Thursday, December 29, 2011

+DEV+ The Setting: Bethlehem

Date: December 29, 2011 11:08 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Setting: Bethlehem

The Setting: Bethlehem

"'But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel...'" (Micah 5:2).
Scripture Focus: Micah 5:1-5

The words of the Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem" portray a peaceful, still, sleepy town on the night Jesus was born. Yet with all the family reunions going on in Bethlehem, the place must have been quite a spot for celebrating during the day. Indeed, Bethlehem was unlike the larger, more noteworthy cities such as nearby Jerusalem. Still - as the prophet Micah attested - it was a place of which God had taken note since the very beginning of the history of His people. While God came down that first Christmas night, many in Bethlehem caroused; others slept; all cowered under the shadow of an evil government.

And the treasure of heaven was hidden. No one knew what God was doing. Many still do not know. How often our preoccupations, inactivity, or fears prohibit us from focusing our heads and hearts on what the Lord is doing right under our noses!

The name Bethlehem means "House of Bread." The true Bread of Life was brought to us in lowliness so that we might be raised up with Him.

Insight: "O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in - be born in us today" (Phillips Brooks, 1865).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

+DEV+ Seekers: The Wise Men

Date: December 28, 2011 11:22 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Seekers: The Wise Men

Seekers: The Wise Men

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).
Scripture Focus: Matthew 2:1-10

Speculation and tradition surround the characters of the Magi. We envision three of them; we give them names; we picture them in the stable with shepherds the night Jesus was born. None of those notions is in the Bible. We know that these gentile religious/political advisors came from a distant country laden with gifts, searching diligently until finally reaching Jerusalem and Bethlehem some time after Jesus' birth. They found Mary at her house (Matthew 2:11) with the child (not the "baby"), and they worshiped.

Their journey started with calculations of their own heathen wisdom. But God reached down to them and directed them, causing their faith to grow by way of their longing. Had not God prepared them and awakened faith in them, they never could have persisted and dropped immediately to their knees, knowing the little toddler in a diaper to be The King, God's gift to the entire world.

You may know the Bible stories about Jesus. Go the extra steps of the journey to learn Who He is.

Insight: Let's begin our journey and believe in the Christ Who came without riches so that our lives might be rich in Him

+DEV+ Set Design: Stable, Manger

Date: December 28, 2011 1:03 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Set Design: Stable, Manger

Set Design: Stable, Manger

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
Scripture Focus: Hebrews 4:14-16

God sent every angel in heaven to announce the birth of Jesus, then made His first home in this world a cowshed with a feeding trough for a cradle. The first throne for the miraculously conceived baby, Christ the Lord, was a manger. It held the King of the entire universe; it was made of wood from a tree He created. If it perplexes you and me, how strange it must have seemed to Mary and Joseph. These lowly circumstances foreshadowed much in Jesus' life that would challenge the assumptions of what a king should have. But despite the pathetic accommodations, God exalted Him to the highest place so that at His name every knee might bow (See Philippians 2:9-10.).

The first knees to bow may have been those of Mary and Joseph. Mary placed him in a manger, Luke tells us (2:7). Why? Wouldn't she and Joseph want to just hold Him? The awe of God's everlasting promise being fulfilled so intimately gave Mary pause...perhaps she stepped back to worship. May we also bend our knees to worship the Christ child.

Insight: In the humiliation of cloths, manger and stable, He was available and close at hand to shepherds, to Mary and Joseph, to us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

+DEV+ The Townsfolk: Innkeeper

Date: December 27, 2011 12:20 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Townsfolk: Innkeeper

The Townsfolk: Innkeeper

"In my Father's house are many rooms...I am going there to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). "...there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7b).
Scripture Focus: John 14:1-4

With the Roman Empire inventorying the population, Joseph left Nazareth and returned to Bethlehem, his hometown. Why did he and Mary find no assistance from other family members who might have been there? Perhaps the shame of Mary's pregnancy still burned. Maybe their nighttime arrival in Bethlehem made finding relatives difficult. Or possibly the baby's insistence on coming presented too much urgency. Whatever the case, dear Joseph sought lodgings for Mary. From that course of events, we have conjured "the innkeeper."

Not only does he (she?) have no lines recorded in Scripture, he is not even in Scripture! The one word we have dared assign this character is "No." Joseph may have wondered, "Would he knowingly turn away the Messiah?" Though the expectant parents did not understand the governing grace of God's plan that night, we can assume that somehow a person at the inn denied their request for a room.

"No room." Those words ring an eerie echo in our ears. Is there room in our hearts for the Savior?

Insight: "O, come to my heart, Lord Jesus! There is room in my heart for Thee" (Emily E. Elliot, 1864).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

+DEV+ The Heavenly Host: Army

Date: December 25, 2011 11:21 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Heavenly Host: Army

The Heavenly Host: Army

"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests'" (Luke 2:13-14).
Scripture Focus: Hebrews 1:4-9

God sent out the entire angelic army of heaven - not one left behind - for the most gladsome event ever: the birth of the Savior! How many shepherds were there? I suppose it could have been as few as two. Surely, they were outnumbered. Sheer terror seized them. Every angelic visitation in the Bible struck fear in the heart of the visited. How much more so would thousands upon thousands of celestial beings who came calling in the dead of night?

Artists depicting angels have fixed our minds on soft, serene individuals, baby-like or girlish, the likes of which you may find on Christmas cards or atop a Christmas tree. These representations wilt compared to the dazzling multitude of heavenly soldiers indicated by the Greek translation of "heavenly host." Reducing God's messengers to sweet, winged creatures also reduces the impact of this world-changing point of time. We do not want to lessen the defining moment of all history...the moment that identifies us as worshippers of the Christ, proclaiming "Glory to God in the highest!"

Insight: "Let all God's angels worship him," we read in Hebrews 1:6. Let us, too, worship with elation and not miss the true celebration!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

+DEV+ The Baby: Jesus Christ

Date: December 22, 2011 10:26 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Baby: Jesus Christ

The Baby: Jesus Christ

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world" (John 16:21).
Scripture Focus: John 16:17-14

Is there anything sweeter or more captivating than a newborn? This is how our Lord began . . . exactly as we did, save for sin. He had our same soft baby skin, silky hair, cries of hunger, soiled diapers. But He was Immanuel, God with us. His parents must have been won over by His infant charms while marveling at His arrival.

God could have come to earth as an angel. But that would have been too frightening. No one would have felt they could touch Him. Why didn't He come as a fabulously rich King in the splendor that was due? We would have felt too poor, worthless, and distant. He chose to break into our world as a newborn because in His many ways of inviting us to know Him, He invites us through something to which we're all attracted: a baby.

The disgrace of Mary's circumstances, the hardships that followed, the lonely delivery out in a cowshed...all of these agonies would dissipate as the spotlight now illuminated the human, yet otherworldly face of the Baby King.

Insight: "The Lord has done great things for us...Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy" (Psalm 126:3, 5).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

+DEV+ The Animals: Sheep

Date: December 21, 2011 9:19 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Animals: Sheep

The Animals: Sheep

" was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed...but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Scripture Focus: Hebrews 1:4-9

We have no reason to believe that the sheep from the fields accompanied the shepherds into Bethlehem to find the Messiah in a manger. More likely, the unreasoning animals stayed put until the shepherds returned to them. Being pastured just outside of Bethlehem, they were no doubt designated for sacrifice during the Passover celebration which was close at hand.

Old Testament law prescribed with detail how the Israelites were to sacrifice spotless lambs in atonement for sins. For generations that practice would be a graphic picture of the need for the blood of One who was perfect to cover over the sins of the imperfect. Many sheep would die at the altar, stirring up in the hearts of God's people a yearning for a better way. When God sent Jesus to earth, the better way - the last and final spotless Lamb - had arrived. The shepherd's flock had a role in this act of the drama, too. They remind us that the real Lamb who took away the sin of the world was just beyond the field in a lowly cattle stall.

Insight: God's promises have stood from days of old. Abraham assured young Isaac that God Himself would provide the lamb (Genesis 22:8). He did, indeed!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

+DEV+ The Return: Glorifying

Date: December 20, 2011 9:58 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Return: Glorifying

The Return: Glorifying

"The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told" (Luke 2:20).
Scripture Focus: Luke 2:17-20

Lights! News! Action! That was how the most memorable of all nights went for the shepherds. After searching Bethlehem, they found Mary, Joseph and the baby exactly as the angel said. They approached the little family in the sparse stable, feeling quite at home . . . their own filth and odor would not have mattered there. God had designed a birthplace that wouldn't shun these inglorious visitors. He still bids us approach Him today!

And what did the shepherds do after seeing the Savior? They told everyone! People were amazed at their story. Some believed them; many did not. After all, why would a shepherd be deemed credible, and why would something this magnificent be revealed to ones as ordinary as they? In the ordinariness of my life and yours centuries later, aren't you glad He worked in this way?

The shepherds returned to the fields, their work now sanctified, now a very part of their worship. They returned glorifying and praising. May our post-holiday life overflow with the same.

Insight: Like the shepherds who heard and heeded, witnessed and worshipped, so must we!

Monday, December 19, 2011

+DEV+ The Nighttime Intrusion

Date: December 19, 2011 9:52 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Nighttime Intrusion

The Nighttime Intrusion

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you...'" (Luke 2:10-11).
Scripture Focus: Luke 2:8-16

King David temporarily improved the shepherd image a thousand years earlier. So when the angel's voice directed our shepherds to the town of David, they listened. In fact, everything about the angel's words gripped them. "Do not be afraid," he told the normally brave ones who could fight off wolves handily. "I bring you good news of great joy;" how welcomed that would be for ones used to hardship. "Today a Savior has been born to you." Today? Now? After generations of waiting? Would their mundane lives of sheep tending now be punctuated by the event foretold to them for centuries? Amazing! The angel declared that the Savior was born "to you." Nothing in society was ever for them...unless it was blame for thievery or disgust for their filth. Yet he said the Savior was for them.

In other translations of the Bible "Behold!" is found in the angel's greeting. I tell my children it means "Wow! Look!" That is exactly what God would have us do: be awed at His miraculous plan, and draw near to see how it is for you and me.

Insight: "The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me" (Psalm 116:6).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

+DEV+ The Lowest: Shepherds

Date: December 18, 2011 10:34 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Lowest: Shepherds

The Lowest: Shepherds

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them..." (Luke 2:8-9a).
Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

Remember church Christmas pageant shepherds? All the spare kids wore dads' bathrobes and towels fastened on their heads. Only one fellow had to worry about memorizing a line. The shepherd role provided parts for leftover youngsters. I wonder if the actual shepherds of ancient times felt "leftover" themselves.

They were the lowest in society, rivaled only by tax collectors. The nature of shepherding meant these men and young boys were illiterate and often dirty and smelly. Accustomed to outdoor living and sleeping, they were rough around the edges. They were deemed unclean, incompetent, lazy and untrustworthy. Some actually earned their poor reputations; others were maligned unfairly. To these inarticulate, ragged fellows came the first announcement of "It's a boy! And He is Messiah!" To these outcasts of society came the only personal invitation to see the newborn baby, King of the Universe.

Even from birth, Christ came to lowly, sinful people like shepherds and like you and me.

Insight: He was the Good Shepherd as well as the Lamb, and we the humble recipients of His divine invitation to come and see.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

+DEV+ The Angel: Gabriel

Date: December 15, 2011 7:13 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Angel: Gabriel

The Angel: Gabriel

"Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you..." (Daniel 9:22-23).
Scripture Focus: Daniel 9:21-27

The Christmas plays performed by youngsters I know depict Gabriel in a flowing white gown and sparkly halo. When my friends little niece donned the costume one year, she was adorable. But the Bible tells us that God's heavenly messenger struck fear in the people to whom he appeared. Daniel, Zechariah, and Mary all trembled at his arrival. His name means power, and evidently his majestic, dazzling visage projected just that. Gabriel was commander in chief of the heavenly inaccurate our softened ideas of him must be! Scripture records that it was Gabriel who spoke to Daniel (8:16, 9:21); we do not read of him again until some 600 years later when he was commissioned by God to deliver urgent messages to Zechariah and Mary. God used him at momentous times.

Though we hardly know Gabriel, of this we are sure: God sent His mighty angel to common people to announce the coming of His Son whose power and majesty would know no end. May the joy of the angel's news thrill you!

Insight: "Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o'er all the earth; ye who sang creation's story, now proclaim Messiah's birth" (James Montgomery).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

+DEV+ The Dilemma

Date: December 14, 2011 9:34 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Dilemma

The Dilemma

"Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly" (Matthew 1:19).
Scripture Focus: 1 Peter 2:24-25

Joseph's intention to leave Mary was understandable. The two were pledged to be married, a notion similar to engagement only more serious. Betrothal had all the responsibilities of marriage, minus consummation. So when his beloved left for three months (to visit Elizabeth) and returned pregnant, what was he to think? Disappointment thrust him into logical solutions: he would not expose her, but he must divorce her. He would do so quietly to protect her from shame and ñ worse - from the stoning the law required if she alone were guilty. But God intervened by dispatching His messenger again, this time to redirect Joseph's sensible plans onto God's sovereign plans. Had Joseph been a godless fellow, he would have dismissed that dream as a delusion. But honorable Joseph knew it to be the dependable Word of God.

By taking Mary for his wife, he was taking on her shame and guilt. Do you see the foreshadowing of how Jesus would bear the shame and guilt not only of His parents, but of the entire world? He came for us!

Insight: Joy to the World! The Lord is come! The coming emerges from tears and hardship in order to fill our hearts with gladness.

+DEV+ The Adoptive Father: Joseph

Date: December 14, 2011 12:04 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Adoptive Father: Joseph

The Adoptive Father: Joseph

"When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife" (Matthew 1:24).
Scripture Focus: Matthew 1:18-25

A main character in the Christmas drama, Joseph is the only one with no lines. Christian singer/songwriter Michael Card imagined poignant words for him in "Joseph's Song," saying, "How can a man be father to the Son of God?" That had to be a question dear Joseph pondered. All his life he'd been a simple carpenter...valued in society, but not elevated. And now he would be intimately woven into God's redemption plan. Joseph would gain no power, wealth or applause for his involvement; rather fear, uncertainty, and embarrassment awaited him. Yet he rose from his sleep and did exactly as he'd been told.

Joseph was of David's line. The angel noted that significance by addressing him as "Joseph, son of David" (vs.20). He would be the adoptive father of the Savior so that through the Savior he might in turn be adopted by Him! "In love [Christ] predestined us to be adopted as his sons" (Ephesians 1:5). If we belong to Christ, we are of David's line, too...children of promise (Galatians 3:29, 4:28).

Insight: Joseph believed God's word; it was all he had to go by. Thousands of years after it’s writing, the Bible still tells all we need!

Monday, December 12, 2011

+DEV+ Magnify Him!

Date: December 12, 2011 10:19 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Magnify Him!

Magnify Him!

"For the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation" (Luke 1:49-50).
Scripture Focus: Luke 1: 46-55

Unmarried and pregnant, Mary would be scorned by many a townsperson skeptical of her story. Extreme consequences were due, according to Jewish law. But her hymn, the Magnificat, sings joy and confidence in God. Nearly every line comes from the ancient Scriptures. While magnifying her Lord from the very depths of her soul, she drew the glory away from herself and onto the God of her fathers who was setting in motion His promised redemption plan. Mary's words began in present tense, but moved to past tense as she spoke of how God already had lifted the lowly and turned sorrow to joy. Why would she proclaim this while cruel Herod still terrorized God's people?

Mary knew God would see His plan to the end. She spoke with such certainty that it was as if it were already so. Anchored in His constancy, she knew the God Whose words came for centuries through the prophets, but Whose Word now was His Son, and - wonder of wonders! - her Son. Jesus is God's last and best Word. Know Him; magnify Him.

Insight: Anchor yourself in the unchanging God whose great "Christmas gift" - salvation through Jesus - will change your heart more and more each day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

+DEV+ Do Not Be Afraid

Date: December 11, 2011 9:31 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Do Not Be Afraid

Do Not Be Afraid

"Mary was greatly troubled at [the angel's] words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary...'" (Luke 1:29-30).
Scripture Focus: Luke 1:26-33

The angel's greeting had Mary bewildered. Why would he come to her or to anyone in small-town Nazareth? With Herod tyrannizing the Jews, kingdom hopes seemed completely out of reach. Mary had been born into and raised during a time of bitterness for God's people, circumstances that perhaps moved her parents to give her the name that means "sea of bitterness." In this unlikely place with a girl from a lowly family during a time of despair, God came near...and the script begins to take surprising turns.

Mary's fears were eased by Gabriel's assurance that she had found grace with God. Favor can be earned, but grace is freely given. Mary found God's grace while she wasn't even looking! God approached her with freely-given, unearned grace.

And this is exactly how He approaches us today. In the messiness of our lives, while we're lost in our sorrows, God reaches out to us with a free gift beyond compare: new life in Jesus Christ and salvation in His name. Do not be afraid to accept it.

Insight: "...weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5b). Your "morning" is now. Christ-mas morning will hold more joy than ever!

Friday, December 9, 2011

+DEV+ The Young Girl: Mary

Date: December 9, 2011 3:58 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Young Girl: Mary

The Young Girl: Mary

"And Mary said, 'My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...From now on all generations will call me blessed'" (Luke 1:46-48).
Scripture Focus: Isaiah 7:10-14

With the stage set, enter the character who has stolen hearts for centuries: Mary. She was a real person in an actual historic time and place...the one whom every generation - including ours - would call "blessed" (vs. 48). But with the tendency of sincere believers to either exalt her and see her as sinless, or to ignore her completely, we have mostly allowed ourselves only a sentimental view of Mary, diminishing the world-shattering impact of the incarnation.

Mary did not praise herself. Rather she magnified and rejoiced in God. She pointed to Him. Though she's a main character in this great drama, it is actually God we learn more of through her.

As we dwell on Mary and her part in the Christmas story, we'll see that she was an instrument of God's providence, one through whom He would carry out His redemption plan. A theme arises that has been woven through Scripture since Genesis: in the most unlikely of places, hope often comes. May hope rise for you this Christmas season!

Insight: Resisting the tendency to glory in the glitter of Christmastime, let's sing instead with Mary, praising God for what He has done.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

+DEV+ The First Baby: John

Date: December 8, 2011 12:37 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The First Baby: John

The First Baby: John

"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation..." (Luke 1:76-77a).
Scripture Focus: Luke 1: 57-80

How long would Zechariah be unable to speak? After hundreds of years of silence from God to His people, now the priest himself had been silenced! When his speech was restored, praise flowed like a river for the covenant-keeping God. No trace of doubt remained. Confident in the Lord and upright, he raised John to be strong in spirit (vs. 80) and groomed for his task: preparing the people for Jesus.

Elizabeth understood the supporting role - not the starring role - her baby would play. She happily submitted to that, acknowledging the honor Mary had been given. The strength and humility fostered in John through his parents shaped him into the adult who would stand up to the sway of popularity and declare, "I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him...[The] joy is mine...he must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:28-30).

Let your heart be prepared for the Christ-child who entered our sorrowing world for the joy set before Him: you and me!

Insight: As thoughts of Christmas preparations come, joyfully prepare to extol the covenant-keeping God who has not forgotten a single one of us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

+DEV+ The Priest's Wife: Elizabeth

Date: December 7, 2011 3:02 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Priest's Wife: Elizabeth

The Priest's Wife: Elizabeth

"'But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy'" (Luke 1:43-44).
Scripture Focus: Luke 1: 36-45

It was Elizabeth's disgrace to be barren. Generations of her family history repeated the story. But God always worked through that disgrace, granting the seed which carried out His covenant promise. His promise to Zechariah would be fulfilled, too. Elizabeth - now six months pregnant - was elated. How immense her joy over what the Lord had done for her!

Yet she knew the child to be born was the forerunner for One even greater. The baby's ecstatic leap inside her womb confirmed the remarkable truth: long-expected Messiah was coming! Elizabeth and her beloved relative, Mary - one old, one young - stood in awe while God made the impossible possible in their lives. Elizabeth rejoiced in Mary's belief that what the Lord had said to her would be accomplished (vs. 45). Quite the opposite of her husband's first response to the angel's message!

With the stage set, the action would now move forward. Marvelously, it continues to move forward so that the birth of the Savior touches us still.

Insight: "Come, thou long-expected Jesus...hope of all the earth thou art; dear Desire of ev'ry nation, joy of ev'ry longing heart" (Charles Wesley).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

+DEV+ The Prophet: Isaiah

Date: December 6, 2011 1:54 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Prophet: Isaiah

The Prophet: Isaiah

"For to us a child is born...and the government
will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Scripture Focus: Isaiah 9:1-7

The opening act of the Christmas drama began in the Old Testament. For centuries God had been laying the groundwork for this moment when the promises He'd made - promises that began as soon as man chose sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15) - would be fulfilled. Hundreds of years before Jesus was even born, Isaiah wrote precise details about the Savior who would come from David's line to redeem His people. He told of a virgin who would conceive and give birth to a son. Isaiah wrote that He would be called Immanuel, God with us. God in human form would be given to us and would be with us. Amazing!

After centuries of waiting, God's people must have been thrilled to hear the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Malachi, and others. Through years of silence, of exile and captivity, they would long for a word that would renew their hope and expectations. We, too, renew our hope during this Advent season, our hope in the second coming of Christ when He will return and make all things new.

Insight: Let's wait with joyful expectation and hope for the return of our King, remembering that every promise ever uttered by the Father has been kept.

Monday, December 5, 2011

+DEV+ God’s Favor

Date: December 5, 2011 1:05 AM
Topic: +DEV+ God’s Favor

God’s Favor

“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31).
Scripture Focus: Luke 1:26-37

Every married Jewish woman coveted the promised role of mother to the Messiah, but for a young teenager named Mary, it was probably the furthest thing from her mind. Betrothed to Joseph, her actual marriage had yet to take place. Imagine her surprise when the angel appeared proclaiming his amazing news. What had she done to find favor with God? Why had He chosen her? Could this be a mistake?

It is revealed in her story that even when she realized what the consequences could be—rejection, possibly even death—she humbled herself to God’s will. The angel proclaimed, “Do not be afraid,” and she believed him at this word. Mary found favor with God because her heart was open to His leading, not because of anything she did, but because of her willingness to humble herself before Him, no matter the cost. Imagine what she would have missed out on had she turned her back on the calling. Imagine what we miss out on every day because we are afraid to step out and say yes to God.

Insight: Imagine what God can do with you, if you too humble yourself before Him. Say yes to His calling and let the adventure begin.

Friday, December 2, 2011

+DEV+ Mary’s Song

Date: December 2, 2011 12:08 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Mary’s Song

Mary’s Song

“Mary said, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.’” (Luke 1:46-48)
Scripture Focus: Luke 1:46-55

Mary, a young Jewish virgin from Nazareth, was chosen by God to be the mother of His only Son. When an angel suddenly appeared to her and told her the surprising news, Mary’s humble response was simply to say, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (vs.38)

Shortly after that amazing experience Mary went to visit Elizabeth, an older relative who was also pregnant. Mary may have been somewhat in a state of shock after her visit with an angel, but talking with Elizabeth helped clear her head. She began thinking about what a great gift God was giving her, and she praised Him from her heart

Though the Bible says she “said” the words rather than singing them, her words are commonly referred to as a hymn (vs. 46-55). It was probably sung by Christians through the centuries for worship. With great humility she praised God for His goodness to her and His chosen people, for His faithfulness and power, and for His holiness and mercy.

Like Mary, we can praise God from a full heart.

Insight: Mary’s hymn was personal: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” That song, coming from a personal relationship with Him, is what God longs to hear.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

+DEV+ A Birthday Song

Date: December 1, 2011 12:08 AM
Topic: +DEV+ A Birthday Song

A Birthday Song

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2:13-14)
Scripture Focus: Luke 2:1-12

Every Christmas my friend’s family gets together and acts out the story of Jesus’ birth. Then they sing happy birthday to Jesus. The grandchildren love it!

Jesus’ first birthday song was sung by a heavenly choir to shepherds watching their sheep. Throughout the ages since then, musicians have written and performed many variations of that simple praise song. Beautiful as many of them are, I’m sure none measures up to the original.

Jesus’ birthday song doesn’t, at first glance, even seem to be about Him, but more about God the Father (“Glory to God in the highest”) and humankind (“men on whom his favor rests”). But Jesus is referred to in the song—“peace.” He came to bring peace to those who would trust in Him. He is called The Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6.

Humans can sing His praises better than the angels because Jesus came to die for our sin, to give us “peace that transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Insight: Jesus came to fill our hearts with His peace. Do you sometimes take that for granted? We should praise Him for it every day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

+DEV+ False Messages

Date: November 30, 2011 12:14 AM
Topic: +DEV+ False Messages

False Messages

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (JOHN 1:14)
Scripture Focus: John 5:19-30

Have you ever received a message with contradictions and falsehoods? What a mess it created! The more you tried to address it, the more confused you became. Eventually, you had to get back to the beginning to figure out the truth in order to correct what went wrong.

Incorrect messages come to us on many different levels, and it is one of the most subtle and damaging tactics Satan uses on us spiritually and emotionally. He gives us just enough truth to make his lies seem plausible, making sin look acceptable, and other people and things worth worshiping. And if we are not prepared, we march right in accepting his deceptive messages as truth. It can happen to any one of us, at any time.

