Monday, December 31, 2018

Taking a break

Sunset over the marina at Summerside PEI (Photo © 2018 - V. Nesdoly)

We have come to the end of another year. In a few hours 2018 will be history. With the December 31, 2018 meditation I have completed nine years of posting a devotion every morning (not always newly written; sometimes reposted from a previous date).

Thanks for reading! To subscribers, thank you for inviting me into your email inbox daily. What an honour!

Writing these devotions has been a wonderful learning experience for me. I have challenged myself to dive deep into the Bible and get some message for myself that I hope has also resonated with you. I have learned so much. However, it is time for me to take a break.

I will not be carrying on writing these for the foreseeable future, though I will leave the blog up for anyone who wishes to read past articles. 

 I may, in the months ahead, gather some of these pieces into a devotional book. If I do that I’ll post details here, so stay subscribed if you would like to know about that.

For now, farewell. I wish you a Happy New Year and I pray God blesses you richly in 2019!

Image: Pixabay


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Revelation 21-22; Psalm 48
TO CHEW ON: "And the Spirit and the bride say 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:17

"Come over for coffee."
"Come shopping with us."
"Why don't you come for dinner?"

How sweet the word "come," that tells us we're included, we're invited, we're wanted! That word features prominently in this last chapter of Revelation - the last chapter of the Bible. But it also occurs in other places. Let's take a little trip through the Bible to see other places this one-word invitation was given.

"Come into the ark," God says to Noah, inviting him into a place of safety (Genesis 7:1).

"Come to the house of the Lord." Hezekiah's letter summons the tribes of Israel to a renewed Passover celebration. It is an invitation to revival (2 Chronicles 30:1).

"Come now and let us reason together," begins God's invitation to Israel in a call to receive cleansing (Isaiah 1:18).

"Come to the waters…come buy and eat. Yes come buy wine and milk…" is God's enticement to all who want lasting satisfaction (Isaiah 55:1).

"Come to Me," says Jesus to the weary and burdened, "and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

"Come to the wedding," says the king in Jesus' story about the wedding feast. "Come for all things are now ready," is the summons in another one of Jesus' stories. They are invitations to the gospel feast (Matthew 22:4; Luke 14:17).

And then there's this invitation from Jesus in Revelation. It's from God the Spirit and His bride, the church. It's also from those who have already responded ("him who hears").

It is to anyone who is interested. There's nothing exclusive about this invite.

It's for the one who thirsts - who recognizes a need for water that is life-giving. It's an invitation to take an initial drink of that water and to live on that water.

What are your needs today? Whether for safety, revival, spiritual sustenance, or rest, God's invitation is always "Come."

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for this warm and wonderful invitation. Help me to take you up on it in all the circumstances of my life. And help me to extend it unceasingly to others. Amen.


The Bible Project VIDEO: Heaven and Earth (Theme Series)


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Contemplate Jesus

Jesus on the white horse (Revelation 19:11) - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Revelation 19-20; Psalm 47

"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God" - Revelation 19:11-13

What a wonderful opportunity we have to contemplate Jesus in these verses. Let's look at the various images and what they tell us about Him (using help from Earl Wesley Morey, the writer of my Bible's notes on Revelation, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible p. 1842):

"…a white horse…" - The white horse symbolizes victory. Jesus will be victorious!

"… called Faithful and True …" - That is the name of the One riding that horse, or one of His names. He is called that because His judgments are right. "His standards and methods are qualitatively different from those of the dragon and his allies." Isaiah gives a fuller description of what characterizes the judgement of this descendant of David: The Spirit of the Lord rests on Him, the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. He judges not according to appearances but with righteousness and faithfulness"(Isaiah 11:1-5).

" … He judges and makes war…"
- His final victory in war makes clear to earth-dwellers the victory of the Cross and Resurrection, long acknowledged by believers.

"His eyes were like a flame of fire"
- We think of what fire can do: illuminate, warm, purify, destroy. Our Bible commenter says of His flaming eyes: "(They) symbolize eternity, wisdom and omniscience" - Op. Cit., p. 1818.

"… on His head were many crowns" - "Many crowns represent unlimited diadems of sovereign authority (Revelation 11:15)" - As I'm writing this, the old hymn is playing in my head:

"Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne:
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own!
Awake my soul and sing of Him who died for Thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity" - Matthew Bridges

"… He had a new name written that no one knew except Himself"
- "The fullness of Jesus is beyond human comprehension." (See also these references to our new name - Revelation 2:17; 3:12,13.)

"He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood" - Not the blood of battle, for the battle has not yet happened, but His atoning blood—the blood that fulfilled and was necessary as God's requirement as a sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22).

"His name is called the Word of God"
- Another name. We recall the many other times Jesus is called the Word as He reveals the character and purpose of God - John 1:1,14,18; 10:30; 14:9-10; 1 John 1:1.

What a picture of our victorious Saviour and King. The  last stanza of "Crown Him With Many Crowns" is  a fitting response as we offer Him our hearts' adoration and worship:

"Crown Him the Lord of heaven: One with the Father known,
One with the Spirit thru Him given from yonder glorious throne.
To Thee be endless praise, for Thou for us hast died;
Be Thou, O Lord, thru endless days adored and magnified."  

