Come, let us adore Him…
Last year, I released my first ever Bible reading plan. It was a Christmas themed plan that I prayed would help us keep our eyes more on Jesus during one of the busiest months of the year. After receiving a handful of messages from a few special ladies who let me know how much they enjoyed the study and how it helped them stay accountable, the Lord prompted me to start creating more mini topical studies. It is these studies that have brought many of you to Organic Christian Living, and I am so thankful to God for that! He has directed each and every single one of you here for a reason and I believe that He wants to speak mightly to you through these plans.
This year, I’m releasing an updated and improved version of that very first 20-day Christmas Bible Reading Plan entitled: Joy To The World. Although the plan may be different, my prayer is still the same: that we would be both mindful and deliberate in giving Jesus more of our time this December. It’s so easy to get caught up in the shopping, planning, and decorating that comes along with the Christmas season. No matter what we do, there just never seems to be enough time to finish everything that needs to get done. Unfortunately, spending time in God’s word is usually what gets pushed down (and sometimes entirely off) on our to-do lists. I’m guilty of this, and I’m sure many of you are too. However, when all our focus is on the glittery decorations, beautiful gifts, and familiar songs, we can sometimes lose sight of what Christmas is truly all about. It’s only when our eyes are fixed on God and in His Word that we can celebrate the true reason for the season.
If you start reading tonight, you’ll be finished on Christmas day. And don’t worry, even if you start reading within the next few days, it will still line up great with the reading schedule since the last five days of the plan follow Jesus’ life shortly after His birth. Either way, I pray that on day 20, you will feel closer to God and ready to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas all year long.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Bible Reading Plan
- Set aside at least 15 minutes a day to read the daily readings outlined in the Joy To The World Bible Reading Plan (scroll down to access the printable plan). Before you start reading, ask the Lord to speak to you, draw you closer to Him, and for Him to reveal Himself to you through His Word.
- Below the Joy To The World Bible Reading Plan printout, you’ll find summaries of all four sections of the reading plan: Preparing The Way, Jesus’ Birth Announced, The Christ Is Born, and The Three Wise Men. Although you’re free to read all four summaries at once, I recommend reading one section overview at a time before you begin reading that section’s Scriptures.
- Make sure to download and follow along with the 20 Joy To The World Scripture Writing Plan.
Download The 20 Day Scripture Writing Plan To Get:
- 20 Different Scriptures: after completing each day’s readings, the Scripture Writing Plan will present you with a unique verse that corresponds to the passage you just finished reading. Each one of these verses complements and reinforces what you will be reading and learning from the corresponding Joy To The World Bible Reading Plan.
- Outlined Journal Pages: designed to organize the verses and to give you enough space to write down each verse (the act of writing it down will help your mind to store the verse in your long-term memory vs. your short-term memory).
- 4 Handpicked Scriptures: Scriptures that encompass and summarize each section of the Bible Reading Plan are included so that you can easily print them out, meditate on, and memorize throughout each part of the study.
- PLUS BRAND NEW SCRIPTURE WALLPAPERS of each of the four handpicked Scriptures made especially for your cell phone! Now, every time you look at your phone you will be reminded of what the Lord is teaching you and will be encouraged by the words of God.
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Preparing The Way (Days 1-5)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1-2
We begin the story of Jesus’ birth in the book of John, where we will read about the eternal nature of Christ. Jesus was not created when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and conceived Him because He is not a created being, He is the Creator (Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:1; Revelation 22:13). In Genesis 1:26 we can see how in the mystery of the Trinity, it was Jesus who created the world and who created man: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” In John 8:58, Jesus declares: “before Abraham was born, I Am!” and again in Revelation 22:13, that He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” As Christians, we celebrate Jesus’ birth not because that was when He was created or came into existence, but because that was when our Savior took human form to redeem us from our sins. Jesus “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
Every December (and hopefully many many many other times throughout the year) we rejoice in the truth that God loves us so much that He gave us the ultimate gift in His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). Take a moment to thank God for sending His Son for you…
On days 2-5, we will shift our focus to a man whom God appointed to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. Day 2 begins with a dedication to Theophilus, although the identity of this man is unknown, some have suggested that Theophilus may be a literary device to address all Christians since the name means “lover of God.” As you read through the first chapter in Luke, read as if it is a letter personally addressed to you by Luke. Luke will tell you the story of a priest and his barren wife who have their prayers answered, and give birth to a son. This son was set apart to be a prophet and to prepare the people for their coming Messiah. This son would be John the Baptist. The one whom Jesus said, “among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28).
