December 13, 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 Passover

What does it mean for someone to be “with you?” When was the last time it felt like God was with you? What elements of the situation helped you feel that way? Christmas is the gift of a Partner who doesn’t just stand beside us as a shoulder to cry on, but who says, “I will enter into the hardships you face. I will take the weight of your burden upon my shoulders.”

There is no other friend like Jesus, no other partner like Him. No one else has both the ability and the inclination to help us in the way we really need.

Read Exodus 12:1-7, 12-13

What kind of lamb needed to be sacrificed? What did God need to see in order to pass over?

Read Hebrews 9:22

What do you see about blood? Why do you think the Passover lamb needed to be without blemish?

For someone to be with you in the way you truly crave, they need to have the ability to help you. They need to be free of their own sin issues and have the power to change things for you.

Read Hebrews 5:1-3

What are earthly priests beset with, and what are the implications of their weakness?

Read Hebrews 9:13-14

Jesus is able to be with us in our sin because He has no sin issues of His own and because He actually has the power to fix our problems with sin.

Read Hebrews 10:4, 11-14

The cost to be paid for the freedom of God’s people was the death of Egypt’s first-born sons. God wanted us to see what all it would take for a harsh master to release his slaves. God tells us that we are born as slaves to sin, the harshest of all masters.

Sin had us. We belonged to it as much as the Israelites belonged to Pharaoh. We couldn’t escape its hold on our hearts.

God always knew what it would cost for Him to set us free. He knew He was going to send His anger down against us for our sin and that there was only one way He could protect us from Himself.

For us to be safe, God put His Son to death and painted His blood over us. He gave us His best and perfect Lamb to make us safe and free from sin, our horrible and evil master. He set us free from sin so that we could come and worship Him forever.

Spend some time reflecting on ways you may have rejected God’s perfect provision, then praise Him for giving you Jesus who is both able and inclined to take on your sin. Write out your prayer.

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

December 12, 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 Plagues

Imagine what it must have been like that first moment Mary laid eyes on Jesus. Seeing her son must have given her great joy, but surely the tears spilling down her cheeks were part of an even deeper joy — seeing her God. Finally, the people of God had been given back the greatest gift they’d ever known. They could behold the face of their Father.

Read Exodus 7:14-10:29

Mark down every time you see ‘hardened.’ What do you notice about the hardening of hearts? Why does that happen?

If God is powerful enough to send all seven of these plagues, why doesn’t He just destroy the Egyptians? If He has power over Pharaoh’s heart, why doesn’t He just soften it? Obviously He wants the people to be free, so why not just make them free?

Read Exodus 9:14-16 & 10:1-2

Why does God do it this way?

God sees all situations with perfect clarity. We often have only a small understanding of our trials.

God was working towards setting his people free from slavery, but even more that, He was working that His people would be set free to be with Him. He was orchestrating this all so that when they were set free they would know the God who is with them. This is eternal life, to know God (John 17:3). 

Read Galatians 4:1-7

Praise be to God that we can know Him now through Christ Jesus. We are not slaves to sin any longer. We are sons and daughters of God and co-heirs with Christ. We are free from sin to worship our gracious Father in heaven.

That is, after all, what we celebrate at Christmas. Unlike the Israelites, we don’t have to figure out who God is by watching Him work miracles. Unlike Moses, we don’t have to figure out who God is by watching His glory as it passes by. God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

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

December 11, 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 Dreamer

Christmas is a time for reflection. Think back across your year. Think back even further. Do you remember what you used to dream for your life? What had you planned for yourself? 

Take a second to write out some of the things that you had planned for your life. Then take a second to write out the things that have occurred that are definitely not what you had planned for your life. 

Read Genesis 37 & 39

Make a list of the events that happens in Joseph’s life. Then, as you read chapter 39, make a note every time you notice the phrase ‘the Lord’ and what you observe about it. 

Joseph’s life clearly didn’t go as he planned, but where was God when everything was going wrong? The Lord was with Him.

The story takes a sudden turn. Joseph becomes Pharaoh’s right hand man and enables Egypt— and his entire family — to survive a severe famine in the land. God uses all the tremendous suffering in Joseph’s life to get Joseph to the right place and time to save God’s people.

Thousands of years later, Mary probably felt a lot like Joseph. If God had called her to bear the Messiah, then surely he could have prevented a census forcing her to leave her home at the last moment of her pregnancy. But that stressful transition happened because God was with Mary, moving her to Bethlehem so that Christ could be born in the right place and the right time to fulfill the prophecy.

Thirty-three years after that, the disciples probably felt a lot like Joseph as well. If God had called Jesus to save the world, then surely He wouldn’t need to go to the cross! But that devastating day happened because God was with them, and with us. What we didn’t know was that He was working to save us.

Think about your current pain and sufferings. Pray and ask God to give you faith to believe that even when things aren’t going as you might want, God is there. These things are not happening in your life because God has abandoned you, but because He is Immanuel, God with you. Cling to His plan, and cling to His heart. Because our God has taken on human form, we can trust Him and be honest with Him in our suffering. He has walked through pain. He knows what it is like to have your life turned upside down for the purposes of God. This is the gift of Immanuel. Feel free to write down your prayer requests.

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

December 10, 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 Choice


The Advent season has a way of resetting us. We find ourselves reminiscing and remembering the mighty moments of our year, considering and contemplating what we want to do differently moving forward.

Read Genesis 29

Why did Jacob want Rachel? Why did God open Leah’s womb? What were the four statements Leah said as she bore her four children? How does Leah describe her life in these statements? What is different about the fourth statement?

Read Matthew 1:2

This is the genealogy of Jesus. Whose name do you see in this lineage that you saw at the end of Genesis 29? Who did God choose to write the lineage of Jesus through? The wanted or the despised? Rachel or Leah?

Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Make a list of the traits you see in the kind of people God chose. Why did He choose them? Look back to what you wrote at the start of your time with God today. How are the qualities that you listed different or similar from what God says makes someone a good candidate for His purposes?

In the significant moments you are facing, God is with you, not primarily in your strengths but also in your weaknesses. He has written these huge and epic moments into your life not because you are qualified, but because He is qualified and He is with you
.

Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

How is God encouraging you to face your significant moments through this text?

God is in the business of writing His story with unlikely heroes.

Read Isaiah 53:1-3

This is the gift of Immanuel, a God with us who was misunderstood, rejected, and unwanted, all to confirm in our hearts the truth. We cannot trust the world, or even ourselves, to tell what makes a person valuable to the kingdom of God. We must trust God.

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