Sing to the LORD, you His faithful ones,
and praise His holy name.
For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor, a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night,
but there is joy in the morning.
When I was secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Psalm 30:4-6 (HCSB)
Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.
“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.
Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.”
Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord!
Isaiah 40:1-3 (NLT)
Whenever we are on mission with God like Joseph and Mary were as they waited for the birth of Jesus, we have to prepare. No one plants seeds one day and expects a harvest in the morning. There are things to do. We are called to cultivate our lives and rest in the fact that God has our future in his hands.
In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus tells us a tale of a father. This father knew that he couldn’t control the will of a rebellious, spiteful son. He just gave him what he asked for and let him go. But after the son left with his share of the farm in his back pocket, the father began to prepare for a celebration. He started fattening a calf. He bought a ring and a robe. There were things to be done. Their relationship was broken but he still had hope as he watched every afternoon for a familiar figure to appear over the horizon.
Preparation is a statement of faith. I am going to trust even though I’m hurting and heart sick. Every detail of the Christmas story tells us that Mary and Joseph endured more than their fair share of trials as they waited for the arrival of Jesus. Mary left town. Joseph refused to reject her on the basis of an angelic dream. We can just hear the neighbors’ gossip about the scandalous events of Mary’s pregnancy. But they prepared and endured it all in order to be on a much greater mission than any carpenter’s family could imagine.
As you prepare for Christmas and all God has in store for you in 2015, I challenge you to prepare for all that’s in store in four ways.
Don’t allow the stress of the Christmas season to distract you from what is really is important. Spend more time with the family and less time at the mall. Simplify your life. Be still and listen to God’s voice. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:2a)
Notice God’s hand
Reflect on this past year. Perhaps you, like many, have faced financial difficulty. Or maybe you’ve escaped danger or disease through an unforeseen miracle. Perhaps 2014 has been a time of suffering or relationship disasters. How has God carried you through all these things? Remember the words of Joseph in the Old Testament: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)
Determine God’s will
Ask God to give you direction. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Unite in a mission
From the very beginning the mission of getting Jesus safely to each galvanized their relationship. There is nothing for powerful than a couple, a family or a church that rally around a cause.
These declarations have the potential of making this Christmas season memorable and life changing.
Share: Discuss ways you or your family can prepare for the challenges you’ll face in the future.
Evaluate: Identify distractions that will keep you from really worshiping Christ this Christmas.
Pray: Ask God to help you see what He wants you to do.
Family Activity: Go on a one-day mission assignment as a family. Find some family or organization you can help as they prepare for their Christmas celebration.