Did you have a great Christmas yesterday?

Did you celebrate the reason for the season? Did you spend time celebrating love with friends and family? Did you do anything to remember how it all began? Thank You Jesus for coming in the form of a child in order to live a sinless life and then taking on all the pain and punishment that we deserve so that we could be reconciled back to God. For God so loves us that He sent Jesus that everyone who would believe in Him would have eternal life! God didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world but that through Jesus we could all be saved! So I pray that you all had a very Merry Christmas! I also pray that you took time to focus on Jesus who is the reason for this season! I also pray that there were many people who turned back to God and received Jesus into their hearts and now will get to spend eternity with God rather than apart from God thanks to Jesus.

This was an incredible year where the reality of the Bible and how we even have one today is incredible as we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the reformation! This was an incredible year where a new museum opened up in Washington D.C. focused on the history of the Bible! All pieces of a puzzle to help people come to the reality of Jesus and God’s plan and purpose! The Bible is a standard for living life! The Bible is a way to connect with God through His Word! The Bible is the place to turn when seeking Jesus! We need as a society to turn back to God! We need to be putting God back into our lives rather than looking for ways to remove Him! We need to be putting God back into the center of the workplace to help ensure we have a good standard and that people are being treated with love as defined in the Bible! We need to be putting God back into the center of the government which as the Bible says is supposed to be serving God and serving us for good! We need to be putting God back into the center of schools so that the bar is set high for standards and the focus on how to live is taught and trained! We need to be putting God back into the center of the Arts and Culture so that what is produced and presented speak to values and truth!

The key is to bring Jesus back into the center! The key is to allow Jesus to be that central line that all others get tied to for a cord of three strands is not easily broken! And do you know where to turn to find Jesus? It is the Bible!

Today’s devotional speaks to our reading from God’s Word today as follows…

The whole of the Bible is about Jesus. Martin Luther said, ‘Scripture is the manger in which the Christ lies.’ As a mother goes to a cradle to find her baby, so the Christian goes to the Bible to find Jesus. Don’t inspect the cradle and forget to worship the baby.

In today’s passages we see how Jesus Christ is revealed not only in the New Testament, in the book of Revelation, but also in the Old Testament – in Proverbs and Zechariah.

–from Day 344: Bible In One Year 2018

Take a few moments and go check out today’s devotional (Day 344: Bible In One Year 2018) and consider it as we meditate on God’s Word today!

How to Find Jesus

Day 344: Bible In One Year 2018

  1. The name of Jesus … Proverbs 30:1-10
    • 1The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh contain this message.
      I am weary, O God;
      I am weary and worn out, O God.
      2I am too stupid to be human,
      and I lack common sense.
      3I have not mastered human wisdom,
      nor do I know the Holy One.
      4Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down?
      Who holds the wind in his fists?
      Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak?
      Who has created the whole wide world?
      What is his name—and his son’s name?
      Tell me if you know!
      5Every word of God proves true.
      He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.
      6Do not add to his words,
      or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.
      7O God, I beg two favors from you;
      let me have them before I die.
      8First, help me never to tell a lie.
      Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
      Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
      9For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
      And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
      10Never slander a worker to the employer,
      or the person will curse you, and you will pay for it.
    • The sceptic goes on to ask five questions (v.4):

        • Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
        • Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
        • Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
        • Who has established all the ends of the earth?
        • What is that person’s name, and what is the name of that person’s son?

      The New Testament reveals that the answer to each of these five questions is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. It is Jesus who ascended on high (see, for example, Ephesians 4:8–10). It is through Jesus that the whole world came into being (John 1:1–3). He is the name above every name (Philippians 2:9). The evidence for God is found in Jesus.

      The New Testament reveals that the name of God is Jesus. The writer of Proverbs cares deeply about ‘the name of [his] God’ (Proverbs 30:9). He asks for ‘neither poverty nor riches’ (v.8). He fears that riches may make him disown the Lord and poverty might make him steal and thereby ‘dishonour the name of [his] God’ (v.9).

      –from Day 344: Bible In One Year 2018

  2. The words of Jesus … Revelation 2:1-17
    • 1“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
      2“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
      4“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. 6But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.
      7“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

      The Message to the Church in Smyrna

      8“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:
      9“I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. 10Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
      11“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.

      The Message to the Church in Pergamum

      12“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword:
      13“I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.
      14“But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. 15In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching. 16Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
      17“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.
    • These words of Jesus (‘The First and the Last, who died and came to life again’, v.8) to the seven churches are hugely challenging. The risen, ascended, glorified Jesus reveals what kind of church he wants:

        • Don’t lose your first love
          Jesus is looking for a church that is famous, above all, for its love.

          Do you remember what you felt when you first encountered Jesus? Perhaps you experienced joy, peace, a new sense of meaning and purpose, and an excitement. Did you ‘fall in love’? Was there a ‘honeymoon period’?

          As life goes on it is easy to lose your ‘first love’ (v.4). Other things creep in. Work, the busyness of life, or even your ministry can lead you away from the passion of your first love.

          Jesus commends their service: ‘I know your deeds, your hard work’ (v.2). But there have been times in my life when I’ve been working so hard for the kingdom that I have neglected the King.

          Jesus commends their patience in suffering and perseverance: ‘you have… endured hardship for my name’ (v.3). But there have been times when I have been so focussed on my own problems and suffering that I have lost my enthusiasm.

          He commends the orthodoxy of their beliefs – they have not tolerated evil (v.2). But there have been times when I have been so concerned about orthodoxy that I have forgotten to love.

          Jesus challenges: ‘You have forsaken your first love’ (v.4). These are haunting words. What are you to do if this has happened?

          First, Jesus urges you to remember your first love – to remember the height from which you have fallen (v.5). Never lose your first love, enthusiasm and excitement about Jesus.

          Second, repent and clean up your act. If you have slipped into complacency or compromise, you may need to get rid of the dross. As we read in Zechariah, ‘I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people”, and they will say, “The Lord is our God”’ (Zechariah 13:9).

          If you are in a time of testing and trial in your life, God will use the heat of the fire to refine you.

          Third, return to doing the things you did when you first encountered Jesus. ‘Do the things you did at first’ (Revelation 2:5).

        • Stand firm in the face of persecution
          Pastor Nadarkhani was imprisoned in Iran for no other reason than his faith in Jesus Christ. He was sentenced to death. As a result of international pressure he was released and reunited with his family. I had the privilege of interviewing him at HTB. We were all inspired by his faithfulness and courage.

          Only two of the seven churches are not faulted by Jesus – Smyrna and Philadelphia. Smyrna is spiritually rich in spite of the persecutions and material poverty: ‘I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich!’ (v.9).

          Jesus’ words to the church are not ‘repent’ (as so often was the case with the other churches), but rather, ‘Do not be afraid’ (v.10). Like the persecuted church today, they faced prison, persecution and even death. But God has set a limit (‘for ten days’) and promises, ‘I will give you the crown of life’ (v.10b).

        • Fight for the truth
          The church in Pergamum was living in the most godless place on earth – ‘where Satan has his throne’ (v.13). Yet Jesus says, ‘You remain true to my name’ (v.13). They have not renounced their faith in Jesus in spite of persecution.

          Nevertheless, Jesus challenges them about holding to false teaching and committing sexual immorality (v.14). Truth matters. He calls them to repent (v.16), and promises that if they overcome, he will give them food that feeds the soul (‘the hidden manna’, v.17) and eternal security in Christ.

      –from Day 344: Bible In One Year 2018

  3. The grace of Jesus … Zechariah 12, Zechariah 13, Zechariah 14
    • The Lord Will Rule the Earth

      1Watch, for the day of the Lord is coming when your possessions will be plundered right in front of you! 2I will gather all the nations to fight against Jerusalem. The city will be taken, the houses looted, and the women raped. Half the population will be taken into captivity, and the rest will be left among the ruins of the city.
      3Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. 4On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south. 5You will flee through this valley, for it will reach across to Azal. Yes, you will flee as you did from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all his holy ones with him.
      6On that day the sources of light will no longer shine, 7yet there will be continuous day! Only the Lord knows how this could happen. There will be no normal day and night, for at evening time it will still be light.
      8On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously in both summer and winter.
      9And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshiped.
      10All the land from Geba, north of Judah, to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become one vast plain. But Jerusalem will be raised up in its original place and will be inhabited all the way from the Benjamin Gate over to the site of the old gate, then to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. 11And Jerusalem will be filled, safe at last, never again to be cursed and destroyed.
      12And the Lord will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away. Their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13On that day they will be terrified, stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will fight their neighbors hand to hand. 14Judah, too, will be fighting at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the neighboring nations will be captured—great quantities of gold and silver and fine clothing. 15This same plague will strike the horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all the other animals in the enemy camps.
      16In the end, the enemies of Jerusalem who survive the plague will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. 17Any nation in the world that refuses to come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will have no rain. 18If the people of Egypt refuse to attend the festival, the Lord will punish them with the same plague that he sends on the other nations who refuse to go. 19Egypt and the other nations will all be punished if they don’t go to celebrate the Festival of Shelters.
      20On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: Holy to the Lord. And the cooking pots in the Temple of the Lord will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar. 21In fact, every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. All who come to worship will be free to use any of these pots to boil their sacrifices. And on that day there will no longer be traders in the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
    • The words of Zechariah 14 can be seen as looking forward to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and also to his return:

        • Jesus is the one whose feet would stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 21:1)
        • Jesus is the one to go out and fight against the nations in the day of battle (Zechariah 14:3; Revelation 20)
        • Jesus is the one out of whom living water would flow (Zechariah 14:8; John 7:37–39)
        • Jesus is the one who will be worshipped as king (Zechariah 14:16; Revelation 5)
        • Jesus is the one who makes it possible for ‘HOLY TO THE LORD’ to be inscribed on everything (Zechariah 14:20)
        • Jesus abolishes the distinction between the secular and the sacred. The cooking pots were the most common household vessels, yet they too had the words ‘HOLY TO THE LORD’ inscribed on them

      –from Day 344: Bible In One Year 2018

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