Tuesday, December 6, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--the Lion and the Lamb

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.

While pondering the words, “Lion and Lamb,” I was inspired by listening to the powerful new anthem, The Lion and The Lamb by Leeland... He's coming on the clouds, Kings and kingdoms will bow down, Every chain will break, As broken hearts declare His praise, For who can stop the Lord Almighty, Our God is a lion, The Lion of Judah, He's roaring with power, And fighting our battles, Every knee will bow before Him, Our God is a lamb, The lamb that was slain, For the sins of the world, His blood breaks the chains, Every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb.

Revelation 5:5-6; 11-14 NIV

Pastor Ray Stedman writes: "None of the leaders of earth have a clue as to how to solve the issues that divide mankind and keep us from loving one another. But then John learns that the problem is already solved. The 24 angels, the heavenly council around the throne of God, know the answer. One of them says to him…Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (Revelation 5:5-6; 11-14 NIV) "The Lion of the tribe of Judah" and "the Root of David" are both Jewish titles. They refer to prophecies from the Old Testament that predict there would be one from the tribe of Judah and from the family of David who would at last rule over the earth and solve its problems. These titles refer, then, to the King of the Jews—the very title which Pilate inscribed on the Cross of Jesus. The King of the Jews! He is the One who triumphs by his death and is able to bring about God's kingdom on the earth. But, when John turns to see the conquering Lion of Judah, what he sees is the slain Redeemer of the world! Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Revelation 5:5-6; 11-14 NIV) He expected to see a Lion but what he saw was a Lamb, with the marks of death still upon him. One of the most moving hymns that blind Fanny Crosby ever wrote says: I shall know Him, I shall know Him, As redeemed by his side I shall stand. I shall know Him, I shall know Him, By the prints of the nails in his hand! Those marks of death are still upon the Lamb, and will be for all eternity. In these two symbols, the Lion of Judah and the Lamb that was slain, John sees the uniting of two themes that run throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament alike. Lions are a symbol of majesty, power, rule and authority. Lions conquer; lambs submit! Lions roar; lambs die! There is introduced to us here the One who conquers by submitting. The symbols tie together the earthly promises of Israel and the heavenly calling of the church."

Pastor Stedman continues: "This uniting of the Lion and the Lamb is the basis for C. S. Lewis' novels for children (and childlike adults), called "The Narnia Chronicles." A great lion, Aslan, rules in majesty and roars in triumph, but he does so because he submits to being put to death by the evil characters controlled by the White Witch, but at last the kingdom of Narnia is freed from its bondage to winter and the springtime of the world arrives. It is a beautiful use of these symbols. As the Lion of Judah, Jesus will rule the world with a rod of iron. So the Second Psalm declares: "Though the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing; the kings of the earth take counsel together against the Lord, and against his Anointed ...Yet have I set my Son on my holy hill of Zion." (Psalm 2:1-3, 6). Zion is symbolic for Jerusalem. In it Jesus shall reign with a rod of iron and dash the nations to pieces if they resist that reign. It is all predicted in that great prophetic Psalm. As the Lion of Judah our Lord reigns, but if anyone is weak and faltering, helpless or hopeless, he or she will find a compassionate Savior—because this Lion is also a Lamb! As the Lamb of God he is filled with mercy and grace, but if any should presume upon that grace and begin to live a rebellious or defiant life, let him beware—because this Lamb is also a Lion!"

