December 9, 2019

Advent is a time we can refresh our amazement in the prophecy and arrival of Jesus the Messiah, growing closer to Him as we proclaim our longing for His coming again. We pray this devotional will challenge and remind you of the hope, joy, preparation, and love that we experience as we anticipate Christ’s birth.


The Offering

From our childhoods, the version of Christmas in our heads has likely been a little softer and fluffier than the reality. We too easily forget that Advent is the anticipation of the greatest sacrifice the world has ever known. The only perfect Father sending His only perfect Son to be destroyed. We forget that the baby at the center of that sweet nativity scene was born to die.

Read Genesis 22:1-14

Take a second to remember that this story is true. Abraham was a real man who loved his son. What feelings or confusion do you think he might have felt in this encounter with God?

Read Genesis 22:2

This is a significant moment in Abraham’s life. He is called to do something miraculous and painful and huge, but it seems it will come at a great cost.

Get as quiet as you can before God and ask Him to reveal to you the answers to two questions:

First, is there anything He is asking you to sacrifice for Him?

Second, is there anything you wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice for Him? Be honest with God. How does this verse make you feel about Him? Does it seem cruel? Impossible? 

Read Genesis 22:2 one last time, but this time, consider the gift of Christmas: Jesus, God’s only begotten and beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased, offered as a sacrifice for you. 

The comfort of Christmas is that God is with us in the huge and significant things He asks us to do. God will never ask you to walk anywhere He hasn’t walked already. Christ is the evidence.

It can be terrifying to walk forward in what God has asked you to do, not knowing if He’s going to provide a way that doesn’t cost us what we want most. Now just imagine how it must have felt for our heavenly Father to send Jesus, knowing that there would be no ram, no other provision to keep Him from having to sacrifice His own Son. 

Christmas is a time of great joy, but it is also a moment of somber significance for the Father. It’s the moment He sent His Son to suffer, giving Him up to be the provision for you.

Think again about what God might be asking you to sacrifice for Him. Take comfort in knowing that His tone is tender, His heart compassionate. He has walked a harder path than He will ever ask of you. He knows that sacrifice is painful and obedience is costly. When your head believes that but your heart hurts at the thought or your hands and feet hesitate to obey, ask Him for the strength to sacrifice. He promises to provide it.

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

This Jumpstart Advent series was written and produced by Park Community Church in Chicago, IL. 

December 7, 2019

 

Advent is a time we can refresh our amazement in the prophecy and arrival of Jesus the Messiah, growing closer to Him as we proclaim our longing for His coming again. We pray this devotional will challenge and remind you of the hope, joy, preparation, and love that we experience as we anticipate Christ’s birth.


The Promise

We know that God is with us.

We know that God loves us. We know that we are forgiven, but why then do we continue to sin? Christmas proves that God is with us even in our failures. There is no wrath left in His heart for the people of God because of our Immanuel. 

Spend a few moments before we get started being honest with God about the following questions:

Are there any sin struggles you feel a lingering sense of shame over?

Have you ever wondered if struggles or sufferings that you face are a result of God punishing you?

Do you feel like God wants good for you, or do you ever feel like He’s only punishing you?

Read Genesis 9:8-17

Who does God make a covenant with? What are the promises of the covenant? What is the sign of the covenant?

Noah’s ark must have been one of the most horrific events ever to be experienced. Imagine Noah, seeing God’s wrath, facing the punishment. Even though he knew he was safe, it must have been terrifying. 

How do you think Noah felt when he sucked in fresh air for the first time in months and heard the news from God punctuated with the rainbow in the sky? God said, Never again. I will never do this again.

Read Hebrews 10:11-14

In this life, even as Christians, we still experience failure. To live as a believer in Christ does not mean that you are free from sinning, but it does mean that you no longer live at peace with your sin. Thankfully, because Jesus bore the weight of our sin and lived a perfect life, He became the sacrifice we needed for our sin and gave us His righteousness! So when you fail, remember the promise He made with you that as long as you live you are being made more into the image of your Savior. God is not finished with you yet.

What does this text say about what Christ has already accomplished for you? What is your status before God? According to verse 14, when does that status expire?

This is the gift that caused shepherds to weep and kings to bow: a Savior who could proclaim “perfect” over people who weren’t yet perfect. It is why today you don’t have to fear punishment, irritation, or frustration from God, because Christ has already perfected you — even as you are being sanctified. How? He did it by taking the full punishment for any past, present, or future failure for you on the cross. 

This is our Immanuel. He suffers with us and struggles with us, but when it comes to facing the wrath of God, He refuses to take us with Him. He goes alone. He goes before the Father for punishment not with us, but for us.

What are some sins you have struggled with that you still feel a lingering sense of shame over? Now imagine the most horrific event in history. Imagine seeing the fullness of God’s wrath poured out on Christ on the cross. Now hear the words of the new covenant ring true: ‘Never again. I will never do this again. It is finished.’ The freedom from fear of God’s punishment is what Jesus purchased for us. We can instead receive and be motivated by His amazing love.

