Day 1: Luke 2: 8-21 - 'The Good News and the unlikely messengers!'
1st December 2015

Hands up all those who read today’s verses and thought of a glittery Christmas card nativity scene, or a sweet children’s school play, or a great painting portraying the shepherds as rustic, noble “sons of the soil”. If you are truthful and your hand is raised, then please go back and read the verses again, and again, and again….until the light dawns on you.

Still struggling? Try a reality check instead. For the shepherds; think Syrian refugees, street kids in Brazil or India, Coptic Christians in Egypt or Sudan. Downtrodden under an oppressor (the Romans), out on the very edge of society, the shepherds had a rough time from almost everybody.

Would we listen if God spoke to the marginalised before He bothered with us, the spiritually enlightened?! God sends his angels to start a celebration with a bunch of apparent nobodies. The angels made the noise but it was God who spoke and still does – He caused the shepherds to move from being inconsequential to being the most important people on earth, however briefly. Why? Because suddenly they were the happiest people on the planet and they wanted everyone to come to the party. God speaks to nobodies and through them miracles happen!

This is the greatest news ever, the announcement of Jesus’ birth: “Thank You God for sending Jesus, thank You Jesus that You came”. Help us, like the shepherds, to share with others the GOOD NEWS of Jesus’ birth, not just at Christmas but every day.

Jesus was born, died and rose again for everyone. Praise the Lord!

Philip and Alison Bell

Day 2: Matthew 2: 1-12 - 'God and the unexpected'
2nd December 2015

It can be very easy after many years of knowing and believing the Christmas story, to miss the detail in it. Reading again the story of the wise men brings back a sense of expectation. What we expect of the wise men or even of God is not always what or how He delivers. God likes to surprise us.

As Christmas approaches most of us will have a sense of anticipation, expectation and excitement. What gifts might we receive? We may be expecting and visiting family and friends. Other expectations may include the bright lights, the twinkling stars, the good food, and the Advent calendar count down. However expectation does not always deliver in reality. Even if we have a good time we can be left exhausted, disappointed and wondering “is that it”?

The wise men expected to find the new King in a palace; quite a reasonable expectation that we all might have had. They experienced a long journey, spent time choosing and carrying gifts, and were no doubt delighted to have arrived at the palace. They must have been exhausted and then disappointed to discover that the new King was not there.

They carried on their journey and arrived at a stable. What would you have expected to find in that stable? At least a donkey or a goat or two? There, as we know, they found the baby Jesus. The wise men recognised and accepted this baby Jesus as the new King. They bowed down and gave their gifts and they were overjoyed. Disappointment had gone.

God made himself man in the form of his Son Jesus. Many people today might expect to find God in heaven or even in grand cathedrals and churches, but God wants to be found in our hearts and lives this Christmas. It might not be what you expected but will you accept Him this Christmas?

Karen Macrae

Day 3: Micah 5: 1-5 - 'A living hope'
3rd December 2015


This passage describes a nation living in oppression, abandoned to its attackers but hoping for the time when a Son would be born, out of Bethlehem. This Son was going to be a ruler; someone who will stand in the strength and majesty of the Lord; a Shepherd to His flock; bringer of security; a source of peace in the face of the enemy.

When the Son finally came into the world, the world did not recognise Him. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. He is the one who made the world, and was the only one with the power to make all who believe in Him children of God; children not born of blood and of flesh and of man’s desires, but born of God. God Himself came as the promised Son. John 1:10 – 14

Christmas is a reminder that God came to earth in the person of Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem, He lived and was crucified for our sin. He may not have come in the way we expected, yet He was more than we could have wanted or hoped for. God has made it possible for all who receive Him to claim the right to become His children. In Him we find our peace and security and hope.

Harry and Lucy Chinkumbi

Day 4: Luke 1: 46-56 - 'Mary's humility'
4th December 2015

At Christmas time we are frequently confronted with an announcement which is broad, even global in its significance: “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever” or “peace on earth to men on whom His favour rests”. However, in this section we read of a deeply personal encounter and response to the work of God.

Salvation for the nations comes to individuals and this individual, Mary, was overwhelmed to consider that she might bear the Son of the Most High. Mary’s praise-filled response does not contain a lack of self-esteem, but is a normal reaction to such extraordinary news. How could such a lowly and average person like her have this role? This leads her to magnify the name of God, and her own experience contains truths which have meaning for all of us. God is mindful of the humble. God opposes the proud. God has mercy on those who fear Him. God carries out His intentions. God will do what He has promised.

