CSN Sunday – Messages of Light – 12/20/2020
Dear CSN newsletter readers,
The Citizen Sentinels Network has maintained a project, originally deemed the David Project, since 2018. Especially, for those readers of faith, the Messages of Light originated as a genuine inspiration from Heavenly Father. It was initiated to bring Light into the dark in this time. At this time in the world, there is clear and present danger that requires the faithful to hold boldly and securely onto the foundations that are rooted in faith.
If you consider the messages in our Sunday edition relevant or meaningful and know others who might value them as well, consider yourself a Light mail messenger and please pass this newsletter on to those whom you feel could welcome it. Or, simply please receive it yourselves.
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “ Matthew 5:1-20
In this excerpt from the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reaches out to the crowd of people who had followed him to such a spot and shares many words of wisdom with them. It is often broken apart in bits and pieces as I have done in highlighting this particular arrangement.
At Christmas time, the familiar: “I am the Light of the world” passage in John 8:12 as John reflects how Jesus referred to himself. But, Jesus also refers to his followers as the “salt of the earth” and as the “light of the world.” How could that be? Many readers and teachers and preachers seem to skip over the original point that Jesus made in his sermon. But, in John’s introduction, he explains this in his own words.
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:9-13
God’s gift to humanity was that Light, and those who believed in Jesus as the Son of God and could follow his way, were given “the right to become children of God,” essentially being born once again as Jesus described in other words. Yet, in Jesus’ words in his Sermon on the Mount: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven… Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
God’s gift to humanity was that Light, and those who believed in Jesus as the Son of God and could let their light shine before others, that whoever holds onto the Law and whoever does them and teaches them… they may see your good works… will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” God’s gift to humanity was that Light, but those who received it, were not to hold onto it themselves, nor light their lamps and keep them hidden.
Indeed, especially at the time of Hanukkah and Christmas, people of such faith need to let their light shine! Truly, people of faith are being persecuted in this time — it is undeniable. The culture is not a culture of goodness or of goodwill toward men (or even women or children). We live in a culture of corruption and death. So, why have people of faith hidden their light? The purpose of light is to dispel the darkness. This world was given to God’s children for life and joy, and one of the original blessings God gave was that His children were to take dominion over the Earth. That is what the Kingdom of God means. Let this holiday season be a time in which all people of faith can rekindle their light. God needs us to shine our lights into the darkness, not wait for others, or depend on others, or even blame others for not allowing their light to shine freely. Jesus knew his people would be persecuted, and fear of being persecuted will often cause people to hide their light: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Our two full articles today are from a couple of faith-filled ladies explaining the connection between Hanukkah and Christmas and it is all about light. Claire Hickey was one of my fellow writers at Communities Digital News. She offered an interesting comparison between Chanukah and Christmas and brings readers back to the simple understanding that Jesus was Jewish his entire life, and he never renounced Judaism. A. Dru Kristenev is one of my fellow writers at Canada Free Press and a regular contributor to the Citizen Sentinels Network and we offer more about her at the end of her article.
Although Hanukkah has just recently passed, Christmas is coming quickly upon us. Let their words enlighten, and warm you, and spark something inside of you in this time of the season. The hope would be that your light could begin penetrating the darkness that has descended upon us in this trying and turbulent year. Hopefully, more and more people will let their light shine from this year and from now – it requires willpower, but when people entwine their will with God’s Will, it is like plugging in the Christmas tree lights — they begin to fulfill their purpose.
Today we also have one article in our “Recommended Reading” section from Washington Times titled: “Americans religious liberty under siege: Worship the state, or else.” It provides a good reason for people of faith to get their light out of the closet!
We also have seven videos for this week. Three of them are being repeated in case anyone may have missed them in a previous edition. Please note, however, the song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is presented by Enya, and Matt Redman performs another version of the song “10,000 Reasons” from a live concert of “Worship Night In America” from 2016.
The first new video is one from GENTRI performing “O Holy Night” in an official music video also from 2016. If only we could replace 2020 with living through 2016 once again.
The second video is from Jack Hibbs which has him delivering a message from November whose title is derived from the lyrics of the previous song: “The Weary World Rejoices.”
