A Devotional From Seacoast Church
The story of Jesus’s birth can become so familiar to us that we forget why it happened at all. As we prepare our hearts to celebrate Advent, let’s look back beyond the manger to where our great salvation properly begins. Our four-week Advent study was crafted by Seacoast Church pastors, staff, and contributors to remind us that God gave us the most precious gift in the form of a little baby who would redeem the world.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Day 28

Time For A Makeover

My kids don’t say much about how I decorate the house for the holidays. White lights versus colored lights, to blink or not to blink, red and green bows or red and white ribbon, they really don’t care as long as our pine garland and white lights go around the…

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…“Look, I am making everything new.”
 He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” 
Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. 
I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life.”Revelation 21:5-6 (CSB)
Day 27

Make Everything New

On December 18, 2020, a 16-year-old girl entered my home. We had only met four times before this day, and she was now joining my family through kinship care in the foster system. My husband and I had entertained fostering before, but we had never taken a serious step—not until…

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Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.John 14:27 (CSB)
Day 26

True Peace

Peace on Earth, War and Peace. Intellectually I thought I understood what peace was…until I experienced the unbelievable peace that surpasses all understanding. Since then, I’ve not been the same. In 2004, I was expecting my second child, a son, due mid-January. On Halloween, I went to the hospital with…

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But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by Grace!Ephesians 2:4-5 (CSB)
Day 25

But God...

Using “but” in a sentence places a condition on the entirety of a sentence, causing everything before the ‘but’ to be negated. At Christmas a few years back, a family member said to me, “Thank you for the gift, but this is not what I asked for.” Talk about a…

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For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:13-14 (NASB)
Day 24

The Best Gift

As a child, Christmas meant waking up in the early morning hours to see what “Santa” brought. My sister and I would get up way earlier than usual because of our sheer anticipation for our gifts. We would almost fly down the stairs and round the corner with excitement. Just…

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:16-17 (NIV)
Day 23

Share This Hope With The World

I gave my heart to Jesus in my late teens. It was just before Christmas and the family who was fostering me for a few months introduced me to a paraphrase of John 3:16: “For God so loved Liz that he gave his only begotten Son, that if Liz believes…

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We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14 (NIV)
Day 22

Coming To Dwell Among Us

I was adopted at birth, but my adoptive father died when I was only two years old. Having grown up without a father, I found it difficult to relate to God as a father. I had no frame of reference for what a loving father should look like until my…

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But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 (NIV)
Day 21

What Christmas Is All About

Christmas was always a special time in the Russo household. Growing up, my whole family gathered for the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. We ate way too much amazing food, and my three uncles, who were skilled musicians, gave a musical performance that often led to impromptu…

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The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. John 1: 1–11 (NLT)
Day 20

Jesus...Light Of The World

In the 1600s, candles were used to light up Christmas trees and placed in windowsills to indicate where people could come worship. Not surprisingly, candles on Christmas trees caused many fires. Enter Thomas Edison’s brilliant light bulb invention that now allows us to safely decorate our trees and homes.  Putting…

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But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,
 because he will save his people from their sins…
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”Matthew 1:20–21, 24–25 (NIV)
Day 19

Obedience In The Small Things

I don’t know about you, but this part of the Christmas story always clashes with my expectations of how God is supposed to work in my life. I expect that if I’m doing the right thing, it will be easier, more peaceful, and clear. This passage teaches me that my…

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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.”Matthew 2:1-2 (CSB)
Day 18

Wrong Place, Right Time

Have you ever caught yourself in the wrong place during the right time? The wise men had the right intention to worship Jesus and the right timing, but they were looking in the wrong place by assuming he would be found in Jerusalem. I know what it’s like to be…

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And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 
And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, 
as it had been told them. Luke 2:16-20 (ESV)
Day 17

Time To Process

In late December, the year is preparing for its death. I welcome the finality of the calendar year with the promise of something new on the other side. Though, every Christmas when I return to rural South Carolina to visit my parents, I’m inundated with home and memories from my…

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When the angels went away from them into heaven, 
the shepherds said to one another, 
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, 
which the Lord has made known to us.”Luke 2:15 (ESV)
Day 16

Renewed Strength

There have been seasons in life when all I wanted to do was go to sleep. Physically exhausted. Patience worn out. My greatest joy was putting on my pjs and collapsing on my pillow. However, with young boys in the house, a rowdy chorus bursting into my room just as…

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And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them…“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.Luke 2: 8–11 (ESV)
Day 15

Shattered The Darkness

It always amazes me how God cares for us and speaks directly to our hearts, right where we are. In these verses, the angel was bringing the shepherds the best news of all history—the hope of waiting for the Messiah for generations had finally come to an end! But when…

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And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for him in the inn.Luke 2:7 (ESV)
Day 14

Manufactured Moments

I sat hunched over a pile of wooden pieces on our living room floor desperately trying to assemble a new doll stroller. It was going to be the perfect surprise for Christmas morning. Why had I waited until the night of Christmas Eve to put it together!? I scanned the…

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And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.Luke 2:4-6 (ESV)
Day 13

Best-Laid Plans

When I read the Bible, I try my best to put myself in the situation or think about how I would react. If I can be honest with you guys, when I read this part of the story, this is where my mind goes. First, if this were me…I’d be…

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But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV)
Day 12

Calling Me Back

Christmas at Seacoast is very special for me. In 2004, the Sunday before Christmas, I made the decision to attend church for the first time in 15 years—because I wanted to, not because someone else expected it. That decision changed my life!  Sure, I’d been to church a handful of…

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Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:30–33 (CSB)
Day 11

The Gift I Didn't Know I Needed

I will never forget the incredible Christmas gift I was given in 2020. That Christmas Eve, Seacoast Summerville Campus was holding some late services, and as part of the staff, I was going to miss some of the fun with my husband’s family. Traditionally, we spend the evening eating Chinese…

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In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 
to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,
 of the house of David. 
And the virgin’s name was Mary. 
And he came to her and said, 
“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, 
and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 
And the angel said to her, 
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”Luke 1:26-30(ESV)
Day 10

Favor Of God

We are introduced to Mary in the most intimate of ways. We are told that she is a virgin, engaged to a man named Joseph, who comes from the family line of David, and her name is Mary. Usually when we meet someone, we learn their name first, and then,…

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A voice of one calling: 
“In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; 
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”Isaiah 40:3-5 (ESV)
Day 9

The Ultimate Guest

When you invite a group of friends over for dinner, you do not just plan that evening; you also plan the day leading up to that evening, perhaps several days before as well. You look at how much cleaning needs to be done and make sure there is time enough…

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Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)
Day 8

My Name On It

One of my favorite memories growing up in West Virginia was waking up on Christmas morning and opening the door to the basement. Living in the mountains, most homes have finished basements and often, families will gather there and enjoy time together. My grandparents’ basement was this magical place where…

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But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.Matthew 2:6 (NIV)
Day 7

An Ordinary Place

Christmas is my favorite time of year. For me, the Christmas season reminds me that God has done something in Jesus Christ that changed everything. Today’s Scripture may not jump out as an integral part of the Christmas story, but if you allow it to, it will speak a word of…

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There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:1-2 (ESV)
Day 6

Bulbs Of Hope

Last year, the gold, waxed amaryllis bulbs arrived on our porch during November. My mother-in-law sent the special gift, knowing our plans to host family and friends for Christmas. We put the bulbs on the fireplace mantle and watched the stalks slowly sprout, as we prepared for a gathering of…

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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. 
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.Isaiah 9:2 and 9:6 (ESV) 
Day 5

Embrace The Announcement

A world-altering change was being announced—bigger than any world war, pandemic, or global crisis. It’s Isaiah’s announcement of divine love being demonstrated through the birth of a child—Christ’s birth. This announcement would impact the life of every person ever created. It’s an announcement that can either be glossed over every…

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And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven...”Genesis 22:15–17 (ESV)
Day 4

The Stars In Heaven

What horror and grief Abraham must have felt when God told him to take his beloved son, Isaac, and offer him as a burnt offering on Mount Moriah. Isaac was the miracle son that Abraham had prayed for over a lifetime of being unable to have children. As someone who…

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So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden 
to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, 
he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden 
cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth 
to guard the way to the tree of life.Genesis 3:23-24 (NIV)
Day 3

Longing To Return

Our Christmas tree was visible from the street, shining with twinkling white lights through the bay windows. On the snow-covered lawn, stood a blue spruce tree adorned with colorful lightbulbs, almost as tall as our two-story house. Inside, my siblings and I ducked our heads under the tree branches decorated…

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And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”Genesis 3:8–9 (ESV)
Day 2

A Way Out

Have you ever wanted to run and hide?  I was an amateur thespian in high school. One year, our drama group presented the play, Peter Pan, and I was Captain Hook/Mr. Darling. In one of the more dramatic scenes, Hook and Pan were engaged in a swordfight. I had a…

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And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So…she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened…Genesis 3:2-7 (ESV)
Day 1

The Unspoken Lie

I know what you’re thinking. “That can’t be the right verse. Where’s Mary? Where’s Joseph? Where are the shepherds and the angels and the manger?” I realize this is a strange way to start an Advent devotional, but the road to Christmas starts here, at the very beginning, when everything…

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