Category Archives: Daily Devotional

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David [Bethlehem] a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

— Luke 2:11

Do you know the story behind one of the most beloved Christmas carols, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”? Let me tell it to you. A young Episcopalian minister arrived in Jerusalem on December 24, 1865. He made his way on horseback about six miles south, to the little town of Bethlehem. He stood at the bottom of a hill and was struck by the vision of the town. With very little light around it, the town seemed so dark. How still and silent was the sight. So unlike the flaming metropolises of America, blackness hovered over the little town of Bethlehem.

Three years later, the minister, Phillips Brooks, wrote a poem about Bethlehem. During the week before Christmas, Brooks’ music director, Lewis Redner, wrote a melody for that poem. He finished it just in time for Christmas Sunday, when it was first sung by six Sunday school teachers and thirty-six children. And every Christmas since, that song has touched our hearts, for it speaks of the deepest needs and greatest longings of the human heart and soul.

For centuries the human soul has longed for something more than death. “Is life no more than this?” people ask as they watch their loved ones descend into the tomb to return no more. “There must be more than this.” The hopes of all the world rested with that little Babe in Bethlehem.

Also, the fears of all the world were met there with Him—the fears that life has no ultimate meaning and no significant purpose, that humanity has no future, that we must go down into the pit of oblivion never to live again. But Christ’s birth gives humankind new hope to combat those fears.

Today as you anticipate Christmas, think of Bethlehem and the event that occurred in that humble little town. Allow Christ to meet all your hopes and fears, for He came to do just that.

“Yet in the dark street shineth the everlasting Light; The
hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”
Phillips Brooks

Prophecies Concerning The Messiah

“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 have been from of old, from everlasting.”

— Micah 5:2

One January my wife and I listed fifty-five separate prophecies made by today’s leading seers and psychics. As that year unfolded, we watched to see which of those prophecies would come true. Not a single one came to pass! Worldly prophets rarely predict events accurately. The worldly prophet Nostradamus became famous because he made one single and obscure prophecy which some believed Hitler fulfilled, but that prophecy could have applied just as easily to a number of other people at various times in Europe’s history. Worldly prophecy leaves room for many interpretations.

While worldly prophecy is weak, we can bank our lives on Biblical prophecy. The prophecy about the Messiah in Micah 5:2 states two things about Him: (1) He would be born in Bethlehem, and (2) He would be eternal. Some may say that this prophecy is weak and unsatisfactory. And it is, just as one single thread is weak and easily snapped. But if you take 333 such threads (some of which we discussed in yesterday’s devotion) and wind them together, no one could break the cord produced. In the same way, no one can break the prophecies made about Jesus Christ. The Old Testament contains an incredible 333 prophecies that describe in detail virtually every aspect of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Nothing remotely like this exists anywhere else in all of the annals of history or all the other religious books of the world.

These Biblical prophecies show us not only that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, but that the Word of God is divinely inspired and that we can trust in what it says. The fulfillment of these prophecies demonstrates God’s existence—in no way could all these prophets have made these prophecies if God had not inspired them to know these things long before they took place. We have seen the utter failure of secular prophets. Only in the Bible and by God’s inspiration do we find prophecies fulfilled.

“God the Holy Spirit moved the prophets to write, and
put into their minds the very thoughts which they
expressed and the very words which they wrote.”
Martin Luther

The One To Come

“Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up …”

— Matthew 11:4-5

Do you ever wonder whether Jesus is all He claimed to be? Whether He’ll fulfill all the promises He made to us? Well, even John the Baptist, the one sent to prepare Christ’s way, had his moments of doubt. And when we wonder if Jesus is really the One, the answer He gave John should suffice for any of us. John was very familiar with the prophet Isaiah, and he knew the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah (Isaiah 29:18, 35:4-6). So when Jesus wanted to prove to John His true identity, He told John, in Isaiah’s words, how He had fulfilled prophecies. In the same way, when we have doubts, we can look to how Jesus fulfilled Biblical prophecy, proving that He is the Messiah. According to just a few of the 333 concrete prophecies in the Old Testament, the Messiah would:

  • be Abraham’s descendant;
  • be of the lineage of Judah and of David;
  • be born in Bethlehem;
  • be born of a virgin;
  • come 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem;
  • exercise a benevolent ministry;
  • open the eyes of the blind, heal the lame, and cure the deaf;
  • be betrayed by His friends;
  • be sold for thirty pieces of silver which would be cast down for a potter’s field;
  • give His body as a ransom for others;
  • endure the piercing of His hands and His feet;
  • die amid transgressors;
  • lie in a rich man’s grave; and
  • rise from the dead.

