I spent the better part of this week preparing to teach a Biblical lesson during the youth service. We are starting a series of messages on Christmas and tonight kicks it off with how to prepare for Christmas. Many times people are so frantic during the Christmas season that they forget to prepare themselves. They prepare the parties and gifts and family meetings but many times the most important part is left out.
I. In order to prepare yourself to celebrate Christmas correctly you need to understand the purpose of Christmas and its implications in your life.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us the following in chapter 1 verses 21 and 23:
And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” “Behold,the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”which is translated, “God with us.”
Jesus is the reason for the season, the saying goes and it is true. The reason that we celebrate Christmas is because the Savior of the world was born, walked among us, and showed us the way to salvation and a personal relationship with God. The word “Jesus” literally means “God saves”. God sent His salvation in the person of Jesus, to save us from our sins as the above text says. He paid the price for us and set us free from our slavery to sin. This is why there is such joy during the Christmas season, the One who was born is the One who saves us if we humble ourselves and come to Him for help.
II. In order to prepare yourself for Christmas you actively need to seek to find Jesus and welcome Him into your life.
The story of the Magi mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew gives us insight into how they prepared for Christmas:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
These wise men knew the Word of God because they knew the time (from the O.T.) when the chosen One, the Messiah was to be born. They also knew the signs of the time and knew when to take action. The Word of the Lord came to them through the angel and in faith they believed and set out to find the Messiah. They focused all of their efforts and energy in finding the one born in a manger, the Savior of the world. We have churches on every street corner in our day and age, as well as at least one Bible or more in our houses yet we claim we do not have time or strength to go to church, to study the Bible etc. The wise men did not let any obstacle stop them. They traveled a great distance and searched for the Savior of the world until they found Him. They had noble reasons and motivations for finding Him, they wanted to worship Him. Do you seek to know Jesus and worship Him? Do you see the Christmas season as a time to seek after Christ and Worship Him or are you too stressed out over all the shopping and parties?
III. Do not stop seeking Christ until you find Him and focus on Him this Christmas season.
Many times start out with noble intentions but along the way we lose focus and forget why we do what we do. This is especially true during the Christmas season. Most people have noble intentions when the Christmas season rolls around but somewhere between the thousandth party and the last minute gifts they lose it and just cannot wait until it is all over so that they can relax. This is not the essence of Christmas. The essence of Christmas is finding Jesus Christ and celebrating who He is and what He has done for mankind. The wise men were not so. Even though they faced many obstacles they did not give up. Look at their response when they reached the point where they did not know where to go:
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matt. 2:9-11)
The wise men even went to the King, king Herod, to ask if he knew where the “King” (real king) of the Jews was born. They were ready to face and overcome any obstacle until they found Jesus Christ. What about you? What keeps you from finding the reason for the season, Jesus Christ and arriving at a personal relationship with Him?
IV. In order to prepare yourself for Christmas you must realize that your motivation for celebrating this holiday is worship, worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ.
V. In order to celebrate Christmas and prepare ourselves for worship we must realize that we do not come to Christ empty handed.
VI. In order to prepare for Christmas so that we can celebrate it correctly we need to live a righteous life every single day.
How does a person do that? There is a great example in the Bible that we will look at now:
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Luke 1:5-6)
Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous people because they lived their daily lives by the Word of God. If you want to be a righteous person then you must give your life to Christ, study the Scriptures, and live by Them on a daily basis. Zacharias and Elizabeth had waited all their lives for a gift from God, a child, but had yet to receive him. They were not angry with God but instead they served Him and the people around them. Many times we place conditions on God that if He will give us this then we will give Him that. God is not like us and He does not work this way. He wants your complete obedience whether He gives you anything or not. Do not worry because if you serve Him faithfully then He will grant the desires of your heart in His timing. Why not begin to search the Scriptures from now until Christmas so that you will worship God daily and not just on Sundays and holidays. Follow Zacharias and Elizabeth’s good example.
VII. If you want to celebrate Christmas correctly this year and be well prepared then you must avoid having hidden motives in your worship of Jesus (celebration).
Herod was also a person who was seeking after Jesus. He searched the Scriptures and claimed that he wanted to worship Christ but he had hidden motives. Be sure that you can cover up your motives for a while but in the end the motives of your heart will be seen in your attitude and actions. Do you normally get agitated and angry during the Christmas season? If so maybe you need to check your motives. The wise men had nothing but joy in the face of great trials. Herod had nothing but content and hatred. Which do you seem more like during the Christmas season?
My prayer is that you will seek to celebrate the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior and that Christmas would be a time of true worship for you. The best way to prepare yourself is by getting your nose in the Word of God, seeking to find Jesus this Christmas season and truly worshipping Him. God bless you as you celebrate His life and work on this earth.