The third video is intended to honor Charley Pride who passed away on December 12th. His song titled, “They stood silent in prayer.” My mother loved to listen to his songs. May Charley Pride be truly blessed in his final rest.
The fourth video link was sent from a prayer warrior in Georgia. It is a unique and somewhat amusing one from the Silent Monks “Singing” the Hallelujah Chorus.
The last video is again presented of President Trump offering thanks to God for sending His son to redeem the world.
These words and images are being freely offered and are being sent to you as part of the David Project’s “Messages of Light.” Please receive today’s messages as a gift from those who care. They are only words that are being offered, freely, but some contain a deep message of faith, or a deeper expression of heart that readers can hopefully receive into their lives. As it was written: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18 – KJV
May we humble ourselves, seek His face in prayer, sincerely repent, and turn from wicked ways – even if that may mean doing it every day, day after day, for the rest of our days. It is not meant to be mechanical, or a “token” turning. It is a blueprint and process for redeeming our souls and for transforming our nation. And there is no shortage of transforming to be done.
If there was a ‘dark age’ in man’s past, the period of relative quiet between the writing of the last great biblical prophecies concerning Christ and the end of the age is probably the best candidate to retain the title, despite the fact that secular historians apply that appellation to the medieval period. In most translations of the Bible this interval of about 400 years, where the Jews awaited the messiah, lacks written accounts. There are, however, books that were penned during that time when Persia lost its empire to Alexander the Great, and then his divided conquests were swallowed up by Rome. Only a few of these books hold a place among Canon, whereas most have been allocated to a grouping of writings called Apocrypha. Among them are the chronicles of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire, one of the remaining thirds of Alexander’s realm.
During this period prophets were few if not completely absent from Judea (1 Maccabees 9:27 – “And there was a great tribulation in Israel, such as was not since the day that there was no prophet seen in Israel.”). The books of the Maccabees tell of the rebellion led by the priestly Hasmonean family against the abominations forced upon the Jews by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, including atrocities against the populace and profane sacrifices on the altar in the temple in Jerusalem. 1 Maccabees 1:57 (Douay-Rheims American version) – “On the fifteenth day of the month Casleu, in the hundred and forty-fifth year, king Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God, and they built altars throughout all the cities of Judah round about…”
The battles won (only by God’s grace when you read about the overwhelming odds confronting Simon and Judas Maccabee, the “hammer”) led to their wresting the sacred places out of the hands of defilers and the subsequent cleansing, sanctification and rededication of the temple. The lamps were then lit for eight days to dedicate the sanctuary and the newly rebuilt altar, thenceforth becoming an annual winter festival that commenced on the 25th day of the month Chisleu to celebrate the victory of light (God) over darkness (unbelief, paganism).
The His-story of Jesus’ birth is one of universal knowledge, where most all are aware who have lived within hearing of the publishing of this plain fact that occurred more than 2000 years ago. The light of the world (John 8:12 – “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’”) was foretold (2 Samuel 23:3-4 – “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, ‘He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.’”) and a festival of the Jews pointed to that coming light – the feast of dedication, Hanukkah. This is considered a minor festival that is not given the weight of those feasts instituted by God, the details supplied to Moses, nor is it deemed a type to be fulfilled in Christ. Yet, in its way, it was a foreshadow of Christ that occurred during those dark years between the time of the prophets and the New Testament.
The wise men traveling from the East had been following the portents laid out in scripture, adding up the years told by the prophets and watching the heavens for the sign they knew was imminent. When the unmistakable star was seen in the sky they knew the time had arrived and they set forth to follow the instruction from Micah 5:2 (“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.”) pointing them toward Bethlehem. Along the way, they paid homage to Herod who was also aware of the nearness of the prophecy’s fulfillment. Matthew 2: 9-10 – “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”
Then was seen the brilliance of God’s glory revealed to the shepherds nearby:
Luke 2: 8-11 – “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Where the type becomes evident is in the words of the Gospel of John, which makes known that Jesus (who had already told many that He is the light of the world, John 8:12) arrives at the temple’s porch on the very celebration of the Maccabean cleansing of the holy place from the desecrations 200 years before. John 10:22-25 – “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.”
