December 28, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-28

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    John 20:19–23 (ESV) 

    19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

    Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) 

    18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    Acts 1:8 (ESV) 

    8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • Reflect on these last words of Jesus.
    • In each of these three passages, there is a mission and a provision.  What are they?
    • As a follower of Jesus, what has been my response to these final words of Jesus?


December 27, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-27

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    1 John 1:1-10

    1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

    5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • “It is interesting that in verse 2 the authority behind John’s affirmation is not merely some tradition or doctrinal convention. It springs from experience. It would be one thing for John to defend the particularity of the Incarnation as a logical requirement of some theological system. And no doubt he could do this. The repeated emphasis on personal experience — seeing and testifying what was revealed to us — is not just a way to shore up his defense of the Incarnation. John’s authority rests in what he knows to be true because he has touched it. He is making a compelling appeal; he is offering a testimony, not just to coherent, orthodox theology, but to a living Word, Jesus Christ, whose reality is the principal reference point of his life.”[1]

      1 John 1:1-2

      • Reflect on the fact that with the person of Jesus “the life was made manifest.”
      • In what ways have I experienced life after encountering Jesus?

      1 John 1:3-9

      • What is the goal of Christian proclamation?
      • What defeats fellowship, and what promotes it?
      • Reflect on the promise of v.9. What is God’s heart behind the exhortation to confess?

      [1] Burge, Gary M.  “Commentary on The Letters of John”, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: The Letters of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996) 54.


December 26, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-26

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    Luke 1:26–38 (ESV)

    26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

    34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

    35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

    Matthew 1:18–25 (ESV) 

    18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

    23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

        and they shall call his name Immanuel”

    (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • Reflect on the theme of “the obedience of the humble” that emerges from these passages as the critical human element in bringing Jesus into the world.
    • What were the pains and costs of Mary and Joseph’s willingness to obey God’s words?


December 25, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-25

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    Luke 2:1-20 (ESV)

    1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

    8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

    14 “Glory to God in the highest,

        and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

    15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • Luke 2:10-12
      • Reflect on the words describing Jesus in the angel’s annunciation.
      • Write all the ways in which the coming of Jesus is good news of great joy for all the people, and to me particularly.


December 24, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-24

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    Isaiah 59:1-3; 9-20  

    1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,

        or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;

    2 but your iniquities have made a separation

        between you and your God,

    and your sins have hidden his face from you

        so that he does not hear.

    3 For your hands are defiled with blood

        and your fingers with iniquity;

    your lips have spoken lies;

        your tongue mutters wickedness. …

    9 Therefore justice is far from us,

        and righteousness does not overtake us;

    we hope for light, and behold, darkness,

        and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.

    10 We grope for the wall like the blind;

        we grope like those who have no eyes;

    we stumble at noon as in the twilight,

        among those in full vigor we are like dead men.

    11 We all growl like bears;

        we moan and moan like doves;

    we hope for justice, but there is none;

        for salvation, but it is far from us.

    12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you,

        and our sins testify against us;

    for our transgressions are with us,

        and we know our iniquities:

    13 transgressing, and denying the Lord,

        and turning back from following our God,

    speaking oppression and revolt,

        conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.

    14 Justice is turned back,

        and righteousness stands far away;

    for truth has stumbled in the public squares,

        and uprightness cannot enter.

    15 Truth is lacking,

        and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

    The Lord saw it, and it displeased him

        that there was no justice.

    16 He saw that there was no man,

        and wondered that there was no one to intercede;

    then his own arm brought him salvation,

        and his righteousness upheld him.

    17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,

        and a helmet of salvation on his head;

    he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,

        and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.

    18 According to their deeds, so will he repay,

        wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;

        to the coastlands he will render repayment.

    19 So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west,

        and his glory from the rising of the sun;

    for he will come like a rushing stream,

        which the wind of the Lord drives.

    20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,

        to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.

    John 1:1-5; 14

    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.  …

    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.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • Reflect on the condition of man described in Isaiah 59 and the hopeful note at the end of the chapter when “a Redeemer will come to Zion.”
    • Reflect on the words describing the true nature of Jesus (“the Word”) in this passage, and the fact that he came and “dwelt among us” (v.14).  What does this reveal about the heart of God?


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