Pastor Stedman continues: “There comes vividly to my memory a scene from my early manhood, 50 years ago in the city of Chicago. It was an Easter Sunday and I was living in a tiny little room in the North Avenue YMCA. I was up before dawn, getting dressed to attend a great sunrise service in Soldier Field. As I was dressing, my eye fell upon an open hymn book on the dresser before me. It was opened to the hymn, "Beneath the Cross of Jesus." I read to myself the words of the second verse: Upon that cross of Jesus, mine eye at times can see, The very dying form of One who suffered there for me; And from my smitten heart with tears two wonders I confess—The wonder of redeeming love, and my unworthiness! My heart was melted when I read those words. I knew well my own unworthiness. But as I thought of the marvel of redeeming love, I felt as if the walls of that room faded away, and I, too, was standing with this great throng in heaven singing of the wonder of redemption—God's love for mankind, manifest in the cross. As John watches, all the universe is caught up in the wonder of that sacrificial love. He hears a great swelling volume of sound: "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousand, and ten thousand times ten thousand [Millions, even billions of angels]. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:5-6; 11-14 NIV) This is clearly the basis for Handel's closing choruses in his oratorio The Messiah. It closes with one of the most beautiful musical numbers ever written, "Worthy is the Lamb." At the end of it everyone in the chorus joins in a repeated declaration, "Amen, Amen, Amen." It is a moving presentation, and the closest thing we have on earth to the scene described here. At last the illusions are taken away and all creation acknowledges the Lordship of Christ. John sees this in vision. It has not yet occurred on earth, but it will! When the seven-sealed scroll is fully opened, heaven and earth will join in this acknowledgment. That is the goal of all history. Every historic event for these many centuries is related to and moves toward that final goal of history. It forces the question each must face. Everyone will be involved in this worship, but the question will be, "Which group will you be with?" Will you stand with those who gladly confess the Lordship of Jesus, or will you be with those who reluctantly acknowledge that he is right and they are wrong? Only you can answer that question!"

Sometimes it seems as if the forces of evil are winning and godless rulers and superpowers are dominating our world. These scriptures about the Lion and the Lamb remind us of who is really in charge and calling the shots: the Lord Almighty. The same God who created the world with a word can shatter the plans of the nations and thwart all their schemes. No matter how out of control things may appear, God’s plan remains in place. He is running the show and knows the end from the beginning. No one is higher or mightier than our Lord Jesus Christ—the Lion and the Lamb! He governs our world, His kingdom will come, and His sovereign will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven! God’s intentions can never be shaken, and his plans stand firm forever. His amazing power is at work in the world, and He will carry out his eternal purpose to the last detail.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the assurance Your Word gives me that You are the Lion and the Lamb, You reign over heaven and earth and that no one can thwart Your plans for my life—and for the whole world. I put my trust in You today. Only You understand everything—even those things that are mysteries to me. Because You have all authority on earth and in heaven, I can rest in You. You are my shield and my eternal protector. When I am in danger or distress, help me trust in You. Lift my gaze and my heart from everything on this earth to You, who reign over all. Thank You for answering me from heaven and acting on my behalf when I cry out to You. May You be glorified in my life. In Your mighty name I pray, amen.

Look Up
—meditate on Revelation 5:5-6; 11-14  … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Revelation 5:5-6; 11-14 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Revelation 5:5-6; 11-14 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


Weekly LinkUps…

Monday, December 5, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Kings

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.


While pondering the word, “Kings,” I was inspired by listening to this beautiful rendition of Little Drummer Boy by the Gaither Vocal Band, picturing the little drummer boy who may have accompanied these Kings...Come they told me…A new born King to see…Our finest gifts we bring…To lay before the King…So to honor Him…When we come…

Pastor John MacArthur states: “Actually, the only thing we know about these wise men is some history and what is said in Matthew, which is very limited, it says, “There came wise men from the East.”  That’s it. We don’t know their names; we don’t know anything from that. But as we put the pieces together, historically, and we do have some very fascinating history. Some of it from the Old Testament, books such as Daniel where the Magi or wise men appear in several different texts, other Bible books as well as the writings of Herodotus and other historians. We believe they were members of an Eastern priestly group, descendant of a tribe of people originally associated with the Medes. So they are from a very ancient and long-lived people were these wise men.  And by the way, the word wise men, it says, “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king behold there came magi.”  The Greek is magos, magoi, translated, magi. The magi were a priestly line, a priestly tribe of people from among the Medes, this very ancient and large people. They were very skilled in astronomy and astrology. But the magi originally were basically a pagan, priestly tribe of people from the Medes and the Persians and there are many historical sources to validate this. They became interested in astronomy and astrology and the study of the stars. Now, what’s interesting about this is that during the time of the Babylonian Empire these magi were dwelling in the area of Babylon. They were there during the Babylonian time and the Medo-Persian Empire as well. Now while they were there during the Babylonian Empire, they were very heavily influenced by the Jews. You remember that one of the things that Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon did was take Judah into captivity. Well, here in Babylon were existing these magi, and they were very high-ranking officials. By that time they had ascended to a high place in the Babylonian Empire because of their amazing intuition, wisdom, knowledge, and astrology, they had risen to a place of prominence. They encountered all these Jewish people that had been brought to captivity, including one very specific Jew by the name of Daniel, who was elevated in the Babylonian Empire. Consequently, they were very familiar or made familiar in the dispersion of the Jews in Babylon with Jewish prophesy regarding the Messiah. They were made aware of what was really on the Jewish prophetic plan for this One who was to come."

According to the ancient historian, Herodotus, the Magi were a tribe of people within a larger people called the Medes. They were a hereditary priesthood tribe. In other words, they were like the Levites in Israel. The Magi were really the key people in the government of the East, centered in the Fertile Crescent, the area around Babylon and Medo-Persia. Now they always appear with tremendous political power. They rose up in Babylonian government, Medo-Persian government, to be the advisors to the royalty of the East. That’s where they got the name the Wise Men. They were the ones that were consulted about the various things that the kings and the rulers and the nobles and the princes wanted to know. In Daniel 2:10 it says, “The Chaldeans answered before the king and said, ‘There is not a man on the earth that can reveal the king’s matter: therefore, there is no king, lord, nor ruler that asked such things of any Magi or astrologer or Chaldean.’”  And it’s very likely that those are all synonyms. So here we find the word Magi. Now when Daniel came along and all these Magi who were in the high, high-ranking place of advisors to the king couldn’t give any answers, Daniel could, something amazing happened.  Daniel 5:11, “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods, and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods was found in him” – talking about Daniel now – “Whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king I say, thy father made master of the Magi.” Daniel was so adept at telling the dreams of the king that the king made Daniel the master of the Magi, so that Daniel was literally in Babylon the chief over this whole priestly group. Now, that puts Daniel in the tremendously unique position of being able to dispense to these Magi all of his information about the Old Testament, which without a shadow of a doubt is precisely what Daniel did. We know that Daniel was a man of God. We know that Daniel was a man totally devoted to worship and expression of his faith because he wound up in a lion’s den because of it. There’s no question in my mind but that Daniel and the other godly remnant in the Diaspora, the dispersion, shared their knowledge of the Old Testament and their copies of the Scripture with these people in Babylon. As history moved on from here, the Magi began to depart from a singular commitment to their historic religion, and they began to find their way into different things. I believe in my heart that some, like these Magi that show up at the birth of Christ, were really true seekers of the true God. In Esther 1:13 we have the indication that the royal bench of judges was all chosen from the Magi, they were powerful. History tells us they knew astronomy, they were very good in mathematics, they knew natural history, they were good at agriculture and architecture. Now, as I mentioned earlier one of their special skills was interpreting dreams.  And when they failed to do that and Daniel moved in on top of it and became the chief, as we saw in Daniel 5:11, the setup was made by God to set the scene for Matthew chapter 2, six hundred years before Jesus was born. God was setting up the situation for a great Hebrew prophet to rule a group called the Magi, so that one day when a baby was born in Bethlehem, some of those Magi would find their way to the house where the baby was. That’s planning history. Somehow and by some marvelous way God has managed to maintain some true seeking Magi. 
Politically speaking, Rome was scared of the Eastern Empire. By the time we get to the time of Christ, the Magi are still in tremendous power in the east. Some of them used their power, their position, their skills, with a great amount of human wisdom. Some of the Magi were honest and they exalted the craft of wisdom and political advice. When they arrived in Jerusalem Herod knew what was going on. They were kingmakers and when they wandered around town saying, “Where is this new king of the Jews?” Herod got panicky. When suddenly these Persian kingmakers appeared in Jerusalem, no doubt traveling in full force with all their oriental pomp. They used to wear conical hats with points on the top and big deals clear down to the bottom of their chin, and they rode Persian steeds not camels.  And when they came in they didn’t come alone. The estimates of history are they came with Persian cavalry.  When they came charging into the city of Jerusalem and Herod peeked out his little palace window, he flipped. These are powerful men, and to make it worse his army was out of the country on a mission. The Bible says Herod was troubled. The word in the Greek is he was agitated like your washing machine, he was shaking.

