Do Not Lean on Your Own Understanding

Day Two:   God forbid that we ever get used to Christmas!

Luke 1:46-55 CEV     Mary said: With all my heart I praise the Lord,  (47)  and I am glad because of God my Savior.  (48)  He cares for me, his humble servant. From now on, all people will say God has blessed me.  (49)  God All-Powerful has done great things for me, and his name is holy.  (50)  He always shows mercy to everyone who worships him.  (51)  The Lord has used his powerful arm to scatter those who are proud.  (52)  He drags strong rulers from their thrones and puts humble people in places of power.  (53)  God gives the hungry good things to eat, and sends the rich away with nothing.  (54)  He helps his servant Israel and is always merciful to his people.  (55)  The Lord made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his family forever!

Isaiah 55:8-9  CEV   The LORD says: “My thoughts and my ways are not like yours.  (9)  Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts and my ways are higher than yours.

Let’s pray:

            Father, you humble the proud and exalt the humble, and we stand in awe. We recognize that the way we feel fragile, exhausted, and burdened this Advent may mean we are right where you want us. You sent your Son to help the weak and weary. Open our eyes to the weaknesses we try to ignore and cover over. In your Son, we are safe to own them, and come humbly to you, to rejoice in you and your strong arms, not ours. Magnify yourself in us this season through our rejoicing in you and your Son.  In his name we pray. Amen.



Day Three:   Jesus himself is the great JOY that make all the attendant joys of our salvation so great! 

John 1:1-3 CEV  In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God.  (2)  From the very beginning the Word was with God.  (3)  And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created 4  received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone.

Colossians 1:16-17 CEV  Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities. All things were created by God’s Son, and everything was made for him.  (17)  God’s Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together.

Let’s pray:

Father in heaven, may your Son assume his rightful place in our hearts this Advent. At this most material time of the year in our materialistic society, your Son’s pre-existence reminds us of his preciousness over every party and present, over all the trees and trimmings. He is before, and better than, anything in this created world. Cause our hearts to swell in this season at the gift of the person of Christ as our greatest treasure. In his precious name we pray. Amen.


Day Four:  Our joy serves His glory!

John 1:14 CEV  The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.

Philippians 2:4-8 CEV   Care about them as much as you care about yourselves 5 and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought:  (6)  Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God.  (7)  Instead he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us.  (8)  Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross.


Let’s pray:

Father, we marvel at the singular person of your Son. He was fully divine, in infinite bliss with you, from all eternity, and yet he took on our humanity and subjected himself to the pains and miseries of our sin-sick world in order to save us. Your love for us in and through Christ is far beyond our full finding out, but we want to know more. And what we do know is cause for great worship. We adore your Son, dear Father, and long to know and enjoy him more, and all the more in this Advent season. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.



Day Five:  The Word became flesh that the very joy of God – Eternal, Unquenchable, Unshakable – might become our joy!

Luke 2:1-7 CEV About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books.  (2)  These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  (3)  Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed.  (4)  So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.  (5)  Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby,  (6)  and while they were there,  (7)  she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Let’s pray:

Father in heaven, we thank you for the great joy of Christmas. The coming of your Son, for us and for our salvation, is indeed a cause for great joy—and he himself the greatest of all joys. Father, stir in us in this Advent season a joy in Christ that is increasingly high and wide and deep enough to endure the many trials and sufferings we face in this age.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Day Six:  The Christ Child is unexpectedly typical and surprisingly distinct!

Luke 2:8-20  CEV That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep.  (9)  All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord’s glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened.  (10)  But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy.  (11)  This very day in King David’s hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.  (12)  You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.”  (13)  Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said:  (14)  “Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.”  (15)  After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.”  (16)  They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay.  (17)  When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him.  (18)  Everyone listened and was surprised.  (19)  But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant.  (20)  As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said.

Let’s pray:

Father in heaven, make us more like the shepherds who went to see Jesus at his birth, glorifying you through our joy in you, and praising you through our words and witness in the world. We don’t want to pretend to be strong and wise and noble. We acknowledge our lowliness and marvel that you sent your Son from the heights of heavens to the lowliest of earthly accommodations to announce and accomplish this good news of great joy.  In his name we pray. Amen.


Day Seven:  He is not just God with us. It gets better. He has come to rescue us!

Matthew 2:1-12 CEV When Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem in Judea, Herod was king. During this time some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem  (2)  and said, “Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”  (3)  When King Herod heard about this, he was worried, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem.  (4)  Herod brought together the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses and asked them, “Where will the Messiah be born?”  (5)  They told him, “He will be born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet wrote,  (6)  ‘Bethlehem in the land of Judea, you are very important among the towns of Judea. From your town will come a leader, who will be like a shepherd for my people Israel.’ ”  (7)  Herod secretly called in the wise men and asked them when they had first seen the star.  (8)  He told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, let me know. I want to go and worship him too.”  (9)  The wise men listened to what the king said and then left. And the star they had seen in the east went on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  (10)  They were thrilled and excited to see the star.  (11)  When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and gave them to him.  (12)  Later they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they went back home by another road.

Ephesians 2:12-13 CEV At that time you did not know about Christ. You were foreigners to the people of Israel, and you had no part in the promises that God had made to them. You were living in this world without hope and without God,  (13)  and you were far from God. But Christ offered his life’s blood as a sacrifice and brought you near God.

Romans 5:8 CEV  But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.

Let’s pray:

Father in heaven, we remember that we were at one time separated from Christ, alienated from your people and strangers to your covenants, having no hope and without you in the world. But now, O God, in Christ Jesus, we who once were far off, like magi, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Christmas is a tribute to your grace, not our deservedness. Advent marks your coming in Christ to pluck us from our sin, and only then our coming to Christ to bow the knee in worship. He came not to call the righteous but sinners. We own our rebellion and many failures, and gladly bow before your Son.  In his name we pray. Amen.