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Repost: December 25, 2014 MERRY CHRISTMAS!

December 25, 2014

All,

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the names of Jesus as much as I have enjoyed writing about them during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  And today I hope you took the time to reflect upon Jesus himself - his birth, life, death, and resurrection.  I pray that you would grow in your walk with him, and would come to love him for exactly all of who he is through the scriptures intertwined with your daily life.  May the Lord continue to bless you and keep you!
 

Much love in Christ,
Rachel Habuda

 

Photo SOURCE


 

"Jesus" - Day 54


Luke 1:30-33
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him JESUS. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Matthew 1:20-21
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name JESUS, because he will save his people from their sins.”
 

Both Mary and Joseph were told by an angel of God that their son would be called Jesus.  Jesus comes from the Hebrew name Joshua, which means Yahweh (God) saves, which is why earlier, we saw an angel tell shepherds that "A Savior" was born to them.  In fact, Israel had many saviors - judges, prophets, and kings - who would bring the people back to God when they strayed.  But Jesus wasn't just a savior like the rest of them, he was THE Savior.  Even though God was able to work through the other human saviors, the name Jesus as "God saves" actually meant for the very first time that God HIMSELF was coming to save his people. And after Jesus came, there was no more saving needed!  As Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished."  His work is done - death is defeated and we are free from sin!  Thanks be to God for Jesus, THE God-Savior of the world!  

 

"Christ" - Day 53

 

Matthew 16:16
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the CHRIST, the Son of the living God.”

 

The word "Christ" is derived from a Greek word meaning anointed.  In the Old Testament anointing was used for an occupation, or as a blessing.  Kings were anointed by God's prophets, Moses anointed the tabernacle to make it holy, and priests were anointed before they served before the Lord.  When Jesus identified himself as the Christ in his hometown, he used Isaiah 61:1-2 to do it “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor".    Let us give thanks to God for Jesus, our Christ, who was anointed to do all these things - and actually did them!

 

"Chosen One" - Day 52

 

Isaiah 42:1-4

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my CHOSEN ONE in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

 

Jesus was very specifically chosen to do the exact tasks God set before him.  His personality, characteristics, appearance, culture, etc were all finely tuned to match God's master plan.  And if we walk closely enough with him, we can find the same thing in our lives.  The Bible is rich in many ways Jesus was chosen, but just here in Isaiah we see specifically that he was chosen: to carry God's Spirit, to bring justice, to be quiet, to be gentle and life-giving, to be faithful, to be perfect, to persevere, to teach, and to foster hope.  What an amazing list of qualities!  Thank you God for your chosen son Jesus, and please Lord, help us to be more like him!


 

"The Truth" - Day 51

 

John 14:6-7

Jesus answered, “I am the way and THE TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

 

A while back, we saw Jesus referred to as God's Word, now we also see him as God's Truth.  These are one and the same.  Everything from God is true.  And Jesus as His son is Truth.  The greatest and "truest" truth is Christ's life.  The purity of his actions and his methods in living out God's love for us are the only facts we will ever need to know.  And these are not "cold" logical facts, because when Jesus said, "you do know him and have seen him" he meant that we no longer have an impersonal and faceless god.  We have, in Jesus, a god we can come to know and see.  The truth of the Bible - the whole entire bible from the fall of man to Christ's anticipated second coming - was woven into the life of our Truth.  Everything in the Bible was written to point to Jesus because God wanted to put a face to Himself and His love story.  Let us give thanks for Jesus, the Truth, who flawlessly loved God and loved his neighbor as himself to sum up the law and the prophets for us.


 

"Hope of Glory" - Day 50

 

 

Colossians 1:27
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the HOPE OF GLORY.
 

A commonly held viewpoint is that eternal glory can only come through fame and fortune, or doing something so memorable that it enters into all the history books.  However, Jesus as the Hope of Glory shows us what is to come. The glory he offers is actually eternal, because it will continue after the end of time when we are transformed into God's image, and when He creates a new and perfect earth.  Before that comes, Jesus exists as our hope.  He shows us what God's glory is like.  He shows us miracles, healing, joy, he valued women and children in a male-dominated society, he always provided for his people, he calmed storms, and he showed us the face of unconditional love.  Thanks be to God for Jesus our hope for the Lord's glory coming soon.


"Prince of Peace" - Day 49

Isaiah 9:6-7
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 greatness 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. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
 

Everyone wishes for peace on Earth, but the truth is we will never see real peace here.  There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22), and we are all sinners, fallen with wicked hearts.  The only time peace can come is when Jesus does away with the world as we know it, and he brings in a new world where he reigns supreme.  However, we can create glimpses of the coming kingdom by imitating Christ.  When we love others unconditionally, when we show grace, when we defend the defenseless, we can become like Jesus.  In the meanwhile, while we wait for him to come back, we can bring some peace to this Earth.  We can remind each other of God's peace in the midst of hardships and heartache.  Let's give thanks to God for our coming Prince, Jesus, who brings peace to our hearts with the promise of eternal life living with him.

