Month: December 2017

December 15, 2017

Christmas 2017-12-15

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    Isaiah 42:1–9 

    1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

      my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

    I have put my Spirit upon him;

      he will bring forth justice to the nations.

    2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,

      or make it heard in the street;

    3 a bruised reed he will not break,

      and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

      he will faithfully bring forth justice.

    4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged

      till he has established justice in the earth;

      and the coastlands wait for his law.

    5 Thus says God, the Lord,

      who created the heavens and stretched them out,

      who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

    who gives breath to the people on it

      and spirit to those who walk in it:

    6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;

      I will take you by the hand and keep you;

    I will give you as a covenant for the people,

      a light for the nations,

    7    to open the eyes that are blind,

    to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,

      from the prison those who sit in darkness.

    8 I am the Lord; that is my name;

      my glory I give to no other,

      nor my praise to carved idols.

    9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,

      and new things I now declare;

    before they spring forth

      I tell you of them.”

    “The Hebrew word translated ‘justice’ in 42:1, 2, and 4 … has the idea of ‘right order.’ … So Isaiah is saying that the coming Messiah will do all that is necessary to restore God’s right order on the earth.”[1]

    Isaiah 42:1-4

    • How does the description of the manner in which the Servant will bring justice compare with typical notions of justice?  Reflect on the ways this prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus’ life.

    Isaiah 42:6-7

    • How can life apart from God be characterized by blindness, imprisonment, and darkness?
    • What are the ways in which God has restored order in my life?

     

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write down three things that you are thankful for.

[1]  John N. Oswalt, Isaiah, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 470.

December 14, 2017

Christmas 2017-12-14

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    Isaiah 40:1-11

    1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

    2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

      and cry to her

    that her warfare is ended,

      that her iniquity is pardoned,

    that she has received from the Lord’s hand

      double for all her sins.

    3 A voice cries:

    “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;

      make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

    4 Every valley shall be lifted up,

      and every mountain and hill be made low;

    the uneven ground shall become level,

      and the rough places a plain.

    5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

      and all flesh shall see it together,

      for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

    6 A voice says, “Cry!”

      And I said, “What shall I cry?”

    All flesh is grass,

      and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.

    7 The grass withers, the flower fades

      when the breath of the Lord blows on it;

      surely the people are grass.

    8 The grass withers, the flower fades,

      but the word of our God will stand forever.

    9 Go on up to a high mountain,

      O Zion, herald of good news;

    lift up your voice with strength,

      O Jerusalem, herald of good news;

      lift it up, fear not;

    say to the cities of Judah,

     “Behold your God!”

    10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,

      and his arm rules for him;

    behold, his reward is with him,

      and his recompense before him.

    11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;

      he will gather the lambs in his arms;

    he will carry them in his bosom,

      and gently lead those that are with young.

    “Those who heard Isaiah’s prophecy associated with it the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem. We can see another fulfillment, however, because of the New Testament. Isaiah’s words anticipated John the Baptist and the good news announcing the coming Messiah.” [1] 

    Isaiah 40:3-5

    • What preparations were being called for in anticipation of the glory of the Lord to be revealed through the coming of Jesus?
    • How might this apply to me today?

    Isaiah 40:6-8

    • What two seemingly contradictory descriptions of God are given in vv. 10-11?  Why is this “good news”?

     

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write down three things that you are thankful for.

 

[1]  The Quest Study Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 992.

December 13, 2017

Christmas 2017-12-13

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    Isaiah 9:1-7 (ESV) 

    1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

    2  The people who walked in darkness

      have seen a great light;

    those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,

      on them has light shone.

    3 You have multiplied the nation;

      you have increased its joy;

    they rejoice before you

      as with joy at the harvest,

      as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

    4 For the yoke of his burden,

      and the staff for his shoulder,

      the rod of his oppressor,

      you have broken as on the day of Midian.

    5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult

      and every garment rolled in blood

      will be burned as fuel for the fire.

    6 For to us a child is born,

      to us a son is given;

    and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

      and his name shall be called

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    7 Of the increase of his government and of peace

      there will be no end,

    on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

      to establish it and to uphold it

    with justice and with righteousness

      from this time forth and forevermore.

    The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

     

     

    Isaiah 9:1-5

    • The northern part of Israel (the areas of Zebulun and Naphtali) was the first to go into exile and was considered to be the lowliest part of Israel.  What is prophesied in these verses regarding this area, and how does it become fulfilled through the coming of Jesus (cf. Matt 4:13-16)?
    • What are some phrases that are particularly relevant to our day, or that I can particularly relate to?

     

    Isaiah 9:6

    • Reflect on the titles of the Messiah.  In what ways do these titles capture human need, and in what ways are they perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ?  Which title is personally most meaningful to me and why?

