Monday, December 1, 2008

Announcing...The Baby Jesus

Youth Devotion for the First Weekend in Advent -- November 29 & 30
By Rachel Gilmore

No doubt, before you were born, your parents told people that you were coming. They told their parents. They told your aunts and uncles. They told their friends and neighbors. They told their co-workers. Basically, they told anyone who would listen that you were coming!

John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, but he also announced that Jesus was coming. John was a strange kind of guy, but he knew he was on a mission from God. That mission was to tell God’s people that Jesus was coming. So John walked around in the desert in wearing animal skins for clothes and eating locusts and honey. And over and over again to anyone who would listen he said, "Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight paths for him!" (Mark 1:3)

People came out to the desert to see this odd man, but they also listened to his voice. To help these people prepare for Jesus, John baptized them in the Jordan River. "I will baptize you with water," John said, "but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (John 1:8)

John’s voice was loud and clear. People who listened to John got the message. Jesus was coming. This Jesus would save them from their sin. What an awesome birth announcement!

As you prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth this Christmas, think about John’s voice saying, "Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight paths for Him!" What is one way you can make your path straight (make God-honoring choices) this Christmas? Who is one person you can tell that Jesus saves us from our sins when we accept him as our Savior? Make your voice loud and clear like John’s and celebrate the Good News of Jesus!

Verses to reflect on this week:
Malachi 3:1-5 and John 1:29-34

Our Savior, Our Friend

Advent Devotion for Nov. 29-30, 2008
By Ruthann Schmudde

Malachi 3:1
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Christmas is coming, and we will celebrate the birth of that very special baby, Jesus. We tend to think of Christmas as a once-a-year event. When it comes, we fill our minds with all kinds of stuff, what presents to buy and how to pay for them, what food to prepare and what parties we’ll go to. We get stressed so badly that sometimes we wish Christmas wouldn’t come at all! Besides that, many of us have lost at least one loved one, and our hearts are heavy with sadness.

It was always God’s plan to send us a Savior. Throughout the Old Testament God foretold that the Lord the people were seeking would come. When Jesus was born, an angel appeared to shepherds telling them that a Savior had been born, who was Christ the Lord. John the Baptist knew Jesus was the Savior because he saw the Holy Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him.

Jesus, our Savior, became an incredible messenger, teaching about God, love and sin. Later, He was crucified in order to wipe our sins away. If we believe He is our Savior and have a relationship with Him, we will have eternal life in heaven.

What a wonderful gift He’s given us! It is laid before us every minute of every day; it isn’t a once-a-year event. Besides having eternal life after we die, we get to talk to Him any time at all, sharing our joy or sadness. We can ask for His help and He will freely give it. He loves us more than we can understand. When you’re feeling sad because a loved one has passed on, talk to Jesus. When there are so many things to get done, ask Him to guide you. There is no friend like Him.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus, for coming to us and for dying for our sins. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. Help us to be filled with joy knowing you are always with us, not just on Christmas morning, and that one day we will be with you in heaven.