy for the departed and pray for the reposed souls.

  3. This also emphasizes that salvation is for the whole world.

  4. Jesus is part of that chain - from Adam to the present. Emperors, kings, prophets, good and bad people all in that group.

  5. Heriditory rites to preserve: 1 Kings 21:3: Ahab and Naboth. Here altogether 42 (14x3) generations.

  6. Traced Aaron's history for priesthood. If no continuation, ousted from priesthood (Ezra 2:62)

  7. Royal heritage: Jesus is from the seed of David: St. Peter (Acts 2:29-36; St. paul (Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8), multitude (Matthew 12:23), Caananite woman (Matthew 15:22), blind man (Matthew 20:30-31), Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:9). St. Matthew depicts the royal heritage of Jesus, whole St. Luke points out Jesus' general humanity tied with divinity. Bothe narrations deal with the historical continuity.

  8. Importance of women in the Church: five women are mentioned: Tamar (Genesis 38), Rahab (Joshua 2:1-7; Hebrews 11:33), Ruth (1:14), Bath Sheba (2 Samuel 11:3,27), Mary. Today's liberation movement? In Christ, there is no difference between male or female: Galatians 3:28.

  9. Sinners have a place in the Church: Wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:6; 2 Samuel 11:3,27; Bath Sheba) ; Tamar, the adulterous (Genesis 38). Jesus came to save sinners: 1 Timothy 1:15.

  10. There is no barrier between Jews and Gentiles; male and female; saints and sinners.

  11. In Matthew generation begins from Abraham, in Mark from Public Ministry, in Luke from Adam, and in John from eternity.

  12. God's care for us in all ages: Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

  13. God intervened in unusual ways to bring salvation: gentile women: Rahab (Hebrews 11:3: (prostitute); Joshua 2:1-7 (gentile) ; Ruth 1:4: (gentile.)

  14. The generations began with God and ended in God. The first stage began with God and ended with Joseph in Egypt thus men lost his image; the second is rising of David to kingship; in the third lost heritage and became slaves in Babylon in disarray (Psalms 137:1); and in the fourth liberation from slavery and regeneration in Christ (Hebrews 2:14). Christ stands in the center of generations: A.D. and B.C.

  15. The holy family sprouted from the best of the past.

  16. Jesus was born of Mary through Holy Spirit.

  17. Three kinds of people: Those who Make things happen Those who WATCH things happen Those who ASk, what happened? Are you really a MEMBER?

  18. Going after just pleasure is not enough. Technological revolution: radios, televisions, computers, air conditions not for pleasure but for necessity.
  19. Pressure: Jobs, too much responsibilities, lack of time, problems
  20. Leisure: Sundays have become sindays;: pornographies and immoral ties with vacation, holidays, parties, sports, etc.
  21. Treasure: Going after worldly wealth. People forget that our citizenship is in heaven. Solomon prayed for prudence and intelligence. Mother Theresa's slogan was: "ALL FOR JESUS."
  22. Examine the role of sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. How about our public role?, job and responsibilities. A survey among Orthodox Youth in the United States shows the importance of ethnic identity over religiosity. The Church has been primarily the promoter of cultural heritage - ethnic identity (opportunity for interaction with fellow country men and women) rather than the director of spiritual growth for the witness of the Lord. Both are necessary.

Let us think our life and role for the achievement of the goal during this time when we are getting ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

JOHN 1:1-8

  1. Jesus Christ existed in the beginning. He was with God; He was indeed God.

  2. All of creation came into being through Him (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16-17).

  3. Christ's life constituted light. This light still shines and has never been overcome by darkness.

  4. John the Baptist bear witnesses to Christ that all through Him might believe.

  5. His own people did not accept Christ

  6. Those who believed Him became true children of God.

  7. The divine Christ became a man and dwelt temporarily with us.

  8. We all receive grace from Jesus Christ who is greater than Moses.

ACTS 3:16-26: PETER EXPLAINS THE HEALING

  1. The faith in Jesus makes us strong: John 11:40

  2. Repentance helps to blot out sins

ROMANS 4:13-25; GALATIANS 4:18-20

  1. God's promise to Abraham to give many descendants (Genesis 15:5-6) and to bless the world through him (Genesis 12:3; 22:18) was based on faith in God.

  2. Salvation by faith applies both to Abraham and to us.

  3. Christ shall form in us.

GENESIS 46:8-27

  1. "Do not fear" (V 3): Also to Abrahm (15:1) and Isaac (26:24).

