Christmas Day 2018 December 25, 2018
Read John 1: 1-18 together:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
Today is Christmas day, and on this day I give my whole self to you, Lord. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. My life has no meaning without You. Your light shines in my darkness. I used to think that the stars only shone at night. But, like You, they were there all the time. My every breath is because of You. All I truly have to offer You. . . is me.
Away in a Manger
Advent 2018 December 24, 2018
Read Luke 2: 12-14 together:
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Today, I give my needs to the Lord. I often wondered what Jesus was like as a baby. Was He perfect? Did He cry when He was hungry or cold? Did He get heat rashes? What did Mary and Joseph think as they gazed into His eyes? Did they marvel at the irony of cradling their Saviour?
a) Make a list of things that you need and a list of things that you want this Christmas. Talk about them.
b) Buy and wrap a gift for a needy child.
c) "Speak" the Christmas carol "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
Mary Did you Know?
Advent 2018 December 23, 2018
Read Luke 2: 10-11 together:
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Today, I give my mouth to the Lord. This Christmas season can bring many opportunities to witness for Jesus. Families gather and share in the festivities. Sometimes it is more difficult to witness to my own relatives than it is to a virtual stranger. Why is that? I want my family to see me living for Christ rather than for the moment. I need not be afraid, for there is good news of great joy to be told.
a) Make up posters announcing the birth of Christ, and hang them up around town.
b) Sing "Go Tell It On The Mountain," and clap to a beat.
c) Exchange a holy kiss with one another.
Silent Night. Holy Night
Advent 2018 December 22, 2018
Read Luke 2: 8-9 together:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Today, I gave my fingers to the Lord. I think if I were in a field tending sheep and a host of angels appeared before me, my knuckles would be white as I gripped my staff in fright. No wonder the angel told the shepherds not to fear. They seemed to know that it wasn’t just a light show they were seeing. It was a revelation. They would soon come face to face with their Saviour, an exciting concept for ordinary man.
a) Play "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night" on the piano or other musical instrument.
b) Draw faces on your fingers, and pretend that they are the shepherds. Tell how the shepherds felt when they saw the angels.
c) Serve finger foods for a snack before you go to bed tonight. together
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Advent 2018 December 21, 2018
Read Luke 2: 4-7 together:
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Today, I give my legs to the Lord. Talking the talk is easy. Talking the walk doesn’t get me far. Walking the talk takes courage. Walking the walk makes me tired. Imagining Mary and Joseph walking all the way to Bethlehem—and Mary great with child! There was no one horse open sleigh, nor was anyone dashing through the snow with jingle bells. They were merely obeying God and making the trek, for it was part of His plan.
a) Go Christmas caroling in town or to a retirement home.
b) Offer to walk the neighbour’s dog.
c) Exercise to Christmas music.
Away in Manger
Advent 2018 December 20, 2018
Read Luke 1: 67-69, 76-79 together
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn[a] of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Today, I give my brain to the Lord. Advent means "coming" or "approaching." As Christmas approaches, I need to really think about the reason for the celebration. Pinned onto my jacket, I have a glittering green and red pin that says "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." I think the Reason goes beyond the season.
(a) Play a memory game. For example, place eight Christmas items on a tray, and let everyone look at them for 15 seconds. Remove the tray, and try to remember the items.
(b) From memory, everyone say a verse from scripture.
(c) Sing a prayer.
Do You Here What I Hear?
Advent 2018 December 19, 2018
Read Luke 1: 26-35 together
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy,
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph,
a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words
and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid,Mary; you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Today, I give my trust to the Lord. Unless someone betrays me, I will trust him or her. Probably, that’s how Mary felt when the angel of God told her she would have a child. She had no reason not to trust God. He had never betrayed her before.
a) Send a card of congratulations to a family who are expecting a baby.
b) Read a story about an angel.
c) Make the word "trust" into an acronym, such as T - Teacher; R - Redeemer; U - Universal; S - Saviour; T - Tender.
