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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Post  Admin on Wed 17 Dec 2014, 11:06 pm

Our Humble King
Wednesday, December 17, 2014  
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” – Philippians 2:5-7 NKJV

As a conquering hero, Julius Caesar galvanized the Roman community, particularly after winning battles in Spain. Returning to Rome in 45 BC, he was honored with the right to wear a special robe and crown. An ivory statue of his likeness was ordered to be carried at religious processions. Another statue was placed in a temple with the inscription, “To the Invincible God.”

Although many revered Caesar, he also alienated others. On March 15, 44 BC, he was assassinated. But his death only accelerated the deification process. In January of 42 BC, he was named “Divine Julius” by the Roman Senate, who officially confirmed that he was a god.

Eager to follow in these footsteps, his adopted son, Octavian (also known as Caesar Augustus) began calling himself “son of a god.” When Halley’s Comet passed over Rome, Octavian declared that it was the spirit of Julius Caesar entering Heaven, claiming that this was more proof that he, too, was a god.

How unlike these men was Jesus! They clamored to be treated like gods. But Jesus, who was God, humbled Himself and became like an ordinary person. He encouraged us to realize that we can approach Him anytime, just as we are. He invited us, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

Today, remember that You serve the risen Savior, the same Man who was born in a stable and spent His life in humility and service, and who died on a cruel Cross.

But now He reigns! Worship Him, and follow His example, seeking to be a person of humility and service to others.

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your example of humility. I humble myself before You. Use me to impact people for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Reading: Philippians 2

The Wise Still Worship Him!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/17/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Follower, 

David spoke the truth and We — Father, Son, and Spirit — wanted it emphasized so you will find it included twice in the Psalms:
A wicked and foolish man truly believes there is no God. 
(Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:1)
This is a sad truth. 

There is, however, some really good news: Many hunger to know Me, the Living and True God. Many seek Me and come to know Me just as I AM! 

Like most generations, you live in a world where religious hatred is found. Yet even in this world of hatred, an event from My birth is being reenacted daily. Muslims are finding things written in the Quran about Me. This gives them a glimpse of truth and so they begin to seek to know Me fully. Hundreds of thousands of them are searching for Me — just like the magi from the East saw the star rise in the east and came to worship Me when I was born! 

So please remember to pray for those who see you as their enemy. Pray for them to find Me in their scriptures and come looking for the truth about Me — the very One who is the Way and the Truth and the Life that leads to the Father (John 14:6 NIV). Remember, I took Saul of Tarsus who persecuted Christians and turned him into the greatest Christian missionary to ever live. That means that I can reach the hearts of those you think are least likely to believe in Me! Pray for their hearts to open and come alongside of them to share My grace and to help them find Me. 

Wise people hungering to know God still seek to worship Me, just as the magi from the East did so many years ago. Please be ready to help them find Me!
Verses to Live

Any time you hear this precious story about My birth, let the magi remind you that people all over the world still yearn to know and worship Me!
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise men or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. These wise men made inquiries. 

Wise Men:
Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.
(Matthew 2:1-2) 

The wise men left Herod’s chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared — a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 
(Matthew 2:9-11)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, Father of all peoples, please use me to share your message with those who are seeking You — especially those in places where darkness reigns and it is dangerous to believe in Jesus. Open my heart to see all people as You see them, recognizing that Jesus died for all to bring them into Your family with us. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Post  Admin on Tue 16 Dec 2014, 10:05 pm

"Move Beyond the God Talk" — A Year with Jesus for 12/16/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Partner in the Kingdom, 

People can speak in "God talk" and live in anti-God ways. Unfortunately, Christmas is a time when a lot of that happens. This goes all the way back to My birth and early days as a toddler when Herod had his religious wise guys use the Bible — the writings of the prophets — to determine the location of My birth so he could try to kill Me. This account of the despicable genocide of boy babies is a reminder that knowing the Bible and engaging in "God talk" can be dangerous if your heart doesn't belong to the Father. 

There is, however, another way to use the Scriptures. You can come to Me and let your faith in Me open up your eyes to the full and powerful message of God that leads to life! Move beyond the "God talk" this Christmas: come discover Me. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6 NLT).
Verses to Live

As joyous as the story is for you, parts of My birth story are extremely sad for the Father. Some people used the very Scriptures and words of the prophets — words intended to give them hope — to bring evil of the worst kind: murder.
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the province of Judea, at the time when King Herod reigned. Not long after Jesus was born, magi, wise men or seers from the East, made their way from the East to Jerusalem. These wise men made inquiries. 

Wise Men:
Where is this newborn, who is the King of the Jews? When we were far away in the East we saw His star, and we have followed its glisten and gleam all this way to worship Him.
King Herod began to hear rumors of the wise men's quest, and he, and all of his followers in Jerusalem, were worried. So Herod called all of the leading Jewish teachers, the chief priests and head scribes, and he asked them where Hebrew tradition claimed the long-awaited Anointed One would be born. 

Scribes and Priests:
An ancient Hebrew prophet, Micah, said this:
"But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no poor relation — For from your people will come a Ruler who will be the shepherd of My people Israel".
(Matthew 2:1-6) 

After a few months had passed, Herod realized he'd been tricked. The wise men were not coming back. Herod, of course, was furious. He simply ordered that all boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years of age and younger be killed. He knew the baby King was this age because of what the wise men told him. 

This sad event had long been foretold by the prophet Jeremiah:
A voice will be heard in Ramah, weeping and wailing and mourning out loud all day and night. The voice is Rachel's, weeping for her children, her children who have been killed; she weeps, and she will not be comforted.
(Matthew 2:16-18)
When My word is ignored, when the Father's will is abandoned, and when the Spirit's inspired message is used for evil, death is always the result. But, when you come to Me and believe in Me and follow Me, the result is life. Here's what I said to some religious folks who were using Scripture to bring harm.
His [God's] word does not abide in you because you do not believe in the One sent by the Father. Here you are scouring through the Scriptures, hoping that you will find eternal life among a pile of scrolls. What you don't seem to understand is that the Scriptures point to Me. Here I am with you, and still you reject the truth contained in the law and prophets by refusing to come to Me so that you can have life. 
(John 5:38-40)
Don't lose the focus of this season in a lot of religious words. Remember, the point of the season is to come to Me and find life!
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I confess that I can sometimes get so caught up in trying to read the Bible that I forget to listen for You in the words that I read. Father God, thank You for having Your words come to life in Your Word, Jesus the Son. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for inspiring the message of God and breathing these words of life through people so we can understand the truth. But most of all, dear God, I pray that I keep Jesus as the center and use the Bible to help others find life. It is in Jesus' name, and by His authority, that I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Post  Admin on Mon 15 Dec 2014, 11:35 pm

So Who Will Share the Good News?" — A Year with Jesus for 12/15/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend of God, 

Today, I AM asking you to do something important. I know you are busy with all your Christmas plans, but there is one important gift I'd like you to give to someone. I want you to share the good news story of My birth with that person. The person could be a man or woman, adult or child, old or young, rich or poor, but no matter who that person is, all people need to be reminded that I came to earth from heaven for them. 

Please share that story with a couple of people who are special to you.
Verses to Live

An angel first tells the story of God's good news of My coming to Joseph and Mary. While it was unbelievable good news, it was also news that would change their world, and yours, forever:
...in Nazareth, a city in the rural province of Galilee, the heavenly messenger Gabriel made another appearance. This time the messenger was sent by God to meet with a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David himself. The messenger entered her home. 

Messenger:
Greetings! You are favored, and the Lord is with you! Among all women on the earth, you have been blessed.
The heavenly messenger's words baffled Mary, and she wondered what type of greeting this was. 

Messenger:
Mary, don't be afraid. You have found favor with God. Listen, you are going to become pregnant. You will have a son, and you must name Him "Savior," or Jesus. Jesus will become the greatest among men. He will be known as the Son of the Highest God. God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David, and He will reign over the covenant family of Jacob forever.
(Luke 1:26-33) 

Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, son of David. They hadn't married. And yet, some time well before their wedding date, Mary learned that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, because he was kind and upstanding and honorable, wanted to spare Mary shame. He did not wish to cause her more embarrassment than necessary. 

Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream. 

Messenger of the Lord:
Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else — rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonderworking of the Holy Spirit. She will have a son, and you will name Him Jesus, which means "the Lord saves," because this Jesus is the person who will save all of His people from sin.
(Matthew 1:18-21)
Angels also announced and loudly sang the good news to a group of shepherds out in the fields tending their flocks. It was such good news for them, they had to go see if it was really true and then tell others about this good news they had seen!
Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light — the shining light of God's glory. They were terrified! 

Messenger:
Don't be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.
At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers — a vast heavenly choir. They praised God. 

Heavenly Choir:
To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God! 
And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!
As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation. 

Shepherds:
Let's rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let's see what's happening! Let's experience what the Lord has told us about!
(Luke 2:8-15)
The Father even used a star to announce the good news of My birth to foreigners, wise men from the East, who came to worship Me because of this good news.
The wise men left Herod's chambers and went on their way. The star they had first seen in the East reappeared — a miracle that, of course, overjoyed and enraptured the wise men. The star led them to the house where Jesus lay; and as soon as the wise men arrived, they saw Him with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. They unpacked their satchels and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 
(Matthew 2:9-11) 

This is the beginning of the good news of Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King, the Son of God. 

Isaiah the prophet told us what would happen before He came:
Watch, I will send My messenger in front of You 
to prepare Your way and make it clear and straight. 
You'll hear him, a voice crying in the wilderness, 
"Prepare the way of the Eternal One, 
a straight way in the wandering desert, a highway for our God."
That messenger was John the Baptist, who appeared in the desert near the Jordan River preaching that people should be ritually cleansed through baptism with water as a sign of both their changed hearts and God's forgiveness of their sins. 
(Mark 1:1-4)
If angels, stars, and shepherds can find a way to sing, shine, and share the good news of My birth, won't you?
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven and the One True and Living God, open my eyes to see the people You have placed around me who need to hear the good news of Jesus' birth in the middle of their busy Christmas season. In the name of my Savior I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Post  Admin on Sun 14 Dec 2014, 4:15 pm

Finding Your Purpose" — A Year with Jesus for 12/13/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

I know you sometimes wonder what your life purpose is and what My plan is for your future. I have spoken to you through the Scriptures about the big picture of your purpose. I know you would like more details, but sometimes those details are not nearly as important as the purpose I have for you in the place you are right now. 

Shepherds, including the ones to whom the angels appeared when I was born, had a tough life. There wasn't much purpose to their life in the grand scheme of things as you so often think of grand things. They watched, protected, and cared for sheep. They made sure the sheep had food and water. They calmed them during the night when they were restless. They called them by name since they were individually known. Bottom line: When you look at the little details, it looks as if these shepherds were all about sheep. However, that was not the most important aspect of their purpose. That purpose was far greater: their purpose was to share the story of God's wondrous love that sent Me into the world. 

Guess what? You have this same greater purpose. It doesn't matter what the smaller details are — what your job is, who your family is, where your school is, what your problems appear to be. (And please know that I know and care about these details in your life.) The bottom line is that you have the same purpose as those shepherds from so long ago: your purpose is to share the story of God's wondrous love that sent Me into the world! 

Don't believe me? Just take a look at the words below from the good doctor, Luke, and one of my best known apostles, Peter. You are here to share My story and bring praise to the Father for His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Verses to Live

Here's what the shepherds discovered was their purpose (underlined for emphasis):
After they saw the baby, they spread the story of what they had experienced and what had been said to them about this child. .. The shepherds returned to their flocks, praising God for all they had seen and heard, and they glorified God for the way the experience had unfolded just as the heavenly messenger had predicted. 
(Luke 2:16-17; Luke 2:20)
Here's what Peter wants you to know is your purpose (underlined for emphasis):
But you are a chosen people, set aside to be a royal order of priests, a holy nation, God’s own; so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received it. 
(1 Peter 2:9-10)
Response in Prayer

All glory and praise to You, O God, the Father of mercy and the God of all grace. You have bought me from sin and re-made me to be Your precious and holy servant to influence others so that they can know Your grace and be reborn by Your Spirit. Use me, each day, dear God, to be a blessing to those around me to Your glory. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Heartlight is proud to promote Compassion International. See children who were sponsored today!
© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.

When Is Worship A Lie?" — A Year with Jesus for 12/14/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

I love all people. That's why I came. At the same time, I have to tell you something — and yes, I'm sorry to have to do this at Christmas time, but it's part of My story. 

Hypocrisy makes me want to throw up (Revelation 3:15-16) — when people pretend to love the Father, say they live by the Spirit, and talk as if they love Me, yet their lives are lived in a totally different way. Some of My harshest words in My earthly ministry were targeted at hypocrisy (Matthew 23:1-39). 

Herod even used the Scriptures for evil purposes to try to kill me. Something Herod said was nothing but a bald faced lie:
Go to Bethlehem and search high and low for this Savior child; and as soon as you know where He is, report it to me so that I may go and worship Him. 
(Matthew 2:8)
Herod's actions are a preview of what will happen during My ministry: the religious power brokers feel jealous and threatened, so they try to have Me killed. In fact, they are successful. They just didn't know that after crucifying Me the Father would raise Me and then they would be in a real mess — people who saw Me alive after My resurrection couldn't be stopped! 

So please remember during this time when people celebrate My birth that there is a war going on. It's not just a war between good and evil, but a war with an extreme form of evil: religiosity and people who want to turn religion into a system that makes them feel better than others and gives them power over others. Remember, religious leaders were the ones who conspired with political leaders to murder Me. So don't lose Me in something that purports to be religion. 

I came because God wanted lost people to be saved, the last people in line to be included, and the least people to be recognized for their kind acts of service. On the other hand, Herod was an evil, murderous, superficially religious, political weasel. He built great buildings and murdered children — some of them his own. 

