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A Simple Advent Celebration for Groups or Families

I wasn’t raised celebrating Advent (or even going to church on Christmas Eve), but I’ve found Advent to be tremendously meaningful over the past 10 + years. I love focusing intentionally on Jesus throughout the month of December, both personally and with my family.

Family devotionals have never really been our thing. But I try the hardest during advent, and that’s the only time we’ve really made them work. For years – especially leading groups of college girls, and when I was trying to lead my own young kids in celebrating advent – I was desperate for Advent resources.  I’ve tried lots of things, Jesse Trees, daily discussions, some really beautiful books. But daily things tend to get super overwhelming when I try to force them on my family.  I can (and do) manage a daily devotional myself most days, because I badly need the space and quiet. But daily with the kids has always felt like a battle. Over the years, we cobbled together a simple weekly plan that worked for us.

I think this simple plan will work well for most friend groups, community gatherings or families.

Is Jesus your Cheerleader?

I’ve written over the past few weeks about God with us and in us. I’ve never spoken to a group of women for whom the idea of intimacy with God, that kind of closeness, wasn’t scary for some, if not most.

So today we’re talking about one last promise. I’ve betrayed my English Major roots and themed everything I’ve written this month around PREPOSITIONS. We have WITH, and we have IN. Our last preposition is FOR: God is FOR us.

If the idea of intimacy with God is uncomfortable for you, perhaps that is because you have a view of God that isn’t safe. It’s hard to feel good about a God who is with and in you, if you don’t believe He is for you.

Why isn’t the promise of God-With-Us (Emmanuel) in the New Testament? (Don’t worry, it’s good news!)

God is WITH ME. I’m hanging on tight to that promise.

HE IS WITH US. That’s good news, but it isn’t the end of the story.

In this season I feel God inviting me deeper.

When I searched the Bible and pulled a long list of God’s WITH US promises, I saw that they are all over the Bible… Until you hit the end of the Gospels.

Then you don’t see “WITH YOU” promised again until it’s fulfilled in the Revelation, with “the tabernacle of God … among men…”

In all these years of clinging to the promise of God with us, I never noticed that the promise doesn’t come up in Paul’s writing or any letters from the early church in our New Testament. Paul and the other NT Writers don’t talk about God WITH US.

Hanging on to the promise: God with us

God is WITH us. This is gospel, this is good news.

We invite people to become Christians.  And we’ve hopefully responded to that invitation ourselves. But do we live the truth that believing Jesus is just the beginning?

Trusting Christ opens the door to a life WITH Jesus. John says, “THIS Is eternal life, that they may KNOW YOU, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

What difference does it make, as you think about walking with Jesus, to know that you are more than just a Christian? You are one who lives her life WITH GOD. You are more than “saved”, you have a WITH YOU God.

I don’t know what you are facing today. But I do know that God is WITH you.

Will you respond? Will you say YES to the great with you promise of Jesus? Will you welcome Him in, remind yourself that you’re not alone, put out the hands of your heart and hold on to Jesus, with you in whatever you’re going through?

I hope so. Because I personally am hanging on TIGHT to this promise.

Do we need to ask God to “be with us”?

I’ve rarely prayed in a group where SOMEONE hasn’t asked God to “be with us”, I’ve prayed it myself. And it can’t be wrong, since Paul prays it: Now the God of peace be with you all.  (Rom15:33, also 16:20, 24, end of many of his letters)

But I try to catch myself, I try not to pray this anymore, because I don’t know that we have to ask God to be with us. We can thank Him that He IS with us. He’s already promised that He is.

God with us is part of the Original Design:

Love Drives Fear Away {Free Devotional: No Fear}


 

So far 2018 has had more than enough change for me: I’ve graduated a kid from high school, registered another for middle school, quit one job and started another. Every time my youngest son sits on my lap, I know it could be the last. I updated my resume and interviewed for a job for the first time since the 1990s. I let go of work and ministry that have been a part of my life for longer than my husband or children, and am learning something new.It is exhilarating and terrifying and overwhelming and great and in 2 months I’ll be 3 years from 50 (FIFTY.)I’ve needed every lesson I’ve learned about the Biblical command, “Do not fear.”

I’ve needed to know that God sees me. That His promises are worth waiting for. That He loves and chooses me. That the Lord is my Shepherd. I’ve reminded myself over and over that He is with me, no matter what happens. And I am still reminding myself that sonship (my belonging to God as His daughter) may be the antidote to fear.

The changes in our life aren’t over, but I’m learning to embrace even the scary parts. The things I fear open a door for me to wrap God’s good words around me like a blanket, to run to the truth like a fortress, to put God’s promises on like shoes and walk in them.Especially the best and most beautiful promise of all, the love of God.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

So much in our lives tempts us to look at obstacles, at our lack, at the things we fear. And God invites us to look to Him, to look to love.
How do you fight fear with the knowledge of God’s love?

What would it take to for us to be so sure of God’s love of us that His love would drown out our fears?

This post is the last in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. You can read all of the posts in the series hereIf this devotional resonated with you, feel free to share it using one of the links below: That really helps people to find this site, which hopefully will bless them as it has blessed you!


Love Drives Fear Away {Wrapping up the No Fear Study}


So far 2018 has had more than enough change for me: I’ve graduated a kid from high school, registered another for middle school, quit one job and started another. Every time my youngest son sits on my lap, I know it could be the last. I updated my resume and interviewed for a job for the first time since the 1990s. I let go of work and ministry that have been a part of my life for longer than my husband or children, and am learning something new.It is exhilarating and terrifying and overwhelming and great and in 2 months I’ll be 3 years from 50 (FIFTY.)I’ve needed every lesson I’ve learned about the Biblical command, “Do not fear.”

I’ve needed to know that God sees me. That His promises are worth waiting for. That He loves and chooses me. That the Lord is my Shepherd. I’ve reminded myself over and over that He is with me, no matter what happens. And I am still reminding myself that sonship (my belonging to God as His daughter) may be the antidote to fear.

The changes in our life aren’t over, but I’m learning to embrace even the scary parts. The things I fear open a door for me to wrap God’s good words around me like a blanket, to run to the truth like a fortress, to put God’s promises on like shoes and walk in them.Especially the best and most beautiful promise of all, the love of God.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

So much in our lives tempts us to look at obstacles, at our lack, at the things we fear. And God invites us to look to Him, to look to love.
How do you fight fear with the knowledge of God’s love?

What would it take to for us to be so sure of God’s love of us that His love would drown out our fears?

This post is the last in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. You can read all of the posts in the series hereIf this devotional resonated with you, feel free to share it using one of the links below: That really helps people to find this site, which hopefully will bless them as it has blessed you!