Anticipating Christmas

Waiting for a big day isn’t easy.  I remember many Christmas Eve nights trying to sleep with a sense of excitement wondering what would be under the tree waiting for me.  We would always wake up way too early Christmas morning and open our stockings as brothers.  Then came the pain, waiting for mom and dad to wake up. Then to add pain to the process, we had to open our gifts one at a time. Ugghhhh!  (Parents, please don’t torture your kids this way!)  I just wanted to rip the gifts open and start playing. Now as I have my own children, I love watching them experience the moment that I used to wait for all those Christmas mornings.  One word describes Christmas for me,  ANTICIPATION!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11

Christmas is all about anticipating what is possible.  Jesus entered the world as a humble baby who was sent to us to restore things as they were originally intended.  He was an unlikely solution to a tremendous problem, our sin and suffering apart from God.  But now because of Jesus, we get to anticipate and prepare for what God is going to do with great joy from what he has already done.

4 Ways To Anticipate Christmas

1. Reflect – Christmas signals the end of our calendar year.  What did God do for you this year? How did he show Himself faithful to you and your family?  Did this past year go as you thought?  For many of us, Christmas brings up many hurts and pain from the past.  Separation from family as well as loved ones we have lost to death, makes Christmas a difficult time for many.  Take time, slow down and reflect on God’s faithfulness to you. He came all the way from heaven to show you how much he loves you.  Reflect on this truth.

2.  Encourage – If there was ever a time in the year when it is culturally acceptable for people who don’t normally encourage to encourage, it is Christmas.  You may even say, “I am just not like that and I don’t express my feelings well.”  NOW IS THE TIME! Did someone encourage you this year?  Who needs to be encouraged? Write them a letter, have them over for a meal, and verbally express your love and appreciation for them.  Do the people around you know how much you appreciate and love them?  The writer of Proverbs says, “Words of encouragement are like drops of honey, sweet to the soul and health to the body.”  This is particularly true for your family and those you work with.

 3. Celebrate – Never pass up the opportunity to celebrate something God has done in your life.  If you feel like this year was a total failure or bomb, celebrate the joy and successes of others.  If you are discouraged, don’t separate yourself from others or compare your situation to their life.  Be willing to celebrate with others what God has done for them.  Glory more in the successes of others than in your own success.  In Hebrew culture, weeks upon weeks were set aside in the calendar to celebrate with feasting and partying.  Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate a coming of a savior through His humble birth.

4. Initiate – For some of us it is difficult to initiate new vision.  The reasons vary for us, but the simple truth is, where there is no vision the people perish.  The same is true for your life.  You may even be asking, how to I initiate a new vision?   Here is a simple process that I follow that I learned from some respected people in my own life.

  • Get Away – This means time away from your normal processes.  Recently I had a whole day that I focused on what God would say to me.  I read scripture, and was alleviated of every other responsibility for the day by my incredible staff team.  I had such a burden to be with God and listen, I had to cancel my plans for the day.  Sometimes it’s planned and some times it’s urgent and you just know you MUST GET AWAY! Rearrange things, get a babysitter, cancel a meeting, whatever it takes!  You have to separate yourself from responsibilities so you can hear God.
  • Gather Your Resources – A bible, pen, and other tools you need.  My computer has huge volumes of commentaries and study materials that help me listen.  Know what you need and take it with you, grab it and go!
  • Evaluate Your Heart Condition – Take some time and seek God regarding the condition of your attitude, life and actions.  For me recently, God had to speak to me about pride and humility.  It is one of the most dangerous sins for pastors, leaders, men, women, essentially everyone.  This led me to a short compelling vision statement for my life and leadership.  I needed to clarify that vision and see that God was encouraging me to become a humble servant, willing to do anything to advance his Kingdom.
  • Motivate From Scripture – For me, when God gives me a phrase or a vision, it is deeply rooted in scripture.  The scripture God showed me that day was Philippians 2:4  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider other better than yourselves.”  This is called an “anchor verse.”
  • Activate The Principles –  Whenever you have a new vision and an anchor verse, you then need some practical action steps from that revelation.  When God gives you a vision it comes with practical steps.  Sometimes it takes you a while to figure it out, but for this one it was easy for me:  My two simple actions from this day with Jesus were: #1 Listen completely and understand before speaking. I noticed that I like to speak first because I think I always have the right answers. #2 Serve when no one is looking and tell no one about it.  (You can determine for yourself if I just broke that one because I told you I serve when no one is looking, but I didn’t tell you what I did so ha!)  I need to do things that no one EVER knows about.  If everyone always has to know all the great things I do, then I have a pride problem.

Christmas is coming and the end of the year is at hand.  I am anticipating greater things will happen in my life, my family, my church than have ever happened before.

What are you anticipating about Christmas?