Posts from 2019

DEVOTIONS – WEDNESDAY JANUARY 1, 2020

Matthew 2:19-20 (NIV)   After Herod died,  an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said,  “Get up,  take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,  for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”  Once again,  the angel of the Lord provided direction through a dream and sent Joseph and his family to Nazareth,  a safer place where Herod Antipas reigned.  There they began the…

DEVOTIONS – TUESDAY DECEMBER 31, 2019

Matthew 2:16 (NIV)  When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi,  he was furious…  Can we even begin to comprehend the suffering imposed on the families in Bethlehem as a result of one man’s hysterical fears?  This was typical behavior for Herod,  who murdered even his own family members.  This spirit of murder lives on in the hearts of evil rulers around the world today.  God sees injustice and cares about broken lives.  He is the God…

DEVOTIONS – MONDAY DECEMBER 30, 2019

Matthew 2:8  (NIV)   (Herod)  sent  (the Magi)  to Bethlehem and said,  “Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find him,  report to me,  so that I too may go and worship him.”  King Herod had no intention of worshipping the Christ child.  He destroyed anyone who might interfere with his ambitions;  he had murdered his wife,  her mother,  his oldest son,  and two other sons!  No threat survived his murderous reign.  Though the…

DEVOTIONS – SATURDAY DECEMBER 28, 2019

Luke 2:17 (NIV)  When they  (the shepherds)  had seen Him,  they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child.  “I will seek to believe rather than to reason.  I will seek,  rather than explain.  I will seek to give thanks,  rather than to penetrate the doctrine.  Who can understand?  Here is the Ancient of Days becoming a babe in Bethlehem.  Here is He who thunders in the heavens,  crying in the cradle.  Here is the One…

DEVOTIONS – FRIDAY DECEMBER 27, 2019

I Timothy 3:16 (NIV)  Beyond all question,  the mystery of godliness is great:  He appeared in a body,  was vindicated by the Spirit,  was seen by angels,  was preached among the nations,  was believed on in the world,  was taken up in glory.  This was Paul’s apologetic mandate.  No wonder he spent years in the Arabian Desert after seeing the resurrected Christ on the Damascus road!  His whole mindset had to be realigned.  He studied the Old Testament scriptures to…

DEVOTIONS – THURSDAY DECEMBER 26, 2019

Colossians 1:15, 19, 20b (NIV)  The Son is the image of the invisible God,  the firstborn over all creation… For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to Himself all things… by making peace through his blood,  shed on the cross.  Long before there ever was an Abraham,  Jesus was present.  Long before there ever was a Bethlehem,  Jesus was present.  Jesus’  life did not begin in Bethlehem.  There was never…

DEVOTIONS – WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 25, 2019

Isaiah 7:14  (NIV)  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,  and will call him Immanuel.  This is the Old Testament prophecy to which Matthew pointed.  He clearly says this child is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy—this is that.  Isn’t it wonderful to know that Immanuel means  “God with us”?  He came down to us because we had no possible way of going up to Him. …

DEVOTIONS – TUESDAY DECEMBER 24, 2019

Matthew 1:22 (NIV)  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet…  If we believe that God can create a man out of the dust of the earth,  and if we believe that God can create a woman out of the side of a man,  and if we believe that God can enable a man and woman who are past the age of childbearing to conceive and give birth to a healthy child,  then why…

DEVOTIONS – MONDAY DECEMBER 23, 2019

Matthew 1:23  (NIV)  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,  and they will call Him Immanuel”—which means,  “God with us.”  The Bible is a book filled with remarkable narratives.  A snake talks to a woman  (Eve).  A man builds a boat and save the animals of the world from a flood  (Noah).  The second half begins with another remarkable story—the Christmas story.  A virgin conceives a child.  It would all seem quite impossible to…

DEVOTIONS – SATURDAY DECEMBER 21, 2019

John 1:14 (NIV)  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.“ I think it’s noteworthy that the Almighty God didn’t act high and mighty.  The Holy One wasn’t holier than thou.  The One who knew it all,  wasn’t a know-it-all.  The One who made the stars didn’t keep His head in them.  The One who owns all the stuff of earth never strutted it.  Never.  He could have.  Oh,  how He could have.  He could have been a…

DEVOTIONS – FRIDAY DECEMBER 20, 2019

Luke 1:28 (NIV)  The angel went to  (Mary)  and said,  “Greetings,  you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.”  Mary teaches us that when we are faced with the unexpected,  we should persevere in faith gracefully.  God interrupted her wedding plans with a proposition:  “I am about to change the world.  Will you go with me on this?”  Mary submitted to God’s will and faced all the challenges that come with an unplanned pregnancy.  She gave birth in…

