Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 15 of Our Christmas Devotional

Tues-Day 15

As we have notice previously that there is a reaction by the different groups that meet the Lord. When we examine the reaction of the shepherds and of Simeon and Anna we see that the theme of joy and rejoicing is expressed by them. The rejoicing is expressed in two different ways. We can see the same thought of worship that is expressed by the wise men but we learn of another reaction that is important for us to learn and do.

The reaction of the shepherds is learned as we read their visit to the manger:

Luke 2:15–20 (KJV 1900)
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Beth-lehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Two things are done by the shepherds when they come into the presence of the baby Jesus:

            1.         They return to the fields of Bethlehem "glorifying 
                        and praising God for all the things that they 
                        had heard and seen" (Vs. 20)
            2.         "They made known abroad the saying which 
                        was told them concerning the child" (Vs. 17)

What about the next group of Simeon and Anna? What do they do? Here is Simeon's response:

Luke 2:28–32 (KJV 1900)
28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart In peace, according to thy word:
30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Now look at Anna's!

Luke 2:38 (KJV 1900)
38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Simeon response is similar yet he does a slight twist:
            1.         He takes the baby into his arms and blessed 
                        God...Vs 28
            2.         He does not tell anyone about the baby but 
                        does tell Mary what His purpose will be:
                        A.        He is a Savior (Vs. 30).
                        B.        He is a Savior for all people (Vs. 31).
                        C.        That people includes the gentiles (Vs. 32).

Now let's turn our attention to the response of Anna. The same two concepts are seen:

            1.         She also gives thanks likewise unto the Lord 
                        (Vs. 38).
            2.         She speaks of him to all them that looked for 
                        redemption in Jerusalem (Vs. 38).

Luke uses the word "likewise" in the phrase that speaks of her worship. That means "the same way" as Simeon perhaps even a reference to the shepherds!

All three, shepherds, Simeon and Anna,  respond to the Lord with worship! Anyone who comes into His presence must give Him worship though the giving of thanks as Anna and/or of giving glory and praise to God for what He has done!

However that's not all that they did after they came into the presence of the baby Jesus. They all begin to share to everyone that they came in contact with that the Messiah had come! Luke says that the shepherds told to everyone the sayings of the angels. What was that saying?

Luke 2:11 (KJV 1900)
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

They repeated the message: The Savior has come! The Messiah is here!

Anna does same. She perceives that the baby is the Messiah! Her prayers had been answered! Her hopes where realized! But there is a except there is a slight difference. She will speak to those who were looking for deliverance for the people of God! Her information is too important to be thrown before individuals who are not looking for Messiah! She must share it with those who will value it! Her message would bring hope to those who were waiting patiently!

Remember when you enter into His presence you must worship! When you leave His presence you must tell others that He has come to deliver and release them from all sin!

The theme of Luke's writings are the same beginning with the birth story of Jesus in Luke 1-2 and concluding with Paul's imprisonment of Acts 28:30-31. They are:

            1.         When the Spirit come or you are in the presence 
                        of the Lord something begins to move.
            2.         Your responsibility is to witness to others that 
                        Jesus is alive and present to help all (Acts 1:8)!

Your Response:

Take time to slowly read and mediate on the thoughts that you have been reading. Examine yourself. When you are in the presence of God do you worship? Are church services social time or worship time for yourself? When you leave worship times at the church do you share with people the experience? When speaking of the events of your weekend to coworkers do you tell of the times of the Spirit you experienced or do you keep your mouth shut! Understand you have a responsibility to share what God has given to you! Challenge yourself to tell one person a day something good about God or what He has done in your life!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Day 14 of Our Christmas Devotional

Saturday-December 14

What happened when He came? To answer that question we must ask ourselves what happened "to whom"? We have seen that there were three groups that meet Him after He came, shepherds, Simeon and Anna and the magi. There were also individuals who are mentioned in the story before He came, such as Elizabeth, Zacharias and John. We have not examined their story as of yet. We have looked at Joseph and Mary who were the first to interact with the baby. When the groups, pre, present and post birth, are examined there is an overlaying theme that is seen. There is movement or a response by people and that response is often described as a joyous reaction.

