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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 07 Jan 2017, 7:39 pm

"Glory in the Ordinary" — A Year with Jesus for 01/07/2017

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. I can be present when your days are mostly filled with ordinary things that go with being a part of a family, part of a community, part of a friendship, or part of a business or company. So as I began to have people gather around Me early in My public ministry, where do you think I first revealed My glory to them?

It was at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. My mother, Mary, was connected to the family hosting the wedding celebration. The wine was running out. This problem 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 knew what happened. Yet the bride and groom received the honor and the families were blessed without a lot of fuss being made about Me.

My first followers were watching what I did at this wedding. 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 looking for Me can know that I AM present. I want My disciples to know that the routine things in their lives truly matter to Me... and that there is nothing ordinary when I AM your Lord and 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. These verses are a reminder to look for My actions in your everyday life!
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' 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 06 Jan 2017, 11:32 pm

"First Things First" — A Year with Jesus for 01/06/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

If you are going to put "first things first," then what are these "first things" you must do 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 in the Scriptures, 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).

Your "first things" 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 eventually becomes one of My twelve apostles. His name was Andrew. Andrew was always bringing people to meet me (John 6:5-9; John 12:20-22). This focus of Andrew's life began immediately after he realized Who I AM. The first thing he did after spending time with Me was to go and find his brother, Simon Peter, and bring him to meet Me.

One of the ways you put "first things first" with friends and family is to do what Andrew did: you bring them to Me. You don't have to convince them of anything. Share why you have hope in Me (1 Peter 3:15-16). Then, with gentleness and respect, help them come to Me and learn more about me. 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 Who I AM for themselves. 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 and to get to know about Me. So I want to challenge you to let first things be first. Love the Father with all that you are. Love your friends, family, and neighbors as you love yourself. Let these two principles overlap and invite those you love to come and meet Me! It won't necessarily be easy, but I will help you know what to say, when to say it, and how to share the invitation. 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 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 all of their questions; just be a friend and an 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 the 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 05 Jan 2017, 4:52 pm

"Tested True" — A Year with Jesus for 01/05/2017

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 take a shortcut around the plan of God — 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 the Father protected Me.

You will be tempted. Temptation can come from your own desires (James 1:13-15). Temptation can be specially planned and orchestrated by the devil and his evil scheming (Ephesians 6:11). And yes, as 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.

Your first line of defense against temptations is knowing the Father's will revealed in Scripture. Just as I answered each of the devil's temptations with principles from Scripture, you need to know Scripture to know how We want you to live and act so you can recall Our will for you when you face temptations. However, knowing Scripture is not sufficient to fend off your temptations. You need to know the Father and His deep and abiding love for you. When I faced these temptations, I not only knew the Scriptures, but I also knew the Father and His great love for Me.

In your trials and temptations, remember this: I faced temptations and trials, too. I know what they are like. I can help you through them. 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. This truth can bless you in your own struggles and temptations if you accept it.
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 confrontations with the devil after my baptism. Notice that the Spirit led Me during this whole process and I emerged from this time of temptation 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 4:1-14)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for sharing the pain of being human, including facing temptations. 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 the Father interceding for me now. Thank You for being the Savior Who was one of us! Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 11:48 pm

Preparing Your Heart for Me" — A Year with Jesus for 01/04/2017

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 1:4 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 be their Lord when I came!

Repentance is more than feeling sorry for your sin. Rather, inner pain and conviction about your past sin produce "godly sorrow," which should lead you to repentance — to make changes, real behavioral and heartfelt changes, in your life (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). 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 their 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 life to the full to you (John 10:10).
Verses to Live

John's message was a hard, but important, message. If I AM to come and live with you and inside you, you must offer yourself to Me fully, in practical and tangible ways:
[C]rowds 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?
"Those I [Jesus] 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 3:19-20)
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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 03 Jan 2017, 9:37 pm

"God's Good News Always Begins with a Servant" — A Year with Jesus for 01/03/2017

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 1:1-2; Mark 1:4)
This introduction 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. As I said during My earthly ministry:
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, associates, and family, they must know that you do what you do for them 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:
Jesus:
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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 02 Jan 2017, 11:56 pm

Just an Ordinary Kid?" — A Year with Jesus for 01/02/2017

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 minds, I was just another average kid from their unimportant little town. They didn't have the visits from an angel that Joseph and My mother received. They didn't hear the prophetic proclamations of Simeon and Anna as they recognized Me as Jesus, the Messiah, God's Anointed. They knew Me only 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 Me to be just an ordinary son of a carpenter.

