God’s proof for you

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (11)

Luke 2:8-14

Luk 2:8 And shepherds were living in the same region, staying outside and keeping watch, proctecting their flock at night.
Luk 2:9 And an angel from the Lord stood near them, and the impressive appearance of the Lord blazed around them, and they reacted with tremendous fear.
Luk 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, because notice, I am bringing good news to you of tremendous joy — intended for all the people:
Luk 2:11 because today in the city of David, a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.
Luk 2:12 And this will be the proof for you: you will find the baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”
Luk 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the sky army, praising God and saying,
Luk 2:14 “God in the highest place gets the praise, and peace has come to the land for the people he is pleased with.”

God’s proof for you

The angel of the Lord lit up the sky with the impressive appearance (glory) of God. His presence instilled fear in everyone who saw him. He even had to calm people down when they saw him, or they would not even be able to listen to the good news he was proclaiming. But he was not proof that the gospel is true.

The sky army of angels also lit up the sky with God’s glory, and thundered praise to wake the sleeping sheep, and overwhelm the shepherds with their majestic chorus. But the sky army was not proof that the gospel is true.

God’s proof came as an infant, wrapped in strips of cloth, and lying in a feeding trough. It came as a preacher, teaching love and loyalty, and demonstrating both. It came as a sacrifice, dying on a cross he didn’t deserve, demonstrating grace we didn’t deserve. It came as a resurrected, glorified king, promising to return to raise those who believe him. Jesus is the proof that the gospel is true.

LORD, we accept the proof of your promise — your only Son, and our Saviour.

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disconnected

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (10)

Luke 2:5-7

Luk 2:5 He was to be registered there — along with with Mary, who had been legally promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant.
Luk 2:6 And while they were there, the days of her pregnancy ended, and it was time for her to give birth.
Luk 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

disconnected

Joseph and Mary had travelled to Bethlehem because Joseph’s family was connected to the town. Yet, the irony here is that they moved from a place where there were connected to a place where they were really not. Neither of them would have chosen a manger to place their son. But they were forced to be refugees because of some political choice that was made for them.

All around the world today, there are those who are being forced to escape their situations and seek a new home elsewhere. But for some of them, this is God’s way to reach them with the gospel.

LORD, open our eyes to those who have moved into our towns, and are disconnected from their past lives. Help us to befriend them and help them to connect.

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why Joseph went

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (9)

Luke 2:1-4

Luk 2:1 Those are the days when it happened: a royal command came from Caesar Augustus to register all his economic empire for taxation.
Luk 2:2 This registration first happened by order of Quirinius before he was governor of Syria.
Luk 2:3 And everyone came to be registered, each one to his own city of origin.
Luk 2:4 That is why Joseph also travelled from the Galilean city of Nazareth, to the Judean city of David which was called Bethlehem, because he descended from the family and clan of David,

why Joseph went

God moved the mind of the emperor to make a royal command, and that was why Joseph went to Bethlehem. And, God sent an angel. And, God moved a prophet to predict it. And, God enabled Joseph and Mary to travel. Many circumstances conspired to bring that young couple to Bethlehem so that Mary could give birth to Jesus at that place, on that day.

As we look back on our lives, we also can see the hand of God at work in the commands of men, and the coincidences of life. He is sovereign, and active.

LORD, thank you for sending us and supporting us wherever we go, as you wish.

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knowledge and light

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (8)

Luke 1:76-80

Luk 1:76 And so you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will go on before the Lord to prepare his ways,
Luk 1:77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins,
Luk 1:78 because of the merciful heart of our God by which the dawn will visit to help us from on high,
Luk 1:79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct our feet into the way of peace.”
Luk 1:80 And the child kept growing and becoming strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

knowledge and light

Zechariah himself prophesied about the prophetic role of his son, John. John’s function was that of prophet of the Most High. The Lord was going to make an appearance, and John’s task was to get the people ready for his presence. To do this, he was to impart two things: knowledge about the forgiveness that God offers the repentant, and the light of guidance so that the people could reform their ways. They had to stop learning the unhealthy ways of and be directed toward the way of peace.

Our witness to the world today needs to contain both elements as well. We need to preach repentance, but we also need to facilitate reform. Just saying “the sinner’s prayer” is not real repentance unless it is followed by a changed life. Churches full of unchanged people are not ready for God to make his appearance. He is coming, and we need to get our churches and communities ready for him.

LORD, show us how to reach our generation with both the knowledge of your gospel and guidance in how to allow the gospel to transform them.

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rescued to serve without fear

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (7)

Luke 1:67-75

Luk 1:67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, and this is what he said,
Luk 1:68 “Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited to help and has accomplished redemption for his people,
Luk 1:69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
Luk 1:70 just like he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from earliest times–
Luk 1:71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all those who hate us,
Luk 1:72 to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,
Luk 1:73 the oath that he swore to Abraham our father, to grant us
Luk 1:74 so that we, being rescued from the enemies’ hand, can now serve him without fear
Luk 1:75 in holiness and righteousness in his sight all our days.

rescued to serve without fear

Zechariah’s prophecy spoke to a reality far beyond his understanding. He spoke of Israel being rescued from its enemies (Rome) so that it could serve God without fear. But the salvation that John proclaimed went beyond that hope. He proclaimed a Messiah who would rescue all nations from the enemies of death and sin. And the deliverance this Messiah would bring enables us all to serve God in holiness and without fear of sin’s domination. Zechariah envisioned a people serving God in holiness and righteousness all their days. Jesus promised a resurrection unto eternal life, so that we can serve God forever.

