Sunday, December 18, 2011

Daily Devotional Sunday 18th December

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.””Matthew 1:20-21 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"I remember thee."
Jeremiah 2:2

Let us note that Christ delights to think upon his Church, and to look upon her beauty. As the bird returneth often to its nest, and as the wayfarer hastens to his home, so doth the mind continually pursue the object of its choice. We cannot look too often upon that face which we love; we desire always to have our precious things in our sight. It is even so with our Lord Jesus. From all eternity "His delights were with the sons of men;" his thoughts rolled onward to the time when his elect should be born into the world; he viewed them in the mirror of his foreknowledge. "In thy book," he says, "all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Ps. 139:16). When the world was set upon its pillars, he was there, and he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. Many a time before his incarnation, he descended to this lower earth in the similitude of a man; on the plains of Mamre (Gen. 18), by the brook of Jabbok (Gen. 32:24-30), beneath the walls of Jericho (Jos. 5:13), and in the fiery furnace of Babylon (Dan. 3:19, 25), the Son of Man visited his people. Because his soul delighted in them, he could not rest away from them, for his heart longed after them. Never were they absent from his heart, for he had written their names upon his hands, and graven them upon his side. As the breastplate containing the names of the tribes of Israel was the most brilliant ornament worn by the high priest, so the names of Christ's elect were his most precious jewels, and glittered on his heart. We may often forget to meditate upon the perfections of our Lord, but he never ceases to remember us. Let us chide ourselves for past forgetfulness, and pray for grace ever to bear him in fondest remembrance. Lord, paint upon the eyeballs of my soul the image of thy Son.


"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
John 10:9

Jesus, the great I AM, is the entrance into the true church, and the way of access to God himself. He gives to the man who comes to God by him four choice privileges.

1. He shall be saved. The fugitive manslayer passed the gate of the city of refuge, and was safe. Noah entered the door of the ark, and was secure. None can be lost who take Jesus as the door of faith to their souls. Entrance through Jesus into peace is the guarantee of entrance by the same door into heaven. Jesus is the only door, an open door, a wide door, a safe door; and blessed is he who rests all his hope of admission to glory upon the crucified Redeemer.

2. He shall go in. He shall be privileged to go in among the divine family, sharing the children's bread, and participating in all their honours and enjoyments. He shall go in to the chambers of communion, to the banquets of love, to the treasures of the covenant, to the storehouses of the promises. He shall go in unto the King of kings in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the secret of the Lord shall be with him.

3. He shall go out. This blessing is much forgotten. We go out into the world to labour and suffer, but what a mercy to go in the name and power of Jesus! We are called to bear witness to the truth, to cheer the disconsolate, to warn the careless, to win souls, and to glorify God; and as the angel said to Gideon, "Go in this thy might," even thus the Lord would have us proceed as his messengers in his name and strength.

4. He shall find pasture. He who knows Jesus shall never want. Going in and out shall be alike helpful to him: in fellowship with God he shall grow, and in watering others he shall be watered. Having made Jesus his all, he shall find all in Jesus. His soul shall be as a watered garden, and as a well of water whose waters fail not.


Today's reading: Amos 7-9, Revelation 8 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Amos 7-9

Locusts, Fire and a Plumb Line

1 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up. 2 When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

3 So the LORD relented.

“This will not happen,” the LORD said.

4 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: The Sovereign LORD was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. 5 Then I cried out, “Sovereign LORD, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

6 So the LORD relented.

“This will not happen either,” the Sovereign LORD said.

7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”

“A plumb line,” I replied.

Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer...." the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 8

The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer

1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.... the rest on Bible Gateway


FRB-Christmas-Story-BookCover-SmallReading 12: The Birth of Jesus

God had promised the people of Israel a Savior. Through the prophets, God had told them how the Savior would come and what he would do. All the things the prophets had said about Jesus’ birth came to pass. Mary gave birth to Jesus in the town of Bethlehem, an ordinary, quiet place.

Luke 2:1-7
The Birth of Jesus
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Further Study

  1. Why did Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem? (vv. 1 – 3)
  2. What was another name for the town of Bethlehem? (v. 4)
  3. Why did Mary put the baby in a manger? (v. 7)
  1. Can you think of some of the prophecies that were fulfilled when Jesus was born? Look back to the previous readings if you need to.
  2. Why would God want his Son to be born in such a poor and ordinary place?

That night in Bethlehem, God came down to earth in the form of a little baby. God gave Jesus a humble beginning so that everyone could understand that he came to bring salvation to all people, even the poorest and lowliest. Jesus was born human, like us, so we could relate to him. He was God so that he could save us from our sins and give us new life.


2:7 The manger Mary laid Jesus in was a trough or open box used to hold grain or grasses to feed livestock. The area around Bethlehem has many limestone caves that were used in Bible times to shelter and feed animals. Although we think of a stable as a wooden building, the stable Jesus was born in may have been a cave located behind an inn.


Family Reading BibleToday's reading is from:
The Family Reading Bible

Additional resources:

A Christmas Devotional


And he will be called...Everlasting Father. -Isaiah 9:6

What a remarkable string of names in Isaiah 9:6! Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Now, these were radical statements indeed, and they described the one who was coming to rule heaven and earth. A coming ruler might-if he were an ordinary ruler-simply assert his authority and prerogatives as sovereign. As we well know, a king is one who has the power because he has an army, and who has wealth because he controls the resources of his realm. That is the way of earthly rulers. But Isaiah also spoke of a ruler whom people would look to in far more personal terms: "Father."

But Jesus would be no mere earthly ruler. His reign would be "everlasting." Enduring, unstoppable, without challenge, having the qualities of heaven. An everlasting ruler would have to be a divine king.

It is a different kind of king who reigns as father. A king (or, for that matter, a prime minister, a president, etc.) does not have to treat his subjects as though the he were their father. They can wield power simply because they have it. But a ruler who cares for those in his realm, who truly wants to protect, and provide for his subjects out of a familial kind of love, is as much a father as he is king

Hundreds of years before his birth, Jesus was called "Everlasting Father" because his reign would be about protecting and providing-a king, yes, but a fatherly one. And we should not forget that Jesus' relationship with God the Father was so close that Jesus could say: "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father."

In some parts of the world, the legend of Santa Claus, derived from St. Nicholas, is called "Father Christmas." At its best, the legend expresses the belief in someone out there that is bigger than life, full of benevolence and magical charm. That Everlasting Father exists. Nothing can compare to the reality that Jesus Christ has become, for the world, the Powerful Protector and Perfect Provider, a king whose authority is so right and so good, it will never end.

Born a child, destined to bring fatherly care. Always and forever. In this, the children of God place their faith and hope.

Prayer for today:

Lord, help me to fully submit to your authority as king in my life, and then let me know your protection and provision which goes beyond what any early father can provide.



About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.

From Curse to Redemption, Traveling Toward Consummation

Today's reading: Job 14:1-12

This passage paints a picture of the brevity of human life. "At least," sighs Job, in what may sound sarcastic to our cynical ears, "there is hope for a tree ..." (Job 14:7). Job's comparison of a person's fragility to that of a flower (see Job 15:2) is an ironically opposite image. We are reminded of David's words inPsalm 103:15-17: "The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But [and this caveat means everything to us as believers] from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him." Job had a God-inspired inkling about redemption (see Job 19:25), but it was ill-formed, a vague hope groping beyond the light of the revelation God had to that point made available to humankind.

Historical theologian and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for Environmental Stewardship E. Calvin Beisner observes:

What we ought to expect, if we believe in the transforming power of Christ in the lives of the redeemed and, through them, on the cultures in which they live, is an increasing reversal of the effects of the Curse, a progressive transformation that parallels the growth-both intensive and extensive-of Christianity through the centuries. While Biblically sound social analysis repudiates the secularist ideology of inevitable Progress, nonetheless the Christian doctrines of creation, fall, curse, redemption, and consummation equip us with a linear concept of time and a Biblically grounded faith that God is indeed working in time and space to restore this fallen and cursed world to glory (Mt 13:24-43), and we ought to see-and can see if we are looking-evidences of this in history.

Job's imagery of a tree "dying" and rising again at the scent of water is striking in light of Beisner's reflections (though the analogy was certainly not intended by either Job or by this modern author) (see Job 14:8-9).

