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. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, 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. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. The Shepherds and Angels That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 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.” 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.” 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. (Luke 2:1-20)
Merry Christmas and my prayer is that each of you have the peace of Christ in your hearts this Christmas and in the coming year. Though we live in times of great uncertainty, our beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ never changes and nor do the plans of His Father! Keep looking up. He has promised to appear and take His followers back with Him! Come LORD Jesus!
The world is unfolding into a very hot mess. Governments are growing more tyrannical by the day. Natural disasters are fierce and happening worldwide, in some cases in the most unusual places. People are losing jobs due to forced mandates that they disagree with following. Hyperinflation is headlining the news. The value of the dollar continues to sink while prices of necessary goods continue to rise. Lockdowns are on a perpetual cycle. Politicians and corruption go hand and hand in many countries with little thought or regard for the people. Violence and crime are on the increase. We are hearing rumors of possible upcoming wars between Russian and the Ukraine and China and Taiwan. In other words, things are not going well.
A few of these things can be terrifying to a person directly affected let alone all of them combined! There is good reason to be worried, concerned, afraid and even terrified unless…
Unless you know the Bible and the author! Unless you understand that all these things were foretold in one book running from Genesis to Revelation. Unless you know the author is still on the throne and not one thing is surprising to Him. Unless you have accepted His precious Son as your LORD and Savior and thereby having your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Unless by becoming a child of GOD, you have been warned and promised that His wrath is not for you. Unless you know that Jesus Christ is soon to appear to His followers to take them to Heaven before God’s wrath is to be unleashed on this earth.
For you, there is no reason to be afraid, terrified or worried. Jesus, our beautiful Redeemer and King has already prepared a place for you and is coming again to take you to that place! How can you be sure? Well because He said so. He promised. The same God who warned us of all the calamities we are currently seeing told us when we see these things coming to pass to keep looking up because our redemption is near!
1 Thessalonians 4
Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.
So if you have made a decision to confess your sins to Jesus Christ and to follow Him, you can encourage yourselves and others with these words! If you have not, you have plenty of reasons to be terrified but the good news is you don’t have to stay that way! The Bible tells us just what to do!
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
So why wait another day? Jesus Christ could even appear today to take His church back with Him. We are not given a day or an hour but we are given a promise it WILL happen. Don’t let another day pass without making a decision to follow Christ! Tomorrow may be too late.