Dec 14, 2019
Day 14 – A Candle in the Darkeness

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
 
Today's reading: 
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine … For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
 
Thoughts to discuss: 
  • What does it mean to you that Jesus is our Light?
  • Who do you think need His light today? How can you shine His light for them?
  • Light a candle and pray as a family for people you know who are hurting right now. Thank God for being the Light of the World. 
  • As you hang today’s ornament on your Jesse Tree, thank God that His light is brighter than any darkness.

 
 
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  • Dec 14, 2019Day 14 – A Candle in the Darkeness
    Dec 14, 2019
    Day 14 – A Candle in the Darkeness

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's reading: 
    Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
    The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine … For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
     
    Thoughts to discuss: 
    • What does it mean to you that Jesus is our Light?
    • Who do you think need His light today? How can you shine His light for them?
    • Light a candle and pray as a family for people you know who are hurting right now. Thank God for being the Light of the World. 
    • As you hang today’s ornament on your Jesse Tree, thank God that His light is brighter than any darkness.

     
     
  • Dec 13, 2019Day 13 – Looking at Things Inside Out
    Dec 13, 2019
    Day 13 – Looking at Things Inside Out

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's reading: 
    1 Samuel 16:6-7, 10-12
    When Jesse’s sons arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” … All seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” “Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”
     
    Thoughts to discuss: 
    • What kind of heart did David have? What's the one thing you can do to have the kind of hear you'd like to have? 
    • Would you rather get a beautifully wrapped empty box or a wonderful gift in shabby wrapping paper? How is that like the way we should see other people? 
    • How can you look at the inside of the people instead of the outside? Say a prayer together, asking God to help you see others the way He sees them. 
  • Dec 12, 2019Day 12 – The Little Things
    Dec 12, 2019
    Day 12 – The Little Things

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's reading: 

    There was once a hungry family - a mother and a father and two big boys - and they lived in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread”. But the whole family was starving - for bread, for anything to put in their bowls. So they packed up everything they owned and moved far away to live among people who had food - and false gods. They moved in next door to a girl named Ruth. 

    One day the father died. The mother, whose name was Naomi - she cried. Later, Naomi cried with happiness - the day when Ruth smiled yes and married one of her sons. For a while, Namoi felt like her plate was heaped full of good, sweet things.

    But then both sons died. Naomi’s heart broke. She felt alone in all the world and hungry for love. Sometimes no one sees how lonely you feel inside. Ruth held Naomi when she cried again. Naomi said she was going to go back home. She’d left Bethlehem starving - and she was going back bitter.

    Ruth was smart, standing there in the dark. She looked for the light. That’s what smart people always do: brilliant people are the ones who never stop looking for the light of Jesus in everything.

    “I will go with you back to your home. I will go with you and love you and look for the good, for the gifts.” Ruth hugged Naomi with her smile. Ruth left the land of idols she had grown up in and went back to Naomi’s land, moved to Bethlehem and that house of bread. 

    When Ruth returned to Bethlehem with Naomi, she just happened to end up harvesting wheat in the field of the man who had the right to buy back the family land Naomi lost when she moved away from Bethlehem. His name was Boaz. Boaz just happened to meet Ruth out in his field gathering wheat, and Ruth just happened to tell him her story, and Boaz just happened to offer to help.

    And Boaz just happened to say he would take Ruth to be his wife and would buy back Naomi’s family land. Guess who came to the wedding? Boaz’s mother - who just so happened to be the long-ago girl who did bad things but became a princess - Rahab! (Now who was expecting that?) Naomi and Rahab both cried happy joy at the wedding. And Ruth and Boaz just happened to have a son. Naomi and Rahab were grandmothers to a little boy named Obed. And Obed happened to have a son named Jesse, who had a son named David - who became, yes, that King David, the greatest king Israel had ever known - until his many-many-many-great-grandson was born one day in Bethlehem: Jesus! The baby King who would be like bread to make sure our hearts would never be hungry for love again.

    It sure didn’t look like any miracles were happening in the story of Naomi and Ruth, did it? No angels appeared stage left, no donkeys started talking, no fireballs fell from heaven. But did you see that? All the little things that happened - they just happened to be little miracles. All that’s happening around every day is happening to make miracles.

    Every little thing is going to be okay, because God is working good through every little thing. There is never a night, never a darkness when gifts and miracles and joy aren’t coming - coming right to you. It’s a miracle in itself - how you don’t have to buy any Christmas miracle at all! The big miracle of an unbeatable, unfailing, unwrappable love is happening all around you right now. Jesus is coming - coming like a miracle into everything!
     
