Saturday, December 31, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Romans 2:1-4

Romans 2:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you really think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 58:6-8

Psalm 58:6-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible

God, knock the teeth out of their mouths;
Lord, tear out the young lions’ fangs.
They will vanish like water that flows by;
they will aim their useless arrows.
Like a slug that moves along in slime,
like a woman’s miscarried child,
they will not see the sun.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:15

Proverbs 29:15 Holman Christian Standard Bible

A rod of correction imparts wisdom,
but a youth left to himself
is a disgrace to his mother.

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:13

Colossians 3:12-17 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Numbers 30:1-2

Numbers 30:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Moses told the leaders of the Israelite tribes, “This is what the Lord has commanded: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to put himself under an obligation, he must not break his word; he must do whatever he has promised.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 58:3-5

Psalm 58:3-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The wicked go astray from the womb;
liars err from birth.
They have venom like the venom of a snake,
like the deaf cobra that stops up its ears,
that does not listen to the sound of the charmers
who skillfully weave spells.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:14

Proverbs 29:14 Holman Christian Standard Bible

A king who judges the poor with fairness—
his throne will be established forever.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 33:5-6

Isaiah 33:5-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
There will be times of security for you—
a storehouse of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.
The fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Rejoice always!
Pray constantly.
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 58:1-2

Psalm 58:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible

For the choir director: “Do Not Destroy.” A Davidic Miktam.
Do you really speak righteously, you mighty ones?
Do you judge people fairly?
No, you practice injustice in your hearts;
with your hands you weigh out violence in the land.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:13

Proverbs 29:13 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.

Morning Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 10:23-25

Jeremiah 10:23-25 Holman Christian Standard Bible

I know, Lord,
that a man’s way of life is not his own;
no one who walks determines his own steps.
Discipline me, Lord, but with justice—
not in Your anger,
or You will reduce me to nothing.
Pour out Your wrath on the nations
that don’t recognize You
and on the families
that don’t call on Your name,
for they have consumed Jacob;
they have consumed him and finished him off
and made his homeland desolate.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Matthew 2:13-18

Matthew 2:13-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him.” So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called My Son.

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been outwitted by the wise men, flew into a rage. He gave orders to massacre all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, in keeping with the time he had learned from the wise men. Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
and she refused to be consoled,
because they were no more.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 57:7-11

Psalm 57:7-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible

My heart is confident, God, my heart is confident.
I will sing; I will sing praises.
Wake up, my soul!
Wake up, harp and lyre!
I will wake up the dawn.
I will praise You, Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your faithful love is as high as the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches the clouds.
God, be exalted above the heavens;
let Your glory be over the whole earth.

Mid-Week Message - Share God's Love

 "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with one another and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you."  Colossians 3:12-13  (NIV)

Have you ever played the game in which you make up stories about the people in the cars that pass yours?  This was a favorite of mine and some of my friends when we were teens.  We would fantasize elaborate backgrounds and come up with outlandish scenarios as to where the person was going.  Silly?  Yes.  But as I look back on that game now, I realize that it taught me something valuable.  It reminds me that I don't know the details of who any of those people are or what they are living through.  

As an adult, I have made an effort to keep that in mind as I go through daily life.  I am well aware that we all encounter good days and bad.  Each of us struggles with something.  If we only knew the story behind the actions others take, I think we would be much slower to judge and much quicker to extend compassion.  Here are some examples of what I am talking about.

Your child comes home and tells you about a new student in the class.  This child comes in with uncombed hair, wrinkled clothes and sometimes doesn't smell very good.  The other children have already begun name-calling and not including this child in recess.  Concerned about your own child's well-being, you talk to the teacher and find out that the father in this family left and because the mother had no money to pay the rent, she and her three offspring are living in their car.  

