Posts Tagged ‘birthday of jesus christ’

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2015

Luke 2  (NKJV)nativity scene

1And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Matthew 2   (NKJV)

1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

May you all have a blessed and merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Merry Christmas! From CustomsOfChristmas.com

December 24, 2014

Luke 2:1-20

1nativity scene And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Matthew 2:1-12

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

 

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating Advent

November 25, 2014

On November 30 our family will begin our celebration of Advent.  Advent for us is not just a countdown to Christmas.  It is a time for us to prepare for the celebration of and to remember the birthday of Jesus. Bartholomew's Passage

This year we are using a book written by Arnold Ytreeide called Bartholomew’s Passage.  It is about a young Jewish boy and his adventures just prior to the birth of Jesus.  This book is one of three interrelated books for Advent written by Mr. Ytreeide: Bartholomew’s Passage, Jotham’s Journey, and Tabitha’s Travels.  Every night we read a portion of the story until, on Christmas morning, the story ends with the main character of the story arriving at the manger where the baby Jesus lays.

This is an excellent way for the entire family to get into the Advent season.  Even our youngest child sits quietly to find out what will happen to Bartholomew tonight.

If you haven’t yet begun celebrating the Advent season or if you are looking for something new for Advent, why don’t you look for one of these books.  You won’t regret it.

 


 

The Cinnamon Bear Advent CalendarCountdown to Christmas with CustomsOfChristmas.com’s Cinnamon Bear Advent Calendar.  Taken from The Cinnamon Bear radio program the advent calendar follows the adventures of Paddy O’Cinnamon as he helps Jimmy and Judy find the silver star, stolen by Crazy Quilt Dragon, that belongs on top of their Christmas tree.  The 26-segment story, each segment 12 – 15 minutes long, begins on Saturday, November 29, and continues through Christmas Eve.  Join us and the Cinnamon Bear this Christmas season as we count down to Christmas.

 

 

 


 

Buckeyes

1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 pound milk chocolate

In a large mixing bowl, stir together powdered sugar, peanut butter, and butter until well combined.  Shape into about 30 1-inch balls.  Place balls on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Let stand for about 25 minutes or until dry.  Place water in the bottom of a double boiler to within ½ inch of upper pan.  Make sure the upper pan does not touch the water.  While balls are cooling and the water is heating, finely chop the chocolate so it will melt quickly.  Bring the water to a boil.  Remove from heat and place about ¼ of the chocolate in the top of the double boiler.  Stir until melted.  Add about ½ cup more, stir, and repeat until all chocolate is melted.  Stir until chocolate has reached 120 degrees; reheat if necessary to reach this temperature.  After the chocolate has reached 120 degrees, refill bottom of double boiler with cool water to within ½ inch of upper pan.  Stir frequently until chocolate cools to 83 degrees.  This should take about 30 minutes.  Using a toothpick, dip balls in chocolate, working quickly and stirring chocolate frequently to keep it evenly heated.  Place balls on cookie sheet.  (Chocolate will stay close to 83 degrees for about 30 minutes.  If temperature falls below 80 degrees, chocolate must be remelted.)  Store tightly covered in a cool, dry place.

Christmas in Israel

January 25, 2014

It is late.  The streets that were crowded with people, animals, and soldiers during the day are now deserted.  Suddenly the silence is broken by the cry of a newborn baby.  A new life has entered the world.  Not just any life, but one that has been promised for centuries.  This life is God’s gift to mankind.

For over 2,000 years this baby’s birth has been celebrated.  This celebration takes many forms, but there is one thing that is peculiar about this celebration.  People from all over the world celebrate this baby’s birth except the people of the baby’s home country.

Christians of all ethnicities and denominations gather each year from mid-December to mid-January to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the little town of Bethlehem in the small country of Israel.  For the most part the inhabitants of the town look on as the world celebrates selling food, nativity scenes, crucifixes, and other wares in street bazaars encouraging the Christmas tourists to leave some of their money in the little town in a little country.  Other inhabitants may participate in the celebration.  Some may participate for the fun of it.  Some join out of curiosity, and others to worship.

Most Christians visiting the Holy Land during Christmastide celebrate on December 25, but Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate on January 6.

