Isaiah 9:1-7

Scripture:  Isaiah 9:1-7

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.  Isaiah 9:2 

Observation:

Isaiah’s vision of the coming Messiah is full of incredible imagery.  A child, a son, the government on his shoulders, a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, he is eternal, reigning over his kingdom, with justice and righteousness…and that’s just verses 6 and 7!

What a perfect description of what Jesus would be for all who call on his name.  He is everything to those who follow him!

Application:

What is Jesus to you today?  Is he all these things Isaiah describes him as?  Do you need counsel?  The might of our God? A Father?  A Prince who brings Peace?  He is all these things…and He is all these things to you!  Call upon the one who reigns with justice and righteousness.  He will answer your plea…He can become your everything.

Prayer: 

God, during this Christmas season help me worship You fully. Jesus, You are the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace!  Be my everything today…and every day.  I call on your matchless name to be my all in all.  Hear my plea….I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Psalm 96:1-13

Scripture:  Psalm 96:1-13

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
    he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.  Psalm 96:11-13

Observation:

Everything on earth rejoices over the coming of the Lord.  Everything. According to His righteousness, He comes to judge the world.  In His faithfulness, He will judge the people of the earth.

Will we be found rejoicing over Jesus?

Application:

So it’s Christmas…a time to rejoice right?  A time to celebrate?  Not so much these days.  There are presents to buy, food to prepare, guests to entertain.  There are places to go, people to see, things to do.  There isn’t much rejoicing anymore because we have forgotten what we are supposed to be rejoicing about in the first place!  Lost in the season is Jesus.  

Everything should rejoice over Him.  He is after all the Christmas child. The savior.

Make no mistake…the heavens, earth, sea, fields, trees, and all of creation will be rejoicing this Christmas!  

Will you?

Prayer: 

God, in the chaos of this Christmas season, help me take time to reflect on You! Beyond the presents, out of town guests, and parties, remind me what is most important.  You!  Let me rejoice in You this Christmas.  I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Galatians 1:6-10

Scripture:  Galatians 1:6-10

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.  Galatians 1:6-7 

Observation:

Paul warns the church at Galatia not to turn away from what they have heard.  To turn to another gospel is to turn to nothing at all.  It is to turn away from the true Gospel of Jesus.  He says it doesn’t matter who is preaching it…another man…or even angel…if it’s not from God…then they will be under God’s curse.

Paul’s aim was not to please man…but God.  He is a servant of Christ…not of any other.

Application:

Before we quickly ask and judge how the church could have so easily succumbed to a different gospel we should ask ourselves how many times we have done the same?

We believe all kinds of things that aren’t the Gospel.  Sometimes it’s another’s persuasive words, maybe tradition, or even “the way we have always done it”…and the truth is…it’s not the true Gospel at all…but one we have adopted or created ourselves.

Examine what you believe today.  Test it against the scripture…against the Gospel.  You might be surprised!

Prayer: 

God, I want to be your servant…and your servant alone.  Set me free from anything that is not of your Gospel…anything I have set up as another gospel in my life.  Help me to be wholly yours.  I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Galatians 1:1-5

Scripture:  Galatians 1:1-5

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters[a] with me,

To the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  Galatians 1:1-5

Observation:

The introduction to the book of Galatians.  Paul is described as an apostle not sent by men…but by Jesus himself.  Jesus is described as the one who died for our sins all according to His Father’s will.  As a result God deserves all the glory forever!

Application:

It’s a simple introduction but full of meaning for us all.  

As a follower of Christ…you have not been “sent” from men or by men. Jesus himself has “sent” you!  He has a specific plan and purpose just for you!  

You have been “sent” to tell who Jesus is and what he has done!  You and I are to bear witness to the one who gave himself for us!  To rescue us!  To rescue others!  To rescue one more!

As a result God gains glory…forever.  Every time you mention Jesus…share Jesus…speak the name of Jesus…God receives the glory…as only He should.

Prayer: 

God send me today to someone who needs to hear the name of Jesus. Give me courage to speak it.  To you alone be all the glory!  I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Colossians 3:18-25

Scripture:  Colossians 3:18-25

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.  Colossians 3:23-25

Observation:

This passage is all about submission, love, obedience, faithfulness and doing all things with the proper motivation and focus.  Husbands and wives are to treat each other well…being faithful to each other and the Lord.  Children are to obey out of love…and faithfulness to the Lord. Fathers are to treat their children with respect…not creating bitterness. And slaves are to obey as they would obey the Lord…doing all things with the motivation of pleasing God…not men!

A good lesson for us all…no matter who we are or what we do.

Application:

Everything is meant for God.  Everything belongs to him.  So our heart should always be to please him. No matter what it is we do…it should all be for him.  From the smallest of tasks to the most important of endeavors…all of it should please God.  So often our motivation is to please ourselves…or someone else.  We operate out of fear, obligation, or even desire.  We seek to ease our situation…please another to gain respect or an advantage…our motivation is selfish, protective, and self serving.

Examine your motives today.  I’ll do the same.  Who are you seeking to please?  Yourself?  Someone else?  God?  When you boil it down…none of the rest of it matters if God isn’t pleased.

Please only Him today!  No matter what it costs…no matter the consequences.  

Prayer: 

God, give me courage to please only you today.  You above all else.
May my motivation consider You first…before any other.  May I serve you today out of love, obedience, and faithfulness.  I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Acts 2:1-41

Scripture:  Acts 2:1-41

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”  Acts 2:36 

Observation:

It’s the day of Pentecost.  God has poured out his Holy Spirit and the people have begun to speak in other tongues.  Amazed at what is happening the people began to ask for an explanation.  Some said it was merely the affects of too much wine…but Peter stands and preaches Jesus.  