On the highway heading to work, you are cut off by a man driving an expensive car.  As anger builds, you conclude that he must think he is better than everyone else and deserves the road for himself.  He takes the same exit as you do and as you reach the stoplight and pull up next to him, you roll down your window so you can tell him he shouldn't drive that way.  He apologizes and explains that he is a single father and was up all night with a very sick child and that if he was late to work his job would be at risk.  Then you notice the emblem on the car and realize it is a company vehicle and that he doesn't own it at all.  

You and a friend see a woman who is wearing a lot of jewelry and costly clothing.  Her hair is perfect, her nails are professionally done and you think she probably lives a life of ease and doesn't have a care in the world.  You make a comment to your friend about her that maybe isn't very nice and it turns out your friend knows the woman's story.  Her outward look belies what her life is really like.  Her husband is rarely home and when he is, he is abusive.  Her one child attempted to commit suicide a while ago and is in a long term treatment facility.  With no one at home, she shops - a lot.  

If we were to do as Jesus would do, how would we handle life differently?  If we could see others the way their Creator sees them, how would that change our hearts?  We may not be able to have those insights, but we can have the understanding that there are probably things going on in their lives that we would be surprised by.  I know there are things in my life that others don't know about.  How about yours?  

We all need to clothe ourselves in the compassion, patience and gentleness that today's verse references.  Any person who crosses our path should be treated respectfully and kindly.  Each interaction is a chance to show God's love and just may change someone's day for the better.  If we can offer that gift, why wouldn't we?  

It will soon be a new year and we have new chances daily to live our lives for Christ and to make a difference in this world.  I pray we take full advantage of those chances and touch hearts and minds for Him as we do.  God bless!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:12

Proverbs 29:12 Holman Christian Standard Bible

If a ruler listens to lies,
all his officials will be wicked.

Morning Scripture Reading - Joel 2:1-2

Joel 2:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Blow the horn in Zion;
sound the alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the residents of the land tremble,
for the Day of the Lord is coming;
in fact, it is near—
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and dense overcast,
like the dawn spreading over the mountains;
a great and strong people appears,
such as never existed in ages past
and never will again
in all the generations to come.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Samuel 7:10-12

1 Samuel 7:10-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Samuel was offering the burnt offering as the Philistines drew near to fight against Israel. The Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they fled before Israel. Then the men of Israel charged out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines striking them down all the way to a place below Beth-car.

Afterward, Samuel took a stone and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, explaining, “The Lord has helped us to this point.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 57:1-6

Psalm 57:1-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible

For the choir director: “Do Not Destroy.” A Davidic Miktam. When he fled before Saul into the cave.

Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me,
for I take refuge in You.
I will seek refuge in the shadow of Your wings
until danger passes.
I call to God Most High,
to God who fulfills His purpose for me.
He reaches down from heaven and saves me,
challenging the one who tramples me.Selah
God sends His faithful love and truth.
I am surrounded by lions;
I lie down with those who devour men.
Their teeth are spears and arrows;
their tongues are sharp swords.
God, be exalted above the heavens;
let Your glory be over the whole earth.
They prepared a net for my steps;
I was despondent.
They dug a pit ahead of me,
but they fell into it! Selah

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:11

Proverbs 29:11 Holman Christian Standard Bible

A fool gives full vent to his anger,
but a wise man holds it in check.

Morning Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 34:9-11

Deuteronomy 34:9-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. No prophet has arisen again in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unparalleled for all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do against the land of Egypt—to Pharaoh, to all his officials, and to all his land, and for all the mighty acts of power and terrifying deeds that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 12

Isaiah 12 Holman Christian Standard Bible

On that day you will say:
“I will praise You, Lord,
although You were angry with me.
Your anger has turned away,
and You have had compassion on me.
Indeed, God is my salvation;
I will trust Him and not be afraid,
for Yah, the Lord,
is my strength and my song.
He has become my salvation.”
You will joyfully draw water
from the springs of salvation,
and on that day you will say:
“Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name!
Celebrate His works among the peoples.
Declare that His name is exalted.
Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things.
Let this be known throughout the earth.
Cry out and sing, citizen of Zion,
for the Holy One of Israel is among you
in His greatness.”

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 56:12-13

Psalm 56:12-13 Holman Christian Standard Bible

I am obligated by vows to You, God;
I will make my thank offerings to You.
For You delivered me from death,
even my feet from stumbling,
to walk before God in the light of life.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:10

Proverbs 29:10 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Bloodthirsty men hate an honest person,
but the upright care about him.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 26:7-9

Isaiah 26:7-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The path of the righteous is level;
You clear a straight path for the righteous.
Yes, Yahweh, we wait for You
in the path of Your judgments.
Our desire is for Your name and renown.
I long for You in the night;
yes, my spirit within me diligently seeks You,
for when Your judgments are in the land,
the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 1:3-9

1 Peter 1:3-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 56:10-11

Psalm 56:10-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible

In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

Christmas Day Message - Light

During the past couple of days, my family, friends and I have experienced what some call a generational cold snap. Much of the United States has been plunged into some very cold weather that many have never seen. Due to the extreme cold, water and power has been affected and outages are widespread. In a society that lives by gadgets, it is very hard to live without power. When we are stuck in darkness, it is sometimes very difficult for us to see a way out. 

We reach for our flashlights, generators, candles, fireplaces and other items to keep us warm and able to see. Darkness, for some, is very scary. We not only huddle around a fire for warmth but also for safety. When we are in the dark, our imaginations run wild. Every sound seems to be louder and alien. It is funny how we can just start imagining things. But, that is what darkness will do to many. It causes them to become fearful.

The same thing holds true with our spiritual lives. When we live in darkness, we fear death. We know that darkness leads to destruction, death and damnation. It is a simple truth. Paul was quite clear when he told us that sin had a consequence. 

In chapter six of his epistle to the church in Rome, Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

When you live in darkness, you live in fear of the consequences of sin. You can never be free from that fear. It hangs over you and the wages for that sin can never be repaid. The debt of living in darkness is something that you could never repay. Someone had to take on that debt and become your sacrifice. That someone is Jesus. He came to show you the way out of darkness by being the light that leads you to the Father.

In chapter eight of the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.

Light provides us safety and can guide us to the right place. Darkness can lead you to death. The light of the world can lead you to eternal life with the Father. 

On this Christmas day, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the light that came into the world. That light gives us hope, faith and love that gets us through the tough times ahead. But, always be on guard when it comes to darkness. Like a power outage in the dead of winter, darkness can sneak into your life. Darkness cannot stand the light. It wants to keep things hidden. Evil lives in darkness.

In chapter three of the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

I ask you on this day to love the light of the world and reject darkness and the evils it hides. Walk in the light and on the path of righteousness. Of all the days of the year, today would be the greatest gift that you can accept. Accept the gift of salvation and the light it brings into the world. When you do that, you have nothing to fear and can stand firm in His grace.  

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:9

Proverbs 29:9 Holman Christian Standard Bible

If a wise man goes to court with a fool,
there will be ranting and raving but no resolution.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Chronicles 16:31-36

1 Chronicles 16:31-36 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord is King!”
Let the sea and everything in it resound;
let the fields and all that is in them exult.
Then the trees of the forest will shout for joy before the Lord,
for He is coming to judge the earth.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever.
And say: “Save us, God of our salvation;
gather us and rescue us from the nations
so that we may give thanks to Your holy name
and rejoice in Your praise.
May Yahweh, the God of Israel, be praised
from everlasting to everlasting.”

Then all the people said, “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - Galatians 4:4-5

Galatians 4:4-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible

When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Joy to the World!

Luke 2 Holman Christian Standard Bible

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve Message - Rejoice

On this most important night, a gift that had been promised finally arrives. That gift doesn’t just bring joy or hope. That gift brings us hope for a future. Prior to the delivery, there was no hope for any of us. We walked in darkness and lived under the penalty of death. We were disobedient and had sinned. 

There was no possible way for us to repay that debt of sin, but God provided us with salvation and a path back to Him. That gift of salvation and path back to the Father came in a small package swaddled in linen and laid to rest in a manger. That gift is Christ the Lord.

Although he came into the world with little fanfare or pomp and circumstance, Jesus not only embodied the gift of salvation but he was also that path back to the Father. We had fallen away from the path of righteousness and only knew darkness in our lives. We were rebellious and sinful. We lived our lives the way we wanted to and didn’t care about the consequences. Then, a miracle happened in our lives. A small voice called to us telling the wonderful story of how a Savior came from Glory to live among us, to teach us how to get back on the path of righteousness and to die for our sins. Because of God’s will, he was resurrected from the dead to show the world that through His son, we no longer need to fear death. Jesus gave us that gift. A gift of hope and light that we celebrate this very night.

In the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!

Taking Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord is the first step in a wonderful journey on the path of righteousness. Each day is another step and a chance to rejoice in our relationship with our Master, Savior and Friend. This relationship isn’t just limited to a few people or a select group. It is available to all. Everyone can accept this gift from God and the ability to have a relationship with Him.

Christmas is a time to rejoice and it is celebrated with light. There is a reason why the light is so very important. Darkness filled the world and so many have walked in that darkness. To them, darkness is normal. I remember when I walked in darkness and nothing mattered to me. But, then I saw the light. 

The light of Jesus that brought peace and love into my life. It also brought conviction. For the first time I looked at my life and saw what the darkness had obscured from my vision. 
Isaiah, in chapter nine of the book that bears his name, 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.”

As the days have gotten shorter, we see more of the darkness and we long for the light and rejoice when we see the sunrise. Light will always push darkness out and reveal so much. This is our chance to see our lives as they are. 

During this Christmas season, you have an opportunity to walk in light and have a joyful relationship with God or continue to walk in darkness. Darkness only brings depression, guilt and fear. Light gives life and love and lifts us up spiritually. I ask you to listen to the small voice that is softly and tenderly calling you to life in light and love.

For those who already walk along the path of righteousness, rejoice and celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord. He came into the world not to judge it, but to save it. If you have a rocky relationship, I ask you to have a little talk with Jesus tonight. Don’t waste another moment. 

Take a moment tonight to thank God for the gift of His son and the salvation embodied in a small baby who will one day grow up and suffer a criminal’s death upon a cross so that you can have eternal life with the Father and His son, Jesus. By accepting this wonderful gift, you can and will stand firm in His grace.

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

Evening Scripture Reading - John 3:16-18

John 3:16-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 56:8-9

Psalm 56:8-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible

You Yourself have recorded my wanderings.
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your records?
Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call.
This I know: God is for me.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:8

Proverbs 29:8 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Mockers inflame a city,
but the wise turn away anger.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ezekiel 34:15-16

Ezekiel 34:15-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible

I will tend My flock and let them lie down.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice.

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - Luke 1:30-35

Luke 1:30-35 
Holman Christian Standard Bible

Then the angel told her:

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Ephesians 4:32

Ephesians 4:32 Holman Christian Standard Bible

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 56:5-7

Psalm 56:5-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible

They twist my words all day long;
all their thoughts against me are evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps
while they wait to take my life.
Will they escape in spite of such sin?
God, bring down the nations in wrath.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:7

Proverbs 29:7 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The righteous person knows the rights of the poor,
but the wicked one does not understand these concerns.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 26:7

Isaiah 26:7 Holman Christian Standard Bible

The path of the righteous is level;
You clear a straight path for the righteous.

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - Matthew 1:20-25

Matthew 1:20-25 Holman Christian Standard Bible

But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,

which is translated “God is with us.”

