Malachi 1-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He came to heal our hearts and open the door to eternal life with Him

“Mommy, I feel so clean inside.”  As a three-year-old, I really didn’t understand all that had taken place in my life the day I asked Jesus to cleanse me from my sin.  I’m not sure how dark and deep my sins could have been at such a young age, but I remember the cleansing, the warmth, and wholeness that came deep within me that morning.  I still feel it today, and there’s just nothing else like it!  Our prophet today, Malachi, ended the Old Testament with encouragement about One who was coming to bring cleansing, warmth, and wholeness to the lost. 

@ Malachi 4
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.  And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (2)  In the first three chapters, Malachi had chastised the Israelites for their sins in marrying pagans, robbing God of the tithe and unfaithfulness to the family, but now he came with a message of hope for the future.

Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, was coming to bring healing to their sick hearts, and the freedom they would experience would send their hearts leaping for joy.  The sun can be a destructive fire or a warm glow to our lives, but those who would turn to God would feel the cleansing, the warmth from the Son of righteousness and complete wholeness.  There would be nothing else like it!

“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.  His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (5)  God was giving the Jews a heads up on how they could recognize the Sun of Righteousness.  There would be a prophet, a forerunner, who would announce the arrival of the Messiah as foretold by Isaiah, “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ This messenger was John the Baptist.” (Mark 1:2-4) With such a clear marker, I’ve never understood how they missed Him.

“Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  But then Malachi ended his message and the Old Testament with a curse.  On judgment day, those who have not asked Jesus to cleanse them from their sins will be judged accordingly, and the Sun of Righteousness will be a consuming fire.

Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, the One who came to destroy the curse, will experience His grace, cleansing and the warmth from the Sun of Righteousness. The redeemed will no longer be cursed but will experience the blessing from the final words of the New Testament in Revelation 22:21, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.”  Thank you, Jesus, for coming and removing the curse, making us clean inside. Thank you for opening the door to eternal life with you.  I feel the warmth.

Moving Forward:  I’m blessed beyond measure today because of the Son of righteousness, Jesus, and the promise of eternal life He has brought to me.  I move through this Christmas Season with a grateful heart for what it truly means to celebrate His birth. 

Tomorrow @ Acts 19-20

Luke 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Through the way we live, He sees our sincere repentance.  He gives the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word to counter the enemy’s attacks.

John the Baptist certainly had a unique style of ministry. “When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes!  Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented.” (3:7-8)  Wouldn’t that approach draw the crowds today!  Perhaps he was dining on too many locusts and not enough wild honey, and, of course, camel hair can be so scratchy. (Matthew 3:4)

Actually, this voice in the wilderness, filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb, discerned that many had come to hear his message merely to escape eternal punishment as if he were a lucky charm.  He was looking for true repentance of sins and a changed life. John told his listeners to prove that they had repented by showing generosity, honesty and kindness to one another at the very least. (3:10-14) Great advice from the wilderness evangelist!

I’ve always known those who consider church-going their lucky charm, keeping the Big Guy happy with them, but never allowing His power to change their lives.  Because God loves their souls, He often allows challenging situations to occur in their lives to get their attention and to turn their hearts toward Him.  This is when we are able to step in to encourage and undergird them with generosity, honesty and kindness expressed by John in Chapter 3.  Time and time again I’ve seen those out on the fringe of God’s grace turn to a genuine relationship with Him.

It’s interesting to note that while Jewish Matthew’s genealogy only went back to Abraham, Luke the Greek went all the way back to Adam, proving once again that Jesus, our elder brother, is related to all mankind.  Luke’s love of details blesses me. 

@ Luke 4
I wish I could say that our walk with the Lord is paved only with wonderful moments, but that wouldn’t be true.  Fresh out of the carpentry shop at age 30, Jesus was baptized in water, filled with the Holy Spirit and started His ministry in the wilderness with a full-fledged frontal attack by Satan.  And sometimes we think we’re having a bad day!

The record of this encounter is filled with many truths about the Kingdom of God, but two of them stood out today in my reading.  Satan had been successful in his temptation of Adam and Eve, and the failure of Jesus would certainly have been a plus for him.  However, even trying to tempt Jesus proves one glaring fact:  Satan does not know the future.  Although he often confronts us with fears and outcomes that sound prophetic in nature, he’s just guessing!  He is offering only what he wishes to be true, and we should resist him just like Jesus did.

How did Jesus resist him?  By quoting scripture!  The two-edged sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in our armor against the enemy. (Eph. 6:17)   When He was under attack, Jesus did not hesitate to bring out His Sword to take down His attacker.  We keep our weapon sharp and ready for use by our daily attention to the Word and its application to our lives.  The enemy knows scripture too, but Satan’s misuse of scripture in his encounter with Jesus left him powerless – knowledge without relationship is futile.

Being the slow learner that he is, the enemy will make many attempts to bring us down just as he tried with Jesus, but armed with our fine-tuned weapon and filled with the Holy Spirit, we are invincible!  “Submit yourselves, then, to God,” is the often neglected part of James 4:7. Submit first to Him and to His Word, then, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)  Armed and dangerous! 