We all, like Mary, appreciate God’s salvation precisely because we have come to value the simple fact that God has been mindful of us, and yet who are we that God should regard us? Our song of praise this Christmas is surely also motivated, like Mary’s experience, by the fact that God has extended His mercy, even to us. How humbling – how wonderful!

Michael Gompertz

Day 5: Luke 1: 26-38 - 'God's plan, your trust'
5th December 2015

Even though Gabriel’s greeting is welcoming and assures Mary of her favour (her graciousness, kindness, and generosity of spirit), Mary is troubled.

It makes me think of how often we find ourselves wishing we would hear from God. However, when we do hear from Him, we are often troubled, worried, fearful, and doubtful. We wonder if this is actually God we are hearing and if we can trust His incredible plans.

Even Mary says, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” She points out to Gabriel how impossible God’s message is and where she thinks He might struggle.

We too often question God’s direction and plans for our life. We point out to God how His way might not suit and we indicate how our suggestion might be better. We try to trade God’s work for our controlled preferences.

Sometimes even a promise from God in our lives – like the coming of His Spirit – leaves us wondering if God actually knows what He’s doing or if He can do what He says. Gabriel assures Mary, “No word from God will ever fail.” Nothing is impossible for God.

Mary then does what I think we all wish we would willingly do. She trusts God to do the seemingly impossible. Even though she does not understand how it will work or what it will look like she says, “May Your word to me be fulfilled.”

May we surrender to God’s plan for us, however impossible it may seem, and may we trust Him to fulfil His word to us. 

Jana Doughty

Day 6: Isaiah 9: 1-7 - 'The ushering in of the New Covenant'
6th December 2015

Israel was in the midst of a seemingly endless cycle of blessing and judgement. Despite strong injunctions in the Pentateuch, Israel forgot to remember its covenant with God presented to them by Moses. Unlike the faithfully-kept, ‘one-sided’ covenants with Noah and Abraham, God demanded fidelity from Israel as a condition of His ongoing provision of safety and blessing.

Without fail, the convenient forgetfulness would permeate Israel’s royal, civil and priestly life. Israel’s uniqueness among the nations was squandered as they intermingled with the surrounding nations, the temple precincts and high places sprouting Asherah poles and enthroning other strange gods. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would enact the curses from the covenant, and deliver judgement on Israel by plague, sword and exile.

For the faithful remnant of each generation, these dark times caused anguish and despair. Isaiah’s vision of God’s condemnation of His chosen nation in the opening chapters of his book was bruising, a seemingly relentless wringing-out of the last droplets of hope for Israel.

But God had not forgotten His covenant with King David. While dark days were ahead, a season of light would come. David’s descendant is described in such majestic terms it is almost as if the throne of Jerusalem had been occupied by a pastiche of royalty. Blow after blow of judgement and righteous condemnation would be replaced by wave after wave of grace and joy and peace and blessing: this was the advent of Immanuel and the new covenant between God and man.

Jonathan Stockwell 

Day 7: Luke 1: 39-45 - 'Joy and anticipation'
7th December 2015

What a message to receive! Mary must have been beside herself with the news. There is no mention in the Bible of her parents having been given divine knowledge of the veracity of her encounter with Gabriel, and considering the initial reaction of Joseph they also may have had concerns and doubts. However God is so gracious in His dealings with us, and so for Mary He provides the information that her relative Elizabeth “in her old age” is pregnant for “nothing will be impossible with God”.

When any of us have an amazing experience we long to share it with others. Mary surely would want to talk about Gabriel’s message, but who would understand? At home doubts might have been planted in her mind. Disbelief would have been distressing. She sets off as soon as practical to visit her relative, Elizabeth.

What a joy for Mary from the reaction of Elizabeth! No doubts! No disbelief! Instead, Elizabeth greets Mary with words of encouragement, calling her “Blessed!” By divine revelation Elizabeth understands that Mary is carrying the Messiah whom her own son would bear witness to. The two women would spend months together before Mary returned to Nazareth. This must have been a precious time for Mary.

As we approach the celebration of Christ’s birth, let us share in the joy of knowing, in the words of Gabriel, that “nothing is impossible with God”, and in the words of Elizabeth, “Blessed is she who believed…”., for God’s wonderful promise of a Saviour is fulfilled. 

Agnes Guthrie

Day 8: Luke 2: 1-7 - 'A comfortable life'
8th December 2015

We live in a world where our choices are very much influenced by comfort. In our busy 21st Century lives, our expectations are such that we can feel frustrated, even with the smallest of inconveniences.

The account given in Luke Chapter 2 is far from one of comfort. Mary and Joseph have no choice but to travel many miles in order to register for the census. The baby that Mary is carrying is expected imminently. She and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem with no place to stay. The stable where they take shelter is perhaps dry, but devoid of all comforts. It is here where our King Jesus is born.

The very nature of this royal birth reminds us that a life with Jesus does not guarantee a comfortable life. As we celebrate Jesus’s birth this Christmas we want to thank Him for the hope that we have. When we experience hardship, difficulty or challenging circumstances we are reminded that Jesus gives meaning to such discomfort in God’s greater plan.

Donna Hofstra

Day 9: Matthew 2: 13-18 - Joseph's Obedience
9th December 2015

Reading through the account of Jesus’ birth it is easy to condense the events in our heads to a short period of time. The typical nativity scene portrayed today shows the wise men huddled round the new born Christ in a stable.

However the reality is that Joseph and Mary had probably been living in Bethlehem now for a couple of years (remember Herod’s instructions in verse 16). They were doubtless quite settled in what was Joseph’s home town – perhaps with family on hand to help look after young Jesus. Joseph could have had no idea of the danger he was in. But God did! God knows all the plans of the evil one and is well able to protect us from him if we obey.

What sort of obedience does God ask of Joseph? That he should take Mary and Jesus to Egypt of all places! Hardly the sort of place any God fearing Jew would have in mind as a safe hideout!

That is the challenging part of these verses. Herod’s intentions are revealed to Joseph in a dream. Joseph’s obedience to God’s plan of salvation for him is immediate. That very night Joseph jumps out of bed and leaves behind the comfort of his home town for an unknown land.

Is God asking you to step out into the unknown today? Do you trust that He knows what is best for you? Will you obey like Joseph did?


Ken Knowles

Day 10: Isaiah 11: 1-16 - 'Jesus character and mission'
10th December 2015

We can take huge encouragement from these ancient verses that point us to Jesus and allow us to reflect on His character and His mission......

Jesus – God’s representative, always doing the will of the Father, living a fruit-bearing life of wisdom and powerful counsel.

Jesus – The Righteous Judge, perfectly faithful, just and all-powerful.

Jesus – The Prince of Peace, bringing order and harmony to all creation.

Jesus – The Saviour, gathering people from all over the world into His Kingdom.

Jesus - Not a mythical legend, but a prophecy that has been, is being and will be realised.

In a world that is full of injustice, suffering, corruption and conflict, we can look to Jesus. He is the Leader we can follow, the Judge we can trust in and the Saviour we can depend on. As followers of Jesus we are included amongst those who rally to Him. We trust in His death, celebrate His resurrection and look forward to His return.

Pray that God would bring justice, peace and reconciliation into our families, communities, country and world.

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and my defence He has become my salvation” – Isaiah 12: 2

Ewen McDonald

Day 11: Luke 1: 1-4 - 'Search the Scriptures...'
11th December 2015

Questions I ask myself as I read this

1. Who was this written for?

2. Who wrote it?

3. Why was it written?


1. Who was it written for? “O most excellent Theophilus” suggests he was

a high ranking Roman official. None of the friendly “Hi Theophilus” as

some might write (or email) today. Respect for the recipient is clear.

2. Who wrote it? Luke, who we later learn is a doctor. Someone who thinks

in an orderly fashion and sets about writing accurate information about

Jesus for Theophilus. Luke is not alone in writing down the life of Jesus

as told by those who knew Him. Many others were also doing the same

but Luke’s version is the one we have recorded for us.

3. Why was it written? Luke appears to know Theophilus well enough

to know what he has been taught. I would love to know who taught

him in the first place. Luke gathers his information from eyewitnesses

or proclaimers of the message, or servants of the gospel. Later in this

gospel are personal feelings of Mary the mother of Jesus which only she

could have shared with Luke. All this account to underline and confirm

the truth that Theophilus has heard. The 20th Century New Testament

says “in order that you may be able to satisfy yourself of the accuracy of

the story.”

What can we learn from this? If in doubt about what you hear, search the

scriptures to see if they confirm the teaching handed down to you.

