Advent Devotional 2017

Advent is a season filled with expectation. It’s a time

when we remember the world waiting for a coming

Savior, and celebrate the way the world changed when

Christ was born. It’s a season filled with the light and

love of Jesus, the King, born to save us.

But if we’re being honest, it’s also a season filled with

madness. As Christmas approaches, the focus of Advent

sometimes gets lost amidst the chaos and craziness

that comes with the holiday season.

So to help you focus your attention on the heart behind

this special season, we’ve created this four-week

devotional guide to walk you through Advent. Each

week focuses on a specific aspect reflected in the birth

of King Jesus—hope, peace, joy, and love.

As you journey through this devotional, take time to

think through the questions, spend time in prayer, and

make time to participate in the activities that involve

your family. Our prayer is that as you turn your eyes to

the coming Savior this Christmas season, your hearts

will be transformed as you remember the birth of the

King who came to save us.

Week One - Hope

Read | Understand | Respond | Family Time

READ

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those

living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2

NIV)

UNDERSTAND

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been good at waiting. I’ve

never been good at not knowing what’s ahead. Looking forward

to an unknown future with hope and excitement just doesn’t

come naturally to me. I doubt it does to most.

That’s exactly what the people were facing before the birth of

Christ. They’d been through so much—the good, the bad, and the

unimaginably terrible—over the years. Floods and famine, war

and wandering, slavery and suffering—these people endured it

all, but always with the ever present hope of a Savior promised to

come. They’d long been shrouded in darkness, waiting for a light

to come.

But the darker the cloud, the brighter the sun that eventually

shines through. And for them, that light to come was King Jesus.

Though they waited in darkness, they did not wait without the

hope of a Savior who was promised to come and shine an eternal

light on their lives.

Waiting on God doesn’t exactly look the same for us as it did for

them. We have the privilege of knowing how their story ends. The

Savior they hoped for did come, and not just for them but for the

whole entire world as well. For us. The waiting is still daunting,

but we can wait with a fresh hope because we know the King has

come.

I don’t know what kind of darkness you might be waiting under

this Christmas season. I don’t know how heavy the cloud feels

over your heart. But I do know this: for those living in deep darkness,

a light has dawned. As we begin this Advent journey and

look forward to celebrating the birth of the Savior who changes

lives, do so with a fresh hope that the darkness will not win.

A light will break through.

RESPOND

Questions for Discussion:

What does waiting look like in your life? How does the wait make

you feel?

Do you struggle to look forward to the future with hope? Why or

why not?

How can you remember the hope of Christ and the promise of the

light to come this Advent season?

PRAYER

God, thank you that we don’t have to wait without hope in this

life. We know that just as it was true for your people back then,

the promise of a Savior is true for us today, too. Take the weight

of darkness sitting heavy on our lives and replace it with the light

of your hope this Advent season.

FAMILY TIME

At dinner one day this week, ask each member of your family to

share one thing they’re hoping for and waiting on this Christmas.

Depending on the ages of your children and family members,

answers could include anything from gifts they hope to see under

the tree, prayers they hope to see answered, or an experience

they hope to have.

After everyone has shared, read Luke 2:1-20 (what we know as

the Christmas story in the Bible) and talk as a family about how

those people were waiting for something bigger than anything we

could imagine that first Christmas. They were waiting for Jesus!

Just as we have hopes for what we want to happen this Christmas

season, the people then did, too.

Then, pray together as a family, asking God to help you remember

to have hope this Christmas season

Week Two - Peace

Read | Understand | Respond | Family Time

READ

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government

will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the

greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He

will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing

and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time

on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish

this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you

as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not

be afraid. - (John 14:27 NIV)

UNDERSTAND

Is there anything crazier than the Christmas season? The hustle

and bustle of holiday shopping, family gatherings, church

services, work parties, Christmas performances, and the general

busyness that comes with the season. There’s just something

about the Christmas season that seems to raise the collective

blood pressure of the population, huh?

What’s interesting is that this frantic feeling of frenzy is the

exact opposite of what this season is meant to be. While the rest

of the world is pulling us toward presents, parties, and planning,

Jesus is simply leading us toward peace.

In a world marked by tragedy, division, and corruption (sound

familiar?), Jesus came to to bring His long promised peace to the

people. His birth permanently turned the page from pandemonium

to peace, letting all of us know that even when everything

around us feels crazy, we can still have peace. Lasting, eternal,

deep rooted peace.

When chaos swirls around you this Advent season, choose

peace. When you feel the stress of family dynamics or the tug of

tension threatening to break you, choose peace. When you feel

rushed and spread thin, choose peace. When you feel the pull

toward perfection, choose peace. And when you feel the weight

of weariness in this world, choose peace.

So as this Advent season marches on and we move closer and

closer to Christmas, no matter what’s happening around you,

cling to Jesus. Cling to the One who brings peace. Make His

peace the banner over your Christmas season.

RESPOND

Questions for Discussion:

What is one thing that really stresses you or your family out

during the holiday season?

What does peace look like to you?

How can you make a choice to let the peace of Christ permeate

your holiday season?

PRAYER

God, you are the bringer of peace. You are the One who can

sustain us when life feels chaotic. As Christmas approaches, help

me to choose peace. Fill me with your peace and focus my eyes

on You.

FAMILY TIME

Grab some pens, small pieces of paper, and your family! Have everyone

in your family write down on pieces of paper some things

that really stress them out about the Christmas season. Have

each person fold their answers up and put them in the middle of

the table.

Before you take a look at their answers, read John 14:27 with

your family. Talk together about what peace means to each one

of you and how peace is possible in our lives because of Jesus.

Then, start going over the things each of your family members

wrote on the pieces of paper. As you talk about the things that

each of you said might be stressful this season, brainstorm ways

you can instead choose peace.

Week Three - Joy

Read | Understand | Respond | Family Time

READ

But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will

create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. (Isaiah 65:18

NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,

goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against

such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus

have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we

live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians

5:22-25 NIV)

UNDERSTAND

One of the best things about the Christmas season is the way

anticipation builds for the big day. From the moment Thanksgiving

ends, the countdown to Christmas officially begins. And

the closer and closer it gets to the actual day, the more and more

we anticipate with excitement what Christmas morning will

actually bring. In other words, our expectations for joy are high.

And as the anticipation builds, so does the joy we look forward to

feeling.

The people of God looked forward to that first Christmas with a

similar anticipation, but what they were anticipating was much

greater than any present we might be hoping to find awaiting us

this year. They’d long been waiting for a Savior to come, and as

news spread that He might have finally arrived, their anticipation

grew to new heights. And when they knew that Jesus, the One

whose arrival they’d anticipated for hundreds of years, was born

that Christmas morning, their joy was endless.

While we can’t imagine what it must have felt like for the people

back then to know that the King they’d been promised had finally

come, we can share in their joy this Advent season. For just as

God filled their hearts with His joy, He can fill ours with the same.

And His joy—a deep, unmatchable, life-changing joy—is better

than anything else we might be anticipating this Christmas

season.

As Advent moves on, ask God to fill your hearts with joy. Focus

your anticipation on the celebration of His birth. And, ask Him to

make your life a living testament of His joy this Christmas.

RESPOND

Questions for Discussion:

What’s one thing you’re anticipating with excitement this holiday

season?

What do you think real joy feels like? How is it different than

happiness?

What’s one way you can find the joy of Christ this Christmas?

How can you help others experience that same joy?

PRAYER

Lord, you are the One we’ve all waited for, and we’re so grateful

that you came to Earth for us all those years ago. We’re so grateful

for the way you saved us and the joy you made possible for us.

Help us to remember that what we have to be most excited about

this holiday season is You. Give us your joy and help us to share it

with others.

FAMILY TIME

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to

hear, right? Well, we think so!

Make a point to interject some joy into your family’s holiday

season by doing something fun and unexpected. One evening

this week, tell your family to put on their best Christmas pajamas.

Then, load everyone up in the car and take them to a local

coffee shop for some hot chocolate. But in order to get their hot

chocolate, your family has to sing a Christmas carol to the barista

behind the counter!

Take your hot chocolates to go, and hit the road together to

explore some of the best Christmas lights your neighborhood or

town has to offer. Blast the Christmas music as you go, and sing

along to some of your favorite holiday tunes together as a family.

It may sound silly, but we promise it will create some fun, joyfilled

memories for your family this holiday season.

Week Four - Love

Read | Understand | Respond | Family Time

READ

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great

God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts

no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow,

and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food

and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners…

(Deuteronomy 10:17-19a NIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved

you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know

that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-

35 NIV)

UNDERSTAND

Advent is a season of waiting. While in the Bible, this season

was marked by the waiting of a Savior, today we live in a world

where the Savior has come. Now, we remember. We remember the

way God loved His people then by sending them a King that first

Christmas, and we remember the way God loves us now by sacrificing

His Son so that we might have a full and free life in Him.

At Advent, we ultimately remember God’s love.

Because that’s what this season is truly about. Christmas is really

about love, and primarily, the love God has for us. That love is so

deep and profound that He sent His Son to Earth that first Christmas

all those years ago. He sent Him knowing that He would

eventually grow up to make a way for the rest of mankind to

come close to God once again. That is real love, and it all started

with Christmas.

As you’re in the holiday season this year, ask God to keep this

picture of love on the forefront of your mind. Ask Him to show

you ways to treat others with this spirit of unconditional love.

Thank Him for the ultimate show of His love for us—the gift of us

Son, Jesus.

RESPOND

Questions for Discussion:

What’s one thing you love about Christmas?

How can you remember the love of God through His son Jesus

this holiday season?

What can you do to help practice this unconditional spirit of love

toward others this Christmas?

PRAYER

God, thank you for your Son, Jesus. There is no greater gift you

could give us, no greater act of love, than that of sending Jesus

to walk this Earth with us and make a way for us to once again be

close to You. Thank you that even when we don’t deserve it, You

love us. Help us to celebrate Your love this holiday season and be

bold enough to share it with others.

FAMILY TIME

One of the best ways to teach your children about real love is to

help them put it into practice. There are people all around you

who could use some love this holiday season. Together as a family,

look for ways to serve and love those in your community, your

church, or your school who might be in need.

Write Christmas cards to the elderly, sick, or shut-in members of

your congregation to let them know they’re seen and loved this

holiday season. Ask your school if there’s a family who could use

a little support, and shop for Christmas gifts for them as a family.

Find a local charity your family can serve at together one day

during this season.

No matter what you do, look for ways to show love to people

around you as a family. And as you do, talk with your kids about

why it’s important that we show the love of Christ to others not

just at Christmas, but all year long.

Questions? 

402-895-9596, connect@stonybrookchurch.com or just ask on Sunday!