When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 9:12

Ecclesiastes 9:12 Holman Christian Standard Bible

For man certainly does not know his time: like fish caught in a cruel net or like birds caught in a trap, so people are trapped in an evil time as it suddenly falls on them.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 56:3-4

Psalm 56:3-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible

When I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:6

Proverbs 29:6 Holman Christian Standard Bible

An evil man is caught by sin,
but the righteous one sings and rejoices.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 14:6-7

John 14:6-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

“If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - Psalm 148:1-2

Psalm 148:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise Him in the heights.
Praise Him, all His angels;
praise Him, all His hosts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Exodus 4:29-31

Exodus 4:29-31 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. Aaron repeated everything the Lord had said to Moses and performed the signs before the people. The people believed, and when they heard that the Lord had paid attention to them and that He had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 56:1-2

Psalm 56:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible

For the choir director: according to “A Silent Dove Far Away.” A Davidic Miktam. When the Philistines seized him in Gath.

Be gracious to me, God, for man tramples me;
he fights and oppresses me all day long.
My adversaries trample me all day,
for many arrogantly fight against me.

Mid-Week Message - Remember the Reason

 "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6  (ESV) 

I tend to have a melancholy feeling when all the presents are unwrapped on Christmas morning and the area under the tree is empty.  I get excited by the anticipation of that special day.  As I carefully choose and buy gifts, I imagine in my mind how excited my family will be when they open them.  Sometimes, I am right.  Sometimes not.  But because my focus has been on the unwrapping and reactions, when that part is over and I realize it won't come again for a year, I grow a bit sad.  

Is it that way for you too?  Do you get so wound up by the planning, decorating and giving that you lose some of the joy when the moment is over?  I think a lot of people do.  Christmas day is so extremely commercially hyped that we fail to keep our minds on the true reason for celebration.  

Over seven hundred years prior to the arrival of the Son of God upon this earth, Isaiah prophesied His coming.  An expectant people waited and waited for their Messiah to come, expecting a mighty warrior, a royal king who would set them free from their bondage.  However, He came as a helpless infant, born into poverty instead of riches.  His first bed was hay that was intended to be food for livestock.  His first visitors, though sent by angels, were dirty shepherds rather than important dignitaries.  No wonder so many failed to see Him for who He truly was.  

How many of us miss Him today?  As we endure the frailties of life and the trials of this world, do we forget that we have a Savior?  As we enjoy the festivities that are associated with this time of year, where are our thoughts?  When we gather around the tree with our families on Christmas morning, are we cognizant of the reason we exchange gifts?  Without Christ, there would be no Christmas.  

The next few days will be full of activity and it may be challenging to carve time just for Him, yet it is so important to stop and bow before Him.  He came for you.  He came for me.  His choice to leave Heaven, live as a man, endure cruelty beyond belief and to ultimately hang upon a wooden cross was made with us in mind.  That's what it took to secure our forgiveness and to give us access to Almighty God.  Christmas is about so much more than the Baby in the manger.  It is about the risen Savior and His gifts to us and every celebration should be held with that in mind. 

My Christmas wish for everyone this year is that we would turn our hearts and minds toward Jesus. That we would honor Him with our words and actions.  That before anything else, we would make sure our children know how precious this time is.  Most of all, that we would allow the joy of His arrival, life, death and resurrection to fill us with unspeakable joy that we will allow to bubble over into every life that we encounter in the coming year.  In His indescribable love, I wish you a very Christ-filled and merry Christmas.  God bless.  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:5

Proverbs 29:5 Holman Christian Standard Bible

A man who flatters his neighbor
spreads a net for his feet.

Morning Scripture Reading - Malachi 3:16-18

Malachi 3:16-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible

At that time those who feared the Lord spoke to one another. The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of Hosts, “a special possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. So you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - Jeremiah 23:5-6

Jeremiah 23:5-6 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“The days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—
“when I will raise up a Righteous Branch of David.
He will reign wisely as king
and administer justice and righteousness in the land.
In His days Judah will be saved,
and Israel will dwell securely.
This is what He will be named:
Yahweh Our Righteousness.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Philippians 4:8-9

Philippians 4:8-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 55:23

Psalm 55:23 Holman Christian Standard Bible

God, You will bring them down
to the Pit of destruction;
men of bloodshed and treachery
will not live out half their days.
But I will trust in You.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:4

Proverbs 29:4 Holman Christian Standard Bible

By justice a king brings stability to a land,
but a man who demands “contributions”
demolishes it.