The theme of joy and rejoicing is expressed in a variety of ways. Matthew writes the following concerning the wise men:

Matthew 2:10 (KJV 1900)
10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

The verbs of the sentence are "they saw" and "they rejoiced". When parsing a verb one of the important consideration is the "kind of action". The most common is either the active or passive tense. When it is the active the subject, the wise men, are doing the action of seeing to the star. But the word "rejoiced" is in the passive tense meaning that the action is being done to them. The rejoicing and the desire to rejoice came to them when they saw the star! Hope, faith and trust came upon them. It entered into their minds which caused their hearts to be filled with intense joy! The rejoicing was over the top! It was with "exceeding great joy"!

Matthew 2:11 (KJV 1900)
11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Here Matthew uses three pair of participles and verbs to describe their actions when coming into the presence of the child. A participle is a word that is formed from a verb which can be used as an adjective.[1] In this verse the three participles are describing their initial like actions and then what they do after that action. 

            1.         And when  they were come (participle) into the 
                        house, they saw (verb) the young child with Mary 
                        his mother and

            2.         (and when they) fell down (participle) and (they) 
                        worshipped (verb) him

            3.         and when they opened (participle) their treasures, 
                        they presented (verb) unto him gifts; gold, and 
                        frankincense, and myrrh.

The gifts will become the finances that will allow Joseph, Mary and the baby to travel to Egypt to escape the hand of Herod  and back to Nazareth after Herod dies. The gifts are used for the  work of God!
This pattern will happen though out the life of the Lord. The Gospel records many intendances where individuals come into the presence Jesus and their response is to fall at His feet (Mark 5:22-23, 5:25-34, 7:25-29, 9:20-27; Luke 5:1-11, 12-16, 17:11-19; John 11:32). Other times it is recorded that Jesus is worshipped! This supports the believe that Jesus is God because He allows the worship and does not stop them even though He knows the scripture that states

14For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: (Exodus 34:14 (KJV 1900)

If He was not the only God, that is Jehovah, then He would not allow any worship to Himself! Thus He is not another God neither the a second god in the triune godhead.  The worship by the Wiseman at His birth is not stopped by Mary but become the starting point that will lead many to worship Him throughout His time on earth when they are in His presence (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 18:26; 20:20; 28:9, 17; Mark 5:6; Luke 24:52; John 9:38).

This pattern will continue after His resurrection and ascension. When we read the apoligic writings of John in Revelation 4:10-11 the same pattern is seen as at the birth of Jesus.

            1.         The four and twenty elders fall down before him that 
                        sat on the throne,

            2.         and worship him that liveth for ever and ever,

            3.         and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
                        11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and 
                        honour and power: for thou hast created all things, 
                        and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

 These three underlined words are verbs. As verbs they give the actions of the elders. As at His birth they fall down, worship Him (Jesus) and cast their crowns toward Him. There is an important detail to understand concerning the parsing of the verbs. The verb fall is in the future tense meaning it will happen in a future time. The verbs worship and cast are in the present. The present tense is where the writer portrays an action in process or a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion.[2] That means that the worship to the Lord and the casting of crowns will have a time that they start but there will be no stopping of the worship to Him either the honoring Him by laying down of their crowns before Him. The reason the elders even have crowns is because of the action of the Savior working through them. Thus they are His crowns from the beginning. The laying down of the crowns is the same as the wise men laying down their gifts before the baby! The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were His from the beginning since He is the creator of the earth. All these gifts come from the earth itself like the gold or from what the earth tree's produce like the frankincense and myrrh.

As we summarize our thoughts we see that the proper response when we are in the presence of the Lord is to:
            1.         Fall down. This is the visible action that shows the 
                        inward attitude of humility and submission to the 

            2.         Worship Him.

            3.         Present our gifs to Him. This is the treasures of 
                        time, talents and finances that are given for the 
                        work of God.

This is learned from the past actions of the wise men to the future actions of the twenty four elders.

Your Response:

Take time to slowly read and mediate on the thoughts that you have been reading. Examine yourself. When you are in the presence of God do you humble yourself? Do you submit to His commands? Do you worship Him? Have you given Him the talents that you possess? If you answered yes to any of the above questions make a change. When you are in a church service and are sensing the presence do these actions. If you are in a time of prayer and you sense His presence begin to do these actions. As you continue to follow these actions you will find that God's presence will stay lingering with you.

[2] Michael S. Heiser, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Logos Bible Software, 2005).

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Day 13 of Our Christmas Devotional

Friday-Dec 13

The star seemed brighter than all the others! Why did it seem to stand out? Was it the blackness of the background, the night sky or was the star producing more light? Wait something is different? They had never seen that star before. Where did it come from? How did it appear?

