Rick Warren has been called ‘America’s Pastor.’ He is the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, the eighth largest church in the United States. His book The Purpose-Driven Life is one of the top Christian best-sellers of all time. His Daily Hope devotional and other resources are available at his website: http://www.pastorrick.com
The following are his Christmas devotional readings for December 24 and 25 of this year.
God wants to share eternity with you.
That’s what Christmas is all about. You weren’t created just to live 80 or 90 years on Earth and then die. You’re far more valuable than that to God. God has some long-range plans for you. He made you to live forever.
One day your heart will stop. That’ll be the end of your heart, but it won’t be the end of you. You’ll last for eternity — trillions of years. And God wants you to be a part of his family.
He sent Jesus to Earth as a baby so one day he could die for your sins, and then you can spend forever with him.
That’s the great news of Christmas. This offer is available to anyone. The Bible says of Jesus, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NLT).
God wants to spend eternity with you, so he made the way to him simple: You believe, and you receive. You believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, and you receive him into your life. God sent his Son to Earth 2017 years ago to die for you. That’s God’s very first Christmas gift, sent to you thousands of years before you were even born.
If you celebrate Christmas without receiving the number one gift God has for you, you’re missing the point entirely. Acts 10:35 says, “It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from — if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open” (The Message).
No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, you’ve got a place in God’s forever family ready and waiting for you. The invitation is wide open. Just believe and receive.
Are you ready? Here’s a prayer you can start with:
Dear God, I know that when I die I’m going to give an account of my life to you directly. I confess I have ignored you. I know I have sinned against you, and I have lived by my plan, not yours. I want that to change, starting right now. I want to turn away from my sins toward you.
Thank you for sending Jesus to die for all that I’ve done wrong so that I don’t have to pay the penalty. I know that I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I know that only your grace can save me, Lord. I could never be good enough to get into a perfect place.
Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that you took all my guilt on yourself. You made me acceptable for heaven, and I humbly ask you to save me. I ask you to save me from the sins and the habits that are messing up my life right now. I believe in you, Jesus. And I believe that you will keep your promise to save me instantly and certainly and completely and eternally. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
God knew before you were born that you would be reading this in this moment. He planned to get your attention for just a few seconds so he could say this to you: “I’ve seen every hurt in your life, and I’ve never stopped loving you. You matter to me. I love you more than you will ever know. I made you to love you, and I’ve been waiting for you to love me back.”
If you gave me a Christmas gift and I never opened it, you would be disappointed. And it would be a worthless gift, because I don’t receive the benefit of a gift I never opened.
Jesus Christ is God’s Christmas gift to you. Yet some of us have gone Christmas after Christmas and never opened the best gift of all: God’s gift of salvation. Why even celebrate Christmas if you’re not going to open the biggest gift? It doesn’t make sense to leave unwrapped the gift of your past forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in Heaven.
God has made a way for you this Christmas to be right with him, and all you have to do is receive his gift of salvation. The Bible says, “By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us — set us right with him, make us fit for him — we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus” (Romans 5:1 The Message).
Below is a prayer I prayed years ago when I stepped across the line and accepted Jesus. It’s a simple prayer. If these words express the desire in your heart, then pray them.
Dear God, I’m scared, but I want to get to know you. I don’t understand it all, but I thank you that you love me. I thank you that you were with me even when I didn’t recognize it. I thank you that you are for me; that you didn’t send Jesus to condemn me but to save me.
Today I want to receive the Christmas gift of your Son. I ask you to save me from my past, my regrets, my mistakes, my sins, my habits, my hurts, and my hang-ups. Save me from myself.
I ask you to save me for your purpose. I want to know why you put me on this planet. And I want to fulfill what you made me to do. I want to learn to love you and trust you and have a relationship with you.
I need peace with you, God, and I need you to put your peace in my heart. I need you to take away the stress and fill me with your love. Help me be a peacemaker and help others find peace with you and each other. In your name I pray. Amen.
Rick Warren adds: “If you prayed the prayer above, please write and tell me at Rick@PastorRick.com. I’d love to send you some materials as you begin your journey with Jesus.”