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Christmas is a wonderful time of year, isn't it, Jody! It is a time of giving! Will you be giving gifts to Michelle, Lisa and Bill this Christmas? Maybe you will even leave Springfield, Massachusetts, this Christmas to visit family or friends in another town! Jody, do you know why we give gifts at Christmas? It is because God gave us His very best gift. The Bible says that God loved us so much that He gave us His only Son, Jesus. When we put our trust in Jesus as our Savior, the Bible says God gives us the gift of eternal life. That is the best Christmas gift of all!
Jody, the story of Christmas is really the story of the birth of Jesus. And what a wonderful story it is! We see angels and shepherds and wise men! We see Mary and Joseph and, most important of all, Baby Jesus in the manger! This is what we should think about, Jody, when we hear the word Christmas. It all began when on of God's mighty angels, named Gabriel, visited a young woman in a town called Nazareth. The young woman's name was Mary.
God sent His angel Gabriel to Mary with a very important message, Jody. Gabriel told Mary that she was going to have a baby! Confused by this message, Mary asked how this could happen since she wasn't married yet. Gabriel said: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God (Luke 1:35). Mary was amazed, but said, 'Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). Then the angel left.
Jody, how would you feel if you had a visit from Gabriel as Mary did? What if God sent an angel to Springfield, Massachusetts, to give you a message! God wasn't through using His angels though. Now Joseph, the man Mary was going to marry, had to be told. Joseph had found out that Mary was going to have a baby. He planned to break their engagement secretly.
Jody, the angel of the Lord told Joseph: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:20b,21). Mary's baby was to be named Jesus, which means "the Lord saves." God sent Jesus to save us! Jody, God sent Jesus to save you!
Jody, it must make you very happy to know you are surrounded by people who love you so much.
Joseph and Mary are good examples for us, Jody! They obeyed what God told them to do. They also obeyed the laws of the land. The Emperor Augustus ordered everyone to register their names in the towns where they were born. That law meant that Joseph had to go to Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary went on this long trip together.
Can you see them, Jody? There is Mary riding on a donkey! She must have been so uncomfortable, since she was pregnant with Baby Jesus. There is Joseph walking beside her. He must have felt sorry for Mary. They both knew, though, that God was pleased with their obedience. Jody, they traveled mile after mile. The roads were dusty. Their bodies ached. But they traveled on to Bethlehem.
The Bible says that all this took place so that God's Word could be fulfilled. Hundreds of years before, Isaiah, the prophet said: Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23) Jody, do you know what the name Emmanuel means? It means "God with us." Jesus is God with you, Jody! He is God with Michelle, Lisa and Bill too! Jesus was God's way of showing Himself to us all!
When they arrived, there was no place for them to stay. They ended up staying in a cave where animals were kept! What a place for the Son of God to be born it, Jody! Mary gave birth to Baby Jesus. She wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger. Jody, a manger was a feed trough for the animals. Think of how that stable looked and smelled! There is Baby Jesus - lying in the straw and surrounded by animals. And there are Mary and Joseph.
Now we know what Christmas is really all about, don't we, Jody! Christmas is about God sending His Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the world. Christmas is about God's coming to be with us. Because Jesus came, Jody, we can really know what God is like. All we have to do is look at Jesus! Jesus, the Son of God, became a human being so that we could really know God. He came to show us God's love. He came to die on the cross for our sins.
God must love us a lot, Jody. Jesus wasn't born in a nice, clean place. He had animals all around Him instead of doctors and nurses. Nobody else knew what was happening. The Son of God was coming into the world, Jody! Only Mary, Joseph - and the animals! - were there when Jesus was born. Soon, though, many others would know. God would send more angels to announce the birth of Jesus.
That very night that Jesus was born, some shepherds were watching their flock of sheep in the fields. Suddenly, Jody, an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were really afraid. But the angel said to them, ?Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David o Savior, who is the Messiah the Lord? (Luke 2:10,11). The angel also gave them a sign, Jody.
The angel told the shepherds that they would find Baby Jesus wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. That was the sign. Then suddenly, Jody, there were angels everywhere praising God. The shepherds were amazed! After the angels left, the shepherds went quickly to Bethlehem. There were Mary and Joseph. An there, Jody, was Baby Jesus - wrapped in cloths and lying in the manger!
The shepherds told everyone the good news. It is good to share our happiness with others, isn?t it, Jody! You could share this same happy story with Michelle, Lisa and Bill! They may already know it! Christmas can be the happiest time of the year as we praise God and tell others about Jesus. That's what the shepherds did, Jody. Later on, some mysterious visitors from far away came to see Jesus. They said they had seen Jesus' star!
These visitors, Jody, were wise men from the East. They followed the star until it stopped above the place where Jesus was. They were filled with joy! The wise men went inside the house and saw Baby Jesus with his mother, Mary. They bowed down and worshiped Jesus. Jody, that's the most important thing for us to do at Christmas, isn't it! We ought to praise and worship God, as the angels, shepherds and wise men did.
The wise men did something else, Jody. They opened their treasure chests. Then they gave costly gifts to Jesus. They offered Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The wise men gave Jesus their very best. That's another reason, Jody, that we give gifts at Christmas time. The very best gift you could give Jesus this Christmas, Jody, is your whole life. After all - He gave His whole life to you!
And that?s the real meaning of Christmas, Jody! Thank you, Jesus, son of God and Savior, for coming to earth! Merry Christmas, Jody!