Tag Archives: devotion

Day 15: O, Christmas Tree

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” —John 3:16 (KJV)

No holiday is as decorative and festive as Christmas. Wreaths are hung on the door. Candles are placed on the window sill. The stair rail is adorned with garland. White lights glimmer outside around the edge of the roof. But most popular and more time-consuming than all other decorations is the Christmas tree. It is the centerpiece of decorating the home for Christmas. Many families even erect their Christmas tree immediately after Thanksgiving, before decorating with anything else.

The beautiful and lively Christmas tree in your living room has a rich history and is also a suitable symbol of a great theological truth. Thousands of years ago, evergreens like Christmas trees were placed everywhere during the winter to remind people of all the greenery that would grow again during the spring and summer. Pagans believed their sun god was ill and weak during the cold winter, but that he would recover in the warmer seasons. Evergreen trees, boughs, and wreaths gave them hope that their god would bless them again. The ancient Egyptians followed this custom as did the Romans and even the Vikings.

Around the 16th century, Christians began bringing decorated evergreens into their homes, probably to symbolize the gift of everlasting life that Christ gave by coming to the earth. Evergreens, as you are probably aware, have leaves which remain green and vibrant in all seasons of the year—hence the name, evergreen. The gift of life Jesus brought by His life, death, and resurrection is everlasting, meaning that it lasts forever. He did not come to make your life better—He came to give you life eternal by providing the atonement necessary for the forgiveness of your sins. The lovely Christmas tree is a wonderful symbol of the everlasting life Christ will give to you when you believe in Him. Interestingly, if you have everlasting life, you will one day be ushered into a place wherein the tree of life is in eternal bloom (Revelation 22:2).


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 14: Light of the World

“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” —John 1:8

Candles are a pleasant and beautiful Christmas symbol, and they have been for centuries. Today, the long red tapers protrude from table arrangements of evergreen and holly. In the old days, candles were used as ornaments for Christmas trees (hopefully unlit!). In fact, if you look closely at most Christmas lights, they resemble the shape of a candle or flame.

But as prevalent as candles are this time of year, no one really knows why candles became associated with Christmas. Pagans in ancient days would light them during the winter as a symbol of anticipation for spring. It’s highly likely that Christians of old modified the meaning—lighting candles during Christmas to represent the coming of Jesus, who is the true light.

Candles are lit to provide light in the darkness—so also, Jesus came to bring light to those in the darkness of sin. Every human being lives in the domain of darkness with a darkened heart and is in desperate need of deliverance into the light (Romans 1:21; Colossians 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9).

The good news is, Jesus is the light which gives light to everyone, as John said above. Even the Lord Himself said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Like a brilliantly burning candle in a grim and dark room, Jesus shines brightly in this dark world to give you hope.

Day 13: Filled with Wonder

“And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” —Luke 2:17-18

After being told of the advent of Christ and witnessing the heavenly chorus, the shepherds decide to look for Jesus (Luke 2:15). They quickly went to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and the Christ-child in no time (v. 16). With excitement, they reported and testified to what they beheld—the announcement of the angel and the celebration of heaven (vv. 10-14). And the audience who heard these things were in wonder: “all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” At this point, more people were near the manger scene besides just Mary and Joseph, but it is not certain who they were. What is certain is that the news of Jesus’ birth produced wonder in the hearts of all who heard it.

The good news of Christ’s coming should produce wonder in your heart, too. Wonder is that wow-feeling of admiration, astonishment, and amazement that spawns in your heart when you hear or see something spectacular. It is what you feel when looking at vast mountain peaks. It is what you feel when considering the human body—how it is complex and wonderfully made. It is what you feel when pondering the grandeur of the stars, planets, and galaxies.

And it is what you ought to feel when considering the remarkable event of Christ’s birth and its inexhaustible significance. The point of such wonder is worship. Wonder is meant to make you look beyond yourself and this world to the greatness of God. Sadly, not all who wonder will worship—those who do not know God still marvel and the intricacy and order of the universe, but they do not give thanks the God who created it (Romans 1:21). So, don’t let the busyness (or loneliness) of the holiday season slow you from being in awe and wonder at the marvelous nature of the Savior’s birth.

As John Jacob Phillips (1892-1980) wrote many years ago:

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,

How Jesus the Savior did come for to die,

For poor ornery people like you and like I;

I wonder as I wander out under the sky.


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 11: The Sweet Symbol of the Savior

“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” —1 Peter 1:18-19

About 350 years ago, a sweet treat was created that would become a memorable Christmas symbol: the candy cane. Legend has it that a German choirmaster dispensed the sugary sticks to children during church services to help them sit quietly. Some thought the sweets were not appropriate for the sanctuary, so the man bent the candies into canes to appear as a shepherd’s staff so they would have a religious connotation. Many years later, the alternating red stripes were added which, it is believed, also have religious meaning. Supposedly, the bold red stripe represents the blood of Christ, the white stripes represent Christ’s purity, and the three fine stripes represent the Trinity.

