An Advent Prayer on Joy

And the angel said 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 2:10-11 - Verse Image

This week’s Advent theme is joy: the praise-filled assurance that God is in control and working everything out for our good and His glory.

Take a moment to reflect on God’s goodness and fix your heart on Jesus with this prayer:

Heavenly Father,
Thank You for the joy that entered the world when Jesus was born.
Thank you for becoming God with us.
Lord, sometimes it’s difficult to live joyfully, especially in difficult or busy seasons.
Please purify our hearts this week and remind us that You’re in control.
Help us to consider it joy when we experience trials of any kind because we know You’re creating something beautiful and eternal.
As we fix our eyes and hearts on You, fill our souls with renewed strength, courage, and hope.
Lord, you are always worthy of being praised – and we want to worship You!
Amen


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This Advent Prayer is the third in a series of four.
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

An Advent Prayer on Peace

Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. - Matthew 12:18 - Verse Image

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending us Your Son Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Thank You for you caring for us, and thank You for promising to give us your peace.
Please guard our hearts and minds with Your peace.
You know the things that have been weighing us down with worry, anxiety, or fear.
Lord, please help us fix our minds on you instead, and on your Spirit. Thank You for promising to bring us life and peace.
We can lie down and sleep, Lord, because You make us safe.
Amen


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This Advent Prayer is the second in a series of four.
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

3 Ways You Can Build a Better World for Your Children

Family walking in a field

If you could return to your childhood, what would you change about it? What would you keep the same? If “grown-up-you” could travel back in time and give advice to the people who raised you, what would you tell them?

Asking yourself questions like these can help you envision the life you want to make for your family. Here are three things you can start doing today that will help you draw closer to one another, and toward God.

Define your family values together.

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

GALATIANS 5:22-23

Talk together about which character traits your family wants to be known for. Then, also together, brainstorm practical ways you could make that happen. For example, if you want to be known for “Joy,” you might print several pictures of your family’s happiest moments together and place them in strategic places around your house. Point them out to each other often, constantly reminding one another of pleasant memories. Commit together to regularly add new memories (and pictures!) to your collection.

Make “enjoying each other’s company” a habit.

Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.

DEUTERONOMY 6:6-7

Work, school, chores, activities: sometimes it feels like our schedules are in charge, rather than the other way around. There are certain things we have to do, so be intentional about making the time you have together both fun and meaningful. Taking the littles to school? Turn your drive into kids’ worship sing-along time. Sitting with one kid in the stands while another is at practice? Share a snack and ask about their day. Whatever you’re doing, offer to pray for your kids, then teach them how to ask God to guide your family — by being the example. Don’t over-spiritualize; just enjoy each precious minute you have together…as it’s happening.

Be intentional in how you use technology.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

PROVERBS 22:6

Do you catch yourself checking Instagram and Facebook several times a day? What if instead you showed your kids how to use technology to draw closer to God? Install the Bible App for Kids, then watch the stories together, and talk about them, together… rather than just handing off your phone. Use Bible Lens as your camera app, letting God’s Word constantly speak into whatever you’re doing. Find reading plans and devotionals in the Bible App that your family could do together, then choose “With Friends” and invite your spouse and kids to join.

Kids are a gift from God.

We all want to give our children every opportunity to reach their full potential. Your kids may not always do everything you tell them to. But, they will absolutely learn from the example you set for them in your everyday lives together. Create moments together that they’ll always cherish.

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Choose your friends wisely.

This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to lay down his own life for his friends. - John 15: 12-13 - Verse Image

Community — a body of individuals who unite together in fellowship, sharing attitudes, interests, and goals.

Glance to your left, then to your right. Who’s standing beside you? Would you consider them friends? Is the time that you spend together making all of you better people? Or do things you do together sometimes lead you to regret?

Anyone who walks with wise people grows wise. But a companion of foolish people suffers harm.

PROVERBS 13:20

Relationships are like nutrition for your soul. Do the people closest to you make you healthier? Or do you binge on junk food together? You are directly influenced by the people you spend the most time with. Even if you feel like you’re different from them right now, in five years… you won’t be.

…that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 CORINTHIANS 12:25-27

God made us to need each other. We all have different gifts and strengths, different failings and weaknesses. When we join together, we can look out for one another, help each other, encourage one another, and even challenge each other to grow.

Here are 3 simple things you can do to start building your community:

Cross the Street

Do you know your neighbors? If you live on the same street, or even in the same building, you already have something in common. Don’t overthink this. Jesus loves your neighbor. Maybe you will too… and you just don’t know it yet.

Challenge: Start a conversation with a handshake and, “I’m sorry, we haven’t met before. My name is _____. What’s yours?” Even if you’re shy, you only have to be brave for 30 seconds.

Share an Experience

We all have things we need to talk about, challenges that would be helpful to process in conversation. And we all have something to offer, even if it’s just a sympathetic ear.

Challenge: Invite a friend to do something together: share a meal, tackle a backyard project, or just take a walk. Talk about whatever. Just be honest, and get real.

Invite Deeper Friendships

The Bible reminds us again and again that we need relationships with people we can trust: Close friends who will encourage you, inspire you, challenge you, love you, and pray for you. And they need you to do the same for them.

Challenge: Invite a friend (or 3) to join you in the Bible App, then do a Plan together.

Find Friends

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So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

GALATIANS 6:10

Unlock all-new Badges!

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“I want to draw closer to God, but…”

Some days, it can feel like all of life’s demands are conspiring together to consume you. But, seeking God in His Word has the power to bring positive change into your life. How do you find that daily rhythm? By setting small, achievable goals… and taking them on one by one.

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Did a particular Bible verse really speak to your heart? Highlight it, and you’ll unlock the Highlight Badge. Keep highlighting, and you’ll “level up” each time you reach the next milestone. Try the same thing with Bookmarks, and unlock and level up your Bookmark Badge!

Badges

Motivate yourself.

Complete one of our annual challenges (like the Christmas Challenge), and you’ll earn a Badge. Subscribe to a Bible Plan, and you’ll unlock the Plan Subscription Badge. Finish that Plan, and you’ll unlock the Plan Completion Badge. Keep starting and finishing Plans, and you’ll level up both.

Badges in Profile

Build momentum.

Your home feed shows your progress on Badges. Go to your profile to see all the Badges you’ve unlocked so far… and which other Badges are available. Once you’ve encouraged yourself with some of the smaller Badges, maybe you’ll feel inspired to chase the Whole Bible Badge.

Badges in Community Feed

And inspire others.

Your friends will see your Badges in their feeds, or you can share your journey and invite them to join you, on social media or by text. And, when you see your friends’ Badge progress in your feed, you can like or comment to encourage them.

Now let’s get you started:

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