Christmas Eve

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Christmas Eve

by Brett Moore


ADULT DEVOTIONAL

Perhaps you're reading this in the morning and all that is “Christmas Eve,” is in front of you.  You know that today there will be much that asks for your attention. Children, extended family, church services, presents; each of these will ask for your consideration today. Maybe you’re reading this before you go to bed. You remember what it was like to go to bed excited as a child on Christmas Eve. But down deep, you know that today is about more than gifts, and this season is more than just a “holiday.” Now, for just a moment think about what you’re being asked to remember. That Jesus, God’s son, entered into our reality. Jesus was born. But why did He have to come? The Bible tells a story about Jesus in the gospel of Luke where Jesus himself answers this question. He tells us that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 10:10) Matthew, the author of another gospel account, takes it a step further when he recalls his first interaction with Jesus. He recounts Jesus’ precious words, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13).

So why did Jesus come. Why do we celebrate Him? Because He came for people like us. He came for people who couldn’t save themselves. He came for the lowly, for the sick, for the over-extended, and for the needy. He came for you. God, in the person of Jesus, came to Earth to find you. There are many reasons today matters: the look on someone’s face when they open their gift, the laughter that seems to happen when the whole family is under one roof, or maybe today is the first Christmas since a sad event in your life. Today, in joy or sadness, with family, friends, or for the first time in a long time, consider Jesus. He came for you.

FAMILY DEVOTIONAL

Mark 10:45—"The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  

Have you ever owed someone money? That’s what debt is, it’s owing something. When we disobey, tell a lie, or sin against someone, the debt we owe is to God. In Romans the Bible tells us that when we sin, we earn death. But God does something amazing. When we could not pay the debt we owed, He sent His son to take care of it for us. Paul put it like this in Galatians 4:4–5, "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons." In other words, Jesus frees us to be a part of God's family.

God's Son had to become a human being so that He could suffer and die in our place to pay the ransom. That is the meaning of Christmas. Jesus came to save sinners. He’s the gift! That’s what Christmas is all about - it’s when we celebrate the most amazing news in history. The angels sang, the shepherds bowed, a star showed the way, everything pointed to Jesus. When everything was hopeless, when we were at our lowest and could never get to God, He came to us.  

ACTIVITY

Are there presents under your tree? I bet there are. Before you open a present tonight or tomorrow, take a moment and ask each person in your family to share why Jesus is the best gift they could ever receive.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, into the world to do what we could never do for ourselves, and pay the debt we could never pay. Jesus, thank You for saving us. Tonight and during this season, we take just a moment to remember why You came to Earth: You came for us, and for that, we are very thankful.

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Week 4 - Hope

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Week 4 - Hope

by Brent Allen


ADULT DEVOTIONAL

Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Yet, our view of Jesus seems to be mundane due to the repetitive nature and festivities of the holiday. What is there to celebrate? Christmas has been filled with presents for people who bought you presents. It is complicated with the hustle and bustle of traveling to this side of the family and that one. We have completely isolated and ignored the relevance of Jesus Christ’s coming to earth, taking on flesh, and dwelling among us (John 1:14). We have become desensitized to the greatest miracle in the history of the world! How dare we forget that Jesus’ coming was a “plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things” back to God (Ephesians 1:9-10). It is through Jesus Christ that God restores the perfect order of His creation.

I have been a believer for many years. Over those years, I find myself forgetting what I once lived for (this can be good and bad). The days where I chose to walk according to my own desire and enjoy the things that made me feel good, and yet gave me the label “Child of Wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3). It is sometimes good to look at what you are saved from in order to celebrate what you are saved to. Do you understand the severity of life without Jesus? Scripture reminds us:

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 

Ephesians 2:12-13

 

This passage seems to change everything. We were without hope because we were without God in this world! But now! Now Christ has come! He has turned the alienated to a native of God’s people and partaker of the promise of eternal life. Most importantly, He has turned the hopeless into the hopeful. He has taken those who were far away and brought them close. This is why we celebrate. Take a moment to meditate on the importance of Jesus Christ in your own life. Remind yourself of where you were before Christ, and then rejoice in the hope that you now have in Christ.

FAMILY DEVOTIONAL

The birth of Jesus was the start of something spectacular. You see, God had a plan, and this plan was very mysterious but it involved Jesus. God saw that the world was doing things that were bad and wrong, and these bad things by the people made it to where they were separated from God. God did not like this at all. This is where His mysterious plan started. Do you want to know God’s plan? Jesus was born and came to earth in order to unite the people back to God (Ephesians 2:9-10). Without Jesus, all of the bad things that we do would mean we were separated from God forever. You see, the Bible tells us that all of those bad things mean that we are separated from God. But God’s mysterious plan sent Jesus to fix that for us. The Bible says that “while we were still sinners (doing things bad), Christ died for us (reunited us with God)” (Romans 5:8). Without Jesus, we are left on our own. Without Jesus, there is nothing we can do. That seems pretty hopeless. But Jesus fixes that. So when Jesus came, He became our hope to be united back with God.

ACTIVITY

Imagine all of the lights were out and it was completely dark. You couldn’t see a thing! This symbolizes separation from God. Now say you were asked to walk around and collect certain items. How could you? You can’t see! You would probably do it wrong. That does not sound fun. This symbolizes sin. Now imagine you had a flashlight. This flashlight allows you to see where you are going and what you are doing. This symbolizes Jesus. Without the light, you would seem pretty hopeless. When Jesus came to earth, He was “the light that shines in the darkness” (John 1:5). This symbolizes hope.

PRAYER

God, thank You for Your amazing plan to send Jesus so that we could be reunited with You. We know that Jesus is our only hope and only way to You. Remind us of this hope this year as we celebrate Jesus.

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Week 3 - Clarity

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Week 3 - Clarity

by Sabrina Starnes


ADULT DEVOTIONAL

Read Matthew 12:22-37

Looks can be deceiving. We’ve all been there. You may have made a judgment call or developed an opinion about someone or something just by what you could see on the surface. And then you realize, after the fact, that you may have been too hasty in your judgments. Sometimes that realization involves apologies, regrets, and even broken relationships. 

We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s exactly what the Pharisees were doing in this Sunday’s passage. They saw Jesus casting out demons and immediately came to the conclusion that He must be working for the devil. But Jesus’ point brings a good dose of common sense to the issue: “And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” (Matthew 12:26) Clearly, the Pharisees had an agenda to turn people away from Jesus. They just didn’t think that one through.

The enemy also has an agenda to turn us away from Jesus. This time of year he tries to do that by all the things we can get wrapped up in that will distract us from why we’re actually celebrating. Gift-buying, party-going, bargain-shopping, Pinterest-decorating, Martha Stewart-cooking… All good and fun things. But we purposefully chose to set aside this time of year to acknowledge Jesus and His Father’s plan to send Him here as a baby with a future that included a brutal death in order to redeem our souls back to Him. That is why we celebrate. Let’s be intentional about what we commit to and participate in this year. Ask God to clearly reveal Himself to you in the middle of all the month’s activities. Let’s use these days truly celebrating Christ and pointing others to Him. After all, that’s why it’s called CHRISTmas.

ACTIVITY

Before family time, use an invisible ink marker to write the words “Merry Christmas” on a blank white piece of paper for each child. Hold the paper up to the kids and ask “what does this look like?” Wait for them to answer “a blank piece of paper.” Then give them the markers that reveal the invisible ink and have them color over their page to reveal the words. Then ask, “were you surprised to see there was something actually written on the paper? On the surface, this didn’t look like what your eyes told you it was. What else can you think of that looks like one thing but is actually something totally different? How can we sometimes judge things or people on the outside unfairly? What should we do instead?” 

FAMILY DEVOTIONAL

What does Christmas look like to you? Is it Christmas trees, presents, candy canes, snowmen, stockings, the Grinch, colorful cartoons about trains, and Santa? That may be what Christmas looks like on the outside, but what is Christmas really about? The true purpose behind Christmas is to celebrate God’s plan of sending His Son, Jesus, as a baby to grow up and become a man who would one day die on a cross so that we could become God’s sons and daughters. (Ephesians 1:11-14) Let’s decide today that everything we do for Christmas this year in some way reminds us and others of Jesus. 

PRAYER

Jesus, help us to see You clearly this Christmas. Help us to not be distracted by the things that we tend to make Christmas about. Clearly reveal to us where You are working during this season and how we can be a part of it. We want other people who do not know You to see Your love clearly through our lives. Be glorified through us every day of December and beyond. 

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Week 2 - Justice

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Week 2 - Justice

by Jamison Price


ADULT DEVOTIONAL

Before we can fully grasp the wonder of the gifts of grace and mercy, we should first understand our human state without them. We should understand fully the idea of justice in our lives. Without Jesus, we would stand before God the Father guilty and justly condemned to death. God is a just judge and the judgment we deserve is eternal punishment and separation from Him. But then enters Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. 

Like the Savior He is, Jesus entered the courtroom where we were being justly sentenced to death and He set us free. The sentence of punishment wasn’t overturned, rather Jesus took the sentence for us. Christ’s coming to earth as a child should fill us with a sense of worship and thankfulness. Because as Christ came, so did our freedom because He absorbed the justice that was demanded because of our sin. The gift of Justice has arrived, given on our behalf.

Justice has led to our victory. And this victory has led to the hope that all mankind can hold tightly to.

FAMILY DEVOTION

Read Matthew 12:15-21

During Christmastime we get excited about all the gifts and good things that are delivered to us. Whether it’s activities, traditions, or gifts, there are so many things that we’re excited about. Sometimes what we miss out on is realizing the fact that the very best things that we could ever be given have already arrived. Through the arrival of Jesus Christ in our lives we’ve been given many things, and with the arrival of Jesus comes the arrival of Justice in our lives.

Justice is one of these great gifts that’s already arrived. We have all sinned and disobeyed God. Because of that, we deserve to be punished. We have lots of names for Jesus. And one of those names is “judge.” The job of a judge is to bring justice to those who have done what is wrong. And God would be right in punishing us and separating us from Him forever, because that is what we deserve.

We are sinners and we need a savior. And when Jesus arrived on earth as a baby, our Savior arrived. When Jesus came, He didn’t come with the wrath of God to punish us and bring justice upon us. And Jesus didn’t come in anger or violence to those on the earth. Jesus came in peace and instead of bringing justice on us, He brought justice for us. Now, because of Jesus, we are free. The gift of Justice has been delivered. This is one of the greatest gifts we could ever be given because it means that we can stand before God, the Judge, and be seen as innocent.

ACTIVITY

Set up your living room like a courtroom you would see on TV. Have one person play the judge, one person be the witness on the stand, and one person can act as the lawyer. Everyone else can sit in the jury box. Act out what you think would happen in a courtroom to prove someone’s guilt. Encourage everyone to be as dramatic as possible. Then, have the person acting as the judge slam his gavel down and dismiss the case, proclaiming the witness on the stand innocent. Explain, “This is what God did for us. He heard all of the evidence presented against us that proved we rightfully deserved punishment and He instead chose to put guilt on His Son, Jesus, and set us free. Christmas is when that plan started. Jesus had to be born as a man before He could take the punishment of men. Let’s thank Him for that.”

PRAYER

Have someone in your family pray specifically for God to give you an understanding of how He has saved you. Pray that during this Christmas season you would be filled with so much joy because you understand that when Jesus came to earth, He was doing so to set you free. Pray for everyone around you, ask God to reveal to them the true reason He sent Jesus to earth and pray that they wouldn’t be distracted by Christmas events, but would truly meet Jesus during this season.

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Week 1 - Rest

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Week 1 - Rest

Written by Lisa Biery


Matthew 12:1-8
Hebrews 4
Psalm 46:10
Mark 6:30-32

 

Adult Devotion

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Is everyone humming that carol in your head? Good. Those words ring so much truth to the Christmas season, but if I were to be completely honest about how I tend to approach the holiday season, it’s not with the thought of kids jingle belling, it’s with some anxiety over the chaos that I let surround the holidays, putting the truest meaning of the most wonderful time of the year at the bottom of my list.  Wherever you may find yourself this Christmas season, happy over the chaos of family get-togethers, lost in the struggles of a fallen world, or most likely a mix of both, my prayer for us all is to posture ourselves towards the gifts that Jesus brought with His birth, life, death, and resurrection.  One of those gifts being rest. 

So now I would like to insert the “laughing so hard I’m crying” emoji at the thought of rest during the most wonderful craziest time of the year. But if I throw down the idol of productivity in my life and exchange it for the promise of rest, I’m left with a beautiful and fascinating divine silence. The kind of silence that allows your heart and soul to catch up to what God has been doing. The kind of silence that the Holy Spirit uses to speak the loudest. I do love His irony. That divine silence and rest always drives me back to the intent of God’s law, which is to ensure life. That loving and serving people well is so much greater than any religion or ritual act, as Jesus teaches in Matthew 12:1-8.

Many of you are planners, many are dreamers, and if you are anything like me, while planning for rest, you get lost in the idea that maybe one day you will follow through with the plan you’ve dreamt up. If you are the one who sets time aside for rest or the one who lets it happen organically, don’t forget the reality that it is God who creates and sustains rest because He loves us. He promises us eternal rest in Hebrews 4 and He assures us that His word is alive, powerful and is sufficient to form restfulness in us. 

This IS the most wonderful time of the year, celebrating the birth of King Jesus. His stories teach us, His death saves us.  As His body lay in the tomb I can imagine the whispering words from Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” His resurrection brings new life and the promise that we will enter into His rest. 

 

Family Devotion

Can you even imagine creating a world? How cool would it be to snap your fingers and it’s nighttime or to say the words “let there be light” and boom, there is light. How AMAZING is our God! After He created the world, He created man and woman and animals! Think about when you create your lego worlds, or play dough sculptures, even sand castles at the beach. That takes time and creativity and it’s fun! I bet God had fun creating a world for us to live in and even more fun creating you and the people who love you. 

As much as you don’t want to admit it, being creative and active also makes you tired.  Did you know that after God created everything, He rested? I imagine that He curled up on a cloudy bed, covered up with a fuzzy blanket, and dreamt about all the plans He had for His new world. When you nap or sleep at night, God is working in you. He’s restoring your body and your mind so that you can approach a new day fresh with His love for you. 

Every Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus walked on the earth and talked with people, teaching them the way to live. He is a very special man; he is a teacher, a worker, a healer, and He loves all people. Often times, as Jesus and His friends were traveling around teaching, He would disappear and no one could find Him. Guess where He was…resting! Read or have someone read Mark 6:30-32 to you…He made His friends rest too! Jesus brought manywonderful gifts to us when He was born and rest was one of them.  

Activity

Create and build a blanket tent in your family room. Work hard and be creative. Let your kids completely take over. Next, get in it, all of you. Then rest in the tent and company of the people God created you to walk through life with. Remind your people that some of the best moments in this life come when you slow down, put down the idol of productivity, and rest. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the birth of Jesus. Thank You for the gift of rest that He brought us through His life, death, and resurrection.  I pray that we each value that gift and that we rest in You during this most precious time of the year.

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