I love Christmas!  Growing up, I loved to wake up on Christmas morning to the smell of the gas heater and peek in the living room to see if “Santa” had come during the night.  Sure enough, he had come and delivered bunches of presents wrapped in red Santa paper.  I loved that paper.  There was something settling about it.  It was always the same kind year after year.  Now I know that Daddy got it from the textile mill where he worked.

After getting married, Christmas was going home to Alabama, Christmas Eve at Grandmother Fowlers with oysters, hamburgers and fireworks; going to the Rabons for family gift opening; then, around 1 AM driving 20 miles to my parents to find them in bed but the door unlocked for us.  In we went, for a short nights sleep and ready for the family and presents on Christmas morning.

Now, Christmas is going to Alabama before Christmas then returning to Raleigh to establish our own set of family traditions on Christmas Eve; a meal, Bible reading, singing, testimonies, gift opening, all because Jesus was born.

Christmas is a very busy time. We juggle family, church, work, friend gatherings and more in order to celebrate.  We must keep our heart through Christmas.  In order to do so, there are some elements that must remain at our primary focus.

Practice PraisePhilippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Praise the Lord as you shop.  Don’t complain.  Complaining is a poor representation of Christ. Make sure that you are purchasing with the right spirit; a spirit of giving and not of obligation.  Praise the Lord for a church that celebrates the birth of Christ. It is important to be in your place with an excitement that shows your love for Christ and your support for your local church.

Practice Patience. James 5:8  Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

God is so patient with us. He waits patiently as we prolong what we know to do for Him.  He is patient as we pass up another opportunity to be a witness for Him.  He is so patient with us and we are so impatient with others.  This year, choose to be patient as you wait in long shopping lines.  Choose to represent Christ when someone gets in your way, costing you time that you don’t have.  Use the time to witness for Christ instead of using the time to talk negative about the current situation you are in. Be patient with your family.  Schedule changes are going to happen. Make it easy on your children and extended family.  No one can be at both sides of the family at the same meal.

Prioritize Prayer.  Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Pray instead of worry.  Everything will come together.  Has worry ever helped a situation in your life?  No.  So, pray instead.  Pray that your Christmas plans please the Lord.  Pray that your family will grow closer to each other through the experience that you provide.  Pray that you can be a Christian example for those who notice how you celebrate the Lord’s birth.  Pray at meal time, using this opportunity to touch the lives of those in your home.  Pray for each family member by name in their presence during a time of devotion before gift opening.

Peace will be present.  Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Peace is the result of praise, patience, and prayer.  Every home can have peace. It doesn’t take money, presents or a nice meal to have peace. Peace is not explainable because it is of God. The Bible says peace “passeth all understanding.”  Peace is one of those attributes that you cannot touch but you know when you have it. Peace will keep our heart.  The word “keep” refers to spiritual stability.  Have you ever said “I think I’m going to lose my mind.” That means that at that time we were not practicing the peace of God.  You are actually trying to handle the situation on your own.

Practice praise and patience, prioritize prayer and the peace of God will keep your heart through Christmas!