Monday, December 7, 2009: 1 Thessalonians 5
We have been speaking of Advent as a time to remember the Incarnation, anticipate Jesus’ return, and live to honor him. Remembering this, begin by reading Mark 13:26-27, 32-37 and Acts 1:7-11. The Thessalonian believers wonder about these things; Paul reminds them of truths they have previously been taught; and he exhorts them on how they should live each day with faith, hope, devotion to the Lord, and love for others. Read 1 Thessalonians 5. Ask the Lord to help you live faithfully and with love. Ponder 5:19 with Ephesians 4:30. What does this mean for you? And how can we give thanks in all circumstances (5:16-18)? Memorize 5:16-18. Pray.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009: 2 Thessalonians 1
Is your heart and life open to and aware of Jesus’ abiding presence (John 15) throughout the day? In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, Paul wrote, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” Pray that you will live in this fullness. Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians to correct wrong behavior that resulted from misconceptions about Jesus’ return. Yet Paul also commends the believers for their faith, love, and perseverance in the midst of persecution and trials. Read 2 Thessalonians 1. The words “the name of our Lord Jesus” (1:12) refer to more than a moniker. Jesus’ name embraces his nature, character, attributes, holiness, love, and submission to God’s will. Pray using 1:11-12.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009: 2 Thessalonians 2
The Thessalonians had been misled by a letter, supposedly from Paul. In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul corrects their misconceptions about the second coming of Jesus, assuring them that it is still future. He reminds them of events that will happen before Jesus’ return for his people. Read Chapter 2, not with trepidation, but with confidence, rejoicing in the faithfulness, power, and glory of our Redeemer (2:8). Ponder Paul’s words about the truth and the lie (2:9-12 with John 8:28-32, 44-47). Reread 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 and spend time in prayer.
Thursday, December 10, 2009 2 Thessalonians 3
Paul asks the Thessalonian believers to pray, and he warns them about idleness. Read 3:1-5 and let Paul’s words in 3:5 guide your prayer right now. How is the Lord speaking to your heart in regard to sharing God’s love? In what way(s) do you need to embrace Christ’s perseverance/steadfastness? Read 3:6-18, noticing that Paul begins with a reference to the name of Jesus. Recall what this means. Consider Paul’s instructions about persevering in doing good and longing to restore those who are walking in disobedience. Pray.
Friday, December 11, 2009: 1 John 1
As the first epistle/letter of John begins, John testifies both to Jesus’ eternal and human natures. Begin by reading Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-18; and 1 John 1:1-4. Sit in prayerful wonder, stand amazed, or prostrate yourself as you realize anew that Jesus, whom John saw and touched, is eternal God, God incarnate! Ponder Jesus’ glorious, nail-pierced hands as you read John 20:27-29. Now read 1 John 1:5-10. John says he is sharing with us what he heard from Jesus (1:5a); read 1:5-10 again. Ask Jesus what he is saying to you, today, this moment. Worship and pray.
Saturday, December 12, 2009: 1 John 2
Read 1 John 1:5-2:2. The problem is sin! Who is the answer (1:7; 2:1-2), and how are we to respond (1:8-9)? Pray, asking the Lord to prepare your heart to encounter him in his word. Read 1 John 2:3- 11. Compare John’s words here with Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35; 14:15,21. What commands of Jesus is John reiterating? Now read the rest of 1 John 2. Are you encouraged through 2:12-14? Does the admonition in 2:15-17 challenge you? In 2:18ff, we are warned about denying Jesus. John refers to those who do so as antichrists, pre-figuring the one who will deceive many (2 Thessalonians 2). The anointing from the Holy One might well be a reference to the Spirit (John 14:17, 26; 15:26; 16:13-15). This Advent and always, pray that Jesus will be your joy and fulfillment.
Sunday, December 13, 2009: Psalm 85
In 1 John 1:1-2:2, we read that God is light and Jesus is God Incarnate. We read about the curse of sin and the cleansing from sin that is found in Jesus. As you read Psalm 85, look for some of the same messages. We live in a world that often winks at sin and refuses to bow to God’s sovereignty. But God, in love, continues to reach out to us. Read Psalm 85 again, looking for affirmations of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Ponder God’s love made manifest in Jesus. With the eyes of your heart, see his glorious, nail-pierced hands. Worship the Lord.