Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 16

Day 16Prophecy of the Good Shepherd 

Picture / Ornament: Shepherd’s Staff 

Scripture: Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:9-11; John 10:9-11, 27-30 

Song: Behold Our God 

Another Song: I am Jesus’ Little Lamb 

Another Song: King of Love My Shepherd Is 

Sheep need a good shepherd. They are easy targets for wolves because they are fearful. They are easily led astray because they are quick to follow one another. They are easily encumbered by their thick fleece. Sheep need a good shepherd to show them where to find fresh, safe food, water and shelter. Sheep need a good shepherd to protect them from stumbling or being harmed by a hungry predator.  

In Psalm 23, King David wrote about God as His loving shepherd. David himself had been a shepherd, faithfully taking care of his father’s sheep, so David understood well how important having a good shepherd was to the life of the sheep. How comforting to know that God Himself guides us, restores us, provides for us, comforts us and walks with us every single day like the very best shepherd! God, our good shepherd, promises that we will one day dwell with Him in His eternal home when we place our trust in His Only Son, Jesus Christ. 

Isaiah, too, described God as a shepherd, caring for His flock, gathering His lambs into His arms, carrying them close to Him and carefully leading those who are with young. Our Father is almighty, but He is also tender. God rules with everlasting power and love. 

As David and Isaiah described God our Father as the good shepherd, they were also pointing toward the son of God, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, who would one day be born as a baby in Bethlehem. Jesus, too, is our good shepherd. Jesus Himself laid down His own life for His sheep. Jesus knows how helpless we are. Jesus knows how easily we go astray. Jesus knows that we need a shepherd to guide us, restore us, provide for us and walk with us. 

Jesus told the people clearly “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) Jesus is our good shepherd. He came to give us eternal life. No one can snatch us out of His hand. Jesus will care for you with his mighty, loving hand. We can trust Him. 

Today is a perfect day to thank God for sending us our shepherd, Jesus, to guide us and care for us. 

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus! 

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 15

Day 15: Prophecy of the Prince of Peace 

Picture / Ornament: Dove and Crown 

Scripture: Isaiah 9:6-7; John 14:27, John 16:33 

Song: Handel’s Messiah Hallelujah Chorus 

Another Song: Prince of Peace 

Isaiah prophesied about the future, telling us what the Savior would be like. Isaiah’s prophecies both helped people to recognize the coming Savior as well as helping us today to know more about God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Isaiah told us that the Savior would be called the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the PRINCE of PEACE.  

You might see someone holding up two fingers and saying “Peace,” but what does peace really mean? Does peace just mean not being at war? Peace is a lot more than just not being in the middle of a war. As a country, America is at peace, but do most Americans have peace in their heart? 

When I was younger, I worried about all kinds of things! I worried there might be a car accident or a fire or that I might get sick. I worried that I’d get lost in the store or that my dog would get hit by a car. My heart and mind were not at peace. I didn’t know Jesus wanted to be my Savior and I didn’t know that God loved me. Do you ever feel worried or afraid? What do you worry about? 

Worry, fear and anxiety are the opposites of peace. When we trust Jesus, He will give us peace, but when we are trying to rule our own lives, we will struggle with fear and anxiety.  

We are not all-powerful or all-knowing or all-good… but God is! God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good, so we can trust in Him and have peace. 

Jesus came to bring peace to our hearts and minds and one day Jesus will return and bring peace to the nations. In our world there are still so many difficult problems. We live in a broken world. There are still accidents and fires. People still get sick. Children do get lost and dogs do get hit by cars. These things are all so sad and painful, but when we trust in Jesus, He can give us peace in the middle of those trials.  

We don’t have to worry about our future. We don’t have to worry about what might happen tomorrow or next week or a year from now. We can have peace because we can trust in Jesus, the Prince of Peace. 

Today is a perfect day to thank God for giving us peace in our hearts as we trust in His Son, Jesus. 

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus! 

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 14

Day 14: Prophecy of a Shoot from the Stump of Jesse 

Picture / Ornament: Stump with a Fresh Shoot 

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-5, 10; 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Revelation 5:1-6 

Song: Is He Worthy? 

Another Song: Righteous Branch

Do you know what will happen tomorrow? I mean, do you really know what will happen?  

The weather forecaster can predict rain, but he might be wrong. You might expect to go to school tomorrow, but you might wake up sick. Your mom might think she will go grocery shopping tomorrow, but your car might break down. 

There is one, though, who is completely sure of what will happen tomorrow, God.  

God knows for sure what will happen tomorrow … and next year … and a hundred years from now. God knows everything! God knows what you ate for breakfast this morning and God knows what you will eat for breakfast tomorrow. 

