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Advent 2020: Behold

The greatest salvation.

The spiritual discipline of Advent provides a means to increase our adoration and enjoyment in Jesus. Within it is the potential to open our hearts to a greater understanding of all He did, does, and will do.

Christmas Eve is one week away. Today, test your heart and spirit. Rate your adoration and joy of Jesus on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the high mark). No matter where you find yourself, take steps of faith to increase your capacity for joyful adoration.

Remember the steps on this spiritual journey:
Meditate on your need for Jesus.
Examine your heart and life in Christ.
Build anticipation for His return.
Be in His Word.

Exercise your faith.


Read December 17: The Greatest Salvation Imaginable

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Reflect.

What did you read in today’s devotional to use as fuel for finding joy in Jesus?


Christ bore our sins in his own body when he died. He took our judgment. He canceled our guilt. And that means our sins are gone.

John Piper, Joy to the World

God took on flesh so He could take on our sins and then… forget about them. For those who believe, this is the gift of Christmas: The Greatest Salvation!

If there was ever a reason to anticipate the celebration of Jesus with great joy, this is it.

What does this truth stir in your heart?

Do you have sins (past or present or both) you would love to be gone?

What does your heart’s response reveal about your understanding of who you are? who God is? the great gift He offers?

Ask God to prepare your heart to receive the greatest gift He has to give.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 3:1-2 ESV

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[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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Advent 2020: Life and Death

The way of abundant life.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, written in the mid-1600s, provides introductory teaching for new Believers to the Christian faith. Its first lesson tells us the ultimate purpose of every individual born into this world is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Finding joy in this life and the life to come is founded on our relationship with God. Jesus did all the work to make it possible for us to fulfill our purpose.

An abundant life of joy starts with glorifying God.


Read December 15: Life and Death at Christmas

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Reflect.

How did John Piper speak to you today?


Many of you will feel your loss this Christmas more pointedly than before. Don’t block it out. Let it come. Feel it.

John Piper, Joy to the World

What loss are you facing this Christmas season?

Death. Sin. Loss. Repentance. These are not the usual themes we entertain at Christmas. Yet, John Piper tells us we discover the path to adoring Jesus and joy in this world when we embrace the truth of our life apart from God.

The fact is many are hurting this holiday season. Not just because of the physical loss of death. Disturbance of emotions and spirits occur with financial losses and broken relationships, the dismantling of hopes, dreams, and expectations. All caused by the introduction of sin into our world.

When we allow ourselves to face death and loss head-on — wrap our minds around the truth of its source — the lies of Satan. We can come right alongside the manger and see the hope of life, peace, and joy shining through the swaddling cloths of Baby Jesus.

Let grief magnify your adoration of Jesus.

Have you ever considered what Jesus left behind in heaven by becoming a man, the losses He endured? Name a few.

How does contemplating His loss for your sake speak to your heart?

Today, embrace your loss, your grief, your pain. Attribute it to the right culprit — the ones who believe the lies of the enemy — us. you. me. Then consider what God reveals about His heart by coming down from heaven to enter a womb and live the life of a human being from birth to death.

Ask God to open wide your heart and mind to the spirit of revelation to receive the truth of Christmas. Ask Him to set your sights on adoring Jesus.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
Psalm 36:7-9 NIV

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[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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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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Reflect.

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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[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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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

Photo by Leon Oblak on Unsplash

Reflect.

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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[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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Advent 2020: The Beginning

The start of a spiritual discipline.

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. It’s the day we begin preparing our hearts for celebrating the day the Son of God left His home in heaven and entered the world as one of us.

It’s the day to begin reading Joy to the World by John Piper. We hope you’ve received a copy. If not, they are available in the Commons Area on the Welcome Desk. Or if you aren’t getting out, call the church office and we will get one to you.


Sunday, November 29:
Read the Preface of Joy to the World.

Advent is for adoring Jesus.

Reflect.

What did you learn about the tradition of Advent from the Preface?

Advent is not just a season marked on the calendar, it is a spiritual discipline. An opportunity to reflect on what Jesus means to us. When we practice Advent as a spiritual discipline, as a means to draw near God, we spend time in His Word, prayer, and honestly respond to what we’ve heard.

Joy to the World is an invitation to enter into the spiritual heart of Christmas and draw away from what the world has made it. Even the tradition of lighting candles on the Advent Wreath each week, when we look a little deeper, reveals a spiritual truth.

The closer we draw to Jesus — remembering His first arrival and looking forward to His second coming — we experience increased light in our lives. The lighting of one candle on the First Sunday of Advent, then lighting an additional candle each Sunday up to the Fourth Sunday, gives us a physical picture of the spiritual reality of receiving more of God’s light in our lives when we take the time to enter into the spiritual heart of Advent.

Drawing near to God and the wonder of what He did for us by entering our world in such an intimate way, fills us with increasing measures of hope, love, joy, and peace.

Advent is for adoring Jesus. How do you feel about Christmas? Jesus?

Do you adore Jesus? Do you look forward to His return?

What does the Advent season mean to you?

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:9 ESV

As we walk through Joy to the World from today through Christmas Eve, we pray you will begin to sense an increased joy in your relationship with God through Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit.

Grow Team

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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Advent 2020

O, come let us adore Him!

It’s time to turn our hearts to the wonders of the Babe in the manger. Grow Team’s offering to assist you in preparing your heart to adore Jesus is Joy to the World: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper.

The readings begin on December 1 and focus on the reasons for adoring this great gift God sent into the world. The Savior of our souls: Jesus.

Pick up yours today! They are available on the welcome desk in the Commons area or if you’re not getting out call the church office and we’ll get you a copy. We can bring it to your car or mail it to your home.

Grow Team is also offering a way to go deeper into each reading with daily posts here on the church blog. Responses and questions to consider based on what you read in Joy to the World.

Looking forward to adoring Him with you!

Grow Team

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]