Every Christmas, Christians all over the world observe Advent, a season that reminds us of the love, hope, joy, and peace found only in Jesus Christ. Through this short and sweet family devotional (especially helpful if you’re teaching little ones with short attention spans), Scott James brings to light the many promises of Christ―from birth to ascension―that demonstrate His love for us during this Christmas season.
These daily devotions, which can be used by both families and individuals, are timeless and moving reminders of the true gift of Christmas. The Expected One is a perfect (and doable!) gift for any growing family or beloved friend who needs meaningful and biblical reminders of all Jesus is for them during the busy and the bustle of the holiday season, setting Him back in the center of it all.
the heart behind The Expected One
“This book is primarily designed for families with children, but my hope is that anyone wanting to meditate deeply on the coming of Christ will find it helpful. Each day has a passage of Scripture accompanied by a brief explanation to help us “Trace the Thread” of God’s unfolding plan throughout the Old Testament. These devotional thoughts are intentionally concise and are designed to prompt your own time of reflection, discussion, and prayer. Each day therefore also includes a series of questions and prayer points to guide the whole family through the weeks of Advent. There are “Connect with Kids” questions to help foster thought and conversation during family worship (along with suggested answers given in parentheses to help parents guide the discussion). You’ll also find an additional question to help guide people of all ages into “Further Reflection,” as well as a call to prayer in the form of a “Prayer Point” that connects to the day’s passage.
If you are using these devotionals with your family, consider having a set time each day when you slow down, gather together, and worship God as a family. Perhaps sing a favorite hymn or carol before diving into the day’s passage and discussion. However you use your time together, it is my prayer that this Advent season will be one of rich, gospel-centered reflection for you and your family as you make much of Christ.” – Scott James
Why did you write The Expected One and what kind of initial reception did it have?
I honestly did not set out to write a book. The Expected One actually grew out of our practice of Family Worship in my own home. My wife and I have 4 young children and we love to gather together regularly to pray, sing, and read Scripture. When I was preparing for Christmas several years ago, I wanted to show my kids the different ways that the Old Testament pointed forward to Christ. They knew we were celebrating the child in the manger, but I wanted them to see that this child was the culmination of a rescue plan that was planned before the foundation of the world. So, I researched, gathered, and thematically arranged verses we could read through together during the season of Advent. Rather than focusing solely on the traditional nativity passages, this Advent guide celebrates the full scope of God’s promises concerning the person and work of our glorious Savior. The kids loved seeing all the different aspects of Jesus on display in the Old Testament, and we’ve continued going through the passages every Christmas since. We shared it with our local church, The Church at Brook Hills, and eventually word got out and my little family project ended up finding a wider audience. That was a happy and providential surprise.
Once The Expected One was published, the reception blew me away. It has been my great privilege to hear how these devotionals have been used in homes across the world, leading parents and children into rich, gospel-filled discussions as they study God’s Word together. I’ve heard beautiful testimonies about how it has enhanced many families’ Advent reflections and Christmas celebrations. Perhaps the most gratifying thing to hear is that families have made these devotions a part of their yearly tradition—as they get the Christmas decorations out each year, they pull the book out and enjoy it all over again. Parents have told me (and I’ve seen it in my own home) that as their kids have encountered these biblical truths year after year, they have gained a deeper understanding of how they all fit together in Christ. As their yearly tradition grows, their children’s expectancy for Christ has grown with it. I am delighted to hear of children growing in the Lord like this.
What compelled you to follow it with The Risen One?
So much of The Expected One is geared toward helping families understand how Christmas Day fits into the larger scope of God’s redemptive plan. The manger was never meant to be compartmentalized—it necessarily connects with and leads to the cross. So, it makes sense to me that we’d keep the conversations going when the calendar turns to December 26! I’m not breaking any new ground here; historically, the church calendar has given us a framework to connect the manger to the cross (and beyond) through the seasons of Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. Without being tied too specifically to calendar dates, I wrote The Risen One to help families continue that conversation through the biblical themes of God’s glorious redemption in Christ. Weekly family devotionals (with a daily Bible reading plan incorporated) guide parents and children into God’s Word as they draw closer to who Jesus is and what he has accomplished on our behalf. Families can read through The Risen One as a complement to—and continuation of—The Expected One, or it can be read as a standalone devotional book.
For whom did you write these books?
As with everything I write, my own family was the original audience. I’ve seen firsthand the blessing that comes from spending time together reading and discussing God’s Word as a family. My wife and I are committed to regularly practicing this in our home, and much of my writing ministry has simply grown out of me thinking about how to do it well. As I work to polish things up and share my efforts with others, I aim to make my books as accessible as possible for families with children of any age. The devotionals are intentionally short and sweet so that young children can follow along, but the themes and discussion topics open the way to profound biblical truths in which any teenager or adult could swim deeply.
How do you hope your intended audience will use them with their families?