 

"The Way" - Day 48
 

John 14:1-6
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am THE WAY and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

Here, Jesus was comforting his disciples before he was going to be crucified.  He was referring to his death and his resurrection ("I am going there..." and "I will come back").  And Jesus was also trying to show them that through his own death, he could now lead his disciples to salvation.  Because of his own death, Jesus is The Way (and the ONLY way) to Heaven.  Imitating him is how we will get there.  When we ask "What does it look like to be a Christian?", all we need to do is examine The Way, the way Jesus lived his life as an example to us.  However, we always fall short, and so Jesus provides a way through his very self to bring us back into the good graces of our Heavenly Father.  Jesus is the path under our feet, we trod on him to gain access to eternal joy.  In this world, the rougher and rockier the road we walk on, the more closely we watch the path under our feet - and so it should be with Jesus in the many sorrows and hard times in this life to bring us back to him.  But we should also be careful when we are on a smooth and broad road - make sure you give thanks to the one who paved the way for you!  Lord, we praise you for your son Jesus who shows us the way to go and who IS The Way for us to reach your glory!

 

"Bright Morning Star" - Day 47

 


Revelation 22:16
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the BRIGHT MORNING STAR."
 

Jesus is also referred to as the Morning Star in 2 Peter 1:19 - "We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, 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."  In both cases, this name of Jesus stands as a herald for news from the Lord (in Revelation a testimony for the churches, in 2 Peter a reliable prophecy).  And we also see how entirely appropriate it was for a star to herald the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:2).  In the cases with Jesus himself as the Star, he stands as a constant symbol of good news and great joy.  And for all eternity when we live in heaven, he will be our sun, our Morning Star: "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp (Rev 21:23)."  Let us give thanks to God for sending Jesus to herald the banishment of darkness, and the dawn of eternal day, because of his victory on the cross!


 

"Forerunner" - Day 46

 

Hebrews 6:19-20

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our FORERUNNER, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.

 

The phrase "God will never give you beyond what you can bear" is simply not true.  God can and will give you beyond what you can bear.  However, He will never give you beyond what He can bear, and specifically, what His Son can bear.  Jesus as our forerunner took up our burdens and ran the race ahead of us to make a way for us.  As a human, he forged a trail behind the inner sanctuary curtain and into the presence of the living God.  Our hope to be united with God, lies right there next to Jesus.  Our souls can tie themselves to that hope, knowing it is a certainty - Jesus saved us from our sins!  Thanks be to the Lord who allowed His Son to carve a path for our hope to follow!


 

"Redeemer" - Day 45

 


Isaiah 59:20

“The REDEEMER will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”declares the Lord
 

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, there are many meanings for the word "redeem" - to buy back, to get or win back, to free from what distresses or harms, to free from captivity by payment of ransom, to release from blame or debt , to free from the consequences of sin, to change for the better, to atone for, etc.  Jesus embodies all of these as our Redeemer.  He buys back our lives with his.  He wins us back by conquering death. He frees us from sin and captivity.  He allows us to change for the better by atonement.  The amazing gifts from Jesus are available to any who repent of their sins.  Not to those perfect, who never sin, but Jesus will save anyone who is just willing to try.  Let us give thanks to God for Jesus, His Son, in whom He was well-pleased as He saw His character of redemption enacted.

 

"Prophet" - Day 44
 

Matthew 21:10-11
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”  The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the PROPHET from Nazareth in Galilee.”

When I was a little girl, I always thought that the very greatest gift from God was prophecy.  I assumed that I would feel the most safe and comforted if I knew the future.  However, growing older and wiser it becomes more and more apparent that by knowing the future the lives of the prophets were never those of safety, and certainly not comfort.  They knew the truth and yet the people refused to listen and believe.  The prophets were very often killed by those they tried to help.  And they HAD to speak God's truth, they couldn't be silent or avoid the task (you can read the book of Jonah to see what the result of that would be).  Also, it is a very disconcerting thing to know the future.  Often after receiving visions, the prophets would need recovery time (i.e. Daniel 8:27).  However, Jesus was no ordinary prophet.  He was the eternal God in human form, and thus (I believe) had retained his infinite knowledge of the entire past, present, and future.  A very humbling thought is that Jesus knew his own fate on the cross before it happened (which made him sweat blood).  But more humbling still, is that while he reigns in heaven now, as an eternal being outside of time, he CONTINUOUSLY experiences the cross.  Over and over again, he feels the punishment, the torture, the separation from God.  And yet, we know he would do it all over again, because he did do it!  Praise, glory, honor, and thanks be to God for Jesus, the Prophet - knowing what he knew and still working out our salvation!

 

"King of the Jews" - Day 43

 

 

Mark 15:1-2
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. “Are you the KING OF THE JEWS?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied.

To truly appreciate the story of Jesus, it is vital to know the history of the Jewish people.  From the first time they chose having a human king reign over them instead of God, their identity was wrapped up in their royalty.  Throughout the Old Testament, they constantly wavered back and forth in their faith to God based on the whims of their king.  When they had a good, faithful king, they followed God wholeheartedly.  When they had an evil king, they gave themselves over to sin in idol worship.  Jesus came not as a king of the Jews, but as THE new and final king of the Jews.  He came to bring the hearts of the Jews, and eventually the whole world, back to God in a way that had never been done before.  And he still reigns today supreme in heaven as our king, showing us how to live and how to love God.  Let's give thanks for our GOOD and PERFECT KING, Jesus!

 

"Amen" - Day 42

2 Corinthians 1:19-20
For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “AMEN” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
 

Amen can also mean "so be it", or "truly".  We end our prayers with "amen", just as Jesus did - asking that what we pray would "so be it" in God's sovereign will.  And under God, everything happens exactly according to His plan, it is always yes.  And we see promises full of wonder fulfilled as well.  If you follow Jesus, YES you will be free indeed from death.  You will not taste it.  It is true that we will all die, but if you are in Christ, you will not experience the sting of death. If you follow Jesus, YES you are free from sin.  It is true that we all sin, but in Christ sin does not have the final word. If you follow Jesus, YES you are always loved and you are never alone.  Jesus will never leave us or forsake us and he pays the price for us to be with him eternally in heaven in the glory of his love.  Thanks be to God for our yes's, our Jesus, The Amen!

 

"Rising Sun" - Day 41

 


Luke 1:78-79
Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the RISING SUN will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.
 

These are the words of Zechariah, immediately after the birth of his first son John.  Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were well into their golden years and past the age of childbearing, but God had miraculously brought them a little boy.  Their son John eventually grew up to announce the coming of Jesus, the Rising Sun.  The King James translation uses the term "Dayspring" instead of Rising Sun.  The dayspring is when the very first light of dawn appears over the horizon.  Jesus came as that blessed light.  Just as the earth could not survive without light, and those such as Zechariah and Elizabeth who have faced long nights know well, Jesus brings so much to our world. Let us thank God for him and live in his light!

 

"Son of Man" - Day 40

Hebrews 2:6-8
But there is a place where someone has testified, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a SON OF MAN that you care for him.  You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.  In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them.  Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.  But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
 

There are lots of verses about the "Son of Man".  God uses it as a title for the prophets in the Old Testament when he is talking to them (Ezekiel 2:1, Ezekiel 3:1, Daniel 8:17). David uses it in the verse referenced above, "What is mankind..." (Psalm 8:4-6).  Stephen called Jesus the Son of Man when he sees him in heaven as he is being stoned (Acts 7:56).  Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man when he heals a man who can't walk (Mark 2:10-11).  To fully grasp what all this means, I urge you to read all of these verses, and then to read through the whole chapter of Hebrews 2.  However, I think this can be succinctly communicated by the last verse of Hebrews 2 - "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."  In order to fully redeem humanity, because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", Jesus had to be fully human.  He was tempted in EVERY way.  Jesus was tempted by pride, selfishness, gossip, lust, greed, lying, violence, scheming, belittling, goading, hatred, wrath, sedition, envy, murder, drunkenness, dejection, etc.  What are you struggling with?  Picture Jesus being tempted in that way and overcoming it.  Let's give thanks to God that He sent Jesus as a flawless Son of Man to show us how we should then live.

 

"Immanuel" - Day 39

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him IMMANUEL.
 

Throughout the Bible we see God's characteristics and emotions.  We see His creativity as He creates the universe and all its natural beauty.  We see God's sadness when Adam and Eve sin.  We see His might when He brings the Israelites out of Egypt.  We see His anger when evil kings led Israel astray.  We see His compassion as He forgives them again and again.  And we see all the same things in Jesus - Immanuel, God with us.  Jesus showed his creativity in the different ways he healed the blind.  He showed his sadness when he wept over Lazarus.  We see his might when he fed the masses.  We see his anger when he clears the temple.  We see his compassion when he forgave those who put him on the cross as he died.  Jesus was God with us as a perfect human being, Immanuel, to save the people from their sins - thanks be to God!

 

"One and Only Son" - Day 38
 

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his ONE AND ONLY SON, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

God had one chance at redeeming the world.  He put all His hope in Jesus.  God picked out exactly the right place and time for His only child to be born.  God found earthly parents who were obedient and full of faith to raise His little boy.  God watched from afar as His bundle of joy fell and scrapped his knees as a toddler, swelled with love as his adolescent recited His law in the temple, and His heart was torn as His fully grown son was brutally tortured by the people he came to save.  Finally, God had to hear the most gut-wrenching words a parent can ever hear - "Why have you forsaken me?"  This Christmas, as beautiful as the Nativity scene is, let's look at Jesus through the eyes of his heavenly Father. To know all he would go through from the moment he was born - God bore all the joys and greatest sorrows of a father in His only son Jesus.  Let's give thanks that God selflessly gave us His sweet little boy Jesus - God's most precious possession!

 

"Husband" - Day 37
 

2 Corinthians 11:1-3

I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one HUSBAND, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 
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I pray for those of you married and yet to be married that you will only and always be devoted to your spouse.  The funny thing about marriage is that "butterflies" come and go, but a commitment lasts forever.  Choosing to love forever, and then enacting it unconditionally, allows the seed of hopeful uncertainty to blossom into gracious joy and a peace that passes understanding (much better than "butterflies"!).  However, with Christ as our husband, we have the great happiness of skipping the uncertainty in the beginning because we KNOW he love us.  He proved his grand desire for us on the cross.  And for those of you not married - be joyful!  Your attention is not divided and your husband is solely Christ - revel in his perfect, constant, unending love!  Let's give thanks that Jesus, our husband, took us as his own to love until the end of time and beyond!


 

"King of Kings" - Day 36

 

Revelation 19:14-16

The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS...

 

Jesus is a king in the truest sense of the word. In these verses, we see him command the armies of heaven. We see him ready to strike down the evil in Earth's nations, and ruling with an iron scepter. We see him treading the grapes of God's fury into something new - a combination of God's justice and God's grace. Finally we see his label on his outer robes, visible to the world, and on his thigh. In ancient times people as would swear serious oaths they would place a hand on the thigh of the person they were making it to (Genesis 24:2, 47:29). This was a deep sign of trust. As we promise to follow Jesus, let's remember we are pledging our allegiance to the King of Kings - and all he has dominion over. Thanks be to God that we have a perfect king who makes no mistakes, and also a GOOD king!

 

"I AM" - Day 35

 

John 8:58

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!"

 

There are two very interesting things about this revelation from Jesus. First of all, there is the past tense (Abraham was) conflicting with the present tense (I AM). When reading this, it is very handy to know that Christ exists outside of time when he is with God in heaven (but was bound by time in his human form). Therefore, he could rightfully say he is/was/will be in a state of existence before Abraham's birth - thus showing the characteristic of God's omnipresence, which includes the 4th dimension (time). Secondly, Jesus very clearly called himself by the Name of God - I AM (Exodus 3:14). In the context of John, Jesus was responding to the Jewish religious leaders of the day. They were trying to say they wanted nothing to do with Jesus, and that their ancestral father/example was Abraham. But, when Jesus gave this final remark, they were furious and considered it blasphemy. They could not accept Jesus as God. Friends, let's not make this same mistake, but rather let's glorify God, and Jesus as God with all our might - thanks be to Him!

 

"Lion of the Tribe of Judah" - Day 34

Revelation 5:5
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
 

In the Old Testament, we learn about Judah, who was born to Jacob and Leah.  Leah married Jacob, but he wasn't in love with her.  She had three sons with him, and at the birth of every son she thought "Surely my husband will love me now."  Unfortunately, Jacob's attitude did not change, but at the birth of her fourth son Leah's attitude did.  She finally recognized that it was God's role to satisfy her soul yearning to be loved, and so she named her son Judah, saying "This time I will praise the Lord" (Genesis 29:35).  It was through Judah's line that Jesus was born - despite the fact that Leah's son Judah was not always faithful to the Lord, and indeed neither were numerous descendents leading to Christ.  However, Jesus didn't come to this world because of perfect people (though he himself was perfect).  Jesus came to save those who were most desperately in need of him, whether they knew it or not.  Let's give thanks for Jesus, and his ability to most perfectly satisfy our need for love!

 

"Shiloh" - Day 33

Genesis 49:10
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from his descendents, until SHILOH come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

 

 

Shiloh is a very interesting Hebrew word, and there are many different interpretations - the exact meaning is still debated.  Here are just a few: "whom it belongs", "whom tribute belongs", "he whose it is", and "if only, may it be".  Regardless, even way back in Israel's history when Jacob and all of his family had just come to Egypt so they could survive the famine by Joseph's help (and if you haven't read the story of Joseph, or haven't read it in a while, it's in Genesis 37, 39-46), the coming of Jesus was already starting to be announced (Genesis 49:10).  Jacob/Israel was the first human to speak of Jesus coming.  Before that, God spoke of Jesus multiple times, including to Jacob's grandfather Abraham - three times (Genesis 12:3, Genesis 17:19, Genesis 22:18)!  Not to mention the numerous times Jesus was mentioned by the prophets, in the psalms, etc.  In summary, Jesus is a really big deal!  Jesus as Shiloh - someone of the utmost importance, warrants our attention.  If you don't know him, get to know him!  If you know him, know him better and grow in your relationship with him.  Thank you Lord for Jesus, to whom we owe tribute - our very lives! 

 

"Mighty God" - Day 32

Isaiah 9:6
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.
 

