December 18, 2011

posted 15 Dec 2011, 07:49 by C S Paul   [ updated 22 Dec 2011, 04:10 ]

December 18, 2011

                                   (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)
Provided by Mr. K. Kuriakose

This Sunday is the Sunday before Christmas. 

Gospel reading for this Sunday is from Mathew 1:1-17. 

It gives us an account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.

1This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,

4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,

6 and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriahs wife,

7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,

8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah,

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor,

14 Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud,

15 Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were Fourteen generations in all From Abraham to David, Fourteen From David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the Exile to the Messiah.

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In todays gospel, we see the genealogy of names of people, some of them may not have any historical context. They are not just names, but are stories that bring meaning and context as to whom they were and where their family came from. That is why the Bible is passing this genealogy on to us.

The genealogy in todays reading is very important because it shows us that Jesus lineage was no accident. Jesus did not just show up in a manger one day in Bethlehem. He was born to fulfill a specific plan of God, in a specific time, in a specific place, and from a specific line of people. It had to be this way because God promised that Jesus would be born a ruler, as king of kings, and the lord of lords.

God made several promises. Out of all these promises, two stand out ahead of the rest. They are Abrahamic covenant and the Davidic covenant. The Davidic covenant was about establishing the throne and a ruler. Apostle Mathew tells us through the genealogy that Jesus is the son of both Abraham and David. It is to show that Jesus is the King and the Messiah. By saying that Jesus is the son of David,  Mathew says that Jesus is the fulfillment of Gods prophecy to David.

Jesus fulfilled the Abrahamic covenant as well. God told Abraham that through his lineage, all the earth would be blessed. Though it didnt happen through Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, or Solomon, the blessing happened through Jesus. Jesus is the seed of Abraham by which the whole world is blessed. God planned a ruler through this promise to David. Jesus fulfills that covenant God made with David. In Jesus, Davids throne is established for ever.

Jesus thus fulfills this covenant God made with Abraham. Jesus is Abrahams seed and the whole world is blessed through Jesus.

Todays gospel reveals the total generations between Abraham and Jesus. The amazing hand of God worked through history to plan his ruler. The Bible cites 14 generations from Abraham to David and there were significant events that went on during that time. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were patriarchs. 

God brought Abraham out of Ur. God gave him a son, Isaac, in his old age. God preserved and prospered Joseph. God brought him out of the pit and placed him at the highest level of government in Egypt. And 400 years later, God used Moses to lead the Israelites back out of Egypt where they were slaves. God provided Israelites the right king when he gave them David. 

That is how God worked through the first 14 generations to plan his ruler. God let grow the kingdom under David and Solomon and later allowed civil war and strife to divide the kingdom after King Solomons rule. There were another 14 generations from David to the Persian conquest of Babylon or the so-called Babylonian captivity.

Then came 14 generations from Babylonian captivity to Jesus, over which time Jerusalem was captured and destroyed twice. The Jews were dispersed, persecuted, and punished. But God preserved them because he had a plan for them. God preserved Jews to bring out their ruler, Jesus Christ the Messiah.

The word  Messiah means Anointed One. The name is given to the promised deliverer who would some day  come to the people of Israel as their great Savior and Redeemer.

Many early Christians were convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was their promised Messiah. And indeed they had good reasons for such faith. As their followers, let us continue that faith and have Jesus come and rule over our lives. 

Jesus is the one who will cast his eternal judgment upon us. As Jesus is our Lord and savior, lets bow before him on the eve of his birth.  Jesus as our Lord and savior, we are responsible for setting up the course of our own life. God often used heritage, ancestry, and the details of the past to prepare us for the ministry he has in store for us. 

This gospel portion might look like a long genealogy story. Theologians believe there is more to Jesus genealogy but is enough to serve as a powerful reminder that this baby Jesus born into this world has come to bring salvation and redemption for all of us.  There is no person in this world for whom sin is too great and no person who is far away from God. God doesnt care about our past. All of us can be brought to God through Jesus and our story can then become part of Jesus story. Jesus can turn our life around and use us for his glory.  

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ 

Author: Lew Wallace


Biblical references: Matt. 2:1-12, Luke 2:1-20

Three Magi have come from the East. One, Balthasar, sets up a tent in the desert. Melchior, a Hindu, and Gaspar from Athens join him and as the three men each tell their stories and they realize they have been brought together by their common goal. As they prepare for the journey to come, they see a bright star shining over the region, and they take it as a sign that they are to leave. They follow the star through the desert towards the province of Judaea.

