Day 4 | Olivia Huggins

During this devotion I learned that not only is our God a God of joy and happiness, but our God is a God of surprises! God sent an angel to Zechariah, whose wife is unable to conceive a child, and told him that his prayers had been heard! And that his wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to a son, and his name will be John. Through John, God gave a signal of His promise that he made a long time ago, the birth of a Savior!

Verses 16 and 17 stood out to me the most in this passage. In these verses, the angel who came to Zechariah tells him that John will turn the sons and daughters of Israel back to the Lord their God! He will soften the hearts of the fathers and mothers to their children and turn them back obeying, righteous children of God in order to get them ready for the coming of a Messiah. I love these verses because it shows me exactly how our hearts should be this holiday season!

Similar to Zechariah and Elizabeth, we all go through struggles and feel as though God doesn’t hear our prayers. God always comes through! In the next couple of weeks, let’s turn our hearts towards Christ and obtain the wisdom of the righteous in order to prepare ourselves for this upcoming season!

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Day 3 | Will Blackmon

To me, the biggest thing God showed me in this devotion is that God will test your patience AND faithfulness no matter who or what you have done. Zechariah and Elizabeth were very righteous and faithful people to God. Zechariah was a priest of God and Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. In verse 6 it says “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” For those who do not know, being unable to have a child back in this time was seen as God cursing that family for a sin they committed and seen as shameful. This leads you to wonder, why would God curse a family that was seen as righteous before God? Well, you could see it as God testing their faith to see if they would get mad, give up, and turn away from God. As you can see they did not. They remained faithful!

I feel like a point that the author of the devotion missed is that patience and faithfulness can go hand in hand. I feel like that is a problem many young people face today. They ask God for something to happen and when it takes too long or they don’t get it, they turn away from Him. Zechariah and Elizabeth remained faithful to God for 60 years waiting for a child! That’s a pretty long time waiting for a child if you ask me. I’m sure during those 60 years Elizabeth had to wonder why God would not let her have a child. But you can now see that her baby grew up to be an important figure in Bible history (John the Baptist) and how God’s perfectly timed plan had been revealed. This is to remind you that God has a plan for all of us. And there is always a reason why He answers the way He does, whether it be yes, no, or wait 60 years.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55: 8-9

We must remember that sometimes His answer will be “no”. You might be heartbroken at first, but always remember: He has not left you. He was with you from birth to now and boy does He have a marvelous plan for you! Though times may get tough, you may fall, you may stumble, He might tell you no, or wait 60 years, but one thing is for sure: He will never abandon you. Call on Him and He will give you the strength to be have patience and be faithful.

Day 2 | Tyler Bottomlee

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ. I think when most of us, myself included, see a passage that starts with so-and-so, the father of so-and-so, we sometimes say to ourselves, “Great, a bunch of hard names to pronounce,” and move along. However, this is the very first passage in the New Testament, and it has quite a bit we can learn from.

One thing that stood out to me in this passage is God’s everlasting faithfulness. The passage tells us that there were forty-two generations from Abraham to Jesus. These forty-two generations spanned thousands of years. When Adam and Eve fell from the garden, a price had to be paid for sin. But thousands of years before Jesus was even born, God had a plan of salvation. Even when we fled from God, he was faithful to us and pursued us. God has exhibited His faithfulness in my life in countless ways. Whether it was through keeping my dad safe in military deployments to Afghanistan or keeping my mom alive through attacks from a blood-borne virus after my birth, God has never left me or my family’s side. Even when it feels like we are alone, God is with us. He has been for thousands of years.

Another thing that stood out to me in this passage was some of the people in Jesus’ lineage. Several memorable people were David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Each of these men was a king of Israel. Jesus didn’t just come from the line of average Joes; he came from a line of royalty: a line of kings. No one could’ve been more fit to be the ruler of the world and the ruler of our hearts. However, Jesus didn’t just come from a lineage of power. In verse 5, it says Jesus came from line of Boaz who was Rahab’s son. This is the same Rahab from the book of Joshua-Rahab the prostitute! To me, this shows God’s sense of forgiveness and compassion. Even after the horrible things Rahab had done, God forgave her and, more than that, even placed his own Son in her lineage! This truly reveals the heart of love and compassion God has for us.

But what can we apply to our everyday lives with this devotion? How can we use this passage to grow closer to God and show love to men? Let Jesus’ lineage of kings inspire us to be bold in our faith, never yielding to the pressures of this world. Let His lineage of forgiveness and compassion soften our hearts toward each other and non-believers. Just like God was faithful to stubborn, rebellious us for forty-two generations and even longer, let us show kindness and love to those around us. When the world says Happy Holidays, say Merry Christmas! When you see a stranger, just smile! You never know, it might make their day. But let’s never forget, God was faithful to us and sent his Son to be born of this world so that we may be born again and live with Him forever!

Day 1 | Kalyn Yountz

John 1:1-3 refers to Jesus Christ as being “the Word”, saying that “the Word has been with God since the beginning and that the Word IS GOD. Sometimes it’s hard for us as humans to grasp the fact that the Lord has been around since before time, because we live a very, very short time on Earth compared life in eternity with Christ. So to say that the Lord has been around since before Creation is something our brains can’t fathom.

Verse 3 says that there would be nothing without God – through Him all things were created. This is a statement and verse that we should remind ourselves of daily. We so easily get caught up in the world and our selfish desires…we need to lean on this truth: without our perfect Savior, there would be nothing. We would be nothing. There would be no opportunity to live life in freedom, or to live this life for His glory, not our own. My prayer when reading this devotion is that this verse would humble us, stop us in our tracks and remind us of who we are, because of who He is.

We should be eternally grateful to the Lord for sending us the gift of His son to die the death we deserve which has in turn delivered us from our sins. He has given us a gateway to Heaven despite our failure to pursue holiness. He has given us a love and joy so indescribable; we are at a loss for words. He has given us a life of freedom and peace that we cannot earn on our own. Out of love for each and everyone of us this sacrifice was made at a cost, a price we can never repay, but at a circumstance where we can live everyday in hopes to bring praise to God’s name.

Prayer: I thank you, Lord, for the 25th of December – we get to celebrate the birth of Your Son, who so graciously gave His perfect life for sinners like me. My hope and prayer for the next 29 days is that we don’t get so caught up in all the fun holiday shenanigans, forgetting why we truly celebrate Christmas. I pray that whoever reads this will open their heart to whatever it is that You may be telling them through each devotion.