Jesus as the Mighty God in human form did not have power as we see it.  He was not a physical specimen like Sampson, he didn't have political influence and riches like Solomon, and Jesus was not considered to be part of the ruling class - but his actions were the mightiest the world has ever seen.  How hard is it to be perfect?  We can't get through 1 day, 1 hour, 1 minute without making mistakes.  But the mightiness of Jesus shone through a lifetime of perfect acts culminating in death - to atone for the sins of the world.  This is how we should measure power.  The capacity to give ourselves for others, despite their treatment of us, is how we can become more like Christ.  Let's give thanks for Jesus as the Mighty God who showed us the true measure of a person. 

 

"Author and Perfecter of Faith" - Day 31

 

 

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the AUTHOR AND PERFECTER OF FAITH, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 

In the chapter before this, we read a very long line of incredible people of faith.  They were people who performed miracles, spoke to God directly, were martyred for their belief, who led nations and conquered kingdoms.  But Jesus was the one who wrote and perfected all of their stories.  Everything they did would have been for nothing if it wasn't for Jesus destroying death.  Thanks be to God for Jesus, who makes all of our stories worthwhile!

 

"Servant" - Day 30

Philippians 2:5-8
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a SERVANT, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
 

Previously, we discussed Jesus as our Master, today we see him serving us.  He is both a good master and a good servant. As a master, he never orders us around, but presents the most correct way of doing things and then always gives us a choice.  As a servant, Jesus did everything for us.  He took care of it all.  He cleaned us, washed our souls pure so we could enter heaven.  He paid the fee for our entry.  He sent the Holy Spirit after he left this world so we would never be alone.  Let's praise God and thank him for Jesus, who serves us though we don't deserve it.


"Savior" - Day 29

Luke 2:8-11
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a SAVIOR has been born to you
 

Most of us wouldn't consider ourselves in need of saving from mortal danger, but the truth is we all are in danger of hell.  We get there by having the worst attitude toward God - indifference.  God is pure love, He can't help but want to be in loving relationships (true love, not something forced).  The cruelest thing we can do is to turn our backs on that love, to ignore it.  Jesus came to deliver God's love letter to us, to show us something we couldn't ignore.  He had to save us from ourselves.  Even though we didn't care about the state of our own souls, Jesus did.  He sacrificed himself to save us from hell, which is separation or distance from God.  Any good thing we find in this broken world is ONLY from God ("every good and perfect thing is from above").  Apart from Him is the most terrible suffering you can imagine.  Thank you God for Jesus, our Savior, who brought us back into your loving presence!


"Chief Cornerstone" - Day 28
 

Ephesians 2:20-22
...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the CHIEF CORNERSTONE. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
 

These verses explain it perfectly.  When constructing a building, the very first stone to be laid would guide all of the others into place - this was the chief cornerstone.  Therefore, it had to be perfect, completely level and sure in order for the other stones to match up and for the foundation to be secure.  However, if we make Jesus our foundation, our lives won't fall into place and each day will be a perfect one as some might believe.  Rather, when we make Jesus our foundation, we gain HIMSELF (and all he entails: an advocate, a guardian, a rock), and all eternity to know him better.  Let's be thankful that we can have such a wonderful foundation!


"The Word" - Day 27
 

John 1:14
THE WORD became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

In the beginning, God walked in the garden of Eden with man.  But after the fall, when sin came into the world, man could not be in His direct presence.  So, instead, He spoke to man.  His word, through the prophets, was the only line to God that humans had.  Then Jesus came.  Jesus came to show the world the words they had been hearing for thousands of years.  He was the perfect embodiment of the Bible put into practice.  He patiently listened, he encouraged, he publicly taught the masses, he prayed in private solitude, and he knew the time and place for everything.  Thank you Lord, for giving us Jesus to show us how we should live!

 

"Image of the Invisible God" - Day 26

 

 

Colossians 1:15
The Son is the IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD, the firstborn over all creation.
 

What does God look like?  At one point in history, people could finally look on the face of love.  Could you imagine? While we don't have perfect photographs of Jesus, we do have a record of his deeds.  If you ever wonder what God is like, but have a hard time grasping at the "invisible God", then just look at Jesus as God. Through the hands of Jesus, God healed the sick. Through the ears of Jesus, God listened to the Samaritan woman at the well and answered her questions.  Through the feet of Jesus, God carried his message throughout many towns.  Through the painful separation of his soul from his body, God saved the world in the death of Jesus.  And by his power, God chose to arise from the dead in the resurrected body of Jesus.  How many dead people do you know who just choose to come back to life after a while, and are actually able to do it?  Our God can!  Let's give thanks to God for revealing himself through so many ways in Jesus!

