Are you expecting anything from Christ for Christmas this year?
When you were a little kid waiting, not always so patiently, for Christmas, did you ever wonder what presents you were going to get? Maybe you had told someone what you wanted and had high hopes to get your favorite toy, or game, or whatever it was. But did you ever even think about what you already had from Christ for Christmas? Me neither.
When I was a kid, there was always a high level of expectancy and anticipation as Christmas got closer. And it wasn’t just about those hoped-for presents or the unexpected surprises. There was something bigger going on. I understood, in my simple childlike way, that Christmas was about Jesus being born and what that meant, not just to me, but for the whole world.
Now as an adult, I still get a few presents from my family, which is always nice, but the expectation has shifted from what gifts there will be for me under the Christmas tree, to the spiritual gifts which come from heaven.
Spiritual giving at Christmas
And Christmas is not just about getting things, it’s about giving as well. And this doesn’t just mean what presents you will give your friends and family. Giving too, can have a more spiritual approach to it. Will you give people more love and patience this year? Will you be less critical, less judgmental. Will you give people the respect every human being deserves?
What will you give to God in gratitude for all the blessings you’ve received? And what would you give Jesus if you could? Last Christmas I did a podcast episode called “What Will You Give Jesus for Christmas?” (Episode 167)
Expectations at Christmas
This year I have a similar question, or really a set of questions, for you and me to think about together: What will you ask Christ for this year for Christmas? What do you expect to receive from Christ? What will Christ give you for Christmas?
Now I realize that everyone listening to this podcast hasn’t had the same experience or doesn’t celebrate Christmas the same way. But think back to when you were a child waiting for Christmas, full of expectation. And if that didn’t happen at Christmas for you, think of a time when you had high hopes and expectations of something joyful, wonderful, and exciting, that was about to happen.
I want you to think about this feeling you had, the expectation and anticipation of something wonderful.
Maybe you’d told your parents what you wanted for Christmas. Sometimes those hopes were fulfilled when you got exactly what you wanted. Sometimes they weren’t. I remember when I was probably 8 or 9, there was a particular toy I wanted for Christmas. And my parents got it for me. I was so happy. I played with it all the time until I outgrew it several years later.
What really makes you happy?
At the time, I thought I was happy because I got the thing I wanted. But looking back on that, and similar experiences, I realize now that the real source of happiness was my parents’ love for me and the effort they made to give me something I would enjoy.
And sometimes, the expectation leading up to Christmas of what presents I might get, as well as the joy of the season, was a source of happiness in and of itself.
So, in thinking about the sense of expectation leading up to Christmas, let’s come back to the question: What are you expecting to receive for Christmas this year, from Christ?
What if we could have that same childlike and intense expectation of what we were hoping to get for Christmas as kids, for what Christ gives us, and continues to give us today?
What we get from Christ for Christmas
I encourage you to take some time and ponder all that Christ gives you all year long, not just at Christmas. Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about.
Let’s start with love:
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. John 15:9 NIV
Jesus loves us with the same love the Father loves him with. Christ’s love still reaches you and me and the whole world. How much of Christ’s love are you expecting to receive? How much will you accept for yourself and share with others?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
Think of the peace Jesus must have had within him. Wouldn’t it be great to have a little of that peace in you right now? Well, Christ still gives his followers peace. You already have this peace in you. It’s time to recognize this gift, open it up and use it. How much of Christ’s infinite peace are you ready and willing to accept?
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15:11 NIV
Here again, Jesus is giving us something that belongs to him, his joy. Jesus wants you to have the same fullness of joy he has. And so he gives it to you freely. How often do you accept this joy and live it out in your daily life?
These are just a few of the things Christ has given us and continues to give us.
Our relationship with God
Going a little deeper on this topic, Christ gives us an awareness of our relationship with God, and God’s glory:
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— John 17:22 NIV
…no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Luke 10:22 NIV
The Son of God, Jesus himself, has chosen to reveal the Father to us. God is no longer a mystery. It’s not enough for Jesus just to tell us about God. We can know and experience God’s love and presence for ourselves because Christ continues to reveal the Father to us. That is indeed a gift, to know that we are God’s children
And above and beyond all these gifts, Jesus has given us the gift of salvation and spiritual wholeness.
Christmas is a “come to Jesus” moment
Now, for a lot people, Christmas often focuses on celebrating the birth of Jesus. And this is major part of what Christmas is all about. But it’s not just about Christ coming to us. It’s about us coming to Christ as well.
Christmas should be a “come to Jesus moment.” Now, usually when you hear that phrase, it means someone’s in a crisis and needs to face the truth of the situation. But a true “come to Jesus moment” doesn’t have to be because you’re in a tough situation.
Think of those shepherds who came to Jesus as he was lying in a feeding trough 2,000 years ago as a baby. Think of the Wisemen, who also came to Jesus with gifts. And there are so many legends of what the shepherds and others brought to this new born baby.
What Jesus gave them
But think what this baby gave them. Jesus’s birth gave them hope. It gave them joy. It gave them a sense that prophecy had been fulfilled. The angels had announced to the shepherds that the baby they would find was the Messiah.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 NIV
If you had been one of those shepherds, what would you be thinking while the angel was talking to you? What would you be thinking when you were surrounded by too many angels to count all singing about the glory of God?
You might have been so overwhelmed with this totally unexpected message from heaven, you couldn’t think of anything except be in awe.
Full of hope
But once the angels had all gone and there was silence, what would you be thinking? What would you do?
Just sit back to tend your sheep and say to the other shepherds, “Well that was interesting.”? No, you’d be so full of joy and expectation you wouldn’t be able to sit still.
You’d want to check out what the angel told you. And that’s exactly what happened.
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. Luke 2:15, 16 NIV
When the shepherds heard the angels announcing the birth of the Messiah, and then found Jesus just as the angel had said they would, their joy could not be contained or measured.
What the shepherds got from Christ for Christmas
If you think you were full of expectation for Christmas when you were a kid and hoped to get the things you wanted, that is small in comparison to the deep sense of expectation and hope people had for the coming of the Messiah around the time of Jesus’s birth.
The shepherds knew their highest hopes and expectations had been fulfilled. The Messiah had finally come.
Then, from the very beginning of his public ministry, this sense of expectation and hope beyond hopes that the Messiah had come, took on new life as people heard Jesus preach, speaking not only with divine authority but common sense as well, and saw him heal incurable diseases and disabilities.
Surely, many people thought, Jesus must be the Messiah or he wouldn’t be able to do such amazing things.
This expectation and hope led to more expectation and hope as they witnessed Jesus continue to heal and bless his listeners and followers.
Once again, there were lots of “come to Jesus moments” during those three years of his ministry. And Jesus continued to give his love, and so much more.
What do we expect from Christ for Christmas?
So how does all this apply to you and me?
Let’s come back again to this basic question: What is your level of expectation this Christmas for what Christ will give you? Has this wonderful day become just a routine holiday moment to spend with family and friends, to have a good meal, to give and receive gifts? Has celebrating Jesus’s birth somehow lost its original joy, and his message of hope and peace seem far away?
Or maybe you feel deeply the expectation and hope of Christ’s coming at Christmas.
Don’t hold back your expectations
Wherever you are in your level of expectation and anticipation, I encourage you to stretch yourself a little.
The prophet Isaiah talks about this process of increasing your ability to have more good in your life with a metaphor about tents. This is God telling Isaiah what to say to the people.
Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. Isaiah 54:2 NIV
This process of being able to have more good in your life, more expectancy of what Christ gives you, more receptivity to what Christ gives you, and an increased ability to actually accept and hold onto all Christ gives you, begins in your thinking.
The tent is a metaphor
This is not so much about getting a bigger tent, or house, or physical space to store more things. It’s metaphor about expanding your thinking, your heart, your spiritual ability to receive more of Christ’s truth in your life. It’s about your mindset.
Do you have a limited mindset with small or no expectations for what Christ has to offer you this Christmas?
Or do you have a mindset open to the unlimited possibilities of what Christ is giving you?
In this quote from Isaiah, God tells us to enlarge the sense of where we dwell. Are you just living in a small, limited sense of who you are, who God is, and what Christ can do in your life?
Or will you enlarge and spiritualize your sense of where you dwell and be able to say with Paul that you live in God?
For in him [in God] we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28 NIV
God is telling us to stretch our tent curtains wide and not to hold back. The wider your tent curtains are and the wider the door to your heart is open, the more expectant you are of what Christ will give you, and the more good you’ll be able to receive.
Letting go of things
And if we’re going to be willing to receive more of what Christ gives us, we also need to be willing to get rid of some things in our thinking, to make room for all Christ is giving us. If your heart has stored up hurts from the past, resentment, anger, an unwillingness to forgive, pride, or self-depreciation, or whatever it might be, it’s time to clear those things out to make more room for what Christ is giving you.
And another way to make more room for what Christ gives, is to fill your heart with gratitude for what he has already given. That’s the wonderful thing about gratitude. The more you express it, the more gratitude you have, the more room you have in your heart and your life for more blessings.
As a kid, did you ever ask for something much bigger or more expensive than you thought your parents would get you for Christmas? You might have gotten what you wanted so desperately, or you might not have.
How much do you expect to receive from Christ for Christmas?
But when you come to Christ to honor and love him, and ask Christ, with unlimited expectations and hope, for his abundant outpouring of love, joy, peace, grace, wisdom, healing, and all he has to offer, you have expanded your tent, so to speak, and you’ll be able to receive and accept more of Christ’s gifts to you.
Right this moment Christ is pouring forth infinite, boundless, unlimited blessings, most important of which is a full salvation from the world’s evil, along with the awareness that we are the sons and daughters of God. This is Christ’s gift to you. How much of this gift will you accept, not just at Christmas, but all year long?
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
John 15:9 NIV
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
John 14:27 NIV
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 15:11 NIV
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
John 17:22 NIV
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—
Luke 10:22 NIV
22 …no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Luke 2:10-12 NIV
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:15, 16 NIV
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
Isaiah 54:2 NIV
2 Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.
Acts 17:28 NIV
28 For in him [in God] we live and move and have our being.