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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 11 Jan 2014, 10:44 pm

"When your Best is not Good Enough" — A Year with Jesus for 01/11/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

What do you do when your best isn't good enough to get you to God?

That's the ultimate question that every religion has to answer. This is also what separates being My disciple from being part of just another religious group. This is also what Nicodemus — the best of the best — had to learn. Getting to God is about being re-born by God's power and not about being better at practicing religion.

New birth into God's family is about grace — the Father loving you so much that He sent "Heaven's Best" to pay the price for your worst and to adopt you into Our family through the power and the work of the Holy Spirit — "water and Spirit birth" as Jesus calls it. You can't make that new birth happen. That birth is the fresh work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes everything! You are cleansed. You are forgiven. You are re-born. You are adopted. You are part of the Father's family! You don't earn it. You don't work hard enough to deserve it. You don't get enough things right to reach it. You are made new to enjoy it by the Holy Spirit!

So yes, Nicodemus is right: to be re-born by religion is impossible — we can't crawl back into the womb and be born again! We aren't good enough, strong enough, consistent enough, spiritual enough, or religious enough to be re-born. That's why I came. By trusting in what I did when I was "lifted up" and being born from above in the "water and Spirit birth."
Verses to Live

Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, a man with some clout among his people. He came to Jesus under the cloak of darkness to question Him.

Nicodemus:
Teacher, some of us have been talking. You are obviously a teacher who has come from God. The signs You are doing are proof that God is with You.

Jesus:
I tell you the truth: only someone who experiences birth for a second time can hope to see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus:
I am a grown man. How can someone be born again when he is old like me? Am I to crawl back into my mother's womb for a second birth? That's impossible!

Jesus:
I tell you the truth, if someone does not experience water and Spirit birth, there's no chance he will make it into God's kingdom. Like from like. Whatever is born from flesh is flesh; whatever is born from Spirit is spirit. Don't be shocked by My words, but I tell you the truth. Even you, an educated and respected man among your people, must be reborn by the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. The wind blows all around us as if it has a will of its own; we feel and hear it, but we do not understand where it has come from or where it will end up. Life in the Spirit is as if it were the wind of God.

Nicodemus:
I still do not understand how this can be.

Jesus:
Your responsibility is to instruct Israel in matters of faith, but you do not comprehend the necessity of life in the Spirit? I tell you the truth: we speak about the things we know, and we give evidence about the things we have seen, and you choose to reject the truth of our witness. If you do not believe when I talk to you about ordinary, earthly realities, then heavenly realities will certainly elude you. No one has ever journeyed to heaven above except the One who has come down from heaven — the Son of Man, who is of heaven. Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up; then all those who believe in Him will experience everlasting life.


For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here's the point. God didn't send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.

No one who believes in Him has to fear condemnation, yet condemnation is already the reality for everyone who refuses to believe because they reject the name of the only Son of God. Why does God allow for judgment and condemnation? Because the Light, sent from God, pierced through the world's darkness to expose ill motives, hatred, gossip, greed, violence, and the like. Still some people preferred the darkness over the light because their actions were dark. Some of humankind hated the light. They scampered hurriedly back into the darkness where vices thrive and wickedness flourishes. Those who abandon deceit and embrace what is true, they will enter into the light where it will be clear that all their deeds come from God.

(John 3:1-21)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank you for adopting me into Your family. Thank you for saving me through My faith in the Son. Thank you for making me new and giving me new birth through the work of the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord, I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 10 Jan 2014, 11:38 pm

"Glory in the Ordinary" — A Year with Jesus for 01/10/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

When are you most aware of My presence with you?

I can be present in the spectacular, beautiful, and wonderful. I can also be present in the quiet moments of life. Yet our days are mostly filled with ordinary things — responsibilities that go with being a part of a family, a community, and a friendship. So as I began to have people gather around me, where do you think I first revealed My glory to them?

It was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. My mother, Mary, was connected to the family hosting the wedding celebration. The wine was running out. This would have disgraced the bride and groom, as well as brought shame on their families.

My mother came to Me to see if I would help. I performed a quiet miracle by turning water into wine. John calls it a sign because it pointed to something greater than the miracle itself. Only My mother, the servants, and My first followers really knew what happened. Yet the bride and groom received honor and the families were blessed without a lot of stir being made about Me.

Yet my first followers were watching and they discovered something I hope you will look for in your life. I quite often reveal My glory — My favor, grace, love, mercy, kindness, generosity, help, joy, and tenderness — in the ordinary events in life. I do this so that those who love Me and are who are looking for me can know that I AM present, that the routine things in their lives truly matter to Me... and that there is nothing ordinary when I AM your friend.
Verses to Live

Here's the story of the wedding and how My mother asked Me to save the bride and groom from embarrassment. I did, but very quietly. Yet for those watching Me, there was a glimpse of glory!
Three days after the disciples encountered Jesus for the first time, they were all invited to celebrate a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was invited together with Him and His disciples. While they were celebrating, the wine ran out; and Jesus’ mother hurried over to her son.

Mary:
The host stands on the brink of embarrassment; there are many guests, and there is no more wine.


Jesus:
Dear woman, is it our problem they miscalculated when buying wine and inviting guests? My time has not arrived.

But she turned to the servants.

Mary:
Do whatever my son tells you.

In that area were six massive stone water pots that could each hold 20 to 30 gallons. They were typically used for Jewish purification rites. Jesus’ instructions were clear:

Jesus:
Fill each water pot with water until it’s ready to spill over the top; then fill a cup, and deliver it to the headwaiter.

They did exactly as they were instructed. After tasting the water that had become wine, the headwaiter couldn’t figure out where such wine came from (even though the servants knew), and he called over the bridegroom in amazement.

Headwaiter:
This wine is delectable. Why would you save the most exquisite fruit of the vine? A host would generally serve the good wine first and, when his inebriated guests don’t notice or care, he would serve the inferior wine. You have held back the best for last.

Jesus performed this miracle, the first of His signs, in Cana of Galilee. They did not know how this happened; but when the disciples and the servants witnessed this miracle, their faith blossomed.

(John 2:1-11)
Response in Prayer

O Father, my life is filled with all sorts of daily expectations and duties. I ask that you open my eyes and help me see Jesus's presence in the middle of my daily routines, no matter how unimportant and mundane they may seem to be. In addition, dear Father, I ask that you use me to help others come to see Jesus in their lives, too! I pray this in the name of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 09 Jan 2014, 10:46 pm

"First Things First" — A Year with Jesus for 01/09/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

What is your first priority with your friends and family?

I know each of your relationships is unique. The history you have with friends and family can make relationships easy, quirky, difficult, confusing, and a host of all sorts of other things. So when I was asked about the two greatest commands for those who love God, I tried to make things very clear: Love God with all you are and love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).

So your first priority with your friends and family should be clear: Love God and love them.

After I had been baptized by John the Baptist, he began to point his disciples to Me. He wanted them to follow Me. One of those who followed Me first was a fellow who would eventually be one of My twelve apostles. His name was Andrew. Andrew was always bringing people to meet me. This focus of Andrew's life began immediately after he realized who I AM. The very first thing he did was go find his brother, Simon Peter, and Andrew brought his brother to meet Me.

One of the ways you fulfill your first priority with friends and family is to do what Andrew did: you bring them to Me. You don't have to convince them of anything. You don't have to answer all of their questions. You shouldn't criticize them for not following me. Just simply invite them to come and see for themselves Who I AM and invite them to decide what they believe they should do with Me. One of the reasons the Father gave you four gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in your New Testament — is to tell the story of My life so that you would have a way of inviting people to come get to know Me. So I want to challenge you to let first things be first. It won't necessarily be easy, but I will help you. Who knows, one of your friends or family members just may be someone waiting for you to be like Andrew!
Verses to Live

Andrew could invite his brother to come meet Me physically. You can invite your friends and family to meet Me by reading John or Mark or Luke or Matthew with you. You don't have to know the answers to their questions; just be a friend and example to them of how I love them!
The following day John [the Baptist] was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, "Look! There is the Lamb of God!" When John's two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.

Jesus looked around and saw them following. "What do you want?" he asked them.

They replied, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?"

"Come and see," he said. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.

Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means "Christ").

Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, "Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas" (which means "Peter").

(John 1:35-42 NLT)
Response in Prayer

O Father, there are precious people in my life who I want so desperately to know Jesus. I ask that the Holy Spirit give me wisdom to know the right moment, the best way, and the most helpful attitude to reach their hearts. Use me, please dear Father, to invite them to Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 08 Jan 2014, 2:48 pm

"Mistaken Identity" — A Year with Jesus for 01/06/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

John the Baptist was an incredible person. He was brave. He was honest. He spoke the truth no matter the consequences. He lived to help others so that they could be ready for My coming. He did not try to build a following for himself, but instead pointed others to Me. When crowds of people came out to the Jordan River from all over to hear him preach, John called them to change their hearts and lives and pointed them to Me. He is a great example of a servant.

Several times in John's ministry, people asked if he were the Messiah — if he were Me? He never once hesitated. He always said, "No!" He refused to get caught up in the popularity game. He refused to let Satan — or the religious leaders or the crowd — distort the clear and focused point of his life. He came to clear the way for Me to come to the people. He cleared away the religious confusion. He cleared away the issues of personal sin in people's lives. He cleared the way for people to hear the voice of God.

John should be a reminder to you of a question that you will face many times in your life: "Will I live for myself to be glorified, or will I live so others can find their way to Jesus?" Let John's example be a reminder of the proper choice for your life!
Verses to Live

I hope there is no mistaken identity in your life about who is Lord and who is Messiah! I hope you choose to follow the example of John!
The reputation of John was growing; and many had questions, including Jewish religious leaders from Jerusalem. So some priests and Levites approached John in Bethany just beyond the Jordan River while he was baptizing and bombarded him with questions:

Religious Leaders:
Who are you?

John the Baptist:
I’m not the Anointed One, if that is what you are asking.

Religious Leaders:
Your words sound familiar, like a prophet’s. Is that how we should address you? Are you the Prophet Elijah?

John the Baptist:
No, I am not Elijah.

Religious Leaders:
Are you the Prophet Moses told us would come?

John the Baptist:
No.

Religious Leaders:
Then tell us who you are and what you are about because everyone is asking us, especially the Pharisees, and we must prepare an answer.

John replied with the words of Isaiah the prophet

John the Baptist:
Listen! I am a voice calling out in the wilderness. Straighten out the road for the Lord. He’s on His way.

Then some of those sent by the Pharisees questioned him again.

Religious Leaders:
How can you travel the countryside baptizing people if you are not the Anointed One or Elijah or the Prophet?

John the Baptist:
Baptizing with water is what I do; but the One whom I speak of, whom we all await, is standing among you; and you have no idea who He is. Though He comes after me, I am not even worthy to unlace His sandals.

Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, I confess that there are times that I want to be recognized, appreciated, and validated. Some of that, I know dear Father, is natural. However, I never want to live for the limelight. I never want to exalt myself over others and certainly never above Your place in my heart. Help me see ways to be more like John the Baptist — a servant who speaks your truth and who points others to Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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"Just another Face in the Crowd?" — A Year with Jesus for 01/07/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

I surprised people when I went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. Because John's baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and to prepare people for My coming (Mark 1:4), John was reluctant to baptize Me, feeling that he needed to be baptized by Me instead (Matthew 3:13-14). 

So why was I baptized by John?

As I told John, I did it to fulfill the righteous will of My Father (Matthew 3:15). But there was also another reason. I did it to identify with you. I came as one of you (Luke 3:31). I didn't come to your world as some alien from a foreign galaxy. I didn't come as some super-protected divine being who couldn't be hurt or corrupted or killed. I came as one of you. Born of a woman, like each of you. Vulnerable to death like each of you. Able to be tempted like each of you. I shed tears like you shed. My heart broke when people made wrong choices, when they rejected Me, and when they died. I got thirsty and hungry and tired. I was truly one of you!

So when I came to John the Baptist to be baptized, I may not have been just another face in the crowd, but I was one of you because you matter so much to the Father and to Me!
Verses to Live

I love the way that Luke tells about My baptism. He makes it seem like such a normal day with John the Baptist baptizing people in the Jordan River. And just as those people came to be baptized, so did I — I came as one of you!
One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

(Luke 3:21-22 NLT)


One of the great blessings for you about My baptism is that you can do something I did: you can be baptized. And when you are baptized, you share in My death, burial, and resurrection so that you can also share in My victory over sin and death. I came as one of you so that you can be One with Me!
Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

(Romans 6:3-6 NLT)
Response in Prayer

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to be one of us. Lord Jesus, thank You for coming and sharing our world so that we can share Your home with the Father. Holy Spirit, thank You for living inside of us and transforming us to be more like Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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"Tested True" — A Year with Jesus for 01/08/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Temptation. You face it. It is hard. The devil makes sure that the temptation is presented at just the right time, appealing to just the right vulnerabilities of the moment, and packaged in a way that is appealing. 

Temptation. I faced it, too. Notice that I was tempted to use My power to be self-serving — to ease My hunger. I was tempted to shortcut paying the price — to bow down to the evil one and all the kingdoms of the world would be mine without the price of the cross. I was tempted to be spectacular — I could show the world in a grand display that I was the Messiah because God protected Me.

You will be tempted. Sometimes the temptation will come from within you (James 1:13-15). Sometimes the temptation will be specially planned by the devil and his evil scheming (Ephesians 6:11). And yes, like I was tempted, the devil will tempt you to be self-serving, to take shortcuts around the requirements of God, and to be spectacular so you can call attention to yourself. But remember this: I've been there. I know what it is like. I can help you. I love you. I will walk with you through temptation to strengthen, encourage, and support you. And if you fall, I will help you back up and put you back on the path of God.
Verses to Live

There is a truth I want you to hear about My temptations.
For Jesus is not some high priest who has no sympathy for our weaknesses and flaws. He has already been tested in every way that we are tested; but He emerged victorious, without failing God. So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most.

(Hebrews 4:15-16)


Here is the way Luke tells the story of My first major confrontation with the devil after my baptism. Notice that I was led by the Spirit during this whole process and I emerged from this time of temptation stronger and ready to begin My ministry!
When Jesus returned from the Jordan River, He was full of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit led Him away from the cities and towns and out into the desert.

For 40 days, the Spirit led Him from place to place in the desert, and while there, the devil tempted Jesus. Jesus was fasting, eating nothing during this time, and at the end, He was terribly hungry. At that point, the devil came to Him.

Devil:
Since You're the Son of God, You don't need to be hungry. Just tell this stone to transform itself into bread.

Jesus:
It is written in the Hebrew Scriptures, "People need more than bread to live."

Then the devil gave Jesus a vision. It was as if He traveled around the world in an instant and saw all the kingdoms of the world at once.

Devil:
All these kingdoms, all their glory, I'll give to You. They're mine to give because this whole world has been handed over to me. If You just worship me, then everything You see will all be Yours. All Yours!

Jesus:
Get out of My face, Satan! The Hebrew Scriptures say, "Worship and serve the Eternal One your God — only Him — and nobody else."

Then the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem, and he transported Jesus to stand upon the pinnacle of the temple.

Devil:
Since You're the Son of God, just jump. Just throw Yourself into the air. You keep quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. They themselves say, He will put His heavenly messengers in charge of You, to keep You safe in every way. And, they will hold You up in their hands so that You do not smash Your foot against a stone.

Jesus:
Yes, but the Hebrew Scriptures also say, "You will not presume on God; you will not test the Lord, the one True God."

The devil had no more temptations to offer that day, so he left Jesus, preparing to return at some other opportune time.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit, and soon people across the region had heard news of Him.

(Luke 4:1-15)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for sharing not only the pain of being human, but also for facing temptation and defeating it. I am comforted knowing that You have experienced the challenges of temptation. I am encouraged knowing that You defeated the tempter. I am blessed to have You at the right hand of God interceding for me now. Thank You for being the Savior who was one of us! Amen
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 05 Jan 2014, 12:43 pm

"Preparing Your Heart for Me" — A Year with Jesus for 01/05/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

My cousin John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:3 NIV). People were baptized by John to prepare themselves for My coming (Mark 1:7-8). They needed to change their hearts, minds, and behaviors if I was going to come and be their Lord!

Repentance is more than feeling sorry about your sin. That kind of inner pain and conviction about your past is godly sorrow. Godly sorrow should lead you to repent — to make real changes in your life (2 Corinthians 7:10). Those who believed John and truly repented did three things:
Confessed their sins (Matthew 3:6).
Were baptized (Mark 1:1-8).
Bore the fruit of repentance in t! heir lives (Luke 3:8).

Hear what John says to you. Make practical changes in your life to make room in your heart for Me to come and bring you life to the full (John 10:10).
Verses to Live

John's message was a hard, but an important, message. If I am to come and live with you and within you, you must offer yourself to Me in practical and tangible ways:
...crowds streamed out from the villages and towns to be baptized by John at the Jordan.

John the Baptist:
You bunch of venomous snakes! Who told you that you could escape God's coming wrath? Don't just talk of turning to God; you'd better bear the authentic fruit of a changed life. Don't take pride in your religious heritage, saying, "We have Abraham for our father!" Listen — God could turn these rocks into children of Abraham!

God wants you to bear fruit! If you don't produce good fruit, then you'll be chopped down like a fruitless tree and made into firewood. God's ax is taking aim and ready to swing!

People:
What shall we do to perform works from changed lives?

John the Baptist:
The person who has two shirts must share with the person who has none. And the person with food must share with the one in need.

Some tax collectors were among those in the crowd seeking baptism.

Tax Collectors:
Teacher, what kind of fruit is God looking for from us?

John the Baptist:
Stop overcharging people. Only collect what you must turn over to the Romans.

Soldiers:
What about us? What should we do to show true change?

John the Baptist:
Don't extort money from people by throwing around your power or making false accusations, and be content with your pay.

(Luke 3:7-14)

Have you prepared your heart for My arrival? Hear what the apostle John wrote for Me to the believers in Laodicea:
“Those I love I also correct and discipline. Therefore, be shamelessly committed to Me, and turn back. Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me."

(Revelation 3:19-21)
Response in Prayer

O Father of mercy, please accept my confession of sin and also my commitment to live my life for you. Fill me and empower me, please dear Lord, with Your Holy Spirit. May the character of Jesus come alive in me as I offer myself to You. In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 04 Jan 2014, 8:37 pm

"God's Good News always Begins with a Servant" — A Year with Jesus for 01/04/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Servant of God,

I love the way Mark begins his good news story about Me:
This is the beginning of the good news of Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King, the Son of God. Isaiah the prophet told us what would happen before He came:
Watch, I will send My messenger in front of You to prepare Your way and make it clear and straight...
That messenger was John the Baptist... (Mark 1:1-4).

This is Mark's way of saying that My ministry, My whole story, begins with a servant — and this servant's name is John the Baptist. There are no birth stories about Me in Mark. Nothing about My childhood is written in Mark. There are no genealogies that tell about My ancestry. Mark is clear, purposeful, and to the point: for people to hear and believe the good news about Me, God most frequently uses those who offer themselves to Me to be servants so others can believe. That's why in My Kingdom, the greatest is always a servant:
If you are recognized at all, let it be for your service. Delight in the one who calls you servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

(Matthew 23:11-12)


Just as John the Baptist was a servant who prepared the hearts of others to know Me, please know that you are to have that same role in the lives of your friends and family. For the good news about Me to reach the hearts of your friends and family, they must know that you do what you do for them is because of your love for Me as well as for them.
Verses to Live

Let's return to how Mark begins his good news story of My life:
This is the beginning of the good news of Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King, the Son of God. Isaiah the prophet told us what would happen before He came:
Watch, I will send My messenger in front of You to prepare Your way and make it clear and straight. You’ll hear him, a voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Eternal One, a straight way in the wandering desert, a highway for our God."

That messenger was John the Baptist, who appeared in the desert near the Jordan River preaching that people should be ritually cleansed through baptism with water as a sign of both their changed hearts and God's forgiveness of their sins. People from across the countryside of Judea and from the city of Jerusalem came to him and confessed that they were deeply flawed and needed help, so he cleansed them with the waters of the Jordan. John dressed as some of the Hebrew prophets had, in clothes made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist. He made his meals in the desert from locusts and wild honey. He preached a message in the wilderness.

John the Baptist:
Someone is coming who is a lot more powerful than I am — One whose sandals I’m not worthy to bend down and untie. I’ve washed you here through baptism with water; but when He gets here, He will wash you in the Spirit of God.
(Mark 1:1-8)


John's life was a preparation for My own life. Just as John the Baptist was a servant to Me, I am a servant to you:
Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to be a servant—to offer His life as a ransom for others.

Mark 10:45)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, bless me as I seek to show Your love and serve those close to me — my family, my friends, my co-workers, and my neighbors. Holy Spirit, I ask that you fill my heart with love so others can see this love in what I do and be drawn to Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 03 Jan 2014, 6:28 pm

"Expect More!" — A Year with Jesus for 01/03/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Don't you think it is past time for My people to be more diligent and persistent in calling their young believers into passionate work for the Kingdom. The Father entrusted My life and the world's hope to a young couple named Joseph and Mary. The Father entrusted them with His amazing promises of Messiah, with My safety when Herod wanted to kill Me, and with My upbringing in the faith.

Go back and read the statements of Mary, My mother, in the opening chapters of the gospel of Luke. Listen for the faith behind her words. Notice how she knows the Scriptures and how her praise flows out of her deep well of faith and knowledge of those Scriptures. Challenge the young disciples in your care to seek such faith and wisdom from these same deep wells of faith that My mother used!

And here's a note to those who are young and eager to lead in My Kingdom. Please remember two things:

First, God gave Mary, Joseph and early young leaders in the church like Timothy many important responsibilities when they were young. Yet, you must understand that they were not given these responsibilities just because of their potential. Mary and Joseph had already demonstrated their faithfulness to the Father before being given the responsibility to be My parents. Throughout their early wrestling with My miraculous conception, their dependence upon Scripture and the God of Scripture helped guide their way. Timothy knew of Paul's persecutions, he had seen them first hand, but still gave himself to serving Me before Paul chose him as a partner in the mission work. Please know you are important to the work of My Kingdom now, but you will be ready to serve and lead only if you are learning the Scriptures and showing yourself to be a faithful servant each day.

Second, the many little daily decisions you make may not seem so unimportant to you. Yet each of these decisions is shaping you. Just as I learned to grow in ways that honored God and that showed obedience to my parents (Luke 2:40; Luke 2:51), so also must you (Ephesians 6:1-3). I will use these experiences of your youth to be the foundation upon which I will build a lifetime of influence that you will have for God and for the good of those around you.
Verses to Live

I want to remind you that the apostle Paul took Timothy, a teenager with a great reputation in his congregation, with him to do mission work:
When Paul reached Derbe and Lystra, he invited a disciple named Timothy to join him and Silas. Timothy had a good reputation among the believers in Lystra and Iconium, but there was a problem: although Timothy’s mother was a believing Jew, his father was Greek, which meant Timothy was uncircumcised. Because the Jewish people of those cities knew he was the son of a Greek man, Paul felt it would be best for Timothy to be circumcised before proceeding.

Leaving there, now accompanied by Timothy, they delivered to the churches in each town the decisions and instructions given by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. The churches were strengthened in the faith by their visit and kept growing in numbers on a daily basis.

(Acts 16:1-5)


Before long, Paul sent Timothy to help the church in Thessalonica grow in their spiritual maturity and faithfulness:
But after all our attempts to come to you were frustrated, we decided it was best for Silvanus and me to stay behind in Athens by ourselves and to send Timothy (our dear brother and servant of God, our partner in the good news of the Anointed One) to strengthen, comfort, and encourage you in your ! faith so that you won’t be shaken by the sufferings and wither under this stress that we know lies ahead. Certainly you remember that when we were with you, we warned you of the suffering we would have to endure; now, as you well know, it has happened. This is why I couldn’t stand it anymore and sent Timothy to report on the state of your faith: because I was worried the tempter had tested you and, if so, all of our hard work would have come to nothing.

You can imagine my relief and joy when Timothy returned to us with such good news about you, about your faith and love for us, about how you have such good memories of us and long to see us as much as we long to see you.

(1 Thessalonians 3:1-6)


Paul's words to Timothy are powerful reminders ! both of what God expects of our young men and women and also of our need to include them in leading:
Don’t let anyone belittle you because you are young. Instead, show the faithful, young and old, an example of how to live: set the standard for how to talk, act, love, and be faithful and pure. Until I get there, make sure to devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. Don’t neglect the gift that was given to you through the prophecy spoken when the company of the elders laid their hands on you. Cultivate all these practices; live by them so that all will see how you are advancing and growing. Take care of yourself, concentrate on your teaching, and stick with these things. If you do, then you will be effective in bringing salvation to yourself and all who hear you.

(1 Timothy 4:12-16)

Response in Prayer

Father, please hear my prayer for several specific young men and young women I want to pray for by name... please bless them, protect them, give them the vision of how their faithfulness to you now can lead to even greater service for you in the future, and help us know how to best include them in significant ministry to bless others and grow Your Kingdom. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 02 Jan 2014, 11:46 pm

"Just an Ordinary Kid?" — A Year with Jesus for 01/02/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

When I began My ministry, the folks in My home town of Nazareth were shocked. They didn't expect anything of me. In their mind, I was just another average kid from their unimportant little city called Nazareth. They didn't have the visit from an angel that my human parents, Joseph and Mary, received. They didn't hear the prophetic proclamations of Simeon and Anna as they recognized Me as Jesus, as the Messiah, the God's Anointed. They only knew Jesus as the boy down the street who had brothers and sisters they knew well.

They also remembered the time I stayed behind in Jerusalem on our family's pilgrimage when I was twelve years old. Most folks knew I was obedient to My parents, but they considered this a "stunt" or "a prank" or simply losing track of where I was and when I was supposed to be back with My family. The way they would put it, "Just another boy from Nazareth — a good kid with a bit of mischief in him."

Bottom line, despite some wild rumors that I did all sorts of miraculous stuff when I was a boy, I mostly grew up learning Torah, obeying My parents, doing chores around Joseph's carpenter shop, going to Synagogue once per week, and joining My family for the great festivals in Jerusalem. I grew up learning to be faithful to God, to obey My parents, and to do both my daddy's business of carpentry and My Father's business of character and compassion.

If you are a parent, I would remind you that your child is on loan from the Father. He has divine plans for your child. He made your child with a plan for his or her life. He will use your child to do great things for the Kingdom if you will partner with Him in training your child. Whether the folks in your community recognize the incredible value and purpose of your child, please know that the Father does! There's no such thing as "just an ordinary kid" when they are God's kid!
Verses to Live

Here's the story of my visit to Nazareth where they wouldn't believe in Me because of their lack of expectations:
Jesus went back into His own hometown where He had grown up, and His disciples followed Him there. When the Sabbath came, He went into the synagogue in Nazareth and began to teach as He had done elsewhere, and many of those who heard Him were astonished.
Those in the Synagogue:
Where did He gain this wisdom? And what are all these stories we’ve been hearing about the signs and healings He’s performed? Where did He get that kind of power? Isn’t this Jesus, the little boy we used to see in Joseph’s carpenter shop? Didn’t He grow up to be a carpenter just like His father? Isn’t He the son of Mary over there and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and their sisters? Who does He think He is?

And when they had thought about it that way, they became indignant and closed themselves to His message.
Jesus (seeing this):
A prophet can find honor anywhere except in his hometown, among his own people, and in his own household.
(Mark 6:1-4)


Here's the account of My visit to the Temple when I was twelve. During this trip, I revealed to those who listened and looked carefully that I was more than just a kid from Nazareth:
After fulfilling their sacred duties according to the law of the Lord, Mary and Joseph returned with Jesus to their own city of Nazareth in the province of Galilee. There Jesus grew up, maturing in physical strength and increasing in wisdom, and the grace of God rested on Him.

Every year during Jesus’ childhood, His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. When Jesus was 12, He made the journey with them. They spent several days there, participating in the whole celebration. When His parents left for home, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem, but Joseph and Mary were not aware. They assumed Jesus was elsewhere in the caravan that was traveling together. After they had already traveled a full day’s journey toward home, they began searching for Him among their friends and relatives. When no one had seen the boy, Mary and Joseph rushed back to Jerusalem and searched for Him.

After three days of separation, they finally found Him — sitting among a group of religious teachers in the temple — asking them questions, listening to their answers. Everyone was surprised and impressed that a 12- year- old boy could have such deep understanding and could answer questions with such wisdom.

His parents, of course, had a different reaction.

Mary:
Son, why have You treated us this way? Listen, Your father and I have been sick with worry for the last three days, wondering where You were, looking everywhere for You.

Jesus:
Why did you need to look for Me? Didn’t you know that I must be working for My Father?

Neither Mary nor Joseph really understood what He meant by this. Jesus went back to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother continued to store these memories like treasures in her heart. And Jesus kept on growing — in wisdom, in physical stature, in favor with God, and in favor with others.

(Luke 2:41-48)


Response in Prayer

Holy God, give me a deeper appreciation of each child — especially my children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Open my eyes to see each child as You see them. Please use me to help call them to Your work in each of their lives. Give me wisdom to know how to lead them to love and obey you. In Jesus' name I ask for this help. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 01 Jan 2014, 6:17 pm

Dedicated to God" — A Year with Jesus for 01/01/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

As you begin your New Year, I want to challenge you to dedicate yourself and this year to honor God. Be faithful in little things. Keep your word. Spend time with the Father in prayer. Intentionally begin each day with a fresh commitment to follow Me.

From the beginning of My life on earth, My earthly parents did the things that faithful Jewish parents were to do. They circumcised Me and named Me on the eighth day after My birth. As their firstborn, I was dedicated to the LORD. I grew up going to Synagogue, learning the Torah, the prophets, and writings — all the books you call the Old Testament. Our family journeyed to Jerusalem for the appointed festivals. Yes, I AM the Son of God in human flesh through the miraculous conception through the Holy Spirit. But, I was also a child of the Torah, a son of Israel, and a child of the synagogue because of My parents' faith.

Joseph's and Mary's faith nurtured Me and guided Me. Their dedication was a blessing to Me. So I want to remind you as you stand on the threshold of a New Year to commit this year to honoring God. Make God's will your own and His life the life you choose live. You never know who will be impacted for eternity because of what you do!
Verses to Live

Notice how my parents did for Me what was required by the Torah — the Law — and how the Father affirmed their commitment to bring Me up in the way of obedient faith. First comes My circumcision and dedication to God:
Eight days after His birth, the baby was circumcised in keeping with Jewish religious requirements, and He was named Jesus, the name the messenger had given Him before His conception in Mary's womb. After Mary had observed the ceremonial days of postpartum purification required by Mosaic law, she and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. They were fulfilling the Lord's requirement that "every firstborn Israelite male will be dedicated to the Eternal One as holy." They also offered the sacrifice required by the law of the Lord, "two turtledoves or two young pigeons."

(Luke 2:21-24)


Notice how Simeon, an old devout servant of God, both affirms and also warns My parents about My role in serving God:
While fulfilling these sacred obligations at the temple, they encountered a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was a just and pious man, anticipating the liberation of Israel from her troubles. He was a man in touch with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Anointed One. The Spirit had led him to the temple that day, and there he saw the child Jesus in the arms of His parents, who were fulfilling their sacred obligations. Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God.

Simeon:
Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace. You promised me that I would see with my own eyes
what I'm seeing now: Your freedom, raised up in the presence of all peoples. He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations, and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.


His father and mother were stunned to hear Simeon say these things. Simeon went on to bless them both, and to Mary in particular he gave predictions.

Simeon"
Listen, this child will make many in Israel rise and fall. He will be a significant person whom many will oppose. In the end, He will lay bare the secret thoughts of many hearts. And a sword will pierce even your own soul, Mary.
(Luke 2:25-35)


Simeon wasn't God's only voice of affirmation to My parents. Anna spoke of My role in serving God:
At that very moment, an elderly woman named Anna stepped forward. Anna was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for seven years before her husband died and a widow to her current age of 84 years. She was deeply devoted to the Lord, constantly in the temple, fasting and praying. When she approached Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, she began speaking out thanks to God, and she continued spreading the word about Jesus to all those who shared her hope for the rescue of Jerusalem.

After fulfilling their sacred duties according to the law of the Lord, Mary and Joseph returned with Jesus to their own city of Nazareth in the province of Galilee. There Jesus grew up, maturing in physical strength and increasing in wisdom, and the grace of God rested on Him.

(Luke 2:36-40)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, I commit this next year to You. I want you to be honored in every area of my life — public and private, big and small, important or insignificant. Mold my heart to be like Yours as I seek to honor Your will in every area of my life. I pray this through the intercession and power of Jesus. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 31 Dec 2013, 4:42 pm

"New Life, Fresh Hope, and New Beginnings" — A Year with Jesus for 12/31/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Over the last month, you have been reminded of My birth and how My coming changed everything. I came at God's chosen time. Political darkness had a stranglehold on My people. Rome ruled the world they knew. Their own leaders had sold out to guard their positions and to keep their money and positions.

