Joy to the world, the Lord is come
(Joy to the World, Verse 1)Let Earth receive her King Let every heart prepare Him room And Heaven and nature sing And Heaven and nature sing And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing
Series: Joy to the World
The Thanksgiving decorations are taken down and packed away, and the Christmas trimmings are being unpacked and carefully arranged for display. My husband loves decorating for Christmas. If he had his way, every centimeter of space would be filled with the festive frills of the season. When he eyes a possible new addition to our ample collection, my response of late is, “We don’t have any more room.” He enthusiastically responds, “We’ll make room!”
This exchange makes me reflect on my crowded calendar and commitments, and my cramped heart and mind. How much clutter am I allowing to hang around, consuming my time and thoughts? Are there things I can remove to open up more space for something better? Am I giving my attention to not just the right things, but the best things? Most of all, am I making room for Jesus in all things, and is my heart prepared for Him at all times?
This season often brings additional commitments, stresses, and even enhanced sorrows. These things can overtake our focus and cloud our outlook. Our capacity to sort through it all is diminished as we often tackle what’s screaming the loudest in each moment. Although the reason for the season is Jesus, we sometimes lose sight of Him as we attempt to accomplish all the extras. So, how do we prepare our hearts and make room for Him, despite all we are carrying?
In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah wrote about one whose voice would cry out and instruct the people to prepare for the Lord (40:3.) In the New Testament, Matthew shares the account of John the Baptist fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said: A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!” (Matthew 3:1-3 HCSB)
Through both Isaiah and John the Baptist, we understand that preparing our hearts for the Lord requires our attention and response. We are to make the path straight and repent. In other words, we are to turn away from sin and align our lives with righteousness.
Let’s look at a little more instruction on this matter. Peter exhorted the elect of God in his first letter, saying:
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. (1 Peter 1:13 NLT)
James, in his letter, wrote:
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! (James 4:8 HCSB)
And finally, Paul, in many of his letters, encouraged his readers to put on Christ—to clothe themselves with the love, kindness, gentleness, and humility of Jesus.
These men offer the methods for preparing our hearts for the Lord: set our minds for action, exercise self-control, put our hope in the salvation we receive through Jesus, draw near to Him, cleanse our hands, purify our hearts, and put on Christ. …it seems like a long list of more things to do…
But is it really? Jesus, in Matthew 11:28-30, invites all to come unto Him and find rest in Him. He encourages us that for those who do, their loads become light and easy with Him. As we clothe ourselves in Christ, the straighter our paths, the clearer our vision, the stronger our hope, and the greater our joy becomes.
We are not alone in our journey. God is with us and He is for us. He helps us, gives us wisdom, and carries our burdens. A heart prepared for Jesus will sing praises with expectant hope and joy unspeakable. When room is made for His presence, we recognize Him and receive Him in the beauty of His holiness.
The Lord is near all who call out to Him. (Psalm 145:18a HCSB)
You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11 HCSB)
Before you get carried away with the chaos this season may bring, call out to Jesus. Ask Him to help you prepare your heart for Him. Receive your King and rejoice in His faithfulness. May His joy fill your heart and your home as you make room for Him.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Isaiah 40:3, 41:10; Matthew 3:1-3, 11:28-30; 1 Peter 1:13; James 4:8; Romans 8:31, 13:14; Colossians 3:12-15; Galatians 5:22-23; Psalm 16:11, 145:18