260 Devotional: Dec 30, Romans 8:18-39

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 30     Victory in Christ

 

Romans 8:18-39     (ESV)

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Meditation:

  • What frustrates you most about living in a fallen world? How can the hope in verses 22-25 help you during times of trial?
  • When was the last time you did not know how to pray? How did the Holy Spirit help you?
  • Of the enemies mentioned in verses 38-39, which one is the most real to you? What encourages you most in this passage?
  • Lord, I thank you that you are the God of knowledge and that I am part of your flock.  I thank you that nothing can separate me from your love that is in Christ Jesus, and I ask that I would seek your righteousness and cling to your love and truth.

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 29, Philippians 4:4-14

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+4&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 29     Thinking of Good Things

 

Philippians 4:4-14        (ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

God’s Provision

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

 

 

Meditation:

  • Are you willing to give all your anxieties to God in prayer? Are you willing to be thankful even in difficult times?
  • How well do you concentrate on things praiseworthy, rather than things that irritate you?
  • Do you find it easier to trust in God when you are poor, or does wealth tempt you to trust in your money?
  • What kind of strength is Christ giving you in your circumstances?

Help me, oh God, to be content in whatever circumstances I am in.  Whether I am abased or in abundance, whether I am filled or hungry, let me learn the secret of being content in any and every situation.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

260 Devotional: Dec 28, Psalm 97

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms+97&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 28     Giving Thanks

 

Psalm 97 (ESV)

The Lord Reigns

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
    let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
    and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame,
    who make their boast in worthless idols;
    worship him, all you gods!

Zion hears and is glad,
    and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
    because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
    you are exalted far above all gods.

10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
    He preserves the lives of his saints;
    he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown for the righteous,
    and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
    and give thanks to his holy name!

 

Meditation:

  • Do you believe that the Lord reigns, not only over the world, but also in your life?
  • Does the fact that God is sovereign cause you to rejoice or does it make you stumble? Why? If the latter, how can it be turned into rejoicing?
  • Lord, I thank You for Your sovereign majesty and for the heavens that proclaim the work of Your hands.  I ask that I would rejoice and be thankful in all things and that I would listen to wisdom and apply my heart to understanding.

 

 

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 27, Psalm 103

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms+103&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 27     Counting Blessings

 

Psalm 103        (ESV)

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Of David.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

 

 

Meditation:

  • The psalmist not only give thanks for the grace he experienced personally. He instructs the people to praise God altogether. Are you often thankful? Have you been thankful for other people or your church?
  • Look at the various benefits of the Lord in this Psalm. Take a minute or two to figure out which one is most meaningful to you. Why? When have you experienced such grace of God first hand? How have you benefited from it?
  • Sing this song as your praise to God today. “Bless the Lord O my soul” by Matt Redman
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXDGE_lRI0E

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 26, Revelation 7

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+7&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 26

 

Revelation 7    (ESV)

The 144,000 of Israel Sealed

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree.Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.

A Great Multitude from Every Nation

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

 

Meditation:

  • Describe the past, present and future of the multitude in white robes who are before the Lamb.
  • What is significant about the great multitude before the throne being comprised of every nation, tribe, people and language?

What elements of the experience of vs. 14-17 do you long for? Bring that longing before the Lord.

260 Devotional: Dec 23, John 1:1-18

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 23

 

John 1:1-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

 

Meditation:

  • List all the ways that Jesus is described in this passage.
  • Why do you think John begins his gospel with this description of Jesus?
  • Write your own description of Jesus and the significance of his incarnation. And read it out as your praise and prayer to Him.

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 22, Matthew 2

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+2&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 22

 

Matthew 2      English Standard Version (ESV)

The Visit of the Wise Men

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Herod Kills the Children

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

 

Meditation:

  • How do the different people in this passage (King Herod, the Magi, “all Jerusalem,” priests and teachers of the law) react to news of Jesus’ birth?
  • What is the significance of the fact that, although Jesus is called the “king of the Jews” in verse 2 and a “ruler and shepherd of Israel” in verse 6, his first worshippers were not Jewish but were from a different part of the world?
  • Join the Magi in offering yourself in worship to King Jesus.