So The Father entered the world of the "pious poor" of Israel — people who had little influence or money, but who depended upon Him. People who honored Him as they prayed for His intervention. Zacharias and Elizabeth are prime examples. Mary and Joseph come from the same line of faith.

God sent Me into this darkness and despair. I came with the accompaniment of a sky full of angels, a group of shepherds who saw and heard them, and magi from the East who came to celebrate My birth because they saw a bright star shining. Light came into darkness! A new beginning dawned for a world full of despair.

Never doubt that The Father can bring new life into the most dead of circumstances. Trust that your God can bring fresh hope into moments of deepest despair. Know that faith in your Lord can bring new beginnings into the most unchangeable situations. That's what The Father did when He sent Me. So as you get ready to begin your New Year, invite Me into your life and trust that I can make all things fresh and new!

Verses to Live

Read again familiar words from the beginning of My story. As you do, listen to the freshness of the hope expressed and to the confidence that The Father is making things fresh and new:
Elizabeth:
I have lived with the disgrace of being barren for all these years. Now God has looked on me with favor. When I go out in public with my baby, I will not be disgraced any longer.
(Luke 1:25)

Mary:
God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds. The proud in mind and heart, God has sent away in disarray. The rulers from their high positions of power, God has brought down low. And those who were humble and lowly, God has elevated with dignity. The hungry — God has filled with fine food. The rich — God has dismissed with nothing in their hands.
(Luke 1:51-53)

When Zacharias’s voice was restored to him, he sang from the fullness of the Spirit a prophetic blessing.

Zacharias:
May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. And the Lord has raised up a powerful sign of liberation for us from among the descendants of God’s servant, King David. As was prophesied through the mouths of His holy prophets in ancient times: God will liberate us from our enemies and from the hand of our oppressors! God will show mercy promised to our ancestors, upholding the abiding covenant He made with them, remembering the original vow He swore to Abraham, from whom we are all descended. God will rescue us from the grasp of our enemies so that we may serve Him without fear all our days in holiness and justice, in the presence of the Lord.
(Luke 1:68-75)
Response in Prayer

Holy Father, as I begin this New Year, please bring Your fresh grace to renew my heart as I seek to live to honor you! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 31 Dec 2013, 12:40 am

"Extravagant Gifts" — A Year with Jesus for 12/30/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

Can you remember your Christmas gifts from last year? ... five years ago? ... ten years ago? You probably don't remember most of your gifts over the years, unless you thought they were extravagant gifts or were gifts with some special connection to the giver.

There were three gifts that were given to Me at My birth by the magi — gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts have been remembered throughout the centuries. They were extravagant gifts — because of their value, because of the great effort required for the magi to bring them, and because they were presented with heartfelt worship.

Toward the end of My earthly ministry, I was given another extravagant gift to prepare Me for My suffering — a woman came into the house of Simon and anointed My head with expensive and precious ointment. She was criticized for the waste of her extravagance. Yet her gift was not wasted! Her gift is still precious to Me.

The gifts of the magi and the woman are responses to God's most extravagant gift — sending Me to redeem them!
Verses to Live

The magi's extravagant gifts were given at My birth:
The wise men left Herod’s chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared — a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-10).

The woman's extravagant gift was given at the end of My ministry, preparing Me for My suffering and burial:
The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were two days away. The Jewish leaders — the chief priests and the scribes — gathered to discuss how they might secretly arrest Jesus and kill Him.

Jewish Leaders
We can’t do it during the festivals. It might create an uproar.

While Jesus was eating dinner in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came into the house carrying an alabaster flask filled with a precious, sweet-smelling ointment made from spikenard. She came to Jesus, broke the jar, and gently poured out the perfume onto His head.

Some of those around the table were troubled by this and grumbled to each other.

Dinner Guests:
Why did she waste this precious ointment? We could have sold this ointment for almost a year’s wages, and the money could have gone to the poor!


Their private concerns turned to public criticism against her.

Jesus:
Leave her alone. Why are you attacking her? She has done a good thing. The poor will always be with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you want. But I won’t always be with you. She has done what she could for Me — she has come to anoint My body and prepare it for burial. Believe Me when I tell you that this act of hers will be told in her honor as long as there are people who tell the good news.
(Mark 14:1-9).


All true giving should be in response to God's gracious gifts — especially His greatest gift — given to you!
Praise God for this incredible, unbelievable, indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15).


Response in Prayer

Thank you God for Your extravagant gift of Jesus. May my life reflect Your generosity in the way I treat others and share the gifts You have shared with me. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 29 Dec 2013, 7:07 pm

"Faithful Servants Pave the Way" — A Year with Jesus for 12/29/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Servant of the LORD,

If you take time to look at the grand story of grace in the Bible, you will notice servants of the LORD playing important roles all along the way. A few of these servants were big characters with big personalities playing big parts in the grand drama of the Bible. However, the vast majority of God's servants were bit players and role players, many of them unnamed. Yet each of them was crucial to the story! 

I want to remind you of a few. In fact, you might want to do some research on them if you don't recognize them. Folks like Seth and Isaac, who do not have a lot written about them, but are hugely important in God's unfolding promises. There was Jael, a brave and clever wife who kills Israel's greatest threat. You meet three mighty men of David who brought him water from the well by the gate at Bethlehem at one of the lowest points in his life. There was Mordecai for Esther. Then there was Jehosheba who saved Joash and preserved the line of David and preserves God's promise of the Messiah. Along the way you meet an unnamed boy who provided his fish sandwiches that I used to feed a crowd. There's Andrew, the apostle who was in his brother Peter's shadow, but who always seemed to be the one to get people to Me. There are folks like Dorcas, Lydia, and Phoebe who served others and blessed My early churches. There are special folks like Onisiphorus who blessed the apostle Paul. There are, of course, many others. I mention these just to make this one point.

Behind any great movement of God, there are thousands of unnamed, yet essential, servants paving the way. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — know each person that goes with each name. We will not forget their work for the Kingdom of God or the sacrifices they have made.

So before I remind you of several of the special servants from the story of My birth, I want to remind you of something very important. There is nothing that you do to serve others in My name will be forgotten. In My Kingdom, the greatest has always been — and always will be — a servant.
Verses to Live

Two precious people are introduced to the joy of a child after years of faithful service. Their names are Zecharias and Elizabeth.
To understand the life of Jesus, I must first give you some background history, events that occurred when Herod ruled Judea for the Roman Empire. Zacharias was serving as a priest in the temple in Jerusalem those days as his fathers had before him. He was a member of the priestly division of Abijah (a grandson of Aaron who innovated temple practices), and his wife, Elizabeth, was of the priestly lineage of Aaron, Moses' brother. They were good and just people in God's sight, walking with integrity in the Lord's ways and laws. Yet they had this sadness. Due to Elizabeth’s infertility, they were childless, and at this time, they were both quite old — well past normal childbearing years (Luke 1:5-7).


My mother, Mary, was a precious young virgin who was challenged with the impossible and committed herself to be God's servant regardless of the cost.
Six months later in Nazareth, a city in the rural province of Galilee, the heavenly messenger Gabriel made another appearance. This time the messenger was sent by God to meet with a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David himself. The messenger entered her home.

Messenger:
Greetings! You are favored, and the Lord is with you! Among all women on the earth, you have been blessed.
(Luke 1:26-28).

Mary (deciding in her heart):
Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me
(Luke 1:38).


Two older servants of the LORD proclaimed the meaning of My birth as they met Me in the Temple.
While fulfilling these sacred obligations at the temple, they [Joseph and Mary] encountered a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was a just and pious man, anticipating the liberation of Israel from her troubles. He was a man in touch with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Anointed One. The Spirit had led him to the temple that day, and there he saw the child Jesus in the arms of His parents, who were fulfilling their sacred obligations. Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God.

Simeon:
Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace. You promised me that I would see with my own eyes what I’m seeing now: Your freedom, raised up in the presence of all peoples.
(Luke 2:25-31).

At that very moment, an elderly woman named Anna stepped forward. Anna was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for seven years before her husband died and a widow to her current age of 84 years. She was deeply devoted to the Lord, constantly in the temple, fasting and praying. When she approached Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, she began speaking out thanks to God, and she continued spreading the word about Jesus to all those who shared her hope for the rescue of Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38 ).

These are just a few of the precious and faithful servants who paved the way for My coming to you!
Response in Prayer

O Father, I sometimes feel that no one notices the kind things I try to do for them — this feels especially true with those closest to me and whom I love most dearly. I know that I am selfish to feel this way. So I am thankful for reminder about those who served You in the past. This reminds me that I don't need the applause of others if I know I've blessed them, brought you joy, and paved the way for Jesus to touch their hearts. O dear Father, please be honored in my service to others and open my eyes to see how I can serve others more fully in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 28 Dec 2013, 4:45 pm

Vulnerable God" — A Year with Jesus for 12/28/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

The story of My first two years speaks of vulnerability. I was born to a young woman far from home and without friends and family. My daddy was not My biological father and was not married to My mother when I was born. There was no housing available for Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, so I was born in a place where animals were kept and fed. No doctor ushered me into the world. Initially, only shepherds celebrated My birth — there were no family members to support Joseph and Mary. Even after Joseph had secured a house where we could stay, Herod found out from the magi that I, Israel's King, had been born in the little town of Bethlehem. Herod's fury turned to genocidal rage, so the angel had to warn Joseph to take Mary and Me to safety in far away Egypt. Heaven wept as Herod's rage toward Me destroyed little children in Bethlehem — the dark reminder every time My story is told that this was Herod's and hell's intention for Me.

Yes, when the Father sent Me to earth, I became as vulnerable to mortality as you are. Why? Because you had to know that there was nothing We — Father, Son, and Spirit — wouldn't do to rescue you from hell's grip. Your theologians call it incarnation — God entering human flesh, fully human and fully God. Some may say it is crazy, for the immortal to become mortal flesh. I prefer to call it crazy love to prevent hell's intention. John, my beloved disciple, wrote this, but then he had heard Me say it. I hope you will never forget it:
For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction (John 3:16-17).

Verses to Live

Humble vulnerability — that's the story of My of birth!
Mary’s fiancé Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David’s birthplace. Mary, who was now late in her pregnancy that the messenger Gabriel had predicted, accompanied Joseph. While in Bethlehem, she went into labor and gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the baby in a blanket and laid Him in a feeding trough because the inn had no room for them (Luke 2:4-7).

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise men or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. These wise men made inquiries.

Wise Men:
Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.
(Matthew 2:1-2).

The wise men left Herod’s chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared — a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And then, just as Joseph did a few months before, the wise men had a dream warning them not to go back to Herod. The wise men heeded the dream. Ignoring Herod’s instructions, they returned to their homes in the East by a different route.

After the wise men left, a messenger of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.

Messenger of the Lord (to Joseph):
Get up, take the child and His mother, and head to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you it is safe to leave. For Herod understands that Jesus threatens him and all he stands for. He is planning to search for the child and kill Him. But you will be safe in Egypt.

