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Advent Readings 2016: Week 5

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 5: December 25 – 31

Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6

It is interesting that Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace in Isaiah and yet He himself states that He did not come to bring peace, but division and the sword (Matthew 10:34, Luke 12:51). But Jesus is talking about the division that is created among men between those who believe in Him and those who don’t; sometimes even in the same family. He says that the world will hate us (Christians) because of our belief in Him (Matthew 10:22). So where is the peace? The peace that is referred to in Isaiah is the end to the sacrifice that had been necessary to satisfy the penalty of sins. After Jesus’ death, there is no longer a need for further shedding of blood to satisfy God’s wrath. Jesus brought the ultimate peace.  And there’s more! Jesus also says in John 14:27 that He will leave us His peace, which is different than the kind of peace that the world promises. We are to take heart and not worry. Even though there is dissension among us on Earth and we may see violence and unrest between people, we can have peace in our heart because we know that 1) God is sovereign, 2) His wrath has been satisfied, and 3) this world is not all there is. One day we will be called to our true home to be with the Prince of Peace for all eternity. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

What are some things about this world that leave you feeling anxious or sad?  How can you apply Jesus’ promise of His peace to those situations in order to no longer feel anxiety?

FAMILY CONNECTION: Talk about the meaning of peace. Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” and He tells us that He has left us His peace, which is different than peace that this world can provide us. Sometimes when we feel upset or anxious, certain things help calm us down. Ask: What helps calm you down when you’re upset? Though it’s good to have things we can turn to when we feel upset, God also wants us to turn to Him so we can have His peace. How do you think you can remember to do that? Come up with a plan for you and your kids to remember to pray first when unsettling feelings arise.

ACTIVITY:  Let your children take turns talking about something that is comforting to them (one thing per child). Try to do as many of those things as possible as a family. If you need ideas, here are a few: baking cookies (what’s more comforting than a warm cookie?!), watching a movie together under a blanket, drinking hot cocoa or tea, reading a book together under a “fort” blanket with a flashlight, play your child’s favorite game, pray together before bed. As you color together this week, talk about your week and remind each other to pray always and rely on God’s peace.

Resurrection and the Life – John 11:11-27

In this passage in John, Lazarus has died. Lazarus was a close and loved friend to Jesus. Yet, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was about to die, Jesus did not rush to help. Jesus did not even heal Him from where He was. Jesus had healed others without being in their presence before, but Jesus did nothing at that moment to help His friend. Why? Well, Jesus allowed Lazarus to die because He wanted to show His miraculous power of death. Soon He Himself would rise from the dead. Perhaps, this was like the previews right before the movie. Jesus used this moment to show His power and to teach some truth. Lazarus’ sisters both believed that Jesus could have helped Lazarus if Jesus had arrived before he died. But since He didn’t, Martha and Mary took comfort in believing that Lazarus would one day rise from the dead at the last day when all the righteous will rise. However, Jesus took the occasion to say He was the resurrection and the life. They didn’t need to just believe in something that would happen in the future. They could believe in experiencing life before the last day. And then Jesus displayed His power in bringing Lazarus back to life. The only reason the resurrection is possible in the last day is because Jesus is the Resurrection. The only reason the righteous can have eternal life is because Jesus was life. Since Jesus was part of the creation process since He is God, He was the one that breathed life into man and woman when He breathed into their nostrils the breath of life. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

What do you hope to experience in the future? Why do we often think about what the future can be like but overlook the next breath we take to experience life?

Rock – 1 Corinthians 10:4

Paul, the writer of the letter to the church at Corinth, said that the spiritual rock which the Israelites drank from was Jesus Christ. Paul is referring to a time when Moses led the Israelites from Egypt and while in the dessert, the people complained about being thirsty. God instructed Moses to hit a rock with his staff and water would come out. Indeed, when Moses hit the rock, the rock split and water gushed out creating a stream in the dessert for all the people and animals to drink. Jesus is the rock where spiritual streams of living water flow. Getting water from a rock sounds strange. That’s because getting water from a rock is supernatural. Only God can do that. And that’s the point. The salvation and spiritual water that Jesus was giving was nothing done by human hands and through good deeds. Earlier, we learned that Jesus was the cornerstone rock that set a great foundation. Now we know that streams of living water flow from that rock so that everyone who wants to, can drink freely from that spiritual water. And the wise person builds his house on solid ground rather than sinking sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Jesus is the Rock.

Have you ever walked in the woods and discovered running water from a natural spring? Is there any scientific explanation for water gushing out of a rock?

True Vine – John 15:1-5

There are several vegetables and fruits that grow on vines. Green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons, and of course grapes grow on vines. And just like most vegetables and fruits, they grow while being connected to a larger source such as a tree or a branch or a vine. The fruit and vegetable gets its nutrients from the source. Without the source, the fruit and veggies are unable to grow. Once the fruit and veggie disconnects from the source, it stops growing. It may continue to ripen, but it can’t maintain life for too long before it begins to decay. Jesus is saying that we are like a branch on the vine that is producing fruit, but we can’t produce fruit if we are disconnected from the source. Jesus is not just “a” source for us to connect to. Jesus calls Himself the “true” vine which means that He is the real and trustworthy vine. There may be other vines that look like Him or have some resemblance of Him, but only He is the true vine. We need to make sure we are connected to Him. And when we do, there is the promise that we will produce fruit. He is the True Vine.

What fruit and vegetables do not grow on vines, trees, or some source? When are you more likely to disconnect from the vine of Jesus and when are you more likely to connect to the vine of Jesus?

Word – John 1:1-14

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1). In the beginning there was nothing, and then God said, “Let there be….” and there was. With God’s word, came all sorts of matter, minerals, molecules, dimensions, and depth. Anytime God said something, it happened. God said “let there be light” and there was light. God said “let us make man in our image” and Adam was formed. When God said “do not ______ or you will die”, when Adam did what he wasn’t supposed to…he brought death to the world. God never lies. His words are truth-telling and righteous. His Word is able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart. His words are filled with care and concern. His words are comforting. And in these last days, God has spoken to us through His Son, the actual Word Himself (Hebrews 1:2). The Word that created all things would become flesh and come into the world as a baby. He longer spoke His words through prophets and priests. He would speak directly. This Word brought hope, joy, peace, and love. This Word brought salvation. Psalm 119:81 “I long for Your salvation; I put my hope in Your word.” It’s not just a statement or an idea or a bunch of words on a paper that we believe in. We believe in and find our salvation in the One that spoke creation into existence. Jesus is the Word.

What is something someone said to you long ago that you will never forget? Why did those words make such an impact?
Prayer for the end of the devotional: Thank you God for sending us Your Son. Your Son is certainly someone special. Your Son brought much hope, love, you, peace, and wisdom. Help me to be a better representative of You on earth. Help me to display an accurate picture of You to those around me. Help me to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus to my home, my workplace, my neighborhood, and my church. Show me how I can give away Jesus throughout this next year. In the many names of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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