Grotto of the Nativity

Grotto of the Nativity, Bethlehem

On December 24 the Roman Catholic Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem leads a procession from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, approximately 5 miles, to the Church of the Nativity.  The Church of the Nativity was built in AD. 325 by Roman Emperor Constantine and rebuilt in the 500s by Emperor Justinian.  The church houses the Grotto of the Manger.  The Grotto is about the size of a railroad car illuminated with many candles.  Incense is burned until the air is thick with it.  A fourteen-point silver star marks the place believed to be the spot of Jesus’ birth.  The grounds of the church also houses St. Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church, an Armenian Monastery, as well as churches and buildings of other faiths.

The Roman Catholic Christmas Eve service begins late in the evening with bell ringing, impressive choirs, and a solemn High Mass.  After midnight, Catholics leave mass and proceed to the Grotto of the Manger where an effigy of the Christ Child is placed on the silver star.  Then they return to St. Catherine’s to finish the service.  Other denominations and faiths holding services on December 24 also visit the Grotto.

Protestant Christians tend to meet in one the field outside Bethlehem where, according to tradition, the shepherds heard the angels proclaim the Lord’s birth.  Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians may also meet in rival shepherds fields.  At these meetings choirs lead the worshipers in singing Christmas carols filling the night sky with beautiful music reminiscent of the angelic choir that first Christmas.

While most Israelites do not celebrate Christmas (they celebrate Hanukkah instead), Christmas is celebrated in the Holy Land.  Tourists from all over the world gather each Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus born to “save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

What?! Change Christmas?! . . . Can I?

July 24, 2013

Was Christmas 2012 everything you hoped it would be? Did you do something that once was fun but turned out to be more trouble than it was worth? Has your family situation changed so that the Christmas celebrations that you once knew are no longer practical or even possible?

My family loves Christmas and love celebrating Christmas. If I had my way we would live in a house with a large living room and dining room decorated with lots of Christmas greens and lights. A large Christmas tree would stand near the fireplace. Guess what! We don’t have a large house or even a large living room. A small apartment-size tree makes our cramped living room even smaller. At this time decorating a large tree is not possible for us, but we don’t dwell on what we can’t have. Instead we gather together as a family and together decorate our tree and enjoy what we did all season long.

When my oldest daughter was younger (she’s 18 now) we set aside one Saturday in December to bake cookies. Everyone in the family picked their favorite cookies (there were only 5 of us then), and we baked. Each child helped me make their favorite cookies. By the end of the day we made double batches of at least 6 or 7 different kinds of cookies. As our family grew (there are 9 of us now) that day became a chore instead of fun. I began dreading baking day. Two years ago I decided we needed to change this tradition a little. We put together a list of cookies we wanted for Christmas. We still made 5 or 6 different kinds of cookies, but we changed how we did them. My daughter loves Choco-Mint Snowtops. She made them during the week while I was at work. We also cut down the amount of cookies we made from 2 batches to just 1 batch. One last change we made was to use … oh, horrors … say it ain’t so … refrigerated, store-bought cookie dough. Now the day that became a dreaded tradition is fun again.
About 3 years ago we decided that we wanted to make our Christmas breakfast a special meal to look forward to in addition to our Christmas dinner. We looked at recipes for breakfast casseroles. My wife made sure they didn’t have a bread base. She doesn’t care for them. We found 2 recipes that looked delicious. The first time we made 1 of each. The next year, since we knew which one we preferred, we made just 1 recipe. That’s one of our newest family Christmas traditions.

For us Christmas is more than music, lights, presents, and food. It is remembering the reason for the season, Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate every Christmas. Several years ago we started gathering a number of advent books to read during Advent. 3 of the books are stories of characters, children, who may have played a part in the Christmas story. They are fiction stories, but we enjoy the stories seeing how the events in the lives of the children in the stories intertwine with the characters we all know of the Biblical Christmas story. The fourth book contains inspirational readings, passages of the Bible to read, and songs to sing as we anticipate and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior. This is another family tradition that our children look forward to each Christmas season.

These are just some of the ways our Christmas celebration has changed over the years. What about your Christmas traditions? I would love to hear about your Christmas traditions that changed over the years. Perhaps you no longer use them in your celebrations. Perhaps you added them to enhance your enjoyment of Christmas. Whatever they are I’d love to hear about them. Perhaps I can add them to our Christmas celebration.

Starting next month I’ll be sharing a series of blogs called How to Have the Christmas You Always Wanted based on the book/seminar series Uplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli. You won’t want to miss this series. Invite someone read them with you.

Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole
1 lb ground sausage ( “hot” or “sage” flavored)
¼ cup chopped onions
2 ½ cups frozen cubed hash brown potatoes
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
1 ¾ cups milk
1 cup baking mix
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1. Cook sausage and onion in large frying pan over medium-high
heat for 5 minutes or until meat crumbles.
2. Stir in hash browns, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until sausage
is no longer pink and hash browns are lightly browned.
3. Drain mixture well on paper towels.
4. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.
5. A stoneware baking dish works really well.
6. Stir together the lightly beaten eggs, shredded cheese, milk,
baking mix, salt, and pepper.
7. Pour evenly over sausage/hashbrown mixture.
8. Stir well.
9. Cover and chill for 8 hours.
10. Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
11. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until a wooden pick
inserted in the middle comes out clean.
12. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
13. You can also keep the casserole warm until you are ready to eat
by covering it with foil and putting it in a 200 degree oven.
14. Optional toppings: sour cream, favorite sauce of your choice
(picante, hot sauce). You can also garnish it with parsley.

The Characters of Christmas – Jesus

December 25, 2012

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)

There has never been a more awaited birth or a longer celebrated one. Ever since sin first entered the Garden of Eden through Adam and Eve, the world waited for the coming of the One who would destroy sin and the evil one. Then one night in a little town named Bethlehem the One arrived as a little baby, God’s gift to mankind, the first Christmas gift.

Many men prophesied about this One, the Messiah, Savior of all the world. Moses wrote that this One would be born of a woman (Genesis 3:15), a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah (Genesis 17:3, 7, 19, 21:12, 22:18, 28:13-14, 49:8-10, Numbers 24:17). Isaiah added that He would descend from Jesse (Isaiah 11:1); and Jeremiah added that He would come from Jesse’s son David, king of Israel (Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15). The prophet Micah further said that out of all the towns in Judah He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-3). Isaiah further prophesied that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). David also foretold that God would be the Father of the Savior (Psalm 2:7). This had to be because He could not save the world from their sins if He had sin in His nature too. Since the sin nature was passed on through the man, the mother of the Savior had to be a virgin and the father had to be God. Isaiah also said that this One would be God Himself (Isaiah 9:6-7).

King David, along with the prophet Isaiah, said that kings would bring Him gifts and bow down to worship Him (Psalm 72:10-15, Isaiah 60:3). Hosea prophesied that He would spend time in Egypt (Hosea 11:1), and Jeremiah foretold the weeping that occurred when Herod killed all the boy babies two years old and under in Bethlehem (Jeremiah 31:15). Isaiah even revealed that the Savior would live in the area around Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2). Many more prophesies were recorded throughout the Old Testament about the Messiah, the Savior, but we won’t go into them here.

Only one person fulfilled all these prophesies. He was born in Bethlehem to a virgin, Mary, a direct descendant of King David. He was named Jesus. Angels announced his birth to shepherds. Kings known as wise men or magi brought Him gifts and bowed down to worship Him. He was taken to Egypt by Mary and Joseph just before Herod called for the killing of Bethlehem’s baby boys two years old and younger. He lived there until Herod died. Then Joseph brought the family back to Nazareth in the region of Galilee.

Jesus lived a life just like we do. He was tempted to sin just like we are, but He never sinned. He suffered persecutions from those who hated Who He was and what He stood for. Then He was crucified on a cruel Roman cross not because of something He did for He did nothing wrong but because He was the Son of God. He went to the cross as God’s sacrificial lamb willingly giving up His life so that sin and the Devil’s hold on humanity would be broken forever. Then Jesus rose from the dead to complete His wonderful work of salvation. All this was prophesied in the Old Testament, too.

This year as you celebrate the birth of Jesus consider what gift you are going to give Him. The gift He wants most is you.

