Day Five: Simeon

Luke 2:25-32 – Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

“Simeon also exemplifies how one can define life in terms of faithfully following God and serving him with joy and surrender. When his duty is done, he is ready to be with the Lord…Simeon’s sense of identification with doing God’s will and then surrendering to the timing of his own death shows just how committed he is to God’s timing. His attitude is paralleled by Paul in Philippians 1:21–26. Here is a servant who seeks only to do what God has called him to do. The timing of his life and death are in God’s hands.

“Furthermore, having seen Jesus and knowing him, Simeon is at peace. Everything else in his life pales in comparison. He has met Jesus, and the details of the rest of his life’s résumé are irrelevant. One’s walk with God and faithful service to him are what define everything else about life.” [Bock, Darrell L.. Luke (The NIV Application Commentary) (pp. 95-97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.]

Spirit-filled expectations will put our whole life on the line for Jesus being revealed. Nothing else will matter, life is simply life for Jesus and His revealing God’s love to the world. He is better than life itself.

Worship: “He Shall Reign Forevermore” by Chris Tomlin – Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5UXgs6nvGM

Prayer: Father, teach me the way of faithful obedience and how to rely more and more on the Spirit’s leading in my life. Today, may I experience the Spirit-filled expectations that put everything on the line for Jesus. May nothing else be more important than Jesus and Him being known through my life. For He is truly better than life! I pray for my friends and family, my co-workers and neighbors, that they will come to know You and experience the fullness of your salvation in their lives. Please rescue them Lord, rescue them with your love and power. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

– TR

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Day Four: Zechariah

Luke 1:11-20 (NIV) – Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 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. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord…he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

“Zechariah teaches us that God occasionally instructs saints through difficult times. Sometimes underestimating God is as dangerous as rebelling against him. Our sin may not be a matter of doing overt wrong but of being hesitant to pursue righteousness and to trust fully in the Lord. Once God speaks, we should respond.

“People often pursue relationships or actions they know are wrong, often with a sense of having been a victim, as if that justifies their turning away from God. But we can also do the same thing using more subtlety, with a type of lukewarmness that says, “I am happy with where I am spiritually, so I will not pursue God as in former days.” Such a “cruise control” approach risks a slow spiritual decline. One senses that Zechariah needed a fresh lesson of faith to avoid such a slow motion spiritual fall.

“The fact that Zechariah doubted the angel’s word meant he was already at risk. What God promises, he will perform—only he will do it in his time and sometimes in surprising ways. When the time of fulfillment comes, we realize that his timing was better than ours. Perhaps we sometimes wish we could be in the boardroom of heaven, telling God how to make his plans. This passage calls us to see that his plan has its own design and timing. The Creator of the universe knows what he is doing.” [Bock, Darrell L.. Luke (The NIV Application Commentary) (p. 55). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.]

Spirit-filled expectation recognizes that God is at work in our lives, and that He will work in everything, especially the things that are seemingly most precious in our lives.

Worship: “Glory Hallelujah” by Matt Redman – Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om9ZtohxZV4

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my doubts and ‘cruise-control’ living. Turn my heart toward your Word and purposes. I humbly ask that you fill me with the Spirit-filled expectations that recognize who You are and that seek to obey your Word and plans in my life and for Your glory in our church. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

– TR

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Day Three: Mary & Elizabeth

Luke 1:39-45 (NIV) – At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

“The remark about the Spirit’s filling Elizabeth is crucial, for it indicates that her remarks and emotions are directed by God. In an enticing omission, the text never tells us how Elizabeth knew Mary was expecting this child. This adds to the mystery of the event. The humility reflected here by John’s mother in feeling honored just to be in the presence of the child is expressed more fully by her son in John 3:30: ‘He must become greater; I must become less.’…Peace reigns among those who serve God as each understands his or her place in God’s plan.

“The note of joy in the passage echoes a theme already sounded by the previous events. The sense of privilege and favor at being used by God finds fresh expression here. Elizabeth knows God does not owe her such a central role, yet she is amazed at God’s involvement with her. In asking ‘Why am I so favored?’ (v. 43), she understands that she is but a humble beneficiary of God’s grace.

“We should not miss the significance of the testimony about these children that comes through this grateful mother-to-be. Three points are central: (1) Mary’s child is especially blessed, being at the center of God’s fresh activity; (2) there is amazement in being any part of these astounding events; and (3) joy and blessing come to those who believe that God does what he says.” [Bock, Darrell L.. Luke (The NIV Application Commentary) (p. 64-65). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.]

