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Journey to Jesus, Week 4

We made it to the final week of our Journey to Jesus! I would love to know what you have learned on the journey. For me, I have been reminded of the faithfulness of God. He is always working and moving. He knows what we need. No doubt, Jesus brought peace to weary hearts- peace that is available to you and me! Let's take extra time to consider the gift of Jesus during the final week of our Journey to Jesus.

DAY 20: Bethlehem

The familiar Christmas Carol says, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Joseph and Mary made it to Bethlehem just in time for Jesus to be born. The census placed extra people, extra activities, extra needs, and extra stress on the town. All of this led to a lack of room.

One of the biggest struggles we usually face at Christmas involves having enough room for all the “extras” in our already hectic lives. We have extra people, extra activities, extra needs, and extra responsibilities, leading to extra stress. These good things can lead to a “crowding” that results in a lack of room. Just like the first Christmas, Jesus can easily be pushed to the side or pushed out of focus.

Celebrating Christmas is about celebrating Jesus. This celebration can happen at any time and any place. It can happen in a church building or a home. It can happen with family and friends or in the quiet spaces of our hearts and minds. This Christmas, let’s think about how we can “make room” to celebrate the truth that Jesus came and brought peace to our world!

DAY 21: The Shepherds

The first people to hear about Jesus’ birth were the Shepherds. Don’t miss this important point! God sent an angel to the least likely. The Shepherds were the lowest of the low. Only God would have picked them to be the first recipients of His good news. You see, God’s heart has always been for the least likely. From the beginning, God has been making a way for the ones who have no way.

One of my favorite parts of the Shepherd’s story was their location and activity when the angel showed up. The Shepherds were in the field, minding their own business and keeping watch over their flocks. At that moment, “an Angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:8)

There are many application points we can make from the lives of the Shepherds. Here are a few:Like the Shepherds, we all need deliverance, and God is our Way-Maker. The moment we realize we are in desperate need of Jesus because we are a “least likely” is the moment we experience a move of God in and through our lives. Like the Shepherds, we need to be in our “field,” minding our business and tending to God’s work that is right in front of us. When we do, God will likely show up and reveal unbelievable truths. From that place of truth, God will send us on a mission leading to His extraordinary grace being demonstrated through our lives.

The Shepherds... can you imagine what that starry night must have been like for them? I bet they were terrified! This Christmas, let’s realize our need for the Savior, and let’s be fully present in the “field” where He has placed us.

DAY 22: The Angel

The message the angel delivered to the Shepherds was shocking. I love that the angel put the hearts and minds of the Shepherds at ease. The Shepherds needed to know that what was happening was good!

When we are outside our comfort zone or when God is moving in an unusual way, it’s easy to let our hearts and minds go to a fearful place. We can borrow trouble, think the bottom is about to fall out, or be overwhelmed by it all. Leaving our “comfortable” setting in life and venturing into the faith zone always requires a big dose of faith! Think how often we miss out on God’s best because we think we know what is best or are afraid to trust God. I am guilty of holding back and playing it safe in my walk with the Lord. Praise God for His incredible mercy and grace that continually covers us and redirects our fearful hearts.

The message the angel shared was good! “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) The last statement offers so much purpose and protection for our lives. When we are afraid or overwhelmed, we need to know and believe that Jesus is Lord!

Like the Shepherds, we can step out of our comfort zone and into the faith zone by embracing the truth that Jesus is Lord. This Christmas season, let’s ask God to move and trust God even when we are terrified ofthe plan.

DAY 23: The Manger

The Shepherds hurried off and found Joseph, Mary, and the baby. Scripture does not give us details about their time together. I wonder if Mary told the Shepherds about her angelic visit? I wonder if Joseph told the Shepherds about his initial plan to divorce Mary quietly? I wonder if the Shepherds took turns painting a picture of how they heard the news? Maybe all of them talked about the people in Bethlehem and how none of them knew the long-awaited Messiah was finally here. I imagine their time together was special in every way. In the midst of a smelly cave-like structure filled with animals, the Savior of the world was born.

We do know is that the shepherds did not keep the news of the manger to themselves. They were so greatly impacted by what happened at the manger that they shared the news with everyone they met. “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.” (Luke 2:17)

As we celebrate Christmas, it would be sad if we didn’t share the news of Jesus’ birth with the people we know and meet. Ultimately, that is proof of a changed life. Think of all the things we share at Christmas. Gifts, experiences, recipes, well wishes, but how often do we share Jesus? We can learn a lot from the shepherds. They went to the manger and could not wait to tell EVERYONE about the One who was lying in it! This Christmas, let’s share Jesus with everyone we meet.

