Don't rob yourself of deep joy and anticipation by pondering Jesus' birth for only a few hours in church this entire Christmas season! Advent begins this coming Sunday, December 3rd! During the season of Advent, Christians all around the world will take time to intentionally focus on Jesus' first coming and anticipate His second. Noel Piper put it well: "For four weeks, it’s as if we’re re-enacting, remembering the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus."
In my last blog post I gave a couple of resources to help you engage your heart with the Lord during Advent. I wanted to post a summary again and add a few more resources for you if you're still looking for materials, devotionals, scripture reading guides to help you and your family celebrate and prepare your heart.
Bible reading guides and plans
My personal reading schedule for Advent 2012 - This is based on Stephen Venable's schedule from 2011. I've modified it for 2012. It includes specific chapters from the gospels (1st coming) and passages from the prophets and other prophetic literature (2nd coming). I'd encourage you to do more than just read the chapters. Actively engage in a dialog with the Lord about them. If it's helpful, journal as you read and pray.
YouVersion reading plans - YouVersion has a free Bible app for smartphones as well as a great web interface for reading. There are several different daily reading plans available for Advent.
Devotionals for individuals and families
The Village Church's Advent Guide, 2012 - The Village Church is a large evangelical church in Texas, pastored by Matt Chandler.
The Desiring God Advent Devotional - Desiring God is a ministry founded by Pastor John Piper in Minneapolis. John's focus on Christ and His glory has been a tremendous encouragement to me personally.
The Scripture Union's 'Essential Journey to Bethlehem' - A simple devotional that would work well for families. It provides you with one short scripture reading each day followed by a reflection question or two designed to help you see how God promised the world a Savior and then kept that promise.
Billy Graham's Advent Devotional - Yet another simple devotional guide from Billy Graham's ministry.
I hope these resources are helpful to you. May the Lord make us joyful and wound us for His return this Advent season!