Son of God

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Today’s Reading: Matthew 27: 32-44

Those who passed by were yelling insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “The One who would demolish the sanctuary and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!”

Matthew 27: 39-40

Reflection: Jesus was mocked for the claims He made about Himself: that He was King, Savior, the Son of God who trusted in His Father completely. Those who mocked Him said that they would believe in His claims if He proved Himself by coming down from the Cross. They continued to mock Him as He hung there. What they failed to realize was that Jesus remained on the Cross not because He couldn’t come down from it, but because He wouldn’t. His death was the very act that would fulfill His purpose on earth. His willingness to be crucified was a testament to who He was and is: the King who left His Throne for His people; the Savior who would die to save the world; the Son of God who would exemplify obedience to the Father; the One who trusted in His Father’s Plan to bring about humanity’s redemption.

It is one thing to acknowledge that Jesus’ death has brought us salvation. It is quite another thing to understand that His life was not taken from Him, but was willingly laid down by Him for our sake. The horror of crucifixion paired with mockery by those He died for must have been unbearable to endure. But Jesus bore it fully and eagerly because of His great love for us.

Jesus chose to die. He died that we might live. His decision to lay down His life has laid before every person the hope of eternity with Him. Do we dismiss His identity and work, or do we receive what He has done for us? How are the choices we make confirming what we believe about Him?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your loving sacrifice for my sake. Thank You for doing the work to save me from sin and death. I pray that Your obedience to the Father continually reminds me to live in obedience to You, and that Your choice to give me life would embolden my faith, that I might choose everyday to live my life for You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 27:32-66; Deuteronomy 7-8; Job 7

Infinite Strength

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Today’s Reading: Job 6:8-13

“What strength do I have that I should continue to hope? What is my future, that I should be patient?” 

Job 6:11

Reflection: In all circumstances, God gives us strength and hope. Job – after losing his children and possessions in one day and falling ill with painful sores from his head to his feet – is wearied completely. To add to that, his friends tell him that he deserves the pain he is experiencing. They wrongly assume that Job is being punished for sinning against God. Upon hearing their words, Job declares that all of his strength has been depleted, that he is hopeless.

Job has lost all hope in his circumstances. He has no strength left to endure what he is going through. But there is hope that he refers to when he thinks of God. It is found in God Himself. Job says in his pain, “if only… God would provide what I hope for: that He would decide to crush me…” Job does not know why God has preserved him to this point, but He knows that it is God Who will determine either Job’s death or his deliverance. He doesn’t know why he is experiencing trials, but he knows that God can relieve him from his agony. And while Job at this point asks God for death, God will later provide what is better. God will grant deliverance and restore Job’s life as a testimony of His Sovereignty.

When our finite strength is drained and our hope in ourselves is lost, neither is ever exhausted in God. To have the LORD’s strength is to be able to go where He is leading. To know His hope is to be assured of His Perfect Will unfolding in our lives. Thanks be to God that we have more than ourselves to rely on, that we have Him in our midst to preserve us!

Prayer: Sovereign God, there is none like You. When I am depleted, I can be assured that You never grow weak or weary. I remain hopeful in Your steadfast faithfulness. In my weakness Lord, please preserve me. Quell my doubts and calm my fears. Help me to rely on You in all situations. Please guide me in Your ways, that I would remain faithful to You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 27:1-31; Deuteronomy 5-6; Job 6

The One True God

Monday, December 27, 2021

Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-39

“You were shown [these things] so that you would know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him.”

Deuteronomy 4:35

Reflection: In recalling God’s works we realize His greatness. Moses recounts for Israel the many wonders that the LORD their God has shown them in order to reveal Himself. Throughout their exodus from Egypt and journey through the desert, God proves His power and might over and over again, showing His ability and desire to preserve Israel. Because of all that He has done, the Israelites are able to recall these miracles and be assured that the LORD is indeed God. They know God because He has shown Himself to them through these great works.

Nothing that the LORD does can be matched by anyone else. This is because only He has Godly power and authority. The story of Israel and God reminds us not only of God’s ability to act, but also His desire to act for the sake of His people throughout time. Just as we remember how LORD has done great things for the nation of Israel, we can consider how He has worked in our lives and be assured that He is God. We can also see that the LORD desires to be truly known by us.

