We, the Downing family formally invite you and your family to journey along side us this year as we ready our hearts for Christmas. Beginning on November 25th and ending on Christmas Day our podcast will be updated daily with a Christmas devotion. You will be able to find a written version of each devotion here on our website. After Christmas we will return to our weekly short shareable thought provoking missions focused content.
If you have already subscribed to Our mission path podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google, Radio Public, Spotify, Breaker, or Pocket Cast you will receive a new Christmas Devotion automatically each day beginning on November 25th until we celebrate Christmas Day. If you haven’t already subscribed to our podcast we invite you to do so now by clicking on your favorite podcast outlet above. When you subscribe please give us an early Christmas present by sharing our podcast with a friend who you know will benefit from our content. We are growing through your word of mouth!
We look forward to traveling our mission path with you this Christmas!
with much love, Timothy, Angelita, Tim, Esperanza, Ezequiel, Elias, and Adelena
When the wise men saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
~The Apostle Matthew 2:10-11
The wise men brought Jesus gifts which were filled with meaning. They brought gold, a gift fit for a king. The gold was also very useful for the family as they fled to Egypt to save Jesus’ life. We may not have gold but we can make Christ the king of our lives!
The wise men also gave a perfume called frankincense to Jesus. Frankincense was used by priests to worship God in the temple. This gift points to the fact that Jesus would be our priest, the one who would stand in the gap between the Holy God and sinful humanity. Frankincense points to our redemption, our salvation.
The third gift was myrrh. Myrrh was used to prepare a body for burial. It seems like an odd gift for a child but in light of the mission of Christ this gift makes perfect sense. The way our redemption was purchased is through the atoning death of Jesus. He took our sin and shame and died because of it. Then three days later he defeated the consequence of our sin, he rose from the grave. The resurrection narrative tells us that Mary and some other women tried to anoint the body of Jesus with myrrh on the third day after his crucifixion. The expensive myrrh that they were going to use was most likely the same myrrh that the wise men gave to Jesus.
The beauty of this last gift was that it was never used. Jesus died to purchase us life but before the myrrh could be used he rose to give us hope!
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you join the family of God, that you live because of Christ’s work on the cross and that you live in the hope of his resurrection. If we follow him in life and in death we will follow him in his resurrection as well!
How does God speak to you? Have you ever thought about what He has overcome in your life so that you could hear his voice? Timothy began to explore this thought through a short devotion in his book Christmas Devotions.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
~Wise Men, Matthew 2:1-2
What God did, He did not do in secret. When God sent His Son to become flesh and fulfill His promise He sent ripples throughout the world. The wise men who came to worship Jesus were Astrologers, they were actively practicing a forbidden and false religion that placed people under the control of stars and other heavenly bodies. It was an act of grace that God spoke to them by a means that they could understand. They saw his star and came to worship Christ.
This is the very essence of the incarnation, the very reason God became flesh and dwelt among us. God, in his grace and mercy came to our level, spoke our language, experienced our lives so that we could understand his offer of Salvation.
My hope for you today is that you, like the wise men, will seek to worship Christ.
Today we are preparing our hearts to mourn with one who mourns. Later today we will offer our condolences and love to a good friend at the passing of her husband. Once again, in our humanity with tear stained eyes we look to heaven and wonder why there is so much suffering. Why must the rose have a thorn? Why must the rainbow be born out of the storm? Are there any answers? There are, but our tear stained eyes usually can’t see them in the midst of our pain. Perhaps the words below will help to apply the Christmas message to our suffering.
There was also a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having been married to her husband for seven years until his death. She had lived as a widow since then for eighty-four years. She never left the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment, she came up to them and began to give thanks to God and to speak about the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
~Doctor Luke, Luke 2:36-38
God invites those who are hurting into His family. Anna had only been married for seven years when the unthinkable happened, she lost her husband. In Anna’s time that meant she lost her income, her home and her protection. She was devastated. But God has a heart for the devastated. For eighty-four years Anna came under the protection of God as she worshiped him day and night in the temple.