Dear Jesus, these verses paint a complex and awe-inspiring picture of You. I worship You for who You are and what You have done. Amen.


MORE: Revelation 19 in Handel's Messiah

We readily recognize words from the Hallelujah Chorus taken from Revelation 19
AND LORD OF LORDS" - Revelation 19:6.

Here is the "Hallelujah Chorus" sung by the Tafelmusik Chorus and Orchestra.


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Be still; know God

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Revelation 17-18;  Psalm 46

TO CHEW ON:"God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble...
Be still and know that I am God..."Psalm 46:1,10a

Someone from the Sons of Korah wrote Psalm 46 to encourage and give hope to people who were in trouble. By the things the psalmist mentions it seems the trouble was war with another nation. The writer begins with a declaration about who God is:

"God is our refuge  — shelter, protection, fortress, hope, place of trust — and our strength  — power, security — in trouble" 

He reminds the people about the security of the city (Psalm 46:4-5). It has an underground stream that provides water even if the city's main water supply is cut off by siege. (Though there is no actual river flowing through Jerusalem, " is believed by many that there is a subterranean water supply that is the source of various fountains and pools in Jerusalem" New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 723.) God's presence in her makes her unshakeable in case of battering. He will help her at sunrise, which is a likely time for the enemy to attack.

He says more about the identity of God (Psalm 46:7-9). He calls Him Yahweh Sabaoth — the Lord of Hosts. Remember the story of Elisha in a city besieged by  Syria's army? In the morning, Elisha's servant saw the army and was afraid. But Elisha drew his attention to another army — an army of heavenly hosts: "Do not fear for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" - 2 Kings 6:8-17.

He also calls God the "God of Jacob." This reminds them of their history with God when, in the past, He preserved their forefather Jacob and his descendants. 

In the light of all this, God Himself steps to the mic, telling the readers/listeners: "Be still and know that I am God."

The comment writer of my Bible suggests this is "God addressing the wicked warring nations." That may be so. But I think God is also addressing the worried, wailing people. He tells them to still the fearful voices around them and in their own heads, perhaps even to shush their own ideas and suggestions to God about how He could help them.

We may not be living in a city surrounded by an enemy army but our lives can feel just as attacked. Circumstances, demands of home, family and church, sickness, sandwich pressures (simultaneously looking after kids and parents), the clamor around us (internet, TV, radio, the constant demands of social networking via the phone, Facebook, Twitter) can make a mighty din, causing us stress, anxiety and fear.

At such times, let's use the encouragements of Psalm 46. We can:
  • Know our God — a shelter, strength, the Lord of Hosts.
  • Remember our history with God. ("He is the God of ___" [insert your name here]).
  • Drink from the river that flows within — get strength from the Bible and the Holy Spirit's application of what we read.
  • Be still — turn off the noise in our environment, refuse to listen to the chatter in our heads, even silence our own suggestions to God while we wait for His solutions (Exodus 14:13-14).

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to take advantage of what is available in You when I'm feeling stressed, anxious, surrounded by demands, or trouble. Help me to be still and wait for You to work.  Amen.


************Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Your works - they're following you!

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Revelation 14-16; Psalm 45

TO CHEW ON: "Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, 'Write: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."' '"Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labours and their works follow them."'" Revelation 14:13

In the midst of the mayhem and chaos of Revelation 14, the thunderous voices and the smoke of everlasting torment comes the reassuring benediction of our focus verse to those who "die in the Lord."

Though death is something we all try to avoid, here the heavenly voice tells John to call them "Blessed."
["The word "blessed"  comes from the root "mak" meaning large or of long duration. "It suggests happy, supremely blessed, a condition in which congratulations are in order. It is a grace word that expresses the special joys and satisfaction granted the person who experiences salvation" "Word Wealth," New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1296.]

These dead are blessed for more than just the reason the cynical author of Ecclesiastes gives — because oppressions of life are finally over. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 lays out in detail why death for the believer is so hope filled. It's because Christ conquered death. Since He rose from the dead, we too can looking forward to resurrection — a life that goes on into eternity (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

In Revelation 14, the Spirit refers to death as "rest." The time for working is done. But the effects of that work go on.

There are some interesting examples of after-death influence in the Bible:

1. On her death, Dorcas's friends mourn and show Peter her very tangible "work" — the tunics and garments she made (Acts 9:39).

2. Jesus predicted that the act of the woman who poured oil on His head would be retold wherever the gospel was preached (Matthew 26:6-13).

3. Perhaps one of the most curious examples is of  after-death influence is the story Elisha's. When a dead man was hurriedly buried in his tomb (the rush because of approaching raiders) on touching Elisha's bones, the man sprang to life (2 Kings 13:21).

4. However, it is clear that our works will follow each one of us to a final day where their quality will be revealed:
"...for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is..." 1 Corinthians 3:13.

What a challenge to consider carefully how we live, what we live for, and the eternal reverberation potential of the common things on which we spend our time each day!