 

"Light of the World" - Day 25

John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
 

Not only does light provide warmth and illumination, but it is so much more.  With advances in technology, we now know that light is both a wave and a particle.  As the light of the world, Jesus brought warmth and illumination to the Jewish law.  But more importantly, he was both God and man.  He was completely unique.  Jesus experienced personal pain on the cross and immense human suffering in all around him as a man.  He in his human form lost his friend Lazarus to death, and saw incredible hurt in those who came to him for healing. On the other hand, no one else was there when the Lord set the stars in their place, laid the foundations of the earth, and put boundaries to the seas.  Let's be thankful for our incredible, one-of-a-kind Savior - Jesus Christ, who brought light to our darkness.    

 

"Good Shepherd" - Day 24


John 10:11,14
“I am the GOOD SHEPHERD. The GOOD SHEPHERD lays down his life for the sheep...I am the GOOD SHEPHERD; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep."
 

In these verses, Jesus was speaking to the Jewish religious leaders of the day after they accused him of violating the Sabbath (a holy day when you weren't supposed to work).  What was his crime? Jesus had healed a man born blind.  The religious leaders had completely missed the miracle in the midst of their rules!  In the verses above, Jesus tried to tell them that he wasn't against God's Sabbath day, but in fact he was fulfilling the holy Sabbath by helping his "sheep" - in this case the man born blind.  Furthermore, he told them he would rather die than see harm come to his people.  But, later (in verses 19 and 20): "The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, 'He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?' "  How often do we do the same? Our mouths praise God but our lives reveal our disbelief. We say we trust in the Lord, but when God breaks one of our "rules" we are completely upset.  Thanks be to God for sending Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who guides us wayward sheep back to the truth - that he knows us, he died for us, he rose from the grave, and he is coming back again!

 

"Carpenter" - Day 23
 

Mark 6:3
Isn’t this the CARPENTER? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus Christ was God incarnate, but he was also a man.  He had parents and siblings.  He walked on the earth with two feet, breathed, ate, and slept.  And he was most likely trained as a carpenter under his earthly father Joseph.  We will never be able to fathom the vast and omnipotent God, but we can grasp a carpenter.  We can grasp Jesus. If you ever struggle talking to God, then try talking to Jesus.  Jesus saw the world with two limited physical eyes just like us, and he was tempted in every way that we are.  Let's be thankful that we can worship Jesus - a complex work of love as God in man, but also a sympathetic carpenter.


"Branch" - Day 22

Isaiah 11:1-3
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 might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.


 

Earlier, we discovered Jesus as the True Vine, now we take a step back and look at the prophesy of him as the Branch.  What will this Branch be like?  Here we see, this is a fruitful Branch, full of the Spirit.  God did not give us an infertile Branch, but set up a life-giving Branch.  This Branch could pass on to us wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.  Many prophets were given wisdom by God, even understanding. Daniel the prophet was gifted in counsel. Sampson the judge was given might. Solomon the king had knowledge.  Even demons have fear of the Lord.  But only Jesus had all of these qualities perfectly, and only Jesus could truly delight in the reverent fear of the Lord.  Thanks be to God for our perfect Branch, from whom we can grow to bear these amazing fruits.

 

 

"The Beloved" - Day 21

Ephesians 1:6
To the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in THE BELOVED.

 

In this fallen world of sadness and despair, God reached out to us to save us from ourselves.  He did this in the language he knows best - love.  In the most perfect package, God sent love as a baby.  The child grew to a man and fulfilled all of the prophecies - Jesus came, lived a perfect life, died the most tragic of deaths, and rose again victorious from the grave. Let's be thankful, and let's love Jesus who first loved us.

 

"Mediator" - Day 20
 

1 Timothy 2:5

For there is only one God and one MEDIATOR who can reconcile God and humanity--the man Christ Jesus.


 

No one else has ever done what Jesus did, and no one ever will.  God is so very good, and we are so very fallen that only the greatest sacrifice could bring about reconciliation.  Throughout the Bible, God compares our sins to adultery.  When we sin, He feels the hurt so very deeply - His beloved, His only one (and yes, it is true - if you were the only one Christ would have died for you!) has violently rejected His love and broken the sacred vow.  In order to right such a wrong, Jesus had to pay the ultimate price as our Mediator.  He made atonement with a perfect sacrifice - the only of its kind.  Let's give thanks for the power and determination of Jesus to face agony on the cross in order to reunite God and His beloved! 

 

"Holy One" - Day 19

Mark 1:24-27
“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the HOLY ONE of God!”
 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”
 

The demons recognize that Jesus, is holy, whole (wholly God), set apart from all others.  A mere man cannot rebuke evil spirits without God's help.  And even today, we can only overcome sin and all kinds of evil because of the power that Jesus gave to us when he died.  Let's give thanks that Jesus, the Holy One, the only one who could save us, did come and provided a path back to righteousness!

 

"Teacher" - Day 18

John 13:13
“You call me ‘TEACHER’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am."
 

