Sunday (Nov 26th), marked the beginning of Advent season! It’s that time of year that many of us set aside to contemplate the most prolific moment in the history of the world. The Christ was born; the Creator joined Himself to creation; the eternal, immortal, invisible God became flesh and dwelt among us. This event has served as the dividing point of world history for well over a thousand years, and signals the beginning of God fulfilling all He has promised in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets! What could be more worthy of our time and attention?!
Most years, I write a short blog commending some helpful resources that have blessed my family. This year, I wanted to provide a basic sketch of what I am hoping to do for Advent at our house, in case you would appreciate suggestions. Feel free to borrow, use some, or all of, this resource— whatever serves you best as you seek to draw near to Jesus this Christmas season!
Every day of Advent contains four parts:
1. Private mediation: Daily Advent bible reading
2. Family worship: Daily Advent Candles and devotionals with your family
3. Just the Wife and I: Reading Come thou Long Expected Jesus by Nancy Guthrie for adults and older children.
4. Lighting of the advent candle(s).
Week 1 (November 26th – December 2nd) The Gospel Messenger of Earth (John the Baptist), lighting the first candle.
1. Private meditation: Genesis 3:1-15
2. Family worship: John the Baptist – Lk 1:17 John is the final prophet (he came to get people ready for Jesus), and like the prophets, his job was to help people humble their hearts for the coming Messiah. What does it mean to get ready? What does it mean to to turn your heart?
3. Just the Wife and I: CTLEJ, Contemplating Christmas pg 11-16
1. Isaiah 9:2-7
2. John the Baptist – Mark 1:1-4 Who was John? The cousin of Jesus in the flesh. Forerunner of Jesus in the Spirit. When did God plan that John would be born? When did God plan what John was going to do? Do you think God plans when we will be born and what we will do? How should that teach us to think about our family, our friends, our church and the life He has given us?
3. CTLEJ, Tabernacled among Us pg 17-22
1. Isaiah 11:1-9
2. John the Baptist – Lk 1:17 helping daddies and little boys to love each other again, but how is he going to do this? By proclaiming the Messiah. What would it be like if every little boy and girl had a daddy who loved them? John is going to point people to Jesus who is going to teach us about how we can become sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. Do you ever tell people how they can become sons and daughters of God?
3. The Maiden Mary pg 23-28
1. Micah 5:2-4
2. John the Baptist – Lk 1:13-14 John’s mommy couldn’t have babies anymore, but God caused John to be born by the Holy Spirit. Why will this make everyone happy? Because by preaching the gospel many will turn back to God?
3. Conceived by the Spirit pg 29-34
1. Isaiah 53:1-12
2. John the Baptist – Lk 1:76-79, John 1:7-9 “brought light to those who sat in the shadow of death”, but John wasn’t the light, he was sent to point to the light…like a flashlight pointing to the sun (Son). What is a shadow? Do you think it would be scary to sit in the shadow of death? Why do you think John’s message was like bringing light into a shadow?
3. 1/2 The Gifts of Christmas pg 35-38 (1st half)
1. Malachi 4:1-6
2. John the Baptist – Lk 3:1-18 John prepares the way for Jesus, in the woods, camel hair, locust guts and wild honey…to do whatever God wanted, preaching repentance and love to the people. What does it mean to repent? What does repentance look like in this passage? Is this what repentance looks like in our lives? Let’s pray that God would give us hearts that repent.
3. Sing a Song: “Lamb of God…I love the Holy Lamb of God”
4. The Gifts of Christmas (2nd half) pg 38 -42
1. Isaiah 60:1-22
2. John the Baptist – John 1: 29-34 John does the most important thing He came to do…announces the arrival of Jesus (the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world). What is sin? How is Jesus going to take sin away? Did you know that John told everyone that Jesus was the son of God who would take away the sins of the world? Why is it so important for us to tell people about Jesus?
3. The Great Fulfillment pg 43-48
Week 2 (December 3rd – December 9th) The Gospel Messengers from Heaven (Angels), lighting the second candle.
1. Private meditation: Gen 22:1-18
2. Family worship: Angels – Lk 1:11 After 400 years of silence from God, heaven begins to speak through angelic messengers. Have you ever really wanted to talk to someone but you weren’t able to for a long long time? That is what it was like for Israel with God…except it lasted for generations. God speaking again was like light shining into darkness. Let’s thank God that he speaks to us all the time through His Word and the Holy Spirit.
3. Watch: Advent Waiting; Spoken Work Poetry (https://vimeo.com/32459389)
1. Exodus 20:1-17
2. Angels – Lk 1:19 the angels come from God to bring the good news of the gospel. The one God had always promised was coming soon. What are some things that make you excited? When the angels brought the gospel to earth…it was better and more exciting than ALL those things put together! The angels came to tell us things that should make us very happy! Why should they make us happy?
3. Glory Revealed pg. 91-96
1. Isaiah 40:1-11
2. Angles – Lk 1:11-13 Have you ever wondered what angels are like? They aren’t babies, or boys or girls…they are powerful and sometimes scary creatures made by God to speak to, and protect, God’s children. Even though their power can make us feel afraid, the angels tell us we don’t have to be afraid of them.
3. The Lessons of the Wise-Men pg. 109-113
1. Luke 1:5-25
2. Angels Lk 1:26-33 What was the angelic gospel? What makes the angels message so special? It is the good news that comes from God about God’s promised King. There was already a king over Israel…his name was Caesar and he was really mean. But the good news is that a Good King was coming who would make everything right!
3. Gifts of Faith pg. 115-119
1. Luke 1:26-56
2. Angels Lk 1:34-38 How do we know the angels were telling the truth? Their message was going to confirmed by divine miracles (miraculous births). Why do you think God did miracles to confirm the messages of the angels? (So that people would believe and prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus)
3. Those to Whom Christ Comes pg. 127-133
1. Mat 1:1-25
2. Angels Mt 1:18-25, When God gave Mary a baby, He knew that it would be scary and embarrassing for her because she wasn’t married to Joseph yet. Only mommies and daddies who are married are supposed to have babies, and if anyone in Israel broke this rule they would be in BIG trouble. So God sent an angel to Joseph to explain what happened so that Mary wouldn’t have to be scared or embarrassed by herself. Why do you think God did that?
3. Joseph: Righteous and Kind pg. 49-53
1. Luke 1:57-80
2. Angels Lk 2:8-15 We talked earlier in the week about how the angelic gospel was given to make us happy. But on the night that Jesus was born, the angels were really happy too! They even began filling the sky with songs of praise. Why do you think Jesus’ coming makes angels so happy? Does Jesus’ coming make you happy?
3. Embarking On A Course of Redemption pg. 121-125
15 Week 3 (December 10th – December 16th) Mary, mother of God, lighting the third candle.
1. Private meditation: Rev 21:1-27
2. Family worship: Mary – Lk 1:26-27 Who was Mary? She was a little girl from a small town that nobody knew, who belonged to the family of David. She was young and excited about the future with her soon-to-be husband when an angel came to her out of the blue. He spoke to her saying that God put a special calling on her life. Do you think it would be hard if God told you that your future was going to be different that what you hoped for? Do you think God does this to be mean, or because he loves us?
3. Just the Wife and I: To Be More Blessed Than Mary pg. 55-60
1. Micah 4:1-7
2. Mary – Lk 1:28-30 Why did God choose Mary to be Jesus’ mommy? Do you think it was because she was so smart, or so well behaved or so good at things? No, God chose Mary because He loved her and set His favor on her. What should I do if I want God’s favor? Be humble and repentant (Isaiah 57:17) and trust in Jesus with all my heart soul, mind, and strength (Jd 1:21) serving Him always in the strength that God supplies (1 Pet 4:11).
3. Shepherd Status pg. 85-90
1. Psalm 98
2. Mary – Lk 1:31-35 What did God choose Mary to do? To give birth to Jesus and to serve as the mother of God. How could God become a baby and be born to a mommy? By the power of the Holy Spirit. Did you know that God became a baby just like us, who needed a mommy just like us? Did you know that Jesus teaches us that we can care for Him just like Mary did? Mt 25:31-40. How could we do this as a family?
3. The Word Made Flesh pg. 65-68
1. Phil 2:5-11
2. Mary – Lk 1:38, 45 How did Mary obey God? She believed and trusted God’s words. Has God ever told you to do something that seemed hard or scary? Why do you think Mary wasn’t scared? How does Mary’s example of faith teach us to trust God?
3. For Your Sakes He Became Poor pg. 69-72
1. Tts 2:11-3:7
2. Mary – Lk 1:39-42 Did you know that Jesus started making people happy when He was still in Mary’s tummy? Why do you think Elizabeth called Mary blessed (happy)? Because she got to be near Jesus all the time. How do we draw near to Jesus now that He is in heaven? Prayer, faith, the word of God, the Sacraments. Does being near Jesus make you want to leap for joy?
3. Seeing Jesus with Shepherds pg. 103-108
1. Mt 25:1-46
2. Mary – Lk 1:46-56 Why do you think Mary sings to God? Because her baby was the promised Lord (1:43). What does it mean to be Lord? It means to be King. Why does Jesus being Lord make Mary sing this song? Because God promised that when the King comes He would bring salvation (47), mercy (50), and judgment upon the proud (51). He would also exalt the humble (52), feed the poor (53), and help his people (v. 54), according to all of His previous promises (v. 55). Wow! God is going to do all this through the baby in Mary’s tummy!
3. Unto Us A Child is Born pg. 73-78
1. Rev 5:1-14
2. Mary – Luke 2:33-35 We have seen this week that Mary was given a very special job by God that was going to make her very happy. But did that mean she was allowed to proud? Everyone, even Jesus’ own mommy needed to say sorry to God for their sins and ask Jesus to save them. Do you say sorry to God for your sins and ask Jesus to save you?
3. Conceived by the Holy Spirit pg. 29-34
Week 4 (December 17th – December 24th) Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of God, lighting the fourth candle.
1. Private meditation: Luke 2:1-21
2. Family worship: Jesus — Mt 1:18-20, Lk 1:35 If Mary was Jesus’ mommy, who was Jesus’ dad? Jesus did not come from a human father like you. Jesus came from the heavenly Father and his birth is called a miracle. Do you know what a miracle is? A miracle is when something impossible happens. The Holy Spirit gave life to Mary’s womb the way he caused life to appear by His power at creation and at the resurrection of Christ. Why do you think Jesus is going to be called holy, and the Son of God? Because he will be without sin, and he will be the promised King (Ps 2:7). Did you know that Jesus is a king right now? He is King over his people on earth and His throne is in heaven! But did you know that one day soon He will come and establish His throne on earth forever? When that happens the whole world will have a perfect king forever and all sin and sadness will disappear! Let’s pray and ask God to come really soon!
3. Just the Wife and I: Wrapped in Humility pg. 73-84
1. Mt 2:1-23
2. Jesus — Mt 1:21 Why did God name Jesus, Jesus? He will save his people from their sins. How is Jesus going to do that? Jesus is going to have to die for our sins on the cross. Why? Because when we sin we deserve to die (Rom 6:23). Have you ever sinned? If you have sinned than you need someone to rescue you from death, otherwise you will have to die for your sins. And that is what Jesus came to do!! To save us from the death we deserve for our sins! How should we say thank you to Jesus?
3. Good News of Great Joy pg. 97-102
1. John 1:1-36
2. Jesus — Mt 1:22-23 Who does God say Jesus Is? God says Jesus is God with us. He says Jesus is God. But if Jesus is God, does that mean he was not a person like me? No. He was a person like us. Completely God and completely man! There has never been anyone like Jesus before and there never will be again. But if Jesus is a man, is it okay to worship him? YES! Why? Because he is also God! What are the best ways to worship Jesus? Sing to him, pray to Him, trust him when we are afraid, obey his words and say we are sorry when we disobey.
3. Watch: The Innkeeper by John Piper (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/hope-for-the-hurting-this-christmas-video)
1. Luke 3:15-17
2. Jesus — Lk 2:1-7 Where was baby Jesus born? In Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Messiah, and in a stable, the birthplace of the unclean livestock. Why do you think the holy Messiah had to be born in a stable? Because even though Jesus was the great king, he had come to humble Himself and make Himself nothing (Phil 2:7).
3. Read: A Stable of Desperation (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-stable-of-desperation)
1. 1 Pet 1:17-21
2. Jesus — Mt 2:1-2, 9-11 Who were the Wiseman and what did they find in the manger? The wisemen were gentiles from a far-away place. They did not know Israel’s God and were not allowed to worship in the temple. But they followed a star to Bethlehem, looking for the King of Jews. But when they found the manger was not just a king but God Himself. That is why they fell down and worshipped! Have you ever been looking really hard for something, and instead of finding what you were looking for, you found something even better? This is why the Wisemen wanted to give Jesus presents! Have you given Jesus any presents yet for Christmas?
3. Have You Any Room? pg. 61-64
1. Rev 1:9-18
2. Jesus — Lk 2:8-21 What did the shepherds find in the manger? A savior for “all people”, even poor, humble, shepherds (2:10). What did seeing Jesus cause the shepherds to do? Baby Jesus caused the shepherds to sing and tell people about the wonderful grace of God! Why were they so happy that they sang? Because his coming meant peace (Lk 2:14)! Peace between God and man (Romans 5:1), between people who don’t like each other (Eph 2:14), peace for our souls (Jn 14:27), and to all of creation (Col 1:20). Wow! Sing a chorus of O’ Come Let us Adore Him!
3. Read: Be an Advent Gift of Encouragement (http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/be-an-advent-gift-of-encouragement)
1. Rev 22:12-21
2. Jesus — 1 John 3:7-8 Did you know that Jesus died to give you three Christmas presents? The first is a clear purpose for life (don’t sin) or as 1 Jn 3:23 says “believe in the name of…Jesus…and love one another” The second is to set you free from the power of sin by destroying the power the devil had over your life! And third, God promises to help us fight our sin and love each other “for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4). What can you change in your life to love more, sin less, and depend more on God?
3. A Christmas Longing 135-139
Don’t forget to light all 5 candles on Christmas morning and evening!
May God bless you with a very merry Christmas in our Lord!