2016 Advent Devotional

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Prepare to be Renewed
Sunday, 12/11/2016

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As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22


Near Jericho, on the present day Jordanian side of the Jordan River, is the site of Bethany, where John baptized the people. It wasn’t really in the wilderness. It was at a major crossroads where John could draw a crowd and folks could come out from Jerusalem. John baptized with water in the Jewish tradition to make clean for the coming Day of the Lord. That’s why he said “I baptize you with water.” His baptism was likely seen as a reenactment of Joshua’s followers, crossing through the Jordan to reach the Promised Land. Some thought John to be the Messiah or Elijah (who was to precede the Messiah). John certainly encouraged those thoughts by dressing like Elijah! But now he tells the crowds he’s not the Messiah or Elijah, but he comes before one more powerful. He enlarges the understanding of what baptism is to become. With Jesus it will be more than a ritual cleansing; it will be an anointing of the Holy Spirit. And by this anointing, we will all be made new.



God, I pray for the experience of the Holy Spirit in my life. May your presence be with me, and may you grant me strength to listen and to follow you.


How can we be in prayer with you?
Please let us know!


  1. How do you understand the difference between John baptizing with water and Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit?
  2. How would you have reacted to John's message?

Family Corner

Daily Scripture

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”

Luke 2:8


Have some fun today with a game of hide and seek!

Pick one person in your family to be the shepherd first.

When the shepherd catches the sheep, say “Jesus is the good shepherd!”

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Highland Park United Methodist Church
3300 Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, Texas