How do we guard against responding to his false messages? We must first understand and acknowledge how inclined our hearts are towards sin, how very frail we are. Then we must guard our hearts by knowing God, His Word, and His Son. When the truth of Jesus Christ grips our lives, false messages vanish.

Insight: The First False Message Was Delivered By Satan In The Garden, And Eve Fell For His Deception. Now We Must Keep Our Eyes On The Truth - Jesus.

Monday, November 28, 2011

+DEV+ The Year of the Lord's Favor

Date: November 28, 2011 8:34 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Year of the Lord's Favor

The Year of the Lord's Favor

"He has sent proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn..." (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Scripture Focus: Isaiah 61:1-3

The year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance are like two sides of the same coin. When God extends grace, or favor, to the oppressed, it of necessity means some level of judgement to the oppressor. Consider early America's period of slavery in the 1800s. When the slaves of Southern plantations were emancipated, their freedom came at the price of a war that cost the lives of thousands and eventually meant higher costs of labor to plantation owners. Both favor and vengeance came rolling out through the Civil War.

The ultimate vengeance of our God was taken out on the Son of God in order to allow for the year of the Lord's favor and grace to us. Our battle has been fought and won! Victory is ours through Jesus. The price of God's grace to us was the death of the Jesus on the cross so that through Him we have been justified and declared righteous. God, in His justice, made His Son the object of His wrath on our behalf so that the year of the Lord's favor would reign in our hearts.

Insight: While God's grace is free to us, it is not without great cost. Jesus took on the vengeance of God on our behalf.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

+DEV Thanksgiving in Worship

Date: November 27, 2011 9:02 PM
Topic: +DEV Thanksgiving in Worship

Thanksgiving in Worship

"Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." (PSALM 103:2)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 103

Giving thanks is a pretty common element of our everyday experience. We thank our spouse for doing the dishes. We thank the check-out person at the supermarket for his or her work. We thank our coworkers for doing their part to get the job done.

If thanksgiving is such a natural part of our earthly experience, how much more ought it characterize our relationship with our Creator and Redeemer? Interestingly, when Paul wants to sum up the posture of the unbelieving heart towards God, he doesn't single out sins like murder or adultery; rather, he points to a lack of thanksgiving (Romans 1:21). Ingratitude can either manifest itself as a sense of self-satisfaction, believing that all one has is a result of human effort, or an intense bitterness that is never satisfied. But when God applies the work of Christ to us, the Holy Spirit moves our heart's ingratitude to overflowing thanksgiving. This new heart recognizes God as the giver of all good gifts: both the good things we enjoy in this life, and especially the eternal gifts Christ has won for us.

Insight: Do You Give Thanks In Your Prayers And Worship? If Your Worship Is Faltering, Listen To The Psalmist And "Forget Not All His Benefits"!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

+DEV+ The Harvest

Date: November 23, 2011 1:18 AM
Topic: +DEV+ The Harvest

The Harvest

"Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field'" (Matthew 9:37-38).
Scripture Focus: Matthew 9:35-38

The beginning of the New Year is always a time of renewal and resolution. For me it's a reminder of a spiritual field ripe for harvest...many are waiting to hear and accept Jesus and His love. First century Christians were consumed with thoughts of the harvest and exhibited an intense passion for Christ and for serving Him with their lives. What is it that consumes Christians today? Probably not bringing our neighbors the news of the gospel. The fields are still ripe, but the granaries are yet to be filled. And there is no absence of harvesting equipment: churches, radio, literature, missions that span the world. Yet, while we focus on bigger buildings and even more dollars to build them, it would seem that the very cutting blades of Christendom are either missing or are so dull that little is being harvested.

Let our prayer be that in this world - confused and tormented as it is - we experience a freshness of God's wind and fire to strengthen and energize us, and to bring many people to the Savior.

Insight: In Our Highly Competitive Culture, We Christians Must Stand Out With A Positive Influence That Comes From Being Fully Devoted Followers Of Christ.

Monday, November 21, 2011

+DEV+ Worship in a Minor Key

Date: November 21, 2011 9:01 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Worship in a Minor Key

Worship in a Minor Key

"For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave." (PSALMS 88:3)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 88

I've often heard worship leaders encourage congregations to leave their troubles and cares behind when they enter the sanctuary to worship. While I can understand the sentiment, statements like these seem to suggest either that worship is somehow disconnected from our everyday struggles or that worship is not an appropriate place for emotions like grief or sadness.

Yet Scripture suggests just the opposite. First, our worship is intimately connected to our everyday life because the God we worship is one who acts in history - in our everyday lives. He forgives real sins, defeats real enemies, and saves real people like you and me. Secondly, grief and sadness are entirely appropriate emotions in worship. Our reading for today is a supreme example of a real believer struggling with real problems, bringing his complaint to the Lord. What father would not want to hear from his children when they are troubled? Yet we resist ending with lament. For Jesus, the true voice in this psalm, has finally defeated our ultimate enemy, turning our mourning into joy.

Insight: "His Anger Lasts Only A Moment, But His Favor Lasts A Lifetime; Weeping May Remain For A Night, But Rejoicing Comes In The Morning." (Psalm 30:5)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

+DEV+ Worship: Our Ultimate Destination

Date: November 20, 2011 10:27 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Worship: Our Ultimate Destination

Worship: Our Ultimate Destination

"They worshiped God, Saying: 'Amen! Praise And Glory And Wisdom And Thanks And Honor And Power And Strength Be To Our God For Ever And Ever. Amen!'" (Romans 6:11)
Scripture Focus: Revelation 7

One Of The Most Helpful Inventions In Recent Years Has Been The GPS Navigation System For Our Automobiles. It Has Revolutionized The Way We Drive And, At Least In Theory, May Have Put An End To The Proverbial Arguments Between Spouses About Whether To Stop For Directions. The Best Part About Them Is That They Redirect Us When We Steer Off Course In An Unfamiliar City, Ensuring That We Arrive At Our Destination (Albeit Via A Longer Route).

Something Similar Happens Each Week When We Gather To Worship. During The Week, We Tend To Get Off Course. We Forget Where We're Headed And Instead Aimlessly Wander In A Spiritual Wilderness. Yet In Worship God Redirects Our Spiritual Bearings. He Exposes Our Sinful Misdirection. He Reminds Us Of The Humble Yet Unfailing Power Of Our Loving Guide. And He Gives Us A Taste Of The Eternal Worship That Is Our Destination. He Does All This To Ensure That His Children Make It Home For The Wedding Supper He Has Planned For Those Who Love Him And Are Called According To His Purpose.

Insight: Have You Steered Off Course Spiritually? Have You Forgotten Where You're Headed? Come And Worship, And God Will Renew You By His Grace.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

+DEV+ Children and Worship

Date: November 17, 2011 11:39 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Children and Worship

Children and Worship

"He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'" (MARK 10:14)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 8, Mark 10:13-16

Picture the scene: Jesus is teaching the crowds, healing the sick, and preparing His disciples for the events that would soon follow when they arrived in Jerusalem. And into the fray walk several proud parents, bringing their infants to Jesus, requesting He bless them. Now, the disciples aren't too pleased with this. What are you thinking bringing your children to such an important man? We've got important business to attend to here! Don't you know who this is? The Messiah doesn't have time for children!

Yet Jesus' response is telling. "Let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Like us often, the disciples misunderstood the kind of kingdom Jesus had come to inaugurate. To them, the things of God were "adult business" - too complex and weighty for kids. But Jesus' words remind them (and us) that this kingdom is for those the world considers weak, unimportant, outcast, and humble, not the strong and influential. May the Lord lead our children to worship, and lead us to worship more like children.

Insight: Children Rightly Approach God Without Anything To Offer. Do You Worship God Like A Child Or Do You Bring Something In Your Hands?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

+DEV+ Approach to God

Date: November 16, 2011 9:12 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Approach to God

Approach to God

"For our God is a consuming fire." (HEBREWS 12:29)
Scripture Focus: Leviticus 10:1-3, Hebrews 12:28-29

Our Leviticus reading today tells an admittedly haunting story. Two men with apparently good intentions offer "unauthorized" or "strange" fire to the Lord that is "contrary to his command" and pay for it with their own lives. If nothing else, this story teaches us that God takes worship seriously because His own reputation is at stake (see vs.3).

But we ought not to let this story leave us trembling with dread before the Lord. Instead, let it challenge our belief that we may approach God on our terms. Let it drive us to approach God where He has come to meet us: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Approaching God on our own, dressed in our own merits and good works, will only be met with His consuming fire. Yet Jesus, being sinless in every way, endured the fire that our sins deserved and paved an eternal and sure way of entrance into God's presence for all who trust in Him. He is the way and the truth and the life, the very means of coming to the Father. So let us approach the Father with boldness in the name of the Son!

Insight: How Might This Story Also Impact How We Worship?

Keep Your Fork

Date: November 16, 2011 12:15 AM
Topic: Keep Your Fork

Keep Your Fork

There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things 'in order,' she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.

She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.

'There's one more thing,' she said excitedly..

'What's that?' came the Pastor's reply.

'This is very important,' the young woman continued. 'I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.'

The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.

That surprises you, doesn't it?' the young woman asked.

'Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request,' said the Pastor.

The young woman explained. 'My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep your fork.' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!'

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: 'Keep your fork ..the best is yet to come.'

The Pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young woman's casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question, 'What's with the fork?' And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share.Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND...and I'll bet this will be an Email they do remember, every time they pick up a fork!
And just remember...keep your fork!

Monday, November 14, 2011

+DEV+ Evangelism and Worship

Date: November 14, 2011 9:33 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Evangelism and Worship

Evangelism and Worship

"So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, 'God is really among you!'" (1 CORINTHIANS 14:25)
Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 14:20-25, Romans 10:5-21

If you're like most Christians, you probably struggle at some level with the task of evangelism. You desire and pray for your non-Christian family members and friends to come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, but speaking about spiritual matters (especially in our current culture) is often difficult. How, then, can we bring our friends into an encounter with God?

While our first reading for today is not without complexities, one clear truth emerges that helps us answer that question. Paul says that if an unbeliever enters the gathered worship service of the church and hears "everyone prophesying" (i.e., speaking the Word of God), he will be convinced he is a sinner and will acknowledge God's presence among His church. Of course, this doesn't always happen, but this passage does encourage us that God meets us in worship, and those who enter will hear His voice. While a humble church service may not be the place we would expect God to meet with sinners and convert them, God does have a habit of doing the unexpected.

Insight: A Pastor Recently Told Me That The Worship Service Was The Best Place For Our Unbelieving Friends To Be. Whom Might You Invite This Week?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

+DEV+ Missions and Worship

Date: November 13, 2011 9:45 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Missions and Worship

Missions and Worship

"May the nations be glad and sing for joy." (PSALM 67:4)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 67, Matthew 28

"Missions exists because worship doesn't," writes John Piper in his treatise on missions, Let the Nations Be Glad! Piper makes a point here we ought not to miss. Often we are tempted to think that the goal of the church is to do missions, as if mission work itself were the objective. But Piper reminds us that the reason we do mission work is because our God is not yet receiving the praise and thanksgiving He so wonderfully deserves.

You see, friends, our God is so great, so magnificent, so awesome (in the true sense of that word), so loving, so wise, so powerful, and so holy that all the nations of this world ought to bring Him praise. Just as Jesus came to this world as a humble servant in order to redeem us from false worship unto true worship, so He sends us into the world - humble and broken though we are - to bring other sinners to His feet. May the world's lack of worship be the motivation in our missions. And may our worship cause the name of Jesus to be lifted high at home and abroad.

Insight: Think About Two Non-Christians You Know And Pray That God Would Use You To Bring Them To Truly Worship God.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

+DEV+ Baptism and Worship

Date: November 10, 2011 11:06 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Baptism and Worship

Baptism and Worship

"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that we, too may live a new life." (ROMANS 6:4)
Scripture Focus: Matthew 28, Romans 6:1-14

Regardless of which church you attend, baptism, in some form or another, is a regular aspect of the public worship services. Unfortunately, the controversies that have surrounded baptism for the last 500 years - For whom? How? When? - have significantly hampered most Christians' ability to truly enjoy the blessing our Lord intended when He instituted this practice in His church.

How, then, should baptism be a blessing for us? To put it briefly, when someone is baptized in our church, we ought to take that opportunity to be reminded of all that the water symbolizes about the work of Christ for us. Remember that the blood of Christ has washed you clean from your sins (Titus 3:5). Remember that your old, sinful self died when Christ died, and you received a new life like His (Romans 6:4). Remember that you now have the power of Christ living within you uniting you to Him (Galatians 3:27). Remember that you have been given a new heart, one that is now growing in a desire and ability to live for God (Ezekiel 36:25).

Insight: Baptism is taken seriously by scripture and should therefore be taken seriously by us. Do you know the importance of baptism in worship?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

+DEV+ Prayer in Worship

Date: November 9, 2011 10:55 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Prayer in Worship

Prayer in Worship

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (COLOSSIANS 4:2)
Scripture Focus: Hebrews 4:14-16, Colossians 1:3-14

Prayer is that one aspect of worship we all know we should do more of yet often struggle to find the motivation to carry out. Thankfully, God knows all our weaknesses, and so He has filled His Word with many encouragements and motivators to help us become a more prayerful people. When I say "encouragements," I don't just mean "commandments." I mean truths about what God is like and what God has done that spur us on to pray.

Perhaps the greatest of those is the access we have to God in prayer under the Gospel. Scripture presents the Christian's access to God as unlimited because we come to Him in the name of the Son with whom the Father is well pleased. God throws open the doors of access so widely in order to compel us to come to Him with any and every concern we may have, with the assurance that He will hear our prayer. Unlike the many leaders of this world who are sequestered behind bodyguards, security fences and darkly tinted windows, our God is accessible through Jesus Christ.

Insight: Do You Find It Difficult To Pray? Consider The Unlimited Access To The Father Won For You By Jesus And Ask For Boldness In Prayer.

+DEV+ A Permanent Priest

Date: November 9, 2011 1:29 AM
Topic: +DEV+ A Permanent Priest

A Permanent Priest

"The former priests were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently." (HEBREWS 7:23-24 ESV)
Scripture Focus: Leviticus 16, Hebrews 7:11-28

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to be an Old Testament Israelite. Clearly, there are the obvious drawbacks that come from living in a pre-industrial age: no refrigeration, no automobiles, no healthcare, etc. But perhaps the biggest downside that does not often come to mind is having to worship God through impermanent priests. Think about it. The one in charge of representing you before God could never guarantee he would be there tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, when you might have really needed him. His mortality made him ultimately unreliable.

But things have changed. A permanent priest who will never fail to represent His people perfectly in God's presence has replaced the impermanent priests. When we sin, His blood always intercedes. When we pray, He always hears. When we are tempted, He always helps. And, best of all, He will never die, because He already has died and received an indestructible life in return. In a world that is passing, Jesus gives us permanence.

Insight: "Before The Throne My Surety Stands/Before The Throne My Surety Stands/My Name Is Written On His Hands!" (Charles Wesley, 1707-1788)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

+DEV+ Worship and the Cross

Date: November 8, 2011 12:19 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Worship and the Cross

Worship and the Cross

"Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.'" (HEBREWS 10:5)
Scripture Focus: Luke 23:26-49, Hebrews 10:1-10

It didn't look much like a church service. In fact, the lonely, windswept hill of Golgotha outside the city gates of Jerusalem was the last place we might expect anything of religious significance to take place. Yet despite all appearances to the contrary, it was there that the most significant act of worship in the history of the world took place. For it was there that the Messiah offered His body as a sacrifice.

It may have appeared to some that Jesus was taken to the cross against His will - that somehow the Romans and the Jews had gotten the better of Him. But that was certainly not the case. In fact, Jesus was doing exactly what He had come to do. He was taking the body His Father had prepared for Him and laying it down as a substitute for sinners. And, friends, it is from that act of worship that all of our worship must flow. His worship on the cross qualifies and inspires our worship in the church. Your church may have a cross on its wall or in its decor somewhere. When you see it, remember how Christ came into this world to redeem us.

Insight: "When I survey the wondrous cross/on which the prince of glory died/my richest gain I count but loss/and pour contempt on all my pride." (ISAAC WATTS, 1707)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

+DEV+ Let Us Sing to the Lord

Date: November 6, 2011 6:47 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Let Us Sing to the Lord

Let Us Sing to the Lord

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." (COLOSSIANS 3:16)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 95, Colossians 3:1-17

Often when I think of singing in worship, I think of the words I sing as primarily being my words - my response to what God has done. While there is certainly good reason to see our singing in that way, the Apostle Paul, in our reading from Colossians for today, provides a somewhat different perspective of singing in worship.

