Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 26:9

Isaiah 26:9 New King James Version (NKJV)

With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;
For when Your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - Galatians 6:10

Galatians 6:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 59:3-4

Psalm 59:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

For look, they lie in wait for my life;
The mighty gather against me,
Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord.
They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine.

Awake to help me, and behold!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 21:30

Proverbs 21:30 New King James Version (NKJV)

30 There is no wisdom or understanding
Or counsel against the Lord.

Morning Scripture Reading - Numbers 6:24-26

Numbers 6:24-26 New King James Version (NKJV)

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord [a]lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ’

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 6:26 Look upon you with favor

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Evening Scripture Reading - Acts 7:51-53

Acts 7:51-53 New King James Version (NKJV)

Israel Resists the Holy Spirit

51 You stiff-necked[a] and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 7:51 stubborn

First Sunday of Advent Scripture Reading: Fourth Reading

 


Luke 1:26-38 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings,[a] favored woman! The Lord is with you![b]

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel[c] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.[d]

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:28a Or Rejoice.
  2. 1:28b Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women.
  3. 1:33 Greek over the house of Jacob.
  4. 1:37 Some manuscripts read For nothing is impossible with God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 59:1-2

Psalm 59:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Assured Judgment of the Wicked

To the Chief Musician. Set to [a]“Do Not Destroy.” A Michtam of David when Saul sent men, and they watched the house in order to kill him.

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
[b]Defend me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloodthirsty men.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 59:1 Heb. Al Tashcheth
  2. Psalm 59:1 Lit. Set me on high

First Sunday of Advent Scripture Reading: Third Reading


Isaiah 11:1-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

A Branch from David’s Line

Out of the stump of David’s family[a] will grow a shoot—
    yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He will delight in obeying the Lord.
    He will not judge by appearance
    nor make a decision based on hearsay.
He will give justice to the poor
    and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
    and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
He will wear righteousness like a belt
    and truth like an undergarment.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
    and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear.
    The cub and the calf will lie down together.
    The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
    Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
    for as the waters fill the sea,
    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

10 In that day the heir to David’s throne[b]
    will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
    and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.[c]

Footnotes:

  1. 11:1 Hebrew the stump of the line of Jesse. Jesse was King David’s father.
  2. 11:10a Hebrew the root of Jesse.
  3. 11:10b Greek version reads In that day the heir to David’s throne [literally the root of Jessewill come, / and he will rule over the Gentiles. / They will place their hopes on him. Compare Rom 15:12.

 

First Sunday of Advent Message - Hope

Hope is the Life Line

The first Sunday of Advent has a very simple meaning, yet it is sometimes the most difficult to live. This Sunday is devoted to hope. Hope is the one thing that man needs during a crisis. It sustains him when all seems lost. For nonbelievers, hope commonly means a “wish” that draws strength from the desire of the individual. For believers, it is something entirely different. Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is based on His faithfulness and not in the desires of man.

In short, a Christian’s hope is solely based on God and his promise to his children. It doesn’t rely on our desires or a wish. That hope is more than just a word. It carries weight and expectation.

If you look up the word, “hope”, in an English dictionary, you will find that it is an abstract idea based on some sort of expectation. The word for hope in Hebrew, “Tikvah”, however, is more concrete. In Hebrew, the word means expectation—and  it also means cord or rope, which comes from a root word that means to bind or to wait for or upon. Tikvah is a rope that we can hang onto when the world seems out of control or when we don't know how to make it through a difficult season in life, like the promise given to the Israelites in captivity in a foreign land.

As we approach the blessed day of Jesus’ birth, God’s promise to give us his son, when viewed through the lens of “hope”, takes on a different meaning for us. Jesus becomes that life line that is cast out to us as we struggle in the tempest. We are tossed to and fro with each crash of a wave against us. God’s promise of that life line gives us something to hang onto when things are so difficult and we feel that we just can’t make it.

