December 4, 2017
"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD's praise, for he has been good to me." Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)
When you think of the phrase, "Christmas is coming!" ... what sort of emotion does it evoke?
It might be any one of these:
Panic: I only have three more Saturdays of shopping before Christmas. I'm never going to get it all done!
Frustration: Ugh. There are so many activities this month. We are going to be running all over the place with very little time to just be together as a family at home, enjoying each other's company.
Regret: Why did I say we'd host the family get-together? Now I have to straighten and scrub this place from top to bottom AND make the dessert I signed up to provide, as if I didn't already have enough to do this month.
Envy: I noticed on Facebook the gorgeous holiday decorations my co-worker has in her home. They look like they are straight from an HGTV Christmas special. Our place looks like we bought ours from the clearance bin at the local secondhand store.
So many sentiments can invade our hearts and minds. But these emotions don't stay there.
Often, they weasel their way into our behavior. We appear distracted when talking with a friend. Our frustration morphs into hurry as we frantically try to get it all done. Our regret makes us a grumpy and ungracious hostess. Our envy leads to ungratefulness and can prevent us from experiencing the joy that should come from the whole reason for the celebration of Christmas in the first place.
Are these the attitudes we want on display during the month of December? Or should we choose the attitude reflected in the old familiar hymn, Joy to the World?
The emotion that ought to be deeply experienced during the Christmas season - and, in turn, displayed in our behavior - should be joy. Today's key verse states, "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD's praise, for he has been good to me. "
This verse declares that our reaction to the salvation God freely offers - which began when Jesus came into the world as a baby that very first Christmas - should be that rejoicing.
In this Old Testament verse, the word translated for rejoice actually means "to exult, to go about or to be excited to levity." What a stark contrast to the emotions we usually display during the yuletide season!
But what if we tried to take our roller coaster of emotions to God, asking Him to replace them with joy instead? If we choose to consciously thank God for the indescribable gift of salvation through Jesus, perhaps we could learn to recapture the joy of Christmas. And not just to feel it in our hearts, but to go about during the season, excited to the point of levity, exulting God in the process.
The word exult means "to leap for joy," and it's usually connected with a triumph of some kind. Through Jesus' birth, death and resurrection, He triumphed over death. We need not fear the future because of the miracle of Christmas. If we have responded to the gospel - the good news about Jesus offering us salvation - we too can experience a victory over the grave and dwell with God forever in heaven someday. What a reason to rejoice!
Today, let's chase down some Christmas cheer. But not just keep it to ourselves. Parking our minds on the truth of salvation through Jesus helps us show joy to the world during the Christmas season. A spotless house and homemade fruitcake are optional.
Father, may my mind dwell this season on the incredible gift of salvation through Jesus that is the source of all joy in this life and the life to come. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 89:15-16, "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness." (NIV)
If you're looking for ways to use the holidays to celebrate and reach out to others, check out Karen Ehman's book Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.
As we are too often led astray by what the world has to offer, the same was true for God's people. And, like the Israelites, we're left with the question: When will our final rescue come? Join us for the study of 1 and 2 Kings: A Story of God's Grace for a Rebellious People. The study starts January 1 on the First 5 app! Order your Experience Guide today.
Today kicks off Karen's annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway series. A different guest and prize package each day, as well as a place to share and gather thoughts and ideas on celebrating Christmas. Join us here for day one.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is the major emotion you experience when you think of Christmas being just three weeks away? How can you focus instead on the joy of your salvation?
© 2017 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.