HOLINESS AMONG US

Shout and be glad, Jerusalem. I am coming, and I will live among you,” says the LORD.
ZECHARIAH 2:10

God became a baby. He entered a world … of problems and heartaches. “The Word became human and lived among us … He was full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The operative word of the verse is among. He lived among us. He donned the costliest of robes: a human body. He made a throne out of a manger and a royal court out of some cows. He took a common name—Jesus—and made it holy. He took common people and made them the same. He could have lived over us or away from us.

But he didn’t. He lived among us.

He became a friend of the sinner and brother of the poor.

from WHEN CHRIST COMES

God Became a Man

He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.
PHILIPPIANS 2:7

It all happened in a most remarkable moment … a moment like no other.…

God became a man. Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a
human womb.

The omnipotent, in one instant, became flesh and blood. The one who was larger than the universe became a microscopic embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.

God had come near.

God Came Near

Immanuel: God with Us Forever

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Randy Alcorn

God didn’t stay way off in Heaven, but came down to live among us. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Jesus promised his disciples, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). Incredibly, that’s how much he wants to live with us.

Revelation 21:3 says “God himself will be with his people.” Why does it say God himself? Because God won’t merely send us a delegate. He won’t just send down the angel Gabriel to represent Him. He himself will actually come down from Heaven to live among us on the New Earth.

Immanuel does not mean “us with God.” It means “God with us.” Where will He be with us? In the eternal home he is preparing for us.

It’s sometimes said, “This world is not our home.” It’s true, but it’s a half truth. We should qualify it to say, “This world—as it now is, under the curse—is not our home.” But we should also say, “This world—as it was originally was our home.” And we should add, “This world—as it one day will be, delivered from the curse—will be our home.”

When we die and go to live in the Present Heaven, we’ll be with Christ, and we’ll be full of joy. But it won’t be our permanent home. It will be a layover, not our final destination. Those now with the Lord are looking forward to their bodily resurrection and relocation to the New Earth, where Christ will reign forever.

The incarnation of Christmas isn’t temporary; it’s permanent. Christ rose in a glorified human body which he will have forever. It’s not that Jesus became a baby at Christmas, and then 33 years later came the resurrection and ascension and then he suddenly stopped being a man. No, the second member of the triune God will be a human being for all eternity, reigning from a throne on the New Earth.

Often we think of Heaven as our going up into a disembodied angelic realm to live with God in his place. But the Bible says the ultimate Heaven will be God coming down from Heaven to live with us in our place—the New Earth. That’s the place He’s preparing for us.

We are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place. And the resurrected Jesus will bring Heaven down to the resurrected earth.

One thing I love about Christmas is relaxing and celebrating and laughing with my family. Heaven will be the best of Christmas every day. We’ll be able to relax and laugh and celebrate, with no tensions or arguments. The other shoe will never drop. No skeletons will fall out of our closets.

Christ paid the ultimate price so that we would be forever free from sin—and the fear of sin. All barriers between us and him will be forever gone. He will be our best friend. Jesus will be God with us, forever.

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to walk the earth with Jesus, as the disciples did? Have you ever wished you had that opportunity? You will—on the New Earth.

Jesus promised we would eat and drink with him in his Kingdom. To eat a meal with Jesus will be to eat a meal with God, because he is Immanuel, God with us.

The best part of Christmas is not the presents we receive, but the presence of God with us. Christmas can be a hint, a foretaste of the celebration God’s family will enjoy together.

Christmas means that God loved us so much he came to live with us, and die for us so that we can live with Him forever.

Christ promises He will wipe away all our tears, and there will be no more death or suffering, no final goodbyes. If you know Jesus, the great reunion awaits you. God will live with you and your spiritual family forever. And that’s the best Christmas present anyone could ever receive.

Merry Christmas to you, and all glory to Immanuel, the God who is with us, and will be with us forever.

—–

Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 206, Sandy, OR 97055, 503-668-5200, http://www.epm.org

http://www.crosswalkmail.com/ViewMessage.do?m=ymsvqgccv&r=qvhgwmgnhvpv&s=ggwlynctlwlcmthkqpjsjcnmgqqmwrcjyyh&a=view

VIDEO Celebrate The Birth of The King of kings and Lord of lords

CelebrateTheBirthOfAKing

Join us as we Celebrate The Holy Night – The Birth of The King of kings and Lord of lords.