So Joseph got up in the middle of the night; he bundled up Mary and Jesus, and they left for Egypt.

After a few months had passed, Herod realized he’d been tricked. The wise men were not coming back. Herod, of course, was furious. He simply ordered that all boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years of age and younger be killed. He knew the baby King was this age because of what the wise men told him.

This sad event had long been foretold by the prophet Jeremiah:
A voice will be heard in Ramah, weeping and wailing and mourning out loud all day and night. The voice is Rachel’s, weeping for her children, her children who have been killed; she weeps, and she will not be comforted.
(Matthew 2:9-18).


Response in Prayer

Holy God, Father and Son and Spirit, thank You for Your plan, Your vulnerability, Your incarnation. Most of all, thank You for Your love for us — for me. While there are times I struggle with knowing why things happen in my life and the lives of those I love, remembering Your "crazy love" that led You to become flesh and blood helps me believe that Your work in my life will lead me to Your grace and blessing. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 28 Dec 2013, 12:47 am

"Big Gifts in Small Beginnings" — A Year with Jesus for 12/27/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

In the middle of your big Christmas celebrations, don't forget the words of My servant Zechariah, "Do not despise these small beginnings..." (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). In a time of rebuilding in Jerusalem after seven horrible decades of suffering in Babylon, some of the people of Israel were not ready to accept such a small new beginning. Yet The Father has often begun great new things with small beginnings. My birth was one of them! 

There are many reasons to rejoice in My birth, even though the accommodations are crude, the story is simple, and I AM small. Don't despise these small beginnings. The greatness of God came to you in a tiny bundle of human flesh and was placed in a manger — I was that tiny bundle, Jesus your Savior and Lord. The Father is trying to tell you something important. You can see His message in My small beginnings in the overlooked hamlet of Bethlehem, placed in a manger, surrounded by only shepherds and a couple of young and powerless parents. 

Yet if you look and listen to the edges of My story, you can see heaven's glorious new beginnings with the angels, God's heavenly messengers, filling the sky with heaven's glory. You can see magi, easterners, coming from far away at great risk to worship Me. You see an angel warn Joseph to get Me to safety in Egypt. With Matthew's reminder, you see that My small beginnings were all to fulfill God's plan given through the prophets centuries earlier. 

The Father has always used those who knew they were not up for the task ahead based on their own limited resources, power, insight, political clout, speaking ability, or circumstances. This way, the LORD's power is seen and every day and common folks are caught up in glory. Yes, your God — Father, Son, and Spirit — reminds you that many of Our biggest gifts to you come in small beginnings. So like the young boy who brought Me five loaves and two fish when everyone else was skeptical, why don't you bring Me what you have and let's see what I can make of you. I have great plans for you, so let's start with small beginnings and rejoice in seeing the big gifts that are to come!
Verses to Live

Paul said it well to the Corinthians:
"But celebrate this: God selected the world’s foolish to bring shame upon those who think they are wise; likewise, He selected the world’s weak to bring disgrace upon those who think they are strong (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).


Grace means more than salvation FROM sin: it also means salvation FOR something important. Let's begin where you are now with grace, and let Me lead you to the Father's plan for you! Paul explained this kind of grace this way: 
For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago (Ephesians 2:8-10)


Let's rejoice at what lies ahead!
Compose a new song, and sing it to the Eternal because of the unbelievable things He has done; He has won the victory with the skill of His right hand and strength of His holy arm. The Eternal has made it clear that He saves, and He has shown the nations that He does what is right. He has been true to His promises; fresh in His mind is His unfailing love for all of Israel. Even the ends of the earth have witnessed how our God saves. Raise your voices; make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth. Let your joy explode into song and praise; Make music to the Eternal with the harp; sing a beautiful melody with the harp and chorus. With trumpets and horns, fill the air with joyful sounds to the King, the Eternal (Psalm 98:1-6).


Response in Prayer

Almighty God, thank you for taking small things and making them big, weak things and making them strong, and forgotten things and making them special. I know You have plans for me, so please, I offer myself to You, to be used for Your purposes and for Your glory. In Jesus' name I offer myself to You. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 28 Dec 2013, 12:19 am

Big Gifts in Small Beginnings" — A Year with Jesus for 12/27/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

In the middle of your big Christmas celebrations, don't forget the words of My servant Zechariah, "Do not despise these small beginnings..." (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). In a time of rebuilding in Jerusalem after seven horrible decades of suffering in Babylon, some of the people of Israel were not ready to accept such a small new beginning. Yet The Father has often begun great new things with small beginnings. My birth was one of them! 

There are many reasons to rejoice in My birth, even though the accommodations are crude, the story is simple, and I AM small. Don't despise these small beginnings. The greatness of God came to you in a tiny bundle of human flesh and was placed in a manger — I was that tiny bundle, Jesus your Savior and Lord. The Father is trying to tell you something important. You can see His message in My small beginnings in the overlooked hamlet of Bethlehem, placed in a manger, surrounded by only shepherds and a couple of young and powerless parents. 

Yet if you look and listen to the edges of My story, you can see heaven's glorious new beginnings with the angels, God's heavenly messengers, filling the sky with heaven's glory. You can see magi, easterners, coming from far away at great risk to worship Me. You see an angel warn Joseph to get Me to safety in Egypt. With Matthew's reminder, you see that My small beginnings were all to fulfill God's plan given through the prophets centuries earlier. 

The Father has always used those who knew they were not up for the task ahead based on their own limited resources, power, insight, political clout, speaking ability, or circumstances. This way, the LORD's power is seen and every day and common folks are caught up in glory. Yes, your God — Father, Son, and Spirit — reminds you that many of Our biggest gifts to you come in small beginnings. So like the young boy who brought Me five loaves and two fish when everyone else was skeptical, why don't you bring Me what you have and let's see what I can make of you. I have great plans for you, so let's start with small beginnings and rejoice in seeing the big gifts that are to come!
Verses to Live

Paul said it well to the Corinthians:
"But celebrate this: God selected the world’s foolish to bring shame upon those who think they are wise; likewise, He selected the world’s weak to bring disgrace upon those who think they are strong (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).


Grace means more than salvation FROM sin: it also means salvation FOR something important. Let's begin where you are now with grace, and let Me lead you to the Father's plan for you! Paul explained this kind of grace this way: 
For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago (Ephesians 2:8-10)


Let's rejoice at what lies ahead!
Compose a new song, and sing it to the Eternal because of the unbelievable things He has done; He has won the victory with the skill of His right hand and strength of His holy arm. The Eternal has made it clear that He saves, and He has shown the nations that He does what is right. He has been true to His promises; fresh in His mind is His unfailing love for all of Israel. Even the ends of the earth have witnessed how our God saves. Raise your voices; make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth. Let your joy explode into song and praise; Make music to the Eternal with the harp; sing a beautiful melody with the harp and chorus. With trumpets and horns, fill the air with joyful sounds to the King, the Eternal (Psalm 98:1-6).


Response in Prayer

Almighty God, thank you for taking small things and making them big, weak things and making them strong, and forgotten things and making them special. I know You have plans for me, so please, I offer myself to You, to be used for Your purposes and for Your glory. In Jesus' name I offer myself to You. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 28 Dec 2013, 12:14 am

Big Gifts in Small Beginnings" — A Year with Jesus for 12/27/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

In the middle of your big Christmas celebrations, don't forget the words of My servant Zechariah, "Do not despise these small beginnings..." (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). In a time of rebuilding in Jerusalem after seven horrible decades of suffering in Babylon, some of the people of Israel were not ready to accept such a small new beginning. Yet The Father has often begun great new things with small beginnings. My birth was one of them! 

There are many reasons to rejoice in My birth, even though the accommodations are crude, the story is simple, and I AM small. Don't despise these small beginnings. The greatness of God came to you in a tiny bundle of human flesh and was placed in a manger — I was that tiny bundle, Jesus your Savior and Lord. The Father is trying to tell you something important. You can see His message in My small beginnings in the overlooked hamlet of Bethlehem, placed in a manger, surrounded by only shepherds and a couple of young and powerless parents. 

Yet if you look and listen to the edges of My story, you can see heaven's glorious new beginnings with the angels, God's heavenly messengers, filling the sky with heaven's glory. You can see magi, easterners, coming from far away at great risk to worship Me. You see an angel warn Joseph to get Me to safety in Egypt. With Matthew's reminder, you see that My small beginnings were all to fulfill God's plan given through the prophets centuries earlier. 

The Father has always used those who knew they were not up for the task ahead based on their own limited resources, power, insight, political clout, speaking ability, or circumstances. This way, the LORD's power is seen and every day and common folks are caught up in glory. Yes, your God — Father, Son, and Spirit — reminds you that many of Our biggest gifts to you come in small beginnings. So like the young boy who brought Me five loaves and two fish when everyone else was skeptical, why don't you bring Me what you have and let's see what I can make of you. I have great plans for you, so let's start with small beginnings and rejoice in seeing the big gifts that are to come!
Verses to Live

Paul said it well to the Corinthians:
"But celebrate this: God selected the world’s foolish to bring shame upon those who think they are wise; likewise, He selected the world’s weak to bring disgrace upon those who think they are strong (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).


Grace means more than salvation FROM sin: it also means salvation FOR something important. Let's begin where you are now with grace, and let Me lead you to the Father's plan for you! Paul explained this kind of grace this way: 
For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago (Ephesians 2:8-10)


Let's rejoice at what lies ahead!
Compose a new song, and sing it to the Eternal because of the unbelievable things He has done; He has won the victory with the skill of His right hand and strength of His holy arm. The Eternal has made it clear that He saves, and He has shown the nations that He does what is right. He has been true to His promises; fresh in His mind is His unfailing love for all of Israel. Even the ends of the earth have witnessed how our God saves. Raise your voices; make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth. Let your joy explode into song and praise; Make music to the Eternal with the harp; sing a beautiful melody with the harp and chorus. With trumpets and horns, fill the air with joyful sounds to the King, the Eternal (Psalm 98:1-6).


Response in Prayer

Almighty God, thank you for taking small things and making them big, weak things and making them strong, and forgotten things and making them special. I know You have plans for me, so please, I offer myself to You, to be used for Your purposes and for Your glory. In Jesus' name I offer myself to You. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 26 Dec 2013, 2:10 pm

"The Light Now Shines!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/26/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer,

Somewhere along the way, My light shown into your heart and changed you. More than just the light from the bright star that guided the magi from the East to find Me, My light brings life for all humankind who choose to find it. I promised this in My earthly ministry:
I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness (John 8:12).


The great apostle Paul put it this way:
God who spoke light into existence, saying, “Let light shine from the darkness,” is the very One who sets our hearts ablaze to shed light on the knowledge of God’s glory revealed in the face of Jesus, the Anointed One (2 Corinthians 4:6).