“Well, what were the Magi thinking?”
Maybe, they had looked at it politically.
  Maybe they thought, “Oh, man, here comes the king.” I think that that’s probably true, but additionally I think they looked at it spiritually.  Because when they got to that little room in Bethlehem, the Bible says they worshiped Him. They saw more than just a king. I believe they saw the Messiah they had heard about from the days of Daniel. I think we have God-fearing, seeking gentiles. I’m sure they were thinking, “Maybe this is the Savior, the Savior who is called the Anointed One,” which is a term describing a king. “And maybe He will not only be the Savior, the Messiah, but maybe He will be the one who will gather all this people of the east together and go against the oppression of Rome.” Isn’t it exciting to you how God controls history?  Not because it was just a bunch of historical facts, but because you are seeing God at work. History is His story. Long ago He picked out a man named Daniel, put him in a place to influence some men who would arrive in perfect timing. You say, “Well, why does Matthew present this?  Why?”  Listen.  Matthew, all the way through his gospel is trying to tell the world that Jesus Christ is what?  King.  And just to make sure nobody misses it he has the most famous kingmakers in the world come and bow down at His feet.  Do you see?  It’s all a part of Matthew’s strategy.  He’s the king.  And if Israel isn’t going to acknowledge it, then God is going to drag a bunch of people from Persia to acknowledge it.  He’s king."

As we have learned from this history of the Kings, Magi, or Wise Men in the Nativity Alphabet, in a very crucial time in Daniel 2:20, 22-23, Daniel didn’t lean on his own understanding and knowledge. Neither did he panic when the king ordered that Daniel along with all the king’s Magi or Wise Men would be killed because they had failed to interpret his dream. Instead, Daniel asked the king for more time, went home, and urged his three friends to join him in prayer. Together they asked God to show them his mercy by revealing the secret of the king’s dream. Daniel’s prayer of praise and thanksgiving is a reminder to us that God reveals “deep and mysterious things”—things that are unseeable and unknowable and unsearchable to the natural mind—to those who seek him and ask for his wisdom instead of trying to figure things out on their own. What area of your life do you feel most baffled about? Where do you need wisdom the most—in your parenting, your business, in relationships or ministry? Praise God today for being the source of all wisdom, light, and strength and the One who can reveal to you just what you need.

Heavenly Father, I praise Your Holy Name. You are the God who “has all wisdom and power,” the One who guides world events, You are always at work. Long ago You picked out a man named Daniel, put him in a place to influence some men who would arrive in perfect timing. You give “wisdom to the wise,” and you know what is “hidden in darkness” and all mysteries. I pray for Your wisdom and strength in each situation I face today. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Daniel 2:20, 22-23 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on 
Daniel 2:20, 22-23… pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
Daniel 2:20, 22-23 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


Weekly LinkUps…

Sunday, December 4, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Journey

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.


While pondering the word, “journey,” I was inspired by listening to this beautiful hymn by Michael W. Smith, Almost There (featuring Amy Grant)…Mary full of innocence, Carrying the Holy Prince, You're Almost There, You're almost where the journey ends, Where death will die and life begins, The answered prayer, Emmanuel, You're Almost There…

Pastor Nelson Price writes: “Have you ever wondered what the few days before the historical event that initiated Christmas would have been like for Mary and Joseph? Walk through them with me. From Nazareth, they would have journeyed over the mountains through Cana to the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee. There they would have joined others journeying south. It was the norm for people to travel these routes in groups to avoid robbers. Usually a self-appointed guide or protector was paid a fee in order to go along with his group. There is no donkey in the Bible account for Mary to ride. Walking, though drudgery, might have been easier for a woman nine months pregnant than riding a donkey. Mary would have been a teenager at the time and doubtless a hardy one as most people of the time had to be to survive. The route started on the west shores of the Jordan River. Just south of Beth Shean they crossed the river into what is now Jordan. The route was easier and safer from there to Jericho where they crossed back. The temperature in this fertile green valley would have been more mild than would be found on the mountains around Bethlehem. Up until this point, the route would have traversed mostly smooth terrain. From Jericho to Bethlehem would have required going through the barren Wilderness of Judea. Here especially the protection afforded by group travel would have been essential. It was along this road the Good Samaritan encountered the man who had been beaten and robbed. Once they arrived in Bethlehem, they found no fancy hotel. An “inn” was simply a caravansary. There was one in Bethlehem which King David named for one of his generals. Such consisted of a plot of ground cleared of most stones out of which a perimeter “fence” would have been made. It restricted animals within it. An inn was in no way anything like a hotel or motel. It was an outdoor walled off place where people and their animals slept together as they often did in the field. Within they were protected and had a bit of shelter. The mountains around Bethlehem are porous providing many caves. Some of these caves were used to shelter livestock. Often a cave would have more than one chamber. The animals were kept in the outer chamber and provided warmth for the family deeper within. Such caves were called mangers. There is no innkeeper in the Bible narrative but there must have been some proprietor to allowed Mary and Joseph to use the manger. It afforded more privacy than would have the inn itself. I have visited that cave in Bethlehem many times. It is a humbling thing to stand there and think here, right here, the Word became flesh and came and dwelt among us. Just outside that night an angel appeared with a special message that was good tidings of great joy. It entailed the potential for what we all long: “Peace on earth, Good will toward men.”

We may never make the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, but just like the psalmist who journeyed to Jerusalem, in Psalm 121:1-4, our strength and help don’t come from the mountains, but from the One who made them. He who created us is able to sustain us. He enables us to finish whatever journey we’re on, even if there is weariness, sickness, or trouble along the way. He who guards us never falls asleep on the job. He is up all night protecting his own, guarding our lives. This psalm is sometimes called the traveler’s psalm because it assures us that no matter where we are, whether we journey by car, airplane, train, or on foot, whether we are awake or asleep, we are not alone. We can pray this psalm aloud whenever we start on a trip. As we proclaim God’s watchful care over our comings and goings, our heart is calmed. As we, like Mary, remind ourselves of the One who stands beside us, watches over us, prepares the way before us, keeps us from harm, we can rest in His loving arms as we travel over mountains and hills, fly over clouds, and as we make our final journey from this life into eternity.

Lord Jesus, just like Your mother, Mary, looked into Your eyes at the end of her long journey and saw the face of God, as the psalmist prayed, I look up to the mountains, but my help does not come from there! My help comes from You, who created the heavens and the earth! Because You hold me, I will not stumble and fall. Because You watch over me, I will not fear. Thank You for Your constant care and protection. My security is in You. Please bless my going out and coming in, both now and forever. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Psalm 121:1-4 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Psalm 121:1-4 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Psalm 121:1-4 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


Weekly LinkUps…

Saturday, December 3, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Immanuel

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.



While pondering the name, “Immanuel,” I was inspired by listening to Chris Tomlin’s anointed hymn, Emmanuel while studying Isaiah 7:14


NASB:  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Amplified: Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].

