Christmas is almost here! Whether you tend to prepare ahead – each week leading to Christmas – or you dare to load all the stress into days before, including shopping on Christmas Eve, it’s time to remember Emmanuel in your hustle and bustle.
This is the third in a series to prepare your heart for Christmas. Each week we 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.)
Time To Remember Emmanuel
So, which person are you? The planner or the procrastinator. Do you schedule – or do you wing-it? Perhaps you are a mix.
For review from Advent #1 article, Prepare Your Heart and Advent #2 article, Who’s Got Your Right Hand – “The Christmas Advent Season has been celebrated for 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.”
How can you experience the true meaning and pleasures of Christmas under holiday season strain? Here’s a secret: in each development today, take time to remember Emmanuel.
What does the name “Emmanuel” mean? Simply – God with you. He is all around you – and inside you if you have given your life to Him. He has gone before you and is your rear guard. So, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (Jas. 4:8)
Emmanuel helps you:
- Fasten your mind on God.
- Believe His claims.
- Adopt God’s character as your own.
- Cling to His promises.
Taking time to remember to come close to Emmanuel helps during the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
How Does “Time To Remember” Happen?
Since it’s one thing to talk about ideas and quite another to carry them out, let’s review a chain of responses found in a healthy relationship with God:
- First, Emmanuel reaches to you because He loves you and invites you to know Him.
- RESPONSE: You choose to trust Him, obey Him, and receive His love.
- Emmanuel reaches again to you with peace and wisdom to trust Him in all life issues.
- RESPONSE: You choose to receive His peace and wisdom by faith, despite any unhelpful feelings you may have.
- Emmanuel keeps reaching to you in daily details, teaching to walk “not by sight.“
- RESPONSE: You eagerly get to know and love God more deeply.
- He opens your eyes to see even deeper things.
- RESPONSE: You become God’s friend as you take time to remember Emmanuel through your day.
When you take time to remember Emmanuel, this chain of responses happens even when you’re not aware. Further, it develops a habit of turning to God in details. And finally, it launches you into Christmas!
“Time To Remember” Is A Path
Is. 26:7 says, “The path of the righteous is level; You make the way of the righteous smooth.”
God promises to make a level, smooth path for His faithful children. However, this doesn’t eliminate hardships or sorrows. It means each “next step” is level enough to place your foot.
Consequently, most Jesus followers find this challenging because it’s uncomfortable to walk by faith when you can’t see where you’re going.
Does walking by faith, one step at a time, mean you don’t look ahead, plan, prepare, or have a schedule? Of course not. But it does mean –
- Your efforts of planning, preparing, and scheduling – AND
- Your action steps into Christmas – AND
- All your private thinking, public words, and choices –
– are best after turning to God for guidance and input. However, this may mean you wait – which gives you time to remember.
How Does “One Step At A Time By Faith” Actually Look?
One step at a time funnels into four conditions:
- Walking in God’s laws. This is something you choose.
- Waiting for God, without conditions attached. This is also something you choose.
- Desiring that God be lifted up. This, too, is something you choose.
- Increasing a longing for God. Believe it or not, this is something you choose, but not necessarily a feeling or experience. It’s a decision.
“One step at a time by faith” means you take time to remember your choices back to God matter.
A Rough Path?
Since life can get pretty challenging, we sometimes journey a rough path, even during celebrations. However, you always have –
- Emmanuel – God With You.
- Your free will to come near to God.
So, no matter how “rough” your path, claim by faith that it is level and smooth, using Is. 26:7. Because God will never break His Word, you can trust Him. Listen to this Scripture:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 Jn. 4:18)
It’s time to remember you are made perfect as you step into God’s love by faith.
Consider God’s Position:
Sometimes it helps to look at things through the other person’s position. So, what is God’s position about Christmas?
Let’s consider: Christ came into our world to take responsibility for God’s holy, appropriate anger. Why did God have this anger? Well, people walk away from His love, His commands, and His goodness. Then, fear and doubt grab their hearts. This morphs into rebellion and creates a huge chasm between a loving Father and His deeply-loved children. Any good parent would be mad about that!
So, Christ became a man – Emmanuel – to flesh-out God’s love for you . . . and be an example “how to” trust Father, “how to” handle fear and doubt, “how to” be human in God’s original design, and “how to” be God’s child and friend.
Jesus also displayed “how to” remember the truth about God. So, while preparing for Christmas, consider God’s position.
Two Promises For “A Time To Remember“
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30)
Because Baby Jesus grew up in the human family, He understands life’s demands. Adding busy holiday deadlines and activities, you can still live inside His promises. So, to enforce rest in stressful times –
- Set healthy boundaries.
- Come to Jesus.
- Listen and learn from Him.
- Leave your burdens with Him.
- Enjoy Emmanuel.
“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9:7)
God has made Himself available to you through His names. This Scripture gives four names to help prepare your heart for Christmas. Let’s look at each one.
Names Of Emmanuel
1. Wonderful Counselor
You have a reputable, loving, wise Counselor with you every moment to give you direction. You don’t even need to make an appointment. His expertise extends into all life scenarios, relationships, problem-solving, and life-planning. Why not run everything through Him before you make decisions?
2. Mighty God
Being human, you may often feel you lack power – energy. Consequently, Emmanuel is Mighty God. There is no greater power. And He offers all His resources to you.
3. Everlasting Father
Whether you have a good earthly dad or not, you have a fabulous Father for all eternity. Because you are adopted into God’s family through Emmanuel, He is very invested in your life.
4. Prince of Peace
In a world of turmoil, you need peace. When you prepare for Christmas, there’s no one better to connect with than the Prince of Peace to learn “how to” embrace peace.
The “Aha” Moment: Everything you lack, He provides. When you take time to remember, you can Prepare For Christmas Without Missing It. And you can successfully navigate every day of the year.
Application Thoughts and Questions:
- Do you take time to remember Emmanuel in holiday preparations?
- Is God your Friend? Are you being a friend back?
- If you lack desire for Jesus, ask Him for it. He will answer that prayer.
- Do you believe Emmanuel is with you, around you, inside you?
- Are you consulting Wonderful Counselor?
- Are you surrendered and loyal to Mighty God?
- Do you obey and respect Everlasting Father?
- Do you rest in the Prince of Peace?
Two Great Christmas Resources In Our Bookstore:
Although we are close to Christmas, you will benefit from two top-notch resources we offer for Christmas preparation. Thumb through them this season, and pull them out every Christmas to come.
1. 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.