Journey to the Manger: Sheep

Jackson pretends to be a sheep. listening carefully to his shepherd (dad) for direction.

Jackson pretends to be a sheep. listening carefully to his shepherd (dad) for direction.

Today we visited a flock of sheep on our Journey to the Manger.

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep.

– Luke 2:8

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep need personal care, even in the middle of the night. This particular night, shepherds were watching over their flocks, keeping them safe from any danger lurking nearby, allowing their animals to rest peacefully. Sheep thrive under the attention of a good shepherd who will lead them to green pastures and still waters, who will tend their wounds and bring them back to the fold if they wander off.

God refers to people as sheep throughout Scripture. We are in desperate need of shepherding, protection and care. That’s why God sent His Son.

I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep…My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.

– John 10:14-15, 27-28

Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He knows us, even the parts we wish we could hide. He loves us, and makes Himself known to us. Jesus loved us so much, that He laid down His life to rescue us.

Sheep know their shepherd’s voice, and follow him. Today we pretended we were sheep following our shepherd’s voice. Jackson put on a blindfold, got down on his hands and knees, and listened carefully to his dad’s instructions to make it around the living room. At first, Jackson was very nervous about putting on the blindfold and trying this activity. We had to reassure and remind him that he can trust his daddy to keep him safe, that Matt would not steer him wrong. That encouragement was what he needed to put on the blindfold.

Listen for the Savior this Christmas. Trust in His care and direction. We, as sheep, are secure when we follow our Shepherd.

 

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.

Teach me to pray

Before we eat a meal, our children know that it is time to pray and give thanks to God. In fact, if we skip this tradition, Jackson is very quick to point out the oversight and will insist on immediately praying once he has both me and my husband’s attention.

Lauren, our 21-month-old, has taken notice of the emphasis in our home on prayer. To our delight, and I’m sure God’s too, she wants to join us in praying and thanking God.

So, with a beautiful, wide smile on her face, she clasps her precious hands and says, “Jesus, Amen!” Then, with gusto, she begins to clap and cheer! There are mealtimes when she will stop, pray, and cheer again. Each time we encourage her with smiles and cheers of our own.

Lauren

This is how Jackson began talking to God, too. His two-word prayers became “Jesus, Thank You, Amen!” and then saying one or two things he was thankful for that day. Now, as he prays, he asks God to “bless this food to our bodies.” At night when we pray together before bed, he tells God about his day, and thanks Him for different things he was able to experience, and then prays for a list of 30+ people who are important to him (you may very well be on his list!).

Prayer is indicative of the progression of your relationship with God. The more you pray and talk to Jesus, the deeper your relationship with Him grows and the more you want to talk with Him.

I’ve been convicted lately that I need more face time with my Savior. I need more protected minutes to spend in conversation with my God, time to be in His presence and to listen to His guidance. That means that other daily responsibilities (or time wasters) have to give way for more important things.

Opening my heart in Bible study this past Thursday, God greatly encouraged and challenged me. I need to use this time in my life to grow deeply into Christ—to immerse myself in His Word and instruction. This is my opportunity to be a Mary and sit at Jesus’ feet, and my time to be a Martha and work hard to guide my children and care for my family. I must be both. But, it must start with Jesus. I must serve my family as I kneel at Jesus’ feet, soaking in His mercy, wisdom and strength.

Jesus taught His disciples by example. He knew their questions and the status of their hearts. He instructed them to encourage growth and understanding.

Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.

The more I study and experience Christ, the better I can teach my children to pray, and to grow, and to live.

Last night, as I put Lauren to sleep, I sang and then began to pray for her. When I finished, Lauren reached up to me and asked, “Mommy, I pray?” Then, she proceeded to say things to Jesus I didn’t understand, and didn’t need to. She finished her prayer to the God who loves her so, and proclaimed “Amen!” Then, she snuggled back into my arms, ready to sleep in the favor and rest of our God, worthy of her trust and adoration.

Lord, continue to teach me to pray and trust you, resting in Your almighty arms!