The scripture for today, December 29 (12/29), isDeuteronomy 12:29 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“The Lord your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess.”
Why would a good God drive people (the Amorite nations) from their own land so that other people (the Jews) could live there? Way back in Genesis 15, God promised Abraham that his descendants would possess the land he lived in as a wanderer, but first, they would be enslaved in a foreign country some 400 years. During that time, they would multiply. Indeed, they did grow from 70 of Abraham’s grandchildren to over three million.
Then it would be time for his descendants to possess the land. Why so long in the future? Verse 16 explains it: “For the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” Their sins included offering their children as sacrifices to the fire god.
The Jews did finally possess the Promised Land, but God warned them, “If you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you” (Leviticus 18:28). Indeed, they did eventually defile the land with their own sins, so several centuries later, they were dispossessed and forced to go to Assyria and Babylon by their conquerors. Yes, God keeps his promises ~ to both good and bad.
Today, regardless of the condition of the nation you live in on earth, look ahead to that even better promise of an even better land ~ that spiritual Promised Land ~ heaven. And it will be forever good.
Today was the first day since November 1 (2 months) that I have stopped and tried to relax.
I have been pulling all-nighters at least once a week and would have more if I’d had the strength. The rest of the time I worked usually to 2:30 AM. All that to get my 18 new children’s books out in time for Christmas. Eight are A Child’s Bible Kids and ten are A Child’s Bible Heroes. My ad said they teach values.
Today, I went to a ladies Bible class, then grocery shopping (my refrigerator was pretty empty), then came home, sat out on my front porch in a wicker chair (it was 75 today), and read.
The scripture for today, December 28 (12/28), isHebrews 12:28as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably withreverence and awe.”
Notice this is in present tense. The kingdom is not something in the future but is now.
Jesus said in Luke 9:27 that some listening to him would still be alive when the kingdom came. Colossians 1:13 says God HAS (not will) rescued us from the dominion of darkness and BROUGHT (not will) us into the kingdom.
In fact, at the end, Jesus will not come back to earth to set up a kingdom. Instead, he will at that time hand the already-existing kingdom over to the Father (I Corinthians 15:24).
So what does this mean to us? Revelation 1:5-6 says that all who have been freed from our sins by the blood of Jesus have become a kingdom of priests. And as such, we daily offer our bodies as living sacrifices in the service to our king (Romans 12:1).
Christians have dual citizenship. Christians are citizens of the earthly nation they live in, and citizens of the kingdom of heaven. What glory God has already bestowed upon us.
The scripture for today, December 27 (12/27), is 1st Kings 12:27as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem [not some other capital city], they will again give their allegiance to their lord,Rehoboam king of Judah.”
For centuries and millenniums, kings selected a patron god for their nation, a god they most revered to protect them. The patron god was selected by the king. Nations were always ruled by either a high priest or king. Some nations even had priest-kings.
So, when Constantine conquered much of Europe and set up his empire, he needed a patron god. One day during a battle, he looked up and saw a cloud formation that reminded him of things he’d heard about Jesus. So he made Jesus his patron God, and Christianity his empire’s required religion. He even rode his army through rivers, then declared them baptized. He ordered conquered peoples to be baptized or killed. Headquarters was Rome.
Luther was friends of the Duke [king] of Germany, so when he broke off from Rome, the official state religion became Lutheranism. John Calvin was in the government of Switzerland, so when it broke off from Rome, the official state religion became Calvinism. When the king of England broke off from Rome, he became head of the Church of England (and Prince Charles is head of the Church there today). John Knox was influential with the parliament of Scotland, so his Presbyterianism became the official religion of Scotland.
In each instance, the king or parliament could force its citizens to follow the chosen religion of that nation. If people didn’t, they could legally put them in prison, torture them, and execute them at will. And, in earlier centuries, they did just that.
Eventually, the idea of separating religion from the state government became popular. And that is where many nations are today. But it does not mean people in government cannot express religion. It just means they cannot force citizens to be a particular government-selected religion or be in danger of punishment.
The scripture for today, December 26 (12/26), isJohn 12:26 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
Just where was Jesus when he was on earth saying this? In a posh hotel in Jerusalem? Who was the Servant of servants serving?
Who or what are we servants to? Power in a workplace, club, congregation, neighborhood? Prestige in a community, an occupation, an organization? Self-indulgence of money, music, entertainment?
While we are pursuing things in life, is Jesus there with us? Are we doing what he would do? Let us be servants to the power of Jesus’ love, prestige in the eyes of God, self-indulgence in the joy of worshiping Him. In this only is there true and enduring honor.
The scripture for today, December 25 (12/25) isProverbs 12:25 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
Yesterday, did you see anyone sitting alone looking downcast? Go back there today. S/he may not be there, but someone else may be. It may be a gathering place for the lonely, the discouraged. Smile at them and whisper, “Jesus loves you.” Have a lengthy conversation with them and show them they are worthy of your time. Listen to them. Share with them.
Do you periodically see “beggars” at a certain location? They may squander donations or use them to buy food. Either way, being a beggar isn’t people’s life’s goal. You do not know their story. Everyone has a story. Their hearts are anxious about something.
Give them a little change, maybe wrap it in a verse from the Bible. Ask them if they have family and if their family would accept them back. If so, encourage them to “go home.” Perhaps pay for a bus ticket back home. If they say they can’t go home, try anyway. Tell them you will pray for them. Smile at them, and whisper, “Jesus loves you.”
Today, do you know of a place where travelers usually stay or gather? Sometimes at truck stops, there are drivers who could not get home. Go to one of these places prepared to give each of them something special, or even invite them to your home for a Christmas feast.
Jesus encouraged and helped the downhearted. Is it uncomfortable being in their world? Yes. Dare to disturb your happiness to enter their world and show Jesus to the downhearted. Dare to be a star shining on them in their darkness.
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The scripture for today, December 24 (12/24), isLuke 12:24 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much morevaluable you are than birds!”
In many nations right now, things are financially strained. Luxuries? No. To be able to live until tomorrow? Yes.
Which is more valuable? To impress men or impress God? A life dedicated to things impresses men. A life dedicated to doing good things impresses God.
I knew of a group of believers recently fleeing soldiers who were after Christians. They had to run immediately upon sight of the soldiers. No time to pack anything. Just run. Escape. Run. Escape.
To get to true safety, they had to walk a hundred miles. What did they eat? Grass. Leaves from bushes. But they made it. They made it to safety and the loving, protective arms of other Christians.
Today, instead of a luxury, can you send the money to people in parts of the world who are struggling to stay alive? Struggling to stay safe because they are Christians?
Consider the ravens.
Those of you with children, and you cannot get them much for Christmas: Write IOU’s to them and put each one in a box. Wrapeach with typing paper if you don’t have Christmas paper. And with a red or green crayon, draw a ribbon on top. What’s on the IOU’s? “One hour of coloring with you.” “One hour of playing ball with you.” “Three hours of hiking with you.” “Two hours of baking cookies withyou.” Give yourself for Christmas!
The scripture for today, December 23 (12/23), is1st Samuel 12:23 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is goodand right.”
It’s actually a sin not to pray for others!
Do your prayers get bogged down in the mire of me’s? Do you wonder why you can’t pray for more than a couple minutes ~ five on a good day? Satan gets you to do this; he is the enemy of prayer because he knows how powerful it is.
Who is on your prayer list? Pray for people by name. Your neighbors. People you work with. Your government officials ~ both good and bad. People in a nursing home. People in your congregation. People in the military. People being persecuted, imprisoned and even killed because they are Christians. Missionaries. Children in an orphan home. Salespeople at the store. Local school teachers.
Pray for 15 minutes a day. Half an hour. An hour. It’s oh so easy when we stop praying only for self and pray for others.
Pray for them by name. And tell them that you do. Some people have never been told, “I am praying for you”.
Let us not sin by praying only for “me”. Let us take others soaring with us when we pray.