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Daily Devotionals from Grace in the Workplace
Friday, December 29 2017

Verse of the Day

 

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen. [Psalm 41:13 – NIV]

  

Human beings like (and need) milestones. God programmed us that way. We have days, months, years, and we have the seasons. This kind of repetitiousness is intentional. We are slow and dense and need to learn. Anyway, how do you feel about last year and what about the year that lies ahead? As you reflect on the past year, do the good things come to mind or are you burdened by memories of pain, disappointment, and sorrow? What about the future? Are you encouraged about what God has in store for you or are you resigned to a boring, miserable, and unsatisfying life?

 

If you are worried and unsure about what the future holds for you, guess what? We are right back in the midst of the attitude thing! Accentuate the positive! It is not too difficult to see all the wondrous things that God has blessed you with. And never give up on the future. Trust and obey God. The Lord has promised good to you and to me and you can take that to the bank! One last thing, God is omnipresent. He is everywhere at once. He is Alpha and Omega. That means that He existed at the beginning of time, He is here in the present, and He is already out in the future. And since He is in the future right now, He is busy preparing it for you and for me. You can take comfort and great joy in that!

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Thursday, December 28 2017

Verse of the Day

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. [Jeremiah 23:5 – NIV]

The Old Testament is replete with references to the coming of the Messiah. Every book in the Bible shouts His Holy Name. No human king could ever reign wisely and do what is just and right. Only Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, could fulfill this prophesy. We look forward with eager anticipation to the Second Coming!

And He will reign forever and ever. Come Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!

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Wednesday, December 27 2017

Verse of the Day

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. [Isaiah 7:14 – NKJV]

The Old Testament is strewn with references to Jesus’ birth, His life, and His death from the first book to the last. The messianic prophesy is very compelling. It really is hard for us as mere mortals to grasp or comprehend the fact that God came to earth to live with us. Just imagine Immanuel, God with us! And He wasn’t just with us, He was one of us! Amazing, isn’t it?

And so this Advent season as we prepare our hearts for the birth of our Lord, let’s never forget that He came to earth to live with us. O come, o come, Immanuel!

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Friday, December 22 2017

Verse of the Day

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]

As Believers, we are called to give of ourselves constantly. This commandment is one that we obey joyfully by giving our all, as expressed by tithes of our financial resources, time, and talent, all in good Christian stewardship. This is perhaps our defining attribute as we reach outward to our community and the world around us.

Although giving is really a year-round thing, it takes on special meaning for us during the Christmas season. Not only do we give traditional Christmas gifts to our family and friends, but we also give generously to all kinds of charities and other worthwhile causes. All of these opportunities to bless and serve others are truly wonderful gifts, but they pale in comparison to the gift that God gave to us, the “ultimate gift”—His son, Jesus Christ!

Christmastime is so very special to us as Believers, because we are like little children who go to bed on Christmas Eve with a great anticipation of the many wonderful gifts that will be under the tree when they awake on Christmas morning.  Our excitement, however, is the tremendous expectation of God’s gift to us, the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you, God!

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Thursday, December 21 2017

Verse of the Day

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” [Luke 2:14 – NKJV]

 

Christmas is such a special time of year! Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is a little kinder, gentler, more tolerant, and even, Heaven forbid, actually civil to one another? People on the streets and in the malls are happy, merry, jolly, and downright friendly. There really is joy in the air. But, if we delve down under the surface, many of us are not filled with the Christmas spirit. If you guessed that I’m referring to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the needy among us you’d be wrong. No, I’m referring to the lonely, the depressed, the brokenhearted, and the bitter, miserable souls who sit at home at Christmas crying themselves to sleep. People who have recently lost a spouse, a child or other loved ones, those without jobs, those who for whatever reason feel all alone in the world—all of these go into a downward spiral at Christmas time.

 

Compare these folks to the rest of us who are blessed with family and friends, go to parties, feel festive, sing Christmas hymns and carols, shop for gifts, play with the grandkids, and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a contrast! So, please be aware of the people around you. The sad and forlorn are not always visible. You never know, the person in the cubicle next to you could be suffering this Christmas. So, make a special effort to let Jesus shine through you this Christmas. Be kind to everyone you meet. Make sure you share the joy of Jesus’ birth in a way that lifts the spirits of those around you! Let love and mercy rule the day!

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Wednesday, December 20 2017

Verse of the Day

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Isaiah 9:6 – NKJV]

It’s not my favorite Christmas hymn, but “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” is one that I really do enjoy. Truth be told, I love all Christmas music, hymns, carols; they’re all special. Singing praise about the birth of our Lord and Savior—what could be better? Anyway, back to “Rose.” The second verse begins with some of the most memorable and uplifting words in any Christmas hymn: “Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind.” The specific reference is the Immanuel prophesy in Isaiah 7:14-17. However, Isaiah goes on in today’s passage to proclaim Jesus’s birth.  He describes the names of Jesus as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. How can you not have faith in Jesus, who is our Everything? Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

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Tuesday, December 19 2017

Verse of the Day

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. [Isaiah 40:5 – NKJV]

There is so much substance in Isaiah. What an amazing and fascinating book! In today’s passage, God’s prophet Isaiah tells the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and that glory was revealed through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Nothing more needs to be said. The mouth of the Lord has spoken it, and His Word is the Gospel truth!

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Monday, December 18 2017

Verse of the Day

 

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. [Luke 1:38 – NKJV]

 

There are several examples of people of great faith in the New Testament: the centurion in Mathew 8, the Apostle Paul, Stephen, and the “heroes” listed in Hebrews 11, but there is perhaps no greater example of faith than that of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

 

Just imagine that you are a young teenage girl betrothed to be married and one day the angel of the Lord shows up and tells you that, oh by the way, you are going to give birth to the Son of God. Surely she was frightened, terrified, confused, and doubtful. Mother of the Messiah, how can it be? And she a virgin! Despite all the emotion that was swirling around in her head, her response was one of resolute faith.

 

As today’s passage tells us, Mary did as the Lord commanded. Her response to the angel, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” demonstrates her complete obedience and trust in the Lord. There is no greater faith that this.

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Friday, December 15 2017

Verse of the Day

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” [Matthew 9:10-13 – NKJV]

The Pharisees were Jesus’s favorite target because they just didn’t get the point. They had deluded themselves (probably with a lot of help from Satan) into believing that it was enough just to keep the Law while forgetting why they were doing so. The purpose of the Law was to provide a means of covering sin so that God’s people could have a relationship with Him. The Law was about God, and when you take God out of the equation it becomes meaningless. The Pharisees had long forgotten the purpose of the Law. They were far more concerned with themselves than they were with God.

Then, Jesus entered the picture. I just love His response to the Pharisees in today’s passage, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” The Pharisees just didn’t get it; Jesus “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” The message of salvation needs to be shared with everyone.

When we hear Jesus railing against the Pharisees we have a tendency to get all worked up about the righteous around us today, those who have placed religiosity above all else. You know, those who are too “churchy,” too full of themselves. We never focus inward, but we should. Don’t all of us have a tendency to think that we get it, that we are following the program? Guard against this kind of attitude. We are just as susceptible to falling into the trap of thinking that we are special and others aren’t. Who are your neighbors? Are there people that you shun? Do you share God’s Word with those who need to hear it or only those who already have? Again, who is your neighbor?

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Thursday, December 14 2017

Verse of the Day

“…let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” [Exodus 25:8-9 – NKJV]

We have an intuitive nature that allows us to devise strategies to get things done. Some of us are better at planning than others, but it is an attribute that can be learned and developed. It’s a key part of your skill set at work. Every employer values employees who can strategize and plan; after all, that’s how we get things done in life, isn’t it? And here’s a comforting thought: No matter the level of your “planning IQ” there is hope for you. All you have to do is read the greatest book on management and business ever written, the Bible.

As today’s passage tells us, God is a planner; in fact, He is the Master Planner! He has an ultimate Plan for mankind which is revealed in His Word, a plan for each of us, and a myriad of other plans that thread their way throughout space and time.

If you want to learn more about planning, read the Bible. Focus on how God gets things done. There are tasks that God reserves for Himself like Creation and there are projects that He uses His people to accomplish like building the Tabernacle. Regardless, there is much for us to learn.

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Wednesday, December 13 2017

Verse of the Day

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” [John 11:47-48 – NIV]

The audacity! The people were beginning to believe in Jesus. Just imagine what would happen to the religious rulers of the day if belief in Jesus got out of control? They were concerned about the Romans taking away “our temple and our nation.” Funny, I thought it was God’s temple and God’s nation, but then what do I know? When the institution of religion becomes more important than its objective—worshiping and glorifying the Lord our God—then we’ve strayed way off course. God had absolutely nothing to do with the religious practices of the day. And that is exactly the point of so many of Jesus’s parables.

The old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same” is no doubt true. Things don’t change much, do they?  The tendency to look out for “number one” is as prevalent today as it was in Jesus’s day. We are just as concerned about “turf” as the Sanhedrin was. What’s “ours is ours” and we’re going to fight to keep it to the bitter end. What kind of attitude is this? It’s certainly not one that we need in our lives. What’s ours is really God’s and we are His stewards. If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves then we will use what God has given us to bring glory to Him. Let’s make sure that we look out for the real Number One, Jesus Christ! Make Him first in your life today.

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Tuesday, December 12 2017

Verse of the Day

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. [Isaiah 53:5 – NKJV]

Like all adages, there is a certain amount of truth in the saying “time heals all wounds.” If you wait long enough in life, things generally take care of themselves. So, cuts, bruises, colds, and broken bones heal over time. Of course there are exceptions, like cancer, pneumonia, and strokes, but as mankind progresses, it’s likely that there will be a cure for almost everything that ails us. There is only one disease that we cannot conquer by ourselves—sin.

Yes, sin is a disease that eventually leads to death, but there is hope; there is a cure. Today’s passage from Isaiah tells us the answer, “… by His stripes we are healed.” Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He died on the Cross for our sins and overcame the grave to give us the opportunity for an everlasting life with Him. There is power in the blood of Jesus.

Posted by: John AT 06:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, December 11 2017

Verse of the Day

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. [Jeremiah 23:5 – NIV]

The Old Testament is replete with references to the coming of the Messiah. Every book in the Bible shouts His Holy Name. No human king could ever reign wisely and do what is just and right. Only Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, could fulfill this prophesy. We look forward with eager anticipation to the Second Coming!

And He will reign forever and ever. Come Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!

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Friday, December 08 2017

Verse of the Day

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. [John 3:16 – NKJV]

First let’s clarify what I mean by leverage. I am not using the term in the financial sense (i.e., the degree or extent to which a business or investor is using borrowed money), nor am I using it in the engineering sense (as in using a fulcrum as a means of moving a heavy object). What I mean by leverage is the use of information about a person to affect, shape, or influence their behavior. Leverage is most commonly associated with business, politics, and other high-stakes activities, but we often see it employed in everyday life, too. Whether we know it or not, we often use what we know about others to influence them. The application of leverage raises connotations of a bad or evil motive or intent; however, that is not always the case. I’d like to submit that God uses leverage in His Plan for us; to save us and bring us into a loving relationship with Him.

God knows each of us intimately. He is constantly at work to bring about our salvation by using people, events, and other forces to affect and influence our behavior and ultimately our receptiveness to His Son, Jesus. As the Apostle Paul tells us, “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” He brings all the leverage at His disposal to bring us into a right relationship with Him. And the fun part is that He knows beforehand exactly how we will react!

Of course there are countervailing forces at work. The evil one uses our prideful, self-centered nature to twist our minds and hearts so that we resist God and His Word. The secular world is actively involved in tearing down, demeaning, demonizing, ridiculing, and humiliating Christianity and Believers, but we know that God will prevail! We love Him because He first loved us. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”

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Thursday, December 07 2017

Verse of the Day

 

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” [John 1:29 – NKJV]

  

In these devotionals I make fairly frequent reference to my background as a rock ’n’ roll guy, so hopefully you’ll forgive me for yet another shout-out to the Hollies and their 1964 hit “Just One Look.” It just seems so apropos. I think that it fits to a “T” the scene that unfolds before us in today’s passage. Picture Jesus walking towards His cousin, John the Baptist; John glances up and immediately recognizes Him as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Just one look, that’s all it took, yeah!

 

I don’t think we need to trouble ourselves with questions like “How did John recognize Jesus” and so on. If we let our brains spin out of control we can come up with many layers to this onion. But, it’s obvious that John was divinely inspired and God had given him insight into Jesus’ identity. After all, John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus to announce His coming. So John knew full well who and what Jesus was. He was (and is) the Christ, the Son of God.

 

What about you? Do you know Him? Can you state with certainty that He is your Lord and Savior? Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away your sins and mine! All honor and glory goes to You, Lord Jesus!

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Wednesday, December 06 2017

Verse of the Day

When anyone is guilty in any of these ways, he must confess in what way he has sinned and, as a penalty for the sin he has committed, he must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin. If he cannot afford a lamb, he is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for his sin – one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. … If, however, he cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. [Leviticus 5:5-7, 11 – NIV 1984]

The concept of fairness is getting a lot of press nowadays. When we were growing up, we learned the ways of the world and the worldly concept of what is fair (and conversely, what’s not) was ingrained in our psyches. But what is fair from a secular perspective and what is fair in God’s eyes are often diametrically opposed to one another. When those of the secular world look at God’s Word, they are often shocked by many of the things that God considers to be just and right. We as Believers have to “unlearn” much of what we were taught over the years as we study God’s ways. Humans are fixated on fairness, while God is the epitome of truth and justice. He is everything that is just, right, true, and holy. In the end, God’s justice prevails because it focuses on and reflects His majesty and glory. It really is all about Him!

Today’s passage from Leviticus is interesting because conceptually it is one of the few in the Bible with which the secular world could agree. The situation involves certain types of sin offerings where a person does not respond when he/she is a witness and could give testimony, touches something ceremonially unclean, touches human uncleanliness, or takes an oath carelessly. This is the only offering which takes into account the offender’s ability to “pay” and makes adjustments accordingly. There is no such reprieve based on circumstances and ability for the other offerings.

Contrast this with the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), which is perhaps one of the most unfair results in the Bible from a human perspective. In this parable, Jesus describes a landowner who hires workers for his vineyard throughout the day—beginning at dawn and again at 9 a.m., at noon, at 3 p.m., and finally at 5 p.m. When it came time to settle up with the workers, the landowner pays the ones he hired at 5 p.m. the same amount he’d agreed to pay the ones that he’d hired at dawn. In fact he paid all the workers the exact same amount without taking into account the fact that many had worked less than the others. Those that started earlier in the day were appalled that those that started much later (3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) got paid the same as they did. When they complained, the landowner said, “Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? Take what is yours and go. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business? Are you jealous because I’m generous?” (Matthew 20:13-15.) The point Jesus is making is that the length of time which a Believer knows and believes in Him has no bearing on his salvation. The parable stands for the proposition that a concern about rewards based on merit, as opposed to the grace of God, has no place in His Kingdom.

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)

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Tuesday, December 05 2017

Verse of the Day

“Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” [Matthew 8:22 – NASB]

Many of us procrastinate. Why would you want to start something today when you can put it off until tomorrow? This habit pops up frequently at work, where it gets us into no end of trouble. Our enemy, the cursed “deadline,” is after all aptly named, and woe to the one who fails to meet it! A true procrastinator, however, is noncommittal about all aspects of his/her life, and that is exactly the point that Jesus is making in today’s passage.

When Jesus says “follow Me” He doesn’t mean when it’s convenient or when it suits you. It’s a drop everything kind of moment. No procrastinating, just “do it!” The Apostle Matthew is perhaps the best example of faithful obedience to the call of our Lord. When Jesus said “Follow Me!” he got up immediately and followed Him (see Mark 2:14). How will we respond? Do we have other, more pressing obligations in our lives? Are we committed to follow Him tomorrow or when it’s convenient? Or, are we like Matthew? When you hear Jesus calling you, drop everything and follow Him!

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Monday, December 04 2017

Verse of the Day

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” [Micah 5:2 – NIV]

“O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie…” So begins the first stanza of one of the best loved Christmas hymns ever written and one of my favorites, too! Part of my affection for it is based on my growing up in Bethlehem, PA, the “Christmas City,” but that’s certainly not the only reason for my fondness. There is something about the birth of the Christ Child that touches all of us. His humble birth in Bethlehem is a very compelling story.

So why in the world did God pick Bethlehem as His Son’s birthplace? After all, one would expect that the Son of God would be born in a city of significance, Jerusalem for example, and not a little town that nobody paid much attention to. Today’s passage makes clear that Bethlehem was indeed chosen by God to be the birthplace of His Son. Bethlehem was the city of David, and it was foretold that the Christ would be of the lineage of King David. Jesus, like his ancestor, David, came to earth as a humble servant. A humble birth was only appropriate for Him.

Although Jesus made clear that He was God’s Son, He never used the title “Son of God.” Instead He preferred to use “Son of Man” so as to identify Himself with us. The Messiah came to be a servant. He was humble, caring, loving, kind, compassionate, and full of grace. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. What better place than Bethlehem for His birth? Let’s prepare for Him in our hearts as we celebrate this Advent season.

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Friday, December 01 2017

Verse of the Day

Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” [Matthew 21:9 – NKJV]

Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” [Matthew 27:22 – NKJV]

Many of you have served in the military and others have played instruments in marching bands, but regardless of whether you’ve had any experience with marching in formation, you are probably familiar with the command: “About Face!” One minute you’re facing one direction and a second later, the exact opposite—your perspective has changed by 180 degrees! The passages for today illustrate this to a “T.” As Jesus makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people shout “Hosanna to the Son of David” and less than a week later they respond angrily to Pilate, “Let Him be crucified!” What a difference a week makes!

We are really fickle, pliable, indecisive, and capricious creatures, aren’t we? We change our minds and our allegiances on a dime. We vacillate between this and that, seldom taking a stand when we can avoid it. The Israelites expected Jesus to be a warrior king, one who would deliver them from the Romans and when they learned that He was really a meek servant, they turned on Him. Are we any different? We often try to fit God into a mold or pattern of what we want Him to be and when He doesn’t meet our expectations, we abandon Him. What kind of God do we want: a powerless god of our own creation, or the Creator of the Universe?

Posted by: John AT 07:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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