NOEL ADVENT DEVOTIONAL

Leading up to Christmas, this devotional will enrich your experience with Christ’s birth, Noel, this year! We invite you to join us for the next 25 days as we draw closer to Christ.

Day 8

The birth of Jesus transforms my need for control.  There are two kings mentioned in Matthew 2:1, King Herod and baby Jesus.  One king had an inordinate need for control the other was actually in control.  One was a cruel tyrant the other was (and is) the Prince of Peace.

 

Herod lived a sumptuous lifestyle in a magnificent palace but he was both paranoid and maniacal. Baby Jesus was born a couple of miles away from that palace in a stable and had a manger for his first bed. Some have called Bethlehem’s manger the first king-size bed! Herod was so intimidated by the birth of Jesus that he ordered the murder of all the baby boys in Bethlehem. What a control freak!

 

I must confess that for most of my life I also had an unhealthy need for control.  This could be seen in ways that I regret. At times I was too strict as a parent or overly harsh as a husband.  Thankfully, the more I patterned my life after Jesus the more I began to live gracefully with others. 

 

I had emergency open heart surgery six months ago and during that surgery I suffered a stroke that has caused left-side weakness in my left leg and left hand. My life has changed dramatically since that surgery.  My need for control is gone. I now take each day as gift from Jesus.  My oldest son tells me, “Dad, you’re living in your bonus round!” Jesus is in control of my life now and my heart is filled with his peace.

 

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ISAIAH 9:6


Written by: Hal Kooistra, Senior Pastor


We hope that you will join us every Sunday in December at 10am for our NOEL series and on Christmas Eve at 5pm!

Day 7

When you think of a king and where he would be born, your first thought is probably a palace in a huge, beautifully decorated, ornate setting and a beautiful white bed for mother and baby. Nowadays, you think of a decent-sized room in a cozy hospital with nurses and doctors caring for your every need.

 

Neither of these scenarios were the case for our Savior. He was born in a manger in a stall dressed for an animal. He didn’t have nurses or white linen or a cozy bed. Jesus had stable animals all around him and straw as bedding. That is not how I see a king being born but we remember that Jesus was no ordinary king! He is the King that said “I did not come to be served but to serve.”

 

That’s what stands out for me when I read the story of the birth of Christ.  Our King came for one reason and that was to serve the underserved and save mankind. He came ready to serve his people, not to rule over them like a dictator. He did it by serving them and hanging with them right where they were. He got his hands dirty and sat at wells, talked with people on mountain sides, and fed the hungry. Our King, our Savior did life with his subjects! And that makes me want serve just like Jesus. My question to you is are willing to get your hands dirty and serve like Jesus? Or have you built a palace of comfort that keeps you and others hidden from each other?

 

My challenge to you is to find others who may be underserved and to do something nice for them. This Christmas season, try and lift others up, not to magnify your name, but to magnify the name of Jesus!

 

Written by: Anthony Pelegrino, Impact Church


We hope that you will join us every Sunday in December at 10am for our NOEL series and on Christmas Eve at 5pm!

day 6

Ephesians 1:9-11 

And through the revelation of the Anointed One, he unveiled his secret desires to us—the hidden mystery of his long-range plan, which he was delighted to implement from the very beginning of time.  And because of God’s unfailing purpose, this detailed plan will reign supreme through every period of time until the fulfillment of all the ages finally reaches its climax—when God makes all things new in all of heaven and earth through Jesus Christ. Through our union with Christ we too have been claimed by God as his own inheritance. Before we were even born, he gave us our destiny; that we would fulfill the plan of God who always accomplishes every purpose and plan in his heart.

 

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us again. The holidays are a time of revelry, a time for reflection, and for some a time of remembrance. They can even be stressful and at times feel chaotic with all the parties and gift exchanges planned. We can easily get overwhelmed in the busyness, but even though these lists never seem to get smaller, the cornerstone among it all is the birth of Jesus: the truth and beacon of hope that outshines the brightest house in the neighborhood.

 

This season, we remember the moment God revealed His plan to the world through a baby. A plan that would allow us to relinquish our trust back to God.  It’s a wonder though, we would’ve never been able to handle it on our own but as I write this, I think to myself “Your plan is a baby?!” This is probably the most confusing, wonderful, unlikely, and brilliant plan ever.

 

The challenge is wrapping my head around the modesty of it. Because when I ponder the scope of how miserable we are at being in charge, the solution to our issue doesn’t quite look like what I would have in mind. I think that’s the beautiful irony of it; I’m not meant to lean on my own understanding so why would God’s plan look anything like mine?

 

We try so hard to plan, accomplish, and measure up on our own apart from God and we waste all our energy on doing when in reality, the victory comes in surrendering. Wow what a great plan! This holiday season let’s rejoice and remember the birth of God’s plan and trust that, although it may not always make sense to us, God’s plans will always far outweigh anything we could ever come up with!


Written by: Ben Arias, Hope Community Dinner Church


We hope that you will join us every Sunday in December at 10am for our NOEL series and on Christmas Eve at 5pm!

day 5

Have you ever watched your children and in your heart prayed that you could remember that moment forever, hoping that picture is never forgotten?


