“Who shall enter the kingdom of heaven?”


Thursday (December 1): Scripture: 

21 “Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 24 “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6

1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city;  he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. 2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps faith may enter in. 3 You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD for ever, for the LORD GOD  is an everlasting rock. 5 For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. 6 The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.”

Meditation: What’s the best security against disaster and destruction? In the ancient world a strong city, an impregnable fortress, and a secure house were built on solid rock because they could withstand the forces of nature and foe alike. Isaiah speaks of God as an “everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:4). He is the rock of refuge and deliverance (Psalm 18:2) and the rock in whom there is no wrong (Psalm 92:15). Scripture warns that destruction will surely come to those who place their security in something other than God and his kingdom. Jesus’ parables invite us to stake our lives on the coming of his kingdom or face the consequences of being unprepared when the day of testing and destruction will surely come.

When Jesus told the story of the builders he likely had the following proverb in mind: “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm for ever” (Proverbs 10:25). What’s the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is – with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2).

There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice.  Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we are tested. Do you cheat on an exam or on your income taxes, especially when it will cost you?  Do you lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth will cause you  injury or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, one’s neighbor and oneself.  His or her word can be counted on. If you heed God’s word and live according to it then you need not fear when storms assail you. God will be your rock and your refuge. Is your life built upon the sure “rock” of Jesus Christ and do you listen to his word as if your life depended on it?

“Lord Jesus, your are my Rock and my Refuge. Help me to conform my life according to your word that I may stand firm in times of trouble and find hope in your promises.”

Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27

1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed be he who enters in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar!

“When they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing …they glorified the God of Israel”


Wednesday (November 30): Scripture: Matthew  (alternate reading: Matthew 4:18-22)

29 And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain, and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. 32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have  nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the  crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10

6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of  marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him;  let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” 10 For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trodden down in his place, as straw is trodden down in a dung-pit.

Meditation: What can satisfy the deepest hunger and longing of the human heart? Isaiah prophesied that God would provide a heavenly banquet for all peoples and would destroy death once and for all (Isaiah 2:6-8).  Jesus came to fulfill that promise. Jesus’ miracles are both a sign of God’s kingdom and a demonstration of God’s power. They also show the magnitude of God’s mercy.

When the disciples were confronted by Jesus with the task of feeding four thousand people many miles away from any source of food, they exclaimed: Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? The Israelites were confronted with the same dilemma when they fled Egypt and found themselves in a barren wilderness. Like the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness, Jesus, himself provides bread in abundance for the hungry crowd who came out into the desert to seek him. The gospel records that all were satisfied and they took up what was leftover.

In the multiplication of the loaves and fishes we see a sign and a symbol of what God always does. God knows our needs and he cares. When God gives, he gives in abundance. The gospel account records that the leftovers from the miraculous meal was more than seven times the amount they began with. Seven is a symbol of completion and wholeness. When God gives, he gives until we are satisfied. When God works for his people he gives abundantly – more than we could deserve and more than we need. He nourishes us with his life-giving word and with the bread of heaven. In the kingdom of heaven God will feast us at his banquet table. Are you satisfied with God’s provision for you? And do you long with expectant hope for the coming of his kingdom in all its fulness?

Lord, you alone can satisfy the longing and hunger in our hearts. May I thirst for your kingdom and find joy in your presence. Give me the true bread of heaven and nourish me with your life-giving word.”

Psalms 23:1-6

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;
2 he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me;  thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies;  thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;  and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

“Many prophets and kings desired to see what you see and to hear what you hear”


Tuesday (November 29):

Gospel Reading: 

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these  things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and  any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;  and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins. 6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together;  and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain;  for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be  glorious.

Meditation: How does God bring his kingdom to us? Jesus remarked that many prophets and kings before him longed to see and understand God’s plan for establishing his kingdom. When King David’s throne was overthrown and vacant for centuries, God promised, nonetheless, to raise up a new king from the stump of Jesse, the father of David. This messianic king would rule forever because the Spirit of God would rest upon him and remain with him (Isaiah 11:1). Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be equipped with the gifts of the Spirit – with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2 – for an explanation of the gifts see this helpful article). This king would establish the kingdom of God, not by force of human will and military power, but by offering his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. Through his death on the cross, Jesus, the true Messiah King, would defeat Satan, overcome death, and win pardon and reconcilliation for sinners. God’s plan of redemption included not only the Jewish people but all the nations of the earth as well. Through his death and resurrection Jesus makes us citizens of heaven and friends of God. The Lord Jesus wants us to live in joyful hope and confident expectation that he will come again to fully establish his kingdom of righteousness and peace.

What does Jesus’ prayer (Luke 10:21-22) tell us about God and about ourselves? First, it tells us that God is both Father and Lord of earth as well as heaven. He is both Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and at the same time, goodness and loving care for all his children. All fatherhood and motherhood are derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15). Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God. Pride closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives. Jesus contrasts pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are like “babes” in the sense that they see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in God who is the source of all wisdom and strength. They seek one thing – the “summum bonum” or “greatest good” which is God himself. Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility, the queen of virtues, because humility inclines the heart towards grace and truth. Just as pride is the root of every sin and evil we can conceive, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root. It alone takes the right attitude before God and allows him as God to do all. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Prov. 3:34, James 4:6). The grace of Christ-like humility inclines us towards God and disposes us to receive God’s wisdom, grace, and help. Nothing can give us greater joy than the knowledge that we are God’s beloved and that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Do you seek God’s wisdom and grace with humility and trust?

Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make: He is the perfect revelation of God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God – who he is and what he is like. We can know God personally and be united with him in a relationship of love, trust, and friendship. Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the cross. Do you pray to your Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his love and care for you?

“Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.”

Psalm 72:1, 7-8, 12-13, 17
1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor!
5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
7 In his days may righteousness flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
12 For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
17 May his name endure for ever, his fame continue as long as the sun!  May men bless themselves by him, all nations call him blessed!

“Many will come and sit at table in the kingdom of God”


Monday (November 28) : Scripture: 

5 As he entered Caper’na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes, and to another, `Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5

1 The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD  shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills;  and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob;  that he may teach us his ways  and that we may walk in his paths.”  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples;  and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;  nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Meditation: Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table? God’s gracious invitation extends to all – Jew and Gentile alike – who will turn to him with faith and obedience. Jesus used many images or pictures to convey what the kingdom of God is like. One such image is a great banquest feast given at the King’s table.  Jesus promised that everyone who believed in him would come and feast at the heavenly banquet table of his Father. Jesus told this parable in response to the dramatic request made by a Roman centurion, a person despised by many because he was an outsider, not one of the “chosen ones” of Israel. In Jesus’ time the Jews hated the Romans because they represented everything they stood against – including foreign domination and  pagan beliefs and practices.

Why did Jesus not only warmly receive a Roman centurion but praise him as a model of faith and confidence in God? In the Roman world the position of centurion was very important. He was an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers. In a certain sense, he was the backbone of the Roman army, the cement which held the army together. Polybius, an ancient write, describes what a centurion should be: “They must not be so much venturesome seekers after danger as men who can command, steady in action, and reliable; they ought not to be over-anxious to rush into the fight, but when hard pressed, they must be ready to hold their ground, and die at their posts.” The centurion who approached Jesus was not only courageous, but faith-filled as well. He risked the ridicule of his cronies as well as mockery from the Jews by seeking help from an itinerant preacher from Galilee. Nonetheless, the centurion approached Jesus with great confidence and humility. He was an extraordinary man because he loved his slave. In the Roman world slaves were treated like animals – something to be used for work and pleasure and for bartering and trade. This centurion was a man of great compassion and extraordinary faith. He wanted Jesus to heal his beloved slave. Jesus commends him for his faith and immediately grants him his request. Are you willing to suffer ridicule in the practice of your faith? And when you need help, do you approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?

The prophet Isaiah foretold a time of universal peace when all nations would come to “the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob” and “beat their swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:2-4). Jesus fulfills this prophecy first by restoring both Jew and Gentile to fellowship with God through the victory he won for us on the cross. When he comes again he will fully establish his universal rule of peace and righteousness and unite all things in himself (Ephesians 1:10). His promise extends to all generations who believe in him that we, too, might feast at the heavenly banquet table with the patriarchs of the Old Covenant who believed but did not see the promised Messiah. Do you believe in God’s promises and do you seek his kingdom first in your life? The season of Advent reminds us that the Lord wants us to actively seek him and the coming of his kingdom in our lives. The Lord will surely reward those who seek his will for their lives. We can approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith, like the centurion in today’s gospel reading, knowing that he will show us his mercy and give us his help.

“Lord Jesus, you feed us daily with your life-giving word and you sustain us on our journey to our true homeland with you and the Father in heaven. May I never lose hope in your promises nor lag in zeal for your kingdom of righteousness and peace.”

Psalm 122:1-9

1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem, built as a city which is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they prosper who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers!”
8 For my brethren and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

“What I say to you I say to all: Watch”


Sunday (November 27): Gospel reading:  

33 Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come.34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch therefore — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the  morning — 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.”

Old Testament reading: Isaiah 63:16-17,19b; 64:1-8

63:16 For you are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. 17 O LORD, why do you make us err from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?  Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. 19 We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name. (Isaiah 63: 16-17,19)
64:1 O that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence — 2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil —  to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! 3 When you did terrible things which we looked not for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. 5 You meet him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember you in your ways.  Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;  in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.  We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one that calls upon your name, that bestirs himself to take hold of you;  for you have hid your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquities. 8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;  we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:1-8).

Meditation: What do you do when someone you love very dearly and miss very much has been gone a very long time but promises to return soon? Do you ignore their absence, or do you anticipate their return and send them messages to let them know how much you long to be with them again? Jesus’ parable about the long-expected return of the Master to his household brings this point home. Wealthy landowners often left their estates in the hands of their trusty servants and stewards. This gave them freedom to travel, trade, and expand their business ventures. They expected loyalty and hard work from their servants and rewarded them accordingly. Dutiful servants would eargerly anticipate their master’s return by keeping the house and estate in good order. Jesus doesn’t tell us in his parable whether the servants were ready to receive the unexpected return of their master. Were these servants excited or anxious about their master’s return? The watchful servants, no doubt, looked forward to the future because they knew their master would be pleased and would reward them for their vigilance and hard work. Disaster and reprisal, however, awaited those who were unprepared because of carelessness or laziness.

When we expect some very important event to happen, we wait for it with excited anticipation. The Lord Jesus expects us to watch in great anticipation for the most important event of all – his return in glory at the end of time! The prophets foretold the coming of the Lord when he shall judge between the nations and decide for many peoples (Isaiah 2:5). The Advent season reminds us that we are living in the end times. The end times begins with the first coming of Christ (his Incarnation which we celebrate at Christmas) and culminates in his final return on the Day of Judgment. Jesus spoke of his return in glory at the end of time as a for certain fact.  Jesus’ audience understood the title,Son of Man, as referring to the Messianic prophecy of the Annointed King who comes to establish an everlasting kingdom over the earth (see Daniel 7:13). While the second coming is for certain, the time is unknown. The Lord’s judgment comes swiftly and often unexpectedly. Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives. It will surely come in God’s good time! Do you earnestly pray for God’s kingdom to come – here and now!

The prophet Isaiah tells us that God will surely reward those who wait for his visitation: “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4). Our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, entrusts us with his gifts and grace and he expects to be ready for action and prepared for the future. Our call is not only believe, but to watch with expectant faith; not only to love, but to wait with eager longing; not only to obey, but to prepare with joyful anticipation! What are we to watch, wait, and prepare for? The greatest event to come – the return of  our Master and Lord Jesus Christ when he comes again in glory to meet us at the end of the age. The kind of watching our Lord has in mind is not a passive “wait and see what happens” approach to life. The Lord urges us to vigilance and to active prayer that his “kingdom may come” and his “will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. We are not only to watch for Christ, but to watch with Christ. The Lord wants us to have our hearts and minds fixed on him and his word. He wants us to be ready for his action and grace in our lives and in our world. Those who “wait” for the Lord will not be disappointed. He will surely come with his grace and saving help. Do you watch for the Lord’s action in your life with expectant faith and with joyful hope?

The season of Advent is a time for rousing our minds and hearts for the Lord’s coming. As his servants we watch for his will – continually seeking him; we watch for his word and his power – that he may act now to save and to deliver; and we watch for his visitation – he will surely come again! Servants of the Lord rouse yourselves! Be vigilant, be alert, be “watchmen” for the Lord pointing the way for his coming. Are you ready to meet the Lord?

“Lord Jesus, awaken my heart and mind to receive your word and to prepare for your coming again. Free me from complacency, from the grip of sin and worldliness, and from attachments to things which pass away. May I always be eager to receive your word and be ready to meet you when you came again.”

Psalm 80:2-3, 15-19

2 Stir up your might, and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
15 the stock which your right hand planted.
16 They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance!
17 But let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name!
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! let your face shine, that we may be saved!

“Lest your hearts be weighed down”


Saturday (November 26):Scripture: Luke 21:34-36

34 “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; 35 for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. 36 But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.”

Meditation: Is there anything holding you back from the joy and freedom of the Lord? God wants our hearts for him and for his kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness (Romans 14:17). But our hearts can be weighed down by many different things, such as greed, gluttony, drunkenness, and so many other harmful addictions and sinful habits. Jesus, our Lord and Master, offers us true freedom – freedom from the power of sin and wasted life, and freedom from our unruly desires and disordered passions – such as making food, drink or anything else our master rather than our servant. Jesus wants our hearts to be ruled by one thing only – his love and truth which enables us to choose whatever is good and to reject whatever is evil and harmful for us.

Jesus also warns us of the temptation to slacken off – to become spiritually idle, lazy, indifferent, or inattentive to God’s word and guidance for our lives. We can fall asleep spiritually if we allow other things to distract us from the reality of God and his kingdom. It is very easy to get caught up in the things of the present moment or to be weighed down with anxious cares and concerns. The Lord knows our struggles, weaknesses, and shortcomings. And he assures us that we do not need to carry our burdens alone nor struggle without his help. He is always very present and ready to give us whatever strength, guidance, and help we need to fight temptation and to stay the course which he has set for us. But there is one thing he doesn’t tolerate: indifference, an attitude of not caring, and doing nothing! The Lord wants us to cast our anxieties on him and to ask for his guidance and help. Do you pray for God’s strength and wisdom?

Until the Lord comes again we can expect troubles, trials, and temptations. Our adversary the devil does not rest in his attempt to lure us away from God’s will for our lives. If he cannot succeed in getting us to renounce our faith in Christ, he will try, little by little, to distract us from pursuing God, especially in prayer and listening to his word. Ask the Lord Jesus to rekindle the fire of his love in you so that you will be ready and eager to meet him when he comes again.

“Lord Jesus, rouse my spirit to the truth that this world is passing away. Give me a lively faith, a joyful hope, and a fervent love to see you face to face when you return in glory.”

Psalm 119:57-64

57 The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think of your ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous ordinances.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”


Friday (November 25): Scripture:

29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Meditation: Do you recognize the signs of God’s presence and action today? Jesus used the image of a fig tree to teach his disciples an important lesson about reading the “signs of the times.” The fig tree was a common and important source of food for the Jews. It bore fruit twice a year, in the autumn and in the early spring. The Talmud said that the first fruit came the day after Passover. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came he would usher in the kingdom of God at Passover time. The early signs of a changing season, such as springtime, summer, or autumn, are evident for all who can see and observe the changes. Just so are the signs of God’s kingdom and his return in glory on the day of judgment. The “budding” of God’s kingdom begins first in the hearts of those who are receptive to God’s word. Those who trust in God’s word will bear the fruits of his kingdom. And what are the fruits of that kingdom? “The kingdom of God ..is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). The Lord gives the firstfruits of his kingdom to those who open their hearts to him with expectant faith and trust in his word.

We do not know the day nor the hour when the Lord Jesus will return again in glory. But the Lord does give us signs, not only to “wake us up” as a warning, but also to “rouse our spirits” to be ready and eager to receive his kingdom when he comes in all his power and glory. The “Day of the Lord” will strike terror in those who have ignored or rejected God, but it will be a day of joy and rejoicing for those who long to see the Lord face-to-face. The Lord Jesus wants us to be filled with joyful anticipation for his coming again. While we wait for the Lord’s physical return in glory, we can know his presence with us through the work and action of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts. The Lord Jesus comes daily and frequently to those who long for him and he speaks tenderly to our hearts like a lover who whispers in the ear of the beloved. He comes to show us the way to our heavenly Father and to give us the hope of eternal life. Do you recognize his presence and do you listen to his word?

“Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of all history, and the lord of all creation. Give me joyful hope and assurance that I will see you face to face and be united with you forever when you return in glory.”

Psalm 119:49-56

49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction that your promise gives me life.
51 Godless men utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
52 When I think of your ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
55 I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law.
56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.