Advent Devotional

 

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This will show you what our family is going to do for our devotions for the 30 days leading up to Christmas day. Which means you need to start now.  I have made my ornaments out of felt, but you can make them out of whatever you choose, or have your kids draw pictures and hang them somewhere in the house. There are other options, so don’t feel you can’t participate in this tradition if you don’t have everything together. We’ve been doing the Jesse Tree for at least 5 years now and I still don’t have all my ornaments made!! The most important part is the bible reading, even if you can just do that it is something that will change your Christmas celebrations.

Each night we sit around the tree and read the scriptures and discuss it. I am writing a little devotional with some added verses because every year I look up verses and then don’t write them down or work with them. This is not an exhaustive list, and if you have other scriptures that you think go with the themes I’ve found for the different days please do let me know and I will include them in the daily devotional as I see fit. The Husband and I have been looking up and writing this during our personal devotional times, and it is such a blessing to us to share with our boys.

Instagram feed of ornaments and my handwritten scriptures

Day 1 The Tree
Introduction of The Jesse Tree

Read: Isaiah 11:1-10

Jesse’s son is King David, he is the smallest of Jesse’s boys, the youngest one and his father didn’t even count him as acceptable for the challenge but he was who God was raising up, the one He chose. God chose him over those who would have been more adequate to human eyes. King David is the shoot that springs up to begin the family line of Jesus. Lets set aside this Christmas season to celebrate one who was long-awaited. Without Him we would not have been redeemed. This redemption came as a miracle through generations of average or less than average men and women who we will learn about in these days leading up to Christmas. God chose them to be a part of his story, the story of His son, the story of our freedom.

Read: Ruth 4:13-17
The story of Ruth and Boaz also shows God’s redemptive plan, you can think of it as a parable of our redeemer. We are blessed for God did not leave us without a redeemer.  Ruth and Boaz are Jesse’s grandparents, King David’s great grandparents. And the beginning of the most amazing gift we can ever receive.

(We don’t have an ornament for this first day, for our ornament we use our tree, our actual Christmas tree.)


Day 2 Dove or Earth
God and Creation

Read: Gen 1:1-2:3

In the beginning there was nothing except God. Then through creation God set us up in a place to enjoy being together. He said the words and it all came to be. He has all authority, and he chose to make something beautiful for us. He placed us in the garden where we could feel his love, see his love and walk and talk with Him in person.  He loves to delight in us, loves to take care of us, that will never change.

Read: Romans 1:20

Creation all around declares the glory and majesty of God. Just by seeing its vastness one is aware of God. On the seventh day after He had created man and woman He rested. Not because he was tired, but because He wanted to enjoy everything with them. God still longs to sit and rest with His creation, he longs to sit and rest with each of us. This brings him pleasure, that we take a break and are just there with Him.

Today let’s thank God for all that He did to make this world so beautiful for us to enjoy. Take a moment to think about the last time you enjoyed being with God, weather just sitting and thinking about how amazing he is, or what we can do with him in heaven. Maybe drawing a picture about whatever comes to mind when you think of him, or just laying and resting in his presence in prayer. How about getting the whole family to dance before the lord and enjoy being crazy and deliberate in your praise. However you choose to do it today, just take time to be with your creator, he is always ready to spend time with you.

(Ornament is a Dove or a Globe or whatever other symbol for creation you’d like!)


Day 3 Tree of Good and Evil
Adam and Eve and the Fall

Read Genesis 2:1-9, 2:15-25, 3:1-24

Adam and Eve had everything they needed or could want. The only thing that was off-limits was one tree. The urge to have more consumed them. They chose to eat of it, this was their act of disobedience that would separate them from God.  The sin that they committed took Adam and Eve from a place of longing to walk with God to immediately  feeling an urgency to cover up and fend for themselves apart from Him, to hide from Him. It is true that their eyes were opened, but not as they had wished. They were filled with fear, shame, pride, blame.

Read Romans 3:23-24

We are no better than Adam and Eve. We have fallen short, not met the mark- but that is what Christmas is really about. A gift that wouldn’t have been as special if we didn’t need it so incredibly bad.  God loved us and sent his Son that we may walk in His freedom.

