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Christmas Devotions Goodnews Around Contemporary Events

CHRISTMAS JOY, DESPITE THE CORONA PLOY!

Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj

A virus crept our neighborhood, causing untold dread. The Savior of the World, slept soundly as the only baby without original sin, in a manger in the neighborhood of Bethlehem, two thousand years ago, driving out fear and bringing in cheer and serenity [The assuring words ‘fear not’ is repeated four times (to, Zechariah, to Mary, to Joseph and the Shepherds) in the Christmas narratives of the Bible – if you care to carefully notice].

The China virus has greatly affected our world’s economy. The Bethlehem babe’s birth can greatly affect your destiny. In what way? Let’s see:

Jesus brings us PEACE that is not circumstances-dependent. That’s why Jesus was given this title in a Christmas-themed prophecy – the title of ‘Prince of Peace’. He is the big boss over peace, in other words. Our peace often goes for a toss when our life’s circumstances aren’t favorable. But when you start to know Christ the big boss of peace (the prince of peace), you will have peace no matter how crazy the situations in your life gets. Yes, we can have serenity even when there is a storm, if Jesus is our life-boat!

Jesus brings us JOY that is contagious. He began that wow work, even before he landed on the earth as a babe! Jesus was is in mom’s tummy; John the Baptist was in his mom’s tummy; And as both these tummies come close, that’s when John who was still in his mother’s tummy jumped for joy! You see, when you choose to stay in Jesus’ presence a joy unspeakable, full of glory, will be yours! The happiness that we got when we watched Hardik Pandya smack Daniel Sams into the Sydney Cricket Ground stands in the fourth ball off the final over to seal the 2020 T20 Series versus Australia may ebb away. But not the joy that Jesus offers!

Jesus can bring us MIRACLES and HEALING according to His Will which works all things always for our good. The phrase, “For Nothing is impossible with God!” comes straight out of the Christmas Story in the Bible – you perhaps know that! Jesus gave miraculously gave back, the life-breath to my daughter who had ‘no heart beat’ when she was in my wife’s womb, according to medical reports! She was dedicated as a baby in this church in 2008!

Jesus offers SALVATION which in turn gives our lives real meaning and purpose. When the Christmas Story Senior Simeon picked up the baby Jesus, he mouthed this: “My eyes have seen the salvation of the Lord!” We need salvation, because each one of us are sinners who are enduring a living hell and are headed for a literal hell. And sin, whether you like it or not, ultimately creates a vacuum in our hearts, and eventually making our lives meaningless and purposeless.  Jesus, the eternal God, took on a human body of flesh and bone while remaining God, during the first Christmas. He kept himself from any sin, the only one to do so in this planet. When Jesus died on the Cross, he became, the perfect, salvation-bringing sacrifice for sin.. Max Lucado put it well: “Jesus went from Heaven’s Crown, to Bethlehem’s Cradle, to Jerusalem’s Cross”. The Resurrected and Soon-Returning Jesus calls us to repent from sin and put our trust in Him, ‘lest we perish’ (Luke 13:1-5). When we do that, we experience salvation and an ‘inexpressible and glorious joy’ (1 Peter 1:8). As we know Jesus, our life becomes meaningful and purposeful, as knowing Him and making Him known is what we were created for, originally! Mark Batterson explained this well:The Almighty God became Immanuel, “God with us,” so we can spend eternity with him.’

Deigo Maradona scored, what is being called ‘the Goal of the Century’, versus England in the World Cup 1986 Quarter Finals, dancing around English defenders, all by himself, having started his dream run from his team’s half. His Argentine teammate, Jorge Valdano, running alongside Maradona as a reinforcement was reduced to a mere spectator. Starting from ‘his half’ – heaven – Jesus took on human flesh only to die on the Cross (located at our half), walking up Golgotha Hill. Jesus completed the goal of the Trinity from eternity: the offering of salvation to every person who would come to him (who was slain on the Cross before the World’s foundation) in faith, with an attitude of repentance (Rev. 13:8). As Valdano and other Argentine team-mates hugged Maradona in celebration having done practically nothing to contribute to the scoring of the goal of the century, we too, having contributed nothing for our salvation through our self-efforts or menstrual-cloth like unworthy righteousness (Isa 64:6), gratefully love and celebrate Jesus, who finished the goal of the Godhead from eternity concerning the offer of salvation to humans by dying on the Cross (Eph 2:8-10; Gal. 2:20).