DAY 24: The Wisemen Followed the Star

The hardest part of the Nativity story is when the Wisemen followed the star, which led them to Jerusalem. The Wisemen asked, ”Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2)

King Herod tried to trick the Wiseman to find Jesus. The Wisemen followed the star to Bethlehem. They found Jesus and worshiped Him. God instructed the Wisemen to return home by a different route. Joseph was told to take Jesus to Egypt to protect Him. And King Herod ordered every baby boy under the age of two to be killed to try and eliminate the Messiah.

These details are hard for us to imagine. The weeping in Bethlehem must have been unbearable. What can we learn from this? Even in the nativity story, we see that life is hard. We encounter the sting of death, the sting of loss, the sting of betrayal, and the sting of unknown circumstances. In moments like these, it’s easy to lose our sense of hope. If I just described you, may I remind you of the star? The bright, radiant light that showed up at the advent of Jesus to show the way.

The Wisemen followed the star to the exact location of Jesus. The star provided a picture of God’s redemptive work. Throughout history, when the story of God’s people seemed over, God showed up to shine His light of love. Ultimately, Christmas is the fulfillment of God’s promise in redemptive history to send a Messiah who would be the light of the world. This Christmas, let’s look to the light of the world even if our circumstances feel dark.

DAY 25: Jesus

His advent story is tucked away in a small wooden manager, nestled in a quaint but busy town, surrounded by angels, wisemen, and lowly shepherds. The mother, Mary, and the earthly father, Joseph, along with a host of animals, complete the scene that God painted for the coming of Christ. He was the long-awaited Messiah, and He is the real meaning of Christmas.

Jesus reminds us that the real meaning of Christmas is not wrapped up in a feeling or a tradition but rather a truth. Jesus was born to fulfill a purpose. Jesus came to live a perfect life so that He could die for imperfect people. That’s right. Jesus died to save men, women, and children from their sins so we can spend eternity in heaven with God. Jesus made this plan a reality when He died on the cross and rose again, conquering sin and death.

Trusting Jesus leads to a life you never dreamed possible - a life that is free from earthly trappings and a life that is not dependent upon experiences or traditions to provide a feeling of warmth, love, harmony, and yuletide cheer. A life filled with peace and hope. A life only Jesus provides.

Jesus came and brought peace to this world. Peace that is real and lasting. Peace that changes the direction of our lives. Jesus, He Himself, is our peace. This Christmas, let’s be overwhelmed with gratitude as we celebrate Jesus.

DAY 26: You and Me!

As we wrap up our journey to Jesus, what does all this mean for us? How do we fit into God’s story or plan? Just like each character in the Bible was created for a purpose, we are created for a purpose. Our lives matter to God. God planned our lives and placed us on earth for a reason. Focusing on God and His story brings clarity to our lives. We see how God is at work. We value the things that honor Him. We live for a Kingdom bigger than ourselves. Ultimately, God’s plan is fulfilled as we surrender to Him.

Let’s take one last look at the life of Mary as we ask one final question, “How can I focus on God and follow His plan?” Right in the middle of an intense scene in scripture, we learn that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Even though Mary had just given birth to the long-awaited Messiah and there were plenty of distractions around her, Mary treasured and pondered what God was doing in her life. I’ve thought about Mary many times. She was young yet willing to believe. What she lacked in experience, she made up for in wisdom because of her sensitivity to the Lord.

The way Mary treasured and pondered always grabs my attention. For sure, if anyone had a reason to be overwhelmed or distracted with life, it was Mary! To treasure means to store up, and to ponder means to think about or to reflect upon. Mary knew something of significance was going on in her life. As a result, she chose to stop and celebrate the birth of Jesus. She didn’t spend too much time thinking about what was ahead or too much time looking back at the past. She took-in the moment and worshiped.

This is how we can focus on God and follow His plan. We can treasure what Jesus means to us and reflect upon all the amazing things He has done on our behalf. Worship leads to a life beautifully changed by Jesus. As our lives are changed, others will see the difference Jesus makes in us. In the days ahead, let’s treasure and ponder the work of God as we follow His plan. Right now, begin to ask God for a fresh move of His Spirit in and through your life! Hang on because He will do it.

I hope you enjoyed our Journey to Jesus. We serve an amazing God with an amazing plan! I pray you know that you are loved. Fun news: In January, we will enjoy more meaningful content and discussions about prayer right here on the blog and in our Girl on the Go Group. What a great goal for 2024. Let's spend more time in meaningful conversation with God. I don't know about you, but I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the New Year.

I have one last request for you to consider as we close 2023. Would you make a tax-deductible year-end gift to Andrea Lennon Ministry? A gift of any amount will help us continue encouraging women to know, live, and share God's truth! If you would like to make a year-end gift, please give HERE!

Merry Christmas, sweet friend!

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