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Advent 2020: Why He Came

He came to be one of us.

Be. To live and exist and move. This final ingredient in our spiritual discipline of Advent challenges us to make God’s Word our way of life.

Living His Word is the way disciples of Jesus follow Him. He came as the Word made flesh (John 1:14) and it is what He calls His followers to do, too.

Read December 11: Why Jesus Came

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What does today’s reading have to say to you?

The reason Jesus became man was to die.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Amid all the Christmas festivities and the image of the Babe in the manger wrapped in swaddling cloths, we often forget why God put on flesh and stooped low to become one of us.

It’s hard to look at a newborn infant and think about the fact each new life comes with a date of death.

Today consider Baby Jesus as part of God’s journey to the cross, to do what we could not.

How does this step in Jesus’s life reflect your faith? Where are you on your journey?

Ask God to prepare you to share the good news of Jesus through the Christmas story, so others can know why He came.

And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
Romans 10:14-15 NLT

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Advent 2020: Gifts

They offered Him gifts.

Meditate. Examine. Build. Be. The steps in our spiritual roadmap for Advent.

Be. Exist. Live. Move.

These synonyms for be expand our understanding of what it means to “be in the Word.” As you read the Scripture associated with the devotionals in Joy to the World consider what it means to be in that particular Word.

Read December 10: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

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What “gift” did you receive from today’s devotional reading?

The magi’s gifts were intensifiers of desire for Christ himself in much the same way fasting is for us.

John Piper, Joy to the world

What is your heart attitude when it comes to giving to Jesus?

How do you feel about giving to His Kingdom when it comes to your time? energy? resources?

Do you feel fear of not having enough for yourself? or fear of what will happen if you don’t give?

Do you give because you want something in return? or do you give out of pure adoration?

Today, consider whether the gifts you give Him have strings attached.

Seek God on how to become untangled from any wrong attitudes you have when it comes to giving gifts to Him.

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.
2Corinthians 9:17 NLT

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Advent 2020: Opposition

Troubled by Jesus.

Building excitement and anticipation for Jesus’s presence in your life and His ultimate return to earth is thoughtful work.

Fashion is another synonym for the word build. It means “to mold into a particular character by influencing or training” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).

Molding, building, transforming takes imagination. We must form a clear mental image of our end goal, in this case, an attitude of joyful expectancy for celebrating Jesus.

Creating a blueprint in our mind returns us to the first step in our spiritual roadmap: Meditate. Today, consider how being mindful of your need for Jesus can help build a sense of excited anticipation in your life for His promises.

Read December 9: Two Kinds of Opposition to Jesus

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What in today’s devotional causes you to think differently about Jesus? about Christmas?

Jesus is troubling to people who do not want to worship him, and this creates opposition against those who do.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Indifference or opposition? Wonder or excitement? How do you receive Christ and His good news of grace?

Are you brought to your knees? Or are you offended?

Consider your heart’s response to the good news of Jesus’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.

What do the everyday details of your life reveal about your belief in Jesus?

Ask God to uncover any hidden opposition to Jesus and His good news of grace rooted in your heart. Ask Him to show you how to remove any barriers — hostility or indifference — keeping you from finding joyful excitement in Jesus.

“This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. …”
Luke 2:34-35 NLT

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Advent 2020: Supernatural Wonder

His star rose.

Yesterday we considered building excitement and anticipation for God’s presence in our lives and Jesus’s return in the future. A synonym for build is forge.

Forge can mean “to move forward slowly and steadily” or “to move with a sudden increase of speed and power” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).

In our spiritual journeys we generally move slowly and steadily. Regular times of worship and a daily rhythm in our walk with God through prayer, study, and obedience, lay the foundation. But there are seasons in our spiritual lives when we forge ahead with extra intensity. Advent can be one of those times.

Be on the lookout for inspiration in building anticipation for celebrating Christmas in your home and for Christ’s ultimate return as you read the devotionals in Joy to the World.

Read December 8: Bethlehem’s Supernatural Star

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What, in today’s devotional, fueled your anticipation of celebrating Jesus?

What is plain concerning this matter of the star is that it is doing something that it cannot do on its own: it is guiding magi to the Son of God to worship him.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Do you accept your limitations when it comes to understanding the supernatural ways of God? Or do you spend time and energy trying to figure it out for yourself?

Embrace the unknowns. Just admit: I don’t know.

Trusting God’s hand is in and behind all the events of the world is an act of faith. Believing we can figure out how He does it belittles God’s greatness.

Ask God to bless you with the faith and humility to embrace the unknowns and wonder at His unimaginable unfathomable greatness.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Romans 11:33 NIV

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Advent 2020: Everyone’s Messiah

Wise men seek the King of the Jews.

The roadmap for Advent as a spiritual journey — Meditate. Examine. Build. Be. — is a means of drawing close to God’s presence, not only in the manger, but for wherever you find yourself in the world.

Build. Form. Fashion. Construct. Forge.