The questions rushed through their minds and spilled out of their mouths to each other. Their words collided together as they each sought to give an answer. Their curiosity was aroused! An action was being kindled. A fire of desire was growing between them! The answer to what this bright light was and what it represented could only come by one thing! A search! They would have to seek the answer out laying aside previous thoughts and beliefs until they came to the treasure of knowledge of what it represented.

The third group that would see the baby were the wise men. They would see Him because they searched for Him. They had no command or word, neither an encounter with the Spirit nor a promise. They came because they were searching for Him.

Matthew 2:1–2 (KJV 1900)
1Now when Jesus was born in Beth-lehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The Greek word for "wise" men in the original manuscripts was "magi". R. T. France decides their position as follows: "This was the title of a Persian priestly caste who played an important role in advising the king, was applied more widely to learned men and priests who specialized in astrology and the interpretation of dreams, and in some cases magical arts"[1]. Most likely they were from the area of Babylon.
The star they had seen had been located while they were in the East! That is they were east of Jerusalem. The star was located west of where they were at! But it disappeared. The location of the star in the western part of the star seemed to imply that it was connected to a nation that was located in that region. Might it be Israel the home of the mighty counselor Daniel? Daniel was well known to them. He had been the model that each magi tried to follow. He had served as a minister to two kings of Babylon, the King of the Medes and the King of Persia. He was so valuable as a counselor that he had survived the takeover of each of their kingdoms and found a place of power in each.

But Daniel was not a Babylonian. He was a Israelite who had been brought to the Babylonian Kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar as a young man. The holy books of his people might give information concerning this star and who or what it might represent. As they searched these writing the came upon a prophecy of one of their own named Balaam. Balaam like themselves was non Israelite, "a holy man" and visionary from the east whose home is located on the Euphrates (Numbers 22:5; 23:7).[2]

Numbers 24:17 (KJV 1900)
17I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: There shall come a Star out of Jacob, And a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, And shall smite the corners of Moab, And destroy all the children of Sheth.

The star that they had seen mostly likely was the angel Gabriel and the heavenly host who joined him in celebration on the night of the birth of Jesus! Luke records that when Gabriel appears to the shepherds that "the glory of the Lord shone round about them" (2:9). The Greek word for shone, περιλάμπωis only found in one other place in the New Testament. That is at the testimony of Paul as he describes the light on the road to Damascus. The thought is "a light much brighter than the sun shone around me from the sky’ Ac 26:13".[3] The sun is considered a bright star yet the star that shone the night Jesus was born was brighter than the sun! No wonder it was a wonder to the wise men!

The search was beginning to pay off! They had a lead! They would journey to Jerusalem the seat of the King of Israel, Herod. Surely a son had been born to him!

Matthew 2:3–8 (KJV 1900)
3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5And they said unto him, In Beth-lehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6And thou Beth-lehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8And he sent them to Beth-lehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When Herod met the wise men and heard their request it troubled him. He knew that in his harem there were no new baby boys. What was going on? Was there something happening in the kingdom that he did not know about? These men were intelligent men! For them to travel this great distance meant something important was happening. And it was happening right under his nose and he knew nothing about it! He sensed a threat!

He summoned the priests and the scribes. What did they know about a King of Israel? Did the scriptures speak about this king? And if they did, did they tell of the location of his birth?

The scribes quickly read that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Herod quickly formed a plan and began to tell it. "You men of Babylon, when did the star appear?" After they answered he stored the information within his mind. He addressed them and challenged them to go search diligently for the child, to come back and tell him then he would to the child and worship Him also!

There was no reason to tell the wise men to go search diligently for the young child. They had been doing that for months. The interesting point that is being made is that there are some who will meet the babe because they have searched for Him. The parallel can be seen in the throne room of Herod. Herod will talk a good line about going and worshipping the child but the wise men will take action and seek Him, will find Him and will worship Him.

Matthew 2:9–13 (KJV 1900)
9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

When the wise men stepped out into the night in Jerusalem they were shocked! Looking up in the sky for the thousandth time they expected to see what they had seen for months. A black hole where the star had been. Yet tonight it reappeared! They could not contain themselves! Laughter could be heard in their cry's! Their faces shone with joy!

When they did arrive it in Bethlehem it was not at the manger but at a house. Jesus is not called a baby but a young child (2:11). The response to the end of their search is to immediately fall down and worshipped Him! Humbly they present gift that they had brought yet realizing that the best gift they could give to Him is their lives!

The journey of the wise men had taken time. The search had been filled with questions, decisions, and long hours of travel. Often they wondered if they would find Him. Yet they had done what Herod would not do! They had sought for Jesus diligently!

That was the last group. A group of men who understood if you will seek you will find! Only those willing to pay the price of laying their lives on the line are able to meet the Savior. Many are as Herod continent to allow others to pay the price and find the path always wanting the easy road. Be someone who seek the Lord!

Your Response:

Take time to slowly read and mediate on the scriptures below. Examine yourself. Are you seeking God with all of your heart? Do you desire Him more than anything else? Search the scriptures for they speak of Him (John 5:39). Make a plan to read the Bible through in 2014. Notate in a journal the thoughts He gives to you! Join with a family member or friend and make each other accountable to read the Word and pray daily.

Psalm 34:4 (KJV 1900)
4I sought the Lord, and he heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 63:1–2 (KJV 1900)
1O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
2To see thy power and thy glory, So as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Isaiah 55:6–7 (KJV 1900)
6Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near:
7Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts: And let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Jeremiah 29:13 (KJV 1900)
13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Daniel 9:3 (KJV 1900)
3And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Matthew 6:33 (KJV 1900)
33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Hebrews 11:6 (KJV 1900)
6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

[1] R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co., 2007). 66.
[2] R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co., 2007). 62.
[3] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996). 173.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 12 of Our Christmas Devotional

Thursday-December 12

There were three groups of people who saw the Lord in His birth stories. The shepherds were the first group who came on the night of His birth. They had received a word and obeyed it. The second group did not come to the manger but met Him eight days after His birth in the temple in Jerusalem.

The six miles between Bethlehem and Jerusalem was a short trip compared with the journey from Galilee to Bethlehem. As a good Jewish family, Joseph and Mary obeyed the Law and brought their son to be circumcised on the eighth day as they had been taught (Genesis 17:9-14; Leviticus 12:3). But there was more required than the action of circumcision. A number of things had to be done. There was the naming of the baby. Luke says they named Him Jesus as instructed by Gabriel. They had to wait till the end of Mary's purification after childbirth to go to the temple and they when they arrived they offered an offering for her purification. After that the baby was presented to the Lord (Luke 2:21-24).

Luke 2:21–24 (KJV 1900)
21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23(As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

It was during the Temple trip that the second group saw Him. They did not go where He was but they waited for Him to come to them. They were different than the shepherds who saw Him because of their obedience to the word. They were led by something else, the Spirit and a promise!

The group was not defined by their occupation but by their age. They were the senior citizens of the day. Their gender was different but they are the same in character, thoughts of the future and their response when they see the baby. They are both described by Luke as being devoted to Jehovah (2:25-27; 2:36-37) . Their thoughts of the future where wrapped around the God redeeming Israel from their enemies and ushering in an age of peace. Yet what is more astonishing is that they both see this baby involved in that feat of victory (2:26-32; 2:38)! Praise is the response they both give to God after seeing the baby (2:28, 38)!

Why do they get the opportunity to see the Lord? They are led by the Spirit! Twice this fact is spoken of concerning Simeon.

Luke 2:25–26 (KJV 1900)
25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

We can see that Anna's whole life is wrapped around the temple spending much time in fasting and prayer! This speaks that her life is led by the Spirit!

Luke 2:36-37 (KJV 1900)
36And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Not only do they have the special opportunity to see the baby because of their Spirit led life, Simeon and Anna know how to handle a promise! Promises can be handled different ways. Sometimes they laid away when life's trouble become over whelming. Other times they are placed in storage and forgotten because of the business of life as in providing for family. Often we search for the place we stored them tragedy strikes an individual's life or family. We know that a promise is important for it gives us hope in the face of fear and/or defeat!

But that is not how these two handled their promises. They held on to them and allowed them to guide their thoughts and actions. Look at the text that describes Simeon's promise and actions. Notice the words in parenthesis and the underlined phrases:

Luke 2:26–35 (KJV 1900)
26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that (Promise) he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
27(Action) And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28(Action) Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29(Promise) Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart In peace, according to thy word:
30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

When we examine the text concerning Anna and promise we can readily see the action and acknowledge that the promise is understood by the read even though it is not spoken. Her "great age" and the length of her service of coming to the temple for prayers and fasting speaks of her action of holding on to her promise. Her actions of when she sees the baby tell us that she had a promise!