Cathie Quinn

Day 12: Luke 2: 22-40 - 'Waiting for Jesus'
12th December 2015

When parents bring their new born baby to church for the first time there is always much excitement. Many people are anxious to see the new arrival and often the baby is surrounded by well-wishers eager to greet the baby and congratulate the parents.

In today’s passage, we see not just the excitement at meeting a new life, but rejoicing for an encounter with the One who brings New Life. We read of two such encounters:

The first is Simeon, a righteous and devout man of God who has been eagerly waiting for this moment, having been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before his death. Even in the infant Jesus, barely 40 days old, Simeon is able to see that this has been fulfilled. His response is to praise God for the salvation that he sees in Christ Jesus.

The second is Anna. Again we see someone who has lived their whole life in full devotion to God. We are told that Anna did not depart from the temple, that she was “worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day”. Once again the response is thanksgiving to God as well as sharing this news with others.

What a great example there is for us here as we live our lives in anticipation of Christ’s return. Pray that we too may live lives of complete devotion to God, of guidance by the Holy Spirit, of thanksgiving and of sharing the good news of Christ Jesus.

Kenneth Douglas

Day 13: Matthew 2: 19-23 - The Journey
13th December 2015

I wonder why the route back from somewhere often feels much quicker than the outward journey. Perhaps you know the way, you recognize the landmarks or sense that home is on the horizon? The verses in this passage move quickly from one event to the next and it is easy to overlook the journey itself.

After months or perhaps years in Egypt, the news they had waited for had come:

“Rise, take the child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” (Matthew 2: 20)

At last they were heading for home! That journey to Nazareth must have been a significant one for Mary and Joseph, during which they would have reflected on all that they had seen and experienced: the angels and shepherds, the gifts and the Glory, new life and fresh mystery. No doubt this little family were looking ahead too; thinking about making a fresh start, the chance to establish roots and begin again.

This season of Advent reminds us of the importance of the journey. It’s not just about arriving at Christmas; it encourages us to reflect as well as to anticipate. This march through memorable verses, passing the familiar landmarks of nativities and carol services will go fast but try to treasure the journey!

Helen Packwood

Day 14: John 1: 1-18 - 'Christ, the Eternal Word'
14th December 2015

This passage starts with one of the most well-known verses in the Bible,

“In the beginning the Word already existed, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (NLT)

John speaks of how Jesus was already waiting to come as our Saviour. God had a plan in place from the beginning of time. He was giving us His most precious gift, His Son Jesus, a means through which we could receive eternal life with Him. Jesus is the light we have to recognise and accept into our lives as Lord and Saviour.

As we approach Christmas, in the middle of all our preparation and rushing around, take time to think of, and give thanks for, God’s gift to us. The baby born in a manger, not recognised by anyone as special, given in love, in the hope that one day everyone would hear of God’s amazing love for us, and accept Him as their own.

In the words of the old carol:

“Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine.”

Andrea Ross

Day 15: Colossians 3: 15-20 - 'Thankfulness and mission'
15th December 2015

Verse 15 speaks of the peace that comes from Christ. The Christmas season can often be busy and stressful, but, as we come to remember the birth of Jesus, we can be thankful for that gift of peace He has given us. This is a time of great joy and thanksgiving but there is still much conflict and injustice in the world. We should pray that all may feel that peace this Christmas time. Whoever you are, whatever you have done, God sent His Son so that you may be reconciled with Him and know that eternal peace.

“Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.”

Verse 16 speaks of singing, something we particularly enjoy at Christmas. As we sing our carols this year, we should use them as an opportunity to show our thankfulness to God and to spread the great news of Christ. We have been given an incredible gift and it is only right that we share it with whoever we can.

Whatever circumstances you find yourself in this Christmas, remember all that God has given us, be filled with His peace and remain ever thankful.

Edward Gill

Day 16: Isaiah 42: 1-9 - 'One true hope'
16th December 2015

This is the first of four Servant Songs as Isaiah speaks in the Old Testament with reference to the New Covenant. It tells of the coming of Christ to bring forth God’s great redemption and the expansion of His Kingdom to the Gentiles, to the captives, and to those in darkness. His credentials are clearly defined here, His capability undoubted and His mission a glorious one.

The hope, excitement, and anticipation are palpable and we begin to experience something of this ourselves as we look forward to the celebration of Christmas.

