Over the past three years, my wife Tammy and I have read these three Advent devotionals to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus; we would commend them to you. Here is a brief review of each of them.
Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul Tripp
This year, I’ve been enjoying Paul Tripp’s devotional New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional. In this 2017 book of daily Advent devotional readings, he writes that the Christmas story is the story of stories, but for some it suffers from our familiarity with it. He writes that when we are familiar with things, we tend not to celebrate them as we once did. Familiarity tends to rob us of our wonder. As a result, he writes that many of us aren’t gripped by the stunningly magnificent events and truths of the birth of Jesus anymore. Many of us are no longer gripped by wonder as we consider what this story tells us about the character and plan of God. And sadly, many of us are no longer humbled by what the incarnation of Jesus tells us about ourselves.
During the busy holiday season other things capture and control our hearts. When that happens however, little room remains for wonder and worship. He writes that familiarity often means that what is very important may no longer exercise important influence over us in the way it should. He tells us that he wrote this book with the hope and prayer that God would use it to recapture our attention and reactivate our awe.Each of these 21 meditations begin with what was at one time a tweet that the author had posted a few years back. That thought is then explained, defined, expanded and applied. Following each meditation are Scriptures to use for further study. In addition, at the end of each meditation, the author provides one central theme, one core truth from the narrative of Jesus’s birth for you to discuss with your children (if applicable), to fight what familiarity has already done to the way their young hearts think about Christmas.
Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings for Advent by Sinclair Ferguson
In this Advent devotional, Sinclair Ferguson, probably my favorite living theologian, writes that everyone seems to agree that Christmas is about love. However, he states that if you would ask people why Christmas is all about love, or what they meant by “love”; the answers would vary a great deal. Christians, however, would agree that Christmas exists only because of love.
In this book of Advent readings, the author looks at what is referred to as the “love chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. In the 24 readings for the days leading up to Christmas, he walks us through this passage of scripture line by line and explores what it means for us.
The author tells us that the real meaning of the Christmas story is challenging. It is about love coming down. And it makes us think about love in a new way. In these readings, he explores how and why Love came down at Christmas—and the difference this makes to our lives.
Each reading ends with a “Reflection” and a “Prayer”. For example, the prayer for the first reading is from Amy Carmichael.
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper
John Piper writes that he feels like the apostle Peter at the end of his life, as he wrote his second letter. In that letter, his aim was first to remind them. And then, by reminding them, to stir them up. He tells us that is what this small book of Advent devotional readings is for—reminders and stirrings. He writes that he continually needs awakening, especially when Christmas approaches. He states that what we need are reminders about the greatness of the old truths. We need someone to say an old truth in a fresh way. Or sometimes, just to say it.
What Peter really means, and what Piper means, by being “awakened” or “stirred up” is to feel some measure of the joy God intends for Christmas to bring.
Piper tells us that he has called Christmas—and this book – “the dawning of indestructible joy” because the joy Jesus was bringing into the world was like no other kind in history. He writes to awaken and stir up our affections for the greatest wonder of all: the arrival and the work and the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in this world.
The book includes 25 brief devotional readings, each of which begins with a verse from scripture, beginning on December 1, and taking us up to Christmas Day.
What are some of your favorite Advent devotionals? What Advent devotional do you plan to use this year?
Related article: A Prayer for Advent