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I’m thankful for the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, my Lord and Savior. Have you chosen Jesus as your Lord and Savior? I’m thankful for the gift of eternal life in heaven I have been given because of Him. Have you received the gift of eternal life?
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” ~ Luke 2:8-14
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the greatest gift of all, Your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray all the world would know and understand the true meaning of this day, Christmas, Amen.
I’m thankful for the obedience of Mary and Joseph when the angel Gabriel told them about the baby they would have. I wish I were as obedient to God as they were. I know I can be, but it’s so hard. It can be very difficult not to worry and let fear of what might happen take over and rule my mind. I’m thankful for the inspiring story of Joseph and Mary’s faith.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. ~ Luke 1:26-38
Back in Mary’s day, a woman becoming pregnant before marriage was a sin, punishable by death. I would have been freaking out if I were Mary. Did Mary freak out? No, she simply asked a question so she could better understand what the angel Gabriel was talking about. I can’t fathom trying to comprehend having the Holy Spirit ‘come upon me’ causing me to become pregnant. Not even today. I think that explanation would bring hundreds of questions into my mind, leading me to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Mary did nothing even close to this. She answered calmly (I say calmly because there’s no exclamation point at the end of her answer) “My it be as you have said”.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-25
Then there’s Joseph and how he reacted to the news. Joseph was worried about how Mary would be treated, so he was going to quietly divorce her. I love that he was concerned for her, so sweet. Since he was to stay with Mary, not divorce her, an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream. The angel explained the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and was fulfilling what God spoke of through the prophet Isaiah. Can you imagine waking up from a dream about the actual crazy circumstances going on in your life and thinking ‘oh, okay, time to take Mary home as my wife’ without a second thought?
I think the humble obedience of Joseph and Mary should be an example to all of us, how we should respond when God speaks to us. Joseph and Mary were protected and taken care of for their obedience. How has God blessed you for your obedience?
My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for Joseph and Mary, who are examples of true obedience to You. Lord I pray we would seek clarity to know you better, not question due to disbelief, Amen.
Up until five years ago I thought Christmas was all about Santa Claus, decorating trees and presents. Lots and lots of presents, which meant lots and lots of shopping. The greeting I gave this time of year was always, and still is, ‘Merry Christmas’.
My Christmas was all about planning for the arrival of the fat jolly guy in the red suit who lived at the North Pole with the elves making presents all year long. As a child I worried about whether or not I was on Santa’s naughty list. I always made a Christmas wish list for Santa. To make sure he knew exactly what I wanted, I would tape a picture of the item and list the stores where he could get it.
Now my Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. We still do the same things at Christmas. We still decorate a tree and shop for presents. I do feel different though. I notice things I never noticed before, like the to-do list of things that most people could care less if I do or not. The to-do list is something that brings stress, not joy, to my life. This year I decided not to do a few of my to-do list items. I’m not sending out Christmas cards and we didn’t even attempt to make baked goodies this year.
I find myself being bothered by the extra long hours many stores are open. I use to love it because it gave me extra time to shop. Now I feel sad for the employees who must work extra hours instead of being home with their families. I do realize some families look forward to working the extra hours, but I still think the stores have gone a little too far. Shopping on Thanksgiving Day and in the middle of the night, I think, is not necessary.
Last week at church the sermon was about not being haunted by Christmas present. We were challenged to buy less presents and be more present. I love that! I think the most valuable gift you can give someone is your time. That doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts. You can make them. There are so many great gifts to give that can be made. Pinterest is full of great ideas. I know its kind of late in the game this year to decide to make Christmas gifts, but think about it for future Birthdays, Anniversaries and certainly for next Christmas.
Whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus, Santa Claus, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, nothing or whatever it might be, I wish you and your family a season filled with love, joy, peace and togetherness.
My prayer for us today ~ May God who understands each need, who listens to every prayer, bless you and keep you in His tender loving care, Amen