December 28, 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.


Mary’s Song

Christmas is a season of great joy for some and great sorrow for others. We celebrate gifts that God has given us, the blessings we have received, and, at least for some of us, we also remember the things God has taken from us.

Make a list of the ways you have felt blessed this year.

Make a list of the things that have felt the least like blessing this year.

Read Luke 1:46-56

Why does Mary rejoice? What does she say people will call her? Why is it important that we understand Jesus did everything needed to save us? Who is His mercy for? How did God show His strength? Why does God exalt people? Who does He fill and who does He send away? Are you noticing a theme?

Blessed. It means favored by God. It means happy in God. So what are the indicators that we are favored by God? What are the things that will make us blissfully happy in Him? While we think God is blessing us most when we see ourselves exalted and when the world applauds us, God’s worldview is different from the world’s.

Read Luke 6:20-26

Who are the blessed? Why are these things they receive blessings? Who are those who receive woe? And why are these things they receive cursed?

Read Isaiah 53:1-12

Jesus was indeed blessed, but what were the indicators of that in His life? What are the things you see prophesied about Jesus that the world would call curses rather than blessings?

This is the God who is with you, the one who also has faced pain and hardship. For the joy of blessing set before Him, He moved forward in faithful obedience and endured the cross.

Christmas is written into our calendars as an opportunity to remember that the world and God see things very differently. The greatest blessing ever given arrived not in a palace, but in a stable. The greatest blessing the world would ever know was given to a teenage girl to carry in her womb.

Look back at the things you wrote at the top of the page. Think back to the areas of suffering you identified at the start of this guide.

Using Luke 6:20-26 as a guide, what are some of the upside-down blessings in your life you might have missed? Spend some time magnifying the Lord for the ways He has blessed you. Write your praises below.

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

December 27, 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 Savior

Christmas reminds us to surrender to the good news of a God who is with us. It’s about trust — not a belief that God will work things out as we want — but faith that however God works things out is ultimately what we need and more, what we really want.

Look through the significant things that you are facing in your life. Take a few moments with God to honestly process through your fears about what those things might cost you. Ask Him to show you today how God being with you is going to help you face your fears.

Read Luke 1:26-38

Many of us have heard this story a million times, so be sure to slow down and ask yourself a few questions. What exactly is the angel telling Mary? And what will it cost her?

Read Deuteronomy 22:20-24

This passage is incredibly difficult to understand and stomach in our culture, but ask yourself one question.

What would it mean for an unwed teenage girl to be discovered pregnant in Mary’s culture?

Read Luke 1:38

What a great and incredible gift that Mary received, the privilege to carry our promise fulfilled and raise the Son of God! At the same time, what  a great cost to Mary’s own personal safety and dreams. In this moment — the first encounter with the angel — Mary already knew what this news would almost certainly cost her. She knew it compromised her hope of being married to her fiancé, the acceptance of her community, and maybe even her very life.

In spite of all these justifiable fears, what was Mary’s response to the angel in verse 38?

At Christmas, we too receive an incredible gift. We get God’s promise fulfilled, the Son of God. Like Mary, we are told that we will carry Christ inside of us through the power of the Spirit. Yet also like Mary, this great gift comes at great cost to our own personal safety and dreams.

Read Luke 14:25-33

God is going to write a story with your life that glorifies His name, but He does not pretend that it won’t come at a cost.

Spend some time praying and asking God to reveal to you the places that you are avoiding His call on your life because of what it might cost.

Mary could face anything because she belonged to God. We too can face anything because there is one thing our obedience will never cost us, and that’s God. Jesus said He will be with us always and never leave us nor forsake us. Let that truth give you the courage to tell God today the words of Luke 1:38.

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

December 26, 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.


John the Baptist

To start today, ask yourself this one simple question:

When you think about the good news of Christmas, does it feel impossible to hold that good news in, or does it feel impossible to speak it out?

Now look back at the significant things you face that you wrote at the start of this devotional:

When you listed out areas where God is calling you to trust Him, did you include anything about proclaiming the gospel of Jesus?  

Read Luke 1:5-25

What do you notice about the kind of man Zechariah was? What did the angel tell Zechariah to name his child? How did he respond to the angel’s proclamation? What did the angel do? Why did the angel do that?

Read Luke 1:57-66

What triggered the opening of Zechariah’s mouth? What is the importance of Zechariah choosing the name John (Luke 1:13)? What did Zechariah say when he could speak?

Zechariah was unable to speak because of his unbelief. But when he finally believed what the angel said — so much that he was willing to walk in line with it by naming his son John — his lips were opened. God has said that He will return when the gospel is proclaimed in all the world. He has come to you with that message. However, for many of us, when we contemplate the significant things we want to do with our lives, proclaiming the gospel doesn’t even make the list.

Read Matthew 28:18-20

The good news is that because of Christmas, even the task of sharing the gospel is not left for us to accomplish alone.

The command to make disciples is bookmarked by two great truths. What are they? How does the truth of Immanuel equip you to complete the most significant task we have ever been given?

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

December 25, 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 Genealogy

The events that led to the birth of our Savior weren’t splashy and seemed insignificant. They weren’t all separating seas and burning bushes. In fact, most of the chapters and books of God’s story are filled with the simple and seemingly small obedient acts of God’s people. Israel’s history is largely one of a people waiting for something significant that they never saw accomplished.

Read Matthew 1:1-17

Ask God to use this simple genealogy to prepare your heart for Christmas. Ask Him to use this family tree to speak to you today. In verse 1, what does it say about Jesus?

Read 2 Samuel 7:12-16

In his genealogy, what point was Matthew trying to make by saying that Jesus is the son of David?

Think about this past year and even the past few years. Is there something you’ve been waiting for God to do? Is there some promise He seems slow in keeping? Consider for a second the weight of waiting in this genealogy. All these names, all these souls who lived and died never getting to see God’s promise fulfilled.

Read Hebrews 11:39-40

Why did all these faith-filled children of God not receive what was promised? For whom had He prepared something better?

Look at Matthew’s genealogy again. So many generations represented. People who suffered, people who were born and died in slavery, and people who wandered their whole lives in the wilderness wondering, ‘Where is God taking us?’

All these people didn’t receive what God had promised them. They  lived out their seemingly small lives in faithfulness, and they waited. Not one year, not ten years, but their whole lives, they waited and still they never saw the promise fulfilled. Christmas is the day we celebrate the culmination of all of the generations lived in waiting. We celebrate God making meaning out of all the simple small steps of obedience taken by the people of God. We celebrate the great gift of living in a time when the Messiah has a name and a face, a time when you and I wake up and get to breathe in His completed work and walk in His Spirit.

Read 1 Peter 1:13

And still, we wait for more. Abraham banked everything on a promise he never saw fulfilled. What would look different in your life today if you banked everything on the grace to be brought to you on the day Jesus comes again? How would it change your dreams, your relationships, the things that matter to you? How would it change your perspective on the small things if you believed they held an eternal weight of significance?

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