|giv| 2017

A Very Midtown Advent Book List [updated]


[The following post has been updated as of November 28, 2018.]

I am prone to be dull, spiritually drowsy, halfhearted, lukewarm. That is the way human beings are, including Christians, even about great things…What you and I need is usually not a brand-new teaching. Brand-new truths are probably not truths. What we need are reminders about the greatness of the old truths. –John Piper

For those of you looking for some additional daily readings during this Advent season, here are a few that we would recommend:

Good News of Great Joy by John Piper
Piper’s Good News of Great Joy contains twenty-five short devotional readings beginning December 1st and going through Christmas Day. This book of advent meditations aims to put Jesus at the center of your holiday season.  Our Staff read this together several years ago and found it to be a helpful tool as we anticipated the celebration of Christ’s birth. And even better news: a free downloadable version of the book is available! (Click here!)

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper
Structured identically to Good News of Great Joy, this book contains twenty-five different scripture passages and devotional readings. Piper reminds readers that Christmas is about the coming of Christ into the world and it is his hope that these daily devotions will serve to focus our hearts on adoring Jesus, which is essentially what advent is all about. Free downloadable version is available! (Click here!)

Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp
Tripp’s advent book contains one devotion for each day in December with the intent of helping its readers slow down, prepare their hearts, and focus on what matters most: adoring Jesus. Each devotion starts with a gospel-centered thought followed by an extended meditation for the day. At the end of each daily reading there is a brief devotion for parents and children featuring one central theme from the Christmas story and related scripture verses. 

She Reads Truth (and now He Reads Truth) Advent Studies
Each year, the online resource She Reads Truth puts out a daily Advent Study that begins on the first Sunday of Advent. These studies are free through their website (and available for a fee through the She Reads Truth App). While 2018 will not come out until December 2nd this year, 2015, 2016, and 2017 are still available on their website.

For those not familiar with the She Reads Truth study format, each day consists of several scripture passages to read on your own followed by a blog post written by either a She Reads Truth blog contributor or a guest writer. These readings are definitely more “blog post” in style and should be read as such. In order to get the most out of these studies, we recommend reading and possible journaling and/or praying through the scriptures on your own and then reading the blog post as a follow up to that.

Advent 2015: Born is the King
Advent 2016: Christ Was Born For This
Advent 2017: Joy to the World

Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller
While not a daily Advent reading book, this one is just too good not to include. Keller’s goal in writing this book was to “make the truths of Christmas less hidden.” Keller takes readers on a journey into the surprising background of the nativity. By understanding the message of hope and salvation within the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth, readers will experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a deeper and more meaningful way. This is a great one to read on your own and we’ve also seen it be beneficial to read alongside with someone who does not yet fully grasp the meaning of Christ’s coming. It’s perfect for gospel-conversations and questions!

related read: “A Very Midtown Children’s Advent Book List” blog post

A Very Midtown Children’s Advent Book List [updated]


[The following post has been updated on November 28, 2018.]

Build God-centered anticipation and expectancy and excitement into your home—especially for the children. If you are excited about Christ, they will be too. If you can only make Christmas exciting with material things, how will the children get a thirst for God? Bend the efforts of your imagination to make the wonder of the King’s arrival visible for the children. –John Piper

As Advent approaches, we wanted to provide parents with some additional resources that may be helpful as you seek to build God-centered anticipation and excitement in your homes.

But before we begin, just a little reminder from author Elyse Fitzpatrick: 

Above all, please don’t make this a way to earn righteousness or “make a tradition” that will somehow save your children when they, like you, are “prone to wander.” Traditions don’t save us, the Christ-child does…Don’t worry if you don’t get this done every day or in the right order. We tell you not to worry because you’re not the one bringing Christ to your children. The Holy Spirit does that. He may use you as a means to accomplish His work….or He may not. You can pray and then trust that He will use this season and your entire life in just the way He chooses.

So with that in mind, here are some helpful resources to help you point your family’s heart toward the advent of God’s Son this Christmas season:

Daily Advent Books:

Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
If you aren’t familiar with The Jesus Storybook Bible, it is one of our favorites all year long as each story whispers His name, pointing readers to Jesus. And there just happen to be exactly twenty-four Old Testament stories leading up to the birth of Jesus in the narrative. Start on December 1st, and you will reach the story of Jesus’ birth right on Christmas day. 

Check out this website for a free download of illustrated cards from the Storybook that match each daily reading. We recommend printing these on cardstock, laminating, and hanging one each day after reading the corresponding story for a great visual reminder of our waiting for the coming King. We’ve seen families turn them into Christmas ornaments or create a simple banner to hang from the mantle.