  2. Genealogy for 400 years in Egypt: 70 people went to Egypt with Jacob (3:1-43).

1 KINGS 9:3-7

  1. God appeared to Solomon the second time after hearing his prayer.

  2. God consecrated the house Solomon built.

  3. God's promise of a perpetual Davidic line, if Solomon keeps all the commandments and walks with Him.

ISAIAH 7:14-15; 11:1-9

  1. The prophecy of virgin bearing a son: Jesus

  2. The sign shows that God is with Ahaz, whether Ahaz wants God or not.

  3. A shoot from David will be the ideal king who will rule with real discernment growing out of His righteousness.

  4. God's spirit will rest upon Him and the remnant of Israel will be gathered. It is the Messiah's kingdom.

CHRISTMAS [THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD]: DECEMBER 25TH

  1. WHAT IS CHRISTMAS? This question was asked to some Christians. The answers are worthwhile to ponder.
    - Santa Clause / St. Nicholas brings fruits and gifts to good children.
    - Red Nosed reindeer
    - Caroling: Spreading the message / talk to others about the birth of Jesus
    - Vacation: Coming and going
    - Christmas Tree: Branches: Light; Ornaments: people; star and light: Jesus Christ
    - Sitting infront of a decorated tree and eating candy taken from the socks.
    - Fireworks: To see His face within that light
    - Parties, gifts and cakes
    - Cards (How many reads the messages in them?)
    - Giving and receiving
    - Decorating and illumining
    - Worshipping and praising
    - Buying and selling: Sale pitch up of the days feels the pulse of the coming: Thrill, frill, and skill
    - Eating, drinking and gift giving
    - Loving and making friends.
    - Light: The dawn visits us. Those in the dark sees the light. God sent a man (John 1:6) with the LIGHT of His love, which we call Jesus Christ. We have to prepare the way within us .... by eradicating ignorance and unrighteousness.

    Christmas is an anniversary of faith and a celebration of spirit. It is the time when people's hearts ring like bells. It is the spirit and philosophy: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." It is the time when people do something mutually for others. It is a time of happiness and joy when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the manger. Jesus is the reason of the season. We "wake up, look up, and lift up our hearts to receive the LIGHT OF CHRIST into every corner of our lives." A Jewish daughter was chosen to be an angel in a Christmas play in her school. She asked her father whether she could. Understanding her dilema, he said: "Honey, be their angel." That is the spirit of Christmas.

  2. AT CHRISTMAS, we should have Christ's heart, will and way (CHRISTUMANAS). Christmas (Latin) is Christ + Mass: The Eucharist at the birth of Christ. On the nativity night, three masses (Qurbana) were celebrated - Midnight (Birth from the Father Almighty), at Dawn (Birth from virgin Mary), and in the Morning (birth in the heart of the Faithful). Christmas celebration started only in the 4th century - in 376 at Antioch, in 430 at Egypt, and in 549 at Jerusalem. If we don't observe the festivity properly, Christmas may become Christ mess or Christ myth.

    A.

    Like John the Baptist, we have to prepare the way to accept Christ ... no sin, no fear, no despair ... but hope and faith.

    B.

    See Jesus: Though the birth of Jesus was announced, only the shepherds and the wisemen were able to see Jesus, not Herod, the king or Phrisees or sadducees.

    C.

    1. Message to common people: Shepherds
    2. Message in the night: Jesus, the light to eradicate darkness (several things in the night: exodus, David's Psalms, St. Paul's and Silas in the prison and the epistles, and so on).
    3. Wise men through stars, shepherds through the praises of the angels, Herod through wisemen, Jews through Scriptures the BIRTH was known.

    D.

    Glorify God: "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good will toward men" (Luke 2:14). "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1) Follow His commandments and get rewards - receive positive answers. Angels' Announcements: Luke 2:10:
    - Jesus brings good news: no more fear
    - Jesus brings joy: Because it lasts
    Pleasure is temporary; happiness depends on circumstances. But nobody can taken it away (John 16:22). It gives an internal peace (Acts 5:40-41) Jesus' joy is available to all. It is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Angelic hymn is part of our every day vigil for a good morning and most people know it by heart second to Lord's prayer.

  3. Glory to God in the highest: The process of saving the human kind from sin. So the angels praising the Lord. One of the angels informed this to Mary nine months ago. Now they are seeing the miracle. This is like a king condecending to his subjects. Therefore it is to be glorified. After His resurrection, the saints glorified Him (Revelation 5:9-10)

  4. Peace on the Earth: After enmity, reconciliation makes us very happy. Here unity with God. God brings peace down to the earth... between people of all kinds. He is the Lord of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).

  5. Good will to men: "Light of light, very God of very God" born in the manger. "God is with us" (Immanuel). Fellowship with Him (2 Peter 1:4). The altar is House of Bread (Bethlehem). The fiery angels see Him upon the altar as Bread and Wine. The bread came down from heaven (John 6:56-59). We have life in Him (1 John 5:12). He has to born in us.

    ANGELS PLAY A BIG PART:
    To Mary, Gabriel appeared with the annuciation: Luke 1:28 Angel cleared Joseph's doubts: Matthew 1:20 Appeared to the shephers: Luke 2:8-13 After birth, twice for safety: Matthew 2:19-23 Also later: After temptation: Matthew 4:11 At Gethsamanae: Luke 22:13 Rolled the rock: Matthew 28:2 Ascension: Acts 1:9-11 "After God had Adam made ....Angels wond'ring gazed," ......(Holy Qurbana) (Also see: Daniel 10:1-21; Hebrews 1:14 and chapter 25 of OUR CHURCH)

  6. E.

    Be Humble: like St. Mary: "Let it be to me according to your mind" (Luke 1:38). She is graceful, highly favored before God, and blessed among men (Luke 1:28).

    F.

