Bible Reference: Psalm 145:17-21
Translation: The Message (MSG)
Bible Text: 17 Everything God does is right— the trademark on all his works is love. 18 God’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it. 19 He does what’s best for those who fear him— hears them call out, and saves them. 20 God sticks by all who love him, but it’s all over for those who don’t. 21 My mouth is filled with God’s praise. Let everything living bless him, bless his holy name from now to eternity!
OBSERVATION: This is an awesome reminder, especially during this busy time of the year for most, that our God is faithful, and that He lovingly listens to those who seriously take their petitions before Him – their Savior and their Lord. Let praise fill our hearts and our mouths for who He is and for all He does for us!
APPLICATION: Although we consider it an honor to be God’s children, can you imagine if people could honestly say that we are just like our Father, in that everything we do and say portrays a spirit of ‘godly love’? The Message says this so eloquently – that the trademark of God’s work is love! Oh that our motto would be ‘love for all of God’s children’! What an amazing Savior is Jesus my Lord! Most versions included similar verbiage as the Message in saying that God lovingly listens to those who seriously seek His face. Think about that friends! ‘Lovingly’ says to me that God patiently waits for us to get over ourselves and earnestly seek Him. It tells me that God is able to look over our doubt and our selfish requests, but looks at the heart and sees a child in need and trying to ask Him, much like we do with our earthly fathers. He knows what we need before we asks, so I am convinced that He also knows when we ask arie, or ask for something that is absolutely not in His will for our lives. So now we will look at ‘seriously seeking God’. We offer so many prayers in habit form – such as blessing of our food, and other denominational prayers printed for our use. But for us to understand ‘serious’ as I see it here in these verses, I think of times that we are about to break, or a loved one is at a very critical point, or our church is about to close its doors. Can you see how our prayers at times like these are VERY serious? Why then do we ‘casually’ pray? Do we always realize that we are speaking to the Creator of our Universe, when we approach His throne? Do we really mean what we say when we ask Him to use us to enrich the souls of others? Friends, I believe that God is lovingly waiting for us with open arms, waiting for us to share our heart with Him and ask for His help to achieve ‘life’ in a form that’s both pleasing to Him, and that will glorify Him. We should have a deep desire to be filled with the same qualities that Jesus demonstrated while here on earth. He did and said those things that the Father led Him to, and so should we. Seeing God work in these ways through us, will cause us to join with the Psalmist as he did in verse 24, and glorify the King of kings and Lord of lords for all eternity!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for first loving me! I pray that as my readers and I concentrate on that love, and seriously seek Your face, that we will ultimately praise You for all Your wondrous works. You are amazing oh God, and You took Your commitment to show ultimate love to us at Calvary. Oh that we may in turn love you sincerely, worship You intimately and always pray to You deeply and seriously. May we imitate our Father in every way oh Lord, especially at Christmas time! AMEN!
Bible Reference: Isaiah 7:9-16
Translation: The Living Bible (TLB)
Bible Text: 9 Samaria is the capital of Ephraim alone, and King Pekah’s power will not increase. You don’t believe me? If you want me to protect you, you must learn to believe what I say.” 10 Not long after this, the Lord sent this further message to King Ahaz: 11 “Ask me for a sign, Ahaz, to prove that I will indeed crush your enemies as I have said. Ask anything you like, in heaven or on earth.” 12 But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I’ll not bother the Lord with anything like that.” 13 Then Isaiah said: O House of David, you aren’t satisfied to exhaust my patience; you exhaust the Lord’s as well! 14 All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign—a child shall be born to a virgin! And she shall call him Immanuel (meaning, “God is with us”). 15-16 By the time this child is weaned and knows right from wrong, the two kings you fear so much—the kings of Israel and Syria – will both be dead.
OBSERVATION: We can’t expect God to bless us, protect us, heal us or provide for us, if we don’t trust Him or believe fully in Him! Let’s meditate on this today as we contend with the busyness of Christmas and prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s birth!
APPLICATION: Verse 14 is a verse that we hear used a lot around Christmas time in Christian circles, but as represented in other recent devotionals, I believe it is so important for us individually to take time and read the whole context from which these popular verses are found. Today’s scripture is a wonderful example. Like us, King Ahaz thought that some things were just too trivial to bother God with, even though it was God Himself who told Ahaz to test Him. I love what the Lord said to Ahaz in the latter part of verse 9, and I know that it very much applies to me and very possibly also applies to you. In my own words, and based on my understanding, I believe that God said to Ahaz, and is saying to us: How do you expect me to protect you, or, how do you expect me to heal you or bless you, if you don’t learn to believe in, and trust me? Friends, there is so much truth in those powerful words by the Master! Will our child ever release themselves from a high wall and jump into our arms, if they have not learned to trust us? I don’t think so! In my hyperlink to today’s scripture, I included the whole chapter, because I want you to take time to read and understand that God had given Ahaz comfort in knowing that He would take care of the opposing leaders, and He even wanted to give him a timeline that it would occur. However, God knew that Ahaz doubted what he was told, so He told Ahaz to test Him just to gain trust in knowing that He is true to His word. The timing of this event then allowed God to elaborate on the miraculous birth of His Son, Jesus. Friends, once again we are assured that our Father has a plan for His children, just like He had for Ahaz. However, we must know Him so well that we are willing to trust Him and believe what He says to us through His Word; through visions; and through His mighty warriors who deliver His messages to us each week. Wouldn’t it be ‘MERRY’, if this Christmas this concept might ‘click’ in our minds and cause us to totally place our faith and our trust in our Savior? We can’t expect God to bless us and protect us if we don’t trust Him or believe fully in Him!
PRAYER: Your Word never ceases to amaze me Oh God! To read the context from which we have traditionally heard parts of the Christmas story, and still find new truths that really speak to our hearts, we can only say ‘Wow’ what a Savior! What an awesome God! Lord Jesus, we just want to worship You, praise You and honor Your blessed name for the key role You have played in our plan of salvation. God had a plan to comfort king Ahaz, and I am convinced that His plan to comfort, protect and save us, is even more awesome! Thank you Heavenly Father! Please continue to open our hearts and fill us with Your grace and Your awesome love that You have shown to us, so that we may, in turn, be a blessing to others in every way possible this Christmas season and throughout each day of the upcoming New Year. With every fiber of our being, we again say ‘thank You Father’ for Your amazing love to us in so many ways! AMEN!
Bible Reference: 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22
Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)
Bible Text: 14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.
OBSERVATION: I wonder what type of characteristics we would come up with, if asked today to explain what a Follower of Christ should look like in character. There are some obvious character traits that we would list right off the top, but I believe we would immediately list the items that we feel we are doing OK in! But today we have the biblical account of those characteristics, so let’s pay close attention!
APPLICATION: As I read through these verses, I thought that it may only be necessary for me to show the scripture, as it would speak for itself. However, please allow me to list again the things that the Scripture say will identify those who follow Christ, or who are obedient to His will and His Word:
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for saving my soul! Thank You for giving my fellow believers and I guidance for everyday living. In and of our own sinful selves, we would not be led to do most of these things, nor do we have the power to do them in our own strength, so Lord I thank You from the bottom of my heart for this guidance today. My readers and I must depend on Your strength, Your guidance and Your wisdom to accomplish these things. Please have Your perfect will and way in our lives today. AMEN!
Bible Reference: Colossians 3:12-14
Translation: Easy-To-Read Version (ERV)
Bible Text: 12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind,humble, gentle, and patient. 13 Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. 14 Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.
OBSERVATION: At Christmas time we seem to easily find room in our hearts to be kind to others. In our verses today Paul reminds us of what all God did for us, and how that should lead us to do the same for others. So as we meditate on this today, may it stir up within us many ideas on how we might bless others at Christmas!
APPLICATION: Most children are probably looking forward to Christmas because of the gifts they have asked for, and expect to receive. As adults, Paul has reminded us of the gracious gifts that are ours, in being a child of the most high God! Here are some of the gifts mentioned by Paul: 1). God has made us His holy people – imagine that – steeped in sin and very much a part of Satan’s army, yet when we felt the call on our life by Jesus, and surrendered our life to Him, we were adopted into the sonship of the Most Holy God! That is beyond comprehension, and could only be imagined through faith in the truth of God’s Holy Word; 2). God loves us – ‘Love’ is an awesome word that we use, and even abuse in our lifetime, but it takes on such a special meaning when the holy Son of God loves a child that has been so blatant in sin, and asked for His forgiveness. Oh that we may find it in our hearts to love like that this Christmas! But here are some gifts that we may give to others, in return for His gracious love to us: Show mercy towards others; Be kind to others; Be humble towards others; Be gentle to others; Be patient with others; Don’t be angry with others; Forgive others; and LOVE others. Friends, the best news of all about these godly gifts, is that there will be no increase in credit card bills whatsoever! So why not read over this devotional again as Christmas draws closer, and concentrate on all the gody gifts that you can extend to family and friends. Be instrumental in teaching them God’s ways and His teachings through your example this Christmas! Others may just see that you have a heart like that of Jesus, because you care for others!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for Christmas! Thank You for teaching us about the many precious gifts that You bless us with, and through your servant Paul, teaching us how we might extend to others the many gifts that You have showered on us. Please help us to make someone’s Christmas special this year, by showering them with the character of Your Son, and the godly gifts mentioned above. AMEN!
Bible Reference: John 18:37
Translation: Easy-To-Read Version (ERV)
Bible Text: ^37 Pilate said, “So you are a king.” Jesus answered, “You are right to say that I am a king. I was born for this: to tell people about the truth. That is why I came into the world. And everyone who belongs to the truth listens to me.”
OBSERVATION: Jesus taught us great lessons throughout His ministry. In this Scripture today, when Jesus was being tried by the authorities, He still showed His compassion; His calmness; and He declared His whole purpose for coming to this world. I wonder what we would say is our whole purpose on earth?
APPLICATION: At different stages of our lives we may have sat and declared what our purpose in life is. For example, the transition from high school or college into the working world, you may have committed to be a doctor or an accountant, etc. When you got married, you made have declared what kind of spouse you would be. When you got saved, you may have promised God a drastic change in your lifestyle or in your habits. But was there ever a time that you declared what your whole purpose in life is…..? You see, Jesus was known as ‘Truth’, and for that reason we can measure absolute ‘Truth’. I sincerely believe that the Truth that Jesus spoke of here is the absolute Truth that He represents in being God’s precious Son. In other words, looking at Jesus and hearing His words, were just like seeing and hearing His Father – God. With that in mind, what is the real truth that others experience in you? Do they experience with you, what they really hear from you? Do you have to tell them that you are a Christian, or do they see that in you, and hear that from the words that you speak? As ‘little Christs’, our aim here on earth should be much like that of Jesus – to represent Him completely; honestly and wholly, so that the world may know and believe in the One who saved us from our sin and condemnation. To the unbeliever reading this blog today, let me assure you that God loves you also, and He wants you to come to Him believing in His precious Son. Seek His forgiveness my friend and give Him control of your life. He would love for you to experience His love; His forgiveness; and His caring – just like a real loving father would do for that very favorite son or daughter.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I pray that Your love will shine so strongly through my life that it will be evident to the world that You are having an awesome impact in my life, then may You be glorified by all that I come into contact with. Thank God for the grace and power expressed through His gracious Son. Thank You Jesus for accepting me as Your gracious son. May I represent you as well, so that others may see and believe. AMEN