TODAY’S DAILY PRAYER
When the Lord brought us back to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! How we laughed, how we sang for joy! Then the other nations said about us, “The Lord did great things for them.” Indeed he did great things for us; how happy we were! Psalm 126:1–3, TEV
Dear Father in heaven, we hope in you and in your promise, which we hold in our hearts as our most precious possession. Protect us when times grow hard. May your Spirit come. May your Spirit constantly reveal your Word and give your promise to the hearts of many so that they may share in the hope, the faith, and the struggle for the great day. On that day we will be allowed to rejoice, exulting with all people because your salvation comes for the whole world. Amen.
Verse of the Day
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
In the days of Jesus’ birth, there was a group of devout and lowly people who still looked for God’s redemption. They knew that salvation could not, and would not, come without great cost — not just to themselves, but also to God. Isaiah had hinted about this in his Servant Songs (see Isaiah 53). They had experienced in their own history. So with honest hearts, they confessed that they didn’t have the power to bring salvation and deliverance. This power had to come from God and had to be released to people who were seeking God’s transformation in their lives. They needed to ask God for it! They needed to seek his face, his presence, in their daily lives. So must we!
O LORD, God of heaven and earth, Ruler of all creation, I praise you. I praise you for your power and glory. I praise you for your wisdom and creativity. I praise you for your mercy and righteousness. I praise you, because you alone are worthy of my praise. O LORD, you alone can bring me full salvation. Please, shine your face upon me. Please, make your presence known in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
BIBLE STUDY BUDDY
Read John 1:1-14.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. He was with God in the beginning. 3. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- 13. children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John the Baptist came to bear witness concerning Jesus. Nothing more fully shows the darkness of men’s minds, than that when the Light had appeared, there needed a witness to call attention to it. Christ was the true Light; that great Light which deserves to be called so. By his Spirit and grace he enlightens all that are enlightened to salvation; and those that are not enlightened by him, perish in darkness. Christ was in the world when he took our nature upon him, and dwelt among us. The Son of the Highest was here in this lower world. He was in the world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, because it was a world of his own making. Yet the world knew him not. When he comes as a Judge, the world shall know him. Many say that they are Christ’s own, yet do not receive him, because they will not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them. All the children of God are born again. This new birth is through the word of God as the means, 1Pe 1:23, and by the Spirit of God as the Author. By his Divine presence Christ always was in the world. But now that the fulness of time was come, he was, after another manner, God manifested in the flesh. But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through this veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those most intimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in the form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect of graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, therefore qualified to plead for us; and full of truth, fully aware of the things he was to reveal.
They Wouldn’t Let Him In….
It’s been over 60 years since I read the poem The Death of the Hired Man. I still recall these lines: ”Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
Those words are deeply etched in my memory, I believe, because my parents and brothers expressed that kind of love for me. I knew that my own family would warmly receive me whenever I came home.
In sharp contrast to my experience, Jesus ”came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (Jn. 1:11). He was rejected by the ones who should have accepted Him.
He was the one who created them (Jn. 1:3), yet He gave up heaven’s glory to be born a human being. He came to His own people to be their Savior and King. He reached out to them and gave them every reason to love Him. But they turned Him away and crucified Him.
That was not the end, however. Even Jesus’ death on the cross was an expression of His love. He died to pay the penalty for our sin, and His resurrection guarantees that all who believe in Him will be victorious over death and enjoy eternity in His presence.
Jesus is still reaching out and seeking those who will accept Him into their hearts. Have you let Him in?
-Herbert Vander Lugt
Last Words from a Mentor to His Protege
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra-what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica-Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come-and the books, especially the parchments.
Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.
At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
2 Timothy 3:1-4:18
Blessed be the LORD my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle-
My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the One in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my people under me.
LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?
Man is like a breath;
His days are like a passing shadow.
He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Daily Advent Prayer
Third Week of Advent
“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.”
O God, who through your Only Begotten Son
have made us a new creation,
look kindly, we pray,
on the handiwork of your mercy,
and at your Son’s coming
cleanse us from every stain
of the old way of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. *
On that day, you need not be ashamed
of all your deeds, your rebellious actions against me.
The Lord’s coming promises us a time
when we need not fear. It will indeed be a time
of purifying, a time of humility and trust in God.
