Nativity Challenge

BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

While the nativity story provides opportunity to reflect upon an incredible event in history, it also has great meaning for us today.

A crucial aspect of the nativity is the trust and obedience of Mary and Joseph. Both demonstrated extraordinary faith in their commitment to God and to following His will, regardless of the cost (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:28-38). So too, God wants to use ordinary people today who will have extraordinary faith and commitment to trust and obey Him no matter what the circumstances.

Upon hearing the good news of a Savior, from the angel of the Lord, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see the baby lying in a manger. They departed glorifying and praising God for the birth of the Savior (Luke 2:8-20). In the midst of commercialism, where the true meaning of Christmas can be obscured or lost altogether, may we be like the shepherds in giving praise and glory to our Savior and Lord.

The Wise Men chose to travel hundreds of arduous miles to worship “He who has been born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Likewise, may we choose to walk the challenging journey of faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. The rewards at the end will be well worth it.

May this Christmas be more than just the remembrance of a past event or an outpouring of holiday spirit. May the true meaning of the nativity be evident in our lives and homes.

Early Traditions

by Dr. David Jeremiah

When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:14

Many of our Christmas traditions are very old. We typically date nativity scenes from the time of Francis of Assisi; Christmas trees from the time of Martin Luther; and greeting cards from Victorian England. But a few traditions are as old as the Nativity itself. For example, the singing of Christmas carols was started by the angels, and the custom of gift-giving was begun by the Wise Men. Their gifts had spiritual significance – the gold pointed to Christ’s role as King; the frankincense to His role as Priest; and the myrrh pointed to His role as Savior and to His redeeming death. But these gifts were also practical, for they conveyed financial value. Some scholars believe it was God’s way of providing Joseph and Mary the funds needed to flee to Egypt and raise their baby in a foreign but safe environment.

How wonderful when our gifts can be both meaningful and practical!

But wait! There’s a mistake in today’s devotion – did you spot it? Christmas gift-giving didn’t start with the Wise Men, did it? No, its origin is even older.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . . .