Dec 19

The Inn

Scripture Reading
Luke 2:6-7

Devotion
Mary and Joseph travel to an Inn in Bethlehem, but they do not get to stay there. They are invited to stay in the stable. There was no room for Jesus in the Inn.
It’s easy for us to sit back a criticize the Innkeeper (who is not in the Bible by the way) or the town of Bethlehem, however, the truth is, we are not very good at giving Jesus room in our lives either. Many people leave Jesus just a small amount of room at Christmas and Easter. Others are a little more giving, providing him an hour a week. The problem is, Jesus wants more. He wants a lot more. Jesus wants complete control of all of our life. The good news is, that when we give Him that control, he is very generous to provide us with a very abundant life filled with family, fun and great things. Praise God we get to share it!

Questions
• Are there times when you don’t want to make room for Jesus?
• How have you allowed Jesus to control your life?
• What good things have you gotten since giving Jesus control?

Prayer
Dear God, Please help me to give Jesus complete control of my life. Amen.

Carol
“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

Dec 18

The Mother

Scripture Reading
Luke 1:46-55

Devotion
Sometimes we get uncomfortable with the phrase “mother of God.” But Mary was a real human biological mother to Jesus who was the real God/man, 100% God and 100% man.
Mary is blessed! She had the privilege of bringing our Lord into the world. Mary recognizes the magnitude of what she is about to do, but she sees her position also, as a sinner in need of a Savior. She rejoices in her Savior! Mary exalts the Lord for fulfilling his promises. We, too, need to rejoice in the Savior that God has brought us. Mary could have done a lot of things at this point in her life. She could have whined. She could have complained. She could have worried about all the troubles she was going to endure, but instead, she rejoiced. Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us that there is a time and season for everything. Mary knew that this was a time to rejoice!
Let’s spread joy this Christmas. Our Savior is born!

Questions
• What are things we can rejoice about this week?
• Have there been times to mourn lately?
• How does God see us through the hard times?

Prayer
Dear Lord, Help me have an attitude of joy as I go about this Christmas season. Amen.

Carol
“Gentle Mary Laid Her Head”

Dec 17

The Evanglelized

Scripture Reading
Luke 2:8-9

Devotion
Jesus is born! Who does God tell first?
The kings and royalty? The priests and religious leaders? The regular everyday people of a town? NO! Who? Dirty, stinky, up all night, not fit for the temple, SHEPHERDS! The shepherds were the lowliest bunch.
The shepherds are told about the birth of Jesus. After they experience this phenomenal expression of glorious magnitude, they say, “Let’s go see this thing!” They did not hang around and discuss the “wonderful thing” that had happened to them, they wanted to go see the “wonderful thing” they had been told. The shepherds understood that the excitement was not about the angels. The excitement was about the baby. The Messiah!
Sometimes we need to move our eyes away from the messenger and on to Christ. Praise God that he chose some simple folks (like us) and told us the good news! And praise God we get to share it!

Questions
• Do you remember when you first “ran to Jesus?”
• Who told you about Jesus?
• Who have you told?

Prayer
Dear God, Help me to run to you when I hear the good news and then tell others! Amen.

Carol
“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night”

Dec 16

The Human Events

Scripture Reading
Luke 2:1-5

Devotion
Our family often travels during Christmas vacation. We pile all our stuff in the van and drive out on the highway and hope for good weather. Joseph and Mary had to travel! Of course they did not have a van or restaurants to go to, but they had a destination, and it wasn’t vacation either. It was a demand of the government. Wow.
Can God actually use the ungodly government structure of the Roman Empire to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy? Could God use the course of human events around us to get us where he wants us to be? He did and he does!
God, in his Sovereignty will use the events of the world around us to align us with his will. Of course we need to be open to allowing him to use us.
Interruptions in your life should be seen as opportunities to minister. Let’s see them this way as we go about the Christmas season!

Questions
• Have you ever thought of what Joseph and Mary felt about traveling such a distance?
• How has God used an “interruption” in your life as an opportunity to minister?
• Where have you seen God at work that surprised you?

Prayer
Dear God, Help me to keep my eyes open for where you are at work in my life and to take advantage of opportunities to minister. Amen.

Carol
“O Little Town of Bethlehem”

Dec 15

The Step-Father

Scripture Reading
Matthew 1:18-25

Devotion
We don’t know a lot about Joseph. The Scripture is mostly silent about the step father of Jesus. If we look close, we will discover some great nuggets of gold about this unsung hero of the Christmas story.
· Joseph was a righteous man.
· He was sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
· He was obedient to God.
· He was faithful.
Joseph was a protector. Joseph was the protector of Mary, and also Jesus. Later he protected Jesus by fleeing to Egypt. I think there is some sort of innate desire of every man to protect his family. Whether that is the case or not, Joseph certainly chose to be the protector. God used Joseph to protect Mary and Jesus from harm and to prepare the way for Jesus to grow up “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people. (Luke 2:52)

Questions
• How can you be obedient to God in order to pave the way for someone to know Jesus?
• Can you be the protector of someone by showing them the way to Jesus?

