Countdown to Christmas Devotional

Let’s go on an ADVENT-CHUR!
 Yeah, we get it, life is always busy, and Christmas especially – how about adding some thoughtfulness meaning and intention to the days leading up to Christmas? I mean, everybody loves a daily hit of cheap chocolate, but how about taking your chocolate hit as a prompt to consume something else? Something that will really add to your life (and not just your waistline).

We’ve created a bite-sized daily dose of inspiration for every day from the 1st to the 25th of December. Why not make a little daily tradition around it this year? Spend a moment alone or with whoever is in your world; your partner, kids, friend or workmate. We pray it blesses you. Merry Christmas . 

Luke 1:26 – 28, 31
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” …
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.

Angel Gabriel
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said,
 “Greetings favoured woman! The Lord is with you… You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.”

Food For Thought:
• What would it be like to see an Angel? And have them talk to you?  
• Angels speak to people throughout the Bible. They are not the gentle baby-faced cherubs we often imagine but instead they are awe-inspiring, mighty messengers from heaven!

Angel Gabriel
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said,
 “Greetings favoured woman! The Lord is with you… You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.”

Food For Thought:
• What would it be like to see an Angel? And have them talk to you?  
• Angels speak to people throughout the Bible. They are not the gentle baby-faced cherubs we often imagine but instead they are awe-inspiring, mighty messengers from heaven!

Engagement
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Food For Thought:
• How incredible and scary for Mary, to find she was pregnant with God’s own Son.  
• This wasn’t part of the plan, have you got things in your life that weren’t part of your plan? Could they be part of God’s plan?

Luke 1:46-55
Mary’s Song

Mary responded,
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Food For Thought:

• Mary recognised that God was her Saviour, He had noticed her… Do you know that God notices you – every detail of your life, and he is merciful to you.

Matthew 1:20
ANGEL
… An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Food For Thought:
• The Angel told Joseph “do not be afraid.” Is there something in your life that brings you fear? What would an Angel from God say about it?

Matthew 1:21
A Name
… And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Food For Thought:
• Jesus’ name was very important. It is derived from the Hebrew word for “to rescue”. He came to rescue, to save. Is there something in your life you need rescuing from? Have you asked Jesus to help you?

Matthew 1:22-23
Bridging The Gap Between Heaven & Earth
All of this occurred to fulfil the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,[a] which means ‘God is with us.’”

Food For Thought:
• When Jesus came to earth He became “God with us”. God with YOU. Do you think God is WITH you?  

Luke 2:4
Family
… And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He travelled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.

Food For Thought:
• Although Jesus’ Father was God, he was adopted by his Dad on earth Joseph and became a part of Joseph’s family line. Do you know that you can be part of the same family as Jesus? Or if you’re part of his family, what does that mean to you?

Journey
He travelled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

Food For Thought:
• Often at Christmas we travel to be in the right place with the right people. Are there the people you need to make an effort to be around?

Micah 5:2
House of Judah
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel,
    whose origins are in the distant past,
    will come from you on my behalf.

Food For Thought:
• Bethlehem was a small clan – like the younger brother – not likely to be chosen. And from Bethlehem came the Saviour of the world, Jesus. Are there people in your life that seem unlikely to be chosen? Do you feel like you are not likely to be chosen? What does God say about you?

Baby Jesus
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn Son…

Food For Thought:
• Jesus came at the right time, in the right place as was planned and as told through the prophets. Have you made your way to the right place? At the appointed time? What plans can you put in place to be in the right place this Christmas time?

Luke 2:7
Swaddled
She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.

Food For Thought:
• When Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary couldn’t find anywhere better than a stable for animals to spend the night. The innkeeper and his family were too busy with other things to prepare space for the Saviour of the World. Have you made room for Jesus?

Isaiah 9:6
Prince of Peace
For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Food For Thought:
• In amongst all of the turmoil and trouble of the world today, governments and powers and influence are you comforted by knowing these names of Jesus? They represent WHO He is – Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Choose one of these names of Jesus to think about today. How does it change the way you feel and think about God? About yourself?