As I reflect on my own storms, it was very difficult for me to stay afloat on my own. If I relied on my own strength and desire to live, I, without reservation, can say that I would have not made it. Twice in my life I nearly died. Both times I faced horrible medical issues. In both situations, medical doctors and specialists were unable to explain how I managed to survive. 

A little over two years ago, I faced a horrible medical issue that should have ended my life. One surgeon told my wife that I was within days of dying. One specialist told me that I had only a twenty percent chance of leaving the hospital alive. You could say that my desire to live gave me hope and that translated into my surviving both medical situations. I, however, will tell you something entirely different.

I held on for dear life to that life line God had promised his children thousands of years ago. When I was sinking and about to succumb to the storms, a hand reached into the water and snatched me back from certain death in both instances. God has provided that life line to me and I am so very thankful for that promise that He kept.

That hope is expressed so beautifully in the words of His prophet, Isaiah. It is through him that God tells of his promise of hope not only for the Israelites but also for each of us. God’s promise gives us hope when we walk in darkness. That hope is like a great light that draws us to Him. 

Isaiah, in chapter nine of his book, writes, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

That light provides us with hope and expectation that things will get better and that we don’t have to continue to walk in darkness. It is the proverbial light at the end of a dark tunnel. It is a sunrise that tells us that we have another day to live.

In his poem, “An Essay on Man”, Alexander Pope writes this famous line that everyone quotes during the worst of times, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never Is, but always To be blest. The soul, uneasy, and confin'd from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”

These words perfectly express that hope that each of us carries in our hearts. We all know the meaning of Christmas and the significance of the blessed event that comes with it. The birth of Jesus is that great light that shines, like a lighthouse’s beam, into the darkness. 

In the first chapter of his Gospel, John writes, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

That hope we have is the expectation of the coming of that light. Darkness cannot overcome this light. It remains as bright as it first appeared over 2,000 years ago. Nothing can take away that light from us. The promise that was given by God binds us to him. That bond is eternal and is a promise of eternal life for those who walk in a world of darkness.

As you think about this first Sunday of Advent and the word, “hope”, it is my prayer that hope will spring eternal in your heart each day as you walk with the Lord. That light will always shine for you and you have nothing to fear. For those who walk in darkness and fear the next moment, there is a light at the end of that dark, dark tunnel. Don’t ignore it or rely on your own strength. I ask you to look for that rope and life line called Jesus Christ.

The psalmist, in Psalm seventy-one, writes, “O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.

If you have strayed away from your relationship with the Lord or have let go of that rope, I urge you today to say those very words. The Lord truly is your one and only hope. Trust Him and you will be rescued and that light once again will shine eternal for you. When that hope springs eternal in your heart and that great light is there to cast away the darkness, I guarantee that you will be able to stand firm in His grace.     

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

First Sunday of Advent Scripture Reading: Second Reading

 


Psalm 122 New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 122

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
And now here we are,
    standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is a well-built city;
    its seamless walls cannot be breached.
All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people—
    make their pilgrimage here.
They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord,
    as the law requires of Israel.
Here stand the thrones where judgment is given,
    the thrones of the dynasty of David.

Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
    May all who love this city prosper.
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
    and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
    “May you have peace.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 21:29

Proverbs 21:29 New King James Version (NKJV)

29 A wicked man hardens his face,
But as for the upright, he [a]establishes his way.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 21:29 Qr., LXX understands

First Sunday of Advent Scripture Reading: First Reading


Isaiah 9:2
 New Living Translation (NLT)

[a]The people who walk in darkness
    will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,[b]
    a light will shine.

Footnotes:

  1. 9:2a Verses 9:2-21 are numbered 9:1-20 in Hebrew text.
  2. 9:2b Greek version reads a land where death casts its shadow. Compare Matt 4:16.


Isaiah 9:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,[a] Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
    will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    will make this happen!

Footnotes:

  1. 9:6 Or Wonderful, Counselor.