Throughout the month of December, the Nugget will be featuring articles focused on important lessons in our Spiritual walk that we can learn from Christmas. This 11 part series features several different authors, but the focus is the same: How can the celebration of Christ’s birth help us in our daily walk with Christ? Today’s lesson is the second of a 4-part mini-series from Nugget moderator and author, Lynona Gordon Chaffart…
On Saturday, we looked at how the evidence of Christmas that is all around us, whether we choose to celebrate it or not, can help us to remember that Jesus’ sacrifice didn’t start on the cross: It started the moment the Holy Spirit touched Mary!
Today, in order to glean another important lesson that we can learn during the Christmas season, I would like to direct our thoughts to parts of the Christmas story itself. We all understand that this story likely did not take place in December. We also know that the Wisemen were not at the manger, and as such, all of our traditional creches are actually … inaccurate. Nonetheless, seeing these abundant signs of Christmas all town around can teach us some powerful lessons.
Drawing from the Christmas story as recorded in the book of Luke: “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’” (Luke 2:8-14 NLT)
Jesus’ birth is heralded by “the armies of heaven”. And what are they doing? They are “praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’” (Luke 2:13-14 NLT).
And what did the “audience” of this “Angel Concert” – the lowly shepherds themselves – do after hearing these things? “They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger” (Luke 2:16 NLT)! They followed the angels’ example! They hurried to the village so that they, too, might worship the Christ child!
The Bible encourages us to praise God and worship Him. Even the hosts of Heaven do so (See Rev. 4), and throughout both Testaments we see admonitions to praise God and worship Him. Just two examples of hundreds: “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker…” (Ps. 95:6 NLT); “Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” (Col. 3:16 NLT). The book of Hebrews even goes to so far as to tell us our praise should be … continual! “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.” (Heb. 13:15 NLT)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t praise God continually. I’m not even sure I praise Him regularly! I do try to give Him the praise for the works He does in my life and for answering prayers, but do I do so with all the fervor of the angels of Heaven? I mean, when you read Rev. 4 in its entirety, it would seem that giving praise and worship to God is all the heavenly hosts ever do! In fact, it may be the purpose of their existence: “ Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, ‘You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.’” (Rev. 4:9-11 NLT).
No, I’m afraid that despite the Biblical admonitions to praise God, I don’t spend nearly enough time engaged in praise and worship.
I was struck with a new idea recently: Perhaps I don’t really see the reason for praising God. I mean, I know He is worthy of the praise and I know the Bible tells us to do so; but I am of a personality type that if I don’t understand ‘why’ I need to do something, my heart may not be 100% in it! Is this why I don’t always give a lot of priority to spending my time praising God? On the heels of this “ouchy” revelation came yet another, even “ouchier” one… Is one of the reasons I don’t spend as much time praising God as I should rooted in the fact that this takes away from my time to do other, “more important” things? If that is the case, then “my agenda” has become a false god, for any time we put anything of earthly value ahead of something of heavenly value, we are worshiping a false God!
Let’s look at another passage from the book of Psalms: “Accept my prayer as incense offered to you and my upraised hands as an evening offering.” (Ps. 141:2 NLT). As I read this recently, I realized something every powerful: The reason why we are admonished to worship and praise is rooted in – sacrifice! My worship goes before God as “an evening offering”!
Of course, this shouldn’t have been a new idea. Romans 12 tells us the same thing: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Vs. 1 NLT). This is also echoed in the above-mentioned verse from Heb. 13: “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.” (Vs. 15 NLT).
The bottom line is this: When I praise and worship God, I am giving Him a sacrifice, a living sacrifice, one that He finds acceptable, one which indicates my allegiance to His name! The reason our worship is considered a “sacrifice” is because God knows how busy we are with earthly pursuits. He knows that we barely have time to do all the things we are required to do, and therefore, when we give Him our praise and worship, we are “sacrificing” our own agendas to Him! And in so doing, we are declaring that He is the King of our lives, thus taking our minds off our earthly pursuits and putting our earthly priorities back in their proper place: In submission to Him!
Hey! Worshipping God is an easy way to oust the false gods from our lives!
So how is all this a lesson we can learn during the Christmas season?
With signs of Christmas all around, let’s use these as reminders to us to follow the steps of the Heavenly hosts, to give honor and glory to God, to worship Him, and in so doing, to give Him a sacrifice that indicates my allegiance to His name!
Try it the next time you see any indication of Christmas. You’ll find yourself lifted out of the hustle and bustle and into that Heavenly place where God once again sits on the throne as “Number 1” in our lives!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “Lessons From Christmas” mini-series, please click here.)