Luke 1:14-17 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
In this season of advent, we wait and prepare for the Lord’s coming by daily being set apart for the Lord. The language of joy, delight, and rejoicing is associated with God’s salvation, and that is what occurs when we live for the gospel. Therefore, as John exemplified, may our lives also speak and welcome God’s salvation wherever we go. May there be an increase of joy, delight, and rejoicing as we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord.
Lord Jesus we thank you that all your promises are yes and amen. We pray for a greater experience of joy and delight in our hearts as we live set apart for the gospel. We pray for a revival in our personal times, in our corporate experience, and in the ministries we are engaged in. Amen.
Luke 1:11-13 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John
In the above passages, we are shown how Zechariah waited and prepared for the Lord’s coming—and that was in prayer! What have you been praying for recently that resonates with the very heart of God?
We are not sure what Zechariah was praying for—but he was praying such prayers that all of heaven heard. Perhaps he was praying for a child at his old age, or he was praying for the promise of the Savior to come. One thing we can infer from the passage is that Elizabeth’s barrenness wasn’t just about this couple’s personal issues, rather it speaks of the very barrenness that was going on not only in their lives, but also in whole world—the spiritual barrenness.
Today, let’s pray together for God’s salvation and rescue to come to our generation. Let’s pray that our spiritual barrenness will be turned into an outpouring of His presence. Pray for a revival in your personal devotional lives.
Luke 1:5-7 5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
Do you hear the echo of the OT in the passages above?
The reference to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s old age and their barrenness echoes the very experience of Abraham and Sarah. By this reference, we are taken to the very heart of God’s promise of salvation and covenant, which began with Abraham and Sarah. This shows how the promise of God’s blessing and salvation is now going to be fulfilled with the coming of Christ.
We wait and prepare for the Lord’s coming in this way, by being assured that God’s promises are never thwarted, prevented, frustrated, or delayed. As it says in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Today spend time in prayer, recounting the Lord’s promises, and being assured that the Lord is not slow in keeping them. Worship with the song (click here) Yes and Amen by Matt Redman.
Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
“I often eagerly anticipate birthdays, special outings, and holidays. The excitement grows, and then the day arrives. Sometimes I enjoy the event as fully as I expected to, but sometimes the event falls short. Either way, the special occasion passes by; and we’re left with memories — and maybe some photos. The day cannot be relived. How different is the expectation of the coming of Christ! Through many generations his birth was foretold by prophets, and yet when Jesus was born there were no widespread celebrations. In fact, the inn had no room for him. But some shepherds and wise men, Simeon and the prophet Anna (Luke 2:25-38) quietly celebrated him from the first. Later, others recognized Jesus Christ as the long-expected Messiah and went out to preach the good news.
Today we also look forward to Christmas as we celebrate Jesus’ birth. But when Christmas Day is over, the reality of the Incarnation and the promise of eternal life continue. Each year the Christmas season comes and goes, but what we are really celebrating endures for all eternity! (Upper Room Devotionals: 12/11/16)
Today may we worship in thanksgiving knowing that the source of great joy for all the people has come—Jesus the Messiah.
Lord we thank you that our celebration of your coming is not confined a yearly reminder, but a daily reality that we live in. You came, you died and rose again! Today we rejoice with greater joy, for you have brought us salvation and blessing. Amen.
Let’s worship to the song Joy To The World (click here) by Chris Tomlin
Luke 1:29-30 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
“Every Advent season I pray to know the Lord more deeply as I read the Christmas story. This year I was struck by the variety of emotions surrounding that first Christmas. Surprise: Mary asked the angel, “How will this be?” (Luke 1:34) when she was told she would be pregnant as a virgin. Rejection: The inn held no room for the soon-to-be savior (Luke 2:7). Fear: The angels often began their message, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:10). Joy: Angels told the shepherds to expect great joy (Luke 2:10). Uncertainty: “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19) because she did not know their full implications.
And all of these emotions are summed up in Jesus, Immanuel, “God with us.” Because Jesus Christ took on human form, he experienced every thought and feeling we have. And then he covered each with his love — offering forgiveness and salvation. Christ became fully human and experienced every emotion so that we could come to truly know God’s love. (Upper Room Devotionals: 12/16/17)
What was the angel’s response to Mary when she was greatly troubled? How does this bring joy and comfort?
Lord Jesus, you are Immanuel, God with us! We thank you for being with us through life’s issues, and that you invite us to walk and participate in your work. During this season of Advent, we thank you that it is your constant and consistent love that bring us hope and joy. Amen.
Let’s worship to the song Hearts Waiting (click here) by Matt Redman.
James 3:9-12 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
“You have a tongue and a voice. These instruments of speech can be used destructively or employed constructively. You can use your tongue to slander, to gripe, to scold, to nag, and to quarrel; or you can bring it under the control of God’s Spirit and make it an instrument of blessing and praise. The 20th-century version of James 3:3 says, “When we put bits into the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we control the rest of their bodies also.” Just so, when we submit to the claims of Christ upon our lives, our untamed natures are brought under His control. We become meek, tamed, and “fit for the Master’s service.”” (billygraham.org, daily devotions)
According to the passage above, what are the dual realities that our tongues can engage in? What does James say about this dual function of the tongue?
