Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reflecting Christmas

Luke 2:15-18
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

God of Glory,
May my response to the Good News that You have been born to bring peace on earth be like that of the shepherds who hastily left everything they were doing and sought the Christ child. They didn’t wait for a more convenient time, until their shift was over, or a replacement arrived; instead, they made it a priority and went immediately. In the midst of shopping, decorating, and entertaining help me to seek You first because Your Word says that those who seek You find You when they seek You with all their heart. You are the everlasting Gift of Christmas. When You trim the home of my heart with the twinkling lights of Your love, those I entertain this Christmas will notice my inward peace and genuine joy.

Like the shepherds, I want to see You lying in the manger. With my mind’s eye focused on You instead of the holiday hustle and bustle, I’ll notice the unending length of Your amazing grace streaming down from heaven into the hollow of my dark, damp, and dirty heart. Mesmerized by Your infinite mercy, I’ll bow down and adore You to light up my life so that it reflects the wonders of Your love.

After witnessing the wonderful new birth of Christ in the manger of my own heart, like the shepherds, I’ll eagerly spread the Good News wherever I go this Christmas, leading prickly people to the peace, joy, and hope of Christmas – Jesus, Your own dear Son – for the glory, honor and fame of Your name. Amen.


I want to challenge you to take time over the next three days to STOP, DROP everything and seek the Child of Christmas. Read and re-read the Christmas Story as told in Luke 1 and 2 until the Holy Spirit shows you a fresh revelation of God’s glory. Then worship and adore Him.

If you seek Him first, none of the other presents will matter. He is the only lasting Gift, and the only Gift people need this Christmas. Having spent time with Him, instead of noticing your neatly decorated home, people will notice your newly adorned heart. Then, when you entertain family and friends, and prickly people get under your skin (and someone will) you will be able to show them God’s infinite grace and love – the heart of Christmas, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Merry Christmas!

Go Tell It on the Mountain
John W. Work, Jr. (1872-1925)

Refrain
Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching
Over silent flocks by night
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light.

Refrain

The shepherds feared and trembled,
When lo! above the earth,
Rang out the angels chorus
That hailed the Savior’s birth.

Refrain

Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation
That bless├Ęd Christmas morn.

Refrain

Monday, December 22, 2008

Peace in the Night

Luke 2:8-14
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

God of Glory,
It is so like You to suddenly show up in the most unlikely places to the most unexpected people in a manner that is utterly unpredictable. Instead of showing up to the Pharisees or the pious, You appeared to a bunch of brawny, broad-shouldered shepherds who lived in the wild and battled the beasts. These rough and rugged men were petrified by the powerful light of Your presence. Sheer fear seized their troubled minds! But, in the light was good news! The promised, hoped-for Savior of the world, the Messiah, had arrived in the promised city. Out of the pitch black night came the paralyzing light from a choir of angels singing praises of Your promised peace on earth.

O Lord, what hope this gives me at Christmas time! You still make divine visits to the most improbable people camped out in the most unbelievable places in a manner that is totally unpredictable. When the terrifying light of Your glory surrounds our messy and mundane lives, we have no reason to be afraid because there is perfect peace in Your presence. With You, we can stand in the light and live free from shame, fear, ridicule, rejection, pain, suffering and sorrow. During the impenetrable nighttime of the soul, You leave us with the good and priceless gift of peace – peace of heart and mind. Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus. Amen.


The psalmist says, “For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” NLT Psalm 34:7

There is an angel in God’ presence telling us to not be afraid, offering us the priceless peace of God – not the peace of the world, but God’s peace.

What is God’s peace? Jesus tells us in John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. NLT

If you are in a dark and frightening place this holiday, be still let the peace of God’s presence surround you.

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/w/s/wshepwtf.htm

Words: Na­hum Tate, 1700
Music: George F. Han­del, 1728

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around,
And glory shone around.

“Fear not!” said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind.
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.

“To you, in David’s town, this day
Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign,
And this shall be the sign.

“The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid,
And in a manger laid.”

Thus spake the seraph and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God on high,
Who thus addressed their song,
Who thus addressed their song:

“All glory be to God on high,
And to the Earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease,
Begin and never cease!”

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hope of Restoration

Isaiah 35:1-4
Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.” NLT

God,
What precious hope You gave to Your captive people when they were wandering in the dead, dry desert of despair! Help was on the way! Suffering and sorrow would be swallowed up by a Savior! Joy was coming, and all of heaven and nature would sing! Blessed be the name of the Lord!

700 long years later, Jesus Christ, their Blessed Hope, was born to lead the world out of the wasteland and into the prosperity of Your everlasting presence. And, that Hope is alive for us today! Blessed assurance!

You’re well aware of the barren wasteland we’re living in. The global physical, mental and spiritual anguish of Your people is mind boggling to us, but it isn’t to You. Many of the problems we face don’t have a good prognosis. Indeed, the world is in an uproar and people are fainting from terror, apprehensive of what is coming, as You shake us with the power of heaven!

Feeble and fainthearted, we can be encouraged! Jesus Christ, Your own dear Son, that precious babe born 2000 years ago, who suffered, died, arose, and ascended into heaven is coming back, and possibly quite soon, in glory and splendor to finish the great work He began long ago. The wilderness and wastelands are eagerly awaiting His arrival! The badlands will burst into blossom and become a colorful choir of crocuses! Even the hills and the mountains will declare His majesty!

This is the reason we rejoice! Our strength will be renewed when Christ comes to rule the world in truth and grace! Joy to the world! The Savior reigns!

Show me a hopeless believer who is paralyzed with problems or frozen in fear. I will pick them up, and remind them of the wonders of Your love and Your never ending grace that was, and is, and is to come because of Jesus our Savior! Amen.


What this world needs is a Savior who will rescue and restore it! That Hope came with the birth of Christ, and is alive today for those who believe. And, Hope is coming when Christ returns!

If you have Hope, you are blessed beyond belief! Give someone the Hope you have this holiday season.

Today, we got word that a 15-year classmate of my son, died unexpectedly as a result of complications from a routine medical procedure; that on top of the suicide of another classmate less than two weeks ago. Life is hard, and people need Hope!

Joy to the World
Words: Isaac Watts, 1719
Music: Lowell Mason, 1848

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.


Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.


No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.


He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Comforter Has Come

Isaiah 51:12, 21, 22
I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Therefore hear this, you afflicted one,
made drunk, but not with wine.

This is what your Sovereign LORD says,
your God, who defends his people:
See, I have taken out of your hand
the cup that made you stagger;
from that cup, the goblet of my wrath,
you will never drink again. NIV

John 14:16
Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” KJV

God,
Not much has changed in the past 2700 years. Just as the hopeless Israelites, held in captivity forgot who You were, we tend to do the same today.

Like the Israelites we have overdosed on the paralyzing potion of fear, scrupulously blended and served to us by that smooth-talker Satan who is bent on slaying our sweet spirits. Under his influence, we live in constant terror of losing everything we have because of chaotic world conditions. With the good life crashing down, an impending international crisis, and concern that our children are desensitized to immorality and injustice, we’re in a stupor worried that no one will lead us out of the mess. Beaten down by dread and discouragement, we’ve willingly fainted in the streets of despair and allowed the Devil to rub our faces in the dirt and walk all over us. Forgive us, O Lord!

As You promise, look on us with compassion and awaken us from this awful nightmare! This is not the dream You had for us! By Your perfect love, take from our hand the dreadful cup of fear that’s making us stagger. It’s time for Your Church to get up, come clean, and wrap themselves in the unending Comfort of the Holy Spirit. United in love and dressed in the strong garments of splendor – compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience - it’s time for us to stop worrying about the things we can’t control and start parading through town, picking up people, and joyfully proclaiming the Good News: The Comforter has come!

Show me a hopeless believer who has fainted under the influence of fear. I will immediately stoop down, pick them up, and offer them hope this holiday season to magnify Your Almighty name. Amen.


You won’t have to look far to see someone you can pick up! A kind word, a warm smile, and a gentle handshake or hug can easily comfort someone in captivity.