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 carpentry shop, going to the 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 Joseph and My mother, and to do both Joseph's business of carpentry and My Father's business of character, compassion, and service.

If you are a parent, I am reminding 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 that kid is God's child!
Verses to Live

Here's an account that includes 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 [referring to Jesus' dedication as the firstborn], 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 2:39-52)
Here's the story of My visit later to Nazareth during My public ministry. The local people wouldn't believe in Me because of their familiarity with Me and 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)
Response in Prayer

Holy God, give me a deep appreciation of each child — especially my children and the other children in my extended family. Open my eyes to see each child as You see him or her. Please use me to help call the children to Your work in each of their lives. Give me the 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 10:06 pm

"Dedicated to God" — A Year with Jesus for 01/01/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

As you begin your New Year, I want to challenge you to dedicate yourself and this year to honor Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. Be faithful in all things, including the little things. Keep your word. Spend time with the Father in prayer. Intentionally begin each day with a fresh commitment to follow Me. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and follow His lead in your life.

From the beginning of My life on earth, Joseph and My mother did the things that faithful Jewish parents were to do. They had Me circumcised 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 the writings — all the books you call the Old Testament. Our family journeyed to Jerusalem for the appointed festivals. I was the Son of God in human flesh through the miraculous conception by the means of the Holy Spirit. I was also a child of the Torah, a son of Israel, and a child of the synagogue because of Joseph's and My mother's faith.

Their faith nurtured Me and guided Me. Their dedication was a blessing to Me. So I want to remind you as you stand at the beginning of a New Year to commit this year to honoring Us. Make My Father's will your own and My life the life you choose to live. Follow My example as you deal with people, especially people often overlooked. Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you understand the Scriptures and how best to obey them. You never know who will be impacted for eternity because of what you do!
Verses to Live

Notice how Joseph and My mother 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 came My circumcision and dedication to the Father:
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, a devout old servant of God, both affirms and also warns Joseph and My mother about My role in serving the Father:
While fulfilling these sacred obligations at the temple, they [Mary and Joseph] 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 Joseph and My mother. Anna also spoke of My role in serving the Father:
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 year that has just begun 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 31 Dec 2016, 11:48 pm



Hard Realities" — A Year with Jesus for 12/31/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

As your Christmas season comes to an end, you are left to clean up the messes — the leftovers in the fridge, the house after the company leaves, and the emotional leftovers of time with extended family — and regroup to begin the New Year. But your challenges as you roll into the New Year were nothing like My mother and Joseph faced as they took on the job of raising Me as their child!

Joseph and My mother stayed in Bethlehem for an extended time after I was born. They moved into a house and settled into a new routine like most new families do. However, I was no ordinary child. Oh sure, I did all the things a baby normally does, but My mother and Joseph knew from the angels' announcements about Me that raising Me would come with extra responsibilities.

After the magi left, Joseph was warned in a dream to take My mother and Me to safety in Egypt. Joseph needed to protect My mother and Me from Herod's wrath as he wanted to kill Me. So Joseph continued to pay a high price to have My mother as his wife and to take Me as his child. He first bore the stigma of My mother's pregnancy before they were married. Then he left his home and place of livelihood in Nazareth and had to take care of Me as a baby in Bethlehem. Now, to protect My life, he escaped to Egypt — a distant and dangerous place he did not know — and started his life over again.