Whether or not the candy cane was meant to be a treat with spiritual significance, it can nonetheless remind us of the Savior who came to earth at Christmas. The pure white color can remind us of the sinlessness of Jesus. Because He was conceived of a virgin, He was completely free of the guilt of sin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:34; John 1:14). He was the pure Lamb of God without blemish or spot, as Peter declared. Although He was one-hundred percent man, just like you, He was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). And since He was not tainted or corrupted by sin, He was the perfect sacrifice to completely satisfy God’s justice and wrath.

The bold red stripe can remind us of why He came in the first place. Jesus did not come to earth to be an example—He came to earth to be a substitute. He was born on Christmas day so He could live a righteous life in your place and die a sinner’s death in your place. The precious baby laid in a manger would one day shed His precious blood to ransom you from the futility of sin (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Further, He was the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity as the three red stripes remind us. He was not just a man; He was the God-man—the One who was both God and man. God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus is Immanuel, the incarnate deity. How astonishing that God came down to man as a man to save man from sin! Candy canes are a sweet symbol of the Savior—remember that the next time you see one.


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 7: A Christmas Miracle

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” —Isaiah 11:1

“It’s a Christmas miracle!” This is exclaimed in nearly every Christmas movie when the unexpected happens in circumstances that appeared hopeless. Perhaps the common usage of this exclamation demonstrates that most people believe this is a miraculous time of year. To be sure, Christmas is inherently miraculous—what could be more miraculous than God taking on flesh, being born as a man to a virgin?

Many years before Christ came to earth, God promised that His arrival would be miraculous. Through the prophet Isaiah, God told the Jews that a shoot was coming from Jesse’s stump. Mentioning Jesse is another way of referring to David’s royal lineage, since Jesse was his father. But at this point, David’s royal lineage looked like a stump—the tree of his family line had been cut down to a stump, only to rot away. What’s worse, with the wasting away of David’s family, there appeared no hope of a Messiah coming to bring salvation, since the Messiah was prophesied elsewhere to be David’s son.

But a miracle was coming—a shoot, a twig, would grow out of this stump. This royal lineage would bear fruit again with the coming of a king greater than David. Many years later, “Jesus Christ, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1) was born—and His birth happened miraculously. God is good at causing the unexpected to happen in situations that seem bleak or hopeless. Though life may appear to be a stump, God still works miracles. And the coming of Christ at Christmas was truly a Christmas miracle and He is worthy of praise for it.


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 6: A Greater Price for a Greater Gift

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31).

Christmas gifts seem to get more expensive every year. In fact, it’s estimated that the average American will spend $920 per person on presents this year.[1] But no matter how much you shell out buying gifts for your loved ones this year, it’s likely that you are a receiver of gifts just as much as a giver of them. That’s the great thing about Christmas—we all get something new. And that’s good, because we all like new things—we like to give and receive new things. The glee and bliss felt by a child when getting a toy truck or Barbie resonates through adulthood.

Such glee was surely felt by the Israelites when God promised them a gift was coming that was new, free, and exceedingly greater than anything physical or even earthly: the salvation of the new covenant which Jesus would bring by His advent. Long ago in Jeremiah 31, the Lord God promised that a new covenant was coming—a new way of experiencing Him, a new way of doing things. This new covenant would include a personal relationship with Him, the total forgiveness of sins, and the ability to obey God from the heart (vv. 33-34). And while this new covenant was free to them and is free to you, it was very expensive to God because He paid for it with the blood of His Son, Jesus. As Christ Himself said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).

When Jesus was born Christmas Day, He was already on His way to purchase this great gift of new covenant salvation for you. And remember, when Christmas presents start to get expensive, God paid a greater price for a greater gift—the gracious gift of salvation in the new covenant. No gift you give or receive could compare with the immeasurable gift of salvation that God gave through Christ. “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Cor. 9:15, NLT).


[1] https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1112/average-cost-of-an-american-christmas.aspx


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 5: Let It Snow!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” —Isaiah 1:18

Nothing is more enchanting and pleasant than waking up on Christmas morning to a blanket of snow covering the neighborhood. Nearly everyone dreams of a white Christmas because it just feels like Christmas when there is snow on the ground. Without snow, there are no snowmen, snowball fights, or dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. Snow and Christmas pair together like hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Snow is also a biblical symbol for purity and righteousness. To the Jews, snow was the purest form of white. It appears pure, clean, and perfect when it falls from the sky. It even covers the filth and dirt of the earth. It is no wonder that people in the Bible desired to be as pure as snow, like David who prayed: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). The prophet Daniel also used this imagery in describing his vision of God on His throne, as One who is uncompromisingly pure and righteous: “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow” (Daniel 7:9a).

In Isaiah 1:18, the Lord told His people that their sins were undeniably noticeable—as red as red can be—like scarlet. Their lives were stained, filthy, and impure. They needed to be cleansed and scrubbed of the sin that colored their lives. God assured them that they could be made white like snow if they turned to Him (vv. 19-20). Though they were covered in filth, they could be snow-white through the Lord’s thorough washing.