And the list goes on. My friends, God has given us enormous evidence of Jesus’ identity as the Christ. We need have no question about the granite foundation upon which our faith rests. We may know that just as these prophecies of the Old Testament came to pass, so will the promises of the New Testament come to pass. We can trust in Jesus, come what may. The next time you find yourself doubting Jesus Christ, remember how He has fulfilled every promise He made. Then dwell on the truth that in the same way He’ll fulfill the promises He has made to you.

“I came to believe that Christ was the One
predicted by the prophets of my people.”
Jewish Believer In Jesus

Who Am I?

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

— Revelation 1:8

“Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” Sometimes these are called “college questions.” But by no means are they restricted to the college campus. I cannot imagine anyone in this world who has not at some time asked these penetrating questions.

Unfortunately, most people who ask these questions never seem to find satisfactory answers. I don’t believe they ever will unless they look outside of themselves and direct these same questions to another—to the One who holds in His hands the key to all things—Jesus Christ. We can ask the same “college questions” about Jesus, and as we discover the answers, we find answers to those questions for our own lives. So let’s ask them.

Who is Jesus? He says He is the eternal One, the Almighty, the Beginning and the End. Jesus is God the Son. In believing and affirming these truths about Christ, we can realize that we’re God’s creation, placed on earth by His will and His design. We’re His children.

Why did Jesus come here? He came to reconcile us to God. In our natural state, we are separated from God. God’s holiness and purity cannot coexist with our impurity and the filth in our hearts. And we can do nothing to bridge the distance between us and God. So Jesus Christ made a way, spanning the distance by His death on the cross. Whenever we go to Jesus Christ for cleansing and forgiveness, whether we come for the first time or for the billionth time, His death sufficiently atones for all. When we know why He came, we also know why we are here—to glorify Him and spread His kingdom.

Where was Jesus going? Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am you may be also.” When we know where Christ has gone, we discover our final destination: Heaven, where we will live with Him for eternity. He’s already preparing it for us and will receive us to Himself as soon as our time on earth is done.

In Christ, we have the answers to all our questions about our purpose and our destiny. We know who we are, why we’re here, and where we’re going. Today thank Christ for providing those answers for you.

“Life is filled with meaning as soon
as Jesus Christ enters into it.”
Stephen Neill

The Sinless Savior

“[Christ] committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth.”

— 1 Peter 2:22

A man able to walk through this life yet never sin—doesn’t that seem an impossibility? Only one human has ever accomplished this feat: Jesus Christ. In our society, we raise up many as heroes, but upon closer inspection, we find they have feet of clay. Yet Jesus could say, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46).

Holy men and women confess their sins. They keep short accounts with God. As holy people grow closer to God, they recognize their own sinfulness more and more. One of the greatest Christians in the history of the Church, the apostle Paul, called himself “the chief of sinners.” Conversely, people guilty of heinous crimes often claim innocence. (Visit a prison, and you’ll be amazed at how many prisoners claim they’ve been falsely accused.) But Jesus Christ towers above all people, sinners and saints, in the perfection of His character.

Through the centuries people have tried and failed to find any blemish in Jesus Christ’s flawless life. One time a Hindu Brahmin, alarmed at the spread of Christianity in India, set out to write a tract to expose Christ’s weaknesses. But the Brahmin abandoned this task because he could find no weak points or sins in Jesus. There aren’t any. Even skeptics have shown their respect for the Savior. Listen to what one of them, Ernest Renan of France, said about Christ: “Whatever may be the surprises of the future, Jesus will never be surpassed.” He is the perfect one.