DEVOTIONS – THURSDAY DECEMBER 19, 2019

Luke 1:42 (NIV)  In a loud voice  (Elizabeth)  exclaimed:  “Blessed are you among women,  and blessed is the child you will bear!”  Immediately upon embracing Gabriel’s message,  Mary faced the reality of  “the space in-between”—the space between the supernatural world of the angel’s message and the physical world in which she would be judged harshly.  But God provided supernatural elements to help hold Mary’s faith secure as she lived in  “the space in-between.”  God provided a friend  (Elizabeth).  God spoke…

DEVOTIONS – WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 18, 2019

Luke 1:48b  (NIV)  From now on all generations will call me blessed.  Mary had her own idea of how life would be as the mother of the Messiah.  She had been taught all her life to watch for His coming.  All she had been taught created a foundation to support her belief in what the angel said to her.  We must make sure we are building a platform,  a foundation of understanding that will support our children and grandchildren when…

DEVOTIONS – TUESDAY DECEMBER 17, 2019

Luke 1:13 (NIV)  The Christmas story is filled with angels who were busy delivering messages.  To Zechariah,  who had given up expectations,  the angel said: “Do not be afraid,  Zechariah;  your prayer has been heard…”  To Mary,  the person faced with an unimaginable proposition,  the angel said: “Do not be afraid,  you have found favor with God.”  To Joseph,  the person fearful that trust had been violated,  the angel said: “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” …

DEVOTIONS – MONDAY DECEMBER 16, 2019

Luke 2:19  (MSG)  Mary kept all these things to herself,  holding them dear,  deep within herself.  Twice the scriptures tell us that Mary  “treasured up”  (NIV)  a unique experience:  here,  as the shepherds bowed to worship her newborn son,  and later when she and Joseph  “lost”  Jesus at the temple.  They were two very different occasions but worthy of a heavenly notation:  this child belongs to God.  The day would come when He would grow into manhood and endure terrible…

DEVOTIONS – SATURDAY DECEMBER 14, 2019

Luke 2:15 (NIV)  …the shepherds said to one another,  “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened…”  People respond in different ways to things they do not understand.  Some live in denial;  most search for rational explanations.  These shepherds believed and voiced a simple response:  “Let’s go see!”  They acted in faith.  We also must decide how we will respond to the truth of Jesus Christ.  Each of us must  “go see”  for ourselves.  We must decide…

DEVOTIONS – FRIDAY DECEMBER 13, 2019

Luke 2:8 (NIV)  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,  keeping watch over their flocks at night.  The religious orthodoxy of the day looked down on shepherds because they were unable to perform the ceremonial washings necessary to fulfill the rules and regulations of the law.  Yet God sent the announcement of Christ’s birth to them first!  The story of angels appearing to the shepherds reminds us that God’s invitation to celebrate Christ’s birth extends to everyone. …

DEVOTIONS – THURSDAY DECEMBER 12, 2019

Luke 1:46 (NIV)  And Mary said:  “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…  Mary’s prophetic utterance is called  “The Magnificat”  (vs. 47-55)  and it is a prophetic explosion of purpose and calling.  It was a call to worship a holy God,  to produce acts of compassion and deeds of mercy,  to finally see the redemption of broken Israel,  and to celebrate the arrival of:  1) food for the hungry,  2) relief from poverty,  and…

DEVOTIONS – WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 11, 2019

Luke 1:56  (NIV)  Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.  Mary had arrived at Elizabeth’s house when Elizabeth was six months pregnant.  She left three months later.  Did she witness the birth of John?  Did she learn techniques of childbirth that prepared her for a lonely delivery in a stable many months later?  It seems probable.  Today,  focus your prayers on mothers.  Pray for strength to raise godly children who will fulfill their divine destinies…

DEVOTIONS – TUESDAY DECEMBER 10, 2019

Luke 1:45 (NIV)  “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”  Both Mary and Elizabeth had suffered disappointment and misunderstanding;  but now both of them celebrated their miracles.  Both would be mothers of men who were filled with God’s Spirit and called into supernatural ministry.  In the days that followed,  the women probably stayed in touch,  encouraged each other,  reminded one another of God’s miraculous power,  and helped each other keep…