You are also in need of such cleansing from the Lord. Ironically, the only way to receive cleansing from the red stain of your sins is through the blood of Jesus. As John the apostle said, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b). His death makes you whiter than snow in the sight of God because He clothed Himself in the filthy rags of your sin and in exchange gives you the white robes of His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). You receive this cleansing when you turn away from your sins and express faith in Christ alone (Acts 17:30; Ephesians 2:8-9).

What’s more ironic is that it snows during the Christmas season—the time when you remember and celebrate Christ’s coming into the world to save you from your sin. Is it possible that it snows this time of year as a sign from God that Christ came on Christmas day to make you whiter than snow?


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 4: Go, Tell It on the Mountain

“And when they [the shepherds] saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” —Luke 2:17

Shepherds were the first Christian preachers in history. Before the message of salvation in Christ was announced by John the Baptist and the apostles (John 1:29-34; Acts 2:22-36; 4:12), lowly shepherds declared the good news of the coming of Christ. The shepherds told others of His arrival even before Jesus did (Mark 1:14-15). Luke explains that they reported to everyone what they had experienced. They made known to others what the Lord had made known to them (Luke 2:15), namely, that a Savior had been born in the city of David (v. 10).

Notice what they didn’t do. They didn’t keep the good news to themselves. They didn’t stay quiet for fear that no one would believe them. They didn’t wait until the right time to share the message—they went with haste to proclaim it (v. 16). In one night, they went from being recipients to deliverers of the good news of Christ’s coming.

Their preaching of the gospel of Christ is worthy of imitation. This is an excellent example for you to follow as one who has also received the good news of Jesus. What they did with the gospel is what you are to do with it: proclaim it to everyone. This is the point of the Christmas classic, Go, Tell It on the Mountain:

“Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain,

That Jesus Christ is born.”

Do not keep the gospel to yourself or fear others won’t believe you. Do not wait until the time and conditions are right. Go with haste and publish the greatest news in the world to your family, friends, and neighbors. And do not think you are unqualified to share the good news of the gospel—poor, uneducated, and lowly shepherds were the first evangelists. The power is in the message, not the messenger. Therefore, unashamedly tell the world that the gospel is, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 3: A Savior Better Than Santa

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them.” —Luke 2:8-9a

Santa is not very inclusive—he only brings gifts for good boys and girls. He even puts you on the naughty list if you’ve been behaving badly. Those who receive presents from Santa are children most qualified to receive them. The Lord Jesus, by contrast, gives the greatest gift to those who are the least qualified to receive it. He came to earth to grant eternal life to undeserving sinners.

The mission of Christ to save the least likely people is seen in the fact that shepherds were the first to hear the good news of His coming. The advent of Jesus was not announced to kings or emperors, but to some of the most insignificant persons in Judean society. Although shepherds were important, the culture viewed them as minuscule. In fact, they couldn’t even testify in court. Yet, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and they became the first recipients of the news that the Savior had been born.

The Gospels reinforce the idea that He cares for the low-ranking people of the world. The first disciples were fishermen. The kind of people He healed were lepers, paralytics, and those possessed by demons. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He cared for widows and the sexually immoral. Jesus came for the least qualified—as He Himself said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

The good news of Jesus is for you, too. You don’t have to be outstandingly qualified to receive His gift of eternal life. The Lord Jesus will grant salvation to you, no matter who you are or what you have done. By repentance and faith (Acts 17:30; Eph. 2:8-9), eternal life can be yours even if you are sexually immoral, idolatrous, adulterous, greedy, or addicted (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Jesus is a significant Savior who came for insignificant people—that’s another reason why Jesus is better than Santa.


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 2: Extraordinary in the Ordinary

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered . . . And all went to be registered, each to his own town.” —Luke 2:1, 3

There is nothing unusual about filing and paying taxes, except when you receive a generous refund. Likewise, paying taxes in New Testament times was completely normal. Luke explains that it was tax time for the Jews as Caesar issued a decree for the purpose of assessing taxes. This was business as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary was occurring—or so it seemed.

Amazingly, this decree is what God used to bring Joseph and Mary to the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah. The prophet Micah foretold that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2).

There’s just one problem—Mary was not in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). Thankfully, this taxation would take them there because, in order to comply, every Jew had to travel back to their hometown. For Joseph, this was Bethlehem, the city of David. Luke says that Mary and Joseph proceeded to Bethlehem (v. 4) and it is there that Mary, “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths” (v. 7).

God sovereignly moved in the heart of Caesar (Prov. 21:1) to fulfill His word concerning Jesus. The Sovereign Lord of the universe used an ordinary taxation for an extraordinary purpose. Even today, God uses ordinary people and events for extraordinary purposes. God didn’t create the world and then abandon it—He is actively involved in the creation at each moment to accomplish His sovereign will. He will use whatever it takes to fulfill His perfect plan—even things that are completely normal.

Right now, God is active in the ordinary things of your life—the day-to-day happenings that appear humdrum. As John Piper has said, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”[1] So, take heart if you have an ordinary life because God used a standard taxation to bring Jesus Christ into the world. Who knows what He will do through the ordinary things in your life? To be sure, whatever He does is always for your good and His glory (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28; 11:36).


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.


[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-is-always-doing-10000-things-in-your-life