Once in Royal David's City
Advent 2018 December 18, 2018
Read Matthew 11: 28-30 together
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Today, I give my problems to the Lord. Is worry a sin? Today, I worried about how I could afford to buy presents for everyone on my list. It seems easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of the season. Then I feel guilty for thinking more about presents than about the presence of Jesus. I think I will rest at your feet for a while, Lord.
(a) Camp out in the living room tonight in sleeping bags.
(b) If you know someone who has recently lost a loved one, invite him or her over for a visit.
(c) Make popcorn strings for the tree.
What Child is This?
Advent 2018 December 17, 2018
Read Galatians 5: 22-23a together
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Today, I give all my fruits to the Lord: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control—I only wish I could exhibit all of these during this busy season. I am trying. It’s no use just pretending, though. God knows my motives.
(a) Put together a fruit basket, and deliver it to a small business in your community.
(b) Buy Christmas cards that tell the true meaning of Christmas.
(c) Pray for the people you receive Christmas cards from.
Advent 2018 December 16, 2018
Read James 3: 13-17 together
Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility
that comes from wisdom.
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast about it or deny the truth.
Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly,
For where you have envy and selfish ambition,
there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Today, I give my wisdom to the Lord. Instead of boasting, I will seek humility. Sometimes I’ve been told that I’m too big for my britches. Perhaps it’s time for me to ask W.W.J.D.? Jesus, after all, is the epitome of wisdom. Like the wise men who visited Jesus, I want to give my gift to the King too.
(a) Package jellybeans using the following colours: green for life, red for the blood of Christ, black for sin, and white for cleansed. Distribute them to children and explain.
(b) Sing "The first Noel."
(c) Who is the wisest person you know?
What Can I Give Him, Poor as I Am?
Advent 2018 December 15, 2018
Read 1 Corinthians 6: 19 together
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you,
whom you have received from God? You are not your own...
Today, I give my body to the Lord. Oh, how we abuse our bodies. Sweet treats tempt us. Butter tarts and marzipan beckons. Turkey with all the trimmings entices us to have one more helping. We waste so much—too much! What do homeless people eat at Christmas?
(a) Does your community serve a Christmas meal to the needy? If so, volunteer to help.
(b) Go for a walk together, and talk about making it a regular habit.
(c) Make up a breakfast basket (bagels, juice, jams, small cereal pack, etc.), and take it to a person who is recuperating after an illness or surgery.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Advent 2018 December 14, 2018
Read Romans 12: 3-8 together
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
For just as each of us has one body with many members,
and these members do not all have the same function,
so in Christ we, though many, form one body,
and each member belongs to all the others.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;
if it is to encourage, then give encouragement;
if it is giving, then give generously;
if it is to lead, do it diligently;
if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Today, I give my talents to the Lord. If we have a gift of hospitality, we serve with gladness; if we have artistic flair, we create beauty on canvas; if we are teachers, we share the wonder of wisdom; if we, like Joseph, work deftly with our hands, we skillfully transform ordinary wood into splendid creations. Gifts can be shared year round.
(a) Decide what talent you have, and use this talent to create a gift for a family member. (b) Make a gingerbread house using a kit or by using Graham crackers.
(c) Write out the phrase "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," and see how many words you can make out of it.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Advent 2018 December 13, 2018
Read Colossians 1:15-20 together
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether things on earth or things in heaven,
by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Today, I give my obedience to the Lord. We can create wonderful Christmas themes, beautiful adornments for the tree, and incredible feasts, but no matter how hard we try, we cannot create something from nothing; only God is able.
When Christ was born, God’s supremacy was proclaimed again, and His power was evidenced in the life of Jesus. When we obey God, we are doing His will and need not fret about anything else.
(a) Make Christmas cookies, and follow the recipe exactly.
(b) Discuss what might have happened if you didn’t follow the recipe as written.
(c) Sing the verses of "O Come All Ye Faithful" in pairs, and all join in for the chorus.
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Advent 2018 December 12, 2018
Read Phillipians 2: 5-8 together
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Today, I give my attitude to the Lord. I don’t like it when someone asks me what I want for Christmas because it makes me think of me. I like getting gifts, but I get more pleasure giving to others.
(a) Wrap up something that is very special to you, and give it to a very special person in your life.
(b) Volunteer at a local food bank for a few hours, or more.
(c) Write a note, or e-mail, to someone with whom you recently argued. Be kind, and have the attitude of Jesus.
The First Noel
Advent 2018 December 11, 2018
Read Titus 3: 4-7 together
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified by his grace,
we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Today, I give my hope to the Lord. I often wondered what the difference was between hoping and wishing. Should I hope for a new toy under the tree, or would I stand a better chance by wishing for it instead? A wish, I discovered, is a desire based on magic, whereas hope is a desire based on expectation. My hope is in Jesus.
(a) Draw a picture of what hope means to you.
(b) Write a letter to a friend whom you haven’t seen in a while, and mail it.
(c) Find a Christmas carol with the word "hope" in it.
O Holy Night
Advent 2018 December 10, 2018
Read Micah 5: 2, 4 together:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans
of Judah,out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
Today, I give my muscles to the Lord. Too often, when we think of strength, we immediately think of wrestlers with bulging muscles or champion weight lifters. True strength is exhibited in a sinless life—that of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. What an example we have in Him.
(a) Go as a family to pick out a tree, and set it up together.
(b) Visit an elderly person who is shut in.
(c) Flex your spiritual muscles, and play a game of Bible Trivia.
Advent 2018 December 9, 2018
Read Isaiah 21: 11-12 together:
A Prophecy Against Edom
A prophecy against Dumah:
Someone calls to me from Seir,
“Watchman, what is left of the night?
Watchman, what is left of the night?”
The watchman replies,
“Morning is coming, but also the night.
If you would ask, then ask;
and come back yet again."
Today, I give my eyes to the Lord. I don’t know if I would make a good watchman. I am so easily distracted. The tinsel and the glitter of this season sometimes causes me to look away from the simple manger. I need to keep my eyes upon Jesus.
(a) Get out the Nativity, and set it up in a prominent place.
(b) In a darkened room, light a candle, and think about how Jesus was the Light of the World.
(c) Play blind man’s bluff.
While Shepherds Watched their Flock by Night.
Advent 2018 December 8, 2018
Read Isaiah 9:6-7 together:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Today, I give my energy to the Lord. It’s only the first week in December, and already people are complaining about how much they have to do. If anyone had cause to complain, it was Jesus. Look at the state of the world into which He was born. He surely is wonderful and mighty. He will accomplish everything He sets out to do.
(a) Dress appropriately, and go for a walk as a family.
(b) Make a pine cone Christmas decoration.
(c) Go out after dark, and try to count the stars.
Go Tell it on the Mountain!
Advent 2018 December 7, 2018
Read Matthew 1:18-25 (MSG) together:
The Birth of Jesus
The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:
Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).
Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.
Today, I give my ears to the Lord. It was good that Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and obeyed God’s will. His first reaction was to quietly "get out of town" once he found out that Mary was going to have a baby. To see and hear, firsthand, an angel of the Lord standing in my bedroom. . . hmm. . . would I be scared?
(a) Talk about how you would feel if an angel stood before you with explicit instructions from God. Listen to everyone’s comments.
(b) Make an angel using an ice-cream cone as a base.
(c) Listen to Christmas music and sing along.
Angels We Have Heard on High
Advent 2018 December 6, 2018
Read Proverbs 22: 2, 4, 9 together:
Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.
Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
...for they share their food with the poor.