    The shining stars:

  7. They made the wise men to look for Him: Matthew 2:1-2. They pointed out that Jesus Christ is God Himself and shall be worshipped by all,
  8. Herod's interest is also upon the stars, but different: Matthew 2:7-8
  9. Stars moved before them (Matthew 2:9). We have also something go before us as a sign (When afflicted we learn His statutes: Psalm 119:71) Faith star in us (Rockfeller had abdomen pain...vision about persecuting slaves, Helped them and got relieved)
  10. Happy of achieving the goal (Matthew 2:10-11). That is Christmas joy.

  11. G.

    Worship Him like the wisemen and also see Mother Mary with Jesus (Matthew 2:11). He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father (John 5:23).

    H.

    How do we get ready: Shepherds and wisemen hastily went to see with the eagerness to see the Blessed Baby; the attitude of Herod and the Jews were different. Wise emn did know the route and sought help; stars and later revelation guided: we will too.

    I.

    Herod was troubled at the news thinking that there may be a challenge to his position. He had no respect of personality: " The respect of personality is the theme of Christianity."; "Great men exist in order to make great men and greater to greatest." There was no truth in his words and actions; Judah's kiss.

    J.

    Give Him presents (Matthew 2:11). Where our heart is there our treasure is also. Gift shall make happy. Some-thing new that reflects care and concern (Gift exchange for the host family given to a poor in the harlem). Should give with a merry heart. "The gift without the giver is bare." When people celebrate birthdays they expect gifts. "What I want is my two front teeth", said a youth. Wisemen presented gifts to Jesus. Does Jesus expect gifts? Yes, us, our submission and dedication. What does Christmas cost us? For decorations and illuminations; for parties and getogethers; for cards and gifts. For God - His only Begotten Son: Gift of Salvation and Gift of Love - the Gift of the Son of God. No cost Christmas: Mend the differences; visit, call, write, volunteer; show concerns for the last, lost and the least; be loving, caring and living.

    K.

    Three wise men (magi): Matthew 2:11: They came from the East (2:1) and presented gold to infant Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem by Melkiah of Persia, representing the kingship of Jesus; myrrh (perfumed burial spice) by Kasper of India, representing Godhood / prophethood; and frankencense (bark /dried sap of a certain tree) by Belthaz-zar of Arabia, representing Jesus' manhood (death) / priesthood. Some claim that these wise men were descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth, sons of Noah. According to a Russian Orthodox tradition, there was a fourth one, Arthaban or Koredan who brought three pieces of gold to present to baby Jesus, but could not arrive on time. The relics of these wise men were brought from Constantinople in the 5th century to Milan in Italy, and later in 1162 to Colone Cathedral in Germany; they are commemorated on the 23rd of July as the patron saints of travellers.

    L.

    Should not return to Herod: They departed another way as divinely warned; we also get some warnings. King is asking to go his way, Almighty God is telling to go another way; they followed God's.

    M.

    Stars brought them to Jesus; To return only a message: they know the way.

    N.

    Joseph's journey to Bethlehem (80 miles from Bethlehem), Mary's tiresome trip, shepherd's enlightening experiences, wisemen's search for the truth, Herod's excitement, martyrdom of children, baby's birth in the manger with the swaddling clothes - all have excruciating, far reaching results on the Christmas day. Bethlehem is house of bread. Jesus (bread of life) was born there. Wise men saw the star of the king of Israel, born as a king of the Jews is over there. Jehoah is the only king for the Jews (Isaiah 33:22). Herod, after checking the Scriptures, realized this fact. He said he will also worship Him, but did not, got a chance to do so. Jesus shall be found only among the poor and the persecuted, not at high places. We shall see Jesus with our own eyes amongst us. Those who were near did not recognize His birth, only those who were far away did. It was good news for the poor and the sick, but terrifying to the ruler.

  12. Acknowledge and accept the Son of God: A child was born in an obscure village. Millions of babies are born every year. But the "Babe of Bethlehem" is different. He is the "Alpha and Omega" - the First and the Last - that which was, that which is, that which is to come (Revelation 1:8) Jesus is the only person ever born with God's genes (John 1:14). Named Him Jesus, means Savior (not Stone, Banks, Peach, Harper, Bill, Wise, Guy, West, North, Sword, Black, White, Hand, Sick. Wall, Wood, Price, Head, Fox, Bird, etc). He was born with TLC: Tender Loving Care; not with Toys, Lossanges, Candy/Computer

  13. GOOD NEWS: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord" (Matthew 2:11). We hear good news and bad news every day:

    - Hijacking and kidnapping
    - Plane accidents, earthquakes, voilcanoes, cyclones, hurricanes
    - Famines and pestilences -
    - Racial tensions in Middle East, Ireland, India
    - Recession, inflation, pollution, family breakdown
    - Crime, violence, fire, theft, sickness.