Spirit-filled expectations are magnified when we seek to be together for God’s glory and plans. When Christ is central we can expect Him to do mighty things.

Worship: “My Soul Magnifies the Lord” by Chris Tomlin – Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAQLR3RlDpk

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, help us to honor Your name, magnify Jesus in our lives, and keep in step with Holy Spirit as you lead us into your plans and purposes. May Christ be at the center of all I say and do, and may He be exalted in the interactions I have with Your people. May we spur one another on to greater worship and love as we experience the grace and hope we have in You. Jesus, be glorified in our churches, in our missional groups, and in our campus ministries. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

– TR

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Day Two: John the Baptist

Luke 1:11-17 – Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 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. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 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. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 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.

“Are we prepared for God and do we respond to his work through the One he sent to lead us to him? John will point the way. Do we take the path of sensing our need for God and of responding to the One who offers forgiveness to us? Are we humble before God, taking the path he calls us to, or do we opt to go our own way?

“John is someone whose dedication to God is expressed even in his lifestyle. That lifestyle, as reported to Zechariah, shows how totally focused John must be as he represents God. Filled with the Spirit from birth, he will testify to Jesus even by kicking in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:44). The presence of the Spirit in Luke is often accompanied by a powerful testimony. Those who are directed by God in the Spirit do not render testimony to God in the privacy of their own home, as the many Spirit-filled characters in the book of Acts will also show. If we have the Spirit, God will be manifest in both our words and deeds.” [Bock, Darrell L.. Luke (The NIV Application Commentary) (p. 53). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.]

Spirit-filled expectations are rooted in hearts prepared for God’s salvation, prepared to receive Him as He is – in His power, love, and holiness.

Worship: “Hearts Waiting” by Matt Redman – Link: https://youtu.be/AFCRxv2e8aA

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for making a way for my salvation through Jesus, and for raising up the many lives who loved me and helped prepare the way for me to know Your love. May I thrive on Spirit-filled expectations today, seeking to live in such a Christ-magnifying way that my love and attitude prepare ways for those in my life to know You and receive Your love. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

– TR

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Day One: The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us…

John 1:1-5,14 (NIV) – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV) – Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

“The prologue to John [John 1:1-14] is not about a message that offers hope, but about The Message that is the only hope. It is not about an idea, but a person. The Word became flesh tells us that God is intent on communicating with us not about mere concepts; he is intent on communicating about himself.

“There is only one hope, and it is God in Christ. In this incarnation God has exhibited the glory and grace that is native to his selfhood; and through this incarnation, humankind can regain the glory and grace it once had when it was created. The natural eye cannot see the glory of God since it is dimmed by sin. Instead, it is necessary for God to work, to self-disclose, to send his Son, who alone has exposed God’s heart (1:18).

“When God takes this initiative, new possibilities are born. Divine power is released into the broken world and its broken lives so that new life is possible. The theological key that the world finds so foreign lies here: Transformation and hope cannot be the fruit of some human endeavor. Only God can take the initiative, and men and women must see, receive, and believe the work he desires to do. And when they do, they are reborn to become God’s children.” [Burge, Gary M.. John (The NIV Application Commentary) (p. 14, 17). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.]

Worship: A Christmas Alleluia” by Christ Tomlin – Link: “A Christmas Alleluia”

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, help us to honor Your name. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Reveal to me afresh your Son who came to save sinners like me. Renew in my heart the only hope for my life and may I express it fully today by magnifying Jesus in all that I say and do. Be glorified in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

– TR

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Day Five: Humility and Happiness

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weakness, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

“Lest Paul should exalt himself because of the exceeding greatness of revelations given him, a thorn in the flesh was sent him to keep him humble. Paul’s first desire was to have it removed, and he besought the Lord thrice that it might depart. The answer came that the trial was a blessing, that in the weakness and humiliation it brought, the grace and strength of the Lord could be better manifested. Paul at once entered upon a new stage in his relation to the trial. Instead of simply enduring it, he most gladly gloried in it. Instead of asking for deliverance, he took pleasure in it. He had learned that the place of humiliation is the place of blessing, of power, of joy.