Anna’s devastation drove her into a life of piety. Sometimes the beauty and the aroma of the rose leads us to a loving God, other times it is the prick of the thorn which drives us into the caring arms of our Savior.
Anna’s piety was rewarded with a glimpse of the redemption that God had promised the world. Her natural response to seeing Christ was to tell others of his life and mission.
My hope for you today is that you will find love and shelter in God’s family just like Anna did.
Here is one day’s devotion from Timothy’s book Christmas Devotions. We hope your Christmas season is meaningful and that you allow the light of the world to shine in you!
Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
~Jesus, John 8:12
The darkness of sin filled the world but God promised a light that would one day pierce the darkness. Throughout history it was known that a glimpse of spiritual light could be found in Jerusalem. The temple of God was a destination for many in the ancient world as they sought the light of truth. Families would travel together seeking something meaningful, something true, something illuminating.
The birth of Jesus is described as the long promised light which shines in the darkness. About thirty-two years after his birth, Jesus proclaimed: “I am the light of the world.” His words were illuminated by his surroundings. He was likely standing in front of a huge candelabra in the most open part of the temple as a crowd of visitors were seeking Spiritual light. His words give all who hear a choice. If we follow him we will have the light of life, if we reject him we will remain in the terrible darkness of our sin.
My hope for you today is that you and your family will seek the light of the world together.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.”
~The Apostle John, John 1:1-5
The family of God was lost and broken but God had a plan. He looked at Jesus, His son who was as close to Him as His Word, and gave him a mission. The mission was to make it possible for God the Father to adopt sons and daughters into His divine family.
So, the Word of God become flesh and dwelt among us. He brought life and light, he brought a new reality, an opportunity to join the family of God. The little baby laid in a manger that first Christmas made a way for you to become a child of God!
Today we would like to add to those thoughts a testimony of how we have recently experienced being children of our loving God.
Throughout the journey along our mission path we have felt the very presence of God’s hand, active and alive, guiding, protecting, and encouraging us. Unlike the travertine gods of the world, our God is immanent in our lives. This testimony is one of immanency and timing. Often our timing and God’s timing do not align in the way we would prefer. In the beginning of our missionary journey we tried to liquidate one of our vehicles for living expences. Despite being a good work truck, it did not sell. In fact, it garnered only one inquiry all summer long. Eventually we parked the old truck beside our garage and forgot about it. Fast forward to this week. We had two major bills come due but we had no way to pay them. So we went to prayer. Now, it can be said that if you look for miracles you will always find them, of course the opposite is true, if you seek to dismiss miracles you almost always can. Our family tends to look for miracles. As we sat under the foreboding shadow of our bills we received a phone call about the truck. On the other end of the phone was a man asking; “you had a truck for sale in the springtime….you wouldn’t happen to still have that truck would you?” The next day we sold the truck for cash enough to pay our bills. Once again we saw the hand of God move on our behalf, once again we were encouraged in the knowledge that we are part of the Family of God, that we have a loving and engaged Heavenly Father. Once again our kids saw how God has worked in our lives.
Friends, God is inviting you to see how He is intimately involved in your life. This Christmas as you look to the baby in the manger remember, God is with us!
In our recent travels we have encountered many concerned bothers and sisters who ask this pressing question; “How are you supporting your family as you raise funds for your mission?” To be honest that question is now pressing us a bit. Ever since we stepped away from paid Pastoral ministry (shortly before Easter last year) God has taken care of us through His people. One way he has done so is by opening up opportunities for us to speak in various churches all across the fruited plain. We have a policy, if we are invited we will come! If you want us to come to your church or small group you can request us by calling 1-800-848-2464 ext. 2129. Another way that we earn funds for our family is by selling the books that Timothy has written. If you are looking for a good book and a good way to help us in our day to day living expenses check out these links.