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 4:2-4

Colossians 4:2-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak.

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - Luke 2:15-20

Luke 2:15-20 Holman Christian Standard Bible

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:1-4

Colossians 3:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible

So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 55:22

Psalm 55:22 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Cast your burden on the Lord,
and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:3

Proverbs 29:3 Holman Christian Standard Bible

A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but one who consorts with prostitutes destroys his wealth.

Morning Scripture Reading - John 8:12

John 8:12 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - John 10:11-18

John 10:11-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. This happens because he is a hired man and doesn’t care about the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.”

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Hebrews 2:1-4

Hebrews 2:1-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible

We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to His will.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 55:20-21

Psalm 55:20-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible

My friend acts violently
against those at peace with him;
he violates his covenant.
His buttery words are smooth,
but war is in his heart.
His words are softer than oil,
but they are drawn swords.

Fourth Sunday of Advent - Joy

As I look back at my life, I realize there were a lot of lessons I learned about life. Some of those lessons came at a very high price while others seemed to continue to teach me lessons. One such lesson is the birth of my own daughter. The first thing I learned from that birth is that joy can come from such a small package and that, over time, that joy got bigger and bigger as she grew up.

Many look for joy to come in big packages. When the lottery gets to over a billion dollars, there are many that believe that would bring them great joy. Buying a new car is another one that people believe would bring them great joy. All of the large packages can’t compare to the joy of a small child that is helpless and totally dependent on everything you do. 

There were so many times during her life that I did things for her to bring her joy. I remember taking her outside for a walk in front of our old home in Austin, Texas. She loved to run up and down the sidewalk. It was such a little thing but it brought joy to both of us. I would follow her as she ran ahead of me. 

Although I’m not a big fan of the commercialization of Christmas, there is one thing that does bring me joy. Seeing her sitting near the Christmas tree and opening presents is still a great joy for me. She may know what is under the tree for her, but the look of surprise and joy is worth the effort.
The lesson I have learned is also worth the effort. Joy really does come in small packages and that larger joy comes during special moments. They may be fewer and farther between, but they are still there if you look for them. 

The American author, Wilferd Arlan Peterson, once wrote, “It is looking for the joys that come in small, precious packages and making the most of them, knowing that big packages of joy are few and far between.”

Joy does come in small, precious packages and we truly need to make the most of them. As my daughter grew up, my joy in seeing her take her steps to adulthood grew with each passing day. I have been so blessed by God to see those moments. Sometimes, I have taken that joy for granted and just assumed it would be there, but when you face tragedy or some other horrible situation, it snaps you back to reality and you look again for that joy.

As we approach Christmas Day, we see the joy of a small child in a manger who came not to judge the world, but to save it. That joy will never die or the story of his birth grow old. Many of you know that joyful story or, at least, have heard of it. Some find it an amusing fairy tale passed down from generation to generation. To those, the joy isn’t there. They don’t see or understand it. They can only see the holiday and not the true meaning of his birth.

Late one night in a small town so far away, a small child lying in a manger brought great joy to the world and filled it with light and love. His birth had been foretold by prophets and many people continued to believe that his birth would happen. Although many did not live to see that birth, they still continued to believe in his birth and the joy he would bring. That joy could not be simply wiped away or shelved as a fairy tale. 

After waiting so long for the birth, a small cry came out of a stable as he came into the world. Although there were no trumpets or royal announcements, the joy was announced in the best and most meaningful way possible. A choir of angels announced his birth, but that announcement did not go to kings or leaders. That announcement was given to the simplest of all, the shepherds who watched over their flocks.

In chapter two of his Gospel, Luke writes, “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’

Yes. That small package of joy that was foretold by prophets hundreds of years before came into the world. I cannot even imagine the joy that they felt. I am sure some of them may have known of the prophecy and there must have been chatting among them. Excitement filled their hearts. Just as they were about to go, they heard something wonderful come from a choir of angels.

Luke continues, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’ When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

The shepherds, upon arriving, beheld the Christ child in a stable. Joy continued to swell in their hearts as they dropped to their knees in silent reverence. The child would one day grow up and be the Savior of the world. He would take on the sins of all generations and allow himself to be the perfect lamb for the atonement sacrifice.

As we continue our journey to that blessed day, remember that joy does not have to come in big packages. It comes in small ones and that joy grows with each passing day. Along the way, there are moments of great joy that come. The first one is accepting the gift of salvation and proclaiming to the world the acceptance of Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. Each day you walk with him is a joy and that joy, whether big or small, is awesome and will remain in your heart from day to day.

Each day is a joy and you should share it with others. Joy cannot be confined or remain in one heart. It exists to be shared daily. When we share that joy with others, we can stand firm in His grace. 

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

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:2

Proverbs 29:2 Holman Christian Standard Bible

When the righteous flourish, the people rejoice,
but when the wicked rule, people groan.

Morning Scripture Reading - Ecclesiastes 10:4

Ecclesiastes 10:4 Holman Christian Standard Bible

If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your place,
for calmness puts great offenses to rest.

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - 1 Peter 2:25

1 Peter 2:25 Holman Christian Standard Bible

For you were like sheep going astray,
but you have now returned
to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Philippians 1:20-24

Philippians 1:20-24 Holman Christian Standard Bible

My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 55:15-19

Psalm 55:15-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Let death take them by surprise;
let them go down to Sheol alive,
because evil is in their homes and within them.
But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
I complain and groan morning, noon, and night,
and He hears my voice.
Though many are against me,
He will redeem me from my battle unharmed.
God, the One enthroned from long ago,
will hear and will humiliate them Selah
because they do not change
and do not fear God.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 29:1

Proverbs 29:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible

One who becomes stiff-necked,
after many reprimands
will be shattered instantly—
beyond recovery.

Morning Scripture Reading - Luke 4:42-44

Luke 4:42-44 Holman Christian Standard Bible

When it was day, He went out and made His way to a deserted place. But the crowds were searching for Him. They came to Him and tried to keep Him from leaving them. But He said to them, “I must proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.” And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - Ezekiel 34:11-16

Ezekiel 34:11-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible

“For this is what the Lord God says: See, I Myself will search for My flock and look for them. As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for My flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy and dark day. I will bring them out from the peoples, gather them from the countries, and bring them into their own land. I will shepherd them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the land. I will tend them with good pasture, and their grazing place will be on Israel’s lofty mountains. There they will lie down in a good grazing place; they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will tend My flock and let them lie down.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Galatians 6:7-10

Galatians 6:7-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 55:12-14

Psalm 55:12-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Now it is not an enemy who insults me—
otherwise I could bear it;
it is not a foe who rises up against me—
otherwise I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man who is my peer,
my companion and good friend!
We used to have close fellowship;
we walked with the crowd into the house of God.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 28:28

Proverbs 28:28 Holman Christian Standard Bible

When the wicked come to power,
people hide,
but when they are destroyed,
the righteous flourish.

Morning Scripture Reading - Luke 3:21-22

Luke 3:21-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible

When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As He was praying, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven:

You are My beloved Son.
I take delight in You!

25 Days of Christmas Scriptures - Isaiah 40:11

Isaiah 40:11 Holman Christian Standard Bible

He protects His flock like a shepherd;
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them in the fold of His garment.
He gently leads those that are nursing.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Evening Scripture Reading - Mark 1:40-45

Mark 1:40-45 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Then a man with a serious skin disease came to Him and, on his knees, begged Him: “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. “I am willing,” He told him. “Be made clean.” Immediately the disease left him, and he was healed. Then He sternly warned him and sent him away at once, telling him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But He was out in deserted places, and they would come to Him from everywhere.