The Christmas rush is in full throttle and the pressure is on to get it all done before December 25. I admire those wise folks who make Christmas purchases all year long.
Of course, if I was smart enough to purchase gifts ahead of time, I’d probably forget where I hid them.
It’s easy to get caught up in the wrong things and completely miss Christmas. Some people missed that first Christmas. The innkeeper was too preoccupied. He had his hands full with a full inn. King Herod was too jealous and paranoid. The religious leaders didn’t care about a baby born in Bethlehem. Their focus was the law; they didn’t need a Savior. Jerusalem residents lived only a short distance from Bethlehem, yet they totally missed His birth.
Let’s not take for granted everyone knows what and Who Christmas is about. Pastor Sterling Lynn told about his church’s mission trip to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, several years ago. This youth group from First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, encountered a teenage girl who asked, “What is your group doing here?”
The youth pastor responded, “We’re here to help one of the local churches spread the good news about Jesus.”
Then came two words that totally shocked the short-term missionaries: “Jesus who?”
Get the picture. They were standing in Bethlehem and this girl asked, “Jesus who?”
One of my church members, Ali, had a similar experience. Ali works as a house parent at FAME Girls’ Ranch in Russellville, Alabama, and one of her residents was a 16-year-old sent to live there by the state of Alabama.
The girls brought out the boxes of Christmas stuff and pitched in to decorate their house. When Ali opened the box that contained the nativity scene, this student had no idea what a nativity scene was. What does nativity mean?
She had been to church, knew about Jesus, had heard about his death and resurrection, but had never heard about his birth. Ali sat with this teen and had the privilege of sharing the details of Jesus’ birth.
The youth was totally fascinated and deeply touched that God loved the world so much He gave His only Son to be the Savior of the world.
How do we prepare to have our best Christmas ever? Several years ago, Evangelist Dennis Nunn addressed that question in a Sunday morning message at our church (see www.everybelieverawitness.org for more information about Dennis’ ministry).
First, to have the best Christmas ever, turn holidays into holy days.
“Man did not come up with the idea of holidays, and the Bible never commands us to celebrate Christmas,” Nunn said.
Referring to a list of feasts God commanded the Israelites to observe in Leviticus 23, Nunn pointed out that setting aside a regular time to celebrate something while taking time away from work briefly was God’s idea.
“When it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas, we don’t want to make it to be what the world says it’s about, but what God says it’s about. It’s about Jesus. It’s not about secular thanks, but spiritual thanks,” Nunn said.
“It’s so easy to allow the world to squeeze us into its mold, but we need to keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus.”
Second, to have the best Christmas ever, don’t go into debt. Overspending for gifts and going into debt is the world’s way to do Christmas, he said, and it’s so easy to pile up debt.
“The only reason people don’t own an elephant is it hasn’t been offered no money down, interest free for eight years. If you can’t pay for it, then don’t buy it!”
In biblical times, gifts given during these holy celebrations were given to the Lord. While reviewing His instructions about feasts, God stated, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you” (Deuteronomy 16:17). What are you giving to the Lord this Christmas?
Third, to have the best Christmas ever, focus on people and not presents. This is a season to invest in family and build family memories, Nunn said.
"Spend as much time talking to your children as you do shopping for your children.” What memories will you build this year?
On the front end of what can become a stress-filled December, determine now your focus is going to be on Jesus. After all, without Christ, there really is no true Christmas, is there?