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A Christmas Reading Plan: Worship the Reason for the Season

Worshiping Jesus is something we need to do always, but this season, the time we celebrate Jesus’s birth, is often so filled with activities that our quiet time suffers. Ironic, isn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be this way. We just need to be intentional. So, I’ve intentionally written a reading plan that can help stir your heart for the One who is the reason for the season. In the past I’ve written Christmas posts on joy, worship, and the shepherds, but this year my heart has been drawn to two wrinkled skinned, perhaps hunched backed, older biblical characters who have become the inspiration for this year’s reading plan. They are Simeon and Ana.

Worship prepares us to be used by God

When we think of Christmas, we think of angels and shepherds proclaiming Jesus’s birth, but two of my favorite people in the Christmas story aren’t usually included in the mix. They are Simeon and Ana. If you ever wonder if you’re too old or too hidden to ever be used by God, you need to study these two prophets.

Simeon was elderly.

But the Holy Spirit directed him to go to the Temple, and he obeyed.

Ana was old too. At eighty-four, the widowed Ana had spent most for her life worshiping and fasting night and day in the Temple.

Though their names don’t mark a book of the Bible like John or Matthew, and their fame during their lifetime was probably minimal, God knew them and used them. I love how He does that. Do you remember their story? It’s found in Luke 2 after the angels and shepherds and Christ’s birth.

christmas candle

Worshiping Lovers of God

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived….Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismissyour servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
      a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

….There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2: 21,35-38

No angels sang. They’d gone back to their posts.

No bright lights shone. Just the flicker of the candles lit the room.

No shepherds gathered. They’d gone back to their sheep.

Christmas wreathe on door

Waiting Arms, Perfect Timing

Can you envision Simeon holding out his hands beckoning Mary to let him have the joy of holding her baby? He had waited so long. As he held the tiny Messiah, he proclaimed both hope and warning.

“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Luke 2: 34-35

I wonder if a chill ran down Mary’s spine at the sound of those words. If so, maybe Anna’s words, countered Mary’s fear. Luke continued the story:

Coming up to them at that moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:38

At That Moment

God is so faithful. Would it have been too much for Mary to bear Simeon’s words had not Anna been there at just the right time? She had spent almost her whole life in the Temple night and day worshiping and fasting. Waiting on God. And when He came, she knew just what to say at just the right moment to the mother of the Savior.

Anna had made worship her sole purpose in life. And though her role in the Bible is small, though her story is tucked away between glorious angels and miraculous healings, her part was important.

Simeon’s part ranked up there too.

And so does yours.

How do we prepare for our role–our purpose?

The life of these ancient saints tells us how. Simeon and Anna played their roles with grace, confidence, and perfect timing because they were worshipers.

Do you want to hear God better? (Just as Simeon knew to go back to the Temple.)

Worship.

Do you want to be used by Him to help others? (As Anna was.)

Worship.

Do you want to be in the right place at the right time? (As they both were.)

Worship. It’s more than going to church or singing a song.

3 Ways to Worship God

1. Study the Word.

Did you know that studying God’s word is a form of worship? Digging into this treasure of wisdom and grace fills our souls with heaven. Reading the Bible does not get us into heaven, but it brings heaven to us. I’ve provided a reading plan to help with this, but I also have Bible studies and other reading plans as you continue into the new year. The One Year Bible is awesome too, but I want to encourage you to study as well as read. They are not the same.

2. Fast and Pray

When we fast, we empty ourselves to hear God clearer and to be reminded to pray. When my stomach growls, I pray words of thankfulness and praise. Fasting reminds us of God’s faithfulness and provision. It also reminds us to rely on Him.

3. Worship with Music at least 20 minutes a day.

Turn the TV off. Leave your phone in another room and turn on worship music. Don’t just listen but sing out loud. Lift your hands, dance around your home, fall on your knees, and worship. I also like to put earbuds in my ears to stream worship music as I walk in the mornings. Worship whether you feel like it or not. It also ushers heaven into your heart.

December Bite of Bread Bible Reading Plan and Journal

This month’s Bite of Bread reading plan is more than thirty-one scriptures to help you worship Jesus. I have made a ten page journal printable with the scriptures and a prompt for each day to help you dig further, meditate longer, and really soak in His Word. Here’s an example of a few prompts:

Day 5: 1 Chronicles 16: 10-11

Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
11 Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Prompt: “Seeking God’s face” literally means to worship Him. Verse 11 tells us to keep our eyes focused on his strength. What do you need to put down and trust God with focused on His strength, not yours, as you worship Him?

Day 9: Luke 1: 32-33

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Prompt: List all the promises of the Messiah in these verses. Use these as your basis for praise today.

Download your free 31 days of Worship Journal

Looking Within and Looking Ahead

As 2021 quickly comes to an end, I find myself really excited about the new year and how the Lord is leading this ministry. I would love to hear about the things you hunger for spiritually. What do you feel like is missing in order to live that abundant life Jesus promised? Do you want to know more about the Spirit? Are you fascinated by the ancient language or the names of God? Or do you just really need some very practical advice as a parent, spouse, or someone waiting on God? Does prayer seem mysterious and hard to do?

Leave a comment or send me an email. You can also connect with me on Instagram or Facebook. One of my greatest joys is to walk with you in your journey with Jesus. Thank you for joining me. I’m honored and humbled. I pray you have a blessed Christmas season. Stay tuned for January 2022! I’ve got a feeling, it’s going to be a ride.

Living Abundantly,

Andy

PS.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Christmas family picture
Left to right: Bethany and Andrew (engaged), Tayler and Stephen, Mike and me, Lauren, Preston and baby Ezra.

2 Comments

  1. Eleanor M Matteson

    Thank you for this beautiful plan/way to seek and learn and worship our God/Jesus.

    May He shower many blessings upon you and your beautiful family.

    1. Dear Eleanor, you’re so welcome! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond! Have a blessed Christmas! I pray this reading journal truly helps you worship Him.

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