Singing, according to this passage, is one of the ways in which we "let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly." There are a few things worth noticing here. First, it is the Word of Christ that is to dwell richly within us through our singing. Singing is one way God draws us closer to Christ and His Word. Second, the "you" in the passage quoted at the top of the page is plural. (We would say "y'all" in Texas!) This means God has designed our singing as a way not only to let His Word dwell within us, but as a way we can help that same Word to take root in our fellow Christians. What a tremendous privilege! God's gracious and many-faceted gift of music allows us to sing out in praise and awe of Him.

Insight: What Is Your Favorite Hymn Or Spiritual Song? What Aspect Of The Work Of Christ Does It Center Upon? If You Can, Sing It Now!

Friday, November 4, 2011

+DEV+ Daily Worship

Date: November 4, 2011 2:33 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Daily Worship

Daily Worship

"Impress [my commandments] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (DEUTERONOMY 6:7)
Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 6, Daniel 6

One of my favorite stories about daily worship is in Daniel 6. A conspiracy is hatched to kill 80-year-old Daniel, a Jewish exile from the Promised Land. The political leaders of Babylon figure that the best way to catch Daniel who was known as a worshiper of Yahweh is to establish a law against worshiping anyone but the king. According to the injunction, anyone caught worshiping or praying to another god would be thrown to the lions.

When news of the injunction reached Daniel, Scripture tells us that he "got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before" (Daniel 6:10). Daniel worshiped daily. Not even the threat of being fed to the lions would keep Daniel from showing devotion to his God!

Where did such courage come from? Was Daniel just a spiritual Superhero? No. Daniel simply knew his hope did not lie in the present evil age, but in the God who held his future. His confidence in the God of promise fanned his devotion in the midst of great threat.

Insight: The Prophets Were Actually Serving Us Through Their Writings
(1 Peter 1:10-12). Does The Reason Behind Daniel's Persistence In Daily Worship Encourage You?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

+DEV+ Confession in Worship

Date: November 2, 2011 11:40 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Confession in Worship

Confession in Worship

"I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD' - and you forgave the guilt of my sin." (PSALM 32:5)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 32, Mark 2:1-12

Confession is not an easy thing to do. When we have sinned and we know it, rationalizations begin to flood our minds as to why hiding this sin from the Lord and from others would be far better than coming clean. "No one will ever know." "It didn't really hurt anyone." "I won't do it again." The list goes on.

But while hiding our sin may seem like the easiest road at the time, spiritual subterfuge will ultimately kill our ability to worship. Confession, on the other hand, has the power to ignite the most fervent worship we've ever known. Our reading today is a prime example. When David hid his sin, he wasted away (vs. 3). Yet when he acknowledged it to the Lord, he and his companions were able to rejoice and shout for joy again (v. 11).

We can only enjoy the freedom of confession when we know God will forgive us, and when we bring our sins to Him. So, Christian, hear the words of Jesus, your Lord: "My son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). Let those words of comfort soak in.

Insight: Our Reading Of Scripture Should Always Lead Us To Confession At Some Level. Where Is God Leading You To Confess Today?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

+DEV+ Giving as Worship

Date: November 1, 2011 9:01 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Giving as Worship

Giving as Worship

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." (2 CORINTHIANS 8:9)
Scripture Focus: Acts 2:42-4:37, 2 Corinthians 8-9

Since its inception, the church has, in some form or another, taken up an offering. In our day, however, while the practice has not died, the rich, theological meaning behind why we give as an act of worship has fallen on hard times. Often writing a check for the offering basket is done in the same perfunctory manner with which we write a check at the grocery store.

But giving financially to our churches - both in times of abundance but especially in times of economic need - is one of the most practical ways in which the Gospel impacts our life. At its heart, the Gospel is a gift from God: the gift of Jesus Christ to us that secures us an eternal home which our money could never buy. It is a gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17) that secures our favorable status before God. To the extent that our worship services draw our minds and our hearts to the magnitude and worth of that inexpressible gift, our hearts will be compelled to give as an act of worship to the great Giver, the one who has given us eternal life.

Insight: Do You Ever Think Of Your Money As Something Without Much Spiritual Importance? How Does The Gospel Change Your Perspective On Giving?

Monday, October 31, 2011

+DEV+ We Are What We Worship

Date: October 31, 2011 11:57 PM
Topic: +DEV+ We Are What We Worship

We Are What We Worship

"Those who make [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them." (PSALM 115:8)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 115

The psalmist in our reading today makes what is, in effect, the spiritual equivalent of our common saying: "You are what you eat." By claiming that those who worship idols will take on idol-like characteristics, he is saying: "You become what you worship."

This truth carries with it a profound warning as well as a quickening hope. It warns us by revealing the life-shaping consequences of valuing, trusting, serving, pursuing, desiring, and devoting ourselves to the "idols" of our age. Those who worship power will become tyrants. Those who desire control will be controlled by that desire. Those who rely on their own strength will be proven weak.

Yet this principle also contains great hope. Those who have been rescued by the living God from serving idols will become like Him! As we, through God's empowering and transforming grace, grow to value, trust, and serve our Lord, we will begin to take on His characteristics. As we worship His holiness, we will be holy. As we esteem His wisdom, we will be wise. As we trust His strength, we will be strong.

Insight: In What Ways Do You See Your Life Shaped By What You Value Most?

+DEV+ Worship: Not an Individual Sport

Date: October 31, 2011 1:02 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Worship: Not an Individual Sport

Worship: Not an Individual Sport

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (HEBREWS 10:25)
Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 8:1-8, Acts 2:42-47

It is often said, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." The more people involved, it seems, the more complicated, confusing, and confounding any project can become. (If you've ever served on a committee, you are particularly aware of this phenomenon.) It is tempting at times to adopt this same attitude in our Christian lives, especially when it comes to worship. More people in your church means more opinions and musical preferences; hence more "worship wars." Accordingly, many Christians today choose to retreat to more private forms of worship for their primary spiritual bread.

Yet there is a special place in God's salvation plan for the gathered worship of His people, without which our worshiping lives are incomplete. Complicated and awkward as it may be at times to worship alongside other people, the gathered worship of God's people paints a rich picture of the kind of unity for which Christ gave His life. Only gathered worshipers can show themselves to be a people "from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9).

Insight: Though The Lord Encourages Private Worship As Part Of A Living Relationship With Him, Never Allow That To Eclipse The Importance Of Regular Corporate Worship.

Friday, October 28, 2011

+DEV+ A Meeting with Heaven

Date: October 28, 2011 12:52 AM
Topic: +DEV+ A Meeting with Heaven

A Meeting with Heaven

"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God." (HEBREWS 12:22)
Scripture Focus: Hebrews 12:28-29

The author to the Hebrews makes an astonishing claim here about worship under the new covenant. He's writing to a congregation of Jews tempted to return to the visible, tangible worship of the old covenant. So he contrasts that kind of worship with the heavenly worship of the new covenant in order to persuade them of the superiority of Jesus. In essence, he claims that when new covenant Christians come to worship, they take part in the heavenly gathering of all God's people who have ever lived to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

How might such a perspective change the way we view and experience worship in our churches? I admit that getting to church (and paying attention) is not always an easy thing on Sunday morning, especially for those with kids! But might not the truth that when we get there, we will commune with God Himself and with the whole gathering of God's people in heaven serve to motivate us to make a greater effort? May God grant us that perspective every week!

Insight: Our Worship Is Heavenly Because The Savior We Worship Now Sits In Heaven At God's Right Hand. Praise God Today For This Amazing Truth.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

+DEV+ Vain Worship

Date: October 26, 2011 7:16 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Vain Worship

Vain Worship

"They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (MARK 7:7)
Scripture Focus: Mark 7:1-13, Ephesians 2:11-22

This was certainly the last thing they wanted to hear. Everything to which they were devoted, everything about which they were passionate, and everything they did in service to God was futile, purposeless, vanity. In essence, this was Jesus' charge against the Pharisees who, on the outside, appeared to be resolutely devoted to God and His ways. Yet while they honored God with their lips, Jesus, invoking the words of Isaiah, regarded their worship as vain because their hearts were far from Him.

Naturally, we all tend to worship like the Pharisees. We want to approach God on our terms. We think as long as we outwardly say and do the right things, we can keep God at arm's length. Indeed, our hearts are far from Him. Yet God Himself provides the antidote to vain worship. Those whose hearts were once "far away, have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). The death and resurrection of Christ alone has the power to change our worship from vain to vibrant.

