Advent 2016 Week 1

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14

God’s glory – is the overwhelming greatness of who He. We best see His glory and know His glory in Jesus. In and through the gospel of Jesus – we see and know God’s glory. Today, may we see and know the glory of God in Jesus as we worship together.

Today:

Gather with the body of Christ and worship Jesus in all His glory. As we connect together, read the scripture, sing of Him, pray to Him, – may we see and know the glory of God in Christ.

If you have children:

On your way to worship this morning – pray for your kid’s teachers, pray for worship and all those who will lead, and pray for your family. You can do this while you are driving. Make each prayer short (the younger your kids – keep the prayers shorter). Encourage them to pray and give them one thing to pray for. (For example – let one kid pray for their teacher. Let one pray for the worship team. Let one pray for you.) What do they / we pray for: Pray for hearts to worship Jesus. Pray for ears to hear God today. Pray for us to love each other. Etc.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14

God came to earth. God came to us. The Son of God came and fully revealed the perfect and true presence of God to us. If you want to know who God is and what He is like – look at Jesus. All through the scripture, we see His attributes in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He is love, life, peace, kindness, power, mercy, joy, and more. In all these things – He fully revealed the perfect and true presence of God.

Today:

Ask God to help you see Him in the scripture today. Read John 1 – the whole chapter again and ask Him to help you see Him and know His presence.

 If you have children:

Ask your kids their favorite things about Jesus. Just talk about him for a few minutes. Tell them your favorite things. Enjoy the short conversation. May this time help us learn to speak of Jesus with our kids.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. — John 1:1-2 

From eternity past, God the Father, God the Spirit, and God the Son have been together. Each has shared in their eternal joyFULL and loving presence for all of eternity. When the Spirit of God comes to live in us through the power of Christ’s work – we gain more than we ever could imagine. We are united with the eternal Triune God and share in their joy and love. The presence they have known forever – we now have – we now know.

Today:

As you pray, ask God to help you believe the joyFULL and loving presence of the Triune God is in you.

As you pray, ask God to help you experience and walk in His joyFULL and loving presence today.

As you pray, ask God to help His presence fill you with His joy and love today.

 If you have children:

Make a Christmas dessert together (cookies, pie, etc.) Purpose to find joy in the moment with God and your kids. Purpose to laugh, to love, and to enjoy their presence. Together – in Christ – is powerful. Enjoy!

24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  — Matthew 1:24-25

Obedience is a simple thing. We hear from God. We obey. Yet, it is not that simple. We hear, and … often, well … we all struggle with obedience as followers of Christ. We forget God knows us, created us, and has a plan for our daily lives that is always woven into His greater master plan of redemption for all things. Every small thing God has for us – is a part of something greater – Him. Nothing God asks of us – whether to do or not to do something – is random, unimportant, or insignificant to us, the people around us, or Him. God helped Joseph see and believe and obey – with no “evidence”. Long before Joseph could see all the reasons he was to obey – God helped Him obey. May God help us “see” today – the greater plan and our Greater God – and obey.

Today:

Ask God to help you obey in that one area you have been struggling to obey. Ask Him to help you see the greater plan and Him as the Greater One who is only for your good. Ask Him now.

If you have children:

Have everyone tell a quick story (seriously quick) of a time you struggled to obey or didn’t. You go first! The point – we all struggle to obey – even parents. Laugh, connect, enjoy, and pray – God help us obey you today. Help us believe you have a plan that is bigger and greater than I can see.

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). — Matthew 1:22

“God with us.” Holy, Almighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, All-Powerful God – “with us”. What a promise. Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised He would come be “with us”. (Is 7:4) 700 years later, Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth. But, the promise is fulfilled when Jesus dies in our place and rises from the dead – so that by faith in Jesus – God comes to dwell in us – be “with us”.

Today – if you have rested your soul on the work of Jesus to be right with God, rest on this truth – God is with you. Today – if you have rested your soul on the work of Jesus to be acceptable before God, rest on this truth – God will always be with you. Today – rest. God is with us – with you.

