Advent Devotional 2018

Yvonne Biel | Galatians 4:4-7


Center yourself by breathing in and out. Relax your neck and take time to let your muscles relax. Then read the passage aloud slowly. Take time to let the words “fall on your ear.”


But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7


Which of these ideas from the passage would you like to embrace more fully?

    • Jesus came to redeem those who were under the law.
    • Jesus came so that you might receive adoption.
    • God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your heart, crying, “Abba! Father!”
    • Jesus came so you are no longer a slave, but a son.
    • Jesus came to make you his child and if a son, then an heir through God.

Talk with God about how you feel about this idea and how it connects to your life.


By Yvonne Biel 

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Yvonne Biel | Galatians 4:4-72019-07-22T16:35:32-06:00

Filling Our Souls | Isaiah 7:14

Read Isaiah 7:14.

Around the holidays, we all know what it feels like to be stuffed. Many of us fill up our schedules with endless appointments, fill our closets with impractical purchases, or fill the Instagram feed with epic adventures. We can literally “fill up” at the touch of a button, finding more information, buying the latest technology, or streaming yet another episode of a show.

We live in a culture with more options, greater availability, and easier access than ever before, but we’re left feeling all the more empty. We’re realizing that we know how to stuff ourselves, but no one has taught us how to truly fill our souls. We see it in the trends – more and more people praising simplicity, minimalism, and mindfulness with the hopes of finding something meaningful to fill our hungry souls.

But, what if the secret to feeling fully satisfied is not in the process of filling up or emptying out? Rather, what if the secret to feeling content rests in the contents or substance with which we choose to fill our souls?

We see the escalating climax of the Biblical narrative when God chose to come, in the fullness of time, to fill one virgin’s womb with his personal presence. This “filling up” moment shifts our entire concept of experiencing God. As he reveals himself to us, God wants to be as close to our souls as humanly possible. He does not remain far off, but desires to fill us with himself. Filling up with God’s presence is the content that offers contentment, wholeness, and satisfaction.


Today, begin by simply breathing in deeply and welcoming God’s presence within your whole self – body, mind, heart, and soul. Ask Him to fill you up with His presence and with contentment, wholeness, and satisfaction.


By Yvonne Biel 

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Filling Our Souls | Isaiah 7:142019-07-22T16:35:32-06:00

Fulfilling The Law | Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:19-26

Read Matthew 5:17 and Galatians 3:19-26.

In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says he fulfills the law, instead of abolishing it. The law of Moses had a specific purpose, but it was a temporary covenant and never meant to last forever. However, Jesus did not come to oppose this law or to discard it. Instead, Jesus took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, displayed the intent of the Jewish Scriptures, and became the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins.

So, why was the law given at all? First, the law increased awareness of conscious sin. This highlighted the need for a Savior, since humanity cannot keep the law perfectly. Thus, the law prepared the way for the preaching of the gospel and increased our longing for Jesus. Secondly, the law had a guardian function (Gal. 3:22-25), helping decrease sin, creating a nation designed to bring God’s love and justice to humanity. The law had a positive role as it both revealed and restrained transgressions. However, with Christ’s finished work on the cross, a new covenant has been established and we have hope in Him.

Today, we are no longer living in slavery to the law. We are justified by faith (3:24), thus granting us freedom in Christ as children of God. So how are we called to live today? Paul says in Galatians 5:16 “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” As “O Holy Night” says, “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.”


Consider what it means to you personally that Jesus came to fulfill the law. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ’s sacrifice for you; thank him for fulfilling the law and ushering in a new covenant of freedom.


By Billy Berglund 

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Fulfilling The Law | Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:19-262019-07-22T16:35:33-06:00

Sending His Son | Hebrews 1

Read Hebrews 1.

The Incarnation is one of the most beautiful ideas in the Gospel. Incarnation is simply the reality that God stepped into history himself to reach the world with his love. It’s why Christmas is so profound. Why send His own son? What is God trying to say through Jesus?

The beginning of Hebrews chapter one is one of my favorite passages in all of the scriptures. God has been communicating with his creation since the very beginning. In the past he did that through prophets but Hebrews 1 tells us that now he speaks to us, “by his Son.” No more middle man, God wanted to make sure we knew what he is really like. That is why he sent his own son, Jesus. Jesus is, as the text says, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his (God’s) nature.” Jesus is a letter to humanity. A letter written on flesh and bone through healing hands, open arms, wise words, and unconditional self sacrificial love. Jesus is an amazing letter!

Jesus’ life as a man is also a loud invitation to do the same thing he does. We were made in the image of God so every time we see the image of God in the face of Jesus we learn what we were designed to reflect. Jesus’ incarnation is an invitation to reflect God’s character just as Jesus did so well.


If Jesus is a letter to humanity about what God is like, what does the letter say? What is one way you can extend love and thereby reflect God’s character to those around you today?


By Aaron Bjorklund 

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Sending His Son | Hebrews 12019-07-22T16:35:33-06:00

Preparing the Way | Luke 2:1-6

Read Luke 2:1-6.

The Romans were conquering warriors. By Jesus’ birth, they had conquered most of the Mediterranean rim. Their rule would venture much farther as the years passed. While they were ruthless on the battlefield as well as towards dissidents, they brought many improvements to living. Their introduction of a common language and roads opened borders to commerce and safer travel, and their strong military presence brought peace to those who chose to live within their rules. Pax Romana was prevalent in this portion of the known world.

With all the good things that the Romans introduced to the world, there were others they introduced that weren’t so good. Perhaps one of the most destructive, from a spiritual perspective, was their pantheon of gods, along with the manner of worship of their gods. All forms of decadence imaginable were in play. All manner of evil behavior, some of which would be deplored even today, were practiced.

This period in history, where peace and cruelty walked hand in hand, seemed ripe for a redeemer. The days were dark and the nights darker. The way was being prepared, and the Jewish people were ready for Messiah. They’d endured hardship for many hundreds of years. The people of Israel yearned for delivery from persecution and they looked expectedly for the promised freedom. During this nexus of good and evil, the fullness of time was coming. God was preparing his people, for the arrival of their Savior, Redeemer, Brother, and Lord.


As you think about how Jesus, the Messiah, came at a an opportune time in Israel and the world’s history, relate it to your own life. When you responded to the Gospel for the first time how was your heart and mind specifically ready? How is your heart and mind ready today to enter into this Advent season and receive the fullness of Jesus this Christmas?  


By Rich Obrecht 

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Preparing the Way | Luke 2:1-62019-07-22T16:35:33-06:00

Anticipating Hope | Genesis 17:1-8

Read Genesis 17:1-8.

Genesis records the incredible faith journey of Abraham. He lived years of faith in God, and trusted in promises he couldn’t see. He camped where God was leading, he waited 25 years for a family heir,  a treasured nation and a promised land. He grounded his faith in anticipating hope even though he faced seemingly impossible circumstances, and there were no objective reasons for hope. Romans 4:18 says, in hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”

God promised and Abraham waited. In the meantime he obeyed God and kept the covenant. It is difficult to wait. Life keeps rumbling on and throwing noise at us. We go through ups and downs. We white knuckle sharp curves. Anticipating hope does not mean the absence of troubles but an assurance in the midst of experiencing them.  Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised he was also able to do.

We can be fully persuaded with anticipating hope too. The Advent season is designed to reflect on this confident expectation in God. We also might be in a season of waiting; for a job, a spouse, a baby, a resolution, better health, etc. We can hope because God is God to us, the covenant maker and keeper.  This advent, let’s focus on Him who fulfills His promises. Galatians 3:8 says, And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”


Spend some time praying for God to give you anticipating hope. Start a list of ways God is doing this and continue the list into the coming new year. Sing the carol, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. You can find the lyric video below. 


By Donna Burns  

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Anticipating Hope | Genesis 17:1-82019-07-22T16:35:33-06:00

Waiting on God | Galatians 4:4

Read Galatians 4:4.

I remember cutting strips of red and green construction paper. With each cut, the expectation for Christmas grew. We turned those strips of paper into a Christmas chain – each link representing days from December 1st to the much anticipated glory of Christmas morning.

Unbeknownst to me, my parents were also preparing for Christmas. They were buying presents, planning family time, and getting the house ready. Their preparation involved more work and less wonder. Christmas always involves preparation…and it always has.

Even that first Christmas required preparation. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…” (Galatians 4:4) Nobody knew that the Divine Christmas chain was on its last link. However, God had a plan, birthed out of love to forever change the world. God was behind the scenes, much like parents at Christmas time, making all the preparations for that first Christmas. His preparation involved 400 years of silence – “long lived the world in sin and error pining.”

Christmas reminds us that God’s promise is often a process. He promises, but doesn’t deliver right away. The journey of faith is one of learning to wait, trusting that God is behind the scenes setting the stage for the fulfillment of His promise. But just like Christmas, that promise will only be recognized at the right time…the fullness of time. So the Psalmist encourages us, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)


Take a moment to consider what you are waiting on this Advent season. What might it look like for you to wait well?


By Ryan Paulson 

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Waiting on God | Galatians 4:42019-07-22T16:35:33-06:00

Advent 2018


As you enter Advent, take a few moments to prepare your heart to welcome this season afresh. Inhale and exhale a few times, letting go of distractions. Quiet your thoughts and open yourself to God. Prepare to experience God’s Word through the presence of the Holy Spirit.


But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5


Notice what word or phrase stands out to you and notice how your heart is responding. Are you… puzzled? Doubtful? Amazed? Ponder why the Spirit may be bringing attention to this aspect of the text. Then, have a conversation with God as you would a friend about what you’re noticing.


Walk and Talk: Go on a family walk while discussing what each person is looking forward to in the Advent season. Ask this question: “If you could change anything about how we celebrate the Christmas season as a family, what would it be?”

By South Fellowship Daily Team 

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Advent 20182019-07-22T16:35:33-06:00
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