A Rhythm for Advent Vol 3

God With Us

The Birth of Jesus

December 25, 2023 • Luke 2:1–21

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. THE SHEPHERDS AND THE ANGELS 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Jesus Lord of All

December 24, 2023 • Kevin Barra • Colossians 1:15–20

There is something powerful in a song. The energy of the beat, the rhythm of the rhyme, and the truth in the lyrics make a dynamic impact. Scholars believe Colossians 1:15-20 was composed as an early Christian hymn to communicate deep truth in a memorable way. Norman Geisler writes, “No comparable listing of so many characteristics of Christ and His deity are found in any other Scripture passage. Christ is the supreme Sovereign of the universe!” Jesus is Lord of all! In these few stanzas, we discover Jesus’ sovereignty as the perfect picture of God, His supremacy as the firstborn, His creation of the cosmos, His leadership of the church, His defeat over death, and His reconciliation of all creation. Have you considered the fact that Jesus rules over every facet of the universe? Everything rests under His loving control. There is no situation too complex, no affliction too overwhelming, and no reason to fear. What concerns do you carry with you? What feelings overwhelm you? Read these lyrics about your sovereign King Jesus and find rest for your soul! He is Lord of all! DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - What characteristics surprise you about Jesus from this passage? - What is one quality about Jesus that brings you the greatest hope? - Memorize the verse to carry with you! PRAYER Jesus, thank you that you are Lord of all! There is nothing outside of your strong and loving control. Though my fears overwhelm me and my concerns consume me, I can trust in your sovereign hand. Here are my fears. I give them to you. I trust you to work them out and guide my steps to follow you. Written by Kevin Barra

Jesus Our Love

December 17, 2023 • Cody Andras • John 1

I’m immediately struck by the consistency of the disciples’ responses to meeting Jesus in John 1: they wanted to be near Him. They encountered a stranger and recognized His worth. They desired His presence. In John 1:37-38, two disciples began following Jesus, and He turned to them and asked, “What are you looking for?” They responded that they were looking for where He was staying. They sought to remain near this long-awaited One. “‘Come, and you’ll see,’ [Jesus] replied” (John 1:39, CSB). It happened again and again. Andrew. Peter. Philip. Nathanael. They saw Jesus and longed to be near to Him. In perhaps the most shocking twist, the Son of God welcomed them into His presence, invited them to walk with Him, and delighted to dwell with them. The very presence of Immanuel, ”God with us,” declares God’s love for us. He desires our nearness as we long for His. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, CSB). The God of all creation sent His Son to die so that we might come to Him and live. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - Think of someone you love. How do you feel about spending time with and being around that person? - In John 17:3, Jesus defines eternal life: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent – Jesus Christ.” How does this expand your understanding of the familiar words of John 3:16 and confirm God’s love for you? - It’s really easy to believe that God tolerates us out of some sense of obligation. How does the idea that Immanuel (God with us) desires to be near you change your understanding of His love for you? PRAYER Lord, may we catch sight of You like those early disciples caught sight of You, in a way that stirs in us a longing to be near You. May we worship You this Christmas as people who glimpse Your glory and sit in wonder that You have called us Your own. May we know the depths of Your love for us, and may we love You in return. Written by Cody Andras

Jesus Our Peace

December 10, 2023 • AK Kuruvilla • Luke 2:1–21

When I was young, I asked my dad, “Why is there no peace in the world?” He answered, “Well, you are struggling to have peace with your brother, your only sibling. How can you expect to have peace in the world with so many people?” That was a good illustration of the problem with peace. Peace is the result of relational wholeness between people. Isaiah 32:17 says, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” And what is righteousness? Righteousness is being right in God’s sight or from God’s perspective. When we read about the announcement of Jesus’ birth, we are told that the angels announced to the shepherds in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” The birth of Jesus made it possible for us to be righteous in God’s sight because He lived and died to pay the price of our sin. Relational wholeness with God (peace with God) allows us to pursue relational wholeness with people (peace with people). When we seek righteousness in our lives, it produces the fruit of peace. Seek righteous living to enjoy peace! DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - Think about a situation where there is a lack of peace in your life. Analyze the situation to determine what it is that eliminates peace. Do they line up with a life that seeks to follow God in obedience? - If the lack of peace is caused by less-than-righteous thinking or action, as a first step, do you trust Christ for the forgiveness of your sins so that God sees you as righteous based on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross? - If you are a child of God, what would you do to set yourself on the right trajectory toward righteous living to experience peace with the people around you? PRAYER Gracious God, thank you for sending your Son to be born on this earth so I might have peace with you. As I reflect on His birth this Christmas, please incline my heart towards you so that I might seek righteousness and enjoy the fruit of righteousness, which is peace. Written by AK Kuruvilla