Luke 2:38 (KJV 1900)
38And (Action) she coming in that instant (Action) gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and (Action) spake of him to all them (Promise) that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Let me put on my own words: she turns to those around her who have known and seen her faithful coming to the temple and says: "Look! Here's the One I've been telling you about for years! I told you that I would get to see Him! He's the One that will lead us to victory!"

From these two we gain insight into the fact that the Spirit led people are people who will see Jesus! Individuals who know how to pray and put the knowledge into practice will know the way of the Lord! Also that people who are Spirit filled and allow the Spirit to lead them will receive promises. Individuals who endure and hang on to promises from God through all trials and tribulations will see the fruit of the promise!

Your Response:
Take time to slowly read and mediate on the scriptures below.Plan a time of prayer. Ask God for help in learning the sound of His voice. Promise to God that when you feel Him talking to you that you will respond and obey.

Listen to the song "He's Able" by Deitrick Haddon @  
Sing along the following words of the chorus:

            "God is able to do just what He said He would do!
            He gonna fulfil every promise to you!
            Don't give up on God for He won't give up on you"
            He's Able!!!!!!! He's Able!!!!!

Write down your promises from God and keep them before you! Speak your promises to others who believe in you and your ministry!

Led by the Spirit:

Romans 8:14 (KJV 1900)
14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

John 16:13 (KJV 1900)
13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

John 14:26 (KJV 1900)
26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Romans 8:26 (KJV 1900)

26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Promises of God:

2 Peter 1:4 (KJV 1900)
4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Matthew 11:28–29 (KJV 1900)
28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Philippians 4:19 (KJV 1900)
19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Luke 11:9–13 (KJV 1900)
9And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day 11 of Our Christmas Devotional

Wednesday-December 11

At the birth of a baby there is a hospital room full of people. Father is present along with his worried mother-in-law. The new fathers mother is also present feeling a little uncomfortable not for sure if her daughter-in-law is comfortable with her in the birthing room. Siblings of the new born are running around touching everything constantly being corrected by the nurses. Grandfathers are trying to stay in the background out of the way of all of the women who are present. Sisters, aunts and girl friends of the new mother are each sharing their war stories of their own pregnancies each making sure that theirs was more dramatic than the others. Tears of joy and the sound of laughter are close to the ears of everyone near. Celebration is happening! Hearts are light! Everyone is there to see the new born child!

Who saw Jesus when He came? Who had the privilege of experiencing the celebration of the moment when the baby Jesus was born? Joseph, the step-father was there but we're not for sure anyone else was. Yet before the night was over others would come.

Who were the others? It was shepherds who were watching over their sheep at night.

Luke 2:6–20 (KJV 1900)
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Beth-lehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Shepherds are keepers of sheep. They can be seen from the earliest days of man. The second son of Adam, Abel, is called a "keeper of sheep" (Genesis 4:2). The occupation was highly regarded in the lives Abraham (Genesis 12:16) , Isaac (Genesis 26:14) and Jacob (Genesis 30:31-40) the patriarchs of Israel. The greatest leaders of the Old Testament, Moses (Exodus 3:1) and David (1 Samuel 16:11) were known as shepherds. After Israel settled in the promised land becoming less transit they begin to cultivate crops. The position of the shepherd fell out of favor and was transferred to the younger sons and slaves (1 Samuel 16:11-13).  

Though the position was humble it was extremely valuable because of the wealth that sheep represented. At times it could be boring thus its position needed individuals who were known to be diligent. Because their occupation demanded travel to lead the sheep to lush pastures and water and it would cause them to have to leave the comforts of home. This would cause their meals to be simple and at times their days and nights would be filled with harsh weather. Their eyes and ears where needed to protect the sheep from the meat eating creatures of the night along with protecting them from the human thieves. Tenderness was a grace that they needed to possess to be able to care and nurture the hurting sheep of the fold. Basis math skills were need to be able to count the sheep and make sure none were lost due to the sheep's nature of straying.

It was these common individuals, the shepherds, who were given the wonderful opportunity of attending the birth of the Lord! The birth announcement would come to others also but by different means. Some would receive a star but they would receive it through the voices of angels!

