While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. NIV
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 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. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. NIV
They say if you have family then you have true wealth.
What Clarence the angel told George Bailey in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life,
“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”
Bettye and I arrived Thursday evening pulling up to a huge cabin that sleeps 30 plus people. This was where the family would get together for the weekend before Christmas. Our entire family, our children and their children, all 20 of us were going to be in this cabin till Sunday. We started the evening off with the theme, “everyone must remain “flexible”. This is such a good word for our bunch. I believe this is a good word for any family to hear because God created everyone so different and unique.
Flexible: capable of bending easily without breaking, able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances or conditions, ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances.
With our group there were 8 families represented. All very diverse in their personalities, thinking, and in their general way of doing life. But everyone did life as one family for a weekend.
There were the obvious differences in how each navigated their families. There were differences on how things should or shouldn’t be done for us as one big group. But it worked because we stayed flexible. This meant whether we agreed or not we would bend and flow together with what was happening and be willing to change to do life together as a group.
Staying together as a group was more important than our individual wants, likes, and dislikes. Being with family, and staying family was what would override our personal differences on how we thought things should go. I could tell things throughout the weekend rubbed some of us the wrong way but everyone kept civil and flowed together for what was an enjoyable time as family.
Think of it. Mary is given no option on being the mother of Jesus. She is told the Holy Spirit would be the father. She is technically pregnant without being married, and her husband to be is considering divorcing her. Joseph is told to marry her even though the child is not his. We know family and neighbors close to them knew what was happening, it couldn’t have been a secret. I’m sure it was challenging trying to explain their situation. Both of them had to have remained flexible.
Even right before giving birth they had to travel. Mary could not find a room to stay in and gave birth in a place, I am sure, she wouldn’t have picked. We could say they didn’t have an option. This was to fulfill prophecy, but they flowed with it given these unusual circumstances. This was how Joseph and Mary started their family. I’m sure it’s not what they would have chosen themselves. This is also how Jesus chose to begin life, under conditions and circumstances that were not the normal way.
What’s amazing here is scripture states Mary treasured all these things and pondered them. Meaning she held them close and thought about them as good memories. No question about it, for Joseph and Mary the memories would have the theme of how flexible they had been.
Christmas is one of the best times to cultivate stronger relationships whether it be family or friends. A major factor to take into account on Christmas is Christ came to earth born into a family, and displayed to the whole world His personal relationship with His Father. He made the statement toward the end of His physical life that no greater love has a person than they lay down their life for a friend. This is the true Spirit of family and of friendship, this is what Jesus brought to earth with His birth and throughout His life.
We know Jesus seemed to struggle with His disciples grasping what He was teaching them. We know Jesus’ mother asked things of Him at times that didn’t seem to be according to His plans. We know the disciples didn’t always get along with each other. Yet throughout His life, here on earth, Jesus maintained a flow even in difficult circumstances and situations. He remained flexible.
No doubt probably one of the hardest areas to navigate flexibility is with family and friends. But we know it can be done, because Jesus showed us the way. In Him and with Him we can let go of our differences when there is a greater goal. The greater goal is to keep the Spirit of family and keep friendships regardless of our differences and ways of doing life. We must set aside personal differences and preferences for the sake of staying together as family and maintaining the friendships.
I’m sure Joseph and Mary would have chosen differently but they chose to do it the way God planned. I think Jesus at times wondered about those He called His friends, yet maintained a flow with those that even abandoned Him. He chose to show them something greater than their attitudes and actions which was love. Talk about being flexible! Can we flow with those God has put in our lives, can we love them even though they do not do life the way we do? Family can be tough at times to flow with yet it is a major theme God has always maintained throughout scripture. Family was and still is of great importance to God. Friendships can be tough at times yet seem to be important enough for Jesus to show what friendship truly is all about.
All throughout scriptures you will find the theme of family and friendship and doing life God’s way. God is all about family. Family is the environment of home, it is what happens in a house. House is the word used to describe the physical building someone lives in. Home is a more personal term which involves the people and daily activities inside the house.
