Merry Christmas!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).   (Isaiah 7:14)
It was in the year King Uzziah died that Prophet Isaiah was in the temple.  He saw the Lord, who was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.  Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.  They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
Then Prophet Isaiah said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to Prophet Isaiah with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.  He touched Prophet Isaiah’s lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
Then Prophet Isaiah heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
Prophet Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me.” 
When the world was in turmoil, Prophet Isaiah was in the temple.   He met God.   He answered God’s calling, by committed himself to God.    God was with Prophet Isaiah and went with him throughout his life.
Although Prophet Isiah was comforted by God, the world was still in turmoil.   King Ahaz inherited the kingdom of Judah after King Uzziah’s death, but King Rezin of Syria and Pekah invaded Judah.   The whole nation was in fear, and King Ahaz was with them.  
Then God sent His message to King Ahaz,
“Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?  All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). “    (Isaiah 7:13b-14)
The entire nation was severely stressed along with the king and his people.   It was a dark time, but God gave His message through Prophet Isaiah.   The message, in fact, was “Nothing is impossible before God,”   “God will give a sign that comforts you,” and “God is always with you.”   What a comforting message it was, which was directly given to the King and the people dwelling in the kingdom of Judah!
The above comforting message was given to the King Ahaz and his people, who lived about 2,700 years ago.   By the way, it was the prophecy from God about God’s eternal salvation plan for all, not only for the Israelites, but also the rest of the world.
About 700 years later after Prophet Isaiah received the message from God.  That is, it was about 2,000 years ago, the Jews, the descendants of the Judah were under Roman’s occupation.  The Roman Empire conquered Jerusalem in 63 BC, and the Roman Empire ruled over the entire nation of the Jews.   Since then, the Roman Empire was constantly adding more pressure on Jews, and their lives were getting worse.   Some of them rebelled against the Romans, but none of the attempts was successful.   The Jews had to live under oppression of the Romans without raising their voices.   People wanted to see hope, but the reality under the occupation of the Roman Empire was harsh for them.  
God, who was merciful, heard their sufferings.   As foretold through Prophet Isaiah, God sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, the Savior.  Yes, God was truly faithful to His people, and God had fulfilled His prophecy of born of a child from a virgin, whose name was Emmanuel (i.e., God is with us). 
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.  (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.   Although the Jews had their own king under the rule of Roman Empire, they had to follow the Roman’s rules.
There was a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of King David.  Thus, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.  He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. 
Here is the story how Mary got pregnant.
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.  Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”  (Luke 1:29b-33)
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”
What an amazing story that was told by the angel!  Mary had never expected, but the angel came to Mary and told the unimaginable story to Mary.    If you were there instead of Mary, what would be your answer to the amazing story told by the angel?    Please remember that you (i.e., Mary) were engaged with Joseph soon to be married.   Definitely, having a baby before getting married led to the end of her engagement.  
Mary responded,
“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”  (Luke 1:38a)
What a faithful answer!  Mary accepted the blessing despite of the obvious consequence that she would get — breaking off from her engagement.   And then the angel left her. 
God saw Mary’s faithfulness.  She practically gave up her engagement to Joseph, her future husband and accepted and believed God’s promise and His blessing.   She fixed on her eyes on the eternal reward from above instead of the worldly reward.
It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Soon Joseph realized that Mary was pregnant.   He was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly because of her pregnancy, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:20b-21)
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
       She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
       which means ‘God is with us.’”  (Matthew 1:23)
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.   What a faith Joseph had!   It would be almost suicidal for himself and the rest of his family to bring in Mary who was already pregnant before marriage.   Joseph knew he had to endure all problems brought in by Mary and the disgrace that would fall on him and the rest of his family and most of all, his own future children.   However, he believed in God and he gave his future to God.  In fact, Joseph overcome the world while looking forward seeing the reward from above as Mary did.   Both Joseph and Mary were truly bonded by one common faith in God.  What a beautiful couple in God!