As I read about the birth of Christ, I read “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Luke 2:19 NIV


So the birth of Jesus transforms the way I spend time with my family!
Who could possibly fathom what Mary pondered with her sweet baby being God plan to save us all? Did she think of her son’s future, or how she was going to raise him, or, rather did she just soak up God’s love for us? I know that when I see my loving spouse and my beautiful children, I try to cherish and embrace all that God has planned for us and thank Him for family. We spend our time in awe of God’s greatness together in church, home, and out in nature. We love deeper and forgive fully. We spend time serving like Jesus at church and on the streets as a family. We hold on to each other as we hold on to Jesus and his promises. Even as Jesus is older at the age of 12, Mary still tries to cherish the moments in her heart just as she did at birth. Our time together is precious and I love every season of life as it comes.

 

Written by: Tracy Pelegrino, Impact Church


We hope that you will join us every Sunday in December at 10am for our NOEL series and on Christmas Eve at 5pm!

day 4

Mark 2:15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.)


What do you think about when you hear the word “community”? You might think of close friends, family, or your neighbors however, Jesus’ birth signaled a new definition of community. He was born away from the community that Joseph and Mary came from. Angels called upon shepherds to visit Jesus. These men had long been looked at with contempt because the rest of the community didn’t trust them and felt that they were thieves. A while later, visiting foreigners came and brought gifts as they met with Jesus. Then His family flees to Egypt as refugees, joining a new community. Jesus’ birth expands beyond those who share the same views that we do, look like us, come from the same culture, or have the same values. Jesus’ birth shows the value of variety in our community. The broader our view of community, the broader our love for one another, and the more we become like Jesus. 


This view continues throughout Jesus’ life as He surrounds Himself with a community that didn’t rely on social status, economic status, or gender. After His resurrection, He continues this idea of community by telling His disciples to reach out to the whole world. This is what Jesus came into, what He modeled, and what He calls us to today; real community.


Written by: JJ Molodecki, Midway Campus Pastor


We hope that you will join us for our Midweek service, Wednesday at 7pm and every Sunday in December at 10am for our NOEL series!

day 3

Christmas is a time when we should meditate on what the Lord Jesus has done for us. In John 3:16 it says For God so Loved the world that he gave His one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 


Because we know that God’s love is directly reflected in His giving and also that He is a creative God, as His children, we can be encouraged to try and reflect that same nature through the giving of our gifts and talents. 


The Lord has provided us with unique talents whether seemingly big or small. We cannot create these talents on our own but we can strengthen them through practice. Start small, start messy, but start using those gifts as a gift back to God!


Take some time and meditate on the following scriptures:
Ephesians 2:10- For we are Gods handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for us to do.
James 1:17- Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Exodus 31:3-5 - And I have filled them with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding and with all kinds of skills to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut stone to work with wood and engage in all kinds of crafts.


The Lord has given you gifts and talents to be used to glorify Him. This Christmas season think about the gifts and talents He has given you. Write down three gifts the Lord has given you and ask Him how you would be able to use those gifts to help someone around you.


Christmas is a time of giving. Take this season to give the same way the Lord has given to you in beautiful and creative ways!


Written by: Vicky Meier, Prayer Ministry


We hope that you will join us every Sunday in December at 10am for our NOEL series and on Christmas Eve at 5pm!

day 2

Have you ever watched, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”? The Jim Carrey one is my favorite version. In one of the first scenes, Cindy Lou Who and her father are seen in a jam-packed store and as he is naming off all of the people they’re buying gifts for, Cindy sheepishly asks, “Dad, doesn’t this seem like a bit much?” She waits for answer that will hopefully enlighten her family and instead he responds, “What do you mean? This is what Christmas is all about!” A fleeting moment in a kids movie gently exposes the mentality of our society that echoes the Who’s down in Whoville. It’s so easy to think that Christmas is the best time of year because it is when we get the best gifts. However, I fear that we easily forget how we’ve already been given the best gift ever on that first Christmas!


Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (LUKE 2:11-12)


When Christ came into this world as an infant, it set forth the plan that 33 years later He would die on a cross for you and I. No one can give a gift so great as that and if we’re not careful, we’ll begin to believe that the physical gifts we receive are more important than the gift we’ve already received through Christ! But can I challenge you with a thought? This season is about far more than giving or receiving presents. It’s about spending time with the ones you love, giving thanks for what you have, and most of all it’s about celebrating that God so loved the world that he sent his son!


Things will break, go out of style, or disappear in no time but, memories together, adventures, and time spent with one another will last a lifetime. What’s more, Jesus invites us to enjoy eternity!


“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!” – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

 

Matthew 6:19-21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Written by: Rachel Kloes, Assistant Pastor


We hope that you will join us every Sunday in December at 10am for our NOEL series and on Christmas Eve at 5pm!

day 1

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18


The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. Starting around Thanksgiving, and stretching through New Year’s, the season is filled with celebration! It’s also a season in which we take time to consider all the things we have to be thankful for. But why limit it to just the Christmas season? The reality of Christ’s birth (the greatest gift humanity was ever given) demands far more than just a month’s worth of gratitude! James 1:17 tells us that every good gift we have comes from our Heavenly Father and this reminder is worth celebrating every day. This Christmas season, take some time to reflect on all the ways that you have been blessed. And I encourage you all to continue this practice well into the New Year. We can all start our gratitude list with the same thing listed in the #1 spot: That God sent his son Jesus into our world!


Written by: Josh Kloes, Assistant Pastor


We hope that you will join us every Sunday in December at 10am for our NOEL series and on Christmas Eve at 5pm!