On Sunday, I went Christmas caroling in a retirement community. Like the rest of the world, my life is extra busy at this time of year, and I went begrudgingly. But, it didn’t take long for my demeanor to change. Just singing lifted up spirits. Before long, I found myself striking about a conversation with an elderly man. He was thrilled to show and tell me about all his beautiful music boxes while the rest of my group moved on.

Catching up with them a few minutes later, I found myself in front a precious old lady who couldn’t bend over. With a tear in her eye, she began mouthing the words. My eye drifted from her to the newspaper lying on the floor by her door. Walking over to her, my friend gave her a big hug while I stooped to pick up the paper. The dear lady sobbed in my friend’s arms. Her 90 year old aunt had just past away and she was overwhelmed with sorrow. We prayed with her while the rest of our group moved on.

On the next floor, we encountered a joyful old woman with a great big smile. I complimented her on her pretty smile. And she said, “My husband died 36 years ago and I am so lonely. I make myself get up every day, and I paste this smile on my face no matter how I feel.” Bless her heart! I stayed and chatted with her while the rest of the group moved on.

Finally, we stopped near the door of a disabled young man. In his wheelchair, he came to the door with one of the most beautiful birds I had ever seen. While the group sang, he was delighted to show the youngsters in our group the various tricks his pet parrot could perform.

It’s amazing that a group of 6 adults and a bunch of rambunctious, unruly kids, could entertain so many people in one hour, and that I could personally pick up four of them by smiling, asking a simple question, and taking time to listen.


O Spread the Tidings ‘Round
Words: Frank Bottome, 1890
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick

O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found,
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound;
Let ev’ry Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from Heav’n, the Father’s promise giv’n;
O spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found—
The Comforter has come!

The long, long night is past, the morning breaks at last,
And hushed the dreadful wail and fury of the blast,
As o’er the golden hills the day advances fast!
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

Lo, the great King of kings, with healing in His wings,
To ev’ry captive soul a full deliverance brings;
And through the vacant cells the song of triumph rings;
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

O boundless love divine! How shall this tongue of mine
To wond’ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine—
That I, a child of hell, should in His image shine!
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

Sing till the echoes fly above the vaulted sky,
And all the saints above to all below reply,
In strains of endless love, the song that ne’er will die:
The Comforter has come!

Refrain

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Abundant Life

John 10:10
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

God,
Your Word is the Way, the Truth and the Life I’ve always longed for. In this age of deception, the bright light of Your Word cuts through the solid shadow of darkness and shines the way to everlasting hope and happiness.

Just as Satan seduced Eve thousands of years ago in the Garden, and robbed her of the carefree life You intended for her, he’s still ferociously working to dupe and destroy your masterpieces today. The old charmer convinced us that we deserve all the pleasantries this world has to offer. He persuaded us that we could afford bigger homes and fill them with piles of possessions purchased on credit. Life is good. Live high. Buy now. Pay later. We’re entitled.

The Master of Lies, has set us in a fear-tinged frenzy, resulting in financial failure that’s slain our spirits and shattered our dreams. He’s the conjurer who’s twisted our perception and perverted Your plans for us. But, You O Lord, sent Your Son into this murky, mess 2000 years ago to rescue us from the spell of death, and give us a vibrant new life. Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus.

Fully alive, we’re possessed with enigmatic energy and expected to pick up others who are dying a slow painful death in the Devil’s Dungeon of Despair. Please open my eyes to see someone who’s been ripped off of life, slain in their spirit, and devoured by the thief in the night. For the glory of Your name, I’ll lead them to Christ, the only way to everlasting life, hope and happiness this holiday season. Amen.

All around us sad souls have been spiritually slain by Satan. He wants nothing more to rip people off of the rich life God intended for them. Open your eyes and look around for someone you can offer the hope of life to this holiday season. Then, go lead them to Christ, the Giver of Life.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guidance in the Night

Psalm 16:7-8
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Wise and Wonderful Counselor,
Thank You for graciously guiding me through these dark days. Your timeless Words are extremely wise. They are a lamp that lights my path to prevent me from stumbling. Your timely advice is always right. When I’m too exhausted to think clearly, in the silent night of my soul, speak to me. Tomorrow is sure to be another exhilarating day with more unexpected twists and turns.

Please go ahead of me. I’m utterly dependent on You to lead me through uncertainty and insecurity. It is vital that I remain in constant communication with Your Command Center by reading my Bible and praying. You know the way that will lead me to all the jewels of Jesus. Willingly, I’ll take Your strong right hand, and walk through briars, thorns, and thickets. Connected to You, they won’t hurt me.

Dear Lord, please give me the courage to hold on tightly, trusting that You know exactly where You’re taking me. Following Your reliable instructions, I’ll be secure and steadfast when the rest of the world is shaken. Looking forward to the hope of heaven, eternity with You and everlasting happiness, my heart and lips will cheerfully sing a sweet song to the glory of Your dependable name. Amen.


I need God’s counsel for __________________________________________. Pray, asking Him for wisdom. Open Your Bible and listen to His Voice. Obey His instruction and He will reward You with divine insight – the Truth! Then, you, too, will know that He is trustworthy and dependable. Praise Him!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hope for Light

Isaiah 9:1-2
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

Matthew 4:12-14
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah.

God,
Your Word is great! This Christmas as I study the prophecy, I’m awestruck anew by the wondrous way You work! Your thoughts surely are higher than my thoughts, and Your ways are far too superior for my simple understanding. Your infinite timeline is immeasurable and beyond my limited intellectual capacity.

700 years before the Word became flesh the holy prophet predicted precisely where You would go and what You would do. The days were utterly dark and the nation was wasting away from wickedness when he courageously offered these unpopular words of hope that rendered him a fool by public opinion.

Who would have guessed that hundreds of years later Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, would start his ministry in this very same dark district plagued by prostitution – people looking for cheap thrills and quick fixes to life’s perplexing problems? Blessed assurance, the promised Light had come to the promised land!

The radiance of Your glory makes my heart throb and swell with joy! Love’s Pure Light, in You there is no darkness at all. Locked in the deep dark dungeon on death row, haunted by the demons of his past, man desperately needed his dirty deeds exposed so that he could be restored and released to live differently. And, You, my Everlasting Light, came to do just that!

Thank You for shining the Light of Your love on me. Setting aside my fears and stepping out into it, my chains fell off and I was set free forever because of Your tender mercy. Because You died, went to Hell and came back for me, I never have to walk in darkness again. Blessed assurance!

The days may be dark, but I have the Inextinguishable Light. Thank You for the blessed hope I receive and the lessons I learn when I sit down, open my Bible, and study Holy History with You. Hallelujah! Amen.

Doesn’t it make your heart throb and swell with joy, when You consider how faithful God is to His promises?

My prayer is that the fulfilled prophecies that God’s showing me will bless you with hope this holiday season. I pray that you will see the Light of Jesus in these dark days. I’m amazed anew, as I carefully study God’s Word, that the entire Bible is essentially good vs. evil – light vs. darkness. The times we’re living in really aren’t that unusual.

In my little sphere of influence this week: a friend lost her job and is wondering if she’ll lose her home; a single-mom lost her benefits including health insurance, life insurance, and retirement – she’s not sure what she’ll do if she suddenly becomes sick or dies; a 14-year old classmate of my son could no longer take the pressure to conform and committed suicide; the dreams of five students from our high school varsity girl’s basketball team were shattered when they chose to drink alcohol and got caught. The list could go on. Every day, I hear from people who are hurting, hopeless, and just want help. I bet if you’d stop to listen, you’d hear it too.

We need to be the light in the world that leads lost souls to Jesus – the keeper of the key that will set them forever free. With the power of the Holy Spirit, we will have the courage of Isaiah to stand up and speak out so that others will be enlightened and encouraged in troubling times. Where will you carry your light?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taught, Healed and Set Free

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Luke 4:21
Jesus said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

God,
Thank You for the timeless truths in Your Holy Word. 700 years before You were born, in the darkest, most dismal days in Israel’s history, the prophet Isaiah predicted that good news was coming for the destitute, destroyed, and detained. People could expect to receive a whole new life. Blessed hope!

Help was on the way! But, it took a long time coming – 700 years. Waiting sure does take a lot of fortitude in our frantic fast-paced, free-wheeling world ruled by instant results and immediate rewards. Blind to the fact that we’re spiritually bankrupt, we don’t recognize how badly we need an internal overhaul. No amount of money can bail us out of our pecuniary predicament, only the age-old blood of Jesus can. That’s the good news people need to hear this Christmas.

Buried beneath the rubble of wrecked relationships, crushed hopes, and shattered dreams our badly bleeding hearts are hidden behind thick-skinned walls of pride. While smugness may conceal the gashes inflicted by Satan, it won’t stop the gushing; only Your compression, compassion, and comfort will completely cover and cure the wounds. That’s the healing we really need this holiday season.

Controlled by commercialism and easy credit we are a nation held captive by covetousness which will only be compounded this Christmas as we strive to be more significant in our spheres of influence. We don’t realize that facades and fears restrain us. Constrained by compulsions, we need You to come set us free with the key to contentment, Jesus.

Imprisoned in the dark dungeons of our past, Satan has locked many of us up and thrown away the key! Good for nothing, we’re hopelessly terrified and urgently need You to show up with the key that unlocks the door to everlasting love, life and light. Confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believing in our heart that You raised Him from the dead, our past will be immediately forgiven and forgotten and we will be forever free!

Lord, thank You for the hope You’ve given me because of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, who came to teach me, heal me and set me free forever. Hallelujah! Amen.


Hang on to the hope of heaven in these dark and dangerous days. God is true to His Word. We may have to wait a long time, but God will do what He says He will do. We must believe!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Light in the Darkness

Psalm 27:1-5
The LORD is my light and my salvation--
so why should I be afraid?
The LORD protects me from danger--
so why should I tremble?

When evil people come to destroy me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will know no fear.
Even if they attack me,
I remain confident.

The one thing I ask of the LORD--
the thing I seek most--
is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
delighting in the LORD's perfections
and meditating in his Temple.

For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock. NLT

High King of Heaven,
Your Holy Word, the Bible, clearly illuminates the way for me. In the light of it, I never have to be afraid. In the dark, things appear distorted and misconstrued. I’m disillusioned, perceiving people and problems as bigger and more threatening than they really are.

Please dear Lord, may I live in the security of Your holy house every day of my life? Looking deep into Your blazing holy eyes, with my Bible open, I’ll contemplate Your powerful promises in the temple of my heart. Teach me in Your presence, to remain cool, calm and collect under pressure. At home with You, I’ll be safe from the vicious attacks of those seeking to destroy me.

O Lord, my God, I desire nothing more than to live happily in the peace of Your presence for the rest of my life. Please give me more faith to confidently and consistently rely on You, believing that as my beloved Father You will go the extra mile to protect and conceal me for the honor of Your high and holy name. Amen.


David encountered many frightening people and situations, but wasn't provoked by a sinful fear of man. When you're afraid, do as David did, turn to your King. Open your Bible and enter into the holy presence of our great, big God. Your perception will change when you seek His power, peace and protection. What scary person or situation do you need to trust in God for today?

If you can read this Psalm and say that it expresses the desire of your heart, then your fear is not a sinful fear of man.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Godly Instruction

Titus 2:12-13
For the grace of God teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

God of Grace,
You are a most excellent Teacher. If only I’d stop, sit still and listen, You’d lead me by Your truth and teach me for You are the God who saved me! School me in Your ways so that I’ll turn my back on godless, indulgent living. Take my hand and show me how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life while I wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of the Immortal, Invincible, Incorruptible, Almighty King.

Surely You desire for me to be grounded in the truth of the Bible. Help me to carefully study, prayerfully consider, and aptly apply great wisdom so that I won’t be swayed by the smooth rhetoric of false teachers. Expand my knowledge so that I won’t be deceived by devastating circumstances. Show me how to think clearly when emotions are tugging on the strings of my heart.

In this heathen and hostile world, instruct me to do Your will. By Your good Spirit, lead me on level ground. Following You, I’ll exercise good judgment and carefully control my desires, tongue, and passions. Under Your divine discipline, I’ll shine brightly causing others to wonder why I seem so hopeful and happy.

God of Grace, You have been so kind and loving toward me. By Your matchless mercy, You generously gave me a rich new life along with a hefty inheritance. Because You are faithful and true, I eagerly expect that some day soon, You will appear in all Your glory, sweep me off my feet, and carry me away to live with You happily ever after because of Jesus. Amen


Are you struggling with saying “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions? If so, ask the God of grace to teach you. He desires nothing more than for you to be grounded in the truth. Then, open your Bible and carefully study it. Prayerfully consider the Scriptures you’ve read, and aptly apply them. Practice godly living while you wait for the glorious appearance of the King.

“Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Truth is Hope

Numbers 24:17
Balaam, the sorcerer said, “I see him, but not in the present time. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel.” NLT

Matthew 2:1-2
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

God,
Your Word is my hope and my light in these dark and dreary days. 1400 years before You gloriously broke through the night sky, Balaam, a stingy sorcerer and soothsayer was well paid to convince Your people to compromise their moral standards. Despite the fact that he was a tool in Satan’s hand, You used him to mysteriously point the way to Bethlehem.

Today, the very large and rapidly growing Emerging Church is blindly leading multitudes of biblically illiterate people who claim to be Christians to Hell by the satanically inspired teachings of modern-day Balaams. Their watered-down, seeker-friendly, purpose-driven messages are designed to bring in warm bodies and cold cash. In this New Age era, truth is not only unclear and uncertain, but also is bad for business. No wonder the days are so hopeless and dark! The only true light has been all but extinguished.

Lord, protect me from the secretly destructive heresies and cleverly invented stories that are running rampant through the nation and Church today. At the Living Word Academy, held in the classroom of my heart, teach me by Your Spirit to diligently seek, genuinely love, and absolutely believe the Truth of Your Word. Full of knowledge, I will be like the Magi who recognized a nugget of truth in the middle of a whole lot of fiction, and willingly left their familiar surroundings to follow the Wondrous Star of Heaven.

O Star of Wonder, Star of Light, Star with royal beauty bright, westward leading still proceeding, guide me to Your Perfect Light. Amen.

John MacArthur writes in The Truth War:
Advocating ambiguity, exalting uncertainty, or otherwise deliberately clouding the truth is a sinful way of nurturing unbelief. Every true Christian should know and love the truth. Scripture says one of the key characteristics of “those who perish” is that “they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). The clear implication is that genuine love for truth is built into saving faith. It is therefore, one of the distinguishing qualities of every true believer. In Jesus’ words, they have known the truth and the truth has set them free (John 8:32). Nothing in all the world is more important or more valuable than truth.

God’s Word is absolute Truth. Abundantly clear, it will be your only hope and light in the blackest night. How well do you know it? Do you love it? Do you believe it?

It’s not too late to attend the Living Word Academy. The only textbook required is Your Bible, the Living Word of God. The only Teacher required is the Holy Spirit. Open The Book and start seeking Truth before it’s too late.

Peter says, “They (false teachers) have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam who loved the wages of wickedness.” 2 Peter 2:15

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tapestry in Time

2 Samuel 7:12-13
God promised David: “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”

Luke 1:32-33
The angel said to Mary: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

God,
Your Word is a timeless tapestry of rich and royal hues. Wondrously woven by a Master Artisan, it’s an everlasting vision of Your never changing view. Meticulously following the scarlet thread hidden within the completed work, I can see the beautiful plan You designed for man.

One thousand years before Christ was born, You promised David a never ending kingdom. You made the line of identification so clear no imposter might be mistaken for the Messiah. Like a tedious thread on a tapestry, Your Word was not broken over time. O how I marvel at the magnificence and intricacy of Your handiwork.

Upon careful study, the one thing I particularly notice is that good things take a long time, a lot of devotion, and an unwavering faith. Help me dear Lord, to be more like David. Though he committed grievous crimes, he was remorseful, repentant, and will always be remembered as a man who sought Your heart.

Lord, I don’t know when You’ll return, but my hope is in Your well-woven Word. While I wait, please give me patience to continually trace the scarlet thread on Your Tapestry, remain wholeheartedly devoted to studying it, and maintain unwavering faith for the glory of Your name. Amen.


