Advent Devotional

Pastor Julie offers this day-by-day devotional designed to help guide you into a deeper intimacy with God this Advent season. As you orient yourself towards our Savior, it is recommended that you approach each day with pen in hand to journal (or draw) your thoughts, impressions and prayers.

Introduction to Devotional:
Advent is a Latin word for “coming.” The ancient Israelites were longing for the coming of their promised Messiah, God’s anointed deliverer who would come and set aright this very broken world (see Isaiah 9, 11, 53). For centuries the Jews waited hungry with anticipation for that which God alone could bring. In Christianity, we believe this longing was fulfilled in the coming of the infant Jesus. The angel in Luke appearing to the shepherds confirms for us the Deliverer has come:
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:9-12

In Advent, we remember the pining of ancient Israel’s desire for their Deliverer. In addition, we find solidarity with all those today who yearn for the consummation of that deliverance. While restoration was conceived in Jesus’ first coming, it will not be complete until His second coming. So in this season, we are reminded to wait eagerly



“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and until the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to cloth them, an not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Isaiah 58:6-7

(Part of Mary’s song) He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. Luke 1:53

As you read these verses, do you identify more with the hungry or full person? With the poor, or rich person? With the oppressed, or with the secure person?

As you look back on the past week, where have you shared, (or not shared) with the hungry? Where have you provided, (or not provided) for those in need? Where have you advocated for the oppressed? And where have you ignored those in need?

Do you sense that God is putting anyone in your life that you should stand in solidarity with in them in their hunger?

In what way might you be a blessing to those in need around you today? How can you indicate to that person or group of people that you are standing in solidarity with them?



(Zechariah’s song) Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising of the sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Luke 1:78-79

If I say “surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:11-12

Times of praying make us slow down. It is when we slow down that we begin to take inventory of what is going on in the world around us. And what is going on inside of us.

Is there darkness in the world around you? Is there darkness inside of you? Where do you see light? Where do you see God?

Do you see the light of God shining in your darkest spaces? In the world’s darkest spaces?
Do you see God guiding you to any path of peace?

Where is that path of peace leading you? Go there. Meet God there. If you can, take a person along with you on this journey!


But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9

Breath for a second.

And another one.

There are only 31,556,925,998 more seconds left in one of God’s “days” (if we were to take it strictly in a literal sense… but we should be very careful with that… the numbers are to give us perspective.)

Pause for a few more seconds. And breath.

As you look back on the past week, what moments seemed to last an eternity? What moments seemed to rush past in a blur? Do you feel like you are running out of time?

The Lord is not slow. He always shows up. He always keeps his promises. Granted, it is often not in the way or the timing we expected it to be. But he does show up… even after 400 years (the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament) as a baby in a manger.

Put your life into the perspective of God’s timing – your life is significant but short. Do not rush through your life so much that at the end you realize it was all a blur. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.


“Here I am. I stand at the door and knock...” Revelation 3:20a

Times of prayer allow us to press the pause button on a part of our lives to help us hear the longing knock of Jesus on our heart’s door.
How did Jesus, the Savior of the world, come knocking in His first coming? Did He not come as one close to the impoverished? Was He not a man with “no place to lay his head,” a man who found solidarity with those hungry for food, shelter, reconciliation, and the unconditional love of God?

What is keeping you from opening the door more widely to create space in Your life for His coming?

“If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20
Do you hear the voice of God beckoning you today?
What is that voice saying?

As Jesus hungers for greater intimacy with You this season, are you open to creating space in your life for greater intimacy with Him?

Is there something you must put aside today, this season so you might have more time to spend with Him?
What will you do today to create that space?


A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
Isaiah 11:1-4a

These verses were written over 400 years before Jesus’ coming. They hold an implied waiting. Fasting and praying too hold the gift of waiting upon the Lord. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting--that is, of hopefully doing without--will never know the full blessing of fulfillment.”

As you look at your life today, where are you being called to wait?

Where is God in the waiting?