Prayer
Dear God, Thank you for Joseph and his willingness to follow your plan and protect Jesus. Help me be a protector as well! Amen.

Carol
“Good Christian Men, Rejoice!”

Dec 15

Week 3 Activity – Caroling

Be Prepared
Find copies of a songbook of Christmas Carols you wish to sing. As you do the devotions, practice singing the carols suggested at the end of the devotions. Don’t just sing the ones with which you are familiar, learn Carols the whole family may not know. Utilize the internet to learn tunes and discover lyrics.

Be Relational
Make plans to go Christmas Caroling. Invite a few other families to go with you. In order to make it a more relational time, limit the number of families participating for this event. Choose a family that your family would like to get to know more. Plan to end the evening fellowshipping together over hot cocoa and cookies.

Be Missional
Be intentional about the neighborhood or homes you choose to visit. Choose shut in senior adults, or a neighborhood near your church. Bring information about your church and Christmas services to share. Also provide gospel tracts and candy to give as well.

Dec 14

The Authority

Scripture Reading
Luke 2:1

Devotion
Caesar Augustus: Emperor who ruled the Roman Empire from 27 b. c. to a.d.14; also known as Octavian, he established the peaceful era known as the Pax Romana; Caesar was a title of Roman emperors.

Who is in charge? Isn’t that often the question we ask?

Jesus never met him, He never knew Jesus, that we are aware, and yet he would play a part in history that is as crucial as the last piece of the border of the puzzle on the dining room table. Caesar Augustus provided the reason for a woman from Nazareth to have a baby in Bethlehem. A census. A tax. Who would have believed anything good could come from taxes!

Who is in charge? God. God, in his infinite wisdom ordains the rulers and they cannot make a move without His permission. Sometimes God allows things to take their course, and sometimes he intervenes. But we know who is really in charge!

Questions
• How have you seen God in charge of your life lately?
• Are there things you need to give up to Him?
• Has God used the ungodly to direct your path?

Prayer
Dear Jesus, Thank You that You alone are sovereign, and You put the rulers in place. Amen.

Carol
“Silent Night”

Dec 13

The Announcement

Scripture Reading
Luke 1:43

Devotion
Elizabeth recognized (by the Holy Spirit who fills her) that Mary’s baby is the Christ! It was (and is among Jewish women today) the desire of every Jewess to be the mother of the Messiah. Elizabeth knew that her pregnancy was of God, but she also discovered the glorious nature of her cousin Mary’s child. She, unlike Zechariah, immediately responded in faith. She was the first to recognize the Messiah!
One of the roles that Elizabeth had was a confidant – a mentor – for Mary. Mary had a very unique story and not everyone could relate. Elizabeth could relate to Mary. The child Elizabeth carried had its own miraculous angelic story. God used Elizabeth to confirm what Mary already knew.

Questions
• Is there something God has done in your life that would give you the ability to relate to someone else in a similar circumstance?
• Have you used that to encourage or minister?
• Do you have someone in your life that is an encourager or a mentor?
• Are you that someone for someone else?

Prayer
Dear God, Help me to find others who can help me grow closer to You. Amen.

Carol
“What Child Is This?”

Dec 12

The Silence

Scripture Reading
Luke 1:18-20

Devotion
Silence. That is the punishment Zechariah got for not believing God. We like to pick on people in the Bible when they do silly things. We look with hindsight at Zechariah and we think that he should have known better. He should have realized that an angel appearing to Him would know if he was going to have a baby or not. We think those things, then we turn around and do not believe God for the simplest things in our own lives. I’m just glad that every time I doubt God he doesn’t come in and close my mouth for nine months!

Questions
• What has God assured you, that you have a hard time believing?
• How can you better walk in faith?

Prayer
Dear God, I know you have assured us many things in your Word. Help us to believe and receive from you what you want us to have. Amen.

Carol
“Emmanuel”

Dec 11

The Last Prophet

Scripture Reading
John 1:6-8

Devotion
The story of the birth of John the Baptist would really be a bigger story to tell if it were not for the fact that it is so closely interwoven with genuinely the greatest story of a birth ever. John would probably approve because He knew that he was to decrease and the Messiah was to increase. However, John is the last of the prophets. He is the last one who predicts the coming of the Messiah, only to have the Messiah walk up to him to be baptized. I am sure that (if they were not in heaven where they could not sin) Isaiah and the other guys would be insanely jealous. Imagine! The prophet speaks and instantly his prophesy comes true!
We know enough about the story to know that not everyone received the truth, but thank God for a prophet born six months before Jesus who would prepare the way.

Questions
• How can we prepare the way in the hearts of our friends and neighbors for Jesus?
• Have you ever shared the Gospel and had people reject it? How does that make you feel?
• What will you do this week to prepare the way?

Prayer
Dear Jesus, Help me to prepare people to hear about and receive you. Amen.

Carol
“Angels We Have Heard on High”