I love this message from Romans 12:11 that says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

These two sentences are chock full of things we can do that might just change the way we see life on any given day. You may not describe yourself as a person who exhibits “zeal” for anything, but isn’t it a fun thought? Wouldn’t it be great to enter the day like a happy child ready to explore new things and discover a road to adventure? Most of us could use a little more excitement, over-the-top delight, even zeal. 

You may remember when you had spiritual fervor that made you smile when you first became a believer. You were full of anticipation and hope and childlike wonder. You were amazed at all God had already done and what else He might do to bless your life.  It was electric! Then you learned that chaos didn’t just disappear and conflict and affliction still knew how to find you. It was different now though, you drew on that one new tool that came with your fervent belief and it was call hope. Hope made sense. Hope was something God gave you. Hope is what comes with all your reasons for decorating your house and putting up a tree at this season of the year.

J.I. Packer said the Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope for pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor, and was born in a stable.

Hope brings us back to Christmas once again, and along with it comes those amazing moments of spiritual fervor and joy. This is the season to remember that God Himself stepped up and made a plan for humans to celebrate from here to eternity. God didn’t wrap his hope in shiny paper or fill it with gift cards with bows. He simply placed His gift in a feeding trough, filled with the light of a shining star and adoring parents. He made it possible for all of us to tiptoe to the manger and peek in at the One who is the absolute hope of the world.

Be joyful in hope, do a little happy dance, because you have every reason to have a hope-filled heart.