‘And he shall be their peace’ – so says a Christmas Prophecy passage about Jesus (Micah 5:5). While others attempted to point out different paths to peace, but Jesus himself is our peace! While others attempted to show the way to salvation, Jesus himself is our salvation! While others attempted to point to a way, Jesus himself is THE way! Jesus invites us to come to Him, the person, not to a philosophy! There is a big difference between Jesus and others! Jesus is unique!

Jesus calls us for a DECISION. Christmas Story Senior Simeon told Jesus’ mother Mary this: ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many…’ We have a choice now. To rise with Jesus. To rise to a life of peace, joy and deliverance from sin. Or, if we reject Jesus, the Only Way, we further fall into despondency, purposelessness and ultimately will land in hell. What will you choose today? Like the Wise Men of the Christmas Narrative did, let us surrender ourselves to Jesus, without any procrastination. Then our life route will change, like it changed for those wise men!

(This article was written as a tract for New Life Assembly of God Church, Kompally, by Duke Jeyaraj. The church used the edited version of this tract to give out to new comers who visited its campus on 19-20 Dec 2020 during their Christmas Drive Through Program. If you need to know more about Jesus, write to us at emailduke@gmail.com or via WhatsApp at 91-8886040605. Duke, the author of this article, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org and at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).

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Christmas Devotions Goodnews

JESUS, THE ULTIMATE COMBINATION CHAMPION!

Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj

K. L. Rahul, one of the stars of the recently concluded IPL has an explosive combination of “speed” and “style”. He bats in a classy style yet he scores so briskly. Arjen Robben’s 2014 World Cup Goal versus Spain for the Netherlands wedded two rare qualities that hardly come together: speed and skill (watch it on Youtube). But no one has the out-of-the-world unique combination of diametrically opposite characters which Jesus alone has. I call Jesus the “The Combination Champion”!

The Christmas season provides us with yet another occasion to proclaim, defend the uniqueness of Christ and present him as the Ultimate Combination Champion.

Jesus Is PURE as much as He is POWERFUL

While there are so-called god-men – many of who are hit by sex scandals – in our planet who claim to do miracles, only Jesus has this unique combination: he is pure as well as powerful.  

We live in an impure world. We hear of scandals every day. The Bible says every one of us have sinned. In the Old Testament the wise King Solomon his prayer this way: “When they sin against you…” (I Kings 8:46). Notice he did not say, “If they sin against you…” He takes it for granted that the human race – every one – sins. Apostle Paul declares in the New Testament, “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23).

Only God-in-flesh Jesus is sinless while the rest of the human-race are sinners. The Christmas angel called Jesus, “the holy one” (Luke 1:35). John wrote this about Jesus: “There is no sin in him, and sin is not part of his program” (I John 3:5 MSG).

Jesus has done miracles for me. As a 20-year old student of B. Tech. Agricultural Engineering of Allahabad Agricultural Institute, I was admitted in a hospital for wheezing (in 1996). I prayed, “Jesus heal me of wheezing!” I have not had another wheezing attack till now (2020). Jesus healed me! My daughter was declared dead when she was in her mother’s womb after a medical scan. The doctor said that her dead cells will be evicted from wife’s body through a natural process. But we knelt down and prayed to the Lord Jesus. He did a miracle. He gave her life back. The next time we went for a scan, the scan report said that my daughter’s heart-beat was normal. Today, she is a normal 13-year old who give us all so much alloyed joy.

Even the miracles of Jesus have a stamp of uniqueness. While he multiplied bread for the hungry who came to hear him preach, he did not do the same when he was hungry after fasting for 40 straight days in the wilderness. His pure character of unselfishness was reflected in his power demonstration! Yes, no one has had this combination of “purity” and “power” like Jesus! No one has this combination of “flawlessness” in character as well as the “prowess” in miracle-working power like Jesus has!

