December 13, 2006

 

Encouragement for Today

 

“My Heart, the Lord’s Stable”

Van Walton, Proverbs 31 Ministries Speaker, Director of Hispanic Ministries

 

Key Verse:

Ephesians 3:17: “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him…”  (NLT)

 

Devotion:

Before my children were born, early when we were a family of two, my husband and I began a Christmas tradition. Late in November, Christmas came to our house in the form of a prominent nativity scene that decorated our mantle.

 

Each season I reverently place the Christmas characters on my mantel, locating shepherds, wise men, and angles, carefully facing them toward the focal point – the empty manger, the bed of hay and straw. In our house we traditionally waited until Christmas Eve to introduce the Christ child into the crèche displayed in the middle of our house.

 

One year, while arranging the nativity, I engaged my sons. They took turns choosing where each piece – a character, an animal, or a star – should be strategically located. At last we pulled the little manger from its storage place.

 

“Where is Jesus?” Aaron asked. “He belongs in this crib.” After much discussion and explanation I convinced the boys that Christmas is as much about waiting and preparing for Jesus as it is celebrating His birth.

 

“But it makes me sad to look into the stable and see an empty manger! I want to see Jesus.” Benjamin expressed his conflicting thoughts.  We had a dilemma on our hands. 

 

I retrieved the tiny wooden carving – a sweet little replica of an animal’s feed trough. Grabbing a red marker, I drew a heart in the “crib.”

 

“There,” I said. “Each time you look into the stable and see an empty manger, let the heart remind you to make room in your heart for Jesus. This year give Jesus a special gift. Let others see Jesus in you!” 

 

I used this moment to teach my sons an object lesson. “Jesus was born in a stable. Really, though, He came for you.” I gently placed my finger on each little boy’s heart. “He wants to be born in your life. Your heart is like this stable. Can you let Him live in you? Why not remember each time you look at this nativity scene, “my heart is Jesus’ stable.”

 

Do you know what a life whose heart is filled with Jesus looks like?  It is a life that is stable: one that is satisfied with His will, living in truth, always adoring the Lord, believing in God’s promises, longing for relationship with Him, and empowered by His spirit. 

 

It’s the life of a person who is SATISFIED: Certainly, Mary would have chosen a better place for her child and the King of Kings, but she was satisfied with God’s design. 

 

It’s the life of a person who knows and lives the TRUTH: Certainly, Joseph’s desired to put Mary away, except that the truth of Jesus needed to be shared.

 

It’s the life of a person who obviously ADORES God:  Certainly, the shepherds were fearful, but they obeyed God’s call to leave their objects of purpose and income, objects of adoration – their lambs. They obeyed God’s urging to find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Leaving their lambs, shepherds fell down in adoration when they found the Lamb of God.

 

It’s the life of a person who BELIEVES God:  Certainly, the Magi dreaded the long trip, but they believed in God’s power to provide a new King.

 

It’s the life of a person who LONGS for a relationship with God:  Certainly, God’s children here on earth want to be filled with that which the world has to offer, but when we long for Jesus to fill our every yearning, everything else falls into its proper place.  

 

It’s the life of a person EMPOWERED by the Holy Spirit: Certainly, we are weak, but God is strong. When He steps into our hearts He brings “all his glorious, unlimited resources to empower us with inner strength, through his spirit.”  (Ephesians 3:16, my paraphrase)

 

When you look into your heart do you find it empty? This season invite Jesus to fill your life. Determine to allow the living God to be your focal point. Merry Christmas!

 

My Prayer for Today:

Lord Jesus, Without You there would be no Christmas. Today I want to dedicate this season to You. Every day I will remember that You are the reason we celebrate. It is Your birthday. Had you remained in heaven, I would still be lost, without purpose, without a future or hope, without joy. Thank you for giving Your life that I might live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

 

Additional Resources:     

Who Holds the Keys to Your Heart  by Lysa TerKeurst

Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas  by Sharon Jaynes

The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel

 

Application Steps: 

Without making it another exhausting chore, determine to bring Jesus into your Christmas.  Replace the frenzy of holiday preparation by pondering His intentions for coming to earth.  Keep Christ in Christmas. 

 

Reflection Points:
Where does Jesus fit into my Christmas celebration?

 

Do I celebrate Christmas with Jesus in mind or is it merely a secular holiday for me?

 

How can I make Christmas a Christ honoring celebration?

 

Power Verses:
John 14: 23, Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’ ” (ESV)

Hebrews 13:5, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ ” (NLT)

Colossians 2:7, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (NLT)