The Battle Before the Blessing

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12 Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which is 90 miles away from where Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth. While it would only take an hour and a half by car today, back then, it was at least a weeklong trip over rugged terrain. On top of that, it was wintertime, so it was very cold and rainy. Though we know that the Lord had to be born in the City of David so that prophecy could be fulfilled, it’s interesting how much this young couple had to endure before the arrival of the world’s Great Redeemer. Just like Mary and Joseph had to travel a rough road to arrive at the place where the Savior would

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Fighting in Prayer

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’” – Samuel 1:10,11 Yesterday we saw that God calls Himself Yahweh Tsebaoth, or the “Lord of Armies,” over 250 times in the Bible. Interestingly, one of the most famous usages of this particular name was by a woman named Hannah. Now Hannah’s husband’s name was Elkanah, and he was married to her and also to a woman named Peninnah. Peninnah was fertile and she gave birth to many children, but Hannah was unable to conceive. Even though Elkanah loved and favored her, she was

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The Unsearchable Love of God

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:17-19 God loves us more than we can fathom. And as hard as we try to stretch our imaginations to grasp His goodness, we will never be able to conceive of how vastly and perfectly He cares. His affection is tailored to meet us in every triumph, heartbreak, and failure, and He is more concerned about our situation right now than we are. He is wonderfully glorious, yet He knows the most intimate details of our lives. No wonder David said in Psalm 139:6 that this knowledge is “too wonderful for

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Losing the Battle Isn’t Losing the War

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” – Hebrews 10:36 In the Kingdom of God, just because we lose a battle, it doesn’t mean we’ve lost the war! Life is full of setbacks, and the forces of discouragement are raging to get us to surrender our hope. Nevertheless, we must persevere. Many good things have been forfeited by Christians who lost their grit and gave up because they were discouraged by what they saw. This is why it’s important to remember that faith is confidence in things hoped for and certainty in things unseen. Even when we endure loss, hardship, and disappointment, there is still joy and a future for us — we just need to keep believing. No matter how many trials come our way, our Savior will never abandon us, and He is using

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The Call is Not to Comfort

“The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.” – Ezekiel 2:4,5 Yesterday, we saw that God met Ezekiel in the middle of a season of exile with a divine vision that led him to his call as a prophet. Because the Israelites in Babylon were blatantly rebelling against their Heavenly Father in acts of idolatry and paganism (such as child sacrifice and temple prostitution), He needed to warn them that judgment was coming if they didn’t change their ways. Always faithful and long-suffering, the Lord chose to speak through Ezekiel to give the Jews a chance to turn from evil and return to His heart. Following the Holy Spirit’s prompts, the prophet faithfully delivered

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Lions in the Daniel Den

“So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’” – Daniel 6:16 Yesterday, we looked at the life of Daniel and how he made prayer both a matter of habit and priority. Although he was taken away from Jerusalem, transported to the pagan world of Babylon, and put at the disposal of the king, he refused to waver in his conviction, and he continually sought the presence of the Lord. While it could have cost him his life, his fierce devotion afforded him ongoing supernatural favor. In fact, through the years, he was filled with the Holy Spirit so powerfully that he could interpret dreams and visions and figure out mysteries that no one else could fathom. Despite refusing to bow to idols, he gained influence with heathen

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The Power of Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27 It’s interesting that the dictionary defines peace as “freedom from disturbance.” And while I love to imagine life without all forms of distraction, noise, and chaos, I realize that such a state of existence isn’t possible on a planet that’s marred by the effects of sin and brokenness. The reality is that the weight of the world is heavy, and it’s easy to become bogged down by the pain and trouble that surround us. Each of us has gone through a lot in the past twelve months, and we’ve seen things unfold that we never imagined we would. The global pandemic, loss of life and income, civil unrest, and a prolonged change to our daily

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