    But "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17) Moses: He will be a prophet mighty in word and deed: Deuteronomy 18:18 Jeremiah: He will execute justice and righteousness in the Land: Jeremiah 23:5 Isaiah: "For unto us a child is born; unto us a child is given; His name shall be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, Everlasting, Father, Prince of peace .... Immanuel which interpreted is God with us": 9:6. He would be a "suffering Savior" as well as a "reigning king." He is "Immanuel." i.e., God with us (Isaiah 7:14) Samaritan woman: "I know Messiah is coming. When He arrives, He will teach us all things" (John 4:25) He was born in a manger. He grew up in another village--Bethlehem, Nazareth, Egypt. Learned carpentry (like paul, tent-making). He had no money for offerings ---turtle doves or pigeons instead of a lamb (Luke 2:24 cf. Leveticus 12:8). Had to ask Peter to catch a fish and get the money from its mouth to pay tax. Never wrote a book -- wrote nothing, except with fingers in the dust (John 8:6-7), but most books are written about Jesus (About Shakespeare - 5200 books; Napoleon - 2825; Gandhi - 500; John Kennedy - 400; Robert Kennedy - 50; Jesus Christ - 9375 books and many more all over the world (Library of Congress has 1,20000 books, poems, other documents in stock about Jesus and 1000 publications on Mahatma Gandhi. Jesus never owned a house or driven a car, sinners and publicans were his friends (Matthew 12:9); never visited a city, nor travelled more than 200 miles; Preached against unrighteousness (Matthew 5:20; 16:6, 11-12); proclaimed liberty to the captives, blind, and oppressed (Luke 4:1819); preached the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:23; 9:37); friends betrayed, denied and ran away during crisis; birth in the manger and death on the cross; funeral in a borrowed sepelcher; and rejected by His own people (Jews). How about we? Do we recognize Him and give due place in our hearts, when we celebrate His birthday?

  14. The Message of Christmas:

    A.

    It is the first festival in the Christian calendar. Prophets and messangers communicated before; now God Himself comes around to be with us and to communicate. Lighting the fire during the procession service reminds us of that great happy occasion 2000 years ago and also of the light the shepherds saw at the birth. Fire is for purification. Jesus was born to eradicate the sin thereby to sanctify the world. The fire light reminds us of Jesus: "I am the light of the world." We have to reflect upon the stars, the wisemen, the angels, the shepherds, the presents, and so on to enjoy the indepth beauty of Christmas.

    B.

    Peace on earth: Not piece or peas. Angels proclaimed peace. In the Holy Qurbana, peace is proclaimed several times. We have to glorify God and please Him to have PEACE.

    C.

    Fear not, don't be afraid: To Zachariah: Luke 1:13 ) Have To Joseph: Matthew 1:20 ) No To St. Mary: Luke 1:29 ) Fear To the Shepherds: Luke 2:10)

    D.

    Mary, the Mother, said of Incarnation: To exalt the lowly (Luke 1;51-53 cf. Psalms 68:6) to feed the hungry, and to attack the devil.. To scatter the enemy: Luke 1:51 cf. Psalm 68:1 (Herod, Pharisees, Saducees, temple leaders, etc,)

    E.

    Be merry and happy: The proclamation to the shepherds: Luke 2:10-11. Festivals, celebrations, good wishes, cards, gifts, etc. The current time without peace, happiness and joy. Keep away from sins and darkness and embrace the divine, heavenly light of Christ (Matthew 1:21) who saves the world from sin.

    F.

    Jesus came to show us the way to God, to set before us an example to follow, and to procure for us the forgiveness of sin as our Savior. "Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing" (Psalm 34:10).

    G.

    Give: God so loved the world that He GAVE .... (John 3:16). God gave His only son with love. If we love, we give. Extend our helping hand to the needy. Four kinds of giving: (1) For pity (2) For salvation (3) For name and fame (rich people) (4) Gods' love: Real Christians. Jesus gave with compassion (Matthew 9:35-36). Jesus' strength overflowed when the woman touched His garment. Give love, joy, peace, kindness, etc. (Galatians 5:22)

    H.

    God forgives our sins. Jesus forgave even on the cross. We too forgive, especially during this time of the year. 7 or 70 times.

    I.

    Love: God is love. Meditate on the Love chapter (1 Corinthians 13). The world is thirsting for love. The story of the two brothers: one married and the other single. Sleepless nights for both thinking about each other. Took grains and stored in the other's storage each night to help. One night both met in the thick of the night and learned what they had been doing. News spread. A church was built at that spot.

    1. Share and care: Concern for the last, for the lost and the least. People with well furnished suits and decorated apartments sleep on the floor for not daunting their possessions. Poor man requested his rich man neighbor for help but he got mad, Couldn't sleep for both that night. Wife persuaded the rich man to help and did. Both wept at the church out of happiness. "Send portions to those whom nothing is prepared" (Nehemiah 8:10).

    2. Sacrifice: Jesus forfeited His divine position and came down on the earth and sacrificed Himself for the whole world. That is Christmas.

    L.

    Believe that Jesus Christ is the solution for all human problems. Trust Him and have faith in Him. "People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered: Love them anyway! If you do good, people will accuse of selfish interior motives: Do good anyway! If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies: Succeed anyway! The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow: Do good anyway! Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable: Be honest and frank anyway! The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds: Think big anyway! People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs: Fight for some underdogs anyway! What you spend building may be destroyed overnight: Build anyway! People really need help but may attack you if you help them: Help people anyway! Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth: Give the world the best you've got anyway!"