At the Joppa Gate in Jerusalem Mary and Joseph are traveling through on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They stop at the inn at the entrance to the city but there is no room. Mary is pregnant and, as labor begins, they head to a cave on a hillside behind the inn and here Jesus is born.

In the pasturelands outside the city, a group of seven shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks. Angels from heaven announce the Christ's birth. The shepherds hurry towards the city. They are rebuked by one of the men supervising the khan but nevertheless, inspired by the angels' message, they enter the caves on the hillside and worship Christ.

They spread the news of the Christ's birth and many come to see him. The Magi arrive in Jerusalem and inquire for news of the Christ. Herod the Great is angry to hear of another king challenging his rule and asks the Sanhedrin to find information for him. The Sanhedrin brings out a prophecy, written by Micah, telling of a ruler to come from Bethlehem Ephrathah, interpreting it to signify the Christ's birthplace.     

PART ONE - CHAPTER XIII   (continued)

On the table before him lay outspread a roll or volume of parchment inscribed with Hebrew characters; behind him, in waiting, stood a page richly habited.

There had been discussion, but at this moment of introduction the company had reached a conclusion; each one was in an attitude of rest, and the venerable Hillel, without moving, called the page.


The youth advanced respectfully.

"Go tell the king we are ready to give him answer."

The boy hurried away.

After a time two officers entered and stopped, one on each side the door; after them slowly followed a most striking personage--an old man clad in a purple robe bordered with scarlet, and girt to his waist by a band of gold linked so fine that it was pliable as leather; the latchets of his shoes sparkled with precious stones; a narrow crown wrought in filigree shone outside a tarbooshe of softest crimson plush, which, encasing his head, fell down the neck and shoulders, leaving the throat and neck exposed.

Instead of a seal, a dagger dangled from his belt. He walked with a halting step, leaning heavily upon a staff. Not until he reached the opening of the divan, did he pause or look up  from the floor; then, as for the first time conscious of the company, and roused by their presence, he raised himself , and looked haughtily round, like one startled and  searching for an enemy--so dark, suspicious, and threatening was the glance.

Such was Herod the Great--a body broken by diseases, a conscience seared with crimes, a mind magnificently capable, a soul fit for brotherhood with the Caesars; now seven-and-sixty years old, but guarding his throne with a jealousy never so vigilant, a power never so despotic, and a cruelty never so inexorable.

There was a general movement on the part of the assemblage--a bending forward in salaam by the more aged, a rising-up by the more courtierly, followed by low genuflections, hands upon the beard or breast.

His observations taken, Herod moved on until at the tripod opposite the venerable Hillel, who met his cold glance with an inclination of the head, and a slight lifting of the hands.

"The answer!" said the king, with imperious simplicity, addressing Hillel, and planting his staff before him with both hands. "The answer!"

The eyes of the patriarch glowed mildly, and, raising his head, and looking the inquisitor full in the face, he answered, his associates giving him closest attention, "With thee, O king, be the peace of God, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!"

His manner was that of invocation; changing it, he resumed:

"Thou hast demanded of us where the Christ should be born."

The king bowed, though the evil eyes remained fixed upon the sage's face.

"That is the question."

"Then, O king, speaking for myself, and all my brethren here, not one dissenting, I say, in Bethlehem of Judea."

Hillel glanced at the parchment on the tripod; and, pointing with his tremulous finger, continued, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet, 'And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel.'"

Herod's face was troubled, and his eyes fell upon the parchment while he thought. Those beholding him scarcely breathed; they spoke not, nor did he. At length he turned about and left the chamber.

"Brethren," said Hillel, "we are dismissed."

The company then arose, and in groups departed.

"Simeon," said Hillel again.

A man, quite fifty years old, but in the hearty prime of life, answered and came to him.

"Take up the sacred parchment, my son; roll it tenderly."

The order was obeyed.

"Now lend me thy arm; I will to the litter."

The strong man stooped; with his withered hands the old one took the offered support, and, rising, moved feebly to the door.

So departed the famous Rector, and Simeon, his son, who was to be his successor in wisdom, learning, and office.

Yet later in the evening the wise men were lying in a lewen of the khan awake. The stones which served them as pillows raised their heads so they could look out of the open arch into the depths of the sky; and as they watched the twinkling of the stars, they thought of the next manifestation. How would it come? What would it be?

