Can you smell it? The Christmas cookies, of course! Smell the nutmeg wafting in the air?
Oh, how I love Christmas time! The sights and sounds generate a deep longing to experience that holiest of occasions! The Christmas programs at church remind us there’s no better gift! And invitations to dazzling Christmas parties sparkle like the star of Bethlehem inviting the shepherds to an “Open House” (more like an “Open stable”). Cheerful greetings abound! What is more prestigious than the way those lowly sheep herders were invited to the birth of a King? Can you hear the angels sing? “Come, greet the Lamb of God, Who will Shepherd the LORD’s people!”
Reflecting on the birth of Jesus, especially born in a stable, wasn’t difficult this year as the grandson’s potty training was part of our daily routine. So, “potty-runs” were scheduled every 30 minutes throughout our fun-filled days of baking cookies. And of course, rewards for making the “big reveal” in the potty were yummy Christmas cookies. Today was a day of even bigger reward as another Paw Patrol stuffed doggie was welcomed into the pack!
Cookies and stuffed animals can light up a face like it’s the best thing ever. For a toddler, the whole world revolves around his wants and needs, and it’s so easy for him to think that he is the center of everything. But how important it is for him to begin to grasp, even now at his age, that the world revolves around Jesus, a Savior, donning the skin of man and coming into a sinful world to bring the greatest gift! And so, each day we take the time to find where David, our little shepherd boy, has progressed in his journey to find the baby Jesus born in a manger. And that’s what we celebrate: the birth of a Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord and how He brings change to a broken, sinful world. Five days after honoring Jesus’ birthday, we have the privilege of celebrating our grandson on his birthday which has brought about loads of change and “changing” as well, for Gram and Pop!
Jesus was born to change our lives! We were re-born to reflect that change as we search to know Him more and more throughout the entire year.
Ann Spangler wrote Immanuel: Praying the Names of God through the Christmas Season and of the need for change: “He was the atmosphere in which [the early Christians] lived, worked, prayed, suffered, and loved. They understood that their happiness depended not on having things their way, but on being completely aligned with Christ, uniting themselves to his character and purposes, regardless of the personal cost.”
Paul David Tripp’s devotional taken from his book: New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional reflects that transforming change:
“It really is a very different way of looking at life. It’s a very different basis for making decisions. It’s a very different template for deciding how you should act, react, and respond. It’s a very different way of thinking about who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing. It is a radical way of living, quite different from the worldview that is preached all around us.
The common cultural worldview has you at the very center. It says that life is all about your pursuit of happiness. When someone or something makes you unhappy, it says that the world is not operating the way it is supposed to operate. It really does pull the walls of your motivation and concern to the tight confines of your wants, your needs, and your feelings. But the Bible presents a polar opposite worldview that is to form the identity and lifestyle of every believer. Scripture asserts that you were bought with a price (the life and death of Jesus), so you don’t belong to you anymore (actually, because of creation, you never did belong to you). Take time to look at 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, which applies this truth to something as personal as your sexual life.
God has a purpose for you. It is that you would live as one of his representatives; that is, that you would live representatively. And what are you representing? You are called to represent your Savior King. And what does that . . . look like? Representing the King means you represent his message, his methods, and his character. Representing the King’s message means that you look at every situation and relationship in life through the lens of the truth of Scripture—the center of which is the gospel of Jesus Christ—and determine to help others look at life that way too. Representing his methods means that you seek to be a tool of the kind of change he intends to make in people and in the world around you. And representing his character simply means asking yourself again and again, “What of the person, work, and character of the Lord Jesus Christ does this person need to see in the situation that he or she is now in?”
There is no better word for this bigger-purpose-than-my-happiness way of living that God has called each of us to than the word ambassador. It reminds us that there is a King and that we are not him. It moves us to remember once again that our lives do not belong to us. And it puts practical legs on what it means to represent the Savior King in practical ways every day. God’s grace has not only rescued you but has included you in much bigger and more beautiful purposes for your life than you would have ever chosen on your own” 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.
At Christmas time, more than ever, I’m drawn to Mary, the mother of Jesus! She didn’t view her life as her own to be lived for comfort or ease. And she totally understood this “bigger-purpose-than-my-happiness” equation! Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing more on Mary in an upcoming blog post!
What sights and “smells” remind you of Christmas?