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 21, Luke 2:21-39

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+2&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 21

 

Luke 2:21-39  (ESV)

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

 

Meditation:

  • What new revelations do Simeon and Anna offer about Jesus?
  • How would Simeon’s words sound to Mary and Joseph?
  • How can Christ’s presence bring you hope in the midst of trial or longing?

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 20, Luke 2:1-20

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+2&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 20

 

Luke 2:1-20 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

Meditation:

  • Identify and describe the various characters in this passage.
  • How does each of these characters react to Jesus’ birth?

Which of them would you most likely to be like?

260 Devotional: Dec 19, Mark 10:32-52

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+10&version=ESV

 

 

Advent Week 4: The King Is Born

Dec 19

 

Mark 10:32-52        (ESV)

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

The Request of James and John

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

 

Meditation:

  • Compare and contrast the two requests made of Jesus in this passage, and his responses.
  • How do we see Jesus acting out His mission “not to be served, but to serve”?
  • How can you relinquish status, or a longing for it, and follow Jesus’ example of service?

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 16, Hebrews 8

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+8&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 16

 

Hebrews 8       (ESV)

Jesus, High Priest of a Better Covenant

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
    on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

 

Meditation: Prayer:

  • From the text, what are the differences between the old covenant and the new covenant?
  • What would it have been like to be living under the old covenant, and to step into these promises about the new covenant?
  • How have you experienced what the author describes about the new covenant? Interact with Jesus over your feelings about this.

260 Devotional: Dec 15, Philippians 2:1-11

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 15

 

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV)

Christ’s Example of Humility

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Meditation:

  • List out all the instructions Paul gives to the Philippians.
  • How can Jesus’ example inform and empower living life like this?
  • Ask the Lord to show you what it would look like to have the mindset of Christ, and how He would have you grow more like Him in your relationships.

 

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 14, Hebrews 2

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+2&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 14

 

Hebrews 2       (ESV)

Warning Against Neglecting Salvation

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

The Founder of Salvation

For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
    or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
    you have crowned him with glory and honor,
    putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

Meditation:

  • Describe all aspects of Christ’s relationship to his people mentioned in the passage.
  • Why is Jesus’ humanity so important to the author?
  • Spend some time thanking Jesus for one way his incarnation has been a blessing to you.

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 13, John 10

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+10&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 13

 

John 10   (ESV)

I Am the Good Shepherd

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

I and the Father Are One

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.

 

Meditation:

  • What are all the ways sheep benefit from this good shepherd?
  • What does Jesus want us to understand from this teaching, about Him and about ourselves?
  • How can you distinguish Jesus’ voice from other voices? Ask Him to speak to you and help you to follow His voice today.

260 Devotional: Dec 12, Luke 1:57-80

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=ESV

 

 

Advent Week 3: Who He Was The New Testament Revelation of Jesus

Dec 12

 

Luke 1:57-80     (ESV)

The Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
    and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74     that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

 

 

Meditation:

  • How does Zechariah react to John’s birth?
  • How does Zechariah interpret John’s birth?
  • How do you react to God’s blessings? What can you praise God for today?

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 9, Luke 1:39-56

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=ESV

 

 

Dec  9

 

Luke 1:39-56     (ESV)

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

 

Meditation:

  • What do Mary and Elizabeth each rejoice about?
  • What does Mary know about the character of God?
  • Write your own song of rejoicing as a praise to God.


 

260 Devotional: Dec 8, Luke 1:26-38

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 8

 

Luke 1:26-38     (ESV)

Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

 

 

Meditation:

  • What does Gabriel foretell about the baby to be born?
  • How might bearing this child make Mary’s life difficult? What would it take for her to embrace this from God?
  • How can you submit in the midst of difficult circumstances in your life or challenges from God today?
  • Use Mary’s words of submission as you pray about God’s will for your life.

