The Last Minute Advent Study

last+minute.jpg

Christmas is officially upon us! Once again, I'm shocked at how quickly it arrived, and once again not as prepared as I had hoped. Due to all that life had to bring in this season, I skipped any sort of advent study and had been continuing in my study of Jeremiah.

However, four days before Christmas the verse in Isaiah 9:6 jumped off the screen at me when I was scrolling through Instagram. I saw the four names Jesus was to be called and realized with four days left, including Christmas, what a perfect thing to study to prepare my heart for this season.

While this study may be last minute for me, God is always perfect at this timing. If you’re reading this and looking to dig deeper with Jesus as we approach Christmas, or even on the day of Christmas, I hope you can join me for this mini-study. If you find this after Christmas, or if you’re celebrating Christmas in July, may the words meet you exactly where you are to share what God has for you in this season!

IMG_0729.JPG

last minute advent study

Wonderful Counselor

Mighty God

Everlasting Father

Prince of Peace

When I initially read the verse, I thought who has four names!? Then thought how Jesus has even more names as I think of the various Christmas songs —  Immanuel, God with Us. Jesus Christ. Lord. Savior of the World.

More names than I have time to go into for the post. It’s something I’ve wanted to study for a long time as I think there are over 300 of them! And wow! Bare with me as I’m typing this out as God's revealing it. While this may seem off-topic, I bring it back, I promise! However, if you’d like to skip directly to the study click on each of the names next to the image above.

When I typed the prior paragraph, God reminded me of this website. It lists out 343 different names of Jesus! God is revealing he wants me to study the names of Jesus for 2019 because my word of the year is Jesus! And this is all his doing! Because if I'm honest, I didn't want Jesus as my word of the year. I wanted something more fun like simplify or transformation. I’m passionate about my word of the year and like to weave it into everyday conversations and even though I have a blog and social media account that is all about Jesus, still to this day I shy away from using the name of Jesus with confidence.

As I’ve learned over the past three years, God makes the word crystal clear as my initial reaction each time has been the desire for a different word. Then the word doesn't leave but gets louder and louder as I keep reflecting trying to land on a different word for the coming year. And once I relent, my soul responds somewhat in fear as my imagination gets me thinking of what I might have to walk through with my word of the year.

This past year, 2018, my word was Peace. The year prior, Brave. And the first year I had the word Consistency.

God has taken me on a crazy journey with each of these three words. It almost seems like I'm missing one when I reflect on the past three years, there has been far more than what I think should come from three simple words. With consistency, I started reading my bible and obeying what God was calling me into consistently for the first time. The next year, my husband went through law enforcement training, and I built our house and lived in our travel trailer for the fourth winter while he was away for five months. And then this last year, as my husband worked night shift and I took steps towards bold obedience, Peace was a word I held onto, at times for dear life.

So you can imagine, when God revealed my word for this next year would be Jesus, I instantly went to shame as I know how hard the word Jesus can be in the current culture.

And I have to add this in — I've been writing and listening to random youtube worship videos in the background for hours now. As I typed that last sentence, the song, Give me Jesus sung by Steffany Gretzinger & Jeremy Riddle came on. The timing was too perfect, and I can't make that up, so I just had to share! See, he keeps confirming it over and over! ;)

So as I start this Advent study, God revealed I'll be studying more of his names here in the future so stay tuned for that! I see how a simple image on Instagram is what God used to get my attention to create this post to prepare my heart for this undertaking. Three-hundred and forty-three names are quite an undertaking which makes me feel overwhelmed, and it's something I never thought I’d do. But when Jesus is my word of the year, I’m eager to attempt in 2019!

So there you have it, you get to hear this first hand God revealing this idea at the same time my fingers put the words on the screen. I’m so excited about it and plan to share all about it on my blog!

So as I jump into this advent study, I wanted to quickly introduce this verse and then provide the links to each post at the bottom for you to read more.

While my initial reaction to the four names was to think who has that many names, I quickly discovered in my studying that these names aren't ones people called him specifically, but words to describe His character and personality. Words that describe who Jesus IS.

Which brings me to the first portion of Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given."