Feel free to lift up to God any joy or discomfort you have right now in God’s call to you to wait.




“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid...” Mathew 1:20
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah...” Luke 1:12
“Do not be afraid, Mary...” Luke 1:30

Most people are afraid to fast and pray because they are afraid--afraid of time, afraid of disappointment, afraid God might actually show up and issue a call.

What fears come to your mind today?

What is in your control?
What can’t you control?

What is the significance of the angel’s words to you today?
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:9-12

If you were to let go of fear today, what might God be calling you to do?



Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8

If you were to take a moment to “pour out your heart to him,” what would you say?

As you look back on the past week, where have you seen God be your salvation, rest, and fortress, refuge?

Do you sense God saying anything to you in His faithfulness this past week?

Is there an action step He is calling you toward today?



Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:7-12

God’s love is not a slowly dripping faucet or a well we must dig for ourselves. It is a rushing stream that flows from His heart into ours. Whatever our family background or experience in life – whether we feel well-loved by others or not – we can know love. We can draw from the Lord’s inexhaustible source to know His loving care for us, and we can pass it on to others. (Our Daily Bread – Dec. 5 2011)

Do others see God simply because you love them well? Would those that know you describe your love as a dripping faucet or as a rushing river?

Do you hear the voice of God reminding you that you are dearly loved? What else is that voice saying?

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! (verse 11 &12 out of The Message)

Is there something you can do today so that his perfect love is made complete in you?




Verses: 1 Corinthians 13:12 – “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (TNIV)

“We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (The Message)

Visualize a dark road in the country where there are few street lamps and the inky blackness seems to swallow up your headlights. Now add fog. You know that there is more than 100 feet of road in front of you… but that is all you can see right now

Think about a friend who has horrific vision (they are legally blind without his/her glasses). Without those glasses all they can see are little colorful blobs, in place of where they know people and objects should be.

Or visualize a carnival mirror. When you step in front of it you see yourself but in a distorted way. Instead of reflecting the truth it makes you skinnier or fatter, taller or shorter… it reflects in part but only when you move to a correctly adjusted mirror do you see an accurate picture of yourself.

What path in your life is the (metaphorical) fog covering up?
What things in your life can you only see as blobs instead of people and objects?
What kind of distorted mirror is being held up to you, so instead of seeing you the way God sees you, you see an imprecise picture of yourself?

It won't be long before the sun shines bright and you will see the path! It won’t be long before the blobs become more distinct. It won’t be long before we see as clearly as God sees us, because we will know him directly, just as he knows us!

Look in a (real) mirror, and stay there until you get a glimpse of how God sees you.


How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1a

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith... But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer slaves, but God’s children; and since you are his children, he has made you also heirs. Gal. 3:26, 4:4-7

You are God’s precious child.
He loves you dearly.
One way he lavished his love upon you, was to send his begotten son into the world for you.
Another way he lavishes his love is that his Spirit indwells within you.
You are God’s wanted child, and he joyously desires to bestow his great inheritance upon you.

Identify tangible ways that has God lavished his love upon you.
Are there areas in your life that you are skeptical about God being at work, because the thing you are hoping for has not come to fruition?

Galations 4:4b - But when the set time had fully come...

Advent is all about preparing. About anticipation. About yearning.

Think about a child who sees the gifts under the tree, and how she yearns to open that gift. The good gift that her parents are about to lavish upon her. But Christmas day (or eve!) has not come yet, and so she waits in anticipation...

Do her parents love her any less because the set time to open the gift has not fully come?

Feel free to lift up to God the areas in your life that you are yearning for him to move in. But be sure to thank your Abba Father for how he has, how he does, and how he will continue to lavish his love upon you.


“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.”
Isaiah 9:6

Look how the writer of the above verse uses the second line to clarify the the first --a child is born, “a son is given.” The Christ child is a gift “to us.” Why? Many reasons, of course. He will save us from Satan, sin, death. But note here is role in the governing: “the government will be on his shoulders.”

