What God is Saying:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Advent Devotion / Jesse Tree Day 21 - No More Accusations




Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. 
The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."
When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: 
"Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. 
And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." 
So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther's instructions.  Esther 4:10-17

SaturdayEsther
Bible Reading: Esther 4:10-17
Jesse Tree Symbol: golden scepter (have your children draw a scepter on a circular piece of paper)

Esther, beautiful Jewish queen of King Xerxes...a man who had the ultimate power of life or death over everyone. Mordecai, uncle to Esther, devout Jew who will not back down to anyone. Haman, descendent of Agag and sworn enemy of the Jews.

Haman goes before King Xerxes and accuses the Jews: "There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king's laws; it is not in the king's best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them," Esther 3:8-9. King Xerxes agrees to this mass slaughter which, unknowingly, will include his own wife Queen Esther.

Mordecai finds out and begs Queen Esther to go before the king and ask for mercy and a stop to the killing. The fate of the entire Jewish population in this kingdom rests on Esther.

There is an accuser today as well...but he doesn't just accuse the Jewish people like Haman did...he accuses the entire human race. His name is Satan and he wants nothing better than to destroy all the human beings who are so precious and dear to the Lord God.

But in the fullness of time, our King of Kings comes to Bethlehem and makes the whole universe his court. He hears the words of the accuser, but unlike King Xerxes, our King does not agree with the accuser. For the accuser's words hold no power anymore. They were broken at Calvary. They were silenced by the absolute sacrifice of the King Himself. "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.'"  Revelation 12:10

So, we do not have to cower on our knees before the King of Kings, wondering if He will reach out His golden scepter of mercy and spare our lives. Instead, we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
For it is not a golden scepter that is held out to us in the throne room of the universe, but the hands of Jesus Christ which took the iron nails to save us.



The above commentary on Esther is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree

When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. We need to step out in obedience and pray for them as God asks us to. 

Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World  go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile

Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit  Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Advent Devotion / Jesse Tree Day 20 - Look, Watch, Wait and Stand in Awe


"Look at the nations and watch-- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5

"I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint."  Habakkuk 2:1

"For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."  Habakkuk 2:3

"Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy."  Habakkuk 3:2

FridayLook, Watch, Wait, Stand in Awe
Bible Reading:  Hab. 1:1-5, 12-13, 2:1-3, 14, 3:1-2, 19
Jesse Tree Symbol: stone watchtower Jesse Tree ornaments (use ornament for Friday but cut off the scripture reference since they are different) 

Look...watch...wait...stand in awe

We are to look for the Lord, watch for Him and what He does, wait for His actions and timing and then stand in awe of what He does. Enjoy the following verses which illustrate this:

Look - "He took him outside and said, 'Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.'" Genesis 15:5

"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul."  Deuteronomy 4:29

"Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."  Isaiah 40:26

"This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'"  Jeremiah 6:16

"Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace!"
Nahum 1:15

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'"  John 1:29

"After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb."  Matthew 28:1

"Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."  John 4:35

"Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him,"  Revelation 1:7


Watch - "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." Deuteronomy 4:9

"O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress," Psalm 59:9

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
Micah 7:7

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."  Matthew 7:15

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."  Matthew 26:41

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."  Matthew 24:42


Wait - "In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."  Psalm 5:3

"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield."  Psalm 33:20

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes."  Psalm 37:7

"Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts."  Isaiah 26:8

"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."  Isaiah 64:4

"On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift (the Holy Spirit) my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about." Acts 1:4

"while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ," Titus 2:13


stand in awe - "My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws." Psalms 119:120

"Dominion and awe belong to God; he establishes order in the heights of heaven." Job 25:2

"Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God." Ecclesiastes 5:7

"When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel." Isaiah 29:23

"When the crowd saw this (Jesus' teaching and miracles), they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men."  Matthew 9:8


They were all filled with awe and praised God. 'A great prophet has appeared among us,' they said. 'God has come to help his people.'" Luke 7:16

"Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles." Acts 2:43

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe," Hebrews 12:28



The above commentary on Habakkuk is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree

When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. We need to step out in obedience and pray for them as God asks us to. 

Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World  go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile

Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit  Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog. 







Advent Devotion / Jesse Tree Day 19 - Love Your Enemies


"When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened," Jonah 3:10

ThursdayJonah
Bible Reading: Jonah 3-4 
Jesse Tree Symbol: whale (have your child draw a whale on a circle of paper for today's ornament)

The story of Jonah and the whale is a story that many children know. The focus tends to be on the wonder of a fish swallowing a man and then spitting him out alive after three days. But is there more to this story? What lessons can we all learn from Jonah?