    M.

    Make peace: Peace on earth at His birth. Blessed are those who make peace.

    N.

    Obedience: Obeyed parents. At Gethsamanae, "Not my desire, but yours." Obedient till His death on the cross.

    O.

    God is with us: Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). God could have done this saving of humanity in another way, but wanted to do this by being among us and by like us. Akbar, India's emperor, once asked his shrewd and smart prime minister and chief counsel Birbal, why God sent His own son to be crucified in saving the humanity and gave him two days for an appropriate answer. The next day while they were sailing in a boat, Birbal threw Akbar's son into the water. Without waiting, in a haste, Akbar jumped into the water and saved his own son from drowning. Birbal explained then this is why God sent His own son to save the world ... God loves us that much.

    [NOTE: Afro-Americans share a feeling of togetherness with seven principles during their favorite holiday, KWANZA: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith].

  15. A new heaven and a new earth (Revelations 21:1; Isaiah 66:22): "Day spring from on high has visited us": Luke 1:78 Stars in the heavens a sign God in swadling clothes on the earth in the manger is a wonder Melodious heavenly music in the sky God with the human beings on the earth A complete change to the whole universe The immortal God lives in the Church Joseph with his righteousness, Mary out of her humility, wisemen with gifts, shepherds with their sincerity, and angels with melodious praises made the manger and the situation immemorable. God's life flows through the sacraments in the Church Dry bones getting alive: Ezekiel 37 The leaves of the trees will not wither and their fruit will not fail: Ezekiel 47:12 Abundant life: John 10:10 Walking with newness of life: Romans 6:4 Service in the newness of spirit: Romans 7:6 Inward man is renewed: 2 Corinthians 4:16 Put on the new man: Colossians 3:10 Rod from the stem of Jesse: 1 Samuel 11:1-9 Glory of the Lord in the reformed world: Isaiah 60:1-22; Revelation 21:1-8

  16. Christ to born in us: No room in the inn; the Savior doesn't want to be born in the palace, born in the manger. Simplicity and humility; could He born in our hearts and minds? Good will when the love of God poured in our hearts: Romans 5:5 Live for God: Romans 14:8 Christ to form in us: Galatians 4:19 He gave peace and good will to the poor: 2 Corinthians 8:9 Jesus became poor for us to become rich. Look at Him to be radiant (Psalms 34:5); when we look through the mirror of God's word, we transform more and more fully into His image through the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18; John 16:12-15). Alexander Pope: Even if the infant Jesus is born in Bethlehem thousand and thousand times, if He does not born in my heart, what is the use? Napoleon felt the most happiest and peaceful time in his life when he received the holy communion at the first time.

  17. Born in Bethlehem: Micah 5:2 cf. Luke 2:4: House of bread. cf. "I am the bread of life"

  18. IMMANUEL: MATTHEW 1:23:
    1. Names have special meanings: Elijah: Jehoah is my God; Immanuel: God is with us.
    2. God is with us all the time
    3. A power behind us: Love of God: "Our Father"
    4. The mystery of relationship with God: God is holy. We are sinners. God hates sin, but loves sinners. That is why He sent His only begotten son to save us.
    5. God revealed by Himself: We have to reveal this to the Gentiles. At His second coming, the completion. A monk and his disciple went out, travelled all day long and returned in the evening. "We didn't preach," the disciple lamented. "Our travel among the people itself is revealing of our Lord," replied the monk. If we live a good life, that is the real ministry.

  19. Jesus, King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2): Jews expected the coming of the Messiah, but did not recognize Him because of their selfishness and pride. The illiterate shepherds watched His birth and praised the Mother and Child wrapped in swaddling cloth...common people. Pure in heart see God (Matthew 5:8). Those in holiness only see God (Hebrews 12:14). - Presented to Him gifts of gold, myrh, and frankincense (royal) - Before Pilate: Mark 15:2; Luke 23:2; John 19:20 - Thief: Luke 23:42

  20. Star guided the wise men. Who is our guide? Scriptures, friends, Church, God, or someone/something else?

  21. The one born this day in Bethlehem is a replica of prophet Joshua (entered into caanan) and priest Joshua (reorganised the order of service along with Zerubabel after the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple).

  22. The spirit of christmas is music: Carolling.

  23. The serenity of Christmas is the presence of the Holy Child with the Mother.

  24. The power of Christmas is the blessing of "Jesus" (Matthew 1:21) who is "Immanuel" (1:23), "King" (2:2); and "Christ." (2:4).

  25. Christmas is an assembly of multitudes: the Infant Child, the youthful Mary and certain shepherds, and the aged and matured Joseph and some of the shepherds and wise men. Let us have concern for each of these categories on this wonderful day: young, adults and the old.

Therefore REJOICE today for the:

  1. Unchanging characteristics of the Almighty God;
  2. The glorious works of Jesus Christ;
  3. The sanctifying activities of the Holy Spirit; and
  4. The endless blessings of the Almighty God.

May we have the Spirit of Christmas which is PEACE The Gladness of Christmas which is HOPE The Heart of Christmas which is LOVE, and The Gift of Christmas which is Christ.