When anyone chooses to bring Me into his or her life, changes will happen. When you follow Me and invite Me into your life, the blessings also come with commitment (Luke 9:23-25). If you are going to honor Me as your Lord and Savior, you are going to commit to doing what I say and going where I lead. Scripture speaks truth into your life, and you must obey it. Just as surely as Joseph had to change his life, I will ask you to change yours. At times, those changes will feel hard and unfair — just as Joseph had to give up so much to serve as My earthly father. But I promise you two things:
I will never leave you or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5-6; Romans 8:32-39).
Your life will make a difference to those around you — you will be My light in the darkness around you and My salt to flavor a tasteless world (Matthew 5:13-16).
Verses to Live

As you close out this year, I want you to remember Joseph and all that he gave up to welcome Me into his life. Then I want you to think of the billions of people who have been blessed by his decision. Now as you look into the coming New Year, I want you to hear My call and follow Me; commit to being like Joseph knowing that the rewards will be more than worth any price you have to pay!
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.
(Matthew 2:13-14)
Response in Prayer

O Almighty God, my Father in heaven, thank You for the example of Joseph. I know that there is not much written about him, but my heart is challenged by his faithfulness and his willingness to risk everything — reputation, occupation, home, friends, family, and future — to welcome Jesus into his life. I want to have faith like that, dear Father, and I commit to welcome Jesus and follow Jesus. But I ask that You strengthen my resolve through the Holy Spirit, to Whom I yield so that I can become a useful servant to my Lord Jesus and to Your kingdom. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 11:32 pm

Extravagant Gifts" — A Year with Jesus for 12/30/2016

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 — gold, frankincense, and myrrh — that were given to Me at My birth by the magi. 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. But 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 2:9-11)
The woman's extravagant gift was given at the end of My ministry, preparing Me for My 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 30 Dec 2016, 12:46 am


"Faithful Servants Pave the Way" — A Year with Jesus for 12/29/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Servant of the LORD,

If you take the 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. But each one was crucial to the story!

I want to remind you of a few of them. In fact, you might want to do some research on them if you don't recognize their names. Folks like Seth and Isaac, who do not have a lot written about them, but were hugely important in God's unfolding promises. There was Jael, a brave and clever wife who killed 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 preserved God's promise of the Messiah. Along the way you meet an unnamed boy who provided his fish and bread that I used to feed a crowd. There was 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 were folks like Dorcas, Lydia, and Phoebe, who served others and blessed My early churches. There were special folks like Onesiphorus, who blessed the apostle Paul.

There were, of course, many others. I mention these just to make this one point: Behind any great movement of God, there are 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 made.

So before you read about a few 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 that 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 Zacharias 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 seemingly 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, Simeon and Anna, proclaimed the meaning of My birth as they met Me in the Temple.
While fulfilling these sacred obligations [the dedication of Jesus and a sacrifice] 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 the reminder about those who served You in the past. These examples remind 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 28 Dec 2016, 11:04 pm

Vulnerable God" — A Year with Jesus for 12/28/2016

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 with her, other than her future husband. 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 My mother 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 My mother. 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 a rage of slaughtering young boys to try to kill Me, so the angel had to warn Joseph to take My mother and Me to safety in far-away Egypt. Heaven wept as Herod's rage toward Me destroyed little boys in and near Bethlehem — a 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. God entered human flesh, fully human and fully God; your theologians call it incarnation. 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 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 2:4-7)

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 [to return to him to tell him where the baby Jesus was], 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International..
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 27 Dec 2016, 5:52 pm

Big Gifts in Small Beginnings" — A Year with Jesus for 12/27/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

In the aftermath 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 decades of captivity in Babylon, some of the people of Israel were not ready to accept the small new beginning that they were able to accomplish. But 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 were crude, the story is simple, and I was 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 feeding trough — 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 feeding trough, surrounded by only shepherds and a couple of young and powerless parents.

