December 8: Second Sunday in Advent

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

(Light the first Advent candle.)

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the first candle is the candle of hope. Hope is the fuel that keeps our faith burning bright.

(Light the second Advent candle.)

This is Bethlehem’s Candle and as the light of this candle joins the candle of hope, faith shines brighter than before.

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[Photo by Elizabeth Explores on Unsplash]

Read Luke 2:1-6

What faith Mary and Joseph revealed with each step they took on their journey to Bethlehem. It couldn’t have been easy or comfortable. There must have been some stops along the way.

Like Mary and Joseph, we carry the Savior of the World inside our hearts. Their faith journey led them to Bethlehem, and faith calls us to journey too. Think back over this year.

How has your faith grown? What happened this year that tested your faith? What stops did you make along the way? Have you noticed new birth in your life?

Faith is one of the greatest gifts God gives us. Unlike gifts under the tree, this gift grows. When we stop along the way or we feel like we can’t take another step, faith lights the way and leads us on.

As we continue our Advent journey, may faith shine bright and light our way to Bethlehem.

Sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”:

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.

Lord of Faith, thank You for the gift You’ve given us. For the faith to continue the journey toward You. Give us strength and courage like Mary and Joseph. In Jesus name, Amen.

Additional Scriptures: Ephesians 3:16-19, Hebrews 11:6, Psalm 119:30, Galatians 3:26-27

December 16

[The countdown to Christmas is heating up. Remember to slow, ponder, take time to focus on the reason we celebrate. The following devotional comes after the December 16 reading in John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.]

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45

In other words, the reason Christ took on our full humanity was so that he could die and in dying pay a ransom and free us from the power of death. And free us to be included in his own family. The ransom is ultimately about relationship. Yours to God, your merciful Father.

–John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, page 54*

The birth of a baby expands a family and they become a part of the family they are born into. Not so with Jesus. With His birth all have the opportunity to become a part of something bigger… God’s family. One tiny baby did all this!

Consider your family today and give thanks. What benefits do we receive when we become a part of God’s family?

When you consider your relationship to the Heavenly Father what one word comes to mind? Does the word give you reason for praise? Does it inspire you to know Him better?

Father, more than anything I want to have a deep relationship with You. Your Son made a way for me to come to You and there are times I have not taken advantage of it. I’m sorry for those times. Stir my heart in ways that cause me to love You more. Amen.

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash]

*© 2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,