Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh, giving gifts with meaning

When our children were still very young, with a desire to keep us focused more on Jesus and less on  the consumerism of wants, we began the three the wise men brought to Jesus. Each year we retell their meaning and celebrate together God becoming man, taking on flesh as a baby lying in manger who would one day grow to be a man and take on our sins for our salvation!

The 'gold' gift is symbolic to show Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. As the magi gave this to Mary and Joseph it may have been God's provision to allow them to flee from King Herod and escape from Bethlehem and travel to Egypt. This gift was significant to Mary and Joseph, so choose a gift to give your children that is significant and of great importance to them. It can be a trip (just include a map with the destination marked). The 'gold' gifts often end up being the most expensive presents. However, not each year! This year our son really wanted a specific Nerf football, so yes, it is his gold! He will find two wrapped, one for him and one to take to Costa Rica to share and play with the boys there in the barrios.
The 'gold' gift is wrapped in gold shiny paper and ribbons or bows.

Frankincense is a white resin/sap from trees in East Africa and Southern Arabia. Even today it is known for its antiseptic, anti- fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. In ancient times it was probably looked at as the first "cure-all" medicine. What a great gift for Mary to have with a young one around. In Exodus 30:34-37, God instructs that frankincense be used as sacred incense in His Temple. It was to be placed "in front of the testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you.” says the LORD to Moses; the very place where God promised to meet with them. Jesus is our Emmanuel: God with us. The frankincense gift is to be something that helps our children meet with God. This can be a new study Bible, especially as they advance in reading and comprehension. This gift can be a new Itunes gift card for worship music, book, magazine, devotional or DVD.
With frankincense being white, the 'frankincense' gift is wrapped in white paper and ribbon.

Myrrh is also a resin from trees. It is dark and earthy in color and has a rich aroma. It was used to scent oils, perfumes and embalming liquids. Today it is still added to some soaps, oils and lotions. Jesus was born to eventually die to save us from the penalty of our sins. John 19:39-40 confirms that Nicodemus anointed Jesus as part of His burial preparation. The myrrh gift for our children is something to anoint their bodies (or wear). This can be something as simple as lotions or bubble bath or a desired clothing item.
Wrap this gift in brown paper packaging and tie it up with string or raffia.

May your family celebrate with the wonder the gift of our Savior this Christmas!


Shepherds on the hillside, family advent devotion

“And all the ends of the earth shall see the Salvation of our God.”
 Isaiah 52:10
an you think of the least favorite chore around your house that no one wants to do?  How about the most boring job ever; the dirtiest job?  From ancient times to present day(not so much in our western world) one of those jobs was being a Shepherd. Many of those who were shepherds were uneducated formally (but very smart), and were often dirty from having slept out all night with the sheep.
It really was one of those jobs that most people would not have wanted!

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.”
Then the angel said to them’ “Do not be afraid...” Luke 2:8-10

These men were tough, staying out in the dark night and protecting the sheep from wild animals, but this had them trembling. The shepherds had never seen anything so bright and beautiful – the glory of the Lord! It was so bright that the angel had to tell them not to be afraid. 
“...for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you.  You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

The Shepherds must have been amazed not only to be surrounded by the glory of the Lord, but to hear the words of the angel! The angel brought them news of great joy which was for all people – even Shepherds.  All people – even the poor. All people – even the uneducated.  All people – even the lonely. 
What was the good news? A Savior - “born to you.”  How special the shepherds must have felt, to know that God had sent a Savior, a savior who was born for them too!

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” vs.13,14

Oh, how this must have taken the shepherds to their knees! If one angel frightened them, can you imagine a whole host of angels praising God together? What an incredible time of praising God for this Savior who was born! 

“So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” vs.15

Perhaps they slowly got up from their knees, still stunned by all that had just seen, but at once they were heading for that little known town, Bethlehem! It is no accident that what the shepherds said to one another is recorded in the Bible. They were heading to Bethlehem to see that “which the Lord has made known to us.” To us – lowly shepherds.  To us – the poor. To us – the uneducated. Yes, the Lord chose to reveal this good news to shepherds! Why? Isaiah 52:10 tells us that all the ends of the earth shall see the Salvation of our God!

God loves each of us.  It doesn’t matter what kind of job we have. It doesn’t matter if we are the smartest in our class.  It doesn’t matter the kind of clothes we wear.  God chose to send His Son for our salvation!  For your salvation! This is what Christmas is all about!

God goes to great lengths to show His incredible love for us.  That includes sending an angel to shepherds on a hillside to be the first to hear of His son’s birth!  God gives us His word, the Bible, so that you will know of and hear of His son’s birth too.  

Advent season, preparing the hearts of our children

Christmas is a beautiful time for Christians.

A celebration of the birth of our Savior!

Advent is the season.
Advent means the "arrival."
The entire month of December is beautiful in that we celebrate advent ~
the long awaited, arrival of a Savior.
Our family made a wooden manger to keep central in our Advent season. 

There are many ways to make this time special for your family and turn their eyes; hearts to Jesus during an also very busy, commercialized holiday. I hope that your family has traditions that make this season especially worshipful.
Below are a few ideas.
 We would love to hear from you, simply post how your family celebrates the birth of our Savior to share with others!
               Display a manger scene - talking through the birth story of Jesus as you put it out.
               Create a Jesse Tree
               Light an Advent wreath, Advent Devotions
               The Three Gifts 
              Choose wisely & purposefully the gifts you give your children              

Tis the season to celebrate a Savior's birth, a Savior born to die for our sins!

the Light of the world, an advent devotion

Gather your family (or class), a dark room & a candle!

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2
This was written nearly 800 years before the birth of Jesus!  God planned for Jesus to be born in this little town of Bethlehem. That star above a little known town was just a small glimpse of an everlasting light, Jesus, who was bringing with Him salvation.

The darkness that surrounded us before we lit the candle is what life is like without Jesus. Darkness often represents evil, or sin.  Jesus is the light of the world.  He is not one of many lights; he is the only “light” that can take away our darkness of sin.

The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Each of us is born a sinner.  That means that no one had to teach us to do wrong things like lie, cheat, or think of ourselves before others.  We were certainly born able to do that!  It is for that darkness – our sin – that Jesus was born, died, and rose again to bring salvation.

Jesus tells us himself in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  When we trust Jesus as our Savior, and follow him, the darkness fades away; He forgives our sins. Jesus points us always to his (and our) heavenly Father. 
We are to be a light too!
In Matthew 5:14 -16 Jesus says that if we follow him, THE light of the world, that we are also to be a light shining before others! Imagine Jesus as the sun and we are the moon.  The moon doesn’t shine on its own.  The moon reflects the light of the sun. 
This Christmas, and always, we should be reflecting Jesus, pointing others to our heavenly Father too!

As we prepare our hearts for Christmas let's focus on the one true light of the world. That star that was shining bright in Bethlehem for all of the world to see - it was shining on the Savior of the world, the light of the world.