A good friend of mine often teases me about how often I use the word “sweet.” So one birthday, I decided to get back at her and write her a thank-you note for her gift using “sweet” almost every other word:
Sweet friend, thank you for your sweet gift and the sweetness of your birthday note to me. It certainly made it a sweet day …
She got a good laugh. But really, I love that word because it hits at a soft spot in our heart and begins to explain the beauty and joy we experience when God transforms our hearts to experience His precious gifts. To me, ‘sweet’ means what we value as precious, hidden deep in our hearts. It’s the thing that brings tears to our eyes, the topic we love to speak about but can’t dare mention flippantly. Only as God fulfills his New Covenant promise to us to perform this life-saving “surgery” to replace our hearts of stone with a heart of flesh will we begin to feel again, to begin to experience the preciousness of Christ, His Word, prayer, fellowship, His body … gifts we will only fully be able to enjoy in heaven but get to experience the sweetness of them here and now.
This advent, our goal is to make the gospel sweet to our hearts. Whether you’ve never heard it before or heard it all your life, this discovery and re-discovery is exactly what our hearts need to rekindle joy and warm ourselves to worship. The more we taste the gospel, the sweeter it becomes, and we want it to be all-satisfying to us this Christmas — and beyond.
In coming posts, I’ll be delving deeper into what this gospel is and how we can relish it this Christmas. But today, let me leave you with five practical tips to help us apply it to our hearts:
1. Daily take time to quiet your heart to meditate
Many of us practice a daily Bible time, but how many times does this become another habit to check off our to-do list and get on with our day. This advent, let’s set time aside to be able to truly quiet our hearts before the Lord and ask Him to speak to us through our exploration of the gospel.
2. Pray the gospel
Take some of your prayer time each day, or choose a mindless task you do each day, to spend praising God for some aspect of His birth, life, and death on our behalf. You might praise him for his humility in the incarnation one day, or his perfect life on earth, or even the smallest details like how he first called humble shepherds to worship him or how he fulfilled God’s law on our behalf in the way he honored his parents.
3. Choose someone to help remind you of the gospel
Whether it’s a friend or family member (in my case, my husband), pick someone to be your “gospel accountability partner” and agree to remind each of how the gospel applies each time you check up with each other. For example, if your friend is telling you about how she struggled at work or school that week, you could remind her through the gospel, our identity is no longer in our performance but in Christ. We want to get in the habit of applying the gospel to every area of life!
4. Choose a gospel-saturated book to read
A few of my favorites that I have revisited time and time again have been The Precious Things of God by Octavius Winslow, Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland, and Desiring God by John Piper. All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon and The Gospel Primer by Vincent Milton are also excellent. If you’ve recently read a gospel-saturated book you’d recommend, comment below and share it with us!
5. Learn to recognize lies and replace them with the gospel
I write pages on this because it’s been such a key area of growth in my life recently, but I’ll keep it short! I often find myself caught in a spiral of believing lies like “I’m not worth anything because I failed here,” or “If so and so would give me approval, I’d have more worth,” or “If I just had ____, I’d be happy.” I’m learning to recognize these as the lies they are and go back to the simple truths of the gospel and speak them to my heart to restore my peace! The books Lies Women Believe by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth and Speak Truth to Your Heart by Sarah Mally have helped in this journey.
These are just a sampling of the many ways we can create habits to saturate our lives with the gospel. As we grow in these, our lives will more and more reflect the wholeness (and holiness) God intended for us, because only grace can produce a life pleasing to God! I can’t wait to continue to journey with you!