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For Advent, The Greatest of These is Love

Updated on October 29, 2016

What is Christmas if it isn't Love?

First Corinthians 13 is probably one of the most famous chapters of the Bible. It's most often associated with weddings, but let's face it, Faith, Hope and Love are themes associated with Christmas as well. So, it's only fitting that we use that last verse of First Corinthians 13 to inspire us during advent.

Below you'll find almost every day's devotion for the season as well as a link to receive the 2016 Advent devotions and one to the Kindle version if you'd like to have these short readings handy.

What is Advent?

Advent is a beautiful season. The Modranski family has developed many traditions over the years to help us stay focused on the truth of the celebration. We pray for each family that sends us a card, and I pray for each family who gave us an ornament as I hang it on our tree.We have a piece of wood that has five holes bored in it with a cheap candle ring from a discount store around it. In it you'll find five candles. The center one is always white and the others are usually purple or blue, or sometimes three purple and one pink.

The color of those outside candles isn't that important. What is important is that during the years my children lived at home, we gathered around this humble handmade wreath as a family each Advent. We would read the Word of God together along with a short devotional and we'd pray together. Our goal was to focus on the One whose birth we celebrate.

Our advent wreath isn't fancy and probably not even necessary. The only thing truly necessary is something that will help us focus on Christ and the gift of love His birth offers. Based on 1 Corinthians 13, this set of readings for the advent season helps us focus on Christ's unconditional love, the hope that His birth brings and the growth of our faith during this time. Below you'll find a sample of one reading from each week. To get a reading for every day in advent, check out the links below. I look forward to hearing from you!

The First Week of Advent

The Greatest of These is Love

1st Sunday in Advent

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

And the Greatest of These is Love

Here we are at the beginning of Advent, starting at the end of one of the most famous passages in scripture. This passage is so often read at weddings, yet it is most pertinent in our day to day comings and goings. This year, we will start at the end and work our way forward. We will begin with love and work our way toward the beginning, the birth of Jesus Christ. We will do this, because, as you will see, everything else is rooted in love.As you light the first candle, take a moment and reread 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; however, this time put your name in place of each love or "it." Can you say with honesty that the words you speak are true?This Christmas season, work on making these words true. The greatest gift you can give anyone this holiday is the gift of love . . . true, unconditional love . . . love the way God meant it to be . . . Love without ribbons, love without baubles, Love that has its beginning and ending in the Lord, Jesus Christ . . . the greatest kind of LOVE.

The Greatest of These is Love

The Greatest of These is Love
The Greatest of These is Love

Faith, Hope and Love . . . The basis of Christmas. The thoughts contained in the Kindle book are some that have helped me focus on the season rather than the hubbub. One reading for each day of the Advent Season with scripture. Each inspires me to keep Christ in my Christmas.

 

The First Monday of Advent

John 3:16 & 1 John 3:16 & 1 John 4:7-19

You've probably read John 3:16 hundreds of times. But have you ever considered that this is really true Love? God gave His only Son for us and Jesus willingly laid down His life for us. End of story.

You may be saying, "What does this have to do with Christmas?" "Isn't that an Easter Story?" But the truth is you can't truly appreciate Christmas until you understand the love of Easter.

Look at the light of the first candle and consider the magnitude of the love of the Father who sent His son, a baby, into a cold, uncaring world to save the residents of that place. Ponder the love of a Savior who was born into humble circumstances, grew and matured in a loving family, wept at the death of His friend as well as over a city in despair and gave Himself up to be crucified because He knew it was the only way His brothers and sisters and generations of people throughout the ages could be reunited with His Father in Heaven.

Today, contemplate the greatest gift . . . Jesus' gift of Love.

The First Tuesday in Advent

Matthew 22:36-40

God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to be a sacrifice for us. Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us. But it all was for nothing if we do not love in return. Since we're working backwards, let's look at the second "commandment first.

"Love your neighbor as yourself." Light the first candle and ask yourself these questions. Do you love yourself? Do you like yourself just the way you are? What are the things you'd like to change about yourself? You have been created in the image of the Most High God. He loves you and you should, too! How can you love others the way that you really should if you don't first love yourself. Not with a prideful and arrogant love, but with a contentment, an attitude that is happy being you.

Love is the greatest gift. It is the gift that God gave us some 2000 odd years ago . . . a gift that Jesus gave . . . and a gift you should give yourself. For when you at last love yourself as Christ loves you, then you will be able to love others and share the greatest gift . . . Love.

