4 Days Until Christmas!
Song: “Away in a Manger,” by Nat King Cole
Christmas Album: “The Spirit of Christmas,” by Michael W. Smith and Friends
Christmas DVD: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
Netflix Movie: “Scrooged”
Amazon Prime Movie: “The All Star Christmas Show”
Feeln Movie: “Silver Bells”
• Miami Beach Bowl, Western Kentucky (11-2) vs. South Florida (8-4), Miami, 2:30 p.m.
• “Christmas With the Kranks,” 6 p.m., FX
• “A Christmas Melody,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “Very Larry Christmas,” 6 p.m., BET
• “Elf,”6:30 p.m., ABC Family; ESPN
• “Toy Story That Time Forgot,” 7:30 p.m, Disney
• “Santa Hunters,” 7:30 p.m., Nickelodeon
• “Miracle on 34th Street (1947),” 8 p.m., AMC
• “Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” 8 p.m., Disney XD
• “The Santa Claus 2,” 8 p.m., FX
• “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” 8 p.m., Disney
• “12 Gifts of Christmas,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• Detroit at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. ESPN
• “The Santa Clause,” 8:45 p.m., ABC Family
• “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year,” 8:55 p.m., Disney
• “Christmas With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,” 9 p.m., PBS
• “A Saturday Night Live Christmas,” 9 p.m., NBC
Quick Thought for Christmas
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
The coming of Jesus into the world is a sharp dividing line that has forced billions of people to make one simple decision: Do you believe, or not?
And that belief is not like a child’s belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. It’s a belief that requires action – belief in Christ means you have to either follow Him and His ways, or go your own way.
And it’s been that way since the very beginning.
We’ve already read about shepherds who were told in a field that the Savior of the world was born in a stable nearby. And a teenage girl who was told she was miraculously pregnant with that Savior. And a simple carpenter who was told that the girl’s story was true, and that he needed to go ahead and marry her. And all of those people, in spite of the seeming craziness of the story, made a decision of faith to believe what they were told, and follow the ways of the God whose messengers brought that news.
Today’s scripture is skipping ahead a little bit to when Jesus was probably two years old. The wise men arrived in Jerusalem and, when they were taken to King Herod, told him the reason for their visit – they were there to worship the new King of Israel. Herod undoubtedly knew the prophecies. Even if he wasn’t steeped in scripture, he would have been surrounded by educated advisers who were. If he was simply a skeptic, he would have dismissed the claims of the wise men out of hand.
But he also made a fateful decision that shows he believed the prophecies at some level, but thought he could beat God. He sent the wise men on their way, hoping they would lead him to the Christ child, not so he could worship it, but so he could have it killed. The wise men truly were wise – enough so that when they were warned in a dream to get out of Dodge, they did so without saying goodbye to Herod.
And Herod, instead of killing the one child in Bethlehem, killed them all. Every male child two years old or under was slaughtered, just to make sure that Herod covered his bases and got the one he was looking for. Of course, there is no beating God, and He ensured the holy family was well on their way to Egypt by the time Herod took his deadly action.
Herod had the same chance to worship Jesus as did everyone else. He heard the prophecies and was told straight up by the wise men what was going on in Bethlehem. And instead of opening his heart to Jesus, he hardened his heart and did his own thing. And that still goes on every day.
Look around you today. It’s the Christmas season, and people are scurrying everywhere to make last-minute preparations for presents under the tree and delicious treats for Christmas dinner. But as they scurry, do you see lots of signs of faith? Or are most people just zoned in on a Christmas mission, including many who will cut you off on the road or in the line at the store? The opportunity to open our hearts to Jesus this Christmas is right in front of all of us, but so many will miss that opportunity and do our own thing.
Don’t let this wonderful Christmas opportunity get away, only to discover on Christmas morning you’re left with shredded wrapping paper, torn boxes and an empty heart. In these next four days, spend as much time as possible focusing on how you can open your heart and follow Christ to the manger on Christmas.
Reflection copyright © 2015 by Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.