Tag Archives: baby jesus

A Season of Joy: Jesus Christ is Born

Keep Christ at the center of your family’s Christmas celebration by reflecting on the birth of Jesus.

With Christmas quickly approaching, stress levels are at an all time high and to do lists are longer than ever. Keep your family focused on the reason for the season by reflecting on the birth of our Lord and Savior.

The Christmas Story: Luke 2:1-20 NLT

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

The great news from an angel of the Lord filled the shepherds living nearby with absolute joy. The most amazing event in history had happened — the Messiah had been born! With Jesus’ birth came hope for the entire world, hope we continue to believe in today. We encourage you to look toward Christ’s second coming with a joyful spirit and a hopeful heart.

You Might Also Like

Top 5 Christmas Books for Christians 2016

Top 10 Christian Christmas Albums of 2016

How to Choose a Bible: 4 Questions to Consider

Lord, I Want to Be Like This Woman

Liz Curtis Higgs DECEMBER 18, 2015

Lord, I Want to Be Like This Woman
LIZ CURTIS HIGGS

“She … worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” Luke 2:37b (NIV)

Tucked within the gentle folds of the Christmas story is a woman whose life was a living testimony to faithfulness. We read about her in just three short verses found in Luke 2:36-38.

Her name, Anna, means “grace,” her family name means “face of God,” and her devotion to Him ran deep and wide.

Anna was married in her youth and then widowed after just seven years. Can you imagine her heartache in that time and place where motherhood was the end-all, be-all?

Even so, we have no record of Anna weeping. Only worshiping the Lord. Night and day. Year after year.

Who does this? Seriously, it’s a level of commitment most of us can’t get our heads around, especially during the holidays when we’re dashing through the snow to pageants, concerts, banquets, something.

Our wise sister Anna realized being in the Lord’s presence was celebration enough.

And while in His presence, she fasted. Not to lose weight or cleanse her body from toxins or to impress others with her piety, but to honor God. “When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:17-18a, NIV).

He surely saw Anna that day in the temple. She was 84 years old, but you’d never know it to watch her in action. When Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple for Mary’s ritual cleansing and the presentation of their firstborn son to the Lord, Anna didn’t miss a beat.

At the Holy Spirit’s prompting, she made a beeline for the Christ child, “coming up to them at that very moment” (Luke 2:38a, NIV). We sense her urgency, her excitement, her conviction.

After decades of worshiping and fasting and praying, Anna was prepared when she encountered the Savior. She was filled up, ready to spill out, and so “she gave thanks to God” (Luke 2:38b, NIV).

Amazing. Anna didn’t complain about the long wait, the lonely years, the emptiness of her stomach, the stiffness in her knees, the hardness of the temple floor. She simply gave thanks.

We’re listening, Lord. And watching. And learning.

Instead of remaining with Mary and Joseph, making idle chitchat, Anna then turned to everyone else in the temple courts that day, and “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38c, NIV).

Anna gazed beyond His birth, beyond His life, beyond His death and straight through to His resurrection. The people of God longed to be redeemed, but that was only possible through sacrifice. The stark reminder of that truth hung in the temple air — the spilling of blood, the bleating of lambs, the burning of flesh on the altar.

Did Anna know this innocent child would one day suffer to set his people free? You can be sure of it. Scripture tells us she was a prophetess, which meant she not only heard from the Lord, she also knew what the ancient prophets foretold.

Anna was prepared and so prepared the way. Now it falls to us, 2,000 years later, to follow in her footsteps. To tell everyone we know, everything we know about Jesus.

When we ease our breathless pace, when we stop, look and listen, we can sense the gentle weight of His touch and take comfort in the warmth of His presence.

In this season, in every season, let’s pause and remember Immanuel: God with us.

Heavenly Father, each aspect of Anna’s worship convicts me, in particular her sacrifice of physical comfort for spiritual intimacy. You deserve more than the few crumbs that fall from my too-full calendar. You deserve my best. A heart of worship, night and day. A willingness to add fasting and more prayer time to my life. Please teach me to be still, to wait, to listen and always to give thanks. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ezra 8:23, “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” (NIV)

Psalm 100:4, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Liz Curtis Higgs’ book, The Women of Christmas, is a gift book, devotional and Bible study in one, exploring the stories of Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, unwrapping each verse with tender care.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Because Anna was a unique woman in many aspects — her religious upbringing, her role as a prophetess, her lodging in the temple — it’s easy for us to say, “Well, I could never be like her.” But still …

There are things about Anna that we can emulate. How might Anna serve as a role model for you? And in what ways might God be asking you to dwell more closely with Him in the year ahead?

© 2015 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org