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to live mindful of how significant are the everyday choices I make. Help me to not to waste time or fritter away opportunities to do lasting work, work that will follow me, in any case, into eternity. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Christmas story with prequel and sequel

The woman and the Dragon - Rev. 12 (Artist unknown)
The woman and the Dragon - Rev. 12 (Artist unknown)
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Revelation 12-13; Psalm 44

TO CHEW ON: "She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and His throne." Revelation 12:5

After our Christmas focus during this month, do you recognize the Christmas story in today's reading? John skips telling the story of the Nativity in his gospel, but he gives his version of it here in Revelation. As we read, we see that he puts the events of Jesus' birth into a far larger story.

It's a story told here in apocalyptic literature style using lots of symbols. But they're not hard to unlock. Even common readers like us can get their meanings.
  • The woman (Revelation 12:1 and on) is Israel ("garland of twelve stars" = the twelve tribes of Israel).
  • The child to which she gives birth is Jesus.
  • The fiery red dragon is Satan.
  • Revelation 12:7-9 is a flashback scene (the prequel) of Satan being cast out of heaven to earth. (Remember Jesus' words: "'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven'" Luke 10:18?)
  • Satan's current battle is with Israel and her offspring (Christians) - Revelation 12:7.

This view of history explains so much. It helps us understand:

  • The persistent persecution of the Jews and their survival (Revelation 12:13-16). 
  • The force behind all the evil on earth—the bloodshed, hatred, natural disasters, sickness, interpersonal conflict in wars and terrorism etc. Our world is in its desperate state because it's under the influence of Satan "… who deceives the whole world; he was cast to earth and his angels were cast out with him. … For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath because he knows that he has a short time" - Revelation 12:9,12 (emphasis added).
  • Where we fit in. This story isn't finished. We are right now part of the sequel of the Christmas installment, involved in the thick of the battle of the last verse: "And the dragon was enraged with the woman and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" - Revelation 12:17 (emphasis added).

However, victory over this red, angry, teeth-gnashing, tail-lashing dragon is possible. How?
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" - Revelation 12:10 (emphasis added).

Our weapons are the blood of Jesus painted on the doorposts of our hearts that keeps out the death angel and the word—God's plan in history and our own involvement in it ("the word of their testimony" in both the Bible and our lives). When we find ourselves in the thick of any battle, let's not forget what our weapons are and not cease to use them.


PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for giving us this behind-the-scenes glimpse of history. Help me to keep this big picture in mind and my weapons in hand when I'm in the thick of battle. 


The Bible Project VIDEO: Revelation - Part 2 of the Read Scripture series

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Jesus reigns

"The Two Witnesses"
Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, 
Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, 
Emory University

The Two Witnesses - Revelation 11:12-13
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Revelation 10-11; Psalm 43

TO CHEW ON: "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" Revelation 11:15

In the midst of all the surrealistic happenings of today's reading—John told by an angel to measure the temple (Revelation 11:1,2); two men, witnesses, wearing strange clothing wreaking havoc with fire-breathing mouths and plague-producing powers that remind us of Elijah and Moses (Revelation 11:3-6); the witnesses killed and the whole world seeing and rejoicing (Revelation 11:7-10 —trending on Twitter for sure); a great earthquake destroying a tenth of Jerusalem (Revelation 11:13-14)—we hear an angel shouting a familiar message: "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15).

We've heard this or similar before:
  • "He shall have dominion from sea to sea" - Psalm 72:8 and Zechariah 9:10.
  • "For unto us a child is born …. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…" - Isaiah 9:6-7.
  • "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. And His dominion from generation to generation" - Daniel 4:3.
  • The devil's offer to Jesus: "…all the kingdoms of the world and their glory ….' will I give you if You fall down and worship me'" spurned - Matthew 4:8-10.
Because Jesus had the authority that came from His Father:
  • " Even the winds and sea obey Him" - Matthew 8:27.
  • "'… with authority He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey Him'" Mark 1:27.
  • "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand" - John 3:35.
  • "Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him" - 1 Peter 3:22.

There may be much about coming events as predicted in Revelation that we don't understand. But one thing is clear, not only from Revelation but all of the Bible: Jesus wins and will be the ultimate ruler of the kingdoms of earth and heaven! Let's take heart as we live with that fact in mind today.

Dear God, thank You for the theme of Your victorious kingdom that threads through the Bible. Help me to live by faith in the fact of Your ultimate victory. Amen. 


MORE: Hallelujah - Handel's Messiah

Words from today's reading are part of Handel's magnificent Hallelujah Chorus:

Revelation 11:15 15. . . the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever.

Here is a flashmob rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus, performed in 2011 by the Cowtown Opera Company, Calgary, Alberta Canada


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Pondering God's promises

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 2:19-33

TO CHEW ON: "But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

From the day the angel came to Mary with the almost incomprehensible message, "The Lord is with you; blessed are you among women .... You shall bring forth a Son .... and of His kingdom there will be no end," her life was changed (Luke 1:28-33).

When she went to visit her relative Elizabeth, she was greeted with more unusual words: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb" - Luke 1:42.

The strangenesses continue when shepherds find the new parents in their cowshed accommodation and tell them that an angel has announced their baby's birth, identified Him by His manger bed and swaddling clothes, and proclaimed Him "A Savior who is Christ the Lord."