Jesus had just finished washing his disciples feet to teach them to serve one another.  This is the kind of teacher he was.  Jesus taught by example, and never made his students do something he wouldn't.  He is the only one who truly walked the walk.  Let's thank God for our perfect teacher in Jesus!

 

"Messiah" - Day 17

 

John 4:25-26

The woman said, "I know that the MESSIAH is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I, the one speaking to you - I am he."

 

I really want to encourage you to read the exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in its entirety - it is so beautiful. Here, we see a woman broken by the world. She had five husbands and after all of them was with a sixth man to fill the hole in her heart at the time she was talking to Jesus. Jesus spoke very plainly to her and his speech was filled with truth and reassurance. Often for us, the worst part of life is not the battles we face head on, but rather the unknown. Jesus as our Messiah came to save us from death. And just as He gave wisdom to the Samaritan woman, let's give thanks for the wisdom he brings us in his word.

 

"True Vine" - Day 16

John 15:1-4
I am the TRUE VINE, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
 

Even though its painful, it is vital for us to be pruned.  In gardening terms, thinning a plant by pruning is used for renewal by removing over-mature, weak, problematic, and excessive growths. When performed correctly, thinning encourages new growth that will more readily bear fruit and flowers.  God does the same with us.  As long as we remain attached to Jesus, our true vine, we can survive painful (but necessary) pruning. However, let's be thankful that we aren't completely cut off from Jesus when tough times come!

 

"Alpha and Omega" - Day 15

Revelation 22:13
I am the ALPHA AND OMEGA, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
 

We may not know where our lives are going, or indeed, where they came from but Jesus has the whole story.  We see glimpses of our beginnings: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart" (Jeremiah 1:5), and "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16). Then Jesus speaks of the end, "I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." (Revelation 1:18) “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4).  Let us give thanks that we are not going through this life without meaning, but rather we are living God's story with Jesus as our guide!

 

"Bread of Life" - Day 14


John 6:35

Then Jesus declared, “I am the BREAD OF LIFE. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
 

Have you ever been truly hungry?  What is the longest you have gone without food?  Have you ever been truly thirsty?  What is the longest you have gone without water?  Food and water are essential to our physical life here on Earth.  However, what good is our body without our soul?  The presence of Jesus gives spiritual life (food), and the believe of Jesus must be central to all we do (water).  Sometimes, we are separated from Jesus by sin - and we go hungry for spiritual food.  But, we really cannot last long without our thirst satisfied - and just as the majority of our body is composed of water and we desperately need it at a cellular level, in the same way we MUST believe in Christ or else the Spirit cannot work in us as a River of Life.  Thank you Jesus for always sustaining us!

 

"Door" - Day 13
 

John 10:9
I am the DOOR; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

I love the contrast that Jesus gives here - the idea of going out into the world through Him and coming home again through Him.  Do we think of Jesus when we pass in and out of the door of our own home?  I think it is also interesting that to find pasture, one needs to leave the home.  Let's be thankful that we can go through Jesus to find spiritual food out in the world by being joyful lights to others and serving them!  

 

"High Priest" - Day 12
 

Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great HIGH PRIEST who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a HIGH PRIEST who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

This verse contains it all.  Back in the day, a high priest was an intermediary between the people and God.  With Jesus as our high priest, we are guaranteed a compassionate advocate (as we saw earlier).  Let's be thankful for our high priest in Jesus because He can intercede for us before God, offering the sacrifice of Himself for our sins!

"Rock" - Day 11

1 Corinthians 10:3-4
They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual ROCK that accompanied them, and that ROCK was Christ. 

Physically, God had brought water to the Israelites in the desert from a rock.  There were a few instances of this.  One time Moses was told to strike a rock to bring water forth from it, another time God told him to talk to the rock.  However, the second time Moses was disobedient and struck the rock instead of talking to it.  We can see Jesus in both occurrences.  To save us from our sins, Jesus died on the cross, and before had been tortured and struck with a whip by the Romans.  Now, how often do we know we need to talk to Jesus about life, but instead we strike him off our list?  Thanks be to God, that Jesus is our steady ROCK, and won't leave us or forsake us!
 

"Faithful and True Witness" - Day 10

Revelation 3:14
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the FAITHFUL AND TRUE WITNESS, the ruler of God's creation.
 

Jesus came and walked on the Earth as witness of what it was like to experience the human condition.  He truly knows what it is like to walk in our shoes.  He experienced the greatest sorrows (the brokenness of the world) and the greatest joys (when he healed people).  We have a god who can actually relate to us - thank you Jesus!

"Master" - Day 9

Luke 17:13
And lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, MASTER, have mercy on us.”

Now, when we hear "Master", we often think of the negative connotation of a tyrannical master lording his power over us.  However, in this verse, 10 leprous men (men with a terrible and infectious skin disease) asked Jesus to heal them because they recognized Him as the Master of Creation.  It is only right to say he is the master, because everything we see is under His dominion.  Someone once compared our Heavenly Master's reign over humans to Shakespeare's control over his literary characters - it is only right and fitting (a literary character in Shakespeare's play wouldn't ever question their role in the story).  Let's be thankful that our Master and the Author of our lives, loves us so greatly and only has our best interests in mind!

 

Head of the Church" - Day 8

Colossians 1:17-18
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Christ is also the HEAD OF THE CHURCH, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.

Some people have a great fear about stepping into a church, maybe they have been hurt by Christians in the past, maybe they have a particular fear about the place itself, regardless in this day and age the word "church" isn't always associated with good feelings.  However, here in this verse, we are told the church is Christ's body.  So, even if you are a Christian, but have seen abuses in the church or the broken people that are there, just remember that the building is nothing - just a place.  And the people are just arms, legs, and eyes of Christ's body - not perfect, but trying to be guided by a perfect presence.  (Have you ever tried to make your body do something and it couldn't?)  And someday, when we all get new bodies, Christ's body will be made perfect and complete again - thanks be to God!


 

"Man of Sorrows" - Day 7
 

Isaiah 53:3
He was despised and rejected by men; a MAN OF SORROWS, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Jesus knows true sorrow like no one alive today.  There is nothing in this world that we can face that hurts the way Jesus hurt on the cross.  When He cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" it was because He was truly separated from God by all the sin of the world.  God can't be where there is sin, destruction, when we force Him away.  In that moment, Christ was separated for the very first time from God and it was unbearable.  In this world, even at our worst, when we have done the vilest of deeds, we are still living in God's creation - (His self-declared GOOD creation), and thus still have a glimmer of God's majesty, God's hope.  Only Jesus was fully separated from God, as His soul was taken completely away from God's presence at the moment of His death.  Thank you Jesus - Man of Sorrow, that by your wounds - your greatest wound the severance from your Father - we are healed!
 

"Lord of Lords" - Day 6

Revelation 17:14

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is LORD OF LORDS and King of kings--and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.

 

To those not familiar with Christ, the verse above seems very silly. A “one-lamb” army triumphing as the Lord of lords?  This is a very strange concept.  However, as we saw earlier, Christ is only able to triumph as the slain lamb. It is by His sacrifice that he surpasses all other lords/gods.  And we can see that in our daily lives.  What rules over your life right now? Is it money, power, selfish ambition, vain conceit, another person?  None of those sacrificed their life for you, for the world.  And as we see in Romans 5:7-8: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  That is why Jesus is the Lord of lords, thank you God!

 

"Judge" - Day 5

John 5:22 (NIV)

"In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to JUDGE." -Jesus

On Day 1, we saw Jesus as our advocate, moving on our behalf.  Today, we see Him also as our Judge.  How incredible is it that the one to pass eternal judgment on our souls, is also our defense attorney!  Thanks be to God that He created Jesus to judge us with the greatest grace possible!

"Shepherd and Guardian" - Day 4

I Peter 2:25 (CEB)
Though you were like straying sheep, you have now returned to the SHEPHERD and GUARDIAN of your lives.

Just two days ago we saw Jesus as the Lamb, today He is our Shepherd.  He is able to meet all our needs, no matter where we are in life.  He guides us through valleys as our Shepherd, and we are only able to enjoy the mountaintops because of the sacrifice He made as the Lamb.  Let's be thankful for Jesus - the only one who can truly walk us through the highs and lows of this life!

"The Resurrection and the Life" - Day 3

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, “I am the RESURRECTION and the LIFE. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die"

In this verse, Jesus is comforting Martha, who has just lost her brother.  This verse also precedes the shortest verse in the bible - "Jesus wept."  Through these, we see that Jesus was not making light of Martha's grief (He grieved for the loss of Martha's brother also), but He was trying to show her that this was not the end.  Even for the unbearable pain of the loss of a loved one (especially those in our eyes who are taken too soon), through Jesus we can rise again and live perfectly with Him.  It is amazing that Jesus (God as a man) can personally relate to our pain and suffering, but we are so very thankful that He is coming soon to restore this broken world!

"Lamb of God" - Day 2

Revelation 5:13 (NASB)
And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the LAMB, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

Jesus appears next to God, who is sitting on the throne, as the slain Lamb (Rev 5:6).  And that is how he is worshiped.  The lamb is a symbol of purity, innocence.  He wasn't a sacrificial bull or a dove, but a lamb - an animal not yet grown.  What would it take for us to sacrifice one of our own children or any child, not yet grown, to die for others who couldn't care less?  But God did this, and while we were still sinners, Christ died for us - the spotless Lamb.  Let's be thankful for this gift!

"Advocate" - Day 1

1 John 2:1 (New Living Translation)
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an ADVOCATE who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

Today, on this first day of November, let's be thankful for Jesus, who stands as our advocate - he washes us clean of any mistakes we have made, and clears the way for us to be forgiven, embraced and loved by God. In turn, we are able to love others with His perfect love as our example.

 

 

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