‘Advent’ is the word that many congregations use for the four Sundays that lead up to Christmas. In Latin, the word advent means ‘coming.’ Whether a Christian follows the liturgical calendar or not, this is a season that we prepare our hearts to focus on the Lord. Remember friends, Jesus is coming! Here are some things we can focus our hearts on this holiday season to remember that:
1. We look towards the future
The People of God we read about in the Old Testament, were waiting for the coming of a Messiah. We now know that Baby Jesus would be that Savior, but would come to this world in a most un-expectant way. Now, we no longer look for our Messiah to come, but we look for Him to return.
2. We prepare the way for others to encounter Jesus
John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry to begin. We read in Scripture:
This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”
— Mark 1:1-3 (NLT)
Just as John made a path for Jesus’ earthly ministry, we should be helping others encounter our Savior. Why are we fearful of sharing our faith? Who knows what that seed of kindness or small conversation could blossom into in another person’s life?!
3. We rejoice and celebrate
As people who know Jesus — the reason we celebrate this season — we should have our focus on the joy that He brings this Christmas. This time of year is so consuming: the gifts, cards, parties, the concerts, and all the hoopla. It is so very easy to lose our focus. Make spending time with God and praising Him your focus. The other parts of the season will fall into place once we have our eyes on what truly matters.
4. We allow God to use us
When reading the Christmas Story, notice that God took two normal, everyday people and used them to raise His Son. I believe that Mary and Joseph allowed themselves to be instruments.
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
— Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT)
How is God trying to use you? Have you feel the nudge to do something and ignored it? It there a phone call of forgiveness or apology that needs to be made? A bridge that needs to be restored in a relationship? A lonely neighbor that needs a visit? Keep your eyes open for the ways He is looking to utilize you this Christmas season and beyond.