2019-12-23 – Micah 5:2
Verse of the Day Devotion: Micah 5:2 “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”
The scriptures tell us where the coming Messiah will be born. From a verse in Genesis, we know this is Bethlehem. “So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Genesis 35:19. Now, we see some interesting things regarding Bethlehem.
First, it was too little to be among the clans of Judah. Here is how this is explained by Albert Barnes in his commentary on the book of Micah. “Each tribe was divided into its thousands, probably of fighting men, each thousand having its own separate head. Places too small to form a thousand by themselves were united with others, to make up the number . So lowly was Bethlehem that it was not counted among the possessions of Judah. In the division under Joshua, it was wholly omitted . From its situation, Bethlehem can never have been a considerable place.” It was too small to be on its own, therefore it was merged with other small places in order to amass the thousand needed.
However, though it was small, a great event would happen within this town. One would come forth from there who would be the ruler in Israel, one however whose rule would never end. This is the one who would fulfill the Father’s will and purpose from eternity. Jesus Himself said this was His purpose. “Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” John 4:34.
Lastly, we see that His goings forth are from long ago, from eternity. His coming was known from before time began. His coming was known before this universe was created. “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you ” 1 Peter 1:19-20. Also, this one knew us from the foundation of the world, for because He foreknew us; those who would accept Him and follow His ways, our names were put in there from the foundations of the world. “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Revelation 13:8.
This was no normal child who would be born in this small town of Bethlehem, one so small it was not even considered a clan of Judah on its own. However, from this small; at the time insignificant, town would come the greatest gift God could give us; the means of salvation by the sacrifice of this not yet born ruler of Israel. Nothing today from any town, city or metropolis, can compare to what happened in Bethlehem. Praise God. He let us know through the prophet Micah. However, many of the rulers could not accept this prophecy, and thus ignored it. What a shame, for they missed the fulfillment of the most significant and important prophecy of all time. The birth of the only begotten Son of the Father.
2019-12-24 – Luke 2:6
Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 2:6: While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
Jesus was now born, in a manger where the animals were kept because they could not find any room in any of the inns because of the census that was decreed by Caesar. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7. This was in the town of Bethlehem, because Joseph was of the family of David and was no doubt born there, for each family was to go to the city where the head of the household was born. “Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,” Luke 2:4
After the birth of Jesus, they were visited by shepherds who were keeping their sheep in the fields in the same region. ”In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12. This was such a momentous event, that these shepherds were alerted to the birth of the Messiah by angels. And it was not just one or two either. “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14.
This was an incredible declaration. Angels, whose number could not be counted, told these humble men that the Messiah, the coming King, the Savior of the world, had been born in the city of David, in a humble manger, within this small and what was considered an insignificant town. I cannot imagine how they must have felt. No wonder the angel told them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;” Luke 2:10.
When the angels disappeared, they immediately left the sheep to see what they had told them. “When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us. So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.” Luke 1:15-18. The shepherds eventually went back, glorifying God as they went for all that He had told them.
Mary, on the other hand, pondered all these things. She no doubt remembered what Gabriel had told her, and along with what she saw with the shepherds and everything else, she thought about them and what all this could mean. She kept them in her heart and no doubt pondered them often. She had obeyed God, offered herself as a hand maiden to do the will of God. And now what was prophesied had now come to fulfillment. What would this mean going forward? I am sure this probably came to her mind.
Several years later, they received a visit from magi, known also as astrologers or magicians from the east. “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:9-11. These were wise men, who had probably read the prophesies of the coming king and were led there by God using a star as a guide. They gave very precious gifts and worshipped this child before they left. God gave them a warning. “And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” Matthew 2:12.
I close this by again saying this was not a normal event. God prepared it from before the foundation of the world, and He guided many to observe it and give due worship to this child, the Son of the Living God. This is what Christmas is about. And this should be our focus and priority in our celebration of it. Giving gifts and decorating is not wrong, but it should not be the priority. Jesus is. Let us remember this as we rejoice during this holiday season.
2019-12-25 – Luke 1:1-2:21
Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:1-2:21
Merry Christmas to all who are reading this. Every year, just prior to the opening of our gifts, I read the Christmas Story to all who are celebrating Christmas with us. I pray you find this encouraging and possibly choose to read it on Christmas every year as well, to tell the story of the coming of the promised Messiah.
Luke 1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,
Luke 1:2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,
Luke 1:3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;
Luke 1:4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
Luke 1:5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Luke 1:6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
Luke 1:7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
Luke 1:8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division,
Luke 1:9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
Luke 1:11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.
Luke 1:12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him.
Luke 1:13 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 1:14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
Luke 1:15 “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 1:16 “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
Luke 1:17 “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Luke 1:18 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.”
Luke 1:19 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.
Luke 1:20 “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 1:21 The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.
Luke 1:22 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.
Luke 1:23 When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.
Luke 1:24 After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying,
Luke 1:25 “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”
Birth of Jesus Foretold
Luke 1:26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,
Luke 1:27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Luke 1:28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
Luke 1:29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
Luke 1:30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1:31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
Luke 1:32 “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;
Luke 1:33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Luke 1:34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
Luke 1:35 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 1:36 “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 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
Luke 1:39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah,
Luke 1:40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
Luke 1:43 “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?
Luke 1:44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.
