Advent Guide 2022: Heaven Come Down

Advent Guide 2022: Heaven Come Down

The coming of God to Earth as the babe Jesus was the moment when God changed addresses.

In Christ, God’s presence is now with His people. This was the goal from the beginning: the place where heaven and earth come together in unhindered partnership. This Advent season, we will make it our aim to celebrate the birth of Christ, while keeping a clear view of heaven as we study through the book of Revelation during the Year of Bible Engagement. May our prayer this Advent be: “Make up there…come down here.”

May God bless this journey of Advent!

Week 1: Hope

Look Back 

On this first day of Advent, what is something you are looking forward to this season? Pray that God would guide your expectations. 

Look Up 

Read 1 Timothy 3:16. 

What makes Christianity different from other world religions? The simplest answer is this: rather than spending our whole life climbing a metaphorical mountain to please our deity and be declared righteous before them, our God came down to us. Our hope is not reliant upon any action we could take for ourselves, but what Jesus has already done for us. 

1 Timothy 3:16 talks about the mystery of godliness. The Greek word used here for mystery is “musterion.” In the New Testament, musterion is used in reference to things of God that were once hidden from us, but were later revealed by Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Verse 16 goes on to explain the mystery of godliness and what has been revealed to us. This is the heart of Christianity: the fact that God became human to live among us. 

As He walked this earth, Jesus was the embodiment of pure godliness. His life was dedicated to the glory of God (John 8:29), which led Him to lay down His life for us. This is the difference between our God and every other deity of other religions. Our God became flesh and sacrificed Himself for our salvation. Then He rose three days later in victory over death. Because of this, the godliness of Christ is reflected in us. We don’t need to climb any metaphorical mountains. We don’t need to make yearly sacrifices to appease our deity. We have the ultimate hope and it is this: the coming, death, and resurrection of Jesus…this is Advent! 

Look Forward 

What is one thing you will do to obey this passage today? Who can you share this with? 

Written by Annie Denney

Look Back 

What is something you can be thankful for today? How did you experience God’s presence yesterday? Take just a couple minutes to think about this before reading today’s text. 

Look Up 

Read 1 Timothy 6:11-16. 

We can hardly read this portion of 1 Timothy without noticing the action it calls for: “run,” “pursue,” “fight,” “hold tightly”. Paul is sending a charge for proactive, not passive, faith. We may read that and initially think to ourselves, “I am running, pursuing, fighting, holding.” Consider this though – Are they stagnant verbs that have us in a holding pattern as if running on a treadmill, or are they verbs that we are living out in such a way that propel us forward and closer to Christ? 

We know from the story of Christmas that God himself put verbs into action that propelled Him toward us, coming to be present in a new and intimate way that blew apart the previous restrictions regarding His presence, and welcoming all of us to approach what had previously been unapproachable. 

Astoundingly, His coming displayed the magnificence of His unapproachable light while simultaneously welcoming us to take hold of and grow closer to it! If we believe this to be true, why would we stay in stagnant positions on treadmills of faith and not choose to jump onto the track that actively propels us toward Him, closer and closer to his brilliant light? 

Pause for some moments of prayer and reflection, asking the Lord to reveal any areas of your faith walk that may have you holding station on a treadmill and receive his invitation to actively propel yourself toward the magnificence of His brilliant light that He extends to you. 

Look Forward 

What is one thing you will do to obey this passage today? Who can you share this with?

Written by Jody B., global worker

Look Back 

What was something you struggled with yesterday? How did God move in your life yesterday? How can you celebrate ways you obeyed from yesterday’s devotion? 

Look Up 

Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8. 

I’ve always hated running. When I run, my feet start to hurt, and my throat feels like I’ve been swallowing sandpaper. It’s not exactly a pleasant experience. However, there are a few times when running is necessary, even somewhat fun. For instance, when my brother and I were little, we would race to the kitchen and fight over Mom’s homemade Christmas mints. Then we’d race to be the first to open presents. It’s moments like these that I don’t mind running because I know what I was running for. 

Paul, an early follower of Jesus, considered his life a race, and he certainly didn’t mind running either. Throughout his ministry, Paul went through the blender. He was beaten, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, starved, and thrown into prison. He endured hardships like he drew breath, yet he still ran the race. This begs the question: How? How can a man endure such tribulation, yet keep moving forward? The answer is simple. He had hope that someday he would be with Jesus. To Paul, that hope far surmounted anything he might suffer, and that was what motivated him to run. 

That’s why we also run the race. Because at the finish line, we know that we will be rewarded with God’s presence. Jesus came to earth to be with us and walk with us, and now He will take us to be with Him in heaven, and that’s a reward worth running for. 

Look Forward 

What is one thing you will do to obey this passage today? Who can you share this with? 

Written by Nikki Berger

Look Back 

What is it that gives you hope? What are some things that make it hard to have hope? How did you do obeying the passage from yesterday? 

Look Up 

Read Titus 2:11-14. 

