WEEK 2 // DAY 1
Dec 11 6:32 AM

WEEK 2 // DAY 1

Dec 11 6:32 AM
Dec 11 6:32 AM

READ

Start by reading Matthew 1:18-25.

Matthew perhaps expected his audience to respond to Mary’s claim a bit like Joseph did at first, with a heavy dose of skepticism. Joseph was a good man, and not wanting to be wrapped up in whatever sordid story Mary was telling him, he was getting ready to graciously walk away.

But God. God sent a dream so clear and so real that it changed Joseph’s entire life. God tells Joseph that what Mary spoke was true. That the baby she bore was conceived not by human plan, but by the very Spirit of God. And not only was this baby conceived by the power of God, He would be called Emmanuel, “God with Us”.

And so, Joseph took Mary as his wife and bore all the judgement and skepticism from his peers. Though no parent ever knows what their child will become, perhaps Mary and Joseph got a glimpse when the wise men laid frankincense, anointing oil, at Jesus’ feet.

From the very beginning, Jesus came into this world a kicking, screaming, wiggly baby. Fully God, borne of the Spirit, to a virgin, and fully man. God with us. Not God far away from us. Not God unconcerned with us and our little problems. God with us. From the very beginning to the very end, your God will be with you.

REFLECT

What stood out as you interacted with this passage?

PRAY

Pray for a more intimate relationship with the God of the universe who has always been and always will be.

WEEK 2 // THAT IS THE GOD FOR ME
Dec 10 6:32 AM

WEEK 2 // THAT IS THE GOD FOR ME

Dec 10 6:32 AM
Dec 10 6:32 AM

Frankincense is a gift for God Himself. John Stott wrote about the beauty of Jesus being fully God and fully human in the book, The Cross of Christ. He knew that the Creator God becoming His own creation was the greatest gift of all.

“In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world.

But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness.

That is the God for me!

He laid aside His immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears, and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of His. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering.”

The Cross of Christ | John Stott

WEEK 1 // DAY 5
Dec 08 6:31 AM

WEEK 1 // DAY 5

Dec 08 6:31 AM
Dec 08 6:31 AM

READ

Start by reading Revelation 1:1-8.

The church was about to go through an intense time of persecution. The Romans had already killed most of the disciples. And now, they have exiled John to a rock in the middle of the Mediterranean. Would the church survive?

If the church was going to have faith to endure the terrors of the coming tribulation, they needed to see that King Jesus was more awesome and more powerful than the tribulations were terrifying.

They didn’t need a project that was going to simply be the missing piece in their dissatisfied, suburban lives. They didn’t need a program that would give them life advice. They needed a King who ruled the universe. Only a glorious and mighty Savior would give them confidence to face the horrors of the apocalypse.

Whether it is the Horsemen of the Apocalypse or death, divorce, and diagnosis, we too need a King of infinite glory who sits on the throne of the universe. We need a King who calms the winds and the waves by the power of His Word. We need a King who has promised to marshal every molecule in the universe in pursuit of His plan and our good.

REFLECT

What stood out as you interacted with this passage?

PRAY

Pray that God would give you faith that He is more awesome and powerful than any adversity.

WEEK 1 // DAY 4
Dec 07 6:30 AM

WEEK 1 // DAY 4

Dec 07 6:30 AM
Dec 07 6:30 AM

READ

Start by reading Acts 2:22-41.

Amidst the rushing wind and tongues of fire, Peter told the crowd that the longed-for king – a man from a no-name family in a no-name town who left His carpentry job – announced to the world that the longed-for kingdom had finally come. And yet there was no army with Him, no borders were secured, and the people of God remained oppressed. Peter told them that the death and resurrection of King Jesus meant that castles were coming, and a land would be secured. However, wait for it, he said the kingdom was here right now.

Like he said to this crowd in Acts 2, Jesus announces that His gospel begins with the bold declaration that God’s Kingdom has come, and fear, shame, and guilt are relieved. The great adventure of God’s mission was now underway for anyone who would turn from their rebellion and trust in King Jesus.

REFLECT

What stood out as you interacted with this passage?

PRAY

Ask God for courage to make his name known to those He’s placed on your heart.

WEEK 1 // DAY 3
Dec 06 6:30 AM

WEEK 1 // DAY 3

Dec 06 6:30 AM
Dec 06 6:30 AM

READ

Start by reading Ezekiel 37:24-28.

It was some of the darkest days in Israel. The Northern Kingdom had been totally destroyed, its people taken into exile and massacred. The Southern Kingdom in Jerusalem was on the brink of destruction. Surrounded by chaos and misery, the people of God wondered if He had forgotten the promise that He made to King David long ago.

But something was afoot. After all, the book of Ezekiel was written 450 years after King David’s death. Why then does the prophet Ezekiel say that David will be the shepherd and king of God’s people?

Because another King, a greater King, was still to come; because the night is darkest just before the dawn; because the dawn was coming; because God made a promise to His people; and because even in chaos, misery, and destruction, His promises hold true.

REFLECT

What stood out as you interacted with this passage?

PRAY

Ask God to remind you of His continued faithfulness.

WEEK 1 // DAY 2
Dec 05 7:29 AM

WEEK 1 // DAY 2

Dec 05 7:29 AM
Dec 05 7:29 AM

READ

Start by reading 2 Samuel 7:1-17.

It is the end of his life. King David has served the Lord faithfully and now he wants to build a temple for His God. And why would he not want to do this? God had taken him from the pasture and made him prince over His people.

God had bigger plans, however. The prince in the palace would not build the temple. Rather, his son Solomon would build the temple. God says this starting in verse 13: He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Forever though? Establishing the throne of his offspring’s kingdom “forever” raises the stakes a bit. After all, Solomon died, and his dynasty ended in 586 B.C. at the business end of Babylonian swords. And while we’re at it, why did God choose to call David “prince” over Israel? Wasn’t he the king? Something greater is going on in God’s response to David.

God was showing David that He had bigger plans than simply constructing a temple. Indeed, the temple would be built by the future king of Israel, but God continues to reveal that a greater King is still to come. The house of God’s salvation would not be built by the hand of Israel’s prince, but by the blood of the Prince of Peace.

REFLECT

What stood out as you interacted with this passage?

PRAY

Ask God to show you that His plans are greater than yours.

WEEK 1 // DAY 1
Dec 04 6:22 AM

WEEK 1 // DAY 1

Dec 04 6:22 AM
Dec 04 6:22 AM

READ

Start by reading Matthew 1:1-17.

We know. Seventeen verses of Hebrew genealogical record might not exactly say, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light.” However, there is a reason why passages like this are in the Bible.

Imagine going to a new doctor. What is one of the first things that you would be asked as a new patient? What is your family history? Do you have a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, or mental illness? Why do doctors ask these personal questions?

Because generations and generations of family history – the good, the bad, and the weird – have contributed to your formation as a person. Because to know your family history is to know you. The same could be said about these 17 verses of Jesus Christ’s family history – to know Him better is to know His family history.

REFLECT

What stood out as you interacted with this passage?

PRAY

Pray for God’s Character to be revealed in a new way this season.

WEEK 1 // BEHOLD THE KING
Dec 03 6:39 AM

WEEK 1 // BEHOLD THE KING

Dec 03 6:39 AM
Dec 03 6:39 AM

Gold is a gift for a king. In The Lord of the Rings book, The Return of the King, JRR Tolkien was inspired by the book of Matthew as he wrote this grand announcement to behold the King:

“Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to Gandalf; and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head, and said: ‘Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!’

But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near; ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands,
and a light was about him.

And then Faramir cried: ‘Behold the King!’”

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien

INTRO // THE STORY OF THE THREE GIFTS
Dec 01 10:40 AM

INTRO // THE STORY OF THE THREE GIFTS

Dec 01 10:40 AM
Dec 01 10:40 AM

The King and His Kingdom

As the old Christmas carol goes, they saw a star of wonder, a star of night, a star of royal beauty bright. Westward leading and still proceeding, these three kings from Orient far traveled to worship the newborn King from Heaven.

But even as these kings conspicuously traveled the desert sands with their regal entourage, what could they offer celestial royalty who infinitely surpassed their own earthly dominion and power? What could they offer the newborn king who not only created them but also the sand on which they walked?

Matthew tells us that they offered him gifts fit for the true king: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold, to symbolize that He would be a great and powerful leader. Frankincense, to show that He would restore the relationship between God and His people. Myrrh, to foreshadow that this great and powerful leader would accomplish restoration through His death.

Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. These gifts given by these kings made God’s intentions crystal clear: King Jesus was here to establish God’s kingdom and restore the people of God into relationship with himself.

Echoes of the Kingdom

The real beauty of these gifts, however, is seen in the story of humanity. Let’s rewind.

In the beginning, God decided to fill the universe with the goodness He had within Himself.

The crown of His creation was humanity, and we were intended to share in the beauty overflowing from God Himself. Just as God existed in perfect harmony within the diversity of the Trinity, so too were men and women created to revel in the wonder of man, woman, and God united in deep communion.

At some point though, that beauty was traded for guilt, communion for fear, and security for shame. The man and the woman were expelled from God’s original kingdom, His garden in Eden. The earth was cursed, their bodies broken, and God’s creation was left in mourning. And yet, God’s original intention remained embedded within their souls and a longing for freedom from guilt, fear, and shame marked the human experience from that day forward.

So, they pursued this longing as they built kingdoms, set up thrones, and conquered lands. But all of their kings failed, and all of their kingdoms crumbled. Perhaps centuries of suffering and disappointment were quietly telling God’s people that they were longing for more than the security of high walls and the beauty of a castle.

What if they really longed for the faded memory of beauty, communion, and security in God’s Kingdom? It is in this story that a newborn baby from a no-name family in a no-name town is visited by these kings bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, announcing that God’s Kingdom has finally returned...

The Return of the King

Years later, King Jesus painted a stunning picture of the Kingdom of God through signs of what this Kingdom looks like — He healed the sick, restored the broken, and raised the dead. His Kingdom would be marked by a transformation from sick to healthy, fractured to whole, death to life. As New Testament scholar N.T. Wright put it, “Jesus was sketching out in pencil what one day He would paint with indelible ink.”

From there, disciples were invited to follow Jesus in every area of their life, and help others do the same. Because in God’s Kingdom, beauty, communion, and security do not come merely by edict, but by relationship. An end to guilt, fear, and shame comes through Jesus, who promises our restoration and provides it through relationship. And so, even from the beginning of his life as kings presented gifts, it was clear, the King had returned. Life with God — a life marked by beauty, communion, and security — was once again available.

King Jesus would not be like the rulers of the world — corrupt and oppressive men, duplicitous tyrants, and self-seeking dictators. He would be a loving, just, and faithful king. His rule would be marked by intimacy with God and human flourishing. His commands would be for the good of his people, his way of life the most beautiful.

The gifts of these kings are a bold declaration that God’s Kingdom has come. Life with God under the rule of God is now available to anyone who will turn from their rebellion and trust in King Jesus.

HOW TO USE THIS ADVENT GUIDE
Nov 28 10:39 AM

HOW TO USE THIS ADVENT GUIDE

Nov 28 10:39 AM
Nov 28 10:39 AM

Stories don’t just entertain us; stories also form us. That is why this guide is less about information and more about formation. We have created this guide to provide a framework for entering the story of King Jesus and His Kingdom through establishing habits and rhythms.

From Bible Reading Plans and Devotionals to Reflection and Prayer Prompts, we want to give you a way to reenchant your heads and hearts around the true story of the Kingdom this Christmas season.

Bible Reading Plan

One of the primary ways in which we grow as disciples of Jesus is through reading the Bible. We have provided a reading plan that will take you deeper into the story of how gold, frankincense, and myrrh paint a picture of the Kingdom of God.

The challenge here is progress, not perfection. Think about how often you currently read the Bible and simply start with a “+1” of that. Experiencing the benefit and joy of Bible reading often leads to greater frequency.

An Invitation to Pray

As a part of the Bible Reading Plan, we’re inviting you to spend time responding in prayer each day. We encourage you to pray for your time in the scriptures, that God would use His Word to center your heart and head around Him and His story.

In prayer, we intentionally enter into communication with God. God is always communicating with us whether it be through His Word, through the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit, or through doors of opportunity swung wide open or firmly shut. In prayer however, we become intentionally aware that we are in the presence of God and that He desires to communicate with us. Consider the simple structure of P.R.A.Y. for how to spend time intentionally communicating with God.

Daily devotionals will be posted here starting on December 4. We can't wait to celebrate advent with you!