How will you spend Christmas this year?
Some of us will spend it in a panic. Where is the time going? When will we ever get everything done? Yes, in a panic.
Some of us will spend it in pain or regret. This is the first Christmas after the foreclosure, after the divorce, after the death of that one we loved more than life itself. Yes, in pain.
Some of us will spend it in longing, in wistfulness. We treasure the traditions, the family time, the music, the worship. We catch glimpses of peace—and we long to revel in that peace. But when? and how? Yes, in wistfulness and longing.
In a panic. In pain. In longing. Do any of these describe your celebration—or lack thereof?
Today, I would like us to imagine a different way to spend Christmas. I would like us to consider the way King David spent Christmas—“in the Lord.”
Getting to the Heart
“Now wait a minute!” you may be saying. “David lived 1,000 years before Mary and Joseph, before the manger, before the shepherds. What would King David know about Christmas?”
More than you might think. Psalm 32:11 reads, “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice.” King David wrote these words. Doesn’t it sound like a Christmas greeting? Notice that phrase “in the Lord”? Our gladness and our joy, as David reminds us, are “in the Lord.”
Some of you may know the context of this psalm. It doesn’t set us up for joy. Most scholars think David wrote this psalm after his sorry tryst with Bathsheba. The Lord had given David every honor and all the riches for which David might have hoped. If he had wanted or needed more, all he had to do was ask.
But like many privileged, powerful leaders before him, David fell for the lie that God’s law did not apply to him. He fell into bed with the wife of one of his generals. Then he murdered that general in an attempt to cover up his adultery.
So how does Psalm 32 end up celebrating gladness and joy “in the Lord”? How does it end up being a kind of Christmas psalm? It turns out that in this psalm, David hones in on the greatest Christmas gift ever given—God’s forgiveness and the peace and joy that flow from the cross on which our Savior earned forgiveness and peace for us. David knew what it was like to live without that peace. Read Psalm 32:3–4: not much gladness and joy in those words!
But then, called to repentance by the prophet Nathan, David stood in the refreshing fountain of God’s grace. (Read Psalm 32:5.) That grace brought David great blessings. We might even call them “Christmas blessings.” God’s grace in Jesus brings us blessings, too! “Christmas blessings”—joy, gladness, peace, hope. (That sounds like Christmas to me!) Forgiven in Christ, we celebrate Christmas “in the Lord,” forgiven of all our sins, right alongside King David.
The following are ways Christ manifests those heavenly Christmas gifts in our lives:
Accepted in the Lord—In the Lord Jesus, forgiven in his cross, we are accepted by God. Some of us are so used to hearing this, it barely stirs us anymore. But think of it – when we come into God’s presence to pray, to worship, to cry in joy or pain, the holy angels are not thinking, “Who let him in here? What right does she have to come?” No! We are accepted, welcomed as the sons and daughters of heaven’s High King! According to Psalm 32: 1–2, we belong in the family of God! The peace and hope of Christmas are ours not just during the hustle and bustle of December, but every day of every month of every year of our lives here on earth. And these Christmas blessings follow us on into eternity! Merry Christmas—in the Lord!
Protected in the Lord—In the Lord Jesus, we are accepted. We are also protected. Listen to what David says in Psalm 32:6–7. In this fallen world, troubles will flood into every life. If the waters aren’t rising outside your door yet, just wait—you too will have ample opportunity to learn to trust your Savior. But when those waters rise, know this: you will not be swept away! You have a hiding place, a deliverer. Baby Jesus came to save us from our sins. He also came as proof-positive of God’s endless love for us. If God sent his own Son for us, we need not doubt that he will give us every other good gift we need. Peace. Joy. Gladness. Merry Christmas—in the Lord!
Affected in the Lord—In the Lord Jesus, we are accepted. We are protected. We are also affected, impacted, changed. These gifts of peace, joy, and gladness can’t help but change us. They can’t help but transform our perspective. We can’t help but share these great Christmas gifts with those around us! That’s why David wrote this psalm all those many years ago. He wanted us to share the joy and gladness God gave him. We get to share it too, because we are “in the Lord.” Merry Christmas—in the Lord!
Taking It Home
The ornament you will receive today will help you remember and share! Think about being “in the Lord” as you read to the words on the gift tag:
Be glad in the Lord for all he has done—
For his blessings, his comfort and love!
Rejoice in this gift, let every heart sing
Of the Babe sent from heaven above!
Christmas blessings as you celebrate and share in joy, gladness, and hope! Merry Christmas—in the Lord!
Editor’s note: This devotion is slightly adapted from one that accompanies one of CTA’s Ornaments of Faith—four of them new for 2013. Check them out! They make meaningful gifts and they won’t break the bank!
Scripture quotation taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
© 2013 CTA, Inc. Permission to make photocopies or reproduce by any other mechanical or electronic means is granted only to the original purchaser and is intended for use within a church or other Christian organization, but not for resale.