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CHRISTMAS SERIES (PREPARATION)

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When it comes to bedtime, homework, or managing meltdowns, a growing number of families aren’t relying on their peers or parents: They’re turning to parenting coaches for one-on-one instruction. The coaches charge from about $125 to $350 a session. They meet with parents (in person, over the phone, or via Skype) to set goals and develop a plan to reach them.
Megan and Michael Flynn used to dread bedtime. Every night, the couple spent two stressful hours putting their preschooler and toddler to bed. With help however, they cut that time in half. They did it by hiring a parent coach, who concluded they needed structure. Instead of caving into requests for book after book, they set a routine—and stuck to it. “Nighttime routines are such a struggle for so many people,” said Megan Flynn, “and it was just nice to have somebody give us strategies for it.”
The profession, virtually nonexistent 20 years ago, is one of the latest entries in the $1.08 billion personal coaching industry in the United States. It’s part of the broader American trend of hiring expert advisers to improve nearly every facet of life. You can hire a sleep coach, a financial coach, or a life coach. But the profession isn’t regulated, which leaves some parenting experts concerned about the advice offered. Others wonder why parents would shell out hundreds of dollars for suggestions they might easily get elsewhere.
Parenting coach Tina Feigal talked about her role and said: “Who is there for these parents? Parenting is the hardest job in the world, but there’s no training for it in advance.”
We hear this story this morning, and if you’re like me… you probably think spending $350 on a parenting coach is ridiculous. But if have kids of your own, you know that parenting is a full-time job. It’s certainly not easy. By the way, if you were here last week, and you heard that my 3-year-old clogged the toilet… the good news is, after 30 minutes of taking the toilet off, spilling toilet water all over the bathroom floor and investigating for the culprit… let’s just say I found the pencil that was clogging the toilet.
But this time of year, especially, with Thanksgiving now behind us… whether we have kids or grandkids or not… we go into full-swing Christmas mode. We rush into the shopping stores with our shopping lists, we run to the holiday parties, we make the Christmas cookies, eat the Christmas cookies, eat some more Christmas cookies, watch elf 7 times… None of these things which are necessarily bad. Right?
But in the midst of the busyness we can miss the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus. You see this last week, busy as I was with Thanksgiving… My mind went to this idea of parenting and the thought: “What type of parents are fit for a king?” Have you ever pondered that before I mean what God could have chosen any parents to help raise and influence Jesus as he was a young boy growing up… what was different about Mary And Joseph? We’re they similar to us, or were they very different?
That’s our converstasion this morning. If you have your bibles, turn with me to Luke 1 and as we turn there, we have 2 concepts that we’ll focus on this morning as we discuss Mary and Jospeh (of course there are other things we could add, but for this morning) 1. They had the favor of God. 2. They worshipped God.
1. They had the favor Of God.
As we begin look to the book of Luke 1. This morning, we know that In between the old testament and new testament periods, we have 400 years of silence. We end the old testament in the book of Malachi, with the nation of Israel living in their homeland, but under Persian and ME-doe-Persian rule. Then in the gospels we pick back up. Things hadn’t changed too much; the people of Israel more less go from rule of one nation or group to that of another, here the people of Israel are under the authority of the Roman government. And as a whole, the people were looking forward to this coming Messiah. This savior, who would come and rescue them.
But what’s interesting… is that Jesus, This Messiah, didn’t come in the form of a man, or a world conqueror… he came in the form of a baby… and he wasn’t born in any special town, maybe Jerusalem or perhaps Jericho. No, He was born in Bethlehem, and as you know this Messiah would not be born in a palace, or perhaps a wealthy home, for there wasn’t even room for Jesus in the inn… and here’s the crazy part… His parents were average people. His Dad was a carpenter, his mom, relatively young, Probably in her earlier teenage years. And yet… they had the favor of God.
Luke 1:26-38 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Now as we look at the text there are several things that we uncover. First, we see that Gabriel the angel comes to Mary. We also saw him visiting Zachariah earlier in chapter 1, and in this case, he told Zachariah that he and Elizabeth would be expecting a son who they were to name john who would go on before the Lord. By the way, in verse 13, we won’t look there together, but Gabriel tells John that the Lord heard his prayer, and this is why they would conceive, which when we talk about parenting, we understand that Godly parents pray.