In terms of historical progression, Job lived under the curse (temporally speaking, the cross was yet far off, though God in his grace would offer to his Old Testament saints glimpses of salvation; see Jn 8:56; Gal 3:8; Heb 4:2). We, on the other hand, find ourselves blessed to be living on the stepping-stone of redemption. Our sights are set on the rock-solid certainty of a glorious future with Christ. God's Old Testament people knew little of curse reversal (and God will deal with them on the basis of what he did choose to reveal in the days before Christ). Indeed, our stewardship of the planet covers a dimension they could not fully have foreseen. Having moved from curse to redemption, we are invited to travel confidently and diligently, in faith and at work, toward consummation, that glorious completion of all God's work.

Think About It

  • How do you think that God revealed glimpses of future redemption to the Old Testament saints?
  • In what ways do you see glimpses of God reversing the curse in your world?
  • What does it mean to travel confidently toward consummation? It all began in a garden and will end in a city. What role does our work play in moving along God's plan for creation?

Pray About It

Lord, I praise your work in the past, present and future for the redemption and restoration of all things.



Today's reading is from the
NIV Stewardship Study Bible
by Zondervan

Discover the remarkable privilege we have as stewards of God's design for life through the study of Scripture.



Family Abuse and Rescue

2 Kings 11:1-16

But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered.
2 Kings 11:2

Until a few years ago, I was only marginally aware of this emotionally powerful story about Joash. It is, after all, stuck in the middle of the long section of 1 and 2 Kings that many of us sometimes, um, skim.

At any rate, we read here about King Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah, who had begun killing off the royal family so that she could rule as queen. Jehosheba, Ahaziah's sister, saw what was going on and rescued Ahaziah's young son Joash, hiding him and his nurse at the temple. Joash remained there for six years, finally emerging when it was time for him to be crowned as king.

What first gripped me about this story was Athaliah, a wicked matriarch of fairy-tale proportions. Can't you just see her as the Wicked Witch of the West? Once I tore myself away from that specter, I noticed how complicated her family was. On the one hand, this group of relatives was truly dysfunctional (they were, after all, related to the infamous family of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel). They were so dysfunctional that a grandmother began killing off her own grandchildren-her own descendants!-so she could grab the throne. Athaliah makes my overbearing grandmother look like a wimp.

On the other hand, the family wasn't all bad. Joash's aunt, Jehosheba, intervened to rescue the little boy and hide him till he was old enough to be king. That's a powerful illustration of how families that contain violent and destructive kooks and abusers can also contain courageous and self-sacrificing heroes.

I can relate to the story of Joash because my own aunts played such a huge role in my growing-up years. While never in danger of being killed, I sometimes felt like I didn't fit in with my parents and sister. My aunts stepped into that gap to nurture me, to explain the weird Winner family mysteries to me, and to help me feel like I belonged. Now that I'm an adult, my aunts continue to be my cherished confidants.

My own aunts-not to mention Aunt Jehosheba-remind me what a blessing extended family can be. They help me understand how important it is not to get so focused on our nuclear families that we forget our wider kith and kin. For some of us, extended families may not be biological; they may be in-laws, neighbors, friends or church family.

I certainly hope my own little family is never as destructive and broken as Joash's. But I would be fooling myself to think that my husband and I are perfect parents or that we can do the job of raising our children by ourselves. We need others to help us do that. By looking outside the walls of our own home to our relatives and church family, Griff and I will help ensure that our own bad tendencies are caught, checked and corrected by others who love us and ours.
Lauren Winner

Let's Talk

  • Thinking about each other's families, which people are the dysfunctional or difficult ones? Who are the heroes? How do all of these people influence our marriage?
  • Are we as a couple open to intervention, love, even rebuke from friends or extended family? If we have children how do we encourage relationships between them and other adults in our family whom we love and trust?
  • Have we ever acted as someone else's Jehosheba, stepping in to help the child of a friend or relative? What have we learned from this experience?


NIVCouplesbibleToday's reading is from the
NIV Couple's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan

Designed to help you build your relationship on the one foundation you can count on: God’s Word!

Post a Comment