Have you ever been invited to stay with someone in their home, but when you got there it looked as if no thought or effort went into preparing for your visit?


I don’t expect a home to be picture-perfect and I certainly don’t have a Pinterest worthy home myself. Homes are meant to be lived in after all. But tripping over shoes or trying to find a spot to sit on a couch piled high with stuff would definitely send the message that my visit was an inconvenience.


My own home is tiny, but when someone is coming over, I take time to clean up and put things in their proper place. I keep snacks and beverages on hand to offer or set an extra place at the table if their visit is during mealtime. If I’m planning on guests for a longer stay, the best linens and comfiest pillows are set out for them. I fill a little basket of toiletries and essentials, and make sure they have access to the Wi-Fi code. I’m intentional because I want them to know they are anticipated and welcomed. Taking time to adequately prepare is a sure sign that guests are welcome in my home.


The Lord doesn’t do things without preparation.


He is the epitome of intentional. That’s why Jesus came in the first place. He knew before we were ever born that we would need a Savior. With intention, the Lord made preparations for Christ’s birth.  Unbeknownst to Caesar Augustus, God moved his heart to issue a decree that would require Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem, where long ago He had declared the Messiah would be born.


The Lord was intentional when He spoke to His disciples before His impending death, resurrection, and ascension. He wanted to comfort them and help them understand that there was a purpose to Him leaving the earth. He was preparing a place for them and for all of us who put our faith in Him.


Jesus said, “I am going to prepare a place for you, and when everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am” (John 14:2-3).


Where am I going with this? I think you know. I’m talking about making room for Jesus first and enjoying His presence every day.


In the countdown to Christmas, it’s easy to get overly preoccupied with all the decorating, cooking, shopping, gift-giving and gathering. We can so easily get caught up in the holiday—but we need to be intentional not to lose sight of the holy day.


We don’t want to come to December 26th and be so exhausted by all that we did to make Christmas great—but lose sight of all that Christ did to make Christmas possible!


My family is from the Dutch Caribbean, so I am a first-generation American. While I grew up here in the U.S., I did not learn some of the Christmas traditions that are common to America until I was a little older.


One of the Christmas practices that I learned about as a young adult was this phenomenon called the gift exchange. At first, I thought it was nice to exchange gifts—mostly because in the Caribbean, gift-giving at Christmas wasn’t a big thing.


Parents give their children something small, but the out-of-control spending and gifting that we do here is nonexistent there. And forget about exchanging gifts with extended family, not to mention friends and neighbors. With an island economy, that’s just unheard of. So, the first time I drew the name of a person for whom I needed to buy a gift, I was excited to participate. It felt so … American. But the novelty of it all quickly wore off. No disrespect if that’s your jam, but it’s not for me.


I don’t like the pressure of buying someone a gift because I have a slip of paper with their name on it. I like it even less that someone has to buy me a gift just because they drew my name. Add to that the pressure of a minimum or maximum price limit. I fret about overspending or buying something that looks as if I didn’t even try! (Don’t even get me started on making lists and expecting to get, and give, everything on that list.)


Don’t get me wrong—I love giving gifts! I enjoy putting thought into looking for something the recipient would really like and appreciate. Those who know me well can attest to that.


My aversion to gift exchanges is silly, I know. It’s a personal hang-up of mine and I’ve clearly made too much of it. So, here’s what I have purposed to do this year. I am going to participate in a gift exchange! Not with people, but a personal one with the Lord.


He drew my name when He drew His last breath and now it’s written in the Book of Life. As a believer, I have His name, complete with the seal of the Holy Spirit.


I know what He wants for Christmas…my time in prayer with Him, my worship, my devotion to His Word, my faith and confidence in His Word, my application of His Word. These are the things He asks for because they bring Him joy and demonstrate that I love Him.


I, in turn, get to receive much more—without even having to tell Him what I want because He already knows! “You know what I long for, Lord; You hear my every sigh” (Psalm 38:9).


In His presence is fullness of joy, and He never gives ill-fitting, thoughtless gifts! They’re always exactly what we need! His gifts are priceless and never go out of style.


So, let’s be intentional to prepare a place for time with Jesus first every busy day of this busy season. As He overflows our heart, we will reflect His character wherever we are, whoever we are with, whatever we are doing.

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May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.  – 2 Peter 1:2

This hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. ‑ Romans 5:5