The Expected One provides 25 simple and accessible (but hopefully profound!) daily devotionals that will take a family from December 1st through Christmas Day. Each day has a Bible passage, and brief explanation, discussion questions (with suggested answers), and something to pray about. On December 25th, the book ends with a special focus celebrating how God has kept all His promises in Christ. The Risen One, on the other hand, consists of twelve weekly devotionals. Since the date of Easter changes each year, I designed it so that if you use Easter Sunday as an anchor point and start the book 10 weeks before, the devotionals will guide you on Jesus’ pathway to the cross in the months leading up to Easter, loosely coinciding with the seasons of the church calendar. Each week includes a key passage of Scripture, a brief explanation, discussion questions (with suggested answers), and a suggested prayer point based on the theme of the week. The Risen One also has suggested passages for daily readings, which will help round out the themes of each week’s devotional. Taken together, the weekly devotionals and daily readings form a 3-month reading plan that will be sure to enrich your Easter celebration.
As they use these books, I would encourage families to gather to spend focused time worshiping God together. This could be as simple as reading through one of the daily or weekly devotionals in the books, but families can also incorporate other aspects such as singing a favorite praise song, hymn, or carol. While I hope families will be able to use these devotionals as an easy entry point for their time in the Word, I do also hope they will be sure to let the Spirit lead where He will. Chasing down the tangential questions of a 6-year-old has led to some of the most fruitful discussions we’ve ever had in my home!
Both of these books address some deeply theological concepts. Talk about why it’s important that parents are equipped for theological discussions with their kids.
I strive to communicate the profound truth and beauty of the gospel in a way that any family can pick up and appreciate. When it comes to discipling their children, many parents feel inadequate to the task, so one of my goals is to provide clear and straightforward devotionals that help parents see that God’s Word is approachable. So, for The Expected One and The Risen One, each Bible passage is accompanied by a brief explanation, reflection questions to foster discussion, and a prayer point to help close the devotional time. My hope is that this simple pattern—read God’s Word, discuss God’s Word, and pray God’s Word—will transform families like it has transformed mine.
What challenges do you see most parents struggling with when it comes to having family devotions, especially those that address theological topics? How do these books overcome those challenges?
I think that parents who already have an established worship time in their home will find that these books fit seamlessly into their routine. Parents not familiar with the practice of family worship (or those struggling to actually pull it off) can use them as an easily accessible starting point. As a father leading worship in my own home, my biggest struggle is biting off more than I can chew—or more precisely, more than my kids can chew. With that in mind, I purposefully wrote these devotionals in a simple and straightforward fashion. Concise but impactful.
Why is it important to show that Jesus’s birth, life, death and resurrection weren’t random acts but were God’s plan revealed through the promises and prophecies in Scripture?
The goal of both of these devotional books is to show children how those key moments in Jesus’ life that we celebrate as Christmas and Easter actually fit in with the larger context of the story of redemption—a redemption that was promised from the earliest pages of Scripture. If we compartmentalize the amazing truths of the Incarnation or the Resurrection, we diminish their brilliance. The nativity is best celebrated when it is found in the shadow of the Cross, and both are intended to shape how we approach every page of Scripture. The Expected One and The Risen One highlight the multi-faceted promises God gave His people concerning the person and work of His Son Jesus and then guide us along the pathway He took to the cross and beyond. By tracing out the bigger redemptive picture, my hope is that our hearts will be all the more prepared to find deep satisfaction in Jesus during Advent and Easter.
Why did you choose to create a weekly devotional with daily readings for the format for The Risen One? How did you choose the Scriptures for each day? What is the benefit in participating in this study each day for the three months prior to Easter?
When thinking about how to help families read the Bible together as they approach Easter, I decided to take a long view rather than focusing in only on Holy Week alone (both approaches can be very helpful, to be honest!). I used the church calendar as a general roadmap for The Risen One because these seasons provide a logical pathway from the nativity scene to the empty tomb as they guide us through the unveiling of God’s salvation in Christ. By encountering passages that touch on key themes of Jesus’ life and ministry, we can see how Easter connects to the larger story of God’s redemptive plan. During the weeks leading up to Easter, families will walk through Bible passages that highlight the arrival of the long-expected Savior, the revelation of the good news of His kingdom, the days of preparation leading up to His sacrifice, the agony He endured on the cross, and His triumphant resurrection from the grave. Lastly, families will see how the Holy Spirit unleashes the Church to continue His mission. By considering these truths in weekly devotionals leading up to Easter, families will slowly build an extended foundation that will help them celebrate Easter with renewed joy.
What do you think is the biggest challenge about the holidays for busy families?
Holiday seasons are often busy times, which can make it hard for families to keep their priorities in line. The Expected One and The Risen One are engaging and accessible resources that will help busy families develop the simple, faithful habit of being in God’s Word together.
How is your family preparing for Easter?
Through this short and sweet devotional (especially helpful if you’re teaching little ones with short attention spans), Scott James brings to light the many things that Christ’s life and resurrection means for us not only through the season of Lent, but all year long.
These weekly devotions, which are designed for both family and individual use, are timeless and moving reminders of the miracle of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The Risen One is a perfect (and doable!) gift for any growing family or beloved friend who needs meaningful and biblical reminders of all Jesus is for them—and how much God loves them—during the busy and the bustle of the Easter season, setting him back in the center of it all.
Whether used as a follow-up to The Expected One, or used on its own, The Risen One is a deeply encouraging devotional helping each of us experience all that Jesus is for us in the Easter story. Learn more…