Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Tuesday - Christmas Day

Happy Birthday JESUS...

Loneliness During the Holidays

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

BIBLE MEDITATION: “For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” Psalm 116:8

I believe that the holidays are the loneliest time of the year. Everywhere you look, people are told they’re supposed to be happy and they realize they’re not. They see everybody else acting happy, and they feel so lonely. Just walking down the mall can make you feel lonely.

But Jesus has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). When I’m discouraged, His presence sees me through. When I’m lonely His presence cheers me up.  When I’m worried, His presence calms me down. And when I am tempted, His presence will help me out.

Write down the last portion of this devotional thought and personalize it. Now use it as a prayer of faith and trust.

A Russian Christmas Story - "For Always"

by Will Fish

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:


It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear for the first time the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem . Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.


Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.


Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel (cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia ) were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States .


The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat--he looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.


Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at his completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately --until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.


Then Misha started to ad lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, "If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?" And Jesus told me, "If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me." "So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him---for always."


As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him--FOR ALWAYS.

“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” –Deuteronomy 6:7

Away In A Manger

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed,
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the heavens
Looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing,
The poor Baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
No crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus;
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
Till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus;
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray!
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven
To live with Thee there.

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed,
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the heavens
Looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

For those of you that have lost loved one this year and in previous years...
Christmas in Heaven
I've had my first Christmas in Heaven
A Glorious, wonderful day.
I stood with the saints of the ages,
who found Christ the Truth and the Way.

I sang with the Heavenly Choir:
Just think: I who longed so to sing!
And oh, what celestial music
we brought to our Savior and King!

We sang the glad songs of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came,
And how they called His name Jesus,
That all might be saved through His name.

We sang once again with the angels,
The song that they sang that blest morn,
When shepherds first heard the glad story
That Jesus, the Savior, was born.

Oh, how I wish you had been there:
No Christmas on earth could compare
With all the rapture and glory
We witnessed in Heaven so fair.

You know how I always loved Christmas;
It seemed such a wonderful day,
With all of my loved ones around me
The children so happy and gay.

Yes, now I can see why I loved it:
And oh, what a joy it will be
When you and my loved ones are with me:
To share in the glories I see.

So dear ones on earth, here's my greeting:
Look up till the day dawn appears,
And oh, what a Christmas awaits us,
Beyond all our parting and tears.

In The News:

American Pastor Imprisoned Without Notice of Charges While Visiting Family in Iran
A 32-year-old Iranian who is a U.S. citizen and a Christian convert has been imprisoned without notice of any formal charges while visiting his family in Iran, Fox News reports. In July, the Rev. Saeed Abedini, who lives in the U.S. with his wife and two young children, was making one of his frequent trips to visit his parents and relatives in Iran, his home country where he spent many years as a Christian leader and developer of Iran's underground house church movement for Christian converts from Islam. The Iranian government pulled him off a bus, confiscated his passports and subjected him to intense interrogation, saying he must face a penalty for his previous work as a Christian leader in Iran. He is currently awaiting trial in Iran's notorious Evin Prison, where he has been since late September, and his family members -- who are also Christian converts from Islam -- are under house arrest. Two days before Abedini was thrown in prison, his wife, Naghmeh, received a call from someone she thinks was an Iranian government agent threatening that she would never see her husband again. "When he became a Christian, he became a criminal in his own country," Naghmeh said. The American Center for Law and Justice is providing legal support to Naghmeh by working through the U.S. government, members of Congress, various governments around the world, and leaders in the U.N. to help release Abedini. Over the course of Abedini's involvement, his house church movement had about 100 congregations in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members.

Syrian Christians Prepare for Somber Christmas
For Syrian Christians in the midst of a terrible civil war, Christmas will be different this year. Open Doors USA reports that there will be few decorations and no big celebrations, as Christians don't want to attract attention and make themselves a target for extremists. "We will use the Christmas time to visit the families that have been going through pain and suffering," a pastor in Damascus says. "The whole city is mourning the loss of their people, family and friends this year, so people will not really celebrate. ... We will be just serving others. We will focus on getting together for prayer." A church leader from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo says their Christmas celebrations will be somber too. "We are not  celebrating Christmas like before," he says. "We will have services in church and invite church people to come and bring their friends. The focus will be on children more than anyone else because they need to feel some joy." Syrian Christians ask prayers during this time for safety and strength, for the ability to meet during Christmas, for comfort, and for believers to be able to continue sharing the gospel with their Muslim neighbors.

Church Bells Ring Nationwide for Newtown Shooting Victims
Church bells tolled across the U.S. Friday morning in remembrance of the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting last Friday, and religious leaders called on people to pause and reflect on the tragedy, the Christian Post reports. "Bells in churches historically have a variety of functions. They are announcements, they are a call to prayer, they are a memorial and they are a call to action," said the Rev. Richard Burnett of Trinity Episcopal Church Downtown in Columbus, Ohio. "I think all of those things at one level or another can speak to people in our community a week after the tragedy of the massacre." Some churches, like the one in Ohio, rang the bell 26 times in observance of the victims shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School, while others, like some in Texas, rang 28 times to include the gunman and his mother in the count. People across the U.S. on Friday morning also joined in a nationwide moment of silence called for by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.

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