Monthly Archives: December 2011

2 Chronicles 31; Revelation 17; Zechariah 13:2-9; John 16

“You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.” (John 16: 20)

“Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (John 16: 24)

Joy.  God makes me laugh sometimes.  I love the way He works.  It’s never by accident or random.  He is so intentional.  Lately, I have really been thinking about joy and experiencing it in a way that I never thought possible.  So when I read the verse that my sorrow will turn to joy, I actually laughed out loud!  And this wasn’t a mocking or sarcastic snicker; this was a laugh knowing that God is truly who He says He is.  I am totally humbled and amazed by the fact that God can turn sorrow into joy.  It really is possible.  Even when we are in the deepest places of despair and hopelessness, God can and will do great things.  He knows the desires of our hearts and just wants us to trust Him and connect with Him.  I love how He tells us to ask so that we can receive… so that our joy can be complete.

Jesus, I love You.  I am amazed by You and how You work in my life.  After experiencing such deep loss and pain, I had finally reached a place of acceptance of my circumstances.  I was no longer hopeless or in a pit of despair, Lord, but I felt like the spark in my heart was gone.  You, Jesus, were not finished with me yet.  I love how You surprise me, God, with exceedingly more than I can ask for or imagine.  Thank You, Jesus, for returning joy into my heart, igniting that spark again.  Lord, You are worthy of praise and adoration. You truly restore the years that the locusts have eaten. Thank You.  I love You endlessly!

Amen

Suzie (suzielawyer)

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2 Chronicles 30; Revelation 16; Zechariah 12-13:1; John 15

I noticed when the writing assignments were distributed late last year that I had been assigned to make a post on Christmas day.  That’s remained in the back of my mind through the past twelve months.  I never took the time to examine the reading assignment for December 25.  I simply assumed I’d be writing something ‘Christmasy’.  Maybe the reading plan would be arranged in such a way that we’d get to spend time in one of the first chapters of Matthew.  Better yet, maybe the second chapter of Luke.  I imagined writing something about God with us, or of God’s declaration of peace with men.  The very last thing I expected to face was a description of God’s wrath…

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.

Revelation 16:1, 8-11, 17-19

This isn’t a description of Christmas. This is the very opposite of Christmas.  This is an image of the fate I earned the moment I first sinned against my Creator, a fate I’m escaping only because He chose to deliver me from His justice and wrath.  The description of these and the other judgments in Revelation 16 are breathtaking.  It amazes and grieves me that so many people plan to face God standing on a foundation of their own merit.  Even more incomprehensible is the idea of some of those same people, suffering the opening rounds of God’s wrath, actually cursing Him rather than repenting.  Silent Night?  Hardly.

22 And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the LORD. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD, the God of their fathers.  23 Then the whole assembly agreed together to keep the feast for another seven days. So they kept it for another seven days with gladness. 24 For Hezekiah king of Judah gave the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for offerings, and the princes gave the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. And the priests consecrated themselves in great numbers. 25 The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced.    2 Chronicles 30:22-25

Here we have a scene reminiscent of many others from ancient Israel.  The people described here are, at least momentarily, trying to please God.  They are rejoicing in Him and for the deliverance He’s provided their ancestors.  But, look at the cost required to make the celebration possible.  How much blood was spilled that day to satisfactorily consecrate those involved?  This isn’t even a description of the Day of Atonement!  It’s simply the Passover celebration.

No, this isn’t a scene of Christmas either, but at least it’s a scene made possible through the promise of Christmas a few centuries to come.  This is O Come O Come Emmanuel.  This is progress.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.  John 15:12-17

This is Christmas fully revealed.  This is God unilaterally declaring peace with His creation.  This is the God we’ve so grievously offended through absolute rebellion stepping down from His throne, departing His palace, descending to the dust with us, experiencing our suffering, and lighting within our hearts the flame of His love.  Here, God Himself declares that we are not His enemies.  Nor are we His pets, nor His subjects, nor His servants.  Here He calls us friends.  Earlier in John He called us children of God.  He makes it clear that this was His doing, not ours.  He chose us, not the other way around.  He came to meet us because we were incapable of reaching up to Him.  The Christ is born.  Go Tell it On the Mountain!

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.   Zechariah 12:10

This is Christmas missed.  So much of Biblical truth is hard to fathom.  I count the chosen nation’s rejection of their long-awaited Messiah as one of the prime examples.  There wasn’t any mystery about when or where He would arrive.  Magi from another realm showed up at the right place and only slightly behind schedule due to the distance they had to travel.  They probably knew the who, when, and where based on an ancient institutional memory of Daniel’s teachings.  If they found the Christ child, what is the excuse of the scholars of scripture sleeping within sight of Bethlehem?  How could men who knew Psalm 22 and Isaiah’s prophecies by heart not recognize their Messiah even when He hung on the cross?  I know, they were expecting a conquering hero, but why were they expecting that when the scriptural truth was so plain?  Sadly, their blindness continues to this day.  This blindness is going to end though.  The descendents of Israel have missed the last 2000 Christmases, and they may miss 2000 more, but one day, at the time of the Father’s choosing, they will see the Son.  Then, even as they mourn, it will truly be Joy to the World.