Jesus Our Joy

December 3, 2023 • Jonny Marks • Luke 1:39–56

When was the last time you leaped for joy? I mean, like, two fist pumps in the air and a jump-up and shout-for-joy moment? I think we would attach this idea to winning the lottery, the birth of a child, or the double overtime win of a football game. However, that kind of joy is fleeting and takes a circumstance that is just right. The joy John experienced in the womb, the joy Elizabeth felt, and the joy the Apostle Paul, King David, and others talked about comes from being in the presence of God and being taken hold of by the grace, salvation, and mercy that comes with knowing Him. The joy we can have and celebrate Christmas with, the joy we anticipate having in heaven, and the joy we are supposed to experience as believers is not attached to the “just right” circumstance or a “win” in the world. It’s the thing that holds us and grounds us even when the world is upside down. The joy of knowing Jesus can take us through unimaginable difficulty and pain and lead us to sing and write songs about a mighty, merciful, and gracious God who loves us and is faithful always, no matter what. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - Reflect on a time when you experienced joy from the presence of God. What was happening in your life, who was present, and what was the lasting effect of that? - If you wrote a song about God’s faithfulness, what would you sing about? - What part does humility play in our experience of joy? PRAYER God, you are worthy to sing about because you have faithfully loved me through everything. My life hasn’t always been easy and I haven’t always understood how you work, but I’m humbled at your grace, mercy, and might. Restore to me the joy of my salvation and allow me to leap for joy in your presence. Amen. Written by Jonny Marks


November 26, 2023 • Kevin Barra • Isaiah 7:14

What is Advent? Our word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus” or coming. Advent is the period of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. Over these weeks, we will prepare our hearts and minds for the most significant arrival in human history, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ arrival changed everything! Isaiah 7:14 describes, “God with us!” The Gospel of John describes Jesus eternally existing with God and stepping into human history. Jesus lived a perfect life on earth, died an innocent man, and resurrected from death. People around the world celebrate Advent in honor of Jesus’ life and the gift of eternal life He extends to the world. Jesus came some 2,000 years ago, but He can impact your life today. Reminding ourselves of Jesus’ first coming prepares us for His second coming when He will restore this broken world. Whether you have known Jesus for many years or are discovering Him for the first time, we encourage you to use this resource to prepare for the arrival of Jesus Christ! We know it will provide hope, joy, peace, and love this season as we reflect on Jesus, the Lord of all! Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ISAIAH 7:14

Jesus Our Hope

November 26, 2023 • Mackenzie David • Luke 1

In the 400 years leading up to Jesus’ birth, God was silent. He didn’t raise up any new prophets, and there was nothing new to report from Heaven. He had given them all the information: that He would one day send a Messiah to rescue God’s people and reconcile them back to God forever. But year after year, they waited for the promise to be fulfilled, until one day, an angel told Mary she would carry the Son of God, Jesus. Since Elizabeth and Zechariah got married, they hoped for a child. As the years passed, this proved out of reach and impossible for them; until one day, an angel appeared to Zechariah as he was giving the yearly offering for the Israelites. The angel told Zechariah that his hope of having a son would be fulfilled. But in his disbelief, he was silenced, until his son, John, was born. In uncertainties and impossible situations, hope can feel risky. I’ve heard it said before that faith says, “Is it possible?” but hope says, “Is it possible for me?” As time passes, the silence somehow grows louder and uncomfortable, giving room for doubt and fear to creep in. But what if the silence is meant to grow and encourage our hope? DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - What are the things in your life that feel too risky to hope for? - Can you think of a time when God felt silent as you hoped for something? Can you think of a time when you felt silent as you hoped for something? - Finish today by writing out Luke 1:37 below. If this verse doesn’t feel true to you, spend some time praying throughout the week, asking God to increase your faith in Him and remind you, He is a capable God. PRAYER Thank you for this season of remembering how you fulfilled the greatest hope of all through the birth of your Son, Jesus. God, when we find ourselves hoping in the silence, would we remember your faithfulness that you have displayed and believe that it is possible for us, too? During this season of Advent, may we continue to choose the risk of hope to find ourselves surprised by your provision and kindness. Written by Mackenzie David