Then the angel goes on to explain that Mary would give birth to a son, who they are to call Jesus or Yeshua, meaning “Yahweh Saves.” . Who will be great…. And then we’re told 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The son of the most high would identify that he possesses the very nature of God. The old testament word for God being El Elyon. And here the word Most high, being the word Hupsistos.
Which is the Greek equivalent. And he would go on to sit on David’s throne, his kingdom would never end. Which if you look at the lineage of both Mary and Joseph in Matthew 1, you can see that Jesus is in the lineage of Davidon both his mother and father’s side. Then we’re told: His kingdom will never end.” Which speaks not only to the reign in our hearts, but of course to the eternal implications. You see there is a lot of truths, there is prophecy being fulfilled from the old testament, there is a lot to chew on here… but in short, Gabriel is making the proclamation to Mary, that this is Jesus, the savior of the world, this is God incarnate.
So we see all of this, but then we get to this idea of the favor of God. Which we see in verse 28 that she is highly favored! And then it repeats in verse 30 were told - Mary; you have found favor with God
So, we see here that Mary is favored... But what exactly does that mean. Well, if we look at the word favored or charitoō it means: to make graceful, to pursue with grace and favor, now it also means charming, lovely and I’m sure she was just that… but the main emphasis is that Mary was a recipient of Grace.
You see, Mary was favored because of God’s grace. John Macarthur explains it this way: “Mary was to become the recipient of God’s grace. There was nothing intrinsically worthy about her that set her above other believers, as if she was perfectly holy; like all people, she was a sinner in needs of God’s grace.” You see when we look at Mary and Josephs favor this morning, it starts with the grace and the gift of God.
Church, that’s the beauty of Christmas. None of us, not even Mary, deserved this grace, or this love, or this perfect gift of Jesus. We were dead in our transgressions and sins, yet because of His love Ephesians 2:8 tells us: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. You see church, we are a recipient of Grace this morning.
I think about a story which relates to grace: Bryan Chapell tells a story about learning to use a crosscut saw with his father. As Bryan and his father were sawing through a log that had a rotten core, a piece of wood sheared off that looked just like a horse's head. So, Bryan took it home and then later on gave it to his dad as a present. Chapell continues:
I attached a length of two-by-four board to that log head, attached a rope tail, and stuck on some sticks to act as legs. Then I halfway hammered in a dozen or so nails down the two-by-four body of that "horse," wrapped the whole thing in butcher block paper, put a bow on it, and presented it to my father. When he took off the wrapping, he smiled and said, "Thank you son, it's wonderful … what is it?"
"It's a tie rack, Dad," I said. "See, you can put your ties on those nails going down the side of the horse's body." My father smiled again and thanked me. Then he leaned the horse against his closet wall (because the stick legs could not keep it standing upright), and for years he used it as a tie rack.
Now, when I first gave my father that rotten-log-horse-head tie rack, I really thought it was "good." In my childish mind this creation was a work of art ready for the Metropolitan Museum. But as I matured, I realized that my work was not nearly as good as I had once thought. In fact, I understood ultimately that my father had received and used my gift not because of its goodness but out of his goodness.In a similar way our heavenly Father receives our gifts not so much because they deserve his love, but because he is love.
You see the true Joy of Christmas is the Love of the father, who would send his son Jesus for our sins. And my prayer is that this wouldn’t get old for you this Christmas season. As you’ve heard that time and time again… but that this would be a fresh reminder to you.
That as you hear the words of Luke 2:13-14 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Church if you have accepted Christ as your savior this morning…. His favor Rests on you. Not because of anything that you have done… but because of his love for you.
And so how do we respond this morning. Church might I encourage us to love The Lord Matthew 22:37-40 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
2. They worshipped God.
As we continue to look at Mary and Joseph, and this would be true of Zachariah and Elizabeth as well. But we see that they are people that Rejoice.