Where are you allowing the “government” to be on your shoulders rather than His?

Again, where is God calling you to relinquish control (or fear) of governing or the government?

May the depth of the whole of the Serenity Prayer guide your going today: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him, Forever in the next.


Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14

The host of angels coming to the shepherds is a familiar one to most of us - especially during the Christmas season. But as you dig a bit deeper, what does their declaration of peace mean to you? In your personal life, in your family life, in your neighborhood and around the world?

If you had to define peace, how would you do it?

Where do you see peace in your life? In the relationships around you? In the social and political spheres? What can you identify as it not being peaceful?

If at all possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Is there an action step He is calling you toward today?


At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:39-45

Last Sunday we looked at Zachariah and his challenge to accept what God was clearly doing in his life. (First part of the sermon) Now, let us look at Elizabeth and see how she (and later her son) discerned the presence of God! How would you define discernment?

Who in your life would you say has the “gift of discernment?”
Who in your life can you identify as being “filled with the Holy Spirit”?
Are they, or are they not, one in the same?

And what are those people exclaiming about your life?

Even while he was in the womb, John (Zachariah and Elizabeth’s son) knew that he was in the presence of God (he kicked and leaped!) And as he grew up, his ascetic lifestyle (aka he fasted a lot) was one part of his response to the sacred moments inspired by the Holy Spirit. “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locus and wild honey.” (Matthew 1:4)

Is God inspiring you to respond in such a way that your lifestyle is reflected by your encounters with the Holy Spirit? Will you ask the person who is gifted with discernment to help you identify what your response should be?


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In his was life; and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:1-5

When you think of darkness being pierced by light what do you think of? a candle? stars? the sun? Christmas lights? fireworks?

Where do you see light piercing the darkness?

Yesterday we looked at Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son, John, and his ability to discern God’s presence. And now here in the Book of John, this same man is identified as the one who proclaims that God is in the people’s midst. “There was also a man sent by God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.” (vs. 6-7)

What is God telling you to testify to the world about? What have you been sent to proclaim?
How will you allow the light of Christ to shine through you in order to pierce the darkness?

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus reminds his disciples, and us, that we “are the light of the world.” And his direct instruction is to: “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Shine on!


But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times... He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace. Micah 5:2, 4-5b

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Listen to O Little Town Of Bethlehem and then give special attention to the third verse:

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
How are you inviting Christ to come into your town (community) as well as your own life? What examples do you see of Christ entering into the world today?

First century Jews had waited with anticipation for the coming of their messiah for hundreds of years. They hungered for God to dramatically enter into their lives - immediately! Their urgent invitations were answered the night Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Do you urgently hope for Christ’s second coming in the same way that many first century Jews urgently hoped for their along awaited Messiah?
Or, have you given up hoping and asking for his return?

Go with the prayer:
God, descend to us today. We ask that you will cast out our sin, and enter into our lives. Be born to us today! Come to us. Abide with us. Our Lord, Emmanuel we pray.



Oh Little Town of Bethlehem



All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Listen carefully for themes of reconciliation and new life in Hark the Herald Angels Sing

The reconciling work of Jesus informs our very existence. Because God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, we seek to live out that reconciliation with God, ourselves, others, and the created order.

Are you reconciled to Christ? Or are you spiritually famished?
Are you reconciled to yourself? Or are you depleting your self of the resources and relationships it needs to be healthy?
Are you reconciled to others? Or do you hunger for deeper and peaceful relationships?
Are you reconciled to the creative order? Are you using your resources in a way that is not hording or hurting the things God has entrusted to you?

You are to be minister of reconciliation.

As you gather with family and friends over the next few days, how can you be a living example of reconciliation?


Hark the Herald Angels Sing



Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”... this is what the prophet has written: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Matthew 2:1b-2, 5b-6

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Luke 2:34-35

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:11

What child is this who lays to rest?

If you were to describe/ identify who the Christ child was, what would you say?