Jesus’ birth is the earthly arrival of “my chosen One in whom I delight”;

His work is vital - “He will bring justice to the nations”; and

His role is pivotal in the story of God’s salvation for His people - “and new things I declare”.

The song and the season are both laced fully with a deep sense of hope and renewal ... in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man is born.

Stuart Graham

Day 16: Isaiah 42: 1-9 - 'One true hope'
16th December 2015

This is the first of four Servant Songs as Isaiah speaks in the Old Testament with reference to the New Covenant. It tells of the coming of Christ to bring forth God’s great redemption and the expansion of His Kingdom to the Gentiles, to the captives, and to those in darkness. His credentials are clearly defined here, His capability undoubted and His mission a glorious one.

The hope, excitement, and anticipation are palpable and we begin to experience something of this ourselves as we look forward to the celebration of Christmas.

Jesus’ birth is the earthly arrival of “my chosen One in whom I delight”;

His work is vital - “He will bring justice to the nations”; and

His role is pivotal in the story of God’s salvation for His people - “and new things I declare”.

The song and the season are both laced fully with a deep sense of hope and renewal ... in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man is born.

Stuart Graham

Day 17: Isaiah 53: 1-23 - 'The humility of a suffering servant'
17th December 2015

At this time of year we often think on Christ’s humility. Our Christmas Carols speak of a baby “meek and mild”. We sing of the child laid in a manger. We send Christmas cards that depict these lowly scenes. We rightfully remember this wonderful  truth, that the Son of God humbled Himself and came into the world as a baby.

In our passage today, written over 700 years before that first Christmas, we not only see the purpose of Christ’s coming, but we see also the fullest meaning of humility.

These are not easy verses to read. We read words like “despised”, “rejected”, “stricken” and “smitten”. We read of oppression, judgement, chastisement and grief. We read of His wounds, how He was pierced and crushed.

What a humble Servant we have; that the Son of God, the One by whom all things were made, chose to lower Himself, chose to dwell amongst us, and took on all that we read of in this chapter is truly wonderful. His purpose: to bear our sins and transgressions, to die that we might live.

Christ was humbled but yet He has been exalted! If we trust in Christ and what He has done for us as that suffering Servant, we shall one day see Him.

In the words of the carol:

“Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high”

Kenneth Douglas

Day 18: Luke 1: 5-25 - Faith
18th December 2015

In this very powerful, personal and emotional prelude to the arrival of Jesus into our world, Zechariah reminds us that Christmas is all about faith. The events unfolding can only be perceived by faith, as Zechariah is visited by one of God's heavenly messengers. Zechariah at least has faith to recognize his visitor for who he is.

“When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid"' (Luke 1: 12-13).

Yet the message is also to be received by faith. In response to Zechariah's lacklustre response, the angel says:

“And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time” (Luke 1: 20).

Let's not be too harsh on Zechariah. Yes, it is not the desired response, but faith can be hard. When was the last time that we did anything that required faith?

Lastly we see that the gifts of God are to be enjoyed by faith as well:

"The Lord has done this for me," Elizabeth said. "In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people" (Luke 1: 25).

Faith is expressed in Elizabeth's words of worship. May these same words be the expression of ours: The Lord has done this for us (taking the form of man)! He has shown His favour and taken away our disgrace (sin) through the Lord Jesus Christ!


Christiaan Hofstra

Day 19: Luke 1: 57-66 - Joy, obedience and praise
20th December 2015

When I read this passage, three words immediately came to mind - joy, obedience and praise.

When a new baby is born it is an extremely joyful time in a couple’s life. Friends and relatives descend on you with presents and advice. It was no different when Elizabeth’s baby was born. Verse 58 tells us that her friends and relatives shared her joy. It must have been particularly poignant as Elizabeth had waited so long for a child.

In Jewish tradition children were named after family members. I can imagine the sharp intakes of breath when Elizabeth said her son was to be named John. Her family checked with Zechariah, obviously thinking that he would follow tradition, but no, he confirmed the baby’s name was to be John, as he had been told in the temple. Immediately after Zechariah did this, his silence was broken – a sign of his obedience to God.

You would expect that the first thing a new father would do would be kiss his wife, or hold his child; Zechariah praises God. What God had foretold through Gabriel in the temple had come to pass, and Zechariah was showing his thankfulness for the great gift God had given him and Elizabeth. I wonder if they had any idea of what was to come.

In this Advent season, may we share the joy we have in God, be obedient to God and praise God as wholeheartedly as Zechariah.

