Exactly three hundred years ago, Isaac Watts penned and published what has become one of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time: “Joy to the World” (1719). Here are the words of the first verse:
Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.
Personally, I love the way the lyrics and present melody (added over a century later) come together to raise my spirit in praise and thanksgiving for Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But when our Lord was born more than two thousand years ago, the event occurred without any pomp or pageantry:
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger [feed trough], because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1–7, NKJV)
In heaven, the Son of God had everything – and He gave it all up to save you and me from eternal death.
As we enter the month of December, we have two options to consider. We can do the same things the same way we always have, or we can do things differently.
For most people, doing the same things the same way will produce the same results – and we will wake up in January wondering how we missed the peace and joy of the Christmas season.
Or we can do things differently. We can prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming – and, one day, the Second Coming – of the Savior of the world.
Which option will you choose this year?
If you want to give your heart to the Messiah, if you want to prepare Him room, then try three simple ways.
First, read from the Word of God. Begin for now with the first three chapters of the Book of Genesis to find out how perfectly God created the world and humankind, how Adam and Eve rebelled against Him, and how, despite their sin, He promised to reconcile with them – and with us – through a Son who would crush the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15). Then read the first chapter of the Gospel according to John to experience the power and majesty of the Logos – the Word – who became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). Finally, read the second chapter of the Gospel according to Luke to recall the events of the first Christmas, including the recorded fact that no one in Bethlehem had any room for Him (Luke 2:7).
Second, pray. As you make your heart ready through the Word of God, talk with the Father who loves you, the Son who saves you, and the Holy Spirit who guides you. No special words are necessary. He longs to share time and space with you. Give Him the chance.
Third, forgive. Nothing closes your heart faster or more fully than refusing to forgive someone who has hurt you. Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what they did, nor does it mean allowing them to continue to hurt you. Forgiveness simply means letting go by letting God show you a better way – His way (Luke 23:34). “If we really want to love,” said Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “we must learn how to forgive.”
More than twenty centuries ago, the city of Bethlehem had no room for the Son of God.
Today, you can be different.
Give Him your heart.
Prepare Him room.
-- Dr. John Morris