Welcome to Proverbs 31 Wannabe where Alexis Heaslip, a stay at home mother of two and follower of Jesus, shares her personal walk with Christ. Her goal is to help women explore the Bible and walk with Jesus by being a Proverbs 31 Wannabe. In this episode, Alexis explores how you can keep Christ the center of this Christmas season.
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27 November 2022
KEEPING CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS (PART 1)
1. PODCAST INTRO (1-2 MINUTES)
Start with podcast music to set the stage (appx. 15 seconds before speaking.)
A. Voice Introduction
i. Hi there and welcome to Proverbs31 Wannabe where we discuss biblical womanhood in our constantly busy and sometimes crazy daily life. I’m Alexis Heaslip and as a wife and mother of two, I am always striving and praying to be a Proverbs 31 woman of faith. I am so so excited for this new series we are diving into because it truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year- it’s advent time. This is such a fun season- getting the house decorated for Christmas, wrapping presents, and baking all sorts of yummy goodies to eat. But what is the true meaning of this time? This four part series is going to explore how we can keep Christ at the center of this Christmas season. Let’s dive on in y’all.
ii. Theme music (10 second segue)
2. TOPIC 1: Preparing the Way for the Lord- a Background (12 MINUTES)
A. The Distractions
I. Can you guys believe that it is already December? It feels like this year has just flown by in a blink of the eye. How is it that we are already in throngs of all the holiday preparation and fussing. If you are something like me, then you already have your Christmas decorations up. Your whole house is red and green and my personal obsession at the moment is those cute gnomes with beards. Baking cookies on the weekend is the norm at the moment and a Christmas movie like the grinch is thrown on in the evening to enjoy with the whole family. On top of all of these things, I’m also buying and wrapping gifts. Which is quite a challenge when your one year old is nosy and wants to touch and feel and taste everything that she can reach. With all of these things going, its so easy to get overwhelmed and a little bit grumpy. Why in the world is heavy whipping cream so darn expensive? Since when does a monster truck cost so much? Why doesn’t Marshalls have exactly the right color of wrapping paper that I am looking for? Why aren’t my children being filled with Christmas cheer? With all this chaos we so often forget why we are even celebrating- the birth of Jesus our messiah in a little town in a little stable where the world was flipped on its head. What a monumental event to remember and it’s something we as Christians should be shouting from the rooftops praising God that he sent his Son as a baby into the world so that we can be saved. But so often we don’t. Instead we put our focus on all the wrong things. Even the songs we love to sing during Christmas time have nothing to do with the real reason for the season. While there is nothing inherently wrong with singing about Santa and Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, those aspects of winter and Christmas time should not be our main focus. It shouldn’t matter if we make the right type of cookies for Santa and what our kids get for Christmas really don’t matter (even though I am sure my son would totally disagree with me on that). All of these things aren’t necessarily bad, but they so easily distract us from celebrating the birth of Jesus. So how is it that we can put these distractions on the back burner and keep our eyes on Jesus? We need to prepare the way for the Lord, and one way we can do that is to look how God used an earthly family to prepare the way for Jesus.
B. God Prepared the Way through Jesus’s Earthly Family
- Even long long long before Jesus was born, God had an amazing plan to redeem the world. All the way back in Genesis 3 do we see how God prepared for us a plan so that we would not perish. God told the snake who tricked Eve and Adam: “Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Even though Adam and Eve turned out backs on God and chose pride over submitting to His will, God did not leave humanity in the dust. He already provided a plan for redemption through His son, Jesus. Now Jesus could have come in may ways- he could have come down from the clouds like a hero in a Greek mythology story and stomped out Satan then and there. He could have come like a marvel superhero with totally awesome and fantastic powers not available to man. He could have been wearing a super suite WITHOUT a cape (if you know you know) and have saved the day with glory and praises from everyone. Heck, Jesus could have even come to the earth as a politician and made reforms in the laws of the land with philosophies that rivaled those that we believe are some of the best of the best like Aristotle and John Locke. But instead of doing those things, he did the unexpected. He did the one thing the world didn’t even take into consideration. He came into the world as an innocent and vulnerable baby. Ok OK so he’s a baby, big deal. Babies grow up to be adults. But God the Father could have given this baby to any wealthy and powerful family that had the ability to raise this child in the best homes with the best education and the best opportunities to grow rich and powerful in the world…right? God wouldn’t have given his son to JUST anyone…right? Well God did bring Jesus into a line of a family with a rich history- from fathers of Judaism such a Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses to kings such as David and Solomon, the lineage of Jesus is one of royalty and prestige. But as time marched on, the people in this family line ended up financially poor. They didn’t live in mansions or palaces like their previous ancestors did but rather they lived frugally in a small town, not even a city, in a place called Nazareth, where nothing good ever comes from it. And in this small tiny speck of a town there were two people who were extremely poor but loved the Lord-Mary and Joseph. If it weren’t for Mary and Joseph’s faith in the Lord, than Jesus would have never been born. But God the Father knew that. That’s why he prepared his son’s earthly lineage to include people who love and feared the Lord so that when the time came, the earthly parents of Jesus would have a firm foundation of faith. If you are one who likes lists and genealogies, you can see the work of the Father in Matthew 1:1-17. I won’t read all the names because it spans 28 generations, but what is so amazing is that God planned each generation out to lead these broke and sinful earthly people so that Mary and Joseph would be prepared to raise the Messiah as a child who knows and loved God the Father.
