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DAILY BIBLE READINGS

Monday, November 28 – Isaiah 7:14 

Children being born seems to always bring hope. In your family and in the church, a newborn baby gives people hope for the future. Babies bring this feeling of continuation; there’s this sense that humanity will continue on even after we have died.  

In 2 Samuel 7, God promises David that his kingdom will last forever. God tells David that one of his descendants will rule over God’s people forever. As Israel and Judah start to be overcome by foreign nations, the people begin to worry that God will not keep his promise. And so, Isaiah tells King Ahaz to ask for a sign from God that he will keep his promise. Ahaz will not do so. However, Isaiah then speaks for the Lord to say that God will indeed give Ahaz a sign whether he wants it or not. A young woman will be pregnant, have a son, and name him Immanuel. This is the sign that God is still with you and plans to continue to keep his promise. 

The Kingdom of Israel is gone, but the Kingdom of God continues. Matthew retells about this sign in Matthew 1:23. Using the Greek translation of virgin, Matthew explains that this has been God’s plan. God will establish his Kingdom through the line of David in this way. Jesus being born brings us hope. God being born gives us hope for the future. 

 

Tuesday, November 29 – Matthew 1:1-17 

Matthew’s genealogy gives us hope. If God chose for these people to be in his family, then God can use us as well. Jesus’ earthly family, the one that God chose to be born into, has a very checkered past. Starting toward the top of the genealogy, we see that Tamar and Judah had Perez and Zerah. What we can learn from the Judah and Tamar story in Genesis 38 is that Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law and she tricked Judah into having sex with her by dressing as a prostitute. Then, further down the genealogy, there’s Rahab who was a prostitute. Then, there’s Solomon who was born when David assaulted Bathsheba. This doesn’t even mention the awful kings who are in this line. 

If God can use these people, that gives all of us hope. It’s popular for churches to use some type of statement like “no perfect people allowed.” It’s become cliché, but there is truth in that statement. There are no perfect people in the church. We all have different backgrounds and different skeletons in the closet. We all have reasons that could disqualify us from being used by God. Yet, God wants to use us. And God will use us for his purposes if we let him. God used this genealogy to fulfill his plan of an eternal Kingdom. If God chose these people to be his family, then there’s hope that God can use us too.  

 

Wednesday, November 30 – Micah 5:2-5a 

One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “O, Little Town of Bethlehem”. It started being one of my favorites as a child because I found the music beautiful. As I have grown, I have started to appreciate the words. At the end of verse 1, the song proclaims “Yet in thy dark streets shineth, The everlasting light, The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in Thee tonight.”  

Micah prophecies 800 years before Jesus’ birth that he will be born in Bethlehem. The world can be a dark, scary place, but because of Jesus, there is light. The hope for a Messiah is found in this baby born in Bethlehem. The fear that we have can be replaced by peace because of God’s Son. 

These verses in Micah tell us what type of leader Jesus will be. He will be one who returns people to a right relationship with God. He will feed the flock; he will take care of them. Micah was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel after Israel split from Judah in the south. When Micah was alive, the Assyrian Empire to the north of Israel was expanding and Israel was under threat of becoming controlled by Assyria (which happens in 722 BC). From this point, Israel ceased from being an independent country. The prayer was that a messiah would come to save them from being ruled by a foreign power.  

This is what Jesus does for humanity. He saves us from being under the control of earthly powers. He gives us hope that there is something more than this world. He allows us to realize there is One who is better to follow who brings us peace in our lives. Thank God for the peace he gives you in your life. Thank him for sending his son to that little town of Bethlehem. 

 

Thursday, December 1 – Isaiah 11:1-5 

In today’s passage, Isaiah describes the character of the coming Messiah. First, he must come from Jesse, King David’s family. It has been prophesied since 2 Samuel 7 when David was king that his family would rule on the throne forever. Imagine the concern from the people of Israel when Assyria overtook the Northern Kingdom. Imagine the horror when Isaiah says the Southern Kingdom will also fall. The people wonder “did God lie when he said David’s lineage will rule forever?”  

Isaiah quickly eases their concern. No, God didn’t lie. Isaiah tells the people to have hope. In the future, the Messiah will come from Jesse, and he will reign on the throne forever. The spirit of the Lord will rest on him. From this spirit will come wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. Is this not who Jesus is? He was wise when bombarded with questions from the Pharisees and understanding when speaking with the poor and needy. A counselor when the disciples have questions, and a mighty warrior when sacrificing himself on the cross. He was all-knowing, perceiving the thoughts of others, and he had fear of the Lord when he asked for the cup to be passed from him, but humbled himself to say “not my will, but yours be done.”  

We can have hope as God’s people because of what God has done. He established his kingdom forever by sending Jesus to the earth. Jesus as God was one who did not judge by eyes and ears but with righteousness. He tore down kingdoms not by brawn but by the words which came from his lips and mouth. God being with us brings us hope. 

 

WEEK 2: PEACE 

Friday, December 2 – Luke 2:25-33 

If you did not know that Jesus’ presence brings peace, may I present to you as evidence the story of Simeon. This story in Luke tells us that Simeon was righteous and devout. Being described as righteous tells us that Simeon is a man who follows the Law. Being devout tells us that he is a man who has been steadfast and unwavering in his commitment to God. As we are introduced to Simeon, we learn that he is a man who is guided by the Holy Spirit. He has been assured by the Spirit that he will see the Messiah before his death. Simeon is guided by the Spirit to go to the Temple at this moment so that God’s promise can come to fruition. As Simeon holds Jesus, he tells God “I can die in peace because I have seen the Savior.” 

Immanuel, God with us, gives you and I “peace that surpasses all understanding” as Paul tells the Philippians. Simeon had been waiting his whole life for the restoration of Israel. He’d been waiting his entire life, trusting in God the whole time, for the Messiah to come. Simeon’s patience and perseverance pays off with eternal peace.  

May we learn from Simeon that God’s presence gives us peace. May we have Simeon’s patience and perseverance when it feels as if God is not with us. Even though we know that God is always with us, there are days (maybe weeks, months, years) when we feel far away from God. On those days, let us continue to remain righteous and devout, looking forward to the day of Jesus’ return to the earth. Let us trust in the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Let the knowledge of God’s eternal truth and presence give us peace even when it feels like God is not with us. Let us always hold on to the knowledge that God is indeed with us.  

 

 

Saturday-Sunday, December 3-4 – Philippians 4:4-7 

When is a time in your life when God’s presence has given you “peace that surpasses all understanding”? 

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