Preface: “O Come All Ye Faithful” is a beautiful old Latin hymn that is song in many different languages. It instructs everyone who puts their trust or faith in God to come joyfully like those who have just won in battle. We are to go to Bethlehem to behold the King of Angels and give adoration to the newly born baby anointed as Lord of all. The original Latin begins with the verb “advenire” or literally “to come.” The Latin word for “arrival” is taken from this verb and where we get the English word “advent” from. This devotional and prayer guide is designed to help you and your family “arrive” at CHRISTmas. In the business of the season, it is important to take time to remember that Jesus is the whole reason we celebrate. Christmas literally means the mass or service to celebrate the Christ or anointed one’s come coming. Each week we will focus on a theme in Scripture to prepare us for the celebration of His coming: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. We encourage you to study the referenced Scriptures and pray for yourself, your friends and family, your church, the corporate Body of Christ, and those in our community, nation, and world who don’t yet know the saving power of Jesus. Let’s make an intentional decision to worship God in all that we do this Christmas.
The Miracle of CHRSTmas
December 1:

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” – Isaiah 40:3

As the Christmas season fast approaches, what do you do to prepare for the holidays? Do you put up a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments? Do you send out Christmas cards? What about buying or baking your favorite Christmas cookies and candies? We often buy Christmas presents for our friends and family and wrap them up to give out a holiday gatherings. Imagine showing up to a Christmas party field with your loved ones. They all bring a present and pot-luck food with cookies to exchange. You wouldn’t show up empty handed! You prepare ahead of time what you will bring.
As we enter into this Christmas season, let us do like Isaiah says. Let’s make ready the way for Jesus! John the Baptist in Mark 1:8 identifies himself as this voice prophesied about hundreds of years before that told of the coming ministry of Jesus. He told everyone to repent or “change your mind” and turn to God because the promised messiah is coming soon! Jesus himself said He was “the way” in John 14:6. As we get ready for this season, if there is any area of your daily life that isn’t focused on Jesus, let’s submit that to Him today. Think of it like Christmas cleaning instead of spring cleaning.
December 2: 

Have you ever stopped to think about how crazy the Christmas story sounds? A teenager is in love with her fiancé and they are excited to build a life together. But before they can get married, an angel comes separately to each of them and says she is going to have a baby fathered by God. The government issues a census which forces them to travel, and the baby arrives when there are no hotel rooms. They do their best to make mom and baby comfortable in a stable. Shepherds taking care of the sacrificial lambs for the temple hear a sky full of angels praising God and are told about the baby in the stable. At the same time a star shows up in the sky that no one has seen before. Wealthy scientists from far away in a different culture have been waiting for the star because God prophesied about it hundreds of years before when some of the Jews were exiled for disobeying God. They travel with very expensive gifts and show up to worship the baby. The local king gets jealous of the gifts and potential baby-king, so he tries to kill any infant or toddler in the area that could possibly be that baby … but God warns the couple in a dream to leave the country to avoid the danger. Yeah, sounds a bit crazy. But it happened!

God gave hints about this miracle all throughout Scripture so that the few who were looking could find Him. Isaiah 7:10-17 is one of those passages which tells us that a virgin will give birth to a son and he will be called “God with us.” God, the maker of Heaven and Earth. The One who formed man and gave him breath. The One who knows everything. He will be with us. That’s the miracle of Christmas. Because He loves you and I so much, He chose to give up Heaven for a time to do the impossible, to restore all who will believe in Him back to Him. Like the Easter song says, “sin separated, the breach was far too wide … still you made a way across the great divide, left behind Heaven’s throne to build it hear inside. There at the Cross, you paid the debt I owed, broke my chains, freed my soul and for the first time, I had hope.” Take heart because He has come to give Hope to those who don’t deserve it simply because of His Love. That’s the miracle of Christmas.

December 3

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

What does it mean to hope? Is it any different from a wish or dream? If I hope to do something, isn’t it just like wishing for something good? This verse begins with a promise backed up by God himself. That’s the difference. Hope has a reason to believe what is desired will come true. God doesn’t just say things without purpose. He is always faithful to make what He says come true. This verse was written centuries before the birth of Jesus. Think of how ridiculous it must have sounded to a natural ear: a virgin will give birth. And if that isn’t wild enough, people will call Him “God with us.” Have you ever heard someone name their baby “God with Us?!?” Of course that’s not in the top 100 baby names of 2023! But the word “behold” tells us to pay special attention to what God’s about to say. Something unexpected or important is about to take place. The miracle of Christmas is both of those things. And God planned it because He knew it would take Himself to rescue mankind. Through His birth, death, and resurrection, He gives us hope, peace, joy, and love beyond what we could ever imagine. Hope is secure in His faithfulness. How have you seen God faithful in your own life? Today let’s hope, not just wish for His promises. Let’s put all of our confidence in His salvation to transform us into His own people. After all, that’s why He was born Immanuel – to be with us.


