Nativity Challenge

BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

While the nativity story provides opportunity to reflect upon an incredible event in history, it also has great meaning for us today.

A crucial aspect of the nativity is the trust and obedience of Mary and Joseph. Both demonstrated extraordinary faith in their commitment to God and to following His will, regardless of the cost (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:28-38). So too, God wants to use ordinary people today who will have extraordinary faith and commitment to trust and obey Him no matter what the circumstances.

Upon hearing the good news of a Savior, from the angel of the Lord, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see the baby lying in a manger. They departed glorifying and praising God for the birth of the Savior (Luke 2:8-20). In the midst of commercialism, where the true meaning of Christmas can be obscured or lost altogether, may we be like the shepherds in giving praise and glory to our Savior and Lord.

The Wise Men chose to travel hundreds of arduous miles to worship “He who has been born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Likewise, may we choose to walk the challenging journey of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. The rewards at the end will be well worth it.

May this Christmas be more than just the remembrance of a past event or an outpouring of holiday spirit. May the true meaning of the nativity be evident in our lives and homes.

Lily Sings

Bill and Karen Rudge’s granddaughter, Lily Smith, was the featured singer in the song “Bonse Aba,” arranged by Andrew Fischer, at her high school’s Christmas concert. Here is a video of the performance followed by the lyrics with the English translation.

Lily Smith sings at her high school concert.

Bonse Aba
Traditional Zambian folksong
 
Bonse aba mu pokelela
Bali pele maka
Akuba bana (Repeat)
Kuba Bana (Repeat)
Kuba Bana
Bakwa Lesa.

Loosely translated in English:

All people who accept
His authority
Are his children
Are children
Are children
In the power of God.

More Than It Seemed

Jim Weikal

Just think! The angel reported to Joseph that the child conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit would “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). This child was also called the Lamb of God, the only Savior, and the reconciler of sinners (John 1:29; Acts 4:12; Colossians 1:22).

What appeared to be a natural birth of a Jewish child in Bethlehem was more than it seemed. Decades later this child made possible peace between a holy God and hostile, alienated, sinful people. He accomplished this feat “in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:22).

A Rebel Changed

Because of Christmas, the life of a rebellious teenager on a path to destruction was saved.

A liar, cheat, thief, and vandal, arrogant and profane, this searching person was dramatically transformed. Only the love and forgiveness of Christ can change a deceiver into a person of integrity who freely gives of his time, resources and services to help others instead of hurting them. Only Jesus can take someone from hitchhiking across the country, hostile toward God, to traveling throughout the world proclaiming Him; or inspire someone voted least likely to succeed in motivating multitudes to reach their maximum potential.

Why would any reasonable person oppose the message of Christ’s birth?

Open your New Testament to the book of Luke and learn all about Jesus’ coming. Then continue through the book of John to discover who this Jesus is. Christ just may become the joy and passion of your life as He has come to be in mine. Merry Christmas!

Bill Rudge

Peace in Bethlehem

Peter Kennedy

During the French and Indian War the French incited the Indians to attack non-French colonists. In 1755, at the French fort, Duquesne, now the city of Pittsburgh, colonists suffered a bitter defeat from French and Indian forces. Then, in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, the Conestoga Indians wiped out the Moravian mission at Mahanoy. The Moravian colonists at nearby Gnadenhutten fled to the neighboring fortified village of Bethlehem.

Christmas was fast approaching and everyone in Bethlehem fully expected the Indians to attack. Night after night cries could be heard and fires burned brightly on the surrounding heights.

On Christmas Day, despite imminent attack, the colonists gathered together for worship. Fearing for their lives they sang praises to Christ with more feeling than ever before. The fighting men had hardly returned to their posts after worship when they saw the Indians break camp and leave.

When peace was made years later, the Indians told why they had not attacked. Their war council was preparing for the attack when they heard the sweet sound of Christmas carols. Those blessed tunes soothed the angry warriors. So in the songs of praise to Jesus Christ the colonists found deliverance.

Generation to Generation: Devotional Thoughts Drawn from the Past (www.devotional.com) Used with permission.