I love the story of Elizabeth and Zacharias because it includes a trial of infertility, a struggle that many women can relate to, including myself. Sweet sister, if you shed tears as you read the story of Elizabeth and her promised son, I know your hurt, and I am praying for you. I’ve also created something that I believe will minister to your heart and your pain. A few months back, I created a 20-day infertility Bible reading plan that I pray will help you find comfort and hope in this season. You can get the Yet I Will Rejoice Bible Reading Plan here.
Christ’s Birth Announced (Days 6-10)
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
The next five days will focus on Mary and Joseph’s experiences and reactions upon being told of Jesus’ birth. We begin on day 6, with the angel Gabriel announcing the birth of Christ to a young girl named Mary. This is the same angel who had appeared to Zacharias six months earlier and announced the birth of John the Baptist. When this angel appears, Mary is at first afraid and then a little confused by what he tells her. How would she be able to bring forth a son if she was a virgin? When she asked the angel this question, she wasn’t doubting or not believing what he was saying (as Zacharias had done when Gabriel appeared to him), she was merely a young girl who was confused.
After Gabriel answers Mary’s honest question, he adds: “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:36-37). I can’t help but think that Gabriel chose to include this tidbit of information about Elizabeth to reassure Mary of God’s ability to accomplish what may seem impossible. The angel didn’t just tell her that with God nothing was impossible, but He gave her proof through the barrenness of her relative that nothing is impossible with God. Upon hearing this, Mary humbly and faithfully declares herself to be the maidservant of the Lord. This unwed young girl wished for the Lord’s will to be done in her life, no matter the cost (Luke 1:38). Are you willing to let the Lord’s will be done in your life, no matter what the cost may be?
On days 7 + 8, we will read of the first three months of Mary’s pregnancy, which she spent at the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth. When Mary arrived, she was newly pregnant with Jesus, and her relative Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John the Baptist. One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is when Jesus and John the Baptist “meet” for the first time in their mother’s wombs. It’s just so sweet!
These two women were closely tied to one another during this part of their lives. Although both of these women were far apart in age and in different stages of their pregnancies, they were able to minister to one another’s specific needs during this joyous season of their lives. As both the daughter and wife of a priest, Elizabeth had a strong foundation in God and the Scriptures. She also had lived a long life, and through her trial of infertility, the Lord had grown her patience, perseverance, character, and faith. All of which enabled her to became a mentor to the young and newly pregnant Mary. I’m sure Elizabeth even told Mary what physical and emotional changes to expect as her tummy grew. And what an honor it must have been for Elizabeth to be hosting the mother of the Messiah! As Elizabeth neared the end of her second trimester and then entered into her third trimester, and as she became more tired and unable to do the things she once could, I’m sure the young Mary helped Elizabeth in any way she could. What a special time these expectant mothers must have had together as they awaited the births of their promised and prophesied sons!
On day 9, our focus shifts from Mary to her finance Joseph. We will read of how he reacts to the news that his virgin bride to be is pregnant. Since he had not been with her physically, he believed that she had been unfaithful to him. Although heartbroken, ashamed, and probably very angry, he was a just man and didn’t want her to be judged, rejected, or even killed for her betrayal (the punishment for adultery was death). We will read how as he was trying to figure out the best way to handle the situation that an angel of the Lord appeared to Him and assured Him that Mary had not been unfaithful, but was chosen to bring forth the Son of God who would save His people from their sins. Then, on day 10, we’ll read about Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem, which was no coincidence, but a fulfillment of the prophecy found in the book of Micah (Micah 5:2). This little detour is a beautiful example of how God works everything out for His will (Ephesians 1:11).
