Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, November 28. Read Luke 2:22-32. 1) Why was Jesus taken to Jerusalem? 2) What did Simeon say about Jesus?
Tuesday, November 29. Read Acts 13:22-23. 1) In his speech to the synagogue in Perga about David? 2) What relationship did Jesus have to David?
Wednesday, November 30. Read Romans 15:7-13. 1) Paul instructed the church at Rome to get along. 2) In this regard, what did he say about the Gentiles and God’s intention in regard to them? 3) What descriptive name did he give Jesus (from Isaiah)?
Thursday, December 1. Read Revelation 5:1-5. 1) Revelation is written in symbolic language. In this text, an angel asks who is qualified to break the seals on a scroll. 2) An elder answers the question in what way? 3) How does this relate to the sermon text?
Friday, December 2. Read Jeremiah 33:14-16. 1) What did Jeremiah say God was about to do? 2) What role would “Branch” serve?
Saturday, December 3. Read Isaiah 11:1-10. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
O Lord, Isaiah looked into the future when there would be no Assyria to devastate God’s people. No Assyria who would exploit the weak and defenseless. The shoot of Jesse is growing, and we will dwell in the shelter of his shade. Help us in our waiting. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
O come, O come, Immanuel
Latin Hymn, 1710
O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.
O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain
O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave. Refrain
O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain
Devotional Article of the Week:
Preparing for the Messiah
by Ron Rose
Generations passed after Malachi died, and the years brought many changes. The Philistines, Assyrians, and Babylonians were gone. Many Jews still lived in the promised land, but others were scattered throughout the known world. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream had been fulfilled. The golden age of Greece, with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great, had come and gone. Rome had become the dominant world power. In the midst of all the change God’s people had but two things they could truly call their own: the scrolls containing God’s Word and their persistent hope in the coming Messiah and his new kingdom.
At this time, the ward of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went all over the area around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of changed hearts and lives for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the hook of Isaiah the prophet: “This is a voice of one who calls out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way for the Lard. Make the road straight for him…. And all people will know about the salvation of God!”
Luke 3:2-6. Everyone had different opinions about this Messiah. Some saw him as a prophet who would bring revival and repentance to the land. Some expected a warrior king like David, who would defeat the Romans and make Israel great again. Others were looking for a Messiah who would introduce them to the new covenant and God’s own Spirit. No one seemed to expect one man to be all the above.
After all the years of anticipation, what a surprise it must have been the day the angel Gabriel announced the birth of a new prophet, a prophet who would prepare the people for the long-awaited Messiah. He foretold John’s unprecedented power as a prophet and of his ministry of reuniting families and turning hearts toward God. Of all the prophets God had called, John the Baptist would be privileged to introduce the Son of God to the people of God. John carried out his ministry in the countryside, the wilderness; there he preached God’s message to the crowds who came out to hear him. His message was simple and powerful: repent — turn to God — and get ready for the new kingdom. He called for uncommon virtue and purity of motive, and his message was just the beginning.
Reflection: Throughout God’s history with his people, the wilderness has played an important role. It offers few distractions and enough solitude for people to rethink their priorities and hear the call of God. Wilderness times can open our eyes to God’s presence and our ears to his desires. John’s wilderness call was exactly what God’s people needed to hear-repent of your sins and prepare for the coming Messiah.
John’s message is just as relevant for us. May we escape the noise of our daily lives long enough and often enough to hear that same message.