But 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 the 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 to 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 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)
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 in 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 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 26 Dec 2016, 10:25 pm

"The Light Now Shines!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/26/2016

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 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 (Luke 2:8-9) and as you imagine the long journey of the magi to Bethlehem following the star (Matthew 2:1-2), never forget that My light still shines for you to find your way to come home to Me.
Verses to Live

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

It was not long until powerful people put John [the Baptist] 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 4:11-17)
I was not shy in declaring that I AM the true light that brings life to the world! I told my disciples:
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.
(2 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 Sun 25 Dec 2016, 11:24 pm

"'The Lord Is Near'" — A Year with Jesus for 12/25/2016

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 they gave voice to My words. 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"! But 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 should 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 — disregarded shepherds, stargazers from the East, and ordinary people like the tax collectors, sinners, soldiers, fishermen, and women of all ages who were left out by contemporary religion. Change is what I promised through the prophets.

I came to you, to your world, to people like you just as I promised — as a baby in the womb of a woman, delivered into a 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 you — the glory of God in the flesh of humanity. My beloved disciple John put it this way:
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 assured you of this:
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 yet 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 every day and not just at Christmas. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 25 Dec 2016, 12:22 am

Sing Choirs of Angels" — A Year with Jesus for 12/24/2016

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. And please never ever forget why I paid that price! I want you to come home to the Father with Me and to share in the great celebration at My coming and the great wedding feast 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 have held your tiny little blue planet in bondage since that fateful day of rebellion in the Garden.

So, as you remember 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 a blanket — literally 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)
Don't let sorrow seize this day. Today is a day to join the angels in celebration. I've come down to your home to bring you back to My home. My birth was the first step toward making your Father's great celebration of joy with you 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 and then they rush to see Me in the feeding trough. 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 like that of the angels who 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 23 Dec 2016, 8:55 pm

No Room!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/23/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Have you really made room in your heart for Me?

I'm not talking about thinking about Me during the 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 My little family and Me. However, most were busy with guests in town for the census or working to make a little coin off the out-of-town folks who 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 do not want a quick visit to fill your December with a touch of Christmas. I want 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, have you made room for Me?
Verses to Live

Notice how simply Luke tells the story of My birth. Notice the sad state of affairs 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 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)
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 following truth the apostle John states, for it applies 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. Have you made room for Me — not just at Christmas, but for always? Notice the promise that I made when you do make room for Me.
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 I want You to have Your way with my will, and I want 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 22 Dec 2016, 10:19 pm

"Savior of the World" — A Year with Jesus for 12/22/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

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

I know it's hard to believe that a little child in a manger could be the Savior of the world. But that is Who I AM. I was born into 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 Jewish or not. God's love is for all the people of the world, no matter their race, culture, language, or ethnicity. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 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 I AM not only the Savior of the world but I also came to be your personal Savior, too!
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. But remember, as important as you are to Me, I made this sacrifice for others also, 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 that child's fingers curl around my own, and having that child snuggle close to me make 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 the Savior of the world. In Jesus' name, I thank you! Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 21 Dec 2016, 10:59 pm

"Alone!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/21/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

As you prepare to celebrate My birth, I want you to notice something about My mother and Joseph: They were alone in Bethlehem!

Joseph's family should have been there because they were from Bethlehem! But they are nowhere to be found in the story of My birth.

My mother was also a descendant of David. She should have had her family with her to support her at the end of this hard journey and at the end of her pregnancy!

You hear nothing of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, or nephews and nieces at My birth. Outside of Elizabeth and Zechariah early in My mother's pregnancy, you hear nothing of the family being there for Joseph and My mother. In a culture where family was extremely important, the families of these two precious people were not with them.

Ah, that should tell you something about My birth — about the gossip and innuendo that swirled around My mother's pregnancy, gossip, and innuendo about My not being Joseph's child. Joseph and My mother believed the seemingly impossible. They trusted the angel, the holy messenger of God, sent to explain the impossible to each of them. But no one could really understand how they turned up to be pregnant before they were married. Mary and Joseph 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 My mother gave birth to Me, her Son and your Savior.

My birth should be a powerful reminder to you about your own journey of faith. No matter how hard your life's journey, even just a little faith ensures that you are never alone.

When I was born, God filled Joseph's and My mother'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 would 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

The words in today's verses are so simple, yet so rich. Joseph and My mother were so alone, yet were soon to be reminded that faith, even through the loneliest of journeys, ultimately leads to your 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 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.

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 2:1-20)
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, the 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 I feel so alone in those times. However, I know You are there, and 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 20 Dec 2016, 11:03 pm

Collision of Heaven & Hell" — A Year with Jesus for 12/20/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Holy Child of God,

Many 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 to welcome 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 a few of the sweet, wonderful, and marvelous elements of My birth.

But 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 brutal... harsh... violent... and touched with grief. Your world is wonderful, but it is also stained with pain, brutality, and grief — just look at the recent headlines in your news. 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. At the same time, My birth also challenged the evil status quo. Satan was determined to use all of his violent and malevolent power to snuff out the fresh-born hope that came with My arrival. Herod, fueled by his jealousy and a murderous sense of self-preservation, murdered all of Bethlehem's male children two years and younger. He was attempting to exterminate Me. His actions made clear that My life and My ministry would be lived in the places where 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 birth story that reminds you of the war going on between good and evil, heaven and hell, and what is at stake in My coming.
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 2:13-14; Matthew 2:16-18)
The apostle Paul gave a good summary of what My coming and My battle with hell mean 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 that innocent children were 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 19 Dec 2016, 4:30 pm


"The Time Is Near and You Are Busy!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/19/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Christmas is close! What are you feeling? Is it fear? ...pressure? ...stress? ...worry? ...sadness?

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 the same type of stresses that you have also were part of My birth story, too.
Magi had seen the star and were traveling a long way to come to bring Me presents and worship Me.
My earthly parents-to-be had to make a trip to Bethlehem, My stepfather's ancestral home, to register for the census for tax purposes.
There was no proper place for them to stay or for My mother to give birth to Me.
Shepherds made a trip into town to worship Me and everyone got excited.
Everything about My birth is a connection of your world to the Father 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.

Pause and listen to a few words of My story. Listen long enough for these words to touch your heart. If you look 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, medical needs, and trouble finding a room? Yep, they are in 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, they are in 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)
Are long trips 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 gift of Your Son, the love of family, 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 18 Dec 2016, 5:09 pm

The Wise Still Worship Me!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/17/2016

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.
(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 where religious hatred is found. But even in this world of hatred, an event similar to what happened at My birth is being reenacted daily. Just like the magi from the East saw the star rise in the east and came to worship Me when I was born, Muslims are finding things written in the Quran about Me. This discovery gives them a glimpse of truth, and so they begin to seek to know Me fully. Hundreds of thousands of them are searching for Me!

So please remember to pray for those who see you as their enemy. Pray for them to find Me in their scriptures and to 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 NIV). 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 you may think are least likely to believe in Me! Pray for their hearts to open to Me. Pray that I can share My grace with them. I long to come into their world and bring them close to the Father.

Wise people hungering 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

Anytime 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 2:1-2)

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.
(Matthew 2:9-11)
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 Jesus. 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.


"It's Always Special When Angels Show Up" — A Year with Jesus for 12/18/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the King,

When you open your Bible 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 1:14)
Verses to Live

Five times, angels (the Father's heavenly messengers) had a role in the events associated with My Advent. The unfolding of My story begins with the appearance of an angel to Zacharias, who became the father of John the Baptizer. John the Baptizer was My human cousin and also the primary messenger 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!

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)
Later, one of God's messengers told My mother, Mary, the most amazing news: She would 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 also came in a vision to tell Joseph not to abandon My mother 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)
After My birth, angels announced 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)
Later, God's messenger warned My human stepfather, Joseph, to remove Me from Bethlehem and get Me to safety in Egypt 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 2:13-15)
Response in Prayer

Father, I do not understand all there is to know about Your heavenly messengers. But I do know, dear Father, that the presence of these angels, Your messengers, fills the story of Jesus' birth and signals Your work of salvation through 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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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 16 Dec 2016, 11:28 pm

"Move Beyond the God Talk" — A Year with Jesus for 12/16/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Partner in the Kingdom,

People can speak in "God talk" and live in anti-God ways. Unfortunately, Christmas is a time when a lot of that happens. This method of speaking goes all the way back to My birth and early days as a toddler. Herod had his religious wise guys use the writings of the prophets that are now in your Bible to determine the location of My birth so he could try to kill Me. This account of the despicable slaughter of boy babies is a reminder that knowing the Bible and engaging in "God talk" can be dangerous if your heart doesn't belong to the Father.

