It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of the holidays, but we encourage you to set aside some time to prepare your heart for Christmas. Below is a series of Advent devotionals for each week leading up to Christmas. We pray this may be a useful resource to focus your eyes on our Savior!
WEEK 1: HOPE
Advent is a season of expectation and preparation for the coming of Christ. In the Old Testament, God’s chosen people eagerly awaited the arrival of God’s promised Messiah to save them from sin, oppression, and persecution. In their waiting, they were caught in an unending cycle of rebellion and repentance. Then, God was silent. For 400 years, no new prophets, priests, or promises were given to them. They were only sustained by hope, the hope of God’s promise for a rescuer, a Messiah.
Then, Jesus came.
Can you imagine the anticipation they experienced and the long waiting they endured? Can you fathom the unending hope of God’s promise in which they had to cling?
Advent is a time to remember that, as Christians, we can cling to the same hope. Jesus has come. He is the long-expected Messiah. He offers salvation to those who believe in His name and resurrection. He promises to come again.
“In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope.” -1 Pet. 1:3
This week, reflect on the hope of God’s promises and their fulfillment in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
For further study, read 1 Peter 1:3-5.
Recommended Song: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
WEEK 2: FAITH
Over 2,000 years ago, Mary, a virgin girl engaged to a man named Joseph, had a remarkable encounter with an angel of the Lord. She was told that she was highly favored by God and that she would become pregnant and give birth to a son. His name would be Jesus.
Stop and think of how a young teenage girl would react to this overwhelming news. Not only would she become pregnant as a virgin, but also her son would be called the Son of the Most High. This was certainly too much for anyone to comprehend or imagine for themselves.
Mary responded in faith by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant” and “may it be to me as you have said.” This response recorded in history was an expression of her trust in God. She went on to glorify God in song, rejoicing in His providence and plan.
Hebrews 11 says, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Mary believed in God’s Word and experienced the fulfillment of it in the advent of her son Jesus. Though today, we may not physically see Christ, we believe he has come, and by believing, we can “have life in His name.”
So how do we live in light of this faith? How do our actions demonstrate our certainty in Christ’s coming and His redeeming work? We respond as Mary did; we humbly submit and rejoice in God. We seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
For further study, read Luke 1:46-56.
Recommended song: Advent Hymn-Christy Nockels
WEEK 3: JOY
One of the first carols heard during the Advent season is “Joy to the World.” Every Christmas pageant has a young child quote the angels saying, “Good News of Great Joy.” If you walk into Hobby Lobby, you are bound to see thirty different plaques and posters screaming “Joy” and “Choose Joy.”
However, not every season lends itself to willingly choosing joy. Joy is not easy. We can’t make ourselves feel it. Rejoicing can be hard in the midst of pain.
When Mary and Elizabeth were promised miraculous births, they were filled with joy, but that didn’t erase the rumors, sneers, and ridicule they endured from their neighbors. The shepherds in the fields weren’t filled with joy when they first saw the angels. Instead, they were filled with fear. However, when they entered into the presence of the Christ the Lord, they were filled with joy as they saw the promises of God manifested in the Son of God. The shepherds went away joyfully praising God.
True joy is not only found when life is perfect but also when it is imperfect. Joy is the contentment we have in Jesus, even when everything is not okay. True joy is felt when we trust God’s providence and rest in His promise. Psalm 16:11 tells us that it is in the Lord’s presence there is fullness of joy. When we surrender our sorrows and worries, God will redeem them and bring us “great joy,” a lasting peace, fulfilled in Christ’s advent. Then, we can say, like Job, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord.”
For further study, read Psalm 16.
Recommended Song: “Joy has Dawned/Angels we have Heard on High”-Keith and Kristyn Getty
WEEK 4: PEACE
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shone.” Isaiah 9:2
These last two years, we have all probably experienced what feels like darkness, on a personal, national, and global level. Despite all the negative events, tensions, and divisiveness we can trust that Jesus is the Light of the World, and He is still working for the good of those who love Him.
When you see or feel the chaos, fear, or anxiety, turn to Jesus. He is our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”
His word says, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) and “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).
As Christmas draws even closer, reflect on the glory of God and His supreme goodness-that He would send His only son Jesus into the world to save us from our sin and misery. Allow this Good News to reign in your hearts and fill you with peace.
For further study, read Philippians 4.
Recommended Song: “Hope is Here (Do not Fear)”-Building 429