They were in Jerusalem at last; they had asked at the gate for Him they sought; they had borne witness of his birth; it remained only to find him; and as to that, they placed all trust in the Spirit.

Men listening for the voice of God, or waiting a sign from Heaven, cannot sleep.

While they were in this condition, a man stepped in under the arch, darkening the lewen.

"Awake!" he said to them; "I bring you a message which will not be put off."

They all sat up.

"From whom?" asked the Egyptian.

"Herod the king."

Each one felt his spirit thrill.

"Are you not the steward of the khan?" Balthasar asked next.

"I am."

"What would the king with us?"

"His messenger is without; let him answer."

"Tell him, then, to abide our coming."

"You were right, O my brother!" said the Greek, when the steward was gone. "The question put to the people on the road, and to the guard at the gate, has given us quick notoriety. I am impatient; let us up quickly."

They arose, put on their sandals, girt their mantles about them, and went out.

"I salute you, and give you peace, and pray your pardon; but my master, the king, has sent me to invite you to the palace, where he would have speech with you privately."

Thus the messenger discharged his duty.

A lamp hung in the entrance, and by its light they looked at each other, and knew the Spirit was upon them. Then the Egyptian stepped to the steward, and said, so as not to be heard by the others, "You know where our goods are stored in the court, and where our camels are resting. While we are gone, make all things ready for our departure, if it should be needful."

"Go your way assured; trust me," the steward replied.

"The king's will is our will," said Balthasar to the messenger."We will follow you."

The streets of the Holy City were narrow then as now, but not so rough and foul; for the great builder, not content with beauty, enforced cleanliness and convenience also. Following their guide, the brethren proceeded without a word.

Through the dim starlight, made dimmer by the walls on both sides, sometimes almost lost under bridges connecting the house-tops, out of a low ground they ascended a hill. At last they came to a portal reared across the way. In the light of fires blazing before it in two great braziers, they caught a glimpse of the structure, and also of some guards leaning motionlessly upon their arms. They passed into a building unchallenged.

Then by passages and arched halls; through courts, and under colonnades not always lighted; up long flights of stairs, past innumerable cloisters and chambers, they were conducted into a tower of great height. Suddenly the guide halted, and, pointing through an open door, said to them, "Enter. The king is there."

(to be continued)

Story of the week

Has Anyone Missing Baby Jesus?

About a week before Christmas a family bought a new nativity scene. When they unpacked it they found 2 figures of the Baby Jesus.

"Someone must have packed this wrong," the mother said, counting out the figures. "We have one Joseph, one Mary, three wise men, three shepherds, two lambs, a donkey, a cow, an angel and two babies. Oh, dear! I suppose some set down at the store is missing a Baby Jesus because we have 2."

"You two run back down to the store and tell the manager that we have an extra Jesus. Tell him to put a sign on the remaining boxes saying that if a set is missing a Baby Jesus, call 7126. "Put on your warm coats, it's freezing cold out there."

The manager of the store copied down the mother's message and the next time they were in the store they saw the cardboard sign that read, "If you're missing Baby Jesus, call 7126."

All week long they waited for someone to call. Surely, they thought, someone was missing that important figurine. Each time the phone rang the mother would say, "I'll bet that's about Jesus," but it never was.

The Father tried to explain there are thousands of these scattered over the country and the figurine could be missing from a set in Florida or Texas or California. Those packing mistakes happen all the time. He suggested they just put the extra Jesus back in the box and forget about it. "Put Baby Jesus back in the box! What a terrible thing to do!" said the children.

"Surely someone will call," the mother said. "We'll just keep the two of them together in the manger until someone calls."

When no call had come by 5:00 on Christmas Eve, mother insisted that the father "just run down to the store" to see if there were any sets left. "You can see them right through the window, over on the counter," she said. "If they are all gone, I'll know someone is bound to call tonight."

"Run down to the store?" the father thundered. "It's 15 below zero out there!"

"Oh, Daddy, we'll go with you," said Tommy and Mary as they began to put on their coats. Father gave a long sigh and headed for the front closet. "I can't believe I'm doing this," he muttered.

Tommy and Mary ran ahead as their father reluctantly walked out in the cold. Mary got to the store first and pressed her nose up to the store window. "They're all gone, Daddy," she shouted. "Every set must be sold." "Hooray, Tommy said "The mystery will now be solved tonight!"

When they got back into the house they noticed that the mother was gone and so was the extra Baby Jesus figurine.