To us and for us is Jesus born into this world, given to us as a gift and what we reflect on in this season. It's a gift we get to choose to open and receive, but it isn't a gift we get to choose to be given, because the giving of this gift has already been done.

There is nothing any of us can do to make it so this gift isn't one we have sitting under our tree, and it's a gift that doesn't just exist on Christmas day but every day of the year.    

You are the one who is to accept it as your own. You can pretend it’s not there, think you can reject it and throw it away, but the gift will return and be available for you to open and receive at any point, it doesn’t go away.

What have we received as a gift? A son — the gift of a child.

You most likely know what a gift a child might be, but the gift of the child Jesus goes into a whole new category as defined in Philippians 2: 6-7.

“Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

I think every parent, or person who has cared for a child, knows if they had a perfectly behaved sacrificial child committed to obedience to the point of death, they would see just how different the child Jesus is. A child who once existed in the form of God but didn't consider that when on this earth and emptied himself.

The gift of Jesus as a child has a depth that goes further than our minds can comprehend. Which I think is why God has given us over 300 words to more clearly understand the gift given in Jesus. These words don’t just define a man who existed as a historical figure, but words that describe the gift given to you and me on a personal, intimate level. I'll be digging into his even more as we study the first name of Jesus, Wonderful Counselor.

But before I do that, I don’t want to skip any portion of this passage. It leads me to the last words in the first part of this verse; "the government shall be upon his shoulder."

While it seems like lately talking about the government might be more controversial than religion, I’m going to share this.

While we may think we are in control, and that our opinions and beliefs about the most recent headlines make a difference, they won't. Not that we should disengage, but instead engage differently. If this time of year, getting family together results in the awkward conversation either supporting or trash-talking a person in an office, just be reminded, these next four names define who is truly in office. The one who Supremely has the power above all power and who is in control with all authority.

His position will never be challenged and nor ever overthrown.

While the implications of this truth go farther than the words I have to share today, I hope that can be of encouragement when you face challenging conversations. To be reminded it's okay to lose or better yet, choose to not fight against opinions because we can confidently know who in the end wins!

My prayer is that these next four names of Jesus will encourage you all the more to stand firm in who you are celebrating this season. And if you've come across this and have yet to accept the gift God has freely given, Christmas time or not, I hope these names help you see the God who fiercely loves you.

A God who is a perfect Father, who loves you so much that he’d give you himself so that you can have the way that leads to eternal life.

Abundant life that begins the day you say yes and saves you from the path we take when we walk in ways that aren’t given to us by God.

Click on each of the following words to dig into each one:

If you’d like to learn more about my process for studying, I’ve included that here:

When studying, I have one thing that leads the way, the Holy Spirit. I approach Him from a position of surrender and curiosity. I want to look at every word, and allow him to show up in every thought, word or even song that comes up while I’m studying. When I open the door to him, it turns what may seem like an ordinary time of studying, into something deep, rich and so very intimate, meeting me on a level I didn’t even know existed.

These next posts document my study process and what God revealed in that time. I have never really studied these words before, and this in no way is to be an in-depth study. Just what I discovered when I chased what God had to say about the names of who is son is with a curious faith.

For these four words, I did follow a similar structure which I'll outline here in case you'd like to study each of these words on your own in this season.

  • Read the passage in my bible, see if I have any previous notes, and read any other passages around the verse.

  • Look the verse up on www.biblehub.com

  • Read a few different translations listed out on biblehub.com

  • Read some comparable verses that are highlighted on the right.

  • Look at the biblical definition of the words at the bottom and then google the definition of the word to see how we look at the word today and if it’s any different than the intention God has for his words.

  • From here I start journaling what God is revealing, the questions I have and take the route of being curious. If I reach a question I still can’t seem to answer with the verses I’ve reviewed, then I will do a quick google search and find an article by someone I trust and note anything I uncover.

  • Then keep digging deeper and deeper until I run out of time.

For this word study, I spent around 30 minutes on each word, and while each post may not be super in-depth, what God revealed in that time was profound. I hope that you too will find great encouragement, truth, hope, and restoration in light of the Christmas season.

I’d love for you to share here if you studied any of these words or if you have any insight you’d like to share in light of this verse and these names of Jesus!

Click here to study the first name of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 — Wonderful Counselor.

Jena StagnerComment