Sometimes we still fall into the urgency to cover up, to hide from Him to be made right on our own. Sometimes we pick up  those spiritual chains of shame, fear and pride and wrap ourselves in them. This is so silly!!  God takes us just as we are. He loves us, always has, always will.

Today help us learn to lean on you God, that we would trust you to be our hope, our joy- our everything.

(For this ornament we use a tree ornament, it could be a fruit ornament or a different ornament of your choice to depict Adam and Eve and the fall)


Day 4  The Ark
Noah and The Flood

Gen 6:5-8,13+14,  7:1-8:22, 9:11-17

God chose to speak through his servant Noah to warn of the flood. There had never been a flood before. It had never even rained, up until then God had watered the earth with a mist. As Noah proclaimed what God told him to say to the people, that they should repent of their sin and have changed hearts, they mocked him and only his family believed and entered the ark. It made no sense to the minds of men, and so they made a choice to not listen. Again, as Eve did, man thought he was wiser than God and could do life without Him.

So God kept His promise to flood the earth, after two of each different kind of animal, bird, and beast entered into it along with Noah and his sons and his sons wives the door of the ark was closed by the hand of God.

It rained for so long, then the land was still flooded for still longer.Noah kept trying to see if there was a place to land, and it seemed nothing was working.  But God remembered Noah. (8:1) He may not have felt as if God was thinking of him when his life changed so quickly, and all that he knew was destroyed but God’s plan is the perfect plan. Even in our own lives God lays things before us, brings us to places that we would rather not go and still the whole time He is thinking of us, remembering us in our darkest most desperate times.

Each time we see a rainbow God says that it is a reminder of his faithfulness to us. Today if there is anything in your life that seems too big for even God to handle, give it to Him because you trust Him and not because you know how it will end up. Pray and ask that He would show you how to trust Him in everything and for everything. It is so hard because we like to know the outcome, but there is nothing like trusting in God fully-laying back and letting Him carry you through it all. He will remember you too, your flood is not too deep.

 (The ornament we have for today is an ark, it could be a rainbow too)

Day 5  Field of Stars
Abraham and Faith

Read Genesis 12:1-7
 
The story of Abram (later Abraham) is amazing. God asks him to leave his country, his people and his father’s household and go to the land He would show him. In the next breath God was declaring promises over Abram to make him a great nation and bless him and do incredible things for all people through his offspring. If Abram were a doubting man, he would have seen those were opposed ideas.  Leave all your family, because I want to make your family a great nation?  How does that work?  And yet Abram knew that he couldn’t even begin to fathom what God was up to and he did as God told him. He left.  He did not trust in his ability to make this promise happen, or his mental capacity to line up events in order to fulfill the promise- he trusted and obeyed.
 
 Read Genesis 15:1-6
 
In the middle of Abram’s fear God took him outside to show him the stars. Abram was afraid, he wanted this promise so bad that he started to think of ways to make it happen. We are most afraid during the darkest hours,  there is something about the nighttime that makes our minds rush and worry. So in the middle of his fear and fret God walked Abram outside to fill him with faith and courage again.  Just as the rainbow is a promise, each night when the stars are bright can be a reminder of God’s faithfulness as well. Just hear the father speak over you, “Do not be afraid, I am your shield, your very great reward”.  Let that soak in.
 
 (The ornament we have for today is an a field of stars)

Day 6  The Ram
Isaac and God’s Provision

Read Genesis 22:1-18

There is so much beauty in Abraham’s relationship with God.  He knows God’s voice. He is not stunned to hear the Creator of the Universe audibly speaking to him, his answer to Gods voice is over and over no matter what the request is, ‘here I am’.  When Isaac asks about where the sacrifice is, Abraham’s deep connection with God is so evident again, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering’. (22:6-8) There is a level of trust in Abraham’s heart that is not moved or shaken by exterior events. He does not get angry about the idea of loosing his son, and then confused when God tells him to stop, he is just completely straightforward and fixed on God as the provider.