He tells them that although they put Jesus to death…he is both Lord and Messiah and has done what they now see happening amongst them. When the people heard this they repented…many were baptized.

The church was born!

Application:

"Filled to overflowing".  That’s a phrase I was taught early on in my days as a follower of Jesus.  It’s  a phrase that has stuck with me.  Pentecost was a day of filling…to the point of overflowing.  God sent his Spirit to fill his people.  So much that they overflowed with unexplainable results.

If you can…set aside “speaking in tongues” and ask yourself if you want to be “filled to overflowing”?  Do you want to be filled with His Spirit so much so that the results can only be explained by a work of God in your life?  Ask for His Spirit to work in you…to change you…to mold and form you into the image of Jesus…to fill you to overflowing!

Prayer: 

God, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit!  Thank you for filling your church with power.  In the same way You used your people, take and use me!  I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

John 19:17-42

Scripture:  John 19:17-42

36 “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled…”  John 19:36a 

Observation:

Jesus is crucified on the cross.  Everything happens just as it had been prophesied long before.  Every action…every word by Jesus…everything is as the scripture said it would be.  The soldiers cast lots for his clothes. Jesus legs are not broken as the others crucified with him were.  He is pierced on his side to prove his death.  Joseph of Arimathea claims the body and places Jesus in a fresh tomb.

This is the climax to the greatest story every told.  Jesus has done all that was required of him by the Father.  Our sin has been paid for.

Application:

Everything God did with Jesus…he did for us.  Every action, every word…everything.  All for us.  Read this account again…but not as just a reader….Read it as a follower of Jesus.  

Hear all that God has said to you…understand all that God has done for you…Respond to Jesus.

Today express/commit once again to him your allegiance…your love…your life.  He is truly the savior.  Reflect on all he has rescued you from!

Prayer: 

God, what words could we possibly express that would convey our gratitude for sending Your Son to die in our place?  We are in awe of the gift You have given.  Thank you for sending Jesus!  Today…and everyday…I want to live for Him!  I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

John 13:1-17

Scripture:  John 13:1-17

14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.  John 13:14-17 

Observation:

Just hours before Jesus would go to the cross he gathers his disciples for one last meal…and lesson.  As they ate Jesus would get up and go about washing each of his disciples feet.  A lowly task.  Meant for the lowliest of people.  Peter protests, but with Jesus explanation, he gives in.  Jesus sets for the disciples (and us) an example.  If he isn’t too great to wash feet then neither are we.  If he serves…then we should also.

Bottom line…we are not great.

Application:

We think we are “all that and a bag of chips” usually don’t we?  We are great in our own eyes.  Important.  Worthy.  A big deal.  Well…according to Jesus…none of us is great.  None of us is too great to wash another’s feet.  After all…Jesus stoops to a lowly place for us.  He washes feet. Why shouldn’t we?  He dies for others.  Why shouldn’t we?  

Take a moment today to serve someone.  Even if it’s a simple act…do it for someone else.  Wash another’s feet today.  With your hands and feet, with your words, with your prayers.  

We are not great.  Let’s be humble servants of the greatest servant of all.

Prayer: 

God, I understand my spiritual purpose it to serve.  I ask You to give me the heart of a servant who will pick up the towel and serve others daily.  I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Mark 1:1-20

Scripture:  Mark 1:1-20

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with[e] water, but he will baptize you with[f] the Holy Spirit.”  Mark 1:6-8 

Observation:

Mark is short and sweet.  To the point.  Right away he describes the ministry of John the baptist and the coming of Jesus.  Jesus is baptized by John and tested by Satan.  He then begins his ministry and calls his disciples to fish for men.  So begins the ministry of Jesus.  

So begins ours as well.

Application:

In a very real sense we are called to be like John the Baptist.  You probably thought I was going to say the disciples.  That is true for sure but think about John’s ministry.  He prepared the way for Jesus to come. He preached Jesus and repentance of sin.  His entire ministry was to point people to the savior.

Ours is the same.  We are preparing the way for Jesus return.  We preach Jesus and repentance.  We should always be pointing people to the savior.

The world already sees Christians as “weird…strange…a little out there”. That’s how they saw John the Baptist.  We are in good company.  May we be as faithful as he was to proclaim the good news about Jesus.

Even today!

Prayer: 

Jesus, two thousand years ago You called Your disciples to be fishers of men.  In the same way, You have called me to make You known in this world.  Take me, God, and use me to advance your kingdom.  Help me to prepare the way for your return!  I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Daniel 3:16-26

Scripture:  Daniel 3:16-26

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”  Daniel 3:26 

Observation:

King Nebuchadnezzar set up an image of gold and commanded that when the trumpet sounded…all were to bow down and worship this image.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused…to the penalty of death.  They were thrown in a blazing furnace…but a fourth figure appeared with them in the furnace.  One who by Nebuchadnezzar’s own admission looked like a “son of the gods”.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were called out of the fire by the King…they were completely unharmed!

The king would recognize the real King…calling these men “servants of the Most High God”.

Application:

It’s one thing to be rescued from a scorching fire…one that would kill the soldiers tasked to throw these men in.  It’s another thing completely to willingly accept the fire…to willingly enter the flames.

What an incredible faith!  Sure…God could save them…but what if he didn’t?  What if he chose not to act on their behalf this time?  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego would have entered that fire anyway.  What about you?  Me?  

Take a simple step of faith today…act on God’s behalf…even if it’s a simple act…act…no matter the consequences!  Trust God…no matter how he responds.  He loves you and will use your actions!

Prayer: 

God, challenge me to stand my ground in representing You before others. Even if this leads to discomfort or going against the tide, help me to be found faithful to You.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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