How To Prepare Your Heart For Christmas – Advent #1

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Alive and Active Life
Alive and Active Life
How To Prepare Your Heart For Christmas - Advent #1
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Most people really like Christmas. There are a few grinches who despise the annual celebration. But many more cherish this annual holiday. They lean into invisible qualities of hope and joy connected to the evergreen tree, lights and decorations, beautiful music, giving and receiving, special goodies, and moments of reflection. Unfortunately, many of these same “Christmas-loving” people feel overwhelmed at the hustle and bustle. So, how do you prepare your heart for this beloved holiday?

Advent

For more information about Advent, check out last week’s article – “Prepare For Christmas With Advent.” In a nutshell, an advent ushers in the arrival of a remarkable person or event – in this case, Baby Jesus and His birth. Advent is a time to prepare for that notable arrival and celebration.

This is the first in a series to help prepare your heart for Christmas. Each week we’ll light another candle in our hearts to get ready. And each article’s content will be practical and inspirational.

Prepare Your Heart

Because Christmas has become highly commercialized, it takes skill and thought to prepare your heart. As you participate in the hustle and bustle, you don’t want to lose the meaning of Christmas. Each year, I write about Advent and Christmas. So, this content provides helpful tips to make Christmas as rich and meaningful as possible. Incidentally, Christmas is the celebration most highly cherished world-wide.

Three Qualities To Prepare Your Heart

Since Christmas is treasured globally, how can you prepare your heart on a personal and practical level? Interestingly, God esteems three qualities that help prepare your heart for Christmas:

  1. Humility – in responses to Him.
  2. Contrite spirit – sincere remorse and desire for God’s way.
  3. Respect for God’s Word.

 

Why do you think God values these three qualities? It has something to do with “resting place.” There are two kinds of “resting place.” Let’s explore the first kind now.

Resting Place #1

God created you and knows you inside-out. So, He knows how to best prepare your heart for Christmas – and (BTW) for daily life. And it starts with a term we don’t use often today: “resting place.”

But first, let’s start with God’s knowledge of you.

Have you ever reflected on how much God knows about you? Ps. 139: 1-5 is eye-opening.

“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.”

God can choose anywhere to live. So, it’s significant He wants His “home” – His resting placeto 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 determine whether you will be God’s home – His resting place. When you choose the provisions of Christ’s cross, you gain these three qualities.

Have you considered your life to be God’s resting place? Now it’s time to consider the second kind of “resting place.”

Resting Place #2

This “resting place” is yours. Your resting place – is in God’s heart! How does this happen?

First, you accept His invitation into Christ – and you invite Him into you. But humility, a contrite spirit, and respect for God’s Word also determine if you will choose God to be your resting place. 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.

Have you considered God to be your resting place?

A Name And Traditions

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 a special name for Baby Jesus.

Incidentally, “Jesus” is what an angel told Mary to name her child. (Lk. 1:31) Jesus was a common name in that culture. From the beginning, Jesus identifies with common people.

Initially, before His birth, Jesus was called “The Word.” (Jn. 1:1-3) Jn. 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” This is when “The Word” became Jesus.

However, the very special name – Emmanuel: God with you is stunning. Think of it! You have a dear Companion you can trust, and He will never leave you.

  • In humility, give Him control.
  • In contrite trust, give up your agendas.
  • And in respect, consider His words more valuable than your own.

 

Traditions

Traditions at Christmas 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.

Why not prepare your heart by asking Jesus to fill your life with fresh “newness” even as you keep meaningful Christmas traditions? This helps prepare your heart.

Four Preparations

Let’s explore four practical ways to prepare your heart this Christmas:

  1. Waiting
  2. Trusting
  3. Agreeing
  4. Resting

 

1. Waiting Is Preparation

Waiting on God is active faith. It is also expectation. In fact, I wonder if it’s possible to wait without expectation.

True expectation is:

  • Receiving from God with a grateful heart. So – be open!
  • Focusing on Emmanuel. So – be focused!

 

As we already mentioned, 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 meaningful traditions, and anticipate something fresh and new from God – while you wait.

2. Trusting God Is Preparation

Life has lots of good in it. Still, everyone has 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 (Is. 61:3)?

  • Ashes exchanged fora crown of beauty.
  • Mourning exchanged for – the oil of joy.
  • Spirit of despair exchanged for – a garment of praise.

 

To claim your wonderful gift exchanges, let go of your losses and preferences.

Instead – connect with God, enjoy meaningful traditions, and anticipate something fresh and new from God as you trust in Him for these gift exchanges.

Scripture Helps

Scripture instructs and encourages every day of the year. Are you in Scripture to hear what God is saying to you? Everyday?

God wants you to be His holy resting place, so He refines you. (Is. 48:10) God also promises to help and strengthen you. Is. 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you . . . I will strengthen you and help you . . .”

You have a decision to make. Will you soak your soul with God’s Word as you prepare your heart for Christmas?

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:

  1. In what way might you be quarreling with your Maker?
  2. Do you wonder if God will cover all your bases?
  3. Maybe you wonder if He’ll cheat you out of some experience?
  4. Do you sometimes feel under par, but compensate in a way that puts you “at odds” with your Maker?
  5. 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.

 

Connect with God, enjoy meaningful traditions, and anticipate something fresh and new from God as you agree with Him.

4. Resting In God Is Preparation

Life was intended to include rest. God established every seventh day as a holy rest. 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 life’s 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 as you prepare for Christmas. This may mean – “less is more.” Simplify your planning. Choose your most meaningful traditions and let go of other things. And be open in your heart to receive something “new” from the Lord.

God goes straight to relationship. Emmanuel. God With Us.

Connect with God, enjoy meaningful traditions, and anticipate something fresh and new as you rest in God.

Application Thoughts And Questions

  1. Are you actively choosing to be humble, contrite, and respectful of God?
  2. Is fear or doubt in your heart?
  3. To connect with God and prepare for Christmas, decide how you can practice –
    • Waiting
    • Trusting
    • Agreeing
    • Resting
  4. What meaningful traditions will you keep this Christmas? What should you let go of?
  5. Do you engage eager expectation to receive fresh new things from God?
  6. Have you exchanged your ashes, mourning, and despair for a crown of beauty, the oil of joy, and a garment of praise?

 

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Visit our website for resources to get into God’s Word and live an Alive and Active Life.

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