Monday, December 22, 2008

Does Your Heart Resemble the Stable?

The Christmas story has forever elevated the lowly stable…

“And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

We’re familiar with the story; big crowds in Bethlehem, no room in the inn, sympathetic innkeeper leads the exhausted couple to the place where the animals are kept. A stable, perhaps a cave, and here it is that the Savior of the World is born. It is to this place that a chorus of heavenly hosts sent the amazed shepherds. There was room here in the stable for Mary and Joseph and the newborn King, and because there was room, Christ came.

We know numerous Christmas songs that convey this concept:

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King, let every heart prepare Him room..."

“O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee.”

In this season, is there room for Christ? Amidst all the frivolity and shopping and stress, is there room in my heart for the arrival of my Savior?

Hold that thought for a moment...

A large part of Christmas consists of decorating our homes and opening them to entertain family and friends. This is another popular song concept you can recognize in lyrics such as:

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go…and the prettiest sight you see is the holly that will be on your own front door...”

”Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays…if you want to be happy in a million ways for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home…”

“The door is always open, the neighbors pay a call…”

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly…”

At no other season do we go so out of our way to make our homes a welcoming place.

We put up lights and decorate inside and out. We plan get-togethers and put together special menus. We invite guests, and we do all we can to make them feel welcome and to make our homes resemble the quintessential Currier and Ives Christmas print.

The coming of Christ is no longer a surprise as it was that night of the angels’ announcement.

We enter the Christmas season aware of the fact that this is all heralding the arrival of God incarnate so that He could be Christ crucified, our Redeemer.

Are our hearts made ready for Him as much as our homes are made welcome for our guests?

In our homes we clear the clutter of daily living that’s piled up on the counters. We make extra space in the coat closet. We polish the silver and pull out the china. We prepare with a sense of expectancy.

Do we come into the final days of Christmas with that same sense concerning the preparation of our hearts for Christ?

Or, when He comes, do our hearts resemble more the stable, where room was hastily made in the corner of a foul-smelling place cluttered with filth, where there was no expectancy of His coming? Will the place in our hearts that we give Jesus be filled with the stench of resentment or bitterness, or will the amassing of life’s trappings fill every corner?

There is no doubt that, whatever the environment Christ comes into, He will transform it. We do not have to “clean up” before we come to God. He welcomes us just as we are.

But let me challenge you believer, as you come to this celebration of the birth of Jesus,take the time to prepare your heart, clearing it of attitudes and sin that have lingered, and sweeping aside worries and doubts.

Make ready a place for your Lord, recall your blessings and string them as lights, put up a wreath of unending gratitude, stoke the fire of your devotion, hang a big red bow of love on your door, and expectantly welcome His arrival!

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