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 7, Luke 1:1-25

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+1&version=ESV

 

 

Dec 7

 

Luke 1:1-25  (ESV)

Dedication to Theophilus

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,[a] of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

 

Meditation:

  • In as much detail as you can, picture this scene in the temple.
  • Compare and contrast Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s responses.
  • Are there promises of God you find hard to trust? Talk to God about them and ask for hope.

260 Devotional: Dec 6, Psalm 89:1-37

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms+89&version=ESV

 

 

Psalm 89:1-37 (ESV)

I Will Sing of the Steadfast Love of the Lord

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;
    with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever;
    in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”
You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
    I have sworn to David my servant:
‘I will establish your offspring forever,
    and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
    your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
    Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
    and awesome above all who are around him?
O Lord God of hosts,
    who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
    with your faithfulness all around you?
You rule the raging of the sea;
    when its waves rise, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
    you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;
    the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
12 The north and the south, you have created them;
    Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
13 You have a mighty arm;
    strong is your hand, high your right hand.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
    steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,
    who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
16 who exult in your name all the day
    and in your righteousness are exalted.
17 For you are the glory of their strength;
    by your favor our horn is exalted.
18 For our shield belongs to the Lord,
    our king to the Holy One of Israel.

19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said:
    “I have granted help to one who is mighty;
    I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found David, my servant;
    with my holy oil I have anointed him,
21 so that my hand shall be established with him;
    my arm also shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him;
    the wicked shall not humble him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
    and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him,
    and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
25 I will set his hand on the sea
    and his right hand on the rivers.
26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
    my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
27 And I will make him the firstborn,
    the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
    and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29 I will establish his offspring forever
    and his throne as the days of the heavens.
30 If his children forsake my law
    and do not walk according to my rules,
31 if they violate my statutes
    and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod
    and their iniquity with stripes,
33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
    or be false to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant
    or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
    I will not lie to David.
36 His offspring shall endure forever,
    his throne as long as the sun before me.
37 Like the moon it shall be established forever,
    a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah

 

Meditation:

  • What are the promises God makes in His covenant?
  • How do the psalmist’s descriptions of the Lord connect to His promises?
  • Spend time praising God for who He is and thanking him for the promises He makes. Use some of the language of the psalm in your praise:

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations.  I will declare that Your lovingkindness will be built up forever, that You will establish Your faithfulness in the heavens.  And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord, Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.  For who in the heavens can be compared with the Lord?  Who is like the Lord among the sons of the mighty?  God is greatly feared in the council of the holy ones and more awesome than all who surround Him.  O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord?  Your faithfulness also surrounds You.  (vv1-2, 5-8)

 

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 5, Zephaniah 3

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search= Zephaniah +3&version=ESV

 

 

Advent Week 2: Preparing the Way

Dec 5

 

Zephaniah 3 (ESV)

Judgment on Jerusalem and the Nations

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
    the oppressing city!
She listens to no voice;
    she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord;
    she does not draw near to her God.

Her officials within her
    are roaring lions;
her judges are evening wolves
    that leave nothing till the morning.
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men;
her priests profane what is holy;
    they do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous;
    he does no injustice;
every morning he shows forth his justice;
    each dawn he does not fail;
    but the unjust knows no shame.

“I have cut off nations;
    their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
    so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
    without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me;
    you will accept correction.
Then your dwelling would not be cut off
    according to all that I have appointed against you.’
But all the more they were eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.

 8 “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord,
    “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey.
For my decision is to gather nations,
    to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
    all my burning anger;
for in the fire of my jealousy
    all the earth shall be consumed.

The Conversion of the Nations

“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples
    to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord
    and serve him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
    my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones,
    shall bring my offering.

11 “On that day you shall not be put to shame
    because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
    your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
    in my holy mountain.
12 But I will leave in your midst
    a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,
13     those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
    and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
    a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down,
    and none shall make them afraid.”