We ask for the grace to be like the child
whose mind is changed and says, “Yes”
to our Lord’s call.
Come, O Lord, do not delay;
forgive the sins of your people.
God the almighty Father stretched forth his hand again to
take possession of the remnant of his people. Let us
make our prayer to him:
Lord, may your kingdom come.
Lord, grant that our works of penance may please you,
– and that we may be ready for your kingdom which is so near.
Prepare a path in our hearts for the coming of your Word,
– and let his glory be revealed among us.
Bring low the mountains of our pride,
– and fill up the valleys of our weakness.
Break down the wall of hatred that divides the nations,
-and make level for mankind the paths to peace.
O ROOT OF JESSE,
that stands for an ensign of the people,
before whom the kings keep silence
and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication:
Come, to deliver us, and tarry not.
Lord of such compassionate wisdom,
How often do I exalt myself and ignore you?
I look over the heads of my more humble brothers and sisters,
not seeing how they rely on you so much more than I do.
Help me to learn from them to make you
the center of my life.
You invite me to not be ashamed of what I have done in my life,
but instead offer me a refuge.
Let me call out to you; hear me:
Give me the grace to see those around me who are brokenhearted.
Guide me in staying with them in their sorrows.
I ask for the courage to help them in all the ways they need it
and to be your servant on this earth.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Ministries of Adrian Rogers
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
The Holy Spirit Is A Person
Getting Established in the Faith
If you are a new believer in Christ, or know someone who is, I want to talk to you today. I want to share with you four things that will help you get established in your faith.
1. Read your Bible every day. That’s food for your spirit. Psalm 119:11 says, Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. It is vital you spend time in God’s Word.
2. Pray every day. Spend time talking to God and then listening in your heart for His answers. As 1 Thessalonians 5:17 admonishes us, Pray without ceasing. This is a vital part of your growth and protection as a believer.
3. Fellowship with other believers. Do not get isolated from the church. Do not get isolated from the rest of the body. Scripture tells us to not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some (Hebrews 10:25). In fact, it is important to get integrated into a smaller circle of fellowship. You need to get connected relationally. There is a real safety in that.
4. Listen to your spiritual leaders. Go to church whenever the doors are open, and go expecting God to speak to you through the teaching and preaching. One translation of Hebrews 13:17 says, Give ear to your spiritual leaders and be willing to do what they say for their work is to watch over your souls. Become a part of a strong Bible-believing fellowship and take heed to what is taught.
If you will do those things: read your Bible every day, pray every day, get involved in a smaller circle of fellowship and listen to your spiritual leaders, you will be all right.
How Close You Can Get, and Miss it All
The saddest story of Christmas is how those closest to Christ’s birth completely missed that first Christmas; and that tragedy has continued to this day. You can be so close and yet so far away!
The real purpose of Christmas was shown by God at Christ’s birth, God confronted the world with the only gift everyone really needs.
Christmas is about the gift no one seeks but everyone needs.
God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to save lost people from their sins.
God came to provide the only gift that everyone absolutely, critically needs—the substitutionary death of His Son, who came to meet our critical, eternal-life-threatening need prompted by our sins.
So the gift of Christmas is Christ’s work of salvation. That gift involves meeting the critical needs each of us have in our lost, sinful and fallen condition.
Today as we continue to see those elements of salvation that Christ’s birth has brought, we do so by asking the question, “How close can someone get to Christ and His gift of Christmas and not be saved?”
The answer is sadly that you can get very close. Missing Jesus and His salvation is seen most vividly in the story of Christmas. Those closest to the coming of Christ were most untouched by it! In both Luke and Matthew’s record we find that you can grow up in the shadow of God’s Temple, hear God’s Word every day of your life, meet the Wise men themselves, explain the Old Testament to them—and still miss everything, if it is not inside your heart and mind.
ACQUAINTANCE vs. KNOWLEDGE
Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus came to save us from sin and live within us. Beware of getting so close in every way—but in your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him. Webster’s Dictionary says that knowledge has three levels: recognition, acquaintance, and experience. Knowing Christ means a personal experience of His grace that leads us to partake of His salvation.
How close can you get to Jesus and still be too far away? That is what the religious leaders of Christ’s day demonstrate to us this Christmas. So close they got, and yet so far away they remained. It is possible to be as close as them, and yet miss all that Christ and Christmas have to offer.
Matthew 2 and Luke 1 introduce us the chief priests and scribes, with daily immersion in the Scriptures, endless hours of singing and serving, and constant exposure to all that God had left to point to Him and His salvation—they only held God’s Word externally—never in their wills and souls. God was only near in their mouths—and not in their hearts.
Christmas is a time to remember that Jesus came to save us from sin and live within us. Beware of getting so close in every way—but in your heart, to Christ. Beware of being acquainted with Christ but never knowing Him.
The Fountain of Life
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
Imagine digging in your back yard while planting some flowers. You overturn a slab of sod and a thin spurt of water shoots upward. You watch as the water trickles onto a patch of brown, dry grass, and to your amazement, the grass slowly turns green. The water then flows toward your tomato plants and immediately the wilted leaves stand upright and the tomatoes blush red. You run into your house, grab a cup, and run back out to this tiny fountain. You fill your cup, then drink it in one long gulp. Suddenly, you feel invigorated.
You run back into the house, look in the mirror, and notice that some of your wrinkles are ironed out, leaving a youthful complexion that you haven’t seen in years. Your jaw drops in amazement as the realization hits you: you have discovered the Fountain of Youth!
What would you do with this fantastic discovery? Would you share it with your spouse, your children, your older sister or brother? Would you tell your mother who is dying of cancer? Would you invite all of the families in your neighborhood to a barbecue and give them all they wanted to drink? Of course you would! Who would be selfish enough to keep so great a discovery to himself?
Yet we, who have been partakers of the greatest discovery the world has ever known—namely, eternal life through faith in Christ—keep it to ourselves most of the time.
Has it ever occurred to you that the more you value Christ’s sacrifice, the higher your priority will be in sharing Him with others? If you do not consider His mercy to be the most significant thing that has ever been given to you, then you will not consider it worth sharing. This would be the most terrible of all tragedies. For if there is one discovery that should never be hidden nor taken for granted, it is the fountain of living water which Christ has offered through His gift of salvation; a fountain wide enough for all to drink and deep enough for all to bathe.
Romans 10:14 says, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
How well are you doing at sharing your faith with others? Are you taking Christ’s sacrifice for granted, covering it over with dirt and hoping no one will ever know that you are a Christian? Let me urge you to fervently tell the world about this miraculous, incredible discovery . . . the Fountain of Living Water.
Prayer Point: Take time to thank God for His sacrifice on the cross and for sending that person who first shared the news with you. Pray that you will cease from taking Christ’s sacrifice for granted, but rather, that God will bring you to people who need the living water.
Extra Refreshment: Read John 4:1-45.
Stephen Davey is Senior Pastor of Colonial Baptist Church and President of Shepherds Theological Seminary, as well as principal Bible teacher on the Wisdom for the Heart broadcast.
A Divine Birth Announcement
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. . . . Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” –Luke 2:8, 10 (NKJV)
If you are a parent, then you can remember the first people you called after you became one. You gave them the weight and length of the baby and the actual time when he or she was born. You shared the news with those who were closest to you.
When God announced the birth of His Son, whom did He tell first? It seems likely that He would have started with Caesar Augustus. He could have sent the angel Gabriel to appear in Caesar’s court and announce, “Check this out, buddy. You are not God! The Savior of the world has arrived!”
Or He might have had Gabriel appear to the religious leaders and say, “Wake up! The Messiah has been born! The One you talk about, the One you pray for–He is here!”
But that didn’t happen. Instead, God first announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds. We tend to romanticize the shepherds along with everyone else in the Christmas story, but we don’t understand who they were. In this culture, shepherds lived at the bottom of the social ladder.
Shepherds were so despised that their testimonies were not even allowed in a court of law. Shepherds did the work that no one else wanted to do. They worked hard, but they were perceived as unclean because they could not observe the ceremonial hand washings. They were the outcasts, the nobodies.
The only people less-regarded than shepherds were those who were suffering from leprosy. Yet God decided to announce His news to some shepherds in the fields as they kept watch over their flocks at night. This was the modus operandi of Jesus, from birth to death. He always appealed to the outcast, to the common, to the ordinary. And that should give hope to ordinary people like us.
