Happy New Year!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, for His mercy and protection on all. Also, pray for God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
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! (Luke 2:10-11)
Jesus Christ, Our Savior, was born on Christmas day about 2,000 years ago. Lowly shepherds were guarding their flocks of sheep. The night was quiet and looked the same as any other night. However, Heaven was different. The day was planned for so many years ago, precisely speaking, before the foundation of the universe was laid.
According to God’s plan, 700 years prior to Jesus’ birth (that is, 2,700 years ago from now), Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus:
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 7:4)
God wanted to give this Good News to King Ahaz through the Prophet Isaiah, but the king refused. Despite the refusal of the king, Prophet Isaiah proclaimed God’s message before King Ahaz by telling,
“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?’ (Isaiah 7:3)
Whether a man, even a king, refuses to hear the Good News coming of Jesus Christ, the Lord, and the Savior, God has not changed His most precious salvation plan. Before King Ahaz, the Prophet Isaiah boldly proclaimed that the virgin whom God had chosen would conceive a child and give birth to a son called Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” Not just an ordinary baby, but the Savior would save us all and be with us forever as the Savior.
After the first man and woman, Adam and Eve sinned against God, they hid. God lovingly called them, but they did not come out of the hiding place. Then each one justified without accepting and repenting their sins committed. What happens if we do not accept our sins and ask God’s forgiveness? Sin remains with us, and it becomes a barrier between God and us, which separates us from God as Adam and Eve got into the separation by hiding in the darkness.
Sin is terrible and deadly to us, especially our inner beings. Once sin came in, it never leaves us and clings ever tightly to our hearts. Then it grows and grows. It does not take a long time before taking over a person’s entirety and committing more and hideous sins, even murdering another human being.
Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, had two sons — Cain and Abel. They looked like good brothers to each other. There was no big fight between them either. However, one day, Cain killed Abel.
The beginning of this terrible and tragic sin was jealousy of Cain whose offering was not well accepted by God as that of Abel. Cain was angry. It was not the end of his anger. Soon the small seed of anger grew and grew in Cain’s heart. Cain became very angry to a level that he could not manage his anger in his heart. His anger showed up even on his face. Cain’s anger finally completely consumed Cain. How many times have we experienced what Cain had gone through? Thus, Jesus clearly warned us,
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:22)
Just being angry at others, judging others, and saying to others, “you fool!’ is a grave sin before God. How many times have we done these lightly before? Why does God deal with these so seriously? We can know why when we see what happened between Cain and Abel, the first brothers.
God was truly concerned about Cain, who was getting angrier at his brother Abel every day. God came to Cain and softly reminded him out of love by telling,
“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6b-7)
God lovingly warned Cain because God knew Cain’s anger was about to consume the entirety of Cain. Then Cain would do something unthinkable. God pleaded Cain to overcome the rage born out of his anger.
Cain heard all from God. He had an opportunity to get rid of his anger, but he listened to his own heart tainted by his jealousy and anger.
These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (James 1:15)
Cain’ heart desire could not wait any longer. It gave birth to a sinful act. Cain called his brother Abel and said,
“Let’s go out to the field.” (Genesis 4:8b)
While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then Cain returned home alone. He did not tell anything to his parents, Adam and Eve. Nobody knew what had happened, but that night, God came to Cain and asked,
“Where is your brother Abel?” (Genesis 4:9b)
God patiently asked to give Cain another opportunity to repent. Of course, God watched painfully the terrible sin committed by Cain. By the way, it was not the first time. God had already gone through with Adam and Eve, who committed, hid, and denied their sins. Even so, God lovingly gave a chance to admit and repent Cain’s hideous sin of killing his own brother, although Abel didn’t harm Cain at all.
However, Cain answered like his parents — hiding and denying. Cain’s answer was so hurtful.
“I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9c)
Yes, his answer seriously hurt God. Whenever I read this part of the Bible, I wish Cain had admitted and confessed his sin, although the sin’s weight was unbearable. Then God would have forgiven his sin. Unfortunately, Cain did not. Even more sad fact is that the blood of sin is flowing in our veins also. When a condition is right, the sin nature suddenly breaks out forth. It does its desire by committing a terrible sin. We know it is entirely against God, but we are powerless because the sin desire is much stronger than we are as Cain confronted.
Numerous people tried to eliminate the sinful nature, inherited from the first man and woman and flowing like blood in hearts, but all failed. Thus, the Bible says:
“No one is righteous—
not even one.
No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.”
“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“They rush to commit murder.
Destruction and misery always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace.”
“They have no fear of God at all.” (Romans 3:10b-18)
Full of love and mercy, God prepared a special plan, sending His Own Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior. When Prophet Isaiah prophesied this Good News to King Ahaz about 700 years before our Savior and His Own Son’s birth, the king did not want to listen. Even so, God sent His Own Son, Jesus Christ, as prophesized. Surely, God’s love is one-sided.
Seven hundred years later, the Savior and God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, was born. King Herod did not welcome the Good News of the birth of Jesus Christ. The three Wise Men carried the Good News from afar, and as soon as King Herod heard the Good News, he plotted to kill Jesus Christ, the Savior and the newborn king. King Herod feared the newborn king, Jesus Christ. King Herod’s heart was of the world, and the newborn king’s kingdom was of Heaven. Then who did receive the newborn king, the Savior on His birth? The three Wise Men, the foreigners, who traveled through many nations and towns, and the lowly shepherds, who kept the flocks in the field at night while the primary shepherds went home to sleep. All were equally humble, and their hearts were fully open to the newborn king, the Savior, Jesus Christ.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42:3)
Our God is merciful and dearly loves the lowly. He does not break a bruised reed and snuffs out a smoldering wick. Instead, God blesses those who are poor in heart and comforts those who morn. God sends away the rich with empty hands, but God satisfies the hungry with plenty.
Joseph engaged with Mary and planned to get married. Joseph joyfully prepared his marriage for Mary, who would be his wife. He built a place to live together and to raise children together. Everything went well. But one day, before the marriage took place, while Mary was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As Joseph 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)
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. Joseph was lowly in heart and humbly received the Good News, not like the Kings and the powerful and rich people living in Jerusalem, who rejected the Good News and feared the Savior’s birth as newborn king.
Joseph took all risks, shames, and disgraces by taking Mary, who was pregnant before marriage. Per the Emperor Augustus census order, he went back to his hometown, Bethlehem, but nobody opened the door for him because Mary was pregnant before the wedding. Thus, they had to spend the night in a stable where animals were sleeping. And that night, our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born and laid in the manger. Joseph named the baby “Jesus,” as the angel told him.
Yes, from birth, our Savior, Jesus Christ, was humble and lowly by being born in the stable, not in a palace where He was more than qualified to be born.
Mary also put everything that she had and her future for the Savior to be born of the Holy Spirit, and she said,
“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come ture.” (Luke 1:38)
Mary’s humility and her faith led her to be the mother of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Elizabeth, her aunt, praised her courage and dedication, who became in her old age the mother of John the Baptist, six months older than Jesus,
“You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” (Luke 1: 45)
Yes, even her aunt praised Mary because she humbled and risked everything she had: her marriage, her reputation, and her future. Out of Joseph and Mary’s full dedication, the Savior was born on Christmas day in the lowly place.
On the other hand, Heaven rejoiced. The angel announced the birth of the Savior and 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)
Even today, Heaven and angels proclaim the birth of Jesus Christ, reaching out to all. Whether people believe this Good News or not, God has not changed and will not change His salvation plan. God’s mercy and love surely go forth to the end of the world to touch the souls and bring them into His kingdom. However, only are those who are humble and lowly in the heart can hear this Good News.
Open hearts and listen to the voice of God. God lovingly calls our names and patiently invites each of us to be His beloved child. Believe the Good News without rejecting it like the kings and the influential people in Jerusalem. Humbly accept Jesus Christ as the Savior as the three Wise men, the shepherds in the field at night, and especially Mary and Joseph who risked everything for the Savior, the newborn king, Jesus Christ.
Let’s not forget. Accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior also means that we approach God daily by admitting and repenting our sins and asking His forgiveness, unlike Adam, Eve, and Cain, who hid, denied and ran away from God.
We pray to God for God’s guidance and protection on those who receive Jesus Christ as the Savior, and commit again before God to follow Jesus and His footsteps. God’s unmeasurable grace, mercy, and love will be with each of those who commit today from now and forever.
We are also praying for God’s blessings on you and your family for the rest of 2020 and in 2021. Happy New Year to you and your family!
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (Matthew 5:3)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)