The darkness of the night was spilt by the brightest of lights as the angelic host arrived. The sounds of heaven broke the stillness of the countryside!

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. (Luke 2:9)

Fear gripped their hearts! The usual fight against sleep disappeared! They covered their faces to protect their eyes! What was happening? A voice was heard saying:

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10)

Then suddenly the earth was filled with the sound of the thunder of voices crying in unison:

14Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men. (Luke 2:14).

Then the stillness of the night returned and they looked at each other wide eyed! What was that? What did it mean? What were they to do? The statement of the angel was mind shaking!

There are five questions to answer when giving proper information of a subject. The angel's announcement was filled with the proper information.

Who is it about?                      Messiah
What happened?                     A baby had been born!
When did it take place?          This day
Where did it take place?         In the city of David
Why did it take place?            To give the earth peace and to give good will to mankind

Yet the announce contained more information, a marker of which baby the angel was talking about. It possessed a description of the baby's clothing and bassinet. The bassinet, a manger, gave a general idea where you would find the birthing location. It would be near a feeding place for animals.

As the shepherds describe and discuss the event between each other a question begins to be formed in the group? What are we to do with this announcement? The angel had said, You shall find the baby... This is a command that we should go to where the Messiah or baby is. Jehovah wants us there!

What causes them to one of the groups that saw Him when He came? Obedience to the spoken word. It was not their position in life neither their own personal greatness. They were there because when they were given an opportunity and a word they obeyed. You will see great things in God when you obey His Word.

Your Response:

Take time to slowly read and mediate on the scriptures below. Examine yourself. Do you obey God when given the opportunity? When God speaks to you through the preaching do you go to the altar and repent? When He challenges you to change attitudes and actions do you obey? Many great blessing are lost because we do not respond in obedience to God.  One writer said it like this: It's not the opportunities we lack it's as usual we fail to ACT! The lack of trust often effects our ability to be obedient to God. Fill you mind with scriptures that build you faith. Then take the steps of obedience. Determine today to obey God in all things, at all times and at all places!

Exodus 19:5 (KJV 1900)
5Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Deuteronomy 11:1 (KJV 1900)
1Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.

John 15:14 (KJV 1900)
14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

John 14:15 (KJV 1900)
15If ye love me, keep my commandments.

2 John 6 (KJV 1900)
6And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

Luke 11:28 (KJV 1900)
28But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Hebrews 13:17 (KJV 1900)
17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

1 Samuel 15:22 (KJV 1900)
22And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to hearken than the fat of rams.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 10 of Our Christmas Devotional

Tuesday-December 10
Once again we will visit the question "Where is He coming"? Let's go to gospel of Luke and  find out the location.

Luke 2:1–5 (KJV 1900)
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Beth-lehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

The decree from Caesar initiated a journey for Joseph and Mary. They would be traveling south from the city of Nazareth into Bethlehem. The journey was between seventy to eighty miles. It would have taken about four days under normal circumstances to make the trip but with the pregnant Mary who was close to her time of delivery the pace would have been slower. Tradition says that she rode a donkey but the text does not state that fact. Even if she had ridden a donkey the journey would have taken six to seven days in her condition.

Luke says that they went up to Bethlehem. This was not that they were traveling north but that the elevation of  Bethlehem was higher.  Bethlehem was only five miles from Jerusalem. In fact you would have thought they were going to Jerusalem. Why? Because Jerusalem was called the city of David in the 1 Chronicles 11:4-5.  But Bethlehem was also called the "city of David" as stated in Micah 5:2.

Why Bethlehem and not Jerusalem? Because the promise of God to David was that one would rein on his throne who would be his descent and the kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-9). Jerusalem was the city that David and his men conquered that became the location of the throne of the kingdom and the home of the temple (2 Samuel 5:6-10). It's importance cannot be minimized yet it is not connected to David's birth as is Bethlehem. Joseph as a decent of David (Matthew 1:1-16) was also born in Bethlehem and the instruction from the pagan Caesar had ordered all individuals to travel back to their birthplace for the census and taxation. Once again God used the ignorance of man to fulfill His prophecy by Caesar charging Joseph to travel back to Bethlehem with his pregnant mate. The baby that would be born of her in Bethlehem would be identified with David by the linage of His step father Joseph and the location of the baby's birth (Acts 13:22-23; Revelation 22:16).

