Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Christmas

'Happy Christmas' A departed friend of mine used to say, ‘Happiness depends upon happenings but joy abides!’ I hear what he was saying because there is a difference isn’t there? Someone has possibly said to one of my readers today, “Happy Birthday!” and I join with them, have a good day, but what about tomorrow or next week?

The New York Times recently ran some essays under the heading ‘Happy Days’ and Todd May wrote the final one ‘Happy Ending’. The Opionator Blog issuing from that essay attracted over two hundred and sixty responses. I read the majority of them and was depressed by the lack of hope that the majority of writers expressed. Some prescribed their own fanciful thoughts of what they will do when they leave this world and pass into eternity. One contributor fancied that he would become an intergalactic traveler and if in his endless travels he ever came near to planet earth again, he would give it a wide berth.

’I sent some blogs (No.153; 247 and 248), the first read, ‘I’m sure that Todd May made preparations for his flight from Greenville S.C. to New York, whether for his personal needs or something to comfort his dying step- grandmother. The near-miss Empire State building would focus the mind on past, present and future aspects of one’s life. Reading the blogs thus far I am disappointed by the uncertainty expressed by many as to what happens after death takes place. King David wrote a trilogy of Psalms, 22 to 24, relating to the past (22), the present (23) and the future (24) Reading Psalm 23 he expressed a gratitude to God for His provisions throughout his life, but then looked forward beyond the valley of the shadow of death to dwelling with the Lord for ever. Now that is great and something certain. God bless you all.’

Happy ending signifies the aspiration of what exit from this life one will have, we have no control as to how or when we shall die, Ecclesiastes 3:1 reads, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die.” That time is in God’s hands. If a person takes it into their hands and commits suicide, it is a wrong decision.

W.T.P. Wolston related the following incident in gospel preaching in Scotland. The preacher was about to retire to bed and got on his knees to pray. As he was praying there came upon him a compulsion to go to the Headland to preach, which he quickly dismissed and got into bed. He could not sleep and the thought of going to the Headland to preach became more urgent, so out he got, dressed, and went up to the Headland. He shouted the text, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” Then went home and slept. In the morning there was a knock on his door and a troubled woman stood outside. He invited her inside and she said, “Last night I was going to commit suicide and went up to the Headland to throw myself off onto the rocks below. I heard a voice as clear as your voice that said, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” There was not another person there so I had to acknowledge that God was speaking to me, to stop me taking my life, and to recognize that my life was in a mess. Can you help me please?” I don’t remember what the preacher told her but I am sure that he had no difficulty in telling her that she needed to tell the Lord about her problems and ask Him to come into her life and be born again, for anyone that did this is a new person, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The lady was soundly converted to Christ, which for her was not just a happy ending to her troubles but a happy beginning of a new life, eternal life!

When Jesus was born at Bethlehem the circumstances and conditions were hardly conducive for His parents. The arduous journey from Nazareth to the City of David was not what a woman heavy with child would choose, but it was demanded of them, not only by the authorities, but also by the Word of God. Micah 5:2 reads, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” There are two Bethlehem’s in Israel, one near Nazareth and the other near Jerusalem, it would have been more convenient to go to the Bethlehem near Nazareth, but no, Christ had to be born in the City of David. Mary’s maternity ward was a stable, there was no place for them in the Inn, the crib that she laid her baby in was a cattle manger, no health and safety put in place for her. Before she was with child she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She trusted the Lord in conception and she trusted Him for the birth of her firstborn son. Many women would not be happy to undertake such a trial but she was and became “Blessed (to make happy) art thou among women” Millions of people have been blessed as a result of Christ coming into the world, myself included. Being a devout woman, Mary would have known of two other women in the scriptures who were associated with Bethlehem. She knew of Ruth the Moabitess who came to Bethlehem, married Boaz and became the great-grandmother of David. She also knew of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, who died in childbirth when she delivered Benjamin, near Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph would no doubt have to pass by Rachel’s tomb as they went down to Bethlehem. Did this bring anxious thoughts into her mind about her imminent confinement? Not a bit for God had already told her through Gabriel what her responsibility would be in raising her son. She could not have been happier, knowing that she was in the center of God’s will for her life and that of Messiah.

June 26th. 1702 Monica Doddridge gave birth to her twentieth child, it appeared to be stillborn as were eighteen previous ones. The midwife set aside the little ‘corpse’ out of mother’s sight, but then she noticed a slight flutter in the baby’s chest, she smacked the baby and he let out a loud cry, and Philip was born. He wrote 48 hymns, one being ‘Oh happy day that fixed my choice on thee my Saviour and my God’ Philip Doddridge’s birth was a happy day for Monica, his new birth was better for him!

Have you had such a happy day? If not, why not receive Christ right now and have a Happy Christmas and a blessed eternity. God bless and a very Happy Christmas.

(this blog was written by Stan Burditt of Northampton)
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