In times past, God sent His chosen servants to prophecy what will happen in the future. One of those prophets was named Isaiah. Isaiah prophesied in the land of Judah in the years shortly before King Josiah became king. God gave Isaiah wisdom about things to come hundreds of years in the future.  

One of Isaiah’s prophesies was that a shoot would grow from the stump of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David, the ancestor of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Isaiah was right in his prophecies because God knows the future! In the next few days, we are going to be learning about more prophecies that Isaiah gave. Many of these prophecies were fulfilled when Jesus came to earth.  

God also gave the apostle John divine wisdom to see things that were to come. The apostle John lived at the same time as Jesus. John wrote the heavenly visions that God gave him in the book called Revelations. John saw a vision of a Lamb in heaven, the only one who is worthy, the one who has conquered, one who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David. (Revelation 5:5-6). That is Jesus, our perfect Savior, who conquered sin and death, who has defeated Satan, who is from the line of Judah, who is both the root of David and the shoot of Jesse. 

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV) 

Today is a perfect day to thank God for sending prophets in the past to speak to us and for sending His Son, from the stump of the Jesse and the root of David. 

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus! 

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 13

Day 13: Josiah Finds the Law

Picture / Ornament: Hebrew Scroll

Scripture: Deuteronomy 17:14-20, 2 Chronicles 34:1-3, 8, 14-19, 24-33

Song: What Child is This?

Even before the Israelites had asked for a king, God knew that they would have a king and He knew that the king would either be a help or hurt his people. God made some very wise rules for these future kings, rules like the king should be an Israelite man rather than being from a foreign nation, that he should not have too many horses or too many wives, and that he should write a copy of the book of the law for himself to read all the days of his life. Aren’t these good rules? These are good rules for us and for our leaders today, too.

In the years following the reign of King David, the nation of Israel was split into two nations, Judah and Israel, each with their own kings. The kings of Israel, one after another, were wicked kings, but some of the kings of Judah followed God and some didn’t.

About 300 years after King David, a young boy named Josiah was named the king. Josiah was only 8 years old when he became king, and he began to earnestly seek God while he was yet a teenage boy. Josiah broke to pieces all of the idols and tore down all of the altars to false gods. Josiah also ordered that God’s holy temple be rebuilt.

While the people were rebuilding and cleaning up the temple, the priest found the book of the law that God had given to the people through Moses. The priest (Hilkiah) gave the book to the secretary (Shaphan) who read the law to King Josiah.

How do you think good King Josiah felt when he heard God’s law read? King Josiah was heartbroken when he heard how terribly his people had sinned against God.

After King Josiah heard God’s law read to him, then he wanted all his people (both GREAT and small) to hear it, too! He wanted the elders and the priests and the men and the women and the children to hear and obey God’s Word! When we forget to read God’s law and don’t hide His Word in our heart, we, too, will wander away. When we faithfully read God’s Word, then we can follow God more closely. I am so glad that your family is seeking to know God!

God is totally faithful, and God always keeps His promises. God promised to bring disaster on the people if they didn’t follow His commands – and He did. God promised to forgive us when we turn from our sins and come to Him by faith – and He does. God promised to send a Savior – and He did! That Savior is Jesus.

Today is a great day to thank God for sending Jesus, God with us.

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 12

Day 12: King David

Picture / Ornament: Slingshot

Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:3-11, 32-51; 2 Samuel 5: 3-4; 2 Samuel 7:8-9, 16;
Acts 13:21-23, Psalm 27

Song: Little Drummer Boy

Not too long after baby Obed was born, the Israelite people decided they wanted a king to rule over them. The first king that God chose for them was named Saul. Unfortunately, King Saul stopped trusting God, so God chose a new man to be the king of Israel.

The second king of Israel was David, the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth. Just like the people doubted that they could enter the Promised Land, they doubted that they could defeat the Philistines. David, though, was different. David, like Joshua and Caleb, trusted God. Even though David was young and small, especially compared to the giant Goliath, David trusted that God is greater than even the greatest giant. David believed that God could defeat Goliath through his meager strength.

David continued to trust God even when the people around him doubted. Have you ever trusted God even when your friends didn’t? It can be hard to follow God when your friends don’t, but God is able to do mighty things when we follow Him. We can trust God every day and in every way. God is all-powerful.

Many years after young David defeated the giant Goliath, David was crowned the king of Israel. God used David to bless the Israelite people in many ways, including writing many psalms of faith, such as Psalm 27.

One day God spoke to King David through a prophet named Nathan. God told David that his kingdom and his throne would last forever. How could that be? King David died like every other man who ever lived. But it is possible because of the only eternal king, King Jesus, who was a descendant of King David.

King Jesus is the everlasting, eternal, unstoppable King of kings. One day Jesus will return to rule over the new heavens and the new earth.

Today is a great day to make the all-powerful and all-good King Jesus the KING of your heart.

