Much of the Christmas season is packed with gathering, traveling, and gifting. But one easy way to reflect more on Jesus’ life (even during the busiest days) is by spending a few minutes in an Advent or Christmas devotional.
See several options below to find inspiration, encouragement, and activities—plus books on Advent to dive deeper into your study and celebration of all that Advent means.
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Christmas & Advent devotionals for everyone
This new Christmas devotional gives a daily thought encouraging Christians to pause and focus on Jesus from December 1 through December 25. It begins with thoughts from the Old Testament and progresses to the New Testament, with clear action steps and prayers provided each day.
In the video below, author Mark Yarbrough answers “Why do people need Christmas devotionals in the first place, and what sets yours apart?”
Readers will find stories and applications that stick, like December 1’s entry about what happened when Yarbrough accidentally jumped on a rattlesnake as a teen—and what that has to do with Christmas. There’ll be plenty to discuss with a group, talk through with your family, or think through on your own.
Advent for you
2. God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The season of Advent reminds us that we are people in waiting as we look forward to seeing our Lord face to face. This daily devotional through Advent is taken largely from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letters from prison, where he was held following an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler.
In this devotional, Bonhoeffer writes about longing, joy, and incarnation—and encourages us as we wrestle with our own faith.
3. The Advent of the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey
Hide God’s word in your heart—by way of your imagination—by reading these 25 reflections narrating anew the greatest story ever told.
One reviewer said, “Put this book in your hands and feel loved.” Another wrote, “Ramsey deftly retells the story of Jesus with a pastor’s heart and an artist’s touch. In this book, real people sigh and cry, tremble, and rejoice. It captured my heart. My family will treasure it for years to come.”
4. Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp
Bestselling author Paul Tripp has published Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, and several others. Now he brings readers along to reflect on Advent.
In the introduction, he writes,
It is a mind-boggling, hard-to-grasp, awesome story unlike any other story ever told. But what makes this story so wonderful and so important is not that its plot is way beyond anything you would’ve ever conceived. What makes this story vital to know and understand is that it is not a well-crafted fantasy. The thing that should make you stop in your tracks, activate your heart and mind, and fall to your knees is that this story is real. It took place in real time at real locations with real people. All human history was marching to the specific point in time when this story would unfold, and the implications of the events of this story reach to everyone who has lived since. The Christmas story is the story of stories.
When writing this devotional, I was brought to a new place of wonder and worship as I considered that that baby boy in the manger was not only a real human baby but also fully God. For the months it took to write this collection of meditations, it was wonderful to consider day after day that God knew that the only way to fix everything sin had broken was to give us the ultimate gift, the gift of himself. My prayer is that focusing on the glory of the incarnation of Jesus will fill you with wonder too.1
Max Lucado’s heartwarming reflections on the season focus on the hope of Christmas. Relatable stories include his struggle to avoid a leaning Christmas tree and waking up at 2:30 to relive a meeting from the previous day—but every story ties back to Jesus.
The bonus content, An Angel’s Story: The First Christmas from Heaven’s View, takes us on an imaginative journey to Advent through the eyes of Gabriel.
Advent for you and your small group
6. Destination Bethlehem: Daily Meditations, Prayers, and Poems to Light the Way to the Manger by J. Barrie Shepherd
Take a journey—a devotional journey through the days and weeks of December toward the manger. Images, incidents, impressions, and items from the daily news are woven together to form a rich and rewarding tapestry . . . an open door into the quiet places of the soul.
Destination Bethlehem also helps pastors and worship leaders find creative language and imagery to tell the old story in a new and inviting way.
7. Travel the Highways of Advent: An Advent Study for Adults by Stan Purdman
Take your small group on a journey through Advent with this four-week study:
- Week 1, “The Straightened and Level Highway”
- Week 2, “The Highway of Reversal”
- Week 3, “The Highway in Between”
- Week 4, “The Highway of Enthusiasm”
Finally, travel “The Highway of Merriment” at Christmas. Questions for reflection and discussion, a brief prayer, and a focus for the week make it easy to dig deeper with less prep time than you might normally spend for small group.
8. O’er All the Weary World: Stories for Advent and Christmas by Sarah M. Foulger
In these relatable stories for the Christmas season, you’ll find an arthritic dog, an impending hurricane, and “paying it forward.”