LORD, come and complete your rescue. We long to serve you in holiness forever.

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his hand with you

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (6)

Luke 1:57-66

Luk 1:57 Then the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son.
Luk 1:58 And her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had enlarged his mercy to her, and they celebrated with her.
Luk 1:59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were planning to name him with the name of his father Zechariah.
Luk 1:60 But his mother in replying said no, instead he will be named John.
Luk 1:61 And they said to her, “There is no relative of yours who is called by this name.”
Luk 1:62 So they made signs to his father, wondering what he wanted him to be named,
Luk 1:63 and having asked for a writing tablet, he wrote this: “John is his name.” And they were all shocked.
Luk 1:64 And his mouth and his tongue were opened immediately, and when he started speaking, he was praising God.
Luk 1:65 And fear came on all those who lived near them, and in all the hill country of Judea all these events were discussed.
Luk 1:66 And all those who heard kept those words in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be? because the hand of the Lord was really with him!”

his hand with you

What happened to Zechariah demonstrated to the people in his community that God’s hand was with John in a very special way. It did not guarantee John a perfect, happy life, but it did guarantee that John would make a significant difference in his world. His hand is you too. Because God had called you to his purpose, some extraordinary things are going to happen. It is all part of his plan to rescue a people for himself for eternity, and if you are his, you are part of that plan.

LORD, thank you for your miraculous hand, and the impact we can have because you have promised to be with us.

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mercy and strength

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (5)

Luke 1:50-56

Luk 1:50 And his mercy he shows for generations and generations to those who fear him.
Luk 1:51 He has demonstrated the strength in his arm; he has dispersed those who had pride in the thinking of their heart.
Luk 1:52 He has taken down dynasties from thrones, and has lifted up the lower class.
Luk 1:53 He has filled those who are hungry with good foods, and those who are rich he has sent away empty.
Luk 1:54 He has come to the aid of Israel his servant, by remembering mercy,
Luk 1:55 keeping the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants into the age.
Luk 1:56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and returned to her home.

mercy and strength

Mary’s praise was a history lesson about how God has kept his promise toward her people — the Israelites. He shows his mercy in how he deals with his own people, and his strength by taking down their enemies who exalt themselves over him. Those enemies are described as prideful, rich, and dominant. All across the planet today there are those who are being dealt with by God in this way. Their societies are disintegrating because they have exalted themselves above God. Even those societies who are nominally theistic are experiencing this disintegration. Meanwhile, there are some rather insignificant looking people like Mary and Elizabeth who are experiencing God’s mercy. He is coming to the aid of his servants by remembering mercy.

LORD, come to our aid today, and show your strength against your enemies.

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the celebrating soul

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (4)

Luke 1:46-49

Luk 1:46 And Mary said, “My soul celebrates the greatness of the Lord,
Luk 1:47 and my spirit has been exuberantly joyful over God my Savior,
Luk 1:48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his female bondservant, because, notice, from now on all generations will consider me blessed,
Luk 1:49 because the Powerful God has worked great miracles for me, and holy is his name.

the celebrating soul

Mary could have chosen to be a criticising soul, or a lamenting soul. She had lots of reasons to be those things. But she chose to be a celebrating soul. She looked beyond the temporary inconvenience and potential shame, and confusion. She chose to believe that God was calling her to a status of permanent blessedness and joy. She took hold of that joy and started celebrating.

LORD, we choose your joy, and will commit ourselves to your plan. In spite of temporary hardships, we determine to begin celebrating today.

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the initial evidence

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (3)

Luke 1:43-45

Luk 1:43 And how can this be happening to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?
Luk 1:44 Because — notice, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the unborn baby in my womb leaped for joy!
Luk 1:45 And she who believed that a fulfilment would come to the promise spoken to her from the Lord, is blessed!”

the initial evidence

What is the initial evidence of one’s being filled with the Holy Spirit? Kicking your mother in the stomach! OK, that may be stretching it a bit, but hear me. There are many ways the Holy Spirit works among us, fulfilling scripture, encouraging the body of Christ, and bringing people to faith. God has not asked us to limit the Holy Spirit’s ministry or to prescribe for him how he is to work. Our task is to submit to the Holy Spirit, not to confine him.

LORD, give us the joy of John the Baptist: joy in Christ.

Posted in discernment, Holy Spirit, joy, spiritual gifts | Tagged | 1 Comment

prophecy en utero

marmsky devotions pics December 2016 (2)

Luke 1:39-42

Luk 1:39 Now in those days Mary got up and travelled hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah,
Luk 1:40 and she entered into the house of Zechariah, and greeted Elizabeth.
Luk 1:41 And it happened that when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby in her uterus leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Luk 1:42 And she yelled with a loud shout and said, “You are blessed among women, and the fruit of your womb is blessed!

prophecy en utero

The angel had told Zechariah that his son would be filled from the Holy Spirit from his mother’s uterus. Now, Elizabeth proclaims a prophecy coming from him while he is still en utero. She passes on a prophecy that John communicated via a kick. John was filled with the Spirit his entire life, but, interestingly enough, he never evidenced that infilling by speaking in tongues. Instead, he prophesied, and evangelised.

LORD, bless our children with such commitment that they cannot even wait to be born before serving, and speaking your gospel.

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