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 11

Day 11: Ruth and Boaz

Picture / Ornament: Sheaf of Wheat

Scripture: Ruth 1:1-5; 15-16; Ruth 2:1-3, 11-12; Ruth 4:9-10, 13, 17; John 1:9-13

Song: Silent Night

Some years after the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land, there was a famine in the land. Some of the Israelites went to the nearby country called Moab. Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons were among the Israelites who went to Moab. While they were in Moab, Naomi’s two sons married Moabite women. Eventually, Naomi’s husband and both of her sons died.

One of Naomi’s son’s wives was named Ruth. Even though Ruth was a Moabite, she loved God and she wanted to stay with Naomi even when she returned to Israel.

God’s love is available to people from every nation. Anyone who trusts in Jesus, the only Son of God, can become a child of God, whether they are an Israelite, a Moabite, an American or a Russian. God judges us by our heart of faith, not by the color of our skin or what language we speak.

God led Ruth to work in the fields of one of Naomi’s relatives named Boaz. Ruth worked diligently in Boaz’s fields. Boaz saw that Ruth was a kind, loving, hard-working woman. He wanted to marry Ruth and save the land of Naomi’s family.

God blessed Boaz and Ruth with a son, Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David. David grew up to be the King of Israel and the ancestor of the King of Kings, Jesus. We will read more about King David in tomorrow’s story.

God always has a purpose and a plan. Even when life looks hard, we can trust that God is working to bring about good.

Today is a perfect day to trust in Jesus, the King of Kings, the promised child of God.

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 10

Day 10: The Promised Land

Picture / Ornament: Cluster of Grapes

Scripture: Numbers 13:1-2, 17-33; Numbers 14:1-9; Numbers 23:19;
Psalm 103:1-5, Hebrews 11:1,6

Song: 10,000 Reasons

God always keeps his promises. Always.

Do you remember some of the promises that God made to Abraham and Jacob? One of those promises was that God would give the land of Canaan to their descendants. Sometimes Israel is called “The Promised Land” because God had made this promise.

Has anyone ever broken a promise to you? Have you ever broken a promise you made to someone else? Unfortunately, we, as humans, sometimes break our promises. Sometimes something unexpected happens, so we can’t keep a promise we made. Sometimes we get sick or our car breaks down or it’s raining.

But God is not like us. God will always keep His promises. God never gets sick. God is never too tired. God is all-powerful and all-knowing, so He never makes a promise He can’t keep. We can always trust God. Always.

When the Israelites arrived at the Promised Land, God told Moses to send twelve men to spy out the land. After spending forty days in the land and seeing how wonderful the land was, you’d think the people would be eager to go into the land, but ten of the spies said they should not go into the land. They thought the people there were too powerful, but two of them, Joshua and Caleb, encouraged the Israelites to trust God and to have faith in God’s promises. Are any people more powerful than God?

Faith is believing that what God says is true, even when you can’t see it. God had helped His people again and again — passing over their firstborn sons, rescuing them from Egypt through the Red Sea, giving them manna from Heaven — yet the people doubted God’s power and God’s goodness. Because of their lack of faith, they had to wander in the desert for forty years before they could enter the Promised Land.

God had a special purpose for this special land. God’s Son, Jesus, was born there, in the promised land of Israel. Jesus was from the family line of Judah, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, born in the town of Bethlehem in the Promised Land.

Today is a perfect day to trust in God, being sure of what you hope for, being fully convinced of what you cannot see, trusting that Jesus is the promised Savior of the world.

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 9

Day 9: Moses and the Ten Commandments

Picture / Ornament: Stone Tablets with Numbers

Scripture: Exodus 12:40-41; Exodus 13:17-18; Exodus 14:13-18; Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 119:11; Romans 3:23; Galatians 3:10-14

Song: Go, Tell it on the Mountain

Another Song: Ten Commandments Song with Hand Motions

After miraculously saving the Israelites’ firstborn sons, God had more miracles to come. God parted the Red Sea so that all of His people could walk through on dry ground on their way to the very land that God had promised hundreds of years before to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God is faithful to keep His promises in His perfect timing.

Again and again, the Israelites saw God work miracles for them and provide for their needs. Not only did God lead them through the Red Sea, but God gave them water out of a rock and fed them with manna and quail from heaven, yet still the Israelites complained. They struggled to trust and follow God.

God wanted the people to know what pleased Him, so He gave them ten special rules, what we call today, “The Ten Commandments.” These rules are good for us today, too.

The Ten Commandments teach us how to honor God and how to honor one another. Can you name all ten of the Ten Commandments?

God wants us to know Him and to know what pleases Him, so we will not sin, yet God also knows that no one can keep His laws perfectly. Everyone has sinned against God and broken His commands. Everyone. Your mom, your dad, your teacher, your pastor. Everyone has sinned against God and broken His commands. God also gave us the Ten Commandments so we would see our need for a Savior.

