Prepare Your Heart for Christmas

What are your plans to prepare your heart for Christmas this year? 

 

“Jesus didn’t judge anyone and neither should you.”

The bright blue bumper sticker on the red Mini Cooper caught my eye as it cruised by me in the mall parking lot. The woman driving looked tired and stressed.

As I watched her drive by, I felt bad for her. In her misunderstanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ she missed a critical life-saving truth:

When Jesus came to earth the first time He came as a gentle Savior offering peace with God through the free gift of salvation, but when Jesus returns the second time, it will be as the righteous Judge of all who’ve rejected His gift.

Her bumper sticker has had me thinking about those who are separated from Christ and His promises, those “without hope, and without God in the world.” (Eph 2:12) The “unsaved.” It grieves me they haven’t heard and understood the full gospel or haven’t received His gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. For those who haven’t received His gift, there will be no marriage feast at the Lord’s table, no joyous reunion with lost loved ones, no room reserved in the Father’s house.

For the unsaved, there will be no Christmas gift of “peace on earth” in this life  — and certainly no peace afterward in death. 

Instead, this terrifying prospect awaits them:

A future outside of fellowship with God, living eternally in darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 22:1-13 my paraphrase

They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. II Thessalonians 1:9

 

But for those of us who’ve received Christ as our Savior from sin, Christmas is a time to prepare our heart to rejoice in the intimate relationship we enjoy with God because of the gift of His Son Jesus. Christmas is a time to rejoice in the intimate relationship we enjoy with God because of the gift of salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet It’s a time to celebrate Christ’s birth while looking forward to His promised gathering up of Believers both living and deceased in a forever reunion in heaven with Him. (More on this in another post.)

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:16-18

 

God’s words soothe our fears and bring peace to our hearts. The prospect of His return strengthens us, and we are comforted in our pain and trials. But what about those without peace or hope for anything better than the struggle they are facing today?

 

red MINI Cooper

Photo by Petrisor Ionel

Jesus calls us to share His gospel hope at Christmas and He sets the stage for us to do it. Here are two powerful  reasons that help prepare our hearts and spur us to share the gospel when opportunities arise:

The need is GREAT 

Did you know last year there were 1,300,000 suicide attempts in the US?¹ In addition, teen depression rose 33% and suicide rates jumped by 23%.² I could go much deeper on this, but you get the point. There are a lot of hurting hearts out there. People need the Lord!

The stakes are HIGH

 The unsaved will either receive Jesus as Savior

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:21-23

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. I John 3:5

 
Or face Jesus as Judge

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:31-46

 

Even with so much at stake our preoccupation with our struggles can make us forget the urgent need to share the gospel with those who have no hope. That’s why it’s so important to prepare our heart  To take advantage of the unique opportunity Christmas provides to share Jesus. In our preoccupation with our struggles we can forget the urgent need to share the gospel with those who have no hope. Click To Tweet

 

Too often our desire for Jesus’s return stems from an escape hatch mentality: “Life is too hard,” “I’m weary of struggling with grief,” “I want out of this trial . . .” And then we miss a critical truth: Jesus isn’t returning to snatch us up and snap us into a protective bubble. He’s returning to rid the world of sin, grief, and pain and to restore the perfection, joy, and peace planned at creation: Just imagine a perfect world, filled with perfect people, living in unbroken communion and joy with their holy Creator.

And in the meantime Believers enjoy His presence, power, and promises:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3

 

What a future God has waiting for those who trust Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin and death! As we prepare our hearts for Christmas this year will we make room in our hearts to host a burden for those without comfort, peace, or God? This holiday season, I’m going to lay aside my troubles and prepare to share my hope in Christ with those who need it. How about you?

 

Lord, please forgive us for getting so caught up in our desire for escape that we forget the urgent need for the deliverance of those who don’t know You. Give us a heart that aches for those who won’t “meet the Lord in that air . . .” and be “comforted.” 

Help us remember that we were once lost, too.

Lord, use our hands, feet, and hearts to love those around us into Your kingdom. Make us unwilling to stop, unwilling to rest until we have loved with all we are, until we’ve given all we have — and more — in order to bring that lost, hungry soul across the table, across the room, across town, to look to the skies with the same hope and expectation that we daily enjoy. 

 

What will you do to prepare your heart for Christmas?

(My next post will include a conversational gospel message and a variety of resources you can share with the unsaved people you know.)

 
 
Featured image by Sven Scheuermeier

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Comments 6

    1. Post
      Author

      Truth and hope–always a winning combination for life! Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  1. Thanks Bethany for writing the truth in a spirit of love. A great reminder to look at others with the eyes and heart of God.

    1. Thanks, Karen. Too often I forget about the needs of others!

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