When worship loses sight of God's grace and My coming to save the lost, the last, and the least, then it is a lie. But when it celebrates the salvation of the lost, the inclusion of the last, and the service of the least... well, that's a foretaste of heaven!
Verses to Live

These following two sets of verses stand in sharp contrast. 

The first one is something that I said to the outwardly religious bunch, the Scribes and Pharisees:
Isaiah prophesied wisely about your religious pretensions when he wrote:
These people honor Me with words off their lips; meanwhile their hearts are far from Me. Their worship is empty, void of true devotion. They teach a human commandment, memorized and practiced by rote.
(Mark 7:6-7)
The second one comes from My description of the final judgment and is said to those who have lived like Me:
Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives. I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me. 
(Matthew 25:34-36)
The last sounds a whole lot more like Christmas than it does like Herod!
Response in Prayer

I am sorry, dear God, that Jesus' birth story has to have some of the junk and crud of our human hypocrisy and evil. But it does comfort me, dear Father, that Jesus entered this kind of mess and redeemed it and brought Your grace to give us living hope. As I worship and give thanks during this season, tune my heart to Yours as I seek to honor You for Your indescribable gift of Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Post  Admin on Fri 12 Dec 2014, 10:33 pm

"Fulfilling the Father's Plan" — A Year with Jesus for 12/12/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

In your world, independence, autonomy, self-sufficiency, and doing your own thing are of utmost importance for some people. A little independence can be good; but living your life in rebellion to the Source of life — the One who made you and knows what is best for you to find joy and fulfillment in life — is self-destructive. 

Often, it's only when you can't figure out how to put things together that you go back and read the directions or seek the help of an expert. So I challenge you to be more inter-dependent and seek the counsel of spiritually wise people. Even more, I challenge you to open up the Father's word and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading. After all, I sent the Holy Spirit to "guide you into all truth" (John 16:13 NIV). 

When I was on earth, I always lived to please the Father (John 5:30; John 6:38). My words were the words the Father wanted spoken and the things I did were the very things the Father wanted done (John 14:10). From your point of view that may not seem like a very exciting life — living, saying, and doing only the things that please the Father — but I can tell you that it is most exciting. In fact, it is a trailblazing way to live, as evidenced by what the Father called Me to do and what He accomplished through Me (Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2) — it's a life full of grace with unlimited challenges, experiences, and opportunities. 

So I want to challenge you to live to please the Father. This way you are not enslaved to what others think about you. You are not always trying to figure out what those around you think is cool or valuable or significant. Instead, you will discover life — "real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of" (John 10:10 MSG).
Verses to Live

My life was lived to fulfill the promises the Father had given through the prophets and to fulfill the requirements of the Torah. This begins with My birth. So every time you talk about My birth, My Advent, remember how I came to honor the Father and obey His will, and let it challenge you to do the same. 

My ancestry fulfilled the expectations and promises that God gave to Abraham and David to have a descendant Who would bless all nations and reign forever:
This is the family history, the genealogy, of Jesus the Anointed, the coming King. You will see in this history that Jesus is descended from King David, and that He is also descended from Abraham. 
(Matthew 1:1) 

Abraham and David were linked with 14 generations, 14 generations link David to the Babylonian exile, and 14 more take us from the exile to the birth of the Anointed. 
(Matthew 1:17)
Even from My earliest days, My mother and step father made sure things were done in the way that the Father wanted them done.
Eight days after His birth, the baby was circumcised in keeping with Jewish religious requirements, and He was named Jesus, the name the messenger had given Him before His conception in Mary’s womb. After Mary had observed the ceremonial days of postpartum purification required by Mosaic law, she and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. They were fulfilling the Lord’s requirement that "every firstborn Israelite male will be dedicated to the Eternal One as holy." 
(Luke 2:21-23)
Response in Prayer

Abba Father, You are majestic beyond my wildest imagination and yet personally concerned for my welfare. Help me, dear Father, to see that how You call me to live is for my blessing so that I will discover life that is full, rich, and meaningful. As I follow Jesus, I am convicted that I need to yield my will to Yours and discover how to live life abundantly. Today, as I think about Jesus' birth, I feel called to re-commit my words, thoughts, and actions to honor You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Thu 11 Dec 2014, 11:32 pm

"You Can Find My Fingerprints" — A Year with Jesus for 12/11/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

One of the most amazing things about My story is that I made the mother who gave birth to Me. Like every person who has ever lived, I made My mother, Mary, and had a plan for her even in her mother's womb, even though she would carry Me in her womb (Psalm 139:13-16). 

This is part of the great mystery of my birth: the Creator entered His creation to redeem it and reclaim it by being part of it. When I was born in Bethlehem and celebrated by shepherds, hated by Herod, and honored by the gifts of the magi, I was offering Myself to those whom I created. They could accept Me or reject Me — respond to My love or rebel against it. 

Of course, I knit you together in your mother's womb, too! You are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14 NIV). My fingerprints are not just on your world and the universe in which your world is found; My fingerprints are on you. I made you to seek after and find Me (Acts 17:27), which is exactly what I hope you will do during this season that celebrates My coming to earth, My Advent. I do not want our relationship to be Creator to creature, but family — Father to child, Brother to child of God, and Spirit that binds us together.
Verses to Live

Yes, I left my fingerprints on you!
For You shaped me, inside and out. 

You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. 
I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. 

You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; 
Your works are wonderful; 
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. 

You see all things; nothing about me was hidden from You 
As I took shape in secret, 
carefully crafted in the heart of the earth before I was born from its womb. 
You see all things; 
You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; 
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; 
You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. 
(Psalm 139:13-16)
And My fingerprints are on the world I made, although many of the very people I made did not — and do not — receive Me or believe in Me.
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. 
The Voice was and is God. 

This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator; 
His speech shaped the entire cosmos. 

Immersed in the practice of creating, 
all things that exist were birthed in Him. 
(John 1:1-3) 

He entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. 
(John 1:10-11). 

From the beginning, creation in its magnificence enlightens us to His nature. Creation itself makes His undying power and divine identity clear, even though they are invisible; and it voids the excuses and ignorant claims of these people because, despite the fact that they knew the one true God, they have failed to show the love, honor, and appreciation due to the One who created them. 
(Romans 1:20-21)
Because you have put your trust in Me, I have given you the right, the authority, to be re-born as a child of God!
But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will. 
(John 1:12-13)
So yes, honor Me as your Creator, but also know you are part of My family!
Response in Prayer

Almighty God Who came to earth in such a small but eternally precious package, I thank You for the gift of Jesus Whom I recognize as my Creator, Redeemer, Savior, Lord, and Friend. Thank You for making me in the way that You did and please help me discover how to use for Your glory all that You made me to be. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Wed 10 Dec 2014, 10:47 pm

"Hidden Treasures" — A Year with Jesus for 12/10/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father, 

If you have had a loving, godly mother then you have been profoundly blessed. No matter if you are rich or poor, famous or unknown, young or old, a godly mother is a treasure beyond measure. 

My earthly mother was Mary. Her heart was a deep well of mystery and secrets held together by a profound faith that the LORD was her Deliverer and that she was His servant. Like any earthly mom who has waited to hold her new-born child, she wondered what I would become. Yet for her, the secrets she treasured about Me were deeper, more profound, and more bewildering than normal. 

So it was Luke who tenderly talked about My mother after he gathered details of My birth. She was like every good mother, whether birth mom or adoptive mom: she saw Me, her child, as a gift and a treasure. She pondered the events surrounding My birth and early childhood as cherished moments, "treasuring each memory in her heart." 

So be touched, My friend; be moved in your heart, for My mother was a great window to see Who I was, what I experienced, and how great the cost of My coming was. Look into her heart, examine her treasures, and realize that I can be your treasure, too.
Verses to Live

Yes, My birth created quite a stir. People talked about it a lot... at least for a while. My mother, on the other hand, treasured each moment, as indicated by the following two short scriptures from different times early in My incarnation, and she never forgot the mystery and grace of it all! The first scripture starts by referring to the shepherds' story after the angels appeared to them and after they saw Me following My birth. The second scripture is when I was 12 years old and My mother and step father found Me in Jerusalem talking with the Jewish religious leaders.
Everyone who heard their [the shepherds'] story couldn't stop thinking about its meaning. Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. 
(Luke 2:18-19) 

Jesus:
Why did you need to look for Me? Didn’t you know that I must be working for My Father?
Neither Mary nor Joseph really understood what He meant by this. Jesus went back to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother continued to store these memories like treasures in her heart. 
(Luke 2:49-51)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, You are my Treasure. Holy Spirit, You are heaven's Gift given to me. Father God, You are the Grace that has ransomed my life and given me everlasting hope, joy, and peace. All praise to God Almighty, Father, Son and Spirit, for Your abundant grace, indwelling presence, and everlasting love. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Wed 10 Dec 2014, 12:25 am

"Glory!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/09/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

Glory? Glorious? "Gloria in excelsis Deo"? 

It was not too glorious if you look at the place where My birth happened! I was placed in a feed trough and wrapped in strips of cloth. By most measures, My birth was less than ordinary... it was something only the poor and outcast would have experienced. Most would have missed the glory of the moment when I entered the world in the same way you did — pushed into the harsh reality of life through the birth canal. 

Being born in "less than royal" conditions, you might easily mistake My identity. I looked like any ordinary baby. Yet, I had left the glory of heaven to accept the simple comforts of the manger and the loving arms of My mother, Mary, and My step-father, Joseph. I came from the glory of God that shone long before the world began, yet I accepted the simplicity of the stable to connect with you. I wanted you to know that no matter where you are in society's pecking order — the high thread-count sheets of the rich and famous or the simple strips of cloth of the poor — I came for you. I wanted you to know that you are welcome in My Father's house even though I wasn't completely welcomed into the world I had made. 

Glory? Glorious? "Gloria in excelsis Deo"? Absolutely! Hear the angels. Watch the shepherds. Come to My manger and know you are gloriously loved.
Verses to Live

The glory that shone forth to those looking for it in my birth was a glory that I had before the world began and the glory that I came to share with you!
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased."
(Luke 2:13-14 NLT) 

[Jesus praying:] Now, Father, bring Me into the glory we shared before the world began. 
(John 17:5 NLT)
So I ask you to redefine your concept of glory by what I did — don't cling to fleeting earthly glory, but walk beside and bend down to help those who need you to share My glory!
In other words, adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember:
Though He was in the form of God, 
He chose not to cling to equality with God; 

But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new; 
a servant in form 
and a man indeed. 

The very likeness of humanity, 
He humbled Himself, 
obedient to death — 
a merciless death on the cross! 

So God raised Him up to the highest place 
and gave Him the name above all. 

So when His name is called, 
every knee will bow, 
in heaven, on earth, and below. 

And every tongue will confess 
"Jesus, the Anointed One, is Lord," 
to the glory of God our Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God who became human flesh and came to us in Jesus, how can I thank You for Your indescribable gift? You are glorious, yet left heaven's glory. You are eternal, yet clothed yourself with mortality. You are all powerful, yet became vulnerable. You came to us as a baby placed in a manger to share our humanity so we could share Your glory. Open my heart to receive Your incredible gift of grace during this special time of year. Even more, help me see Your glory in the simplest things around me where You are at work. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Mon 08 Dec 2014, 4:28 pm

"Be Astonishing" — A Year with Jesus for 12/08/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

If you were a shepherd in the time when I was born, you would never have expected anyone to be astonished at anything you could ever say or do. You would have been "just" a lowly and despised shepherd. Most shepherds, like those who celebrated my birth, were quite young and most often ignored. Like all good shepherds, they smelled like sheep — not the kind of folks you invite into your house for a long conversation or a dinner party. Generally, shepherds were not considered intellectually astute. Most people felt that shepherds would have little to say that was important. 

Then came My birth. Look at what God made of these shepherds. They were the first to share the good news of My birth. They were the first "missionaries" sent to tell the story of God coming down to live with people. These shepherds were told this good news by angels sent from the glory of heaven. 

People were astonished. They were astonished that God would use shepherds. They were astonished at what the shepherds told them about the angels. They were astonished at the story the shepherds told about who I was and where I was born. 

Look at what the Father made of these shepherds. They were the first to know and to proclaim the astonishing good news of God coming to the world as a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feed trough — the glory of the newborn King of the Jews, the Messiah of Israel, and the Savior of the world. 

And what about you? Are you astonishing? 

If you listen closely to the passages below, you will see that I have done something just as astonishing with you as I did with the shepherds. Because of Me, you are now "holy, blameless, and totally free of imperfection." Just like the shepherds, you have been given the opportunity to be astonishing!
Verses to Live

Simple shepherds share astonishing news! 
After seeing him [baby Jesus], the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished... 
(Luke 2:17-18 NLT)
In the flesh, I bring you astonishing identity! 
He [Jesus] is the exact image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation, the eternal. It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen, thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities. Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes. He has always been! It is His hand that holds everything together. He is the head of this body, the church. He is the beginning, the first of those to be reborn from the dead, so that in every aspect, at every view, in everything — He is first. God was pleased that all His fullness should forever dwell in the Son who, as predetermined by God, bled peace into the world by His death on the cross as God's means of reconciling to Himself the whole creation — all things in heaven and all things on earth. 

You were once at odds with God, wicked in your ways and evil in your minds; but now He has reconciled you in His body — in His flesh through His death — so that He can present you to God holy, blameless, and totally free of imperfection as long as you stay planted in the faith. So don't venture away from what you have heard and taken to heart: the living hope of the good news that has been announced to all creation under heaven and has captured me, Paul, as its servant. 
(Colossians 1:15-23)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I place my faith in Jesus and what He did by becoming flesh and shedding His blood to make me Yours. This grace, this story, this Jesus, has captured my heart and I offer all that I am to You, O God, in the name of Jesus and because of your grace. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sun 07 Dec 2014, 8:07 pm

"God's Greatest Message" — A Year with Jesus for 12/07/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

Ouch! 

You sent a text to someone and he or she didn't understand your humor. You left a voicemail that was supposed to be cute and your words hurt the feelings of a good friend. You sent an email before you proofed it and left out a word or two and left some stuff in you wish you'd never said and these things crushed the spirit of someone you love. 

It's very easy to misunderstand simple words on a page, in a text, or in an email — there's no body language, you can't hear the inflection or tone of the voice, you can't get a sense of the pace at which the words were said, and you don't get a feel for the heart of the person from just reading the words. These messages can feel like isolated bits of data rather than words spoken from the heart of someone who cares deeply for you. 

Your experiences with being misunderstood give you a glimpse of some of the Father's challenges in communicating with you. Words written on a page, no matter how inspired, are not enough to reveal the full heart of the Father. So to bridge the distance between you and your Father in heaven, the Almighty God entered human flesh in Me, Jesus of Nazareth, to give you His greatest and clearest message (Hebrews 1:1-3). 

Yes, you heard Me correctly. God's greatest message was not the Bible or even the words of the prophets (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). As important as these are, you must know that they all point to Me as the source of life (John 5:39-40). I came as My Father's greatest, fullest, and clearest message... for you! 

As you look at Me — what I did, what I said, and why I did it all — I hope you can understand the heart of the Father. I hope you realize how much We — Father, Son, and Spirit — love you! That's why My story is called the gospel — the good news from the Father, sent to people He loves, in a person Who is both fully God and fully human. I AM the Message, the Voice, and the Word of God.
Verses to Live

Notice how the angels announced the good news of My birth to the shepherds. I came as the Father's greatest message, wrapped in a blanket and placed in a feeding trough!
Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough. 
(Luke 2:11-12)
I came, God in human flesh, to be heaven's Voice for you to hear and heaven's presence to see, the ultimate expression of the Father's heart!
The Voice [Jesus, the Word] took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor — the one true Son of the Father — evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth. John the Baptist testified about Him and shouted, "This is the one I've been telling you is coming. He is much greater than I am because He existed long before me." Through this man we all receive gifts of grace beyond our imagination. You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth. God, unseen until now, is revealed in the Voice, God's only Son, straight from the Father's heart. 
(John 1:14-18)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I have mangled my words in emails and texts so many times that it is embarrassing. So as much as I love that You spoke to us through the words of the Bible, I am even more thankful that You came and spoke to us in human skin — One with us and One of us — so we could not only hear Your words, but also see Your heart. Thank You, Jesus, for coming so we can pray with confidence, in Your name, with Your authority. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sat 06 Dec 2014, 1:48 pm

"Not Forgotten in the Bigger Story" — A Year with Jesus for 12/05/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One, 

The heart of our Father was beautifully revealed through the prophet Isaiah:
For this is what the high and exalted One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 
"I live in a high and holy place, 
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, 
to revive the spirit of the lowly 
and to revive the heart of the contrite." 
(Isaiah 57:15 NIV)
I know there may come times when you don't feel like your prayers are heard, or that God is taking too long to answer you, or that your prayers don't matter because you are not an important enough person to be heard by the King of Glory. However, if you will lean into the story of My birth, you will see that good, righteous, and faithful people are not forgotten. This is true whether they are poor or rich, desperate or confident, disappointed or delighted, old or young. 

Look at the story of My birth and notice that the key players in the Father's great drama of grace are all kinds of people — some of whom are folks just like you! If you read even more closely, you will see the joy, laughter, and surprise that God brought these people in His grace!
Verses to Live

Notice those whom the Father includes in My story... and these are just a few of the precious people caught up in My story of grace! 

Zacharias and Elizabeth, an old and deeply pious couple who could not have children, are caught up in the drama of grace!
One day Zacharias was chosen to perform his priestly duties in God's presence, according to the temple's normal schedule and routine. He had been selected from all the priests by the customary procedure of casting lots for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enter the sacred precincts of the temple. There he burned sweet incense, while outside a large crowd of people prayed. Suddenly Zacharias realized he was not alone: a messenger of the Lord was there with him. The messenger stood just to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was shocked and afraid, but the messenger reassured him. 

Messenger [an angel from God]:
Zacharias, calm down! Don't be afraid! 

Zacharias, your prayers have been heard. Your wife is going to have a son, and you will name him John. He will bring you great joy and happiness — and many will share your joy at John's birth.
(Luke 1:8-14). 

Meanwhile the crowd at the temple wondered why Zacharias hadn't come out of the sanctuary yet. It wasn't normal for the priest to be delayed so long. When at last he came out, he was making signs with his hands to give the blessing, but he couldn't speak. They realized he had seen some sort of vision. When his time on duty at the temple came to an end, he went back home to his wife. Shortly after his return, Elizabeth became pregnant. She avoided public contact for the next five months. 

Elizabeth:
I have lived with the disgrace of being barren for all these years. Now God has looked on me with favor. When I go out in public with my baby, I will not be disgraced any longer.
(Luke 1:21-25)
While many of Israel's greatest early leaders were shepherds — folks like Abraham, Moses, and King David — when it was time for My birth into the world, shepherds had fallen out of favor. Yet the Father had not forgotten them!
Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light — the shining light of God's glory. They were terrified! 

Messenger [an angel from God]:
Don't be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.
At that moment, the first heavenly messenger was joined by thousands of other messengers — a vast heavenly choir. They praised God. 
(Luke 2:8-13)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, thank You for catching up all sorts of ordinary people in the story of Jesus' birth. What I love, dear Father, is that where there was disgrace, sadness, and an unceasing sameness, You brought joy, delight, surprise, celebration, and wonder. What a powerful way to remind me that You came to bring hope for each of us, even me! In Jesus' name. Amen.
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Pitching My Tent" — A Year with Jesus for 12/06/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

I love the way My beloved disciple you know as John describes My coming to earth: "The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us" (John 1:14). Quite literally, his words could be translated as saying that I "pitched My tent" among you. 

As God, I didn't just come close; I moved into your neighborhood as one of you. So during the rush of your Christmas season, I hope you will join Me — "the one true Son of the Father" — at the manger, experience the wonder of the shepherds, and share My story with all who will listen.
Verses to Live

The powerful truth of My coming is this: the Father's voice became "the Voice," Me! I came as the full incarnation of the message, the Father's ultimate Word given to you, yet fully human flesh as one of you!
As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation. 

Shepherds:
Let's rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let's see what's happening! Let's experience what the Lord has told us about!
So they ran into town, and eventually they found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the feeding trough. After they saw the baby, they spread the story of what they had experienced and what had been said to them about this child. Everyone who heard their story couldn't stop thinking about its meaning. 
(Luke 2:15-18) 

The true Light, who shines upon the heart of everyone, was coming into the cosmos. 

He entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will. 

The Voice took on flesh and became human and chose to live alongside us. We have seen Him, enveloped in undeniable splendor — the one true Son of the Father — evidenced in the perfect balance of grace and truth. 
(John 1:9-14)
Response in Prayer

Holy Father, I cannot begin to understand the incarnation — You in human flesh in Jesus, placed in a manger, wrapped in strips of cloth, and welcomed by shepherds. It doesn't fit in my head. But, dear Father, Your incarnation in Jesus touches my heart. Your love fills me with wonder knowing that You would "pitch your tent" among us to live as one of us. So I praise You for making such a bold move to make me Your child. I commit to follow the shepherds' example and share Jesus' birth with all who will listen. It is in the name of Jesus, Your Son, that I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Thu 04 Dec 2014, 8:10 pm

"God's Time, Human Time, and My Time" — A Year with Jesus for 12/03/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Please know that I treasure everyone who follows Me. I know that many in your world do not believe in Me and that many who claim they believe in Me really don't know what it means to follow me — to love Me, to keep My teachings, to follow My example, and to depend upon God's grace through Me. Thank you for taking this year to walk with Me through the New Testament. 

My birth into your world came at just the right time! You will notice that the Scriptures talk about My coming, My advent, as an intersection of God's time, human time, and My time. There are at least two ways to look at time. 

One way you understand easily in your world view: using the Greek word, chronos time is linear sequential time that passes from second, to minute, to hour, to day, to year... That's why a technical name for your watch is a chronometer. 

However, there is also another view of time: kairos time, again using the Greek word. There are special, God-tuned moments in time where more is going on than just the passage of time. In kairos time, God's timing and human timing intersect. Miracles can happen. World-shaping events can be changed. Most of all, the Father is at work to bring heaven's salvation to earth through events shaped by heaven's grace. 

When I was born Jesus of Nazareth — fully God and fully human, conceived by the Holy Spirit in My mother's womb — the world was in kairos time! Prophecy was being fulfilled. God had conditioned the world to be in the right time for My message to spread like wildfire. The Jewish people were hungry for an authentic messenger from God, so John the Baptizer was born miraculously to precede Me and to prepare the LORD's people for My coming. This was such a special time; heaven's angels were standing on tiptoe for ages trying to figure out when it would occur! 

Verses to Live

Yes, angels figuratively stood on tiptoe trying to figure out when I would come! The apostle Peter describes this beautifully:
Although you haven’t seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don’t yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith. 

The prophets who spoke of this outpouring of grace upon you diligently searched and inquired of the Lord about this salvation: to whom and to what time was the indwelling Spirit of the Anointed referring when He told them about the suffering of the Anointed and the honor that would follow it? The Spirit revealed to them they were not serving themselves but you. And you have learned from those who told you the good news by the Spirit that was sent down from heaven. Even the heavenly messengers would like to explore this news. 
(1 Peter 1:8-12)
The time was right for Me, the Messiah, to come. God had conditioned time and was beginning to fulfill great promises made through the prophets. This is when I came into the world, as a Jew, born of Jews, born under the Torah and traditional law. This was God's time for Me to come for you:
When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into this world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. 
(Galatians 4:4-5)
My coming was preceded by the miraculous conception and birth of John the Baptizer to Elizabeth and Zechariah — two old, faithful, righteous and devout people. This was also under the rule of the Romans, and the Father used every condition to prepare the time for My coming:
Around the time of Elizabeth’s amazing pregnancy and John’s birth, the emperor in Rome, Caesar Augustus, required everyone in the Roman Empire to participate in a massive census — the first census since Quirinius had become governor of Syria. Each person had to go to his or her ancestral city to be counted. 

Mary’s fiance Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David’s birthplace. 
(Luke 2:1-5).
With all of this, you also need to remember that My coming was for your benefit at God's expense! My coming was determined long before you were born, but entirely for your benefit!
You know that a price was paid to redeem you from following the empty ways handed on to you by your ancestors; it was not paid with things that perish (like silver and gold), but with the precious blood of the Anointed, who was like a perfect and unblemished sacrificial lamb. God determined to send Him before the world began, but He came into the world in these last days for your sake. Through Him, you’ve been brought to trust in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him for the very reason that your faith and hope are in Him. 
(1 Peter 1:18-21)
Response in Prayer

O God, how can I, a mere mortal made of flawed flesh and blood, ever fully thank You for the divine plan You prepared, prophesied, and delivered to save me from sin and death and adopt me into Your family? Thank You. I trust fully in what You did in Jesus through His birth, life, death, and resurrection to save me. Thank You for this assurance and the foundation of my deep and abiding joy. Through the intercession of Jesus, my Savior, I pray. Amen.
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"Setting the Right Time... for You!" — A Year with Jesus for 12/04/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

The right time came for My birth into the world — God in human flesh entering the world to be raised as a child of human parents. Far from her home, My mother went into labor in the city of Bethlehem, the ancestral home of King David. This was a reminder that I descended from royalty in both My human heritage and My heavenly identity. I AM Son of David and Son of God. 

In a similar way, My birth's timing was a coming together of the Father's work in history on three levels. 

On a human level, My mother went into labor like all birthing mother's do. Think of it, the Son of God coming into the world through the birth pains of a human mother. I was born a vulnerable little baby to share your humanity. 

On a world history level, the Father had been tuning history to prepare for My arrival. God had announced I would come for centuries through the Jewish prophets. God had preserved Israel through all sorts of political and military intrigues. So when the Father had tuned time to be right in the world — the great Roman Peace, called Pax Romana, with all of its political stability, common language of trade (Greek), and the ability to travel safely throughout the world — the time was right for My birth, the birth of the Son of God who is also the Son of Man. 

There was still a third level on which My birth happened at just the right time: your time! You see, all of these events were chosen to be perfectly tuned not just for the world in general, but also for you. The Father did all this to adopt you into Our family — He wanted you to be one of His children. 

God — Father, Son, and Spirit — determined the time for My coming as Son of God and Son of Man, fully human and fully divine, so that all people could have the right to be born not just in the way all humans are born, but also born of God (John 1:10-13) and adopted into Our family! My birth is the guarantee that you can be re-born and adopted into Our family!
Verses to Live

As you read the following verses, notice the underlining. In the first two sets of verses, the underlining emphasizes the "right time" for Me to be born. In the third set of verses, the underling emphasizes your relationship to the Father. I came to earth at just the right time as the Son of God so that you could become God's child, too! 

Notice the human reality of the timing of My birth:
And while they [Mary and Joseph] were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. 
(Luke 2:6-7 NLT)
Notice it was the right time in human history for My birth:
When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into this world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. 
(Galatians 4:4-5)
From heaven's perspective, the time was made right so you could be adopted into God's forever family:
Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One, who grants us every spiritual blessing in these heavenly realms where we live in the Anointed — not because of anything we have done, but because of what He has done for us. God chose us to be in a relationship with Him even before He laid out plans for this world; He wanted us to live holy lives characterized by love, free from sin, and blameless before Him. He destined us to be adopted as His children through the covenant Jesus the Anointed inaugurated in His sacrificial life. This was His pleasure and His will for us. 
(Ephesians 1:3-5)
Response in Prayer

Abba Father, God Almighty, thank You for making the time right to send Jesus to our world. Thank You for making a plan to bring all of Your lost children back home to You by giving us new birth and adopting us into Your family. I am humbled and amazed that You would love us, and love me, so much. I praise You for Your grace and thank You for Your plan, in the name of Jesus! Amen.
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"My Mother's Situation Proves Joseph's Faith" — A Year with Jesus for 12/02/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

I know most of you hate tests! Some of those tests are medical tests and those can be terrifying. Some of them are tests necessary to get you into universities or special programs and I know you can feel anxiety as you face them. Other tests are required to receive licenses or to achieve professional certifications and these can cause great stress in your lives. I've heard your prayers, recognize your anxieties and your stress over these tests. I know the long hours you've put into preparing for these kinds of tests. I care about you and these tests that you face. 

Other tests are life tests. They have to do with tough times in your lives that are hard, painful, and discouraging. They may involve a time of illness, hardship, persecution, marriage problems, family upheaval, job difficulties, loneliness, grief, or a host of other painful experiences. I care about you having to face these kinds of tests, too! These tests come because you live in a broken world. 

Sometimes, times of testing invade your lives because people do evil things or make unwise choices. Sometimes, times of testing come because Satan wants to discourage you and lead you to doubt My love and grace. Sometimes, times of testing come because of your unwise or sinful choices. Bottom line: The fallout from times of testing can blow into your world wreaking havoc in your lives. 

So please, know two things about your times of testing:
I will never leave you or forsake you (Romans 8:32-39; Hebrews 13:5). That's why I came to earth and shared in times of testing, facing many of the same kinds of challenges that you face (Hebrews 2:14-18).
You can grow stronger, develop character, and have compassion to share with others by faithfully living through your times of testing (James 1:2-4; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
One of the things I most appreciated about Joseph, who served as My earthly father, was that he faced an incredibly difficult test and proved himself faithful. He had shown himself to be completely committed to be a man of God. He had lived in purity so he could honorably marry a woman who had saved herself for him. 

Joseph was committed legally to marry a young woman named Mary, My mother — this is sometimes called betrothal, something much more binding than modern engagement. Then, she told him that she was pregnant by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. After that, she disappeared and went away to be with her cousin Elizabeth for several months. What was Joseph supposed to think? How could he understand My mother's pregnancy? He thought that there was only one way for her to be carrying a baby: she had betrayed him sexually. There was no other way, except... 

Joseph believed what My mother told him. Joseph believed what the angel told him. Joseph believed that I — the Messiah, the Son of God — was conceived by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. He believed that My mother was not only pure and faithful to him, but also that both of them together were chosen to parent their Savior, Christ the Lord — Me. 

Incredibly, Joseph accepted this truth by faith. He knew he would be tested all the days of his life for his faith. People would talk behind his back. People would say he wasn't My father and that My mother had "stepped out" on him and been unfaithful to him. He chose to accept this ridicule and he also accepted taking care of Me with all of the associated risks, hardships, and impenetrable mysteries. Joseph passed all these tests and helped Me be ready when My time came to serve. 

So here's my message for you today. You never know who will be blessed — even saved — by the character and compassion you show while you go through your tests! 

I know this may seem hard to believe. So remember Joseph. Please remember that My situation on earth and your faith depended upon Joseph's faithfulness. 

Also remember this: Someone is watching and depending upon you to pass your test! Hang in despite the hardship... keep your faith despite the pain... I'm with you and won't ever forsake you... and your testing will not be wasted. Your character and your compassion will be blessings to others — some of whom you will never know till you share in eternal glory with them. 

When you remember Me, please remember this! 
Verses to Live

Here are some things I want you to think about as you face your tests and remember Joseph's test. The first one comes from my half-brother James, who with the Spirit's help learned the lesson about tests from Joseph, too! The second comes from Matthew. He tells the story of my birth and the struggle of Joseph very clearly and simply. The third set of verses comes from Luke's gospel. Luke shares the story of My conception with a little bit different focus from Matthew's account. Notice how the wonder and amazement of Luke's story pairs beautifully with the testing Joseph faced in Matthew's story. When you recognize the challenges that Joseph faced in taking My mother as his wife, you have to recognize that both My mother and Joseph were people of amazing faith!
Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line — mature, complete, and wanting nothing. 
(James 1:2-4) 

So here, finally, is the story of the birth of Jesus the Anointed (it is quite a remarkable story): 

Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, son of David. They hadn't married. And yet, some time well before their wedding date, Mary learned that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, because he was kind and upstanding and honorable, wanted to spare Mary shame. He did not wish to cause her more embarrassment than necessary. 

Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream. 

Messenger of the Lord:
Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else — rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonderworking of the Holy Spirit. She will have a son, and you will name Him Jesus, which means "the Lord saves," because this Jesus is the person who will save all of His people from sin.
Joseph woke up from his dream and did exactly what the messenger had told him to do: he married Mary and brought her into his home as his wife (though he did not consummate their marriage until after her son was born). And when the baby was born, Joseph named Him Jesus, Savior. 

Years and years ago, Isaiah, a prophet of Israel, foretold the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus:
A virgin will conceive and bear a Son, 
and His name will be Immanuel
(which is a Hebrew name that means "God with us"). 
(Matthew 1:18-25) 

Six months later in Nazareth, a city in the rural province of Galilee, the heavenly messenger Gabriel made another appearance. This time the messenger was sent by God to meet with a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David himself. The messenger entered her home. 

Messenger:
Greetings! You are favored, and the Lord is with you! Among all women on the earth, you have been blessed.
The heavenly messenger's words baffled Mary, and she wondered what type of greeting this was. 

Messenger:
Mary, don't be afraid. You have found favor with God. Listen, you are going to become pregnant. You will have a son, and you must name Him "Savior," or Jesus. Jesus will become the greatest among men. He will be known as the Son of the Highest God. God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David, and He will reign over the covenant family of Jacob forever.
(Luke 1:26-33)
Response in Prayer

Holy God, thank You! Thank You for making Jesus' story so much a part of the world I know. Thank You for using real people like Joseph and Mary to show us that being faithful in times of great testing results in great blessings. Help me, dear Father, in my times of testing. Please use my struggles to bless others and to help them through their difficult times so that they can find faith and hope in You. In the name of my Brother and Savior, Jesus, I pray. Amen.
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An Outsider's Story" — A Year with Jesus for 12/01/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

You just have to love the apostle Levi! You may know him better as Matthew since that is the name of the first gospel in your New Testament — same guy, just known by both names. My choosing Matthew as one of My 12 apostles was a big surprise to many folks. He had a good, priestly, Jewish name — Levi. However, his profession was considered anything but Jewish. He was a tax collector, and tax collectors were hated by Jewish people in the first century. 

People assumed that tax collectors were unclean, sharing in an anti-pious lifestyle. Most Jewish tax collectors in Matthew's time had sold out to the Romans and financially preyed upon their fellow Jews. They also ran around with people generally considered to be sinners. So when Matthew became My disciple, he also threw a big party for his rowdy, "sinful" friends so they could meet Me (Matthew 9:9-13). Whew! That party created a lot of negative chatter. It also revealed plenty about Matthew's heart, and also Mine! 

Notice two things today about Matthew. Both reflect the heart of the Father. 

First, Matthew cared about those who were left out. If you read My story from the Gospel of Matthew, you will notice that Matthew wants to show that all kinds of people came to know me — magi from far away, all nations becoming disciples, a Roman centurion with great faith, a humble Syrian woman with a seriously ill child who gave a clever response, and a lost sheep that needed to be found. 

Second, Matthew may have been considered an outsider, but he connected My story to God's promises told centuries before I came. Over 15 times Levi reminds you that My coming was foretold by the prophets. 

Bottom line: Matthew wants you to know that God — Father, Son, and Spirit — has always had a plan to bring everyone, including outsiders, true HOPE. That plan was spoken by the prophets centuries before I came. That plan was fulfilled in Me! My coming was not an afterthought. My association with sinners and tax collectors was not a mistake. My death was not a miscalculation. My resurrection was not a last minute fix. 

Levi wants you to know that no matter how far on the outside you may feel, I came for you. That's God's long-term plan — the very plan that I came to fulfill!
Verses to Live

Notice just a few of the many words from the ancient prophets of Israel that Levi, the apostle Matthew, shares in My story. These references to the prophets can help you see God's long-term plan to include you. The Father has had a plan to reclaim you that goes back a long way before the miracle of My birth!
Joseph woke up from his dream and did exactly what the messenger had told him to do: he married Mary and brought her into his home as his wife (though he did not consummate their marriage until after her son was born). And when the baby was born, Joseph named Him Jesus, Savior. Years and years ago, Isaiah, a prophet of Israel, foretold the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus:
A virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and His name will be Immanuel (which is a Hebrew name that means “God with us”).
(Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:22-25) 

But you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, 
of the clans of Judah, are no poor relation — 
From your people will come a Ruler 
who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel, 
Whose origins date back to the distant past, 
to the ancient days. 
(Micah 5:2 quoted in Matthew 2:6)
Response in Prayer
Holy God and loving Shepherd, thank You for having a plan to include all of us who felt we were on the outside and without hope. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for choosing someone like Matthew to be one of Your 12 apostles and using him to write Your story in a way that includes us all. Thank You for including me in Your family of grace. Thank You, in Jesus' name. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Post  Admin on Sun 30 Nov 2014, 5:02 pm

"Your Invitation" — A Year with Jesus for 11/30/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

I am inviting you to spend this next year getting to know Me more completely through a daily time together in the Scriptures. Each day, you will learn a little more about Me — what I did, what I taught, and Who I am — with the help of aYearwithJesus.com. 

Four books in the New Testament tell part of My story — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Yet, this was just what I "began to do and teach." That's how Luke describes his record of My ministry in his introduction to the book of Acts (Acts 1:1 NLT). As Luke writes the book of Acts, he emphasizes that I continued My ministry through the Holy Spirit's work in the lives of My followers. These disciples recognized My presence and power when they prayed, lived, gathered together, and did miracles in My name. Still today, I am working in the world and in My church through people like them and through people like you! 

So more than just wanting you to know about Me, I really want you to know Me. That's the goal of our year together. So let's start that journey today!
Verses to Live

Here are a couple of truths I want you to know! 

Life is found in knowing me, so get to know Me! This is what I prayed in front of my followers the night I was betrayed:
After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life — to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 
(John 17:1-3 NLT)

I am the fullest message of God to you, so come to Me to know God's message for you! This is what one of My followers wrote to help My Jewish brothers and sisters. He wanted them to know Who I Am and how I fit into their story: 
Long ago, at different times and in various ways, God's voice came to our ancestors through the Hebrew prophets. But in these last days, it has come to us through His Son, the One who has been given dominion over all things and through whom all worlds were made. 

This is the One who — imprinted with God's image, shimmering with His glory — sustains all that exists through the power of His word. He was seated at the right hand of God once He Himself had made the offering that purified us from all our sins. 
(Hebrews 1:1-3)

Get to know Me and you're going to find real life — life that can never be taken from you! Not only that, as you get to know Me, you learn what God most wants you to know: that I AM His fullest, most complete, message to you. 

I know you will be blessed by this year we will have together! 

May the peace of God, our Father, be with you.
Response in Prayer

Thank you, dear Father, for sending Jesus so that I can know You and so that I can find life that is full and rich — the life that You created me as Your child to discover and live. Please bless me, dear Father, as I get to know Jesus better as we journey through this year together. I pray this in my Savior's name, Jesus. Amen.
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"- I AM Coming Soon" — A Year with Jesus for 11/29/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved Disciple, 

We finish your journey through the New Testament today. You relived My earthly ministry when I was in human flesh. You have read My words and read about My ministry. You have read about the birth of My church and the power of the Holy Spirit that empowered and sustained My people. You have read from Paul's letters, Peter's letters, John's letters, James' letter, Jude's letter, and the "word of exhortation" you call Hebrews. Over the last few days you have been reading from My Revelation to John. This year's cycle ends today. 

Today's message is not only a great way to end the book of Revelation, but it is also a great way to finish the whole collection of books you call the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. Yesterday (from Revelation 21 and Revelation 22:1-5) you saw how sin, death, and evil would be defeated by My returning in glory. You heard about the great celebration known as the wedding supper of the Lamb of God (Me) and My bride (the church) — the celebration that awaits you in My presence. The awful results of the Fall and the impact of sin, evil, and death will be fully conquered and their power fully removed from My people when I return in glory. Victory and reunion are assured for My disciples from every age as they join together before the throne! 

Today, you will read some words of promise, blessing, and warning about the importance of the vision I gave to John and the words he used to write down these visions. These were important for the folks who were facing critical challenges when I revealed this message for them. They have continued to be important to My people through the years of suffering because of their faith in Me. They needed an immediate dose of comfort, encouragement, correction, and hope. 

My words, these words from Revelation, are important for the people of every generation if they — and you — are to remain faithful and hopeful in times of oppression, persecution, and martyrdom. I will indeed bring My victory for all who are My disciples so that they can share in joyous and victorious celebration. 

I sent My messenger to John so that you would not be afraid when you are facing the fiery trials that can sometimes befall My people. Believe this message, this Revelation, I shared with John. Obey the truth that you know has come from the Father and through Me. Let these words stir you to faithfulness. My coming is on the horizon. Live each day without fear and with great joy as if this could be THE day of My coming.
Verses to Live

The last sentences of Revelation, the last verses in your Bible and in this book of Revelation, finish with an invitation for Me to return in My glory for you. I want you to pray for My coming: hasten My arrival with your words of anticipation, praise, and invitation.
Guide (speaking to me [John]):
These words are faithful and true.
And the Lord, the God who inspired the prophets, has sent His heavenly messenger to show to His servants what must soon take place. 

The Anointed One:
Look now, I am coming soon! The one who remains true to the prophetic words contained in this book will truly be blessed.
I, John, am the one who heard and witnessed these visions. And when I heard and witnessed them, I fell prostrate at the feet of the heavenly guide who showed them to me. But he refused. 

Guide:
You must not do that! I am a servant with you, with your brothers and sisters the prophets, and with those who keep the words contained in this book. Worship God instead! 

(continuing) Do not seal up the prophetic words contained in this book for another day, for the finale is near. Let the one given to evil continue down evil's path and the one addicted to filth continue to be its servant. But let the one who is righteous journey along the righteous road, and let the holy continue in holy ways.
The Anointed One:
See, I am coming soon, and I will bring My reward with Me. I will pay back every person according to the deeds he has done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the First One and the Last One, the beginning and the end.
Blessed are those who wash their garments. In the end, they have rightful access to the tree of life and will enter the city through its gates. The dogs, the sorcerers, those who commit immoral acts, the murderers, the idolaters, and all who love and practice deception must remain outside the gates for all eternity. 

Jesus:
I, Jesus, have sent My messenger to show you and guide you so that you in turn would share this testimony with the churches. I am the Root and the Descendant of David, the Bright Morning Star.
The Spirit and the Bride:
Come.
And let everyone who hears these words say, "Come."
And let those who thirst come. 
All who desire to drink, let them take and drink freely from the water of life.
Beware, everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book. Know this for certain: if anyone adds to these words, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone subtracts from the prophetic words of this book, God will remove that person's access to the tree of life and to the holy city which are described in this book. 

The One who testifies to these realities makes this promise: 

The Anointed One:
Yes. I am coming soon.
To which we say, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus the Anointed One be with all the saints [His disciples]. Amen. 
(Revelation 22:6-21)
Response in Prayer

O Father, send the Son to deliver us from the evil that surrounds us, from those who would seek to harm us, and from the pull of the flesh that tempts us. Refresh, restore, and renew us with the love, hope, and anticipation that come through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. May You be glorified and Your people brought to share in glory with You soon! In the name of Jesus, my Lord, Savior, Friend, Deliverer, and Shepherd I pray. Amen.
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"Everything New" — A Year with Jesus for 11/28/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

You are part of My people, the church, My bride. There will come a time when we will all share in the glorious day when all has been made new. The fatal flaw brought to the created order because of sin will be eliminated. Gone for My people will be the threat of sin, death, and hell. My church will no longer be oppressed, but will be glorious. She will be a beautiful bride and all who are mine will share in the joyful wedding supper and victorious reunion party of all My people from throughout all of time. 

There will be no need for a temple because the Father, the Spirit and I will dwell in and among Our people. There will be no need for light for there will never be darkness in the place where Our glory shines. The beauty of this glory will outshine any description that your earthly mind can comprehend. What many consider precious in your world — gemstones and gold — are nothing more than building materials and paving stones in the place of Our glory. Every barrier that has separated you from Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — will be removed. Every hurt and wound will be removed by the gentle touch of the Father's finger as he wipes every tear from your eyes. Healing fruit will be your food and the water of life will be your drink. No division between nations or peoples will exist as all will live together with Us sharing in the grace and glory that are found in Our presence and are the very essence of Our presence. 

This place where everything is made new, pure, and glorious will be our home, forever, together!
Verses to Live

As you read the words below, let your mind explore the imagery and see which ones of the images lead you to see and feel the coming glory: Healing. Grace. Evil banished. Joy. Celebration. Beauty. Glory. Water of life. God's child. Everything new. No death — and many more. Realize this is your future in Me!
I [John] looked again and could hardly believe my eyes. Everything above me was new. Everything below me was new. Everything around me was new because the heaven and earth that had been passed away, and the sea was gone, completely. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride on her wedding day, adorned for her husband and for His eyes only. And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne. 

A Voice:
See, the home of God is with His people. 
He will live among them; 
They will be His people, 
And God Himself will be with them. 
The prophecies are fulfilled: 
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 
Death will be no more; 
Mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more, 
For the first things have gone away.
And the One who sat on the throne announced to His creation, 

The One:
See, I am making all things new. (turning to me) Write what you hear and see, for these words are faithful and true. It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will see to it that the thirsty drink freely from the fountain of the water of life. To the victors will go this inheritance: I will be their God, and they will be My children. It will not be so for the cowards, the faithless, the sacrilegious, the murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all those who deal in deception. They will inherit an eternity in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
And then one of the seven messengers in charge of the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came over to me. 

Heavenly Messenger:
Come with me, and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
He took me away in the Spirit and set me on top of a great, high mountain. As I waited for what I thought was a bride, he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It gleamed and shined with the glory of God; its radiance was like the most precious of jewels, like jasper, and it was as clear as crystal. It was surrounded with a wall, great and high. There were twelve gates. Assigned to each gate was a messenger, twelve in all. And on the gates were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel's sons. On the east wall were three gates. On the north wall were three gates. On the south wall were three gates. On the west wall were three gates. And the city wall sat perfectly on twelve foundation stones, and on them were inscribed the names of the twelve emissaries of the Lamb. 

My guide held a golden measuring rod. With it he measured the city and the gates and the walls. And the city is laid out with four corners in a perfect square, the length the same as its width. He measured the city with his measuring rod, and the result was that its length and width and height are equal: 1,444 miles, a perfect cube. And my guide measured the wall; it was nearly 72 yards high, in human measurements, which was the instrument the guide was using. The wall was made of jasper, while the city itself was made of pure gold, yet it was as clear as glass. The foundation stones of the wall of the city were decorated with every kind of jewel: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate expertly crafted from a single beautiful pearl. And the city street was pure gold, yet it was as transparent as glass. 

And in the city, I found no temple because the Lord God, the All Powerful, and the Lamb are the temple. And in the city, there is no need for the sun to light the day or moon the night because the resplendent glory of the Lord provides the city with warm, beautiful light and the Lamb illumines every corner of the new Jerusalem. And all peoples of all the nations will walk by its unfailing light, and the rulers of the earth will stream into the city bringing with them the symbols of their grandeur and power. During the day, its gates will not be closed; the darkness of night will never settle in. The glory and grandeur of the nations will be on display there, carried to the holy city by people from every corner of the world. Nothing that defiles or is defiled can enter into its glorious gates. Those who practice sacrilege or deception will never walk its streets. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life can enter. 

My heavenly guide brought me to the river of pure living waters, shimmering as brilliantly as crystal. It flowed out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flowing down the middle and dividing the street of the holy city. On each bank of the river stood the tree of life, firmly planted, bearing twelve kinds of fruit and producing its sweet crop every month throughout the year. And the soothing leaves that grew on the tree of life provided precious healing for the nations. 

No one or nothing will labor under any curse any longer. And the throne of God and of the Lamb will sit prominently in the city. God's servants will continually serve and worship Him. They will be able to look upon His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads. Darkness will never again fall on this city. They will not require the light of a lamp or of the sun because the Lord God will be their illumination. By His light, they will reign throughout the ages. 
(Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-5)
Response in Prayer

Father God, thank You for such a beautiful and powerful vision of my future with You and Your people. I ask that the Spirit help my mind see and my heart feel all that You long for me to have when I am finally home with You. I want to hold this vision in my heart and let it nourish me to seek You above all things and trust in my future with You no matter what life may bring. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Thu 27 Nov 2014, 11:42 pm

A Time for Praise" — A Year with Jesus for 11/27/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower, 

What John sees and shares in the verses below is the powerful image of Me coming as a conquering warrior to destroy the evil power that persecutes and oppresses My people. Every Babylon will Fall! Those who belong to me — whether in heaven or on earth, whether human or heavenly — will rejoice. There will be a time when I do this once-and-for-all: I will bring down evil and destroy it so it never returns to oppress My faithful people. There will be celebration and feasting for all who are Mine! 

Praise that you share in now is a prelude to the praise you will share in when I come as your conquering King and glorified Savior. So remain faithful. Be steadfast. Continually offer your praise in anticipation of My return in glory. Trust that I AM coming and will give you victory. As John shared from his vision, Paul promised the Thessalonians, and I am assuring you:
On that day when He [Me, your Lord Jesus] comes, all the saints in heaven and on earth will celebrate the glory of His power, and all who believe will stand and be amazed — this includes you because you believed us when we testified on His behalf. All this is why we are constantly praying for you, so God will make you worthy of the great calling you have received from Him and will give you the power to accomplish every good intention and work of faith. Then the great name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified through your lives, and you will be glorified in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, our Liberating King. 
(2 Thessalonians 1:10-12)
Verses to Live

As you read these verses, think of how comforting and full of hope these words would have been for My followers who were facing hardship and even death for their faith. I AM coming for them and they will share in My victory. Now, dear follower, remember that this promise is true for you as well!
The scene changed. After this, I [John] heard the great sound of a multitude echoing in heaven. 

Multitude:
Praise the Lord! 

Salvation and glory and power truly belong to our God, 
for true and just are His judgments. 

He has judged the great whore [Babylon] 
who polluted the entire earth with her sexual immorality, 
And He has vindicated the blood of His servants, which she shed.
Again praise spilled from heaven. 

Multitude:
Praise the Lord! 

The smoke rises up from her ruins forever and ever.
And the twenty-four elders and four living creatures fell on their faces and worshiped God who reigns on the throne. 

Four Living Creatures and 24 Elders:
Amen, Praise the Lord!
A Voice from the Throne:
Give praise to our God, 
all of you, God's servants, 
All who reverence Him, 
small and great.
And I heard what seemed to be an immense crowd speaking with one voice — it was like the sound of a roaring waterfall, like the sound of clashing thunder. 

Multitude (in unison):
Praise the Lord! 

For the Lord our God, 
the All Powerful, reigns supreme. 

Now is the time for joy and happiness. 
He deserves all the glory we can give Him. 
For the wedding feast has begun; the marriage of the Lamb to His bride has commenced, 
and His bride has prepared herself for this glorious day. 

She had been given the finest linens to wear, 
linens bright and pure, 
woven from the righteous deeds of the saints.
Guide:
Write this down: "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb." What I am telling you are the true words of God.
At that, I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he refused my praise. 

Guide:
Stop it. Don't you see? I am a servant like you and your brothers and sisters, all who hold fast to the testimony of Jesus. Address your worship to God, not to me! For the testimony about Jesus is essentially the prophetic spirit.
I looked up and saw that heaven had opened. Suddenly, a white horse appeared. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and with righteousness He exercises judgment and wages war. His eyes burn like a flaming fire, and on His head are many crowns. His name was written before the creation of the world, and no one knew it except He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name He was known by is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, outfitted in fine linen, white and pure, were following behind Him on white steeds. From His mouth darts a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule over them with a scepter made of iron. He will trample the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, the All Powerful. And there on His robe and on His thigh was written His name: King of kings and Lord of lords. 
(Revelation 19:1-16)
Response in Prayer

Dear Father, I look forward to Jesus coming in glory and I want to share in that glory when He comes. I pray that He comes soon and delivers all of my brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and brings celebration for all who joyfully await His coming. In His name I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Wed 26 Nov 2014, 2:05 pm

"Every Babylon Must Fall" — A Year with Jesus for 11/26/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Follower, 

Over the centuries, one powerful nation after another — each symbolized by a powerful city — has arisen, and many have tried to oppress My people. Each of these cities accumulated power and wealth. They attracted the world's attention. Those in commerce bowed to the city's monetary power and markets. Those who dealt in trade depended upon the city's ability to provide networking and trade partners. Those who moved the commerce delighted in the city's power to connect them to clients and bring them wealth as they grew rich on the stability, transportation hub, and network of clients provided by the city. Many of these groups, however, prostituted themselves with the city. They were involved with this evil city for their benefit. They loved that the city provided the infrastructure, networks, and currency for them to get rich. Yet so many of these cities over history oppressed, persecuted, and murdered My people. 

The ancient city of Babylon became the symbol of such evil cities. Babylon was ruthless as a city, nation, and army with those it conquered. Babylon felt unconquerable, invulnerable, and unstoppable. So throughout history, Babylon has been the symbolic term for any evil political, military, and financial power that seemed unstoppable. Yet in a mere seventy years from the time Babylon conquered the chosen people (Israel) and completely destroyed the chosen city (Jerusalem) and the chosen place (the Temple) of the Father, Babylon was conquered. The arrogance, brutality, and raw power of Babylon came crashing down and the people of Israel were allowed to return home and rebuild. 

In today's verses, you will be reading about a new Babylon. At one level it was the Babylon that oppressed My people in the first century. At another level, the principles that you read in these verses — that come from Revelation 18 — apply to every Babylon. No city, no human power, no financial center, and no center of world trade will stand when it oppresses My people. Though from a human standpoint that city may appear for a time to be impossible to stop and too strong to defeat, I will make sure it will not last as a powerful presence of evil. No city or nation will stand that oppresses, persecutes, and martyrs My faithful witnesses. This has been true throughout history. It was true for the people who received this Revelation that John recorded. It will be true until I return in final victory. So do not despair. Every Babylon will fall. Justice will be enacted for the evil perpetuated against My people.
Verses to Live

As you read these verses, remember that the first recipients of the Revelation given to John were being persecuted. Some were even facing martyrdom. They faced a military power that seemed invincible — Rome. Yet the malicious, capricious, and vicious powers that held sway in Rome were stopped. (This included the powers in Asia Minor allied with Rome and seeking to impress and that were determined to eradicate My disciples.) Christianity thrived and would soon become the primary faith associated with the Roman Empire. The same has been true down through the centuries and has been true even in your day. So as you read these verses, remember the words of hope from a dark time in the Old Testament:
The deepest pains may linger through the night, 
but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning. 
(Psalm 30:5)
Remember, every Babylon will fall. No power can prevail against Me and those who are Mine!
Next I [John] saw another messenger descending from heaven. I knew he possessed great authority because his glory illuminated the earth. 

Heavenly Messenger (with a powerful voice):
Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great city! 
It has become a habitat for demons, 
A haunt for every kind of foul spirit, 
a prison for every sort of unclean and hateful bird. 

For all the nations have drunk deeply 
from the wine of the wrath of her immorality, 
And the kings of the earth have disgraced themselves by engaging in gross sexual acts with her, 
and the merchants of the earth have grown fat and rich, profiting off the power purchased with her luxury.
Then I heard another voice from heaven urge, 

A Voice:
My people, get away from her — fast. 
Make sure you do not get caught up in her sins. 
Put some distance between you so that you do not share in her plagues, 
For her sins are higher than the highest mountain. They reach far into the heavens, 
and God has not forgotten even one of her missteps. 

Deal out to her what she has dealt out to others, 
and repay her double according to her deeds. 
In the cup where she mixed her drink, mix her a double. 

Whatever glory she demanded and whatever luxury she lived, 
give back to her the same measure in torment and sorrow. 

Secretly she says in her heart:
I rule as queen; 
I am not like a widow; 
I will never experience grief.
Because of this arrogance, in a single day, plagues will overwhelm her. 
Her portion will be death and sorrow and famine, 
And she will be incinerated with fire, 
for mighty is the Lord God who exacts judgment on her.
(Revelation 18:1-8) 

Then a mighty messenger picked up a huge stone — it looked like a great millstone — and he cast it into the sea. 

Mighty Messenger [an angel of God]:
Watch and see. This is how Babylon, the great city, 
will be thrown down; violently will she go down, 
and they will search for her in vain. 

Never again will the sound of music grace your streets. 
The melodies and harmonies of the harpists and musicians and flutists and trumpeters 
will never be heard again. 
And never again will an artisan of any craft 
be found in your markets, 

And never again will the grinding of the millstone 
provide rhythm to your city, 

And never again will the light of a lamp 
bring warm light to your houses, 
And never again will the voices of the bridegroom and bride 
bring joy to your festivities. 
For the merchants were the magnates of the earth, 
and all the nations fell prey to your sorceries. 

And in her streets the blood of the prophets, saints, 
and all who have been slaughtered upon the earth, ran freely.
(Revelation 18:21-24)
Response in Prayer

O Father, bring down the Babylons of my day. Hear the prayers of those who are being oppressed, persecuted, and murdered for Your cause. Disrupt the powers of evil that exploit, abuse, and oppress all peoples wherever those powers entrench themselves in political, military, and religious systems. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We ask this in confident hope and pray in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Tue 25 Nov 2014, 11:25 pm

"War and Hell's Defeat" — A Year with Jesus for 11/25/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

The images in today's part of the Revelation to John are strong and powerful. They are a reminder that My incarnation and ministry on earth were more than just My living a good life and doing kind deeds. My coming to earth was the Father's declaration of war against Satan, his demonic forces, and evil. My coming to earth was to bring ultimate deliverance for the people of God and the final victory over Satan with his banishment to hell. 

Though Satan was vicious and had his heart set on the greatest evil when I came to earth, he was defeated by My surrender to the will of God and My victory over sin and death through My life and resurrection. Not only was I delivered through My resurrection from Satan's malicious clutches, so also were the people of God. Satan was banished from heaven. His presence on earth and his recognition that his time was short made him determined. Even though his power was limited, he unleashed a violent display of evil against Me and My people. Yet his being cast down out of heaven was also a signal that his defeat will be final and complete with My return in glory. 

My sacrifice ( "the blood of the Lamb") and My people's faithfulness ( "by... the word of their witnesses... [and their willingness to] not hold on to their lives, even under the threat of death") have assured your victory over hell's power. Despite Satan's anger and evil intentions, he could not defeat My people because their faithfulness unto death ensured their ultimate victory with Me in the presence of the Father. Yet, as long as I have not returned for you, My people, Satan roams the earth and seeks to claim more victims. 

What Peter warned is true:
Most importantly, be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone. 
(1 Peter 5:8)
At the same time, My resurrection from the dead and exaltation to the right hand of the Father on high have assured My people ultimate victory — whether through life or death. So Peter finished his warning with this assurance:
Resist him [the devil] and be strong in your faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are fellow sufferers with you. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of grace who has called you to His everlasting presence through Jesus the Anointed will restore you, support you, strengthen you, and ground you. For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen. 
(1 Peter 5:9-11)
What Peter says in plain language, I revealed to John in vision and imagery. But if you listen through the imagery in the verses below, you will hear the same message. Satan is evil and has murderous intent for all those who are Mine. He will inflict wounds on My precious followers. Yet these wounds are not permanent. Evil's defeat is assured: in fact it has already occurred (Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 2:14-15). Satan knows this. So be faithful. Resist him. Trust in My victory that will also be yours when I return in glory. While your part of the battle may be fierce, know that ultimate victory is yours and sharing in My glory is assured.
Verses to Live

While the war of good and evil is fierce and cosmic in scope, the images you read in the verses that follow paint in powerful and graphic detail the victory that has been won over Satan, evil, the demonic forces, and the power of hell. Yet Satan's being cast down out of heaven means he will wage war on earth until I return to banish him forever. So take heart in knowing that My people will be preserved and those who are faithful unto death are not lost as casualties in the fight, but are ushered into the presence of eternal glory.
As I looked, a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman came into view clothed in the radiance of the sun, standing with the moon under her feet, and she was crowned with a wreath of twelve stars on her head. She was painfully pregnant and was crying out in the agony of labor. Then a second sign appeared in heaven, ominous, foreboding: a great red dragon, with seven crowned heads and ten horns. The dragon's tail brushed one-third of the stars from the sky and hurled them down to the earth. The dragon crouched in front of the laboring woman, waiting to devour her child the moment it was born. 

She gave birth to a male child, who is destined to rule the nations with an iron scepter. Before the dragon could bite and devour her son, the child was whisked away and brought to God and His throne. The woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place of refuge and safety where she could find sustenance for 1,260 days. 

A battle broke out in heaven. Michael, along with his heavenly messengers, clashed against the dragon. The dragon and his messengers returned the fight, but they did not prevail and were defeated. As a result, there was no place left for them in heaven. So the great dragon, that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, was cast down to the earth along with his messengers. Then I heard a great voice in heaven. 

A Voice:
Now the salvation and the power 
and the kingdom of our God 
and the authority of His Anointed One have come. 
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, 
who relentlessly accuses them day and night before our God, 
has been cast down and silenced. 

By the blood of the Lamb 
and the word of their witnesses, 
they have become victorious over him, 
For they did not hold on to their lives, even under threat of death. 
Therefore, rejoice, all you heavens; 
celebrate, all you who live in them. 
But disaster will befall the earth and the sea, 
for the devil has come down to your spheres, 
And he is incredibly angry 
because he knows his time is nearly over.
When the dragon realized he had been cast down to the earth, he pursued the mother of the male infant. In order to escape the serpent, she was given the two wings of the great eagle to fly deeper into the wilderness to her own special place where she would find sustenance for a time, and times, and half a time. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a raging river that chased after the woman, trying to sweep her away in the flood. But the earth came to her rescue. It opened its gaping mouth and swallowed the river that spewed from the dragon's mouth. As a result, the dragon was enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children — those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the testimony of Jesus. 

And the dragon stood waiting on the sand of the seashore. 
(Revelation 12:1-17; Revelation 13:1)
Response in Prayer

Father, I confess that sometimes the war against hell's fury and Satan's attack wears me down, discourages me, and leads me to despair. When evil seems to triumph over good, when those in power seem corrupt, and when good people are hurt and killed for their faith, we — Your disciples — find it hard to keep our hope alive. Yet I know that over the long course of history, Your people have faced greater hardship and things seemed far worse and You intervened in clear ways to deliver them. So now I ask dear Father, that You bring deliverance for our brothers and sisters who are facing such horrible persecution in many parts of the world. Give them deliverance and show Your power over evil and protect your people from hell's fury. I do trust that Jesus has conquered Satan, but please display hell's defeat in our day or send Jesus to deliver us in His ultimate triumph. In the name of Jesus my Savior, I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Mon 24 Nov 2014, 11:44 pm

"My Powerful and Tender Presence" — A Year with Jesus for 11/24/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Believer, 

The history of your planet has been marked by violence, famine, war, disease, fear, sin, torture, persecution, and death. The gift of great beauty and diversity in the creation was broken by human sin, and creation writhes in pain with its continued abuse by people as they ravage each other and destroy the wonderful place created to be your home. 

As the seven seals are opened in the story of Revelation, the created world shudders in fear as judgment is exercised on a world gone mad on its own evil. Worst of all, My people are oppressed, persecuted, abused, and martyred for their faith in Me. Yet as bad as it seems, it is not as bad it could be, because I AM still at work to preserve, redeem, and restore My people. 

Nevertheless, among the faithful, a high price is paid — lives are lost and good people are abused. So I want you to get a glimpse of the glory they share with Me before the Father — a glory similar to what Stephen saw as he died as the first martyr in the book of Acts (Acts 7:54-60). 

Those who like Stephen have paid such a high price for their faith in Me will be in My presence. Their sorrow, fear, and loss will be caught up in the joyous celebration of victory as they share in My presence and glory. I will be their Shepherd who protects, sustains, and nourishes them. I will be gentle with them and gently wipe away their tears — acknowledging their hurt yet welcoming them into a life of grace, peace, joy, and fellowship. They will find the water of life — the never ending supply of grace and life to sustain them forever. 

On the hearts and from the mouths of My martyred people come the most powerful songs of praise and blessing you will ever hear. They acknowledge My control and My plan to intervene when and how it is best for all of My people. Evil will not defeat them. The worst that Satan, his demons, and his oppressive ways can do to My disciples is to send them into My eternal presence. Paul's words said it well as he faced his own possible death:
I don’t expect that dishonor and shame will plague me in any way, but I do hope that I will continue to be able to speak freely and courageously about Jesus, and that now and forever the Anointed One will be glorified and placed above all else through this body of mine — whether I live or die. For my life is about the Anointed and Him alone. And my death, when that comes, will mean great gain for me. So, if it’s His will that I go on serving here, my work will be fruitful for the message. I honestly wouldn’t know how or what to choose; I would be hard-pressed to decide. I lean toward leaving this world to be with the Anointed One because I can only think that would be much better. To stay in this body of flesh — even with all its pains and weaknesses — would best serve your needs. Now that I think of it, I am sure of this: I would prefer to remain to share in the progress and joy of your growing belief. When I return to you, we will celebrate Jesus the Anointed even more. 
(Philippians 1:20-26)
If you face persecution today, please take heart. Be faithful no matter what you face. Unending glory in My presence awaits you. If you do not face persecution, remember your brothers and sisters who do. As you minister to them, please know you are doing My work, the very work I do with those who have been faithful unto death and come into My presence. 

Despite how things may appear, My people will triumph. They will share in My victory and the conquering power of My grace. Your sorrow, hardship, and tears are not wasted or are they forgotten.
Verses to Live

With all the powerful and sometimes violent images revealed to John, I want you to focus on two non-violent images in today's verses. 

First, notice that "a huge crowd of people, which no one could even begin to count, representing every nation and tribe, people and language" gathered around Me to praise Me with shouts of praise and joy. Persecution and martyrdom could not strip them of their faith or of their victory. 

Second, notice My tenderness with those who have been oppressed and who have suffered because of My name. Remember this tenderness for those who are mine when you read about the destruction of the wicked, the demonic, and the allies of Satan. I AM both the "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Revelation 5:5) and the Lamb who voluntarily let himself be slain to buy you from the clutches of Satan and his desire to have hell be your future.
After this vision, I [John] saw four heavenly messengers standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding back the four winds so that the earth would not be overcome by violent, rushing winds blowing over the land or over the sea or blowing down any tree. Then I saw a fifth messenger, coming up with the sun as it was rising in the east, carrying the seal of the living God. He called with a great and loud voice to the four messengers who had authority to harm the earth and its seas. 

Fifth Messenger:
Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we seal the servants of our God with a mark of ownership on their foreheads.
Then I heard that 144,000 would receive the seal, that is 12,000 from every tribe of Israel: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. 

After I heard about these who would be sealed, I looked and saw a huge crowd of people, which no one could even begin to count, representing every nation and tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and waving palm branches. They cried out with one loud voice. 

Crowd:
Salvation comes only from our God, who sits upon the throne, and from the Lamb.
All the heavenly messengers stood up, encircling the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell prostrate before the throne and worshiped God. 

Heavenly Messengers, Elders, and Living Creatures:
Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom 
And thanksgiving and honor 
And power and might 
Be to our God on and on throughout all the ages. Amen.
One of the Elders (to me):
Who are these people clothed in white robes, and where have they come from?
John:
Sir, surely you know the answer to your own questions.
One of the Elders:
These are coming from the time of great suffering and affliction. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, cleansing them pure white. 

Responding out of a heart filled with praise, they congregate before the throne of God 
and constantly worship Him day and night in His temple. 
The One seated on the throne will always live among them. 
They will never be hungry or thirsty again. 
The sun or blazing heat will never scorch them, 
Because the Lamb who stands at the center of the throne is their shepherd and they are His sheep, 
and He will lead them to the water of life. 
And God will dry every tear from their eyes.
(Revelation 7:1-17)
Response in Prayer

Almighty Father and eternal God, please work in our history today to liberate and deliver Your people under oppression and those facing persecution. Receive those who have already been martyred for the cause of Christ into Your glory. I pray for Your intervention. I plead for You to deliver them and bring peace to our troubled world. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Post  Admin on Sun 23 Nov 2014, 11:09 pm

"My Message for My Churches" — A Year with Jesus for 11/22/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

The apostle Paul talked about My church as My body, with Me as its head (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). His point was that the church is an organism, a living being getting its life-giving direction and coordination from Me. John used the image of sheep and a Shepherd (John 10:11-16) to make the same point. I AM alive forever and live to bless, lead, protect, empower, and direct the work of My people. What happens to My church, My people, happens to Me. In today's verses, you will read about seven churches in Asia and about a unique message I sent to each church. Even though these churches were in close proximity to each other, each had its own situation with specific circumstances, problems, and opportunities. 

Over the years, My disciples have debated about the meaning of the seven churches. Most Bible students know the number seven represents perfection or completeness. So yes, these seven churches stand for My church and her needs. Some have talked about seven different eras and that each of these seven churches represents a different era in church history. Others point to the seven churches as the seven types of churches that are always in existence in the world at any given time. 

I want you to realize that these were seven actual congregations that existed at the end of the first century in Asia Minor, each facing very challenging circumstances. So My words gave first and foremost a message the churches needed to hear for their circumstances. My message to them was urgent and important. My chosen means of revealing this message to them through the vision John saw of Me emphasizes that urgency. The commands to these churches are emphatic and urgent. They needed to respond to My message or they would cease to be My churches. You need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to understand how you and your congregation should apply these messages. 

In the Apocalypse, the book of Revelation, I gave John a series of different sights and sounds revealing Who I AM and what I do for My church. While I will identify Myself with a different image to each of these seven churches, the key image that stands over all seven churches and all seven letters is this one:
When I [John] turned around to see what sort of voice this was that was addressing me, I saw seven golden lampstands. And among the lampstands, I saw One like the Son of Man... 
(Revelation 1:12-13)
I revealed what I meant by seven lampstands with these words:
...the seven lampstands are the seven churches themselves. 
(Revelation 1:20)
I AM alive and move among My churches. 

I know what My churches do. I know how they are doing with their mission. I know who they are. I know what they need. I know if they are faithful, disloyal, persecuted, bordering on heresy, lukewarm, weak, arrogant, or passionate for Me and the work I have for them to do. You can pick up a commentary or study the Bible and find out how each letter is connected to the life and location of each congregation. So rather than go over that with you, I want you to read these seven letters several times. Ask the Spirit to help you hear My message for you in My letters to these seven churches.
Verses to Live

As you read these seven letters, notice how they are alike. Notice how they are different. Notice how I know all about each congregation and the circumstances that congregation faces. Notice how I emphasize a different characteristic of My identity to each church and how this is tied to the message I share with them. Then realize this: I know about you and your church — house church, missional community, congregation, or group of believers with whom you meet. I care about what you do and how you live. The decisions you make and how you live My will before your neighbors matter. So find one or two churches in the verses below that seem to have similar problems and opportunities to your congregation. Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply My words of warning, encouragement, and comfort to your situation — both as an individual disciple and also as a part of the congregation.
Letter to Ephesus 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Ephesus. 

"These are the words of the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks and moves among the golden lampstands: 

"I know your deeds, your tireless labor, and your patient endurance. I know you do not tolerate those who do evil. Furthermore, you have diligently tested those who claim to be emissaries, and you have found that they are not true witnesses. You have correctly found them to be false. I know you are patiently enduring and holding firm on behalf of My name. You have not become faint. 

"However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love. Do you remember what it was like before you fell? It's time to rethink and change your ways; go back to how you first acted. However, if you do not return, I will come quickly and personally remove your lampstand from its place. But you do have this to your credit: you despise the deeds of the Nicolaitans and how they concede to evil. I also hate what they do. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. I will allow the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death to eat from the tree of life found in God's lush paradise."
Letter to Smyrna 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Smyrna. 

"These are the words of the First and the Last, the One who was dead and returned to life: 

"I know your deeds and the difficult ordeal you are enduring and your poverty, although you are actually rich. I am aware of the offensive accusations preached by those who call themselves 'Jews.' But these people are not the Jews they pretend to be; they are actually the congregation of Satan. In the face of suffering, do not fear. Watch; the devil will throw some of you into prison shortly so that you might be tested, and you will endure great affliction for 10 days. Be faithful throughout your life, until the day you die, and I will give you the victor's wreath of life. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death will escape the second death."
Letter to Pergamum 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Pergamum. 

"These are the words of the One with the sharp double-edged sword: 

"I know your deeds and where you live. It is where Satan, the adversary, has established his throne. You have stayed true to My name, and you did not deny your trust in Me even in the eventful days of My faithful witness, Antipas. He was killed among you in that place where Satan dwells. 

"However, I have a few matters against you: some who live among you hold to the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to set up a stumbling block before the people of Israel. As a result, some among you are eating food prepared for idol worship and committing immoral sexual acts. You have others who are holding firm to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore, change your ways and turn to Me. If you do not, I will quickly come to where you live and will battle them with the sword of My mouth. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. To the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will feed you with hidden manna and give you a white stone. Upon this stone, a new name is engraved. No one knows this name except for its recipient."
Letter to Thyatira 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Thyatira. 

"These are the words of the Son of God, the One whose eyes blaze like flames of fire and whose feet gleam like brightly polished bronze: 

"I know your deeds, love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. Your labors greatly increase in quality as you travel along this journey. 

"However, I have this against you: you have tolerated that woman Jezebel, who is a self-anointed prophetess and who misleads My followers to commit immoral sexual acts and to eat food prepared for idol worship. I have provided her enough time to turn away from her indecency, but she refuses to turn from these immoral acts. Watch; I will throw her back into her sickbed with those who committed adultery with her, and I will make them a bed of great affliction if they do not abandon her indiscretions and turn to follow Me. I will punish her by striking her children dead. Through this all the churches will know I am the One who relentlessly explores the mind and heart, and I will deal with each of you as you deserve according to your acts. 

"I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, those who have not held to the teachings of Jezebel and who remain ignorant of the real meaning of what is called the deep things of Satan, I will not burden you with anything more. Just keep on task, and keep the faith until I return. 

"And as for those who conquer through faithfulness even unto death and continue to labor with Me until the close of the final curtain,
I will give them authority over the nations. 
And they will rule the nations with an iron scepter, 
as fragile clay jars are shattered to pieces.
As I received this authority from My Father, I will bestow the morning star to the victor. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches."
Letter to Sardis 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Sardis. 

"These are the words of the One who has the seven Spirits of God, the Perfect Spirit, and the One who holds the seven stars: 

"I know the things you do — you've claimed a reputation of life, but you are actually dead. Wake up from your death-sleep, and strengthen what remains of the life you have been given that is in danger of death. I have judged your deeds as far from complete in the sight of My God. Therefore, remember what you have received and heard; it's time to keep these instructions and turn back from your ways. If you do not wake up from this sleep, I will come in judgment. I will creep up on you like a thief — you will have no way of knowing when I will come. But there are a few in Sardis who don't have the stain of evil works on their clothes. They will walk alongside Me in white, spotless garments because they have been proven worthy. 

"The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death will be clothed in white garments, and I will certainly not erase that person's name from the book of life. I will acknowledge this person's name before My Father and before His heavenly messengers. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches."
Letter to Philadelphia 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Philadelphia. 

"These are the words of the holy One, the true One, and the One who possesses the key of David, which opens the possibilities so that no one can shut them. The One who closes all options so that no one can open: 

"I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut. I have done this because you have limited strength, yet you have obeyed My word and have not denied My name. Watch, and I will make those of the congregation of Satan — those who call themselves 'Jews' but are not because they lie — come before you penitent, falling at your feet. Then they will know how much I have loved you. Because you have obeyed My instructions to endure and be patient, I will protect you from the time of trial which will come upon the whole earth and put everyone in it to the test. I will soon return. Hold tight to what you have so that no one can take away your victor's wreath. 

"As for the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will plant that person as a pillar in the temple of My God, and that person will never have to leave the presence of God. Moreover, I will inscribe this person with the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, New Jerusalem — which descends out of heaven from My God — and My own new name. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches."
Letter to Laodicea 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Laodicea. 

"These are the words of the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of God's creation: 

"I know your works. You are neither cold with apathy nor hot with passion. It would be better if you were one or the other, but you are neither. So because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. You claim, 'I am rich, I have accumulated riches, and I need nothing'; but you do not realize that you are miserable, pathetic, poor, blind, and naked. So here is what I suggest you do: buy true gold from Me (gold refined by fire so that you can be truly rich), white garments (to cover you so that you can keep the shame of your nakedness from showing), and eye ointment (to treat your eyes so that you may see clearly). 

"Those I love I also correct and discipline. Therefore, be shamelessly committed to Me, and turn back. Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me. 

"The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death I will place next to Me on My throne, just as I Myself conquered and took a place of honor with My Father on His throne. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches."
(Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I know You are alive and move among Your churches. I know that You know all about my heart and the fruit of my life. We need Your help. I need Your help. I want us, your people, to live faithfully and vibrantly for You. I am sorry for our compromises with culture and I commit to follow you whole-heartedly. I want to see our open doors — our opportunities to reach our neighbors and all with whom we interact — so please open my eyes to these opportunities. Most of all, I want the Father to be pleased with us — to recognize our work as reflecting Your work on earth. I want the Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us. Lord Jesus, please find us faithful and use us to bring Your glory and grace to the situation in which we find ourselves. Amen.
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"Worthy" — A Year with Jesus for 11/23/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple, 

The world can be a confusing place. You love and adore the Father. You recognize the sacrifice I made for you and I know you believe that I rose from the dead to give you victory. I know you trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in you. Yet there are real problems in your real world that are hard to reconcile with your glorious idea of Who I AM and how We — Father, Son, and Spirit — work in your world. 

During times of severe persecution, as some of your Christian brothers and sisters are facing right now in the world, the persecuted can wonder where We are and if We are going to do anything to help them or say anything to give them hope. In John's vision, these kinds of questions and concerns are very much in the minds and on the hearts of My folks facing trouble and persecution. So John is given a vision as he is caught up in the Spirit to see what lies ahead. 

However, before he sees what lies ahead, John is reminded of the Father's glory and the place of all creation in the Father's presence — prostrate before the throne of the One Who is worthy of all glory and honor. The Father is surrounded by amazing beauty and glory beyond description. All recognize the Father's holiness and praise Him for being the great I AM — the One Who is and was and is to come. 

In this image given John, the Father holds in his hand the full and complete message of what lies ahead for My people. Yet this message is sealed and only the One Who is worthy can open the seals and reveal that message. No one in heaven or earth — no one among the angels or among humanity — was found who was worthy. Then, John is given a vision of Me. I AM worthy to reveal the future for My people. I AM fully One with the Father and yet offered Myself to be killed as the perfect lamb of sacrifice for the sins of the people. Once again, all in heaven erupt in praise to Me, using almost identical words to praise Me as they did the Father — they recognize that We alone are worthy of their adoration and praise.
Verses to Live

As the One who has borne humanity in Myself, I Am worthy to reveal to My church, My people, what the future holds. This revelation of heaven's glory — of the Father and His glory and Me in My glory — set the stage for what unfolds in the rest of John's revelation. For today, however, I want you to say out loud the words of praise to the Father, the One who sits upon the throne. Physically worship the Father as the host of heaven does — worship Him in your physical posture and actions as illustrated in the following verses. Physically worshiping Him in this way helps you recognize His glory. Now use the words of praise said to Me in the second part of your readings today. Follow the lead of the host of heaven and worship Me in this way. Open your heart to praise. Too often in your dignified world, you hold back on praise and physical worship. Yet in times of need, you are willing to do anything to "get God's attention"; don't wait for desperation. Praise the Father as he deserves. As you do, realize how much you are loved, known, and valued. As you do, realize that you will never face a day in the future alone. We will never leave or forsake you. We will work in history to preserve the church and deliver our people. I AM both the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah Who has won the victory for you, and I AM also the Lamb who was slain to redeem you. Your praise provides Me the dwelling place on the throne of your heart.
After I [John] wrote down these messages, I saw a door standing open in heaven and heard again the first voice that sounded like a trumpet. 

A Voice:
Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.
Immediately I was caught up in the Spirit, and I saw a throne that stood in heaven and One seated on the throne. The One enthroned gleamed like jasper and carnelian, and a rainbow encircled the throne with an emerald glow. Encircling that great throne were twenty-four smaller thrones with twenty-four elders clothed in white robes with wreaths fashioned of gold on their heads. Out of the great throne came flashes of lightning, sounds of voices, and peals of thunder. In front of the great throne, seven torches were ablaze, which are the seven Spirits of God. Also in front of the throne was a glassy sea of shimmering crystal. 

In the midst of the throne and encircling the throne were four living creatures, covered all over with eyes, front to back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature was like an ox, the third creature had a face like the face of a human, and the fourth creature was like an eagle in full flight. These four living creatures, each of which had six wings and was covered with eyes — eyes on the outside and on the inside — did not cease chanting. All day and night they were singing. 

Four Living Creatures:
Holy, holy, holy 
Is the Lord God who is the All Powerful, 
who was, and who is, and who is coming.
And when the living creatures declared glory and honor and thanksgiving to the One seated on the throne, the One who lives throughout all the ages, the twenty-four elders fell prostrate before the One seated on the throne, worshiped the One who lives throughout all the ages, cast their golden wreaths before the throne, and chanted to Him. 

24 Elders:
Worthy are You, O Lord; worthy are You, O God, 
to receive glory and honor and power. 
You alone created all things, 
and through Your will and by Your design, they exist and were created.
And then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One seated upon the throne, a scroll written both on the inside and on the outside. It had been sealed with seven seals. Then a mighty heavenly messenger proclaimed with a loud voice, 

Mighty Messenger:
Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?
No creature of creation in all heaven, on all the earth, or even under the earth could open the scroll or look into its mysteries. Then I began to mourn and weep bitterly because no creature of creation was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into its mysteries. Then one of the elders consoled me. 

One of the 24 Elders:
Stop weeping. Look there — the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. He has conquered and is able to break its seven seals and open the scroll.
I looked, and between the throne and the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders stood a Lamb who appeared to have been slaughtered. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes (the eyes are the seven Spirits of God sent out over all the earth). 

The Lamb came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One seated upon the throne. And when He took it, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell prostrate before the Lamb. They worshiped Him, and each one held a harp and golden bowls filled with incense (the prayers of God's holy people). Then they sang a new song. 

Four Living Creatures and 24 Elders:
You are worthy to receive the scroll, 
to break its seals, 
Because You were slain. With Your blood, You redeemed for God 
people from every tribe and language, people from every race and nation. 
You have made them a kingdom; You have appointed them priests to serve our God, 
and they will rule upon the earth.
When I looked again, I heard the voices of heavenly messengers (numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands). They surrounded the throne, the living creatures, and the elders. 

Thousands of Messengers (with a great voice):
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. 
Worthy is the Lamb to receive authority and wealth and wisdom and greatness 
And honor and glory and praise.
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and beneath the earth and in the sea and all things in them echoing the messengers. 

Every Creature:
To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb 
Be blessing and honor and glory and power 
Throughout the ages.
And the four living creatures kept on repeating: 

Four Living Creatures:
Amen. Amen.
And the elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever. 
(Revelation 4:1-11; Revelation 5:1-14)
Response in Prayer

Holy and righteous Father, I praise You. I praise with my head bowed and on My knees because I am not worthy to be in Your presence. I bow before You, dear Father, because You are worthy of my humble obedience. Yet I thank You, that because of Jesus' sacrifice, I know I am welcomed into Your presence not as a servant, but as a beloved child. Even as Your child, dear Father, I bow before You in thanks and adoration for all that You have done to save me. As we look at ominous things in our world, I pray that You comfort my heart with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Use John's book of Revelation to encourage Me and remind Me that Jesus is not only at work in my life and in His church, but He is also involved in shaping history. So until the day He returns, I commit to honor You, dear Father, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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"When I AM Needed Most" — A Year with Jesus for 11/21/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

When life crashes in... when the world is hostile and dangerous... when your faith is under attack... when your life is on the line... what is needed most? A clear vision of Me — of Who I AM, what I have done, and Who I will be for you and with you in the future — is what you need most. That's why I revealed Myself in a vision to John when he was confined to the island of Patmos because of his faithful service to me (Revelation 1:9). As John opened his heart to me on Sunday morning while exiled on the tiny island — something he had done on the first day of the week ever since that first Sunday I appeared to him after My resurrection (John 20:1-23) — I gave him the "apocalypse": "the revelation of Jesus the Anointed"! 

The book you call Revelation is really an unveiling, a revealing of Me in My eternal glory. This was My message to John in vision form. It was shared with John to bless My people who were facing very difficult trials and persecutions. While they needed to be assured their faith was not in vain and they needed to be assured that evil in its manifested forms — political propaganda, military might, and religious perversion — would be destroyed, what My people needed most was Me. They needed to know that I cared. They needed to know that I was still at work in history. They needed to know that the future was in My hands. They needed to know that I would act. They needed to know that I was there for them. So that is what I gave them through this revelation of Myself to John. 

So as you read these verses, imagine John on the barren and harsh island of Patmos separated from the churches and people he loved dearly. Imagine his concerns for these churches brought to Me in prayer on this Sunday morning. Now imagine his overwhelming encouragement to receive this vision, this reminder that I still connected him to these precious people undergoing persecution and that I was going to act for their ultimate deliverance. 

Now try to imagine what he saw — this glorious vision of My glory. Stand with John and be amazed... reassured... and re-energized for your road ahead.
Verses to Live

Today's verses record the beginning of John's vision. The focus is on My glory. Open your imagination, rekindle your sense of wonder, and join John in the presence of My glory. Remember, even when you do not see Me, I AM... I AM still present... I AM still Lord... I AM still glorious. I will never leave you or forsake you!
A Voice:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the very beginning and the very end. Make a book of what you see, write it down, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
When I turned around to see what sort of voice this was that was addressing me, I saw seven golden lampstands. And among the lampstands, I saw One like the Son of Man right in front of me dressed in a long robe. Across His chest was draped a golden sash. His head and hair were pure white, white as wool and white as snow; His eyes blazed like a fiery flame; His feet gleamed like brightly polished bronze, purified to perfection in a furnace; His voice filled the air and sounded like a roaring waterfall. He held seven stars in His right hand, from His mouth darted a sharp double-edged sword, and His face shone a brilliant light, like the blinding sun. 

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet. It was as though I were dead. But He reached down and placed His right hand on me. 

The One:
This is not the time for fear; I am the First and the Last, and I am the living One. I entered the realm of the dead; but see, I am alive now and for all the ages — even ages to come. Amen. I possess the keys to open the prison of death and hades.
Now write down all you have seen — all that is and all that will be. Regarding the mystery of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the heavenly messengers who preside over the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches themselves. 
(Revelation 1:11-20)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You! Thank You for always being the I AM on Whom I can depend. You are glorious, both in Your identity and in Your sacrifice — the perfect One to connect heaven's glory to our earthly struggles. I worship You. I adore You. I am in awe of You. Amen.
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"The Apocalypse" — A Year with Jesus for 11/20/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One, 

During the seventy years after the completion of My incarnation on earth, sporadic persecution, seizure of properties, ostracism, prejudice, oppression, and executions were brought against My disciples. These were not throughout the Roman Empire, but they did involve several times of intense persecution tied to emperors of Rome. 

Nero was well known as a persecutor because of his power and time in history, as well as a number of events that happened under his rule in Rome — for example, the fire in Rome and his distaste for Christians as evidenced by his blaming Christians for the fire and subsequent execution of many of My disciples. Near the end of the first century, persecution erupted in Asia Minor connected to a cult that honored the emperor Domitian as "lord and god" — language almost identical to Thomas' confession of Me after My resurrection (John 20:28). Some even hinted that Domitian was really Nero revived from the dead. 

Christians in the cities of Asia Minor — the cities listed at the end of your verses today — faced very difficult circumstances. My followers would call no one "Lord and God" but me. Yet any time they went to the market, visited the theater, went to their trade guild meetings, did business with the banks, or met politicians or members of the military in the street, they could be challenged to use those words to describe Domitian. When they refused, they faced severe reprisals as politicians in Asia Minor courted the favor and blessing of Domitian. The book of Revelation was written to give them hope and remind them of their ultimate victory in Me. 

Over the next several days, we complete your journey through the New Testament. Our focus will be this apocalypse: the message you now know as the book of Revelation. John, My beloved disciple, was exiled off the coast of Asia Minor for his faith when I gave him this message — an unveiling or revelation in vision form that contained My message of encouragement to help these churches and My precious people who were facing hostility and persecution. The apocalyptic images of this book were well known when John wrote down this heavenly vision. The underlying message is pretty straightforward and clear. Unfortunately, this core message has often gotten lost in all the fascination with trying to identify all the symbols and apply those symbols to exact events in your day. 

The message basically is that Satan has used evil people to corrupt everything that humanity touches, especially places where humans come to power — for example, in the propaganda of politics, the use of the military, and the perversion of religion. In their corrupted form, the evil one has used these venues to mount pressure and persecution on My church and the people who are part of My family. With human and satanic powers manipulating political agendas and propaganda, the misuse of the military, and the corruption of religion all aligned to oppose My message, My church, and My people, the situation on earth looked bleak and hopeless when John received the Revelation. Yet if My people remained faithful, they would share in My victory. The prayers of the martyrs and the persecuted were heard in heaven by the Father. The Spirit worked in the affairs of both human history and human powers to remove evil from its thrones of power. I would bring My people ultimate deliverance and victory. 

This cycle (evil people, alignment of powers, persecution, prayer for deliverance, and liberation) has been repeated down through history. Yet history is also moving toward an ultimate climax in which I will bring the final and ultimate victory for My church and her people. Evil will be banished. The evil one's power to inflict hurt, damage, and death on My people will be stopped completely and eternally. The distance that has separated Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — from the faithful will be removed and My people will come to be in Our presence and enjoy the blessings of true and unending life with Us in joyful fellowship and celebration. 

Today, we begin this last part of our year-long journey through the New Testament. Be blessed. Be faithful. Be confident. My resurrection guarantees your victory. My return guarantees your life, and your faithfulness will not be forgotten. My place in glory guarantees your joy will be unending.
Verses to Live

Read these verses slowly and carefully several times. Let the key words melt into your heart. Read these verses out loud. This is a book, an unveiling of My splendor and glory, that was written for your assurance and a reminder that no matter when you live or how difficult the times, your victory with Me is assured and the evil that opposes and oppresses you won't last.
This is the revelation of Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King: an account of visions and a heavenly journey. God granted this to Him so He would show His followers the realities that are already breaking into the world and soon will be fulfilled. Through His heavenly messenger, He revealed to His servant John signs and insight into these mysteries. John, in turn, gave witness to the word of God and to the glorious truth revealed about Jesus, the Anointed One, the Chosen Ruler, by carefully describing everything he saw. 

Blessings come to those who read and proclaim these words aloud; blessings come to those who listen closely and put the prophetic words recorded here into practice. The finale is approaching. 

I, John, to the seven churches in Asia: 

May you experience God's favor and rest in the peace that comes from the One who is, the One who was, and the One who is coming; from the seven Spirits, the Perfect Spirit, constantly before God's throne; and from Jesus the Anointed, the Witness who is true and faithful, the first to emerge from death's cold womb, the chosen Ruler over all the kings and rulers of the earth. 

To the One who loves us and liberated us from the grip of our evil deeds through His very own blood and who established us to be His kingdom and priests for God, His Father. May glory and power be His throughout all the ages. Amen.
Look! He is coming with the clouds, in glory. 
He will capture every eye, 
Even of those who pierced Him through. 
All the nations of the earth will be pierced with grief when He appears. 
Yes, may all this be done according to His plan. Amen.
Lord God:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the very beginning and the very end, the One who is, the One who was, and the One who is coming: the All Powerful.
I, John, your brother who shares with you this journey in persecution and the establishment of the Kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the ministry of the word of God and my testimony about Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day (the first day of the week), and I heard a voice behind me. It sounded like the blast of a trumpet. 

A Voice:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the very beginning and the very end. Make a book of what you see, write it down, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
(Revelation 1:1-12)
Response in Prayer

O Father, with Christians facing martyrdom in many places in the world, with political powers in conflict, with many traditional enemies now at such great odds, I am thankful to have this closing message from Jesus. Part of my human spirit is deeply troubled and upset with all that is happening and with worries about things rushing toward impending doom, so I take comfort in Jesus' promise to be present, to be our Deliverer, and to be Lord through all times. I commit to be faithful no matter what history or the powers that dominate our world do. Yet I ask for strength and courage. I do not want to be cynical or despairing. I don't want to be blind and ignorant of realities. I don't want to be afraid or worried. I want to live for Jesus, in whose name I pray and in Whom I know is ultimate deliverance. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Your Broken World" — A Year with Jesus for 11/19/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

The beloved elder John wrote to My disciples because he deeply loved them and wanted them to find true life in me. His words to begin 3 John beautifully reveal this part of his heart:
I, the elder, to Gaius, who is much loved by all and loved in truth by me. 

My beloved friend, I pray that everything is going well for you and that your body is as healthy as your soul is prosperous. I was thrilled when the brothers and sisters came and told me stories of your faithfulness as you continue to walk in the truth. The greatest joy in my life is hearing how my children are walking in the truth. 
(3 John 1:1-4)
John's letters are short, powerful, full of practical truth and emotional connection. He knew his time was short. He knew the power of the "diabolical one" and the allure of the corrupted world were pervasive. Like Paul and Peter before him, he left words for My precious disciples urging them to stay the right path. He wanted them to demonstrate their love for Me in the way they lived — following My example of obedient love for the Father, compassion for those around Me, and moral purity in My dealings with all people. 

One special exhortation he offers in 1 John has been a powerful statement of truth for My disciples throughout the ages. It serves as a necessary warning about the dangers of falling in love with the broken and sinful world in which they find themselves — the world in which you find yourself right now. Today you finish up your readings in 1, 2, and 3 John. Tomorrow you will begin to read from the apocalypse revealed to John, your book of Revelation. I want you to hear this simple, but powerful message from John as the conclusion of his messages from his letters and an important reminder going into the book of Revelation. The world around you is broken. There is beauty in the created universe, but everything that humanity has touched has also been altered by sin's grip on your world through the power of death. Don't be deceived by the world's allure! Remember all that it offers you is temporary — a broken and temporary substitute for the eternal life I have shared with you. 

John reminds you to not be surprised when the world doesn't love you when you live for me:
Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us — He calls us children of God! It's true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn't recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either. 
(1 John 3:1) 

Brothers and sisters, don't be shocked if the corrupt world despises you. 
(1 John 3:13)
Even more, John doesn't want you to get caught up in loving the world and being led away from Me. His words are true. His words are your warning. Don't trade away the life I came to bring you for the temporary, fleeting, and corrupted enticements of the world!
Verses to Live

Take a few minutes and look up all the times the word "world" is used in John's writings — the Gospel of John; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Revelation — and you will see how this is a major theme for him in all of his writings. Not loving the world was one of John's primary concerns. The following verses for you today help you understand why. Contemplate them. Heed them. Realize that I came to bring life to you. The underlined sentences at the end of today's verses point out the contrast between the fleeting, temporary nature of the allures of your world and the eternal life that comes from doing God's will. All that the world can offer you is a cheap, fleeting, and shallow substitute for life.
Don't fall in love with this corrupt world or worship the things it can offer. Those who love its corrupt ways don't have the Father's love living within them. All the things the world can offer to you — the allure of pleasure, the passion to have things, and the pompous sense of superiority — do not come from the Father. These are the rotten fruits of this world. This corrupt world is already wasting away, as are its selfish desires. But the person really doing God's will — that person will never cease to be. 
(1 John 2:15-17)
Response in Prayer

Give me strength, dear Father, to resist the allure of the world. I know in my heart that it is a poor and deadly substitute for the life You have given me in Jesus. Sometimes, dear Father, the ridicule of those who don't believe and the enticements of this world do distract me and lead me away from a whole-hearted dedication to you. Please forgive me. Sometimes my losses in this world have captured all of my energy in grief, anger, and confusion. Please strengthen and reclaim me. I know my world is broken, but it is the world I know. So please help me be strong as I keep my eyes on Jesus and seek His life and not the world's shallow substitutes. It is in His name I pray. Amen.
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