I marvel at how intricately God has woven the scarlet thread of Jesus Christ through His Word. By carefully studying it, I am seeing His plan being fulfilled before my eyes. Blessed assurance, His Word is my only hope.

David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons. A little shepherd boy with a humble heart and a whole lot of faith was anointed with power and called to be a great king. Mary, a little peasant girl with the heart of princess and a whole lot of faith, was blessed by God and called to deliver the Most High King.

After hearing the Word of the Lord, both immediately and unquestionably believed, and humbled themselves in heartfelt adoration for the blessed assurance they had received.

If you are feeling small and inadequate, observe how God works. He uses little, unlikely people who have a whole lot of faith, to accomplish His master plan. Humble yourself before Him, believe He can do great things, and watch with wonder at the way He weaves You into His work.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hope of a Child

Isaiah 9:6
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

God,
Your Words light up my life and give me bright hope! My Spirit leaps within me when I consider Your unfailing love and everlasting faithfulness! These verses teach me wonderful truth and firm-up the foundation of my faith.

700 years before Christ’s birth, during one of Israel’s deepest, darkest depressions, You passionately promised them that the gloom and doom wouldn’t go on forever. Their dreary, devastated land would one day burst forth with a dazzling light and they would see Your glory. A special little boy would be born. He would be their Savior and Sovereign Ruler. The weight of the whole world would rest on His shoulders. Blessed assurance!

This little boy would be called Wonderful Counselor because His godly wisdom would preserve their lives and prosper them. Known as Mighty God, His holy power would bind up broken hearts, shatter walls of shame, and pardon people imprisoned to their past. He would be their Everlasting Father. This Prince of Peace would show up to rescue them from the dominion of death and damnation. After saving the warring world, He would rule it forever with fairness and integrity. Blessed hope!

During this holiday season, help me to know You by these endearing names and better understand Your impeccable character. With a fresh revelation of Your faithfulness, I won’t falter and fumble through the fearsome fog, but will firmly stand on Your promises trusting that You are who You say You are and will do what You say You will do for the honor of Your name. Amen.

In gloominess God gives us glimpses of His glory. He shows us repeatedly that He is true to His Word and will do what He says He will do.

When was the last time you sought His wonderful counsel? Do you know Him as Mighty God? How have you witnessed His power? Do you believe He is Your Father forever – that He will never abandon you or give up on you? Has the Prince of Peace rescued you from the dominion of death and damnation? Do you believe He is coming to rule the world forever with fairness and integrity?

The more you know Him, the more you’ll trust Him! Blessed assurance! Let Him be your hope this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hope of the Virgin Birth

Isaiah 7:14
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son. NLT

Luke 1:26-28, 31, 38
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you! You will conceive and give birth to a son.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

God of Wonders-
Your Words never cease to amaze me. In the midst of political upheaval and unbelief You graciously blessed Israel with a vision of Your glory. While their backs were blatantly turned on You, and their disaffection was disguised by showy religious rituals and routines, You told them a spectacular secret. “Psst – Listen up! Look for this: A girl who is a virgin will miraculously get pregnant, and give birth to a son.” 700 years later, this Word became flesh when You revealed Yourself to a poor peasant girl with an extraordinary princess heart.

Lord, let these words console me during political unrest and unbelief. You know the grave state of affairs not only in this nation, but also in the Church. Proudly parading as pious people, we’re so desperate for change that we’ve voted for personal prosperity and pleasure separating ourselves from Your peace and protection. Like the Israelites 2700 years ago, we’re in the dark about Your riches and our poverty. Unable to perceive that we’re lost and perishing, we don’t trust You to lead us out of the mess we’ve made. We want a President to protect our future, and that’s exactly what You’ve given us.

In the midst of this mayhem, give me unwavering faith to believe that all earthly government is short-lived. One day, and possibly quite soon, You will come back and run the world with honesty and integrity that will never end. While I wait, give me childlike faith and humble adoration, expecting it to happen as You have said it would, without signs and wonders, simply because I believe that all things are possible for You in the name of Jesus. Amen.


