“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:11-12 NLT
For the believer, the Christmas season is always an invitation to revisit the humble manger scene in which the Savior was first born into our lives. One of the great wonders of Christmas is the miracle of our own salvation. What can compare in eternal significance to when we first came on bended knee before our Lord Jesus and humbly offered the gift of our very lives to Him?
Pause now and think back to that time in your life, that day when you first experienced the awe of meeting Jesus face to face, and found your soul unalterably changed. Recall to mind the beckoning circumstances that drew you to that penitent place of recognizing your need for a Savior and yielding to His Lordship to rescue you from your own sinful nature and self-destructive lifestyle. Do you remember the immense relief and accompanying joy that washed over your soul as you were given a “new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV)?
Revisiting the humble beginnings and immediate transformative evidences of our initial encounter with Jesus is a key to what the Bible refers to as “restoring the joy of our salvation.” It is an all too common experience for Christians to forget the wonder and import of our redemptive experience. Life, with its worldly lusts of the flesh, lust of eyes, and pride of life has a way of dulling our spiritual sensibilities and robbing us of our devotion for Jesus. It is worth noting that the early church faced the same temptations and tendencies to a waning zeal for God.
In the Apostle John’s letters to two of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation he spoke directly to this very concern. They provide a prescription for restoring the joy of one’s salvation. To the Ephesians, arguably the most mature Christians of that age, he says “You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:4-5 NIV). Similarly, to the church at Sardis he writes “you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen what remains. . . Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.” (Revelation 3:1-3 ESV).
Here then are three questions to ask and a simple prayer to pray as we revisit the manger and recapture the awe of so great a salvation.
- Does my reputation as a Christ follower match the reality of my present walk with Him?
- Am I as intensely in love with Jesus now as I was when I first met Him?
- Am I obeying and serving Him as faithfully now as when I first met Him?
My prayer at the manger: Lord Jesus, please “restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Awaken me from the slumber of living on reputation rather than reality. I repent for how far I have fallen from my initial commitment to obeying you and doing the works I did at first. Ignite my heart once again with first love devotion to you. Strengthen me to keep in constant remembrance your gift of redemption and the promise of an eternal inheritance to be revealed at your second appearing in glory. Amen!
Have a Merry Christmas & Prosperous New Year!
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