April 12 – Jesse Tree – Holiness

Read Isaiah 1:10-206:1-13

“’Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’” Isaiah 6:18

Have you ever seen a blood drop on fresh white snow? It stands out. How about a nice, clean white tablecloth with a grape juice stain on it? You notice the stain.

Now, imagine what Isaiah experienced in Isaiah 6. He saw God in the temple building in Jerusalem. God was seated on a throne like a king while Isaiah just stood or sat in a normal seat. The Lord’s throne was lifted up high while Isaiah was at floor level. God was wearing an impressive royal robe of honor while Isaiah wore plain clothes. Angels hovered around the Lord while…who knows…maybe insects buzzed around Isaiah. As the angels spoke, they drew attention to the Lord’s purity and glory by saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (v. 3)

Isaiah stood out. He was much different from God. More than ever, he was suddenly aware of something that is true of all of us. He understood how imperfect he was and how unworthy he was to be in the presence of God who is holy. But God did something to change that. An angel touched Isaiah’s mouth with tongs holding wood from a fire and his sin and guilt were gone.

The tongs and fire did for Isaiah what only Jesus can do for you. They removed sin. When you believe in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for your sin, you are changed from imperfect and unworthy to forgiven and part of God’s family! He makes you acceptable to God.

Steve Kern

February 24 – People of the Earth – All People Praising God in Jerusalem

Read Isaiah 66:10-28

Isaiah had been prophesying Israel’s captivity since chapter 40 of his book. But, don’t worry, God made sure he told them, I will restore the nation I love! In fact, I will bring all nations to Jerusalem, and all the people of the earth will bring glory to My name.

After their exile and captivity, God would extend peace to (Zion) like a river, He promised, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream (v12).

The nation of Israel had been the exclusive children of God, the sole recipients of His abundant inheritance. They grew comfortable with that idea to the point that they refused to believe other nations, non-Jews, could have any part in what God would accomplish — bringing glory to His name.

So when Isaiah proclaimed the Lord will execute judgment on all people (v16), I imagine the Israelites had no problem believing it. But, according to the first few verses of this chapter, all people meant even the Jews. Yes, even the Israelites would face God’s fierce judgment if they refused to come humbly to Him, trusting His Way (Jesus Christ) alone for their salvation.

It follows, then that all people who trust in Jesus Christ, God’s only way to true salvation and real life, will bring glory to His name — all Israelites as well as Gentiles. The purpose for which all men were made will indeed one day come to fulfillment by the mercy of God.

The Israelites whose religion had them performing ceremonies out of mere ritualistic motivation would face God’s wrath because Almighty God demands humility, true dependence on Himself. He alone is worthy of the glory anyone’s life can give.

And one day all men and women on earth will bow down before Him and bring Him praise.

I want to be on the right side of that praise. Don’t you? In fact, I want to live solely in honor of the One worthy of the honor. I’m done with pretending to be some awesome religious person. Rather, I want to live surrendered to God because Jesus Christ made a way for me to live for the glory of God’s name.

Bria Wasson

January 11 – The Crucible of Crisis – A crisis prayer God didn’t forget

Read Isaiah 49:15Luke 12:6-7

God used two things to make me passionate about a ministry in crisis response. The first was studying crisis throughout the pages of Scripture, which has provided most of the source material for these devotionals. The second was an experience I had in the Philippines, which I’ll recount here.

The story actually begins in Africa. In November 2013, I was in Bangui, Central African Republic, trying to recover from being sick. Too weak to do anything else, I listened to BBC radio. A special came on about Tacloban in the Philippines – a name which was new to me. Weeks before the city had taken a direct hit from Super Typhoon Yolanda and people were telling their stories, each one ending in tears. I was moved and remember praying something like, “Lord, please help these people! Bring eternal good out of the devastation! Use it to draw people to You.”

Six weeks later I was back in the USA working on helping war-torn CAR with food and seed. I confess my prayers for Tacloban were far from my mind…but not from God’s.

Fast-forward exactly one year later. I had accepted the invitation of a missionary to visit their work in the Philippines and see what God was doing. Landing in Cebu City, that first night I was heavily jetlagged so I flipped on the TV. A one-year-anniversary documentary on Super Typhoon Yolanda was playing. It was sounding very familiar; I then remembered the BBC story I had heard on the radio the year before in Africa.

Traveling throughout Samar Island we saw a land still heavily scored and pocked by the typhoon’s strength, but the contrasting beauty of new life, new believers, and new church plants was stunning. I sat worshipping in a church plant, which didn’t exist a year before. As they sang, it all came back to me. I remembered my prayer from a year before and realized I was sitting in God’s answer! These were the people for whom I had prayed!

Church planter with believers at the new church in Tacloban

Church planter with believers at new church plant in Tacloban, Philippines

I had forgotten – but God had not. My prayer, slowly swallowed up by time and the demands of life, sprouted and grew in the soil of God’s faithfulness. He joys in answering the prayers of His children.

THOUGHT TO PONDER: Has God ever answered a prayer that you forgot you had prayed?

Barb Wooler

Let’s stay in touch! Find me on Facebook (Barb Wooler) and my handle on Twitter is EncompassCRISIS.

Find out about Encompass’ new Crisis Response Network  (4 min video).

December 30 – Life Verses – Isaiah 24:5-6

Read Isaiah 24:5-6

About 2 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 Schar


December 2 – GIVE JOY – Jesus changed history!

Read Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and you will call him Immanuel.”

Have you ever made a promise – maybe about a surprise party or to keep a Christmas gift a secret? God made us a promise too, that would completely change everything! Years and years before Jesus was born, people knew about Him! They had heard that someone would be coming – but not just anyone! The Messiah that would come into the world to save us!

Jesus changed everything and it is because of Him that we get to know God and share His love with others. The simplest way to share about God’s awesome promise to us is by sharing your own story! How has Jesus changed your life? Who do you know that needs to hear about it?

Give Joy Idea:

Give joy today by sharing your grace story or by simply signing up to serve at our Angel Tree ministry on Dec 8th and sharing with families about the awesome promise we have when we know Jesus!  (To sign up email: skarhan@woostergrace.org)

September 9 – 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?



September 2 – 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 everyone 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.

Monica Foutty

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?

January 22 – Best Year Yet – Where is God?

Read Isaiah 30:18

At this point in his life, Austin Carlile was at the top of the world. He was the lead singer of world renowned band Of Mice and Men and was an icon for a sea of super fans. The band was succeeding incredibly as they were consistently touring with other mega bands. However, it was in the midst of all this success that Austin felt like something was missing. A hole had figuratively been punched through his heart as his mother died when he was 17. No matter how much he fought to fill that void with success and popularity as well as drugs, sex and alcohol, it wasn’t being filled.

In an I am Second video, Austin tells the story of calling his Dad from the top of the band’s tour bus asking, “Is this it?” Was what he was experiencing the best that life could offer? His dad’s answer was actually a very simple question:

“Where is God?”

This is a question that all of us are confronted with at one point of our life. When we live our life our own way, we believe that we are doing what’s truly best for us. If you’re like Austin, you may even “find what you’re looking for”. It’s at this point when you realize that what you found isn’t really what it’s cut out to be.

Our passage in Isaiah tells us that God longs to be gracious to us and that He waits on high to have compassion on those who long for Him. God is waiting to bless you; are you in the correct position to receive that gift?

No matter where you are in your life, where is God? How important is your relationship with Him? Are you going through the motions or are you living your life to glorify Him and to advance the Kingdom? When God is at the center of your life, you are primed for blessing and for the best year of your life!

Will you be honest with yourself to ask where God is in your life? Do you need to bring Him back to the center? Are you holding anything back from Him? Where is God?

Here is the I am Second video from Austin. It is my prayer that you find encouragement through his words:


If you want 2019 to be the best year yet, identify where God is in your life and position Him even closer to the center.

Jake Lawson


January 5 – Righteousness Yields Peace

Read Isaiah 32:17-18James 3:13-18

Have you ever noticed that some people just cannot seem to stay out of trouble?  These folks always seem to be involved in conflict on some level.  Their life is a constant drama filled friction magnet.

We all see life through our own special glasses.  The lenses of these glasses are not crystal clear, but instead shaped by our history, our insecurities, and our sinfulness so that what we see in a given situation is unique to us alone and often somewhat inaccurate.  To further complicate matters, sometimes our perceptions do not match what others see because of their own glasses.  These distortions can cause us to believe we have been offended when it may not have been intended.  In another situation our cloudy vision may turn a molehill into a mountain!  If we’re not careful it can be easy to find conflict with others in our interactions.

Isaiah wrote that righteousness produces peace.  Now the righteousness Isaiah was talking about is God’s righteousness, not our own.  So essentially he said, when you find God’s righteousness, then you will also find peace.  He goes on to say that God’s people will live in peaceful dwelling places.

In James’ day conflict was alive and well just as it is today.  James tells us that there are two kinds of wisdom, earthly wisdom and Godly wisdom.  He goes on to say that when we use earthly wisdom we’re bound to have conflict, but when we rely Godly wisdom we will have peace among other benefits.

If we all had the ability to rely 100% on Godly wisdom, our spiritual vision would be crystal clear, our perceptions would be accurate, and our motives pure and unselfish.  In that situation our lives would be free from conflict and peaceful.  Of course this is impossible this side of heaven, and furthermore we cannot control the actions of others who may or may not be pursuing God’s wisdom.   The longer we know God, the more clear our spiritual vision should become.  If we seek Him, God will fill us with His wisdom, and the fruit of His wisdom will be increasing peace.


December 29: Prince of Peace

Read Isaiah 9:1-7

For many, verses 6 and 7 were very familiar. In fact, you may have read them or heard them in the days leading up to Christmas. They were prophetic statements about the birth of Jesus…and yet, they were made nearly 700 years prior to His entrance into the world.

This was a time of animosity between the Jews themselves. The once unified nation had split into 10 northern tribes called Israel and 2 southern tribes called Judah. What’s more, there was animosity between the northern tribes and Assyria. In addition, Isaiah predicted future conflict between Judah and Babylon. In many ways, “peace” was a foreign concept.

It can certainly be said that animosity describes our world today. Over the last years, racial issues have arisen that I thought had long been in the rearview mirror. Threats of terrorism have us on edge. There is an undercurrent of fear that has forced people to introduce precautions and protocols in schools, sporting arenas, and other public places. Tensions between nations bring with them bloodshed and accusations. Yes, “peace” is in many ways a foreign concept for us as well.

Isaiah’s prophecy, however, pointed to a light on the horizon for the nation of Israel. It was a coming day when God would fulfill his promises extended to Abraham and to David. It was a day when conflict would be foreign. It was a day when a child would be born who would be God in the flesh, King over Israel, and Prince of Peace.

But the Prince of Peace will not only benefit God’s chosen descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This peace will not only permeate a relatively small parcel of land on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It will be universal and endless.

But there are two important details about this peace that we must understand:

  1. That peace is not for all. It will only be those who have come to faith in Christ that will experience it. Will you experience it?
  2. That peace is yet future. Although the Prince of Peace entered the world 2000 years ago, at His second coming, He will reign and bring with Him this harmony and tranquility. Are you anticipating it?