DEVOTIONS – MONDAY DECEMBER 9, 2019

Matthew 1:21  (NIV)  She will give birth to a son,  and you are to give him the name Jesus,  because He will save His people from their sins.  Jesus is the Greek form of the Jewish name,  Joshua,  which means Jehovah is salvation.  The angel told Joseph in a dream that Mary’s son would grow up to become the Savior.  Can you imagine how Joseph felt upon hearing these words?  Think of the relief He felt in knowing that his…

DEVOTIONS – SATURDAY DECEMBER 7, 2019

Luke 1:35 (NIV)  The angel answered,  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,  and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  When the Spirit of God overshadows us,  anything is possible.  The Word became flesh  (John 1:14)  through the incarnation of Jesus.  God came to us in the person of Jesus who said,  “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”  (John 14:9).  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His…

DEVOTIONS – FRIDAY DECEMBER 6, 2019

Luke 1:34 (NIV)  “How will this be?”  Mary asked the angel,  “since I am a virgin?”  Mary asked a reasonable question,  and the angel answered her question without rebuke.  God does not mind our questions;  we have a reasonable faith.  The angel not only answered Mary’s question but also gave her exciting news about another miracle baby to be born into the family  (vs. 36).  Elizabeth was six months into her pregnancy;  and this information provided Mary with a touchstone…

DEVOTIONS – THURSDAY DECEMBER 5, 2019

Luke 1:29 (NIV)  Mary was greatly troubled at  (Gabriel’s)  words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her,  “Do not be afraid,  Mary,  you have found favor with God.”  Mary tried to process the supernatural with her human mind,  and fear began to overwhelm her senses.  Immediately,  the angel intervened with words of comfort.  How easily fear takes over when we cannot understand something outside the boundaries of our everyday normal experiences.  The…

DEVOTIONS – WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 4, 2019

Luke 1:26  (NIV)  …God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth,  a town in Galilee.  Notice that the angel began the conversation with Mary by using two strong affirmations:  that of God’s love,  and that of God’s presence.  Knowing that God loves us and that He is with us are two essential truths that provide a strong foundation for life and service.  God knew the hardships that would come to Mary.  She would face emotional highs and lows beyond what any…

DEVOTIONS – TUESDAY DECEMBER 3, 2019

Luke 1:11 (NIV)  Then an angel of the Lord appeared to (Zechariah)… Zechariah was going about his daily duties when the angel appeared to him.  You’d think that,  being a priest,  Zechariah would have responded differently to the angel;  but his response to Gabriel’s joyful news was one of fear and unbelief.  Why is it so difficult to connect faith with life?  It is because we live with a reality based in our five senses and it is difficult to…

DEVOTIONS – MONDAY DECEMBER 2, 2019

Luke 1:6  (NIV)   Both of them were upright in the sight of God,  observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.  But they had no children,  because Elizabeth was barren;  and they were both well along in years.  Both Zechariah and Elizabeth had noble heritages and both walked blamelessly before God;  yet Elizabeth remained barren.  How many years had they trusted God for a child?  How many times had they prayed?  Zechariah and Elizabeth trusted God with their barrenness…

DEVOTIONS – SATURDAY NOVEMBER 30, 2019

Mark 14:29 (NIV)  Peter declared,  “Even if all falls away,  I will not.”  Peter had an inflated sense of his own spiritual strength and capacity.  Jesus knew the intensity of the trial ahead for all the disciples.  He knew that Satan would watch for every opportunity to take advantage of the situation and play off the disciples’  confusion,  fear,  and despair.  Jesus knew Peter’s true capacity.  He knows our as well.  When trials come,  how do we respond?  Satan uses…

DEVOTIONS – FRIDAY NOVEMBER 29, 2019

Galatians 5: 14 (NIV)   For the entire law is summed up in a single command:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  While differences of opinion are normal among any group of people,  we must not let our differences escalate into strife.  We should be able to voice our differences,  yet respect one another and give each other freedom to learn and grow,  even through mistakes.  We are walking together on this journey of faith,  so love must rule in our…

DEVOTIONS – THURSDAY NOVEMBER 28, 2019

Matthew 14:19 (NIV)   …Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven,  (Jesus)  gave thanks and broke the loaves…  Jesus gave thanks.  Thanksgiving provides an opportunity for us to express appreciation to our friends and family members.  Out of our sincere gratefulness grows a closer bond and a deeper sense of community.  To be appreciated and loved is a deep,  human need,  and expressing thanks to one another helps to meet that need.  Words of…

