This past weekend, Penny and I celebrated Christmas with our children and one year old grandson, Elliott. We spent the day with each other; eating our traditional dishes (sausage balls and sweet rolls are a must on Christmas morning), opening and playing with gifts, watching Christmas movies, and in general having fun together. How blessed we are! How good God has been to us! A day together with my family when we are all healthy and happy is at the top of my list of best days of the year. But there are others we know and whom we are praying for that will not be able to enjoy this Christmas in the same way. Some of our friends have children in the hospital or who are desperately ill. Others are suffering financially due to job loss. Still others carry a burden of chronic pain that keep them from enjoying the things I take for granted each day. Can those whose lives are not as easy as mine still make the most of Christmas?

This past Sunday at Olive Chapel in Apex, NC, I read from the account in Luke 2 in which the angels announced to the shepherds that the Savior had been born; and I suggested the following four ways that we can all make the most of Christmas:

1) Investigate it. v 15-16 The shepherds were proactive; this was big news, and they decided to go check it out for themselves. If you have been blessed to have heard the good news of the gospel, have you also searched it out for yourself? Jn 5:39 tells us to “search the Scriptures…these are they which testify of Me.”

2) Proclaim it. v 17 The shepherds saw Jesus for themselves, but they did not keep this news to themselves. They began to tell everyone what “was told them concerning this Child.” Have you told anyone about Jesus this Christmas? If not, what more opportune time to mention His name than at Christmas time.

3) Contemplate it. v 18 and 19 Everyone who heard the message told by the shepherds “marveled”; but Mary…”pondered these things in her heart”. Mary meditated on the significance of these events. Take time to read again the Christmas story and meditate on God’s gift of salvation.

4) Exclaim it. v 20 The shepherds returned “glorifying and praising God for all…that they had heard and seen.” A person who understands the true meaning of Christmas cannot help but give glory and praise to God.

If the stress and festivities of the holidays have made you a Grinch, remind yourself of the true meaning of Christmas: investigate the story by reading His Word; proclaim it to others, telling them about Jesus and His gift of salvation; contemplate all that God has done for you; and praise Him for it privately and publicly. If you do these things, you will be making the most out of Christmas.