The Christ Is Born (Days 11-15)
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
As Mary and Joseph basked in the glow and love of their the newborn baby son, Jesus’ birth was being announced to a group of lowly shepherds living out in the fields with their sheep. Imagine for a moment, how that night must have been for those men. It was dark, and they were alone with their flocks with only the moon and the stars as their lights. Then, all of a sudden an angel appeared before them surrounded by the shining glory of the Lord. They were terrified! But their fear quickly turned to joy when the angel announced that the promised Messiah had been born that very night! These men were blessed with not only being the first ones to hear of the birth of Christ, but also of seeing Him in the manger, and witnessing the multitude of the heavenly host singing praises to God. Can you imagine how beautiful that must have been?
On days 11 + 12, we will read of the shepherds encounter with the angel and then with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Now, it was not a coincidence that God chose to first announce His Son’s birth to a group of shepherds, who during this time were outcasts and thought to be dishonest and unclean according to the Law. The very Child who was born on that very first Christmas night would grow to be an outcast who would be attacked and threatened by many. He would be called a liar and a transgressor of the Law. In John 14:11-18, we will even see that Jesus refers to Himself as the true and good shepherd.
On day 13, we will spend some time looking at the genealogy of Jesus Christ. As you read over the names of the men and women who are a part of the lineage of the Messiah I want you to remember that they were imperfect people who made mistakes, just like you and me. David was a murderer and adulterer, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute to trick her father-in-law into sleeping with her (her husband had died, and she wanted a child), and Rahab was a harlot! Although these are only three ancestors of Christ, all of the people mentioned were sinners. Why am I pointing this out? Because even Jesus’ lineage shows the redemptive power of God. Their personal stories point to the saving power of Christ to bring people out of the darkness and into the light. To take the old and make it new. Just how God used these imperfect people to bring about His perfect will through the birth of His perfect Son, He wants to use you to bring about His perfect will here on earth through your life! Your past does not disqualify you to serve God or to be used by Him. God is bigger and more powerful than any of your mistakes.
On day 14, we will read about when Jesus was presented in the temple to the Lord. While in the temple, a man named Simeon proclaims that Jesus is the salvation of the world and prophesies to Mary what Jesus’ future will hold. On day 15, we will look to another prophecy in the book of Isaiah that will tell us more of what this baby’s future will look like and what He will eventually have to endure to save us from our sins. Take a moment and thank God for sending His Son and for everything Jesus did on your behalf.
The Three Wise Men (Days 16-20)
“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11)
If you read carefully on day 16, you’ll be able to catch a common mistake many people make about the birth of Christ, and which is also depicted incorrectly in nativity scenes. The three wise men were not there when Jesus was born. Their long journey caused them to visit the Child in His home, not the baby in the stable (Matthew 2:11). This would be a fun Christmas fact to share with your family this Christmas. On day 17, we will read how Joseph and his new family must move once more. Only this time, it isn’t to take part in a census, but to prevent evil King Herod’s plan of destroying the new prophesied King of the Jews, whom he feared might pose a threat to his power. Once again, you’ll see another prophecy fulfilled (Hosea 11:1), and confirmation on days 16, 17, and 18 that no matter how hard man tries, the purposes of God can never be thwarted.
On day 19, we will get a glimpse into not only Jesus’ childhood and adolescence but also a look into His heart and His purpose. Then, on day 20, the reading plan comes to a close with beautiful Scriptures that encompass what Christmas is all about-praising God for His love that He manifested through His Son, Jesus Christ on that very first Christmas night. Let us praise Him:
Are you taking part in my 20 Day Christmas Reading Plan?
If you are, leave a comment below! Let me know how God is speaking and moving in your heart through the reading of this beautiful story!