During the second week of Advent, the focus is on our preparation. We all have traditions that prepare for the Christmas season. Whatever tradition you have in your family, we all prepare for the holidays by trimming the tree, decorating the home inside and out, there is usually some baking, maybe some caroling. At church, there is the annual Christmas program. There is the office Christmas party. There is gift buying and wrapping. However, the preparation that we do in Advent is a preparation of our hearts.
Isaiah prophesied about the one that would come before Jesus, preparing the way for the Messiah. John the Baptist was more than the cousin of Jesus. Luke 3:4-6, Luke quotes the verses from Isaiah and identifies John the Baptist as the one Isaiah predicted. John’s ministry was to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to the people of Israel which would prepare the way for Jesus to fulfill His ministry that would bring salvation to us all.
Just as John preached repentance and forgiveness of sins to the people of Israel, his message recorded in the Bible is for us today. We too are called to prepare ourselves and our hearts as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and to prepare for the second coming of Jesus. Just as John called others to Christ, we too can bring the message of repentance and forgiveness to those we know.
Author Ann Voskamp writes:
“We’re ready for Christmas, not when we have all the gifts, but when we are ready for Christ—when we’re ready to give all of ourselves to Christ.”
As you prepare your home for the Christmas season, take time to prepare your heart as well. The first way to do so, is to spend time in God’s Word and study the passages that relate to Christmas. YouVersion provides a free 25-day Advent reading plan to help you focus your heart on Jesus during this season.
If you have young children, you can help them focus their hearts by creating your own Advent calendar that holds treats or treasures inside. The treasures could relate to something about the Christmas story with a slip of paper that references a verse in the Bible. Then each day as your children discover the treasure, read a verse from the Bible about the Christmas story. If part of your Christmas decorations includes a nativity set with separate pieces, you can use the pieces as part of the Bible verses you are reading.
Lastly, as we prepare our hearts for Christmas, look for ways to love others like Christ did. Each week decide as a family something you can do that will demonstrate Christ love. Rich Atkinson identifies “12 Ideas to Show Christ’s Love at Christmas” to help you get started with some ideas.
You can also prepare your heart through Christmas songs that help you focus on Christ. Whether that’s the hymns of old or from some of the more contemporary artist, music is a great way to bring our hearts to worship our Savior. You can spread the message of Christmas through your neighborhood by getting together with family and friends and go caroling together.
Most importantly, the best way to prepare your heart is to spend time in private prayer and worship. Use the Christmas story from Luke 2 as you pray and worship God through each part of the story. However you choose to prepare your heart, be sure to follow John the Baptist’s example and be someone that tells others of the coming of the Messiah.
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