Today:

Thank God for His presence with you now and that His presence will be with you all day today – even when you forget Him. Thank God that His presence has been with you and will continue to be with based on JESUS’ work – not yours. Ask God to help you trust and truly rest in this truth: God is with you because of Jesus’ work alone.

If you have children:

Tonight – go into your backyard for a moment and look up. Look at the stars and enjoy God’s creation. Have fun looking at the stars. (If you have an iPhone or iPad or Android device – you can download a “star finding app” to help you enjoy looking at the stars. “Star Char” and “Star Walk” are two good ones.) After you enjoy the stars. Ask – the bigness of creation is meant to remind us of God’s power and presence. What else can we see this week to allow God to remind us of His power and presence with us? (Storms, snow, babies, animals, etc. – Every part of creation can be a reminder this week – God is powerful and with us because of Jesus.)

19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” — Matthew 1:19-21 

… “he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus came to save. The name – Jesus – literally means: “God saves”. Jesus came to save, to take from death to life, to rescue – people from their sins. Stop and think about that one thing for just a moment – Jesus came to save. His whole purpose was to come and live a sinless life – so his sin-bearing death – could save you. He would exchange his perfect life – for your sin-full life. He came to save.

Christmas gets crazy. It is often our favorite time of year … and it is often our least favorite time of the year.

It is our favorite because: we get to see family, we get to give and get presents, and we get to slow down a little.

It is our least favorite for all the same reasons: family issues, crazy shopping, and we don’t slow down enough.

Here is a challenge for you on Tuesday, November 29 – let this be your favorite Christmas ever. How? Make the focus of this Christmas the mission of Jesus – he came to save and be Savior. Family can be great and painful, presents can bring happiness and frustration, and our pace can be a blessing and a curse. They don’t bring real joy. Only our Savior can do that. So how do we let this be our favorite Christmas ever?

Today:

Ask God to help your focus be on your Savior beginning to day. Every day this Advent – start with these devos and ask God to help you make much of your Savior. Make your family moments, your shopping, and your pace submit to Him as Savior. Otherwise you are asking your Savior to submit to your family stuff, your shopping, and your pace. Does that sound like a recipe for your favorite Christmas ever? Ask God – He will do this.

If you have children:

Ask them to tell you their favorite story about rescue. It can be from a movie or a book. Ask them to tell it to you and then ask them – Why? Rescue stories echo whom our Savior is and that we need to be rescued. You don’t need to make this an uber spiritual moment. Let it be fun!

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. — Matthew 1:18

… “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” Read that again. Is it an amazing act of Holy God – or myth? Many claim myth. Many cry hoax. Others say – nice story, beautiful, hopeful – but I’m not sure it’s true.

What do you believe? Seriously. Do you really believe a young teenage girl became pregnant by the touch of the Holy Spirit? Do you believe God can do crazy miraculous things like this?

If you believe this is all a story – a legend created for our hope. I would ask you to consider this question: Who do you think God is and what do you think about his character. Is He GOD? Is he above all things, ruler of all things, and capable of all things? Is He GOD? Or is he a god?

If you believe this account, if you believe the Holy Spirit birthed an infant into young Mary – then I would ask you to consider this question: Do you believe God can do crazy miraculous things and He still does crazy miraculous things?

All through the story of the Bible our God proves he is All-Powerful – that He can do crazy miraculous things. He comes and intervenes in lives for His purposes and promises that through the work of Jesus – the Holy Spirit will come and continue the work of restoration on this earth. God is still at work restoring all things – which means miracles (transforming the broken to be healed) will need to occur until He returns and restores all things. God still does crazy miraculous things because this is how He is restoring all things to how they were meant to be.

Today:

Give thanks for the miraculous work of God in your soul that is restoring your broken soul into the image of God.

Give thanks for His miraculous work in other’s souls you know and love.

Tell Him you believe – but ask Him to help your unbelief that He still does crazy miracles today.

If you have children:

If they know any bible stories – get them to tell you their favorite story of a miracle. Get them to tell you and act it out if they are young enough or playful enough. Get them to tell you why they like this story. If they don’t know any bible stories or they are too young to tell you a story – you tell them a story – act it out. Be playful. If you need one to read: here is a good one – Mark 2:1-12. Enjoy!

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