"Someone must have called and she went out to deliver the figurine," the father reasoned, pulling off his boots. "You kids get ready for bed while I wrap mother's present."

Just then the phone rang. Father yelled "answer the phone and tell'em we found a home for Jesus." But it was the mother calling with instructions for them to come to 205 Chestnut Street immediately, and bring three blankets, a box of cookies and some milk..

"Now what has she gotten us into?" the father groaned as they bundled up again. "205 Chestnut. Why that's across town... Wrap that milk up good in the blankets or it will turn to ice before we get there. Why can't we all just get on with Christmas? It's probably 20 below out there now. And the wind is picking up. Of all the crazy things to do on a night like this."

When they got to the house at 205 Chestnut Street it was the darkest one on the block. Only one tiny light burned in the living room and, the moment they set foot on the porch steps, the mother opened the door and shouted, "They're here, Oh thank God you got here, Ray! You kids take those blankets into the living room and wrap up the little ones on the couch. I'll take the milk and cookies."

"Would you mind telling me what is going on, Ethel?" the father asked. "We have just walked through below zero weather with the wind in our faces all the way."

"Never mind all that now," the mother interrupted. "There is no heat in this house and this young mother is so upset she doesn't know what to do. Her husband walked out on her and those poor little children will have a very bleak Christmas, so don't you complain. I told her you could fix that oil furnace in a jiffy.

The mother strode off to the kitchen to warm the milk while Mary and Tommy wrapped up the five little children who were huddled together on the couch. The children's mother explained to the father that her husband had run off, taking bedding, clothing, and almost every piece of furniture, but she had been doing all right until the furnace broke down.

"I been doin' washin' and ironin' for people and cleanin' the five and dime," she said. "I saw your number every day there, on those boxes on the counter. When the furnace went out, that number kept going' through my mind. 7162, 7162. It said on the box that if a person was missin' Jesus, they should call you. That's how I knew you were good Christian people, willin' to help folks. I figured that maybe you would help me, too. So I stopped at the grocery store tonight and I called your missus. I'm not missin' Jesus, mister, because I sure love the Lord. But I am missin' heat. I have no money to fix that furnace."

"Okay, Okay," said the father. "You've come to the right place. Now lets see. You've got a little oil burner over there in the dining room. Shouldn't be too hard to fix. Probably just a clogged flue. I'll look it over and see what it needs."

The Mother came into the living room carrying a plate of cookies and warm milk. She set the cups down on the coffee table where the figure of Baby Jesus was lying in the center of the table. It was the only sign of Christmas in the house.

The children stared wide-eyed with wonder at the plate of cookies set before them.

The Father finally got the oil burner working but said they would need more oil. " I'll make a few calls tonight and get some oil. Yes sir, you came to the right place," the father grinned.

On the way home the Father did not complain about the cold weather and had barely set foot inside the door when he was on the phone. "Ed, hey,how are ya, Ed?.......Yes, Merry Christmas to you, too. Say Ed, we have kind of an unusual situation here.... I know you've got that pick-up truck. Do you still have some oil in that barrel on your truck? You do?"

By this time the rest of the family were pulling clothes out of their closets and toys off of their shelves. It was long after their bedtime when they were wrapping gifts. The pickup came. On it were chairs, three lamps, blankets and gifts. Even though it was 30 below, the father let the children ride along in the back of the truck.

No one ever did call about the missing figure in the nativity set, but it isn't hard to figure out that it wasn't a packing mistake at all..........

Jesus saves, that's what He does.

Provided by Free Christian


Laughter the best Medicine

Using humor and play to overcome challenges and enhance your life

The ability to laugh, play, and have fun with others not only makes life more enjoyable–it also helps you solve problems, connect with others, and be more creative.

People who incorporate humor and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.

Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination.

When you “become the problem” and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions.

But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity for creative learning.

Playing with problems seems to come naturally to children.

When they are confused or afraid, they make their problems into a game, giving them a sense of control and an opportunity to experiment with new solutions.

Interacting with others in playful ways helps you retain this creative ability.


The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 4 continued

I have personally practiced this three-point prayer method and find great power in it. It has been suggested to others who have likewise reported that it released creative power into their experience.

For example, a woman discovered that her husband was drifting from her. Theirs had been a happy marriage, but the wife had become preoccupied in social affairs and the husband had gotten busy in his work. Before they knew it, the close, old-time companionship was lost. One day she discovered his interest in another woman. She lost her head and became hysterical. She consulted her minister, who adroitly turned the conversation to herself. She admitted being a careless homemaker and that she had also become self-centered, sharp-tongued, and nagging.

