Tag Archives: devotion

Day 1: When Heaven Had Christmas

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.” —Luke 2:13a

Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year with its own decorations, symbols, music, traditions, foods, and even colors. However, because some elements of this season have their roots in ancient pagan festivals, many do not celebrate Christmas. And while it is true that many Christmas practices began in paganism, the pagan meanings were lost long ago. Besides, Christians through the centuries have celebrated Christmas and we have consistently out-celebrated the pagans. This is because the birth of Christ is worth celebrating.

In fact, heaven itself celebrated Christmas—heaven erupted in acclamation and praise when Jesus was born. One angel made the announcement that Christ had come (Luke 2:9-12), but he was immediately joined by thousands of others. As Luke says, a multitude of the heavenly host suddenly appeared and accompanied the angel with exuberant praise to God. The angels in heaven were so thrilled at the arrival of the Messiah that they came alongside the one angel in glorifying God for the good news. Someone once said, “Heaven’s choir came down to sing when heaven’s King came down to save.”

The angels in heaven saw the first advent of Jesus as reason for rejoicing, gladness, and cheer. Do you see it that way? If Christ’s coming was celebrated in heaven, why wouldn’t you celebrate it on earth? Christmas is worth celebrating because Jesus is worth celebrating. John Wesley’s hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing invites you to joyfully celebrate with the heavenly host:

“Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!”


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.

When God Prayed: Jesus’ Devotion to Prayer (Luke 5:16)

That annoying alarm wakes us up. We grab a shower and a cup of coffee, then we’re out the door on our way to work. We might listen to a sermon on the radio during our morning commute, or we might read the Bible at lunch time. And soon enough, it will be time to go home. We go home, do a few things around the house, cook supper, pay bills, and then we’re off to bed to restart the process. But here’s a pressing question: when did we stop and talk to God, and really spend some time praying to Him? If you’re answer is anything like mine, you might feel a bit of shame. Most of us would likely admit that we haven’t been praying as much as we should be. For me, reading the Bible isn’t a problem. I’ve got a Bible reading plan that keeps me in line. But prayer . . . that’s another story. It is difficult for me to find time in my busy day to really spend time with God. That’s an honest confession.

I read something in the Scripture today that drove me to prayer this morning. It’s something I’ve read dozens, probably hundreds of times before. But a few details helped my understanding and application of it. What I read today was Luke 5, the verse that convicted me to prayer was v. 16 where Luke notes that Jesus prayed at His busiest moment at the beginning of His ministry. It reads in this way:

“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

In this passage, Luke records Jesus cleansing a leper saying that once He healed this leper, “even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities” (v. 15). Jesus cleansed this leper, and word got out about His healing power. Because of this, crowds came to hear Him preach and teach, and they came to be healed of their many diseases and infirmities. Jesus was getting popular at this point. More and more people began to know about Him as time went on. And Luke says that there was one thing He would always do, even when He was busy with His teaching and healing ministry: He would withdraw Himself from the crowds, to places where He could be alone, and He would pray. There are several passages of Scripture in the gospels that tell us that Jesus prayed alone, prayed for others, and prayed long prayers (Matt. 11:25-26; Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 22:41-44; 23:24; John 17:1-26). The fact that Jesus prayed is astounding for two main reasons. First of all, because He was God in the flesh, and still prayed. Because He was God, it would make you think that Jesus would not need to pray, but it is very apparent from the gospels that prayer is something that He needed and something that He did. Though Jesus was God, He prayed to His Father and He made use of prayer.

Second, it is astounding that Jesus prayed because He was occupied with more tasks than any of us ever will be, and He still found time to pray. We might say, “But Jesus didn’t have a full time job like I do. Jesus’ didn’t cook supper for children, or pick them up from school everyday like me. Jesus didn’t have emails to send and receive.” Historically, that’s absolutely true. Jesus wasn’t a factory worker, working from nine to five. Jesus didn’t go to see His children play football at the high school. Jesus didn’t have an iPhone and wasn’t able to Tweet or check emails. But let me tell you what Jesus was involved in doing: Jesus was teaching crowds of hundreds of people everyday, and they were increasing as He became more popular. When is the last time you taught growing crowds of people multiple times a week? He was healing all kinds of diseases, people were coming to Him to be healed of all their infirmities and sicknesses. When is the last time you cleansed a leper? He was calling and teaching His disciples. He was dealing with the persecution of the religious rulers. Everywhere He went, He had to walk. When is the last time we did any of those things? And here’s the biggie: no one else could duplicate Jesus’ ministry. No one else could do what He was doing. It would be different if Simon Peter could heal the same way Jesus was, and teach the same way He was. But there was only one Son of God, and there was only one ministry that could do all this: Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was one busy man.

So even though Jesus was God, and even though He was unbelievably busy, nothing seemed to deter Jesus from spending extensive time in prayer. So we need to reflect now on our own prayer life. In light of this passage of Scripture, what is keep us from spending time in prayer? Whatever it might be, we need to get it out of the way and spend time alone with God, taking our requests to Him, praising Him for His blessings upon us, and praying for His grace and enabling to be obedient. I’ve said it before, and it’s something I have to constantly remind myself of: if you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. Let us pray, and let us devote time to prayer. Jesus did, so should we.