Insight: Do You Ever Feel You're Just "Going Through The Motions" In Worship? Let The Gospel Transform Us When We Feel That Way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

+DEV+ The Holy Spirit in Worship

Date: October 25, 2011 10:09 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Holy Spirit in Worship

The Holy Spirit in Worship

"[The Spirit] will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you." (JOHN 16:14)

Scripture Focus: John 16:4-15, Philippians 3

I imagine Jesus' disciples would have slumped a bit in their seats at the news. Jesus, their companion and teacher for the past three years, would soon be leaving them. What were they to do in His absence? How would they have the courage or strength to continue the work He had charged them to do? Not only that, but how would a band of Jewish tradesmen who routinely missed the significance of Jesus' message during His earthly ministry ever become the founders of the church and authors of the New Testament?

Jesus' answer to such apprehension is the Holy Spirit. The "Helper" whom Jesus would send to His church would be the one who would "guide them into all the truth" (John 16:13), and "convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment" (16:8). In other words, the Spirit would point them to Jesus. Like flood lights on the front of a mansion whose purpose is to draw attention to the beauty of the house, the Holy Spirit illumines our Lord to us when He seems far away. Let's give praise to the Spirit today!

Insight: Does Jesus Ever Loom Small On The Horizon Of Your Life Or Worship? Ask God To Illumine You With His Spirit So You Might See More Of Jesus!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Date: October 24, 2011 7:11 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Worship the Son

Worship the Son

"Then the man said, 'Lord, I believe,' and he worshiped him." (JOHN 9:38)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 2

It certainly would have raised a stir. Since their wanderings on the plains east of Egypt, the Israelites would have known to worship the one true God and the one true God only. This would explain, of course, the outrage that ensued when a Jewish rabbi repeatedly - without hesitation or rebuke - received worship from men and women. Foreigners fell down and worshiped Him days after His birth (Matthew 2:11). His disciples worshiped Him when they saw Him command the wind and waves (Matthew 14:33). A man born blind, seeing Jesus for the first time, fell down and worshiped Him (John 9:38). Who is this Man who receives worship?

He is no mere man. He is the very Son of God who took on human flesh. He has existed from all eternity (John 1:1). He created the world (1:3), and sustains it by His power (Hebrews 1:3). He is equal to the Father (John 10:30). Yet in history, He took on a human nature only to lay it down in death and take it up again in eternal life. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!

Insight: Jesus, As Much As The Father And The Spirit, Is Worthy Of Our Worship. Let His Work For You Inspire And Encourage Your Worship This Day.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

+DEV+ A Response to Grace

Date: October 23, 2011 9:09 PM
Topic: +DEV+ A Response to Grace

A Response to Grace

"how much more, then, will the blood of Christ cleanse our conscience from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" (HEBREWS 9:14)
Scripture Focus: Hebrews 9:11-22

The common view of religion today suggests that worship is something humans invented and performed to get God on their side. "If I pray enough, give enough, or serve enough, then God will bless me." Yet true worship never begins with us. Rather, true worship is always a response to the initiating grace of God. For the old covenant people of God, the exodus was the event that inspired countless songs of praise and devotion (see Exodus 15; Psalm 105). For generations to follow, the elderly would remind the younger that all their service to God - worship included - would not have been possible without God's redemption (Deuteronomy 6:20-25).

But now the greater exodus has come. Jesus Christ, the true Passover Lamb, has delivered us not from earthly servitude, but from the wrath of God, through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. Far from requiring our worship to atone for our sins, God inspires our worship by atoning for them Himself through the work of Christ. Is your worship flagging? Then remember all that God has done!

Insight: Do You Ever Feel Unworthy To Worship God? Remember Today That God Has Qualified You Through Jesus.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

+DEV+ Triune Worship

Date: October 19, 2011 7:42 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Triune Worship

Triune Worship

"Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.'" (GALATIANS 4:6)
Scripture Focus: Galatians 4:1-7

As Christians, we have the great privilege of worshiping a God like no other. One aspect of our God that today is often acknowledged but rarely makes much practical difference in our worship is His triune nature. The God of Scripture is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), but He exists eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What difference should God's triune nature make for our worship of Him? To ask such a question is to plumb the depths of Christian theology and worship.

In short, we offer praise to each member of the Trinity for His role in our salvation. And as we draw our minds and hearts to one, they will irresistibly be drawn to the other two. As we remember the Father's plan to redeem us, we can't help but think of the execution of that plan in the sending of the Son. As we remember the Son, we think of the "Spirit of his Son" sent into our hearts. And as we think of the Spirit, our hearts cry out, "Abba, Father." Give praise to our triune God!

Insight: Our Worship Will Inevitably Reflect The God That We Know. How Does Your Worship Reflect The Triune God?

Monday, October 17, 2011

+DEV+ God is Looking for You

Date: October 17, 2011 7:36 PM
Topic: +DEV+ God is Looking for You

God is Looking for You

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (JOHN 4:23)
Scripture Focus: John 4:1-26

If anyone is on the outside, she is. This Samaritan woman's promiscuous lifestyle has led her to five different husbands during her lifetime. Her mixed Samaritan blood also keeps her outside the pure Jewish circles that surround her. So she chooses to draw water during the hottest time of the day, when she is sure to encounter no one.

But certainly to her disappointment, someone is already there. A man. A Jew. A rabbi. It could not be worse. But the news He brings her is unlike any she has heard. He offers her water that will quench an eternal thirst. Yet perhaps even more surprising than this, He tells her that God the Father is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.

What a shock this must have been for a woman used to being on the outside, to know that God Himself was looking for people like her - not to judge, not to condemn, not to punish, but for the purpose of worshiping Him. May God find what He seeks in us also!

Insight: God is still seeking worshipers today. Has He been looking for you?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

+DEV+ Larger than Life

Date: October 16, 2011 9:03 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Larger than Life

Larger than Life

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." (MATTHEW 13:44)
Scripture Focus: Matthew 13, Hebrews 12:1-2

Worship is the native language of the kingdom of heaven. And if the kingdom is as Jesus describes it here in these parables - that is, something so valuable for which we will joyfully lose all other things - then worship ought to be characterized by profound joy. Yet, I think if we're honest, our worship often is not saturated with the "solid joys and lasting treasures" which none but Zion's children know. At times, worship for me can become merely cerebral, a transfer of information rather than a joyful encounter with the living God. Other times, what I mistake as true joy in worship escapes my heart quickly after the benediction. The weight of everyday life descends yet again.

How can we become more joyful worshipers? What we need is a re-evaluation of our lives. If we value the kingdom of heaven above all else, then we will rejoice to speak its native language. The kingdom must be larger than everyday life. When you're known by Jesus, the Man who "sold all he had" and bought you, your joy is larger than life.

Insight: An Unhealthy Preoccupation With Life's Concerns Will Dampen Worship. Remember, You Are "Seated With Christ In Heaven." Let That Truth Saturate Your Worship.

Friday, October 14, 2011

+DEV+ Warped Worship

Date: October 14, 2011 12:01 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Warped Worship

Warped Worship

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen." (ROMANS 1:25)
Scripture Focus: Romans 1:18-32

Bob Dylan got it right when in 1979 he wrote, "You're gonna have to serve somebody." The question is not whether you worship, but what you worship. Often we live under the illusion that if we're not worshiping God, then we must not be worshiping anything at all; but the truth is that we all worship something. We all have ultimate allegiances. We all live for something and are devoted to something. Indeed, you're "gonna have to serve somebody."

It's often tempting to see the struggles in our lives as simply a matter of what we do or don't do. But Scripture diagnoses our problem as something much more fundamental - as a matter of what we worship. Therefore, if we have any hope of beginning to live for God, then what we worship must be changed. We must begin from the inside out. And that is exactly what the Lord promises to do in the Gospel: "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols" (Ezekiel 36:25). Let's put Jesus Christ at the center of our worship.

Insight: Scripture Claims That Everyone Worships Something Or Someone. What Do You Worship? Ask The Lord To Increase Your Desire To Worship Him Alone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

+DEV+ Worship: Expressing the Worthiness of God

Date: October 13, 2011 12:17 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Worship: Expressing the Worthiness of God

Worship: Expressing the Worthiness of God

"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name." (PSALM 96:8)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 96

What does it mean to worship? In many Christian circles today, the word "worship" has simply become synonymous with "singing." I would like to suggest a fuller definition to be used throughout these devotionals. Our English word, interestingly, does not have roots in the Bible. Rather, it comes from an Anglo Saxon root meaning literally "worth-ship." In other words, at its heart, to worship means to ascribe greatness or worthiness to someone or something.

This definition highlights the essential God-centeredness of Christian worship. God is most worthy to be praised. God is the greatest treasure that exists. He is most holy, most gracious, most wise, most compassionate, most jealous, and most glorious. Therefore worship begins and ends with God Himself - ascribing to Him the glory that is due His name.