This Jumpstart Advent series was written and produced by Park Community Church in Chicago, IL. 

December 6, 2019

 

Advent is a time we can refresh our amazement in the prophecy and arrival of Jesus the Messiah, growing closer to Him as we proclaim our longing for His coming again. We pray this devotional will challenge and remind you of the hope, joy, preparation, and love that we experience as we anticipate Christ’s birth.


The Flood

Before you open the word today, pray.

Ask for help, even now, in knowing how to talk to your Father in prayer. God is with us. Christmas is God’s guarantee that you don’t have to do anything alone, ever again. God is with us even when we struggle with sin, even when we fail in our flesh. Process together with God whether you are experiencing His presence with us.

Read Genesis 6:9-18

The sin that rushed into the hearts of Adam and Eve back in the Garden—it was now everywhere. 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 was an ark.

What did God see in the earth that prompted him to send the flood? What was the goal of sending the flood? Was that goal accomplished? Why or why not?

Now, Noah was different from all the other people on the earth. While they ignored God 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.

Do you ever feel like obedience to the Lord is hard? Name a specific time in your life when you felt like what God was calling you to do was difficult.

God told Noah the one thing that would rescue them from the flood was to build an ark. What is amazing for us today is that the ark has already been built for us. It is being held out to us this Christmas and it is not made by human hands. We never have to leave the safe embrace of the ark we are offered now. We are called to climb into Christ, hidden safely in Him through the storm of God’s wrath. And we are to stay firmly in Him, never walking in our own strength again. There is nothing to earn, for Christ has already finished the work. There is nothing to repay, for Christ is the gift of God.

Does your sin cause you to cling to Christ or avoid Him? Do your failures spur you to depend more on Jesus or to lean harder on yourself?

Christmas is the gift of Immanuel, God with us. Christ is with us before God the Father. Even repentance we don’t have to do alone. Christ is with us when we fail in that way we swore we never would, bringing us safely into the presence of God. He is with us the very second after we have missed the mark again, carrying us back to the Father in repentance and rest. And we experience His strength when we overcome temptation.

Spend some time coming before the Father today confessing and repenting of your sin, knowing that there is no reason for fear of condemnation because you are safe in Christ. Feel free to write out your prayers.

This Jumpstart Advent series was written and produced by Park Community Church in Chicago, IL. 

December 5, 2019

Welcome to Advent season on Jumpstart! This year, we will be going through an Advent devotion written by Park Community Church in Chicago, Illinois. We encourage you to walk through these devotions with friends and family, so that together we can remain focused on Christ during the craziness of the Christmas season. We pray that this resource greatly blesses you and builds you up in your faith as we dig into the Word together!


Advent is a time we can refresh our amazement in the prophecy and arrival of Jesus the Messiah, growing closer to Him as we proclaim our longing for His coming again. We pray this devotional will challenge and remind you of the hope, joy, preparation, and love that we experience as we anticipate Christ’s birth.

THE FALL


Just over 2,000 years ago, around this time, Mary was about to give birth, filled with anticipation. We all know the story. We’ve dressed our children up as shepherds, glued cotton balls to paper to make sheep, and set out figurines in a nativity. But the story of the birth of Jesus began long before that day, long before Mary was even born. The story of Christmas is written in every page of the Bible. Let’s start at the beginning, the day everything went wrong.

Read Genesis 3:1-7

What three reasons led Eve to eat the fruit?

Read Genesis 2:9


What are the two qualities of every tree in the garden? How does God’s provision in 2:9 make Eve’s reasons in 3:6 even more foolish?

Eve ate the fruit in order to fulfill desires that God had already offered to meet.

What do you think are the core desires behind those tendencies? At the very bottom of your heart—what are your needs you are seeking to have satisfied?

Read Ephesians 2:12-18

There was a time when the world lay in sin and error, pining for love, happiness, security, and joy. No matter how much they consumed the things of the world, they were still hungry. Satisfaction was impossible. Because those cravings can only be satisfied in God and because of sin, there was a dividing wall of hostility between us and God. But at Christmas we celebrate the gift of satisfaction. God sent His Son so that we might have access to Him, the fulfillment of all our desires.

Read 2 Peter 1:3-4

Consider all you have received through the gift of Christ! Now look again at those core desires behind your sin tendencies. How can those hungers be satisfied through the great and precious promises of God?

See the compassion of God in the face of Christ. God has not left you to battle your sin alone. He does not expect you to pick blind obedience over the deepest desires of your life. Instead, He has come in the flesh so that He could win back for you all the things your heart craves in Him. Choose satisfaction in God over going hungry eating at the table of this world.

This Jumpstart Advent series was written and produced by Park Community Church in Chicago, IL.