Summary: How did Joseph and Mary prepare for their 1st Christmas? And what does this say about how we can prepare for pleasing God this season?
OPEN: A new Christmas movie has just come out starring Matthew Broderick and Danny Devito. Does anybody know the name this movie? That’s right “Deck The Halls”. It’s a comedy about two neighbors who engage in a cutthroat competition to have the most decorated home in the neighborhood. Devito’s character says that his life’s goal is to decorate his home with so many lights that it can be seen from outer-space!
Some people get carried away with their Christmas decorations.
Back in 2001, KFLQ radio station in Albuquerque , New Mexico, reported on the Bugg house in northeast Albuquerque that had become a Christmas landmark. The family traditionally set up thousands of lights and holiday scenes every year. But their endeavor was not just a selfish display of extravagance, for out in front of their home, there was a box where you could make a donation for a local homeless ministry, known as Noonday.
When the lights went on Friday, December 7th, 2001 - things were different at the Bugg’s home. A neighbor had complained that the display was a public nuisance, and convinced the city of Albuquerque to sue to prevent the Buggs from turning on the lights.
The city tried to shut down the display, saying collecting money for the homeless made the home a business. A District Court Judge ruled December 6th that the display could go on, but the barrels to collect money had to go, because collecting for the homeless made the home a business.
Dennis Lihte , director of Noonday Ministry said the display was a great opportunity for residents who did not attend a local church to give to the needy.
The previous year (2000), the display netted the ministry almost $12,000.
APPLY: There’s always going to be someone who wants to be a scrooge, but there will also be lots of people really love the season - in great part because of all the lights and the decorations that go up throughout the community. In fact, many cities even have competitions to see who can do the best outdoor display.
And there is no mistaking how much satisfaction and enjoyment people get by putting up those decorations. This is their way of preparing for the Christmas season.
Preparing for the Christmas season.
What got me thinking about this was the comments of a preacher whose sermon I recently read (Bill Hybells) who wondered how Mary and Joseph would have prepared for their 1st Christmas morning.
For example, they had to prepare for the trip to Bethlehem. I mean, there was
· all the planning
· all the packing
· and then, of course, there was that long trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem
o (approximately 65 miles… by foot. I noted that the distance was about as far as from our church building to the north side of Indianapolis)
So Joseph and Mary would have had many preparations to make for that first Christmas morn.
But long before they set off on that trip, there was another kind of preparation that had been done. And in fact, it was because of that special preparation they’d undergone beforehand (we’re going to talk about this morning) that God ultimately chose them for the honor of being the parents of the Christ child...
How had they prepared?
I. Matthew 1:19 tells us that “… Joseph her husband was a righteous man…”
1st - Joseph and Mary were prepared to be used by God because they were righteous people.
Now, what does that mean? What does it mean to be “righteous”?
1 John 3:7 says “…He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.”
People become righteous because they strive to make the “RIGHT” decisions.
AND they make such decisions because they know that some things please God… and others don’t.
People who are righteous make their decisions
…not because those decisions make them feel good
…or because those decisions help them meet their goals and agendas
…or because those decisions allow them to do what they want to do
Righteous people make righteous decisions because those decisions are the right things to do EVEN WHEN THOSE DECISIONS HURT THEM.
One of my favorite passages from the Psalms tells me exactly that. It’s found in Psalm 15
“A psalm of David - Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”