Advent Devotional Day 25: The heart of Christmas

Jesus came to accomplish so many things. Freedom for sinners. Victory over death. Introducing his Father’s kingdom. Giving us a fulfilling way to live. Healing for the sick. Sight for the blind. Eternal Hope! All of this because Jesus was willing to submit to his Father in obedience.


Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6–11, NLT)

Now Christ is glorified with his Father waiting for the day when he will return again to bring us to himself. What a wonderful meeting that will be! you and I have a place with Jesus. In these challenging times remember the words of Christ,

“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.” (John 14:1–4, The Message)

Celebrate the hope you have in Christ today.

Advent Devotional Day 24: The Star Part 2

Month later Wise men from the East arrived on the scene. Their first visit was to the capital, Jerusalem. Jerusalem would be where the king should be.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.” (Matthew 2:1–12, NLT)

Gold was given symbolizing the royalty of Jesus.

Frankincense was given symbolizing the deity of Jesus.

Myrrh was given symbolizing the death of Jesus.

These three gifts would allow Joseph and Mary to survive in exile for many years while they waited for Herod to pass away.

All three gifts pointed to someone who would introduce God’s Kingdom on earth. Think about the three gifts and what God might be speaking to you today.

Advent Devotional Day 23: The Light

There are many names given for Jesus. I am. Emmanuel (God with us). Wonderful counselor. Might God. The Light of the world. In Jesus we have God coming down to earth. Fully God, Fully Man. In the beginning of John we have a snippet of what this looks like.

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:1–5, NLT)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NIV)

This light was Jesus. He brought to things we so desperately need. Grace and Truth.

Grace Saves

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NLT)

Truth Frees

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31–32, NLT)

The light of the world came a brought many gifts to us. How have you needed both God’s grace and truth in your life?

Advent Devotional Day 22: It Is Time!

Finally! The time had come! The Christ was to be born in Bethlehem! No more waiting! A star had appeared in the sky and wise men from the east were following it. They would arrive a few months after the birth of Jesus. On that night an unlikely crew of shepherds would be the first to witness this baby. Shepherds! The lowest group of people in that culture.

They were watching over their flocks at night when an angel appeared to them together with many more. The announcement by the angel?

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10–12, NLT)

Then the angels erupted in song!

Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14, NLT)

Those low shepherds went to Bethlehem and found everything just as the angel had told them. How did these shepherds respond? They become the first evangelists.

After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” (Luke 2:17–20, NLT)

Imagine being there that first night. Place yourself in that setting. How would you respond?

Advent Devotional Day 21: The Promised Child

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” (Galatians 4:4–5, NLT)

Jesus was born during a time of unique peace for Israel. Peace from enemies, peace from false gods, peace with each other. During this time Israel was oriented towards the temple. Families had established practices that helped turn their minds, hearts, and actions toward God.

The time was right for Jesus to make his arrival. To announce this arrival angels were sent by God to two amazing couples, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Mary and Joseph. What do we know about these couples? They were righteous. Mary also had a visit from an angel telling here of her special place with the promised Messiah.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:26–38, NLT)

Mary’s response was one of humility and submission. How do you need to respond in this way to God?

Advent Devotional Day 20: The Good Place Part 2

Remember how Moses sent spies into the land that would be given to Israel and how they refused to entre? This time the people had been removed from the land and after a time in exile were returning. What they returned to was a destroyed temple and a destroyed city. With God’s intervention the people rebuilt the temple under the leadership of Ezra. Then God sent another leader, Nehemiah, who lead the people in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. A prophet, Malachi was also sent to preach repentance to the nation. How did the people respond?

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”” (Malachi 3:16–18, NLT)

Over time many more Israelites would return to the land and settle in it. Some families who traced their lineage back to King David would settle in what would be called Nazareth in Galilea. Both Joseph and Mary, who were descendants of David would be born there. Mary of course would be the Mother of Jesus the Christ.

So the family went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what the prophets had said: “He will be called a Nazarene.”” (Matthew 2:23, NLT)

As we entre the Christmas week think back over all the prophecies mentioned in this devotional (there are more than just the ones mentioned) and praise God for his active participation in human history.

Advent Devotional Day 19: The Star Part 1

Nothing reminds us of Christmas more than the Bethlehem Star. It was how the wise men found Jesus. The prophecy about the Bethlehem star happened many years before. Micah the prophet was sent by God during a time when Israel and Judah were wandering away from God under evil kings. He warned Judah that Israel would be destroyed by Assyria. The prophecy came to pass which started revival in Judah with the nation turning back to God. During this time Micah prophesied about a new king.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world.” (Micah 5:2–4, NLT)

In the next few days we will see how Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies mentioned in this devotional. Do you see the pattern of the nation wandering away from God and God calling them back through a prophet? How similar is that to our life? Only God never gave up on humanity. He kept working to call people back to himself. Every prophecy. Every mighty work in history. Every Miracle. Given so that we would turn to the God who is for us.

Thank God today for his persistence in reaching out to you?

Advent Devotional Day 18: The New Covenant

The promise God made to Abraham of giving him a land, turning him into a great nation, and blessing the world through him was getting closer. The Old Covenant had been broken by Israel but not God. So God promised a new covenant.

“The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord. “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”” (Jeremiah 31:31–34, NLT)

This New Covenant was fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15, NLT)

What a great God! One who never gives up on humanity but makes every effort to bring us back to him. We now live under this new covenant with a promise of an eternal inheritance. All of this accomplished through Jesus who humbled himself and came as man, a child.

Think on the language of the Jeremiah passage. What encouragement and assurance can you draw from it today?

Advent Devotional Day 17: Servant of All

Not many people want to associate sorrow and suffering with Christmas. It is something we would rather avoid. It is uncomfortable. Yesterday we saw the image of Jesus as the good shepherd, today we see Jesus as the suffering servant.

Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. (Isaiah 53:1–3, NLT)

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him (Jesus) the sins of us all. (Isaiah 53:6, NLT)

Jesus, being joyfully obedient to his Father came as this suffering servant. In his suffering and sacrifice he took our sins on himself giving his life for ours on the cross. What is more? Jesus did it willingly.

No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”” (John 10:18, NLT)

Imagine the amount of love that took from a sinless God to a fallen creation. Whay comes to mind? You are valued! You matter! You are wanted! You are important!

Just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. (John 10:15, NLT)

Maybe being called a sheep isn’t such a bad thing?

Advent Devotional Day 16: The Good Shepherd

No one likes being called a sheep in this day and age. It is offensive. To the nation of Israel being called a sheep was a symbol of deep care from the shepherd. No shepherd wants what is bad for their sheep. They only want what will keep their sheep healthy and safe. This imagry from Isaiah gvies us an idea of the shepherd’s relationship to the sheep.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. (Isaiah 40:11, NLT)

Jesus is also called the good shepherd and shares the same concern for the sheep as his father.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. (John 10:11–16, NLT)

How does this imagery of Jesus as the good shepherd encourage you today?