Archive for December, 2016

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Sunday, December 18

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout, JAXNAZ Church
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Today believers around the world will light four candles. As we light again the candles of Hope, Love and Joy, we add to them The Candle of Peace.

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

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.”

— Isaiah 9:1-7

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Saturday, December 17

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout
Read: Isaiah 9:6-7

Isaiah 9:6-7

New International Version (NIV)

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.
7 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.

Start
Consider: We’ve talked this week about peace and we’ve talked about justice. But those are not two separate ideas. As Isaiah spoke about the coming Messiah, both are prominent in his prophecy.

“And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” (9:6-7)

Peace and justice are inextricably intertwined. Without justice there is no peace. If you look at the most oppressed nations of this world you will find that they are filled with strife and violence.

Without peace there is no justice. Where there is war and violence the innocent suffer. They become refugees and are deprived of the basic necessities of life. Children are orphaned and conscripted to fight. Civilians are killed and women are raped.

But, why talk about these things? After all, aren’t they beyond our influence? Nations wage war and there is nothing we can do about it. Or is there?

When you believe that Jesus is the King of Kings, you also believe that he brought his kingdom to earth. The kingdom of God has come even though we still wait for it to come in its fullness. (We call it the “present/coming kingdom,” or the “now/not yet kingdom.”) We are charged—and privileged—to be part of that kingdom. And because the kingdom of heaven spreads slowly and imperceptibly (Matthew 13:31-33), we have to have faith that our work counts. We are making a difference.

Every time we work for justice we are working for peace. Every time we feed the hungry or watch out for the vulnerable and oppressed we are advancing Christ’s kingdom of peace. This Christmas season when you give to the poor, volunteer in the church’s food pantry, visit a lonely person, embrace a hurting child, show grace to a troubled teenager or pray for peace, you are proclaiming with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” You are proclaiming it with your life!

Pray: Thank God for the coming of the Prince of Peace. Praise him that he chose you to live Messiah’s message and proclaim his good news.

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Friday, December 16

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout, JAXNAZ Church

Read: Luke 2:8-20

Luke 2:8-20

New International Version (NIV)

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

Start

Consider: We are so grateful to Luke for giving us the account of the shepherds who were tending their sheep outside of Bethlehem—the first ones to hear the good news of Jesus’ birth. Shepherds were not the elite of society. They were among the poor, those who struggled for their daily bread. This is an account, among many passages in the Bible, which signifies God’s special concern for the poor. (Again, take note of Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55.)

The Old Testament prophets spoke about justice. But remember, the term “justice” was used in the scriptures in a different manner than we usually use it today. Today people often talk about punitive justice. But our Bible—our God—teaches restorative justice. Justice that brings mercy and grace to our world. Justice that treats everyone—particularly the disadvantaged—to the blessings and prosperity God wants for his people.

One of the great justice passages from the Old Testament is found in Amos 5:24…

“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

The coming of the Messiah signified salvation, peace and justice. The night that changed the world was heralded to the poor of this world. And it was brought to us in the One who became poor for us. That message continues to transform the world. We can recognize it if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Pray: Thank God that the message is for everyone. Thank him that the message was proclaimed to ordinary shepherds like you and me. Ask him to use you to be his good news to the ordinary and the poor that you will encounter today.

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Thursday, December 15

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout of JAXNAZ Church

Read: Ephesians 2:11-18

Ephesians 2:11-18

New International Version (NIV)

Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Start

Consider: In the Old Testament the people who heard the messianic prophecies considered them to be promises given to the nation of Israel. They were. But there was more to those promises. When we look at the promise—the covenant—in its original form as it was given to Abraham, we read that God told Abraham, “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). The “offspring” refers to the nation out of which Jesus would come and “all nations” includes you and me.

In today’s scripture reading Paul describes the fulfillment of that promise as the peace that Messiah brings. Jesus brings peace to us individually by his death and resurrection—by the forgiveness of our sins and restoring us to a right relationship with God. But there is another peace that Jesus brings…

“His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:15-18)
No wonder Paul says…

“There is neither Jew nor Greek (gentile), slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

The peace proclaimed by the angels in Bethlehem means that the peace of Christ can rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). But it also means that Christ came to break down the walls of hostility among the nations. He came to do what the angels promised—bring peace on earth.