Family environment happens in the home. Whether your home life was great or not so great, you can still cultivate in your heart a family spirit. God has made you one of His family members. So His family will always be the standard for any family. God proved His heart about family with the birth of His Son Jesus. So again whether your home life was good or not everyone has this standard to understand how to build a family spirit in their heart. Even if you are at a point in life where you have no family, then be a blessing somehow to someone else’s family, this is how you develop a family spirit for yourself.
Christmas is a great time to cultivate family. Wherever you go bring His family Spirit with you. Maybe your family is hard to be around, remember to be flexible. Well that’s easy to say, but you don’t know my sister or you don’t know my brother, you haven’t met my parents. Remember, you as a Christian should set the standard of family. God the Father accepted you when you were not family. Jesus puts up with you and accepts you as a brother or sister. He even calls you a friend.
Family is one of the greatest attributes of His creation. God used the family of Joseph and Mary to bring forth His Son. God began with a family, Adam and Eve, He used Abraham to start a family which would become the nation of Israel, and He ends with family with His Son coming for His bride.
What’s interesting is throughout this history of the Jewish people Abraham was not just known as a father but a friend of God’s. (2Chron.20:7, Is.41:8, James 2:23) A friend of God means He is there for the good of this person. However a person needs to be flexible, because sometimes His Good for a person may not be what they would choose. We can see through Abraham’s flexibility he gets to display family, father, and friend for all of eternity. Jesus continued the same Spirit of family by displaying a strong loving relationship with His Father.
The family is the nurturing environment for people to come into their full potential. It is to be the strongest example, here on earth, of the environment of love. The family produces our concepts of love, father, protection, sensitivity, and the list can go on and on. Family is God’s divine container to preserve His ways for mankind to be passed on from one generation to the next. Family is God’s ordained school for molding, shaping, and growing His Kingdom in every generation.
His friendship reveals how strong a bond should be between two people. Family and friendship is a powerful biblical truth. You may say I have no friends, you can still move in the true Spirit of friendship like Jesus.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. NIV
You might say I have no family or your family is torn apart, you can still have the family Spirit of Christ and reveal this to others. You are part of the biggest and greatest family to ever exist. During this time of the year be a friend to someone whether they see you as a friend or not. Be family to someone, maybe even help a family but show the family Spirit of God to others, whether they are your family or not. For those who have family, and they are hard to be around, be flexible and be there for them.
In God’s eyes, family and friendship are His most powerful method in doing Kingdom Business. The devil is always working at destroying family and to separate friends. Christmas is a great time to promote His Kingdom ways with the Spirit of family and to show true friendship. He started with family, and brought forth many sons and daughters and called them friends. Family and friends are the method for which He wants to produce and reflect His ways and nature here on earth. It is how God, throughout history, will continually defeat the devil.
He builds you into family by molding and shaping you into His image. God is in the business of redeeming multitudes of men and women into His divine plan. Christmas is a great time to let go of what you may be lacking concerning family or friends and sow into others. We can build the atmosphere of both family and friendship by aligning with the Father’s heart for people everywhere, which is why His Son was born.
Remind yourself of this when you start feeling the difficulty you might find with your family or that friend, be FLEXIBLE!! Remember to have a Christmas you will treasure for yourself by letting the past go and start afresh with the Spirit of Christ operating in and through your life by being family and friend to all you encounter. To have the best Christmas ever has nothing to do with being on your best behavior, but everything to do with being the best friend or family member you could ever be.
The birth of Jesus empowers us to forgive and gives us the ability to not just overlook offenses but to let them go. It doesn’t matter how others have been toward you, but it does matter how you are toward them. Let the heart of Christ in us direct us to have the best attitude. If you are going to honor the Christ of Christmas, then be His friend by bringing His Spirit to all your family and friends. Create for them a memory they will last. Be the best friend ever, be the best family member ever. Enjoy what you can of the relationships you have with family and friends.
His birth was about bringing people that were distant close and into His family. Those who did not deserve His love, He extended it to them anyway. Should we not clothe ourselves the same? Jesus extends the same love and acceptance toward all. If we want to have the best Christmas ever, one to remember, then be that friend you should be and bring the family Spirit with you. Make a new friend, and form a stronger bond with a family member. If you have family you have wealth, if you have friends then you have wealth. Be thankful for the wealth you have and out of this gratefulness extend His Spirit to as many as you can. Christmas is one of the best times to do so.