Points to Ponder with Cary E. Vaughn

Preparing for the Holy Days

You will never hear me say “Happy Holidays,” not because I lack joy this time of year—quite the opposite—but because Thanksgiving and Christmas are such precious “holy days.”

In our culture, we make all kinds of elaborate preparation for these days. We gather the right ingredients for our feasts, search for just the right gifts for loved ones, and decorate to achieve a warm inviting atmosphere in our homes.

These preparations are good, but we must first feast on Jesus, remember He is the Gift, and prepare the atmosphere in our own hearts. We tend to neglect God’s Word when we get busy; this is the time to double down!

I think that’s what Charles M. Schulz was saying when he wrote the moving and oh-so-familiar scene in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which made its debut in 1965. Who can forget the confusion and chaos the Peanuts characters found themselves in as they tried to engineer the “perfect” Christmas pageant and failed, or the silence and wonder when Linus took the stage with his blanket and quoted simply, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, KJV).

Linus knew how to prepare for the holy days. In your quiet time, after you read Luke 2, flip on over to 1 Timothy 3:16 and refresh yourself on the entire Christmas story, which certainly is cause for Thanksgiving:

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.

Received up in glory—that’s our heritage if we know Jesus Christ! But until then, the closest thing to glory we know is our time spent alone with God in His Word and in prayer and our time in sweet fellowship with other people. So, while you’re busy buying the turkey, setting the table, wrapping the presents, and lighting the candles, don’t forget why you’re doing all that work.

This time of year, it’s all about relationships. You have a captive audience. This is the time to:

Love one another: “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Love your neighbor: “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Savor the moment. This may be the last Thanksgiving or Christmas this side of Heaven with someone you love.

Ask for forgiveness. Get right with family and friends: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (see 1 John 4:20).

Share what Jesus has done for you. Pray at the dinner table and segue into the Gospel: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Have a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Until Christ Returns,

Cary E. Vaughn, CEO