    Thoughts to discuss
    • What little miracles have you seen in the past few days? 
    • How can you keep your eyes open to notice the little things God is doing all around you?
    • Turn off all the lights in the room except the Christmas lights. Notice how the darkness makes the light seem even brighter. Thank God for being your light, even in dark times. 
  • Dec 11, 2019Day 11 – The Red Rope
    Dec 11, 2019
    Day 11 – The Red Rope

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's reading: 
    Joshua 2:1,8-9, 12-13, 17-18
    Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of woman named Rahab and stayed there that night … Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them … “Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.” … Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down.”
     
    Thought to Discuss: 
    Have you ever seen God turn someone's life completely around, so that person went from choosing a bad path to following Jesus? How is Jesus doing just that miraculous thing in your life? 
     
    How is Jesus like a lifeline to you - a rope you can hold on to no matter what? 
     
    Family Activities
    Look around for as many read things as you can find. When you see the color red, think of Rahab's journey of faith and the gift of Jesus. 
  • Dec 10, 2019Day 10 – Ten Love Rules
    Dec 10, 2019
    Day 10 – Ten Love Rules

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's reading: 
    Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall no misuse the name of the Lord your God. Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet … anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The Lord said, “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever.
     
    Thoughts to discuss:
    • Why do you think God gave us the Ten Commandments? 
    • How do these commandments show us God's love? 
    • Say the Ten Commandments together. Look for God's love in each commandment, and say, "I do" to God. 

     
  • Dec 9, 2019Day 9 – “Surprise Gifts”
    Dec 9, 2019
    Day 9 – “Surprise Gifts”

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's Reading: Genesis 37:3-4; 50:15-17, 19-20
    We begin in chapter thirty-seven. Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph - a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them.They couldn’t say a kind word to him …  Now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong he did to him,” they said. So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you - for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servant of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin” … Joseph replied,  “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
     
    Thoughts to discuss
    • Share about a time when God turned something bad into good for you and your family. 
    • How can recalling this story help you celebrate God's love for you today? 
    • As you hang today’s ornament on your Jesse Tree, thank God that He always brings good-even out of bad things! 

  • Dec 8, 2019Day 8 – Climbing Up
    Dec 8, 2019
    Day 8 – Climbing Up

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's Reading: Genesis 28:1-16
    As Jacob slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to the heavens. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all direction - to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!”
     
    Thoughts to discuss
    • What does it mean that Jesus is a ladder for you?
    • How is it good news that Jesus wants to a ladder for you, brining you up to Him when you've fallen down?
    • As you hang today’s ornament on your Jesse Tree, thank God for coming down from heaven to be with you.

  • Dec 7, 2019Day 7 – Here I Am
    Dec 7, 2019
    Day 7 – Here I Am

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's reading 22:1-2, 6, 11-14
    God tested Abraham’s faith, God said to him, “Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Take your only son, Isaac, the son you love, and go to the land of Moriah. Kill him there and offer him as a whole burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” … Abraham took the wood for the sacrifice and gave it to his son to carry, but he himself took the knife and the fire. So he and his son went on together … But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” Abraham answered, “Yes.” The angel said, “Don’t kill your son or hurt him in any way. Now I can see that you trust God and that you have not kept your son, your only son, from me.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a male sheep caught in a bush by its horns. So Abraham went and took the sheep and killed it. He offered it as a whole burnt offering to God, and his son was saved. So Abraham named that place The Lord Provides. Even today people say, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
     
    Thoughts to discuss:
    What would it look like for you to trust God with your whole hear today? 
  • Dec 6, 2019Day 6 – The Gift of Laughter
    Dec 6, 2019
    Day 6 – The Gift of Laughter

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book.
     
    Today's Reading: Genesis 21:1-7
    The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born. And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”
     
     
    Thoughts to discuss: 
    "When was the last time you laughed a big fizzy laugh? How did that feel?
  • Dec 5, 2019Day 5 – Count the Stars
    Dec 5, 2019
    Day 5 – Count the Stars

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp

    Click here to purchase "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift" Advent devotional book. 
     
    Today's reading: Genesis 12:1-4,7
    The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed … The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
     
    Thought to discuss:
    As a family, go to a neighbors home. Be a blessing in some way - by bringing cookies, a care, or our smile.