27 November 2012

Advent, with a little help from my friends

This weekend - whether you start on Saturday being the first day in December or Sunday being the first Sunday in Advent - marks the beginning of the great countdown to Christmas.  Each year we mark the days and prepare our hearts for Christmas using an Advent calendar.  Our boys are blessed with beautiful godparents - and their godmother gave them an Advent calendar when our eldest was born and each year she supplies us with material to put in the pockets of the calendar.

But first things first.  Do you have an Advent calendar?  If not, it isn't too late.  You could buy one.  Or you could make one.  The lovely Ally at harrysdesk has set up a page of ADVENT INSPIRATION here.  So many beautiful ideas.  And it doesn't have to be all that complicated.  You can go a long way quickly with 24 envelopes or 24 takeaway noodle boxes or 24 plastic cups. 

And then, what to put inside it?  Lollies, chocolates, coins (real or chocolate) and so on.  And then the good stuff.

For young children you can use the first 24 stories in The Jesus Story Book Bible to great effect.
Very generously, Wendy at Musings has kindly made two sets of Advent readings available here - one covering the birth Jesus and another covering Genesis to Jesus, great for young and old alike.

And below, a series of verses that provide an overview of the whole Bible.  These come with warm thanks to our boys' godmother.  This is the material she has prepared for our calendar this year.  And she has generously allowed me to share it here on my blog.  This series of short readings would be good for older children who have made their way through their children's Bibles plenty of times and have a good knowledge of the big picture of the Bible.  And it is great for adults too.  They are short readings that should inspire some deep discussion about God and why Christmas and Easter (because you can't have one without the other) had to happen.  She hasn't included any part of the actual Christmas story in her choice of verses which will seem strange to some, but kids have a pretty good grasp of the Christmas story - and there is a fair chance they will be hearing it in its entirety during December.  I think it's going to be amazingly powerful to reach Christmas Eve with Jesus' resurrection from the dead and the great commission.  We will head into Christmas Day fired up and with so many Good Reasons to celebrate.

So click on the links above, cut and paste to your heart's content below and get inspired for Advent. 


Our readings for 2012

1.  In the Beginning
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Gen 1: 1)

2.  Sin....
When the woman (Eve) saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband (Adam), who was with her, and he ate it.
(Gen 3: 6)

3.  Noah’s Ark
The Lord then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. .. and the rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights.
(Gen 7: 1 & 12)

4.  The Lord Promises Abram to make him into a Great Nation
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you”... “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them... so shall your offspring be.”
(Gen12: 1 & 15: 5)

5.  Sarah Becomes Pregnant
Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in her old age, at the very time God
had promised. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him
(Gen 21: 1 – 2)

6.  Jacob and Esau
Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren.  The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.  The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?"  So the she went and enquired of the Lord. 
The Lord said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated, one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
(Genesis 25:21-23)

7.  Jacob Wrestles with God
Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.’
(Gen 32: 28)

The coming Messiah- Jesus - would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew 1 & Luke 3)

8.  Joseph reveals himself to his Brothers
Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’ When they had done so, he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with
yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sentme ahead of you. For two
years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be ploughing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.’
(Gen 45: 4 – 7)

9.  Moses and the Burning Bush
Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in flames of fire from within a bush... Then God said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob... I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave
drivers... so I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey..’
(Exodus 3: 2 & 6 – 8)

10.  The Exodus
When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country... so God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea... By day the Lord went ahead of the Israelites in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light
(Exodus 13: 17 – 18 & 21)

11.  Moses at Mount Sinai
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my
covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.’
(Exodus 19: 3 -5)

12.  Joshua Leads the Israelites to the Promised Land
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son Nun, Moses' assistant, "Moses my servant is dead.  Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them -  to the Israelite.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses...I will never leave you nor forsake you."
(Joshua 1:1-5)

13.  The Appointment of Judges
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel... But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer...judges.’
(Judges 3: 7 – 11)

14.  Samuel Anoints David as King
The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over
Israel?.. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king... and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.’
(1 Samuel 16: 1 & 13).

It was prophesied that Jesus would be from the line of David in Isaiah 9:7 and 2 Samuel 7: 12 -13.

15.  Solomon Builds the Temple
When Solomon had finished building the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and he had achieved all he had desired to do, the Lord appeared to him a second time..."I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated the temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever.  My eyes and my heart will always be there.
(1 Kings 9:1-3)

16.  Prophecy that Jesus would be born of a Virgin Woman
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (which means God with us).’
(Isaiah 7: 14)

17.  Prophecy of the Coming King Jesus
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 Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase 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.
(Isaiah 9: 6 – 7)

18.  The Baptism of Jesus
When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was
opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’
(Luke 3: 21 – 22)

19.  Jesus has Authority over Evil Spirits
Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of
‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’
The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
(Mark 1: 23 – 26)

20.  Jesus has Power over Nature
Then Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him... he replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’
(Matthew 8: 23 – 27)

21.  Jesus has Power over Death
While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. ‘Your
daughter is dead,’... Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe, and she will be healed.’
When Jesus arrived he said, ‘Stop wailing, she is not dead but asleep.’
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child,
get up!’ Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.
(Luke 8:49 – 55)

22.  Prophesied that Jesus would be Despised and Crucified
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering... Surely he took
up our infirmities (our failings) and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions (our wrong doing), he was crushed for our iniquities (failings); the punishment that brought us peace was upon him; and by his wounds we are healed... For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.’
(Isaiah 53: 3 – 12)

23.  God’s Saving Grace
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not
perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to
save the world through him.
(John 3: 16 – 17).

24.  Jesus' Resurrection from the Dead
The angel said to the woman, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who has been crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
...Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
(Matthew 28:5-7 & 18-20)

18 November 2012

Christians are Word people

A small quote from Jon Bloom from the Desiring God blog about the goodness of good books - especially the Best Book.

Lord… You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)

Christians are word people. We’re really into words because the Founder of Christianity is the Word (John 1:1). He came to earth to deliver a message in words. Those of us who have believed his words recognize them as the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68). And we seek to speak these words to others so they too can have eternal life. We call these words the gospel.

Christians are also book people. We’re really into books because our Founder left us a book, a collection of the words he determined are most important for us to know and remember.

This means we’re not into books merely because they’re good for us — as in a good book is health food for the brain, though that’s true. We’re into books because words mean the difference between life and death. If books contain the right words, people may live — forever!