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The gifts are unwrapped, the toys are out. The boxes are empty and getting more action than the toys that were in them. The Christmas meal – that took so long to plan and prepare – is now gone, captured only by week-old Instagram pictures.
Lori and I no longer have to spend hours stealthily shopping for and hiding presents, but I know for many of you that’s still a large part of the deal right now.
Why do we spend so much time building Christmas up, just to be let down? What do you do now?
In this age of materialism and marketing plans that convince you to buy something you didn’t even know you needed, it’s hard to remember exactly why we celebrate Christmas. The obvious answer is that we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus - and yes, that’s exactly what we’re doing - but it can’t be a ritual that we go through every 12 months. It needs to be ingrained in who we are and what we do.
I’m not suggesting we get rid of the Christmas traditions, but I do think we need to keep our focus on Christ all year round – not just at Christmas and Easter time. To avoid that post-Christmas let down, I encourage you to make some changes in your everyday life:
- Get excited about serving God!
Psalm 95:1-2 says, "Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song" (NIV).
If you’re a Steelers fan, you know the feeling you get when we score a touchdown! There are high fives, Terrible Towels waving, and fans shouting. The writer of Psalm 95 never watched a football game, but he knew all about enthusiasm. His excitement, however, was directed to the God of the heavens, not players on a field. He summoned us to praise God at the top of our lungs. Why? Because our God is amazing!
Let’s not just get excited about God during Christmas and Easter, let’s keep that enthusiasm and fire burning all year round. Let God know you can get just as excited about him as you can a Steeler running back breaking the plane of the goal line.
- Live your life in thanksgiving for the gift of forgiveness.
Isaiah 1:18 says, "'Come now, let us settle the matter,' says the LORD. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool'” (NIV).
God wants to give you a great gift this Christmas. He wants to give you the great gift of forgiveness all wrapped up in the work of Jesus. Our sin causes us to fall short of God’s holy standard, so God sent Jesus to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Jesus purchased God’s great gift of forgiveness by his death on the cross. Let’s be as excited about this truth as we are about the presents under the tree! Don’t let this gift be tossed away after you’ve had your fill. Enjoy this present daily, and walk in the freedom that comes through the forgiveness of Christ.
- Be ready to do what God is calling you to do.
Remember Mary’s words to the angel after he revealed the truth about her pregnancy. Luke 1:38 says, “'I am the Lord’s servant,'” Mary answered. 'May your word to me be fulfilled.' Then the angel left her” (NIV).
“I am the Lord’s servant,” is Mary’s statement of surrender. She was the first person to accept Jesus on his terms. Her engagement with the man she loved would be in jeopardy. Those closest to her would not understand her pregnancy. The small town would be filled with rumors. In spite of all this, she trusted God and surrendered to his plan.
Many believe that they can draw up the terms of their relationship with Jesus, but that’s not how it works with the Lord. Everyone who truly wants to follow hard after Jesus must come to a place of surrender. Like Mary, we must say, “I am the Lord’s servant. Use me as your instrument in any way you desire.”
It’s not easy to follow hard after God. The ways of the world drag us down, and the flashing lights and material things that surround us are calling us to make idols of other things. It’s not hard to get caught up in the lights of Christmas and all the bells and whistles that TV ads say you need, so stand firm in who you are in Jesus Christ.
Make God’s Word the anchor of your life and let that, not the world around you, rule you.