This is a guest devotion written by my mother, Estelene. This week’s focus is on Christ’s birth. Be blessed, friends.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
One of my most memorable scenes of Christmas is watching and listening to my father read the account of Jesus’ birth every year on Christmas Day. Last year my eighty-six year old father said he thought someone else should read the account. His eye sight is not as sharp and he probably thought he would stumble over the words while trying to read it. But all of my family insisted that he read the story to us. My brother-in-law pulled up the passage of scripture on his Kindle and increased the size of the letters.
My father read this beautiful story and never missed a word. There is something about this story that sends chills over me. Love in its most precious and purest form came down from heaven to earth.
Usually when we think about the first Christmas, we picture it as being a quiet peaceful event. But I wonder what really took place on the day of Jesus’ birth. If there were no rooms in the inn available for Mary and Joseph, the town had to be extremely crowded. Was Christ born during the busy time of the day? Were the streets noisy and congested with those taking care of their business at hand?
Or was he born during the wee morning hours while everyone was nestled in their beds? Were there others who had to sleep in the stable beside them? Did they witness Christ’s birth without being aware that he was the Son of God? To them, he was just another baby boy born into a poor common household. Maybe some of the people would be the ones who would reject him as Savior or who would cry out, “Crucify him!”
Would I have missed his holy birth if I had been present?
Christ, the King of kings gave up his throne to come to earth to become a servant of God and man. He was born into a common family with a stable as his birthing room. And who were the first to hear the news that a Savior had been born? God chose the dirty outcasts of society, the shepherds.
Did you catch the words of the angel when he told them where to find the baby? As far as we know, the angel did not command them to go the Bethlehem, but God knew their hearts and he knew they would want to search for the long awaited Savior.
After worshiping their Savior, the shepherds went and spread the good news. I never thought about this before, but maybe they spread the good news to others while they were in Bethlehem. People were amazed by their testimony, but did they truly believe what had been told to them? Did those people go and see the Christ child? Scripture does not say that they did.
There is no doubt that the shepherds believed. As they returned to the fields, they glorified and praised God for what they had heard and had seen. If a heavenly host of angels appeared to me and then I saw for my own eyes what they had said had happened, I am pretty sure I would be convinced.
Have you shared the good news of Christ with others you have come in contact with during your daily walk of life? Do you have the desire to but you don’t feel comfortable sharing what Christ has done for you and for me? Ask God to help you feel at ease while talking to others about the most miraculous event that has ever taken place.
This is Christmas week. There are those in your community who do not know why we celebrate Christmas. It is so sad to know that children grow up thinking that Christmas is all about Santa Claus and the presents he will bring them. I admire my daughter for teaching her children to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. They are not denied the miracle of Christmas at all. Like the words of a Christmas song say, it is the most wonderful time of the year. But it is wonderful because we are celebrating Jesus’ birth.
I want to share with you two poems I wrote several years ago. The first one is written looking through the eyes of a child who has been raised to believe Christmas is all about the gifts. The second one is written looking through the eyes of a child who eventually understands the true meaning of Christmas. I hope you enjoy them.
Christmas Is My Favorite Time
It is now mid-December and everyone’s smiling.
Christmas must be drawing near.
Without a doubt the Christmas season
Is my favorite time of the year.
Dishes of cookies, candy and gumdrops
Are placed throughout the house.
Without Mom’s permission I’ll sneak just a few.
But I have to be quiet as a mouse.
Oh yes, I’m sure it would be no surprise
If I confessed and told you the reason
I get so excited this time every year.
Why I love this holiday season.
I love the trees, I love the lights,
I love the hectic noise.
But there is nothing I love more
Than all those awesome toys.
Don’t give me one, don’t give me two,
Don’t give me three, but four.
And if you really want to,
You may give me even more.
Just so my mom and dad will know
What presents I want mine to be.
I’ll help them out and make a list
Of my ten favorite ones, you see.
And then they can choose some on their own
So surprised they know I will be
When I unwrap all my presents
That are stuffed underneath the tree.
I hope they don’t go and choose something goofy
Like clothes, pajamas or socks.
Those aren’t gifts a child gets at Christmas.
I’d rather get a box of rocks.
I was just kidding about the box of rocks.
They might take me serious, I fear.
But I definitely don’t want some kind of clothing.
I hope I have made myself clear.
I wonder where I’ll put all my gifts.
There’s no place for them to be stored.
I guess I’ll throw out last year’s gifts.
It’s okay, ‘cause with them I’m bored.
I’m not greedy; I’m not selfish.
I really just want my share.
I’ll give my old toys to a poor little child.
If they’re used, I’m sure he won’t care.
I’d think he’d be happy getting my old toys.
I’ll include my bat and ball.
If I didn’t give him last year’s gifts,
He wouldn’t get anything at all.
I hope he’s not selfish like some children are
And keep everything for himself.
’Cause if he is I’ll grant you this
My old toys will stay on my shelf.
It’s out of the question to think I’d give
Him one underneath the tree.
’Cause Christmas is my favorite time,
And my presents mean too much to me.
Besides, I believe I’ve been good all year,
And I deserve to be rewarded somehow.
But I can’t hold out and be good much longer.
It’s best if I open my gifts now.
I think I will ask for a new stocking this year
Since mine holds a few gifts, that’s all.
So maybe I need a much bigger one
’Cause the one I have is too small.
You may have the cookies, all of the candy,
And even the gumdrops, you see.
But don’t you think I will give you my presents
That are wrapped underneath the tree.
Written by Estelene Liggett