Keep the Family Focused During Advent

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Christmas, Ideas

Advent is that time of year when we focus on the birth of Christ and what it means that our Savior has come into the world! What good news!

As we enter the time of Advent, it’s a wonderful time to bring the family together, kids, teens and all for times of focusing on the coming of our Savior.

We are blessed with the ability to make a few clicks and order a ready made resource. The hardest part will be carving out the time, but how precious the time will be and the memories you will make as you lead your family to grow in the love and meaning of Christmas.

One idea is to turn off all the lights and use candles like they did for hundreds of years. Set the scene for them and make it a little different. This will create special and memorable moments.

Here are just a couple of links for resources. Don’t forget to check with your church​ as they may offer​ some, too.

  • Here is a post with descriptions of 10 resources.
  • We read this one last year: Jotham’s Journey and we all really enjoyed it.  This year, we are going to read Bartholomew’s Passage.  These are part of a series by Arnold Ytreeide.  There is also another Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for Advent
  • Here is a search on Amazon with lots of resources, many of which are included in the post above. (Another way to support HD is signing up with Amazon.)

If you have a resource you recommend, please pass it on, so we can encourage each other.  We love hearing what other parents are using.

Helping You Have Homes Devoted!
Jonathan & Carrie

“Live” Christmas Morning Devotion with Santa

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Christmas, Faith Conversations, Family Devotions, Video Challenges

Parents, gather the family and join us Christmas morning for this “live streaming” family devotion. Even a guest appearance from Santa before he goes to Hawaii for a long over due vacation.  It’s a prerecorded video you can watch before or after opening gifts.  You can even watch in the car.

You may be traveling or visiting with family and not attending a church service, so we encourage you to take time on Christmas, Christ’s birthday, to focus on Him.  It’s so important, especially those of you with children, so they grow up keeping Christ in Christmas.

You may want to open with prayer and sing a few worshipful songs.  (Below are a few links to Youtube songs with lyrics.)  After watching the 13 minute video, there are a few questions for discussion to apply and connect the message with those you are with .  After, close in prayer, giving thanks to God for giving us the greatest gift!  (You just had a worship service at home!)

Chris Tomlin – It’s Christmas

Silent Night – Casting Crowns

Chris Tomlin – What Child Is This?

This video was made for and in conjunction with Trinity Wellsprings Church who has a vision for families to worship together at home!  Click here to go to their webpage link.

Questions:

  1. What did you get for Christmas last year?  If you remember, do you still remember how excited you were about it?
  2. Where is it now?  Do you still use it?
  3. What traditions do have that are going to be passed down to your kids and grandkids?
  4. Most important: What is one thing our family can do in 2017 that will last?
  5. How can we serve our neighbors (without anything in return)?
  6. How can we share the message of Christ’s love with our friends?

Family Devotion: Christmas {5 minute devos}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Challenging, Christmas, Christmas, Family Devotions

Elizabeth & Zacharias: Patience

Read Luke 1:11-25

The Bible tells us that Zacharias and Elizabeth “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6 NKJV). Zacharias was a priest who served in the temple. We’re also told that they were “well advanced in years.”

Despite this, they had no children because Elizabeth was barren. This could not have been easy on them. For the people of Israel in this time, it was considered shameful if a woman was unable to have a child. Imagine the grief this must have caused them, particularly Elizabeth. No doubt, the light of hope in a child of their own must have dimmed and burned out long ago.

Around the time of the first century, the duty of burning the incense in the temple fell to Zacharias. As he stood alone in the Holy Place, the angel Gabriel appeared before him to proclaim that their long wait was finally over . . . God had ordained for them to have a son named John. Gabriel told Zacharias that his son would be his joy, great in God’s sight, in the vein of Elijah. He would be the forerunner for the King of Kings; the one who would “make straight the way for the Lord.”

Sometimes, God puts something in our hearts, a great passion and desire, but then wants us to wait for His timing so His perfect plan can unfold. The wait, especially if it’s a long one, can cause us to doubt and lose heart.

You’ve probably heard the age-old expression, “patience is a virtue.” All throughout the Bible, we see God rewarding those who patiently wait upon Him, who trust in His promises and His faithfulness to fulfill them. We also see those who don’t wait and often learn difficult lessons. Elizabeth and Zacharias patiently waited upon God and trusted He knew best. Though the reproach of others hurt, this righteous couple found comfort in the arms of the Lord, and in His time, He took their shame away!