LUKE 2:1-14; MATTHEW 2:1-12

  1. The decree of Roman emperor Caesar Augustus brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born as the prophet foretold (Micah 5:2)

  2. Jesus was born in a manger - born in humble circumstances - came to meet the need of the least important people.

  3. Not admitted in the hospital ... journey on the donkey ... concern for the deprived.

  4. The birth of the lamb that bears the sins of the race was first witnessed by the shepherds. Was a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). God became man to make man God.

  5. The angels announced the birth to the shepherds and praised God. We can see divinity in each and every job. Shepherds received the message.

  6. Kings were terrorised, the deprived were cheered, shepherds ran around, wise men arrived: change to all of them.

  7. The shepherds went with haste and found the Baby.

  8. Those who heard the news marvelled, Mary pondered, and the shepherds glorified and praised the God. We shall share the joy of Christmas to others. The carolings and greetings of the season should not leave us.

  9. Like the wise men, knowledge and intellect all shall lead to God.

  10. Is God with us? Those who are pure in heart see God. God should be with us and with our friends (Matthew 25:40). God made man and he sinned.

  11. They recognized the birth of Jesus as they are: Wisemen through the stars, shepherds through the praises of the angels, Herod through wisemen, Jews by scriptures. How about us? How do we spread the news?

  12. When the shepherds and the wisemen came with haste to see, Herod and the Jews became enemies. When gentile wisemen accepted Jesus as the king of Jews, Herod and the Jewish leaders rejected Him. Herod was troubled fearing that the new king would replace him. So he tried to destroy Him.

  13. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (house of bread), five miles south of Jerusalem, the home town of David, Israel's greatest king (1 Samuel 16, 1, 19).

  14. The wisemen found the Baby with the mother and worshipped Him with gifts.

  15. The wisemen departed another way as warned in a dream (Matthew 2:12). To come, they had stars to guide; to return, just a message now they know the way: "I am the way ... ".

    - God gives direction how to proceed.
    - Follow God's direction; not the worldly instruc-tions.
    - Wickedness doesn't work; wisemen went another way.
    - Sinners go back as saints; bruised ones return with
    relief, mourners return in happiness.

  16. The wise men bowed down and gave the gifts. We too should bow down.

  17. Parents - Joseph and Mary - had no rest: Went to Egypt.

  18. He who came to preach the Gospel to the poor Himself became poor.

  19. Parental love: Mary and Joseph travelled 500 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt and return; took on the 8th day for circumcision; 12th year to the temple. Mother went all the way to the cross and also at ascension. Contribute love and continue to live.

  20. Responsible children: Train their hearts. Jesus went with His parents to Nazareth and was subject to them (Luke 2:51). Learned everything by the age of 12. Acted responsibly. Helped the needy and the sick.

MATHEW 11:25-30: CHRIST INVITES ALL TO COME

  1. God does not reveal the truth about salvation to the worldly wise

  2. God reveals Himself to us only through the Son

  3. Jesus offers this knowledge of God to all who will believe

  4. Jesus gives rest to those who are heavy laden (John 6:35-37)

  5. God's plan to help us cope with life. His yoke is light (1 John 5:3)

1 JOHN 1:1-10

  1. God revealed Himself through Jesus Christ and established fellowship with us: His disciples heard, saw and touched Him.

  2. God is light: John 3:19-20

  3. We should lead a holy life to have fellowship with God.

  4. Our relationship with others shall reflect our experience with God.

  5. We have to confess our sins to have fellowship with God

  6. If one claims that he is not a sinner, that person refuses to accept Christ.

GALATIANS 3:23-4:7

  1. The Law locked up the sinners until Christ came

  2. When one believes in Jesus Christ, his relationship with God and with others change

  3. In Christ, there is no distinction of race, color, or sex

  4. Like a child who is under the relationship of others, every one was under bondage until Christ came

  5. Christ came to redeem us from sin

  6. We are all children of God - His sons and daughters (through Jesus Christ)

HEBREWS 1:1-12 THE SON IS GOD'S SUPREME REVELATION

  1. God spoke at various times and in so many ways

  2. In time of fulfilment, God spoke through one person, Jesus Christ, His own Son.

  3. We are all His spiritual heirs

  4. Angels are ministering spirits, but Jesus is the eternal Son, our perfect Savior

  5. We have to submit ourselves to Christ's righteous rule by obedience

  6. Jesus is Lord, the eternal unchanging Creator.

GENESIS 21:1-8 GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISE TO SARAH