Our story begins with Jonah refusing to go to the city of Nineveh and tell them about God's love. But why? 

Nineveh "was an ancient city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in ancient Assyria. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, Iraq. Nineveh was an important junction for commercial routes crossing the Tigris. Occupying a central position on the great highway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, thus uniting the East and the West, wealth flowed into it from many sources, so that it became one of the greatest of all the region's ancient cities.

The stone carvings in the walls include many battle scenes, impalings and scenes showing Sennacherib's men parading the spoils of war before him. He also bragged about his conquests: he wrote of Babylon "Its inhabitants, young and old, I did not spare, and with their corpses I filled the streets of the city." He later wrote about a battle in Lachish 'And Hezekiah of Judah who had not submitted to my yoke...him I shut up in Jeruselum his royal city like a caged bird. Earthworks I threw up against him, and anyone coming out of his city gate I made pay for his crime. His cities which I had plundered I had cut off from his land.'  (Wikipedia)

Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, the empire that had taken the nation of Israel into captivity and was threatening the very existence of Judah under Hezekiah's reign...see the recent Jesse Tree devotional Empty Threats and Empty Tents for more on this. Jonah hated them. He thought they deserved God's wrath and destruction. He had no compassion or forgiveness in his heart towards them.

"Perhaps Jonah had actually seen these cruel, ruthless, bloody Ninevites periodically coming down into his land and raiding his people. Perhaps he had even suffered the loss of loved ones at the hands of these merciless people. In the ancient world, the record for the bloodiest and most vicious kinds of cruelty belongs, perhaps, to the Ninevites. They found more incredibly ingenious ways to be cruel than any other nation that has ever lived. They were brutal and godless and sinful -- and Jonah hated them. The one thing that he wanted more than anything else was to see Nineveh destroyed. Yet when God told him to go announce to Ninevah its destruction, he said, 'I know you too well, O God. If anybody, by repenting, gives you half a chance to be merciful, you'll change your mind and won't carry out your sentence upon them,' (Jonah 4:2).  So he fled to Tarshish.

That's amazing, isn't it? What a revelation of the knowledge of God and of the character of the God of the Old Testament! From time to time, those who do not believe the Bible...say that the God of the Old Testament was a vengeful, wrathful God, a God of black thunderclouds and bolts of lightning, and that he was always killing people off. Well, do you find that here? That is not the kind of God that Jonah knew...God loved these Ninevites, even though Jonah hated them.  Jonah: The Reluctant Ambassador

Jesus taught the same lesson of compassion for enemies, both in word and deed. "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you," Luke 6:27-31

We, as adults and children, have much to learn from Jonah.  We must never forget that we are not in a war with people, we are in a war with Satan. The people that we consider enemies are just prisoners of war taken captive by Satan. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The power of God, which is the power of love, can turn an enemy into a best friend. Showing love to an enemy pleases God and proves that we have great spiritual maturity," Ephesians 6:12.

Who we perceive as enemies will vary...school bullies, the popular crowd, ex-spouses, business associates, terrorists, "axis of evil" empires...the list goes on. But "we must always remember that as citizens of heaven we are ambassadors sent to represent the kingdom, and our King, Jesus Christ. Only by compassion and love can we represent the God of love, the God of compassion. We show love even to our enemies by doing good to them. 

The most important way we show love is through prayer, this is where spiritual battles are fought and won. (Praying for our enemies) will cause the compassion of God to flow through our hearts as a river of life. It will change our enemies' life and even if they are not affected it will definitely change our life, which is God's plan anyway,"  How to Love Even Your Enemies

"Now, I am not sitting in judgment on you. I stand with you in the dock concerning this. I am asking your heart, as I ask mine, "Isn't there an awful tendency among us to be like Jonah?" Do we really demonstrate to others the heart of the God who loves a world that is staggering on in blind, willful ignorance and that does not know where it is going?

He has sent us men and women to be a sign to this generation. And what is that sign? It is the sign of Jonah, the sign of resurrection, the sign of people who once were dead who have been made alive in Jesus Christ. Isn't that why the Lord said, "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," Matthew 12:40. 

Isn't that the heart of our proclamation, that here is a God who can bring life from death, who can resurrect those who are swallowed up in the belly of a whale or fish -- lost, hopeless -- but redeemed? And the witnesses to this proclamation are the resurrected lives of those of us who, like Jonah, declare this message in our day."  Jonah: The Reluctant Ambassador



The above commentary on Jonah is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree

When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. We need to step out in obedience and pray for them as God asks us to. 

Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World  go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile

Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit  Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Advent Devotion / Jesse Tree Day 18 - What Will Heaven be Like?

The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks



"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord--
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. Isaiah 11:1-10

WednesdayKingdom of Peace
Bible Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Jesse Tree Symbol: Crown (Jesse Tree Ornaments 2)

Today's devotion is a time to reflect on the words of Isaiah. How often do you think about the kingdom that is to come? What about your children?

Today, after reading Isaiah, you may want to spend time just imagining what Heaven will be like, based on Isaiah's words. What will it be like to meet Jesus? Who else do they look forward to seeing? What animals do they want to pet and hug...I know this is one thing my children love to talk about.

A world at peace...we can place our hope and trust in this reality. Oh blessed day when Christ returns!

Joy to the world, the Lord has come
Let earth receive her king
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing


The above commentary on Isaiah is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree

When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. We need to step out in obedience and pray for them as God asks us to. 

Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World  go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile

Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit  Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog. 










Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent Devotion / Jesse Tree Day 17 - Saving Faith


"I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you...for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below." Joshua 2:9, 11

"But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho--and she lives among the Israelites to this day." Joshua 6:25



WednesdayRahab
Bible Reading:  Joshua 2, 6
Jesse Tree symbol - scarlet cord (have your children draw the side of a wall with a cord, colored red, hanging down from it - like above picture)

Rahab, a prostitute, a foreigner, was destined to be destroyed with the entire pagan city of Jericho when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Rahab was a very unlikely woman to become part of the family tree of Jesus Christ. But that is exactly what God did for her! "Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David." Matthew 1:5-6

One thing stands out about Rahab...her faith in God. But how...how did she come by this faith? God has "made every nation of men...so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:26-27) Think about that for a moment...every nation of men...not just the Jews but those from Jericho as well. God had placed a witness for Himself in Jericho. Unfortunately, only Rahab and her family chose to side with God.

When the spies enter Jericho, why does the king of Jericho send a messenger straight to Rahab's house to ask about the spies? "The king of Jericho was told, 'Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.' So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: 'Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.'" Joshua 2:2-3. Maybe someone had seen them enter her house or, maybe Rahab had a reputation for talking about and possibly believing in the God of the Israelites.

Whatever the reason, her faith saved not only herself, but her entire family. "By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient." Hebrews 11:31. They had to believe her story and put their trust in God Almighty. Reminds me a bit of the story of Noah.

She and her family are saved through a scarlet cord...representative of the lamb's blood on the doors during Passover and later, the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...the blood that saves us from eternal destruction.

The story of Rahab is repeated again and again throughout the world. There is a group of people...a tribe, a village, a nation...hopelessly lost in the clutches of Satan, destined for eternal destruction. Yet God has preserved a witness for Himself. One person, a few people, a family, who believe differently than their neighbors. Then the spies enter. Yet, these are not spies searching out the area for information on how to destroy it. No, these are men and women trying to find clues within the culture on how to save it, on how to share the love of Christ with them. We call these men and women missionaries.

In every culture God has preserved for Himself a testimony. In His mercy, He has permitted every culture in the world to retain a portion of the truth. If a missionary goes into a region, searching the culture for its grains of truth, and then affirms that these ideas ARE true, and then presents the Gospel as the REST of the truth, he and the Gospel will quite often be received. For more on this, please read my blog post Eternity in their hearts

Rahab was the bridge between her culture and God. And she speaks to us today. We must never think that a group of people is unreachable. We must pray for a witness for God in every culture so that, like Rahab and her family, lives might be saved and God will be glorified.



The above commentary on Joshua is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree

When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. We need to step out in obedience and pray for them as God asks us to. 

Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World  go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile

Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit  Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog. 












Advent Devotion / Jesse Tree Day 16 - Prophecies Fulfilled


"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace," Isaiah 9:6

TuesdayJesus - prophecy
Bible Reading: Isaiah 9:6-7 
Jesse Tree symbol - scroll (go to Jesse Tree ornaments 
and select the symbol for "Third Wednesday of Advent" 
but cut off words when you use it)

Prophecies about Jesus fill the Bible. Isaiah, especially, speaks much of the coming Messiah. Today's devotion will highlight some of the prophecies concerning his birth and their fulfillment in the life of Jesus.

What is a prophecy? 

A prophecy is the future told in advance, by God, through a prophet.