- So who were Mary and Joseph. Would they be considered qualified in our times as people to raise Jesus, the Son of God? Were they prepared for the task that was thrust on them? Let’s unpack this a little. Mary and Joseph were engaged, not yet married. And she was a woman who loved the Lord and had never had relations with a man. God chose Mary and sent Gabriel, an angel, to ask her if she would be willing to be the mother of the Messiah through the power of the holy spirit. She didn’t have to say yes. Her reputation was on the line, her marriage could be dissolved and she could have been stoned as an adulterer according to the law of Moses, but Mary fully put her trust in the Lord, and in Luke chapter 1 we see how she beautifully said“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” What a strong faith in the Lord that Mary had. She, through the demonstration of faith through her earthly family, had learned and come into her own faith in the Lord and trusted in God’s plan, even though it was sticky and messy for her.
- So what about Joseph. If I were a man and found out my fiancé was pregnant and she said it was through God, I don’t know what I would do. Joseph was ready to quietly end the marriage when he found out Mary was pregnant. He had every right to stone her, but he was a man of gentleness. In Matthew 1 we see that God wasn’t done with Joseph yet. An angel appeared to Joseph, who comes from the line of David, and told him that everything Mary told him was true. This child is going to fulfill all the prophecies from the Scriptures. He is going to save the world from their sins. Joseph had two options- he could have ignored this dream and still broke off the marriage, or he could take heart and have faith in the word of God and take on Mary and the baby. Because Joseph came from a line of people who loved and feared the Lord, he was able to grow up and develop a personal relationship with God and put his trust fully in the Lord. He took in Mary and raised Jesus as one of his own children. Through Mary and Joseph’s faith in the Lord, the Messiah of the entire world was raised by two people who came from a lineage of grace, spiritually rich although physically poor. So these two people who seem, in the eyes of society of their day, small prepared their hearts for the one person who will redeem the world. Without their personal yes to God and their preparations of their heart, we wouldn’t have the chance to be redeemed. Now that we have established God’s plan and his preparations and we’ve looked at how Jesus’ earthly family prepared for his birth, there is another person we need to look at who prepared for Jesus in a different way- this person prepared for Jesus’ earthly ministry to begin.
- John the Baptist Preparing the Way for the Lord
- This person is somebody who is a little odd, a person who would have turned heads, and this person wasn’t afraid to call people out on their bad behavior. If you haven’t guessed it, I am talking about John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus. John is an interesting person because although he was the cousin of Jesus from Mary’s side of the family, the scripture does not give us the 411 about how often the two cousins got to see each other while growing up. The only background information we get about the two as children is when Mary and Elizabeth see each other while pregnant with the boys. John heard the voice of Mary and he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb because he knew that he was in the presence of his savior. But other than that remarkable insight, we don’t get much else. What we do know about John is that his birth is almost as miraculous as Jesus and he is foretold to do something big. Let’s take a look at Luke 1 to see how John was born to prepare the way for the Lord. Now I’m not going to read all of the scripture because it’s a lot to take in so if you want to pause this podcast for a bit while you read Luke 1 I suggest doing that. Now that you’ve read Luke 1 there are a couple of things that stand out about John the Baptist’s birth story. First thing to notice is that like Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament, John’s parents were old and had no children. They were barren and probably looked down upon in their community since they were childless, but just like Abraham and Sarah, God sent the angel of the Lord to Zechariah, John’s dad, and gave him news that he would have a son who will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He was then told that his son has a mission- to prepare the people for the way of the Lord. But unlike Mary who immediately said yes to God and His plan, Zechariah did something that I know we all have done- he questioned God’s will. And God took away his ability to speak until his son was born because of his lack of faith. Once John was born, things really heated up. On the eight day after John was born, Zechariah writes out that his son’s name would be John and immediately he was able to speak again and he started praising God and prophesized about his own son. I will read this part of the scripture because it is so powerful. Zechariah prophesizes: ““Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant— the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham. We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live. “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” And as we read in the gospels, John does exactly this. As an adult, John the Baptist becomes an advocate for people to turn their hearts back to God. In Luke chapter three we are told that John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan river, preaching that people should be baptized to show they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. And from what we can see, John was a bit fiery and not afraid to tell people how it is. He called people out for thinking that they are safe because they are children of Abraham. He preached that if a tree doesn’t produce good fruit it would be chopped down and thrown into fire. Although full of zeal and a bit brash with his words, he never turned anyone away who wanted to seek the truth. He interacted with soldiers, tax collectors, and the poor. John was a pretty popular guy and people were wanting to know if he was the messiah. He could have said yes and had his followers worship at his feet, but instead John stayed on the humble path of obedience to the Lord and, in Luke 3:16-17, lets the people know that “there is somebody greater than I and I’m not even worthy to untie the straps of his sandals.” Through all of his preaching and sharing that the Good News is at hand, John never lost his focus-the coming of the messiah. His whole mission was to prepare the way for Jesus, and he didn’t seem to care whose feathers he ruffled to do that. Ultimately, Jesus, the Messiah, came to John, the messenger and preparer, to be baptized. At first John resisted because he felt like he wasn’t worthy, but Jesus reminded him that “it should be done for we must carry out all that God requires” and then John baptized him in the Jordan river. It is because of John’s unceasing faith and preaching of the good news that people were seeking the truth, leading them to Jesus, the only savior, the only messiah, our redeemer.