The pointing of the heavenly light to Jesus’ birth, by both a star and angelic hosts, was the first part of His fulfillment of the promise to bring light to the world. The dedication of the rebuilt altar in Solomon’s temple (Hannukah) holds forth as a type for the dedication (raising) of the new temple, which is Christ’s resurrection on the third day. Mark 9:9 – “And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. …For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, ‘The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that, he is killed, he shall rise the third day.’”
The fabric of prophecy, even in a time where prophets were scarce, comes full circle as Christ reminded the Pharisees that they denied even what their eyes had seen, the giving of sight to a man who was blind from birth (John 9). And He did so on the very feast of lights, shedding light that opens blind eyes to recognize who stood before them if only they would see: John 10: 30 – “I and my Father are one.”
The Light of the World is revealed by light: light of dedication of a cleansed temple; light of the star shining upon where Christ lay; light of the heavenly host proclaiming His coming; the words of Christ Jesus witnessing who He is. John 9:5 – “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
On Christmas day, recall how light heralded the coming of Light to a world filled with darkness; darkness that can only be overcome by the clarity of God’s spirit among us – a babe who is Emmanuel.
Have a joyful Hanukkah and a blessed Christmas!
Former newspaper publisher, A. Dru Kristenev, grew up in the publishing industry working every angle of a paper, from ad composition and sales, to personnel management, copywriting, and overseeing all editorial content. During her tenure as a news professional, Kristenev traveled internationally as a representative of the paper and, on separate occasions, non-profit organizations. Since 2007, Kristenev has authored five fact-filled political suspense novels, the Baron Series, and two non-fiction books, all available on Amazon. Carrying an M.S. degree and having taught at premier northwest universities, she is the trustee of Scribes’ College of Journalism, whose mission is to train a new generation of journalists in biblical standards of reporting. More information about the college and how to support it can be obtained by contacting Kristenev at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Defeating darkness: Chanukah and Christmas
Christmas may define December in the minds of many. But it also hosts Chanukah, or the Festival of Lights. This year, Chanukah began at sundown on December 22nd. It would seem that Chanukah and Christmas have nothing to do with each other. But that isn’t so.
Raised as a Christian around Christians, my knowledge of Judaism is limited. The Jewish stories that came my way explained that when forbidden to live and practice their faith, the Jews rebelled. The then-reigning Greek king, Antiochus, demanded they worship the pagan Greek gods, but the Jewish people refused. They would not sin against God.
The king then gave the Jewish people an ultimatum: either give up their Jewish customs or face death. He marched his troops into Jerusalem and, while trying to destroy the Jewish people, desecrated their holy temple.
King Antiochus IV could not destroy the faith of the Maccabees
The Maccabee family, led by Judah, revolted against the enemy and took back the Temple. In the midst of its restoration, they found the menorah on the altar was empty, while there was only enough consecrated oil to burn for a single day. The miracle of Chanukah is that this one day’s worth of oil kept the lamps lit for eight days: just the amount of time it takes to consecrate more holy oil.
That amazing event made me want to know more. Research took me to Destination Yisra’el. Among the things I learned was that the American Founding Fathers were great admirers of Judah and the Maccabees.
My good friend and colleague Caryn FitzGerald is Jewish and also an invaluable source of information about the Festival of Lights too. She shared her own Chanukah memories and traditions with me.
It would seem and Chanukah and Christmas have nothing to do with each other. But that isn’t necessarily so.
Caryn grew up with her parents and younger brother in New City, New York. Each December there were Chanukah decorations, creations of blue and white with six-pointed stars that trimmed her family’s home. The fragrance of latkes (potato pancakes) filled the air along with sufganiot (deep-fried, jelly-filled doughnuts) as well as a special meal prepared by her mother.
Her father worked in Manhattan and it took some time for him to travel to their home from the city. The celebrating wouldn’t start until he got there. On the first night of Chanukah, Caryn’s grandmother would often travel from the Bronx to celebrate with them too.
Both Chanukah and Christmas celebrations involve the exchange of presents, at least in part. Waiting for Christmas – and those presents – is arduous for Christian kids. For Jewish kids, waiting once a day for gifts for eight consecutive days must be torture. But we Christian kids thought Jewish kids had it made with their eight days’ worth of presents compared to our one.
