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Bishop Lalachan Abraham
RAVI ZACHARIAS: SYMBOLS OF THE PURSUIT OF GOD
2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ."
Ravi Zacharias said: "The pursuit of the Hebrews was idealized and symbolized by light. 'The Lord is my light and my salvation.' 'The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light.' 'This is the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world.'
"The pursuit of the Greeks was symbolized by knowledge. That’s why the Biblical writers say, 'These things are written that you might know that you have eternal life.' For the Hebrews, it was light. For the Greeks, it was knowledge.
"For the Romans, it was glory. The apostle Paul, a Hebrew by birth, a citizen of Rome, living in a Greek city, had to give to them the ideal of his ethic. And he says this: 'God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, has caused His light to shine in our hearts, to give to us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.'
"For the apostle Paul, the ultimate ethic was not an abstraction, not symbolized merely by light, not merely by knowledge, not merely by glory, but in the very face of our Lord.
DEAREST JESUS, HOLY CHILD
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.
SOURCE: Martin Luther
"When Chances Come" BY Willo Lou Clark
If you had been a lowly shepherd who heard the angels sing,
Would you have left your sheep alone to find the baby King?
If you had been the innkeeper - pressed & hurried since the dawn,
Would you have done the best you could, or told them to move on?
If you had been a wise man - due respect & courtly graces,
Would you have left it all behind to search in unknown places?
We cannot know what we’d have done if we had been there then.
We only know what we do now - when chances come again.
YOU HAVE TO STOOP
The announcement went first to the shepherds. They didn't ask God if he was sure he knew what he was doing. Had the angel gone to the theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked at their calendars.
So he went to the shepherds. Men who didn't have a reputation to protect or an ax to grind or a ladder to climb. Men who didn't know enough to tell God that angels don't sing to sheep and that messiahs aren't found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough.
A small cathedral outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus. Behind a high alter in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps.
You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor
recognizes the birth of the King. There is one stipulation, however. You have to stoop. The door is so low you can't go in standing up.
The same is true of the Christ. You can see the wo...
Singer Michael Card wrote a song called The Promise, and he wrote a little Christmas devotional on this theme:
Christianity is founded on a promise. Faith involves waiting on a promise. Our hope is based on a promise.
Promises are made with words. … .that part of myself that goes with every promise is given to you through my words….
Our God is the great maker of promises… His word, our Bible, is a collection of the promises… most of these concern Jesus, who came to be known as "the Promised One"
Through all these promises, God was trying to give something of Himself to Adam, and to Israel, and finally to us. The Bible tells us that when the Promised One came, the Lord poured all of Himself into Him.
What a costly thing it can be to make a promise - it cost Jesus His life.
What’s the main idea?
On his many caravan rides along the trading route between
Syria and Arabia, a merchant named Muhammad observed people of
all kinds of faiths. He became increasingly concerned that
people were straying from ethical and moral responsibility. In
A.D. 610, when Muhammad was 40 years old, the angel Gabriel
allegedly commanded him to become a prophet, calling people
back to the truth. The foundation of Islam was laid.
Islam is the second-largest religion in the world (after
Christianity), claiming one billion followers, called Muslims.
The religion hangs on the phrase, "There is no god but Allah
and Muhammad is his prophet." Allah (Arabic for "God") is
alone to be worshiped. So it’s a big mistake to think Muslims
view Muhammad the same way Christians view Jesus. Muhammad was
not a deity to be worshiped, but the last and greatest
prophet -- someone who brought a perfect message from God.
Muslims aren’t concerned as much about the right beliefs as
they are about the right actions. In "submitting to the will
of God" (that’s the meaning of the word "Islam"), they stick
to the Five Pillars, a set of important requirements that
includes regular charity, praying five times a day, and making
at least one hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca (Islam’s holy city).
In addition to this, most Muslims devoutly refrain from
alcohol, drugs, gambling, and certain foods such as pork. The
Qur’an (or Koran), which Muslims believe is the written
recollection of the visions Muhammad received, is the most
important text, although our Old and New Testaments are also
significant in Islam.
ANY COMMON GROUND?
Christians and Muslims share a lot of similar beliefs. For
instance, Moses, Jacob, and David are influential in both
faiths. And Muslims have enormous respect for Jesus, seeing
him as the second-greatest prophet. Muslims also believe in
Jesus’ virgin birth and his miracles, even saying he’s the
WHAT SETS US APART?
Muslims don’t believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and
they consider the Christian claim of Jesus’ divinity
blasphemous. In Islam, Muhammad is the greatest and most
authentic prophet. While they think highly of the Bible,
Muslims think the Qur’an is the true Word of God. Most
significantly, the Christian concept of grace is completely
absent in Islam. Allah is relatively cold and removed, and the
principles of right and wrong, do’s and don’ts, form the
foundation of the faith.
Dr. James Lewis, Associate Professor of World Religions at
Wheaton College and Campus Life.
June 26, 2002
PROFOUNDLY HIDDEN DIVINITY
“...The Virgin birth denotes particularly the mystery of revelation. It denotes the fact that God stands at the start where real revelation takes place – God and not the arbitrary cleverness, capability or piety of man.
In Jesus Christ God comes forth out of the profound hiddenness of his divinity in order to act as God among us and upon us. That is revealed and made visible to us in the sign of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, but it is grounded upon the fact signified by the Virgin birth, that here in this Jesus God himself has really come down and concealed himself in humanity. It was because he was veiled here that he could and had to unveil himself as he did at Easter...”
SOURCE: Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, I.2 pp. 182-183.
CONSIDER AGAIN CHRISTMAS
When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today.
When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today.
It is a long time since 1832, longer still from 353, longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, ...
Millard Erickson says, “Next to the resurrection, the most debated and controversial event of Jesus’ life is the virgin birth.”
"Deep within California’s remote and rugged desert mountain ranges, living on the brink of extinction, less than a thousand bighorn sheep maintain a fragile grip on the future. Their hope lies with the crop of lambs born each winter. In preparation for this moment, ewes wander alone into the rocky wilderness to find quiet nooks where they give birth. Few people have ever seen a newborn lamb, but a couple of days after birth it is frisking about like a colt and ready to rejoin the rest of the herd. More lambs are born and survive during years with lots of fresh, green vegetation, but in the face of introduced diseases, predation by mountain lions and disturbance by hikers nothing is certain in the world of bighorn sheep. NATURAL HISTORY Bighorns are intelligent, playful and mischievous. One scientist raised a lamb and watched as it learned the rituals of the household, came to recognize voice commands (better than a dog) and slept with a litter of kittens. The lamb even claimed a seat in the family car." LOS ANGELES TIMES February 15, 2005 FIELD GUIDE Bighorn sheep David Lukas