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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Day Five: “As I have loved you…”

John 15:12-13,16-17 – “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.17 This is my command: Love each other.”

Jesus’ central purpose and desire was to do the will of the Father, which was and still is to love us, this world, and bring everyone into his salvation.  Love is central to the will of God. Love, love one another, lay your life down for them…this is the will that Jesus chose us to experience and live out.

Love changed us and gave us life, and this is the love that will continually change us and draw us deeper into the will of God, our loving Father. When we are loving God (and this is the ultimate outcome of our worship), and when we are loving those around us, we will find that we are much more in the will of God, we are walking deep in the adventure, learning the wonder, and the power, and the beauty of living God’s will for our lives.

Love and loving is central to the will of God. Loving is clearest way of knowing that you are in God’s will. Worship and love. These bring us into the adventure of the Spirit-filled life, walking with the Spirit into the will of God. These are some of the primary means through which we can walk, live, and experience God’s will today. And as we press on to the things that lay before us, the things to come, the future direction that God has planned for us. His will unfolds right in the midst of these decisions and moments to worship and love.

Today, let’s simply pray through each of the passages from the last five days: Jeremiah 29:11-13 ; Galatians 5:16, 25; Romans 8:26-29a ; Romans 12:1-2; and John 15:12-13,16-17. And let’s ask the Spirit to fill our lives with worship and love.

– TR

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Day Four: “…His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

As we offer our lives to the Lord in worship, as we center our lives on knowing God’s heart and His ways we, “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2). The Holy Spirit is at work in us making this our reality!

In and through a life of worship we are transformed. When we begin to live out each day as worship to the Lord – our work is worship, our classed are worship, our raising of kids is worship-filled, etc. Being in God’s presence, living in worship will change us. That is how wonderful and powerful God’s Presence is. And it is in His presence that we know His will more clearly and more deeply.

Let’s that the Lord for His mercies in our lives and the many ways He has rescued us, forgiven us, and changed us. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase His activity in the area of worship in our lives, reminding us to live worshipful in all that we do. Let’s scan our days and tasks today and decide to make them all worship unto the Lord.

– TR

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Day Three: “The Spirit himself intercedes…”

Romans 8:26-29a (NIV) – “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…

As Christians who are filled with the Spirit, it is the Spirit that is fully engaged and working in us to live out God’s will for our lives today, now, in this time and task for our lives. He is the one leading into the adventure of the Christian life. The decisions we make today to walk in the Spirit, to submit to His leading will profoundly affect our next year, our next steps in life, and the future to come. These affects will have Divine impact on our tomorrows, and that is the only true impact that will give us life – life to the full.

Romans 8:27 says that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in ‘accordance’ with the will of God. Another way to see this is that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us to come into the will of the God. That not only is there agreement with God’s will, but that we are living and being conformed to the image the One – Jesus Christ – who perfectly lived out God’s will. As the Spirit cries out, our heart and lives are brought into that reality. In some sense because of the Spirit’s cries and passion for us, we find our hearts agreeing and walking in step with this cry and passion.

As we learn to discern the Spirit’s voice, His desires, and His ways in our lives, we will be more and more able to follow Him into the right/best way, at the right time, for the right reason that will most glorify God, to enjoy Him, and enjoy his ways for our lives.

Let’s us spend time in prayer asking the Lord to teach us to listen to Spirit’s cries, promptings and ways in our lives. Let’s ask that we become all that the Spirit intercedes on our behalf.

– TR

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Day Two: “So I say, walk by the Spirit…”

Galatians 5:16, 25 (NIV) – “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

As Christians, our understanding of God’s will is much more ‘dynamic’ than ‘static.’ Static means just pursuing an outcome or desire we believe we are to have or be or do or accomplish. Whereas dynamic implies that our lives are moving with the Spirit and the immediate plans of God in our present circumstances. In this dynamic understanding of God’s will for our lives we “seek to always being open to what God is doing…now.”

The Christian reality, this Spirit-filled life of love, is not necessarily set on a destination, it is lived out in an hour by hour relationship with the Lord and His people. It is dynamic by nature because the will of God is relational at the core. Seeking the will of God is first and foremost realized in walking, living, and keeping in step with the Spirit.

Understanding God’s will for our lives in the framework of His direction doesn’t imply that we don’t seek destination or a particular outcome. We should pray and wrestle with the future plans or decisions (or outcomes) until we find the deep Spirit-led resolution in our hearts. For in those honest and vulnerable moments before the Lord, perhaps with the encouragement and care of His people, we will be more clear and able to live fully today, making the most of every opportunity that Lord has planned for us now. May we never sacrifice the precious experiences and steps of the Spirit today for the sake of our unresolved worries and dreams of tomorrow.

Today, let’s do spend time in prayer for the decisions/outcomes we need or desire to have God’s resolution in. Seek the Lord, pray continually and be open to His answers, changes in us, and desires.

– TR

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