What of the LORD’s works in your life have testified to His greatness? How has He blessed you, healed you, and freed you? How has He answered prayers, given guidance, or been your strength? What have you heard, read, witnessed, or learned about Him? The LORD wants you to know who He truly is. The LORD reveals His greatness to show us that He is the One True God.

Prayer: Sovereign LORD, I see the mighty works of Your Hand throughout history and know that You are the One True God. You are wonderful. Thank You for Your grace to show me who You are, for assuring me of Your power and reminding me of Your great love. May the truth of Your greatness preserve within me a constant faith and joyful hope, that in all situations I can be preserved by and surrendered to You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 26:47-75; Deuteronomy 3-4; Job 5

Sunday Message: To Whom All Praise Belongs

December 26th, 2021

Today’s Reading: Philippians 1:3-8

“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,”

Philippians 1:4-5

MAIN IDEA: Praise God for His CHURCH and His WORK in His CHURCH.

Text Notes:

• Praise God for KOINONIA in His work. (v.3-5)
• Praise God for CONFIDENCE in His process. (v.6)
• Praise God for CLOSENESS in His Church. (v.7-8)

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for Your great and mighty love shown to us through the arrival and sacrifice of Your precious Son. Thank You for the opportunity You give us to know Him fully. Please help me to live out of a growing love for You. Show me how to love others the way that You love. I pray this all in Jesus’s name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Bible, studytools.com): Matthew 26:1-25; Numbers 35-36; Job 3

For God’s Work

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Today’s Reading: Matthew 26:6-13

But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a noble thing for Me.”

Matthew 26:10

Reflection: Nothing truly done for Jesus’ sake is ever wasteful. Days before His crucifixion, a woman with an alabaster jar empties expensive perfume out onto Jesus’ head, showing her love and devotion to Him. Whether or not she completely realizes the significance of her offering, the woman is praised by Jesus for surrendering all of her prized possession for His sake.

The disciples, who are considered closest to Jesus, are unable to see the value of the gift the woman has given. They see her actions as wasteful, arguing that the expensive perfume could have been sold for resources for those in need instead of being poured out upon Jesus. But Jesus declares that the gift she has given has indeed been rightly used upon Him because it has prepared Him for the work He is about to complete on the Cross.

How are we contributing our resources to God’s work today? While our own rationale may move us on how or what to surrender to God’s ministry, Jesus teaches us to utilize our best for His sake first. For His example reminds us that even while we were at our worst, He gave us His best through Jesus. When we first pour out our most precious resources for the Lord, He uses them as part of His lasting work in ways far more significant than we can anticipate without Him. Exalting Jesus and bringing Him glory is where our work for His Namesake begins. Nothing truly used for Jesus is ever wasteful. To offer our best to Jesus is to offer what we have to the worthiest of causes.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, it is only by Your Spirit that I am directed in ways that bring You the honor You deserve. Thank You for Your leading. Thank You for the woman’s example of how I can honor You with all that I have. I pray that her story would resonate with me today and onward, that I would use the blessings You have given me for Your sake. In Your Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 26:1-25; Numbers 35-36; Job 3

Following His Lead

Friday, December 24, 2021

Today’s Reading: Numbers 32:1-5

They said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Don’t make us cross the Jordan.”

Numbers 32:1-5

Reflection: In order to reach the Promised Land God has in store for us, we need to follow God to it. After journeying with God for 40 years through the wilderness, the twelve tribes of Israel finally reach the threshold of the Promised Land. All they have left to do is to cross the Jordan River and settle in the land that God has given them. How tragic is it, then, that at this point in the journey, two and half of the Israelite tribes ask Moses to settle in the land just outside of the place God has prepared for them!

The tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half of Manasseh look around at what they see just on the Eastern side of the Jordan and deem it a good enough land for their families and their flocks. It is not teeming with the harvest that is on the other side of Jordan, nor is it flowing with milk and honey. But it is much easier to settle there than to take the last leg of their journey. While they agree to help the rest of Israel take over the Promised Land of Canaan, they return back across the Jordan to settle at the threshold of God’s Promise for them. Their portion of land is then distributed among the rest of the tribes that have followed God to the end of their journey.

