Christmas is a time of great imagination, especially for kids. Just imagine a child taking a beautifully wrapped gift in hand, shaking it, imagining what’s in it, listening for a puppy inside. Thinking “What could it be?” as they run through all the awesome possibilities in their mind. Hoping, dreaming, and imagining how unimaginably cool it is going to be if they get their most desired gift.
For the shepherds, the unimaginable became imaginable (Luke 2:8-20). It was unimaginable that:
- Shepherds would be the ones to receive the angelic announcement.
- The Messiah had finally come.
- Good News of eternal salvation had come in Jesus Christ.
- Fear could be replaced by hope.
- The most ordinary and humble of all would be the first to see the promised one.
- A common night of good shepherding would result in meeting the one Good Shepherd.
- An ordinary stable and manger and parents and cows and hay and shepherds and angels witnessed the birth of an extraordinary baby.
Jesus represents the unimaginable becoming imaginable!
God wants to do something new in you. I’m not sure what it is for you. I have some ideas of what it is in me. What I do know for sure is that we need to make room in our hearts and lives for God to work in us. Remember the Christmas story: there was no room in the Inn. Likewise, there is often no room for God in our “Inn” to work in us.
So how do we make room for God?
- Surrender our all (James 4:7-10). This passage of scripture in James lists 10 things we need to do to humble ourselves before God. The first is to submit, surrender or devote our lives to God. I’m inspired by the lowly shepherds. When they heard the angelic proclamation, there was nothing more important to them than the Christ child.Would you pray this prayer with me? “Jesus, may I live every day as if it was the first day I heard about the coming of the Messiah. May it not get old, may I not get stuck in a rut, may I not put my faith on auto pilot, may I live each day surrendered and submitted to you, may I sincerely glorify and praise you with my life each day.”
As we do this, we will make room for God to do something new in us. It starts by living a surrendered lives, Jesus-first lives, making Him the center of all we do and all we are.
Making room starts with surrendering. For God to do something new in you and me, for Him to transform me into the image of His Son, for the unimaginable (to be more like Jesus) to become imaginable we need to give God the gift of total surrender this Christmas. Give this some prayer and thought over this next week, and begin the New Year with a renewed commitment.
- Serve others (Mark 10:45). Shepherds were humble, lowly, servants.The spiritual discipline of serving others does something profound – it gets my thoughts off of me and on others, and that is exactly how Jesus lived. When we serve others it creates space in our hearts, minds and schedules and allows us to be about what God is about.
In my mind, there is a key descriptor word that goes with serving, and that is sacrifice. Jesus came to serve and He did so by sacrificing His life. What am I sacrificing for others? What are you sacrificing for others? As we desire to be more like Jesus, sacrifice needs to be in our crosshairs. What can we sacrifice to bless others? This is the true idea of service. It is the Jesus example. The whole idea of transformation is to become more like Jesus and that implies sacrificed service. Consider ways you can sacrifice your time, energy, and money to serve God and others in grater ways this Christmas and in the New Year.
- Shun sin (Acts 2:38 and 1 Peter 1:14-16). Sin and compromise crowd out God and leave no room in our “Inn.” But prayer and repentance make room for God and give Him room to have our attention and change us and grow us to be more like Jesus. If I were to hand you two glasses of water, one that was contaminated and discolored and the other was crystal clear whi one would you drink from? Apply this illustration to your spiritual life. What are the contaminants (sin) that we allow to flourish in our lives that crowds out God? What do we need to flush out so God can flourish?We are all sinners. Whether we are on the bottom of the social ladder like the shepherds or the top of the heap like royalty of Jesus’ day, all of us are sinners who need a savior. We all need to accept Jesus as Savior and then ask God to give us strength to forsake sin so we can become more like the Savior.
- Spread the Good News (Luke 2:17 and Mark 4:19). Really, this is why Jesus came and it is what He asks all of His followers to do. The shepherds spread the word, they told the story, they shared the Good News. Tell someone your story and tell someone THE Story. Don’t feel like you need to convince, win, persuade or debate. Remember, it’s the Good News! Do your part and share it, then trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.This Christmas and this upcoming New Year make space in your heart and mind for Jesus to use you to reach others. As you do, He will make a new you in you.