Luke 1:45 “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
Luke 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,
Luke 1:47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
Luke 1:48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
Luke 1:49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.
Luke 1:50 “AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.
Luke 1:51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
Luke 1:52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.
Luke 1:53 “HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed.
Luke 1:54 “He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy,
Luke 1:55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.”
Luke 1:56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
Luke 1:57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.
Luke 1:58 Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.
Luke 1:59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father.
Luke 1:60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.”
Luke 1:61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.”
Luke 1:62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called.
Luke 1:63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished.
Luke 1:64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.
Luke 1:65 Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.
Luke 1:66 All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.
Luke 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
Luke 1:69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant—
Luke 1:70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
Luke 1:71 Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US;
Luke 1:72 To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant,
Luke 1:73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
Luke 1:74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear,
Luke 1:75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
Luke 1:76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS;
Luke 1:77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins,
Luke 1:78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
Luke 1:79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Luke 1:80 And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Luke 2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
Luke 2:2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Luke 2:3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
Luke 2:4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
Luke 2:5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
Luke 2:6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
Luke 2:8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luke 2:9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
Luke 2:11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2:15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
Luke 2:16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
Luke 2:17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
Luke 2:18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Luke 2:20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. Luke 2:21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
2019-12-26 – John 3:16
Verse of the Day Devotion: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
This verse is probably one of the most recognized verses in all of scripture. This shows how much God loves us and wants to be reconciled with us. He loved us even though we did not love Him. He loved us even though we refused to follow His ways. However, His love for us does not constitute an approval of our conduct. It shows that He loved us in spite of what we do.
This was a gift, the most valuable gift that can ever be conceived. This was not just a book of rules or laws. It was nothing we could ever have imagined. And it was a free and undeserved gift. It was a gift given for the sole reason that He loved us beyond all measure. It was an act of pure love and eternal compassion. It was because He did not want us to perish, to be separated from Him forever.
And what was this unimaginable gift? It was His Son, His only begotten Son. Something man has no claim to. And again, something that was so amazing and incredible, it is inconceivable to the minds of men. Imagine someone you know who committed a great crime that was punishable by death. Someone you love and desire to fellowship with, even though they do not care to fellowship with you. You then find out that someone who has not committed a crime could pay for the man’s crime by suffering the consequences that man deserved. And you have a child who is completely free from any wrongdoing and could set this man free by dying in his stead.
This is what God did. He conceived a child in the womb of Mary for the sole purpose of having Him die to pay the penalty for the sins we had committed. He loved us before we could ever have loved Him. Note this verse, “We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. The basis of our love for Him is because He first loved us. However, let’s go a little farther with this idea. “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Revelation 13:8. Our names, us who have accepted Christ and are Christians, have been written in the Lambs book of life from before our world was created. And this is due to God’s foreknowledge of our accepting Him, not His indiscriminate choice. And because our names are there before the foundations of the world, so must have been the plan to give His Son for us in sacrifice. He loved us before we were even created, before Christ came to die. And because He came to die, we have the immense honor to love Him. Remember, we love Him and others because He first loved us.
This beautiful and powerful verse has so much in it, we could contemplate for a long time and still not understand the full ramification of it’s meaning. He loved us before He created us. He knew we would fall away, and He still created us. He provided the means of salvation before we even sinned, and it was through the death of His only begotten Son. And anyone who believes in Him and the work He did on the cross will have eternal life. There is no greater love than that which God gave. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. This will be a difficult question, but is this the kind of love we have for others? Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12
2019-12-27 – Leviticus 19:18
Verse of the Day Devotion: Leviticus 19:18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
This is a very important concept to understand. If anyone does evil against us, we must not, in any way, return evil to him. To take vengeance against them is to commit sin against them in retaliation. Now this idea goes even further. Not only are we not to retaliate, we are not to harbor hatred toward them in our heart. On the contrary, we are to love them as we love ourselves. In fact, Jesus Himself quoted this same command when He stated, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34.
We do not have the right as Christians to hold grudges. We are to forgive everyone, no matter what they have done to us or anyone else. In fact, Jesus is very clear about this in His Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH. But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” Matthew 5:38-41. Retaliation is not an option. This is what God did, sending His own Son to die for the sins we have committed. As He forgave us, we are to forgive others. Instead of holding latent feelings of devising ways in which we can have revenge, we are taught to speak to the offender and endeavor, by calm and kindly reason, to help him understand what he did and what it’s affect was on you and others. And this is to be done in love. If we exact revenge, no matter what happened, on the person that has hurt us, are we not participating in the same sin in which they have perpetrated on us?
In closing, let’s look back at what Jesus said is the reason we are to love everyone as Jesus loved us. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35. We are to walk in the same manner He did. And the reason for this is that if we do, we show the love of Christ to an unbelieving world. Through what we do, they see the reality of this walk. And many times they will ask us questions, and this will open the door to a couple things. To the believer, it shows them the reality of our walk and could open doors to help them to see what this Christian life is all about and help them to be able to live it. This is Discipleship. To the unbeliever, it shows them that there is more to this Christian walk than they have heard and seen, which could open the door to help them believe and give their lives to Christ. This is Evangelism. These two things, discipleship and evangelism is what we are called to do. If we choose to act in a manner that is absent of love, then we show everyone watching there is no need for them to show love for obviously we do not. Let this not be our message.