Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Discover Jesus This Advent

Wouldn’t you like to enter into the Christmas story and actually experience the birth of Christ in your heart?  Wouldn’t you love to sense Christ coming to you personally this Advent?  You can! 

Join me as we take a journey of prayer to welcome Christ to be born anew in our hearts. 

Through meditating on the characters of the first Christmas we’ll companion them to the Christ child.  Maybe you have a Nativity set at home that you can look at as you read this devotion.  Or you can simply recall the story to your mind.  In either case, I invite you to pause and pray with me…

Dear Lord, I don’t want the Christmas story to be so familiar that it doesn’t grab my heart.  I don’t want to be so distracted or stressed with Christmas decorating, shopping, and celebrating with family or friends that I miss connecting with Christ.  I want to be more than a spectator of the Nativity – I want to participate with you in your gospel! 

So as I read this devotion I ask you to impress upon me the example of the character that I most need to follow.  Show me, Lord, who can best guide my way to worship Christ at his holy manger.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen. 

You probably don’t have Zechariah (John the Baptist’s father) in your Nativity set.  But you could say that the Christmas story begins with his silent waiting.  Ten months without uttering a word.  Ten months of remembering his lack of faith in the angel’s promise.  And ten months of anticipating the birth of his son and the Messiah he was to herald! (Luke 1:5-25, 67-80). 

Perhaps God is inviting you also to withdraw from the noise and business of the Christmas season to enter into a time of quiet prayer?  Be still to anticipate Christ’s coming with Zechariah and you too will burst forth with joyous Christmas praise when your tongue is set free!

Mary offered the prayer that receives the Christmas miracle:

Let it be to me according to your Word (Luke 1:38, NKJV). 

She was God’s chosen vessel to give birth to the Messianic dream that God’s people had been waiting hundreds of years for.  But as any mother knows, it’s painful to give birth!  And in her case she had the added trials of being scorned as an immoral woman and riding 90 miles uphill on a donkey just before giving birth to her son in a cave full of dirty, loud, smelly animals!  (Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-7, 19-20). 

Perhaps you can relate to the promise and challenge of giving birth to God’s dream for you?   Is there something special that you hope to give birth to this Christmas season?  Ponder and treasure this God-dream in your heart and pray for the Lord’s guidance and blessing…

Joseph’s daring faith in the Lord is sometimes missed in the Christmas story.  He believed in Mary’s virginity when no one else did and he endured a lifetime of ridicule for doing so.  He bet his life on words that an angel spoke to him while he was sleeping.  He accepted the daunting challenge to raise the Messiah as his own child (Matthew 1:18-25). 

Maybe you too are facing a challenge?  Do you need God’s help to prevail in an overwhelming struggle?  Pray for God’s wisdom and strength to help you to obey him in the midst of the stress.

The Innkeeper probably thought he had a good excuse for not finding a room for Jesus in his inn and for sending Mary, who was in labor, to go into the cave with the animals to have her baby (Luke 2:7).  And yet, we can imagine that when he heard that the newborn child was the Messiah he probably regretted that he wasn’t more hospitable to him! 

Perhaps you can relate to the Innkeeper’s predicament: your schedule is overcrowded and you don’t have enough room to give the time and attention to Christ that he deserves (and that you need!)?  How could you make generous space in your schedule and your heart for Christ this Christmas season?  Talk to the Lord about your schedule this Advent.

What joy was Gabriel’s and all the angels who announced the Christmas gospel!  What a glorious message they sang from the skies just above the shepherds’ heads! (Luke 2:8-15).  Maybe this Christmas season you know that you need to cultivate a heart of worship for Christ?  What do you especially appreciate and admire about Christ?  Let the angels lead you in praise to the Son of God.

Imagine the thrill that the shepherds felt when the angels sang the news that the Messiah, the King of kings had just been born in Bethlehem!  No one would’ve ever picked the shepherds to be visited by Christmas angels.  They were poor.  They were societal cast offs.  And yet that’s exactly the point of the Gospel: the last shall be first, the poor shall be rich, the least shall be the greatest, the humble shall be exalted.  Probably the shepherds marveled at God’s generosity and kindness and felt unworthy (Luke 2:8-20). 

Is it hard for you to accept that God bestows his glory on you?  Are you confident in God’s acceptance of you?  If you struggle to esteem yourself as God does then lift up your head with the shepherds and let the Lord honor you with the gift of Christmas.

Probably some lambs went with the shepherds to see the newborn King (Luke 2:7, 16).  Imagine a little lamb skipping with delight across the fields to go see the baby Jesus in a cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem.  Then see her smiling with joy to stand right next to Jesus as she peers into his manger.  Perhaps this Christmas what you’d like more than anything else is to accompany the shepherds and their sheep to get closer to Jesus? 

What would help you to be closer to Christ?  Talk to Jesus about your desire to have a closer relationship with him this Advent season.

The three magi studied the stars and the ancient prophecies, risked their lives to take an arduous journey across the desert, and dealt with the murderous King Herod – all to give their gifts to the newborn king.   Who ever heard of kings worshiping another king?  These wisest of all wise men wanted to give their best gift to Christ (Matthew 2:1-12).  Maybe you are drawn to follow the wise men’s example of giving a gift to Christ?  We give Christmas gifts to many people, but may forget to give one to Christ! 

Follow the magi’s example and tell Jesus what you want to give to him from your heart.

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