The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be busy. Not only is the calendar full, but there’s a lot to do around the house. There are gifts to wrap, cards to send, and decorations to hang.
Busy days mean our schedules get squeezed. Work and school hours don’t change, so this means there’s a competition for our time at the margins. And, if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you know that devotional time is often a casualty in this battle.
I can fool myself into thinking the Christmas season will be richer with more decorations, more social gatherings, and watching more beloved Christmas movies. That the key to Christmas joy is more memories and experiences.
While there’s nothing wrong with any of these seasonal extras, here’s the truth I tend to miss. My experience of Christmas will be far deeper and more joyful if I’m connecting my activities to the Biblical truths of Christmas.
The Point of Bible Study
With that said, there is still the stark reality of time. I just seem to have less of it in December. Should I feel guilty that I’m not spending as much time with God during that month?
To answer this question we need to remember why we read the Bible—or why we engage in any of the spiritual disciplines. We don’t read the Bible to impress God. We don’t pray to feel spiritually healthy. We don’t fast to check a box.
No. Our spiritual practices must be rooted in God’s love for us and aimed at growing in love for him. Even as new creatures with the indwelling Holy Spirit, the old man still fights among our members, tearing our attention and our affections away from God. Our Bible study and prayer and giving—all of it—is designed to remind us of the truth and to help us live in harmony with it.
So, with regard to a busy December, we shouldn’t ask, How often must I read my Bible? Instead, we should ask, How can I enflame my affections for God around the Incarnation?
Focus on Bible Intake
Since the normal rhythms of life can be disrupted during busy seasons, don’t hold yourself to an impossible standard. Some days may allow your usual devotional time with God; other days may not. Instead of having the same goals for each day, I’d encourage you to focus on consistent Bible intake.
Bible intake refers to all the different ways we come into contact with the Bible. We can read it, study it, listen to it, memorize it, meditate on it, hear it preached, or sing it.
Here are some suggestions on how to maintain consistent Bible intake during a busy December.
- Start a plan for Bible study or Bible reading for Advent.
- Memorize part of the Bible related to the Christmas story. Some suggestions: John 1:1–18, Luke 2:1–21, Matthew 1:18–25.
- Find a good Advent Bible reading guide and work through it as a family every morning or evening.
- Pick ten favorite Christmas hymns. Sing one each night as a family and read the Bible text most relevant to the words of the hymn.
- Listen to the Bible as you exercise or on your commute. Focus on the parts of the Bible that discuss the Incarnation.
Joy to the World
December may be busy, but it doesn’t have to leave you ragged and dry. With some planning and some shifts in your own expectations, you can draw near to God for Christmas as you celebrate the way he drew near to you.