  1. Isaac was born to sarah in Abraham's old age - 100

  2. Abraham made a great feast on the day when Isaac was weaned.

MICAH 5:1-4 MESSIANIC PROPHECY

  1. The ideal king: Judah's hope for the future - would originate from Bethlehem.

  2. Hezekiah, the king in Jerusalem, was helpless under the invasion of the Assyrian king Sennacherib

  3. Israel will be delivered from her enemies.

ISAIAH 9:1-7

  1. God will send the Messiah, even though there was lack of trust among the people

  2. God's anointed king shall light the benightened nation

  3. He will bring lasting peace: wonderful, counselor and Mighty God.

  4. Jesus' birth was wonderful: Micha prophesied He will be born in Bethlehem. Born of virgin, star at birth, affected three worlds: Heaven (angels); Earth (shepherds and wisemen - the highest and the lowest); Hell: The devil was agitated and persuaded to the king to kill.
  5. Jesus' life was wonderful: No fault in Him (Pilate). No sin. Never said or did or thought anything evil
  6. Jesus' message was wonderful: The sermon on the mount' message of hope for all eternity. Comfort in Him (Matthew 11:28); All have sinned (Romans 3:23); Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Nobody never spoke like Jesus.
  7. Jesus' love is wonderul: John 3:16. His love extends from eternity to eternity. It includes all races, tongues, and peoples in the world. It reaches down to the deepest sinners and lifts him up toward heaven.
  8. His death was wonderful: he died for us
  9. His resurrection was wonderful
  10. His ministry was wonderful
  11. He prepares a wonderful home for us.
MASSACRE OF CHILDREN
MATTHEW 2:15-17

  1. Children were the first martyrs.

  2. God preserved Jesus from destruction as Moses was saved.

  3. God also saved the Israelites by bringing them out of Egypt.

  4. Many were slaughtered during the Babylonian invasion, but God saved them.

MARK 6:1-6

  1. First the leaders rejected Jesus (3:1-6)

  2. Now His own people rejected Jesus - foreshadow of the cross

  3. No honor in one's own place or among own people.

ACTS 7:11-29

  1. Stephen defends by citing Israel's history

  2. God exalted Joseph and he became a Savior - a possible parallel to Jesus

  3. God is in control all the time - then and now

  4. Moses was saved and became another Savior. He forsook luxury and privilege and identified himself with the oppressed (Hebrews 11:24-26; Philippians 2:5-7)

  5. Moses' authority was challenged; Jesus was also rejected.

  6. Moses was in isolation for 40 years before his public ministry; Jesus was fasting for 40 days before His.

EXODUS 1:1-22

  1. Jacob and his descendants died, but their increased abundantly and multiplied and grew exceedingly.

  2. Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites to reduce their threats.

  3. Pharaoh also made arrangements to kill the males at birth or to cast into the river.

JETREMIAH 31:15-20

  1. Rachel wept from her grave (Genesis 35:16-20) for her sons Joseph and Benjamin in exile. cf. Herod slaughtered the innocent children at Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18)

  2. Tears will change to joy

  3. Israel repented

  4. The Lord has everlasting love and mercy for His people.

ISAIAH 60:8-14

  1. The disposed shall return

  2. The oppressors and suppressors shall turn around

  3. God's wrath is temporary, but His favor is eternal.

PRAISES OF ST. MARY
LUKE 11:15-20

  1. Choose wisely: We have to choose whether we are with Him or against Him

  2. Prepare thoroughly: Once we are delivered by Jesus, we must be filled with His Holy Spirit and busy with His work. Otherwise we will end up worse off than before

  3. Recognize: A woman recognized and complimented Jesu and His mother

  4. Do His will: We have to do the work of God than only to feel good and talk about it (Matthew 7:21)

  5. Jesus' death and resurrection would be their only sign to believe in Him - As Jonah was delivered from the belly of the fish, Jesus would be raised from the death (Matthew 12:39-40)

  6. Thrill seekers go after wisdom: Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-10; Matthew 12:41-42) came to hear the wisdom of Solomon

  7. Jesus is greater than Solomon and Jonah.

LUKE 8:16-21

  1. Spread the word: The Gospel is compared to light and it is our responsibility to let it be seen.

  2. Reveal the truth: Though during Jesus' time the Gospel was misunderstood, after His resurrection, its meaning would be revealed through His disciples.

  3. Follow thoroughly: Those who truly obey will receive greater spiritual undertanding and grow in spiritual lives. Those who refuse the Gospel will lose even whatever they have.

  4. Do His will: When we hear and do the will of God (obey) we become members of God's family.

  5. Do not rush: Jesus' parents waited outside patiently

  6. Jesus showed Mother Mary to the crowd

  7. Jesus taught and preached to the big crowd.

(NOTE: Sunday morning prayer (Sleeba) starts with remembering the fasting and meditation of St. Mary; Public Celebration (Holy Qurbana) begins with remembering St. Mary; and the Intercessory Hymns begin with praising St. mary (See the royal daughter stand....)

ACTS 7:30-43: STEPHEN'S DEFENSE

  1. Prepare and be ready: Jesus was in isolation for 40 days before His Public Ministry. Moses was in isolation for 40 years before His public activities.

  2. God calls us to be His agents of deliverence.

  3. Rejection before acceptance: Like Jesus, Moses was rejected first but became the deliverer.

  4. Accept the consequence: God will abandon us if the light of the Gospel is rejected.

ROMANS 1:1-10: ST. PAUL'S MINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL

  1. The basis of Paul's apostleship and mission is Jesus Christ.

  2. After the resurrection, Jesus' power was made known trhough the coming and ministry of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:36).