There is, however, another way to use the Scriptures. You can come to Me and let your faith in Me open your eyes to the full and powerful message of God that leads to life! Move beyond the "God talk" this Christmas: come and discover Me. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6 NLT).
Verses to Live

As joyous as the story is for you, parts of My birth story are extremely sad for the Father and for some families in and around Bethlehem. Some people used the very Scriptures and words of the prophets — words intended to give them hope — to bring evil of the worst kind: murder.
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.
King Herod began to hear rumors of the wise men's quest, and he, and all of his followers in Jerusalem, were worried. So Herod called all of the leading Jewish teachers, the chief priests and head scribes, and he asked them where Hebrew tradition claimed the long-awaited Anointed One would be born.

Scribes and Priests:
An ancient Hebrew prophet, Micah, said this:
"But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no poor relation — For from your people will come a Ruler Who will be the shepherd of My people Israel".
(Matthew 2:1-6)

After a few months had passed, Herod realized he'd been tricked. The wise men were not coming back [to tell him exactly where Jesus was]. 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)
When My word is ignored, when the Father's will is abandoned, and when the Spirit's inspired message is used for evil, death can be the result. But, when you come to Me, believe in Me, and follow Me, the result is life. Here's what I said to some religious folks who were using Scripture to bring harm.
His [God's] word does not abide in you because you do not believe in the One sent by the Father. Here you are scouring through the Scriptures, hoping that you will find eternal life among a pile of scrolls. What you don't seem to understand is that the Scriptures point to Me. Here I am with you, and still you reject the truth contained in the law and prophets by refusing to come to Me so that you can have life.
(John 5:38-40)
Don't lose the focus of this season in a lot of religious words. Remember, the point of the season is to come to Me and find life!
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I confess that I can sometimes get so caught up in trying to read the Bible that I forget to listen for You in the words that I read. Father God, thank You for having Your words come to life in Your Word, Jesus the Son. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for inspiring the message of God and breathing these words of life through people so we can understand the truth. But most of all, dear God, I pray that I keep Jesus as the center and use the Bible to help others find life. It is in Jesus' name, and by His authority that I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 15 Dec 2016, 11:09 pm

So Who Will Share the Good News?" — A Year with Jesus for 12/15/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend of God,

Today, I AM asking you to do something important. I know you are busy with all your Christmas plans, but there is one important gift I'd like you to give to someone. I want you to share the good news story of My birth with that person. The person could be a man or woman, adult or child, old or young, rich or poor, but no matter who that person is, all people need to be reminded that I came to earth from heaven for them.

Please share that story with a couple of people who are special to you.
Verses to Live

An angel first told 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:
[I]n 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 1:26-33)

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 (heavenly messengers) also announced the good news to a group of shepherds out in the fields tending their flocks. It was such good news for them that they had to go to 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, wise men 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 2:9-11)

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.
(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 who need to hear the good news of Jesus' birth in the middle of their busy Christmas season. In the name of my Savior, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 14 Dec 2016, 12:54 pm

"When Is Worship A Lie?" — A Year with Jesus for 12/14/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

I love all people. That's why I came. At the same time, I have to tell you something — and yes, I'm sorry to have to do this near Christmas, but it's part of My story.

Hypocrisy makes me want to throw up (Revelation 3:15-16) — when people pretend to love the Father, say they live by the Spirit, and talk as if they love Me, yet their lives are lived in a totally different way. Some of My harshest words in My earthly ministry were targeted at hypocrisy (Matthew 23:1-39).

Herod even used the Scriptures for evil purposes to try to kill me. Something Herod said was nothing but a bald-faced lie:
Go to Bethlehem and search high and low for this Savior child; and as soon as you know where He is, report it to me so that I may go and worship Him.
(Matthew 2:8)
Herod's actions were a preview of what would happen during My ministry: the religious power brokers felt jealous and threatened, so they tried to have Me killed. In fact, they were successful. They just didn't know that after crucifying Me the Father would raise Me and then they would be in a real mess — people who saw Me alive after My resurrection couldn't be stopped!