Who is God? What is He like? Who am I compared to God? What has God done? What has He still promised to do? Answering such questions is at the heart of what it means to worship and "ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name."

Insight: In What Ways Do We Make Worship More About Us Than About God? Consider Who God Is And What He's Done. Praise Him For It!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

+DEV+ Resisting the Devil

Date: October 11, 2011 10:55 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Resisting the Devil

Resisting the Devil

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (HEBREWS 4:15)
Scripture Focus: Matthew 4:1-11

The Bible likens the devil to a "roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). He is the great deceiver who cunningly hunts his prey. He lies in wait looking for opportunities to steal, kill, and destroy.

1 Peter 5 goes on to say that if we resist the devil and stand firm in the faith, the God of all grace will restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast. But how do we resist this roaring lion? By looking to Christ.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He met Satan's twisted words and empty claims with The Holy Word; "It is written." Satan skewed Scripture in a futile attempt to get Jesus to sin, but Jesus refuted him with Truth. It is imperative that we be students of God's Word so we can recognize when Scripture is used out of context or misinterpreted. We cannot depend on our own strength to resist Satan's enticements; we will surely succumb. Our only hope is to lean on the same omnipotent power of God's Word that our great High Priest used.

Insight: "I Write To You because You Are Strong, And The Word Of God Lives In You, And You Have Overcome The Evil One." (1 John 2:14)

Monday, October 10, 2011

+DEV+ The Transforming Word

Date: October 10, 2011 9:09 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The Transforming Word

The Transforming Word

"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart" (PSALM 19:7-8A)
Scripture Focus: Psalm 19:7-14

Have you ever met someone who radiated Christ in their countenance so much so that you knew they were a follower of Jesus - even before they opened their mouth to say a word? Psalm 34:5 says that those who look to the Lord are radiant because the shadow of their shame has been removed. They are transformed by the Gospel of grace, and their lives produce those blessed fruits of the Spirit because they abide in the one True Vine (John 15:5, Galatians 5:22).

As Christians, we are called to "put off the old self" and to be renewed in the thoughts and attitudes of our minds. In fact, we are told to let our minds dwell on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). The law of the Lord is the embodiment of all these attributes! It revives us, makes us wise, gladdens our hearts, enlightens our eyes, warns us, and brings great reward. As God's Word takes root in our hearts, it transforms us from the inside out, until we are radiant for Him.

Insight: "Do Not Conform Any Longer To The Pattern Of This World, But Be Transformed By The Renewing Of Your Mind." (Romans 12:2)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

+DEV+ The True Mirror

Date: October 9, 2011 9:31 PM
Topic: +DEV+ The True Mirror

The True Mirror

"But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does." (JAMES 1:25)
Scripture Focus: James 1:19-27

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father" (Matthew 7:21). The Lord of all creation cannot be fooled by lip service, for He looks straight into the heart. Only those who confess their sin, repent of it, and trust in the finished work of Christ for salvation will be saved. True faith in Christ yields holy fruit in the believer's life.

In the same way, we are told in James 1:22 to not merely be hearers of the Word, but doers. The Word of God is a true mirror that never lies. It does not flatter the one who takes time to study it; rather, it accurately reveals the stains of sin. Then it points to the only hope a sinner has of being washed completely clean: the blood of Jesus.

Let us not eye God's Word with a fleeting glance. Instead, let us stoop down and peer into His perfect law, beholding its freedom, and pursue living it out with joy, faith in action!

Insight: May Our Faith Show Itself In Humble Obedience To The Lord Out Of Our Gratitude For His Wondrous Gift Of Salvation Through Christ.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Worth watching!!!!
It's incredible that this 1948 cartoon has come this close to depicting our current day situation. It's worth your time.


What can a cartoon produced in 1948, teach us today, that's of any value? You'd be very surprised! Pay close attention! Keep in mind this was done in '1948'. Keep telling yourself that as you view it.

This is one of the best I have ever seen. This should be viewed by every AMERICAN.
Click on 1948 Cartoon below -

1948 Cartoon

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

+DEV+ Noble Character

Date: October 5, 2011 11:07 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Noble Character

Noble Character

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (ACTS 17:11)
Scripture Focus: Acts 17:1-15

The Bereans were commended in the Bible for receiving the message of the Gospel with great eagerness and daily examination of the Scriptures. The Greek word used here for "examine" is also used to describe Herod as he examined Jesus (Luke 23:14-15) and the Sanhedrin's examination of Peter and John (Acts 4:9). The Bereans mulled over the evidence like jurors do at a trial. They did not simply accept what Paul said. Rather, they intently studied his words in light of God's Word.

God's Word is the "plumb line" that stands up to inspection. It is copiously filled with cross-references, historical facts, and prophecies fulfilled. There is no supplement for it! We must not simply accept the words of men, but rather go to The Source, peering through the lens of Truth. Jesus said that if His Word abides in us, we will know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free (John 8:31-32). May we, like the Bereans, receive God's Word readily and examine the Scriptures daily, seeing how the truth of Jesus sets us free indeed.

Insight: Can It Be Said That You Are Of "Noble Character"? Do You Eagerly Receive The Message Of Jesus Christ And Spend Time Searching The Scriptures?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

+DEV+ Revival

Date: October 4, 2011 9:55 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Revival


"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear and forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 CHRONICLES 7:14)
Scripture Focus: Genesis 17:1-5

Before reading the Scriptures, a well known evangelist reminds us that we are about to hear the very words of God: "This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!" He is aware of the trap we can fall into of becoming dulled to the Bible and indifferent to its message. The Word of the Lord both commands and merits great reverence.

Nehemiah narrates a powerful scene of repentance and revival, and the stage is set with the reading of God's Law. As Ezra the Priest opens the Holy Book, the people stand to their feet, showing respect for the Word. They lift their hands in agreement, exclaiming: "Amen!" and then fall on their faces before the Lord, worshipping Him in humility. The people's hearts are so moved by what they hear that they begin to weep for their sin and guilt before God. But their mourning soon turns to jubilant celebration of God's grace and mercy toward them, for the joy of the LORD is their strength!

May God's Word fall upon our hearts also and cause revival.

Insight: It Is Important That We Engage In Corporate Worship And Sit Under The Teaching Of God's Word Often. Is This Something That You Value?

Monday, October 3, 2011

+DEV+ Behind The Name

Date: October 3, 2011 11:03 PM
Topic: +DEV+ Behind The Name

Behind The Name

"I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your Name and your word." (PSALM 138:2)
Scripture Focus: Genesis 17:1-5

Bible names carried much weight and often reflected the character or information about the person or place being named. Abram was given a new name by God - Abraham, "Father of many" (see Genesis 17:5). A name could hardly be more fitting! In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel set up a stone memorial to God's help and called it Ebenezer, meaning "stone of help." While not a popular name today, we find it in one of our great hymns, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" where verse two says, Here I raise my Ebenezer/ Hither by Thy help I'm come (Robert Robinson, 1757).

The names God gives Himself in His Word echo His character. Through them, He personally reveals aspects of Himself, giving us a storehouse of His promises and character attributes. He is El-Shaddai, the "God Almighty" (Genesis 17:1). He is Jehovah-Jireh, "the Lord will provide" (Genesis 22:14). He is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, "the Lord our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6). He is the Almighty God who provides righteousness for sinners through Jesus.

Insight: Intertwined Through All Of Scripture, From Genesis To Revelation, Is A Crimson Thread Of Redemption Always Pointing To Christ.

+DEV+ Prophecy Fulfilled

Date: October 3, 2011 12:11 AM
Topic: +DEV+ Prophecy Fulfilled

Prophecy Fulfilled

"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son." (HEBREWS 1:1)
Scripture Focus: John 5:31-47

Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. In Old Testament times, God chose men such as these to be His mouthpiece to deliver His message to the people. He spoke to them through dreams, visions, and even personally. Therefore, these "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). No matter the time or place, the heart of the message was the same: repent, turn to the Lord, and be redeemed.

The prophets warned the people of the severe punishment that awaited them if they continued in sin. But they also foretold the coming of a Messiah who would ransom God's people and purchase back His wayward bride. In Jesus' encounter with the Pharisees (John 5), He made it clear that He is the promised Messiah of which Scriptures testify. Although the Pharisees knew what the Bible said, they were blind to The Word made flesh standing right in front them. God desires for us to know more than words on a page. He has personally spoken to us through His Son, Jesus.

Insight: Woven Through All Of Scripture, From Genesis To Revelation, Is A Crimson Thread Of Redemption Always Pointing To Christ.