 "I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. For I knew how stubborn you were; the sinews of your neck were iron, your forehead was bronze. Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, `My idols did them; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.'"  Isaiah 48:2-5

Prophecy, according to God Himself, is not just a guess or luck or coincidence.

"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:19-21


The Old Testament contains about 425 prophecies about the Messiah. Here are some of the prophecies that deal with the birth of Christ: 


GOD WOULD COME TO EARTH AND BE BORN AS A HUMAN MALE
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever."
Isaiah 9:6-7  All of Isaiah's prophecies were given around 700 B.C.

BORN OF A VIRGIN
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."  Isaiah 7:14  

FROM THE HOUSE OF JUDAH
"Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above."  
Isaiah 37:31 

FROM THE ROOT AND STUMP OF JESSE
"In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious." Isaiah 11:10 "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD-- and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist."  Isaiah 11:1-5 

FROM THE HOUSE OF DAVID
"In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it--one from the house of David--one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness."  Isaiah 16:5 

BORN IN BETHLEHEM EPHRATHAH
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." 
Micah 5:2 

BE FROM NAZARETH OF GALILEE
"Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan -- The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."  Isaiah 9:1-2 

HIS BIRTH WOULD TRIGGER A MASSACRE OF INFANT BOYS
"This is what the LORD says: 'A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.'"  
Jeremiah 31:15  This prophecy was given around 625 B.C.

Jesus fulfilled many other prophecies during His lifetime. May these truths encourage us as we place our hope in Jesus this Christmas.





The above commentary on the Old Testament is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree

When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. We need to step out in obedience and pray for them as God asks us to. 

Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World  go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile





Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit  Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog. 

Advent Devotion / Jesse Tree Day 15 - Being Zealous for God's Name


"Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 'O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.
"It is true, O Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands.
They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men's hands. Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.'" 2 Kings 19:14-19



MondayHezekiah
Bible Reading: 2 Kings 18-19
Jesse Tree Symbol: An Empty Tent (go to Jesse Tree ornaments 2

In the time of Hezekiah, king of Judah (after Judah and Israel had split into two nations), the king of Assyria (the most powerful empire at that time) had captured Israel and "deported Israel to Assyria...This happened because they had not obeyed the Lord their God, but had violated His covenant," 2 Kings 18:11-12. 

The Assyrian king was now knocking on Judah's door, insulting God's name and telling the people that they would be defeated. "'Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, "Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria." Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my forefathers deliver them,'" 2 Kings 19:10-12

When Hezekiah heard this, he was troubled. But, instead of panicking, he took the letter, went to God's temple, spread it out before the Lord and prayed. Interestingly, the first words out of his mouth are not "Save us!" Instead, he speaks of God's majesty and power and of the insult that Assyria is committing against God. "Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God." 2 Kings 19:16

The Jewish race had been chosen by God to show the nations of the world God's power and majesty. Hezekiah realized this. His first concern was that God's name was being insulted and mocked. God's reputation was being attacked and Hezekiah was jealous for God's name and reputation. Why? Because Hezekiah loved God. He stood in awe of Him and desired that all nations would hear of the Lord and follow Him. 

God, too, wants His name to be praised and honored. One reason is that He knows that we are created to love and praise Him. For more on this, read Why Does God Want Our Praise?  God also knows that the only way to eternity with Him is by believing in the name that is above every name. 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Ezekiel 33:11

One thing Sennacherib did not realize is that "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases." Proverbs 21:1 God caused Sennacherib to suddenly fear another attack on his kingdom. In addition, "that night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning--there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there," 2 Kings 19:35-36. When those in Judah looked out on the morning scene before them, all they saw were the bodies of their enemies and empty tents. Those empty tents represented the emptiness of Sennacherib's threats towards the only true God. 

God desires that His name be known and worshipped. He chose Israel to carry out this calling but they were not always committed to this. To ensure that the people of the world would know His name, God Himself came to earth. Not with any royal fanfare but in gentleness and love. 

Jesus' greatest desire while on earth was to glorify the Lord...to make His name and His character known so that all people would turn to God and be saved. "Jesus...looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you,'" John 17:1

That is what our mission on earth, as Christians, involves. We are to glorify God. To shine the light on Him so that others will want to know Him and follow Him. At Christmas time we have a wonderful opportunity to share with our family and neighbors the story of God come to earth and why it is that we love Him so much. 


The above commentary on 2 Kings is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree

When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. We need to step out in obedience and pray for them as God asks us to. 

Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World  go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile

Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit  Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog.