When I looked up this word in the dictionary, anticipate is defined as “(1) expect. (2) take or consider beforehand. (3) foresee. (4) enjoy in advance.”
Anticipation is something my children experience when relatives ask them what they would like for Christmas. Anticipation is something my niece and her fiancée experience as they make preparations for their upcoming wedding (and no doubt, her parents as well!) Anticipation is something we as adults experience as we make our own preparations for Christmas, engaging in activities and family traditions leading up to that day.
Anticipation is something experienced throughout the Bible. King David and other Old Testament prophets looked forward with anticipation to the Messiah. As that time drew nearer, Zechariah and Elizabeth looked forward with anticipation to His forerunner, John. Certainly, Mary and Joseph looked forward with anticipation to the arrival of God-made-man in infant form; and the Bible tells us that the angels looked forward with so much anticipation that they burst into song upon His arrival on earth! As Jesus grew to manhood and during the years of his ministry, I’m sure that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit all looked forward with anticipation to that blessed day when Jesus would by His death and resurrection forever bridge the gap between God and mankind.
But there’s more to that story…
Throughout the rest of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul and other authors looked forward with anticipation to when Jesus will come back to earth, not as a sweet infant but as a conquering King; defeating once and for all Satan, his fallen angels, and the sin which lurks in our own hearts.
The roadmap these men left us for recognizing that time looks amazingly familiar. Wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, a sharp increase of evil in the hearts and actions of humanity? It all reads very much like the daily news.
Although the events are distressing, these days are also a time for anticipation. Anticipation of the total healing heaven brings. Anticipation of rewards promised for a life lived to God’s glory. Anticipation of finally being in the presence of Christ and singing His praises forever! But wait! There are preparations to be made! We have to get ready!
Now is the time to examine our hearts and make sure we are right with God.
1. Admit you are a sinner. (It isn’t difficult, we are all sinners.) “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
2. Recognize that sin has a price and that Jesus paid that price with his blood. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23), “But god proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
3. Realize that salvation is a free gift; there is nothing we can do to earn it. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
4. Remember that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6), “And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
5. Pray to receive Christ’s salvation. (You can use this prayer if you want) Dear Father, I acknowledge that I am a sinner, separated from you and lost without you. On the basis of Christ’s death for me on the cross, I ask you to forgive my sin and to accept me as your child. I thank you that you are faithful and that I now belong to you. Amen.
There is no greater gift we can give to Jesus to celebrate His birth than to give Him our hearts. Once you are prepared, expect His coming, consider it beforehand, enjoy it in advance. In other words, anticipate!
**Note: this is a Christmas letter sent out a few years ago. The niece and her husband mentioned above are happily anticipating spending their first Christmas with their darling baby, Gracie. Merry Christmas Gracie!