BY JOYCE PELLETIER
Christmas! Year after year we celebrate His birth. Mary and Joseph make a long journey to Bethlehem. Consider who show up to honor Mary’s boy-child. The shepherds are with their flocks. The Magi made their way by following the star. Herod makes it a point to talk to the Magi. He was bold enough to ask them to report back so he could pay homage too. Herod had other thoughts about this child. He wanted to find Him so he could stop Jesus from carrying out the plan of salvation.
Who ever heard of such a thing? In our culture, we don’t do that to a child that comes into our family. We want to love, cuddle and protect them from the world they’ve come into.
Step with me on the side-line to see how Mary responds. She’s weary from this long journey to Bethlehem. It was not an easy trek on a jostling camel, to later give birth to the Son of God. I remember well those hours before giving birth to my two children. Life was hard during that era of living. Mary and Joseph had no place to rest. Remember there was no room for them in the Inn. They ended up in a barn filled with dusty animals.
They persevered! They knew God was with them. They had a sense of what was to happen that night. Joseph attended Mary as best he could. There was no room for them to rest. Yet, in the barn, on the straw, Mary laid down and went through the birth pangs. She laid Him in a manger.
Alas! The Holy Child was born, without harm or issues. Mary held her child for the first time in her arms, just like other new mothers do. She looked in awe of the amazing miracle that just happened. Soon she looks up and sees the shepherds make their way to honor the child. Oh, the joy she felt!
Not long after the Magi approached the child with gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. They present their gifts in respectful reverence. They knew they were in a place of profound wonder. The animals were silent. The presence was something they never knew.
Soon after, the witnesses leave as quietly as they came. Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus settled in for the night.
The shepherds step away quietly in a state of amazement, as they return to the fields, cherishing the miracle they just encountered. The Magi left to return by another route home to avoid Herod and his devious plan.
Matthew 2:13 says that an angel appeared in a dream saying, “Get up! Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Time to rest for Mary and Joseph! Not really, but then an angel came to warn him to get up and go quickly to Egypt with his new family for safety.
What was about to happen!? All the sons under the age of two were about to be killed. Can you imagine the horror the fathers and mothers went through as their boy babies were whisked away and killed? This fulfilled the prophecy from Jeremiah. In Matthew 2:18 “The voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Joseph and Mary were obedient to make the long journey to Egypt. They didn’t know what the road ahead would be like, but they walked in faith and trusted God. As followers of Christ, we can do the same.
This is why we can believe what Proverb 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path".
BY JEFF DAUGHERTY
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Do you ever feel like God has you running in circles? Can’t he just tell us what the plans are for our lives? Truth be told, if we knew the path and the trials that lay ahead, we would be likely to choose another path.
When God spoke to Moses he did so through the burning bush and a pillar of fire, among many other ways. I wish it were that simple for me. But simple is not God’s style. Hearing God’s voice is something that has to be learned and practiced. Scripture tells us in Proverbs 2:4 “…if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures…” and Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” You must actively seek Him and listen for his voice. We have to work at it.
God is speaking to you. But are you really listening?
Let me illustrate it this way. Have a friend enter the location of a restaurant at least thirty minutes from your home. Make sure it requires several twists and turns, and it is someplace you do not go to very often. Make sure the voice directions are on but cover up your phone or GPS so you can’t see the map. All you have are the directions that are being spoken to you. Turn on the radio in your car and hit the road. Most of us need to see what the map shows ahead of us. But God doesn’t work that way. No matter how much we may pray otherwise, God is not going to show us a map with all the twists and turns our journey will be taking. He gives you what you need, when you need it. One step at a time. It is a lot harder than it sounds. The noise of people in the car or the radio, or things going on around us all distract us from what we are trying to hear. If God speaks to you, you can’t lean toward the person next to you and ask, “what did He just say?” Chances are you will end up driving in circles as the GPS tells you, “recalculating.”
So, now God’s directions are starting to make more sense, aren’t they? How many times has God had to redirect us? Was He not speaking to us, or were we just not listening?
Try reading scripture and meditating in a place that is quiet and peaceful. That may be harder for some of you, but you can do it. We have to put ourselves in the best position to hear him. Try sitting outside at a park. Focus on the sounds of the birds and nature around you. Soon the sounds of the cars and the people begin to fade. Same principle. Do not get frustrated if you do not hear anything at first. It takes time and practice. And most of all it happens in God’s time, not ours. I would tell you to be patient, but that is a different devotional entirely.