That Savior is Jesus. God sent Jesus to earth to live a perfect and sinless life. Jesus is the only one who could keep all of God’s laws perfectly, because Jesus is 100% God and 100% man.

The Israelites were saved by faith, trusting in God’s goodness and believing that God would one day send a savior. Today we, too, are saved by faith, trusting in God’s goodness and believing that Jesus is that promised Savior. At Christmas we look back at the Savior who was born as a baby in the little town of Bethlehem in that promised land of Israel.

Today is a perfect day to thank God for giving us His laws and for giving us a Savior, Jesus. Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 8

Day 8: The Passover

Picture / Ornament: A Door with Blood

Scripture: Exodus 1:1-14; Exodus 3:1-12; Exodus 12:1-14, 21-28

Song: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Joseph’s brothers stayed in Egypt and raised their families there. The descendants of Jacob came to be known as the Israelites. The Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves and would not allow them to worship God. The Israelites cried out to God to save them and He did!

God called Moses to deliver them. Moses had actually grown up in the Egyptian pharaoh’s house but had fled to the desert as a young man. While Moses was out taking care of his sheep, God spoke to him out of a burning bush. God told Moses that He was going to use Moses to lead His people out of Egypt.

God told Moses and his brother Aaron to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go that they may worship me.”  Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, even when God sent a series of plagues on his land. First, the water was turned to blood, then the land was covered with frogs, then gnats, and then flies! Then, God struck the livestock with a deadly plague, then the people and animals broke out in boils! Then, the land was struck by hail and then by locusts and finally darkness fell over the land. But every time, Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites to go worship God. God wants and deserves worship, and His people should be free to worship Him.

The final plague was on the firstborn son of every family, yet God had a plan to rescue the Israelites from this plague. God commanded each family to kill a lamb and put the lamb’s blood on the doorposts of their home. In any home without the blood, the firstborn would die, but in any home with the blood, the firstborn would be safe for that home would be “passed over.”

God was teaching a lesson to this land that He separates those who trust and obey Him, rescuing them from his just judgment by their faith.

God was faithful to keep His promises, both to the Egyptians and to the Israelites. God saved His people that night and God told the Israelites to celebrate a Passover feast every year to remember when God delivered them. The story of Passover also teaches us about Jesus. Jesus is that perfect, spotless Lamb of God whose blood saves us when it is applied to our hearts. When we trust and obey Jesus, we become His special people and are given eternal life as a gift. God will pass over us for judgment because Jesus was judged in our place.

Today is a perfect day to thank God for His saving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 7

Day 7: Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors

Picture / Ornament: A Colorful Coat

Scripture: Genesis 37:1-11, 23-28; Genesis 39:1, 20-21; Genesis 41:1-8, 14-16, 25-36, 39-41; Genesis 42:1-13; Genesis 45:1-8; Genesis 50:14-21; James 2:1; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Romans 5:8, 8:28

Song: Christmas Offering

God has a special purpose for each and every person that He makes. God blessed Jacob with 12 sons, each with a special purpose. Jacob had been his mother’s favorite child, then Jacob had a favorite wife (Rachel) and now Jacob chose one of his sons, Joseph, the first son of Rachel, as his favorite child.

In James 2:1, we read that Christians should not show favoritism. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, we read that we should not boast in our own wisdom or power or wealth. Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph and Joseph’s dreams about his coming superiority over his brothers, caused division and jealousy between Joseph and his brothers. Joseph’s brothers sold him off to some traders on their way to Egypt, where Joseph became a valuable servant in Potiphar’s household.  

Eventually Joseph was thrown into prison after being falsely accused of a crime against Potiphar’s wife. Have you ever been falsely accused of something that you didn’t do?

God was always with Joseph, even during his years in prison, giving Joseph favor with the prison leaders. After Joseph correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph was released from prison and became Pharaoh’s “right hand man.”

God gave Joseph wisdom, so that the Egyptians would save up food for seven years because a famine was coming. When the famine came, just as God had said, the Egyptians had food stored up. Guess who came to Egypt to buy food? Joseph’s brothers. Those very same brothers who had sold Joseph off! Yet, Joseph had grace and mercy toward his brothers. Like we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, Joseph did not repay “evil for evil,” but he sought to “do good to one another and to everyone.”

Joseph’s life reminds us of Jesus. Jesus had grace, mercy, and love for us while we were still His enemies. Jesus, too, was treated unfairly and falsely accused, yet He repaid evil with good. God worked through both Joseph’s and Jesus’s trials to bring about blessing as a result of painful circumstances.

Today is the perfect day to thank God for working all things together for GOOD for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.