Kit Law

Day 20: Hebrews 1:1-3 - There is a Saviour
20th December 2015

These verses remind us of the purpose of Jesus coming to dwell with us on earth. They describe Jesus as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (v.3.). 

As we reflect on the Christmas story it’s easy to think of Jesus as just a “special baby” in the nativity play, and forget that He is fully God as well as fully human. This baby is Immanuel: “God with us”. Christ Jesus took on all the infirmities of the flesh, yet was without sin. It is this unique position that allows Him to “provide the purification for sins”. 

“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5: 21).

This Christmas time, in amongst all the preparations for the day itself, let us not forget the reason God sent Jesus to earth: to purify us from our sins, so that we could be brought back into relationship with God Himself. 

Spend time preparing your heart to accept the Saviour this Christmas. 

There is a Saviour, what joy express
His eyes are mercy, His Word is rest
For each tomorrow, for yesterday
There is a Saviour, and He’s forgiven you

(Sandi Patty) 


Rachel Nelson

Day 21: Luke 1: 67-80 - From Silence to Song
21st December 2015

This wonderful song forms a significant part of the Advent story. Sung by a father following the birth of his son, perhaps nothing unusual in that, except this father was an elderly priest who had once doubted God’s promise to give him a son. “How can I be sure of this” he had said. Now he holds the evidence of God’s faithfulness.

This is no ordinary birth, and no normal nursery rhyme. This song has been composed from a heart that knew the promises God had made His people, and, in the fulfilment of the birth, remembers the promises God made to His people to save, to redeem, and to rescue, bringing victory over enemies.

This baby will fulfil an important prophecy to go before and to prepare the way, for a more significant birth - the long promised Messiah. Zechariah can see all this and through his song helps us to see it also. Our Redeemer and Saviour, God in Christ, Immanuel has come to rescue. Darkness, despair and death will be transformed by the light that guides all those
who seek it into peace.

Is this a song we also want to sing? A response of worship is the right response when we meet Jesus, but perhaps Zechariah would add, do not just sing it, live it and serve Him in holiness and righteousness all our days.

David Knowles

Day 22: Luke 2: 41-51 - Jesus the Boy
22nd December 2015

It is interesting that Jesus was found, not only in the Temple, but sitting as an equal among the teachers there. As well as being eager to learn, He shows great understanding and wisdom as the teachers ask questions of Him.

I am reminded of Re:vue bible study times where young people, not much older (if at all) than Jesus is here, eagerly ask and answer questions as we look at a bible passage. These times are really encouraging, but they are also a challenge and a big responsibility. Please pray for wisdom for the leaders, and be thankful for young enthusiastic, eager minds! Settings
in which we are free to ask questions and to grow in our faith are really important - home groups, Christianity Explored, Discipleship Explored.

What also strikes me in this passage is the humility and obedience of Jesus.  He clearly demonstrates, in verse 49, that He knows He is the Son of God.
Yet He remained completely obedient to His earthly parents because that was His Father’s will. In times of agonising over what God’s will is for us, are we sometimes missing the obvious? Being a loving spouse, good parent, obedient child, and honourable employee are all God’s will for us.
Obedience in these things is beautiful and pleasing to God.

Further reading:
Read Psalm 119 to taste the beauty and also the urgency of obedience to God.

John Hawthorne

Day 23: Matthew 1: 18-25 - God's Option
23rd December 2015

When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, a public announcement of their marriage had already been made. This could only be broken through death or divorce. The options that Joseph faced seemed bleak: either divorce or have her stoned. As Joseph was a righteous man he decided to divorce Mary quietly to avoid public disgrace to her and her family.

The angel of the Lord presented Joseph with another option. God’s option was for Joseph to marry Mary and become the father of the child she was carrying, because Mary had done nothing wrong, and the child had been conceived from the Holy Spirit.

Although Joseph knew that there would be disapproval of his decision, he went ahead with what he knew was right and responded to God.

Joseph showed righteousness, discretion, sensitivity and responsiveness to God in the way he handled the situation. As we read about Jesus’ life on earth, the same characteristics are demonstrated in the way He deals with situations and people.

God chose Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly father for a time, because he would be a good role model for Jesus as He grew up. What sort of role models are we? How would our behaviour be described by God and others?

