You came back for another Advent devotional! Your being here encourages me but also tells me you are anxious to prepare your heart for Christmas.
Long ago, my husband Gene bought a unicycle at a yard sale. He wanted to learn to ride it but never put forth the effort. It sat in our attic, gathered dust, and eventually rusted. It disappeared when we downsized before our move to our retirement community.
In contrast, when our son John invested in a unicycle, he spent hours learning to ride it effortlessly. What made the difference? John was sincere about wanting to master the cycle. Because of his commitment, he succeeded and now he entertains others by performing at public events.
In John 5, Jesus approached a lame man lying by the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, but before Jesus healed him, first he asked the man, “Do you want to be healed?” In other words, “You have been lying here for 38 years, but are you really serious about being healed?” Instead of asking God for help, you see, the lame man had trusted in a legend of an angel who might cure his problem.
The prophet Samuel knew the importance of pursuing righteousness. In 1 Sam. 7:3, he told the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, prepare yourselves by getting rid of your foreign gods,…determine to obey only the Lord, then he will save you.”
It is not enough to celebrate Christmas by putting up decorations and buying gifts. We have a role to play. Are we serious about preparing our hearts? Are we willing to get rid of anything that hinders us from following God. Take time today to examine your heart and discard whatever keeps you from obeying God.