I've seen this devotion twice now and it has been a blessing to me as I prepare for Christmas. So..I'm passing it along to you with wishes for a very Merry Christmas!
I t's so easy to get distracted during this season. It's simple to forget that the reason for Christmas is to honor God and spend time with our families, in the midst of all our "activities" and trying to complete the big mental "to-do" lists we create around the beginning of the holidays. Here are some simple tips that we hope will help prompt you to have a more Christ and family focused Christmas.
Make time for special, scheduled family times. Set aside a night to spend time with your family. Get a tree together and decorate it as a family...watch a favorite Christmas movie together (like It's a Wonderful Life or The Nativity Story) or talk about memories and make cookies, cranberry and popcorn chains together. Go Christmas caroling or attend any parades, craft fairs or Christmas parties that our church or community may be holding. Make time for family and celebrating new as well as old traditions.
Purposefully focus on Christ. Read the Luke 2 account of Christ's birth as a family. Remind your children or siblings about the true Gift of Christmas. Purchase a special Advent calendar that tells the story of Christ a day at a time. Put up your Nativity scene together, and tell the story of Christmas to the children in your family as you assemble the pieces. Purchase Christmas CD's filled with Christ-honoring carols, and have those playing in your house. Take time away from your own Christmas shopping to volunteer time at local ministries and shelters as a family. Pray for others. Give gifts to needy children in your community, along with Bibles and tracts that share the love of Christ. Stay involved with your church and see if there are ways you can give of yourself and your time to the family of God, whether in caroling, decorating the building for Christmas, or helping with charitable ministeries your church is participating in. Take the time to give and share the love of Christ with others this holiday season. And remember to often pray and thank the Lord for His blessing of Jesus Christ, and ask Him to remain the focus of your holiday festivities.
Be realistic. It's tempting to set lofty, unpractical goals for ourselves this time of year. Since it's the last month of the year, we naturally want to end strong. But be honest with yourself. This is a hectic and crazy time, and probably not the most reasonable month to choose for finishing special projects like reading that 2000 page book, redecorating your house or taking up the trumpet. Instead, understand your time limitations so you won't be disappointed when January 1st rolls around. Set reasonable goals for yourself...maybe it would be a good idea to take some time now and write them down on a sheet of paper. Be sure to add necessary things like paying the rent or finishing important school assignments! Then set up a schedule where you can accomplish something each day, whether that's a few hours of bookkeeping or just buying Auntie Ethel her Christmas present from online. That way, even when the season gets crazy, you won't feel depressed and frantic that you've forgotten something or are falling behind. Start strong now and get organized so you will be more free to enjoy the season!
Experience J-O-Y. There is a simple children's song that teaches the world what it most desperately wants to know, and it is called "J-O-Y". The lyrics go like this:
Jesus and Others and You...
What a wonderful way to spell "Joy".
J is for Jesus who died in your place,
O is for others you see face-to-face.
Y is for you and whatever you do
Put yourself last and spell "JOY"!
Truly, when we put Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last we will be joyful. This is the recipe for a truly joyful season! Merry Christmas!