Joy – Day 7 on a 14 Day Walk with Christ

The angels truly are a symbol of joy in action. Their attitude of singing and praising the Lord is one we will have if we guilt understand all He offers us!

Luke 2:

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Understanding who our Savior is and what He offers us should make us a joyful people ALWAYS! But life is hard and sometimes our focus shifts and we struggle to feel this way.

There are so many legitimate concerns in our day that we could get totally caught up in and cause us to become almost incapacitated by worry, doubt, and self-pity. I have seen people who allow this to happen. But we can choose to focus on joy instead of these things. At first it may be hard to train ourselves to do this, to turn to God and seek joy rather than wallow in our perception of the unfairness of life, but the joy is worth it and it does get easier over time.

I was given an analogy once that I call the parable of the coin. When you are handed a coin you cannot look at both sides simultaneously. You must pick a side to focus on. However, focusing on tails does not mean heads is not there, it just means you are choosing to dismiss it. The same goes in life when we choose to focus on the good things, especially our redemption through Christ. It doesn’t mean the bad things are not there, just that we are choosing not to let them have power over us. It is a choice we have to make, over and over again.

Song: His Name Shall be Called by Matt Redman

Song: When Hope Came Down by Kari Jobe

Challenge: How will you choose joy over worry today? How can you be more consistent in this effort daily?

(Artwork found on the blog http://www.jedocraftgirl.com)

Peace – Day 6 on a 14 Day Walk with Christ

The life of Christ is the ultimate gift of peace. His birth being the dawn of that offering.

Luke 2:

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Silent night has always been one of my favorite songs because of the peaceful feeling that always accompanied it for me. A few years ago I had an experience that gave it even greater meaning:

It was a particularly overwhelming Christmas for me and it seemed that everyone I talked to was running behind that year too and feeling frustrated about it, just like me. Even though I know it isn’t about the list of tasks we assign ourselves, it seems that each year I allow that part of this season to overwhelm me…
That year as I sat in a particularly uplifting session of church I was overcome by one line from of the song Silent Night, “THE DAWN OF REDEEMING GRACE”. As I sat there with tears streaming down my face the significance of those words sinking deep into my heart I sincerely understood, perhaps for the first time, what Christmas is really and truly about. Yes it’s about the birth of Christ, but even more than that it’s about that night being the dawn, the beginning, of our salvation because finally the only being who had the grace, the power, to save us had arrived! How grateful I am for that grace and that redemption, for my Savior and redeemer, for His infinite love and His patience with me and my weaknesses! How grateful I am for a time each year to reflect on what that DAWN OF REDEEMING GRACE means to me personally and how I will allow it to permeate my upcoming year.

Song: Silent Night by Taylor Swift

Song: A Baby Changes Everything by Faith Hill

Challenge: Ponder on a time when you felt the potency of the peace of Christ in your life and express gratitude for that time and those feelings.

Gratitude – Day 5 on a 14 Day Walk with Christ

I know it was part of the plan, but I still can’t help but feel a little sad when I read the last line of this verse…

Luke 2:

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

One of the phrases my husband uses most with our kids is, “Actions speak louder than words.” I believe that in nothing do we show a more ingrateful heart than by not making room for the Savior in our lives. And it isn’t just saying we believe in Him or going to church on Sundays, but it is the daily things we do to include Him in our lives. It’s daily prayers and daily studying of His words. It’s listening to music that draws us closer to Him and pondering on specific ways we can do better to be more like Him and regular repenting when we do things to show the ways we are not like Him at all. When we make room for Him we cannot help but be drawn in closer to Him. We cannot help but feel more gratitude, peace, and joy in our lives, but it really does take a daily effort on our part.

Song: Do You Have Room? By Shauna Belt Edwards

Song: Make Room by Casting Crowns

Challenge: What will you do today to show gratitude by making room in your heart for the Savior of the world?

On a side note – as I was watching music videos to gather songs for this walk the thought came to me that though a stable is not the ideal place for a baby to be born, let alone our King, Bethlehem was probably very chaotic at the time because of the census. Perhaps the stable was a much more peaceful setting for this sacred scene to play out. Maybe this also has a lesson for us. What quiet sacred setting have you established for spending time with the Lord, even if it wouldn’t seem ideal to others?

(Artwork from blog http://www.jedicraftgirl.com)

Love – Day 4 on a 14 Day Walk with Christ

The Nativity is full of so much love from so many different sources. The one I want to focus on today is the love of a mother.

The interesting thing about being a mother is how willing we are to sacrifice for our children… our time, our comfort, our own desires. And we do it gladly, for love! And maybe we love more because we sacrifice. Mary is such a beautiful example of this kind of love!

Luke 1:

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

I am in awe of the faith Mary had. She was such a young girl and this must have been such an overwhelming experience. Yet, she immediately responded that she would do anything required.

I can’t imagine how she must have felt facing possible humiliation, isolation, or rejection when others found she was with child before being married, even if only by her immediate family. It cannot have been easy. Is it any wonder she chose to spend a good portion of her pregnancy with her cousin Elisabeth who was also having a miraculous experience? What a loving bond these two women must have shared knowing how special their sons were going to be and what a miracle their conceptions had been. How much support and strength they must have been for one another.

Luke 2:

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

This trip must have been so long and uncomfortable for a woman nine months pregnant! And I’m sure she had hoped for more favorable conditions to give birth when her time came. And from the very beginning she was willing to share her son with all those who came to worship.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

One of the things I contemplate most when I think about Mary is whether she fully understood what would be required of her son and how much it would hurt her, or did the Father guard her heart by keeping some of that information back from her. In either case, it is clear that her heart broke as she watched her son dying as he hung on the cross. But what a beautifully reciprocated love was shown when one of the final concerns Christ had as He hung there was His mother, demonstrated as He asked His friend John to take her into his home to care for her. Such love unbroken!

Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

Mary, Did You Know? by Pentatonix

Challenge: How can you show an increase of love towards those closest to you today? What personal sacrifice would make that love count more?

Forgiveness – Day 3 on a 14 Day Walk with Christ

A thought has come to mind over and over this year as I’ve thought about the celebration of Christmas. The thought is this… without the cross, without the atonement, the birth of Christ would have been just the birth of another baby, a birth no more noteworthy than yours or mine. But it was not just another birth but a birth worth worldwide celebration because of His mission, the purpose in which He came to earth to fulfill. He came that through Him we might be forgiven for our sins, our weaknesses, our failures. Forgiveness and freedom from our past mistakes really is the whole point of Christmas.

John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

These two songs put into music exactly what I was feeling.

The Night Before Christmas by Brandon Heath

How Glorious the Love of Heaven by Stars Go Dim

And if so much was sacrificed to free us from the misery of our shortcomings, then should we not be much more eager to offer the same mercy to others?

Ephesians 4:32

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Here is a beautiful talk on the topic of forgiveness:

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/even-as-christ-forgives-you-so-also-do-ye?lang=eng

Challenge: Who is one person you feel prompted to extend forgiveness to? or How can you be more accepting of this gift in your own life – by forgiving yourself for past wrongs? How will you act on these promptings?

(Artwork from http://www.jedicraftgirl.com)

Kindness – Day 2 on a 14 Day Walk with Christ

I think Joseph was such an amazing example of this characteristic!

Matthew 1: 18-25

18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

From the very time we are introduced to Joseph we are told that when he found (or thought) his espoused wife had been unfaithful to him he did not desire her to be humiliated as he could have requested, rather he planned to have her put away privily. When I think of the human ego and how much we naturally desire vindication, I think this says so much about Joseph’s kindness.

Then when the angel visited him he immediately did as he was told and took Mary as his wife. Then putting aside his own needs as a husband he became her greatest mortal partner and support.

This song brought me to tears as I thought about this kind man’s role in the nativity story.

Challenge: Put aside your human tendencies and in kindness reach out to someone else today.

(I changed my mind because I felt inspired to reinvent the wheel and make our walk a more Christmas focused than the original blog I was going to follow. But I’m still going to use the artwork found on her blog http://www.jedicraftgirl.com)