“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus.” (Romans 5:1 MSG)
You’re not reading this by accident.
No, God knew before you were born that you would be here in this moment. He planned to get your attention for just a few seconds so he could say this to you: “I’ve seen every hurt in your life, and I’ve never stopped loving you. You matter to me. I love you more than you will ever know. I made you to love you, and I’ve been waiting for you to love me back.”
God is saying, “I want the rest of your life to be the best of your life. I’m with you, and I’m for you. I want to save you from your past. I want to save you for the purpose for which I made you. And I want to save you by my grace. If you’ll let me do that, I will give you peace with me, peace of me, and peace with other people. But you have to open the door and receive the Christmas gift.”
If you gave me a Christmas gift and I never opened it, you would be disappointed. And it would be a worthless gift, because I don’t receive the benefit of a gift I never opened.
Jesus Christ is God’s Christmas gift to you. Yet some of us have gone Christmas after Christmas and never opened the best gift of all: God’s gift of salvation. Why even celebrate Christmas if you’re not going to open the biggest gift? It doesn’t make sense to leave unwrapped the gift of your past forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in Heaven.
Jesus Christ says to you, “I can replace the frustration in your heart with peace. I can replace the guilt, resentment, shame, and grudges with forgiveness. I can replace the worry and anxiety with confidence and faith. I can replace depression or despair with hope. I can replace emptiness with meaning and purpose. I can replace confusion with clarity. But I’m not going to break down the door of your heart. You have to invite me in.
“It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from. If you want me and you are ready to do as I say, the door is open.”
It doesn’t matter what your religious background is – Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, Baptist, Hindu, or no religion. This is not about religion. God didn’t send Jesus to give you religion. He sent him so you could have a personal relationship with God. It’s all about relationship.
Below is a prayer I prayed years ago when I stepped across the line and became a friend of God’s. It’s a pretty simple prayer. If these words express the desire in your heart, read them as if you are talking to God.
Dear God, I’m scared, but I want to get to know you. I don’t understand it all, but I thank you that you love me. I thank you that you were with me even when I didn’t recognize it. I thank you that you are for me, that you didn’t send Jesus to condemn me but to save me.
I admit I never even realized I needed a Savior, but today I want to receive the Christmas gift of your Son. I ask you to save me from my past, my regrets, my mistakes, my sins, my habits, my hurts, and my hang-ups. Save me from myself.
I ask you to save me for your purpose. I want to know why you put me on this planet. And I want to fulfill what you made me to do. I want to learn to love you and trust you and have a relationship with you.
I need peace with you, God, and I need you to put your peace in my heart. I need you to take away the stress and fill me with your love. Help me be a peacemaker and help others find peace with you and each other. In your name I pray, amen.
Watch a short video sample from Pastor Rick on the importance of love. Saddleback Resources offers 40 Days of Love, a six-week, video-based study for small groups or individuals that searches the Scripture for what love is, the characteristics of love, and how our relationships can be transformed by love.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional © 2011 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.