Re: Verse reading–John 10:1-21 (day three)
“He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”  A not-for-profit organization years ago used the slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  That’s for sure.  God gave human beings a mind, and its unused potential is one of the great stewardship failures of a sinful human race.  The religious leaders confronting Jesus demonstrated this abdication of responsibility when they refused to engage Jesus on the merits of his claims, and instead resorted to name-calling and diversionary tactics.  When you are spiritually bankrupt, that’s all you’ve got.  God gave you a mind as well.  Jesus says to you, “Follow me.”  Do you enter into conversation with the Savior, or do you change the subject?

Relational Shepherd

Re: Verse reading–John 10:1-21 (day two)
All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” (‭vs 8).

Jesus is very clear in this illustration about the sheep and their shepherd. Every shepherd must spend time with the animals. That time spent builds trust and familiarity. Anyone who would try to lead them astray would fail because there was no relationship. Jesus in his divine nature could stand apart from creation, but instead he has a deep desire to foster a loving relationship with those he came to save. Every other escape or path we may be tempted to follow will ultimately fail because that can be no greater intimacy and understandingthan with the the shepherd who knows us so well.

The leaders we need

Re: Verse reading–John 10:1-21 (day one)
“He who does not enter by the door. . .is a thief and a robber”–v 1.  Jesus had harsh words for the so-called leaders of the Jewish nation.  He was constantly puzzled by their low-insight, low-impact lives.  In John chapter 10, the Lord uses two metaphors.  First, He is the door into the sheep fold (v 7).  Then, He is the good shepherd (v 11).  Confusing?  In both instances, Jesus is setting the standard for leadership in God’s family.  First, leaders must come to the church THROUGH Jesus.  Sent to us by His assignment and will.  Those who don’t come through the door, are thieves.  Secondly, they must be LIKE Jesus in moral quality.  He is the GOOD SHEPHERD.  Others are “under shepherds”  (See 1 Peter 5)  If Jesus is sacrificial and courageous, our leaders must be as well.  No question, the LORD shepherds His people.  And one of the ways He does so is by choosing and sending us leaders.

Land of the free?

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47 (day seven)
“If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed”–v 36.
Our experience is often disappointing.  With every singing of the national anthem we DECLARE it.  “The land of the free and the home of the brave.”  But, living in the land of the free has not given us true liberty.  We have more AND worry more.  We declare marriage dead and then find ourselves CAPTIVE to the very real consequences.  We WANT to do better, DECIDE we will do better (every New Year’s day), but the same habits and tendencies return with power.  Only in Christ, in His power, in constant and honest fellowship with Him can the chains be broken.  No part-time follower will know this promise.  If the Son makes you free (“if you continue in my word”, says the Master) you will experience this promise.  FREE. . . not to do what I CHOOSE, but what I SHOULD.  What-I-was-made-to-be-FREE!  Only in Christ.


Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47 (Six)
“We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves to anyone.  How can you say that we shall be set free?”v 33.  We don’t see what God sees.  Even about ourselves.  Jesus saw the Jews as slaves needing liberation.  “The Spirit is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim release to the captives.”Luke 4:18.  They immediately imagined political captivity.  His focus was spiritual slavery.  If society controls what kind of house I buy, what kind of car I drive, where my kids go to school, am I a slave?  If fears dictate how many hours I work, or desire shapes what I buy or watch, can I claim to be free?  If, when I pledge to live by the higher purposes of God, I then fall back into sinful habit, isn’t it because there is a power operating in my life that even I don’t control? Jesus sees this situation very clearly.  Do we?

“What Did You Get?”

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47 (Day Five)
It is a question that floated around yesterday at our house.  From instagram to text messages, from facebook to phone calls, I looked and listened with curiosity as my kids answered the question “What did you get?”  Their responses revealed their evaluation of importance, significance, and relevance.

Jesus teaches that the ability and capacity to hear, understand, and apply the Word of God is invaluable.  Look at verse 47- “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”  It is a gift given to every true believer.  Do we perceive its importance, significance, and relevance?  R.C Sproul says, “There is no greater gift we could ever receive from God than to have our ears opened, to have the scales taken from our eyes, to have our stony hearts softened so that they become beating, pulsating, responding hearts of love as we hear the Word of God.”


First Day of Christmas

Luke 2:8-20 ESV

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.20And the shepherds returned,glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” vs. 19
Can you imagine what it would have been like to be Mary?
To have anticipated the birth of the Savior of the world?
To have seen how all of the events came to pass?
The Scripture tells us she treasured up these things and
pondered them in her heart. Aren’t we called to do the same?
Psalm 77:12 says, “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”

What a blessing it is to ponder and meditate on the work
God has already done in our lives! It reminds us of His
goodness and faithfulness. It gives us strengh to
face the days ahead. When I struggle with trusting God, reflecting on the things he
has already done in my life and resting on His character keep me grounded.
Because of Jesus, we have hope for coming days.
This Christmas let’s remember and
rejoice in who God is and what He has done!

Lauren Wells

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47


Twenty-fifth Day of Advent

Luke 2:1 – 7 NIV

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

It sounds so . . . well, ordinary. A young woman gives birth to a boy baby. Perhaps a little unusual, even for the first century, in that the birth took place in a stable because all the town’s hotel rooms were booked. All the elements of a normal physical birth process were there . . . and yet this birth was anything but ordinary. The greatest miracle in the history of the world – the eternal Son of God taking on human flesh. . . the launch of God’s plan to provide redemption . . . the cure for mankind’s sin problem . . the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. “. . . and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger . . .” At the close of this day, Mary “pondered these things and treasured them in her heart” (v.19). Take time today to follow Mary’s example and praise God for His Son’s very extra-ordinary human birth.

Jean Nystrand

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47

Magnify Him

Twenty-fourth Day of Advent

‭Luke‬ ‭1‬:‭39-56‬ ESV

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. (‭Luke‬ ‭1‬:‭39-56‬ ESV) ‬‬‬

I LOVE worshipping with young people, with the abandon that comes when a teenager has, at last, received confirmation that the Lord is GOOD, that He is Who He says He Is, and that she belongs to Him.

Every Jewish girl, every night: Lord, make me a woman fit to bear Messiah. This angel – this story – IT HAPPENED, it was more reality than any other day. But if it’s true, then Cousin Elizabeth will understand. This will make sense. I’m going there to see her – NOW; I’m keeping this secret for now… So to the hill country – Hebron? – she travels, she knocks. Elizabeth shouts. IT’S REAL – YOUR WORD IS REAL – IT’S ALL TRUE – YOU ARE SO GOOD!

And out spills this song – the Magnificat – from a poor, young girl. The overflow of a heart that KNOWS His goodness. This, perhaps the most profound song in all the Bible.

This Christmas, count His goodness to YOU, to your family. He has indeed filled us with good things.

Sing THIS song. Sing YOUR song. Sing it every day to your children, your grandchildren. SHOUT it to this hurting, broken world. Magnify Him. He has indeed filled us with good things. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Sandi Faulk

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47

Newborn Hope

Twenty-third Day of Advent

Luke 1:67-79New International Version (NIV)

Zechariah’s Song
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 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,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

What parent hasn’t held their newborn child for the first time and spoken to them words of love, full of hope for their future. It was no different for Zechariah. But Zechariah’s words were different, they were prophetic. His son John was given an assignment by God – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17). This would not involve repaving streets throughout Judea or cleaning up storefronts or eloquent speeches presented before a crowd of well-dressed people. No, John would prepare the people by giving them “knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” How do you prepare people for a message of salvation? You help them see their need for a Savior. John would awaken hearts long dead to personal sin, comfortable in their self-righteousness. He would prepare them for their Savior by causing them to see their sin and calling them to repentance. What will you do to prepare your heart today? Start by presenting to Him a clean heart. He deserves nothing less. Jesus died so that you could experience the embrace of your Heavenly Father as He speaks to you words of love, full of hope for your future.

Emily Cox

Re: Verse reading – John 8:31-47