Use this set of advent devotionals to revisit the story of Christmas in the Bible. We hope it reminds you to pray for others and draws you to praise the Lord – it is all about Jesus!

Follow the guide each Sunday with your church or discipleship group, or on your own, by reading aloud the devotional and corresponding passage of Scripture, praying together and celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Read the passage of scripture.

Light a candle on the Advent wreath, if you have one, and follow the praise response.

Pray for those in the prayer prompt.

Wishing you a joyous Christmas in Him!

Advent 2023 header image.

WEEK ONE | HOPE

Reflect: People need hope. You can get through anything if you know that hope with resolution is coming – the “light at the end of the tunnel.” People fleeing war-torn areas around the world move to places of light and hope. In the Old Testament, prophets, while often proclaiming doom, were also announcing hope and a future.

Consider one of the most quoted verses in Jeremiah: Jeremiah 29:11–13

Read: Matthew 4:12–17

Point: Jesus identified himself as the personification of the hope, life and salvation spoken of by the prophets.

Light the Candle for Hope

Pray: Thank God for the Light you have in life through Jesus Christ. Pray for people around the world who are still without hope – people in darkness without the love and light of Jesus.


WEEK TWO | PEACE

Reflect: Today, the words “peace” and “Bethlehem” are not usually associated together. Though the birthplace of King David and home to David’s parents and grandparents, Bethlehem is also known as the place where King Herod had all of the small baby boys two years old and younger killed (Matthew 2:16-18). Today, Manger Square in Bethlehem is home to a 50-foot Christmas tree. The once majority Christian population of Bethlehem has decreased from 86% in 1950 to just 13% in 2016. Arab
Christians are often, and in fact now, caught in a political and religious pressure cooker. Still, God planned, speaking through the prophet Micah, for Bethlehem to be the birthplace of the Prince of Peace.

Read: Micah 5:2

Read: Isaiah 9:6–7

Point: Ultimately, the only real place where peace is found is “in Christ.” Peace of heart, mind and soul can extend through and surpass circumstances.

Light the Candle for Peace

Pray:Thank God for the peace you have in your heart and life through His abiding presence. Pray for those seeking peace within and without today, that they might find the Prince of Peace in their lives – that someone might share the Good News with them today.


WEEK THREE | JOY

Reflect: Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, is traditionally identified as the site of the “Annunciation to the Shepherds.” There is a Catholic church there with amazing murals on the walls depicting the story told in Luke. Here, Judean shepherds, common folk, were the first to hear “good tidings of great joy, that will be to all people!” Everyone needs joy. Shepherds would have not been the first invited to celebrate with a king, yet they are invited to be the first to see the Christ and hear the good news of the Savior. This brought incredible joy.

Read: Luke 2:8-20

Read: Psalm 126

Point: The invitation to joy is open to all of us, rich or poor, with or without status, and no matter our season of life.

Light the Candle for Joy

Pray: God, thank you for joy; that joy is not dependent on my circumstances but found in you. Joy is full and steadfast and complete through Jesus Christ.


WEEK FOUR | LOVE

Reflect: Angels appear all throughout the Bible. They are involved in several scenes of the Christmas story, heralding that Love has come. Angels are connected to Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and even Zechariah as he served in the temple! Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” might be the closest we can get to the “multitude of the Heavenly Host” that can no longer be contained after the annunciation to the shepherds.

Read: Luke 2:10-14

Read: 1 John 4:10–11; Hebrews 13:1–2

Point: All of God’s creation rejoices in his demonstration of love in the coming of Jesus.

Light the Candle for Love

Pray: God, thank you that you display your goodness and love toward us. With the angels we join in giving glory to Your name. We thank you for your love toward us and may we join in heralding that love to others.


WEEK FIVE | CHRISTMAS

Reflect: Many of the world’s people will pause at some point today and at least reflect on the meaning of Christmas. We were surprised during our first December in Jordan to see a skinny, almost “Tim Burton-esque,” red-felt clad “Santa” at the Wadi Sacra Bookstore near our house during the Christmas season. In spite of the commercialism and static of the season, the gravity of this event manages to shine through and bring hope, peace, joy and love.

Read: Matthew 1:21–23

Read: Galatians 4:4–5; 2 Corinthians 9:15

Point: No words can describe the eternal blessing and gift that is ours through Jesus.

Light the Christmas Candle

Pray: God, thank you for your indescribable gift to me of Jesus. Every breath that I take, every beat of my heart now and forever is dependent on your gift of love, mercy and grace through Jesus.

Christmas Music

Dr. Iorg emphasizes the importance of Christmas music in his own life and encourages others to make the most of this Christmas season.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Diplomatic Gift Exchanges and Panda Diplomacies

The exchange of gifts is an ancient way for two realms to make peace.

Rodrick K. Durst
Chair, History/Theological Studies | Professor of Historical Theology
Dr. Rodrick Durst has served as Professor of Historical Theology and a variety of administration roles at Gateway Seminary since 1991. His current research includes a study of emerging church movements, ecclesiology for rapid cell and simple church multiplication, new paths for apologetics, single adults in the church, and faith and film.

Christmas Tradition

Dr. Iorg commends many Christmas traditions as they reinforce the message of the Christmas story.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.