Unwrapping the Greatest Christmas Gift by Ann Voskamp
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift is Ann Voskamp’s interpretation and extension of the Advent tradition of the Jesse tree. Similar to The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent plan, the Jesse tree uses Old Testament stories, this time, tracing Jesus’ family tree. As Voskamp describes in her opening: “The tree we really need to understand and be astonished by is the family tree of Jesus Christ. Because this is our story—your story…He adopts all the messy and broken and imperfect people into his tree and he gives us his family name.” Unwrapping the Greatest Gift begins on December 1st. Each day contains a scripture reading, a family devotion, one to three questions to discuss as a family, and additional optional family activities. 

Many families choose to make their own “Jesse trees” in conjunction with their reading. If you’re feeling particularly crafty, check out Pinterest for lots of ideas for making your own daily Jesse tree ornaments as a family. Or, if family crafts aren’t your thing, check out Etsy for many sets of Jesse tree ornaments ready to purchase. Feeling particularly thrifty? Voskamp provides a link to free downloads of pictures you can cut and use as ornaments. Use code “Jesse.” 

Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Geared towards elementary aged children, Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles (by author of Give Them Grace) is certainly the least frilly of the Advent bunch. Be prepared to look past a few typos, but what you will find is a sweet devotion that allows families to rest and rejoice in the Advent season. Each day contains a scripture passage to read as a family, followed by a mini devotional specifically for parents and then a devotion to read as a family. 

Each week also contains an additional family activity set up to tie in with that week’s study. As Elyse mentions in her introduction, each weekly activity requires a bit of prep work and she encourages parents to think through the best day of the week to complete the activity. 

Why Do We Call it Christmas? Reading Plan
Connect modern traditions with the birth of Jesus in this 10-day reading plan. Each day contains a short video clip from Phil Vischer’s (Veggie Tales) Buck Denver Asks- Why Do We Call It Christmas?, scripture reading, and short reflection with prayer prompts.

Picture Books:

Who Is Coming To Our House by Joseph Slate
Marketed Age: 1-3 years old
Available in board book or paperback, this simple book describes how the animals prepare a cozy home for the baby Jesus. The repetition of the book is immediately appealing to young children. While there’s room to be cautious about nativity books from animals’ perspectives, this sweet story provides age-appropriate anticipation of the birth of Christ, keeping His coming at the center of the story as the animals join in celebrating the newborn King. 

What is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams
Marketed Age: 2-5 years old
Michelle Adams’ warm humorous text lists all of the things that Christmas might be about, only to conclude that it is truly about celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Savior. The whimsical art and rhyming fun-to-read verse draws young children in and serves as a great tool for helping young children process all that makes up the holiday season. And if the book ends up being a hit in your house, Adams has an entire series of similar books worth checking out! 

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Marketed Age: 4-7 years old
A personal favorite, author of the Jesus Storybook Bible creates a beautiful picture book that captures the moment that Christ arrives. The book contains the refrain “It’s time! It’s time” as creation whispers a secret: the long-awaited child had arrived! Lloyd describes the quiet celebration of creation in a way that will leave you and your family praising God as you celebrate that “the one who made us has come to live with us!”

The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell
Brand new this year (and by the same publisher as The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross which we are huge fans of) comes a captivating retelling of the Christmas story with adorable illustrations showing how God kept His promise to send a new King, a rescuing king, a forever king! This book helps children discover exactly how God kept His Christmas Promise.

related read: “A Very Midtown Advent Book List” blog post

Home for the Holidays


During this Advent season our church family has studied and celebrated how through Christ’s birth we’ve received grace for our sin, hope for our suffering, and peace for our world. We know that in the coming days, many in our church family will be heading home to family members who either don’t know or don’t reflect this grace, hope, and peace that Christ offers. For many in our church family, heading “home for the holidays” brings with it tension and uneasiness as they navigate various family dynamics. We wanted to offer up some resources that we have found particularly helpful on the topic as you pray and prepare well to love your family and put Emmanuel on display.

We love you and are praying for you this Christmas season. 

“Preparing for Family Time at Christmas”

In this podcast, Dr. Gordon Bals discusses how to handle family time during the holidays. He gives some particularly helpful language to use as we differentiate between our “structural family” and our “functional family”. 

“Jesus Also Had Unbelieving Family Members”

In an article of encouragement, Jon Bloom reminds readers that if they have unbelieving family members, they are in good company; so did Jesus. Bloom believes this is meant to give us hope and he explains why. 

“Family Tensions and the Holidays” 

Russell Moore humorously provides four thoughts on what followers of Jesus should remember as we approach time with extended family—especially those of us with difficult extended family situations.