God in His Sovereignty desires to lead us to where He has prepared us. This includes places of blessing and purpose in our lives. More importantly, our ultimate destination, a place in eternity with Him, has been promised to us through His Son Jesus Christ. Do we have the faith to follow Him to that destination? Do we trust Him to prefer what He knows is truly good over what we think might be good enough? Reader, God has divine purpose in store for you, eternal blessings that await you in your journey with Him. But you must resolve to follow where God is leading in order to see and experience what He has planned for your life. If you are struggling to follow His leading today, be assured that the Promised Land is worth the journey, and that God’s presence will provide all you need to travel with Him.

Prayer: Almighty God, You are gracious to prepare a place in Heaven for me to dwell with You. You are so generous in blessing me along my journey with You. I pray that the reminder of Your Sovereignty keeps me strengthened to continue in my walk of faith, so that I might follow You to the purpose that You have in store for me. Help me, LORD, to trust in Your direction completely. In the Precious Name of Your Son Jesus Christ I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 25; 31-46; Numbers 32-34; Job 2

Heavenly Blessings

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Today’s Reading:  Job 1:8-22

Then Job stood up, tore his robe and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, saying: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord.

Job 1:20-21

Reflection: God blesses us not only with earthly blessings, but also with heavenly blessings. Even after hearing that he has lost his property, servants, and children, Job responds to this news with worship to God. In the midst of great loss, he tears his robe and shaves his head in mourning. But he also chooses to give God praise. While Satan is given authority by God to take away Job’s physical blessings, Job shows through his worship that he has been blessed with far more than these possessions. While much has been taken away from him, Job is still blessed beyond measure because of God’s Presence and Sovereignty, God’s Power to work in his life.

God not only gives wonderful earthly blessings to Job – cattle, wealth, a close-knit-family – but also heavenly blessings – faith, righteousness, connection to God – which help Job to worship God even when His earthly blessings are taken away. Job will still undergo more trials in his story. But these heavenly blessings are what will equip him to withstand hardship and suffering.

How do we count our blessings? Physical blessings are often the easiest to see, and are indeed given by God, but how much more has God blessed us beyond measure with gifts from Heaven? God’s love, grace, joy, and peace are found only in Him. His direct work in our lives, His nearness to us, is more than we need to endure the most difficult times of suffering. In trials and temptations, when your situation seems unbearable and you feel depleted in whatever capacity, be encouraged to praise God still by counting both the earthly and heavenly blessings that He has given. God does not leave His people with nothing, but is always gracious to give much more than we need to continue praising Him, no matter the circumstance.

Prayer: Lord, every good and perfect gift comes from You. Every blessing I have received is from Your hand. Thank You for Your faithfulness to give abundantly. Thank You for Your work in my life. Please remind me daily of all of the blessings You have so freely given to me, that I might live in constant thankfulness and praise to You. In the Precious Name of Your Son Jesus Christ I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 25:1-30; Numbers 30-31; Job 1

Beautiful

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Today’s Reading: Song of Songs 6:4-10

Who is this who shines like the dawn – as beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awe-inspiring as an army with banners? 

Song of Songs 6:10

Reflection: The Church is deeply loved by Christ. In the Song of Songs, a shepherd beholds his maiden and declares that she is lovely and beautiful. In the same way, Christ gazes with love upon His Church. She is like an army adorned with banners, ready to prove and uphold her allegiance to Him. She is virtuous and unique, the apple of His eye. Because she is filled with the Holy Spirit, she is like the City of Jerusalem, where God Himself abides.

The Church is seen in the eyes of others as blessed, different from the rest of the world, set apart for the Lord. She shines like the dawn. She is as beautiful as the moon and bright as the sun because she reflects the radiance of the King of kings Whose light dispels every darkness. The Church is not beautiful without the beauty of Christ shining through her. She is only made lovely by the love that Christ has shown her first. It is because of Jesus’ love poured out upon His Church that she is a sight to behold.

What of this beauty do we share with others as a Church? How much of Christ’s love do we willingly present to those who do not yet know Him? Because Jesus loves His Church with a complete, everlasting, and sacrificial love, let us prepare ourselves to reflect this love in the ways He has so graciously given it to us. O Lord, let the Light of Christ radiate from us as we draw nearer to You.