She then confessed that she had never felt herself the equal of her husband. She had a profound sense of inferiority regarding him, feeling unable to maintain equality with him socially and intellectually. So she retreated into an antagonistic attitude that manifested itself in petulance and criticism.

The minister saw that the woman had more talent, ability, and charm than she was revealing. He suggested that she create an image or picture of herself as capable and attractive. He whimsically told her that "God runs a beauty parlor" and that faith techniques could put beauty on a person's face and charm and ease in her manner. He gave her instruction in how to pray and how spiritually to "picturize." He also advised her to hold a mental image of the restoration of the old-time companionship, to visualize the goodness in her husband, and to picture a restored harmony between the two of them. She was to hold this picture with faith. In this manner he prepared her for a most interesting personal victory.

About this time her husband informed her that he wanted a divorce. She had conquered herself to the extent of being able to receive this request with calmness. She simply replied that she was willing if he wanted it, but suggested a deferral of the decision for ninety days on the ground that divorce is so final. "If at the end of ninety days you still feel that you want a divorce, I will co-operate with you." She said this calmly. He gave her a quizzical look, for he had expected an outburst.

Night after night he went out, and night after night she sat at home, but she pictured him as seated in his old chair. He was not in the chair, but she painted an image of him there comfortably reading as in the old days. She visualized him pottering around the house, painting and fixing things as he had formerly done. She even pictured him drying the dishes as he did when they were first married. She visualized the two of them playing golf together and taking hikes as they once did.

She maintained this picture with steady faith, and one night there he actually sat in his old chair. She looked twice to be sure that it was the reality rather than the picturization, but perhaps a picturization is a reality, for at any rate the actual man was there. Occasionally he would be gone but more and more nights he sat in his chair. Then he began to read to her as in the old days. Then one sunny Saturday afternoon he asked, "What do you say to a game of golf?"

The days went by pleasantly until she realized that the ninetieth day had arrived, so that evening she said quietly, "Bill, this is the ninetieth day."

"What do you mean," he asked, puzzled, "the ninetieth day?"

"Why, don't you remember? We agreed to wait ninety days to settle that divorce matter and this is the day."

He looked at her for a moment, then hidden behind his paper turned a page, saying, "Don't be silly. I couldn't possibly get along without you. Where did you ever get the idea I was going to leave you?"

The formula proved a powerful mechanism. She prayerized, she picturized, and the sought-for result was actualized.

Prayer power solved her problem and his as well.

 (to be continued)

Did You know ?

  •  The CD was developed by Philips and Sony in 1980.
  • 40 billion songs are downloaded illegally every year, that’s some 90% of all music downloads.
  • The music industry generates about $4 billion in online music but loose about $40 billion to illegal downloads.
  • About one-third of recorded CDs ever sold were pirated.
  • It was during the 100-years war that direct taxation on income was introduced, a British invention designed to finance the war with France.
  • The doors that cover US nuclear silos weigh 748 tons and opens in 19 seconds.
  • Tobacco is a $200 billion industry, producing six trillion cigarettes a year – about 1,000 cigarettes for each person on earth.
  • A third of the world’s people live on less than $2 a day, with 1,2 billion people living on less than $1 a day.
  • A square piece of dry paper cannot be folded in half more than 7 times.
  • An electric oven uses one kilowatt-hour of electricity in about 20 minutes, but one kilowatt-hour will power a TV for 3 hours, run a 100-watt bulb for 12 hours, and keep an electric clock ticking for 3 months.


Just for Laughs


When confessions had to be made before a priest, four young boys came together; the priest took them one at a time, starting with the biggest.

He was a boy of around age ten, and at the conclusion of a list of wrong-doings, he said, "And please forgive me for throwing peanuts in the brook."

The priest was somewhat curious about this last "sin", but decided not to say anything. The next boy, also 10, but a little smaller in size, also recited his list of sins for the week, and ended with the same one, "Please forgive me for throwing peanuts in the brook."

Now the priest was getting very curious, but again said nothing. After the third boy repeated the pattern, the priest decided that he would wait until the last of the four before asking about this strange confession.

However, when the smallest boy came in, he recited a list of sins, came to the end, and started to leave when the priest blurted out, "But aren't you going to ask forgiveness for throwing peanuts in the brook?"

"Why?" asked the boy. "I'm Peanuts."