In today’s passage, we are given the clear directive that our speech should no longer have dual opposing usages—to bless God and curse others. James plainly says “this should not be!” How many of us have been affected and torn down by harmful words of ‘curse’ that were either spoken over us, or you’ve spoken them to someone else? Today we are exhorted to no longer live in such ways, for in Christ we now have only one function, which is to praise God and bless others.
Lord Jesus, your blood has fully forgiven us and cleansed us, and every curse that has been broken by your work on the cross. May our mouths now be used to bring blessing and truth to others, and praise and worship to your name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
“Now, why did have to say that?” This is the usual response to someone, or even to our own selves when we express unbiblical thoughts and emotions that either put a damper or even extinguishes the wonderful blessing that we receive. An example would be after a wonderful encounter with the Lord, saying things like “I am not sure if I experienced anything”, or saying things that are contrary to scripture, like “God doesn’t bless me”, or in frustration saying things that are outside of biblical truth and boundaries.
Today’s passage clearly emphasizes the role of our speech in the experience of God’s blessing in our lives and in the lives of others, where the tongue has the power of life and death—of blessing and non-blessing. Therefore, may we freshly learn today that our speech does matter before the Lord. For what we say and the manner in which we say things are directly linked to the experience (receiving) of God’s blessing in our lives.
Therefore, we ought to not say things that are untrue and that leads to death—such as speaking out of rage and bitterness, out of evil thoughts and intent, out of doubt and frustrations of life. We are to not even whisper such things. Also, we are to no longer give in to the mindset that says “whatever comes to mind”, I will say it.
Today, pray that you will no longer give in to the sinful habit of verbally expressing every wrong thought, emotion, and desire, but that our words will be transformed by the renewing of our minds, emotions, and speech.
Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
The wording ‘deep waters’, is a reference to the hidden dark well from which we can draw our speech from. This deep dark well is composed of the ingrained sinful worldview, hurts, bitterness, unbelief, brokenness, selfishness, always viewing others as the problem, etc. In contrast to this deep dark well, we are to speak from the bubbling brook, where Christ is the source of this fountain of life and truth.
In today’s passage, we are being shown that we are to now speak out of this living truth—bubbling brook of Christ, and not from the deep dark waters of sinful habits.
Make a list of how yourself and others are refreshed when we speak out of the bubbling brook of God. Also, make a list of how you and others are affected when our speech is drawn from the deep dark waters of sinful habits.
Today, consider where you draw your thoughts and speech from. Is it from the bubbling brook of God’s love and truth, or is it from the deep dark wells of sinful habits? One way to discern this is by ascertaining if others (including yourself) feel refreshed or worn out from your speech.
Let’s pray today, asking that we will daily draw from the bubbling brook of God’s truth and presence, and ask for the draining and closing of the deep dark wells of sinful habits.
1Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. 2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. 3 When wickedness comes, contempt comes also, and with dishonor comes disgrace.
The word ‘isolate’ in this passage can also mean unfriendly and separated. This is referring to the person who is isolated/separated from the law and the ways of the Lord, hence they are not tethered nor accountable to the Lord. When this occurs, the concern is no longer about how to please and honor the Lord with our speech, instead they will make their own selves the only determiner of what comes out of their mouths. This leads a person to speak out of self-preservation, self-protection, vengeance, anger, bitterness, suspicion, etc. However, that is no longer the reality of our lives. As it says in Colossians 1:22 “Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” We are now reconciled and tethered to the Lord, therefore our speech is to now reflect that very reality.
In what ways should our speech now reflect our reconciliation with/in Christ instead of isolation?
What are the words/language that we should no longer as we are now tethered to the Lord?
Lord Jesus, may our speech now reflect the reconciling work you’ve done on the cross. As we live in your very presence—holy and blameless, may our speech also reflect this wonderful truth. May my words declare the wonderful work you’ve done in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. 12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
“This is my first experience of attending school. We had just immigrated to Brazil, so my understanding of the language was non-existent. To make matters worse, my parents enrolled me in a Catholic School, even though we had never stepped into a church before. I remember the utter confusion, trauma, and turmoil of those days. The only thing that helped me was a kind Korean boy who was tasked to help me. He translated what was being said, sat with me during lunch, and even told me when I should stand and sit during mass. He helped me make sense of this new world that I was being thrown into. In a similar manner, the Word of the Lord comes alongside us and gives us instruction on how to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord. Revealing the sins that lurk in our hearts, and cleansing us from both the hidden and the deliberate sins.” (GK)
According to verses 12-13, in what ways does the word of the Lord deal with sin in our lives?
According to verse 14, how do we keep God’s word constantly active in our lives?
Today, spend time praying through the passage above. Ask the Lord that the words of your mouth and the meditation of your heart become pleasing to Him. Listen and worship with the song “May the words of my mouth”. (Click Here)