Until Christmas day, this daily e-mailing will lead you the reader's up to Christmas day with biblical details of Jesus' birth from the pregnancy of Mary his mother by the Holy Spirit of YHWH. Remember that the celebration of Christmas is for Jesus' birth and not the giving of gifts to each other. JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. Travel with the ministry for the next 7 days to Christmas with biblical chronology of His birth. Lets remember that Jesus' exact birth date is unknown. - Rev. Lynwood F. Mundy Mary’s Pregnancy “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18 “Pledged to be married” was a more binding relationship than our present-day engagement. It could only be ended by a divorce. The Jews did not have sexual intercourse during this time of betrothal. Mary’s pregnancy was not the result of any human action, but was due to the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit.
December 19 WHILE BY OUR SHEEP German carol, Translated by Theodore Baker, 1851–1934 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:20) It was a cold, clear night. The stars twinkled above and an air of peaceful serenity settled calmly over the field outside of Bethlehem. The fire was burning low as the shepherds sprawled out to rest among their sheep. “What is the meaning of that star?” asked one of the younger boys. As some turned to look, the star seemed to sparkle with a glorious glow, almost hanging over Bethlehem. Then suddenly they were blinded by a brilliant light! They cried out in fright and hid their faces on the ground. The consoling voice of an angel calmed their spirits as they listened in rapture to the blessed announcement of the long-awaited Messiah. How great was their joy! Have you ever wondered why these simple, uncouth shepherds without wealth, power, or social position were the first to receive heaven’s glorious message? Prophecy foretold that salvation would be offered first to Israel. Thus the Jewish shepherds were allowed to adore the Savior before the arrival of the Gentile wise men. Perhaps the humble shepherds were also chosen to receive the angels’ message because God wanted to send His only Son to be associated with the seemingly unimportant of this world rather than among the proud and wealthy. Also God knew that these lowly shepherds would receive His news of salvation with open hearts and would return with great joy to share what they had heard and seen. Originating as it does from 17th century Germany, this vivid description of the first Christmas night reminds us of the various lands and cultures that have provided our many lovely carols, giving us a rich musical and spiritual heritage. While by our sheep we watched at night, glad tidings bro’t an angel bright: There shall be born, so he did say, in Bethlehem a Child today: There shall the Child lie in a stall, this Child who shall redeem us all: This gift of God we’ll cherish well—Jesus, our Lord Emmanuel: Refrain: How great our joy! (Great our joy!) Joy, joy, joy! (Joy, joy, joy!) Praise we the Lord in heav’n on high! (Praise we the Lord in heav’n on high!) For Today: Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Luke 2:8–20 Take your place with the shepherds when the heavenly announcement was given. Move with them to the manger and worship in awe. Return with the song of praise upon your lips (hear the gentle echo in the night’s stillness). Share your joy with others. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990). 378.
Compassion University of California at Santa Cruz isn’t a typical college. Recently they made the national news when their students started protesting the administration’s decision to start giving letter grades. Their bathrooms are co-ed., and their politics are liberal. A few weeks ago, a resident assistant at one of the dorms invited Dan Kimball, Pastor of Graceland Church, “a church within a church” of the Santa Cruz Bible Church, to be a part of an open forum on Christianity. Maybe it was because of the publicity generated by proposition 22, a ballot measure that defined marriage as “between a man and a woman” or the simple fact that the University has a large gay population, but homosexuality was the issue. “But people have these feelings,” one participant said, “why would God give us these feelings, and not expect us to act on them?” Gently, Kimball commented, “Some people have violent tendencies too, but that doesn’t mean violence is OK.” In response to the questions, Kimball read passages out of Leviticus and Romans that made it clear that homosexuality was a sin, not just an alternative lifestyle, but he didn’t bring his message with a condescending tone, “hitting them with Biblical facts.” Kimball didn’t just quote scripture, he talked about some homosexual friends he’s had a man he toured Israel with, one of his roommates when he was playing with a rock-a-billy punk band in England, a former employer. In reflecting on the exchange, Kimball said, “I hope the participants will say, ‘you know, this guy absolutely said that homosexuality is a sin, but he had heart and he wasn’t yelling at us. He had some friends that were gay and maybe he understands us.’ ” Kimball is going back, and when he returns, he will be careful to demonstrate the love of Christ as he proclaims the message of Christianity Jim L. Wilson, Fresh Start Devotionals (Fresno, CA: Willow City Press, 2009).