The third step toward adoring Jesus is working to create excitement in your heart to experience His daily presence and anticipate His future return.

Read December 7: Messiah for the Magi

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What did you learn in today’s reading? Was anything new to you?

Jesus is the universal Messiah for all the nations, not just the Jews.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Do you remember Jesus is God’s gift to the world? the whole realm of unbelievers?

He is not just for those who believe, but everyone! He is Savior for all. Available to anyone who believes and receives Him.

Is your heart as open to unbelievers as it is to Believers?

Do you see others as missing out on the good news? Do you want to share it?

Ask God to use you and show you how to tell everyone about the Savior of the world. The One who loves them enough to die for them.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
1John 4:14 ESV

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Advent 2020: His Peace

Peace for those who please Him.

Self-examination is not a means of building self-esteem or an exercise in self-judgment to send us on a guilt-trip. Inspecting, interrogating, and examining our hearts is about looking closely to see if our thoughts, emotions, and desires line up with what God says His people of faith should experience.

Testing our hearts is a way to open the door to God — Father, Son, and Spirit — inviting Him into our lives to share with us what He sees and discover where He wants to lead us.

Read December 6: Peace to those with Whom He’s Pleased

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What is your heartfelt response to today’s reading?

The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God.

John Piper, Joy to the World

How is your peace these days? Is it disturbed?

Do you anticipate the celebration of Jesus’s birth with joy? What about His return?

Take your answers as an indicator of how much you trust God. Bring your response – whatever it is – to Him in prayer.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:17 ESV

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Advent 2020: No Detour

It all leads to the cross.

Remember our roadmap for approaching Advent as a spiritual discipline.
Meditate. Examine. Build. Be.

We focused a bit on what it means to meditate. Now let’s consider examine.

Examine. Inspect. Test. Inquire. Interrogate.

John Piper asks us to venture into self-examination. Look closely at our own hearts: our mind, will, and emotions. Begin today by examining your heart’s response to what you read in Joy to the World.

Read December 5: No Detour from Calvary

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What did you hear in Joy to the World today?

The “No Vacancy” signs over all the motels in Bethlehem were for your sake. “For your sake he became poor.”

John Piper, Joy to the World

What does it mean to you that Jesus stooped so low? gave up so much? for you?

How does your heart respond to the truth He chose to live “without” so you can live with Him in eternal glory?

Ask Him to fill you with adoration for giving up so much for you. Ask Him to bless you with the faith to do the same for Him.

“… For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
Mark 8:35-36 ESV

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Advent 2020: Ordinary People

And all went to be counted.

As you go about your ordinary days this Advent season, meditate on your need for a Savior.

Look for places at work, home, among family, friends, and neighbors, where you may be in need of deliverance from a situation, an attitude, or a relationship.

Read December 4: For God’s Ordinary People

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What surprised you in today’s reading? Anything?

Do not think, because you experience adversity, that the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity but our holiness that he seeks with all his heart.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Meditate on God’s sovereign power and purpose today. Think about the fact He uses all His power for His glory and the good of His people.

How does it make you feel? Do you believe or doubt His abilities?

Ask God to open your eyes and heart to His unlimited power and goodness.

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.
Jeremiah 32:17 ESV

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Advent 2020: A Long Wait

Blessed be the Lord!

Meditate. Examine. Build. Be. Our roadmap for approaching Advent as a spiritual discipline.

Meditate. Ponder. Reflect. Contemplate.
Intentionally considering, thinking about, our need for a Savior is the first step on our way to adoring Jesus.

Read December 3: The Long-Awaited Visitation

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What attitude does John Piper suggest we should have when it comes to waiting on God?

These were days of great expectation. Now the long-awaited visitation of God was about to come in a way no one expected.

John Piper, Joy to the World

What are you waiting for? Are you growing weary in the waiting? Or are you filled with excitement and anticipation?

What does your attitude in the waiting reveal about your trust in the One you are waiting for?

Take your “waiting” attitude — whatever it is — to God in prayer. Ask Him to encourage your heart in what you are waiting for.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2Peter 3:8-9 NIV

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Advent 2020: Our Magnificent God

Rejoice in God your Savior.

Yesterday we were given a roadmap, a guide, for our spiritual journey through Advent: Meditate. Examine. Build. Be.

As we continue reading through Joy to the World each day, incorporate the roadmap into your devotional time. Meditate on your need for a Savior, examine your current life in Christ, build anticipation for His return, and be in the Word.

Read December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God

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What does Mary understand about God? Why does her soul magnify Him?

The only people whose souls can truly magnify the Lord are people like Elizabeth and Mary — people who acknowledge their lowly estate and are overwhelmed by the condescension of the magnificent God.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Are you overwhelmed and humbled because God stooped low to restore relationship with you? Why or why not?

What sparks your wonder of God coming in the flesh? What dampens it?

Ask God to fill you with a renewed wonder of His Magnificence.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8:3-4 ESV

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