I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Laura Hardin (WITHIN Devotional Contributor)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
My husband and I recently became members of a church that preaches the gospel every single week with believers and unbelievers in mind. To the believer, the message is typically, “This is the Christ we’ve come to know and believe. Keep believing!” And to the unbeliever, the appeal is to repent, and believe, for Jesus has come and will come again!
Whether we are in the Old or New Testament, the emphasis remains the same—Jesus Christ, our utter need for him, and God’s abundant provision for us through him. I remember observing people the first few times we visited. Does this ever get old? Do they ever forget their spiritual lives depend on an abiding faith?
Of course they do. It’s been four months now, and I do. And as Christmas approaches and we hear the same songs, the same stories, the same promises of a savior coming to make all things new, I wonder if the good news has grown stale to you.
If so, you’re not alone. Because we are human and still have a sinful nature, we are all prone to drifting away from what truly matters. We are prone to pridefully moving on from the truth that both saves and sustains. As much as we want to know God and grow ever more mature in him, we forget that this growth comes as a result of keeping our eyes on Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). And at this time, God beckons us to behold him incarnate, born into a sinful world as a little bundle of holiness, the center of the greatest rescue mission ever to be executed in real life or on the big screen.
Repentance is the proper response for anyone struggling to appreciate and celebrate Jesus today. We confess that something is off in our hearts (we do not love or worship him as we ought), For whatever reason, our eyes have not been on Jesus. We have not made much of him. Something else has been vying for our attention, and now, as an act of repentance, we must turn our gaze back to him. So we pray for his help to relish the good news of Christmas, and then put ourselves in position to receive it.
One way we might do this is by picking up a Bible, reading a Christmas passage prayerfully, and singing a Christmas carol. As we sing, may we remember these songs are not mere tradition to make a godless people superficially merry. Steeped in the word and ripe with eternal hope, these carols can draw us into jubilant worship.
But growth doesn’t happen overnight. Christmas is next week, and keeping the right perspective will still be a struggle for many of us. We will spend the rest of our lives learning to treasure the truth Christmas celebrates. To guard ourselves from being in the same place next year, may we venture to read through the Bible with an eye for God’s redemptive work in history. As we train ourselves to look for Jesus on every page, we’ll begin to see him on every page of our lives as well. Slowly but surely, we’ll appreciate everything God has done to reconcile a sinful people to himself. And as we open our mouths to sing, our hearts will leap with joy, for our King has come and is coming again.
"Hail! the heaven-born
Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!"
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
Questions to Reflect on:
1. How does Christmas showcase God’s zeal for his people?
2. How and when am I most tempted to hope in something or someone other than Jesus for my peace, livelihood and joy?
3. What’s one way I can treasure the good news of Christ’s coming today?