In the prophecy of Micah (5:2) the description given of Bethlehem is that  "though thou be little among the thousands of Judah". This description points out to us that the size of Bethlehem is "little". It was not a great metropolis as Jerusalem but is only a village. The phrase "among the thousands of Judah" paints the portraits of it being a place that is unnoticeable, indiscernible even illrelevant from the many cities and villages of Judah.

The name Bethlehem means "house of bread, fruitfulness". This gives a different view of what Bethlehem looked like at the time. Though it had existed for centuries it was never grew in size to become a daughter city of Jerusalem. It was in the hill country of Judah. This would be important for Jehovah had always been known as a god of the hills (Psalms 121:1-8; 1 Kings 20:28). The one who was coming was the god of Israel Jehovah. For the name of Jesus means "Jehovah saves".

Who would have dreamed that so unimportant place would breed the greatest King of the Old Testament David or the one who would become King of Kings and Lord of Lords , Jesus the Son of David (Revelation 19:16; 22;16; Matthew 1:1)!

We are confronted again with the thought that God thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not are ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Most of us would have looked at Jerusalem and chose it as the premo place to bring into the world the Messiah! It was the seat of power and finance for Israel. It size made it the head and shoulders above all other cities in Israel. It was the home of the spiritual heart of Israel the temple! But God chooses an indistinguishable village Bethlehem to become the breeding grounds for the great kings of Israel! God summons the men of His choice, David and Jesus, from Bethlehem, a so insignificant a source!

The one of the principals of God is that little become much when submitted to the Lord! The little lunch of the lad becomes a meal for five thousand men not counting women and children (John 6:1-15). Stones become guided missiles (1 Samuel 17:1-58)! When He could have chosen the symbol of power, a horse, for His ride, He decides upon the littlest of the most common, the colt of a donkey's to become the ride of the greatest of Kings (Matthew 21:1-16)!

God chooses a nobody to become a somebody! Why? So no flesh can glory in His presence! He receives all the glory when the weak are used and become a power weapon of victory over the enemies of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)!

Your Response:
Take time to slowly read and mediate on the scriptures below. Examine yourself. Do you fight against negative thoughts concerning your families position, your failure of the past or your seemingly lack of talent? Replace those thoughts with the thoughts of faith concerning God's laws of making oak tree's out of acorns! Memorize a scripture such as Philippians 4:13 that builds your faith and quote it to yourself throughout the day! If you know someone who struggles with these same thoughts share with them what you are doing to help yourself through God's word!

Micah 5:2 (KJV)
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Isaiah 55:8–11 (KJV 1900)
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts.
10For as the rain cometh down, And the snow from heaven, And returneth not thither, But watereth the earth, And maketh it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: It shall not return unto me void, But it shall accomplish that which I please, And it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

1 Corinthians 1:26–31 (KJV 1900)
26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Day 8 of Our Christmas Devotional

Sunday-December 8

We now turn to addressing the question of "Where did He come to?" When thinking about where the Lord could have come to there are endless locations here on planet Earth. Yet there was a specific location where the Messiah was to be born. That was the city of  Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

Bethlehem is five miles south of Jerusalem. It is the home of Boaz, Ruth, Obed, and Jesse David's father (1 Samuel 16:1, 4) It's importance was not in its economic power neither that it had a huge population. It importance is because it is the birth place and the place of anointing of the greatest King of the Old Testament, David (1 Samuel 17:12; 1 Samuel 16:4-13). It is the called the "city of David" (Luke 2:4).

This is the village where Jesus was born. Why was it important for this village to be the location of the birth of the Lord? The first reason was that it connected Jesus with the kingdom and leadership of David. His birth in this city connect Jesus with David's birth is the same city! Thus Jesus qualifies to be the Messiah because of His birth in the city of Bethlehem. This would fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of Micah concerning the Messiah:

Micah 5:2 (KJV)
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Secondly Jesus would fulfill the prophecy that was given to David that one would come from him would sit on the throne of Israel.

2 Samuel 7:12–16 (KJV 1900)
12And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
15But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

I'm sure that there were several reasons that Joseph was chosen to be the step-father of Jesus. The man that would be entrusted to raise the Messiah would have to be a spiritual man and have impeccable character. But these verse help us to understand that he would have to be a descendent of David. That would give Jesus the legal right to sit upon the throne of David. Joseph fulfilled that requirement (Matthew 1:1-17).