Names of Jesus

The Amen – Revelation 3:14
Angel – Genesis 48:16, Exodus 23:20,21
Anointed – Psalm 2:2
Apostle – Hebrews 3:1
Author and Finisher of our faith – Hebrews 12:2
Beginning and End of the Creation of God – Revelation 3:14, 22:13
Beloved Son – Matthew 3:17
My Beloved – Ephesians 1:6
Only Begotten – John 1:14, 18
The Branch – Isaiah 11:1, Matthew 2:23
Bread of Life – John 6:32
Bridegroom – Matthew 9:15
Christ “Messiah, the Anointed One” – John 1:41
Consolation – Luke 2:25
Cornerstone – Ephesians 2:20
Counselor – Isaiah 9:6, Colossians 2:3
Dayspring – Luke 1:78
Deliverer – Luke 2:11
Door – John 10:9
Emmanuel – Isaiah 7:14
The Faithful Witness – Revelation 5:5
The Father of Eternity – Isaiah 9:6, Revelation 1:8
God – Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1
God, My Savior – Isaiah 45:1
The Mighty God – Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1-3
Governor – Matthew 2:6
Head of the Church – Ephesians 5:23
Heir – Hebrews 1:2
Holy One – Isaiah 41:14, Mark 1:24
I Am – John 8:58
Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14, I Timothy 3:16
Israel – Isaiah 49:3
Jesus – Matthew 1:21
Jesus Christ – John 1:17
Jesus of Nazareth – Mark 1:24, Luke 24:19
King – Matthew 21:5, Psalm 2:6, Matthew 2:1-2
King of Kings and the Lord of Lords – Revelation 19:16
Lamb of God – John 1:14
The Last Adam – I Corinthians 15:45
Life – John 14:6
Light of the World – John 8:12
The Lion of Judah – Revelation 5:5
LORD – Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:1-8
Lord – Psalm 110:1, Luke 20:41-44
Lord Jesus – John 20:28
Man – 1 Timothy 2:5
The Second Man – 1 Corinthians 15:47
The Master – Matthew 9:11, 23:8
Messiah – Daniel 9:25, John 1:41
The Messiah – Daniel 9:25-26, Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:16-21
Paraclete – John 16:7, 14, 15
High Priest – Hebrews 3:1
Priest – Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 3:1, 5:5-6
Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6, Ephesians 2:14
Prophet – Deuteronomy 11:15, 18; Matthew 21:11; Luke 24:19
The Prophet – Deuteronomy 18:15-18, John 12:49-50
Rabbi – John 1:49, 20:16
Resurrection and Life – John 11:25
Righteous One – 1 Corinthians 1:30
Rock – Matthew 16:18
Savior, Christ the Lord – Luke 2:11, Titus 2:13, 2 Timothy 2:10
Savior of the World – 1 John 4:14
The Seed – Genesis 15:5, Galatians 3:16
Servant – Isaiah 42:1, 49:7
The Servant of the Lord – Isaiah 42:1, 52:13, Philippians 2:7
Good Shepherd – John 10:11
Shiloh – Genesis 49:10, Ezekiel 21:27
Son of the Blessed – Mark 14:61
Son of David – Matthew 12:23
Son of God – John 10:36
Son of Man – Mark 10:45
The Son – Psalm 2:7, Hebrews 5:8
The Son of Man – Daniel 7:13, Matthew 20:28
Stone – Matthew 21:42, 1 Peter 2:8
The Stone – Psalm 118:22, 1 Peter 2:4-8
Teacher – John 3:2, Matthew 9:11
Truth – John 14:6
True Vine – John 15:1
The Way – John 14:6
Wonderful – Isaiah 9:6, John 1:14
Word – John 1:1

The Characters of Christmas – Wise Men

December 23, 2012

Of all the characters in the Christmas story the wise men may have the least said about them in the Bible and the most legend about them in stories and song. Here’s what we do know about the wise men based on what the Bible tells us.

First, there was more than one wise man. The Bible says that they were wise “men” plural, but it doesn’t reveal the actual number of wise men. Many say there were three wise men because of the number of gifts recorded as being given to Jesus. Next, we know that they came from the East. How far to the East we do not know. They may have been from Persia or even the orient. The wise men were astrologers; they studied the stars. They knew the stars very well so that when His star appeared they knew what they needed to do.

When they saw the star they left the comfort of their homes to seek out the newborn King of the Jews. They had a basic knowledge of this baby. They knew that He was to be King of the Jews and that He was to be worshiped. That is why they went to Jerusalem, to find where this King was to be born. The Bible does not say that the wise men followed the star they saw from their home to Jerusalem. It just says that they saw the King’s star in the East and came to worship Him.

The wise men caused quite a stir in Jerusalem. No one knew of a newborn King. King Herod, a ruthless and paranoid man, was troubled most of all. Was this another plot to depose him? He decided to play along with the wise men, find out where the baby was to be born, and have the wise men find the baby for him. Then he would destroy this new King. The chief priests and scribes, the experts in the Jewish scriptures, came and told the wise men that the baby was to be born in Bethlehem. Herod told the wise men to look for the baby and to return to tell him where He was so he could go worship Him, too.

When the wise men left Herod’s palace they looked up and once again saw the King’s star. This time the star led them to Bethlehem to the house where Jesus was. Some have speculated that the star was just a lining up of certain planets or a comet. But can a comet or a group of planets way up in the cosmos lead a group of men to a particular town and point out a particular house within that town? Instead the star seems to be a special miracle star that God made expressly for the purpose of showing the wise men where His Son, the newborn King of the Jews, was staying.