Stories like “Waking from Sleep,” “The Gift of the Maggies,” “Everybody’s Got an Angle or Everybody’s Got an Angel,” and twelve others are at times funny and at times thought-provoking, but they all point to Christ.
Advent for your family
9. Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide through Advent by Rick Brannan
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we remember Christ’s first Advent and prepare for his second, celebrating both events.
This devotional helps guide families through Advent with themes of preparation, anticipation, joy, and incarnation. After each reading, you can ask the included discussion questions to help your children better understand and apply biblical truth during Advent and throughout the year.
10. Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica L. Thompson
Every day through Christmas, you’ll find an Advent thought for you—and one for your kids.
This thought for children is from day one:
Do you ever feel like God is far away from you? Or like He is so big and powerful that He would never notice a little child like you? Our verses today in Psalm 113 talk about that very thing. You see, God is big and powerful. Our verses say, “He is seated on high.” Imagine someone in a very big throne looking down on everybody else, thinking important thoughts, and doing important things. You probably think that someone so important doesn’t care about unimportant, little kids; but, you see, our God is different. Our verses say that God takes the most unimportant people and raises them up to sit with all the princes. God really does see you. God really does love you. As we get close to Christmas, we are going to see that God loves us so much that He gave us the best gift possible. He gives gifts to the people that most everybody else wouldn’t even bother with. God gives gifts to us because He loves us, not because we are big and powerful.2
Fitzpatrick and Thompson have also included four activities (with photos) to help children understand and enjoy this blessed season.
11. Celebrating Advent: Family Devotions and Activities for the Christmas Season by Ann Hibbard
On the opening page, Hibbard recounts how she realized she’d lost her joy in Christmas. The first paragraph reads,
What a relief! I thought as I finished addressing the last parcel wrapped in brown grocery bag paper. Our dining room looked as though a tornado had struck. Wrapping paper, grocery bags, scissors, tape, and old gift boxes were strewn everywhere. Fortunately, both kids were down for naps (a true miracle!), so I had been able to finish my Christmas wrapping without worrying about little fingers.
Turning my back on the mess, I retreated to the kitchen to put on the teakettle. I deserved a reward—a nice hot cup of Swiss Mocha.
. . .
Suddenly I realized that I had come to dread Christmas and all it entailed.3
She writes, “‘Where is Christ in all of this?’”
It can be easy to feel the same way and ask the same question. Hibbard helps families find true joy in the season, starting with week one. She asks “What’s Missing at Christmas?” and gives a way to fill the gaps in “Steps for a Happier Christmas.” Week two includes Advent devotions, while week three focuses on celebrations—including a Twelfth Night party. The final section brings a hands-on approach to Advent! There are instructions for a fun and inexpensive Advent tree banner and a Jesse tree.
Books on Advent
1. Advent for Everyone (3 vols.) by N. T. Wright
Archbishop John Sentamu says of Advent for Everyone: A Journey through Matthew, “If you do nothing else in your preparation for Christmas, read this book!”
That’s just one of the volumes included. In Advent for Everyone: A Journey through Luke and Advent for Everyone: A Journey with the Apostles, N. T. Wright leads readers toward the wonder and joy of Christmas. Each volume focuses on particular themes from the respective biblical book with meditation, reflection, and insightful commentary.
2. The Star of Bethlehem: Science, History, and Meaning by Michael Pettem
The introduction invites readers to:
Come on a voyage of discovery. Bring your imagination and your curiosity. Gaze at a Star. Meet dignitaries from the east seeking a special child and a cruel old monarch bent on killing him.
For the eastern dignitaries, the celestial sign meant the child was king of the Jews. The old ruler feared the Star showed a rival for his throne. The evangelist Matthew believed the Star showed the child would bring the present world order to an end, and usher in the kingdom of God.
The Star of Bethlehem illuminates this key biblical event through studying modern scientific understanding of stellar phenomena—and gives a fascinating account of ancient astronomy and history.
3. Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge
“Advent,” says Fleming Rutledge, “is definitely not for sissies.” As the midnight of the Christian year, Advent is rife with dark, gritty realities. In this book, Rutledge spotlights the rich significance of the Advent season not just as transitional but as vibrant and profound in its own right.
My not-so-secret hope is that Fleming Rutledge’s Advent would become required reading in our seminaries and the focus of vestry book clubs, elder retreats, and worship leader workshops. Because that would give me hope for an apocalyptic renewal in the church—that we would learn again how to live as an Advent people, hoping in a God who acts and is making all things new. Taking this book to heart would teach us how to live wisely, faithfully, and prophetically in the Time Between.
—James K. A. Smith, Calvin College; author of Awaiting the King and You Are What You Love
4. Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley by Paul Wesley Chilcote
Every year, we sing songs like “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” and “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” but how often do we meditate on them? This book makes that easy.
Reflect on Advent and Christmas with short daily readings exploring some of Charles Wesley’s most beloved hymns. This devotional is ideal for starting or ending each day of Advent alone or with the family.
The Advent season reminds us of the wonderful mystery of Christ’s incarnation. You can explore the concept more in Modern Studies on the Incarnation. Titles include:
- The God-Man: An Enquiry into the Character and Evidences of the Christian Incarnation by T. L. Townsend
- The Creative Christ: A Study of the Incarnation in Terms of Modern Thought by Edward S. Drown
- A Present Christ: Daily Ten Minutes’ Readings for Four Weeks on the Incarnation By J. Hasloch Potter
- The Holy Christ-Child: A Devotional Study of the Incarnation of the Son of God by Archibald Campbell Knowles
- The Principal Heresies Relating to Our Lord’s Incarnation: A Treatise by H. H. Wyatt
- The collection’s 8,000 pages pave the way for a greater understanding on the union of divinity with humanity in Jesus Christ.
6. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper
John Piper brings readers to revel in indestructible joy with daily readings, starting with “The Search-and-Save Mission” and ending with “Grace: The Dominant Note of Christmas.” The sermon “A Savior Is Born! God Gets the Glory: You Get the Peace” serves as a thought-provoking, praise-producing conclusion.
7. Low: An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz
As we walk the road of Advent, Jesus reminds us the invitation is not to escape this world to an elevated heaven somewhere else but to bring heaven down. “God with us” is Jesus, humbling himself by coming to earth as one of us. Find biblical encouragement for yourself or others in this practical, fresh look at Advent. Each devotional offers Scripture and reflection on Jesus as “God with us,” meeting us on the ground.
8. The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Alexander Stewart
In the foreword, the authors explain, “The wonder of the incarnation deserves a lifetime of thought, and this book is a faithful resource to prompt deeper reflection on the foundation of our salvation.”4 It’s meant to help you slow down and go deeper.
Aimed at stirring your affections for Jesus, it leads readers on a step-by-step journey through the Gospels’ birth narratives, clearing away common misconceptions, making messianic connections, and setting the stage for Jesus’ later life and ministry.
Bonus recommendation: For a study on Christ beyond Advent, look at The Jesus of the Gospels Mobile Education course taught by Mark Strauss, professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary. Survey different “quests” for the historical Jesus by critical scholarship and examine, apologetically, what we can demonstrate about the person of Jesus.
- What Is Advent? And Why Is It Important for Believers?
- What a Bloodthirsty Tyrant Taught Me About Advent
Shop these books
Tidings of Comfort & Joy: 25 Devotions Leading to Christmas
Regular price: $9.99
God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Regular price: $7.99
The Advent of the Lamb of God
Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional
Because of Bethlehem (with Bonus Content): Love Is Born, Hope Is Here
Destination Bethlehem: Daily Meditations, Prayers, and Poems to Light the Way to the Manger
Travel the Highways of Advent: An Advent Study for Adults
O’er All The Weary World: Stories for Advent and Christmas
Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide through Advent
Regular price: $8.99
Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional
Advent for Everyone (3 vols.)
Regular price: $29.99
The Star of Bethlehem: Science, History, and Meaning
Regular price: $11.99
Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ
Regular price: $17.99
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley
Regular price: $8.99
Modern Studies on the Incarnation (26 vols.)
Regular price: $165.99
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent
Low: An Honest Advent Devotional
The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation
Regular price: $12.99
- Tripp, Paul David, Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
- Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, Jami Nato, and Jessica L. Thompson, Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional (Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, 2013).
- Ann Hibbard, Celebrating Advent: Family Devotions and Activities for the Christmas Season (Grand Rapids, MI: Revel, 1993).