You prepare for Christmas in so many ways. But how do you prepare your heart?
The Christmas Advent Season has been richly celebrated for many years. Historically, an advent marks the arrival of a notable person or event. Often, a wreath with candles has been used during Christmas Advent, lighting a new candle on each of four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.
Even if you choose not to use a wreath with candles, there are simple, thoughtful ways you can prepare your heart.
This is the first in a series to help prepare your heart for Christmas. Each week we will light another candle in our hearts as a statement of preparation. (Notice each additional week’s article in this series has another candle lit in the main featured image.)
Prepare Your Heart
It’s challenging to prepare your heart for Christmas. This treasured holiday is a time for celebration, cheer, friends, family, and worship. However, because Christmas has become highly commercialized, it takes skill and pensive preparation to fully participate in the hustle and bustle without losing it’s meaning.
Let’s contemplate preparing your heart. God esteems three qualities that help prepare your heart for Christmas.
- Contrite spirit (sincere remorse and a desire for things to be made right – God’s way)
- Respect for God’s Word
Your assignment this week? I want you to put pen to paper or use your device to explore what you think God values about these qualities?
To best explore how to prepare your heart, let’s start with the term “resting place.”
God created you and knows you inside-out.
“You have searched me, Lord, and You know me . . . when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts . . . discern my going out and my lying down . . . You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.” (Ps. 139:1-5)
God can choose anywhere to live. So, it’s significant He wants His “home” – His resting place – to be your heart. What a privilege and responsibility! He lovingly made you for Himself with glorious original design to make your life purposeful.
Well, humility, a contrite spirit, and respect for God’s Word determine whether you will be God’s home – His resting place. They also determine if you will choose your resting place in God.
Opposite ideas are pride, personal agenda, and lack of esteem for God’s opinion. Consequently, you are in control of these choices.
Why not choose to be humble, contrite, and respectful to prepare your heart for Christmas.
A Name And Traditions
Because of what God is doing through Christmas, reaching to connect to you through Jesus, we need a special name for Baby Jesus.
A Name For A Baby
God’s name for Baby Jesus has you in mind. Is. 7:14 and Mt. 1:23 both say, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Emmanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” Emmanuel is the special name for Baby Jesus.
Emmanuel: God with you! Think of it! You never need to be alone again. You have a dear life Companion you can trust.
- In humility, give Him control.
- In contrite trust, give up your agendas.
- And in respect, consider His words more valuable than your own.
We’ve talked about a special name for Baby Jesus. But what about keeping traditions at Christmas? They are so important to people. Jesus, Himself, intentionally kept meaningful traditions when He lived on earth. However, He always brought something fresh and new into traditions.
If you let Him, Jesus will fill your life with fresh “newness” even as you keep meaningful traditions.
To live in Christ is to live inside a miracle. “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20). Prepare your heart by letting Emmanuel bring newness to meaningful traditions.
Let’s explore four ways you can prepare your heart to connect with God, enjoy meaningful traditions, and experience something new from God this Christmas:
1. Waiting Is Preparation
Let’s consider. True expectation is:
- Receiving from God with a grateful heart. So – be open!
- Focusing on Emmanuel. So – be focused!
Consequently, waiting on God is both a privilege and responsibility.
Waiting for Christmas with active faith and expectation helps safe-guard your holiday preparations. You can connect with God, enjoy deeply meaningful traditions, and anticipate something new from God.
2. Trusting God Is Preparation (Even In Suffering)
Life has lots of good in it. Still, everyone has their share of bad news, disappointments, and losses. Sometimes Christmas has sad times. But if you draw close to Emmanuel, God promises amazing exchanges. Have you heard about the gift exchanges God offers in Is. 61:3? He says He will exchange:
- Ashes for – a crown of beauty.
- Mourning for – the oil of joy.
- Spirit of despair for – a garment of praise.
To claim your wonderful gift exchanges, let go of your losses and preferences. Instead, connect with God. Enjoy deeply meaningful traditions. Anticipate something new from God.
However, you must “let go” to “pick up.”
Scripture instructs and encourages when you suffer, especially during holidays.
“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, I do this.” (Is. 48:10-11) God wants you to be His holy resting place, so He is refining you.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from Me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged Me.” (Is. 45:5) You have a decision to make. Will you let God be your safe resting place?
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Is. 43:2-3a) God is saying He will walk with you through every difficulty and help you.
3. Agreeing With God Is Preparation
Is. 45:9 says, “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker.” Agreeing with God means not quarreling with Him.
Questions about quarreling:
- In what way might you quarreling with your Maker about your life?
- Do you wonder if God will cover all your bases?
- Maybe you wonder if He will cheat you out of some experience?
- Do you sometimes feel under par, but compensate in a way that puts you “at odds” with your Maker?
- Is God interfering with your agenda?
Instead of quarreling with God, choose to agree with Him. He is –
- Forming you for His glory and purposes.
- Refining you and testing your tensile strength.
- Sharing Himself with you.
- Loving you with everlasting love and drawing you with unfailing kindness.
Why not agree with God? If you do, you can connect with God, enjoy deeply meaningful traditions, and anticipate something new from God.
4. Resting In God Is Preparation
Life was intended to have rest in it. God established every 7th day to be holy. Planning special “down times” throughout the year also helps you rest. And there’s so much value in a good night’s sleep. God created rest as part of our life rhythm.
Mt. 11: 29 says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
God wants you to rest regularly, including at Christmas. It’s up to you to build this into your preparations. This may mean – “less is more.” Simplify your planning. Choose your most meaningful traditions. And open your heart to receive something “new” from the Lord.
God goes straight to relationship. So, rest in your dear Friend, Emmanuel. When you do, you connect with God, enjoy deeply meaningful traditions, and anticipate something new from God.
Application Questions To Help You Prepare Your Heart
- Are you actively choosing to be humble, contrite, and respectful of God?
- Where is fear or doubt in your heart?
- To connect with God this week, how will you practice –
- What meaningful traditions will you keep this Christmas?
- Will you open your heart with eager expectation for new things Emmanuel wants to open to you?
- Have you exchanged your ashes, mourning, and despair for a crown of beauty, the oil of joy, and a garment of praise?
Two Great Christmas Resources In Our Bookstore:
- Get practical action steps to make your preparations easier and meaningful. Prepare For Christmas Without Missing It. (e-book)
2. Prepare your heart with meaningful, short snippets each December day. Celebrate Advent: A Life Response To Emmanuel. (paperback, e-book) Much of today’s content came from this resource. This book is our most-loved and used. Why not find out why?
Visit our website for devotional materials, articles, podcasts, and resources to help grow your faith in God. Pursue noble character and an Alive and Active Life.