Dec 10

The Town

Scripture Reading

Micah 5:2

Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; One will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me. His origin is from antiquity, from eternity.
Devotion
The Messiah will come from Bethlehem. Bethlehem, the smallest, will bring forth the Savior. Isn’t it good to know that in God’s economy the very small can be very big. Many times we may not see the value in the small things that we do for the kingdom, but God does.
Think over this last year and think about the things you have done to serve God’s kingdom. Don’t just think big, but think small as well.
Perhaps there are things you haven’t even thought – such as a smile to someone who had a bad day, or a verbal witness to someone who you thought was not listening.
God is using you for His glory like he used Bethlehem.

Questions

  • Write down everything that comes to mind about how you served God (big and small) this past year.
  • Did you think of everything?

Prayer

Dear God, Thank you for using us, though our efforts may appear small, for Your Glory! Amen.

Carol
“Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”

Dec 09

The Son of David

The Son of David
Scripture Reading
Jeremiah 23:5-6
“The days are coming” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch of David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is what He will be named: Yahweh Our Righteousness.”

Devotion
Jeremiah predicted that Jesus would come as the “righteous branch of David” and that when He came, “Judah will be saved.” Isn’t it good to know that Jesus came to be our righteousness! We struggle with sin from day to day and He promises to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
The people of God were waiting for the descendant of David who would take the throne. This “branch of David” was seen as the conqueror, not the suffering servant. In order for Jesus to fulfill this prophesy, he not only had to come and die for our sins, thus becoming “our righteousness”, but he also has to come again, taking His rightful place as the reigning King of Glory!
Praise God today for the righteousness we have in Christ!

Questions
• When you seek to do good, do you always do it?
• How can you better depend on Jesus for your righteousness?
• How can you allow Jesus to be King in your life?

Prayer
Dear God, Thank you for being my righteousness through Jesus Christ. Help me to follow You as my King! Amen.

Carol
“Angels From the Realms of Glory”

Dec 08

The God With Us

Scripture Reading
Isaiah 7:14

Devotion
Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah will come and will bear the name “Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” Jesus is the one who is “God with us.”
If God had wanted to communicate to birds, He would have become a bird. He wanted to be with us. He became a man in order to be “God with us.” God came to be with YOU! He wants to spend time with YOU. God loves YOU! Isn’t that exciting!
If a president, prince or king was going to visit and wanted to be with you, would you make time for Him? Make time for Jesus this year and He will spend time with you.

Questions
• When do you most feel the need for God?
• How does He show His presence to you?
• If you do not feel God’s presence, ask Him to be “God with you.”

Prayer
Dear Jesus, Thank you for choosing to be with us. We need you so much. Amen.

Carol
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Dec 08

Week 2 Activity – Making Cookies

Be Prepared
Utilize the recipe below, or your own recipe, or buy pre-packaged cookie dough. Make icing, or buy that prepackaged as well.

Sugar Cookie Recipe (Makes 5 Dozen)
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups butter, softened, 2 cups white sugar, 4 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 5 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt
1. In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Be Relational
Utilize cookie cutters and make your own shapes to tell the Christmas story. Make a manger scene, a baby Jesus or a shepherd’s crook. Talk about the Christmas story as you make the cookies.
Ask, what is your favorite part of this story? Why?

Be Missional
Make enough cookies for your family and one more. Take a plate of cookies and a printed copy of the Christmas Story to a family. Sing carols with them and wish them a Merry Christmas!

Dec 07

The Shoot of Jesse

Scripture Reading
Isaiah 11:1

Devotion
This is probably one of the least remembered prophesies of Jesus. The shoot of Jesse. Jesus is the descendant of Jesse. He is the “shoot” or new branch growing out of what seems to be a dead plant or stump. Isaiah is prophesying that the royal line of David will appear dead and gone and will revert to the humble beginnings of the shepherd Jesse, but there will come a new branch from this line. The Messiah!
When people look for a hero, they look for the strong king, not the weak shepherd. God is always turning the tables on the perceptions of man. Isaiah’s prophesy was that from the line of the shepherd, the king’s line would be restored!

Questions
• How can God bring new life to you? What needs restoration?
• Are there relationships in your family you would like to see restored?

Prayer
Dear Jesus, Thank you for coming not just as a king but as one from a humble beginning. Restore my family to You. Amen.

Carol
“O Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Dec 06

The Prophets

Scripture Reading
Isaiah 9:6-7

Devotion
The prophets and prophecies are sometimes relegated to that dusty dingy place in the attic of our Biblical library. Yes, we say they are important, but we will just keep them stored for future use. Some of the prophets have even been labeled “minor” prophets because they did not write as much as others! But the prophets are important! They are crucial!
As we read the words of the prophets and we look back in hindsight, we exclaim, “They should have known!” Hindsight is always 20/20. That is to say, it is easier to see the truth when we are looking from the future to the past.
The old, musty, truths of the prophets tell us much. God knew that the people of this earth were in need of a savior. He prepared for that. He was planning to send the savior. He told the world of the coming of Jesus through His prophets. He told them He would save the world. He would be the light!

Questions
• What do you think of when you think of the prophets?
• Why do you think they did not figure out Who Jesus was?

Prayer
Lord, Thank you for sending your prophets to tell people about the coming Savior. Thank you for being true to your Word! Amen.

Carol
“Emmanuel”

Dec 05

The Promise

Scripture Reading
Genesis 12:2-3

Devotion
Ever looked for treasures in your attic? If we dig deep into a trunk in the attic we often find hidden treasure, and when we dig deeper into the Word of God we find God’s treasures of promises to us. Abraham was given a promise. He was promised that he would be a blessing, not just to his people, but that “all the peoples on earth will be blessed“ through him. Abraham had a son named Isaac, Isaac had a son who had sons and daughters who had children…. and eventually Jesus was born through the line that began with Abraham. (This is why we sing that Abraham had many sons… but please, let’s not sing that). The point of the story is not that Abraham had many sons as God promised, but that Jesus was to come and bless the whole world.
Isn’t it great that God thought of you, even way back then!

Questions
• What other things do you know about Abraham?
• Would you have had the faith to believe God could create a nation from you when you had no children?
• What impossible things can God do through you?

Prayer
Dear God, Please let me have the faith to believe like Abraham. He made mistakes, but you used him to bring a blessing to people like me. Use me as well. Amen.

Carol
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

Dec 04

The Need

Scripture Reading
Romans 3:23

Devotion
Sin. Yuck. Who wants to talk about that. Sin is all that we do that falls short of God’s glory. All the wrong things we do. All the right things we do NOT do. No one wants to talk about all we do wrong. We are ashamed of our sin. We hide our sin. We often wallow in our sin.
Our sin is why He came. Jesus came to pay for our sins. To provide forgiveness. To make right the relationship between man and God.
Cool.

Questions
• Not only do you need to ask God for forgiveness of your sins, you should make sure you forgive and ask forgiveness of people you offend as well.
• Are you completely right with God and people?

Prayer
Dear God, Thanks for fixing things. Amen.

Carol
“Jesus Loves Me”

Dec 03

The First Man

Scripture Reading
Genesis 1-3; Romans 5:12-21

Devotion
Adam was the first man. God created Adam and Eve and then He gave them instructions. Adam and Eve disobeyed and sin entered the world. Fast forward to the New Testament… Jesus came. Sin entered the world through one man, Adam. Sin was dealt with by one man, Jesus.
Adam brought sin, Jesus brings acquittal. (Romans 5:12, 18)
We all followed Adam as sinners and we are all in need of a Savior to provide relief for our sin.
Adam brought death; Jesus brought resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:21)
Our sin brought us death. We needed new life in Christ.
Adam became a living being; Jesus became a life-giving Spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)
We like Adam are a living breathing being, but without Christ our spirit is dead.
Adam represents old humanity, Jesus represents humanity as God intended.
We were born as was Adam, we can be born again in Christ.
We follow in the footsteps of Adam, and without the hope of Christmas we are all doomed to remain without relationship with God. We celebrate Christmas because it brought us the new Adam.

Questions
• How did Jesus become the “new Adam?”
• What does that mean for us?
• Are you a new creation in Christ?

Prayer
Dear God, Thank you for sending Jesus to be the new Adam. Amen.

Carol
“Away in a Manger”

Dec 02

The Beginning

Scripture Reading
John 1:1, 14

Devotion
Jesus, the Word, was in the beginning. He was and is God. Before the manger, before the cross, before anything, Jesus was and is. Jesus created the earth before He came to earth! Jesus created man before he became a man! We usually see Jesus as man or as God. Rarely are we able to understand completely how He is both at once. Christmas is about the merging of God and man. It is the beginning of the culmination of salvation.
Then this infinite God-man came to earth where his own people rejected him. He came to make a way for us to know Him— a way for man to know God. John records that they were with Him. They saw Him and He was full of grace and truth!
The “Message” translation of John 1:14 reads: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”
I like that: Jesus moved into our neighborhood!

Questions
• Is it harder to see Jesus as human or as God?
• Why do you think that is?
• What do you envision when you see grace and truth?

Prayer
Dear Jesus, Help us to see your truth and receive your grace this Christmas. Amen.

Carol
“O Come, All ye Faithful”