Read Hebrews 12:2

Life all around us demands our emotional responses of fear and anxiety- yet the word of God clearly says that our eyes are to be fixed on Jesus. Fixed. Healthy eyes work together, and if that is the case it is not possible to be fixed on fear and doubt and fixed on Jesus.  There is a possibility of perfect peace, but only for him whose mind is stayed on God. The reason for that incredible peace is a deep relationship, one that knows what trust means.  Abraham only had eyes for his God and he knew Him who was worthy of that trust. Abraham named the mountain after Him, The Lord Will Provide.

Read Isaiah 26:3

 (The ornament we have for today is a ram)

Day 7  The Ladder
Jacob and The Assurance of the Promise

Read: Genesis 27:41-28:22

Jacob was called to do something so difficult. As his father was dying, his brother longed to kill him and then his mom asked him to flee for his life. In one day he knew it was certainly possible he would never see either of his parents again, and his brother was furious because of the loss of his birthright and wanted him dead.

He obeyed without knowing what would come. And there in that uncertainty, God met him. In a dream God assured him, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. ” (Gen. 28:15) God is never far, not ever. In our loneliest, hardest times He is the one who speaks these words over each of us, ‘I am with you and will protect you wherever you go’. The Father’s promises are so rich, so bold and comforting- but so frequently we believe they are just for others, or for the ‘bible characters’. We forget that the bible says, ‘Jesus Chrsit is the same yesterday, today and forever’. (Heb. 13: 8)  Or when he said, ‘Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you’ (Deut 31:6). And we just assume that is for someone else, anyone else,  God wouldn’t be striding ahead of me! Today take time to hear these promises wash over you. In whatever you are needing to remember His promises, and especially in the areas where you forget most often.  Remember that He always keeps his promises- He is faithful always, He never forgets you. Not ever. He cannot brake a promise, He will not.

Joshua 23: 14
And behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. Know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one thing of them has failed.

(The ornament for today is a ladder.)


Day 8 The Coat
Joseph, God’s Providence and  Forgiveness

Read Genesis 37,  39:20-23 and 41:41-46

God uses the hardships  in our lives to orchestrate His perfect plan. God is sovereign and He uses all of our lives to bring glory to His name. That is if we allow Him to lead us through the pain, walking in forgiveness toward others. Joseph had many opportunities to sulk in bitterness, toward his brothers, toward Potiphar and his wife, and even the chief cupbearer who promised to remember him and then forgot. Each of us can be a tub of bitter feelings against others if we really give it a second thought. That is the easy thing to do. But Joseph chose to use every circumstance that came at him to continue to be molded into exactly what God had in mind back when was given those dreams as a young boy.

Read Genesis 50:15-21

We are just the same as Joseph, or we can be. Life has dealt us some ugly events, we have been wronged, mistreated, misunderstood and yet in each we are given the opportunity to glorify God. Give Him praise, fill up on joy- that He is sovereign  and He is perfecting you for whatever His plan is for you. It really hurts to be wronged, and yet if this life really is not about us and is about Jesus,  we need to let that pain perfect us and ask God to help us forgive. Then we too, just as Joseph can say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”.(Gen.50:20) AMEN!

There is an even more perfect example in our saviour,  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) God will have His way, and he will absolutely use ever single instance in our lives for good. Romans 8:28 says, ‘ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’. In the middle of suffering we can cling to the promise that,  ‘the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly’. (Psalm 84:11) He is there, He is loving through it all. It hurts so bad, but that hurt with God’s power is making beauty, eternal beauty. In forgiveness there is freedom.

(For this ornament we use the coat of many colours )


Day 9 The Burning Bush
Moses and God’s Leadership

Read Exodus 2:1- 4:20

God heard the cry of His people, He saw the misery they were subjected to and the hard hearts of the slave drivers and was moved to mercy. He had mercy on His people and He chose Moses to lead them.  But Moses did not see what God saw. He knew the sins of his past, he knew how quick his temper was and he decided that if God really knew him, really, REALLY knew him He would have picked someone else, anyone else. But God knew Moses and God chose him on purpose. He  knew that Moses was absolutely imperfect and He still asked him. He had chosen this man because of what Moses couldn’t yet see, who he would become with God’s leadership.

Read Hebrews 11:23-27

God shared his view of Moses in the faith chapter in Hebrews centuries later. If you just read the account there you would think Moses was a different man than that man shaking by the bush. You’d see him as an amazing leader, full of faith, a man who stood up for what was right, a man of boldness, one not corrupted by those around him, a man who had no regard for riches but pursued Jesus!! Does that sound like the same man from the old testament that we read about before? No? Well that is because we are seeing him the way God saw him, we are seeing through the eyes of grace and mercy and love. It is so easy to forget that that is how God sees us. He sees things that are not yet, as though we were already walking in them. He sees the leader we are to become, the boldness that will grow, the faith that will develop in the wilderness He can see you and that is why He is calling you. So you can stop saying as Moses did, ‘O Lord, please choose someone else to do it, ” (Ex.4:13) and begin to say what God is asking you to say, ” I AM has sent me to you” (Ex.3:14).

(For this ornament we use a burning bush)


Day 10 The Passover Lamb
The Isrealites, Passover and the Exodus

Read: Exodus 12:1- 14:31

God lead His people as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day.  He cared for them and even in the midst of all their complaining He did an amazing miracle and parted the sea and His people walked to freedom on dry ground. Often it is easy to see the hand of God one minute and then forget the power the next. Today I am praying I will be filled continually with awe and wonder at the might of God. That I would focus on how He fights for  me. He provides and He leads me. I want to learn to stand still and worship Him.

After all, He gave His own son to be our passover lamb, that we would be forgiven and not blamed for each of our sins. Praying I remember to worship Him in the midst of the desert and not flail moan and gripe. Praying my heart would be filled with praise because He is who delivers me constantly.

‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today’. Exodus 14:13

(The ornament for today is a lamb.)


Day 11 The Tablets of Torah
God Giving His Law at Sinai

Read Exodus  19:1-20:20

God’s heart is for His people. They were enslaved and now  in their freedom begin to wander aimlessly.  They need some guidelines to help their hearts stay pure and to turn their faces continually back to God. God has proven that He is their deliverer as He walked them through the sea on dry ground and as he carried them out of their captivity- now He longs to set them apart from the other nations of the world in purity and holiness.

He longs to do this because He is good and He treasures them greatly. He says of them,  ‘I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself’ (Ex.19:4). God cares to give His people guidance-not to chain them to laws and religion but to set them apart as a, ‘kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Ex.19:6) There is beauty in purity for us as well and no matter how far we stray or aimlessly wander toward the sin of this world- God is always there to carry us to Himself again. He lifts us up on eagles wings, away from the chains that wrap around us and into the freedom only He can give. Praying today that my heart would be set a part for Him only, that I would desire Him only.

(For this ornament we use the Ten Commandments, or the Torah)


Day 12  Trumpet
Joshua and The Fall of Jericho

Read: Joshua 1:1-11, 6:1-20

Often God gives a dream, a calling or a desire that seems absolutely impossible. He tells us to do things like what He asked of Joshua and the Israelites. From reading the bible and seeing men and women follow after Him, one thing really stands out: no one ever feels adequate to conquer the Jericho God is calling them to conquer. It is that inadequacy that keeps us coming back to Him, keeps us humble, and makes our hearts yearn for Him. He is the God of impossible odds, the God who crumbles walls with musical notes and shouts, the God who loves His people enough to continually rescue and embrace.

‘Only be strong and courageous!’ (Joshua 1:18) In that sixth circle around the city, in the weariness of laboring for, reaching for, praying for what your Jericho is- remember ONLY be strong, ONLY be courageous. It is not possible to do what He is asking, but that is when He steps in and does it. Hold on to hope for He is not held back by any challenge, He does not ever fall short no matter how high, how thick those walls are and how weary His people are of shouting. He will show up just as He promises. Every single time. Just watch those walls as they crumble, victory is certain.

(The ornament for today is a trumpet.)


Day 13  Clay Water Pitcher
Gideon and Unlikely Warrior

Read: Judges 2:6-23, 6:1-6, 11-8:28

Gideon was collecting wheat and hiding it from the enemy, when an angel of the Lord came to him and said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior’ (Judges 6:12).   Gideon’s reply was as our own might be- ‘Do you know who I am? I am the least, the smallest.’ And then God declares the real reason Gideon is a mighty warrior, ‘am I not sending you?’ (v.14) Like so many other of the heroes of faith in the Bible, Gideon is the weakest link in the chain and who God sees as a mighty warrior.

The odds are against him in this battle, and then God takes more of his security away by telling some of his soldiers to go home.  God chose Gideon because he will obey. Gideon is strong, because he knows he is not able. His weakness makes him mighty in battle. He has more trust in God than in himself.  God is all he needs.Then when God conquers Gideon knows what those words meant, ‘the Lord is with you, mighty warrior’.

(The ornament for today is a broken water pitcher.)


Day 14 The Crown
Samuel and The Beginning of the Kingdom

Read 1 Sam 3:1-21, 7:1-8:22, 9:15-10:9

What stands out the most in this story is the character and life of Samuel. He is an amazing boy and the God grows him into an incredible leader. He is lead by God. ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening’, he said as a boy and in his life he lived out that statement over and over. His ear was tuned to hear the Lord’s leading, His nudge.

If we look at this leader and see that he was great because he listened to the Lord, where are the places in our lives that we need to say, ‘speak Lord, for your servant is listening’? The Father is always faithful to tell us, He longs to lead us gently with His voice. Often we don’t want to hear what He could say because it could be scary to us, but He is so sweet and tender, He will love on you as you lean into Him.

(For this ornament we use a crown)


Day 16 Stone Altar
Elijah and The Threat of False Gods

Read 1 Kings 17:1-16, 18:17-46

God takes care of us in unexpected ways. He took Elijah through a season where he built trust in him in the desert and then moved him on to inspiring others to trust God as well. First he inspires faith in the widow through God’s provision, then he was chosen to challenge the prophets of Baal. He was selected to represent God’s boldness and call down His fire and strength. He was called to bring God’s people back to Himself.

Through the impossible odds of starting a fire drenched in water, and with wet wood and surrounded by water- then all the people fell and said, ‘the Lord he is God’. Returning the hearts of of the people to their God, bringing back the nation of Israel to their father.

(For this ornament we use the stone altar )


Day 17 The Tent
Hezekiah, Faithfulness and Deliverance

Read 2 Kings 18:1-19:19, 32-37

Whom do you trust? Do you trust in chariots and the horsemen or in God? What about when those all around you cast doubt on what God is speaking to you? In this section of scripture, the Israelites are surrounded by the Assyrians, the Assyrians have them in a city under segue. They scream insults at the Isrealites, trying to terrify them. And in the physical they have every reason to fear, as the Assyrians have demolished so many other nations all around them. But in the middle of it all Hezekiah prayed. He asked God to see them, to hear them, to save them. Then God acted. The Assyrian army  of 180,000 men were killed while the Israelites were sleeping, an angel of the Lord battled on their behalf.

The Lord wants to be mighty on our behalf as well, but it is so easy to listen to those who doubt  around us, saying it is too scary, too big, too different, too far. But when God calls, He is in charge of the outcome, He is the one who will act.

(For this ornament we use a tent )


Day 18 Hot Coal
Isaiah and The Call to Holiness

Read Isaiah 1:10-20, 6:1-13, 8:11-9:7

God is tired of lip-service. He is weary of His people bringing Him offerings He has not requested, while holding on to their hearts to keep those for themselves. He longed for the heart of His people long ago and that is the sacrifice He loves most today as well. We bring Him our Sunday’s best when he does not care about the outside appearances or our performance before others- He cares for us, for our souls, for our hurts and pain, for our whole hearts to be surrendered. God cares to have a depth with His people that would challenge the socks off of the religion of the day, turning dry faith into fire-filled lovers.

Isaiah saw a vision of God, and an angel came and purified his lips so that He could speak to the people. Praying today that we would be a people who honour our Father. He has received the offering of His own son so that I can turn and run to Him and say sorry, and He says, ‘your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for’. (Is. 6:7)

(For this ornament we use a hot coal )