It’s not always easy to wait on God’s timing, but the rewards we reap when we do are well worth it!  

Are you experiencing some situation that, like Elizabeth and Zacharias, is testing your patience?

What might God be teaching you?

Elizabeth didn’t see what God was up to …for years.  Even if you can’t see how God is at work, what can you do to trust Him?  Will you trust Him?

*This devotion was edited from a devotional from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale called The King Has Come: Prepare Your Heart.  It can be found in the Bible app.

The Angel’s Message ~Part One~ {Encouragement for Teen Girls}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Christmas, Teen Girls

Her hands were sweaty.  She could feel her stomach quivering, her heart racing, as she knelt before the shining being before her. Favor with God?  A baby?  The Son of God?  God, as a baby–in my womb?

The thought thrilled and terrified her all at the same time.  “The Lord is with you.”

Then, like a punch in the stomach, her thoughts came back to earth, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  Surely the angel must have made a mistake.  She could not have a child.  She was not married!  She sighed.  It had been a beautiful thought, it would have been nice if it were true.

But the angel’s face did not cloud in confusion.  He did not turn away from her.  No, instead, his face seemed to beam brighter.  A full smile lit across his face as though he was expecting the question.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of GodFor nothing will be impossible with God.”

Goosebumps ran up her neck.  The hair on her arms stood straight up.  Her legs felt weak.

The sign!  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

God with us.

God with us.

God with us.

The God of Noah, that in His righteous anger, covered the entire earth with water, destroying all life but that in the tiny rescue ship.

The God of Moses, that, struck the Egyptians with plagues, delivered the children of Israel with a mighty hand and outstretched arm.

The God of Elijah, throwing fire down from heaven, consuming the offering before the prophets of Baal.

The God of the mighty warrior David.

The God that delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the flames.

The God that held the lions mouths shut for Daniel.

The God that gave Esther, the beautiful Persian queen, the courage to save her people, and protected her from harm.

That God.  That God of judgment.  That God of power.  Strength.  Majesty.  Mercy.  Kindness.

With us.

In her womb.

She put her hands to her stomach, her mind racing.  Me?  I am the virgin?  Me?  My son, God?  The Messiah?

God is come to save us!

Jesus.  That was the name the angel said to call Him.  Jesus.  Her Son’s name.  A smile touched her lips. It was so sweet on her tongue.

A flash filled her sight.  A vision knocked her.  Blood running down.  Cold stone.  Violent quaking.  The smell of fear.  Sweat.  Blood.  The sounds of anger.  Yelling, screaming, “Harlot!  Adulteress!”  And blackness.  Death.  The ache filled her chest and escalated into a raging fire.  Anxiety ravaged her body.

What about Joseph, her betrothed?  When he discovers that she is with child, will he believe her that the Child is God?  That she is with child by the Holy Spirit?  Her throat burned.  Or would he order her to be stoned for adultery?

Immanuel.  God with us.  God with her. She was called Favored One… He would protect her.  He was always faithful.  Just like He was with Noah.  With Moses.  With David.  He was with her.

Her voice quivered, felt small,

“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

The angel was gone.

A Christmas Devotion {5 Minute Devo}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Christmas, Christmas, Family Devotions

{Click here for the download of this devotional: English, French, Russian, and Spanish}

 

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.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:8-11

 

Can you imagine if you were there…if you were one of the shepherds? 

 

Have someone read this again while the rest of the family closes their eyes.    Picture yourself there, seeing and hearing these words.  Can you hear them yourself? 

 

What would you have thought if you had been a shepherd?

 

Possibly:

….A baby?  Why a baby? 

….What would you have thought after seeing that it was just a baby?

….Maybe you might have asked, “Is this how the Savior of the world comes…as a baby?  In a stable?” 

 

Isn’t it interesting that God never seems to do things the way we would?

If you were God, would you have sent your Son into the world, as the Savior, like this? 

               How might you have done it? 

 

What are other things Jesus says to do that just seems backwards from the way we would most probably do it?

  • Turn the other cheek
  • Serve without expecting anything in return
  • Forgive 7 times 77
  • Love your enemies

 

God gave us His Son.  I’m not sure I would have. God does things the best way.  Can you trust Him?

 

This Christmas, the best gift you can give back to God is listening for how He wants you to do things around here a lot differently than what we usually do.

 

Questions:

What is one thing you can do differently as a gift to God? 

How might this world be different if we all loved the way God loved?

How might our family be different if we treated each other the way God treated us?

Resources

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