The Bible does not say how close to the birth of Jesus the wise men arrived in Bethlehem. However, it is safe to say that it was at least forty days and may have been as much as two years after the birth. We do know that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left for Egypt to flee Herod after the wise men left, probably the same night. When Jesus was forty days old He was taken to the temple so the wise men could not have arrived before then. We also know that when Herod discovered that the wise men had no intention of telling him where the newborn King of the Jews was he killed every baby in Bethlehem two years old and younger. This may be because the wise men traveled for two years before finding the baby Jesus. The exact time is unknown, but we do know that it was long enough that Joseph found a house for the young family to live in. The wise men never went to the stable.

When the wise men saw Jesus they fell down and worshiped Him; and they gave Him gifts: gold, signifying that Jesus is King of the world (that gold financed the family’s trip to Egypt to flee Herod), frankincense, a present signifying that Jesus is our High Priest, and myrrh, signifying Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for the sins of mankind.

That night God warned the wise men in a dream not to return to Herod. The wise men obeyed returning to their home by a different route.

God’s Son Jesus was sent to the earth to be the Savior of all mankind. He is the Savior of the common man as shown by His announcement to the shepherds. He is also the Savior of the rich man and the scholar. Jesus is Savior and Lord of all.

The Characters of Christmas – The Shepherds

December 16, 2012

Many people use the fact that the shepherd were in the fields watching their sheep as proof that Jesus could not have been born on December 25. Actually, since we are never told why the shepherds were in the fields that night, any reason proffered is pure speculation. Why were they in the fields at night instead of in the sheep folds? We are never told why. Perhaps it was because of all the Roman soldiers in the area. The Roman soldiers were known to take by force what they wanted so perhaps the shepherds were out in the fields to keep the sheep away from the soldiers. In that case they might have been in the fields with their sheep cold or not. At any rate the shepherds were in the fields watching the sheep. Each day was spent making sure the sheep got the food and water they needed; each night watching the sheep sleep undisturbed by thieves or marauding beasts. One day ran into the next with very little change to the routine.

Then came that special night. The shepherds were watching their sheep sleep keeping active sheep from wandering away from the herd. The night sky became as bright as day and a person appeared out of the light. Understandably the shepherds were terrified. Where did this bright light come from? Who was this person who stands before them? Is he friend or foe? The person spoke, “Do not be afraid…” After this speech the sky was filled with more beings like the first one singing and praising God. Then they disappeared and the light faded to night once more. When the shepherds found their voices they discussed what they heard. The Messiah, the Christ, has been born. They left their sheep and hurried to Bethlehem. They left their sheep in the hands of God and ran to behold the miracle of the birth of the Son of God.

We are not told how many stables with mangers there were in Bethlehem. The shepherds may have gone right to the one where Mary and Joseph were, or they may have had to search for it. When they found “the Babe lying in a manger” they told Mary and Joseph all that happened to cause them to search for the baby Jesus. We do not know how long the shepherds stayed with Mary and Joseph. At the time they left the stable, people were stirring in the town of Bethlehem; and the shepherds told everyone they met about their experience with the angels and going to see the Christ, the Son of God. The people marveled at the shepherds’ message possibly thinking the shepherds were going a bit loony spending too much time with their sheep. Mary, however, pondered everything the shepherds told her and kept their sayings in her heart.

The shepherds returned to their fields glorifying and praising God worshiping Him for letting them be one of the first to get the birth announcement of His Son. This was a sure sign that God sent His Son to the humble, the lowly, the common man.

The Characters of Christmas – Joseph

December 9, 2012

There was a man who lived in Nazareth, a carpenter by trade, who, in another time and another place, might have had a very different occupation. This man could have been king of Israel. He was a direct descendant of King David through his son Solomon. If the Romans hadn’t conquered Israel Joseph may have been king instead of a carpenter.

Joseph was a godly man who knew God’s word and obeyed God. He not only obeyed God, but he also obeyed the government that God placed over Israel. He was a just man who took his responsibilities seriously.

Joseph was espoused to a girl named Mary, a virgin also from Nazareth. She, too, was a descendant of King David but not of the kingly line. He loved her deeply and was looking forward to making her his wife. He must have been devastated when Mary told him that she was pregnant. She must have told him that this baby was from God and not from a sexual relationship with another man. She must have told him about the angel Gabriel’s visit and what he told her. But Joseph’s mind was still in turmoil. How could she have done this? She knows the punishment according to the Torah for fornication was death. Should he divorce Mary or quietly put her away? After all, he had his own reputation to consider. Joseph’s sleep that night must have been fitful with much tossing and turning. Then an angel of the LORD, quite possibly Gabriel, came to Joseph in a dream confirming what Mary had told him. Being obedient to God, Joseph took Mary as his wife. We’re not told at what point in Mary’s pregnancy they got married.

Word came from the Roman emperor that all men were to go to their home city, the city of their ancestors, to be counted for tax purposes. Joseph knew that Mary’s time was near and probably would have done all he could to let her stay in Nazareth while he took part in the census. Mary, however, refused choosing to go with Joseph to Bethlehem, a very long journey for a woman about to give birth to a baby. The Bible does not say that Joseph had a donkey for Mary to ride, but Joseph’s concern for Mary was great enough for us to assume that he did something so Mary would not have to walk the distance. When they arrived in Bethlehem they were tired and needed a place to rest. The baby was coming soon, maybe even that night. Joseph went from inn to inn looking for a place to stay. But no place was available. No room could be made for the couple soon to have a baby. Finally someone said they could sleep in his stable. They gladly accepted. Joseph made a place in the hay and straw for Mary and him to sleep. Sometime while they were staying in the stable the baby Jesus was born.

Sometime after Jesus was born Joseph found a house for the family to stay. When Jesus was forty days old, Joseph and Mary took Him to the temple to offer the sacrifice redeeming the first-born male as required by Jewish law. It is safe to assume that the wise men did not arrive before this event because of what happened after they left. The Bible does not say how long Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem before the wise men visited. It could have been as long as two years, because Herod killed every boy baby two years old and younger, but not less than forty days. Sometime after the wise men arrived and quite possibly that same night, Joseph had another dream. In it he was told to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt because Herod would try to kill the baby. The little family fled to Egypt and stayed there until Herod died. After Herod’s death Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Nazareth.

We’re not told much about Joseph after he and his family returned to Nazareth. We do know that Joseph and Mary had a number of children together, a number of Jesus’ half-brothers being mentioned by name in the Bible. We also know that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem every year, at least until He was twelve years old, for the Feast of the Passover. After that time Joseph is never mentioned again. Some speculate that Joseph died fairly early in Jesus’ life. They say that Joseph was anywhere from twenty to forty years older than Mary and died of old age. However, it is not unreasonable to believe that Joseph and Mary were much closer in age. Carpentry can be a hazardous job, and Joseph could have died in a carpentry accident. Or Joseph could still have been living when Jesus died but was never mentioned because he did not factor in any more of the stories told in the Bible. It is impossible to say for sure because the Bible is silent on the issue.

Joseph, because of his obedience to and love for God, was given a very important job, raising the Son of God. It must have overwhelmed him at times, but God was with Joseph guiding him all the way and giving him the wisdom needed to do the job.

A “Lean” Christmas and Chocolate Mint Snow-top Cookies

June 26, 2012

Next week at this time I’ll be out of a job. Hopefully I’ll have another job before Christmas. If I don’t we may have a “lean” Christmas this year, that is a Christmas with few gifts. We may be looking at how each one of us can give gifts of love that don’t cost much if any money. My oldest daughter is already doing this. For the last couple years she’s been doing crochet projects and cross stitch projects to give as Christmas gifts. I’ve given coupon books to my children with fun things or projects we could do together. We’ve also given baked goods as Christmas gifts.

We may not have a lot to do with this Christmas, but we WILL be together. We will be celebrating Christmas as a family. We’ll play board games together. We’ll play Wii games together. We’ll laugh together. We’ll enjoy each other.

We’ll also be remembering that we’re celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ. I don’t know how that celebration will look, perhaps we’ll have a birthday cake. I don’t know. One thing I do know is that we’ll be reading the Christmas story from the Bible. We do that every year.

Here’s the recipe of some cookies that we enjoy at Christmastime. Perhaps you’ll like them, too.

Chocolate Mint Snow-top Cookies
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 10-ounce package mint-flavored, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup powdered sugar

In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In small saucepan over low heat,
melt one cup morsels. In large bowl, cream butter and granulated sugar. Beat in melted
morsels and vanilla; beat in eggs. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Stir in remaining
morsels. Wrap in plastic wrap; freeze for 20 minutes or until firm. Shape dough into 1-
inch balls; roll in powdered sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until sides are set but centers
are still slightly soft. Let stand for 2 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar. Cool on wire
racks. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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