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Advent 2020: The Son of God

He disables sin.

Christmas Eve. It’s here! We’ve journeyed a long way, even though it may seem like the time flew by.

Today we celebrate the eve of the birth of the Babe in the manger, the Son of God, the Son of Man, God-Incarnate, Jesus.

As you celebrate this night before Christmas, take time to focus on the steps of the spiritual discipline of Advent. Invite those with you into the conversation.
Meditate. Share your thoughts on the need for Jesus in your life.
Examine. Ask each person present to consider what is in their hearts this Christmas Eve: Emotions. Thoughts. Desires. Invite them to speak openly.
Build. Take a survey of those with whom you gather to discover different ways to stir up excitement for Jesus at Christmas and all the other days of the year.
Be. Open up a Bible. Read a portion of Jesus’s birth story out loud. Ask God to open hearts to the joy of Christmas.


Read December 24: The Son of God Appeared

Photo by Jan Romero on Unsplash

Reflect.

What did you hear in today’s Joy to the World devotional?


Jesus came into the world to help us stop sinning.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Sometimes, we view the Christmas story as unconnected from the work Jesus came to do: Disable sin.

We make a big to-do of His arrival in the manger, but the reality is He quietly appeared. Hardly anyone noticed.

The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Jesus’s life as a child or young adult. The next time we hear of Him, He’s all grown up and undergoing baptism in the waters of the Jordan River. He enters ministry by fighting off temptation. Then He begins teaching, healing, and working miracles as He forms fellowship with a band of brothers.

The Babe in the manger seems far removed from the Messiah on the cross.

John Piper wants to make sure we connect the whole story and see the Babe in the same light as Christ: The Lamb of God. The Savior of the world. The King of kings.

Why do you think we need to see the incarnation of God, from baby to manhood, as an integral part of His mission on earth?

Do you tend to compartmentalize Christmas from the cross? His resurrection? His return?

Today think about how you handle the whole story of Christ. Examine your attitude toward Jesus’s birth, life, crucifixion, resurrection, and return. Are they a single epic written on your heart? Or do you view them as individual accounts?

Ask God to open your eyes and heart to the full story and purpose of Jesus. Be prepared to let go of old attitudes and make way for a fuller perspective to take hold.

Because God’s children are human beings — made of flesh and blood — the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil who had the power of death.
Hebrews 2:14 NLT

Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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Advent 2020: Believe

Find Him awesome.

The calendar tells us we have two days until Christmas Eve. With yesterday’s winter solstice, the light of day begins to increase, little by little.

Most often, the light of Jesus in our lives waxes and wanes in the same way — little by little — it doesn’t stay the same. We are either moving toward Him or away from Him on any given day or season of life.

Today consider how Advent as a spiritual journey has affected you. Discern whether your heart is a little nearer to the adoration Jesus deserves or if the light from the manger is dimmer than in seasons past.


Read December 22: That You May Believe

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Reflect.

What was your heart’s response to today’s devotional? How did it make you feel?


Something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God…

John Piper, Joy to the World

John Piper tells us there is no more exciting story, no more thrilling tale, than the one of the Son of God, yet it fails to capture our attention.

What stories are your favorites? action-adventure? mystery? science-fiction? romance?

What is it about your favorite genre that holds your attention? captures your imagination? speaks to your heart?

Consider what you do know about Jesus’s story — the one told from Genesis to Revelation. Are there elements of the stories you love in His story?

Ask God to help you see His story in a fresh light. Ask Him to capture your heart with the truth of all He did, does, and will do. Open your heart for the Holy Spirit to tell you the greatest story ever told.

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” — Jesus
John 16:12-14 NIV

Photo by The Miscellanista on Unsplash

[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

Photo by Lionello DelPiccolo on Unsplash

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

Photo by Jarrett Mills on Unsplash

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

December 21

Life… It Happens

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

As most everyone knows, I have had some “situations” in my life this year that have tested my ability to face them. For several years I have either flown or driven to Central Ohio to check on my mother every 6 weeks or 2 months. She was in a nursing home nearly 10 years as her health declined steadily. During that time, I have also gone to Ohio to attend the birthdays and funerals of my extended family for my immediate family as I am the oldest in my family.

All that pressure wore on me and made me question my devotion to my mother in Ohio and my family here in Texas. Every time I let myself question where I needed to be, God would show me that my mother and my family here supported me no matter where I was. It was at those stressful times that I would slow down and pray for help so that I would know where I belonged. (I pray at all times, but this was when I would stop and pray specifically about my concerns.)

Finally, on July 4th of this year, my mother joined my dad, the angels and God. I truly believe she is doing everything now with my dad as she plays piano, sews, crochets and cooks happily.

Life-Baking-Fruitful-Serving-Love-Advent-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash]

I thank the Lord that He has given me the peace and understanding of where I belong. I am glad to have done what I did, but I am glad to be here.

Jackie Gruber

Father God, life doesn’t stop for holidays and Jesus showed up in the middle of it all. Not many took notice of His arrival because of politics, religion, illness, financial needs, family concerns. Show us this Christmas season how You came to be with us in all of life. To show us the way through it and reveal Your love for us. May we find Your peace and put our hope in You as we walk through the daily drama of life both expected and unexpected. Amen.

 Additional Scriptures: 2Corinthians 5:14-15, John 10:9-10, Philippians 1:21-24, 2Thessalonians 1:11-12

Songs of Praise: Psalm 108

Read today’s song of praise: Psalm 108 [Click the reference to read online or open up your Bible.]

Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

Psalm 108:12-13

Our psalmist wakes the dawn with songs of praise to God. Because he knows the victory of living with God. And the futility of life without Him.

Following God, doing things His way, in His strength, leads to triumph over the battles we face each day. Relying on our own strength leaves us defeated. Beat up by the world. Falling prey to temptation. Vulnerable to the lies of the enemy.

I’m reminded of Jesus’s words…

“…I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. …”

John 15:5 ESV

It’s just the truth. All our efforts apart from Him… apart from God… are in vain. Let us join the psalmist in his exaltation of God and ask Him to go ahead of us today.

Lord Jesus, may I awaken each dawn singing Your praise, and blessing You with thanks for all You are. I can’t do anything without You. Go before me this day. I want to live valiantly, not in vain.