First Wednesday in Advent

2 John 1:4-6

Walk in love . . . what a strange concept. We've heard of walking in the rain and walking in the park. We've walked hand in hand and walked out the door, but how do you walk in love?

One step at a time! What if everytime we set our foot down we made sure we had a loving thought? How far would you get if you vowed to not take a step unless you could think something lovely?

Try this . . . every step you take in the next days before Christmas, think a pleasant or loving thought. It doesn't matter if you've had a bad day or someone treated you unfairly. Regardless of how you feel, think a loving thought. If for some reason you can't think of anything loving, then say a prayer, ask forgiveness, and in the next step think a thought about a loving Father who just forgave you in that instant. By Christmas you'll have a very loving attitude. What a great gift that will be for your school mates, co-workers, children, parents or spouses. Because after all, the greatest gift is Love.

First Thursday in Advent

Matthew 22:37 & John 21:15-24

Here's the first part of that two part commandment we read about the other day. We are to love Jesus with all that we have, more than anything else in the world.

Jesus asked Peter three times if He really loved Him more than anything or anyone else. Three times Peter answered, "Yes." Then Jesus answered with a strange response, "Feed my sheep." If we love Jesus as much as we say we do we should be feeding His sheep.

This time of the year there are many opportunities to feed the sheep. You can invite folks to church for special advent services, help out at homeless shelters, donate gifts to those in need, take food to shut ins, volunteer and donate to food pantries, ring bells for the salvation army . . . the list is endless. Just like the Love of God . . . endless.

How can you show Jesus on His birthday that you really do understand the greatest commandment? How can you put the greatest gift into action?

First Friday in Advent

1 John 4:13—5:5

Perfect love . . . that's what we are really looking for, right? Especially at Christmas time, we'll see the world searching for perfect love. They'll try to find it in the perfect gift or tell children that it's found in being perfect. But here John tells us where it can be found.

This first candle is to remind us that perfect love is found only in God. When we believe that Jesus Christ is our only Savior, we live in God, God lives in us and then we get to live in love. . . perfect love. We love God, not because we are afraid of Him, but because He loved us so much, He sent Jesus to earth. That's why we celebrate Christmas, because a perfect Father out of His perfect love, sent a perfect Son to make an imperfect world perfect.

The greatest gifts are born out of a perfect love, love that comes only from the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Ask the Father to come and live in you. Begin to live your life for Him and you will receive it, the gift the world is waiting for . . . Perfect Love.

First Saturday in Advent

John 15:9-17

Christmas is a great time of gift giving. We look all over for the perfect gift for each of our loved ones, yet all the time, the perfect gift is right under our noses. It's the same gift that Jesus gives to us.

"Love each other as I have loved you." That's the gift of Christmas. We give gifts to one another because God gave us the greatest gift in Jesus Christ. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son. His Son loved us so much that He gave His life to set us free from sin. If we truly love, we will love in the same way that Jesus loved . . . sacrificially.

What sacrifice can you make this Christmas to let someone know that you love them. Maybe you could forego one gift and ask that the money be spent on someone less fortunate. Perhaps you could make simple gifts this year and use the money you save to give a needy child something special. Even more of a sacrifice is giving of your time. Call someone who is lonely this season, visit someone in a nursing home who may not have any family nearby. Give the greatest give as Jesus did . . . . just love!

The Second Week of Advent

But those who Hope in the Lord . . .

The Candle of Hope

2nd Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 40:31 & Isaiah 49:23

But Those Who Hope in the Lord . . .

Paul told us that only three things remain. The greatest of these was love. But Paul also mentioned Hope. Tonight we'll light two candles. The first to remind us that Jesus loves us, and the second to help us think about hope. The prophet Isaiah said that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Is your hope in the Lord? If you lost everything today, would you be lost, or would you have the consolation that no one can take away your hope in Jesus?We hear a lot about hope this time of year. Children hope they'll get their favorite toy for Christmas, families hope that everyone will get in for the holidays and charities ask for donations so that little children can a future of hope. It is a season of hope. But it is only a season of hope if our hope is in the Lord. Everything else will always disappoint us.We may not get every gift we hope for this holiday. We may not see every relative we hope will get home. But if we put our hope in Jesus Christ, we will soar, will will not be weary & we will not be disappointed.

Second Monday in Advent

Psalm 130:7-8

Those who hope in the Lord receive unfailing love (remember that first candle) and full redemption. Because a baby was born in a manger . . . because this baby grew to be a man without sin . . . because this sinless man gave His life in exchange for the lives of those who sinned . . . because He rose on Easter . . . that's what makes these verses true for us today.

Yesterday we read about putting our full hope in the Lord. Today we learn that by putting our full hope in Him we can know His unfailing love! That's exciting news and the greatest gift you will ever receive. The only thing greater might be the redemption we receive when we hope in Jesus.

To redeem something is to take something worthless and make it worth something. Kind of like taking a slip of paper we call a coupon. Find one and read the value of it. Usually they're worth about 1/100 of a cent. But when you redeem it, the coupon becomes worthwhile and useful. Before we put our hope in Jesus, we were like a useless coupon, but we have hope. We've been redeemed.

Second Tuesday in Advent

Psalm 147:7-11

What delights you about the Christmas season? Is it the tree, the gifts, the lights, the cookies? Is there something special that brings you joy and gives you pleasure.

Think a minute about this scripture. Does the Lord delight in you? He delights in those who fear Him, not “fear” as in being afraid, but fear that is respect, a fear of being without Him. Our Lord delights in those who put their hope in Him. Does He delight in you?

As you light the first candle tonight, think about love. Do you love the Lord the way that He wants us to? And as you light the second candle, consider hope. Do you hope in the Lord? Does the Lord delight in you?

Second Wednesday in Advent

Jeremiah 29:11-13 & 31:17

Have you considered before that God has a plan for you? God wants good to happen to you. Look at that first candle and remember that He loves you! You have hope!

There are many days when life may seem hopeless. Murphy's law is in full swing and everything that can go wrong has gone wrong and more! We will wonder what hope we have. But God promises us that He has a plan for us and that plan is for a hopeful future.

Christmas is a good time to remember that hope. All around there are lights lit and people are humming familiar songs. The darkness doesn't seem quite so dark. The worst doesn't seem quite as bad as it did before. The true gift is when we allow that hope to last beyond Christmas, into the new year and through the dark times. The true gift is when we know that even in the midst of the darkness, God has a plan for us and there is hope!

Second Thursday in Advent

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Again tonight we light two candles and ask ourselves, "what do we put our hope in?" In Paul's time many were putting their hope in riches. Those who had wealth believed that money could buy happiness. They thought that their money would protect them from evil and keep them in times of trouble. It doesn't sound like things have changed much, does it?

But Paul reminds us that if we hope in God, we will have everything we need. And do you know what I really like about this verse? It says "everything for our enjoyment"! That Omnipotent God who is so Sovereign and Holy wants us to have things just for the sheer enjoyment of them.

In this time of gift giving and receiving, the season of happiness and joy, God wants those who hope in Him to have things that bring enjoyment! What a great gift for those who hope in Him!

Second Friday in Advent

1 Thessalonians 1:3

Faith, hope and love . . . It seems these three are mentioned often together in God's word. As you Light the first candle think about the labor you've done recently that's been prompted by love. And as you light the second consider what you've been able to endure because of your hope in Jesus Christ.

Hope inspires endurance. When things aren't rosy, hope will get us through. Christmas should be a joyful season . . . but perhaps this Christmas for some reason you don't feel joy. Maybe life has thrown you too many curve balls, and you feel like you've really struck out! If that's how you feel this year, then put your hope in Jesus Christ. Take some extra time to pray each day. Spend more time in His Word. Remember the promise of the first candle and trust in His love. Receive the gift of the second candle and endure through hope.

Second Saturday in Advent

Romans 5:1-5

Light two candles tonight and rejoice! Stop for just a moment and consider all of the things you have to rejoice for. Did you rejoice in your sufferings? That seems crazy to us, but as Paul points out, rejoicing in our suffering eventually results in hope.

Gifts . . . we think about them a lot during this season . . . What will we get for others and what might we put on our wish list. God gives us good gifts all year round and one of His best gifts to us is the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we receive the gift of salvation, God pours His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is this gift that helps us hope.

We've spent a week thinking about hope. Now, with less than two weeks left till Christmas, we need to consider where we've put our hope. Do we hope in wealth, in others, our job, our position, our reputation? Or is our hope in Jesus Christ? He is the one who will never disappoint us.

The Third Week of Advent

The Candle of Faith

Source

3rd Sunday in Advent

Mark 11:22-25 & Luke 17:5-6

A Season of Great Faith

One candle for love . . . one candle for hope . . . and tonight one candle for faith. I imagine we've all heard about that mustard seed faith that Jesus talks about in today's scripture. (see Matthew 17:20 too.)The Christmas story has many tales of great faith. Mary said, "May it be to me as you have said." Zechariah's faith must have been a bit smaller than a mustard see because the angel had to take away his speech in order for him to believe. Joseph didn't doubt when the angel told him to take Mary as His wife. Shepherds and Magi hurried from where they were to see a baby in Bethlehem they had faith would one day be great.Christmas is a time of great faith. For those whose faith is in men and gifts, it is often faith that is disappointed. But if you are trusting in Jesus this season and believing His word . . . if you believe that God wants only the best for those who trust in Jesus and you are willing to sometimes wait on God's timing . . . then faith as tiny as a mustard seed is all you need.

Third Monday in Advent

Hebrews 11:1-10 and 39-40 (or all of 11)

This chapter contains some of the greatest examples of faith you'll read anywhere. It also makes it pretty clear what faith is (in case you weren't sure).

Faith is being "sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Kind of like a child who is confident they are getting a train for Christmas even though none of the packages under the tree are big enough.

This week we'll read about a few of these ancients with great faith. They believed that God would do what He said even when all the odds were against it. That's great faith! And that's what they were commended for.

Consider the first candle and ask yourself if you have faith that God truly loves you as He said. As you look at the second candle, decide whether you've honestly put you full hope in Jesus Christ. These are the first two stepping stones of faith. By trusting fully in God's love and putting your complete hope in Jesus Christ you can begin to more on to a deeper, stronger and greater faith!

Third Tuesday in Advent

Isaiah 7:9b & 1 Corinth. 16:13-14 & 2 Corinth. 1:24

Are you standing firm in your faith today? Or do you feel like your faith is up on stilts wobbling away? Even those who have been in the faith for years have those days when their faith seems small. That's when you need to remember what Jesus told us yesterday . . . "Faith as small as a mustard seed." And remember that you can stand firm even with mustard seed faith.

Standing firm doesn't mean that you have tremendous confidence in yourself and that everything is going to go perfect for you. Standing firm means that you realize how small you are in comparison to God, but you're still sure no matter how hectic life gets (and it does get hectic this time of the year) your Heavenly Father has it completely under control.

So stand firm. Not on your own strength, because if you do, you're sure to fall. Stand firm in the faith of Jesus Christ. That baby has made a bigger impact on the world than any other life in all of history and He has yours under control . . . so Stand Firm?

Third Wednesday in Advent

Galatians 3:14-29

Abraham had faith in a promise. He never saw the finished product of the promise, but he never stopped believing God would keep His word. Discovered in a manger born to a virgin, Jesus was the complete fulfillment of the promise.

God has also made us a promise. If we believe on Jesus Christ to be our Savior and are willing to surrender ourselves to Him, we are free from the bondage of the "law." We have a promise of eternal life (John 3:16), and a promise of abundant life here on earth (John 10:10) Do you have faith in the promise?

Christmas is a great time to get new clothes. People love to get a new party outfit or just new clothes under the tree. Paul says that when we are truly children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we will have "clothed ourselves in Christ." But as you gaze into the light of the candles, ask yourself, "Are you clothed with Christ?" These clothes aren't sold in any store. They are only available when you have faith in the promise of God.

Third Thursday in Advent

Luke 7:36-50

Saving faith . . . that's what this sinful women had. We don't know exactly what her "sinful life" entailed. Obviously it wasn't even worth recording, or perhaps Luke couldn't find anyone who remembered by the time he began writing his gospel. What was remembered, what was worth writing down, was that her faith had saved her.

What good news! The baby born in a manger grew up to be a man who doesn't care to remember what your sins were. All He really cares about is your faith.

This women believed so greatly in the power of Jesus to forgive her and make her whole, she risked being mocked by Simon (not Peter) and his Pharisaical friends in order to worship at the feet of Jesus. She had faith that Jesus would save her, and He did.

Three candles . . . that means that Christmas is drawing nigh. To get all the way to Christmas without hearing Jesus say, "Your faith has saved you" would be the greatest tragedy of the season. Thank Jesus today that He doesn't remember your sins, He only cherishes your faith.

Third Friday in Advent

Romans 1:11-17

Faith in action as love, Faith in action as hope and Faith believing that Jesus was born in a manger for you . . . As you light these candles tonight, try to think of three people who've been encouraged by your faith. Or perhaps three people who've encouraged you by their faith.

We all need encouragement from time to time. There is no better encouragement than someone with great faith. I don't mean someone with all the right words or a cheery outlook every minute of every day. No, someone who will speak words of faith and truth to you. Someone who will pray with you and sometimes cry with you.

Three candles . . . do you notice how much brighter it is than when you only lit one? That's how it is when you find encouragement in the faith. When your light grows dim, there is always the light of someone else's faith to help you see where you should go.

Encourage others . . . Be encouraged . . . Live by Faith!

Third Saturday in Advent

Romans 4:16-25

You've probably noticed this week that hope and faith are tangibly linked. Here we see Abraham again hoping against all hope, never wavering in his faith. Hope seeds faith. Faith is credited as righteousness.

What are you hoping for this Advent season? New clothes? Better toys? Your dream vacation? If these are what you've placed your hope in, you may be disappointed. Hopefully by now though you've begun to place your hope in greater things, like the love of Jesus, the grace of God, righteousness that comes by faith.

Put your hope in the promise of God, not the dreams of the world. This hope will seed your faith, because it will not be disappointed. And your faith will blossom in love. Love for Jesus Christ and the love of serving Him by serving your brothers and sisters here on earth.

And these things remain . . . Faith, Hope & Love!

Now Available on Kindle

These advent devotions (along with more for every day of the week) are now available for your Kindle. Watch for more of my Advent Readings to appear on Amazon!

The Fourth Week of Advent

Faith, Hope and Love

4th Sunday in Advent

I Thessalonians 5:4-11

Faith, Hope & Love

We are children of the light! Isn't that exciting? So, we are to be self-controlled. But, that's so hard! There are too many cookies, too much turkey, too many parties . . . and then there's waiting to open the presents without shaking each one! It's so difficult to be self-controlled this time of the year.Paul says that we can do it if we put on the breastplate of faith and love. In other words, cover yourself with faith and love, immerse yourself in them, let them protect you when you're tempted to be selfish or spend more or eat more than you should.And be encouraged by hope. Let the hope of your salvation be your helmet! Don't put your hope in toys and gifts this year. Let your hope be the promise of your salvation, the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ and abundant life here on earth because you trust in Him.Christmas is just around the corner, yet these three things still remain . . . Faith, Hope & Love!

Fourth Monday in Advent

Colossians 1:1-6

I thank God today for you. If you've made it this far reading scriptures and meditating with me daily, then I praise God for you. Your dedication to this daily discipline is a sign of your faith in Jesus Christ and love for the saints. And I know that these spring from the hope that is within you. Faith and love spring from our hope that there is more to this life and promise of life beyond this life. This is the hope that was born in a manger 2000 some years ago.

We don't celebrate because a baby was born. We celebrate because with His birth, real hope was born. If the baby had not been born, our Savior could not have died. Without that death, we have no hope. So celebrate the birth of this baby and celebrate the birth of our hope. And then let the hope spring up in you and produce it's fruit . . . faith and love!

Fourth Tuesday in Advent

Psalm 33

“No king is saved by the size of his army . . . A horse . . . despite its great strength, cannot save.”

Those phrases cause me to wonder, “What do I put MY faith in?” In David’s time, people put their faith in the size of the army and the strength of their horse. Today we put our faith in doctors, teachers, parents, spouses, jobs, money and more.

How would our lives change if our faith was in Jesus Christ instead of the blessings that He gives us? Would our lives be different if we instead placed our “hope in his unfailing love?”

During this week we may find ourselves getting busy, caught up in the materialism of the season as we prepare for the celebration that is only days away. Tonight let’s turn our attention to the one in whom we have our hope, the true King that has proven worthy of our faith, the Son whose birthday we celebrate and has proven His unfailing Love.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      thank you for a wonderful resource - our church is blessed by your creativity - we will use this for our daily reading and Sunday Worship reading

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Excellent lens and inspiration! A lens after my own heart. 5*Debra

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      jgelien 7 years ago

      Beautiful! 5 *****

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      RinchenChodron 7 years ago

      Great idea for a lens! I have enjoyed it (even tho I am Buddhist). I see the value in it. Blessed by an Angel (you can add it to the plexo on my angel lens, if you want).

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