DEVOTIONS – WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2019

II Corinthians 9:11 (NIV)   You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion,  and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.  There is a grace of giving,  a spirit of generosity that marks maturing followers of Jesus Christ.  They view all of life as a gift from God and everything they own as on loan from…

DEVOTIONS – TUESDAY NOVEMBER 26, 2019

Luke 17:17 (NIV)   Jesus asked,  “Were not all ten cleansed?  Where are the other nine?” Only one of the ten lepers returned to say,  “Thank you”  to Jesus.  We use this story to teach our children the importance of gratitude and expressing thanks.  And certainly the Thanksgiving season reminds us of the importance of living with a grateful heart.  Rather than looking at all the things we don’t have,  why not focus on all the blessings that we do…

DEVOTIONS – MONDAY NOVEMBER 25, 2019

Matthew 27:3 (NIV)   When Judas,  who had betrayed him,  realized that Jesus had been condemned to die,  he was filled with remorse.  The person consumed by the words,  “What if…”  and  “If only…”  faces an empty future.  When we are caught up in all of life’s  “ifs”  we find ourselves lost in a crazy,  unending maze of heartache,  going nowhere.  A better response to remorse is:   “What now?”  Judas ultimately hanged himself.  What a contrast to Peter,  who…

DEVOTIONS – SATURDAY NOVEMBER 23, 2019

Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)  I will lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord,  the Maker of heaven and earth.  The psalmist looked up at the hills and saw idols and shrines to false gods dotting the landscape.  While others prayed to gods who could not answer,  the psalmist knew the Lord would hear and respond to his prayers.  Jehovah was the Maker of heaven and earth.  Today our  “landscape”  is…

DEVOTIONS – FRIDAY NOVEMBER 22, 2019

Psalm 104:33-34 (NLT)  I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.  I will praise my God to my last breath!  May all my thoughts  (meditation;  NIV,  KJV)  be pleasing to Him,  for I rejoice in the Lord.  Music and meditation originates in the Psalms.  How simple is praise;  yet,  how profound its effect!  As you prepare for a season of thanksgiving,  recognize its importance in the whole scheme of life.  Thanksgiving is foundational for good mental health; …

DEVOTIONS – THURSDAY NOVEMBER 21, 2019

I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)  Give thanks in all circumstances…   (MSG)  thank God no matter what happens.   Life comes pre-packaged with trouble:  but prayer gives us access to a never-ending supply of wisdom and encouragement.  We worship in spite of our problems.  We view heartaches as opportunities for greater reliance on the Giver of Life.  We discover new provisions through Jesus Christ,  our Lord.  Give thanks today no matter what your circumstances because thanksgiving is the doorway into God’s…

DEVOTIONS – WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 20, 2019

Philippians 4:6-9  (NIV)  Do not be anxious about anything,  but in everything,  by prayer and petition,  with thanksgiving,  present your requests to God.  And the peace of God,  which transcends all understanding,  will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Paul gives us the answer to overcoming worry.  Pray,  with thanksgiving,  over every concern.  He doesn’t expect us to pretend that we don’t have problems;  but He wants us to use our energy to give thanks in spite…

DEVOTIONS – TUESDAY NOVEMBER 19, 2019

Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)  Therefore,  if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother;  then come and offer your gift. Jesus prioritized relationships.  His messages were not ethereal concepts disassociated from the nitty-gritty realities of life.  He presented timeless truths applicable both then and now.  He told people to stop worshipping if they needed…

DEVOTIONS – MONDAY NOVEMBER 18, 2019

Matthew 5:21-22  (NIV)  You have heard… ”Do not murder”…  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment”  (Jesus teaching).   Jesus provides tremendous insight into human behavior in this one verse.  Our thoughts lead to feelings,  and our feelings lead to actions.  How important it is for us to follow the advice given by Paul in Philippians 4:6-9 and learn to think on  “whatsoever is true,  noble,  right,  pure,  lovely,  admirable, …

DEVOTIONS – SATURDAY NOVEMBER 16, 2019

Matthew 4:23 (NIV)  Jesus went throughout Galilee,  teaching in their synagogues,  preaching the good news of the kingdom,  and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  Christ’s miracles drew multitudes.  People listened to Him as long as they saw miracles.  But later in His ministry,  as He drew near to the cross,  He performed fewer miracles and preached more about discipleship.  Once,  after his message on the high cost of discipleship,  many followers walked away  (John 6).  He turned…
>