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Advent Readings 2016: Week 1

You’re reading an Advent Devotional that is part of a series. You can find all the devotionals here.

Advent simply means “coming.” What was really coming at Christmas in this tiny baby? Hope was coming. Love was coming. Peace was coming. Joy was coming. Life was coming. And when we tell others about Jesus and when we serve others by being the hands and feet of Jesus, we are sending hope. We are sending love. We are sending peace. We are sending joy. We are sending life. What are you giving away this Christmas Season? Give away Jesus. And be prepared to know more fully what you are giving away.

The first devotion of each week will include a FAMILY CONNECTION and additional ACTIVITIES to do as a family. Decide which day of the week works best for you as a family to do that one. You can certainly do them all as a family but we want to challenge all families to do at least one a week with your children. Along with the devotions, you’ll find 5 coloring pages. We encourage you to take the time to reflect, rest, and refresh on the names of Jesus while working on these challenging coloring pages. These 5 pages form 1 larger image when put together. We’d also love for you to come to Hope Chapel, the Kids Connect wing, and color in our larger version which measures 6 ft x 10 ft.

Week 1: November 27 – December 3

Holy One of God – Mark 1:24

“Holy” means to be pure or to be set apart for and by God.  We know that Jesus was sent to Earth for a purpose: to save mankind from our sins by dying on the cross and conquering death with his resurrection.  And He could do so because He was perfect. He was pure. He was holy. The passage in Mark 1:21-28 is the first passage in Mark where Jesus is teaching as a part of His ministry.  The crowds were amazed that Jesus was teaching with authority, unlike the other teachers of the law.  He was set apart from them. Right away the evil spirits recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God—the One set apart by God to fulfill His purpose on Earth, and who was given all God’s authority on Earth, unlike the teachers and prophets that went before Him.  Even today, some still refer to Jesus as just a “good teacher” or “prophet.”  But here we clearly see that He was much more.  Jesus is the purest form of God and was recognized as such by the spirits.  If only those listening to Jesus would have recognized it. Jesus is the Holy One of God.

Have you ever been selected to do a particular job? Why were you selected over others?

FAMILY CONNECTION: Read Mark 1: 21-28 with your kids.  Show them how the evil spirits referred to Jesus as the “Holy One of God” and explain what it means to be Holy (“Holy” can be a difficult concept for children to understand, so as a family, we’re going to just focus on the teaching part of this passage).  Emphasize how the people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching.  Ask your children: Wouldn’t you love it if Jesus could talk to you right now and teach you what you need to know to live like Him?  Even though Jesus isn’t standing in this room with us now, how can we learn from Him?  (Through the Bible.)  What are some things you’ve learned from the Bible, either at church or on your own?

ACTIVITY:  Let each child name a favorite Bible story.  Take time to re-read that story as a family.  You may even want to act it out or quiz each other with questions about the story when you’re done reading.  As you color your coloring page together this week, continue to talk about why it’s important to read our Bible and when we can find time to do that each day.

Alpha and Omega – Revelation 1:8; Colossians 1:18

Alpha and Omega are Greek letters. Alpha being the first letter in the alphabet and Omega being the last letter in the alphabet. Another way to say it is that Jesus is the first and the last. And when you’re the first and the last, you’re everything in between. Jesus is the one who started it and He will be the one who finishes it. What is Jesus first in? Well, it is credited to Jesus to be the first one to rise from the dead. But Jesus wasn’t the first to rise from the dead. So how can He be first? Even though others rose from the dead before Him and even though Jesus Himself raised some of them from the dead before He died, they eventually died again. We don’t see them walking the earth nor was there any indication that they were carried away into heaven like Jesus was in Acts 1. Jesus was the first to rise from the dead and to never die again. His resurrection showed His power over sin and over death. Jesus also gets to have the “final word” in the end of times during the “Day of the Lord” when He judges the world, the Devil, and his demons. Because He was the first, we can follow Him to have victory over sin and victory of death. When we accept Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins, we have buried that old sin nature and have been resurrected with a new life, an eternal life with Him. He is Alpha and Omega.

It’s nice when someone else goes first. Have you ever been challenged to be the first person to try something? Or have you ever followed someone on an adventure and you’re glad you had someone with you who had done it before?

Author and Finisher of Our Faith – Hebrews 12:1-4

Other translations phrase it as the “source and perfecter” or “pioneer and perfecter” or “champion”. Jesus, as the author not only initiates or starts it like the Alpha, but He is the example to follow because He did it perfectly. The verse goes on to say that Jesus wrote “the book” on living out in faith as He endured the cross because He saw the results of what would happen after the cross. He endured hostility and shame on the cross until He rose again and ascended into heaven where He is seated next to God the Father’s throne. Jesus believed beyond what was happening to Him at that moment. The inspiration for us is to not give up, even when it’s really hard. We must have faith like Jesus did. We must strive to get rid of sin that slows us down. We are to believe in what we can’t see and have the assurance that God’s plan and ways are better. He is the Author and Finisher of Our Faith.

Have you ever worked on something that took a long time or a lot of hard work and then felt a great sense of accomplishment when you were done? What kept you going to finish what you started?

Beloved Son/Only Begotten Son – John 1:18, 34; 3:16; Matthew 17:5; Luke 1:35

Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior have the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). Yet when Jesus is called the Son of God…it’s extra special. God the Father says that Jesus is His beloved or favorite son. Jesus is God’s favorite because Jesus is His one and only unique Son. Jesus is exactly like the Father. Jesus is God. So even though we are also His children, we are not completely like Jesus because we cannot be God. We are to act like Him.  And we can do that because we do share in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). But it’s in the sense that we get to be around Him and enjoy all the “family” privileges as God’s adopted sons and daughters. We aren’t His “biological” sons or daughters, but we’re pretty important that God was willing to sacrifice His one and only unique Son on the cross for us.  He is the Beloved Son and the Only Begotten Son.

What makes you unique in your family? If you could be adopted into another family, what kind of family would you want to be adopted into?

Bread of Life – John 6:32-35

Bread has been a food on this earth for a very long time. You can put many things on bread from peanut butter and jelly, marshmallow fluff, leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, and just about anything to make a delicious sandwich. Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life. He compares Himself to the manna that appeared on the ground in the wilderness when the Israelites were leaving Egypt. The people had asked for food, Moses prayed for food, and the manna appeared. Everyone thought Moses was awesome to have that ability and connection with God. But Jesus is saying that He wasn’t like Moses who had to ask God for bread. He is the actual bread that came down from heaven to feed the people. And unlike that manna bread in the wilderness, He would satisfy their hunger. That manna would only last for that day before it would spoil. They had to go out and get manna every day. But whoever ate the bread He offered, would never be hungry and would never die. And they wouldn’t need to put something with this bread to make it taste better. This bread is that good. He is the Bread of Life.

What’s your favorite food? How much time would you save every day if you didn’t have to think about food? Have you ever been really hungry?

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