Mary's response: "She kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." And at least three more times in Luke we find Mary puzzled and pondering things that are playing out in the life of her child Jesus - Luke 2:33,50,51.

Though our experience will never mirror Mary's we too may have promises and dreams that set us pondering. They may be dreams God has put in our hearts for our own futures. They may be things people have spoken over us. They may be the destiny we see for our kids. They may be the role we envision our church will play in the community, or our country will have on the world stage.

Joyce Meyer had such a dream. Early in her Christian life she caught a vision of a ministry she believed God had for her. In her book Battlefield of the Mind, she describes how that vision was challenged. But claiming Romans 8:26 for the things she did not understand, she confronted naysaying thoughts with a determination to believe, not doubt, God's promises. She says:
"As Christians, we need to learn to decide to believe. God often gives us faith (a product of the Spirit) for things our minds just can't always seem to come into agreement with. The mind wants to understand everything—the why, the when, and the how of it all...

I had decided long before to believe what the Word says, and to believe the rhema (the revealed Word) that God gave me (the things He spoke to me or the promises He gave me personally), even if I didn't understand why, when, or how it would come to pass in my life" - Joyce Meyer, Battlefield of the Mind, p. 51.
As we ponder the promises God has given us, let us too study them in the light of faith. Mary obviously did. Why else would she have told the servants, troubled at running out of wine during the wedding in Cana, "Whatever He (Jesus) says to you, do it" (John 2:5)?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to ponder Your promises to me with faith, knowing that You can do "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). Amen.

MORE: Mary, Did you Know? - Gaither Vocal Band

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 24, 2018


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 2:11-17

TO CHEW ON: "'For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.*'" Luke 2:11,12

*"Feed trough" is how my Bible footnotes "manger." It's a bassinet painted with animal drool, and decorated with cobwebs. What a contrast - Savior, Lord — lying in a manger! This is a sign indeed.

But it is consistent. For throughout His life, Jesus' trademark association was with  humble things:
  • He spoke easily and graciously with women, even socially despised ones (John 4:5-7; John 8:2-11).
  • He ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:13-17).
  • He taught the dignity and worth of the poor, humble, needy state (Matthew 5:2-12, 11:29; Luke 9:58)
  • He welcomed and blessed children (Mark 10:13-16).
  • He washed His disciples feet (John 13:5).
  • He was "numbered with the transgressors" (Luke 22:37) when He was "crucified..." and, as if that way of death was not bad enough, "between two robbers" (Matthew 27:38).

I have two reactions:

1. Amazement, that the exalted, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of heaven and earth chose to identify with us in this way. The contrast is almost inconceivable.

2. Gratitude. Paul expresses that the reasons for our thankfulness so eloquently in 2 Corinthians 8:9.
"You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich" MSG.

 Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to earth and in such a  humble way. No one of us needs to feel You can't identify with our lowness, for You came into the poorest situation. Help me reflect the value You modeled, of looking past the outer appearances to the inner worth of every person. Amen.

MORE: "Who is He in Yonder Stall?" - sung by the Collingsworth Family

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The angel multitude of Christmas

Children pose in a Christmas tableau
Christmas Tableau from our church's Christmas production some years ago.

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 2:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.'" Luke 2:13,14

For about 400 years there had been heavenly silence. Now, within a matter of months, there were angel visitations all over the place.

They began with the angel coming to Zacharias to tell him of the birth of John - Luke 1:11-19.

Then an angel came to Mary to tell her of God's plan to make her pregnant with His Seed - Luke 1:26.

Following that an angel came to her betrothed, Joseph, to tell him the origin of Mary's pregnancy and that he should marry her - Matthew 1:20-21.

And here we have an angel multitude appearing to the shepherds to announce Jesus' birth and to praise God.

These angel visitations illustrate two of the purposes of angels.
1. When the angels appeared to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, they were busy as God's servants, carrying out His plans. Wayne Grudem details some of the ways angels assist God:
  • They bring God's messages to people (what they did here).
  • They carry out some of God's judgments  (2 Samuel 24:16,17).
  • When Christ returns an angel army will accompany Him (Matthew 16:27; Luke 9:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).
  • They patrol the earth as God's representatives (Zechariah 1:10-11).
  • They carry out war against demonic forces (Daniel 10:13; Revelation 12:7-8).
  • When Christ returns an angel will proclaim His coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 18:1).

2. The angel multitude that appeared to the shepherds did more than carry a message, however. They were a praising choir—another purpose of angels: to directly glorify God.
  • Many Bible references besides Luke 2:14 show angels doing this, for example Psalm 103:20; 148:2.
  • They express joy when sinners repent (Luke 15:10).
  • Perhaps one of the most poignant verses in regard to angels' reaction to our salvation is in 1 Peter 1:12, where Peter tells us that angels "desire to look into" the plan of salvation predicted by the prophets and brought about by "the suffering of Christ and the glories that follow." Though angels have many qualities and abilities we don't possess, it would seem they can't "look into" and know God's plan of salvation like we can.

