For this Christmas season, we have followed the traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace and love. On Christmas Eve, we explore how Jesus climatically began to fulfill all of these in his birth affecting our real lives now. On this special night, we look back to Jesus’ 1st coming (his birth) where he launched God’s rescue project and we continue to long for his 2nd coming where he comes back to finish what he started at his birth.
We believe that one of the greatest ways to honor and encourage the Christian development of our families and be intentional with our friends and neighbors is by celebrating Christmas morning at home this year. In fact, the very first Christians held their ‘worship services’ inside their homes!
Because of this, we have made this short Christmas day devotional to watch with your friends and family. We hope that it will encourage meaningful conversation and lead to deeper relationships with God and others.
We are praying that your family and friends can encounter the ultimate hope, joy, peace and love that Jesus alone can bring this Christmas season.
Israel was thrown out of their land, they were being oppressed, and they had nowhere to go. Yet they were reminded of God’s bigger picture – Immanuel: ‘God with us’! When Mary and Joseph’s life was turned upside down they were told the same thing. They were encouraged to not let fear ruin their dreams and to remember God was with them. During this time of preparing for Christmas, let’s remember God’s love is shown in His presence here with us. We as His church are His hands and feet, yet there are often times when God shows up and is simply or not so simply ‘just with us’. God loved us enough to ‘show’ up. Maybe that’s how God will use you this week – just showing up!
Scripture: Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:22-23, John 3:16, Romans 8:38-39
Most of us think of peace as simply the absence of conflict – a cease fire among enemies. Or, as an inner, sentimental, butterfly feeling – a ‘peace of mind.’
But the Bible gives us a vision of peace that is so much bigger! The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, which means universal flourishing, wholeness, completeness in every dimension– physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
This is what Jesus’ birth, celebrated at Christmas, points to. Jesus’ birth fulfills the start of this rescue peace project and we are eagerly waiting for his second coming when he returns to completely invade this world with shalom.
If we really believe this vision of shalom is what our future holds, it should naturally change how we treat our coworkers, our neighbors, our cities, and this earth — now.
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10
Madison Avenue and the Church both share a high value for joy, yet for a different reason. At times life is difficult, death knocks on the door of our life often and sooner or later we will all experience broken dreams, shattered relationships, and failed goals. Yet during this Advent season of waiting and preparing, we are drawn into God’s story with some keywords, one of them being joy!
This message will look at how Scripture unfolds the recipe for joy – even in the some of the most fearful and uncertain times. We will look at a guy in Scripture who reminds us that joy begins from the inside of our souls and works its way out. It is not made possible by accumulating more and more ‘stuff’ which creates a false sense of joy and security.
Scripture: Isaiah 35, Matthew 11:3-5, Philippians 1:20-21, 2:3-4
How is hope in Jesus different from hope in anything else? The ancient church in the Old Testament, Israel, asked the same question. They put their hope in everything else–neighboring nations, magicians, and their own ways–ignoring God altogether, and plunging their nation into dark captivity. Yet, God promised to bring light to the deep darkness that invaded this region.
How did this light come?
Not through a victory over their enemies, a new government, or a smashing leader. Nothing they expected whatsoever. This light came through a revolutionary baby boy: Jesus of Nazareth. The people of Israel found true, unexpected hope in Jesus because he delivered them from darkness and fulfilled God’s promise to rescue them in a way nothing else could.
What areas in your life do you need the unexpected, redemptive hope of Jesus to invade this Christmas season?
Scripture: Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:12-16