Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Hark The Herald Angels Sing"1 (Lyrics)
It has begun: the lights, the shopping, the baking, the gift wrapping, and all the hustle and bustle associated with Christmas. In fact, the lights and decorations were going up in some stores alongside the Halloween decorations. You have but to grace a store to see people hurrying about to find the perfect gift. There are even suggestions for gifts for people who have everything! Shoppers wait in long lineups with carts overflowing. I, too, am guilty of getting caught up in all of the Christmas hype. I have lists of food to buy, things to bake, gifts to send, and decorations to put up.
This past Sunday, we heard an excellent sermon entitled, "No Room in the Inn". It was a fascinating look at some of the widely held beliefs about Christmas that are not biblically correct. The first example was about the Christmas pageants that include an innkeeper who tells Mary and Joseph that there is no room at his inn. In fact, the Bible makes no mention of an innkeeper.
Luke 2:7 – And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NKJV)
The inn, it was explained last Sunday, was probably the home of a distant relative, whose home was full to overflowing because of the census. While we, in North America, picture a clean, dry, wooden barn as the site of the manger that God had prepared for the birth of His Son, in fact, it was probably a cave — where most of the Israelites of the time kept their animals at night. In addition, we all picture the three wise men kneeling at the manger, when it was probably much later when they arrived to worship the Christ Child.
My home has been through extensive renovations in the past few weeks. I am happy to tell you that they are now complete, but I'm exhausted. The other day, I said aloud, "I may not have either the time or the energy to put up any decorations this year." I could have sworn that I heard God reply, "Would that be a bad thing?" This got me thinking: Where in the Bible is the shopping, baking, and decorating mentioned? Each year, I promise myself that I will simplify Christmas and focus on what is important — celebrating the birth of the Christ Child — and each year, I fall into the same trap of all the things that I must do to prepare.
The other day, one of my meditations began with this verse:
Psalm 26:2 – Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. (NKJV)
This is where we need to begin our Christmas preparations. We need to forget about the external entrapments and focus on preparing our hearts to receive our Lord Jesus.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank You for the greatest gift of all, the gift of Your beloved Son. Help us, Lord, to anticipate celebrating all the blessings that He has brought into our lives, rather than the material goods that we may receive in bright packages. Make us mindful of humbly preparing our hearts for the celebration of His birthday, rather than focusing on adorning our homes in each nook and cranny. God, You sent Your love in human form to us at Christmas. Help us to show this love to those who may not know You. Amen.