Christmas Journey 2011

Journey to Bethlehem 2011

Enter the Journey to Bethlehem

 

Step #1 Old Testament Prophesy


Scripture:  Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”


Description: This is one of hundreds of prophesies foretelling the birth and life of Jesus found in the Old Testament. All Hebrews committed these prophesies to memory from the Torah.


Activity: Sign the scroll.


Prayer:  “Lord, please help me prepare my heart for my own Journey to Bethlehem. Amen.”

 

 

 

Step #2 An Angel Visits Zechariah

 

Scripture: Luke 1: 8-15 “It so happened that as Zechariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense … Unannounced, an angel of God appeared to Zechariah saying, “Don't fear. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John.”

 

Description: Initially, Zechariah questioned his wife’s ability to have a child in her old age, so God made him mute until after John’s birth. Once he could speak again, Zechariah was very grateful and praised God.

 

Activity: Take a gratitude stone and keep it with you as a reminder of all the things God does for you.

 

Prayer:  “ Heavenly Father, thank you for all that you do for me. May I never take You for granted. Amen.”

Step #3 An Angel Visits Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38 “God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, to a young virgin named Mary. The angel said, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

Description: Although Mary wondered how a virgin could bear a child, she surrendered her life to God’s will.

Activity: As you look in the mirror, surrender your life to God’s will and say “Thy will be done, Lord.”

Prayer:  “ Dear God, help me to better understand Your ways. Thy will be done. Amen.”

Step #4 Mary Visits Elizabeth

Scripture: Luke 1:39-45 “Mary hurried to Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!’ Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”

Description: Mary probably was frightened about being pregnant and fled to her cousin Elizabeth’s house to confide in her. The Bible doesn’t say anything the visit or whether John was born while Mary was there, but it implies Mary and Elizabeth enjoyed their time together as they both prepared for their miraculous births.

Activity: Take a favor to share in the joy Mary & Elizabeth had knowing how blessed they were by God.

Prayer: “ Precious Lord, help me share the excitement & anticipation of the birth of Your Son. Amen”

Step #5 An Angel Visits Joseph

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-24 “The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. He determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ - which means, ‘God with us.’ When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him.”

Description: Imagine how frightened Joseph would have been if he didn’t have this visit from the angel. As a Godly man, he wanted to make sure Mary wasn’t harmed by those who just wouldn’t understand.

Activity: Adjust the blanket on Joseph. Reflect on your visions & dreams. Did you act on those dreams like Joseph did regardless of what others thought?

Prayer:  “Lord, Thank you for speaking to me through dreams. Help me to listen and act accordingly. Amen.”

Step #6 The Journey to Bethlehem

Scripture: Luke 2:1-7 “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was expecting a child.”

Description: Considering Mary was expecting and the path they probably took, Biblical scholars estimate the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem would have taken approx. 2 weeks. (It takes 2 hours by bus today.) Mary and Joseph probably realized Bethlehem would be crowded, yet they proceeded. When they arrived, there was “no room at the inn.” But a kind inn keeper allowed them to stay in the stable with his animals.

Activity: Trace your finger along the journey path and envision yourself walking or riding a donkey for 2 weeks to fulfill a governmental command.

Prayer: “ Eternal Father, please help me understand that being faithful to my government is also being faithful to You and Your will. Amen.”

Step #7 The Birth of Jesus

 

Scripture: Luke 2:6-14 “While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, she gave birth to Jesus. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” . . . “And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord.’

 

“And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” 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, and good will toward men.’ The shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby as the angel said. They returned to the fields, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.”

Description: Tucked in the middle of nowhere in a lowly stable, God’s only son, Jesus Christ, was born among the animals. Common shepherds were the first to hear the Good News from the angels. They immediately left their flocks and followed the bright star to Bethlehem. As they returned to their flocks full of joy, they spread the Good News to everyone they met.

 

Activity: Pet the soft cuddly sheep and vow to be like the shepherds and spread the Good News to everyone you see.

 

Prayer: “ Precious Jesus, may Your light shine through me as I spread the Good News of Your birth. Amen.”

Close-up details of the buildings
The Manger close up - Baby Jesus hasn't arrived yet!

Step #8 The Kings Arrive With Gifts Years Later

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-11 “After Jesus was born, Magi from the east saw a star and were overjoyed. So they followed it as it went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where Jesus was. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Description: Traditional artists portray three kings at the manger but the number of kings is never mentioned in the Bible. Biblical scholars determine Jesus was two years old when they finally arrived to lavish Him with gifts fit for the Son of God.

Activity: Imagine what cherished gift you would bring to Jesus.

Prayer:  “Awesome God, may we bring our gifts of time, talents and treasures to glorify you. Amen.”

 

Step #9 The Escape to Egypt

 

Scripture: Matthew 2:13-23“After the Magi left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod (4-6 years).  

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, ‘Get up and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead.’ However, on their way to Israel, Joseph was warned in another dream to go to Nazareth of Galilee instead. This fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’ ”

 

Description: Joseph heeded God’s direction to protect his family even though the journey was long and hot.

 

Activity: Walk your fingers through the sand and think how frightful it might have been to flee for the safety of your child.

 

Prayer:  “Dearest Lord, may we obediently heed your warnings as we journey through life. Amen.”

Step #10  Young Jesus In the Temple

Scripture: Luke 2:41-52 “Every year Jesus’ parents took him to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, while his parents were returning home from the Feast with a large crowd, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, Mary and Joseph traveled on for a day before they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. It took them three days to finally find Jesus in Jerusalem in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. Everyone was amazed at his understanding and answers. Mary said to him, ‘Son, your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’

‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?’ Then Jesus went down to Nazareth with his parents and was obedient to them. He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

Description: As a young boy, Jesus astonished the elders with His knowledge of the scriptures, yet He hungered to learn more. It was not time to begin His public ministry, so Jesus obeyed His parents and returned with them.

Activity: Take a scroll & remember to be intentional to grow in your Biblical wisdom and understanding.

Prayer: “ Lord, help me grow in my knowledge of You.”

 

Step  #11  John the Baptist’s Ministry

 

Scripture: Luke 3:1-3 & Mark 1:1-7 “The word of God came to John (son of Zechariah and Elizabeth) as he preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in the Judean desert. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’

John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: ‘After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ ”

 

Description: John fulfilled prophecy by preparing the way for Jesus. God had specific plans & purposes for Jesus & John just as He does for each of us.

 

Activity: Imagine what it would have been like to eat bugs & honey and live in the wilderness like John.

 

Prayer: “Precious Lord, I am grateful for the way you feed and take care of me. Please help me to discern Your plans for my life.  Amen.”




 

Step #12  The Baptism of Jesus

 

Scripture: Matt 3:13-17  “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. but John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ ”

 

Description: Jesus & John immediately recognized each other as soon as they met. Although it felt awkward, John baptized his cousin so Jesus could begin His ministry.

 

Activity: Meditate on the flowing water and reflect on your own  baptism and what it means to you.

 

Prayer:  “Dear God, even if I don’t recall my baptism, help me to remember that I am a beloved child  of Yours.   I dedicate my life to You.  Amen.”

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