  3. Because God is holy, His people must be morally holy (1 Peter 1:15-16)

  4. We have to experience God's grace to have His peace with us.

  5. Paul was very eager to visit the Romans for mutual Christian encouragement.

  6. Paul prayed for them continually.

EXODUS 3:1-10

  1. Moses was a responsible son-in-law to Jethro

  2. Moses was called in a vision.

  3. The bush was burned, but not consumed; like St. Mary's pregnancy of Jesus.

  4. God called Moses in repetition for special attention (V.4) like Abraham (Genesis 23:11), Samuel (1 samuel 3:10), and Saul (Acts 9:4).

  5. God's presence makes place sacred; dirty sandals profane the holy ground.

  6. God sees, hears, and knows the sorrows of His people.

  7. God's mission is reaching people through people.

EZEKIEL 44:1-12

  1. We have to preserve the sanctity of the temple

  2. That which has been used by God is no longer ordinary.

  3. Like Ezekiel, we have to fall on our face before Almighty God.

  4. The rebellious and the unworthy have no place in God's sanctuary.

  5. Those who lead to idolatory and unfaithfulness should have only other works of the temple, not to lead the worship.

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
MATTHEW 2:9-15; 19-23

  1. Wise men - religious and spiritually enlightened - from the East came to see and worship the infant Baby...their desire and excitement to meet Jesus. We should have also the same.

  2. God through the star guided them to come and go.

  3. Only in St. Mathew: Star from Jacob: Numbers 24:17; Baby born in Bethlehem was king (Micah 5:1-3).
  4. Wise men looking for Jesus ended at the palace ending their effort fruitless...arrived at the wrong place. Do not look for higher places to see Jesus.
  5. Forgot the king and went after Jesus again. Look up and start the search when we loose Him.
  6. When they found Jesus, rejoiced with exceed-ingly great joy in attaining the goal. When we meet Jesus, forget all troubles and hardships.
  7. They fell down, worshipped, and presented gifts. Gifts to Jesus was fulfillment of prophecy (Psalms 72:10; Isaiah 60:6). Gold represents kingship; Myrrh, prophethood; incense, priesthood. Jesus was king, prophet, and priest - three in one. We are also through baptism (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 20:6).
    King: Provider and keeper
    Prophet: Teacher and preacher
    Priest: Mediator

  8. Herod wanted to destroy the child: 2:16-18. Do we have that revengeful attitude?

  9. Herod's power did not subdue Jesus. God's power is great (2 Kings 6:16). God preserved Jesus from destruction as Moses.

  10. Joseph and Mary (parents) provided security to infant Jesus. Prince to prevail peace and righteousness (Isaiah 9:67). We also have obligation to keep and maintain peace, order, and justice. God's children are peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).

  11. They were warned and returned another way. (Three revelations: one to wise men and three to Joseph). Do not go back to the old ways of life after we meet Him. Iscariot did, Saul did not and became Paul and travelled in a different way.

  12. Joseph was warned in a dream to escape to Egypt. Pay heed to such warnings.

  13. Avoid enmity, hate, and confrontation. They went to Egypt.

  14. Had to go to the "slave country" ... born in the manger, and childhood in exile. We have to suffer to be rewarded in the kingdom (Matthew 5:10-12).

  15. Be courageous. Mary's and Joseph's responses ... their courage and mutual dependency.

  16. Joseph brought back Jesus and Mother to Israel and settled in Nazareth.

MATTHEW 10:16-23

  1. We should be wise, but should not be self-seeking, and should be innocent of evil actions.

  2. Persecution could come from any direction - from political rulers or from unbelieving family members.

  3. Persecution is an opportunity to witness Christ.

  4. God's spirit helps us in times of crisis.

  5. We have to hold fast to faith till the end.

  6. Persecution only helps to spread the Gospel rapidly.

JOHN 15:18-21

  1. Expect persecution: Those who hate and reject Jesus, reject us also.

  2. Rejoice in following Jesus

  3. Love of world doesn't last

  4. Know God and Jesus for lasting results.

ACTS 16:6-10: THE MACEDONIAN CALL

  1. Holy Spirit forbids

  2. The Vision to come over and help

1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-13 : DO NOT YIELD TO TEMPTATION

  1. Do not reject the blessings of God for the delights of sins

  2. The events of the cloud (Numbers 9:15-23; Exodus 14:19-24) and the sea marked a turning point for the Israelitess.

  3. The Israelites were baptized into Moses committed to his authority and leadership; Christian baptism marks a break with the former life of sin to begin a new life of holiness under the leadership of Jesus.

  4. The manna and the water given to the Israelites were the foreshadows of the Lord's supper.

  5. God is the spiritual rock (Deuteronomy 32:3-4)

  6. They were scattered because of disobedience and punishment

  7. Idolatory and immorality (Numbers 25:1) were their sins

  8. We should not tempt Jesus

  9. God is faithful during our temptations.

GENESIS 37:13-28

  1. Jacob (Israel) sent his son Joseph to his brothers feeding the flock

  2. The bothers conspired against Joseph

  3. They cast him into a pit

  4. They sold him and was taken to Egypt.

ZECHARIAH 8:3-8

  1. The restoration of Jerusalem... Jerusalem would again be safe for the very old and the very young.

  2. God would restore Jerusalem by bringing back His people.

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