Our responsibility is to be an example of Christ during a family gathering. Serving others is an act of Christian love. Shopping and cooking are divine ministries to your family. Ask the Lord to accompany you and lead you to the gifts He himself would give your loved ones.
Visualize the Lord Jesus in your kitchen. Do your work as unto Him, with Christian or Christmas music in the background and an appropriate Bible verse on the refrigerator? Consider 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
If traveling, pray for travel mercies. Psalm 121 is the "Traveler's Psalm": "The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forever" (verses 7-8).
Think of Jesus as your traveling companion. I think He'd have little concern for His own convenience, but He would be highly observant of those around Him, looking instead for someone to encourage, serve or evangelize.
Adopt Romans 12: "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another ... patient in tribulation ... given to hospitality.... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (16-21).
There's a magnetic pull on all of us during the holiday season, and we want to be home. But that can mean inconvenience.
It's remarkable how our tempers grow short in direct proportion to the number of people in the house. But remember -- God has placed you there as His representative, and your cheerfulness can change the atmospherics of that home in a way that will be long remembered.
This is especially true if your family is not Christian. The Lord can certainly open the door for you to say a word for Him, and perhaps He will even give you a golden opportunity to witness to your loved ones. But even if you're unable to verbally bring up the subject, it's your attitude and demeanor that spreads the fragrance of Christ. Peter told the wives of unsaved husbands to live such humble and cheerful lives among them that the men would be won to Christ "without a word," just through the power of a gentle and quiet and cheerful disposition (1 Peter 3:1-2).
We must also remember the nearness of our Lord Jesus when the time comes to say goodbye. Many grandparents tell me how wonderful it is when all the kids and grandkids come to visit -- and how wonderful it is when they all leave! We love our family tree, but it's a little too much to have the whole tree filling the house all the time.
Yet there's sadness in parting, too; and as we see their cars drive away, we have a tug in our hearts, making us feel lonely.
Even lonelier, of course, are those with no family at all, or with family members far away who can't -- or won't -- come home for Christmas. We can diminish the destructive elements of loneliness if we get busy doing what God has called us to do, listen to uplifting and cheerful music, pray to the Lord Jesus as if He were right there with us (which He is!), and make a list of our blessings.
That's the way Paul dealt with loneliness in 2 Timothy 4. He was aged, imprisoned, ill, and alone. But ...
-- he visualized the Lord's presence.
("The Lord stood with me and strengthened me" -- verse 17).
-- found a useful purpose.
("so that the message might be preached fully through me" -- verse 17).
-- stayed in touch with his friends as best he could.
("Greet Prisca and Aquila" -- verse 19).
-- kept his mind active by studying.
("Bring ... the books, especially the parchments" -- verse 13).
-- and prayed for his ministry partners.
("The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen" -- verse 22).
David Jeremiah is the founder and host of "Turning Point for God" and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif.
For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
Copyright (c) 2010 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net