It is about that time again.  It is time for the annual checklist.  Do the lights still work?  Check!  Presents purchased? Check! Enough wrapping paper for those presents? Check! All the ingredients needed for those special cookies? Check!

A place reserved for Jesus in your heart? Check???

There was a news article that completely repulsed me.  The State Capital of Illinois, trying to be open to everyone, allowed a satanic art sculpture to be put up next to all the other decorations.  Yes, you read that right.  You thought it was bad enough to have Santa and Mrs. Claus take over with Rudolph and Frosty close behind…how about allowing this very horrible being which forced Christmas in the first place, by tempting Adam and Eve to sin in the garden, to be placed among the manger and singing angels?

It is starting to get awfully crowded in this stable!  Is there still room in this stable for…Jesus?

I am sure that story disgusts you too.  But, do you know what disgusts me even more?  My own heart.  Those people who don’t believe in Jesus, those people who preach the opposite of Jesus, those who treat the TRUE story of Christmas as a fairy tale, they will all have to answer to Jesus.  But, do you know who else will have to answer to Jesus?  Me.

I will never construct a satanic symbol to reign on the front lawn of our house.  But, do I ever allow that to happen in my heart?

Sound a little harsh?  Well, what really does the devil want?  He wants all people to suffer with him.  How will he do that?  I suppose he has his ways.  Although he may work in such blatant ways with this pathetic art sculpture in Illinois, that is not the way he wants to work.  He wants to be sneaky.  Think about it…those who don’t want him will get disgusted at this horrendous display at a Capitol building.  But, will those same people get disgusted if they feel like they don’t have time to come and worship Jesus?  Isn’t that really what the devil wants?  He wants to be sneaky.  In fact, he wants people to believe he doesn’t exist.  Having a display at a Capitol building (NOT advocating it at all of course) is a reminder that he does exist.  He doesn’t want that.  He wants people to believe he doesn’t exist because that helps in his goal of being sneaky; of getting more people to turn from the real meaning of Christmas.  It doesn’t always mean worshipping a false god.  It can also mean not worshipping the True God!

I look at all I do during the month of December.  How much time is spent “doing my job” and how much of it is spent in His Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to pour out God’s love into my heart through that word?  It is a busy time of year.  For me, many sermons or devotions or services to plan and lead.  Counseling seems to increase this time of year.  And, that is on top of all the other parts of this time of year – shopping, wrapping, decorating.

Please don’t misread.  All those things are not wrong.  I LOVE having our house decorated and listening to Christmas music.  I love driving around and looking at the lights and decorations.  And who really wants to say NO to a cookie.

But, what should be the end goal?  Getting to that crowded stable to gaze through eyes of faith upon the baby in the manger who came for me.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:6-7).

Yes, my heart too can get a little crowded at this time of year.  But, that is why Jesus came.  He came to forgive my heart which doesn’t always want to keep looking at that baby in the manger, but wants to get distracted by everything else in the world.  He came to forgive my sins which sometimes seem to crowd out the joy of Christmas from my heart.  He came to give hope and joy and love to all who would trust in that baby – who grew up, who went to the cross, and who lives to this day.

Perhaps it happens to you every year. Perhaps your life gets so busy and your time is so short that a quick glance in the manger is all you give.  Take time with that glance. See with eyes of faith why that baby came.  He came…for you.  He knew you would be busy, so he made Christmas simple, yet so amazing. Christmas is a birth of a baby.  But, Christmas is God coming to help you, to forgive you, to take care of you. Let the true joy of CHRISTmas fill your heart.  Give him a moment of your time to let that little baby in Bethlehem shower his love on you.

The devil may have some power.  He may even have some powerful allies.  He will work in any way he can to get you to forget what Christmas is all about.  It may even seem like the devil is winning from time to time.  But, look again.  That baby in the manger will have the last say.  That baby is the one who has all the power. Besides, Jesus v. Satan already happened.  Someone’s head was crushed, and it wasn’t Jesus’ head!

***Just an invitation – To help you prepare your heart for that Christ Child, Centennial has many services to help.  It starts with Dec 12th where we have two special services.  One is at 3:45 PM and the other service is at 6:30 PM.  They will be identical services.  Him and Her, a special musical group, will be here to lead worship.  Also, between services will be a potluck meal.  All are invited!***