A Kid’s Guide to Advent

calendarWhat is Advent?

Advent is the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. It starts sometime between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3. In 2018, advent begins Dec. 2.

This is a time to think about Jesus and get ready to celebrate His birth. God’s people waited hundreds and thousands of years for God to fulfill His promise to send the Messiah. During advent, we remember the promises God made to send Christ and Jesus’ promises to come back someday soon.

 

The First Week of Advent (Dec. 2)

lightsThe lights are one of my favorite Christmas decorations. Each year, I turn off all the lights but those on the tree. The many little pin pricks warming the darkness give me hope. As I sit soaking it in, I remember past Christmases and think about the one to come.

I remember that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:18 NIV). Can you imagine? We don’t ever have to be scared and alone because Jesus is always with those who believe in Him. Sitting in my dark living room, I realize it’s not that dark at all.

Just like all those little lights drive back the darkness, so Jesus pushes back my fear when I trust in Him. God has control over everything (John 3:35). That means nothing can ever catch Him by surprise. He knows just what is happening and He loves us enough to stay with us, even through the worst of it (Joshua 1:9).

We can have hope because we already know the end of the story. Jesus is coming back, just as He promised. When He does, Jesus will drive out everything bad, bringing those who trust Him to a perfect place (John 3:16-21; Revelation 21:3-5).

Here’s your challenge this week: Every time you see Christmas lights, thank God for always being with you and giving you hope. Also, look for a chance to tell someone else about the hope you remember when you see Christmas lights.

The Second Week of Advent (Dec. 9)

cookiesDoes your family make or eat cookies or treats at Christmastime? My aunt would gather whatever kids were around and pull out several fancy cookie recipes (like double fudge mint). We helped each other and made a kitchen-full of various mouthwatering treats.

Each year we had at least one hiccup that we didn’t tell anyone else about. Once we sampled a tray fresh out of the oven to discover it had too much flour. (Yuck!) My aunt helped us fix it before more went into the oven. No matter what messes we had to clean up, when we finished, we always had lots of delicious cookies to present to the family.

The rest of our family never knew the mistakes we made as we learned in that kitchen, but it doesn’t work that way with God. He is everywhere and sees everything. He knows when we mess up baking, when we lie, take something that is not ours, fight with others, disobey our parents, and every other bad choice we make.

This is why Jesus was born. He grew up without ever making one bad choice or sinning. Then He died on the cross to pay for our sins, the wrong things we did. Then He came back to life again! “Christ himself suffered when he died for you, and with that one death he paid for your sins. He was not guilty, but he died for people who are guilty. He did this to bring all of you to God” (1 Peter 1:18 ERV).

This is how Jesus makes peace between us and God. When we tell God we are really sorry for our sins and that we trust and believe in Jesus who died to pay for those sins, God forgives all of the times we messed up. God takes our mess and makes something good out of it (Romans 8:28).

If you’ve not done that, why not do it today? We can all thank God for sending Jesus to take our punishment for sin so we can be at peace with God.

Here’s your challenge this week: Every time you see a cookie or treat this week, thank God for sending Jesus to pay for your mistakes. You could also put together a packet of cookies (store bought or homemade) to give to a teacher, neighbor, or someone in need. Remind them how much God loves them.

The Third Week of Advent (Dec. 16)

angelsWhere have you heard Christmas songs lately? Which one is your favorite? “Jingle Bells”? “Frosty the Snowman”? “Silent Night”? Did you know that the first Christmas carol was when the angels sang and praised God the night Jesus was born?

“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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 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.’

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” Luke 2:9-14 (NIV)

God’s people waited a long time for the Lord to send the Messiah. They knew that this Messiah, the Christ, would be very special and more than we could ever imagine (Isaiah 9:6). He would be the King of kings, in charge of everything and everyone (1 Timothy 6:12-16). He would teach them and help them serve God. Even though he was born human, this Messiah would really be God Himself who always has been and always will be (Philippians 2:6-11). Best of all, the Messiah would die on a cross to pay for our sins. Jesus makes things right between God and man for those who are truly sorry for the wrong things they do and believe in him (John 1:12). One day he will come back to finish what he started (2 Timothy 4:1).

Jesus came to do and be all of these things. The night he was born, God wanted people to know he was that special Messiah who would grow up to do everything God promised. That is why he sent the angels to tell the shepherds. They sang for joy after delivering the best news ever.

Here’s your challenge this week: Every time you hear a Christmas song, thank God for Jesus—for who he is, for what he’s done, and for what he is coming back to finish. Look for opportunities to tell others what Christian Christmas songs mean and how special Jesus really is.

The Fourth Week of Advent (Dec. 23)

giftsHave you bought all your Christmas gifts yet? Do you know why we give gifts at Christmas? We give gifts to remember that at the first Christmas, God gave us the best gift ever–Jesus.

“Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ERV; see also verses 15-18)

“The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends.” John 15:18 (ERV)

This gift was so great that it needs a response. The three wise men recognized this. They were so excited about God’s gift that they traveled a long way to worship Jesus the Messiah and bring him expensive gifts. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to buy expensive gifts. Guess what? What God really wants from us we can all give.

“You don’t really want sacrifices, or I would give them to you. The sacrifice that God wants is a humble spirit. God, you will not turn away someone who comes with a humble heart and is willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:16-17 (ERV)

Here’s your challenge this week: Every time you buy, wrap, or see a gift, thank God for giving us the best gift ever. Give God your heart by saying you are sorry for the wrong things you’ve done and believing Jesus died and rose again to pay for your sins. (To know more, check out this post.) If you’ve already done that, give God your life by reading the Bible, praying, and trying to live the way God wants you to every day (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Christmas (Dec. 24 or 25)

Christmas treeIf your Christmas tree was an arrow, which way would it be pointing? Take a peek out the window. What do you see in the sky at this moment? Did you know that Jesus promised to come back one day, coming down from the sky (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:17)?

The first time Jesus came to earth, he was born as a baby in a barn and put in the animal food trough (manger) because that was the best his parents could find. Angels heralded his coming, but it was poor shepherds and three foreign astrologers (those who study the night sky) who came to worship the new King (Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-12). Some might say that is not a very impressive beginning—especially for the King of kings.

The second time Jesus comes will be different. He will come on a white horse with a sword, leading a huge army of angels (Revelation 19:11-16). Before the world is made like new, God will look at each person who ever lived to see if they will stay with God in heaven or not. There is only one thing God will accept—those who are perfect or who have repented (meant it when they said they told God they were sorry for the wrong things they had done) and trusted Jesus to save them (Revelation 21:5; Revelation 20:11-15). “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6 NIV).

Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus birth. We remember the relatively quiet way he came to earth. We remember that this little baby grew up to die on the cross to pay for our sins and came back to life again on the third day. We also remember that Jesus promised to come back to earth again soon. This time, everyone will know who he is when he comes (Philippians 2:10-11). When that day comes, God’s people will celebrate even more than we do at Christmas.

Here’s your challenge this week: When you see Christmas trees or other things that look like they point up, thank God for Jesus. Look for someone to tell who he is, what he has done, and that he is coming back someday soon. Merry Christmas!

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