Spurgeon on Confidence in God

Once again, as I was reading Charles Spurgeon’s classic devotional, Morning and Evening, I stumbled upon a theological gold mine that I’d like to share with you:

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.”  (Psalm 138:8)

“Most manifestly the confidence which the Psalmist here expressed was a divine confidence. He did not say, “I have grace enough to perfect that which concerneth me—my faith is so steady that it will not stagger—my love is so warm that it will never grow cold—my resolution is so firm that nothing can move it; no, his dependence was on the Lord alone. If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion. All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein. The Psalmist was wise, he rested upon nothing short of the Lord’s work. It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is He who has carried it on; and if he does not finish it, it never will be complete. If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do. Unbelief insinuates—”You will never be able to stand. Look at the evil of your heart, you can never conquer sin; remember the sinful pleasures and temptations of the world that beset you, you will be certainly allured by them and led astray.” Ah! yes, we should indeed perish if left to our own strength. If we had alone to navigate our frail vessels over so rough a sea, we might well give up the voyage in despair; but, thanks be to God, He will perfect that which concerneth us, and bring us to the desired haven. We can never be too confident when we confide in Him alone, and never too much concerned to have such a trust.” ¹

I’ve really struggled with giving God my best in my personal life and ministry here lately. I’ve prayed, “Lord, today I’m going to get back with the program,” or “God, I just need to get back to the way things used to be.” Now while I may have good intentions, I was missing the main point the whole time. I am weak, and I always will be. God is strong and He always will be. He just calls me to be confident in Him that He will work through me and give me the strength I need to be fully obedient to Him. God will “perfect that which concerneth me.”


1. Spurgeon, Charles H. Morning and Evening (Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 304.

 

Charles Spurgeon on the Winter Season

I’m not a big fan of winter. I really enjoy the Christmas season, but I could do without the frosty weather. The snow for example, it’s beautiful and breathtaking, but I’d rather have fall, spring, or summer over winter any day. I know I’m not alone in that conviction. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of people easily prefer other seasons to winter. With that being said, I read an interesting perspective on winter from Charles H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening today as winter is beginning to usher in with its sharp winds, frost, freezing rain, and snow. I would like to share with you some of Spurgeon’s thoughts on the winter season:

Scripture: “Thou hast made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:17)

Spurgeon: “My soul begins this wintry month with thy God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind thee that He keeps His covenant with day and night, and tend to assure thee that He will also keep that glorious covenant which He has made with thee in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to His Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in His dealings with His own well-beloved Son.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy: He casteth forth his ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, He is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord’s sending, and come to us with wise design. Frost kills noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soil. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

How we prize the fire just now! How pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw night to Him, and in Him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of His promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.” ¹


1. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening(Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 702.

God’s Protection, a Guest Devotion by Bradley Finley

Matthew 28:20b: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

God is saying that you never have to feel outnumbered, intimidated or outclassed by anything on earth. Why? Because, “I am with you.” As His follower, you have 24/7 access to Him; to His power and His protection.

Isn’t it amazing that God is there for us all the time? Whenever you need him, He’s there and He will always protect us. A great example of God’s protection is in the book of Daniel. (You can read chapter 3 for the full story.) There were three men: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These men were thrown into a fire because they did not worship King Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar saw a fourth man in the fire that looked like a “Son of God” (3:25). He called the three men out and their bodies had not been harmed, nor was a piece of hair from their heads singed, their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. They were faithful to God and God protected them from a fire! Like them, God wants us to defend Him. Sometimes when we stand up for Him, we may face harm. It’s important to remember, if God protected them from a fire, what else can He protect you from?

Boundary Map: A Guest Devotion by Bradley Finley

2 Kings 17:14-15 reads, “But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do,” and they did the things the Lord had forbidden them to do.”

When you get serious about a sport, one of the first things you have to do is learn the rules. The better you understand the boundaries set by the rules of the game, the more effective you will be competing within those boundaries. The same holds true for God’s work. The better you know the boundaries set by God’s determination of right and wrong, the more effective you will be in living a life that pleases him. Hint: You already have the “boundary map” right now: the Word of God. All you have to do now is read it and learn from it.

In regards to living a life that pleases God, think about good works. When you are doing something to help someone, whether it be hauling hay, carrying groceries for people, helping a person move, or mowing the grass for somebody, it’s good works. Nothing is wrong with good works. But we must remember that when we do good works, its for God’s glory and honor instead of for ourselves.

Devotion: Exhort One Another Daily

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13 ESV).

Consider what you would need to climb a mountain. First, you need a partner who gives and responds to clear commands. You both must know and say the same commands and use the same terminology in voicing commands. When the climber yells, “Rope!” his partner needs to know that he is tossing down a rope and avoid getting hit by it.

Our Christian walk together is much like mountain climbing. We journey through rough terrain at times, and offer encouragement to one another to endure to the end. The writer of Hebrews reminds Christians that our faith cannot be lost. However, we are urged to exhort one another in Christ, so that our hearts will not become hardened by sin. When we see someone struggling, we need to help him or her so that he or she does not become ensnared by sin.

Who is your mountain climbing partner in your Christian walk? Accountability is essential to growing in personal holiness. You mutually exhort one another on the journey so that you may come to the end of it blessed and encouraged.

Suggested Prayer: “Father, help me find someone to journey with in the faith for mutual exhortation.”

Taken from: Jenna Fleming, Open Windows: A Guide for Personal Devotions. Sept. 21