Advent Devotions 2021
Welcome to Advent!
Here we all are in our last week before CHRISTMAS! The home stretch! We have been preparing for a few weeks for Jesus’ coming, setting aside that quiet time for prayers, reading Scripture, and studying God’s plan for Jesus’ birth, the events leading up to that wonderful moment. Whether you were able to have some of that spiritual time alone, or gathering with your family to pray together… or even both! Reading, reflecting, and praying during this Holy time.
What's the longest you've had to wait for something?
I think that almost everyone has a memory of Christmas Eve when they were little. Like squeezing your eyes shut, trying SO HARD to go to sleep on that night. Did you get out of bed a lot, only to have your parents remind you that you had to stay there until morning? Did you imagine what your wrapped packages would look like? Did you think about all of the family time you would enjoy, sometimes with family you didn’t get to see very often? Did you wonder WHY it was so hard to get to sleep? Did you try to count sheep to fall asleep?
Suggestions for Families with Children:
Make sure that you’re nativity animals and people are back in the stable and all set to go! Don’t forget to put baby Jesus into the stable before bedtime on Christmas Eve! Color and put together the enclosed coloring Nativity. Read the Christmas story together before bed on Christmas Eve. Choose Scripture, or storybook Bible, or Christmas storybook. Happy Christmas!
Monday – Read Isaiah 7:10-14
10Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Waiting is still difficult. In the world we are becoming, we expect everything to be at our fingertips the moment we have the wish for it. It is a world of easy downloads, instant email, on demand programming, and food prepared in a few minutes. Yet God finds ways of making us wait. Waiting, faith, and hope go hand-in-hand.
In Isaiah 7:14 we are reminded that faith and hope involves us to trust in God's promise. He does things in His own time, and even though sometimes we have to wait for all of the good things that He offers us, it will come. Especially for the biggest Promise of all. The Savior. The Messiah. God’s Son… Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. This is one of the most hopeful statements you can read.
Prayer for Today:
Holy God, help us to prepare our hearts the way You have prepared all of history to receive the gift of Your Son. We ask You to guide us during these last days before Christmas to cut away the distractions and make our lives a place of warmth and openness as we look forward to the coming of Christ to Earth, and the gift that He will offer to us of eternal life.
Tuesday - Read Jeremiah 29:11
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
Advent is about faith and hope, and also waiting. What are you waiting for God to answer? Remember the years of silence as God's people waited for the Messiah. DO NOT ever lose your faith or hope. Every prayer and promise is answered. We invite you to give your silent prayer to God as we light our first advent candle today. God’s plan is the promise that He made to us to send the Messiah.
Prayer for Today:
Lord, we know that by having hope, we learn to trust in Your promise. Help us to feel the Peace of that promise. We pray for the Love that is born from that peaceful and hopeful feeling and for the Joy to surround us all. We rejoice for the baby who will be born, and whose his tiny shoulders the hope, peace, love, and joy of the entire world rests. Amen.
Wednesday - Read 1 John 4:7-19
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God;” is part of the passage from 1st John. It is straightforward and simple. LOVE. It’s all around us. Sometimes it’s not as obvious as other times… But we don’t need to go looking very far for God’s love… ESPECIALLY at Christmastime…
Prayer for Today:
Gracious Father, we celebrate the birth of Your Son, our Savior and King, who alone can give joy and lasting peace in a dark world so desperately in need of His grace. Today I pray for peace and healing for all around the world who need it. Let Your love surround us all in Your comforting way. Amen.
Thursday – Read Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
Peace. That’s an important word. Do you know what it means? Peace is the feeling of being safe and secure. You may feel peace when you are sitting at home, or with your family. You may feel peace walking in nature… Many of us feel peace here in this Sanctuary. True peace is trusting God to take care of your needs in any situation. A long time ago, God blessed the world with peace through the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Jesus allows us to have peace in our lives because He is the Savior of the entire world.
Prayer for Today:
God, may we be part of the peace you are bringing to this earth through Christ in how we love our family, our friends, our classmates, our work colleagues and all we meet. In Your Holy name we pray… Amen.
Friday – Read Luke 2:1-20
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,* praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’*
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. WHY would God send the Angels to the Shepherds? Why was Jesus’ birth announced first to them? They were humble men; in fact, shepherds were looked down upon by many people. But Jesus came for all people — rich and poor, male and female, uneducated and educated. By proclaiming Jesus’ birth to the Shepherds, God was demonstrating His love for every one of us, no matter who we are.
If an angel was suddenly in our midst, how do you think you would respond? Would you have ignored Jesus — as most did? Or would you have joined the Shepherds in welcoming God’s Son into the world — and into your heart?
Love fills every part of the Christmas story: God so loved the world that he sent his Only Begotten Son. Christmastime is a season when love of God and of our family and friends fills us all, but the real challenge is to continue feeling and showing that love when Christmas is over so that it fills the entire year. When the beautiful and peaceful feeling of Christmas is gone, we can have hope, peace, and love ALL YEAR.
Our challenge to you for the New year is not always simple. But it is so important. Before we think or take action, we want you to think of God, and His gift to us… The Messiah. So we need to think with Love. Are our actions loving and kind? If they are not, should we still go forward with them? Jesus taught us all how we should live our lives… It may be difficult to do, but we can all try to live up to those expectations… this is what love means.
Take a few moments to close your eyes and think of everyone you love most in the world. That is an easy thing to do, isn’t it? Remember this love and bring it into your life in everything you do as you go forward… We are Jesus' disciples in the world today. Jesus wants us to love others as he loves us. This candle reminds us that God loves us, and that we must show that love by loving one another.
Prayer for Today:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us, and for sending us Jesus to teach us about your love. Help us to remember that your love will never come to an end. Strengthen us to love others as you love us. We thank you that you have not left our world in darkness, but have sent your only Son as the light of the world to show us your glory, to give us new life and joy.
Please open our eyes to see Jesus more clearly, to trust him more fully, and to serve him more joyfully. Please allow us to follow that beautiful and bright star to the stable where we will find Jesus… In your wondrous name we pray these things…. AMEN