by Fr. Dmitri, New Zealand
Saturday 20 December 2008 ( 11 Kiahk; 11 Koiahk)
St. Ambrose of Milan
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
being Fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the
knowledge of God.
Be merciful unto me, O God. Be merciful unto me, for my
soul trusteth in Thee. Yea in the shadow of Thy wings
will I make my refuge.
Christ is the Light of the world. He revealed the Heavenly
Father to us and showed us what man is without Him we
should have little real knowledge of God or Man.
It is worthy to remember God more than the breath we take.
(Gregory the Theologian)
My beloved children, do not be weary or bored from loving
one another, but make this body that you are wearing, a
censer in which you place all your evil thoughts and counsel.
(Anthony the Great)
A person's worship could be contaminated by false religion as it relates to popular holidays. Consider Christmas for example. Christmas supposedly commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and nearly every religion that claims to be Christian celebrates it. Yet, there is no evidence that the first century disciples of Jesus observed such a Holy Day. The book Sacred Origens of Profound things states: "For two centuries after Christ's birth, no one knew, and few people cared, exactly when He was born."
Even if Jesus disciples had known the exact date of His birth, they would not have celebrated it. Why? Because, as The World Book Encyclopedia says, the early Christian "considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom." The only birthday observances mentioned in the Bible are those of two rulers who did not worship God. (Gen.40:20; Mark 6:21).
Birthday celebrations were also held in honor of pagan deities. For example, on May 24 the Romans celebrated the birthday of the Goddess Diana. On the following day, they observed the birthday of their sun god Apollo. Hence, birthday celebrations were associated with paganism, not with Christianity.
There is another reason why first-century Christians would not have celebrated Jesus' birthday. His disciples likely knew that birthday celebrations were connected with superstition. For instance, many Greeks and Romans of ancient times believed that a spirit attended the birth of each human and protected that one throughout life.
"This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the the individual was born," says the book 'The Lore of Birthdays.' God certainly would not be pleased with any observances that would link Jesus with superstition. (Isa. 65:11-12). Shepherds would not have been watching their flocks by night in the open in December as it is winter. Also the 'Didache' (teachings of the Apostles) makes no mention of it. December 25 is the Pagan Feast of Saturnalia. One should also remember that Christ existed in Heaven long before His Incarnation on this Earth. Keeping His Birth has no Scriptural Mandate.
Jeremiah 10:2-4 says this:
"Learn not the ways of the Heathen and be not dismayed at the signs in the heavens. Customs of the people are vain; for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of a workman with an axe. They deck is with silver and gold. They fasten it with nails and hammers, that it move not."
This (Christmas Tree) is a Pagan Symbol in use centuries before the Savior's Birth. It disturbs me to see Churches put this Pagan Symbol up near their Altars. Our Lord said 'in vain do they worship Me teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men' and forget the Commandments of God.
The world is in a sad plight, they have turned their backs on God. They need to have a Week of Prayer and Fasting and put on Sackcloth & Ashes and Earnestly Repent of their misdeeds and ask God's Mercy and deliverance.
Strive unceasingly to be pleasing to God and ask Him to
accomplish His will in you. Love Him with all your might:
you owe Him a great deal.
God of Power and Might, let us do always the things that
are pleasing to You. For You are our Greatest Benefactor and Sole Good.
(John of the Cross)
But she was given two wings like those of a Great Eagle. This allowed her to fly to a place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be cared for and protected from the devil for a time, times and half a time. (Rev. 12:14)
Before we look at the implications of this passage, let us consider something which could lead up to this. The Prophet Ezekiel warned of these times: "Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence." (Ezek. 7:23)
Why is this so? No matter where in the World you look, it is the same. Never a day goes by in New Zealand that some crime or another has been committed and one of our cities is like unto Sodom & Gomorrah. People are turning their back on God and no longer make Him their habitation? The young people are not being nurtured in the Faith. In some areas it is thought not politically correct to erect a Crib Scene in the town Centre.
Ezekiel again tells us that 'Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and their shall be none.' (Ezek. 7:25). Let us look at peace efforts around the world, they are man made and not God centered. If they were God centered they would not fail. We are told that unless we turn to God in repentance, destruction comes! (Remember Sept. 11, 2001)
We are near the time when the Devil will have his way on Earth through the Man of Sin. But God has prepared a place of safety for His people. In Prophecy a "Woman" is generally symbolic of the Church, the symbolism of an Eagle means swiftness. If they did not move swiftly they would be caught in the flood that was sent after her by Satan. But in the wilderness water would not be able to follow, as it happened the Lord caused the earth to open up and swallow the flood.
The figure of Eagle Wings was familiar to God's ancient people. The deliverance from Egypt, Pharaoh and his hosts is referred to by this. (see Ex. 19:4 and Deut. 32:11). God cares for His own. Even though the Church is persecuted and driven into exile, the Lord nourishes it like He did with the Manna in the Wilderness.
During this time the Great False Church and the Anti-Christ hold sway as agents of the devil, who do their best to wipe out the Church. Satan's wrath knows no bounds as he knows he has but a short time and uses everything that he can to achieve his end. Beware of those in Sheep's clothing as they could be ravening wolves. 'Little Red Riding Hood' is a good analogy for this.
The True Church are those who keep the Commandments of God and uphold the Testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the Spirit of Prophecy. We are in an era of Great Apostasy where Paganism and Christianity has merged to form a sort of churchianity, If you do not follow the dictates of this regime you are out on your neck and could suffer other things as a result of it. In Matt.24:22, we are told the days were shortened for the Elect's sake.
However we must not be complacent, we must be on our guard at all times and put on the Whole Armor of God and ward off the fiery darts of Satan and be ready to flee to a Place of Safety at a moments notice.
To Thee be Glory and Praise, now and ever, unto Ages of Ages.
Evening: Psalm 111:6-7; Gospel: Matt. 24:42-47.
Morning: Psalm 92:10&14; Gospel: Luke 19:11-19.
Liturgy: Heb. 11:32-12:2; James 5:9-20; Acts 18:24-19:6;
Psalm 92:12-13; Gospel: Luke 12:32-44.
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