NET:  For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.

NLT:  All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

The Voice:
 Suit yourself. The Lord will give you a proof-sign anyway: See, a young maiden will conceive. She will give birth to a son and name Him Immanuel, that is, “God with us.”
Young’s Literal:
 Therefore the Lord Himself giveth to you a sign, Lo, the Virgin is conceiving, And is bringing forth a son, And hath called his name Immanuel.


In March, 2000, I traveled to Israel with 850 other women for the filming of the Beth Moore Bible Study, Jesus, the One and Only
As our Israeli tour bus drove toward Bethlehem, I began to wonder, what would it have been like for Joseph and Mary as they approached Bethlehem 20 centuries ago? Was the five-mile stretch of road from Jerusalem as bustling as it is today? What did they see? What did they hear?

As we approached the town, we noticed all the terraced olive groves, which march up the dry hills like steps leading to a temple. And then, suddenly, there it is: Bethlehem, the ancient "House of Bread"--clinging to a ridge as if clinging to history itself. O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Naturally, no one can be sure exactly where Jesus' birth occurred in Bethlehem, but you just know that, wherever the exact spot, it couldn't have been far away. That thought alone pierces through all the touristy glitz and fairly takes your breath away in anticipation.

Standing in the city of Bethlehem, looking out on the Shepherd's Fields I can just imagine the heavens opening up and the angels descending and shouting, Glory to God in the highest, unto to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord. When the shepherds in the field were surprised by the appearances of the angel and the heavenly host, their initial terror quickly turned to joy. Just as the angel had said, they found the baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. For these simple men with open hearts, it was a process of surprise, shock, fear, disbelief, hope, trust, confirmation, and finally indescribable joy! Joy at seeing the Christ child. Joy at having been singled out for the unique honor of being present at the very moment in history when God came near. Joy at having witnessed the one birth that gives meaning to all other births.

Bible Teacher Beth Moore writes: “When Mary heard those first cries of divine life wrapped in human flesh, any thought of disappointment must surely have turned into immeasurable peace and joy!  Even His name, Immanuel, "El" means "God," the rest of the word means "with us," the "with us God." He created us to be with us. He gave each of us a longing for Him by creating every single human being with a "with" need. While the world carried on unconcerned, the infant Immanuel cooed and kicked and toddled His way to His feet. God, the Immortal Invisible, walked among His people, Israel, as they sojourned through the wilderness. But not until now did His invisible feet sink into the sand, shod with skin, making visible prints. And God was with us. Immanuel.”

What do we learn from the unlikely circumstances of Jesus' birth, but that our God is a God of surprises. How He delights in bringing us unexpected joy! How many times have we seen God most clearly in the middle of a crisis? How many times have we discovered the miraculous in the midst of the mundane?

Pastor Charles Swindoll writes: “Immanuel. God with us. He who resided in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world. He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins. He didn't come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety.”


Where is God
 when we’re in the emergency room with a severely injured loved one? When trouble or tragedy strikes, we long for God, the living God. Uncomfortable circumstances may continue, but God will prove himself our sure refuge because he has promised he will never forsake us. His name, Immanuel, means “God with us.” Because of this truth we can continue to call on the Lord with confidence that He will hear and respond because of His unfailing love.


Immanuel, thank You that You are the “with us God.” Thank You for Your promised presence with me today. Although my circumstances may seem overwhelming, I call to You with confidence because You are all powerful and You love me. I praise You that you are Immanuel—God with us—in everything we experience as we walk through this broken, hurting world. Help me to be Your hands and feet today, Your words of comfort and encouragement to those who need to know “where You are” in their times of deep need. In Your mighty Name Above All Names—Immanuel, we pray, amen.



Look Up—meditate on Isaiah 7:14 Pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on 
Isaiah 7:14 pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
Isaiah 7:14 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ 

Friday, December 2, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Holy

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick


Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.