Let’s back to the story.  The couple traveled to Bethlehem, and they arrived at Bethlehem.   The time came for her baby to be born.  They knocked many doors, but there was no room available to stay the night although the baby was almost due.   One allowed Joseph and Mary to stay in a stable.   Then Mary gave birth to her firstborn son.  She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger.  As the angel told, the couple named the new born baby as Jesus.  For Mary and Joseph, it was a night for joy because of a newborn baby, but nobody was around except the animals because no lodging was available for the couple and the newborn baby. 
However, the Heaven was in joy and the host of angels appeared to shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.   Nobody in Bethlehem did not know the birth of the new king, Jesus Christ, who were born humbly in a manger.   Even King Herod did not know the birth of the newborn king, Jesus Christ, Our Savior.  
The Heaven could not be silent.   Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:10b-12)
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
       and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  
All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!  (Isaiah 52:7)
Yes, the most blessed message of the birth of the new born king, Jesus Christ, the Savior was gone out by the shepherds to the people who were poor in heart in the area.    And they were in joy as the Heaven was in joy.
The scene in the King Herod’s palace was completely opposite.  
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.  (Matthew 2:3)
Why?  King Herod was visited by the three wise men from far eastern lands.  They asked,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”  (Matthews 2:2)
The three wise men bravely asked the newborn king of the Jews in front of King Herod who was the king of the Jews.   It made the king deeply disturbed along with the people in Jerusalem who were politically powerful and rich so that they could live in Jerusalem, not like the shepherd who met the angels and saw the newborn king, Jesus Christ with joy.
King Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared.  Then King Herod told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”   It was King Herod’s plot to find the newborn king of the Jews, Jesus Christ, and kill him.   What a contrast between King Herod and the shepherds!   The biggest ever Good News of the birth of Jesus Christ clearly divided people into two groups:  one who wanted to kill Jesus, and the other who were in true joy while praising God.
After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!   God faithfully guided them to the newborn king, Jesus Christ as they waited long, traveled far, and risked their own lives by asking a newborn king of the Jews before King Herod who was the king of the Jews at that time. 
They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.   They gave the best and the most precious gifts to the newborn king Jesus Christ, which they had prepared for the newborn king only.    They were filled with great joy of seeing Jesus Christ, and giving Him the best that they could bring to the newborn king.  
When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.  The King Herod’s cunning wisdom could not match with God’s wisdom. 
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.  (1 Corinthians 1:25)
God had protected both the three wise men and the newborn King Jesus Christ along with Joseph and Mary, although King Herod made a cunning plot to kill the newborn king Jesus with his own people.   Yes, God is more powerful than anybody on earth, and wiser than any wise men ever lived.   Our God is truly omnipotent and omniscient with His infinite wisdom and love toward us.  Before Him, nothing can stand, but His love endures forever.   Although we are sinful and sinning every day, He forgives our sins and loves us when we approach to him for His forgiveness.  Not only His forgiveness, but also His eternal salvation, which are prepared for us.   God has been eagerly waiting for us so that He can give us His love and eternal salvation from our sins by completely forgiving all our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.  All of this Good News was started on the day of Christmas about 2,000 years ago, when our Lord, Jesus Christ was humbly born in a manger in Bethlehem rather than a palace.    
King Herod and the powerful people in Jerusalem rejected the newborn king Jesus by being deeply troubled in their hearts, but those who were poor in heart welcome the humble newborn king Jesus Christ and received God’s eternal gift: eternal salvation and His forgiveness.

Today, our God lovingly calls for us.   Please do not harden our hearts, and receive the newborn king, Jesus Christ as Savior.   Then give thanks to God by praising Him, who sent Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is the one and only perfect Sacrificial Lamb, and through Him, all of our sins are forgiven.   Praise God!  His name will be forever magnified, and glorified by the mouths of all of His children, on earth as well as in heaven!
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)

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