Israel’s Joy and Restoration

14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
    shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
    O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
    he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
    you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
    let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
    so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
    with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
    and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
    and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you in,
    at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
    among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
    before your eyes,” says the Lord.

 

Meditation:

  • How does Zephaniah contrast this city of oppressors with their righteous God?
  • Why do you think the Lord promised a remnant after the massive destruction he foretold?
  • Is there a particular promise to Jerusalem in this passage that gives you hope today? Converse with God of this promise and what it means to you.

 

 

 

260 Devotional: Dec 2, Isaiah 40:1-11

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+40&version=ESV


 

Dec 2

 

Isaiah 40:1-11 (ESV)

Comfort for God’s People

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

The Word of God Stands Forever

A voice says, “Cry!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
    and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
    when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
    surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.

The Greatness of God

Go on up to a high mountain,
    O Zion, herald of good news;[e]
lift up your voice with strength,
    O Jerusalem, herald of good news;[f]
    lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
    “Behold your God!”
10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
    and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young.

 

 

Meditation:

  • List all the ways, in this passage, you see comfort for the people.
  • What does this passage show you about the character of God?
  • Which of these promises of God’s comfort do you need in your life today? Ask God to comfort you with that promise.

 

260 Devotional: Dec 1, Isaiah 9:1-7

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+9&version=ESV


 

Dec 1

 

Isaiah 9:1-7 (ESV)

For to Us a Child Is Born

 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

 

Meditation:

  • What are the promises given by God in this passage?
  • What is the role of the “child” in bringing these promises to pass?
  • Take some time to remember who Jesus was. Pray for the world and for yourself with confidence in His ultimate reign, even in the midst of darkness.


 

260 Devotional: Nov 30, Jeremiah 31:27-40

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+31&version=ESV


 

Nov 30

 

Jeremiah 31:27-40 (ESV)

27 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord. 29 In those days they shall no longer say:

“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
    and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30 But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

The New Covenant

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

35 Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
    and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
    the Lord of hosts is his name:
36 “If this fixed order departs
    from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease
    from being a nation before me forever.”

37 Thus says the Lord:
“If the heavens above can be measured,
    and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel
    for all that they have done,
declares the Lord.”

38 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”

 

Meditation:

What are the elements of the future covenant God will make with his people?

What are the implications of this new covenant for the people of God?

How does this passage help you understand being in a covenant relationship with God?

Thank God for His restoring love. Pray for areas in your life where you feel broken and need his restoration. Pray for damaged relationships which need to be restored by the touch of God.

260 Devotional: Nov 29, Psalm 130

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms+130&version=ESV


 

Advent Week 1: Prophecy & Longing – the Old Testament Story

Nov 29

 

Psalm 130 (ESV)

My Soul Waits for the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

 

 

Meditation:

  • Imagine yourself as a watchman (guard) assigned to keep watch all night. What do you see and how do you feel?
  • What is the relationship between hope and waiting?
  • How will you obey the command to put your hope in the LORD?
  • Read this psalm slowly and meditatively as your prayer to the Lord today.

 

 

260 Devotional: Nov 28, Matthew 7: 21-29

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7&version=ESV


 

Nov 28

Sermon of the Mount – Christian Dedication

Matt 721-29 ESV

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The Authority of Jesus

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Meditation

 

The Sermon on the Mount makes us aware of a fundamental choice: Jesus repeatedly asks His children to be different than other people. Our righteousness should be deep rooted in our heart, our love should be wide enough to bear with our enemies. We are facing two kinds of treasures, two masters, two aspirations, two disciples and two paths. Now is the time for our decision. Are we going to follow the crowd or follow our heavenly father? Are we going to follow the wandering opinion of the majority, or follow the will and revelation of our heavenly father? In the last section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ main purpose is to remind us that we are facing an unavoidable decision.

