This advent devotional by Sharon Jaynes (made available through BibleGateway.com) so touched and challenged my heart. I hope Sharon’s writing speaks to your heart too.
Ready for Christmas
by Sharon Jaynes
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2 NIV)
Friend to Friend
It seems like everywhere you go during the month of December people ask the same question. At the grocery checkout counter–“Are you ready for Christmas?” At the bank drive through window–“Are you ready for Christmas?” At the doctor’s office–“Are you ready for Christmas?”
I think the answer to that question depends on how you define “ready.” Let me ask you this question: “Are you ready for Jesus?” Now that puts the idea of being ready in a whole different Christmas light, doesn’t it?
John the Baptist was sent by God to get the people ready to meet Jesus. Here’s what Matthew had to say about him:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight paths for him.'”…
“People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” (Matthew 3:1-3, 5-6).
We don’t like the words “repent” or “repentance” very much. They mean “to make a radical change in one’s life, to turn and go in the opposite direction from sin (another word we’re not too fond of today) to God.” Repentance involves an element of grief over the way we have lived apart from God and a decision to run toward the Father. That was God’s idea of the way to prepare for Christ’s arrival in the book of Matthew, and it is still God’s idea of preparing to worship Him today.
Let’s reflect for a moment on the words to this poem and then answer the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?”
“Ready for Christmas,” she said with a sigh
As she gave a last touch to the gifts piled high…
Then wearily sat for a moment AND READ
Til soon, very soon, she was nodding her head.
Then quietly spoke a voice in her dream,
“Ready for Christmas, what do you mean?”
She woke with a start and a cry of despair.
“There’s so little time and I’ve still to prepare.
Oh, Father! Forgive me, I see what You mean!
Yes, more than the giving of gifts and a tree.
It’s the heart swept clean that He wanted to see,
A heart that is free from bitterness and sin.
So be ready for Christmas – and ready for Him.
Dear Lord, I want to be ready for Jesus today and everyday. I come to You now in repentance for my sins: my sin of selfishness, stubbornness, and rebellion. I turn from my self-centeredness today and commit to keep my focus on You. God, I cannot do this on my own. I am not able. So I ask that you fill me with the power of Your Holy Spirit Who empowers me to obey. Thank You that You have given me every thing I need for a life of godliness and truth. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What do you think it means to be “ready for Christmas?”
What do you think it means to be ready for Jesus?
Go back and read the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. Notice the difference between the five who were ready and the five who were not. Which group more resembles your readiness for Christ?