Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 20

Day 20: The Exile

Picture / Ornament: Flames – Fiery Furnace

Scripture: 2 Kings 17:6-12; 2 Kings 25:8-11; Daniel 3:1-4:3

Song: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Another Song: Through It All

Another Song: Though You Slay Me

God sent many prophets to the people of Israel, not only to tell them about the coming Savior, but also to warn them. God warned them to follow Him rather than chasing after false gods.

Do your parents ever warn you? Don’t touch the hot stove. Don’t eat too many cookies. Don’t stay up too late at night. Your parents warn you because they love you and want for your good. Likewise, God warns us because He loves us and wants for our good.

Despite all of God’s warnings, the people continued to worship idols and they refused to follow God’s commands. What if you don’t obey your parents’ warnings? You might get burned, or you might get a stomachache, or you might fall asleep in the middle of math class. Or your parents might have to discipline you, so you will obey them next time.

Because God’s people did not obey Him, they were invaded by other nations and taken off as captives to foreign lands. Three Israelite young men named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken from Israel to a land called Babylon where King Nebuchadnezzar ruled. Even though these three young men were taken to a foreign land and given foreign names – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego – they continued to trust and follow the one true God.

When King Nebuchadnezzar made an enormous gold statue and demanded everyone worship it, these three young men refused. Even when King Nebuchadnezzar told them they would be cast into a burning fire, they still refused to worship this idol. They told the king, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 ESV)

God was with these men in the fire. God protected them, and they were unharmed by the fire’s flames. Even King Nebuchadnezzar saw God’s great power and decreed that no one could speak evil against the Most High God. King Nebuchadnezzar himself said, “How great are His signs, how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion endures from generation to generation.” (Daniel 4:3 ESV)

Once again God was using for good even those things which evil men mean for harm. We can always trust God. Even if Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had perished that day, God would still have been with them, protecting their hearts and bringing them faithfully into His eternal kingdom.

Today is a perfect day to thank God for His everlasting Kingdom and His everlasting King, Jesus.

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 19

Day 19: Prophecy of Bethlehem

Picture / Ornament: Town of Bethlehem

Scripture: Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7; 1 Peter 5:6-7

Song: O Little Town of Bethlehem

Micah, too, was a prophet of God. Micah told the people that their eternal king from everlasting to everlasting would be born in a little town called Bethlehem.

Do you remember when we learned about Ruth and Naomi a few days ago? Naomi and her husband were from Bethlehem, but they had gone to Moab to flee the famine. In Moab, Naomi’s husband and sons had died, so Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth returned to Bethlehem where Ruth married Boaz and they had baby Obed who fathered baby Jesse who fathered baby David. King David was from Bethlehem, too!

As the king, David had left Bethlehem. Many of his descendants also left Bethlehem. Bethlehem was not a large, powerful city like Jerusalem, but it was the city that God had chosen for their Eternal King to be born in. God wanted the people to recognize their Messiah when He came, so He had told them through Micah that their Eternal King would be born in Bethlehem.

Jesus’s earthly parents (Joseph and Mary) were from the line of David, but they lived in a town called Nazareth in an area of Israel called Galilee. When it came time for Mary to give birth to her baby, he couldn’t be born in Nazareth, right? He had to be born in Bethlehem. God had promised and God always keeps His promises. “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Proverbs 30:5 ESV) Don’t worry. God has a plan!

Shortly before Jesus was born, the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus ordered everyone to return to their hometown to be counted for a census, so Mary and Joseph returned to their hometown of Bethlehem. This reminds me of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will.” At just the right time and in just the right place, the humble Savior of the World was born – in a stable in a little town called Bethlehem.

Do you ever feel like the world is out of control? Do you ever think God doesn’t see you … or that He is too busy to answer your prayers … or that He doesn’t really care about you? Imagine how Mary felt when she was going to have a baby soon and she had to travel 90 miles for a census! Imagine how she felt when the baby was about to be born and they couldn’t find a place to stay!

God was at work then and God is at work now! You can trust God. Even when the world around you feels out of control, God is still in control. God sees you, hears you and cares about you. God promises to take care for you. God is working right now, right where you live.

Today is a perfect day to cast your cares on Him, trusting that He cares for you, just like He cared for Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, the promised Savior who was born in Bethlehem. Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus.

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 18

Day 18: Prophecy of the New Covenant

Picture / Ornament: Heart with Writing on It

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 9:11-15; Acts 16:25-34

Song: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Isaiah wasn’t the only prophet that taught people what the Savior would be like. Jeremiah, too, was a prophet sent by God to teach His people. God told Jeremiah that one day He would make a new covenant with His people, writing His word on the hearts of men.

The Israelite people for thousands of years had demonstrated their faith in God by obeying God’s command to sacrifice animals. These sacrifices taught the people how dreadful it was to sin, but they also pointed to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would one day make for us, shedding His own blood on the cross.

When Paul and Silas were miraculously released from their chains while they were in a Roman prison, the jail keeper was so afraid! He thought he would be in HUGE trouble with the government for losing the prisoners. The jailer felt so hopeless that he was even going to take his own life, but Paul encouraged the jailer, telling him, “Do not harm yourself. We are all here!” The jailer was amazed that they had not run away. He had seen God’s power in the earthquake as well as Paul’s kindness in not escaping. The jailer wanted to know what he needed to do to be saved!

Have you ever wondered that? Have you ever thought about what you need to do to be saved? You may not be in a Roman jail, but you were born a slave to sin. We all were. We all need to be saved from the just penalty for our sin which is way worse than just going to jail.

How did Paul and Silas answer the jailer? They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” The jailer didn’t have to slaughter a sheep or a goat or a bull in order to be saved. The jailer had to trust in the Lord Jesus. And this offer was not only available to this adult male jailer, but to his wife and his children, too! Women and children, too, can be saved through their faith in Jesus.

Isn’t that GOOD news? Isn’t that the BEST news you’ve ever heard? Jesus’s death and resurrection changed everything! Jesus’s death and resurrection paid the price for our sin, so animals no longer have to be sacrificed! We no longer have to offer bulls and goats on an altar to be forgiven, because Jesus’s perfect blood was offered once forever to redeem us from our sins when we place our trust in Him.

Today is certainly the perfect day to be saved, to place your trust in Jesus, that His Word would be written on your heart.

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus!

Jesse Tree Advent Devotional – Day 17

Day 17: Prophecy of the Suffering Servant 

Picture / Ornament: Cross of Nails 

Scripture: Isaiah 53:3-7; Hebrews 9:19-22; Romans 5:6-10; 1 Peter 2:19-24 

Song: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear 

Another Song: Man of Sorrows

Have you ever wanted something so badly, but it costs too much for you to buy? Maybe there was an expensive toy or outfit or trip that you really, really wanted, but even if you earned money washing cars and raking leaves and even if you put all your birthday money toward that thing you wanted, you could never save enough money to buy it.  

Well, it’s like that for us with God. God loves us so much, but our sin separates us from a Holy God. Remember Romans 6:23 that we read on Day 5? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV) The cost of our sin is death. Do you know who paid that price for us?  

God wanted mankind to recognize the Messiah, so He sent prophets to write about Him. Isaiah wrote about the Messiah as the one who paid for our sin. You can read about Him in Isaiah 53.  

Isaiah described the Messiah as being despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief. Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our sins, that His chastisement would bring us peace, and His wounds would bring us healing.  

Some of these words and phrases are hard for us understand. To put it more simply, Isaiah told us that the Messiah would be punished and pierced, not for his own sins, but for ours. The Messiah would be beaten and whipped, so that we could be healed and made whole. 

And that is just what happened to Jesus. Jesus was punished, pierced, beaten and whipped, nailed upon a cross, for my sins and yours. Jesus gave up His own life on the cross because of His great love for us. Jesus’s blood paid the price for our sin, so that we could be saved. 

As you think about the Christmas presents you’re hoping for, today is the perfect day to thank God for the GREATEST gift He could ever give, Jesus, the Suffering Servant, and to thank God for the high price Jesus paid with His death on the cross. 

Remember … Christmas is all about Jesus! 

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.