Advent or christmas wreath with four red wax candles on wooden background.Today, December 1st, marks the first day of the Advent season. It is a time to reflect anew on the unspeakable wonder of God becoming incarnate, Emmanuel—God with us. Why did God condescend to become a helpless babe in a feeding trough in Bethlehem? Why did He trade the glories of Heaven for ignominy? Because there was no other way by which sinners, who were enemies of God, could be saved from the inescapable and deserving condemnation of His eternal wrath.

Jesus was born so that He could die. Die a gruesome and horrific death for me and for you. Die in our place as the once-and-for all perfect sacrifice, taking on all our guilt, sin, and shame so that we might be made righteous in God’s sight. Scriptures teaches that Jesus who was holy, righteous, and perfectly without sin became sin for us. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT).

So at Advent we look forward to commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior and Redeemer. Yet this time of renewed joy and hope is sullied by the endless appeal of commercialism that sadly has become interwoven in the fabric of the Christmas season. It seems with each passing year that the true meaning of Christmas becomes even more eclipsed by the next new, big, or better thing that we can add to our accumulations. From luxury vehicles (trimmed with the large red bow) to gold necklaces, and everything in between, manufacturers—particularly at this time of the year—use cleverly-crafted commercials to convince us that not only do we deserve their wares, but also that our life wouldn’t be complete without them.

It goes without saying that the few weeks leading up to Christmas is also a time when shopping for presents goes into high gear. And of course there’s the traditional baking of cookies and the decorating of our homes, especially the buying and trimming of the Christmas tree. At this festive time of the year, it is the dazzling centerpiece attraction in homes. Driving down street after street, I can’t help but notice that virtually every house—both big and small—is decked with one. And they are all prominently displayed, seemingly for every passerby to see. In some neighborhoods, one would think there were a contest for who can come up with the most beautifully decorated house and yard. Without a doubt, we make many a preparation for Christmas.

But amid the preparations, hustle and bustle, and buying of gifts, we seem to have forgotten that Christmas is less about decorating our homes and placing presents under the tree than it is about decorating our hearts. Decorating our hearts—all year long, by the way—with grateful adoration, surrender, Christ-likeness, and a consuming desire to let our light shine before others so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in Heaven (see Matthew 5:16). This light of Jesus in us is indeed the light that needs to continually be displayed because it is the light that really matters!

So as we prepare for Christmas this year, let every heart prepare Him room. Joy to the world! The Lord has come; let earth receive her King. If we aren’t making room in our hearts for the King of Kings—if we aren’t seeking to walk in daily fellowship with the Spirit of the living God—it really doesn’t matter how lovely and ornate our homes are at Christmas.

This year, how can you and your family use the time leading up to Christmas to truly celebrate the birth of Jesus and enthrone Him on your heart? Unlike a Christmas tree that is quickly discarded after Christmas, this is the sort of decoration truly worth getting excited about for  it carries not only lasting weight but also eternal treasures.

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