By now all the magazines at the check-out are giving us advice on how to have the best Christmas ever. Better Homes and Gardens will be sharing home decorating ideas that even the amateur can pull off. Southern Living will show us the best Southern recipes and traditions to share with family and friends this holiday. GQ and Vogue will try to make us look good for the holidays or Men’s Health will stress how to work off all the holiday calories you added on from all those great new recipes. The travel magazines will show us beautiful snow filled destinations to travel off too for some time away with scenes guaranteed to give us lasting memories of Christmas 2019.
Ultimately Christmas isn’t something we find in a magazine or even in the perfect recipe or destination. As Dorothy found on her trip to Oz, the best places are the ones you keep with you in your heart. So how are we to prepare for the perfect Christmas this year? First you need to know why you are celebrating, and don’t just say it’s for Jesus. Why is it for Jesus, what is the purpose of Christmas in the first place? Paul would put it this way, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for this very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” I Timothy 1:15, 16
The real reason for Christmas has nothing to do with 99% of what the magazines or our society will tell you. If you have Christ in your heart then Christmas has come to you and that is what you need to celebrate. How do we celebrate that? When I say that I give gifts because God gave me his son, well, that’s nice but what in my gift giving praises God. Will the person receiving my gift know that this is part of my saying thank you to God for his only begotten son? How can my celebration be an inspiration to others?
Another thing that can make this the best Christmas ever is penitence. Now wait a minute you may say, the holidays are supposed to be joyful, what’s all this about repentance? I’ll repent of all the food I ate and how I spent too much in January. But when you look at scripture, the kinds of gifts that please God aren’t the ones you can wrap and put under the Christmas tree.
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in
burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16, 17
So how do you prepare for the best Christmas ever? You begin with your heart and the question is, “Does Jesus have it?”