A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God….
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
As I look at the calendar, I realize that today is the end of November and tomorrow begins December. This means that I can start to focus upon the Christmas holiday. My goal in preparing our home for this sacred season, is to prepare for it in the way the Lord desires. I want to find spiritual significance in each activity my hands undertake in the coming days.
I have quoted the phrase “Prepare the way for the Lord” spoken by John the Baptist as he urged people to turn from their sins and live for God. He was preparing the way for Jesus and His ministry. John the Baptist chose these words that were first spoken by Isaiah almost 700 years before Christ when Isaiah was foretelling a message of forgiveness, comfort and hope for the Israelites who were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. Today I choose these words to speak to those around me the message of preparing our hearts and homes for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
As I decorate the tree, I think about the purposes of the wood from trees relating to the life of Jesus. The wood that was used to build the cattle stall that became the manger for baby Jesus came from a tree. The beams of the cross upon which Jesus died originated as a tree. When I look at the Christmas tree in our home, I want to see more than an evergreen tree with lights and decorations. I want to see the manger where Jesus was born as told in Luke 2:7 American Standard Version, “And she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” I also do not want to be so shortsighted that I forget the words of I Peter 2:24, “’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”
As I assemble my recipes for baking Christmas cookies, I am aware that some cookies are soft while others are harder and crispier. I take time to ask myself how can I help those around me prepare their hearts for Christmas? Ezekiel 11:19-20 says, “And I (God) will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.” Only the Lord can do the work within a person that allows one’s heart to be permanently softened and ready to receive Christ into his or her heart. However, I must remember my responsibility of being a positive influence upon the hearts of those around me. Is my witness and way of softening the hearts of the hardhearted? I love to bake all varieties of Christmas cookies with my grandchildren but most of all I want to prepare my family’s hearts to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
As I place candles in the windows, I wonder how well I am fulfilling Matthew 5:16, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” I must be careful during this hectic season that I do not become so stressed out that the light of my life flickers with weariness. I desire to focus upon allowing my actions to be good deeds that glorify God.
As I wrap gifts that we have purchased for our children and grandchildren, I am reminded of the greatest gift of all. Romans 6:23 says, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If Jesus had not been born in the Christmas manger, He would not have been able to give His life for our salvation. I never want to forget that the reason for this season is that Christ was born so that He could die to give us the opportunity to receive the gift of everlasting life. No gift I purchase can compare to the gift God has given.
Preparing the way for the Lord in the way desired by the Lord can be very different from what my mindset can become if I take my eyes off the original meaning of Christmas. My goal is to follow the example of John the Baptist and personally fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy before we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, 2016. I definitely want to prepare in the way the Lord desires!