The miracle of Chanukah is that this one day’s worth of oil kept the lamps lit for eight days: just the amount of time it takes to consecrate more holy oil.
Once Caryn’s dad was home, the family festivities would start. First came prayers. Then the menorah was lit and placed in the window before dinner. All the gifts for each of the eight nights were on display, and the children would pick one from the pile each day. They also played with dreidels (spinning tops), ate chocolate candy coins called Gelt, which came wrapped in gold or silver foil, and joined together singing traditional songs.
Children eagerly await Dreidels and Gelt in addition to a gift each night of Chanukah. (Bart/Flickr)
My family had the honor to attend Caryn’s daughter Sami’s Bat-Mitzvah several years ago. It was my first time attending a Jewish religious service. This was followed just a couple of weeks later by Chanukah. My family attended the first-night community festival with the FitzGeralds at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth. We learned, sang, attended a musical and broke bread together. It was truly a wonderful experience.
Caryn believes that Chanukah’s miracle shows that the Lord G-d is reminding Jews He is here with and for them, showing there is something bigger going on than just what occurs within the confines of mortal life. He cares about what happens.
I have wondered why Christians don’t celebrate Chanukah. As a devout Jew, Jesus certainly must have celebrated it. The New Testament even mentions Chanukah in John 10:22.
I have wondered why Christians don’t celebrate Chanukah.
Judah Maccabee lived long before anyone followed Jesus. When we celebrated the first night of Chanukah, Rabbi Mecklenburger said that Jews wouldn’t exist now if it were not for the Maccabees’ rebellion and eventual victory over their enemy. That also means there ultimately wouldn’t have been any Christians either.
Judaism is the spiritual ancestor of Christianity. Jesus was and is a Jew. He never ceased being a Jew and never renounced Judaism. To me Judaism is part of my religious heritage.
Many say that Chanukah, a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, wouldn’t be a big deal if not for Christmas. Perhaps that is so. But perhaps Chanukah and Christmas have influenced one another over the centuries. It’s true that on the surface, each holiday looks very different. Yet light is the common theme of both Chanukah and Christmas.
I have wondered why Christians don’t celebrate Chanukah.
That one day’s worth of oil not only burned for eight days in the Temple. Think of what that miracle must have strengthened the faith of Judah and the faithful. For their part, Christians believe that Jesus is the Light of the World. He came to defeat spiritual darkness and death. As we can see, both traditions commemorate and celebrate the defeat of the darkness in our lives, demonstrating that God is ever-present in them.
In both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, God charges Jews and Christians to be light, and to bring that light to the world as well. It’s a spiritual metaphor that unites Chanukah and Christmas.
We pass on religious customs to teach our children who we are: Jews by birthright and faith and Christians by faith alone.
In Chanukah and Christmas as well, we all thank and offer prayers to the Lord for His goodness and love. We pass on religious customs to teach our children who we are: Jews by birthright and faith and Christians by faith alone.
I wish all my Jewish readers a very Happy Chanukah, chag Chanukah sameach! May the blessings of the holiday shine in your lives always. L’Chaim!
I offer many heartfelt thanks to Caryn FitzGerald for sharing her faith and way of life with me.
Claire Hickey’s original article at Communities Digital News: https://www.commdiginews.com/
Recommended Reading – follow the links…
From Washington Times: Americans religious liberty under siege: Worship the state, or else -11/30/20
Video Views – Watch them by clicking the links below!!
From GENTRI: “O Holy Night” (Official Music Video) – 12/24/16
From Real Life with Jack Hibbs – “The Weary World Rejoices” – 11/4/20
From Charley Pride (RIP) – “They Stood In Silent Prayer” – 1970
Charley Frank Pride (March 18, 1934 – December 12, 2020) was a great American singer.
From the Silent Monks Sing the Hallelujah Chorus – 12/23/2012
From Enya: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ – – 11/21/2014 https://www.youtube.com/
From Matt Redman: 10,000 Reasons (Live – Worship Night In America 2016) – 11/7/2016 https://www.youtube.com/
From LifeSitenews: President Trump thanks God for sending His son to redeem the world – 12/10/20 https://www.youtube.com/