2019-12-16 – Jeremiah 23:5
Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.
This verse speaks of the coming of the promised Messiah. Isaiah speaks similarly when he said, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
Both Jeremiah and Isaiah are telling those who will listen that the righteous one will be coming, from God, who will ultimately establish the eternal kingdom; bringing righteousness and justice to the land. Daniel gave specifics regarding the timing here, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.” Daniel 9:25 I will not go into the mathematics regarding His coming except to say that these are weeks of years; one week being 7 years. Therefore, it was not a secret, for the Lord made it clear to the Jews when, how and why He was coming. When? Sixty-nine weeks of years after the decree to rebuild the Jerusalem, How? Through the Son of God, the Messiah. Why? To bring about the atonement for our sins through the death of the Messiah.
Unfortunately, most of the Jews at the time of Christ’s coming did not understand these prophecies. It laid out the time of His coming, but they looked for what they expected, and not what the prophets said. It was laid out so clearly here, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.” Daniel 9:24. My guess is that either they lost the initiative to continue counting the days, or they had their own idea of what the Messiah would do, and Jesus did not meet their expectations. What a shame. So, this is what we celebrate during the Christmas season. It has to do with the gift God gave us in His Son, the promised Messiah, who would sacrifice Himself for us all. Let us not forget this when we celebrate Christmas, because this is the true meaning of this blessed holiday season. There is nothing wrong with sharing gifts or decorating with lights and trees. However, let’s make these secondary and remind our children, friends and family of what Christ did for us and the eternal rewards He made available to us, if we simply believe and live it out.
2019-12-17 – Luke 1:38
Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary, the chosen mother of Christ, was visited by the archangel Gabriel and brought a message from the Lord to her. “And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28. Now, this confused her, and she pondered in her mind what was said to her and what could it mean. It appears she feared Gabriel. “The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:30-33.
Now, this was again confusing to her, for she had never laid with a man up to this point, so she wondered how this could possibly be. She had followed the law faithfully. So, what was he saying? Therefore, “Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34. In response to this question, “The angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35. It would not be Joseph who she was currently engaged to who would be the father. She would be a mother not by any man, but by God Himself. This is prophesied by Isaiah when he said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. Matthew clarifies this by stating Immanuel in the Hebrew means ‘God With Us’. (Found in Matthew 1:23). This child she will give birth to is God. Now, she probably was questioning this in her mind, so Gabriel says to her, “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.” Luke 1:36. This was probably told to her to give her confidence that if God could cause Elizabeth to have a baby in her old age, then He could cause her to have a child with the promise given her. He then ends his words with, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37.
Without any more questions, she says through the focus verse, “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38. This was an expression of giving herself over to the will of God. This shows us the commitment Mary had to God and why she was chosen for this purpose. For her to have a child by someone other then Joseph, to whom she was engaged to, would have had her ostracized because she broke the law by committing adultery. She knew what this meant regarding her reputation, but she followed the will of God completely, no matter the consequences. My question to all of us here is, would we do the same? Would we follow what God tells us no matter how anyone thinks of us, or what we would look like in their eyes? Are we willing to be humiliated before men to be found pleasing before God? Something to think about. Is how God sees us more important than how man sees us? Sometimes He calls us to do things that are not acceptable to the ways of men. And we, as Mary did, should be willing to go against the ways of man to obey Him. It is hard but think about it. Who is more important? This will give us the answer we need.
2019-12-18 – Luke 1:41
Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
After her visit from Gabriel, Mary prepared herself to visit Elizabeth who lived in the hill county of Judea. “Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.” Luke 1:39-40. She was anxious to visit her relative in order to see what the Lord has done for her. Gabriel told her that Elizabeth would conceive a son in her old age. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.” Luke 1:36. In fact, as noted in the verse 36, she has been pregnant for the last six months. What an opportunity to see the hand of God working in Elizabeth’s life, which could well give evidence that what the angel said is true for her as well.
When Elizabeth heard Mary, a couple amazing things happened. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Luke 1:41. First, the baby within her leaped in her womb. This baby, who would be named John, responded to the fact that the Messiah, who was now in the womb of Mary, was nearby. This, I believe, was on account of the second event, which was the infilling of Elizabeth by the Holy Spirit. However, it was not just Elizabeth who was filled by the Holy Spirit. Back when Zechariah, a priest in Israel, was performing his priestly duties, he was visited by an angel who prophesied saying, “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” Luke 1:14. And now the next verse. “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.” Luke 1:15. Not only was Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit, so was John, and this was why he leaped in the womb.
