God Is With Me at HOME for the Holidays
Here is a literal back-translation to English of Psalm 23 (“The Lord is My Shepherd”) as understood by the Khmus tribe of Laos:1
The Great Boss is the one who takes care of my sheep;
I don’t want to own anything.
The Great Boss wants me to lie down in the field.
He wants me to go to the lake.
He makes my good spirit come back.
Even though I walk through something the missionary calls the valley of the shadow of death,
I do not care. You are with me.
You use a stick and a club to make me comfortable.
You manufacture a piece of furniture right in front of my eyes while my enemies watch.
You pour car grease on my head.
My cup has too much water in it and therefore overflows.
Goodness and kindness will walk single file behind me all my life.
And I will live in the hut of the Great Boss until I die and am forgotten by the tribe.2
“Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” (Psalm 23:6, CSB)
David here looks forward to the day when he will enjoy the company of God in God’s home. Earlier, in Psalm 23:5, God had set up a banquet as a host. In that verse, God is protecting David and providing a lavish feast, even though David was near his enemies. Here in Psalm 23:6, God invites David to His home. God promises a home where His people can dwell in safety and security. God will provide a home, a feast, and enjoyable company.
We won’t have to leave here for God to make His home with me. I won’t have to leave friends and family when I die. I won’t have to feel like I have abandoned my family when I die. Instead, the theme of home is the idea this verse evokes.
David is not saying here that when you go, you will lose your home, your family, all that you have ever known. Instead, David is saying that when I follow God, God will make His home with me forever.
This theme of being with God forever, especially in the family context of a home, is prevalent throughout the Bible.
“teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:20, CSB)
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2–3, CSB)
God wants to make His home with you. He wants you to be part of an eternal family. David looked forward to that. He sought that. He wanted God to lead him and make him part of His family. A house is just a building until a family lives there. Then it is a home. That is part of what we celebrate during Christmas, the idea of celebrating the birth of Jesus together as a family.
FOUR WAYS GOD MAKES HIS HOME WITH ME
H – His happiness follows me as I follow Him
“Only goodness…” (Psalm 23:6, CSB)
Home is the place of comfort. When you are home, you should be happy. You should be cheerful, merry, and bright. These are not just qualities that should happen at Christmastime.
Wise men came to the home of Jesus and opened up gifts for Him. They celebrated the birth of Jesus in a home. Home represents the place of comfort and happiness.
“Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, CSB)
Just as there was a celebration when Jesus was born, there are celebrations in our own homes. Christmastime is just one of the times when we celebrate. We celebrate the relationship of family that we have with one another.
If I make God at home with me, then God will make His home with me. A home is noted for it’s safety and security, which makes it a good place. God will make my home and life secure if I follow Him.
Especially during the holidays, one may wonder if God is with them. Will God help me? Can I make it through the holiday season? How will provide for everyone? How will I pay for everything?
You need to know that God is with me everyday of my life.
Santa may come to your come on Christmas Eve and leave to the North Pole for the rest of the year. However, God never takes a Christmas vacation. Not only is God with me each day, God is pursuing me on a daily basis.
In a relationship, there should be a level of happiness, contentment. Here, we see that God wants to pursue you. If I pursue God in a relationship, God wants me to follow Him. It may be a challenging relationship at times, but it never be a bad relationship. A relationship with God is a happy relationship. Out of God’s goodness, His ability to be happy with Himself, He shares happiness with me. His joy becomes my joy.
This joy is made secure by the faithful love of God.
O – Obliges Himself to be faithful with His love
“…faithful love..” (Psalm 23:6, CSB)
God takes the step of making the faithful promise to me and you. A home is not just people who live together. A home is a place where people are faithful to each other. God makes His home with you and me. God makes the effort. He takes the first step, the initiative to be faithful.
Author and pastor John F. MacArthur Jr. said, “If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: ‘God with us.’ We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!”
Don’t let the Christ of Christmas stay in the manger. Let Him grow up and mature in you. Allow the power of the Holy Spirit to do miracles in your own heart. Sure, thinking of Him as a baby is much sweeter and more palatable than the actual truth of His perfect life and gruesome death. In fact, millions of people accept Jesus as an historic figure only. They believe that Jesus was a moral teacher, born in a stable, who grew up to be a great leader. Men, women, and children across the world will gaze at a live nativity scene as if it were a simple, peaceful symbol of the season, unaware—or choosing to overlook—Jesus’ great sacrifice for all mankind.
But Jesus isn’t just another symbol of the season. That miraculous baby grew up with one mission: to die on a cross and save us from our sins. His resurrection and return to heaven allowed the Holy Spirit (John 16:7) to indwell in all believers’ hearts so that we can forever have “God with us.”5
M – Makes my life full and meaningful
“…all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6, CSB)
God is the one who makes my life worth living. I can pursue interests in life. But it is God’s goodness and love that makes life meaningful.
“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10, CSB)
Jesus promised that my life would be full and abundant. That is the idea that is shared here in Psalm 23:6, a life filled with God’s goodness and His faithful love.
“So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:3–7, CSB)
Evangelist Billy Graham said, “One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity.”
Think of your family and friends. Maybe one or two of them is adamantly opposed to God and deny His very existence, but most probably do believe there is a God. In fact, they even pay tribute to Him on Christmas and Easter. But the rest of the year they are too preoccupied with other interests to hear what God has to say to them. There is no room in their lives for God.
As you visit with friends and family this holiday season, pray specifically for those you come in contact with, that they will make room in their hearts and lives for God. Ask Him to use you as an example of what that looks like.6
Use the time during the Christmas season to make it meaningful for other people. Remember however, my life does not end here. My life extends for eternity.
E – Eternal life starts now
“…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” (Psalm 23:6, CSB)
David reminds us that being in God’s presence does not end today. There is an eternal, continuous nature to my relationship with God. God is at home with me. He wants me to make my home with Him. My home here on Earth will be temporary. However, God’s home for me will be eternal.
Like Psalm 23:6, Jesus reminds you and me that He has already prepared a home for us in Heaven. He will also make it easy for me to transition from my home here on Earth to home in Heaven.
Just like your father would have spent all night putting together a special Christmas gift for you, Jesus has spent precious time preparing a home forever for you.
Paul reminds us that there will be a transition from this Earth to Heaven where my eternal home will be.
“For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1, CSB)
Don’t enjoy the Christmas season because of the toys your receive. Enjoy it for the memories that you, the good times, you will share. Christmas is a picture of how enjoyable Heaven will be. When you and I experience Christmas morning, we are looking together to the day when we will be with Jesus every day for eternity.
1 From an interview with Dr. William Smalley in The Wichita Eagle, January 7, 1960, published in Lowell D. Holmes, Anthropology: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (New York: Ronald Press, 1971), p. 311.
2 E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 91.
3 Quoted by Alton H. McEachern, “Preaching from the Psalms,” Review and Expositor 81 (1984): 458.
4 C. Hassell Bullock, Psalms 1–72, ed. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, vol. 1, Teach the Text Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015), 171.
5 MariLee Parrish, Love Came down at Christmas: A Celebration of Jesus’ Birth (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Books, 2013).
6 MariLee Parrish, Love Came down at Christmas: A Celebration of Jesus’ Birth (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Books, 2013).