Today, I give my possessions to the Lord. It’s already started. All the razz-a-ma-tazz of mass advertising. When I look at the television or at store flyers, or worse yet, when I go into the stores, I see all kinds of things that I want and think that I should get. I wonder what kind of toys Jesus played with when He was a child.
(a) Think of last year’s Christmas presents. What did you get? What did you give?
(b) Look up Jewish toys in an encyclopedia or on the Internet.
(c) Bake some Christmas cookies, and take them to a needy person or to a food bank.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Advent 2018 December 5, 2018
Read Psalm 139: 14-16 together:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Today, I give my uniqueness to the Lord. You told me that I am special and that you knew me before I was even born. That makes sense because you told Mary and Joseph about Jesus before He was born.
Suggested activities: (a) Cut out paper snowflakes, and hang them in a window. (b) Make an imprint of your thumb. Compare it with that of other family members. (c) Turn the calendar over to December, and pray that your family keep focussing on Jesus this holiday season.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing!
Advent 2018 December 4, 2018
Read Psalm 119: 1-8 together.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!
Then read Luke 19:10
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Today, I give my heart to the Lord. When I lose something that is very important to me, I earnestly seek it and rejoice when it is found. Trying to fully understand how Jesus came to earth is impossible, but accepting with all my heart that He came to save my lost soul is true faith.
(a) Play Hide and Seek.
(b) Make and decorate heart-shaped cookies, and take some to an elderly person you know.
(c) Cut out a paper heart, and write a note to a family member on it.
The First Noel the Angel Did Say
Advent 2018 December 3, 2018
Read Psalm 98:1-4 together:
Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
Today, I give my voice to the Lord. I love to hear the music at Christmas time. Sometimes I am sad when people know all the words to "Frosty the Snowman" but only know the first two lines of "Joy to the World."
(a) Plan to sing at least one verse of a Christmas carol each evening through Advent.
(b) Call your grandparents and sing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" over the telephone.
(c) Draw a picture of what your favourite Christmas carol "looks like."
O Come. O Come, Emmanuel!
Advent 2018 December 2, 2018
I was almost 30 when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. A fire was ignited in my heart, and I tried desperately to let Jesus be a part of every aspect of my life.
As I became more and more involved with church-related activities, I felt myself being captivated by the children and their innate abilities to love unconditionally. I adored the drama program in particular and quickly became involved in various children’s ministries. God used the children to teach me so much. I still am amazed at how much I grow spiritually in the company of children.
One Christmas, I had been asked to help out with a delightful children’s musical and drama program. I jumped at the opportunity. Although I cannot recall the title of the play, I do recall Tim, the little boy who sang his heart out to Jesus.
Tim is now a Vice Principal in a school in Guelph. Boy time flies
"What gift can I bring?" little Timmy sang. "I have nothing here but me, then I’ll give myself to you, O precious little king." he announced to all. I wept, not in sorrow, but in joy—astounded at the emotion of the young lad who proffered those words to the King of Kings. Although mere words on a page of a children’s musical, I knew that would be the perfect gift—to give myself to the King!
"I Give Myself to You. . . O Precious Little King"
What does it mean to give oneself to Christ? What are some realistic ways that we might give to the King of Kings during this Advent season?
I invite you and your family to experience the anticipation of the season as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ.
The First Sunday in Advent:
Sunday, December 2nd, 2018
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 together:
"And to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."
Today, I give my hands to God. I think about the soft skin of a baby and the rough calloused hands of a carpenter; then I think about the nail-pierced hands of our Saviour.
(a) Play "pat-a-cake" with a child. It doesn’t matter what age.
(b) Sand a piece of wood by hand, and write your favourite Bible verse on it.
(c) Hold hands as you pray.
Thank you for my hands. Teach me how to always use my hands to serve & to pray. If I feel tempted to do something bad with my hands, please make me think how sad that would make you. And then help me make good choices. Amen.
Now I am clapping my hands for you, Lord!
Have a beautiful day!