Luke 2:8-11
Shepherds and Angels
That night shepherds were staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”

Food For Thought:
• What did I tell you about Angels? They are enough to terrify a bunch of Shepherds who regularly camp out under the stars, but they did not come to bring fear, rather good news! Jesus’ arrival on earth is good news for all of us. Is there good news you are waiting for? Did you know you can find all the goodwill ever needed in Him?

Luke 2:12
Know Him
… And you will recognise him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Food For Thought:
• Seek and you will find, you will recognise Jesus when you see him, even if you find him a place you do not expect him to be. Are you ready to find Jesus today? You may find him where you least expect – keep an eye out!

Luke 2:13-14
Multitude of Angels
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Food For Thought:
• All throughout the story of Jesus’ birth we see Angels, now it’s not just one but a vast host! So many, and they declare a promise to us “peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” This peace from Jesus is available to all (even today) but only enjoyed by those who are saved by Grace. Are you experiencing peace? If you need more peace – look to Jesus!

Luke 2:15-18
Spreading the Word
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.

Food For Thought:
• All throughout the Bible, people who encounter Christ have the same reaction – they told EVERYONE what had happened! Have you encountered Christ lately? Is it time to tell someone about it?

Psalm 95:6
Kneeling
Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care.

Food For Thought:
• Christmas is a great time to remind yourself that God is watching over you, what better way to be under his care than on your knees, worshipping him. Why not try worshipping Him on your knees today?

Luke 2:33
What Was Said
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Food For Thought:
• Each of us has parts of our heart that oppose God, different things at different times, but they are there, and Jesus himself reveals our deepest thoughts. Ask him today to show you the deep places that need to turn to him. And find peace there with him. 

Luke 2:21
The Lord Saves
Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given to him by the angel even before he was conceived.

Food For Thought:
• Before Jesus was conceived, he was named Jesus – which means Saviour. God has also planned your life out before you were conceived. Ask God to remind you today about his plan and walk in the peace you find in that truth.

Luke 2:38-38
Anna Waited
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but stayed there day and night, worshipping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

Food For Thought:
• Anna spent decades in the temple seeking and worshipping God. She too encountered the baby Jesus, and then went and told others about Him. Keep seeking God today in every way and place you can, and when you find Him, tell somebody about it!

Luke 2:25-32
Jesus Christ The Saviour
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
    as you have promised.
I have seen your salvation,
   which you have prepared for all people.
He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
    and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Food For Thought:
• Simeon received the fulfilment of what God had promised him – to see the Messiah. When he saw him, he took him in his arms and praised God. Be encouraged – think of Jesus, have you taken all that He is into your life? You can! And when you do there is nothing left but to Praise Him!

Matthew 2:1-2
The wise still seek Him
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

Food For Thought:
• Wise people throughout history have searched for Jesus – a Saviour – and they still seek Him. Take time today to seek after Jesus, your Saviour!

Matthew 2:1-2
Jesus is the King!
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

Food For Thought:
• The Wise men recognised that this newborn child was the King of the Jews. Do you acknowledge Jesus as King overall in your life? Are there areas in your life you need to surrender afresh to him today?  

Matthew 2:9-11
Gifts From The Magi
After this interview, the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Food For Thought:
• The Magi (wise ones) brought their very best gifts to Jesus, they saw that He was worthy and wanted to bless Him. You can bless Jesus (your Saviour) by bringing him all that you have. Pray to Him today and offer Him your very best. He will be blessed!

John 1:14
Glory, Grace & Truth
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

Food For Thought:
• Jesus’ love is UNFAILING, and His home is among us. Today is a great day to remember that Jesus came full of unfailing love, and he is utterly faithful. In all things, at all times, He never changes. His love is for each of us – you’re included! Take a moment to thank Him today for his love for you! Merry Christmas!

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