Advent Day 16

What I’m listening to: Someday at Christmas by Jack Johnson

Welcome to Day 16 of our Advent series! If you’re up to speed, congrats(!), if not, be sure to check out the previous posts. The first one explains a little more about the series. Now for today’s verse from Luke. 

 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

                                 Luke 2:21 (NIV) 

Have you ever done only most of something God wanted you to do? Maybe you finished two-thirds of a project and then abandoned it because it got difficult or stopped being fun. It can be easy to want to quit halfway through, but God does not call upon us to be quitters. What if Mary and Joseph had not abided by Jewish law, and decided that David was a way better name for a baby? Jesus’s story might have turned out very differently even with only minor changes. In the same way, we can’t just figure that something is “close enough” to what God wanted us to do. We must not only follow God’s instructions, we must follow them exactly. It can be difficult, but the Lord rewards the faithful, and so we must press on. Even if it seems infinitely more difficult, it will be infinitely more rewarding in the end. 

Prayer Prompt: Pray for the strength not to give up or take a shortcut on a project God has tasked you with. 

Advent Day 15

What I’m listening to: Wonderful Christmastime by The Shins

We are on day 15 of our advent series!! As always, if you’re new, be sure to check out my previous posts in the series. The first post also has some additional information about our Advent devotionals. Now let’s dive into Luke!

 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

                         Luke 2:16-20 (NIV)

As Christians, we often pray for things that we want. Whether it be an object, person, or feeling, all of us have prayed for something at some point or another. The thing is though, we don’t always remember to thank and glorify Him when He grants us what we desire. Here in Luke, the shepherds were completely surprised by the angels, but still went away praising the Lord. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the thing we got, and forget to thank the giver. We wouldn’t do that to a friend if they gave us something, so why do we do it to God? One of the main reasons we do this is that we think He won’t care, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If He didn’t care He wouldn’t have sent His Son to die for us. The next time God blesses you, remember Him as He remembered you. 

Prayer Prompt: Think of something that God has given you recently and take the time to thank Him for answering your prayer. 

Advent Day 14

What I’m listening to: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry 

Welcome to Day 14 of our Advent series! If you’re up to date, awesome, if not, be sure to check out the previous posts. The first one explains a little more about the series. Now, let’s go back to where we last left off in Luke. 

 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

                         Luke 2:15 (NIV)

In our relationship with God we have a choice between being a Jonah or being a shepherd. We either can run away from or towards what the Lord wants us to do. Here in Luke the shepherds left the fields to see what the Lord had told them about. We too should leave the things that we have tasked ourselves with when the Lord calls us. We don’t have to fear the consequences of these actions because God promises to take care of us. When we trust God’s goals for us, we must also trust that he has a plan to get us there. 

Prayer Prompt: Ask God to show you the path he wants you to take to achieve His plan for you. 

Advent Day 13

What I’m listening to: Twelve Days of Christmas by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters

Welcome to Day 13 of our Advent series! If you’re up to speed, congrats(!), if not, be sure to check out the previous posts. The first one explains a little more about the series. Now, let’s take a look at today’s verses from Luke. 

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

                      Luke 2:13-14 (NIV)

We don’t always want to praise God as much as we should. We say that we’re too busy to read our Bible, or go to church, when really we just want to focus on ourselves. It is an easy trap to fall into, we think that nothing will change in our relationship with the Lord even as we drift away. However, as stated here in Luke, peace is offered to those upon whom the Lord’s favor rests. If you want to be one of those people, and I think most of us would, then we must submit to the Lord. A relationship with God is a two way street. We serve and give glory to God, and in return we are blessed both on earth as well as in heaven. If you feel like you have been drifting away from God, ask Him to guide you back to Him. He will never turn you away. 

Prayer Prompt: Today, ask God to show you the path to Him. He will guide you and grant you peace and acceptance. 

Advent Day 12

What I’m listening to: It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Andy Williams

We are halfway through our advent series!! As always, if you’re new, be sure to check out my previous posts in the series. The first post also has some additional information about our Advent devotionals. Now let’s dive into Luke!

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

                             Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)

Have you ever met someone you felt was an amazing Christian? Like even if you tried really hard you would never be as good, or as important to God, as they are? Here in Luke, the shepherds were regular people with nothing special about them. The Bible never said that they were picked for being unusually good or holy. Yet they were told about Jesus’s birth before the (certainly deemed more important in society) Magi. The Lord knows your heart, and anyone can be just as good a Christian as the next person. No one is a more important person than the next in the eyes of God. Next time you find yourself wanting to be someone else, remind yourself that the lowly shepherds got to see the baby Jesus first. Just because the world, or even the church, might see you one way, it doesn’t mean that God sees you that way. 

Prayer Prompt: Remind yourself that even if you are only a “shepherd” in the world’s eyes,  you are worthy in the eyes of the Lord. 

Advent Day 11

What I’m listening to: Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt

Almost halfway through our advent series! As always, if you’re new, be sure to check out my previous posts in the series. The first post also has some additional information about our Advent devotionals. Now let’s get started! 

 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

                             Luke 2:4-7 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like you can’t achieve the goals that God has placed in your heart? Maybe you don’t feel like you have enough money, connections, or talent. It’s easy to forget the meaning behind the manger in the Christmas story. Jesus could have been born the Son of a king, or a wealthy merchant. Instead, He came from humble beginnings, placed in a feeding trough after he was born. God has equipped you with everything you need to do His work. Even if something seems impossible, God’s will will prevail. Remember that just because you don’t think that you can do something doesn’t mean God doesn’t think you can. 

Prayer Prompt: Ask God to help you believe that you can do His will, even if you think that you are not good or capable enough to. 

Advent Day 10

What I’m listening to: All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey

Welcome to Day 10 of our Advent series! I can’t believe we’re in the double digits already!! If you’re up to speed, congrats(!), if not, be sure to check out the previous posts. The first one explains a little more about the series. Now for today’s verses from Luke. 

 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. 

                       Luke 2:1-3 (NIV)

Sometimes circumstances seem out of our control, as well as unfair, or even burdensome. It could be a bad grade on a test, or a troublesome government policy you must obey. Here in Luke, it’s more of the latter. Every citizen had to go to their hometown to, essentially, be counted by the government. Joseph was forced to make that journey home with his pregnant wife, which couldn’t have been an easy task. Sometimes when God tests us, or makes something difficult, he is trying to help us grow. He could be trying to build our patience, humility, or compassion, but in the end the trials He puts us through are for our benefit. We should never assume that God is merely punishing us, but rather helping us to become better followers of Him. 

Prayer Prompt: Ask God to show you the reason behind a trial that you are currently facing. He will not only guide you to it, He will also get you through it. 

Advent Day 9

What I’m listening to: Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley

Welcome to Day 9 of our Advent series! If you’re up to speed, congrats(!), if not, be sure to check out the previous posts. The first one explains a little more about the series. Now, let’s take a look at today’s verses from Isaiah. 

 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

                         Isaiah 7:13-14

Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t wait any longer for something? Whether it be the finish of the school year or a seemingly endless meeting, it’s easy to feel impatient. However, this is why God has offered us one more gift. Today is our last day in our four day series-within-a-series. We previously talked about three of the four gifts that God offers us: the gifts of love, faith and hope. Our last gift is the gift of peace. We often think of patience as different than peace, but they are really almost inseparable. Without patience for God’s promises to be fufilled how could we be at peace? The Bible is filled with stories of people who disobeyed the Lord and shattered their peace because of their impatience (looking at you Abraham). While it is easy to want everything to happen right now, it is always worth it when we let God unfold His plan in His time. 

Prayer Prompt: Ask the Lord to give you patience, even with people or situations that may seem exasperating. 

Advent Day 8

What I’m listening to: The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

Welcome to Day 8 of our Advent series! If you’re up to date, awesome, if not, be sure to check out the previous posts. The first one explains a little more about the series. Now, let’s go back to where we last left off in Matthew. 

 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) 

                  Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV)

It’s easy to overlook the small verses, but it’s often the small verses that offer us the most hope. For the last two days we’ve been talking about the first two of the four gifts that God gives us. On the first day we talked about the gift of love; yesterday we talked about the gift of faith. Today we are going to be discussing the third gift: the gift of hope. This verse might seem like its reiterating what we already know, that Jesus is the Son of God, but it’s also saying something else. God keeps his promises. We can have the gift of hope because He does. We can have hope in the prophecies in the Bible because we have already seen many of them fufilled. It may not always be easy, but feeding our hope will always be worth it. 

Prayer Prompt: It can be easy to feel hopeless, especially during the holidays. Ask God what you can do to help Him this Christmas season. 

Advent Day 7 

What I’m listening to: White Christmas by Bing Crosby 

Wow! We are a week into our advent series! As always, if you’re new, be sure to check out my previous posts in the series. The first post also has some additional information about our Advent devotionals. Now let’s get started! 

 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

                   Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV)

As Christians, we often recognize God’s love for us in the many blessings He bestows. Yesterday we talked about how God gives us four gifts, the first of which is the gift of  love. Today, we are going to be talking about the second gift, the gift of faith. Here, Joseph’s faith in the Lord keeps him from quietly divorcing Mary after he finds out she’s pregnant. It can be easy for us to not want to use our faith to believe that God knows best. We want to do the things we want, the way we want. However, God offers us this gift so that we may humble ourselves before Him and let Him guide our lives for the best. Joseph may have known the law, but God knew the way. 

Prayer Prompt: Ask God to help you use the gift of faith to guide your path. Think of  something that you have been feeling stubborn about handing over to Him, and ask Him to use His wisdom to help you resolve it.