December 4

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12

Have you ever been absolutely sure of something? You know it will happen no matter what. The old saying goes “The only things sure are death and taxes.” Paul would certainly disagree – as does every Christian who puts their hope in Jesus Christ. The Greek word for hope means to “anticipate” or “welcome” what is certain. How certain are you that you can trust Jesus? In your mind is He still a helpless baby that belongs in a Renaissance painting for angelic choirs to sing about His innocence? Or is He the force that created the Earth in six days, including breathing life into mankind? As a Christian culture, we all know about “asking Jesus into our heart.” But what does that mean? Is it just a checkbox to make us good Christians? Is it just so that we have more power to get what we want? When we welcome Jesus into our hearts, we are asking Him to become both Lord and savior. As Lord, we fully anticipate He is going to be in charge where everything else has to obey his commands. As savior, we welcome in a new person that is different from our old self. That is what is certain – when we surrender to His salvation, He saves. He transforms. He does what we cannot. Today, welcome Him with confidence that He is Lord of all situations. We can rejoice because we know His hope is more certain than death or taxes. He has been faithful to His Word forever. Why would he change now? He says he will never change.


December 5

“… In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heave for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” – 1 Peter 1:3b-5

Sunday we sang the song “Living Hope.” What does that even mean? We said yesterday that the word “hope” means something anticipated that you know will happen. How could that be “living” as Peter calls it? Well first we have to ask what is it we are hoping for? What is the hope Peter is so excited about in this chapter? He isn’t just wishing for God to intervene in this world. He talks about future salvation. Does that mean Peter – the one who walked on water with Jesus and was renamed the “rock” because He knew Jesus was the Messiah – wasn’t saved even after preaching for decades? No! Peter is talking about when one day our mortal bodies will be transformed into something new and earth itself will be transformed to mirror the glory of God. What we anticipate is that we have new life forever. Even if we cannot see Jesus in a physical sense, we have faith that He is who He says and will do everything that He said He will do. Jesus was resurrected from the dead and lives forever, providing hope forever. Our eternal salvation cannot go away because He sealed the promise with Himself. There is no greater assurance that something is certain than the promise of the living Word of God. Like Peter, how could we not give God praise for such an amazing, living hope?


December 6

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Many Christians have memorized this verse. We often assume that our hopes and dreams should match up with what is best for us. That was the same for the people God prophesized to in this verse. If we look at the full context, the Bible tells us that they desired to return to the promised land – a good thing, right? But God told them to pray for the city and rulers they find themselves in and that in 70 years he will deliver them out. He promises a hope and a future. The Hebrew word for hope, “tiqvah,” comes from a word which means to “wait for” or “endure.” It likely comes from the idea of twisting and stretching a rope until there is tension. Just like the rope must endure the tension, hope gives us a reason to endure difficult situations. This Christmas, some things may not turn out as you have planned. We are repeatedly instructed in Scripture to watch and pray. The idea is that the more time and effort we spend concentrating on God, the more clearly His plan comes into focus. God has a plan for each one of our lives that provides endurance (hope in Christ) for the future and that includes everything we need. Today is there any tension in your life that could use some endurance help? Let’s pray and surrender that area to God, then confidently trust He has good plans for us as His children.


December 7

“And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today.” – Acts 26:6

Have you ever felt like your faith was being put on trial? You have done your best to follow God and trust what His Word says, but you run into a situation where you can almost hear the court room Satan has setup to convince you and anyone who will listen that you won’t make it so why bother to have hope. Well thankfully you aren’t alone! Paul was literally put on trial in Acts 23 and Acts 26 because he dared to hope. He trusted what Jesus said – even though He didn’t put his faith in Jesus as Christ until after the resurrection. In Acts 23, the Holy Spirit shows him that the Jews accusing Him include some that believe in spiritual things and others that don’t even believe there is any life after death. They don’t even believe there is an option to have hope. How depressing! By the time Paul gives his testimony to the king in Acts 26, He has preached in many different places and setup numerous successful churches. Yet he is still put on trial because He is confident that Jesus was resurrected to life on the third day, and that all who believe will be resurrected with Him in the last days. Even when faced with a physical trial, Paul is able to boldly stand because God is faithful. Whatever trial you are facing today, you too can have the same faith as Paul. We have a confident hope. Turn your eyes from the situation and turn your ears from the accusations of Satan back to the promise of God’s faithfulness.