While pondering the words, “O Holy Night,” I was inspired by listening to this beautiful rendition of the hymn, O Holy Night featuring David Phelps…O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior's birth…

Worship (proskuneō from pros = before + kuneo = kiss or adore) means to prostrate oneself in homage before another in the full sense of worship, not mere reverence or courtesy. When Jesus Christ was born into this world, He was attended and worshipped by angels. (Luke 2:13).

Proskuneō represents the most common Near Eastern act of adoration and reverence and also carries the idea of profound awe and respect. The word proskuneō literally means to kiss toward someone, to throw a kiss in token of respect or homage, to prostrate oneself in homage, to do reverence to, to adore and so to worship and show respect. Notice that proskuneō is a command (aorist imperative) meaning to carry this out effectively and fully. The angels are to do this now!

Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest writes: “Proskuneō means "to prostrate one’s self, to kiss the hand to (towards) one in token of reverence, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence, by kneeling or prostration to do homage to one or make obeisance, either in order to express respect or make supplication.” It is used of homage shown to men of superior rank, or of homage shown to God.”

Proskuneō is the word used when the Magi came from the east to worship the Christ child. [Mt 2:2] This is the word that means to lie down prostrate before one that is worthy to be worshipped. It involves the attitude of humility of the person who is bowing, and it involves an understanding and recognition that one is in the presence of the One that is worthy. It is a response word, not an emotion, but an immediate response in the presence of deity.

Pastor John MacArthur states: “The Magi had seen the sign of the Son of man, and they had come to worship him. To worship means, literally proskuneō means, to stoop to kiss. It was a word that spoke about the way you paid homage to a monarch.  You stooped down and you kissed his foot. The word proskuneō finally came to mean any internal attitude of adoration or worship to someone greater than yourself. They came to worship. The word proskuneō means to kiss the feet of, or stoop to kiss, or to kiss reverently.  When the New Testament uses that word, it is always used of something truly divine. It is a word that is only fit for deity. It is only fit for deity.  You remember when John tried to worship the angel in Revelation and the angel said, “Get up.  Don’t proskuneō me.  Proskuneō God.  He’s the only one worthy of such worship.”  Kittel, who has written such a marvelous series of word studies on the Greek, incomparable work, says, “The proskuneō of the wise men is truly an offering to the ruler of the universe.”  It was a word reserved for deity.  And when they came, I believe, they not only saw Him as a king of the Jews politically, but they saw Him as the ruler of the world, which means they saw more than humanity; they saw deity.”


Just as the Magi bowed down and worshiped our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so do we seek to worship Him as a response, not an emotion, but an immediate response in the presence of deity.  As Psalm 84:1-2 states: How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Because we can worship God anyplace and anytime, we might fail to understand the psalmist’s longing. In Old Testament times a person made a pilgrimage to worship God. It was a yearly event and often involved a lengthy journey. That is why the psalmist sang of a dwelling place where he could be in the presence of the Lord. It’s why he expressed a desire to be even a lowly gatekeeper in God’s house so that he could worship God every single day! We have available to us what the psalmist could only hope for. When Christ hung on the cross, the heavy veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple ripped from top to bottom. This symbolic act shouted to the world that believers were no longer required to stand at a distance. We can walk into God’s presence and commune with him by name. Today many religions continue to require a pilgrimage to worship their gods. Christ made a way for you by making a pilgrimage of his own—the long, lonely walk to the cross—so that you could praise him wherever you are.

Lord Jesus, just like the Magi who bowed down in worship at Your birth, I am thankful that I can worship You right where I am. I will enter Your courts with thanksgiving. I will kneel at Your mercy seat and find forgiveness. I will call out Your name in praise. Lord, I pray for those who do not yet have this intimate relationship with You—the One True Living God. Open their eyes to see that they can find You and worship You right here, right now. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Psalm 84:1-2 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Psalm 84:1-2 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Psalm 84:1-2 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


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