The reaction of heaven's angelic beings to Jesus' birth reminds us again how incredible and special this event was. As we meditate on it today, reviewing what it means to us personally (in areas like forgiveness, our changed lives, and the  sense of purpose and destiny we have as a result of being part of God's family) let's let our hearts echo the words of the angels' praise: "Glory to God in the highest!"

(Points and references about angels from Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, pp. 404,5.)

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for sending Your Son to earth to become one of us. Glory and praise to You forever! Amen.

MORE: Luke 2 in Handel's Messiah

Words from Luke 2 are put to music in Handel's Messiah.

Here is Tafelmusik's rendition of "Glory to God."


New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Little Bethlehem

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Micah 4:13-5:15

"But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from old
From everlasting." - Micah 5:2

This often-quoted passage from Micah is a prediction of Messiah's birthplace. The students of Scripture in Jesus' day took it as such (Matthew 2:5,6; John 7:41,42) and all Christendom since has considered Jesus' birth in Bethlehem fulfillment of it and part of the proof that He really was/is Messiah.

I wonder, did Joseph ever connect this prophecy with what the angel had told him (Matthew 1:20,21), or Mary with what Gabriel had told her about the baby she would bear ("...and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever..." - Luke 1:32,33)?

I've always imagined that they felt upset and nervous about the need to travel from Galilee to Bethlehem so close to Mary's due date. But maybe their angst was also accompanied by an undercurrent of epiphany and excitement. God had told them His secret in private and now He was engineering events so that the details would fit with prophecy!

Of course they still had to live through those uncomfortable days of travel, that panicky time of finding a place—any place—where Mary could birth her baby. No matter how they put the two together, there was still lots of room for faith to be stretched.

You know, we're in God's story too. Of course, not in the way Joseph and Mary were. But we are part of events that are playing out as Jesus and the prophets foretold. Let's live our roles, no matter how insignificant they seem, with the faith that God has all the details in hand as He did for Joseph and Mary.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for these Bible prophets and prophecies that bolster my faith in You and Your plan. Please help me to have implicit faith in You as I play my part. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Joseph's Dilemma

"The Anxiety of Saint Joseph" by James Tissot (1836-1902)

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 1:18-25

TO CHEW ON: "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly." Matthew 1:19

Joseph has always intrigued me. I think of him as thoughtful and deep, the strong, silent type. Here he faced the dilemma of his life: his beautiful fiancee was pregnant.

My Bible's study notes explain about Jewish betrothals:
"In Jewish law, betrothal involved a formal binding contract before witnesses but the betrothal abstained from sexual relations and the woman remained at her father's house until the actual wedding ceremony. The betrothed referenced each other as husband and wife (vs. 19,20), and the contract could be terminated only by death or a formal divorce decree" - J. Lyle Story, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1290.
Did the culture allow private conversations between engaged young people? If it did, I can imagine Mary's explanation, probably tearful (how could you not be emotional when the love of your life, the man who had your future in his hands, was looking at you with utter shock, disbelief and...revulsion?) even though this was a holy, joyful thing that had happened to her.

What to do? Joseph was considering putting her away secretly—divorcing her—the solution described in Deuteronomy 24:1. But just in time, "while he thought about these things" an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to confirm Mary's claim that this baby was indeed what she had said and not the fruit of a sinful union. So Joseph married her and the rest of the story played out.

Have you noticed how God showing up here just in the nick of time, just as He often comes to us in our emergencies. It never feels soon enough for our likes, but neither is it too late for the situation. God could have alerted Joseph to what was about to happen before any of it transpired, saving him the stress, worry, and crisis. But He didn't. Why? I believe it was because God was developing Joseph's faith at the same time He was working out His plans for the earth in sending Jesus.

God's response to Joseph reminds me of some paragraphs I came across in J. I. Packer's Knowing God. Packer, speaking of another Joseph and his reaction to his brothers in Genesis 45:4-8 says:
"Once again we are confronted with the wisdom of God ordering the events of a human life for a double purpose: the man's own personal sanctification and the fulfilling of his appointed ministry and service in the life of the people of God....

These things are written for our learning: for the same wisdom which ordered the paths which God's saints trod in Bible times orders the Christian's life today. We should not therefore be too taken aback when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us now. What do they mean? Why, simply that God in His wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and is dealing with us accordingly....

But how are we to meet these baffling and trying situations if we cannot for the moment see God's purpose in them? First by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us; second by seeking God's face specifically about them" J. I. Packer, Knowing God, pages 103-105, 1975 edition (emphasis mine).

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to go to You when life is puzzling and full of questions. Then help me to, in faith, obey what you reveal, as Joseph did. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Lift up your eyes

"Adoration of the Magi" after Workshop of Raphael

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Samuel 7:1-17

"And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever." 2 Samuel 7:16

What does a passage in 2 Samuel have to do with Christmas, you may be asking. As we read it we see, sure enough. Here in Nathan's prophecy to David is a very clear reference to Messiah. Of 2 Samuel 7:12-16 a footnote in my Bible says:

"The son of David (Solomon) and the son of David (the Messiah) merge here. It is the Messiah's throne that will be established forever" - Jerry Cook, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 411.

Then the footnote suggests more Bible bits to read in the same vein. Let's read and ponder them, letting the prophetic words of hope and longing crane the necks of our spirits and lift our eyes as we anticipate the celebration of His birth and the revelation of His Kingdom established still to come.

Psalm 45. Note especially verse Psalm 45:6:
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
   a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." -
NIV © 2010 

Psalm 2: 6-9:
6"Yet have I anointed (installed and placed) My King [firmly] on My holy hill of Zion.
    7I will declare the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, You are My Son; this day [I declare] I have begotten You.
    8Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession.
    9You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like potters' ware." -  Amplified

Psalm 89:3-4
 3 "The Lord said, “I have made a covenant with David, my chosen servant.
      I have sworn this oath to him:
 4 ‘I will establish your descendants as kings forever;
      they will sit on your throne from now until eternity.’”
Interlude" - NLT

Hebrews 1:8
8 "But to the Son He says:

      'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
      A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.'"- NKJV
Revelation 11:15
15 "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
   'The kingdom of the world has become
   the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
   and he will reign for ever and ever.'" - NIV © 2010

Revelation 19:6
"6After that I heard what sounded like the shout of a vast throng, like the boom of many pounding waves, and like the roar of terrific and mighty peals of thunder, exclaiming, 'Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! For now the Lord our God the Omnipotent (the All-Ruler) reigns!'" - Amplified

PRAYER: Dear God thank You for Your kingdom, predicted by the prophets, fulfilled in the coming of Christ and still in the process of being revealed. I look forward to the day when Your complete victory over Satan, sin and death is visible. Amen.

MORE: "Of the Father's Love Begotten"

"All dominions bow before Him
And extol our God and King"

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The most profound miracle and mystery of the universe

The Child Jesus by Alexandre Bida
"The Child Jesus" - Alexandre Bida
For the next week, we're going to take a Christmas break from our Bible reading schedule to focus on Christmas and the Christmas story.

(We'll still make it reading through the Bible this year, as the schedule we're following has one week of grace built into it!)

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 85:1-13

TO CHEW ON: "Mercy and truth have met together,
Righteousness and peace have kissed." Psalm 85:10

This meeting of mercy and truth, righteousness and peace playing out in the incarnation has fascinated philosophers and theologians ever since there have been such people. They have tried to understand how it works, argued over its fine points, and parted ways over differences of belief. It is really the point of the whole Bible—the Gospel, good news.  I love how Wayne Grudem sums it up at the end of the chapter "The Person of Christ" in his Systematic Theology:

"It (the incarnation) is by far the most amazing miracle of the entire Bible—far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing even than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human  nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe" - p. 563.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this mystery and miracle and what it means for me: I have Your mercy, I have peace with You. Thank You!

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Light some incense today!

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Revelation 7-9; Psalm 42

TO CHEW ON: “Then another angel having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:3-4

In John’s vision, events in heaven continue to play out. He (the Lamb) opens the seventh seal to reveal an expanding vista of seven trumpets. The seven judgments they announce (8:2-11:18) are cataclysmic. The first four (found in our reading today) affect the natural world and remind us of the Egyptian plagues (hail, blood, polluted water, death to living creatures, darkness).

What I find fascinating are the two verses about the saints’ prayers that precede the fateful trumpet blasts. They seem almost out of place. Here, as earlier (Revelation 5:8), an angel presents these prayers to God as incense.

Incense has been associated with deity and worship since ancient times. Divination by interpreting the shapes that rose from incense smoke was an inexpensive way for poor people to determine the will of the gods. The Egyptians and other Gentile nations used it in their worship. Still today it is part of the practice of Buddhism, Christian Orthodoxy and other religions.

  • In Old Testament religious practice, only the priests were allowed to offer incense. Moses’ instructions to Aaron included strict regulations concerning its makeup and use (Exodus 30:34-36). 
  • God specifically forbade the personal mixing and use of the incense designed for worship (Exodus 30:37-38). 
  • David first likened prayers to incense (Psalm 141:2). 
  • God warned the Israelites through Isaiah that offerings, including the burning of incense, done while clinging to known sin were offensive to Him (Isaiah 1:13).  
  • In Malachi its use symbolized the universal worship of God: “In every place incense shall be offered to My name…” Malachi 1:11

That the prayers of the saints (us!) should be equated with something as integral to worship as incense tells us how important they are to God. Here they are directly connected to the judgments that follow. For after presenting the incense prayers to God, the angel takes the golden censer that held them, fills it with fire from the altar, throws it to earth, and the action begins.

This focus on prayer makes me want to spend more time on this aspect of my relationship with God. As Barbara Billet expresses it:
I ask You, Lord, that You would fill me with Your consuming fire today. I desire to be used as a house of prayer so that I can pray heartfelt, fervent, effectual prayers that will cause my prayer life to have much power, available, dynamic in its working.” Barbara Billet, Praying With Fire, p. 19

PRAYER: Dear God, please teach me to pray. Amen


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 17, 2018

No-holds-barred worship

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Revelation 4-6; Psalm 41

 “The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne saying”
‘You are worthy, O Lord
To receive glory and honor and power
for You created all things
And by your will they exist and were created.’” Revelation 4:10-11

The scene John describes in today’s reading is beyond comprehension and difficult even to imagine. It is not unlike other glimpses we get of God and the activity in heaven. There are striking similarities. Note the “sea of glass” in Revelation 4:6 and the sapphire-like pavement under God's feet when He showed Himself to Moses (Exodus 24:9,10) and the 70 elders on Mount Sinai. Note the exotic creatures (Revelation 4:7,8) here and described similarly in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1:10). Note the abundance of eyes in both places.(Revelation 4:8; Ezekiel 1:18)

What does it all mean? An end-note in my Bible suggests that the sea of glass denotes the unapproachableness of God. The four creatures speak of majesty (lion), courage and strength (ox), intelligence (man) and speed (eagle) “in the service of the Creator.” The abundance of eyes symbolizes God’s unceasing watchfulness.(New Spirit Filled Life Bible p.1824)

These visions evoked fear, awe and above all, worship in those who saw them.

Worship (proskuneo; pros= toward, kuneo = kiss; kiss toward - "to kiss like a dog licking his master's hand") means to prostrate oneself, bow down, do obeisance, show reverence, homage, worship, adore. We worship only God and the risen and ascended Jesus – not angels, saints, shrines, relics or religious people.

Although we’re not currently in heaven, privy to these description-taxing scenes, where worshipers fall down before God and present their crowns to Him, we can also worship on earth in the here-and-now.

1. We can assume physical postures of worship as twenty-four Elders do here – kneeling, bowing, lying on the ground before God during our times of private prayer and even in church. Perhaps it would do us good to remind ourselves of our lowness in relation to God in this way more often than we do.

2. We can give our everyday lives to God (Romans 12:1) – your “ordinary life – your sleeping eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering” (Message). This is called your “reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” (Amp)

3. We can adhere to His standards and live obediently as people of His covenant - Isaiah 56:6,7 (inviting people of all nations to Christ, observing the pattern of life He has set out - like keeping one day of rest - and preserving our assembly place as a "house of prayer for all nations.")

4. We can be part of His plan by aligning ourselves with other Christians as “living stones” (1 Peter 2:4,5 NIV) members of His spiritual house.

Will we do these things with the same willingness and abandon that the saints in heaven worship in the awe-inspiring presence of God?

Dear God, please give me a sense of Your otherness. I so easily take You down to my level. Help me to worship You with all I am and have. Amen.
The Bible Project VIDEO: Day of the Lord (Theme series)

MORE: I love John's comparison of God and heaven with precious gems, stones, and metals. Trouble is, I have no experience with many of these jewels. Here is a little about the ones mentioned in this passage.


Sardius (similar to Carnelian, only harder and darker)




Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Jesus - the A to Z

Alpha and Omega written on stones
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Revelation 1-3; Psalm 40

TO CHEW ON: “’ I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come…. I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last.’” Revelation 1:8, 11

God’s plan in time and space is wonderfully wrapped up and tied together in Jesus. Here He is called Alpha and Omega – the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet – the beginning, ending and everything in between.

As the beginning, Jesus is the creator (Genesis 1:1)  – the One through whom all things were made (John 1:1-3).

He is the first communicator – the Word (John 1:1-3).  In John’s vision  a “sharp two-edged sword” comes out of His mouth. Sound familiar? It’s right here (Hebrews 4:12).

He is the ever-present one – “who is and was and is to come.” Remember the strange name He called Himself to Moses: “I Am” (Exodus 3:14),  echoed by Jesus in John 8:58? What better explanation of that name than “the One who is and who was and who is to come.”

He is the end. He is the end of the law (Romans 10:4).

He is also integral to end-of-time events as the Bible predicts them – the time of harvest (Matthew 13:39) and judgment (Matthew 13:49,50). The end is the culmination of our opportunity (Matthew 24:13,14) to obey Jesus’ last command (Acts 1:8).  We have the promise of Jesus’ presence with us (Matthew 28:19,20) till then. But also until then our endurance and ability to stay true to Him will be tested (Mark 13:13).

Thinking about these things is like doing brain stretches. It’s almost impossible for our human minds to comprehend these dimension-challenging ideas – present before time, after time, ever present in time…

But we can grasp that here and now Alpha and Omega is the I Am to us. He can be present in our lives. He can help us endure. He  can enable us to live daily in obedience and on-task.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, be my Alpha and Omega. Live in my life as I Am today. Help me to fulfill my role in Your eternal plan. Amen.


The Bible Project VIDEO - Revelation - Part 1 (Read Scripture Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Spiritual bodybuilding

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Jude 1-25; Psalm 39

TO CHEW ON: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 20-21

Jude, the brother of James wrote the short letter of Jude. It's a letter of warning to an unnamed church or churches. False teachers were the problem.

Jude talks of the havoc these teachers had created by comparing them to Bible characters. They acted in the spirit of:
Cain: destruction. Cain murdered his brother instead of caring for him (Genesis 4:8).

Balam: greed. Balam was a prophet who consented to try to curse Israel for King Balak in return for money (Numbers 21:1-22:41).

