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)

He Shewed Them His Hands and Feet

Ponder on these two experiences found in Luke 2 and 24:

Chapter 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.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
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.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

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.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Chapter 24:

1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words,
9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

36 ¶ And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

How does understanding the second experience help you more fully appreciate the first experience during the Christmas season?