December 2, 2020

Genesis 9

The flood ended.

A wind whistled across the earth and began drying everything off. The ark landed. God opened the door that He shut so many days ago and Noah peeked out into this familiar but new world. As he looked at the emptiness that used to be crowded with people, maybe Noah wondered, Will God flood this earth again if we keep disobeying? Maybe Noah should have run out of the ark and thrown himself on the ground yelling promises like, “God, we will never make the world so bad again! Please, no more floods!”

But Noah didn’t make any promises to God. Funnily enough, when he got off the ark, God began making promises to him.

“Noah, I want to make a covenant with you.” Now, covenant is a fancy word that means a promise, but it’s bigger than just an ordinary promise, like when you say, “I promise I’ll clean my room,” or, “I promise I’ll finish my homework.” A covenant is tougher than nails, stronger than steel, big, and unbreakable. The God who created the sun, scattered the stars, and made man out of dust said that He would make this kind of promise to Noah, his family, and to all the people that would come after them. Wow! Noah opened his ears wide and listened as God promised that He would never, ever, in all the years of forever, destroy the earth with another flood. Then suddenly, across the sky, God painted a brilliant rainbow of many colors. It was a seal of this covenant—which means it was a sign that Noah and every person ever after could look up at the sky, elbow each other in the ribs, and say, “Hey! A rainbow! Remember, that time God sent that huge gigantic flood? That was so big! That rainbow reminds us He won’t ever do that again! Beautiful!”

This covenant and many others that God made in the Bible were to help get us ready for the biggest and best covenant that ever was: the New Covenant! In this strong, unbreakable, forever promise, God says to all the people who trust in Jesus that all of His anger against all of our sin has all been poured out onto Jesus when He died on the cross. Not a drop of it is leftover for us. And because God likes to seal His covenants to make sure we know He is super serious about them, He puts the Holy Spirit inside our hearts as a seal of the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit reminds us every day for all of our lives that God loves us. We don’t have to be afraid of Him punishing us because Jesus was punished for us. The Holy Spirit is like a rainbow shining upon our hearts, pointing us to the God of the universe who has given us the strongest and the most beautiful promise in all the world.

Discussion Questions

Has someone ever made a promise to you and then they weren’t able to keep it? Maybe they ran out of time or money, or they got lost, or forgot, or changed their mind about it. Why is it different for God to promise you something than for a person to promise you something?

God decided to protect Noah and his family from the flood. What could be some reasons that He decided to protect Noah and his family instead of wiping them out too and simply starting over with new people?

This Advent devotional resource was produced by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. The original resource can be found here.

December 1, 2020

The Flood

Genesis 6:9-8:22

The world was hurting.

The sin that rushed into the hearts of Adam and Eve back in the garden—it was now everywhere. It had spread like nasty germs into each and every person. It poisoned every heart so that no one trusted God or thought He was important. God was so, so sad as He looked at people throwing punches, screaming ugly words, wearing mean faces, and telling lies. God decided to scrub this world clean with rain, more rain than anyone had ever seen fall from the sky. More than any bathtub, swimming pool, or ocean could ever hold.

But God saw Noah on the earth. He loved Noah and wanted to make him, his family, and all the animals safe so that the flood wouldn’t destroy them along with everything else. So God whispered in Noah’s ear a warning of the rain. He told Noah the one thing that would rescue them from the flood, an ark. Now, Noah was different from all the other people on the earth. While they ignored God and plugged their ears when He spoke, Noah listened carefully because he believed that everything God said was really true. If God said a flood was coming, then it would come. If God said it would be so big that it would wipe out everything and everyone, then it would. And if God said an ark was the only way he and his family would be safe, then it was. So Noah trusted in God and built the ark. Then just as God said, for forty days and forty nights, the rains came. They hammered against the roof and the wood creaked and groaned as the waves crashed against the sides. Only Noah, his family, and the pairs of animals inside the great ark were safe from the water that swallowed up the world.

When Noah and his family came out of the ark, everyone was gone and everything looked clean. But it would soon be discovered that all the water in all the world couldn’t rinse away the sin hiding in the heart of every person. The flood didn’t stop the world from all its hurting. God again needed to deal with sin, and He needed to pour out a more powerful kind of storm to once-and-for-all deal with the sins of His people. So, just as before, He looked at the earth and found children that He loved— that’s us!—and He gave us an ark to protect us. But the ark that God gave us this time wasn’t exactly like Noah’s ark—it wasn’t made out of wood and tar. In fact it wasn’t an “it” at all. The ark that God gave us was a person—God’s own Son, Jesus. In order to protect us, Jesus received all of God’s raging storm that was heading our way. In the ark that is Jesus, we will be safe from everything God will send to get rid of sin for good.

Discussion Questions

God gave Noah very specific instructions on how he would be safe in the ark —what type of wood, how big, the number of decks, etc. What kind of instructions has God given us on how we can be safe in Jesus?

We can see that Noah trusted God by looking at all the ways Noah obeyed Him. Noah went and got the wood, he followed all God’s instructions, and he did what God said. If we trust that Jesus saves us, how will we see that show up in our lives?

Noah believed God when no one else did. In fact, most of the people around him were probably laughing at him for building the ark. If you follow Jesus, sometimes people might laugh or make fun of you for doing it. How do you think Noah was able to keep trusting God even if people thought he was silly?

This Advent devotional resource was produced by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. The original resource can be found here.

November 30, 2020

The Fall

Genesis 3:1-6, 8-15

God loved giving gifts to His kids, Adam and Eve.

But these weren’t the kind of presents that could fit in a box and be wrapped up with shiny paper and bows. No, they were better than that! God scattered stars across the sky and lit them up, like white twinkly lights. He gave them slow-moving, silly-looking, sleepy sloths and speedy, spotted cheetahs. Mighty trees with strong branches bursting with juicy fruits. See-through waters where scaly fish swam past spiny seahorses and crawling crabs. God gave Adam and Eve some good gifts to show them some important things about Himself: He was good, He loved them, He could always be trusted.

Then one day, along came Satan, who spoke lying words with his snaky tongue. He made Adam and Eve think, Hmmm, maybe God isn’t good. Maybe God doesn’t love us. Maybe God can’t be trusted. Satan whispered that to really be happy, they needed the one gift that God hadn’t given them—fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But instead of feeling happy after eating the fruit, Adam and Eve became very sad. Instead of being wise, they were ashamed.

Maybe you’re thinking after all this, God won’t want to give Adam and Eve any more gifts. But God had actually been waiting this whole time, until Adam and Eve had disobeyed and broken His one rule, to give them His best gift. What?! After they had disobeyed, He was going to give them His best gift? What could it be? What could God give His children that would be better than all the world? It was the gift that Adam and Eve most needed, the gift that would take away the sin that they had brought in, the gift that would smash their enemy’s head under Jesus’s foot. This gift would be a person who would make Adam and Eve remember that God was good, that God loved them, and that they could always trust Him.

God promised them His best, most perfect gift—the gift He had always wanted to give them: His Son, Jesus.

Discussion Questions

Can you think of a time that your mom or dad told you “no” to something that you really, really wanted? Why would your mom or dad, who love you, say “no” to something you really, really want?

Was there a time today that you disobeyed God? When you disobeyed, can you think of a lie that might have been whispered to your heart that made you think you’d be happier doing things your own way?

Do you think God was surprised when Adam and Eve ate the fruit off the tree?

This Advent devotional resource was produced by The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX. The original resource can be found here.