Posts

December 25

[Merry Christmas! Read the final devotional in The Dawning of Indestructible Joy and then our offering below.]

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

John 6:51

So the meaning of Christmas is this: the Son of God came into the world to bear witness to the truth in a way that it had never been witnessed to before.

– John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, page 79*

Jesus came to show us the truth of God’s love, grace, and goodness in a way never before seen.

Remember the reason behind all the giving of gifts, the feasting and fun, the joy and singing, is the commemoration of the Divine entering the world He created. God the Father giving His only Son as a means of salvation and restoration for the world.

Have you considered the uniqueness of His coming as a Babe? His stooping low to become like one of His own creations? not to rule and reign, but to give His life as a ransom for many?

Take a moment to consider Him today.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

Let the revelation of Truth behind the season bring transformation to your life.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of grace, truth, and life. May the heart of Christmas stay with me throughout the year. Amen.

[Feature Image Photo on blog by Annie Spratt on Unsplash]

 *© 2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 28

Read Proverbs 28

27Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Proverbs 28:27

Those who close their eyes… because it is easier, because we think they aren’t deserving, because we have worked hard and if they did they wouldn’t be in the situation they are in, because they are drug addicted, alcoholic, dirty, crazy, lazy, uneducated…

This is just a short list of reasons our youth came up with of why we choose not to help the poor.

But they are all just excuses, reasons to make ourselves feel better for not helping.

I read the other day there are over 2000 verses in the Bible that talk about the poor. I am willing to bet there is not one verse saying, “Help the poor… but only the ones who aren’t uneducated, lazy, crazy, dirty, alcoholic, drug addicted. Help only the ones who deserve it.”

Lord, open my eyes to the truth of Your grace. Teach me to identify with those who are poor and desperately in need of help.

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Bui Hoang Lien on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 27

Read Proverbs 27

6 Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

10 Never abandon a friend- either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to your neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.

17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

It is easy to look as these proverbs and question whether our friends are lining up. Tempting to call out where they are not fitting the bill. We want friends who value honesty, are there for us, and bring out the best in us.

The challenge is asking these questions of ourselves.
Am I willing to listen when my friend brings something to my attention- even when it is something that I would rather not hear (and vice versa)? Are my words and actions sincere? Am I quick to abandon? Do I bring out the best in my friends or only expect them to bring out the best in me? When I look at it this way, I can work on being a better, more authentic friend.

I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better. – Plutarch

I don’t need to be a friend who changes when they change and nods when they nod; their shadows do that much better.

Lord, fill me with as much grace for my friends as I give myself.

[Feature Image Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash]

The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs 24:1-22

Read Proverbs 24:1-22 to continue on the way of wisdom.

…for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

Proverbs 24:16

At a convention I attended this weekend, one of the speakers shared the following:

A statue of Atlas stands in the middle of Rockefeller Plaza, bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders, practically bringing him to his knees.
If you turn your attention, you will see that Atlas is across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

St.-Patricks-Cathedral.jpg
And if you walk inside, you will find a statue of young Jesus. Like the statue of Atlas, he too holds the world, but unlike Atlas, Jesus holds it effortlessly in the palm of his hands.

jesus-holding-world

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:17

I try to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. And I fail. I fall down, but I do not have to fall apart. Because HE holds everything together.

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Thank You, Lord, for Your all sufficient grace, holding all things together. Including me…

Songs of Praise: Psalm 119:145-176

We begin the week with the final stanzas of Psalm 119. Read the verses in your Bible or click the reference to read online: Psalm 119:145-176.

At the heart of our passage today is a verse I discovered several years ago and hold onto as a promise and precept to pursue.

Great peace have those who love your law; and nothing shall make them stumble.

Psalm 119:165 ESV

The King James Version was the one I found first and memorized:

Great peace have they which love thy law: And nothing shall offend them.

If I found myself offended by another, my peace disturbed, then I concluded I must not be loving His law. I would search my heart, ask Him where I was failing to love His law, and to fill me with the great peace He promised in return.

You see, the whole of His law is wrapped up in loving Him by loving others the way He calls us to.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:14 ESV

When we find ourselves offended by someone, we are most likely looking out for self, loving ourselves more than Him or others.

To be offended by another is to stumble in the law when the whole law is fulfilled in: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

His definition of love does not leave much room for being offended by another. Jesus also told us:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13 ESV

When we lay down our lives, we lay down our rights, our way, our pride. We trust God’s sovereignty, His judgment, and His setting all things right in the end. We will not miss out on what really matters. And peace will be ours in abundance, no matter how others treat us.

Have you found yourself offended lately? Did you sin in your anger? stumble over your pride?

To love His law is to give others the same grace He gives us. When we love His Word in all the ways described by the psalmist in these 176 verses, we love like Him. Without being offended.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Luke 23:24 ESV

Oh Lord, teach me, grow me, to love Your law, Your Word, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Fill me with Your love for others. Fill me with Your great peace.

[Featured Image Photo seen on website by Chelsea Bock on Unsplash]