Siobhan Johnston

Day 24: John 11: 25-26 - Matters of life and death
24th December 2015

There are two inevitabilities in life. We are born into life and we will die. Here we have one of Jesus’s great ‘I am...’ statements. A declaration at a time of death.

Words full of emotion. Let us look at the context:

Mary and Martha are grieving the death of a brother. There is grief/frustration/emptiness/delay.  Jesus tells the disciples He is going to ‘wake him up’. There is confusion and misunderstanding. Lazarus is raised from the dead. There is amazement/disbelief/relief/anger and plotting.

The Bible tells us that the very reason Jesus was born, was so that life could be taken from Him on the cross, so that He then could be raised to life again. Martha and the disciples could not, at this time, fully understand what He meant by these words. However, look at Martha’s faith! Her answer:

    “Yes Lord. All along I have believed that You are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.” (The Message)

Jesus was declaring that death had no power over Him or over those who believe in Him. He is offering us life in all its fullness, lived in relationship with Him, that will not end when we die.

This is what Christians celebrate this Advent season. If you are not yet a Christian, how do you respond to Jesus’s question ‘Do you believe this?’

    ‘To the secular philosopher, life starts from nothing. It rises to a peak, to a brief flowering of autonomy, of pleasure, of meaning in the middle of life. And then it gradually declines into decay, dissolution and finally death. It rises to a crescendo and then slowly fades away into nothingness. But the Christian view of a human life transformed by God’s power is totally different. It is a slow and growing crescendo. It is a journey, a pilgrimage, which starts from nothing but grows and grows:
The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’
(Proverbs 4:18)’. John Wyatt

Christine Fairfield

Day 25: Isaiah 7:14 - Jesus, the most important signpost
25th December 2015

One of the few sentences that I remember from my days of learning German at school, is asking how best to get to the railway station. Asking for directions in a different language can be the easy part, as you are in control of the phrasing of the question. The difficulty arises when the person
you are speaking to then responds! While you know how to translate the question, you perhaps were not ready for an answer that was not in the text book, and confusion is created!

For those who do not know Jesus, and even for those who do but need a reminder, then even though you may have heard about God (the destination), you may not understand the directions of how to get there. That is where Jesus comes in. He explained and showed us in ways that we can follow by coming to earth, sharing the same existence as us and becoming “the way” in person.

Christmas is a time when we reflect on Jesus’ birth. The question is: do you see Him as the most important signpost you could ever follow, or simply as a baby born the same as you or me?

“I was nowhere, You came to my rescue,
from the grave I’ve been raised.
When I needed a Saviour to save me,
Jesus, You made a way.
I was blind, but these eyes have been opened; now I walk in the light.
Every step on this road I will follow,
Jesus, You made a way.”
(The Way by Worship Central)


Diane Davidsion

Day 26: Luke 3:21-38 - A dog is for life, not just for Christmas
26th December 2015

For the last 37 years this slogan has been used to remind us that dogs do not just disappear once Christmas is over.

“Immanuel: God with us”.

This is more than a charity slogan – it is a truth that should change the way we live our lives. Once Christmas is over, do we pack God back up into a box with the decorations, back on the shelf until next year? Or do we rely on the incredible truth that God is with us every day, all year round? When
things are going well for us do we remember that God is with us and thank Him for that? When we are struggling with health, finances, relationships, and work, do we remember that God is with us and is bigger than any situation we might face?

Whatever situation you are facing today, take time to think about the significance of having God walk with you as you face it, and the difference that will make.

 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to
separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
 Romans 8: 38-39


Anne Knowles

Day 27: Luke 3:21-38 - Have a break, have a genealogy
27th December 2015

So here we have it: everybody’s favourite kind of biblical text- a genealogy! If that prospect does not send you into a state of giddy excitement over your morning coffee, well, I am not sure what will.

In all seriousness however, these texts can be difficult, and oh so tempting to just skip over. That, I think, would be a mistake. To dive into the narrative, rushing on at full speed, would be to do the very opposite of what Luke wants his readers to do.

The genealogy breaks up the narrative: literally! It is wedged in between what we might call the ‘the Christmas story’ and the start of Jesus’s ministry. This break should be a respite, an invitation to wait and reflect, before proceeding into the onrushing sweeping story that is about to unfold.

