My scripture is from John 1:12
This is the time of year when everyone starts getting ready for Christmas. The stores are packed with people buying gifts. Elevators are filled with instrumental Christmas favorites. Those boxes packed away months ago are brought out and all of that lovely Christmas stuff is put out. The houses are decorated with lights and trimmings and yards become the showcases of Christmas splendor. So, What do you do to prepare for Christmas? Well, In my house there is a mass cleaning effort. The whole house is cleaned from top to bottom to get everything in tiptop shape. Before any decorations can be put out the whole house gets a good cleaning.
When the cleaning is complete; the house needs to be arranged for the decorating. Everyday decorations are put away. The whole house is given a new look in preparation for the decorations. After all of the proper arrangements have been made, the decorations come out and everything begins to take on the look of Christmas. The tree is set up with lights strung from top to bottom and ornaments are scattered on the branches. Various other trimmings make their appearance around the house. When all of this is done the work of preparation is nearly finished.
The final preparation for Christmas revolves around the gifts. Lists are created of certain wants or specific needs and the shopping begins. Multiple trips are made to various stores and shopping centers. Of course it wouldn’t be Christmas without four or five trips to the mall. The shopping is done so that we can give and receive gifts on Christmas day.
All of this is a great illustration of how God wants us to prepare for Christmas. When we truly prepare for Christmas, there is a personal cleansing. When we truly prepare for Christmas, there is a new arrangement of our priorities. When we truly prepare for Christmas, there is a decorating of the heart. When we truly prepare for Christmas, there is a receiving and giving of gifts.
The first thing we are going to look into is: The cleaning of the heart. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”
The word “blessed” literally means happy in the original Greek. From this statement of Jesus we see that the pure in heart are the happy in heart. Why? Simply because they will one day see God. Now this sounds really simple, doesn’t it, because all that you need is a pure heart. I don’t know about you but there are a lot of days when my heart seems more polluted than pure. I sometimes get a wee angry when someone cuts me off when I’m driving on the highway. I get frustrated when my best plans come unraveled. I still lose my temper over stupid and insignificant problems. I still get jealous when I hear of others whose achievements out shine my own. Like when my wonderful Homecoming door did not place in the top three winners.
Maybe none of this applies to you. Maybe, you aren’t like me and you have your life completely together in your life. Maybe you have no problem with this pure in heart issue. But for those of you, who are like me and still struggle with being pure in heart; I have a question? How can we become pure in heart? What do we have to do?
I have some extremely bad news for you; there is NOTHING you can do to make your heart pure! The good news is that God is the one who cleans the heart and all that you need to do is ask Him. David asked God for this exact thing: Create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10). God granted David’s request and gave him a clean heart. He can do the same for you; all you need to do is ask Him.
The second thing we need to address is The arranging of priorities. We find in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” An essential part of preparing for Christmas involves re-arranging. Just as we arranged our homes, schedules and other aspects of our lives for Christmas. God wants us to arrange our hearts for Christmas. His desire is for you to make more room for His Son in the room of your heart. When we make this extra room in the heart, God blesses us with more of Christ. It is then that the blessings of God begin to rapidly flow into our lives and overflow into the lives of others. When we put Christ in the center of our lives, everything else just comes together. When Jesus made this statement of seeking the kingdom of God first, he was giving the antidote for worry. Jesus makes it clear that if we are to succeed in life; our focus must be on God first. We become so busy celebrating the season that we totally miss the reason for the season! We become centered on shopping for the right gifts and forget to tell others of God’s perfect gift. We are not prepared for Christmas until our priorities are in line.
The third element we need to look at today is: The decorating of the heart. What does God do to decorate a heart? I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. God decorates a heart by gutting the old and creating something new. When decorates a heart he must have complete control over the whole life. Far too often, we only give God partial control and we only allow Him to make the changes that we approve. God’s desire is to take your life and make it even more beautiful. God wants to add value to your life. God wants only the very best for your life and he wants to be the influence of your life. However, he waits for you to give Him permission to begin the work. God desires to decorate your life with his blessing and give you something completely new.
Our fourth area of concern is The receiving and giving of gifts.
A. The receiving of gifts
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12. John speaks of those who received Christ. The Greek meaning of the word “receive” means “to welcome” or “to accept.” John is making it clear that we are to welcome Christ into our lives. This receiving is not just for part or some of our life but rather it is for every area of our life. Christ must also be believed. To believe in the name of Jesus means to put faith in Him as a person and in what he represents. The simple act is life changing and transforming because we become children of God. God has given us an incredible gift. By faith, in Christ, we can become children of God. When we accept Christ we are ushered into God’s family. John says that through Christ we are given the right to become children of God. Literally we are given permission to join God’s family. By faith in Christ, we become a part of eternity. Our citizenship is changed and we gain an interest in heaven. Our position in life is changed. We gain a dwelling place in heaven and divine grace from God the Father.
B. The giving of gifts
One of the greatest joys of Christmas is found in giving. It is indeed better to give than to receive. I don’t always enjoy the shopping or the wrapping of gifts but I love to give the gifts. The same may be true for you. You love to watch others tear through the wrapping. You love to watch their face light up. You love to hear the words “It’s just what I wanted!” It might surprise you but this applies to Christ as well. There is great joy when you give a gift to Christ. What does Christ want from you? My child, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways. Proverbs 23:26. The greatest gift you can give to Christ is yourself
So, where are you with your preparations for Christmas? Are there some areas of your heart that need to be cleaned? Maybe you need to rearrange some things to make more room for Christ in your life? Perhaps your heart is fairly barren and needs some of God’s blessings for decorations. Have you received the gift of Christ and have you given Him your heart. This year the wonder of Christmas can come alive for you in brand new ways if you will open your heart and allow God to prepare you for Christmas.