This Advent Season, our prayer at St. Andrew Baptist is that the Lord would grow our understanding of the great love for us displayed in the arrival of his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. He is our Emmanuel, God with us, born to take away the sins of the world. This is the first week of devotions to go along with Bro. Mike's first sermon in the Series, "The Miracle Promised." We hope that you and your family are able to learn about and worship our great God together through them!
Day #1 – Before Time Began – Revelation 13:8
Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit.” In the holiday season, we prepare for the advent of Christ at Christmas. Our preparation includes remembering Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, forgive, and to restore. It also includes our hope for the second advent of Christ when He comes again to call us, we who have placed our faith in Him, to be with Him forever in Heaven.
Let us remember that this plan of a Savior to come was set in motion before the beginning of time. God knew even before man and woman were created that they would be willing to abandon their lives in the garden of absolute perfection and so separate themselves from Him in their rebellion and sin. How could those separated from God by their choice to sin be forever reconciled to God to live with Him forever? There was only one way. A substitute was needed – someone without sin who would willingly pay the penalty for the sin of the world. Thus, from that moment, before time began, God the Son was given the title, Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 13:8 – All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Let us recognize that the reason for Christmas, the hope of Christmas, and the promise of the miracle of Christmas was God’s plan before the beginning of time. Just as Israel looked expectantly forward to the first coming of Christ, we look expectantly forward to His second coming. In His first coming, Jesus was the suffering Servant. In His second coming, Jesus will be the conquering King. In His first coming, Jesus arrived in the humblest of circumstances. In His second coming, Jesus will arrive with the armies of heaven at His side.
Praise God for the hope that we have in the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, slain from the foundation of the world for our sins.
For Families with Children:
Have your family sit in a circle to play “The Miracle Message” game. Whisper one of the following statements to a child. The child then whispers the statement he heard to the person on his left. Continue in like manner until it has gone around the circle. Allow the last person to share the message he/she received. Share the original message. Play again using a new message and beginning with a different person.
Day #2 – The Promised Declared – Genesis 3:15
The miracle of Christmas was God’s plan for salvation before the beginning of time. He began to announce this glorious promise from the very beginning of time. In fact, as soon as man sinned, thereby separating himself from God, God announced the coming of the Savior. In the midst of God delivering the punishment for the sin of Adam and Eve, we find an amazing promise.
Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise you head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
God says in His first prophecy of the coming Savior that He will become man, that He will born of the seed of woman, that Satan would bruise His heel, but that the Savior would crush the head of Satan. Although Satan would “bruise the heel” of Jesus through the death on the cross; Jesus would “crush the head” of Satan as He defeated death through the resurrection. Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of hope for sinners. It is a promise that one will come to free those who are dead in sin. Even in the very beginning, God was planning to save His people. The Savior’s name would be Jesus!
As we approach Christmas, let us remember the promises of God. That even in the midst of judgment against sin, God promised that His Son, Jesus Christ, would come to be the Redeemer. We should be especially thankful during this season that God is a God of promises and that He is a promise keeping God even when we, like Adam, fail to keep ours. And remember, God has promised the coming of Jesus!
For Families with Kids
Introduce the “Good News/Bad News” game to your family. If the news you share is good news, have kids give a thumbs up and for bad news, thumbs down. (You can have kids stand up/sit down if you want the game to be more active). Discuss why the news may be good or bad. Here are some suggestions for good/bad news but feel free to add your own!
Day #3 – His Name Will Be… – Isaiah 9:6
Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
In this text, Isaiah is given some beautiful insight. He is told that man’s hope and future does not rest in himself, but rather, the hope of the world is in this child that is to born and given for us. This child is Jesus, our Savior.
Isaiah beautifully describes our Savior. He calls Him Wonderful. The Hebrew word for “wonderful” means “beyond understanding.” He is Counselor. Jesus provides counsel that is beyond any understanding that we could achieve on our own. He is also called Mighty God and Everlasting Father. Jesus is God and is one with the Father. No other “god” could bring about this plan of redemption, to save us from the power of sin and reconcile us to the Father. And finally, He is the Prince of Peace. The salvation offered through Jesus would bring peace to our hearts because in Him, we are no longer under condemnation.
The Christmas season can be riddled with hectic schedules, with mounting pressures over what to buy and who to buy for, and with reminders of lost loved ones and past hurts. In the midst of this, we may ask, “Where is the peace?” My friend, it is where it has always been. Peace is found in our Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father. It is found in our Prince of Peace.
Let us recall this Christmas that these promises are given through Isaiah for the nations – for anyone who would believe, they are given for us. “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given.”
For Families with Kids:
A name was very important during Biblical times. It described a person’s character, personality, or lineage. The names given in Isaiah 9:6 were describing the character and qualities of the coming Messiah. Can you remember some of them? (Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace)
Your name is very important, too! Guess what? God knows your name and you are very important to Him! Have you ever wondered what your name means? (**You can go to www.names.org or a similar website and find the meaning of each child’s name. You could tell your child why you chose that name especially for him/her.)
Day #4 – A Promise For All – Genesis 12:1-3
We can all understand the concept of a promise made. As kids, we often made “pinky promises” over silly and trivial things, and as adults, many have recited marriage vows to their spouse. God also made promises to His people and they play a huge part in the overall story of the Bible. In Genesis 12:1-3, we have one of the most important promises in the Bible, a promise that traces throughout the Old Testament, into the New Testament, and directly to us today.
Genesis 12:1-3 - Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
In Genesis 12:1-3 God calls Abram out of the land of Ur and promises him descendants, a land, and blessings. Through the succession of Abraham’s family, we see God’s promises take shape as Israel becomes a great nation and takes possession of the Promised Land. God also promised that in Abraham “all families of the earth shall be blessed.” Now all families have been blessed with the long awaited arrival of Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
This Christmas keep God’s promises at the center of your mind. When Jesus came on that first Christmas He fulfilled this promise. Because Jesus, through His death and resurrection, offers forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life to all who will trust in Him. This offer of salvation through faith in Christ is the blessing given to every family on the earth.
For Families with Kids:
(If possible have a flash light with you and let the children take turns holding it.)
In today’s devotional, we have been reminded that when God sent Jesus on that first Christmas, He was keeping His promise to all people everywhere. His promise means that Jesus came for our family, but He also came for our neighbors too. We are going to go outside and very quietly walk toward the house or apartment of one of our neighbors. We can pause on our sidewalk or driveway and there we can huddle together as a family and pray. Prayer: “Lord, Thank you for sending Jesus for everyone. We pray that you will bless our neighbors in a special way this season. Help them to know that God loves them so much, that He kept His promise and He sent Jesus! Thank you for offering salvation to all of us through faith in Jesus Christ.
Day #5 – A Miraculous Conception Foretold – Isaiah 7:14
God most clearly declared the promise of the coming Savior through the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
God, who determined to send His own beloved Son before time began, declared to Isaiah that the Savior of the World would make His entrance into the human realm in a way no mere man ever had. He would be born of a virgin!
Let us marvel at the miraculous conception of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is an event unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a son. Yet, Isaiah declared approximately 700 years before the event took place that it was to come. This statement in Isaiah 7:14 expands on what we were told in Genesis 3:15 as the first promise of a Savior concerned the “seed of the woman,” not the offspring of man.
Let us not fail to notice our Lord’s humble beginnings. His mother was described as “the virgin.” She was not a princess or prophetess, nor was she a woman of influence. How humble her position. How poor the man to whom she was engaged, to be betrothed to one who was pregnant with child. And how miserable the accommodations provided for the newborn King. Although truly man, and with very humble beginnings, this newborn King was also truly God. Jesus is God incarnate. He is our Lord and Savior.
This Christmas season let us remember that our Lord is Immanuel, God with us. With us in our nature, our sorrow, our punishment, and our death. Therefore, we can be with Him in His resurrection, ascension, triumph, and ultimately, His second advent.
Praise be to God for the miraculous conception of an even more miraculous Savior!
For Families with Kids:
If available, use a digital camera or your phone camera to make a selfie shot of your family smiling together. Then pass the camera or phone around for everyone in the family to see. As you pass it say, our family is joyful tonight because God sent His son Jesus. He is Immanuel and that means He is with us wherever we go! (If a camera is not available, simply use a paper and pencil and family members draw a picture of themselves wearing a smile. Stick people are fine!)
How to talk to your child about the Virgin Birth: One simple way to talk with a young child about the virgin birth is to say that God did a great miracle. He placed baby Jesus in Mary to grow until it was time for Him to be born. While you don’t have to tell all of the specifics, children are never too young to hear the truth about our Great God!
Sheep who Shepherd: