November 10 – Attributes of God – Holiness

Read Isaiah 6:3

When you think of God’s holiness, do you see what Isaiah does?

In ancient Israel, only the high priest was able to walk into the “Holy of Holies”. Why do you think that is? Well, think of Moses, when he asked God to show him His Glory (Exodus 33:18) …it’s too much that we can’t bear it. After the fall, the Lord set up boundaries in order to see His holiness.

Fast forward to Moses in the desert and the Lord giving him the law. Not just laws to abide by but laws on how to treat each other, what to eat, what not to eat. All of this in order to set His people apart. All of it to show the world that God’s people are different than the rest. That they are God’s people, set apart.

Holy.

To be holy is to be set apart. In every aspect of God’s character, there stands holiness. Every story, every relationship we read about in scripture, consistently and constantly points to God’s holiness. It’s hard to sum up this attribute, but I will try.

From the very beginning, God had a plan. To send His ONE Son to offer His life so that we may truly live where we were intended to be. Now, looking at Jesus’ life before the act of the cross, He was different than all of the rest. He didn’t act or speak like anyone else; He was resembling holiness.  And when He chose the cross, He approached the Holy of Holies and sacrificed Himself for us to be justified. This act alone nothing else on earth can offer.

When you look at the characteristics of God such as loving, caring, protecting, and providing, all of the characteristics point back to His holiness because He is like no other. No one and nothing else compares.

You see, since nothing compares, since there is NO equal to our God, He is Holy.

He is apart from all the rest. His love, care, peace, provision, protection…it’s all different because it is all holy.

Reading Isaiah’s vision in chapter 6, we get a glimpse of Christ on the throne and the singing of His praises and pronouncing His holiness. Isaiah sees himself and his unworthiness.

And what happens? An angel comes before Isaiah and shows him that, because of Christ, he is saved, he is called holy.

Being set apart is not an easy task in our world, but we are called to be set apart. We are called to be like Christ, we are called to be holy.

Be holy for He is holy (Leviticus 11:44).

What does that mean? When I was just beginning my walk as a follower of Christ, I started with the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Do you know why Paul calls this list “Fruit of the Spirit”?

Short answer: When we are living life hand in hand with Jesus, we begin to look like Him. Our life begins to look like no one else on this earth, but begins to look like our Savior and people see Him instead of us.

If you could look at this list, what would you find within yourself?

He is holy and we are called to be.

Kelly Lawson

September 27 – Hard Questions – Are Old Testament prophecies really accurate?

Read Deuteronomy 18:22 and Isaiah 41:22-23

What do you think of when you hear the word “prophecy”? Perhaps the name Nostradamus and his various prophecies come to your mind. Or maybe you think of the Mayan calendar that pegged the end of the world to occur in 2012. The year 2012 came and went, but the world did not end. There have been numerous prophecies throughout history that have ended in nothing.

When I hear the word “prophecy”, I think of the New Testament book of the Bible called Revelation. But did you know that the Old Testament is full of prophecies that have come true or that will come true in the future?

You may be asking yourself right now, “How can I trust the prophecies in the Bible when so many prophecies throughout history have failed?”. That is a valid question and one that God answers for us in Deuteronomy 18:

“But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death. You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.”(v. 20-22)

God gives us four truths regarding false prophets in the verses above:

  1. A false prophet will speak presumptuously or arrogantly in God’s name commandments that He has not given (v.20).
  2. A false prophet will speak in the name of other gods (v. 20).
  3. A false prophet’s prophecy will not come true because it is not from God (v. 21).
  4. Do not be afraid of or be alarmed by false prophets (v. 22).

These four truths can be boiled down into one statement: you can trust God’s prophecies because they always come true. Nostradamus’s prophecies did not come true because they were not from God. The Mayan’s prophecies did not come true because they were not from God.

There are numerous Old Testament prophecies and there is no way we could cover them all here. But I do want to end with one of my favorites which says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 NIV). This prophecy is talking about the birth of Jesus. Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary and He was called Immanuel, which means “God with us”. But don’t just take my word for it, you can find the fulfillment of this prophecy in Luke chapters 1 and 2.

Jesus, the Son of God who died for the sins of the world, who rose again on the third day, and who wants you to turn away from your sins and trust in Him as your Savior, was a fulfillment of prophecy. You can trust God’s prophecies because they always come true.

Because God’s prophecies always come true, we can trust Him. He is always faithful. We shouldn’t fear the future because it’s in His hands. What are some things in your life that you are anxious or fearful about? Cast those things on God and trust Him that He is in control of the future!

Ethan Cline

September 26 – Hard Questions – What does “the Word of the Lord came to me” actually mean?

Read Isaiah 20:3, 30:2 and Jeremiah 37:17

If you know my Dad, you know that he is very logical and matter of fact. I remember a time where I was following a bus to a retreat. I had just lost my debit card so when I got to a toll road, I pulled off the side and found an alternate route to the destination. When I pull up to yet another toll road, I begin to panic. How am I supposed to get there if I can’t pay for the toll? I’m in this car by myself in the dark and I don’t know what to do. My breath gets shortened and as sweat begins to fall, it’s almost like I heard Dad say “You got this, buddy. Take a breath, get control and figure something out.” I had to route the path (which apparently only went through toll roads) and zoom out and run my little blue dot parallel to the outlined path until I got to the resort.

I had heard Dad’s logic and level headedness for so many years that it was almost like he was in the car with me.

In the Old Testament, there is a common theme among the prophets:

“The Word of the Lord came to me…”

What does this actually mean? Was it like Dad seemingly being in the car with me? Did God actually and audially speak to these prophets? Does this same thing still happen today?

First off, it’s important to understand what the role of an Old Testament prophet was. As Moses was preparing his ministry, God told him and Aaron that He would “put my words in his mouth”. This means that these prophets would be a mediator between God and the people, or Pharaoh in Moses’ instance. In Old Testament times, the word of God would come audially (i.e. the burning bush etc.) and their primary goal was to accurately pass on the message to the people to whom they were ministering to. The stress was on the action coming from the divine source not the prophet who was the recipient. As we all know, many followed the command of God while others did not.

Sound familiar?

When Jesus came, He fulfilled the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17) and became our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Because of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit, we have immediate access to God if we repent of our sins and commit to follow God. We have the access to God that only prophets did back in the day. Also, because of the canonization of the inspired Scripture, there is nothing that prophets can tell us that isn’t already in there.

How amazing is it that we have God with us at all times? Don’t waste this access. Spend time getting to know God and growing in your faith. When you have experience to fall back on, your faith will be strong. Just as I fell back on what I heard my dad say for years, you’d be surprised how God can being truths and lessons to your mind when you need them most.

Jake Lawson

September 15 – Life Verses – Isaiah 24:5-6

Read Isaiah 24:5-6

A few years ago, I flew on an airplane for the first time in as long as I could remember. I was with a couple of friends and am certain that, of the three of us, I was the one most fearful of flying. The night before we flew out, my mom sent me a text with the verse Isaiah 26:3-4 which says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” I memorized Isaiah 26:3-4 and I remember reciting it every time my thoughts would drift towards fear and the unknown. As I fixed my mind on reciting that verse, He gave me real and unexplainable peace as we flew. To this day, reciting these two verses in my mind when I am anxious has been God’s way of helping me navigate many of life’s challenges.

Isaiah 26 is a song of praise to God for deliverance of His people from destruction. To help you understand the context of this song of praise, recorded just two chapters beforehand, Isaiah prophesies about the devastation that is to come on the earth in the last days. This includes the judgment and destruction that will come to those who have deliberately chosen to disobey or reject God by the time of His return (Isaiah 24:5-6). Though this time of judgment will bring great devastation, the Lord is to be praised because of His faithfulness to those who choose to trust and obey Him. Those who choose to trust and obey Him can have true peace of mind. Believers will not experience the punishment that nonbelievers will experience in the last days, and Isaiah is praising God for it in chapter 26.

In a world of people who experience anxious thoughts daily, believers have access to peace that goes beyond understanding through trust in God. When worries creep into our mind, we have the power through Christ to fix our mind on the truth of God’s Word by memorizing and reciting Scripture rather than dwelling on our worries. Our circumstances may not get better, but in the middle of them we can choose to focus on the eternality of God and praise Him like Isaiah did. The road to having peace of mind is found in training our mind to think on the things of God even when our circumstances are devastating.

Sidney Rupp

July 1 – Names of Jesus – Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace

Read Isaiah 9:6-7

Think of a person who has never failed you.

Can you name even one?

There is no one on this earth who will not fail you. As sinful people, we will always let each other down.

Now, think about the glory of Jesus. Your Wonderful Counselor, your Mighty God, your Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace.  He will never let you down. He will never leave you.

He is there for every single one of His children. He is your Wonderful Counselor. As such, He wants you to come to Him with all of the hardships that you’re battling (Matthew 11:28-29). He wants you to let Him in your life.

He wants you to worship Him with all that you have, for He is mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17).

I love this combination of Jesus’ names. It is the perfect mixture of the way our Savior comforts us while simultaneously being the most powerful being in the Universe.

I’m going to ask you to do something a little out of the ordinary…I want you to close your eyes and simply sit in the greatness of Jesus. I want the power of Jesus to captivate your heart and mind in this moment and throughout the rest of the day.

As you go through the rest of your day, meditate on at least one of the names of Jesus that we’ve talked about. Let His glory fill you up today and rest in the comfort of His presence.

Chloe Boucher

Questions to consider:

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • Which one of these names resonates the most to you?
  • In what way are you going to use this name to rest in the comfort of His presence today?

June 24 – Names of Jesus – The Redeemer

Read Isaiah 59:20

What does the term “the Redeemer” mean to you?

“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord. – Isaiah 59:20

The “Redeemer” is the Savior from sin. The leading verses in Isaiah 59 discussed Israel’s sin and confession of sins. Therefore, the “Redeemer” is more than a deliverer from oppressing nations, but also the Savior and forgiver of a person’s sins when repented. The “Redeemer” provides salvation not only for the lost in Zion, but all who repent and come to Him.

A redeemer is someone who makes up for or rescues a person from the bad. Everyone needs rescued at some point in his/her life. Jesus did this for each and every one of us when He died for our sins on the cross. God chose to redeem us of our sins by dying on the cross; so, if we repent and turn to Him as our Redeemer, we can live in eternity with Him. He redeemed us so we are no longer separated from Him.

The redemption of God through His son is the greatest representation of God, the “Redeemer,” there is.

“And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” – Job 19:25

Job had no promise of being renewed in health, yet his greatest comfort came from knowing God is alive and our Lord.  Job lost everything and was questioned by the most loved person in his life, if following God was worth the pain and loss. He never gave up hope, even during the worst of his suffering because he knew his Redeemer lives. Job found his freedom through Christ’s redemption.

God desires to save us from our sins. He wants to heal our brokenness. There is redemption, renewal and freedom in surrendering to God.

Questions to consider

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • How can you allow God to be the “Redeemer” in your life?
  • What is stopping you from being redeemed by God?

December 25 – Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled – God’s Triumph Through Christmas

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Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled

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Read Luke 2:6-15, Matthew 2:1-12, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7 and 1 Peter 1:19-20 God’s Triumph Through Christmas! When we celebrate Christmas there is a sense of wonder we should have in how God fulfilled the Promise of Jesus Christ. First we remember the prophecies He revealed through the Prophets of Old. Then there was all that the angel spoke to Mary and Joseph. Now we come to see everything that God said would be has come true. What we celebrate is really to us the culmination of the truth of God’s word. That God would send His one and only Son into humanity in the human form of a baby! Everything that God promised and foretold would happen have come true! Praise God that it is so! We first see the reality of it all in the town of Bethlehem. In the very town that the prophets foretold- Mary gave birth to the Son of God and named Him Jesus. (Just as the Angel told her to.) He was really born in a manger because due to the census they all traveled to Bethlehem to partake in; there was no room for them in the inn. God still provided for their needs still keeping with the fulfillment of the promise. Next we see real witnesses of the actual time and places surrounding the Messiah’s birth. Besides Mary and Joseph themselves, God sent the angel once again to announce the birth of Christ. He came to the Sheppard’s telling them that a Savior was born for them who is Christ the Lord. He gave them a sign telling them where the Messiah would be and what He would be dressed in. After the angel left, they left their sheep and went straight to the very place where the angel told them He’d be. They witnessed the Christ child, Mary and Joseph. They left there worshiping and praising God because what they saw confirmed what the angel had told them. Can you imagine being a part of what they experienced? What a humbling experience it would have been! The next witnesses were brought to the Christ child sometime after His birth. A star led them to the Christ Child. God used this star up in the heavens to lead the magi to Christ where they worshiped Him and gave Him gifts. Then on top of this, God protected Jesus, Mary, and Joseph from Herod’s jealousy, envy and wrath as He sent the angel once again to Joseph in a dream, warning him of Herod’s plan telling him to flee from there and go to Egypt. Here again God provided in His infinite wisdom a plan to protect His Son until the appointed time some thirty plus years later when He would die for all mankind’s sin. Joseph was obedient again and left in the night to Egypt where they would await the angel’s word, which would confirm that it was safe to return. It seems that God also provided protection to the magi, as I believe He gave them the wisdom to go home by a different route. A route by which they’d find safe passage home that would avoid contact with Herod and his pending wrath, as he aimed to kill the Christ Child. All of God’s promises came to reality, with physical and written proof. God is faithful and we can celebrate the triumph of Christmas through our Savior’s birth! My prayer for all of us is that the reality of all that God spoke, wrote, planned, and fulfilled, will keep us in awe of His power and majesty. Each year, may our Christmas become more worshipful and thankful as we celebrate the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ- the Fulfillment of God’s Promise! What God promises, you can always trust will take place down to the very last detail! God keeps His promises! Questions To Get Started With:
  • How do the scriptures confirm all that God promised which is why we celebrate Christmas at all?
  • How does the knowledge of God’s fulfilled promises impact your Christmas celebration?
  • If you don’t know Him, then don’t you think it’s time that you receive His free gift – especially during Christmas! The best gift of all is Jesus!
  • Maybe you do know Him but have taken a step away from your faith and relationship with Him? Don’t you think it’s time to recommit yourself to Him and truly celebrate Christ’s birth?

December 24 – Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled – An Announcement from Heaven

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Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled

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Read Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7 and Micah 5:2 An Announcement From Heaven That Solves A Serious Dilemma.  We’re once again reminded of a story that we’ve heard many times. An angel, sent by God, comes to Mary to make an announcement that would change her life (and the world’s) forever! She was a virgin betrothed to marry a righteous man named Joseph. She was troubled by what the angel Gabriel told her. She had a lot of questions I’m sure. The angel comforted and reassured her to not be afraid then laid out everything for her, even what she should name the child. Once she was put at ease she stated, “Let it be done according to your word.”  What a powerful and Faith Filled statement she made. I wonder if she knew how incredible her statement was and if she was familiar or not with the prophecy she would play a part in fulfilling? Here again we witness God’s Word in action. Real people fulfilling what God really said and recorded for us in the scriptures! Everything is fulfilled according to God’s Word. Miraculously, Mary would remain a Virgin until after the baby was born. She also would have most likely faced some ridicule in the process because she was pregnant before she and Joseph were married. She persevered and treasured all the angel revealed to her. Even if she didn’t understand all the implications of having this child meant, she showed great faith and courage, as she was willing to do what God wanted her to do. In comes Joseph, He was the one betrothed to Mary.  He has a dilemma on his hands because he finds out that she’s pregnant with who know whose child. “What should I do? He asks himself.” Should I put her away (divorce her), because by this time they were joined together according to scripture? He was rightly troubled because he desired to do what was pleasing to God. He showed that he was very honorable because he did not want to ruin Mary’s reputation either. He had a real dilemma on his hands. But, here again, God sends an angel to intervene and set things in place so the promise of God may be fulfilled through the birth of the Christ Child. In a dream, the Angel makes everything clear to Joseph as he explains what the situation with Mary was. The angel explained what the prophecy said and that Mary was the one who would bear the Messiah conceived by the Holy Spirit. He went on to tell him that it was OK for him to take Mary as his wife. Joseph awakens and goes to take Mary as his wife as the angel of the Lord commanded. God sent the angel to talk with Mary and Joseph, announcing The Promised One from God was coming and whether they fully understood it or not, God would be using them to fulfill the prophecy and to bring His one and only Son into the world. This is an amazing thing God chose to do for mankind! The stage was now set for the entrance of the King of Kings as promised by God. It’s truly incredible how God works out all of the details, isn’t it?! God continues to show Himself faithful to reveal and fulfill the promises in His Son. The Messiah would be born of the Virgin Mary according to His Word! Questions To Get Started With:
  • What kind of faith was evident in Mary and Joseph?
  • How would you describe their faith by their actions?
  • What do you think was going on inside them as the Angel came to them with this news?
  • Do you think they completely understood what the announcement from the angel meant?
  • What do you think you would have done if you were in their shoes?
  • What do these announcements tell you about God’s Fulfilled Promise?

December 23 – Christmas: The Promise Fulfilled – Fulfilled Prophecy

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YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to
participate:

Christmas:
The Promise Fulfilled

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Read Genesis 3:15, Habakkuk 3:13, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1 and Micah 5:2

Fulfilled Prophecy 

A promise was made long ago, revealed through the prophets and dating back to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. 

A Savior would be born. He’d be born to repair the damage that mankind inflicted on himself because of the sin that entered into the world through Adam and Eve. He’d be born to be the only way of salvation!

The Prophets foretold that His name would be Emanuel “God With Us”, and He’d be born in a small almost obscure town named Bethlehem. The Messiah of the world was to come to us born of a virgin to save mankind from its sin and separation from God. The Messiah was God’s own Son. Long before all these things would take place God said they would happen; revealed to us and all creation that our God would be with us. God always shows Himself faithful as His Word is true and comes to life in a very real fashion. Just as He spoke light into the darkness and it happened, He spoke to the hearts of the prophets through His Holy Word to begin to reveal the plan He had in place. 

We know that roughly two thousand years ago God’s One and Only Son was sent to us fulfilling the promises that the prophecy of the Old Testament stated would take place. He was born in Bethlehem of a virgin named Mary. 

Our God is with us!

As we enter the Christmas season we should have a sense of awe and reverence in how God fulfilled everything according to His Word. He keeps His Word!

My Prayer is that we’ll continue to be in awe of these incredible truths and that we’ll instill the truths of God’s revelation to our family, friends, or whomever God so chooses to place in our path. Especially during Christmas time!

When we celebrate His birth may we all share the true meaning behind what the world considers as just another holiday. May the truth revealed in prophecy be communicated and known through us.

Praise God for revealing Himself and that we can have the true honor and privilege of worshiping Jesus and celebrate His entrance into the world during Christmas. Let us all have a true “Birthday” celebration for our Savior this year and every year for the Lord our God fulfilled His promise through His Son Jesus Christ. 

Questions To Get Started With: 

  • What do the scriptures I just read teach me regarding how Christ’s birth fulfilled the Old Testament Prophecies? 
  • How do God’s Fulfilled Promises build my faith in the trustworthiness of scripture?
  • How do these truths change my understanding and perspective on celebrating Christmas?
  • What can I do the share the true meaning of Christmas this year?

October 20 – I Will Remember: He Takes My Right Hand, and Then I Take His

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I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Isaiah 41:13, Romans 5:8

Many of us have heard the concept of the “upside-down kingdom.” Often, this is referencing key truths such as the weak will be made strong and the humble will be raised up, and vice versa. Whereas the world loves those who are powerful and successful, God’s eye is on the marginalized, the widow, the poor, the powerless. His eye is on the sparrow—that which is utterly dependent upon him. 

Isaiah 41:13, however, teaches us another way in which God’s kingdom is upside down: “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,’ declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (italics for emphasis).

God reaches down to take our hand and whisper words of comfort. We don’t just lift up our hands. He first reaches down. This is akin to the idea of a parent holding a child’s hand while they cross the street. Although the child is holding on, who is doing all the work? The parent. This is true with us as well. As we go through difficult seasons of life, we must not run away from God. We must reach out to him and hold on as best we can to his big, strong hand. But don’t be deceived. It is God who is doing all the work. 

We go through life thinking that we have to reach out to God and that we have to do better and be better for him to hear us and to help us. The better we are, we muse, the more God will love us

This, of course, is anathema and goes counter to the very message of the cross. Romans 5 in fact tells us that even when we were sinners, Christ died for us. 

Sometimes, the first step in walking through tragedy and trauma isn’t about us at all or anything we do. Sometimes, the first step is to simply close our eyes and to consider what it means that God is taking hold of our right hand. Our powerful, omniscient, all-knowing God calls to us, “I’ve got you. Do not fear.” Only then do we grab back, believing that he will never let go, in good times and in bad. 

Questions for Reflection

What are the implications for you as you consider the fact that God reaches out to comfort you even before you are reaching out to him? 

How can you offer this truth to those around you today?