     

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write down three things that you are thankful for.

 

[1] NIV Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995), 10.

December 12, 2017

Christmas 2017-12-12

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    The coming of Jesus was promised from the very first chapters of the Bible.  For the rest of the week, we will look at Old Testament glimpses into the coming of Christ into the world.

    Genesis 3:14–24 (ESV) 

    14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

    “Because you have done this,

      cursed are you above all livestock

      and above all beasts of the field;

    on your belly you shall go,

      and dust you shall eat

      all the days of your life.

    15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,

      and between your offspring and her offspring;

    he shall bruise your head,

      and you shall bruise his heel.”

    16 To the woman he said,

    “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

      in pain you shall bring forth children.

    Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,

      but he shall rule over you.”

    17 And to Adam he said,

    “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife

      and have eaten of the tree

    of which I commanded you,

     ‘You shall not eat of it,’

    cursed is the ground because of you;

      in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

    18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

      and you shall eat the plants of the field.

    19 By the sweat of your face

      you shall eat bread,

    till you return to the ground,

      for out of it you were taken;

    for you are dust,

      and to dust you shall return.”

    20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

    22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

     

    “The offspring of the woman would eventually crush the serpent’s head, a promise fulfilled in Christ’s victory over Satan—a victory in which all believers will share (see Ro 16:20).”[1]

    Genesis 3:15, 21

    • Notice that even in the pronouncement of judgment, there is a hopeful promise. What will this promise entail for God? 

    Genesis 3:15-19

    • Reflect on the consequences of human sin for man personally, as well as for all of creation. Why, and in what ways, does disobedience to God weaken my ability to cope with the rest of creation?

     

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write down three things that you are thankful for.

 

[1] NIV Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995), 10.

December 11, 2017

Christmas 2017-12-11

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    We start our Christmas Devotions with the prologue to the Gospel of John.

    John 1:1–18 (ESV) 

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

    9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

    14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

  • List all the things Jesus came to give.
  • Reflect on God’s desire to connect to man (and to me) through the coming of Jesus.
  • Pray a prayer of gratitude for God’s love reflected in his desire to bring us life, light, fellowship, and new birth as children of God.

 

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write down three things that you are thankful for.

December 8, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017-12-8

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    John 14:1–6 (ESV) 

    1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    What are some lessons from today’s text, and how do they apply to your life?

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write down three things that you are thankful for.

December 7, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017-12-7

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    As we finish our Thanksgiving Devotions, let’s marvel with gratitude on the ultimate meaning of our salvation.

    Isaiah 25:6-9 (ESV)

    6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples

      a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,

      of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

    7 And he will swallow up on this mountain

      the covering that is cast over all peoples,

      the veil that is spread over all nations.

    8    He will swallow up death forever;

    and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,

      and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

      for the Lord has spoken.

    9 It will be said on that day,

     “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.

      This is the Lord; we have waited for him;

      let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”7

    What are some lessons from today’s text, and how do they apply to your life?

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write down three things that you are thankful for.

December 6, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017-12-6

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    Today’s text is another example of heartfelt gratitude.

    Isaiah 12 (ESV) 

    1 You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord,  for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away,  that you might comfort me.

    2 “Behold, God is my salvation;  I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song,  and he has become my salvation.”

    3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day:

    “Give thanks to the Lord,  call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples,  proclaim that his name is exalted.

    5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.

    6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,  for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write a personal prayer of gratitude modeled on today’s text. Write down three things that you are thankful for.

December 5, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017-12-5

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    The psalmist in today’s text expresses humble gratitude and contentment that can serve as a model for our own prayers of gratitude.

    Psalm 16

    1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

    2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;  I have no good apart from you.”

    3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,  in whom is all my delight.

    4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;  their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out  or take their names on my lips.

    5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;  you hold my lot.

    6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

    7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

    8 I have set the Lord always before me;  because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

    9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;  my flesh also dwells secure.

    10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,  or let your holy one see corruption.

    11 You make known to me the path of life;  in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write a personal prayer of gratitude modeled on today’s text. Write down three things that you are thankful for.

December 4, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017-12-4

  • Journal
  • Read & Reflect

    Giving thanks is one of the chief joys granted to God’s children, and we would do well to practice it and grow in it.

    Psalm 108:1–6 (ESV)

    1 My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!

    2 Awake, O harp and lyre!  I will awake the dawn!

    3 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.

    4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

    5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

    6 That your beloved ones may be delivered,  give salvation by your right hand and answer me!

    What are some lessons from today’s text, and how do they apply to your life?

  • Gratitude Journal & Prayer of Thanksgiving
  • Write down three things that you are thankful for.

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