“Going Home for Christmas? Honor Mom and Dad”

Darren Carlson reminds readers that the biblical command to honor your parents is never rescinded, even when the child becomes an adult. Carlson gives four considerations for how this may play out for adults heading home for the holidays. 

“10 Ways to Bring the Gospel Home this Christmas”

For anyone headed home to unbelieving family, this article compiles a list of ten points from Randy Newman’s book, Bringing the Gospel Home, to help you think ahead and pray about how you might grow in being a proxy for the gospel in word and deed among your family.  

“Christmas Among Family: Four Suggestions:”

Pastor Chris Castaldo gives several suggestions for how to view our family gatherings as an opportunity to put the wisdom and grace of Christ on display while being committed to the people whom we love. 

“Home for the Holidays When Home Isn’t Safe”

Theology Professor Dan Doriani writes on forgiving dangerous family members and setting a course for future relationships. As someone who grew up in a violent home himself, Doriani states that his goal in writing the article was to connect aspects of the biblical teaching of forgiveness to some hard questions: Should I go home as an adult when home was dangerous and may still be? What should I expect if I do go home? 

Hope for the Hurting This Christmas


“The Christian knows more of the glory of God and the peace he brings than even the angels do. Our sins and sorrows and sufferings are covered by the blood of Jesus. Sentimentality won’t solve our sin problem; only salvation will do that. And only Jesus, the Savior who knows what it’s like to be scarred, can heal our hurts and wounds.”

–Trevin Wax

We know that there are members of our church family who are grieving and suffering this Christmas season. If you are hurting (or walking through life with someone who is), we encourage you to check out these articles and be reminded of the beautiful truth that Jesus entered into your pain and suffering and in Him is the fulfillment of hope and peace. 


 “Singing ‘Peace on Earth’ When Your Heart Is Heavy”

Trevin Wax addresses the question, “How can we sing “peace on earth’ when it’s been such a hard year for peace?” While we don’t have an answer that satisfies all the questions we could ask, we do have a Savior. And in this Savior, this little baby born in Bethlehem, we have hope. Jesus knew suffering, not from a distance but up close. He didn’t give us an answer to satisfy all of our questions; He gave us himself.


“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

John Piper discusses why it is good for us to have Christmas songs that capture both dimensions of life: the overflowing joy of the “already” redeemed and the tearful yearning of the “not-yet” redeemed. He goes on to specifically examine the song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. 


Sermon: Happy in Hope, Patient in Pain, Constant in Prayer

In this sermon, (audio and transcript provided) John Piper weaves Romans 12:12 together with the Christmas events of Jesus’ birth. He reminds us that Christ has come at Christmas. He has broken into our tribulation and taken it on himself. 


“To Those Hurting This Christmas” 

John Knight offers encouragement to those hurting during this Christmas season, reassuring them that Jesus knows their hurt and more than that, He endured and is victorious. 


“Joy to This Cursed World”

Nancy Guthrie speaks from the personal experience of losing her daughter and son and addresses how to fight for joy in the midst of the holidays. She specifically recounts singing the Christmas carol, “Joy to the World” and being stuck by the line “far as the curse is found.”


“Celebrating Christmas with a Broken Heart” 

Brittany Salmon recounts one particular Christmas when sin, death, and grief seemed ever-present, and raw grief prevented her from celebrating the holidays like she used to. She describes her fight for gratitude and how that particular season of suffering unveiled her eyes and enabled her to celebrate the holiday’s truest meaning. 


“Making Christmas Melancholy Point Hopeward”

Jon Bloom speaks to our Christmas Melancholy. (known as “Christmas let-down”) He proposes that our Christmas celebrations might actually serve us best as pointers to, not providers of, lasting joy. Bloom specifically addresses how to point this post-Christmas melancholy to hope for children. 


“What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas”

While those of us who surround grieving people can’t fix the pain of loss, we can bring comfort as we come alongside those who hurt with special sensitivity to what grief is like during the holidays. Nancy Guthrie speaks from the personal experience of losing her own children as she offers five truths that grieving people wish we all knew at Christmas. 

How to Throw a Lifegroup Christmas Party


Jake Blair, one of our Church Planting Candidates, shares some ideas for how to host a memorable and intentional Christmas party this holiday season. 

It’s that time of year where many of our calendars are filled with Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, Secret Santa gift swaps, cookie exchanges and the like. In the midst of all the events, sometimes it’s hard to know how to maximize social enjoyment and gospel intentionality in a way that doesn’t feel awkward or forced.

This requires considering who is there. If your group has a lot of non-believers involved, make sure you help them understand what you’re doing and why. Give them a heads up so they don’t feel like any kind of bait and switch weirdness is happening.

With all that in mind, here are some ways to remind ourselves of the hope we have in Jesus by throwing LifeGroup parties that are both fun and full of gospel intentionality:

Consider Reading and Praying Together

  • This can work with an all adult party or a mixture of kids and adults!
  • Gather in a big circle and have someone or multiple people in your LifeGroup read the Christmas story out loud. 
  • When you’re done reading, spend some time praying and thanking God for sending His Son, Jesus to save us from our sins. 
  • Reading plans:
    • Simplest - Read Luke 1:1-21 straight through (or break it up into three parts - Luke 1:1-7, 8-14 and 15-21.)
    • Or make your own!

Sing Together

As Elf reminds us, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” As the Scripture reminds us, no one has more reason for Christmas singing than those of us who believe God sent His son to save us! And over and over (references from isaiah and Psalms and New Testament) God actually commands us to sing out loud. 

Why? Because biblical truths have a way of sinking further into our hearts when we put them to melody and music. So, get past any social awkwardness and strike up a fun and rich gospel-centered carol!

  • Have someone print out lyrics to familiar Christmas hymns and sing them together. Consider songs like, “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World”, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, “Joy Has Dawned” or “Come and Stand Amazed.” 
  • If you have musically gifted folks, encourage them to bring their instruments and play! 


In Isaiah, God promises us that when Jesus returns, we will all enjoy a massive feast with Jesus as the guest of honor. In light of that, every feast here on earth has the potential to point our hearts toward the feast He is preparing for us in that day.

  • Throw a big potluck. 
  • Don’t be thrifty with food; be extravagant! Encourage everyone to bring their very best thing they make. (a.k.a. Don’t ruin Jesus’ birthday party with instant potatoes.)
  • Invite people who could use a feast. Consider who in your life doesn’t normally get invited to the best parties and make them feel extra welcomed.
  • When you pray before the meal, emphasize God’s incredible goodness in providing this small feast and inviting us to the larger feast of heaven!

Start a New Tradition

Healthy families make memories together. One of the best ways to do this is by creating traditions that help make memories for years to come.

Discuss beforehand what would be fun for y’all. Make it special and memorable. (For example, if you always only do Secret Santa every year, consider mixing it up!) Options could be:

  • Watching a Christmas movie together that everyone quotes specific lines together.
  • Play a post-dinner football game or card game. 
  • Have a gingerbread house building contest!
  • (Consider incentives like: winners win a prize or losers have to clean the dishes!)

Throwing a LifeGroup party this holiday season? Use the hashtag #AVeryMidtownChristmas and we’ll feature you in our social media.

Sermon Recap | Peace for our World


Read Luke 2:8-14.

Every other time in the Bible that we see a group of angels singing, they are in the throne room of God. But here in Luke, an entire group of angels comes to witness and proclaim divinity being born as a human baby.

And in verse 14, the angels proclaim peace over those with whom God is pleased.

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom - the Greek word is eirene - and it’s way more than the absence of conflict. It is not just the absence of bad. It’s the presence of everything good that is supposed to exist in all our relationships with God, ourselves and others. 

(Check out this 4 minute video for a more in-depth explanation of the word Shalom; This could be great to watch as a family or a LifeGroup and discuss!) 

In Luke, when the angels declare peace on earth, they mean way more than just internal, personal peace. Jesus’ advent is going to impact the global fabric of the world - broken shalom at a macro level. 

The reality of macro level broken shalom is the backdrop for a prophecy in Isaiah 9:2-7: 

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

The solution for peace on earth is actually government—but a totally different kind of government. A sinless one. One that can change sinful hearts. One that can restore shalom completely in all our relationships, with God, ourselves and others. The promises in Isaiah are powerful because Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is going to bring exactly that kind of government.

The angels proclaiming Jesus’ birth in Luke 2 are the beginning of His peace invasion.

God has promised that there will be no end to the spread of Jesus kingdom and peaceful reign. And wherever it spreads, it’s taking shalom with it. 

We don’t have to wonder if that will happen, just when it will happen. We are like shepherds in a field, watching our flocks by night, smiling and just waiting on the clouds to part. We know that as surely as the angels broke through and announced the good news of Jesus the first time, He will surely come again and finish what He started.

And in case you have any doubt how committed God is about restoring shalom in all of creation, the cross is the proof. In the cross, the Prince of Peace took all of the world’s brokenness and sin onto Himself. And then He didn’t stay dead. God’s Spirit rose God’s Son and Jesus has conquered death and the grave.

So now until King Jesus returns to usher in His kingdom of peace once and for all, we long for His return and we live for it. We are called to be peacemakers—to  join God in increasing his governance to people and systems and communities that are broken and in need of shalom. 

Because we’ve been given peace through the blood of the Prince of Peace, we’re now looking for every opportunity to bring His kingdom of peace on earth. All seven of our Serve the City partners are precisely about this. The challenge this week is for all members of Midtown Family to give an average of $20 to our Serve the City partnerships. You can give online here. You can also sign up to serve here

Sermon Recap | Hope in Our Suffering


What do we do with our disappointment? What do we do with misplaced expectations?

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel” - Matthew 1:22-23

This name Immanuel, God with us, is one of the most beautiful things about this season. And here’s why: your whole life hinges on what you make of this name. Without it, your life will be marked by anxiety and fear.

In Isaiah 7, the prophet assures the people that when the enemy inevitably comes, God will be with them. 

Later on in the book of Isaiah, God comforts His people again with the hope of Immanuel by offering them a picture of what Immanuel actually looks like. Isaiah doesn’t promise God’s people that He will take their suffering away. Instead, Isaiah gives a vibrant picture of what Immanuel looks like in action.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
   he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
   and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
- Isaiah 43:1-3

There are two promises Immanuel sings over His children:

1. Immanuel will be with us in the midst of our suffering.

2. Immanuel gives us an identity that cannot be taken by the worst suffering

This is why we celebrate the Christmas season; it’s a picture of God relentlessly pursuing us. He shows up into human history not to give us the punishment we deserve but to bless us.

  • Rather than punishing, He pursues.
  • Rather than inflicting death, He offers life. 
  • Rather than cursing, He gives grace.

Emmanuel is more than a nice, happy Christmas song we sing during the holidays. It is a declaration of how far God is willing to go to be with His people in the midst of their pain. 

Sermon Recap | Grace for Our Sin


The goal of our |giv| series from it’s beginning has been simple: we as a church family want to fight against the chaos of the holiday season which focuses on and promotes consumerism, and we want to refocus our attention on our gracious and generous God who gave everything to rescue and redeem a people for His own possession.

The Problem: Self Imposed Captivity

Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.”  - Isaiah 52:1-3

The Old Testament tells the story of God’s people in rebellion against Him and the punishment they experienced because of their rebellion. They sinned and chased after other gods, thus breaking their covenant with God. This open rebellion and rejection of God led to Israel’s captivity.

What’s taking place with Israel is a picture of what sin does in all of us. Sin brings captivity, and we become its captives. 

Perhaps in this season you feel the weight of your own chosen captivity: 

  1. Captivity feels like weighty chains. Maybe you feel like you can’t measure up. Maybe you feel like no matter how hard you try, no matter how much effort you put forth, you don’t seem to be the person you know you ought to be.
  2. Captivity feels like entrapment. Maybe you can’t believe you did “that thing” again. Maybe you feel overwhelming shame of having to admit in LifeGroup that you did “that thing” again. You continue to fail over and over again and you feel defeated.  
  3. Captivity feels like you are unrescuable. Maybe you feel like you’re too far gone, as if you are outside of the reach of God’s saving arms. Maybe you feel like you have done too much, so you carry guilt and shame. 

The Promise: God Will Send a Redeemer 

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:2-6

Redeem: The deliverance from bondage based on the payment of a price by a redeemer.

Israel in the midst of its own captivity is crying out for a deliverer, a messiah, someone to rescue them from captivity. We too have longed for and continue to long for a savior, a deliverer, someone to deliver us into freedom.

The Solution: Jesus 

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:18–21

In order for captives to be freed, either a ransom must be paid or the power must be overthrown. God, in Christ, does both. He delivered His people from captivity by paying for their sins and overthrowing the rule of sin and death.

No matter what you might be feeling, Jesus came to bring freedom from captivity. 

  1. Freedom from weighty chains. We are credited by His righteousness, so there is no more pressure to perform or live up to an unattainable standard. Through Christ, we have become sons and daughters whom God loves and is well pleased with. 
  2. Freedom from entrapment. Our Redeemer has overthrown the power of sin and death. Sin has lost its grip on us. We now have the freedom to choose righteousness. 
  3. Freedom from the lie. We are prone to believe the great lie that God does not love you, that you are too far gone, or that you are not worth the price. The truth is, God’s love for you is so great that he crushed His own son for you. 

In this Advent season, as the holiday craziness quickly approaches, let’s focus our hearts on freedom. Don’t look to the perfect holiday to set you free, look to the perfect Son who alone can set you free.