So I want your heart to be "ablaze" because you have found Me, the "Light of Life," and have chosen to walk with Me in that light. My light shines in the darkness and nothing can extinguish it (John 1:4-9). So as you wonder and marvel at the light of My Father's glory with the angels filling the sky for the shepherds watching their flocks and as you imagine the long journey of the magi to Bethlehem following the star, never forget that My light still shines for you to find your way to come home to Me.
Verses to Live

Matthew wrote about Me bringing light from the very beginnings of My ministry.
Then the devil left Jesus. And heavenly messengers came and ministered to Him.

It was not long until powerful people put John in prison. When Jesus learned this, He went back to Galilee. He moved from Nazareth to Capernaum, a town by the sea in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali. He did this to fulfill one of the prophecies of Isaiah:
In the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the road to the sea along the Jordan in Galilee, the land of the outsiders — In these places, the people who had been living in darkness saw a great light.
The light of life will overtake those who dwelt in the shadowy darkness of death.

From that time on, preaching was part of Jesus’ work. (Matthew 4:12-16).

I was not shy in declaring that I AM the true light that brings life to the world! While it is daytime, we must do the works of the One who sent Me. But when the sun sets and night falls, this work is impossible. Whenever I am in the world, I am the Light of the world (John 9:4-5).
One of the most beautiful ways this has been expressed was in a little letter the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy.
God has already saved us and called us to this holy calling — not because of any good works we may have done, but because of His own intention and because eons and eons ago (before time itself existed), He gave us this grace in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. And now, the time has come! That grace was revealed when our Savior, Jesus the Anointed, appeared; and through His resurrection He has wiped out death and brought to light life and immortality by way of this good news (1 Timothy 1:9-10).

Your job is to let this light shine through you into the world so that others can find their way to the Father.
And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it (Matthew 5:14-16).


Response in Prayer

Father, may the light of Your grace in Jesus shine through my heart and into the lives of those around me. May my life be like the star the magi saw and followed to Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 26 Dec 2013, 1:29 pm

"The LORD Is Near" — A Year with Jesus for 12/25/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

If you listened carefully to my servants the prophets found in your Old Testament, you heard strong hints and amazing promises of grace in their words as My spokespeople. One of those glimpses of My birth comes through the words of Isaiah as he spoke for Me:
For the highest God above, who is and always will be, the only One who is holy has this to say:

Eternal One:
I live in the high and holy place, yet I am with the low, the weak, and the humble. I renew their vitality and revive their strength
(Isaiah 57:15).

Isaiah knew that I AM "holy, holy, holy"! Yet he also spoke about My desire to be with those who feel forgotten and powerless and who are genuinely humble. In fact, I promised through him to be with those kinds of people to "renew their vitality and revive their strength."

So, My coming to live among you shouldn't surprise you — the prophets promised My coming for years. The people I chose to include in my coming could have been anticipated — think about the Godly character and the genuine compassion of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna. The people I came to serve and those who followed me from the very first shouldn't surprise you — lowly shepherds, foreign stargazers, and ordinary people left out by contemporary religion like the tax collectors, sinners, soldiers, fishermen, and women of all ages. This is what I promised through the prophets.

I came to you, to your world, to people like you just as I promised — as baby Jesus in the womb of woman, delivered into family, and facing all the dangers and vulnerabilities of infancy. I came as God in human flesh — the LORD who came near. In fact, still to this day I am Immanuel — the LORD God who is with you. So as you remember My birth, also remember that I am still near. If you are truly My disciple, I live in you through the gift of the Holy Spirit that I have sent to you. With your very breath as a reminder of My presence, remember that your LORD is still near!
Verses to Live

Yes, I came in human flesh and lived among — the glory of God in the flesh of humanity. This is how My beloved disciple John put it:
The Voice [Jesus] took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor — the one true Son of the Father — evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth. John the Baptist testified about Him and shouted, "This is the one I’ve been telling you is coming. He is much greater than I am because He existed long before me." Through this man we all receive gifts of grace beyond our imagination. You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth. God, unseen until now, is revealed in the Voice, God’s only Son, straight from the Father’s heart (John 1:14-18).

Matthew the tax collector who was one of My apostles reminded you of Who I am by quoting the prophet Isaiah:
Years and years ago, Isaiah, a prophet of Israel, foretold the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus:
A virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and His name will be Immanuel
(which is a Hebrew name that means "God with us") (Matthew 1:22-23).

Even after I had been crucified, resurrected, and ascended back to the Father, the apostle Paul promised this to you:
The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5 NIV).
Response in Prayer

Righteous Father, thank you for not being God who is distant, but my Father Who is holy and also chose to come near in Jesus as One of us! Thank you for being near... always near... even within me through the Holy Spirit. As I think today of the profound grace of Your coming in Jesus, I ask that Your Spirit help me recognize Your presence in my life everyday and not just at Christmas. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 26 Dec 2013, 1:26 pm

Merry Christmas from Heartlight
Dear Friends in Jesus:
Merry Christmas and a glorious New Year in service to the Lord!
The Heartlight.org and VerseoftheDay.com want to wish you a Merry Christmas and pray that the Lord's presence is real as you draw near to family, friends, and the Savior these next few days.
You have blessed us with thousands of kind notes and emails, generous gifts to sustain the ministry, and innumerable prayers that are too many to count. These have sustained us, blessed up, picked us up when we were discouraged, and propelled the ministry into 10 languages, over 175 countries, and hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
Our fervent prayer is that we faithfully share God's grace and truth with all those seeking to know Jesus and grow in His grace.
Our article on Heartlight.org today is our special gift to you. This the story of Jesus' birth in three forms -- short form, Bible text, and video clip. We hope you are blessed and may the Lord's grace go with you as we start the New Year together in service to the one true King!
God bless,
Phil, Ben, John, Donna, Diane, Ray, Ed, Bill, Rufi, Miriam, Diego, Phyllis, Olexandr, Anchalee, Hison, and Xie
(Writers, Techies, Donation Services, and Translators)
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now (Philippians 1:3-5 NLT).
Merry Christmas from Heartlight

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 24 Dec 2013, 12:52 pm

No Room!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/23/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Have you really made room in your heart for Me?

I'm not talking about thinking about Me during Christmas season. I'm asking if you have given your heart to Me so that I can speak truth into your uncertainty, peace into your worry, hope into your discouragement, and joy into your sadness. To be My disciple means that you follow Me — you do what I've commanded, you follow My example, and you place Me above all other claims on your heart. So, have you made room in your heart for Me?

You see, I'm sure if folks had known Who I was before I was born that there would have been many people in Bethlehem who would have made room for Me and My little family. However, most were busy with guests in town for the census or working to make a little coin off the out-of-town folks that were crowding their streets. I came to town in the womb of a simple young Jewish woman and no one noticed — at least not till the angels alerted the shepherds and they began to tell their story. So there was no room for these two simple God-fearing people expecting their first child. There was no room for Me!

Today, however, I am asking if there is room in your heart for Me? I'm not wanting a quick visit to fill your Decembers with a touch of Christmas. I'm wanting to take up permanent residency so My character and compassion can permeate your heart. I want your heart to be My home until I can bring you home to the Father and you can be at home with Us.

I'm here. I'm near. So, will you make room for Me?
Verses to Live

Notice how simply Luke tells the story of My birth. Notice the punch line at the end!
Around the time of Elizabeth’s amazing pregnancy and John’s birth, the emperor in Rome, Caesar Augustus, required everyone in the Roman Empire to participate in a massive census— the first census since Quirinius had become governor of Syria. Each person had to go to his or her ancestral city to be counted.

Mary’s fiancé Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David’s birthplace. Mary, who was now late in her pregnancy that the messenger Gabriel had predicted, accompanied Joseph. While in Bethlehem, she went into labor and gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the baby in a blanket and laid Him in a feeding trough because the inn had no room for them (Luke 2:1-7).


More than there not being room in the inn for Me, most folks did not have room in their hearts for Me. But for those who did... ah, focus on the promise John makes, for it's a promise for you, too!
He [Jesus] entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will (John 1:10-13).


I'm knocking at the door of your heart. Will you make room for Me? Not just at Christmas, but for always?
Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me (Revelation 3:20).
Response in Prayer

O Father, I regret the many times I have let the busy-ness of my life and the burdens of my heart and the distractions of my selfishness crowd Jesus out of my heart. I intentionally open my heart and I invite You into every part of my heart, Lord Jesus. I don't want You to be a temporary Christmas decoration in my life, but for You to have Your way with my will and for Your life to be seen through what I do and say. I pray this to the Father, through the intercession of the Spirit, and in the mighty name of Jesus, the Son and my Savior. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Sing Choirs of Angels" — A Year with Jesus for 12/24/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

Don't you hate it when people try to make religion into something that's always somber, serious, and joyless. Yes, I came for serious reasons and paid a horrible price to redeem you. But please, never ever forget why I paid that price! I wanted you to come home to The Father with Me and to share in the great celebration at my coming and the great wedding celebration that will follow. 

You may think you have seen huge celebrations of joy, but wait till you experience all of heaven's joy when you come home to share in heaven's glory! So when I was born into your world, the angels — God's messengers and heaven's grand choir — burst into songs of great joy because they knew my entrance into your world would guarantee that you could enter into our world — triumphant over the sin and death that has held your tiny little blue planet in bondage since that fateful day of rebellion in the Garden. 

So, on this day as you celebrate My birth, join with the angels and celebrate with joy! Anticipate the greater victories that lie ahead. Yes, when I was born, the cross was ahead of me just as soon as I was placed into that feed trough wrapped in strips of cloth. But remember, as hard as the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross would be for me, I ultimately set aside My time of anguish to focus on the joy set before Me (Hebrews 12:2). I could look forward to the time when My earthly journey would be finished and I could begin to prepare to bring you home to the great wedding celebration of heaven (John 14:1-4; Revelation 19:6-10). 

So sing! Shout! Rejoice! Join the angels in celebration. As my half-brother James so powerfully put it:
Are any in your community suffering? They should pray. Are any celebrating? They should sing praises to God (James 5:13).


Let's not let sorrow seize this day. This is a day to join the angels in celebration. I've come down to your home to bring back to My home. My birth is the first step to making your Father's dream celebration of joy come true!
Verses to Live

Some things are just so hard to wait to receive — like little children waiting for Christmas to come. Notice how the fear of the shepherds turns into great anticipation as they rush to see Me in the manger. I hope you can live with that sense of expectation, too!
Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light — the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified! 

Messenger:
Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.

At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers — a vast heavenly choir. They praised God. 

Heavenly Choir:
To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! 
And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!

As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation. 

Shepherds:
Let’s rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let’s see what’s happening! Let’s experience what the Lord has told us about
(Luke 2:8-15).

Response in Prayer

O magnificent God Who defies my limited human imagination to praise, please enter into my heart and fill it with the incredible joy and praise of the angels that filled the sky for the shepherds on the night of Your Son's birth into our world. I pray and seek this joy in the name and on the promises of Jesus. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 22 Dec 2013, 5:48 pm

"Savior of the World" — A Year with Jesus for 12/21/2013
Note from Jesus
Dear Beloved,

The Father loves you so much that He sent Me to your world to show you that love. One of the primary goals of God's love is your salvation — salvation FROM sin and death, as well as salvation FOR a life of blessing, purpose, meaning as well as our ultimate eternal salvation.

I know it's hard to believe that a little child in a manger could be the Savior of the world. Yet that is Who I AM. I was born to a Jewish family, with Jewish ancestry, and in fulfillment of Jewish hopes and dreams. I came to bring God's blessings to God's Chosen People, the Jews. But, I also came for you, whether you are Jew or non-Jew. God's love is for all the people of the world, no matter their race, culture, language, or ethnicity. This was said about Me right before My birth:
He is the light who reveals Your [God's] message to the other nations, and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel (Luke 2:32).
So when you think of Me in the manger and celebrate my coming, remember that my coming to be Savior of the world includes My coming to be your personal Savior!"
Verses to Live

The Father didn't just say He loves you; He showed it, by sending Me to be your Savior!
For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction (John 3:16-17).

I am your Savior, the sinless sacrifice who is your Defender and Advocate in heaven. Yet remember, as important as you are to Me, I made this sacrifice for others, even those who don't know me. So please let them in on My story of grace!
You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer — Jesus the Anointed, the righteous — arguing on our behalf before the Father. It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there — He died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).

My love is not complete until it comes alive in you and is shared with others.
We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us.
God is love. Anyone who lives faithfully in love also lives faithfully in God, and God lives in him (1 John 4:16).

When others hear you tell My story and are invited to get to know Me, they can discover that I am their Savior, too!
Meanwhile, because one woman shared with her neighbors how Jesus exposed her past and present, the village of Sychar was transformed — many Samaritans heard and believed. The Samaritans approached Jesus and repeatedly invited Him to stay with them, so He lingered there for two days on their account. With the words that came from His mouth, there were many more believing Samaritans. They began their faith journey because of the testimony of the woman beside the well; but when they heard for themselves, they were convinced the One they were hearing was and is God’s Anointed, the Liberating King, sent to rescue the entire world. (John 4:39-42).

Response in Prayer
LORD God, Your greatness and majesty are beyond my comprehension. Having held a small child, having felt a child's small fingers curl around my own, and having that child snuggle closely to me makes Your coming to us in baby Jesus real... personal... accessible. Thank you for loving us — loving me — so much that You came so near that we could touch you, hold you, and know you as our Savior as well as Savior of the world. In Jesus' name I thank you! Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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"Alone!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/22/2013
Note from Jesus
Dear Precious One,

As you prepare to celebrate My birth, I want you to notice something about My human parents: They were alone!

Where was My earthly father's family? Joseph's family should have been there because they are from Bethlehem! If he didn't have kinfolks in Bethlehem, then his kinfolks should have gone back to Bethlehem, too. Why were they not with him?

Where was Mary's family? My mother was also a descendant of David and she should have had family with her during this hard journey at the end of her pregnancy!

Why do you hear nothing of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces at Jesus' birth? Outside of Elizabeth and Zechariah early in Mary's pregnancy, we hear nothing of family being there for Joseph and Mary. In a culture where family was everything, where were the families of these two precious people?

Ah, that should tell you something about My birth — about the gossip and innuendo about Me not being Joseph's child that swirled around My mother's pregnancy. Joseph and Mary believed the impossible. They trusted the angel, the holy messenger of God, sent to explain the impossible to each of them. Yet no one could really understand how they turned up to be pregnant before they were married. Their being alone is testimony that the Miracle in Mary's womb was not an easy Miracle to accept… not even in her own family and by her own kinfolks. Joseph's risk to believe had not landed him any congratulations from his family. So these two who are so precious to Me were alone… alone in their faith… alone in their journey… alone in the pregnancy… and alone when Mary gave birth to Me, her Son and your Savior.

My birth should be a powerful reminder to you that no matter how hard the journey, if you have faith — even just a little faith that can't quite understand everything — you are never alone.

When I was born, God filled Joseph and Mary's loneliness with joy. The Father made sure they knew He noticed. Heaven's angels sang! Forgotten shepherds heard, journeyed, witnessed, and were amazed! Magi, wise men from the East, made a pilgrimage over a great distance and at great danger to declare something very important. I, the one who takes away the sins of the world, the King of the Jews, the Savior, Immanuel, the Son of God, was born just as God said and placed where the heavens proclaimed I could be found.

For those with faith, no matter how small, the heavens shine with the message of your Father: "You are never alone!"
Verses to Live

These words are so simple, yet so rich. Joseph and Mary were so alone, yet were soon to be reminded that faith, even through the loneliest of journeys, ultimately leads to our sharing in heaven's glory!
Around the time of Elizabeth's amazing pregnancy and John's birth, the emperor in Rome, Caesar Augustus, required everyone in the Roman Empire to participate in a massive census — the first census since Quirinius had become governor of Syria. Each person had to go to his or her ancestral city to be counted.

Mary's fiancé Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David's birthplace. Mary, who was now late in her pregnancy that the messenger Gabriel had predicted, accompanied Joseph. While in Bethlehem, she went into labor and gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the baby in a blanket and laid Him in a feeding trough because the inn had no room for them (Luke 2:1-7)

Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God's glory. They were terrified!

Messenger:

Don't be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.

At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers—a vast heavenly choir. They praised God.

Heavenly Choir:
To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!


As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation.

Shepherds:
Let's rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let's see what's happening! Let's experience what the Lord has told us about!

So they ran into town, and eventually they found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the feeding trough. After they saw the baby, they spread the story of what they had experienced and what had been said to them about this child. Everyone who heard their story couldn't stop thinking about its meaning. Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart.

The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all they had seen and heard, and they glorified God for the way the experience had unfolded just as the heavenly messenger had predicted (Luke 2:8-20).

Dear child, please remember God's promise first spoken to Joshua and shared hundreds of years later with struggling believers just like you:
"I will never leave you; I will always be by your side."

Because of this promise, we may boldly say, T! he Lord is my help — I won't be afraid of anything. How can anyone harm me? (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, there are times when I feel so alone as I face the struggles of life. Thank you for reminding me that Jesus was born to parents who were alone, facing His birth without the help of family or friends. Their faith touches my heart and reminds me that in those times I feel so alone, I know You are there and that I will never be abandoned. I invite the Holy Spirit to strengthen my heart with this grace, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 20 Dec 2013, 10:04 pm

"Collision of Heaven & Hell" — A Year with Jesus for 12/20/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Holy Child of God,

Most folks pause this time of year to remember My birth. That is a good thing. They rejoice with the angels singing praises to God. They are touched by My mother's faithfulness to God in the face of an unfathomable mystery. They marvel at Joseph's kindness and risk-taking integrity to believe the seemingly impossible. They love to hear the story of the shepherds who come and gather around Me, welcoming Me despite the humble setting of My birth. They wonder about the star and how the Magi, the wise men, knew how and where to follow it so precisely. These are all the sweet, wonderful, and marvelous elements of My birth.

Yet for My birth into your world to be true to your reality, there has to be another side to the story that is much more harsh... brutal... violent... and touched with grief. Your world is wonderful, but it is also stained with pain, brutality, and grief. No one wants to face the reality of evil, but you know it is a part of your world — sometimes lurking in the shadows and sometimes overtly present. I came into your world of wonder, marvel, mystery, and amazement. My birth captured the best of each of these. Yet at the same time, My birth flushed out of hiding the violent political power used in Satan's war against the human soul. Herod, fueled by his jealousy and murderous self-preservation, had all the male children two and under in Bethlehem killed in an attempt to exterminate Me! His actions made clear that My life and My ministry would be lived in the places that heaven and hell collide in the war for your soul.

Please, don't just be saddened by the presence of evil, jealousy, and murder that stain the story of My birth. Rejoice that your God was not content to be the pristine and detached Ruler of heaven, but chose to enter into the battle with hell on earth to redeem you from the evil one's snare and make you His own by facing hell's fury to bring you heaven's grace.
Verses to Live

Here is the part of My story that reminds you of the war going on between good and evil, heaven and hell, and what is at stake in My coming.
So Joseph got up in the middle of the night; he bundled up Mary and Jesus, and they left for Egypt.

After a few months had passed, Herod realized he'd been tricked. The wise men were not coming back. Herod, of course, was furious. He simply ordered that all boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years of age and younger be killed. He knew the baby King was this age because of what the wise men told him.

This sad event had long been foretold by the prophet Jeremiah:
A voice will be heard in Ramah, weeping and wailing and mourning out loud all day and night. The voice is Rachel's, weeping for her children, her children who have been killed; she weeps, and she will not be comforted (Matthew 2:16-18).


This is what My coming and My battle with hell means for you!
As for you, don't you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air — oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience. I'm not talking about the outsiders alone; we were all guilty of falling headlong for the persuasive passions of this world; we all have had our fill of indulging the flesh and mind, obeying impulses to follow perverse thoughts motivated by dark powers. As a result, our natural inclinations led us to be children of wrath, just like the rest of humankind.

But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life — even though we were buried under mountains of sin — and saved us by His grace (Ephesians 2:1-5).

Response in Prayer

Almighty God and loving Shepherd, thank you for saving me. I rejoice in the birth of Jesus! Thank you for entering my world, so filled with amazingly wonderful gifts and yet so touched by hell's vile infusion of evil. I hate the story of innocent children being murdered in an attempt to kill Your Son. I feel the anguish and rage of those parents who lost their little boys to an evil ruler's hate and I realize just what was at stake in Jesus' coming to our world. In the face of evil, please use me to bring to others the grace You have given me in the gift of Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 19 Dec 2013, 8:31 pm

The Time Is Near and You Are Busy!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/19/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Christmas is close! Whatcha feeling? Is it ...fear? ...pressure? ...stress? ...worry?

Please don't lose Me in the last minute crush of making travel arrangements, buying gifts, running by the bank, planning family get-togethers, and going to church. If you listen carefully to My story, you will find that your stresses are all part of My birth story, too.
Magi have seen the star and are traveling a long way to come to bring Me presents and worship Me.
Mary and Joseph have to make a trip to Bethlehem, their ancestral home, to register for the census for tax purposes.
There is no place for Joseph to stay or Mary to give birth to Me.
Shepherds make a trip into town to worship Me and get everyone excited.
Everything about My birth is a connection of your world to God and His grace. The Father wants you to know that He knows all about the pressures, inconveniences, detours, problems, unforeseen changes, and wild things that happen in the rush to see family, buy gifts, travel, juggle finances, and do church stuff. He knows these things not just because He is God; He also knows them because in Me, God entered your world and experienced them — was in the center of them.

So if you will take a minute and pause and listen to a few words of My story, I think you will be reminded that if you look for Me and listen for Me, you can find Me, even in the middle of your busy Christmas plans!
Verses to Live

Taxes, census, travel, family history, a trip to the hospital, and trouble finding a room? Yep, that's a part of My story!
Around the time of Elizabeth's amazing pregnancy and John's birth, the emperor in Rome, Caesar Augustus, required everyone in the Roman Empire to participate in a massive census — the first census since Quirinius had become governor of Syria. Each person had to go to his or her ancestral city to be counted.

Mary's fiancée Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David's birthplace. Mary, who was now late in her pregnancy that the messenger Gabriel had predicted, accompanied Joseph. While in Bethlehem, she went into labor and gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the baby in a blanket and laid Him in a feeding trough because the inn had no room for them (Luke 2:1-7).


