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Advent 2020: Conclusion

Continuing the journey.

Christmas 2020 is now in our rearview mirror. It’s the day after, the joy all spent, and now clean up begins. Memories will remain, some a short while and some lifelong, depending on our experiences.

As we wrap up our time with John Piper in Joy to the World, let’s consider what we will remember beyond Advent 2020.


Read Conclusion: My Favorite Christmas Text

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What is your takeaway from the Conclusion of Joy to the World?


We are called to join Jesus in this conscious self-humbling and servanthood.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Jesus made Himself nothing to serve others. He made a way to set us free from sin and death.

With pure freedom and joy, Believers lay down all illusion of independence and pride to follow Him.

As we leave Advent 2020 behind, let us consider continuing the spiritual journey we began in Joy to the World. Because the truth is, we live life in a season of Advent, a season of waiting. We are waiting for Christ’s return, His Second-Coming when He will make all things right.

Practicing the steps we learned this Advent is a means to help us prepare our hearts and spirits for Jesus’s return: Meditate. Examine. Build. Be.

Meditate, think about, contemplate your need for Jesus in community and personally. Consider all the ways you depend on the blessings He pours out each day and the hope you have in His promises. Ask God to remind you of your need.

Examine, check, inspect your heart and attitude toward Jesus. Look for signs of joy in Jesus and willingness to serve humbly. Consider how much of your life is also Christ’s life. Ask God to show you what you cannot see in yourself.

Build, fashion, construct habits to form an attitude of anticipation and excitement for His return. If you are not looking forward to His coming back, consider the underlying reasons. Ask God to reveal barriers in your heart. Sometimes construction projects begin with clearing out and tearing down obstructions. Cooperate with God as He works to change your attitude.

Be and live in the Word of God. Make it a daily priority in your life. Learn all you can about Jesus, from Genesis to Revelation. He is not only the Reason for Christmas but all creation and beyond. Get to know your Savior and find joy in your current waiting. Ask God to guide you to the specific Scriptures you need in each season of life and open yourself to His teaching by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today consider how you can establish these steps as a foundation for your spiritual journey.

Do you envision a daily, weekly, or monthly time to walk through these steps?

Who can you invite to join you on the journey for encouragement in the current waiting?

Ask God for the inspiration and faith to continue preparing physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally for Jesus’s return. Ask Him to guide you to light, truth, and joy, joy, joy!

For thus says the Lord… You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:10, 13 ESV

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Blessings for the new year and beyond.

Grow Team

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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

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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

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Advent 2020: Rejoice!

It’s all about Him.

Today marks the eve of Christmas Eve. The day when we finally resign ourselves to what will get done by Christmas and what will not.

Spend a portion of today reflecting on your expectations and hopes for this holiday season. Celebrate the accomplishments, grieve the disappointments and things lost in the cracks of life.

Then relate your Christmas season expectations to your spiritual journey. Think about where you expected Christ to lead you and the reality of where you are. Embrace both the joys and sorrows.

Now, remember: His mercies are new every day! His steadfast love never fails! And He is currently redeeming, restoring, and renewing ALL things!


Read December 23: God’s Indescribable Gifts

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Reflect.

How did John Piper speak to you on a personal level today?


Exultation without the content of Christ does not honor Christ.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Exult. Rejoice. Celebrate. Christmas is one of the few holidays celebrated internationally, on a global level.

The world finds common ground in Christmas, a time to give, seek peace, and express love to others. But most celebrate the season without the Reason. The birth of Christ, the beginning of God’s promises coming to fruition, is left out.

Celebrating Christmas without the story of Jesus reconciling the world to God because of sin is not a celebration that honors Him. It’s like someone throwing a birthday party for you, but your presence is not welcome.

Consider your Christmas celebrations. Where is Christ in your Christmas? front and center? relegated to the sidelines? a footnote? a fuzzy detail?

Ask God to grab your attention with the Indescribable Gift He has given you, made available to your family, friends, and even those at odds with you. Ask Him to fill your heart with exultation, joy, and excitement over the One who came quietly into a dark world to battle for your life.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
Isaiah 49:13 ESV

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Advent 2020: Incarnation

The King has come.

Three more days to prepare for Christmas. Three days to prepare our hearts to glorify God by celebrating His Son’s birth.

Take time to reconsider our steps in the spiritual journey of Advent.
Meditate. Remember your need for a Savior.
Examine. Be honest about the place Christ has in your life.
Build. Anticipate your eternity.
Be. Carry Scripture with you on a notecard, sticky, or in your memory.

Use these steps as a foundation for your celebration of Jesus. Whether you spend it alone or with family and friends plan a joy-full celebration.

Prepare the way for the Lord.


Read December 21: The Birth of the Ancient of Days

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Reflect.

What images came to mind as you read today’s devotional?


His birth was not a coming into being of a new person, but a coming into the world of an infinitely old person.

John Piper, Joy to the World

The Person of Jesus existed before He was born in the flesh and laid in a manger. In a way, this is what we experience in our spiritual birth — the old becoming new (2Corinthians 5:17).

Learning to live a new way of being when you are old can be challenging. Letting go of old habits, thoughts, and feelings, replacing them with new ones.

What do you think it was like for Jesus? the Old becoming New? Spirit becoming flesh?

Can you relate His birth experience to your spiritual journey of being born again?

Does this truth help you relate to Jesus on a personal level?

What does it mean to you for the old to take on something new?

Let this idea stick with you. See what stirs in your heart.

Ask God to solidify this thought in your mind and use it to fill you with adoration of the Ancient of Days.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:3 ESV

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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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Advent 2020: A New Covenant

Better promises.

A big part of trusting God is believing what He says in His Word. Understanding we need a Savior just because He says so.

Today, by faith, consider your need for salvation — from yourself and others, from situations and circumstances — listen to your heart’s response. Write down your needs, then go to God’s Word and find His promises that speak to your needs.

Do it all in the name of increasing your capacity to adore Jesus.


Read December 14: Making it Real for His People

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Reflect.

How did today’s devotional speak to your faith?


God brings about our inner transformation by the Spirit of Christ.

John Piper, Joy to the World

We enter into the New Covenant by faith. Putting our trust in Jesus — His life, death, resurrection, and return — makes us recipients of His better promises.

His blood makes way for us to be transformed by God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Believing in Jesus starts the process.

Have you experienced God’s transforming power in your life? How?

Which of His promises are you most looking forward to being fulfilled? Why?

How does your heart respond to the truth that God alone brings about transformation in your life by faith in Christ’s sacrifice and the power of the Spirit?

What does your emotional response to this truth say about you? your relationship with God? with others?

Ask God to prepare your heart and spirit to receive the changes He wants to bring about in your life. Ask for the faith to trust His guidance and a willingness to obey.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:12 NIV

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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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Reflect.

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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