 

  • Read Matt 7:21-29. Looking superficially, what are the things we can praise about the people described in the passage (v21-23)? Why did Jesus not care about their good declaration and actions but announced their sins instead?
  • It is difficult for us to distinguish between true or fake Christians. However, a storm will reveal things that are hidden. What are the storms you are facing? How do these storms reveal the characters of your life?
  • Which teaching in the Sermon on the Mount gives you the greatest challenge?
  • Pray that God will help you to submit to His authority especially on those things that you don’t want to submit or things you are doing hypocritically?

 

260 Devotional: Nov 25, Matthew 6: 19-34

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6&version=ESV


 

Nov 25

Sermon on the Mount – Christian Aspiration

Matt 619-34 ESV

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Do Not Be Anxious

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 

Meditation

Every person has dream about being famous or successful in their career. When we were children, we usually dreamed to be an athlete, astronaut or movie star. Adults have their more focused dream of begin rich, famous or powerful. However, what should be the aspiration of a Christian? In this passage, Jesus help us to make the wise choice by pointing out the stupidity of choosing the wrong way and the wisdom of choosing the right way. We can make the decision ourselves knowing the comparison.

 

  • Read Matt 6:19-34, the Bible tells us to lay up treasures in heaven and not worry about worldly matters (v19-21). How will you lay up treasures in heaven?
  • Jesus said that no one can serve two masters – God or money (v24). Did you put your faith on God or on money?
  • What is the difference between aspiration of Christians and non-Christians? Why? (v32-34) Pray to God to encourage you to reflect your goal and aspiration.


 

260 Devotional: Nov 24, Matthew 6:7-15

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6&version=ESV


 

Nov 24

Sermon on the Mount – Christian Prayer

Matt 67-15 ESV

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

Meditation:

The basic difference among different type of prayers lies in our different understanding of God. The Lord’s Prayer was a format of prayer taught by Jesus to His disciples. According to Matt 6:9 “Pray then like this,” the Lord’s Prayer is also an example for people to follow. According to Lk 11:2, “When you pray, say,” the Lord’s Prayer are the words we should use when we pray. However, they are not mutually exclusive and we could use both. We could use the Lord’s Prayer as our prayer, or use it as a format of our prayer. Jesus not only teaches us how to pray, He also show us a deeper understanding when we call “Our Father in heaven.”

 

  • Today do you make the mistake of “unintentional prayer” and “meaningless prayer”?
  • “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (v9). In the culture of self-inflation, our heart is occupied by our reputation, career and will. How can we overcome this inclination?
  • What is the relationship between the God’s forgiveness for us and our forgiveness for others (v12, 14-15)?
  • In what area your prayer should be closer to the example of the Lord’s Prayer? Pray according to the format of the Lord’s Prayer now.

 

 

260 Devotional: Nov 23, Matthew 5:38-48

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5&version=ESV


 

Nov 23

Sermon on the Mount – Love Our Enemies

Matt 538-48 ESV

Retaliation

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

Meditation:

This passage brings us to the climax of the Sermon on the Mount. This teaching of Jesus receives the most praises and censures. Jesus taught us to love those who are evil (v39) and our enemies (v44). No other teaching has such a big challenge. This reflects the obvious difference between Christian culture and other culture. The need for the power of the Holy Spirit in this case is also more demanding that in other cases (Love is the first in the fruit of the spiritual).

  • If you have a friend who keeps borrowing things from you and not returning them or returning with damages. There is no point to argue with him. What are you going to do? 1. Will you ask him to pay for the damages? 2. Refuse to lend him anymore, or 3. Continue to lend him things he asks? What is your principle?
  • Read Matt 5:39-42. What do you think is the natural response when we face this situation? How is it different from what Jesus expects us to do?
  • How do you apply this command of Jesus to your situation today? How should we follow Jesus’ teaching to treat our enemies?
  • Is there someone you know that you have grievance with? Pray to God for strength to love them.

 

 

 


 

260 Devotional: Nov 22, Matthew 5:1-12

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5&version=ESV


 

 

Introduction

 

Sermon on the Mount seems to be the most popular among the teaching of Jesus but it is also the least understood, not to mention about doing it. Sermon on the Mount was Jesus’ instruction to His followers, teaching them what type of people they should be and what they should do. In the next few days, we will reflect our spiritual life through the Sermon on the Mount, preparing ourselves for the Advent and celebrating the birth of Jesus.

