Journey to the Manger: Joseph

Jackson and Lauren hold up the family trees we made for Jesus.

Jackson and Lauren hold up the family trees we made for Jesus.

Today we met Joseph on our Journey to the Manger.

Joseph adopted Jesus as his son before Jesus was born. Joseph was a righteous man who deeply loved God. When God appeared to Joseph in a dream to reassure him to take Mary as his wife even though she was pregnant with a child who was not his biologically, Joseph obeyed God even though that meant his reputation would not be the same in his community. Following God was more important to Joseph than other people’s opinions. Joseph brought Mary with him when he had to register in the census, and was with her when she gave birth. He watched over his young family in the stable when the shepherds came, and later as the wise men worshiped. Joseph again obeyed God immediately when he was told in a dream to leave and go to Egypt, saving Jesus from being murdered by Herod. Later when they returned, Joseph taught Jesus the family trade of carpentry.

Joseph

Joseph

Joseph not only worked hard to provide for Jesus’s needs, he gave his son a spiritual heritage passed down from the generations before him. Joseph was in the line of the kings, a son of David, fulfilling Messianic prophecy. We looked at Jesus’ family tree through Joseph tonight, tracing back through the kings, to David, to Jacob, Abraham, Noah and Adam. (Find resources for this Jesse tree project here.) God had been planning this family line since before the first man was created, lovingly laying the framework to introduce His Son Jesus to the world He came to save.

Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

– Matthew 1:20-21

Regardless if Joseph felt up to the task, he took it on anyway because God asked him to take care of His Son. God gives us similar responsibility when He places our children in our arms. We are to protect, guide, nurture, instill, teach, provide and point them back to God. Even if we feel unqualified, at times a failure, and overwhelmed with the task, we must continue on, trusting that God will give us wisdom and strength for the journey.

God gave Joseph the insight and ability to raise Jesus. He will do the same for us as we raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

 

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.

Journey to the Manger: Wise Men and Gifts

The kids consider what they can give to Jesus this Christmas.

The kids consider what they can give to Jesus this Christmas.

We worshiped the King with the Wise Men today on our Journey to the Manger.

Wise Men Give Gifts

Wise Men Give Gifts

The Wise Men came to worship and honor the King God revealed to them in the stars. Before they set out to travel, they chose several gifts of significance, worthy of royalty. When they finally reached the humble place the child lived, the men from the east still fell to their knees in reverence and respect. They were in the presence of God Himself.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

– Matthew 2:10-11

So much of our focus at Christmastime is on the presents. We stress over getting everyone the perfect gift, and then paying for it all. Children write up their Christmas lists, as if getting everything on them means it’s been a great holiday. The malls are packed, traffic is snarled, and we are exhausted.

The tradition of gift-giving that Christians draw from the example of the wise men is all about the worship and adoration of the Savior. Yet, we have made the heart of Christmas about us instead of Jesus.

Today, the kids and I spent time considering what we could give to Jesus. Inside a wrapped gift were objects that represented ways we could worship Jesus. For instance, a musical instrument symbolized worshiping God in song, and we sang “Jesus Loves Me” as a gift to God. A bedtime toy reminded us we could honor God by giving Him our dreams and future. Monopoly money showed we could give God our change to be used in ministry. We looked at the hands and feet of a doll to brainstorm how we could use our feet to go and hands to serve and help others. We read a book together because growing in our knowledge of God shows how much we value our relationship with Him.

God gave us what we could never deserve in 10,000 lifetimes: His One and Only Son. God’s love is immeasurable and His grace unsurpassed. Jesus is altogether worthy of our absolute worship and praise.

What can we personally give to honor Jesus this Christmas?

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.