As we continue in the scripture, we see in verse 39 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
So, we won’t spend a ton of time on verse 39-45, we do understand that Mary after being told that she would conceive would Go and stay with Elizabeth who at the time was 6 months pregnant. And Mary would stay there for 3 months, which would be right at the time of John the Baptist birth. But the main thing I want to draw our attention to is verse 46-49. 45 Blessed is she who has believedthat the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
You see, I don’t know about you, but the heading in my bible states that this is Mary’s song. And one of the things that I think of when I consider why God would’ve chosen her to be the Mother of Jesus, is that she modeled well this idea of worshipping God.
Even in Luke 2:17 after the birth of Jesus, the shepherds go and visit the baby and we’re told… When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
And this word Treasured is the idea that she kept within herself, she keep in mind and values what has taken place. And then there is idea that she would glorify God. That as she treasured these things in her heart. She would go and profess with her mouth.
Luke 6:45 tells us: 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
You see, when we look at Mary… there is this overflowing of thanksgiving. There is a gentleness, and humbleness that is there, She believes… and then she allows the overflowing of her heart to influence her son…
Even in Acts 1, years later after the death of Jesus… she continued to live out her faith. The disciples are all together, Judas has by this time killed himself and they prepare to select the disciple that would replace Judas, and we’re told: 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
In other words, she was this type of person before Jesus. She was this type of person with Jesus, and even after his deathshe continued to be devoted to God and lived to glorify the Lord.
By the way, Joseph we see in Matthew 1… is the same way. After finding out that Mary was pregnant, and he knew of course wasn’t the father…. We’re told: 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. So here, we also see this idea that he has the right character… but also that he’s faithful to the law.
Here’s the question to us this morning… are we living out our faith as an example for the next generation to follow? What example are we Modeling for others to follow?
I think of myself this morning. And the type of example that I set. Typically, I’ll tell stories about Kim or the kids… but this morning I’m going to tell on myself as an example of how not to role model. You know that at our house, we like to play board games or look for other ways to interact with our kids. And being the only boy in the family, I like to have fun with my son carter… well (and this is where I’m telling on myself) but… being sarcastic, a few months back… I burped, and a being goof ball (and this wasn’t one of my brighter moments) But I turned to my son carter and said: “hey buddy. That’s my gift for you!”… now I get it, that’s gross, and I told Kim I was going to tell you this story and she’s like, they’re gonna think you’re a pig… and probably not the best example of manners that I could be setting for my son…
But here’s the problem... a few weeks go by, and we’re all hanging out… and without thinking about it… carter burped, and he then turned to his older sister and proceeded to tell her: “Taylor that’s my gift for you.”
You see here’s the point… Carter was watching me… Our kids pick up on things we do, and things we say, and they tend to model our behavior.
In psychology behavior Modeling takes place when a person observes the behavior of another and then imitates that behavior. This is sometimes known as observational learning or social learning.And behavior Modeling is a kind of learning in which direct instruction do not need to occur. Indeed, one may not be aware that another is modeling his or her behavior.
And here’s the point… when we look at Mary, and we look at Joseph. I think one of the reasons that God would use them to raise this child, is in knew not only what was on the inside of their hearts… but He also knew the example they would set.
He KNEW they would LOVE Jesus well. He knew they would MODEL WORSHIPPING well. He knew they would be the perfect parents for his Son…
So, here’s the question What about you?… What kind of behavior are you modeling this morning? What kind of example are you setting for those around you to follow…
Along the same lines…
I wounder about us this morning… how do things look on the inside. When other people see us, especially at the Holidays. do they see Jesus living through us? What type of character do we have?
I’m going to call Tom back up as we prepare to close out
And as he comes up. I would just encourage us as we enter this Christmas season to do 3 things.
1. Would we be intentional about searching out the scripture and reading through the Christmas story.
2. Would we examine our own hearts,and our own lives… and see what type of character we have, what things are on the inside of us.
3. As we think of the song “Joy to the world”, we understand there is this idea let every heart prepare him room. I would ask, are you preparing a place for him this morning in your heart?
Pray
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