Sunday Devotional: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

“It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.”

These are the words to the Christmas hymn “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. It is a few weeks away from Christmas and this time leading up to it is good to reflect on the hope of the birth of Christ.  Right before the birth of Christ, there was restlessness.  There was doubt.  When was the messiah coming?  Will the messiah ever come?  But the angels had good news to share that the messiah had indeed come and broke out in song about it.

Today, some 2,000 years later, we struggle.  There is a lot of suffering in the world.  Sin is condoned and affirmed in all types of ways and places.  We wonder when will the messiah come back.  But just as Jesus came the first time that first Christmas, He will come again.

So we keep hoping and keep waiting. And we sing of when the Prince of Peace will bring ultimate peace to the world.

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Sunday Devotional: Proverbs 1:1-7

“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
For learning what wisdom and discipline are;
for understanding insightful sayings;
for receiving wise instruction
in righteousness, justice, and integrity;
for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced,
knowledge and discretion to a young man—
a wise man will listen and increase his learning,
and a discerning man will obtain guidance—
for understanding a proverb or a parable,
the words of the wise, and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord
is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:1-7)

Solomon, King of Israel and son of King David, wrote these words here that are applicable to this day.  Solomon was regarded as the wisest man who ever lived.  He knew that ultimate wisdom and knowledge comes from the Lord.  He knew that truth, righteousness, justice and integrity comes from the Lord.  And he knew that to grow in those things comes from the Lord.

Today, we should learn from Solomon.  We should seek out learning from the Lord.  We should grow in our honoring of the Lord in our words and actions.  We should seek righteousness, justice, integrity, knowledge, learning.  We should listen and hear from the Lord and then do what He says.

This week, let us seek after the Lord.  Let us listen and follow Him and grow in wisdom and love.

Sunday Devotional: Hebrews 6:13-20

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself:

I will indeed bless you,
and I will greatly multiply you.

And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise. For men swear by something greater than themselves, and for them a confirming oath ends every dispute. Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath,  so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.  We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.  Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:13-20)

Promises.  When God makes a promise, He delivers.  He is always faithful to deliver.  We may have to wait for His timing but God is faithful.  We see here in Hebrews the writer talk about God’s promise to Abraham.  God’s promise was fulfilled in full to Abraham.  Likewise, when Jesus came, God’s promise of redemption was fulfilled.  And someday Jesus will return just like was promised.

Whether you are going through a season of waiting (like I am) or you’re about to enter that time, remember God’s promises.  Remember God’s faithfulness.  We have a hope in Jesus.  We have an anchor that secures our faith.  Let us continue to trust and be faithful in the wait and trust in the promises that God has given to us.

Thursday Quote Day: A.W. Tozer

This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features a quote from pastor and author A.W. Tozer:

“The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the church is famishing for want of His presence.  The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us. This would…cause our hearts to be enlarged…” (A.W. Tozer)

Sunday Devotional: Revelation 22:20-21

 “He who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21)

These are the last words written in the New Testament.  The apostle John wrote these words while sitting in exile on the island of Patmos.  With all the struggles and the persecution that the church was facing at that time, John had hope.  Because he held firm to the belief that Jesus was returning.

We as part of the church today hold that belief as well.  We also know that God’s timing is not the same as our timing.  We do not know the exact day or hour but Jesus has promised He will return.  And as we go through living our lives and following the calling that God has for each of us individually and collectively, we echo the words that John wrote here: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

This week, let us cling to that hope.  Let us in the midst of hardships and struggles cry out to God.  And let us share the hope that we have even in the midst of suffering.  Jesus is coming again.

Sunday Devotional: John 16:31-33

“Jesus responded to them, “Do you now believe? Look: An hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”  (John 16:31-33)

Jesus always made it a point to tell His disciples how hard the road would be in following Him  He never sugarcoated it.  It was a path of struggle and pain and loneliness.  But it was all worth it because of who it was they were following.

Here as the days were drawing closer to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, Jesus tells them of what was to come.  Even in the midst of turmoil, Jesus brings peace.  Even in the midst of suffering, Jesus brings hope.

I’m reminded today of all the heartache and struggles that these words still resonate.  Even though there is immense suffering in this world, we can take heart.  Jesus has overcome the world!  So as we endure the trials and tribulations of this world, let us keep on the path of following Jesus.  Let us be courageous in following Him.

Sunday Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)

Paul is writing to the Thessalonian church and in these verses here is finishing up the letter.  Like most of his letters to the various churches he helped to plant, he would finish his letters by encouraging and exhorting them to continue to do good and to follow Jesus.  Here is no exception.  Paul gave some practical applications to what he had shared with them throughout the letter and encouraged them to keep on being faithful.

He wanted the believers to encourage and give recognition to those who were leading them, their pastors and elders.  It is a tough job to minister and tend the flock and Paul wanted the people to acknowledge that and care for those in charge.  He wanted the believers to be at peace and to be agents of that to the world.  He wanted them to exhort, to comfort, to help, to be patient, and to pursue good.

We live very much in a time where it seems the discouraged aren’t being comforted, that the weak aren’t being helped, that there is no patience with people, that evil is being repaid with evil.  That should not be so with followers of Jesus.  We are called to love one another,especially fellow Christians.  We are called to be the light of the world, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.  We are to be different in a way that stands out and points people to Jesus.

It is hard sometimes…a lot of the times to keep pursuing what is good.  It is hard when there is discouragement everywhere.  When God is mocked or hated and His people despised.  However, we are called to be faithful in continuing to do good, to seek justice and mercy, to show grace to one another, to love one another, to call out sin and to repent.  Let us keep doing just that.  Let us lean on Christ and keep pursuing good and being faithful to the calling that God has for us.