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Advent 2020: Light in the Darkness

Stand firm with Jesus.

Four days left in Advent. Five until Christmas. The daylight hours continue to decrease while the hours of darkness increase — until tomorrow. This year December 21st is the first day of winter, the day marked by the fewest hours of light and the longest night of darkness.

Spiritual darkness presses into our lives daily: sin, bad moods, discord in relationships. Today consider Jesus as Savior, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace. Let Him bring light into your darkness.

Find a passage in the Bible to speak to your current battle with darkness. Memorize the Word God gives you. Let Him shine the light of truth to dissipate the dark.

Stand firm against the forces attempting to extinguish the light in your life.


Read December 20: Christmas Solidarity

Photo by Cris DiNoto on Unsplash

What captured your imagination in today’s devotional?


Christmas is a call to go on strike at the assembly plant of sin.

John Piper, Joy to the World

Sin is the work of Satan. Its sole purpose is to bring spiritual darkness into the world and break our relationship with God.

Where are you standing in relation to what John Piper calls: Satan’s business?

Are you an active contributor to the sins coming off the enemy’s assembly line? a part-time employee? or a protestor picketing at the gates?

We all sin, yet Satan is a devious business manager. The lies he weaves into the world make us think we are doing good, or at least what is tolerable, as we blindly contribute to the darkness.

Today, consider whether your thoughts, words, and deeds contribute to the darkness in the world or bring light.

You’ll need God’s help. Ask Him to bless you with discernment and eyes to see things accurately. Ask Him to reveal the lies you’ve been believing and replace them with the light of truth.

“Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”
Matthew 6:22-23 NLT

Photo by Sebastian on Unsplash

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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Advent 2020: Reality

The true Tent.

Adoration of Jesus is not a natural response. It is a supernatural one we come to by faith.

Our spiritual journeys are dependent on the supernatural work of God in our lives and our willingness to follow His directions. As we pursue the roadmap for Advent, we need God as our guide. Through prayer we ask Him how to meditate, examine, build, and be. He is the only One who knows the reality of our spiritual state.


Read December 13: The Final Reality is Here

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Reflect.

What challenged you in today’s reading?


This is the final, ultimate reality: God and his Son interacting in love and holiness for our eternal salvation.

John Piper, Joy to the World

How do you define reality?

Is spiritual salvation central to the reality of your life? does it define how you live? the choices you make? your priorities?

Do you consider the salvation of others an important aspect of your relationship with them? Why or why not?

John Piper points out Jesus’s indestructible life and ministry form the basis of reality. He serves in the true Tent in heaven. What is truly real is eternal. All else passes away.

Ask God to help you understand the spiritual reality and its eternal nature, then allow Him to guide you into the truth.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2Corinthians 4:18 NIV

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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Advent 2020: Jesus’s Desire

Joy begins with Jesus.

Monday, November 30

The day after the First Sunday in Advent is ALWAYS Monday. Mondays are typically busy back-to-the-weekly-grind days, especially after a Thanksgiving weekend. And now, with Christmas so near, for many the days get even more packed and schedules a bit tighter.

We hope you’ll withdraw from the hectic of the season to draw near the heart of the Season through the words of John Piper in Joy to the World.


Read the Introduction to Joy to the World.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Reflect.

What does Jesus want this Christmas according to John Piper?

Jesus wants us to have eyes to see things as they REALLY are. To see that true JOY begins with Him.

Jesus,
Our Savior, Redeemer, Restorer,
Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

He is our source of timeless joy and peace.


Christians… people who have “received” Jesus as the crucified and risen Savior and Lord and Treasure of their lives…

John Piper, Joy to the World

Do you treasure Jesus? Do thoughts of Him fill you with joy?

What does bring you joy these days? Where do you find peace?
Are these unfailing sources of joy and peace? Or are they temperamental? undependable?

How do you see Jesus these days? What place does He have in your daily life?

Ask God to open your heart to see Jesus according to His desire for you, to see things as they REALLY are. Ask Him to prepare your heart to receive the timeless JOY that begins with Jesus.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
Psalm 95:1-3 ESV

[Feature Image Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash]

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.

December 18

[As Christmas draws ever closer, we hope you’re taking time to consider the truth behind God breaking into the world as a baby. Read what John Piper says on December 18, then read our offering.]

God put [Christ] forward… to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:25-26

Let your frustrations with this world throw you onto the Word of God. It will become sweet — like walking into paradise.

–John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, Page 59*

John Piper shared how Martin Luther found himself frustrated in pursuing self-justification. Only when God revealed Himself through His Word to be both just and the justifier of those who trust Jesus, did Luther find freedom from trying save himself.

We cannot justify ourselves. Nothing in the world can bring peace and joy. We will always end up frustrated apart from faith in Jesus.

Consider where you find yourself frustrated this Christmas season. How are you trying to justify yourself?

As John Piper suggests, throw yourself onto God’s Word. As you open your Bible, ask Him to reveal the root of your frustration and the key to peace and joy through faith in Jesus — the Babe in the manger.

Father God, You know where I am pursuing self-justification. You know where I have been deceived by the world through the teaching of self-help. Open my spirit to receive the truth in Your Word I need to hear today.

[Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Aaron Burden on Unsplash]

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

December 8

[John Piper uses the same verses today as yesterday. Read December 8 in The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.]

Moses said, “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

Acts 3:22-26

Christmas is the reassertion of the foundation of all truth and goodness and beauty, because Christmas means: God is truthful.

God’s truthfulness is the constant in a universe of flux, God’s truthfulness is the unwavering absolute. If we forsake God’s truthfulness, the anchor is up, the rudder is loose, the keep is broken, and the ship of life (political life, social life, educational life, scientific life, family life) is simply at the mercy of the wind of human wishes.

– John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, page 32*

Do you know the blessing of God’s truthfulness? Explain.

Do you find your life built on the solid ground of God’s truth? Is it unshakable? Or do you experience constant upheavals and instability?

Consider the extent to which God’s truth affects your life.

Father God, Your Word says You are trustworthy. Christmas is evidence of Your truthfulness through the fulfilling of prophecy and of Your promise. Show me the places where I am living life based on lies. Reveal Your truth and grow me to trust You with ALL my life.

 [Feature Image Photo seen on blog by Aaron Burden 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 19

Let’s begin the week with the reading of Proverbs 19. (Click on the link to read the verses.)

A false witness will not go unpunished.–vs. 5, 19

This simple, direct statement is made twice in today’s reading in a matter of verses. Direction against bearing false witness was the ninth commandment that Moses brought back from his encounter with God on Mount Sinai. It was a problem then, and it is now.

Our culture is so caught up in excusing this behavior that it even has its own term: “little white lie”. And if you say it like that, it sounds cute, like no big deal… harmless. But where is the line? When does the behavior go from telling “little white lies” to being a false witness, dishonest… a liar. As bad as we want a line to be there, an area where it is “okay”, there is no line.

Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Colossians 3:9-10

Father, forgive us for the times we have ignored your word when it comes to truth. Convict us when any “little white lie” crosses our lips. Teach us to cling to your truth and speak with integrity. Amen.

Songs of Praise: Psalm 119:121-144

Let’s conclude our week with reading Psalm 119:121-144. (Click on the link to read the verses.)

I asked the group of fifth and sixth graders what they believed about the Bible. Did they think every word in it was right? True? She said it quietly but I heard her. When I asked her to say it again, she bravely stated, “There could be a mistake somewhere.”

As we continued our discussion, I asked them the same question I ask you now.

“How do we know? How do we know the Bible is God’s inspired Word and it contains no errors?”

The Psalmist gives his answer.

Therefore, I consider all your precepts to be right…

Psalm 119:128

Believing every single word of the Bible was inspired by God is a faith issue. Over the years when I have questioned His Word, wrestled with something, He has been faithful to show me His Word is truth.

What about you? Do you consider His precepts to be right? What step is God calling you to take to place your complete trust in His Word?

Father God, you know my heart and where it stands in relation to Your Word. Bless me with the desire and faith to wrestle with You regarding Your Way. Prove Yourself and Your Word true.

[Feature Image Photo seen on website by Aaron Burden on Unsplash]