Can you believe it is December? I don’t know if this is true for you, but this month requires extra energy and time as we prepare for the holidays. Our calendars fill up quickly with dinners, we have to consider our gift lists, maybe plan a vacation (which could involve planning for meals, budgeting, and activities). We also prepare our homes with beautiful decorations—Christmas trees, lights, and nativity sets. Maybe you will have family in town, which requires more planning and preparation, or perhaps you will visit family or friends. Kids are out of school, and it takes time to plan some fun activities with them during this season. Our family has been making Christmas cookies for several years now, so my kids are already asking when we are going to bake some cookies!
In the midst of all the planning and preparing for this season, let's not forget to prepare our hearts by focusing on the true source of Christmas—Jesus. In 1 Samuel 12:24 we read: “Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” As we are practicing the discipline of being still, let’s take time to prepare as we consider, reflect, and ponder on all the great things Jesus has done for us.
Consider God’s love: he “loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us” (Ephesians 5:2). Think about his faithfulness: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness” (John 1:14). And as Psalm 136 encourages us to sing: “His faithful love endures forever!” Rejoice over God’s forgiveness, as Paul writes (referring to Psalm 32), “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin” (Romans 4:7-8). Reflect on God’s redemptive plan—to bring salvation to all the nations. “O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them” (Isaiah 25:1). And finally, ponder what Immanuel, God is with us, means for you and for those around you. “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us” (Matthew 1:23).
Let’s prepare and fill our hearts with Jesus, not only to enjoy his presence but to be filled by it so we can be light to those around us, encouraging and loving others as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
For The Ezer Women’s Discipleship Team
Take time this month to read, study, and meditate on the following Scriptures. Look for descriptions of God’s love, faithfulness, forgiveness, redemptive plan, and how he is with us.
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
In this podcast by Revive Our Hearts, we listen to the Christmas story according to the Gospel of Luke.
“On this Christmas day, this holy day, we thought it would be great to quiet our hearts and just focus on the words of Scripture. We’re going to listen to the simple Christmas story, and I hope you’ll be struck in a fresh way by the profound truth that God became man, Immanuel, God is with us.”
We encourage you to use these conversation starters as a means of self-reflection and for discussion within your community.
- How can you prepare your heart for Christmas this year? How could you help those around you prepare their hearts?
- What are some traditions or activities you and/or your family enjoy doing? How could these point to Jesus? Are there any new traditions or activities you could start this year to help you focus on Jesus and prepare your heart for Christmas?
Scripture warns us not to be just hearers of the Word but to be doers of it as well. All of life is repentance. What is a tangible next step God is calling you to take in response to all you’ve learned?
1.Use the Ezer 2022 Advent Calendar to pray for others and ponder what Jesus has done for us.
For each day of December (except Saturday), we are asking you to pray for a person who is hurting, a system that is broken, or a person who is on the front lines caring for those in need. Each category is represented by a specific icon.
- A broken heart icon represents a person who is suffering in a specific area. On these days, consider someone you know who is carrying that burden. Spend time praying for them and consider reaching out to encourage them and let them know they are not alone. If you don’t know anyone struggling in that area, pray generally for all those who are.
- An icon of a broken world represents systems that are broken and need a solution. There may be little we can do to fix these systems, but we can pray for those who work within them. Pray for wise leaders, for additional funding, for justice, for more workers, and even for discernment about what role God may want you to play in being a small part of the solution.
- A first aid icon represents the servant leaders who are on the front lines, caring for those who are being profoundly impacted by the brokenness of this world. This would include our first responders, those in the medical profession, teachers, counselors, pastors, DSS workers, and parents of foster or adopted children, or children with special needs. On these days consider people you know who are carrying that specific weight. How can you pray for them? What could you do to encourage and thank them for the work they do?
On Saturdays, we encourage you to ponder God’s love, his faithfulness, forgiveness, his redemptive plan, and what Immanuel (God is with us) means.
Print this calendar and put it somewhere it will remind you how to focus your prayers for that day and prepare your hearts for Christmas!
2. As we think about preparing our hearts, let’s plan and prepare for others as well. Look for and be aware of the needs around you. Include someone who may not have family here in one of your dinners or celebrations, share the gospel with a neighbor or friend, or bake extra treats and encourage others with something sweet and a note that points to our hope during this season. Ask our ministry partners and/or our Housing Ministry if there are any needs for Christmas, use the Advent Calendar to pray for others. Be creative as you serve others during this season!
Advent Guide (and Advent Resources)
By Grace Church
This Advent guide is designed for both individuals and families to engage the Scripture and story of Jesus’ coming. For five weeks, the material will walk you through the narrative of Jesus’ birth—beginning in the Garden of Eden with God’s promise for a Savior—and end with the eager anticipation of Jesus’ promised return. Throughout, we see how God continually shows unmistakable faithfulness to his people, especially by sending the promised Rescuer. The guide includes family activities, songs, and questions for reflection. You can pick up a copy at your campus!
A four-week Advent study from the Daily Grace Company
“When we consider the birth of Christ, we might tend to forget the impact of His arrival. By looking at an old tradition in a new way, this study will help us rediscover the wonder of Christ’s salvation. It will lead us to praise Jesus for giving us hope, peace, joy, and love in Him. Advent is a season of celebrating the coming of our Savior and preparing our hearts in anticipation of His return.”
25 Advent meditations by John Piper
You can hear these meditations through a podcast, read them in a book or receive them in your email.
“We have a message of spectacular rescue: the love of God has rescued us from the wrath of God. Christmas is about the Creator of the universe, who is not himself part of the universe, coming himself, in the person of his Son, into the world that he made.”