Advent 2021 Devotionals
Week 4: December 19-25
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. —1 John 4:10-12
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. —1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13
The final week of Advent brings us right up to the birth of Love itself—God incarnate who came to seek and save the lost. In these last few days leading up to Christmas, let us find time to pause and experience the love of Jesus.
It was in the midst of the deep dark night, “when the time had fully come,” that God sent His Son into the world. Jesus often comes in the darkest hour—bringing light and love into the bleakest of circumstances.
Love is costly—it puts others first. The Christmas story is filled with wonderful examples of selfless love in dark, confusing times. Joseph chose to love Mary in the face of difficult news. Mary treasured her love for her precious baby—a love that would deeply wound her as she watched Him go to the cross.
It’s because Jesus first loved us—was willing to lay down His life to save each one—that we are called to love the stranger, oppressed, and marginalized. It’s with the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to ask ourselves in each moment: What would it look like to love the person in front of me?
As you prepare for the joyous celebration to come on Christmas morning, remember that once we were helpless, lost in darkness. Jesus came to rescue—not because of anything we can do for God—but simply because of His heart for us. What amazing love is this!
This week, spend time remembering all those who have not yet encountered the perfect love of Jesus—who are still waiting in the growing darkness for love to find and redeem them.
Remember a time you chose to love someone at personal cost to yourself—what was that experience like for you? For the other person?
What are some ways you can show sacrificial love to someone else?
How can you live out the love of Jesus in your community?
Meditation & Prayer:
As you pause to reflect, consider God’s heart for you. As Jesus taught us in John 15, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
This is His love for you: that He would lay down His life for you so that you might be with Him for eternity. Spend a few moments pondering and treasuring these thoughts in your heart. As you do so, ask God to empower you to love others with the same kind of radical love.
Pray that the Lord would grow the Church’s heart for the lost, the sick, the suffering, and the outcast. Ask Him to grow in your heart a new kind of love for those you find difficult to love. Ask the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of those He is calling to live sacrificially and go to be the hands and feet of Jesus among the least-reached.
Week 3: December 12-18
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” —Luke 2:8-11
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. —Philippians 4:4-5
As we draw nearer to Christmas, we begin to look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus with great joy—joy only possible with God. We reflect that true joy is unshakable, for it is not a fleeting happiness driven by the circumstances of our lives, but a state of being that finds its source in the Lord. In troubled times, when fear circles around us, we have joy because the Lord is near! He is Immanuel, God with us.
Isaiah declares in verse 49:13, “Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.” Before Jesus was born, the Israelites had joy because they anticipated a time when the promised Messiah would come. Even in dark times, we have joy because we know our Messiah has already come, that we are in His hands, and that He will come again!
Having this kind of joy and experiencing its power in weakness is an incredible gift from God to His people—yet there are so many people who still do not know Jesus. This week, celebrate the joy that comes from belonging to Jesus and pray for God to bring this joy to those who do not yet know Him.
Has there been a time in your life when you have felt joy despite difficulty?
How do you think you can cultivate more joy in your life?
What are ways you can share joy with people around you?
Meditation & Prayer:
Spend a few moments in quiet reflection and try to recall times in your life when you have experienced God’s joy in times of difficulty. Dwell on what it means to you to know that no matter what happens, Jesus is with you—that you can depend on Him. Praise Him in your own way, and thank Him in prayer.
Additionally, please pray that God would fulfill His promise and raise more workers to take this joy to those who have not heard. Ask the Holy Spirit to minister powerfully, bringing fresh joy to all of God’s people who are facing trouble and persecution.
Week 2: December 5-11
A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” —Isaiah 40:3-5
Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor. —John 4:36-38
For thousands of years before the birth of Jesus, God was already weaving the story of salvation—preparing humanity to receive God in the flesh, revealing Himself through His chosen people.
Jesus personally invested time in preparing His followers for the coming kingdom—teaching them how to live life according to the Spirit and to carry on His ministry after He returned to the Father.
He is still preparing even now. He is working through His Church to carry the message of redemption to those who haven’t heard—and the Holy Spirit is even now preparing hearts to receive that message.
Planting a garden is an act of faith. It takes a long investment of time to prepare, plant, cultivate, and nurture a garden before one can hope for a harvest. So it is when it comes to reaching the unreached with the gospel. It can be many long years of patient prayer and preparation among a people group before seeing any fruit—indeed, much work unfolds even before a worker sets foot in another country. This week, would you join with believers all over the world in prayers of preparation for the least reached around the world?
What kind of preparation do parents need to make before a baby arrives?
What kind of preparation does a missionary need before serving others?
As you look back, what are ways that God has prepared you for what He wants you to do?
What are some potential places for growth in your spiritual life?
Meditation & Prayer:
In your time of reflection and prayer, consider the gospel story and all that God has done over many ages in order to have a relationship with you. Spend time in gratitude for Jesus and His promise to prepare a place for His people.
Pray for God to prepare the way for the gospel among the least reached and ask the Holy Spirit to move in a mighty way among those who don't know Him. Ask God to open new doors among hard-to-reach people groups and to stir the hearts of future workers to go to them.
Week 1: November 28 - December 4
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. - Isaiah 9:2
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. - Isaiah 9:6-7
This first week of Advent is commonly spent reflecting on hope. At this time of year, we put ourselves in the worn-out shoes of the Israelites. They were a people in exile, under the yoke of foreign powers, waiting with great hope for the coming of the foretold Messiah. Each year, they looked back to their bondage in Egypt to celebrate the mighty work of God on their behalf and called upon Him to act for them again.
Today, we too are exiles—busy about God’s work in a fallen world and calling upon Him to act for us again. We look back to the manger to celebrate the first coming of the long-awaited Christ and look forward with expectant hope to His glorious return.
• What are some things you have hoped for in the past? Have you seen those hopes come to fruition?
• What are you hoping and praying expectantly for right now?
• What do you think God teaches us during times of waiting?
Meditation & Prayer:
As you spend a few moments with the Lord, reflect on the many hopeful promises fulfilled at the birth of Jesus. Dwell on the radical love of the God who was, and is, and is to come! This God loved the world so much - loved you so much - that when the time was right, He sent His Son to fulfill all hope and crush death!
Pray for God’s promises to continue to be fulfilled in this present world of brokenness and pain. Ask God to act on behalf of the least reached. Pray that He would open the way to serve those who still need to hear, and that He would raise up and send more workers to carry the good news that shall be for all people.