Pray: Mediate on what Paul meant in Ephesians 2:14 when he said, “He himself is our peace.” Praise Jesus for that reality.

Wednesday, December 14

 

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout, JAXNAZ Church

Read: Luke 2:1-15

Luke 2:1-15

New International Version (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Start:

Consider: I hope you’ll read this passage repeatedly during this time of the year. There is so much there for us to comprehend and so much there in which to rejoice. Today let’s look at the proclamation of the angels. From the translation usually used in these devotionals we read…

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (2:14, NIV)

The traditional way we have heard it comes from the King James Version of the Bible…

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

However you read it, this message is “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (2:10). The promise of the Old Testament was the promise of peace. The promise on the day Jesus was born was the promise of peace. Peace on earth is not some romantic notion that should simply give us warm feelings during the month of December. Peace on earth is not the delusion of simple-minded people who are naïve regarding the evil in our world. Peace on earth is a promise from God. And, as we see so often in scripture, his promise is our calling. We are called to be God’s agents of peace on earth.

Pray: 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console,

To be understood as to understand,

To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Tuesday, December 13

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout, JAXNAZ Church

Read: John 1:14

John 1:14

New International Version (NIV)

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.

Start:
Consider: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” In the original language it states that “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”

A tabernacle was a temporary dwelling, a tent of sorts that could be moved from place to place. That’s why we often translate John 1:14 to say that “he pitched his tent among us.” While the whole cosmos is Christ’s domain, the physical appearance of Jesus of Nazareth was given for a set time—an appointed time.

Yesterday we remembered that we are resident aliens—those who live among the kingdoms of this world as foreigners (1 Peter 1:17). In so doing, we are living like the One who pitched his tent among us.

We don’t pound our tent stakes too deep here. The kingdoms of this world are where we live, but their values are not our values. While we love the world as God created it and will one day fulfill it, we don’t fall in love with the ways of the earthly kingdoms. We are like our father, Abraham, of whom it was said…

“By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents…for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:9-10)

While we sojourn here, we also look forward to that city—what John called “the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2, 10). And like the One who came for an appointed time, we bring heaven to earth every day we travel this terrain with him.

God was incarnated—made flesh—in our world. We call that the Christ. Then he filled us with his Spirit so we could live his life in the flesh. We call that the Body of Christ. And we pitch our tent with him dwelling in it.

Pray: “Thank you, Lord, for placing us here as your body. We’re humbled to think that we are Christ’s hands and feet on this planet. We are Christ’s arms that embrace a lonely, broken, wounded world. Help us to live as you did, knowing that we are working for a kingdom ‘whose architect and builder is God.’”

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Monday, December 12

Time Alone With God daily devotional

Written by Pastor Phil Stout of JAXNAZ Church

Read: 1 Peter 1:17-21

1 Peter 1:17-21

New International Version (NIV)

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Start
Consider: Peter teaches us to live out our lives “as foreigners here” (1:17). This instruction has given us a title that we embrace. We are “resident aliens.”

Whenever I remember that I am a resident alien, I feel the sentiment expressed by the late Rich Mullins…

Nobody tells you when you get born here
How much you’ll come to love it
And how you’ll never belong here
So I call you my country
And I’ll be lonely for my home

Now let’s not get confused. Our home is not some faraway place. Christ is our home. And the One who came in the flesh will one day return. His presence will make our world his home, and in so doing, make it our home as well.
At his return the voice from the throne will proclaim…

“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.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3-5)

The breathtaking beauty of that statement can make us a little homesick. But while we yearn for that day, we realize that our call is not simply to hunker down until Jesus returns. As resident aliens, we have an attitude, an approach and a calling—a calling to make our home a reality in the strange land in which we live today.

Pray: “Lord, this Advent Season is our time of waiting, anticipating, yearning and hoping. Thank you that you have made us part of your work. Our hope is in our hearts, in our minds and in our hands. But ultimately our hope is in you. Thank you for loving your world so much.”

Online Nazarene church sermons

Online Nazarene church sermons

“The Naked Baby – Nothing to Hide” sermon

Below this paragraph is a hyperlink to a grouping of sermons of Pastor Phil Stout of JAXNAZ Church, you can listen to, online. I like “The Naked Baby – Nothing to Hide” sermon best.  Enjoy!

http://www.jaxnazchurch.com/sermons/

Links: