Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Advent: Christmas Day


Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Telling the Christmas Story
Supplies:
  • Wreath
  • Candles: 3 purple, 1 rose, 1 white
  • Bible
  • Jesse Tree Ornaments (or pictures)
  • Chocolate/Candy (optional)
Christmas Day is finally here! Many of us have anticipated this day for weeks, or even months. Today, you will light all five of the Advent candles: 3 purple, 1 rose, and 1 white. The final white candle is the "Christ candle" and represents purity. As difficult as it is to admit sometimes, none of us are perfect. We don't always make the right decisions; our character is flawed; and sometimes we act in a way that hurts others. There is one who is perfect, and his name is Jesus. Though we are not perfect and "our sins are like scarlet", with Jesus, God sees us as "white as snow". (Isaiah 1:18)

Jesus lived an absolutely perfect life so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for all of the ways that we miss the mark. God sent His Son down from heaven to earth as a gift of love for us. God loves us so much, and He wants to be with us. Because God is holy, He cannot be in the presence of sin. So, a sacrifice had to be made. God gave up His Son for us so that we could be with Him. All we have to do is simply believe that Jesus is God's Son who came and died for our sins and rose again. Then, we must allow God to be Lord of our lives -- giving Him control and allowing Him to call the shots.

For some reason Christmas feels different this year. I've put up the same Christmas decorations, and I've made the same types of Christmas goodies. But something is different. Jesus is more apart of the Christmas season to me. I've enjoyed taking the time to reflect on the advent, or coming, of Jesus, and I wait eagerly with anticipation for Jesus's second advent! 

Thank you all who have joined me on this journey over the past four weeks. I hope you have enjoyed reflecting on Jesus's Advent as much as me.


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Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Advent: Week 4


Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Telling the Christmas Story
Supplies:
  • Wreath
  • Candles: 3 purple, 1 rose, 1 white
  • Bible
  • Jesse Tree Ornaments (or pictures)
  • Chocolate/Candy (optional)

This week marks the fourth, and final, week of Advent. Even though I wrote the material, I still missed days here and there. So, great job to those of you that have stuck with the daily devotional! I hope reading through and reflecting on these stories have helped you focus more on Jesus during this Christmas season.

The last week of Advent represents "peace". The rose candle as well as all three purple candles are lit each day this week. There are some days that I feel anything but peaceful. In my home, my kids may be driving me up the wall with their crying, screaming, or constant demanding of my time and attention. Outside of my home, there is crime in our local neighborhood; our nation appears dysfunctional; and fighting lurks in many corners of our world. How can we celebrate peace with this happening around us? Enter Jesus. He came as a baby, but he is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). One of my favorite passages that Jesus said was:

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) 

God does not promise us an easy, uncomplicated life. On the contrary, he tells us that we "will have trouble". The Good News is that Jesus is the deliverer of peace. When I look in my home and at the world around me, I take refuge in the fact that Jesus has already won the battle and he is the provider of peace.


Christmas Question of the Week


Each week, I will attempt to answer a question about why we celebrate a particular Christmas tradition. I don't intend to answer all of the questions in my posts over the next few weeks, but I do hope to answer a few of the questions.

What do the Christmas colors (red and green) mean?


This is one question that I've honestly not thought about much before. I was surprised that most information I read was consistent in its interpretation. So, here is what I found:

Red represents the blood of Jesus.  At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a little baby, but we must not forget that it's Jesus' life AND death (as well as his resurrection) that makes him vital in the Christian faith. Jesus was not just a "good guy" that taught us important morals. He is the Son of God, and God sent Jesus to earth for a specific purpose: to die. The reason why he died was so that we can live. Jesus' perfect life qualified him to be a perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for all the sins of the world.

Green symbolizes eternal life. During the Christmas season, the color green is oftentimes seen in evergreens (wreaths, trees, garland, etc.). Evergreens are green year-round, thus representing eternity. As I mentioned above, Jesus died so that we can live. Without Jesus, we are doomed to live an eternity separated from God.  By simply believing Jesus is who he said he was (God's Son), believing God resurrected him from the dead, and  giving Him control of your life, you will live forever in heaven with God (Romans 10:9) who created you, loves you, and wants to be with you. 


Advent Week 4 Daily Devotional



Day 22 (December 22nd)



Day 22: Dove
Symbol: Dove
Scripture: Matthew 3:1-17
Explanation:  Another man named John lived during the same time as Jesus. God had a job for John, and it was to prepare the way for Jesus. John was "unconventional" in his attire and style, but people still flocked to him because he spoke God's truth. He baptized many people (which is simply being dunked in water to symbolize your "new life" in God), including Jesus! Immediately after Jesus was baptized, heaven opened and the Spirit of God descended on him like a dove. 
Question: Have you ever been baptized? If not and you believe in Jesus, is there something that is holding you back?

Day 23 (December 23rd)

Day 23: Star of Bethlehem


Symbol: Star of Bethlehem
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
Explanation:  Jesus' birth is not only a big deal today when we celebrate Christmas, but it was a big deal when it actually happened. Magi (or wise men) from the east traveled an incredibly long distance to worship this baby, this king, that God sent. One bright star guided their travels; and the star led them to Bethlehem where they found Jesus. They presented this child with gifts for a king! 
Question: Have you ever traveled a great distance or paid a great price for something you valued?  

Day 24 (December 24th)



Day 24: Baby Jesus in the Manger
Symbol: Baby Jesus in the Manger
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
Explanation:  The world had been waiting for The King to arrive, and the time had finally come. Jesus' anticipated arrival is finally here! Upon the announcement of his birth, the angels sang, the shepherds were in awe, and Mary and Joseph were mesmerized by this baby God called them to raise.  He had left his kingdom in heaven and humbled himself by becoming a baby in order to love us all.
Question: What is your reaction to Jesus' coming? What can you do to celebrate and rejoice in the birth of our Savior?










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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent: Week 3

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Telling the Christmas Story
Supplies:
  • Candles: 3 purple, 1 rose, 1 white
  • Bible
  • Jesse Tree Ornaments (or pictures)
  • Chocolate/Candy (optional)


The third week of Advent represents "joy". Each day you will light two purple candles and the rose candle. So often I look to other people to give me joy. If my husband disappoints me by coming home late from work or if a friend doesn't return my phone call, it's easy for me to get down and discouraged. I allow my circumstances to dictate my emotions, and my joy easily vanishes. Certainly I love my husband, children, family, and friends, but I should not rely on them to bring me joy. I must remind myself that my source of joy comes from God and God alone. He is always loving and never changing. He never fails. 

Christmas Question of the Week


Each week, I will attempt to answer a question about why we celebrate a particular Christmas tradition. I don't intend to answer all of the questions in my posts over the next few weeks, but I do hope to answer a few questions.

Who is Santa Claus? 

Most people in the western world know Santa Claus as a mystical, jolly man with a white beard and a red suit who visits our homes on Christmas Eve and delivers presents to good little boys and girls. Some people may know of traditions around the world that include characters such as Father Christmas and Sinterklauss. (You can find a brief synopsis of this on Wikipedia...I know, I know. It's not the best source.) Many people may not know that Santa Claus originates from an actual person: Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop in modern day Turkey who was known for his generosity. He was a very godly, Christian man whose generosity was rooted in his love for Christ. (Check out Advent: Week 1 for an explanation of "Why do we exchange presents?)
The information I found on Wikipedia aligned with a recent children's Christmas video I watched with my son: Buck Denver Asks...Why do we Call it Christmas? I loved this short movie and thought it did a nice job of  explaining many Christmas traditions such as "why do we put up Christmas trees?" and "who is Santa Claus?" My 2 1/2 year old was engaged, and I found it entertaining and informative. The creator of this movie, Phil Vischer, is the same person who created Veggie Tales. It's definitely worth checking out!


Advent Week 3 Daily Devotional


Each day throughout Advent, my family will take a few minutes to read a passage from the Bible and talk about what it means. During this time, we will light our Advent "wreath". During the third week,  two purple candles and one rose candle will be lit each day during this time. The schedule below details the daily passage as well as a short description and application question. Most of this is based upon the Jesse Tree, which includes a clear, succinct overview of Jesus's ancestry and life in the Bible. Even if you don't have Jesse Tree ornaments, you can use pictures or different items around your house to represent the symbol for the day. No matter your age, I hope you glean something from these readings. 

Day 15 (December 15th)



Symbol: Harp
Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:1-23
Explanation:  Last week we learned about Samuel anointing King Saul to lead God's people, but even he was not perfect. So, God told Samuel to anoint another king: David. David was just a young man and the youngest son of Jesse. As we learned in the first week, Jesus would be born through the lineage of Jesse (and through King David). Although David did many honorable and noble things for the Lord, David still made many costly mistakes in his life. No one is perfect. Except one. Jesus. He is the one true king! 
Question: Is there one person who you turn to in life to lead you or guide you? Has that person ever failed you? Have you considered turning to God for counsel and wisdom through life's decisions?


Day 16 (December 16th)



Symbol: Stone Altar
Day 16: Stone Altar
Scripture: 1 Kings 18:16-46
Explanation:  God is mighty and powerful. He used a man named Elijah to put His power on display. Elijah lived during a time where people worshipped other gods (Baal) besides The Lord. But Elijah knew these other gods were not real and could not satisfy. He put their gods to the test, and they failed miserably. Elijah provided an opportunity for God to put His power on display, and God showed up in a BIG way. Through Elijah's one prayer, God burned a water-logged alter to a crisp. The people knew God was real and began to praise and worship the one true God.
Question: Is there something in your life that is competing for God's attention? 

Day 17 (December 17th)



Symbol: Fire Tongs with Hot Coals
Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-13
Explanation:  Isaiah was one of the prophets who foretold the coming of Jesus. In this passage, Isaiah sees a picture of him before The Lord. Isaiah realizes that he is not worthy to be in God's holy presence. A seraph (or angel) comes to Isaiah and touches his lips with a burning coal. The angel says "your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for" (v. 7).  Before any of us can stand before God, we must be cleansed. God is holy and perfect and cannot be in the presence of anything imperfect. Unfortunately, nothing we ever do (or don't do) will make us worthy to stand before God. The Good News is that Jesus makes a way for us! Jesus was perfect on our behalf. He lived a perfect life; never lying, gossiping, or even thinking a bad though. He became the perfect sacrifice when He died on the cross for us. He paid the penalty for all of our sins -- past, present, and future. So, when we stand before God, God does not see our imperfections; He sees the perfect record of Christ. 
Question: Is there something in your life that you should be "cleansed" of? Take time to ask God for forgiveness. He loves you and is waiting to accept you with open arms. 

Day 18 (December 18th)



Symbol: Lion
Scripture: Daniel 6:1-28
Explanation:  Daniel was a man that loved God and followed him...no matter the cost. Even though it was against the law to pray to God, Daniel did it anyway. He knew that God's approval was more important than the approval of man. Because he broke the king's law and prayed to God, the king -- albeit reluctantly -- punished Daniel by throwing him into a lion's den. Miraculously, God protected Daniel and closed the mouth of the lions. This could have been a horrible end to Daniel's life, but God used this situation for His glory. Many people saw God's goodness through this event. 
Question: Has there been a time in your life that God protected you? 

Day 19 (December 19th)



Symbol: Big Fish
Scripture: Jonah
Explanation:  Sometimes God uses people in our lives to deliver messages to us. God wanted to use Jonah to deliver a message to the people of Nineveh, but Jonah didn't want to. So, Jonah ran away. What Jonah didn't realize what that no one can hide from God; He is always with us. To get Jonah's attention, God sent a storm after him and then a big fish to rescue him. Jonah spent three days in the belly of this fish, and it gave him a lot of time to think. He realized he needed to follow God's plan. So, the fish spit him up on shore, and Jonah headed to Nineveh. God used him to deliver a message to the Ninevites, and they believed in God and started to follow Him! 
Question: Has God used someone in your life to deliver a message to you from Him? Has God ever used you to deliver a message from Him to someone else? 

Day 20 (December 20th)



Symbol: Star of David
Scripture: Esther 4 - 8
Explanation:  Initially, Esther became queen because of her great beauty, and unbeknownst to the king, she was a Jew. During her time as queen, the king declared an edict to kill all of the Jews. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, encouraged her to approach the king and stand up for her people. He challenged her to think that perhaps she is in this position of power for "such a time as this" -- to fight for the Jewish people (Esther 4:14). In most instances, standing up to the king would mean certain death, but Esther took a stand and approached the king. The king granted Esther's request, and the Jewish people were saved. Many people use a position of power for their selfish gain, but Esther used it for God's glory to save the Jewish people. 
Question: Have you ever been in a position of power and needed to make a tough decision? 


Day 21 (December 21st)



Symbol: Angel
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
Explanation:  The angel, Gabriel, delivered a message to Mary and told her that she would become pregnant and give birth to the Son of God. How could this be? She was a virgin. Her response: "I am the Lord's servant" (v. 38). She had a lot at stake when she told God she was willing to carry the Christ-child. She was just a young girl.  She risked her engagement, her reputation, and even her life; but, she humbly accepted God's request. 
Question: Can you imagine if Mary had said no?  Where would that leave us?


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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advent: Week 2


Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Telling the Christmas Story
Supplies:
  • Wreath
  • Candles: 3 purple, 1 rose, 1 white
  • Bible
  • Jesse Tree Ornaments (or pictures)
  • Chocolate/Candy (optional)

Last week we began the celebration of Advent! I did some additional reading about Advent this week and found out that each week represents something different. The first week of Advent symbolizes "prophesy" where we remember those that foretold the coming of Jesus. This week, the second week, represents "love". So each day you light two purple candles, reflect on the fact that God loves you so much, and He expressed this love by sending His one and only Son to this world for you. 

Christmas Question of the Week


Each week, I will attempt to answer a question about why we celebrate a particular Christmas tradition. I don't intend to answer all of the questions in my posts over the next few weeks, but I do hope to answer a few of the questions.

Why do we hang Christmas wreaths? 


Throughout history, the wreath has been a part of various traditions, cultures, and governments. This circular object has no beginning and no end, which oftentimes represents eternity. In the context of Christmas from a Christian's perspective, the wreath symbolizes the continuous love of God found in Christ.

God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to earth in order to make a way for us to be with Him. Without Jesus, God's holiness is too powerful for our imperfection to be in His presence. So, Jesus had to come as a man to live a perfect life and die a sacrificial death on our behalf in order to make a way for us to be with God. Through belief in Jesus, God no longer sees our deficiencies but Christ's purity.

So each time I see a wreath hanging on a door or in a store this Christmas season, I will be reminded of God's never-ending, always and forever love. 

Advent Week 2 Daily Devotional


Each day throughout Advent, my family will take a few minutes to read a passage from the Bible and talk about what it means. During this time, we will light our Advent "wreath". During the second week,  two purple candles will be lit each day during this time. The schedule below details the daily passage as well as a short description and application question. Most of this is based upon the Jesse Tree, which includes a clear, succinct overview of Jesus's ancestry and life in the Bible. Even if you don't have Jesse Tree ornaments, you can use pictures or different items around your house to represent the symbol for the day. No matter your age, I hope you glean something from these readings. 

Day 8 (December 8th)



Day 8: Coat of Many Colors
Symbol: Coat of Many Colors
Scripture: Genesis 37
Explanation:  Last week we learned about Abraham's son, Jacob. Today we read about Jacob's sons; one in particular: Joseph. Jacob loved his sons very much, but he loved Joseph the most. He gave Joseph an ornate, colorful robe because he loved him so much. This made Joseph's brothers very jealous, and they plotted to get rid of him. They sold Joseph as a slave and destroyed his beautiful robe. Joseph may have felt hopeless and abandoned at this point in his life. Can you believe that God used that awful situation for His glory? There is a reason Joseph was sold into slavery; God needed him in Egypt!
Question: Do you believe God can use bad situations for good? Think of a difficult time in your life that you can look back on now and realize something good came from it. 

Day 9 (December 9th)



Day 9: Burning Bush
Symbol: Burning Bush
Scripture: Exodus 2:1 - 4:20
Explanation:  After Joseph was reunited with his family, they stayed in Egypt, but generations later, his family (the Israelites) became slaves in the land. The Israelites cried out to God for help, and He answered! God used an unassuming man named Moses to free the Israelites from the pharaoh's rule. God spoke to Moses  through a burning bush. He told Moses to go to the pharaoh and demand freedom for the Israelites so that they may worship Him. After fervent petitioning, the pharaoh reluctantly released God's people. 
Question:  Was there a time in your life that you called out to God for help? Did he answer you?

Day 10 (December 10th)



Day 10: Lamb
Symbol: Lamb
Scripture: Exodus 12 - 14
Explanation:  Before the Israelites left Egypt, God instructed the people of Israel to slaughter a lamb for each household and put its blood on the door frames of their homes. That night God would go through Egypt and kill the first born male -- of animals and of men -- in the households as a judgement on Egypt for the mistreatment of God's people. The blood on the door frames was a sign to God to "pass over" the Israelites' homes. God protected His people and safely led them out of Egypt. 
Question:  When was there a time in your life that you felt God's protection? 

Day 11 (December 11th)



Day 11: Ten Commandments
Symbol: Ten Commandments
Scripture: Exodus 20
Explanation:  The Israelites were free from slavery in Egypt, but they still weren't satisfied. They were dirty, tired, and hungry. They thought their ways were better than God's ways, and their trust in God was fading. God wanted the Israelites to know Him and trust Him. One way to know God more is to live like God. So, God gave us a set of rules, or commandments, so that we can live more like Him and show others what God is like. God calls us to first love Him more than anything else. If we seek Him first with our whole heart, then everything else in life falls into place. [Matthew 6:33] This set of rules is a tall order to fill. We could not abide by this list if we tried with all of our might. That is why Jesus is necessary; only He can follow these rules perfectly. 
Question:  Can you think of a time you bent your own rules to get what you thought you needed?  Were you satisfied with the result?

Day 12 (December 12th)


Day 12: Trumpet
Symbol: Trumpet
Scripture: Joshua 6:1-20
Explanation:  Moses led the Israelites for many years, but after his death, God put Joshua in charge of His people. They were tired of wandering in the desert and were ready to reach their new home. However, the city of Jericho was between them and the promise land. God had a plan for the Israelites to defeat this fortress of a city, but it wasn't by conventional means. God instructed the people of Israel to walk around the city once a day for six days and have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns. On the seventh day, He told them to march around the city seven times and then the priests should blow their trumpets. After the trumpets sound, all the people should shout at the top of their lungs! Then, the wall will come tumbling down. That is what they did, and that is what happened. God delivered on his promise; the Israelites captured the city of Jericho; and they entered into the promise land. 
Question:  Has God ever asked you to do something completely unconventional?  Did you follow his instruction?  

Day 13 (December 13th)


Day 13: Sheaves of Grain
Symbol: Sheaves of Grain
Scripture: Ruth 2:1-9
Explanation:  Naomi and Ruth formed a special bond as mother and daughter-in-law. Naomi lost her sons, one of which was Ruth's husband. So, now they were both widowed, and their future seemed bleak. God had another plan for their lives. Ruth met a kind landowner, Boaz, while she was gleaning sheaves of grain in the field. Ruth immediately found favor in the eyes of Boaz, and they eventually married. This brought joy to Naomi, and this confirmed God's faithfulness to her. The family line continued on to the birth of Christ through Boaz and Ruth. 
Question:  Have you experienced a time in your life when you thought all hope was lost? What did you turn to in that situation?  


Day 14 (December 14th)



Day 14: Crown
Symbol: Crown
Scripture: 1 Samuel 9:15 - 10:9
Explanation:  God's people, the Israelites, finally had their new home in the promise land, but they were still discontent. Now, they wanted a leader, a king. Samuel had been a judge over Israel, but that wasn't good enough for God's people. So, God told Samuel to anoint Saul as the king of Israel. Although God's people got what they asked for, their leader, Saul, still failed them. There is only one who will never fail, and his name is Jesus. 
Question:  Have you ever put your hope in a leader who failed you?  Why did they fail you?



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All Advent Posts: 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent: Week 1

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Telling the Christmas Story
Supplies:
  • Wreath
  • Candles: 3 purple, 1 rose, 1 white
  • Bible
  • Jesse Tree Ornaments (or pictures)
  • Chocolate/Candy (optional)
As I mentioned in my previous post, I want to take time to celebrate Advent this year and reflect upon the reason why we celebrate the season. My oldest son has entered the "why phase", and he asks questions like, "why are we putting up a Christmas tree?" or " why do we hang a wreath?". Embarrassingly enough, I don't know why we observe many of the Christmas traditions. So, I intend to investigate some of these questions over the next four weeks and share my findings with you through the "Christmas Question of the Week".

In addition to answering a weekly Christmas tradition question, I will also provide a daily reading. This corresponds closely to many Jesse Tree devotionals you can find online, but I have added my own spice to it. Using a Jesse Tree format, we will learn about who Jesus is by reading Bible stories that tell about Jesus' ancestry and life.

    Whether you have celebrated Advent your entire life or you have never thought about who Jesus is, I hope you learn something new about the Christmas story and gain deeper meaning to why we celebrate Christmas.


    Christmas Question of the Week

    Each week, I will attempt to answer a question about why we celebrate a particular Christmas tradition. I don't intend to answer all of the questions in my posts over the next few weeks, but I do hope to answer a few of the questions.
     

    Why do we exchange presents? 

    The Christmas morning gift exchange is probably my most favorite Christmas tradition. As a young girl, I remember searching the house during the month of December trying to discover my mom's hiding place for all the unwrapped presents. I would get up Christmas morning before the sun would rise and then sit in front of the brightly lit tree with the pile of presents underneath it waiting for the rest of the family to wake. As a child, the gift exchange was primarily about me: what presents did I get?

    Now, as an adult, I find just as much joy -- if not more joy -- in giving gifts as I do in receiving them. I like trying to think of the perfect gift for each one of my family members. I enjoy being creative and making a few of the gifts. And, I love seeing the expression on the recipient's face when they open the present. The reason I love the gift exchange is because I genuinely love the people receiving the gifts. But, it's much deeper than that...

    The Bible tells us that "we love because he [God] first loved us" [1 John 4:19]. The motivation for my love for others is because I know that God loved me first. He didn't love me after I did something good. He didn't love me more because I helped someone else. He loved me first; therefore, I love others. I love as a response to God's love for me.

    How do I know that God loves me? God sent His only Son to this world so that I (you) can have a relationship with Him. Not only did Jesus live among us, but He did so perfectly. And at the end of His life, He died as a sacrifice for you and me. 1 John 4:10 sums it up well: "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Propitiation means that Jesus sacrificed himself to take away our sins.

    God gave us the ultimate gift over 2000 years ago when He sent His one and only Son to this earth. So as I exchange gifts with friends, family, and neighbors, I think about the gift God gave me: Jesus. The gifts I give are simply a reflection of God's love.

    Advent Week 1 Daily Devotional

    Each day throughout Advent, my family will take a few minutes to read a passage from the Bible and talk about what it means. During this time, we will light our Advent "wreath". During the first week,  one purple candle will be lit each day during this time. The schedule below details the daily passage as well as a short description and application question. Most of this is based upon the Jesse Tree, which includes a clear, succinct overview of Jesus's ancestry and life in the Bible. Even if you don't have Jesse Tree ornaments, you can use pictures or different items around your house to represent the symbol for the day.

    Day 1 (December 1st)



    Day 1: Branch from Stump
    Symbol: Branch from Stump
    Scripture: Isaiah 11:1, Matthew 1:1-17
    Explanation:  God has had a plan since before the beginning of time. Before Jesus, a man named Jesse had a son named David. David grew up to be the king of Israel. Many generations after David, Jesus was born into the same family line. Many people anticipated and were anxiously waiting the coming of a leader, a king, a savior. But God had an even bigger plan in mind than providing a king over Israel. Jesus came to reign as The King over the entire world. 
    Question:  If you're anything like me, I get so excited about the anticipation of Christmas! The food. The presents. The music. How much of your excitement is centered on the arrival of Jesus? What ways can you refocus your attention on Christ's coming?


    Day 2 (December 2nd)

     

    Day 2: Earth
    Symbol: Earth
    Scripture:  Genesis 1:1 - 2:3
    Explanation:  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and it. was. good. God made sweet smelling flowers, vibrantly colored fish, and beautiful landscapes. Everything was perfect. It turned out exactly the way He imagined.  He put us in charge of caring for and enjoying the beauty that He created.
    Question: What are some ways you can care for and enjoy God's creation?



    Day 3 (December 3rd)


    Day 3: Apple (with Snake)
    Symbol: Apple (with Snake)
    Scripture:  Genesis 2:4 - 3:24
    Explanation: In Day 2 we learned about God's perfect creation. Today we read about the creation and fall of man. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating fruit from the forbidden tree. Since this moment, evil entered the hearts of men -- not just Adam and Eve, but everyone. This disobedience (or sin) separates us from God. God is extremely loving, but He is also just. He still loves us, but there are consequences for our actions. God is holy and perfect, and He cannot be in the presence of sin. On our own, we will never be perfect. The Good News is that we don't have to be. Christ was perfect for us! (This is a little "teaser" for the end of the story. We will discuss this more throughout Advent.)
    Question: What are some ways that you have disobeyed God?

    Day 4 (December 4th)

     

    Day 4: Ark
    Symbol: Ark
    Scripture: Genesis 6:9 - 8:22
    Explanation:  All the sin in the world made God very sad. So, He asked a man named Noah to build an ark to house Noah's family as well as two of every kind of animal. As you can imagine, this was a big boat! Then, God sent rain...and more rain...and more rain until the entire earth flooded wiping out everything and everyone except those on the ark. After the flood, God made a promise to Noah. He promised not to send another flood that would destroy the entire earth, and He sealed that promise with a rainbow. The rainbow is a symbol to remind us that God always keeps His promises.
    Question: What promises has God kept for you?

    Day 5 (December 5th)


    Day 5: Field of Stars
    Symbol: Field of Stars
    Scripture: Genesis 15:1-6
    Explanation: Abraham was a man of God, but he still doubted God. God promised to do great things with Abraham and his family (alluding to Jesus being born in his family line), but Abraham didn't know how this would be accomplished without any children. God told Abraham to look toward heaven and promised Abraham as many offspring as stars in the sky. Sometimes God asks us to trust Him and to wait patiently for His timing.
    Question: What times in your life have you questioned God's faithfulness?

     Day 6 (December 6th)


    Day 6: Ram
    Symbol: Ram (This picture is for my UNC fans;)
    Scripture:  Genesis 22:1-19
    Explanation: Abraham had a son, Isaac. Abraham loved God and his son very much. One day, God asked Abraham to do a a very difficult and confusing thing. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham didn't know why God would ask him to do this, but he loved God so much that he knew he must obey. As Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, God sent a messenger to say, "WAIT! STOP!".  Instead of sacrificing Isaac, God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead. God knew his love for Him was genuine since Abraham was willing to give up his own son for Him.
    Question:  Is there anything in your life that you feel like God is asking you to give up, or "sacrifice", for His sake?

    Day 7 (December 7th)

    Day 7: Ladder

    Symbol: Ladder
    Scripture: Genesis 28:10-17
    Explanation:  Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob didn't always make the best choices, and he treated is brother poorly. Instead of facing his troubles, he ran away. He then realized that he needed to return and face his family and brother. The night before he returned home, God spoke to Jacob in a dream. In the dream angels were climbing up and down a ladder into heaven. God was reminding Jacob of the promises he had made his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham (promising a ridiculously huge family...which includes Jesus in the family line). After that point, Jacob knew that he could never run away from God; God would always be with him.
    Question: Was there a time in your life that you tried running away from God? How do you know that God is always with you? 


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