You know, maybe today’s reading selection is appropriate for the occasion after all.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you this year, and Merry Christmas!!!

Michael  (mmattix)

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2 Chronicles 29, Revelation 15, Zechariah 11, John 14

Please read at –www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2Chron.29;%20Rev.%2015;%20Zech.%2011;%20John%2014&version=NKJV

King Hezekiah was a foreshadow of Jesus the Christ Who obeyed His Father’s Will.  Hebrews 5:8, John 14:24, John 15:10, Mark 14:36, John 8:28 

I am encouraged that if King Hezekiah could live well for God without the fullness of God’s Word and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, then surely I, with these eternal tools, can actively live under closer obedience to the living God in every area of my life! Luke 12:48

Disobeying the One Who “lives forever and ever” brings God’s wrath down from heaven. Yet nothing ever diminishes the glory of God and His power. (Rev 15:7-8)   (Luke 12:5, Matthew 23:33, Revelation 21:6-8, Galatians 5:16-26, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

“Woe to the worthless shepherd, Who leaves the flock!” Zech 11:17, Matthew 23:1-29, Luke 11:37-52, Jeremiah 32:6-9   I am challenged to not be worthless. By God’s account, I am a shepherd, part of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9, Joel 2:28-29) because I was transformed by Jesus Christ’s Atonement. Jesus Christ, the only Good Shepherd (John 10:1-30), was priced at “thirty pieces of silver” (Zech 11:11-13, Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:3-10) for my redemption. Thereby I am given the ministry of reconciliation to be Christ’s ambassador.  2 Corinthians 5:17-21

                  I am accountable to the Lord God Almighty to not disobey Him: to take care of other Christians, to lead others to Christ Jesus, to give Light to the blind, Bread of Life to the hungry, and so much more!!

             Tomorrow my family and I will celebrate the birth of the man-God Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-56, Luke 2, Matthew 2). God put on flesh and dwelt among us to show me the One True God (John 1:1-3, 14, 29, Hebrews 1:3). Jesus Christ died by taking the wrath of God that I deserve for every disobedience to the living God I have committed.  Psalm 51, John 3:5-21.  

              Because I trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I am in pain for all those I know who do not yet choose to come to the Father through Jesus. I earnestly pray for Jesus’ Words and Holy Spirit to transform their souls so His Work will be evident to and through them, for His Glory alone. I yearn for them to experience Jesus’ Peace, Hope and immeasurable Joy within their souls. << This is what I want for Christmas as a celebration of Your Birth, my Savior!!

               Thank You for coming into my world, Lord Jesus, that You would bring me up to Your world eternally and forever! I love You! ~Your beloved child, Crystal 

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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2 Chron.27, 28; Rev. 14; Zech. 10; John 13

One ruler did the right thing. Another didn’t. Both recorded in history’s books. These things stood out to me this morning in 2 Chronicles 27, 28. Thoughts on legacy, pages recorded by those watching.

A talk with a friend about skeletons in closets–dried bones tumbling out a door she wanted closed. And she didn’t want to expose them to light for fear. Secrets don’t keep us safe, just captive.

“We don’t talk about it,” she said of family.

One doesn’t have to. Legacy recorded by those watching.

I think of this sin-sick world, hating the very sin in my own life (hating it, hating it) and the need so obvious and clear. Approaching Christmas, I’m broken more, and more aware how desperately we, as individuals and world, are in need of Jesus.

The legacy of 2 Chronicles 27 and 28, lives of contrast and correction–if God would humble nations, he will humble families. Zechariah 10–the Lord will restore his people. His pages that point always to hope.

6 “I will strengthen Judah and save Israel;
I will restore them because of my compassion.
It will be as though I had never rejected them,
for I am the Lord their God, who will hear their cries.
7 The people of Israel will become like mighty warriors,
and their hearts will be made happy as if by wine.
Their children, too, will see it and be glad;
their hearts will rejoice in the Lord. Zech10:6-7 (NLT)

Thoughts of restoration, salvation, humility, legacy … in the quiet before awe–celebrating a savior’s birth.

God of great compassion, thank you.

Courtney (66books365)

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2Chronicles 26; Revelation 13; Zechariah 9; John 12

Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.  I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.  John 12:44-46

Have you ever watched those Discovery Channel shows where scientists stand on the rim of a volcano and prepare robots to go where no man can go.   Into a deep dark hole, unstable and bottomless.  Or maybe those divers that plunge deep into the darkness of oceans, oceans that go so deep that only robotic cameras can glimpse at what lies below.   Both of these places are so dark and foreboding that the thought of venturing into these place on purpose would not be at the top of my “bucket list”.   Now imagine a light so bright that all of the darkness would be gone, a light so bright that nothing could hide from it or escape it’s radiance.   That’s what this passage in John reminds me of.  When I think of the darkness that Jesus came into so that all mankind could receive the gift of eternal life with God; and to be a light for others in this dark world…how could I do anything else but fall to my knees and worship.

Father God thank you for the hope you give us and the grace you extend to us through your son Christ Jesus, the light of the world.  I pray that as we celebrate the birth of Jesus this season, that many will chose to walk out of the darkness and let your grace fill them with the His light. Amen

Merry Christmas,

Cindi

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