As we read the quote of the prophecy of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem of Micah 5:2 something else caught my attention. It was not the city neither that He would be a ruler but He would be described as one "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." James Smith states the following concerning this leader:
The Bethlehem Ruler would be one who had prior existence. “His goings forth are from of old.” He was active on behalf of his people long before he appeared at Bethlehem. Jesus did not hesitate to affirm his preexistence (cf. John 8:58). This prophecy, however, does not merely assert that the Bethlehem Ruler came forth from heaven, but that he had been actively involved in the leadership of his people in the distant past. The terms “from of old” (miqqedem) and “from ancient days” (mime ‘olam) are used of the Patriarchal age (Micah 7:14, 20) and even of eternity prior to creation (Prov 8:22f.).[1]
  This fits with John's thoughts of Jesus found in John 1:1-5 that stresses the pre-existence of Jesus not a as a man but as the Word that was with God and was God!  

John 1:1–5 (KJV 1900)
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The spoken word of a man is the audio able expressions of the thoughts of the man which are an extension of the man. These thoughts are produced by the individual and are not separate from the individual. The Word of God is the same. It is God and cannot be separated from God to be another God but is the audio expression of the one true God!

John 1:14 states that this expression of God, or God's Word, which previous was only audio and borrowed physical substance to be visual, such as the burning bush with Moses, at the birth of Jesus became the Word now visual.

John 1:14 (KJV 1900)
14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The human body of Jesus was the means by which the Word could be expressed visually. Since the Word cannot be separated from God, the human body of Jesus is the visual expression of God to the mankind. The following scriptures support this:

Hebrews 1:1–3 (KJV 1900)
1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person...
Colossians 1:12–15 (KJV 1900)
12Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

The human body of Jesus is the visual body of God! As the human body of a man is the image of the man that is seen by other humans and is thought by all to be the man, the human body of Jesus is the image of God and is thought to be God! The man's thoughts, word and body define the man! God's thoughts, Words, and body define God as being One!

This Ruler who would go out from Bethlehem had already gone out of heaven on many occasions to lead His people. The One leading Israel from the beginning would continue to do it forever! For He is the everlasting One!

The foundation of our knowledge of God begins and ends with understanding that He is the everlasting One!

Deuteronomy 6:4 (KJV 1900)
4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:

[1] James E. Smith, The Minor Prophets, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1994). Mic 5:2–3.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Day 7 of Our Christmas Devotional

Saturday-December 7

As we continue to think about "Why did He (Jesus) come? a number of scriptures could be listed that would support His coming for salvation that are related to specific aspects of salvation. Here are a few:

1.         He Came to Die

Hebrews 2:9 (KJV 1900)
9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

2.         To Save Sinners

1 Timothy 1:15 (KJV 1900)
15This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

3.         To Save that Which was Lost

Luke 19:10 (KJV 1900)
10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

4.         To Take Away Sin

1 John 3:5 (KJV 1900)
5And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

John 1:29 (KJV 1900)
29The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

5.         To Minister

Mark 10:45 (KJV 1900)
45For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

But there are also other reasons that He came. Let's list some of them.

1.         To Undo the Works of the Devil

Hebrews 2:14 (KJV 1900)
14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

1 John 3:8 (KJV 1900)
8He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

2.         To Provide a Pattern of Holy Living for His People

1 Peter 2:21 (KJV 1900)
21For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

3.         To Reveal the Father

Matthew 11:27 (KJV 1900)
27All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

John 10:30 (KJV 1900)
30I and my Father are one.

These are a few of the reasons for which He came. As we examined the birth story of Matthew we found that He came to "save His people from their sins". But what was the reason that Luke gave as the purpose of His coming at His birth?

When Gabriel comes to Mary with the announcement he states the following:

Luke 1:30–33 (KJV 1900)
30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

The main reason for His coming as stated by Luke is:
     1.         He will be great
     2.         He will called the Son of the Most High
     3.         The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David
     4.         He will reign over the house of Jacob
     5.         His Kingdom will have no end.

All of these phrases speak of Jesus coming to be a King! He is to be the Messiah of Israel. His kingdom shall be forever! He will be crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16)!
He is the supreme authority who will defeat His and our enemies and bring victory to us forever (Revelation 20:10, 14)!

Your Response:

Take time to slowly read the above scriptures. Mediate on each reason He came and thank Him for the victory that comes from His coming! Share with someone the reasons of why He came. Encourage them in their problem by reminding them that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!