Instead of trusting a President to protect your future, trust the only One who can guarantee you a future – Jesus Christ. Put your hope in heaven.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Hope of Bethlehem

Micah 5:2
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you,
one whose origins are from the distant past. NLT

Luke 2:11
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! NLT

God,
Thank You for publishing and preserving Your ancient Words. They give me hope and joy in these troubling times. During Israel’s darkest days, You announced something major through a minor prophet. Hidden within this tiny little book in the Bible, written by the humble little hand of a holy man is a great BIG treasure. The long awaited King would be born in the tiny little town of Bethlehem. The “house of bread” would cradle the “Bread of Life.” How amazing is that!? And, after 700 long years of waiting this prophesy was finally fulfilled.

Because of that experience please give me greater confidence in the divinely inspired messages penned by Your spirit-filled scribes. In this age of uncertainty and lawlessness, help me to pay close attention to what they’ve written. Similarly, more than 2000 years ago, these influential saints clearly expressed the reality of Your imminent return to rule and reign over the entire earth. Under Your godly guidance, they unmistakably proclaimed that one day death would lose its sting and darkness would lose its power.

Admittedly, I am worn out waiting! Through tear-stained eyes, I strain to see Your promises. Yet, Your Word is the only flickering light I have in this place. Help me to hold it up and put my hope in it until it diffuses itself in my mind like the dawning of a new day and shines like a bright morning star in the hollow of my heart. Then, I will carry it like a prophet into my own small town to give others the hope of heaven this holiday season for the glory of Your faithful name. Hallelujah. Amen.


God has given us a great book full of fulfilled prophecy, the Holy Bible, proving that He is faithful. We would be wise to pay attention to it. It may be the only light we have in the coming days, and a candle we can carry into our own crazy communities while we wait for the Lord’s impending return.

2 Peter 1:19-21
We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Light of the World

John 8:12
Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Jesus, You are the Light of the World,
Your radiance fills the whole earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. Before You created life, You spoke and created light to separate the world from impenetrable darkness. Great are You Lord and mighty in power!

Thank You for leaving the hallowed halls of heaven and stepping out into the wreckage of this cold, dark, and wicked world so that I could see the light of Your love and live. In the light, You exposed the mess I made of my life. Lovingly picking me up, You cleaned me out, filled me with the oil of Your Spirit, and made me into a dazzling luminary to brighten the world. Following You, I can carry the light of life into the dense darkness of death, disease and despair; sickness, suffering and sorrow.

Lord, You know how dark these days are. With the Light of the World eclipsed by heathenism in the hearts of the benighted millions, guide me by the lamp of Your Word. Following You, I won’t fumble and stumble through frightening darkness, but will purely, patiently and peacefully illuminate Your love by helping and encouraging those who are lost and alone. Blazing with Your glory this holiday season, use me to lead hopeless, helpless, and hurting people into the light where they will find goodness, grace and an abundant new life. To God be the glory for radiant gift of Light! Amen.

I don’t have to tell you that we’re living in dark days of uncertainty. Hordes of people are hopeless, helpless and hurting this holiday season, horrified by the unknown. They’re stumbling through the darkness because they can’t see the Light. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, don’t hide your light. Follow Him. Open your Bible and do the things you see Him doing. His Word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. Let the light of life shine brightly through you by helping or encouraging someone for Jesus today.

The Light of the World is Jesus
Philip P. Bliss, 1875

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/w/lworldij.htm

The whole world was lost
In the darkness of sin,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Like sunshine at noonday,
His glory shone in.
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Refrain

Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee;
Sweetly the light has dawned upon me.
Once I was blind, but now I can see:
The Light of the world is Jesus!

No darkness have we
Who in Jesus abide;
The Light of the world is Jesus!
We walk in the light
When we follow our Guide!
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Refrain

Ye dwellers in darkness
With sin blinded eyes,
The Light of the world is Jesus!
Go, wash, at His bidding,
And light will arise.
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Refrain

No need of the sunlight
In Heaven we’re told;
The Light of the world is Jesus!
The Lamb is the Light
In the city of gold,
The Light of the world is Jesus!

Refrain