Korah: rebellion. Korah led a rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16:1-24).

How can the people resist these teachers? Jude says by "building yourselves up on your most holy faith."

The phrase "building yourselves up" brings to mind the gym. There people do multiple repetitions of exercises (sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, bench presses, cycling, etc.) to build up different parts of the body. What would a spiritual workout look like? It could consist of reading, studying and memorizing the Bible, praying in the Holy Spirit (praise, thanksgiving, petition, intercession, worship), and singing.

The crowd of runners we pass on our way to church Sunday morning have tapped into another effective way to work out physically. They do it together for companionship, accountability, even safety. In our spiritual workout program, this would compare to being part of a faith community — a church, home group or Bible study group. (Of course Jude's letter, written out of the need to warn church members about false teachers within tells us that such togetherness also has its hazards.)

We know that in order for a physical workout program to accomplish what we want it to, it has to be consistent. That's where we get tested. For no matter how exciting a fitness program is at the beginning, it's hard to stick with it. Doing the same exercises over and over can get boring. Sometimes we're tired and don't feel like exercising. We may not notice any difference in our body and wonder if it's actually making us stronger.

Sticking with a spiritual fitness program is just as challenging. Some parts of the Bible are hard to understand. We may wonder if our prayers are making any difference. We may get discouraged by the spiritually immature tendencies we still see in ourselves and feel disheartened when temptations still trip us up. But just like sticking with a physical fitness program eventually brings about changes in our bodies, so sticking with regular routine of spiritual fitness will strengthen us spiritually.

Do you work out spiritually? If not, decide to make such a program a part of your routine. Life is full of challenges. You'll want to face them with a well-toned faith.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for being my teacher and trainer. Help me to be as devoted to developing my faith as I am to caring for my body. Amen.


The Bible Project VIDEO: Jude (Read Scripture Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Loving God, loving each other

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 John 1 & 3 John 1; Psalm 38

"And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another." 2 John 5

When I first posted this devo some years ago (it is a re-post) we were in the middle of our annual church conference. One night visiting speaker Joel A'Bell (Hillsongs Church, Australia) talked about loving each other. He said something like, "We want deep teaching, to know what the colors of the priest's robes mean. But we don't obey Jesus' most basic commands to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbour as ourselves - Mark 12:29-31."

"Have you ever thought about what it means to love God this way?" he asked. He went on to explain how we love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength. Here are some of his thoughts (via my scribbled notes):

- Loving God with all my heart means having a heart to let go.
"We struggle when there's more in our heart than Jesus."

- Loving God with all my soul means to go slow.
"We're speedy; make decisions quickly, we're too fast on the inside, don't take time to think, meditate, pray."

- Loving God with all my mind is having a mind to change (i.e. repent).
"Maturity is evidenced by the decreasing time gap between the challenge to change and the actual obedience."

- Loving God with all my strength is endurance.
An example he gave of this is our tendency to become familiar with the things of God so they no longer move us. The person that loves with strength pulls his/her mind back to focus on the truths of God's word, the lyrics of the familiar worship song etc. and does "not give in to the weakness of familiarity."

Loving God this way will make us ever more convinced and sure and secure in God's love for us. The natural outflow of such love is for us to love others. I like how Leslynn Musch puts it in her Truth-In-Action in 2 John article: "If we are truly loved, then that love should affect the way we love others. Love others as Jesus has loved you" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1795.

PRAYER: Dear God, I know I often fall short of loving You with my heart, soul, mind, and strength and so it is no wonder my relationships with others are tainted by insecurity, fear, comparison, and competition etc. Please help me to bask in Your love, love You back, and from that loop, to love my Christian family and the world. Amen.



 Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The "we know"s of John

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 John3-5; Psalm 37

TO CHEW ON: "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding that we may know Him who is true..." 1 John 5:20

As we read 1 John 5, the phrase "we know" keeps popping up. What are the things John told his readers way back in the first century, and tells us now, that "we know"?

1. "We know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments" (1 John 5:2).

[Know here and in its last appearance (in 1 John 5:20) is ginosko which means to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of, perceive, feel, understand.]

2. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life..." (1 John 5:13).

[Know here is oida from horao which means to see with the eyes, see with the mind, perceive, know, become acquainted with by experience, to see, look, take heed, be aware.]

3. "... we know that He hears us, whatever we ask..." (1 John 5:15)

4. "...we know we have the petitions we have asked of Him" (1 John 5;15).

5. "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin" (1 John 5'18).

6. "We know that we are of God and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19).

7. "We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding..." (1 John 5:20a).

8. "...that we may know Him who is true and we are in Him who is true..." (1 John 5:20b).

As I read this list of certainties posed by John, I am again impressed with how the Christian life is a push-and-pull of faith and experience. Notice how our lists of knows (the know of experience) is bracketed by two knows (learning to know, getting a knowledge or perception of).

I ask myself, which of these knows can I declare with confidence? Which do I need to grow in? Most of all, am I progressively advancing in knowing Him (1 John 5:20b)? I do that by buttressing my faith through experience in all the ways John lists.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to have the confident knowledge of You that John expresses. Above all, help me to know You.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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