- Scriptures for Reflection-
14 The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” - Genesis 3:15
9:1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. - Isaiah 9:1-7
1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising. - Isaiah 60:1-3
- Devotional Guide –
This Story Begins in the Beginning
Most of us think of the Christmas story beginning in a manger in Bethlehem, but the story begins about 4000 years before that in the garden of Eden. God created all things, and they were good He walked and talked with Adam in the garden of Eden, every living thing was in perfect harmony. But this all was shattered in a moment, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s instruction, therefore, sin and darkness flooded in the perfect world God had created for them. The sin and death that their rebellion brought into the world would spread to all mankind, and there is nothing any of mankind could do to free themselves from the slavery that it created. This moment is the beginning of the Christmas story! Amid the darkness of Genesis, God gave a promise, hope for a savior, it must have been like a beam of light breaking in on the heavy darkness.
Whispers in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, we have a record of many hints and whispers of the coming Messiah. God sent many prophets to remind His people that He would bring about their salvation, not only for them but for all nations. God revealed that the Messiah would be born in the line of David (Isa. 9:6-7), of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10) and in the town of Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). The promised Deliverer would be a light overcoming darkness (Isa. 9:2), a Preacher of Good News to the poor (Isa. 61) and One walking in the power of the Spirit (Isa. 42:1). God delivered His people from many trials, but there was always a hint of a greater restoration; a greater salvation that would come… But when?
My Whole Being Waits
God’s people experienced many dark times and much suffering, but even in these times, God’s promise of a savior was never revoked it was always lifted as a hope to His people. It was a silver lining of hope glistening amid a storm. Though they had many reminders, they had to wait for the promise to be fulfilled, it was an estimated 4000 years from the garden to the birth of Christ, think of the many men and women who believed the promise given and died without ever seeing it fulfilled! The Last 400 years of this waiting were in silence, there is no recorded prophet or books of the Bible in this timeframe. Can you imagine having the hope of salvation but watching time pass by? How did they keep the faith? How did they hold on? They knew the One who made the promises!! He never changes and cannot lie. The Holy One of Israel said it so it must be the truth. Do you have that kind of faith?
o Imagine how hopeless Israel must have felt as they were slaves in Egypt, was there any way for them to free themselves without Moses, whom God sent? How is their situation like ours with sin and death? What is our only hope of deliverance?
o Consider the lives of Abraham, Moses, and David; How do you think they were able to have such faith that God would fulfill His promises even as time passed and they realized it would not be fulfilled in their lifetimes? What could you learn from them?
o We can learn a lot about the nature and character of God by understanding His promise and the birth of His Son. What are some of the attributes you see in the story of the Advent so far?
o What is one hope you have for yourself, family or community as you begin the Advent season this year? Write them down and pray for them.
o Are you in a season of waiting in life right now? Ask God to give you wisdom for sustaining your faith in this season. Write down and pray for what you hear.
Scriptures to reflect on this week
o Sunday - Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 60:1-3
o Monday - Psalm 130:5-6, Isaiah 30:15
o Tuesday - 1 Corinthians 1:7, Revelation 22:12-21
o Wednesday - Revelation 21:1-22:5
o Thursday - Isaiah 9:1-7
o Friday - Isaiah 11:1-5, 42:1-7
o Saturday - Micah 5:2-5
Scripture Reflection Questions
o What is God teaching me about Himself in this passage?
o How does this truth affect the way I live my life?
o Who can I tell this good news to?
- Family Discipleship Time –
Set aside some time to intentionally talk with your family this week about God’s plan to rescue His children from sin and darkness as well as talking to them about waiting and how it can be hard, but worth it.
The items you need:
· 5 Advent candles (optional) ideas on our Pinterest
· Have a member of the family pray before you start your discipleship time
Lighting of the Advent Candle
· Have a member of the family light the first candle.
· Have a member of the family read the following passages aloud:
o Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!” And he would. One day, God himself would come.
The Jesus Storybook Bible
o For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6
· What would you do if you were in danger? Who would you ask to help you? Why?
In your own words talk to your family about the garden of Eden, perfect creation and how sin entered the world.
· After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, what is it that we all need rescue from?
In your own words talk to your family about God’s promise in Gen. 3:15 and how it took about 4000 years for the savior to come.
· Why is God’s promise so exciting?
· What do you think it felt like to wait for so long? Do you like waiting for good things?
· Have a family member pray and thank God for His good promises.
· Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
· We have lots of family activity ideas on our Pinterest page (pinterest.com/actswaco)
· Choose a craft to do as a family and stay attentive during this time, no tv, phones or distractions. These are the moments you kids will remember!
· Parents, make plans to do something fun with your kids next week (baking cookies, watching a Christmas movie, etc.). Tell them about the activity but don’t tell them when so they can them feel the angst of waiting for a good promise to come. Remind them of the promise throughout the week and give them hints but do not tell them when! Use this activity to remind them of God’s promise and the anticipation the people must have felt as they waited.