Today praise Jesus Christ for His sinlessness. Thank Him that because He lived a sinless life, you can live for eternity.

“Jesus, good paragon, thou crystal Christ.”

The Joy Of The Father

“Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep, which was lost.”

— Luke 15:6

Have you ever had the thrilling experience of participating in something bigger than yourself, bigger than your town, bigger than your world? If you and I attend to it, we can have that privilege every day. How can we participate in such an exciting venture? By finding the Good Shepherd’s lost sheep and returning them to His fold.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of a shepherd who, upon losing one sheep, went out to search for it. The shepherd traveled everywhere looking for that lost sheep. He trudged high and low, far and wide. He peered down precipitous ravines. He traveled into the valleys of darkness where the wild beasts had their dens. Finally the shepherd found the sheep trapped in tangled briars, and after freeing the sheep, he joyfully placed it upon his shoulders and brought it home.

When the shepherd returned to his home, he called together his neighbors and said to them, “I have found my sheep that was lost. Rejoice with me. Enter into my joy.” But could his neighbors really do it? Oh, they could come to the party that he provided and enjoy the delicious food he served, but could they rejoice with him? Perhaps they could if they had searched with him on the rain-swept, storm-driven moors. If they had dared to face the dangers of the wild animals and the cold night, if in those circumstances they had found the sheep, then they would have truly rejoiced with him.

Christ’s joy is to find His lost sheep. Heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents and comes to Christ. And we experience that joy when we witness a lost sheep return to the Shepherd. Today, be on God’s search party, and reach out to a lost soul. If you live your life searching for lost sheep, caring for them, and feeding them, then you will one day hear the Good Shepherd say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant … enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”

“To enter into the joy of finding, we must
have entered into the pain of seeking.”

Self Examination

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”

— 2 Corinthians 13:5

Did you like taking tests when you were in school? If you didn’t, you’re in good company. Most of us dreaded tests, unlike the blessed few with natural smarts and good study habits. I hate to say this, but today is test day. Are you ready? In today’s passage, Paul commands us to take a test—an open-book test comparing our lives with God’s Word. We must administer the test to ourselves, for this test is a self-examination, a test for Christ’s presence within us … a test with eternal consequences.

When it comes to making moral and spiritual judgments, we’re often prone to examining everyone but ourselves. All of us have something of the critic within us, always willing to point the finger at others. The Corinthians had the same tendency. In fact, they were the hypercritics of the ancient world. They criticized Paul’s apostleship, and in reaction to their criticism, Paul urged them to examine the reality of their own faith.

We still have Corinthians with us today. In fact, we so often are the Corinthians. How many of us have left church saying such things as “Well, what did you think of that sermon?” or “How did you like that preacher?” Sounds like Corinth, doesn’t it? But we shouldn’t judge God’s servants. Instead, we need to place ourselves at Christ’s feet and submit ourselves to the judgment of God’s Word.

The Word of God explains that one day we shall give account of ourselves before Christ. On that day you won’t criticize your spouse, your parents, your neighbors, your church members, or your pastors. You’ll give an account of your own life. No other statements or input will be allowed. That’s a sobering thought.

As hard as it is, take that test today. Use the psalmist’s prayer to aid in this process: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there be any hurtful way in me. And lead me in the everlasting way.” Amen. Make sure your heart is right with God. Let’s get our own act together before we try to direct everyone else’s.

“I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man.”
Dwight L. Moody

The First And Second Coming Of Our Lord

“In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

— Matthew 26:64, niv

Have you ever heard the voice of someone you’ve never met, such as a radio personality, and created a mental image of that person, and then when you saw the person, were you surprised that his or her appearance was completely different from your expectations? I think when it comes to the second coming of Jesus, some people have in their minds a very different picture from that which will actually come to pass. I have this opinion because I think many people anticipate Christ’s second coming to be a carbon copy of His first.

But consider this:

The first time He came, He was despised and rejected; the second time He will be glorified and admired by all who believe.

He came to hang upon a cross; He will come to sit upon a throne.