So please remember during this time when people celebrate My birth that there is a war going on. It's not just a war between good and evil, but a war with an extreme form of evil: religiosity and people who want to turn religion into a system that makes them feel better than others and gives them power over others rather than a holy life lived in submission to the Father and in service to others. Remember, religious leaders were the ones who conspired with political leaders to murder Me. So don't lose Me in something that purports to be religion.

I came because God wanted lost people to be saved, the last people in line to be included, and the least people to be recognized for their kind acts of service. On the other hand, Herod was an evil, murderous, superficially religious, political weasel. He built great buildings and murdered children — some of them his own.

When worship loses sight of God's grace and My coming to save the lost, the last, and the least, then it is a lie. But when it celebrates the salvation of the lost, the inclusion of the last, and the service of the least... well, that's a foretaste of heaven!
Verses to Live

These following two sets of verses stand in sharp contrast.

The first one is something that I said to the outwardly religious bunch, the Scribes and Pharisees:
Isaiah prophesied wisely about your religious pretensions when he wrote:
These people honor Me with words off their lips; meanwhile their hearts are far from Me. Their worship is empty, void of true devotion. They teach a human commandment, memorized and practiced by rote.
(Mark 7:6-7)
The second one comes from My description of the final judgment and is said to those who have lived like Me:
Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives. I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.
(Matthew 25:34-36)
The last sounds a whole lot more like Christmas than it does like Herod!
Response in Prayer

I am sorry, dear God, that Jesus' birth story has to have some of the junk and crud of our human hypocrisy and evil. But it does comfort me, dear Father, that Jesus entered this kind of mess and redeemed it and brought Your grace to give us living hope. As I worship and give thanks during this season, tune my heart to Yours as I seek to honor You for Your indescribable gift of Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 13 Dec 2016, 11:00 pm

Finding Your Purpose" — A Year with Jesus for 12/13/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

I know you sometimes wonder what your life's purpose is and what My plan is for your future. I have spoken to you through the Scriptures about the big picture of your purpose. I know you would like more details, but sometimes those details are not nearly as important as the purpose I have for you in the place you are right now.

Shepherds, including the ones to whom the angels appeared when I was born, had a tough life. The purpose to their life seemed very simple in the grand scheme of things as you so often think of grand things. They watched, protected, and cared for sheep. They made sure the sheep had food and water. They calmed them during the night when they were restless. They called them by name since they were individually known. Bottom line: When you look at the little details, it looks as if these shepherds were all about sheep. However, that was not the most important aspect of their purpose. That purpose was far greater: their purpose was to share the story of God's wondrous love that sent Me into the world.

Guess what? You have this same greater purpose. It doesn't matter what the smaller details are — what your job is, who your family is, where your school is, what your problems appear to be. (And please know that I know and care about these details in your life.) The bottom line is that you have the same purpose as those shepherds from so long ago: your purpose is to share the story of God's wondrous love that sent Me into the world!

Don't believe me? Just take a look at the words below from the good doctor, Luke, and one of my best-known apostles, Peter. You are here to share My story and bring praise to the Father for His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Verses to Live

Here's what the shepherds discovered was their purpose (underlined for emphasis):
After they saw the baby, they spread the story of what they had experienced and what had been said to them about this child. .. 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 2:16-17; Luke 2:20)
Here's what Peter wants you to know is your purpose (underlined for emphasis):
But you are a chosen people, set aside to be a royal order of priests, a holy nation, God's own; so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One Who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received it.
(1 Peter 2:9-10)
Response in Prayer

All glory and praise to You, O God, the Father of mercy and the God of all grace. You have bought me from sin and re-made me to be Your precious and holy servant to influence others so that they can know Your grace and be reborn by Your Spirit. Use me, each day, dear God, to be a blessing to those around me to Your glory. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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