- How Can We Prepare Our Hearts for the Lord
- What beautiful and powerful examples of how different people prepared the way for the Lord Jesus. So how is it that we can do the same thing in this advent season? How can we prepare the way for the Lord in 2022? One way to prepare our hearts for the Lord is to re-prioritize prayer in our life. I don’t know about you, but my prayer life around the Christmas season can be hit and miss. I feel like i get pulled in a thousand directions, and get distracted from my most important relationship- my relationship with Jesus. Even if it means setting a reminder on your phone or setting an alarm so that you remember, make that prayer time a priority. It doesn’t have to be a long time for prayer either. With two small kids, half the time I only get a decent five minutes of uninterrupted prayer before one of my kids needs me. But then throughout the day I try to thank God or pray in the moment whenever something pops up. Don’t feed into the lie that you must pray for at least a half an hour uninterrupted and alone in the perfect quiet place. That’s not reality for most of us moms. No prayer, no matter how big or small, is insignificant to God. He wants us to talk to Him and turn to Him throughout the day. He wants to talk to Him the way we talk to our friends, with an open and sincere heart. So don;t compare yourself to how others are praying. Your journey is your own and whether it is five or thirty minutes a day God is going to be so happy you took the time to talk to him.
- Another thing you can do this advent season is do a family advent devotional book together. This is a great way for the whole family to get involved, pray together, and create memories. This year my family is going to be using “The Way to the Manger” by Jeff and Abbey Land and what I love about this devotional is that you can do it year after year and write out answers in the guided questions section so you can see how your family grows and changes each year. Having the kids actively praying and reading scripture to prepare for Christmas is a great way to show them that Christ is the true center of Christmas. Another fun idea that you can do is something that everyone in your home will just love. Last year my family did something that totally made Christmas spectacular. We threw Jesus a birthday party. We made a birthday cake, got some yummy ice cream, and sang happy birthday to Jesus. My son Luke even blew out the candles for Jesus. Instead of buying Jesus presents (Like my son was wanting to do), we donated to Operation Christmas Child by filling up a box with toys for a little boy who is in a place where there isn’t much and talked to our son about how we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world. It was a joy to have my son go and pick out toys for another little boy and have him come to the understanding that not all little boys have as many monster trucks as he does or a warm blanket to snuggle with. Part of what’s so great about Operation Christmas Child is that a copy of the New Testament is given to each child that receives a box in their language, opening the door for children around the world to hear the message of the gospel. This was one of the most fun and impactful things we have done during the Christmas season as a family. Throwing Jesus a party reminded us that Christmas is all about Jesus and celebrating the birth of the Messiah. We got to sing happy birthday to our savior and thank Jesus for coming to this world to redeem us from death and sin. Then we had the chance to participate in the great commission, Jesus’ final message to us before he ascended into heaven. If you have a bible on you please turn to Matthew 28:16-20. These verses say “Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Although we as a family aren’t able to travel across the globe to teach the gospel, we can still have a global impact on sharing the gospel by ministering to those who are in need and sharing the gospel whenever we can. By doing this as a family, my hope is that this turns my children toward Jesus and that they choose to accept Christ as their redeemer. Although I can’t make that choice for them, by preparing the way for the Lord they can explore who Jesus is as a family and in due time hopefully put their trust in Him. What a gift that is to give to your children- a home where you talk about Jesus and put Him at the center, so that on days like Christmas we can keep Christ at the center.
3. OUTRO (2-3 MINUTES)
A. Recap: This season is such a beautiful and powerful time. Through the BIble we can see how ordinary people just like you and I prepared the way for the Lord. We can prepare our hearts for Christmas by putting God first above all else. God, I ask that as we enter this advent season that you help us center our hearts on you. Help us be like Jesus’ earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, who put their trust entirely in you. Give us the courage like John the Baptist to preach the gospel, even when it ruffles some feathers. Help us in this season where life seems to get super busy to remember what is important, to keep distractions at bay, and to give us the wisdom to teach our children the importance of serving others this season. Thank you, God, for the miracle of your son, Jesus. In Your name I pray, amen.
i. Music segue
B. Call to action: Thanks to listening to Proverbs31 Wannabe. We hope you enjoyed the program. If you enjoy our show, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts—and be sure to come back next week as we continue our journey towards Christmas and how we can keep Christ the center of Christmas this year. Until then, this is Alexis Heaslip, and I hope you have a great rest of your day. God bless.
C. Closing theme