3 Great Christmas Devotionals!

three-great-resourcesChristmas is a fantastic time to celebrate Christ. Historically, the church has dominated the Christmas season. Though Hallmark movies, T.V. specials, and stories of an overgrown elf-man sporting a white beard and red suit have cut into the Church’s monopoly on the holiday, the word Christ still remains prominent. According to Lifeway, 6 of every 10 Americans will attend a Christmas service this year. If you and your family find yourselves drifting from the gospel, I encourage you to reengage with the gospel this Christmas season! I have attached links to three great resources below. These three little books will help you and your family refocus your hearts on the gospel!

1. Good News of Great Joy: John Piper

good-news-of-great-joyJohn Piper encourages our hearts by expounding the texts of the Christmas story. Piper begins each devotion with short Scripture passage. He spends two to three pages reflecting upon our glorious savior so that God may “deepen and sweeten” our adoration of Jesus. Christians looking for quiet-time books and family devotions will find this little book helpful. Click here to download the book for free! 

Quick Peek:

For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without their even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own sake but for the sake of God’s little people – the little Mary and the little Joseph who have gone from Nazareth to Bethlehem. God wields an empire to bless his children.

2. The Dawning of Joy Indestructible: John Piper

the-dawning-of-indestructible-joyJohn Piper wrote his second Advent devotional to remind and stir up Christians who have found themselves forgetting the glories of the gospel during the Christmas season. Interacting with short Scripture passages, Piper highlights the great truths of the Bible by connecting them to the nativity store. Christians looking for a quiet-time devotion or for a family devotion will find this book helpful. Click here to download the book for free!

Quick Peek:

Look to Jesus this Christmas. Receive the reconciliation that he bought. Don’t put it on the shelf unopened. And don’t open it and then make it a means to all your other pleasures. Open it and enjoy the gift. Rejoice in him. Make him your pleasure. Make him your treasure.

3. Come Let Us Adore Him: Paul David Tripp

9781433556692Paul David Tripp seeks to restore our awe in Christ this Christmas season by helping us reflect on the amazing truths of the Scriptures. Writing with a counselor’s heart, Tripp encourages his readers by expositing the Scriptures of the Christmas story, by sharing illustrative stories, and by calling for readers to respond to the gospel with meaningful action. Tripp also writes with families in mind. He ends each three to five page devotion with a further study verse and with a “For parents and children” section that includes the day’s main theme and discussion questions. Lastly, Tripp separates his Advent devotion from others by penning devotions for all of December’s 31 days. Both individuals and families will find Tripp’s devotional to be a source of encouragement this Christmas season!

Quick Peek:

In truth, that beautifully decorated tree, those gorgeously wrapped presents, and all that tasty holiday food, which make us happy during the Christmas season, are poor representations of the world into which Jesus was born and what his everyday life would be like. Jesus didn’t show up for a celebration…It means something profoundly important that the cradle of his birth was a feeding trough in a borrowed barn….These conditions…announce to us that the Messiah came not to be served but to serve.”

Why Big Kids Cry

Why Big Boys CryI LOVED winning baseball games as a kid. Nothing seemed more glorious to my childhood psyche than that $9.50 first place trophy. Yes, my aspirations were pitifully small (this may explain why I had to repeat second grade) but my desires were drenched with passion. I practiced every chance I got; I played hurt at times; and, I publicly challenged my coaches bad decisions. I was all in for the trophy. Finally at the mature age of 11, I snagged I did snag me a championship trophy. Oh the Joy! Sadly, it was short lived. The following year, my team topped out at second. I ended my little league career crying in my dad’s car too angry to speak.

Why The Tears

I mention my own experiences with rec league baseball because they point to an important truth. Nothing will satisfy us other than Jesus. If our kids are living for baseball, good grades, or musical perfection, they will not be satisfied. Their little emotions, self-esteem, and joy will fluctuate drastically with each success or failure. Often kids who lose it when they lose, fail, or make a mistake are not just sensitive. Most are idol worshipers whose idol just got exploded by dose of reality. Because their hope for fulfillment was based on their efforts, they cry.

The Solution For Failure

Despite what Nike commercials say, the solution is not to practice harder or to start earlier. Getting more trophies, more money, and more fame will not make our kids more fulfilled. As Solomon concluded, “I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Kids who strive for more and more worldly success will only find more and more emptiness.As David Platt writes,

The desire for more is a trap. As we indulge this desire, it destroys our soul bit by bit. And it may destroy us forever – p. 40.

The solution is to make Christ everything. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27). We should remind our kids that their worth, hope, and joy are ultimately found in Christ! Yes, God has given us sports, knowledge, and the arts. But, we are to use them for his glory and not for our satisfaction. When we try to find satisfaction in stuff, we get only disappointment because we lose sight of God. Jesus said it this way:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. – John 6:53b-57

Nothing other than Jesus will save us. And nothing other than Jesus will make us happy in this life. As John Piper said,

The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God – p.23.

As we gear up for a spring full of activities, let’s encourage our kids to feed on Jesus! Below our three tips for making this happen:

Three Tips For Heavenly Success

  1. Model our dependence for Christ. We need to pray and be in the word regularly. We need to make service to others andcounter culture the worship of God our highest priorities. We need to fight the temptation to find our satisfaction in our kids’ success. And, we need to depend on prayer and scripture when making decisions. In short, we need to find our joy by obeying God’s commands!
  2. Discipline sin. When we see our kids throw tantrums or snap at a coach, we handout suspensions. We end practices for our kids and make them take time off. We help them see that obedience to Christ is a way bigger deal than success. True, our kids may suffer at little on the field or in the classroom. But honestly, this is ok. As Jesus says,

    For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? – Mark 8:36

    My parents disciplined me often for my on field exploits. And because of their faithfulness and because of the Holy Spirit, I came to see that real life was not found on the Baseball diamond.

  3. Ask God to save. Ultimately, only those who the father calls will believe. As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink (even if everyone closes their eyes and bows their head and mutters something).” As parents, we can and should expose our kids to the beauty of Christ, but kids won’t embrace Jesus on their own. The Holy Spirit must open their eyes. Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” John 6:44). Pray for God to work.

Works Cited

Piper, J. (2003). Desiring God: Meditations of A Christian Hedonist. Sisters: Multnomah Publishers.

Platt, D. (2015). Counter Culture: a compassionate call to counter culture in a world of poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans, and pornography. Carol Streem: Tyndale House.