Moving Forward: As I carry with me His Word today, I face the day armed and dangerous against any attacks. With generosity, honesty and kindness – proof of a changed life – I will undergird and encourage those that He is drawing into a true relationship with Him. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Corinthians 11-13

Matthew 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He calls us to go public with our testimony of faith

Several years ago I had the privilege to witness a water baptism service take place in the Jordan River.  As scripture was read, I imagined the scene centuries before when John the Baptist was baptizing in this river and the Lord Jesus came to be baptized.  It was a moving experience for me and caused me to reflect on my own water baptism.

I was part of a group of four children baptized in our church baptismal tank one Sunday morning.  I was five years old.  We entered the tank together where our pastor was waiting for us; and to this day, a hundred years later, I remember an indescribable presence of the Lord to where the water was stirring even though we stood still and my lips were stammering even though I wasn’t cold.  Little did I understand at the time that the Holy Spirit baptizer was there with us.  My water baptism experience was a glorious encounter with the living God that I will never forget.  I doubt at the age of five that I understood all the ramifications of my submission to water baptism, but really, does anyone? 

@ Matthew 3
“In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near’… People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.  And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.” (1-2,5-6)  The Pharisees and Sadducees who came to watch were not welcomed by John who called them a brood of snakes (help) because they claimed to be repentant of their sins but didn’t live like it. (7-8)  Obviously, water baptism for John was not just something to do on a sunny afternoon.

Paul described it this way to the Romans, “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Romans 6:4)  Water baptism is our public declaration to the world that we have died and buried our old way of life through our repentance of sin and have risen to live a walk that is committed to our new life.

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.” (Romans 6:6)  Water baptism doesn’t save us.  Water baptism is our testimony to the world of the salvation we have received.  And as John was saying to the Pharisees, if we’re not committed to living like a believer, we certainly should not give testimony that we are one.

Water baptism usually comes early in our walk with the Lord, and we rarely know at that time how our public confession of faith will be tested, how we may be ridiculed, ignored or even persecuted or how strongly we may be tempted to fail.  In all of that, we would do well to remember our water baptism, our public declaration that the old man is dead and buried and the new man is alive and well on planet earth.  It just might give us the boost we need to, “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12) 

Moving Forward: Today I’m remembering, once again, the day I publicly confessed that I died to sin and rose to walk in newness of life. I just may need to find someone and go public once again with my testimony.

Tomorrow @ Romans 5-6

Malachi 1-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He came to heal our hearts and open the door to eternal life with Him

“Mommy, I feel so clean inside.”  As a three-year old I really didn’t understand all that had taken place in my life the day I asked Jesus to cleanse me from my sin.  I’m not sure how dark and deep my sins could have been at such a young age, but I remember the cleansing, the warmth and wholeness that came deep within me that morning.  I still feel it today, and there’s just nothing else like it!  Our prophet today, Malachi, ended the Old Testament with encouragement about One who was coming to bring cleansing, warmth and wholeness to the lost. 

@ Malachi 4
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.  And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (2)  In the first three chapters, Malachi had chastised the Israelites for their sins in marrying pagans, robbing God of the tithe and unfaithfulness to the family, but now he came with a message of hope for the future.

Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, was coming to bring healing to their sick hearts, and the freedom they would experience would send their hearts leaping for joy.  The sun can be a destructive fire or a warm glow to our lives, but those who would turn to God would feel the cleansing, the warmth from the Son of righteousness and complete wholeness.  There would be nothing else like it!

“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.  His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (5)  God was giving the Jews a heads up on how they could recognize the Sun of Righteousness.  There would be a prophet, a forerunner, who would announce the arrival of the Messiah as foretold by Isaiah, “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way.  He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ This messenger was John the Baptist.” (Mark 1:2-4) With such a clear marker, I’ve never understood how they missed Him.

“Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  But then Malachi ended his message and the Old Testament with a curse.  On judgment day, those who have not asked Jesus to cleanse them from their sins will be judged accordingly, and the Sun of Righteousness will be a consuming fire.

Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, the One who came to destroy the curse, will experience His grace, cleansing and the warmth from the Sun of Righteousness. The redeemed will no longer be cursed but will experience the blessing from the final words of the New Testament in Revelation 22:21, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.”  Thank you, Jesus, for coming and removing the curse, making us clean inside. Thank you for opening the door to eternal life with you.  I feel the warmth.

Moving Forward:  I’m blessed beyond measure today because of the Son of righteousness, Jesus, and the promise of eternal life He has brought to me.  I move through this Christmas Season with a grateful heart for what it truly means to celebrate His birth. 

Tomorrow @ Acts 19-20

Luke 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Through the way we live, He sees our true repentance.  He gives the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word to counter the enemy’s attacks.

John the Baptist certainly had a unique style of ministry. “When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes!  Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented.” (3:7-8)  Wouldn’t that approach draw the crowds today!  Perhaps he was dining on too many locusts and not enough wild honey, and, of course, camel hair can be so scratchy. (Matthew 3:4)

Actually, this voice in the wilderness, filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb, discerned that many had come to hear his message simply to escape eternal punishment, as if he were a lucky charm.  He was looking for true repentance of sins and a changed life. John told his listeners to prove that they had repented by being generous, honest and kind to one another at the very least. (3:10-14) Great advice from the wilderness evangelist!

I’ve always known those who consider church-going their lucky charm, keeping the Big Guy happy with them, but never allowing His power to change their lives.  Because God loves their souls, He often allows challenging situations to occur in their lives to get their attention and to turn their hearts toward Him.  This is when we are able to step in to encourage and undergird them with generosity, honesty and kindness expressed by John in Chapter 3.  Time and time again I’ve seen those out on the fringe of God’s grace turn to a true relationship with Him.

It’s interesting to note that while Jewish Matthew’s genealogy only went back to Abraham, Luke the Greek went all the way back to Adam, proving once again that Jesus, our elder brother, is related to all mankind.  Luke’s love of details blesses me. 

@ Luke 4
I wish I could say that our walk with the Lord is paved only with wonderful moments, but that wouldn’t be true.  Fresh out of the carpentry shop at age 30, Jesus was baptized in water, filled with the Holy Spirit and started His ministry in the wilderness with a full-fledged frontal attack by Satan.  And sometimes we think we’re having a bad day!

The record of this encounter is filled with many truths about the Kingdom of God, but two of them stood out today in my reading.  Satan had been successful in his temptation of Adam and Eve, and the failure of Jesus would certainly have been a plus for him.  However, even trying to tempt Jesus proves one glaring fact:  Satan does not know the future.  Although he often confronts us with fears and outcomes that sound prophetic in nature, he’s just guessing!  He is offering what he wishes to be true; and just like Jesus did, we should resist him.

How did Jesus resist him?  By quoting scripture!  The two-edged sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in our armor against the enemy. (Eph. 6:17)   When He was under attack, Jesus did not hesitate to bring out His Sword to take down His attacker.  We keep our weapon sharp and ready for use by our daily attention to the Word and its application to our lives.  The enemy knows scripture too, but Satan’s misuse of scripture in his encounter with Jesus left him powerless – knowledge without relationship is futile.

Being the slow learner that he is, the enemy will make many attempts to bring us down just as he tried with Jesus, but armed with our fine-tuned weapon and filled with the Holy Spirit, we are invincible!  “Submit yourselves, then, to God,” is the often neglected part of James 4:7; submit first to Him and to His Word, then, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)  Armed and dangerous! 

Moving Forward: As I carry with me His Word today, I face the day armed and dangerous against any attacks. With generosity, honesty and kindness – proof of a changed life – I will undergird and encourage those that He is drawing into true relationship with Him. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Corinthians 11-13

Matthew 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He calls us to go public with our testimony of faith

Several years ago I had the privilege of witnessing a water baptism service take place in the Jordan River.  As scripture was read, I imagined the scene centuries before when John the Baptist was baptizing in this river and the Lord Jesus came to be baptized.  It was a moving experience for me and caused me to reflect on my own water baptism.

I was part of a group of four children baptized in our church baptismal tank one Sunday morning.  I was five years old.  We entered the tank together where our pastor was waiting for us; and to this day, a hundred years later, I remember an indescribable presence of the Lord to where the water was stirring even though we stood still and my lips were stammering even though I wasn’t cold.  Little did I understand at the time that the Holy Spirit baptizer was there with us.  My water baptism experience was a glorious encounter with the living God that I will never forget.  I doubt at the age of five that I understood all the ramifications of my submission to water baptism, but really, does anyone? 

@ Matthew 3
“In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near’… People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.  And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.” (1-2,5-6)  The Pharisees and Sadducees who came to watch were not welcomed by John who called them a “brood of snakes” (help) because they claimed to be repentant of their sins but didn’t live like it. (7-8)  Obviously, water baptism for John was not just something to do on a sunny afternoon.

Paul described it this way to the Romans, “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (Romans 6:4)  Water baptism is our public declaration to the world that we have died and buried our old way of life through our repentance of sin and have risen to live a walk that is committed to our new life.

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.” (Romans 6:6)  Water baptism does not save us.  Water baptism is our testimony to the world of the salvation we have received.  And as John was saying to the Pharisees, if we’re not committed to living like a believer, we certainly should not give testimony that we are one.

Water baptism usually comes early in our walk with the Lord, and we rarely know at that time how our public confession of faith will be tested, how we may be ridiculed, ignored or even persecuted or how strongly we may be tempted to fail.  In all of that, we would do well to remember our water baptism, our public declaration that the old man is dead and buried and the new man is alive and well on planet earth.  It just might give us the boost we need to, “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12) 

Moving Forward: Today I’m remembering once again the day I publicly confessed that I died to sin and rose to walk in newness of life. I just may need to find someone and go public once again with my testimony.

Tomorrow @ Romans 5-6