He came in dim obscurity; He will come in bright splendor.

He came to be seen by only a few; He will come to be seen by all, for every eye shall see Him; many shall rejoice at His coming, and many will weep because of Him.

He came to be judged for us; He will come as judge over all of us.

Instead of anticipating Christ as the suffering servant He was on earth, we must expect the majestic, triumphant Christ, who will return in power and glory. Because we expect His victorious return, we have a glorious hope. As you walk with Christ each and every day, ask Him to prepare you for that great and magnificent day when you shall finally see Him face to face.

“For every prophecy on the first coming of Christ,
there are eight on Christ’s second coming.”
Paul Lee Tan

Beside The Still Waters

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters.”

— Psalm 23:2

What is the pace of your life these days? Do you feel as if you speed from one event to the next with barely enough time to catch your breath? Or do you regularly allow yourself time to rest and rejuvenate, to ponder life’s mysteries, to reconnect with God?

These days, our lives run at almost terrifying speeds. With the advent of the automobile, then the airplane, and later the jet plane—not to mention the telephone, computer, and many other technological discoveries—life races along like a motion picture played at ten times its normal speed.

Our mobility has offered us great opportunities, but it has also cost us dearly. One-third of Americans move every year. People change jobs frequently. Because of our pick-up-andmove mentality, we lack the roots our parents and grandparents once had.

We pay for our busy ways in our relationships, and we pay for them physically as well. Stress takes a major toll on our bodies. Today, over one million people die each year from stress-related illnesses such as heart attacks, some forms of cancer, and a multitude of other diseases. Did you know that stress destroys the walls of your arteries? Once the walls begin to deteriorate, your body must respond. So what does it do? It lays down plaque inside the arteries. The plaque builds up until it finally blocks the arteries, and once that happens, you’re in for a stroke.

All this talk about the effects of stress can add even more stress to our lives. But the Bible has a time-honored solution to all this. God’s Word calls us to stillness. In Psalm 23 David wrote that God leads us “beside the still waters.” In this hectic, frantic, busy, noisy world, we need to find a calm, quiet place to spend time alone with the Lord. Studies have shown that a regular time of prayer or meditation does, perhaps more than anything else, remove stress and its effects.

God wants to lead you beside still waters today. Will you let Him take you there? I urge you drop your responsibilities at God’s feet, come away to a quiet place, and just be still and know that He is God.

To overcome stress:
Rule #1: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Rule #2: Everything is small stuff.
Dr. Robert Eliot, Professor Of Cardiology

Home For Christmas

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

— John 14:3

Have you ever felt deeply homesick, wishing with all your heart to return to home and family? Well, as Christians, we are far away from our true home—Heaven—and we should feel “homesick” for it, anxiously waiting for the time that Christ will take us there.

Advent is upon us, and this time of year is a little bit about feeling homesick for Heaven. At this time of year, we celebrate Christ’s first coming and eagerly anticipate His return to take us to our true home. Advent means “to come,” taken from the Latin “ad venio.” At the first Advent, Christ came with much humility. He laid aside His robes of glory and came to earth in a humble stable, in a manger, as a baby, seen only by a few people: the shepherds, the Magi, and His immediate family. But when Christ comes again, every eye will see Him. We wait fervently for that day when Christ will come in glory with all of His angels and ten thousand times ten thousand of His saints, to receive His own to Himself and to destroy all wickedness and evil forever. For Christians, Christ’s second coming brings the greatest excitement and joy. We lift our heads and pray the final prayer of the Bible: “‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

As Christmas works its annual enchantment around us and the songs of the kingdom float on the airwaves, the Christian longs for even more. “I’ll be home for Christmas” sounds so right. It sounds like belonging and peace. For a child of God, the most wonderful Christmas will not take place on this earth. Our climactic Christmas is the one we shall celebrate anew, home in Heaven … when we will forever be truly home for Christmas. Today dwell on that truth, and pray that the Lord will quickly come.

“I do not think that in the last forty years I
have lived one conscious hour that was not
influenced by the thought of our Lord’s return.”
Lord Shaftesbury