‘Day One’ Blog

The Kingdom of God is Here – Dec. 24

Meditation for the Soul ~

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
~ Isaiah 61:1-4 ~
“The kingdom of God is not coming
in ways that can be observed, 
nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’
for behold, the kingdom of God
is in the midst of you.”
~ Luke 17:20-21 ~

Reflection for the Mind ~

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Thank you for traveling along with me these past weeks. I sincerely pray that you have been hearing from God and that these devotionals have helped that “hearing” to happen.  Our final thought today is one that requires us to zoom out from the manger and look down upon the earth from high above it. Why? Because when Jesus came to earth as an infant, His Kingdom came with Him.

We absolutely cannot separate the Christmas story from the arrival of the Kingdom of God. And yet we grapple daily with the fact that the Kingdom has not yet fully come. I’ve heard many preachers say that the Kingdom already present is really a kingdom within a kingdom. We are meant to live out the ethics of the Kingdom of God in the midst of the world’s opposing kingdom. We’re supposed to be displaying the values and behavior that will be the norm when Christ returns – all of which will appear radically abnormal until then.

And I think that’s where we stop to ponder and pray. Tomorrow is Christmas. How can you and I live as if the Kingdom of God has already come? Because it has. When you get out of bed tomorrow to commence with your traditions, how will you live differently as a citizen of the Kingdom of God? We might begin by reciting the words first offered from the mouth of the mother of Jesus. They are as true for us as they were for her: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name,” (Luke 1:47-49). That’s a pretty powerful opening line to begin the celebration of the arrival of the Promised One!

May HOPE, FAITH, JOY and the PEACE of God abound in you and in those you love today, and in the days to come. Merry Christmas everyone!

Response for the Heart ~

Lord, I bow in reverence before You… my soul magnifies You! I celebrate You, Emmanuel… God with us. I worship You King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I exalt You Savior of the world. I join the heavenly hosts and my brothers and sisters all around the world to celebrate the day that You came to the earth as a baby. Be glorified today and every day! All praise and honor and glory is Yours, forever!

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.
~
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!
~
John Francis Wade
(translated by Frederick Oakeley)

Share This:
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

The New Covenant – Dec. 23

Meditation for the Soul ~

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand
to bring them out of the land of Egypt,
my covenant that they broke,
though I was their husband, declares the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel after those days,
declares the Lord:
I will put my law within them,
and I will write it on their hearts.
And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 
And no longer shall each one teach
his neighbor and each his brother, saying,
‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,
declares the Lord.
For I will forgive their iniquity,
and I will remember their sin no more.”
~ Jeremiah 31: 31-34 ~
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
among those with whom he is pleased!”
~ Luke 2:14 ~

Reflection for the Mind ~

I read the above text with the manger scene in my mind and it’s powerful! Christmas stands just two days away. We’ll see signs of the impending arrival everywhere as we go about our business today.  We’ll also likely have loads of “opportunities” to give our peace away in all the frenzy (note to self).

’Peace’ is our last heading for this advent devotional. And I cannot think about peace without thinking about the new covenant. This covenant makes possible my peace and yours. The forgiveness of sins and God’s decision to put them out of His mind are gifts He offers to us. When we accept those gifts we enter the new covenant with God. We are reconciled to Him, back in right standing and able to know Him as the prophet Jeremiah foretold. So peace is ours! It’s ours to enjoy.

We are new covenant people at peace with our Maker because of all the babe in the manger would do on our behalf! Wouldn’t it be a shame to squander the peace that comes to us at so great a cost? Today let’s not just protect and enjoy that peace, but be agents of peace for those in our path.

Response for the Heart ~

Lord, peace is such a coveted commodity. But you offer it to Your children in abundance. It’s ours to enjoy and put on display. Come alive in me in the person of Your Spirit so that peace overrides any chaos today might bring. How often I have given my peace away, overwhelmed by the trappings of our cultural traditions surrounding Christmas. I ought to be the calm in the chaos! “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You,” (Isaiah 26:3). There’s the answer! Thank You Lord.

Share This:
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Jesus ~ the Worshiped One – Dec. 21

Meditation for the Soul ~

And in the same region there were
shepherds out in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were filled with great fear.
And the angel said to them,
“Fear not, for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby
wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 
And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God and saying
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go over to Bethlehem
and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they went with haste
and found Mary and Joseph,
and the baby lying in a manger.
And when they saw it, they made known the saying
that had been told them concerning this child.
And all who heard it wondered
at what the shepherds told them.
But Mary treasured up all these things,
pondering them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
as it had been told them.
~ Luke 2:8-12 ~

Reflection for the Mind ~

For the first time… from eternity… one of the Godhead was worshiped in human form! Oh, my word! There is just nowhere within the human psyche for this to sit, yet it happened. And who got invited to that event? I mean, who would have actually believed what they were seeing? God cherry-picked a handful of people with faith we can hardly comprehend, and gave them a front-row seat to the entrance of Emmanuel. And not incidentally, God the Spirit was present and active seeing to it that no one missed a cue.

But the truth is, Jesus is still alive… and while He might not be walking the earth as He did two-thousand years ago, He is just as actively seeking those who would come to Him. That includes you and every person you are going to encounter as you go about your business today. The shepherds didn’t stop worshiping God when they left the manger scene… they told everyone they encountered what they’d witnessed!

It’s almost Christmas. Let’s be open and eager to help people find their way to Christ the Lord by bearing witness (in word and deed) to the life we have in Him. Let’s worship Him for all to see!

Response for the Heart ~

Lord, the joy that Mary, Joseph and the shepherds experienced (not to mention the hosts of heaven) is the same joy that You would have me experience in my life! You are as real this moment as You were when You were lying in that manger. Put Your joy on display in me today for Your glory and as a witness to those who need Your salvation!

Share This:
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Jesus ~ the Angels Rejoice – Dec. 20

Meditation for the Soul ~

And there appeared to him (Zechariah)
an angel of the Lord
standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God,
and I was sent to speak to you
and to bring you this good news.
~ Luke 1:11; 19 ~
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel
was sent from God to a virgin
betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,
of the house of David.
And he came to her and said,
“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
~ Luke 1:26-28;  ~ 
And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.
~ Luke 2:13-14 ~

Reflection for the Mind ~

What a roll the angels played in the story of the coming of Jesus! The sacred tasks conducted by Gabriel and others were of paramount importance and a high honor. Both the angels and the recipients of their tidings were part of some of the most compelling moments in human history. The position the angels enjoyed before God remained the same after Jesus accomplished His mission, but everything changed for humanity! Even so the angels praise of God was so effusive you would have thought all that happened was for them! Any chance they got to make much of God they did so mightily.

We, humans, have much to learn from the way the angel’s worship. As we reflect upon them throughout the events of the birth of Jesus, I pray we would invite the Holy Spirit to teach us to worship God with more abandon. The angels were and are very clear about where all glory goes, and they give generously. As the beneficiaries of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, every ounce of passion we have ought to be spent ascribing worth to our God!

Response for the Heart ~

Lord, I pray that praise would be the dominating expression of my heart throughout this Christmas season! Help me, by Your Spirit, to take the angel’s lead and worship You as never before! Let my praise and adoration be a witness to those I meet so that they inquire about the joy in my heart, and about You, the sole object of my worship!

Share This:
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Jesus ~ Born in a Manger – Dec. 19

Meditation for the Soul ~

The time came for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son
and wrapped him in swaddling cloths
and laid him in a manger,
because there was no place for them in the inn.
~ Luke 2:6-7 ~
For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby
wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
~ Luke 2:11-12 ~

Reflection for the Mind ~

A manger? A feeding trough? What could possibly be the point of having the Incarnate Son of God laid in a feeding trough? The text above says it was to be a sign. The function of the manger in the storyline was to act as a sign so that those sent to find Him would know for certain it was Him. How many mangers in Bethlehem would be occupied by babies? Find an infant in a feeding trough and you’ve found your baby!

Was the manger in a stable?  Some think not. It may have been in a lower section of the house of one of Joseph’s relatives. It wouldn’t have been uncommon to find a manger or two indoors to accommodate the animals during the cold. Still, this sure seems like it’s a long way from the ideal resting place for the Promised One.

In the grand scheme (the part that trickles down to us) the manger reminds us of the inconceivably humble life the King of Kings would live throughout His years on the earth. After all “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,” (Philippians 2:8). As lowly as the manger was it was not the lowest the Savior would go to pay our debt of sin.

Response for the Heart ~

Lord, my flesh winces at the thought of You in the manger. At the same I am filled with awe as I picture You laying there. I’m not meant to feel sorry for the Christ Child but to be filled with Joy as I contemplate the wonder of the details of my rescue… details You set in place! You came humbly when You had every right to enter with all the fanfare befitting the one true God. All praise and glory is Yours!

Share This:
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail