Our family is walking to the manger this Christmas season. Our children are learning how God gave clues along the way, and now we are almost to the amazing coming of Christ, the Messiah. Jesus’ earthly father was making a seemingly good plan, but it wasn’t what God the Father wanted. Let’s see what happens.
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and 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…When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” (Matthew 1:18-21, 24)
Have you ever made a plan you thought was really good? You spent time making sure everything would work out perfect. Then someone told you that you shouldn’t do it. How did you respond? It’s easy to get frustrated and defensive when we think we know what we should do and someone tells us differently. Often we want to explain our reasons and just go ahead with our plans.
This is the situation in the Bible verse. We know in our journey to the manger the angel Gabriel told Mary she would have God’s Son. Soon afterwards Mary quickly left to visit her cousin Elizabeth for three months. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Mary went away, but we can speculate. Perhaps she needed to prepare herself for the ridicule and questions of her neighbors in Nazareth. Maybe she tried to think of ways to tell Joseph about her pregnancy. When she returned to Nazareth, it was obvious she had a baby inside of her. Joseph only knew what his eyes could see. He quietly came up with a plan that wouldn’t embarrass Mary because he still loved her deeply. He wouldn’t make her stand in humiliation before all of the village people.
God had to intervene if His plan he made before time began was going to take place. God sent an angel to tell Joseph the truth his eyes couldn’t see, a situation he couldn’t have understood with human reasoning. Joseph didn’t argue or try to justify why he couldn’t be a part of this plan. He could have complained it wasn’t fair for him to be put in such an awkward situation and how it would probably affect his carpentry business. Joseph simply obeyed God without any questions. He had walked with God, and he would continue walking even when he couldn’t understand the path.
Gabriel told Mary and the angel told Joseph that their son’s name would be Jesus. The Hebrew name for Jesus is yeshu’a and it means “God saves.” From the beginning when Adam and Eve sinned and everyone was born with sin in their heart, God planned to send a Savior who could take away this sin.
It’s obvious in all of our lives we have sin inside of us. We are selfish, we sometimes lie, we are unkind to others, and we want to disobey. Jesus didn’t come into this world to be a nice person or to be a good example of how we should live. He came because we have a problem so big we can’t do anything about it by ourselves. Jesus, the Son of God, came to save us from our sins so we can have a relationship with God. God loves us so much He was willing to come as a baby into a cruel world to grow up and die for our sins. Only Jesus can change our sinful hearts into loving hearts.
Have you asked Jesus to be your Savior? If not, would you like to allow Jesus to save you from your sins? If Jesus is your Savior, how is your life different now?
Making a Treat with an Object Lesson
This is a delicious recipe that is very versatile. It can be enjoyed at breakfast, on yogurt or added to a fruit parfait.
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups rolled oats, not instant
1/3 cup wheat germ
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
Up to 2 cups total of add ins:
1. Preheat oven to 300°. Cover two cookie sheets with aluminum foil.
2. In saucepan melt butter. Add honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir until sugar and honey have dissolved.
3. Add rolled oats, wheat germ and flax seed. Stir until completely combined.
4. Spread granola evenly on cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes then stir. Bake another 10 minutes.
5. Remove pans from oven and stir. Add coconut and almonds, if using. Return pans to oven and cook about 5 more minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
6. Remove pans from oven and stir granola. Let granola cool completely. When cooled, add dried fruit, if using.
7. Store in airtight container for up to one month.
The way we are making granola is how families have made it for centuries. They didn’t have stores where they could buy it. They had to make it at home just like we are doing now. When we make it ourselves we know just what we are putting into it. There are no hidden ingredients.
God knows just what we are putting into our hearts and minds. We can’t hide anything from him. We need to remember to only put things in that are pleasing to Him and will help us grow in our relationship with Him.
Real Life on DVD
This is a great gift for family who live far away. Seeing life in action helps to make a connection.
1. video your child doing some of their favorite activities: playing an instrument, building with legos and describing the process, reading a book, singing, riding a bike, telling a Bible story, playing in the yard…The possibilities are endless.
2. Download videos on the computer, and then onto a recordable DVD. Label the DVD with name and year.
Copyright © words and photographs by Jane Carole Stein