When you talk about Jesus, what words of reverence do you use?
Do you call him King, Ruler and Shepherd like the Magi did?
Do you speak of him as the axis of power for the entire universe, as Simeon did?
Or like the angels, do you identify Jesus as your Savior, as your Messiah, as your Lord?

What Child is This?

Do you sense God pointing out to you, any aspects of his essence or character?

“Raise, raise a song on high” - one that reminds us that the baby Jesus is the eternal King!


Andrea Bocelli - What Child Is This


But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

… The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:9b-10

“Joy is a wonderful thing; it is an appropriate part of Christmas. I wonder if you have experienced joy at this season. I am not referring to activity, of course. There is much activity-but many go through these activities in a joyless way. Nor am I referring to happiness. Happiness is a wonderful thing at Christmas - shopping, decorating, entertaining, mailing cards - but it is the world's virtue, and like all the world's virtues, it quite easily passes away. Happiness is related to circumstances. When circumstances are right, there is happiness; but when the source of happiness departs, happiness goes with it. It is not this way with joy. Joy is of God. It is based upon what God has done, and it is given to the Christian by God and is sustained by God.” - Dr. James Boice

Where do you find joy?
Where do you find enjoyment?

Joy to the World!
Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While field and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

If the angel came and told you “I bring you good news of great joy” what would he be referring to in your life?

Stevie Wonder, Take 6 and Brian McKnight sing Joy to The World


She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. Luke 2:7-17

Most of us are familiar with this Christmas story - many of you will read these exact words before dinner or before opening gifts. What part of this story stuck out to you in a fresh way? (If you cannot think of anything, go back and read it again... this is the story of God becoming incarnate!)

Today, consider your response to Jesus’ arrival on earth. Is there room for worship in your heart on these days that celebrates His birth?

Away in the Manger

Go into this day, and everyday, with the wonder of Mary.
With the obedience of Joseph.
Go with the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds and the perseverance of the magi.
Go with the peace of the Christ child!

Away in a Manger


Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

As we gather together, we are reminded that here are still people who hunger for food, shelter, relational reconciliation, and the unconditional love of God.

Are you owning the spiritual authority that God has given you?

Who are you to go proclaim Good News to?

It is not enough to believe that Jesus came to earth to die for your sins and that he is coming again. No, there is an action part of the story! We are to go and proclaim this good new to everyone, everywhere.

Listen to this medley of Go Tell it on the Mountain as an anthem of our proclamation of Christ’s birth!



An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel of the Lord said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:8-11

Pause: Listen to “O Holy Night”

Look: On Sunday we talked about the Gospel message being that Jesus is our Savior, Lord and Messiah. That this is the Good News of great joy for all people. This season, are you proclaiming his power and glory to your friends and family?

Listen: This Christmas song says: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” Know that in the midst of yearning for the world to less chaotic, that the Good News of great joy is that God finds his creation to be of the highest value. Our hope should be put in this – and when it is, rejoicing will follow.

Go: Our into the world and proclaim the Good News of great joy (the Gospel) that Jesus has come in all power, glory and love. Allow that to give you the motivation with your friends to share the joy, peace and value we find in Christ.

Kelly Clarkson - O Holy Night & Silent Night



He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,” and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.” So that everyone he has made may know his work, he stops all mortals form their labor…. The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen. He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightening through them. At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them…. Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. – Job 37:6-7, 10-12, 14


It has been a cold December thus far. At times, the sub-zero weather has been discouraging… but even in the midst of this, “Listen to this, (insert your name here); stop and consider God’s wonders.”


Have you seen God in the shapes of the snowflakes and the curves of the snowdrifts? Have you experienced the warmth of Christ as you go back to your heated homes? Have you noticed the acts of sacrificial love as people have plowed and shoveled the sidewalks?


To the Christmas song “The First Noel” (Or in proper English “The First Nowell”)


"On a cold winters night that was so deep..." that was the night the King of Israel was born. This winter, may your freezing feet, cold car and multiple layers of clothing remind you who your King is.

Bing Crosby - The First Noel