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 2: December 4 – 10
Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14
“Immanuel” means “God with us.” We have seen the great lengths the priests of the Old Testament and even the prophets would have to go to be with God. Priests had to go to the most Holy part of the tabernacle, Moses climbed up to Mount Sinai, and Elijah was met with a great wind, earthquake, and fire before God met him. But in the New Testament we see a much different story. God came to us in the form of a baby in a stable. There was no earthquake, wind, or fire. No one had to shield their face or take off their sandals. God was with man, as a baby and then as a child. Throughout Jesus’ life, God was with man; living together, eating together, walking together. And now, God is still with us. When Jesus was taken up to Heaven in Matthew 28:20, He told his disciples that He will be with them to the end of the age. We can now pray directly to God and He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us. God is truly with us. Jesus is Immanuel.
In what ways do you feel God’s presence in your life? How is this a comfort to you? How does it inspire you to think, feel, or act on a daily basis?
FAMILY CONNECTION: Explain that the name “Immanuel” means “God is with us.” Ask how God is with us. Can we see Him? Can we touch Him? No. So how is He with us? (We can pray to Him/talk to Him, He comforts us, He is with us watching over us, even though we can’t see Him. Sometimes we get a feeling about what He wants us to do. And we have His Word in the form of the Bible.) Have you ever been scared and then prayed and felt comforted? Talk about it. Do you have a family member whom you wish lived closer and could be with you more often? Consider writing them a letter or scheduling a face-time session!
ACTIVITY: Take a walk as a family or do an activity (see a movie or play a game) that you all enjoy where you’re all together! Consider banning electronics and/or phones from the activity (parents, too). As you color together this week, talk about things you might want to pray to God about. How has He answered any of your prayers?
Chief Shepherd/Good Shepherd – 1 Peter 5:1-7; John 10:1-14
A shepherd watches out for His sheep to protect them and to guide them. A bad shepherd would leave the sheep and risk a thief coming in and stealing or killing his sheep. A good shepherd would stay watching over his sheep or put them in a place where they could be watched by a gatekeeper. Jesus goes on to say that He is a good shepherd because He would die for His sheep. This would be very hard to understand because a dead shepherd wouldn’t be able to protect and guide His sheep. Of course, Jesus was hinting at His upcoming death on the cross which would provide salvation to the sheep. Protecting the sheep would be good, but providing lasting protection from sin would be as good as it gets. Jesus is the greatest good shepherd. Later, as Jesus ascends into heaven, Jesus then tells His disciples to feed the sheep, which means they were to help take care and guide the followers of Jesus. The disciples, and now pastors and elders, are referred to as shepherds. They are to protect and guide the sheep with the same dedication and attitude that Jesus had. Some people like to call these pastors and elders the under-shepherds because they don’t replace Jesus as the good shepherd. Rather, Jesus is called their chief shepherd or the boss shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd.
What kind of responsibilities do you think makes a good shepherd?
Cornerstone – 1 Peter 2:1-9; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11
A cornerstone was a stone that had to be perfectly square and flat on at least 3 sides. The more sides that were square, the better. It was the first stone laid in building a house. Large stones were used as a foundation and the first stone laid would begin the design and shape of the house. If this stone was not square and flat it would not lay out a square house or provide the proper support as a strong foundation. Builders would go through piles of rocks looking for just the right cornerstone. Jesus was overlooked as the “cornerstone” to our salvation because He was not what they expected the Savior (or Messiah) to look like. They expected the Messiah to be a King for the government or a mighty warrior. And because Jesus was a humble man with no rich upbringing and eventually dying on a cross, many rejected Jesus as the Savior. For those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, Jesus is everything. He is the strong foundation and everything we do is built on that knowledge. Jesus told Peter that Peter was a pebble and on “this rock” (Jesus), He would build His church. And the church has certainly grown since He started it over 2000 years ago. He is the Cornerstone.
Continue reading in those passages about how we should live (or build) on that foundation. What kind of materials are you gaining for God’s building? Why is it still hard for people to see Jesus as the cornerstone of their salvation?
Wonderful Counselor – Isaiah 9:6
In Isaiah 9, there is a future telling of a king that will come and will be amazing. Jesus certainly fulfills the description of this coming king as He was a child being born, a son that was given who brought great light to those living in darkness. Wonderful Counselor probably describes this King’s ability to strategize and give wisdom to the nation. Another way of saying it is “the one who counsels wonders.” The wisdom that comes from the King’s mouth is remarkable. It would be things no one had ever heard before. People who heard Jesus were always amazed at what He said. Even as a young boy, he was teaching the Teachers at the synagogue. And it’s not only what Jesus said that was wonderful. He himself was the wonderful strategy (plan, policy). John calls Jesus “the Word.” This Word was with God in the beginning. This Word was coming into the world. This Word brought light to everyone. This Word brought truth and grace. Jesus truly was the one who counsels wonders. He is the Wonderful Counselor.
When is the last time you heard something impactful that you had never heard before? What was your reaction when you first heard about Jesus?
Door – John 10:1-10; Luke 11:5-13
In this story, Jesus not only calls himself the good shepherd, but he is also the door of the sheep pen. A door keeps things in and keeps things out. A door prevents the sheep from wandering out in any direction and getting lost. A door also provides the designed way out to the pasture. Jesus is saying He is that door. When we go to that door, we get security from getting lost and direction for the good life. Sometimes, thieves and robbers will come to the door and promise you the good things in life but they only desire to use you for their gain. In the end, we get destroyed rather than experiencing the benefits of the pasture. Jesus comes to bring us life and to give it in abundance. Another passage tells us that Jesus is standing at the door and knocking (Revelation 3:20). Another passage says that if we knock on the door, it will be opened (Luke 11:9). Jesus is the way to life. And Jesus is knocking on the door to our hearts so we can open and accept life. And we can also knock on the door and God will hear our prayers and bring in good. He is the door.
Which door do you open? Are you easily fooled by others promising the good life?