5 Days of Christmas Devos | December 2019
The months and days leading up to Christmas can be fun and exciting. For some, it can be stressful or lonely. Either way, as RISE we wanted to share with you 5 Days of Devos to prepare your heart for Christmas. We hope God blesses you, and that you have a very Merry Christmas!
Day 5 | Hope has a Name
Hope is a word that gets thrown around a lot. I know at our house it's been used often by our kids, especially this time of year. I've heard, "I hope I get a phone" or "I hope I get Dude Perfect tickets" - which by the way "kid of mine" means, if you get these tickets you so desperately want you'll be missing RiseFest because it's the same night. I've also heard, "I hope I get a beach vacation for Christmas." What? Who are these kids?
My son's hope makes me laugh a little bit - "I hope the Bengals can win this week." It's definitely not been their season. Our hopes seem to come in all shapes and sizes. Big hopes, little hopes. A lot of the time it appears like our hope focuses on us, but there's a different hope. A hope that changes hearts. A hope that breathes life back into desperation. A hope that promises life after death. A hope that will last forever. A hope that has a name - Jesus!
Today is the day that God gave us hope. His son, Jesus! I don't know what you're hoping for today, tomorrow or in the New Year, but my prayer is that you find the hope that has a name - Jesus!
Phil Wickham sings it best, My Living Hope. Today, as you spend time with loved ones, take a moment and turn this one up good and loud and let your heart sing along. Jesus Christ, my living hope!
Rob Roozeboom and RISE Ministries!
Day 4 | Find That Elf
Christmas is a time of tradition. Family baking traditions, celebration traditions, decorating traditions. The list goes on and on. As a parent, there’s one tradition we have that is mostly fun but a little annoying. My kids, however, love it. What is this tradition? Maybe you guessed it, Elf on a Shelf.
I’m sure we have a wide range of reactions from everyone reading this. Some are rolling their eyes. Some are laughing. Some have been there, done that! But if you’re kids are anything like mine, they LOVE this tradition. *Disclaimer, they are 4 and 20 months. I know age is a factor. :)
Every morning so far this December, one of the first things they do is search for this elf. By the way, his name is Chicken Nugget, named by my oldest when he was 2. They search high and low for Chicken Nugget and I cannot describe to you how excited they are when they find him.
“Dad! Mommy! We found Chicken Nugget!” They come running, fingers pointing, giggling all the way. “Look where he is! How did he get there???” laughing out loud. “Silly Chicken Nugget!”
They get so excited about this little toy and what it will do next. What if we as Christians were so moved by Jesus that we sought Him out the same way? What if the first thing we did when we woke up every morning was run hard after Him?
Jesus comes tomorrow. In the midst of all the presents and things we do for ourselves, let’s remember to seek out our newborn king!
Written by Lee Stover, RISE Ministries
Day 3 | Here Comes Heaven
I don't know why but the story of Mary visiting Elizabeth after both women have become pregnant has stood out to me this Christmas! Maybe it's because Ellie, our Creative Director and her husband, Colton are literally days, maybe even hours away from welcoming their first baby. Which by the way is really cool!
What stands out the most to me in the scripture, isn't the interaction between the two women, but what happens when Mary greets Elizabeth. The scripture says, "At the sound of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's child leaped within her." (AMP) In the NIV is says, "leaped for joy." That child in Elizabeth's tummy was John the Baptist. The forerunner before Jesus. The one so to speak, who set the stage for Jesus. What I can't get past is that John leaped in his mom's tummy when Mary, who was carrying Jesus, greeted Elizabeth.
I don't know for sure, but to me it seems like John knew who was coming; what that precious baby in Mary's tummy was going to do for the entire world. Maybe John knew "Here Comes Heaven!"
Children, weep no more
Hope is on the horizon
Weary world behold
Your promised Messiah
Angels, let your song begin
Here comes Heaven
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Here comes Heaven
- Elevation Worship
What a magnificent occasion we get to celebrate in less than two days! Here comes Heaven!
Written by Rob Roozeboom, RISE Ministries
Day 2 | A Gift Worth Sharing
Have you ever received a gift you loved SO MUCH you couldn’t help but tell everyone about it? It didn’t matter the situation, you just HAD to let people know about this thing. How it looked, what it did, how you got it; not a single detail spared in describing this incredible gift.
We are no strangers to gifts, especially this time of year. Annually we remember a precious gift delivered to all mankind thousands of years ago. We’re reminded to cherish what really matters during each holiday season. Peace on Earth, good will toward men and all that. Those are great things to be remembered and we should. Recently I was reading the Christmas story in Luke 2 and was struck by what the shepherds did.
Luke 2:17-18 says, “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
As believers we all know the simple version of the Christmas story. Even people who wouldn’t call themselves Christians know the story. Jesus is born, a star points the way for the wisemen and angels tell the shepherds about the baby. Everyone gathers around the newborn, gifts are presented, and we’re left with this photo op of the nativity. Fade to black.
If you’re like me, the story usually ends there. I feel warm and fuzzy and full of hope. Probably say “awww” and smile when I think about Jesus’ birth. Then I go on with my life. But for the shepherds it didn’t end there. They told people what they had seen and what they had been told. They shared the gift!
We have an advantage over the shepherds. We now know how the full story turns out! As we go about our busy lives during this holiday season, let’s remember to not keep this gift to ourselves. Share the story of Jesus’ birth, life, and resurrection!
Written by Lee Stover, RISE Ministries
Day 1 | Expectation
Excitement. Eager anticipation. Fear of the unknown. These are just a few of the feelings I've had leading up to this particular Christmas. It's not because of the gifts under the tree or spending time with family.
This year, my anticipation hinges on the news that my husband Colton and I are having our first baby and it's due date is Christmas day. Eek! When we found out at 20 weeks that our baby was due on Christmas, it seemed so far away.
It wasn't until November 1 when Halloween was over, people forgot about Thanksgiving coming up, and headed straight into decorating Christmas trees, putting up lights, and playing Christmas music, that I realized how close Christmas actually was! Not going to lie, I started internally freaking out a little bit.
When I began to brainstorm for this year's devo, I thought about Mary and wondered if she was afraid like me.
I realized for the first time I could empathize with her. Jesus was her first child. I remembered the fear and excitement that comes with finding out your pregnant. I now know the joy that comes from feeling your baby leap around in your womb like Elizabeth did when Mary went to visit her and Jesus and John the Baptist "met" for the first time. I wondered if she had swollen ankles or heartburn. One thing I cannot imagine is being 9 months pregnant, riding a donkey for several days and then giving birth in a dusty, smelly stable.
I wondered if Mary experienced fear as her due date drew closer and closer. As I read Mary's Song in Luke 1:46-56, I did not see an anxious woman as I read her words. Instead, I pictured a beautiful, brave, serene mother to be. I'm paraphrasing here, but she says, "My soul glorifies the Lord for he has been mindful of his humble servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation."
Mary knew who God was. She had heard of his power and mercy to her people, the Israelites, over and over again. Because of that she was not overwhelmed by fearful expectation, but rejoiced in courageous expectation of baby Jesus' arrival.
As Christmas draws near and the year comes to a close, I'm sure we all experience a little bit of anxious expectation or fear of the unknown. It might be your first holiday season without a loved one. Maybe you are moving, starting a new job, or starting or expanding your family.
Whatever it may be, remember that God the Father is walking alongside of you. I pray you find comfort in His power and mercy as you face new changes coming your way, and that you feel His peace in the waiting.
God bless you, and have a Merry Christmas!
Written by Ellie Waring, RISE Ministries