Then Elizabeth, after being filled by the Spirit. Prophesies over Mary. “And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Luke 1:42. She declares that Mary is blessed of the Lord, and the baby in her as well. Then she reveals something that only God could have told her. “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:43-45. She was not there when the angle talked to her, and there was no way Mary could have sent a message to her this quickly. For she knew that the Lord had told Mary she would give birth to the Messiah.
Then Mary spoke out in praise and gave glory to God. “And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond slave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones and has exalted those who were humble. HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.” Luke 1:46-55. What a great declaration of the mighty and great works done by God. Mary, after all this, remained with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. What is worth noting here is that God not only told Mary, and previously to Zechariah and Elizabeth, what was going to happen, but He also gave them evidence of what He declared. And God will do the same for us when required. He did this via the first meeting between John the Baptist and the Messiah, when both were in their respective wombs. God always make clear to all what He is going to do, and what He has already done in the lives of His people. It is up to us to accept and believe what He tells us.
2019-12-19 – Luke 1:57
Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.
The time had finally come for Mary’s cousin Elizabeth to give birth to John. “Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.” Luke 1:58. This was a time of celebration. She had lived beyond the age where she could have children, however, the Lord caused her to give birth to the one who would cry out in the wilderness declaring the coming of the Messiah to His ministry. “He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” John 1:23 This is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah where he said, “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3
As was the custom regarding the law, on the eighth day, they circumcised the child. Everyone who was visiting was thinking the child should be named Zacharias, after the father. Another part of Jewish tradition was that the child was named when he was circumcised, and ordinarily the name of the father was given to the first-born son. So this made sense to everyone there. But Elizabeth interjected, “But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” Luke 1:60. This of course was the name the angel told Zacharias to give him. “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” Luke 1:13.
This was not the norm, thus, “And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” Luke 1:61. Again, this was important in regard to tradition. Their reasoning was that the Jewish tribes customarily kept their families sacredly distinct, and this included family names. They would name their children the name of an ancestor that was found in the line of the tribe, partly because of reverence for them, but also partly to avoid confusion in the genealogical tables, which for the sake of distinguishing the inheritances, were carefully preserved. It seems that because John never appeared in the family line of Levi, they argued it was not a good name to give.
They then asked the father Zacharias what he wanted to name the child. “And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, His name is John. And they were all astonished.” Luke 1:63. Therefore, he declared what the angel said. Now Zacharias was unable to speak because he doubted the words of the Lord spoken through the angel. “Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years. The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:18-20. However, now that he obeyed the words of God by going against tradition, he received his voice back.
Then Zacharias prophesied saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant—As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:68-80.
Now, he who is the forerunner of the Messiah has been born. And he will prepare the way for the Messiah, who shall be born fairly soon. Zacharias dropped all traditions of men to obey God. Jesus rebuked those who followed traditions of men rather then God. “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:8. Let us not fall into this trap, just as Zacharias did not.
2019-12-20 – Genesis 28:14
Verse of the Day Devotion: Genesis 28:14 “Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Here is another prophecy from the old testament which speaks of the coming Messiah. Jacob has just departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He had traveled quite a distance and the sun had set and he decided to stop for the night in order to refresh himself before he completed the trip the next day. So, he took a rock and laid down, putting it under his head as a pillow.
“He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” Genesis 28:12. This is an interesting dream. What he saw was a ladder that connected the heavens with the earth at the place he was. And on this ladder were angels; some ascending back into heaven and others descending to the earth. This is a picture of angels coming down and doing God’s work down here, and then ascending back upon completion. This reminds me of a verse in Hebrews which speaks of the angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”. Hebrews 1:14.
Then Jacob sees the Lord, standing above this ladder on which the angels were ascending and descending, and declares to him the following, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants.” Genesis 28:13b. He first tells Jacob who He is; the God of Abraham his grandfather, and of Isaac his father. It was very important that Jacob knew who He was because He was prophesying about near and far future events. The near event is that He would give to Jacob and his descendants the land on which he was sleeping. This would be the promised land which God spoke of to Abraham. He confirmed to Jacob what He had promised to his grandfather.
Then God addresses the far event, “our descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 28:14. Here God is saying that Jacobs descendants will be as the dust of the earth. In other words, they will be so many that it will beyond the ability to count. These descendants will spread out all over the world; going to the north and the south, to the east and the west. But here is the defining part of this verse, ‘and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” There will come from him, through the line of David, someone through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed. They will spread throughout the world, via the disciples of this coming Messiah whose name is Jesus, the good news of the reconciliation of men with God, through the sacrifice of Jesus.
And we as Christians are the disciples of Christ who are to spread the Word of Christ. Jesus was the one prophesied through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. And it is through us that the good news will be spread through a world that does not know Him. Notice the phrase, ‘shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 28:14b. Paul lays out how they will hear the word. “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:14-15. We are those who are called to tell the world.