“Every Christian passes through these two stages in his pursuit of humility. In the first he fears and flees and seeks deliverance from all that can humble him. He has not yet learned to seek humility at any cost. He has accepted the command to be humble, and seeks to obey it, though only to find how utterly he fails. He prays for humility, at times very earnestly, but in his secret heart he prays more, if not in word then in wish, to be kept from the very things that will make him humble. He is not yet so in love with humility as the beauty of the Lamb of God and the joy of heaven, that he would sell all to procure it.

“But can we hope to reach the stage in which this will be the case? Undoubtedly. And what will it be that brings us there? That which brought Paul there–a new revelation of the Lord Jesus. Nothing but the presence of God can reveal and expel self.

“It appears as if this were the highest lesson that he had to learn, full conformity to his Lord in that self-emptying where he gloried in weakness that God might be all.”  (Andrew Murray)

Prayer: Lord, help me to become nothing, undone before you, so that I may experience the blessing of not only enduring my trials and pains but also delight and glory in all so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

– JK

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Day Four: The Secret of Contentment

Philippians 4:11-13 – I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

“The secret of contentment is not normally learned in posh circumstances or in deprived circumstances, but in exposure to both.  The brute fact is that Paul is content in both circumstances because his contentment is utterly independent of circumstances. His contentment is focused on all that he enjoys of Christ Jesus. That means he has learned, by hard experience, a relaxed contentment whatever his circumstances. Paul confesses that if he has reached this stage of contentment he owes everything to God: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength’ (Phil 4:13).

“It takes the strength and resolution and perspective that only God can provide to live above changing, difficult circumstances. But to live above circumstances, utterly content in Christ Jesus, is to ensure that you will never give up the Christian walk. Resolve to learn the secret of contentment.” (D.A. Carson)

Prayer:  Apart from you, Lord, I can do nothing but I can do all things in Christ who strengthen and enable me. I desire to remain in you, be close to you as you hold my hand tightly and walk with me today.

– JK

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Day Three: The Secret of Strength

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“There is no truth more generally admitted among earnest Christians than that of their utter weakness.  Here, as elsewhere, God’s thoughts are heaven-high above man’s thoughts. The Christian often tries to forget his weakness: God wants us to remember it, to feel it deeply. The Christian wants to conquer his weakness and to be freed from it: God wants us to rest and even rejoice in it. The Christian mourns over his weakness: Christ teaches His servant to say, “I take pleasure in infirmities; most gladly will I glory in my infirmities.” The Christian thinks his weakness is his greatest hindrance in the life and service of God: God tells us that it is the secret of strength and success. It is our weakness, heartily accepted and continually realized, that gives us our claim and access to the strength of Him who has said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (Andrew Murray)

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your promise of sufficient grace that sustains me to endure all things. I trust you and embrace my weaknesses as you enable me to say in my weakest moments your power is perfected in me.

– JK

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Day Two: Treasures in Fragile Clay Jars

2 Corinthians 4:7-10,13-16 – “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

We are the jars of clay – fragile, breakable and disposable – containing the treasure because the power of the gospel is what matters. If otherwise, the jars may regard themselves as more important.  It must be clear that the great and all surpassing power we need to endure all things is from God and not ourselves.

Prayer: Lord, help us to embrace our weaknesses so that your power is manifested through us. May we go from weakness to weakness, to remain as vessels of your power, so that we are ever weak and ever strong in Christ.

– JK

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Day One: Power in Weakness

John 15:5 (NLT) – “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

Philippians 4:13 (NLT) – “But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“He, the strong, works in me, the weak. I, the weak, abide by faith in Him, the strong. And I, in the self-same moment, know myself to be weak and strong.” – Andrew Murray

“The error of this mode of thinking is that people estimate their weakness, not too highly, but too meagerly. They would still do something by the exercise of all their powers, and with the help of God. They do not know that they must be nothing before God.  You think that you have still a little strength, and that the Father must help you by adding something of His own power to your feeble energy. This thought is wrong. Your weakness appears in the fact that you can do nothing. It is better to speak of utter inability, for that is what the Scriptures mean by the word ‘weakness.’ ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’ ‘In us is no power.’” – Andrew Murray

Prayer: Father, I come to you and first acknowledge my utter inability to do anything in my own strength.  In my inability, may I receive Your strength– the power that comes in fullness with the resurrection power already living inside of us and say, “For when I am weak then I am strong” in Christ.

– JK

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