Jesus is DIVINE, yet MINE

Surely there is a God! One thousand monkeys cannot produce a book if they randomly and furiously typed on one different computers. But a Shashi Tharoor or a Barack Obama could come-up with page-turning books with ease if you just gave them a mere week to write it! What is the lesson here? It is this: greater the design, the greater the designer! The breath-taking mountains, the beautiful flowers, the vivid valleys – all these point to the ultimate master designer. And that Master Designer is God.

Jesus is the only who with this rare, rocking combination: humanity and divinity. He is the only who is 100% human even as he is 100% God.

That fact that Jesus became thirsty, angry, excited – all pointed to the fact that he was human (as he was God). When I observe from my reading of the Gospel narratives that Jesus enjoyed his sleep amidst the splashing waves, it reminds me that Jesus was human (as he was God).  The fact that Jesus knew what was in a human (John 2:24-25), underlines his identity as God who by definition knows everything. When Jesus mouthed, “Before Abraham (who lived long before Jesus’ incarnation) was, I am”, he was claiming to be God, for God by definition has Eternal existence! When the resurrected Jesus accepted Thomas’ worship, he was claiming to be God who alone is worthy of our worship!

The details the Bible provides about Jesus’ birth tells us he has this out-of-the-world combination of divinity and humanity. Yes, Jesus is both divine and mine (part of my human tribe!). Paul wrote thus: “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4). Every human is born of a woman – even Jesus was. Every human is conceived post a sexual relationship between a man and a woman. But Jesus was not. Matthew narrates this about Jesus’ birth: “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit” (Mathew 1:18). So, Jesus was as much God as he was Human!

Jesus travelled the last mile to show he was human when he chose to die on the Cross. Yet when he bowed his head and died (John 19:30) he showed he was God (as he got to choose the exact second he would die – something no human could).

As members of the human race, we look for a true friend. The Airtel Advertisement of yesteryears went this way: “Har ek friend, zaroori hota hai (every friend is important – Hindi)… chat room friend….koi classroom friend….shopping mall wala friend….shopping friend….koi exam hall wala friend….copying friend….movie buddy…groovy buddy…hi buddy…bye buddy….joke buddy…poke buddy…every body…sab body…ovvaru friendum theva machan (every kind of friend is needed, friend – Tamil).” To the friend-seeking generation Jesus who is 100% divine yet 100% human is the perfect friend: a friend who sticks closer than a brother (as the book of Proverbs presents Jesus as).

Jesus LOVED AND LASHED-OUT!

We live in a world without love. One tragic day, Devan Kalathat (an Indian living in the USA), shot his 34-year-old wife, their son, Akhil Dev, 11 years, daughter (just 4 years of age), his wife’s brother and his wife, and their 11 month baby girl. He did when they were all in the kitchen. The police later found served food on the dining table. Then Devan walked up the stairs of his duplex house and shot himself dead. He was so empty that he emptied bullets onto others and onto himself. ‘Silk’ Smitha, who was known in Kollywood and Tollywood for her erotic dance performances in movies, had a lot of fans. But the number of fans did not stop her from hanging herself from a fan! The emptiness of our loveless human existence is almost palpable.

The words and actions of Jesus comes as a healing-balm to our loveless world. He touched lepers during his earthly ministry, lepers who are shunted out of the residences they lived in, lepers who now lived in ear-marked colonies outside the city limits. When others would shout, ‘unclean, unclean’, at the sight of lepers, and run away, Jesus buried lepers onto his bosom in love! He demonstrated his love for us in this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, Paul’s words).

Yet the same Jesus also lashed-out. He preached: “Unless you repent, you too will perish” (Luke 13:1-5). Perish is the Bible-word for eternal hell – a place of ever on-going torment. “Stop sinning so that something worse doesn’t happen to you” – so said Jesus to a paralytic, whom he healed (John 5:14, GWT). When he spoke to a woman who was caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Neither do I throw stones at you (words of love), but leave your live of sin (words of lashing out).”

This Christmas will you use every opportunity you get to talk about Jesus, the Ultimate combination champion? For the rest of your life, will you commit to talking about Jesus’ uniqueness by talking about divergently opposite qualities he brought together like no one else?

(This article was published by Aim Magazine – Dec 2020 issue. Aim is published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. The author of this article Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org and http://www.dukewords.com).