 

Sermon on the Mount – Christian Character

Matt 51-12 (ESV

 

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

 

The Beatitudes

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

Meditation:

If you heard about Jesus and understand His teachings, you will be familiar with the Beatitudes. The eight blessings are simple but meaningful, and attracts Christians and people of every generation. If we dig down the meaning, we will find its deep meanings. The Beatitudes is a treasure we could never exhausted. Study the Beatitudes, even though we may not reach the deep level of understanding, we will be closer to God’s Kingdom.

 

The Beatitudes reveal a balanced while diversified Christian character. It is not that there are eight different types of disciples – some are meek, merciful or called to be persecuted. In fact, all these characters could belong to the same group of people. They are meek, merciful, poor in spirit and pure in heart.

 

People with these character may not belong to upper class in society, nor spiritual elite above normal Christians. In contrast, the Beatitudes is the standard Jesus set for every Christian. Every Christian should have these characters as they are the standard for the ideal children of God.

 

  • Read Matt 5:1-12. Try to compare the people we regard as blessed or fortunate to what Jesus described. What are the differences?
  • Bonhoeffer was killed by German Nazi because of his Christian faith. He once said, “Every teaching of the Beatitudes widened the gap between a disciple and the world.” How do the promises in the Beatitudes encourage you to be a person different than others?
  • As you read the Sermon on the Mount, pray that God will help you to attain once of the blessings in the Beatitudes.

 

260 Devotional: Nov 21, Philemon

 

Read chapter in full: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philemon+1&version=ESV


 

PHILEMON

Introducing Philemon

The little book of Philemon is the only surviving letter of Paul to an individual friend and convert about a private matter. In it we learn that Onesimus, one of Philemon’s slaves, had stolen from his master and run away to Rome. In that great city he met Paul and became a Christian. Under Roman law, Philemon had the right to brand a returned slave and even kill him.

Paul applies what he wrote in Colossians: “Here there is no Greek or Jew . . . slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col 3:11). Philemon and Onesimus are given the chance to participate in a revolutionary new process for reconciliation.

http://www.ivpress.com/bible/philem/

 

Chapter 1 (ESV)

Before you begin today’s reading and reflection, take a few minutes to create or find a “sacred space”. If you’re in your room, make yourself a small space with as few distractions as possible. Put aside any books, music, magazines; turn off your phone; get away from your email/facebook; turn off your music; etc.

 Now, pull out your Bible, and as you take some deep breaths, pray this short prayer: “Lord, help me be still and listen to your voice now and throughout this day and the next. Amen.”

(You can choose to read the whole chapter, or just the passage that is shown)

 

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

 

REFLECTION

  1. Paul asked Philemon to stop seeing Onesimus as a runaway slave, and to begin seeing him as a dear brother. The gospel makes the same request of each of us. We’re to see everyone as individuals of infinite worth and value, for whom Christ died. And we are to see Christians as dear brothers/sisters and to love them as members of our family.
  2. Are there one or more Christians that you have a hard time accepting as brother or sister in Christ? Why is it hard to think of this Christian this way?  Is it the background, ethnicity, behavior, cultural or theological difference, or something else? What would need to change in you in order to accept this person as a Christian brother or sister?
  3. Talk to God about your struggle of accepting others. Thank God that He accepts your and sees you and other believers as no less than His very own children.  Ask God to help you see others with the same eyes.
  4. As you encounter people this week who are different from you, remind yourself that God sees them with the label “my children” – and that means you

 

Prayer & Journaling:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what he wants to tell you. 

If you have a prayer journal, as you listen to God, write down a few thoughts, questions, words, names, drawings, or anything that has come to your mind during this time.

 

Proverbs for Today 25:11-14

11 A word fitly spoken
    is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
    is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
    is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
    he refreshes the soul of his masters.
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
    is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.