Christmas, Holidays (Other)

Have Yourself an Awesome Little Advent 2021: 12 (Mostly FREE) Advent Devotionals, Activities, and Resources

Is your family getting ready for Advent? Loosely defined, Advent is the period of time leading up to Christmas when we commemorate Christ’s first coming and anticipate His second coming. And what better way to do so than by making Bible study and worship part of your family tradition? Here are some awesome Advent resources for young and old alike. Most of them are free, but the ones that aren’t, I’ve marked with a 💰.

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December Advent!– Here’s an advent calendar, craft, and devotional all rolled into one! Naomi’s Table is a women’s Bible study resource that I highly recommend for sound doctrine and right handling of God’s word. Have a listen to their daily Advent podcasts and make the Advent calendar that goes with them!

The Messiah is Born – Listen in to this Advent sermon series from the inimitable R.C. Sproul. “Though many people can recount the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus, fewer understand the true significance of the birth of the Messiah. In this series, R.C. Sproul examines various themes that we must consider when we look at the first advent of Christ. Dr. Sproul discusses Mary’s role in the nativity and the necessity of Christ’s birth for our redemption, reminding us that the glory of God seen in the birth of Jesus will be seen again at His second coming.”

Need a good Advent playlist? I’ve created one on YouTube. Your favorite Advent (not Christmas) song isn’t included? Leave a comment and I’ll add it if appropriate.

Songs of the Nativity – “Luke’s Gospel is notable for its distinctive songs, strikingly reminiscent of the Psalms. Chief among these are Mary’s song, the Magnificat, Zechariah’s song, the Benedictus, the Angels’ song, the Gloria in excelsis, and Simeon’s song, the Nunc dimittis. Together, they have nourished the prayer and mediation of countless Christians, and enriched the church’s worship. They are full of prophetic hope, eager expectation, and joyful thanksgiving. God’s great redemptive work is moving to is climax with the birth of the Saviour, Jesus, Son of the Most High. Luke’s ‘gospel of the incarnation’ was good news to all who, like the representatives of the old Israel, looked for Messiah’s first advent; it is good news to all who, today, look for his second.” Relish in these sermons from Luke 1 & 2 by John Calvin.💰

25 Stories of Jesus – This one is super DIY, and takes some good advance planning, but I know some of you ladies are up to the challenge.

  • Gather the family, and together choose 25 Bible stories from or about the life of Jesus. The stories could be parables Jesus told, events in His life, miracles He performed, Old Testament prophecies about His incarnation, New Testament prophecies about His return, etc.
  • Locate each story in Scripture, and make a list of the stories and their Scripture references.
  • Decide on a symbolic ornament to represent each story. For example, the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree could be represented by a fig or fig leaf. Jesus restoring Peter could be represented by a sheep. Isaiah 9:6 could be represented by a crown (for the Prince of Peace).
  • Purchase or make the ornament for each story. You can buy ready-made Christmas ornaments, buy small items and turn them into ornaments (ex: buy a small salt shaker for “You are the salt of the earth” and attach a hanger to it.), print out images from the internet, make salt dough ornaments, or have the kids draw a small picture of the symbol and turn that into an ornament.
  • Decide how to display your ornaments. Purchase a small tabletop Christmas tree specifically for these ornaments, or hang them on your regular tree. If Christmas trees aren’t your thing, perhaps hang the decorations from your mantel or on a wreath.
  • Each day, December 1-25, read and discuss one of the Bible stories and display the ornament for that story. You might want to write the Scripture reference for the story on the ornament.
  • A couple of great hymns to learn and sing with each day’s reading: Tell Me the Stories of Jesus (Parker/Challinor – lyrics listen), and Tell Me the Story of Jesus (Crosby/Sweney – lyrics listen)

Once you’ve chosen the stories and made the ornaments, make the 25 Stories of Jesus an annual tradition. Or choose new stories and make new ornaments every year! (If you choose to do this activity, and you’d like to write it up as a “how to” guest post with some pictures and instructions, please let me know. I’d love to publish it next year!)

Do you enjoy learning more about the hymns you sing? The back story, the structure, the history? How about letting Incarnation Hymnody inform some of your Advent devotions and worship? Incarnation Hymnody is a series of articles at Religious Affections Ministries on a few of your favorite hymns surrounding the coming of Christ. Lyrics are included, so you can sing the songs after learning about them. Check out:

Angels, from the Realms of Glory

O Holy Night

Of the Father’s Love Begotten and Silent Night

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence and Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth and Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

See Amid the Winter’s Snow

O Lord, How Shall I Meet Thee

Joy Upon Joy – “In the classic style of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, each of the twenty-eight days contains a brief morning and evening devotional that begins with a Scripture and follows with a selection from Spurgeon’s advent-themed sermons. This all-new compilation of Spurgeon’s works includes space for journaling and reflection.”💰

Here’s a great activity for parties, Sunday School, or a brief dinner table devotional – the Names of Jesus Advent Game. Free, printable game cards and tips for making the game more festive and meaningful. If you want to make this a daily activity with your kids throughout Advent, print out the cards, shuffle them up, split them up among your kids, and do one card per day.

