Devotional

HOPE – Part 1 of 3

Hope Came on Christmas

[Simeon] took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”  Luke 2:28-32 NLT

HOPE. It seems that the Christmas season is full of hope. Perhaps it is to get the gift we want, or that we may get a Christmas bonus this year. Sometimes, we use the word ‘hope’ like it’s a wish because of the uncertainty of it. Our hope may be a deeper anticipation. Will we get a new job? Will we get together with family and friends? If we do spend time with them, will everyone get along? We can’t live without hope. A person who is hopeless soon gives up or falls to depression.  

Yet there is a certain hope, which is based on facts. It is an expectant hope, because the One filling it is trustworthy to come through and fulfill the desire. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines hope: To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.

In Luke, chapter two, Simeon realized a certain hope. Living in Jerusalem before Jesus was born, Simeon was righteous and devout, eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel, also known as the Consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah, or Christ. Simeon believed God, knowing that whatever God said was true, and so he could hope with the certainty of having it come to pass.

The day that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple as the Law required, the Holy Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. Why was it so important to Simeon to see the Messiah? His hope was based on faith in God’s Word. God would be revealed to the nations! The promised and long awaited Messiah would come to Israel. How excited he must have been when the Holy Spirit revealed that this couple carried the Messiah with them into the Temple! The Savior had come at last!

Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Joseph and Mary marveled at the things Simeon told them about Jesus.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Do we marvel at the hope we have in Jesus? He revealed God the Father to us in human flesh, while being God Himself. He bridged the gap so we could have the relationship with God that sin had broken. Do we trust Jesus with our future?

Let’s read verses every day that will remind us of who Jesus is. Here are a few to start with, if you like: Matthew 1:18-25, especially verses 20, 21, 23; Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:36-40.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for the hope we have in You. We don’t have to go through life alone, for You, Immanuel, are God with us. May we never take You for granted. Amen.  

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/hope/

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience. Merry Christmas! May the Lord bless you throughout the New Year!

Devotional

How Do You Picture God? Part 2 of 3

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Galatians 5:22, 23 RSV

How do you picture God? What is He like?

In How Do You Picture God? Part 1 of 3 (below this devotional), I listed some of the attributes of God, as revealed by His Son, Jesus Christ. In our challenge to find character traits of God in Scripture, what did you find out about God?

Let me share some of the Lord’s attributes and character traits that I discovered.

The character of God is revealed in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit are exhibited in the believer who is following after the Holy Spirit and not following the flesh. It’s not something we go out and get like we were at a market, but it comes from within as we are yielded to God.

Fruit of the Spirit by Kathryn Hughes

Jesus was and is God, and wholly yielded to His Heavenly Father. Jesus produced the fruit of the Spirit in His life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

Love. Jesus’ love for us brought Him to earth and to the cross to pay our penalty for sin. It was the Father’s love for us that had Him give Jesus for us.

Joy. Jesus wants us to share His joy in our lives. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:10-11 NKJV

Peace. Jesus had peace, even when He was dealing with difficult people. He desires peace for us. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV

Kindness. Blessed be the LORD, for He has shown me His kindness… Psalm 31:21 NKJV

Faithfulness. I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly. Psalm 40:10 NKJV

Gentleness. Consider the gentleness that Jesus showed to the woman caught in adultery. She expected to be stoned to death, according to the Law.  Jesus stooped and wrote on the ground. He told her accusers “He that is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Scripture doesn’t say what Jesus wrote. I wonder if it was a list of their sins, for her accusers left from oldest to youngest. Jesus asked her where her accusers were. “Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:3-11 ESV

There is so much more about God we can learn. May we know God better every day.

How do you picture God? Has your image of Him changed by looking at His Word? What additional traits have you discovered? I would love hear from you in the comment section.

Dear LORD, Please show me who You really are. Reveal Yourself to me as I search Your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Top Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience. The previous devotional follows this one on the web page.

Devotional

Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection – Part 4 of 4

A special weekly series for the Easter Season

Reflections on the hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today

And the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 NASB20

Charles Wesley composed more than 6,500 hymns. Some of the best known among Wesley’s hymns are “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”; “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”; “Rejoice, the Lord is King”; “Jesu, Lover of My Soul” and the hymn of this week’s devotional focus, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” (also called “Christ the Lord is Ris’n Today”). The lyrics below were published in 1739; Music from Lyra Davidica, London, 1708 public domain. Six verses are shown here, so some may be new to you as verses five and six are new to me. Emphasis in bold is mine.

Verse 1.	

Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!
Verse 2.	

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Verse 3.
	
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!
Verse 4.	

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Verse 5.
	
Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

Verse 6.	

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!
Easter Image by fedden from Pixabay
Christ the Lord is risen! I love that the angel showed the empty tomb to the women, people who at the time were around the bottom of the social strata. They weren’t allowed past the Court of Women in the Temple. The angel gave them proof that the seemly impossible had happened. Death no longer had its sting. Their Savior was risen, just as He said. Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. 

Jesus gave us reason to raise our joys and triumphs high. He died to save our souls. Our redemption from sin is done.

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!

Foll’wing our exalted Head, Because Christ Jesus is alive, we can follow Him every day. Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, We can know Him by studying the Scriptures and by having a personal relationship with Him. His power is proven not only by His resurrection, but by the change He brings in our lives as we trust and rely on Him and become more like Him.  

Heaven is open to those who believe in Christ Jesus. When death comes, or if Jesus returns again before we die, His followers will rise to everlasting life.

Alleluia!

Let’s spend time thanking Jesus for what He has done. He fought the fight, the battle won. Christ the Lord is risen!  Let’s praise Him.

Lord, thank you that You gave me a reason to have joy! Thank you for Your redeeming work on the cross for me. I’m sorry it took the cross and Your death to rescue me. Thank you for allowing me to follow You. I praise You, for You alone are worthy of all praise. Amen.

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Dear Reader, thank you for following along with this four-part special Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection. If you missed any of it, or would like to review it, they are posted under devotionals on the following dates: 3/18/21 Part 1- At the Cross;  3/25/21 Part 2 – The Old Rugged Cross ; 4/1/21 Part 3 – Christ Arose; 4/8/21 Part 4 – Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Devotionals post every other Thursday (Special series may occur more frequently, such as the Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection.) They are archived under Devotionals.

Devotional

Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection-Part 3 of 4

A Special Weekly Series for the Easter Season

Reflections on the hymn Christ Arose

Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:55-57 NIV

One of my favorite songs of Jesus’ resurrection is Christ Arose by Robert Lowry. The verses are somber in tune and tempo as they describe Jesus waiting for the coming day when He would be free of the grave, having torn the bars of death away. Then the triumphant refrain follows each verse. It is powerful and bright, often with trumpets joining the singers in declaring Christ’s victory! “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.”Christ is the Victor in the battle with sin and death. He lives forever!  “He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

Verse 1.	

Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus, my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord! 

Refrain:	

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Verse 2.	

Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus, my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus, my Lord!

Verse 3. 	

Death cannot keep his Prey,
Jesus, my Savior;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus, my Lord!

Robert Lowry, 1874. Public domain.


What joy fills my soul when I sing the words of His triumph!
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay 

Jesus Christ won the war with the devil. Jesus conquered the power of sin and death. We know from Scripture that He also will win the final battle when the devil is cast into the lake of burning sulfur, never to deceive us again (Revelation 20).   

So why is it that I sometimes act like Jesus hasn’t won the war? Why do I still struggle with sin? I know God wants me to follow His direction and to become more and more like Jesus. Sometimes that bad attitude pops back up. I insist that my rights are being trampled, or something is being done the wrong way and impacts me. On the freeway a driver cuts me off so I have to miss my exit, and I fume at the person’s rudeness. The devil is a schemer. He knows my weak spots.

Do you ever feel this way?

The Apostle Paul struggled with sin, too. In Romans 7, Paul declares “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin within me. What a wretched man I am!      Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ my Lord!”

Reading through Scripture reassures me of victory in my own life, too. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

He arose a Victor from the dark domain, 
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign. 

Like Paul, we have victory in Jesus! Jesus Christ set us free from the dark domain of sin and death. We’re no longer slaves to sin, because Jesus paid our price. We don’t have to let sin reign, but can offer ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. Sin isn’t our master because we are not under the law but under grace. (Romans 6) If Christ lives in us, we will reign with Him.

Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Watch for the rest of this four-part special Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection.

3/18/21 Part 1- At the Cross;  3/25/21 Part 2 – The Old Rugged Cross ; 4/1/21 Part 3 – Christ Arose; 4/8/21 Part 4 – Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Devotionals post every other Thursday (Special series may occur more frequently, such as the Easter series, Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection.) They are archived under Devotionals.

Devotional

Jesus: His Cross and His Resurrection: Part 1 of 4

A Special Series for the Easter Season

At the Cross

He humbled Himself and became obedient to death… on a cross! Philippians 2:8

Easter is less than a month away. I find myself singing or humming the great anthems and hymns telling of Jesus’ crucifixion and atonement for my sins, and songs of His resurrection. I love these songs, because they are packed with truths from God’s Word. I find that the songs lift my soul and bring me into the worship of my Savior.

Consider the lyrics in At the Cross (a.k.a. Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed).

Isaac Watts published the text in 1707. The refrain was added by Ralph E. Hudson in 1885. (Public domain) The emphasis in bold is mine.

Verse 1:         

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Verse 2:     

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

 Verse 3: 

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Verse 4:

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

Verse 5:

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
’Tis all that I can do
.

Refrain (Hudson):

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sin is such a burden to us. We mess up. The accuser points out our faults and tries to convince us that we don’t measure up, and that we might as well give up trying to please God. The devil wants us to stay blind to God’s great love and forgiveness He has for us. That evil rascal would rather have us wallow in the guilt of our sin than to confess it to our Lord. Jesus frees us from our guilt because He paid our penalty. With faith, our eyes are opened to the freedom God provided us through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection!

Let’s reflect on what Jesus Christ did for you and for me. May we enter this Holy season of Christ’s death and resurrection with a new view and appreciation of His love and sacrifice for us.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for loving me so much that You willingly took my punishment for sin. You died in my place. Soften my heart so I am quick to grieve when I sin and to confess it. May I be thankful. Lord, I give myself to You. Amen.