So, if you have the time as you read this, I would like to invite you to read again the first three opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Just as Luke takes a break and reflects on what has preceded before moving forward, perhaps we should do likewise. But as you do so, please do not forget the point that any genealogy is trying to make: the story that is unfolding does not stand independently, but is inherently connected and concerned with what has come before it. Matthew takes his genealogy back to David because this story is the story of Israel. Luke, on the other hand, takes his genealogy back to Adam because this story is the story of humanity, and we are heading right for its climax. So have a break, have a genealogy (and/or a KitKat although other confectionaries are available).

Ryan Graham

Day 28: John 6:35 - Satisfaction Guaranteed
28th December 2015

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Bread has been the staple food of human life in almost every culture, since the dawn of agriculture. It is served at any meal of the day. Its central role in life is reflected in the root of words like company’ or ‘companion’ which literally translate as ‘one that breaks bread with you.’

Jesus did not say He could tell us about the bread of life, nor did He offer to give us the bread of life. Jesus said He IS the bread of life. When Jesus said this, He meant that He is the Living Word of God, which satisfies our need for spiritual food. (The manna provided by God in the wilderness - the bread from heaven - symbolised God’s word in Jewish tradition (Deuteronomy 8:3)). Jesus also issues an invitation. If we come to Him and put our trust in Him, He will satisfy the hunger and thirst of our souls.

John’s gospel begins with the words, ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ (John 1:1, 14)

This Advent, may you be satisfied by Jesus, the Living Word who came down from heaven.
"Thou art the Bread of Life, O Lord, to me, Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me” (Mary Lathbury, 1880)

Alison Mair

Day 29: John 10:11-18 - Jesus, the Good Shepherd
29th December 2015

As we approach Christmas, with all the excitement and anticipation that it brings, lists being ticked off, and gifts being bought, these verses truly identify the selfless gifts that Jesus gives to us.

Jesus gave His life for us, so that we would be saved from our sin and have eternal life.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (v.11.)

Jesus gives us constant protection, saving us from darkness, danger and evil. The wolf reminds us that the devil is waiting patiently to snatch us at any time. As Jesus follows the commands of His Father, we are called to follow and serve.

Jesus wants a personal relationship with us:
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,” (v.14.)

Jesus calls to us, and once He has us in His hands He never lets us go. He comes for everyone:
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” ( v.16.)

Not only do we have a relationship with Jesus but we have unity with fellow followers.

The abundance of love that we are given is truly an inexpressible gift. As we exchange gifts on Christmas Day, let us give thanks for the greatest gift; His love gives life and Jesus is the true light saving us from darkness.

Claire Davidson

Day 30: Luke 3:1-20 - We’re expecting the Messiah
30th December 2015

The people were fascinated by this character John. They recognised him as someone special. His message was quite clear: “Do not come here to be baptised if you are not showing by your life that you have turned to God and away from your sin”.

John was challenging the people to look at their lives and to think about what the Messiah was coming to do.

“We’re expecting the Messiah” - but what kind of Messiah? Why did so few recognise Him and why is it no different today?

Are we quite happy to think of Jesus the Messiah, heralded by the angel choirs and worshipped by the Magi, but not so comfortable to think of Jesus as the Judge, because that challenges our lifestyle and our allegiance?    
So many centuries of watching and waiting,
But when the moment came, well, nobody saw.
Traders and travellers hurried by
And life went on, just like before.

(Graham Kendrick)

Wilma Armstrong

Day 31: John 8:12-14 - Jesus, Light of the World
31st December 2015

The image of Jesus being the light of the world is a very powerful one. Those six small words are such a bold statement as to who Jesus is and of the promise that we have through Him.

Reading or listening to the news, it is not difficult to see the darkness that is in the world: poverty, fear, sin and injustice. Perhaps we even at times feel darkness in our own lives; times when we have been far from God and have messed up.

Jesus is life and light; a promise to all who believe in Him:

  •      Light shines in the darkness and casts out fear
  •      Light reveals the truth
  •      Light = life.

Very few things grow in the natural world without light. It is essential for life. In the same way, Jesus is essential if we are to have any spiritual life.

Jesus is THE light of the world. ... not ‘A’ light. We can only be reconciled to God and have a relationship with Him through Jesus.

As you read or listen to the news today, thank God that He sent Jesus as light to this darkness, and pray for the light of Jesus to cut into those situations. How can you reflect the light of Jesus to those you meet today?

“Light of the world,
You stepped down into darkness,
opened my eyes let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore You;
hope of a life spent with You.
So here I am to worship,
here I am to bow down,
here I am to say that You’re my God.”


Lorna McDonald