Social media summary: This divine birth announcement is addressed to you!
Copyright (c) 2015 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Key to Success!
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God – >Romans 5:3-5
Looking for an edge in life? Consider this: God is the key to any success you may have in learning to control your desires. He must be your strength, your counselor, and your sure foundation.
Why is God so important? Because He’s the source and fulfillment of all human life, including yours. In other words, you were created by God as well as for God. We often forget the latter.
St. Augustine made this beautiful confession nearly seventeen centuries ago: “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in You, O Lord.” It was true for him then, and it’s true for you now.
“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:2)
“Whoever drinks the water I give Him,” said Jesus, “will never thirst…[it] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 14:4)
“I am the bread of life,” said Jesus, “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
Behind all your cravings is a craving for God. And this craving can only be filled through a relationship with Jesus Christ–your true food and drink.
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo (1475-1564)
The Daily Word of Hope Devotional
Bible Fun Fact: The book of Acts was written about 64 A.D. in Greece.
My Redeemer Lives
But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. After my skin is destroyed, then I will see God in my flesh, whom I, even I, will see on my side. My eyes will see, and not as a stranger. Job 19:25 WEB
Job is the oldest book in the Bible, except for the first ten chapters of Genesis. Wealth in this book was still measured in livestock. Yet even then, Job already knew that there was life beyond the natural, and that after his skin was destroyed, that he would see God with his own eyes. When Job went through horrible circumstances, like losing his ten children, all of his wealth, and then his health, he still clung to this hope. Job held tightly to his faith during his darkest hours. Later, it was all restored double and the end of his life, was better than the beginning.
Know today, that whatever this life hands you, there is something beyond the trouble. There is something more important than what you are facing. This life is only temporary and not the final destination for us. Even death is not the end for believers, but merely a transition.
If you cannot get the work load done, it will be OK, just do your best and don’t be stressed. When you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, stop a moment and ask for His help. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 10:30). What then have we picked up? Jesus said: ‘But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life’ (Luke 21:34 AMP).
So the cares of this world, the business of life, are heavy and can be a headache. Lighten up, look at the big picture, and I mean eternity. What eternal value does this current project have? Live a little, laugh a little, take a moment during the day to tell the Father that you love Him, and do it with a thankful smile. He will still be on the throne whether you meet that deadline or not, for our Redeemer lives.
Prayer: Heavenly Father please bring Your balance to my life. Help me to take it one day at a time and remove this burden from my shoulders. My help comes from the Lord. I have put my trust in God, what can man do to me? Walk with me today Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.
“Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means ‘the LORD is my banner’).” – Exodus 17:15 NLT
Thoughts for Today
In Exodus 17, we learn that while at Rephidim, the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses instructed Joshua to select men for battle and then went to the top of the hill with the staff of God in his hand. As long as his hands were raised, the Israelites experienced victory, but when his hands were lowered, they suffered loss. Aaron and Hur helped Moses by holding his hands up when he tired. After the Israelites had defeated the Amalekites, Moses built an altar and called it Jehovah-nissi – the Lord is my banner.” The Israelites had won the battle with the Lord as their banner.
And so we can win the battles we face in life if we will always remember that the Lord is our banner. Just as Moses did, we must persistently surrender all that we are to the Lord and recognize our dependence on him.
When we want to represent a country, school, organization or cause, we adopt its flag/mission/standards as our banner representing our motivation, goals, standards, allegiance. As Christians, God is our banner, representing all that he is. Love, power, grace, compassion, light, protection … and so much more. When we are willing to stay focused on him and recognize him as our source, he will bring victory in our lives.
Consider this …
Is God truly the banner that represents every area of your life? Are you living for him first and foremost? Or is he sometimes replaced by your devotion to other people or things … self … relationships … ambition … doctrine … peace at any cost. This week we are going to reflect on some of the things that may replace God as our banner and remind ourselves to refocus on him.
Lord, I thank you that you are my banner. Sometimes I choose not to walk under your banner. Instead, I put my faith in myself … or other people … or things … instead of you. I put my desires above yours. Please forgive me and help me stay under your banner. In Jesus’ name …
Passion for Praise: ‘God Makes Things Right’
GOD is gracious — it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God. GOD takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me. I said to myself, “Relax and rest. GOD has showered you with blessings.”