“But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the tribes of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2

Even in the Old Testament we read signs of the coming of Christ. The Old Testament signs even today give us cause for celebration. Micah 5:5 says, “…and He will be their (Israel’s, and our) peace.

What gives you cause to celebrate this 2011 Christmas season? Is it seeing the cousins and aunts and uncles you only see once a year? Is it all the presents you’ll receive? Is it that plentiful spread you’ll ravish around the table with family on Christmas day?

Or is it Jesus?

As the story of Christmas unfolds in Luke chapter 2 we hear a host of angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will towards men.” That song was written in heaven. Imagine how long they’d been singing it. Can you even imagine how many angels are in a host? The sky had to be white from horizon to horizon. And the sound! A real heavenly choir. No concert before it or since has been that majestic.

Do you have a song in your heart this Christmas? If you don’t have a “Joy to the World” or a “Silent Night” or an “It came upon a midnight clear” in your heart when you think about Christmas, the world will write one for you. And it won’t honor Jesus. Does your heart sing, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” Psalm 51:15. Are you going to celebrate Jesus by giving Him praise this Christmas?

Christmas is all about praise and celebration of a King. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, special days in our lives. Do we praise God and celebrate our King?

The manger

The King of Kings came into the world without celebration. He came in humility and simplicity. In humility as a child in a manger, not in the inn where they would have been guests. And he came simply and quietly with Mary and Joseph without any fanfare of complicated details. Nothing about Jesus is complicated. If we try to analyze and complicate Christmas we’ll mill His simple birth, which would become a simple life and a simple ministry.

What happens when we try to make life complex? We miss the joy. What happens when we try to make Jesus life and ministry complex? We miss the peace and love and compassion He can give us with His love for us.

The shepherds

The shepherds played major parts in the Christmas story. People looked down on shepherds in Jesus day. They lived in the fields, they handled sheep all day. They were second-class citizens. Yet God picked them to witness the greatest miracle the world has ever seen. Can you imagine what they thought when they saw the sky light up with more angels than they could count all singing, “Glory to God in the highest”? It was no accident that God chose shepherds who would be the first to gaze upon the One who would one day be their Shepherd.

Don’t you think the shepherds were thrilled to hear those angels sing and praise God? We can take some action this Christmas that will lead us to celebrate the King and praise Him.

1. Get with it. What are you waiting for? A voice like Nat King Cole or Susan Boyle? Sorry, it’s not going to happen. You don’t need a professional voice to praise God. You just need a voice. Singing, Shouting. Speaking. Writing. It just doesn’t matter. Just get with it.

2. Know what you’re looking for. You’re taking time to praise the Lord. Praise Jesus, our Savior, who came to us in love and died on a cross for all our sins. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you may wind up praising all you’ve accumulated, or your job, or your family, or your kids. Wrong! We’re looking to praise Jesus Christ.

3. Take time to treasure Jesus in your heart. After giving birth to Jesus and seeing the shepherds and realizing what she had been a part of, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19. Take time this Christmas to get away from the tree and the lights and the presents and the food and the family and the kids and get by yourself. Think about what Jesus birth and life means to you. Ponder His birth. Think about the host of angels singing. Think about the manger. Ponder what the shepherds must have been thinking when they gazed on baby Jesus.

4. Develop a habit of praise and make it a lifelong habit. The God of all praise is worthy of our praise. Find a way to praise God like you’ve never done before.