If you want a joy-filled, blessed holiday season, there is a choice that you might want to make today.
The rush begins earlier each year. This year, the Halloween candy didn’t even make it to the half-price baskets before the shelves began filling up with green and red merchandise. There is a Thanksgiving shelf somewhere, but it’s probably not front and center. Thanksgiving and Christmas are one season now.
Last week I wrote about not missing your chance to live gratefully toward God, but this week I want to talk about living joyfully with Jesus.
A choice every Christian must make
I first learned the message of Joshua 24:14–15 from a plaque that hung in our kitchen. It said, “Choose ye this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” I grew up with that verse, but I learned the context for those words at some point.
The battles to take the promised land were over and now it was time for the people of Israel to settle into their home and establish their lives. Joshua made a wonderful speech to the family leaders, ending it with the choice he had made that he encouraged all the other families to make as well.
Joshua told them to choose today whom they would serve in their new land. They would either choose to serve God each day or they would end up serving something less. As you consider that ancient wisdom, think about how to apply that truth to your own life today.
Every Christian must choose to serve the Lord, or later they will realize they have come to serve something or someone less.
The most common mistake
Most Christians want to live right with God. We want to make choices our Lord can honor and bless. Most of us make good choices, but often those “good” choices end up being “lesser” choices than we were called to make.
I often say, “Satan doesn’t really mind if Christians are good people. He does mind when we choose to be godly.”
A common mistake we make as Christians is to define good things as godly. How do we know the difference?
When are you making a godly choice?
There is an obvious answer to that question. When we are faced with a circumstance that Scripture speaks to in a direct way, then obedience is our godly choice.
- We should remain faithful to our spouses, both physically and emotionally.
- We should honor our parents.
- We should worship the one true God and live with reverence to his holiness.
Each day we have choices to make that aren’t specifically answered in God’s word.
- Should I accept that new job and move to a different city?
- Should I speak to that friend about a sin or just pray for God to lead?
- Should I spend this money or give it as an offering?
- Should I end this friendship or just limit the influence?
- Should I serve on this committee at church or be more available to my family?
How do we know when our daily decisions are a godly choice? There is a clear answer, but it isn’t always easy to discern. If we make our daily decisions out of a sense of serving others, we might miss an opportunity to serve God.
Christians often make good decisions that serve other people. In fact, I think Satan tempts Christians to do that. If we stay busy serving our friends, our families, our jobs, and even our churches, we can miss the calling to serve God. How do we know if God has called us to a committee, a project, or any other opportunity to serve him?
The best answer I know is a difficult choice to maintain. It is the message of Galatians 5:25: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” If we want to make godly choices, we will probably need to ignore some good ideas along the way.
What does God want for your holiday season?
Only God can give you that answer. If we understand that one important choice, the other decisions are more likely to serve God rather than something or someone less.
I recently taught on my Advent book for this year, The Gift of Immanuel. Isaiah said that the Messiah’s “name” would be Immanuel but later said “his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The angel would tell Joseph to name his Son “Jesus.”
Cruden’s Concordance lists 198 names or titles given to Jesus. All of those are an aspect of the one name Immanuel. Immanuel means “God with us.”
When you became a Christian and received the Holy Spirit of God, Immanuel came to be within you. There are several reasons God wanted to give his Spirit to his children. We can’t live godly lives without his Spirit’s direction.
What does God want for your holiday season?
You don’t know until you ask. You won’t know, or know how to obey, unless you “keep in step with the Spirit.”
Choose “ye today” for your holiday
The joy we all look for from our Christmas holiday is one choice away. Joy is the gift of heaven, given to those who walk with God in obedience to his will and word. Today, and every day of the holiday season, will be changed by the choice to “serve God as you walk in his Spirit.”
We can ask God for ears to hear his calling. We can ask God for discernment to serve him before anything or anyone else. We can ask God for the ability to hear his voice, his commands, and his encouragement above all the other noisy moments in the month ahead.
Joy will follow our obedience to his leadership. That is the difference between a holiday filled with good things and a holiday filled with God’s joy.
“Choose ye today” whom you want to serve. Then, make that same choice for tomorrow. Your holiday season can be good, bad, mediocre, or godly simply because you make that daily choice.
Let’s all choose right now to serve God this busy Christmas season. I pray your memories of Christmas 2023 will include a list of his joy-filled blessings as a result.