Work, travel, surprising lights, unexpected guests, and worship services? Yes, that's a part of My story, too.
At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers — a vast heavenly choir. They praised God.

Heavenly Choir:
To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!


As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation.

Shepherds:
Let's rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let's see what's happening! Let's experience what the Lord has told us about
(Luke 2:13-15).


Long trips are a big part of your Christmas? Yep, they were a part of my birth!
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise men or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. These wise men made inquiries.

Wise Men:

Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him (Matthew 2:1-2).


Remember, I'm here with you in the middle of the busy craziness of this time of year if you will invite Me in to share it with you!
Response in Prayer

Loving Father, as Christmas approaches, please settle my spirit as I try to open my heart to your gift of Jesus. I don't want to be distracted by all the things going on around me and miss the love of family, the gift of Your Son, and the many ways Your grace has touched my world. Open my eyes and ears and let the joy of Your presence fill my heart and shine forth in my words and actions as I celebrate the gift of Your love. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 18 Dec 2013, 4:21 pm

"The Wise Still Worship Him!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/17/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Follower,

David spoke the truth and We — Father, Son, and Spirit — wanted it emphasized so you will find it included twice in the Psalms:
A wicked and foolish man truly believes there is no God. They are vile, their sinfulness nauseating to their Creator; their actions are soiled and repulsive; every deed is depraved; not one of them does good (Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1).
This is a sad ! truth.

There is, however, some really good news: Many hunger to know Me, the Living and True God. Many seek Me and come to know Me just as I AM!

Like most generations, you live in a world of religious hatred. Yet even in this world of hatred, an event from My birth is being reenacted daily. Persian people, many of them Muslims, are finding things written in the Quran about Me. This gives them a glimpse of truth and so they begin to seek to fully know Me. Hundreds of thousands of them are searching for Me — just like the Magi from Persia saw the star rise in the east and came to worship Me when I was born!

So please remember to pray for those who see you as their enemies. Pray for them to find Me in their scriptures and come looking for the truth about Me — the very One who is the Way and the Truth and the Life that leads to the Father (John 14:6). Remember, I took Saul of Tarsus who persecuted Christians and turned him into the greatest Christian missionary to ever live. That means that I can reach the hearts of those that you think might be least likely to believe in Me if you will pray for their hearts to open and come alongside of them to share My grace!

Wise people hungry to know God still seek to worship me, just as the Magi from the East did so many years ago. Please be ready to help them find Me!
Verses to Live

Any time you hear this precious story about my birth, let the Magi remind you that people all over the world still yearn to know and worship Me!
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise men or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. These wise men made inquiries.

Wise Men:

Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him. (Matthew 2:10-11).

The wise men left Herod’s chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared — a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11).
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, Father of all peoples, please use me to share your message with those who are seeking You — especially those in places where darkness reigns and it is dangerous to believe in You. Open my heart to see all people as You see them, recognizing that Jesus died for all to bring them into Your family with us. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"It's Always Special when Angels Show Up" — A Year with Jesus for 12/18/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the King,

When you open your Bibles and you see the appearance of angels, know that The Father is up to something special in your world. So marvel at the message and the work of the angels in the story of My birth. At the same time, realize that those same heavenly messengers are still present in your world serving you. You see, angels are heaven's messengers, servants sent to help you in special ways to receive the salvation I came to bring:
The heavenly messengers are ... spirits and servants, sent out to minister to those who will certainly inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:13).
Verses to Live

The unfolding of My story begins with the appearance of an angel to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptizer, My human cousin and the primary one sent to announce My coming:
One day Zacharias was chosen to perform his priestly duties in God’s presence, according to the temple’s normal schedule and routine. He had been selected from all the priests by the customary procedure of casting lots for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enter the sacred precincts of the temple. There he burned sweet incense, while outside a large crowd of people prayed. Suddenly Zacharias realized he was not alone: a messenger of the Lord was there with him. The messenger stood just to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was shocked and afraid, but the messenger reassured him.

Messenger:
Zacharias, calm down! Don’t be afraid!

Messenger:
Zacharias, your prayers have been heard. Your wife is going to have a son, and you will name him John. He will bring you great joy and happiness — and many will share your joy at John’s birth

Zacharias:
How can I be sure of what you’re telling me? I am an old man, and my wife is far past the normal age for women to bear children. This is hard to believe!

Messenger (sternly):
I am Gabriel, the messenger who inhabits God’s presence. I was sent here to talk with you and bring you this good news. Because you didn’t believe my message, you will not be able to talk — not another word — until you experience the fulfillment of my words.
(Luke 1:8-14; Luke 1:18-20) .


An angel, one of God's messengers, tells Mary the most amazing news that she will have God's Son, Me, and carry Me in her womb.
Six months later in Nazareth, a city in the rural province of Galilee, the heavenly messenger Gabriel made another appearance. This time the messenger was sent by God to meet with a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David himself. The messenger entered her home.

Messenger:
Greetings! You are favored, and the Lord is with you! Among all women on the earth, you have been blessed.

The heavenly messenger’s words baffled Mary, and she wondered what type of greeting this was.

Messenger:
Mary, don’t be afraid. You have found favor with God. Listen, you are going to become pregnant. You will have a son, and you must name Him “Savior,” or Jesus. Jesus will become the greatest among men. He will be known as the Son of the Highest God. God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David, and He will reign over the covenant family of Jacob forever.

Mary:
But I have never been with a man. How can this be possible?

Messenger:
The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The Most High will overshadow you. That’s why this holy child will be known, as not just your son, but also as the Son of God. It sounds impossible, but listen — you know your relative Elizabeth has been unable to bear children and is now far too old to be a mother. Yet she has become pregnant, as God willed it. Yes, in three months, she will have a son. So the impossible is possible with God.

Mary (deciding in her heart):
Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me.
(Luke 1:26-38).


God's messenger came in a vision to reassure Joseph not to abandon Mary in her pregnancy, but to walk beside her and raise Me as his own Son!
Joseph, because he was kind and upstanding and honorable, wanted to spare Mary shame. He did not wish to cause her more embarrassment than necessary.
Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream.

Messenger of the Lord:
Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else —rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonderworking of the Holy Spirit. She will have a son, and you will name Him Jesus, which means “the Lord saves,” because this Jesus is the person who will save all of His people from sin.

Joseph woke up from his dream and did exactly what the messenger had told him to do:he married Mary and brought her into his home as his wife (Matthew 1:19-24).


Angels, heaven's messengers, announce to the shepherds where to find Me, their Savior, the One bringing glory and grace to earth.
Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of ! shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified!

Messenger:
Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.

At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers—a vast heavenly choir. They praised God.

Heavenly Choir:
To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!

As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation.

Shepherds:
Let’s rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let’s see what’s happening! Let’s experience what the Lord has told us about!
(Luke 2:8-15).


God's messenger warns My human father, Joseph, to remove Me from Bethlehem and get Me to safety to preserve My life from Herod's jealous and murderous rage.
After the wise men left, a messenger of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.

Messenger of the Lord (to Joseph):
Get up, take the child and His mother, and head to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you it is safe to leave. For Herod understands that Jesus threatens him and all he stands for. He is planning to search for the child and kill Him. But you will be safe in Egypt.

So Joseph got up in the middle of the night; he bundled up Mary and Jesus, and they left for Egypt.

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod died. This fulfilled yet another prophecy. The prophet Hosea once wrote, “Out of Egypt I called My Son" (Matthew 2:12-15).
Response in Prayer

Father, I do not understand all there is to know about Your heavenly messengers. Yet I know, dear Father, that the presence of these angels, Your messengers, fill the story of Jesus' birth and signal Your work of salvation is happening in His coming. I rejoice in this wonderful and mysterious story that brings me Jesus and promises me Your help as I anticipate Jesus' coming again. It is in His name I offer You my thanks and praise. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 16 Dec 2013, 8:55 pm

"So Who Will Share the Good News?" — A Year with Jesus for 12/16/2013

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend of God,

I have something important I want you to do for Me. I know you are busy with all your crazy Christmas plans, but there is one important gift I'd love for you to give to someone. Share the good news story of My birth with that person. That person can be a man or woman, adult or child, old or young, rich or poor. No matter who your person is, remind this friend that I came to earth from heaven for him or for her.

So will you share My story with at least one person who is special to you this Christmas season?
Verses to Live

An angel first tells the story of God's good news of My coming to Joseph and Mary. While it was unbelievable good news, it was also news that would change their world, and yours, forever:

...in Nazareth, a city in the rural province of Galilee, the heavenly messenger Gabriel made another appearance. This time the messenger was sent by God to meet with a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David himself. The messenger entered her home.

Messenger:

Greetings! You are favored, and the Lord is with you! Among all women on the earth, you have been blessed.

The heavenly messenger's words baffled Mary, and she wondered what type of greeting this was.

Messenger:

Mary, don't be afraid. You have found favor with God. Listen, you are going to become pregnant. You will have a son, and you must name Him "Savior," or Jesus. Jesus will become the greatest among men. He will be known as the Son of the Highest God. God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David, and He will reign over the covenant family of Jacob forever (Luke 1:26-35).

Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, son of David. They hadn't married. And yet, some time well before their wedding date, Mary learned that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, because he was kind and upstanding and honorable, wanted to spare Mary shame. He did not wish to cause her more embarrassment than necessary.

Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream.

Messenger of the Lord:

Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else — rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonderworking of the Holy Spirit. She will have a son, and you will name Him Jesus, which means "the Lord saves," because this Jesus is the person who will save all of His people from sin (Matthew 1:18-21).


Angels also announced and loudly sang the good news to a group of shepherds out in the fields tending their flocks. It was such good news for them, they had to go see if it was really true and then tell others about this good news they had seen!
Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light — the shining light of God's glory. They were terrified!

Messenger:

Don't be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.

At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers — a vast heavenly choir. They praised God.

Heavenly Choir:

To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God!
And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!

As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation.

Shepherds:

Let's rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let's see what's happening! Let's experience what the Lord has told us about! (Luke 2:8-15).


The Father even used a star to announce the good news of my birth to foreigners, Persians from the East, who came to worship me because of this good news.

The wise men left Herod's chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared — a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-10).

This is the beginning of the good news of Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King, the Son of God.

Isaiah the prophet told us what would happen before He came:
Watch, I will send My messenger in front of You
to prepare Your way and make it clear and straight.
You'll hear him, a voice crying in the wilderness,
"Prepare the way of the Eternal One,
a straight way in the wandering desert, a highway for our Go! d."


That messenger was John the Baptist, who appeared in the desert near the Jordan River preaching that people should be ritually cleansed through baptism with water as a sign of both their changed hearts and God's forgiveness of their sins. (Mark 1:1-4).


If angels, stars, and shepherds can find a way to sing, shine, and share the good news of My birth, won't you?
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven and the One True and Living God, open my eyes to see the people you have placed around me that need to hear the good news of Jesus' birth in the middle of their Christmas madness. In the name of my Savior I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Heartlight is proud to support and promote Compassion International.
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