We’re wrapping up our study of Judges tomorrow here on the blog, and I won’t be posting a regular weekly Bible study between Thanksgiving week and New Year’s, so how about an Advent Bible Reading Plan? “This Advent Bible reading plan kicks off on December 1 and takes you through to Christmas Eve on December 24. It also includes readings for the four Sundays of Advent. Save this picture to your phone or print it out to use as a resource throughout Advent.

Drawing from both Old and New Testaments, these readings are aimed to help us remember the promises God has made to come to his people and establish his kingdom:

  • Week 1: Isaiah’s prophecies
  • Week 2: The Epistles on God’s Kingdom and the return of Christ
  • Week 3: Some other Old Testament prophecies
  • Week 4: God’s kingdom about to arrive…!

May we cling fast to these promises this Advent!”

(The link above is provided only for the Bible reading plan.)1

Check out this charming Advent Calendar Printable with Bible Verses. If downloading, printing, and cutting along the lines is about the extent of your craftiness, like it is mine, try this! Make the cards into a cute banner, as markers on a calendar, or in one of the suggested craft tips. And why not really put it to good use by memorizing a verse a day? By the time Christmas rolls around, you’ll have memorized 25 verses!💰

By the Waters of Babylon Episode 10: The Advent of Christ – Don’t have enough great podcasts in your queue? Add Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon and start listening. This episode from 2019 might be a great one to get things kicked off. Scott says: “In this episode…I clear up some misconceptions about this season, including questions such as:

  • When are the 12 days of Christmas?
  • What is Advent all about?
  • Do Christmas celebrations come from pagan roots?
  • Which advent of Christ is “Joy to the Word” about?

Give it a listen!

25 Christmas Myths and What the Bible Says– Was Jesus Born on December 25? Did the angels really sing to the shepherds? And what about that inn keeper? In 25 Christmas Myths…, Gabriel Hughes tackles some of the folklore and false assumptions that have sprung up around the Christmas story and shares what the Bible really teaches. One lesson for each day December 1-25. Get a sneak peek below. Audio is more your thing? Gabe discussed myths 1-10 from the book on his podcast in 2018. 💰

What’s your favorite Advent resource?


1I do not endorse anything on any of these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs at the top of this page.
Christmas, Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ December 11, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online Christmas finds…

Christmas might be the easiest time of the year to get a foot in the door to share the gospel with unsaved friends, loved ones and strangers. That’s why I love this article by Allen Nelson over at Things Above Us called A Christmas Gift for You. You can share it around on your social media pages to help others understand what Christ did to save us. And if you’d like to use it as a devotion at a Christmas party, tuck it into your Christmas cards, use it as a bulletin insert at church, or something like that, you can contact Allen for permission to reprint it.

 

If you love Handel’s Messiah, check out Messiah: The Podcast Series Advent Calendar. “It took George Frideric Handel 24 days to complete the musical score of Messiah – the most famous oratorio ever written. This podcast advent calendar tells all the stories about the people, the places, the music, the drama and the gossip that is connected to the maiden performance in Dublin 275 years ago.” (I think this is more of a history website than a Christian website.)

 

Wonder why some Christmas songs are so ear-catchingly popular? Music nerds can tell you, and here’s one to do just that. Vox gives us Adam Ragusea explaining The Secret Chord that Makes Christmas Music Sound So Christmasy. 

 

And speaking of Christmas music…need some to listen to? Amazon has several Christmas songs and albums you can download for free! (Listen discerningly.) And if you’re shopping at Amazon, be sure to check out Amazon Smile and donate part of your purchase to the Christian ministry, organization, or church of your choice!

 

When Christians think “Christmas” we usually think Luke 2, and maybe Matthew 1-2. But…John? My friend and fellow LSU alum, Nicholas Maricle, shares this lovely article on the Incarnation: John 1, the Word, and Jesus over at his blog Thinking Theologically. Do yourself a favor and give him a follow!

 

Josh Buice has another awesome quiz for us at his blog, Delivered by Grace. Test your knowledge with: Christmas Quiz: How much do you know?

 

And last of all, an early Christmas present for me (thanks to reader and contributor, Laura!). Phil Johnson and Todd Friel discussed part of my article Women and False Teachers: Why Men Don’t Get It, and Why It’s Imperative That They Do on the December 10 episode of the Too Wretched for Radio podcast (around the 15:42 mark). I’ve mentioned that Todd was the first to introduce me to the idea of biblical discernment when I “accidentally stumbled across” the Wretched TV show one night while flipping through the channels. And I listen to Phil often, love his preaching, and have a great deal of respect for him on a number of different levels. So while this brief mention on a podcast that the majority of the world has never heard of wouldn’t mean much to most people, it was a real honor for me.