Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Child In The Manger"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 2:12,16 – And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, [the Magi] returned to their own country by another route. When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (NIV)
My new Alpine goat, Agnes, is a milking goat, which has been a very interesting experience for me. Sophie, my two-year-old retriever, also found Agnes very interesting in an amusing way, at least for a time. Sophie loved nothing better than to try and get Aggie's goat by rushing at her or creeping up behind her and touching her cold nose to Agnes's udder. Sophie's antics caused Agnes much distress until the day that she finally chose to take a stand. As Sophie rushed in, Aggie stood her ground, lowered her head, then rose up on her hind legs to meet the onslaught. Sophie realized immediately that the game was over. Now, whenever Agnes is on her way from the corral to the milking shed and Sophie comes near, Aggie whirls around and stands her ground until Sophie backs away.
Agnes needed to make a choice: to stand or to continue to back down amidst Sophie's threat. I believe that as Christmas approaches, God's people also need to take a stand: a stand for Jesus. Needing to take a stand for Christ isn't something new, however. It began almost at the moment of His birth. The shepherds, upon finding Mary and Joseph and the Baby Who was lying in the manger, took a stand by "glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen" (Luke 2:20b NIV). The Magi took a stand for Christ when they chose to follow the warning that they had received in a dream not to return to Herod but to go home by a different route. Herod also took a stand regarding Christ, but his stand, unlike that of the shepherds and the Magi, was a stand of defiance and hatred against the newborn King.
Today, people still take a stand for Christ, for or against. There is no in-between, something that has become clearer and clearer over the past several years, as we have seen the growing trend to change Christmas from its true meaning to a generic holiday. Most schools, businesses, greeting card companies, and the like, now celebrate "the holidays" not "Christmas", so as not to offend anyone. And yet, Jesus has always offended people. Why? Because His very Being challenges us to make a choice: to believe that He is Who He said He is or not — the very Son of God, Emmanuel, Who takes away the sin of the world for all who choose to believe and trust in His name.
This Christmas, which stand will you take: to stand up for the Christ we celebrate, or to back down to the opposition?
Prayer: Father God in heaven, thank You so much for sending Jesus to earth that first Christmas day. Thank You that You took a stand of love for us amidst our sin, that we might take a stand for Christ, Who is our salvation and life. Bless us with both the courage and the grace to stand firm in our beliefs and the true meaning of the celebration of Christmas, for indeed, Jesus is the reason for the season. In His wonderful name, we pray. Amen.