O Holy Night by Carrie Underwood with lyrics

Have A Merry Christmas.

A BOUQUET OF BLESSINGS

“He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you.”
ZEPHANIAH 3:17

Suppose you dwell in a high-rise apartment. On the window sill of your room is a solitary daisy. This morning you picked the daisy and pinned it on your lapel. But as soon as you’re out the door, people start picking petals off your daisy. Someone snags your subway seat. Petal picked. You’re blamed for the bad report of a coworker … More petals. By the end of the day, you’re down to one … You’re only one petal snatching away from a blowup.

What if the scenario was altered slightly? Let’s add one character. The kind man in the apartment next door runs a flower shop. Every night on the way home he stops at your place with a fresh bouquet. Because of him, your apartment has a sweet fragrance, and your step has a happy bounce. Let someone mess with your flower, and you’ve got a basketful to replace it!

God hand-delivers a bouquet to your door every day. Open it! Take them! Then, when rejections come, you won’t be left short-petaled.

from A LOVE WORTH GIVING

HOW D0 WE MAKE SURE WE HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS?

There’s a commercial that says shop at our store because our prices are better and you’ll get “more Christmas for your dollar!”

It seems strange you can put a price on how much Christmas you can have.
– “I’m broke this year — I guess I can only afford 10 or 15 minutes of Christmas. My wealthy neighbor is able to buy 10 hours worth!”

What Really Matters at Christmas time?
. – How much jewelry I can buy for my lady or how many toys I can get for the kids?
. – Does how much I spend on your gift really make or break your Christmas?

A month before Christmas it went into full swing — Everyone began scrambling and rushing to Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart..

Their credit card limits were extended and their checking accounts were in the red.
. – Things would be so much better if their rich uncle would just die and leave them his money.

Old Saint Nick is sitting high on a mountain top watching, waiting smiling because, he knows the sales will bring shivers and grins to the rich folks in just a little while (grab the cash before taxes!).
. – We have to spend, spend, spend and buy to give the economy a much needed boost — That’s
. why we celebrate Christmas isn’t it?

Mommies and Daddies go to cocktail parties and drink away the pain. . – Their teenage kids take drugs to do the same.

A cold homeless man holds a sign, “I lost my job would you kindly spare a dime. I’ve got a wife and little boy who depend on me but, it all seems hopeless so we had to turn to charity – can’t afford much Christmas at our house this year!”

Our leaders gave our jobs to the foreign lands to make the economy strong so we could stand.
. – Once we depended on God to right the wrongs — now it seems God’s withdrawn from us and
. is no where to be found..

It’ll take more than tragic shootings at schools and malls and senseless loss of lives to turn us back to the very Savior who could turn our lives and this country around.

We ignore baby Jesus born over 2000 years ago wrapped in rags in a stable not given with a fancy bow. The modern Carol seems to be “0 Come Let’s Ignore Him!” . – He’s God’s free Gift of Life sent to bring hope to a hopeless world.

He’s God in the flesh who grew into a man and died a substitute for all people condemned to Hell — all who will accept His Plan of Salvation.
– Stop and think as you rush through Christmas — Why do you do it? What really matters?

What really matters is not Old Saint Nick the jolly fat man in the red suit and his sleigh and reindeer — it’s Jesus Christ, born among us, crucified, dead, buried, and raised from the dead.

If you want Christmas to make sense:

1. MAKE ROOM FOR JESUS — Luke 2:7

– Mary had to make room for Jesus in her life — in fact it could’ve cost her her reputation, and her very life.
– Back then unwed mothers weren’t celebrated and given showers like they are in this
generation — they were executed or at the very least banned from their families and society to live in shame for the rest of their lives.
– Gabriel spoke to Mary on behalf of God and her answer was, “NOT MY WILL, BUT
THINE.” —

– Joseph had to make room for Jesus — change his plans — risk his reputation, but when he knew God’s Will it was, “NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE!”

Finally, when Mary and Joseph came to the inn, the inn-keeper said, “We have no room for you.”
– What a shame! He missed Christmas and all of its meaning!

If you say, “I have no room for Jesus, “and your life’s filled with other things crowding Him out, you’ll miss everything good too.
– Most of our population is rushing through Christmas — missing the whole meaning.

In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their “flying machine”off the ground.

Thrilled, they telegraphed their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Wi//be home for Christmas”

Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper to show him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” . – He totally missed the big news — man had flown!

People who don’t make room for Jesus are missing the big news — “We have a „Savior!” Want a meaningful Christmas? Make room for Jesus!

2. MAKE TIME TO WORSHIP — Matthew 2:11

– When Jesus was born a wonderful miracle of nature took place.

The heavens opened and angels came down to speak to shepherds on the Judean hill. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. You will find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger”

The shepherds ran and found the baby and knelt down and worshiped Him.
– If you want a meaningful Christmas, you must worship Him also.

Most of our society is leaving Jesus out of their festivities.

– Two women were having lunch in an elegant hotel and were approached by a mutual friend who asked what’s the occasion for the meal.

One lady replied, “We’re celebrating the birth of my baby boy”

“But where is he?” asked the friend.

“Oh,” said the mother, “you didn’t think I’d bring him, did you?”
. – What a picture of the way the world treats Jesus at Christmas.

3. MAKE GIVING A PRIORITY — Matthew 2:11

– The wise men came bringing gifts to Jesus.
– What were the gifts? – Not cheap trinkets they wouldn’t miss. – They brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. Each gift was a gift of value. – They brought gifts for a King — worthy of a King.

Are you giving your best or just something you found at a bargain price you can afford to get rid of?
– We used to get food poundings when we started the ministry.
– Some of the food was great — some was stuff the giver wanted to get rid of — can of Parmesan cheese out of a spaghetti mix box.

Not only should we give our best to God, but we should invest ourselves into our loved ones.

On the TV show, Are You Smarter than a 5th grader? They took a poll of 8 to 12 year olds asking, “What do you most enjoy about the holidays?”
A) Decorating the house
B) Spending time with family and relatives
C) Receiving presents.

What do you think most of the children said? Answer: B.

– That’s what God expects you to do as you serve Him — Invest yourself into you loved ones teaching them to love God. — Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Are you giving your time, your talents and your money to Him and teaching your family the ways of God?

4. MAKE CHRIST REAL TO OTHERS — Luke 2:17 —’

Listen to the angel’s message of Glad Tidings proclaimed to the shepherds that night.
– The long night of waiting was over for them; the angel brought the gladdest and sweetest message the world’s ever heard — Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, the Messiah had arrived.

God was keeping His Promise to send a Savior.

That message has a 2nd part for us today.
– Jesus is coming again — not as a baby, but as THE KING OF KINGS.

For over 2000 years, Jesus Christ, God’s Christmas Present to the world has been transforming lives — WHAT A SPECIAL GIFT — THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!

How can we know for certain Christ is the promised Messiah and not just a coincidence?

In his book, Science Speaks, Peter Stoner applied the modern science of probability to just eight prophecies regarding Christ.
– He said, “The chance that any man might have fulfilled all eight prophecies is one in 10 to the 17th. That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000” (one hundred quadrillion)

Stoner said if “we take 10 to the 17th silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state 2 feet deep. Now mark one of those silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly… Blindfold a man and tell him he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up that one marked silver dollar. — What chance would he have of getting the right one?”

Stoner concluded, “The same chance that the prophets would have had of writing those eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.”

You might think you don’t have enough money to buy a lot of Christmas, but some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary value:
– Mend a quarrel
– dismiss suspicion
– Tell someone, “I love you.”
– Give something away–anonymously.
– Forgive someone who has treated you wrong.
– Turn away wrath with a soft answer.
– Visit someone in a nursing home.
– Apologize if you were wrong.
– Be especially kind to someone with whom you work.
– Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.

Well, back to the original question: HOW DO WE MAKE SURE WE HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS?

Accept God’s Christmas Present, — John 3: 16 — then decide to live a life of complete Obedience to Him.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The Star of Bethlehem

johannes_kepler-

Exploring the evidence about the star that marked history

If the Star was a real historical event, why are we learning of the evidence only now?

Why isn’t it common knowledge? A few minutes considering these things will intensify your experience and understanding of what you will learn on this site. We’ll look at three of the most important factors leading to modern rediscovery of the Star: Johannes Kepler’s discovery of how the solar system works, improvements in our knowledge of first century history and the spread of computers.

Kepler’s discovery

Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) was one of the great mathematical minds of human history (1). As Arthur Koestler wrote in The Sleepwalkers, “Kepler and Galileo were the two giants on whose shoulders Newton stood.”

A German by birth, Kepler began his professional career in Graz, Austria teaching mathematics. His views in the Protestant/Catholic contest then raging got him banished from Graz after only a few years, but this actually worked for his good.

The reason is that about the time of his ouster, the earnest, middle-class, 28 year-old Kepler had attracted the attention of one Tycho Brahe (1546–1601). Apart from their advanced math skills, the two men had little in common. Brahe was a wealthy, eccentric, aristocratic, overbearing, hard-partying Danish nobleman who served in Prague as Imperial Mathematician. He was also the acknowledged “prince of astronomers” due to the unprecedented accuracy of his vast collection of astronomical observations. And he could be a wildman. When Brahe lost his nose in a college-years duel, he did better than our modern fashion of piercing noses. He had a complete replacement nose molded of gold with silver. This he wore the rest of his life.

Brahe invited the expelled Kepler to Prague to collaborate in study of the solar system, which at the time was still poorly understood. Many still thought of planets as “wandering stars.” Both men were brilliant and keen to unravel the mystery of planetary motion, but their temperaments were so different that they mixed about like cats and dogs. The professional relationship was decorated with verbal warfare and walk outs. The personality conflict was heightened by Brahe’s intent to remain the top dog astronomer—he would not allow Kepler full access to his library of observations. Instead, he dribbled out the data to maintain personal control. But when Brahe died suddenly of a urinary tract problem in 1601, Kepler found himself promoted to his master’s position. Kepler himself became Imperial Mathematician with full access to Brahe’s library. That changed everything.

Kepler set out to prove that the planets travel in perfect circular solar orbits. This presented a kind of mathematical beauty which particularly attracted him. But try as he might, he could not force the mathematics of circular orbits to align with what he saw in the sky each night. And Brahe’s meticulous records proved inconsistent with the theory of circles. In an inspirational flash, Kepler saw that the planets might travel in elliptical orbits and finally found the perfect mathematical fit. In 1609, he published the First and Second Laws of Planetary Motion and ten years later, the Third Law (2). These are still used by astronomers, NASA, the European Space Agency and everyone else studying the stars today. These laws do not change.

With his brand new mathematical tools, Kepler held keys to the heavens and time. He could do things no astronomer had ever done. With enough pens, ink and time he could calculate sky maps showing the exact positions of all of the stars and planets in the night sky. Not just for that evening’s observations, but for any day in history, as viewed from any place on the surface of the Earth. Being a religious man, Kepler soon set his equations grinding on the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem. It’s almost tragic that he didn’t find the phenomena discussed on this web site, because he pushed very hard in his search for the Star and even published on the topic (3). He would have been delighted to see what you will see. But Kepler was working from a flawed understanding of first century history, and that threw him off the track.

So the first piece of the Star puzzle is that, thanks to Kepler, we now have the ability to locate celestial objects with great precision at any point in history and from any viewing point. For example, we can calculate what the sky looked like over Jerusalem 2000 years ago. But that raises the question of dates. For what years should we be scanning the sky?

Dating Christ’s birth

The great majority of ancient chronographers held that Christ was born in 3 or 2 BC (4), and none held that Jesus was born before 4 BC. The ancients were correct, as we shall see, but by Kepler’s day that earlier and better understanding had been laid aside. Kepler and his contemporaries concluded (as have many present day historians (5)) that Christ was born before 4 BC. The reasons for that misunderstanding are complex and fascinating, but a major factor was their interpretation of the writings of the ancient Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus (37 AD-95 AD) (6).

Josephus’ life was a wild ride worth a little detour here. (Don’t worry, we’re getting where we’re going). Josephus was born just a few years after Christ’s execution. A member of the Jewish Pharisee sect, he rose to political prominence in Judea by the time he was in his late twenties. In 66 AD the Romans, who occupied Judea at that time, were thrown into a war rage by what they saw as growing Jewish arrogance and treachery. Josephus martialed Jewish forces to defend against an enemy that soon grew to the proportions of a tidal wave. Roman troops, horses and siege engines poured into the region in simply overwhelming numbers.

Resistance proved futile. Josephus and a fighting unit of 40 men were cornered by Roman forces and retreated to a cave where they made a suicide pact to avoid capture (7). 38 men died in that cave, but Josephus and one other had second thoughts and were taken prisoners. That’s a twist, but here’s a tighter one: Josephus wound up winning the favor of Vespasian (9 AD-79 AD), who was then commander of the Roman expedition in Judea. He was drafted into the Roman war effort against his own Jewish people, and ultimately served as the interpreter for Vespasian’s son, Titus (39 AD-81 AD). Titus had orders to besiege Jerusalem and destroy the Jewish temple. This he did in 70 AD, in apparent fulfillment of a 500 year-old vision recorded by the Jewish prophet Daniel (8).

After the war, Josephus could not remain in Judea. He would have been assassinated on sight. So he was taken to live in Rome. There, his attentions appear to have turned to regaining the acceptance of his Jewish countrymen. Perhaps to achieve this reinstatement, he wrote extensive histories of the Jewish people and ancient times. These histories offer important clues in the search for the Star. In one of his works, Antiquities, Josephus mentions Jesus, John the Baptist and other New Testament characters, including the murderous King Herod of the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2.

The Bible recounts that Herod learned of the Messiah’s birth from astronomers who had seen the Star of Bethlehem. He tried to kill the child, so, obviously, the Bible records that Herod was alive at Jesus’ birth. Remember that this mattered to Kepler, because historians of his time apparently inferred from Josephus’ history that Herod died in 4 BC (9). Necessarily, Kepler assumed Christ was born before that date, perhaps 5 BC or earlier. So, those are the years for which he scanned the skies for the Star. Even with the power of his newly discovered laws of planetary motion, he didn’t find the phenomena we will examine here. He searched the skies of the wrong years.

But modern scholarship has deepened our understanding of Josephus’ manuscripts. A recent study was made of the earliest manuscripts of Josephus’ writings held by the British Library in London, and the American Library of Congress. It revealed a surprise that allows us to target our mathematical telescopes better than could Kepler (10). It turns out that a copying error was a primary cause of the confusion about the date of Herod’s death. A printer typesetting the manuscript of Josephus’ Antiquities messed up in the year 1544. Every single Josephus manuscript in these libraries dating from before 1544 supports the inference that Herod passed in 1 BC. Strong recent scholarship confirms that date (11). Knowing this, and since Herod died shortly after Christ’s birth, our investigation turns to the skies of 3 and 2 BC.

So, we have the second factor allowing us to “find” the Star today. We newly know for which years we should examine the skies.

Enter the power of computers

One more factor accounts for your hearing about the Star now instead of long ago: computers. When Kepler calculated a sky map, it was laborious. Plenty of pens and ink. And when the calculations were complete, he had a picture of the sky at a single moment of time. If he had selected the wrong day to search for the Star, he might find nothing. More pens and ink. But Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion are playthings for a computer. The equations are solved almost instantaneously by modern astronomy software available to anyone for about $50 (12).

With software which incorporates Kepler’s equations, we can create a computer model of the universe. In minutes we can produce thousands of the sky maps which were a great labor before computers. We can animate the universe in real time at any speed we choose, make months pass in moments or wind back the clock. We can view the sky precisely as it moved over Jerusalem 2000 years ago.

And when we look up, examining the correct years, we find remarkable things.

To learn more and see the footnotes go to the link below:

http://www.bethlehemstar.net/setting-the-stage/why-are-we-hearing-this-now/