Devotional for December 23rd

I baptize you with water. But he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

Mark 1:8

PAUSE: It had been almost 400 years since any of God’s people had heard a message from one of God’s prophets. God had been silent. They were waiting to hear from God and thought that He had forgotten about them. Then one day a man named Zechariah was visited by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel told Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would have a son who would be God’s special helper. He would help turn many people’s hearts toward God and get them ready for Jesus. Zechariah had a hard time believing the angel because he and his wife were very old. Gabriel then took away Zechariah’s voice because he did not believe God. Zechariah was unable to speak for 9 months. When it was time for Elizabeth and Zechariah to have their baby, something miraculous happened. When their friends and family asked what the baby’s name would be, Zechariah wrote the name John down on a piece of paper. Right at that moment, Zechariah’s voice returned and he shouted, “John! His name is John!” Zechariah could speak again. He began to praise God!

When John grew up to be a man, he did odd things. He lived in the desert, wore outfits made of camel hair, he grew his hair really long and he ate locusts dipped in honey. From the outside, John was very unusual, but God sent John to tell his people about the coming of Jesus. He warned people to stop sinning and to ask for forgiveness. Many people listened to him and wanted to be saved. They asked John to baptize them to show others publicly that they wanted to follow God.  And one day, John would have the chance to baptize someone very special. As he was baptizing in the Jordan River, Jesus walked to the edge of the water. This was the moment he had been waiting for all his life. John exclaimed, “This is the lamb of God! He takes away the sins of the world!” Jesus asked John to baptize him. When Jesus went under the water and then came up, the sky opened up with light and shone down on Jesus. Just then, the Spirit of God flew down, like a dove, and rested on Jesus. God’s loud voice said, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Heaven shone down on everyone there. God’s plan to save His people was coming true!

PRAY:  God, prepare my heart for the celebration of Christmas. I want to know You more, and love You more. Amen.

FAMILY ACTIVITY: Let your children have a sip of vinegar, followed by a taste of honey. After the taste of vinegar, remind them how the people of God had to wait for 400 years of silence before they heard any message from God. Talk about how hard that must have been and so lonely. Then, give them the honey. After the honey, celebrate that today’s story was the sweet great news! Jesus was coming!