As a child, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to stretch on forever. The decorations went up, the presents were bought, and each day my anticipation would grow. My mom loves surprises at Christmas, so she had a rule: If you went snooping and found your present…she would return it! It was a tough rule, but the result was always worth it. While we struggled to have patience sometimes, we always experienced great joy together when Christmas morning finally arrived. 

At Christmas, we remember the anticipation of Jesus’ first coming. We can’t help but rejoice alongside the shepherds when we read the angel’s proclamation in Luke 2: “good news of great joy that will be for all the people…a Savior has been born!” In Titus, we are reminded that God’s grace came to us through Jesus, offering salvation to all the people. 

Today we can look back and rejoice in the gifts the first Christmas brought us, but we are still people in waiting. In this case, though, we know what we are waiting for: Christ’s return! Titus calls this our “blessed hope.” This letter reminds us that, even in a season of waiting, we can live well as followers of Jesus. Why? Because we have the grace of God teaching us; because He is at work redeeming and purifying us; and because we have confident, blessed hope in the One for whom we are waiting: our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ! 

Look Forward 

What is one thing you will do to obey this passage today? Who can you share this with? 

Written by Molly Bunton, global partner

Look Back 

Are there any fears you are experiencing this Advent season? Pray about those right now. Give them over to the God who cares for you. Did you face any obstacles in obeying yesterday’s Scripture? 

Look Up 

Read Philemon 1:4-7. 

Growing up, winter was Snow Village season for my mom. Maybe you’ve seen the displays before or maybe one graces your mantle each Christmas. My mom was a collector of all sorts of Snow Village pieces, known for creating elaborate displays spread across multiple tables in our living room. And, I loved helping to create the little town with her each year, getting to pick where the carolers traveled to, and what house got what car in the driveway. 

As we read our passage in Philemon today, we get a snapshot of what Philemon and his fellow believers were known for. Similar to my mom’s reputation for Snow Village, they had a reputation for their love and faith in Jesus. But, why? As the Message paraphrase says, they had a faith that “brimmed over” in how they cared for others. 

So, here we sit at the first of December. Maybe you are wading into this season with sadness and trepidation. Maybe you are splashing right in with a list of activities, traditions and commitments. Your lights are up, and your tree is ready. 

Can I make a recommendation for all of us? May we press pause today and ask ourselves, “What do I want to be known for this Christmas season?” 

In the midst of the messiness, busyness and sometimes sheer hardness of this season, let us be known for love and faith. May people see that in how we care for one another. 

And, may Christ be recognized in all of it. 

Look Forward 

What is one thing you will do to obey this passage today? Who can you share this with?

Written by Jessica Clements

Look Back 

Take time to celebrate the ways God has strengthened you to obey His Word from yesterday. 

Look Up 

Read Hebrews 1:1-4. 

Whether it is going to the NCC Children’s Christmas Program, listening to Christmas music or watching my favorite Christmas movies, I’m a big fan of Christmas traditions. One of my very favorite Christmas traditions is loading up the kids into the van, hitting the Braum’s drive-thru for some pumpkin and eggnog ice-cream and driving all over town to look at Christmas lights. There’s just something special about Christmas lights as they shine so brightly, in stark contrast, against the dark winter sky. They hang as a reminder to us that Jesus is our divine light in a world of darkness. 

Our Bible passage today tells us that Jesus is the radiance of the Glory of God. You see, for generations, God only spoke to His people through His prophets, but Jesus shows up and radically changes everything. God’s only Son, His heir, the One who created and sustains all things with His Word, brought Heaven down to us! Jesus, the exact imprint of God’s nature, took on flesh and lived a sinless life. He willingly laid down His life, making a way for the cleansing of our sins, and then took up His rightful place, high above the angels, seated at the right hand of God. Jesus is our divine light, the radiance of God’s Glory and in Him we hope! 

Look Forward 

What is one thing you will do to obey this passage today? Who can you share this with? 

Written by Brady Clevenger

Look Back 

Is there a miracle you need from God? Take this to Him in prayer right now. How did obeying the Scripture go yesterday? 

Look Up 

Read Hebrews 3:1-4. 

What was the Christmas season like for you when you were growing up? Was Jesus talked about? His birth celebrated? If you were like me, probably not. The Christmas season was just about seeing family and exchanging presents with one another. For me, this changed when I met my wife Joy and visited her family for Christmas. 

My fondest memory was at a Christmas Eve service when each person held a lighted candle, and the lights were turned off. We sang the hymn “Silent Night.” It was a special moment pointing our thoughts to Jesus. The writer stresses the importance of this kind of focus on Jesus in Hebrews 3:1b-3: “Fix your thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the One who appointed Him…..Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses.” 

Therefore, in this Christmas season, let us not lose our focus on Jesus, our High Priest. Let us be faithful to Him just as the Hebrews writer says He was faithful to God by dying on the cross for our sins. Let us fix our thoughts and our hope on Jesus and not on earthly things this season. I pray that we hold to our hope in what Christ has done for us. Let’s remember that He is faithful as the Head of the Church. 

Look Forward 

What is one thing you will do to obey this passage today? Who can you share this with?

Written by John Colvett