Prayer: Glory to You, Lord God, for by Your love You have redeemed me. I take joy in knowing that I am loved by You. I pray this day that You would help me to share the love You have for others, for Your Son Jesus died for them just as He died for me. As I draw nearer to You, help me to love others sacrificially as You do. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 24:1-31; Numbers 25-27; Song of Solomon 6:4-8:4

Moved by God

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Today’s Reading: Numbers 24:1-13

“If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go against the Lord’s command, to do [anything] good or bad of my own will? I will say whatever the Lord says.”

Numbers 24:13

Reflection: We must proclaim the Word that God reveals to us. The prophet Balaam, when told by the King Balak to put a curse on Israel, instead blesses it at God’s command. Balak wants so much for Israel to be cursed by God’s prophet that He promises Balaam a rich reward if he declares a curse upon the nation. All Balaam has to do is stretch his hands out toward the city and comply with what Balak wants.

But someone else is also directing the prophet Balaam: the Almighty God. When looking out over the city in the presence of King Balak, Balaam receives a message of blessing upon Israel which comes directly from the Spirit of God. And so, Balaam proclaims blessing over Israel just as he receives it. Balaam then says to King Balak that even if he were to be promised a house made of silver and gold, he could not go against what God commanded him to say.

As believers in Christ, we may easily recall times of being tempted against speaking God’s truth, perhaps by threat of persecution, lack of boldness, or uncertainty in faith. There is another kind of temptation we face, which is the temptation to speak lies on behalf of God. We may be persuaded to omit parts of God’s Truth that He is directing us to convey, or give an altogether different message and proclaim it as God’s Word. This temptation is dangerous. As the prophet Balaam’s words are powerful, so are the words we utter on behalf of God. Balaam knows that his words will either bless or curse God’s beloved nation, and in the presence of a king shows his loyalty to the true King of Heaven and Earth. Our words, too, can lead to either life or death for others, and can only bless and nurture if they are guided by God.

Do you have boldness to speak God’s Word like Balaam? In the presence of temptation to trust in your own assessment of any given situation, to comply with the desires of others around you, or to speak for God before first consulting with Him, be encouraged today and always to heed the prophet’s example. Be empowered to not go against the LORD’s command, but instead say whatever our LORD says.

Prayer: Omnipotent God, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Thank You for transforming my life by Your Truth. Thank You for Your guidance in relaying Your Word to others. Strengthen me today, LORD, to say and do as You command. In the presence of temptation to stray from Your Will, keep my ears open to hearing the message You have prepared for me to share. Help me to heed Your calling, LORD. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 23:13-39; Numbers 23:27-24:25; Song of Solomon 5:2-6:3

Loving God

Monday, December 20, 2021

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22:36-40

He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment.”

Matthew 22:37-38

Reflection: God desires our love. The Pharisees test Jesus by asking which commandments are more important than others. But Jesus shows them that they have misunderstood what God’s Law has always been about in the first place: loving God. Fulfilling all of His commands flows out of our desire to keep God’s First Commandment of loving Him completely.

How are we called to love God? We are called to love God with all of our heart. In Jewish tradition, the heart is the center of choices and decision-making. To love God with our heart is to love Him as our first priority, to choose Him above all others. We are called to love God with our whole soul. The soul is the essence of who we are, the lasting portion of us which lives on after physical death. To love God with all of our soul is to love Him with the very essence of who we are in a way that carries on into eternity. Lastly, we are called to love God with all our mind, to have Him at the forefront of our thoughts and to have our thoughts of Him consume us completely. God wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being, every part of ourselves. He wants us to love Him with an all-encompassing love.

Understanding what God truly desires causes us to examine our motives behind the things that we do for Him. Following every letter of God’s Commandments does not necessarily prove our love for Him. But a deep and earnest love for God will manifest itself in obedience to His commands. God desires our love. What drives you to do things for God? Let the answer always be “because I love Him.”

Prayer: Almighty God, I see through Your Son’s teaching Your desire for me to love You. Thank You for first showing me perfect sacrificial love through Jesus. Please help me to love You with all that I am, that my life would be transformed into a testament of Your great love for all to see. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.

Bible-in-a-Year Reading Plan (credit: Biblestudytools.com): Matthew 22:23-46; Numbers 22:1-40; Song of Solomon 2:8-3:5