December 8: Joy to the World! Rejoice! Jesus Lives Among Us

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 8

Rejoice!  Jesus Lives Among Us!

Scripture Reading:  John 1:14, 18

The year was 959 BC.  The place was Jerusalem.  500 years had passed since God had called His people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea.  King David had passed away and now the ultimate “wise guy,” King Solomon had ascended to the throne.  By God’s design, Solomon completed a project his father David had planned for . . . the construction of a Temple for God in the capital city.  Inside the Temple, the ark of the covenant would be placed and God’s presence would hover.

In the year 959, Solomon dedicated the Temple and the words he shared provide a powerful reminder for us at Christmas time.  In 1 Kings 8:27, Solomon says of the Temple: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built!”

As Solomon looked at the impressive Temple the people of Israel had just constructed, one of the seven “wonders of the ancient world,” he marveled at the thought that God would inhabit such a common place.

Imagine that you were standing in front of the White House, the Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace, or Notre Dame Cathedral.  As you look at these impressive structures, despite all their grandeur, you probably would say something similar to Solomon.  As beautiful as the best of our buildings are, it is impossible for mankind to create an adequate “home” for an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient God.

And yet at Christmas time, we celebrate God coming, not to a palace, but a stable!  We celebrate God arriving not in a chariot but in the womb of a teenaged girl riding on a donkey.  We celebrate God not merely sending a telegram through the stars, but arriving in the flesh.  Listen to what John says in His Gospel, John 1:14, 18: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.”

When we look at nativity sets around our houses this Christmas, we should wonder like Solomon did, “Did God indeed dwell upon the earth?”  The answer to this question is an emphatic YES!

Jesus moved into our neighborhood.  Jesus spoke in a way we could understand.  Jesus demonstrated all Grace and Truth so that we might KNOW GOD.  By living out a life in human flesh and having that life preserved for us in the Bible, we can understand what God’s character is like in three dimensions.

Do not let the wonder of the incarnation slip by you this year.  God did indeed dwell on the earth, and we are blessed beyond measure as a result.  Yet another reason for joy this year!

Suggested song for today:  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 7: Joy to the World! – Rejoice! Jesus is the Light of Life!


This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 7

Rejoice!  Jesus is the Light of Life!

Scripture Reading:  John 1:3-5, & 8:12

3,500 years ago, God called His people (the Israelites) out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the land that He had promised them.  This is the story of the Exodus, and is recorded for us in the second book of the Bible.  As the Israelites left Egypt God led them at night represented by a fire the people could see.  Like a child is comforted by their night light, so the children of Israel were comforted in their journey by the fire in the sky, reminding them that God was with them.

Fast forward 1,500 years to the time of Jesus.  While the rest of the Israelites were celebrating the Festival of the Tabernacle (remembering when God led them like a fire at night), Jesus makes an amazing assertion.  He says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  In this statement, Jesus was making a few VERY important points:

  • Jesus is the light.  In the time of the Exodus, the people saw a fire cloud in the sky.  That was nice.  But, Jesus is even better!  The fire in the sky was a presence, but it was a presence that did not talk or provide a 3-D example of what God was like.  Jesus is our reminder that God is with us, a Living Light!
  • Jesus is the Light of the World!  In the time of the Exodus, the fire was only for the people of Israel.  However, by saying that Jesus was the light of the world, Jesus was pointing out that ALL people, regardless of nationality can be encouraged by His presence.
  • Jesus invites us to Follow Him.  His Light is not just meant to comfort, it is meant to direct.  
  • If we follow Him we will not walk in darkness.  Jesus will never lead us to sin.  He only leads us towards righteousness.  He is out for our growth, not our destruction.
  • If we follow Him, we will have life.  Darkness leads to death.  Don’t believe me?  Put your favorite flower in the dark closet for a week and see if it survives.  Jesus is the Light of Life . . . He came to give us life, not take it from us! 

At Christmas time, we often have lights as a part of our decorations:  on trees, on our homes, etc.  This is so appropriate, because Jesus is the Light of the world!  As we sing look at Christmas lights, be reminded of God’s presence with us, and His desire that we walk in obedience following Jesus’ commands and example.  If we do, we will have life as God intended!  Rejoice!  Jesus lights the way!

Suggested song for today:  Light of the World

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 6: Joy to the World – Rejoice! Jesus is Bigger than our Problems

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 6

Rejoice!  Jesus is bigger than our problems

Scripture Reading:  John 1:1-2

There is a great scene in the 1995 movie “Apollo 13″ where Tom Hanks (playing the part of Astronaut Jim Lovell) sits in his back yard staring at the moon.  Lovell was soon to pilot the famed Apollo 13 spaceship all the way to a lunar landing.  As he sat in his suburban backyard on terra firm, however, Lovell was thousands of miles away from his destination.  While staring at the moon, Lovell closed one eye and extended his hand in front of him.  The captain then extended his thumb up into the air.  The camera switched to Lovell’s perspective and showed us the captain’s ability to make the moon disappear behind his thumb.

Now, two possible explanations exist regarding Lovell’s disappearing moon technique:

  1. The disappearance of the moon was an optical allusion created by the close proximity of the finger to the eyeball.  In other words, it was a matter of perspective.
  2. Tom Hanks has an extremely large thumb!  In other words, his thumb is bigger than the moon.

Of course, option one is the correct answer.  It also serves as a helpful reminder to you and me.

In our lives, the problems we face everyday have a very close proximity to our eyes.  Medical issues we deal with, relationships that crumble, dreams that are dashed, are so close to where we live that they feel absolutely enormous.  In fact, they feel so big, they can even cause us (as we close one eye of perspective under the strain) to not be able to see God in the midst of our difficulty.  As we ponder this phenomena, two possibilities exist:

  1. We have some really large problems . . . larger than the God who created the universe.
  2. We are allowing our current circumstances to create an optical allusion blinding us to the reality of the presence of our God.

This Christmas season, many of you are no doubt dealing with difficulty.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that virtually all of us are facing a tough trial of some kind.  Because of that, we might have a tendency to miss God this holiday season.  Under the stress and strain of life, we squint our eyes and see only that which is attached to our own hands.  However, do not be fooled.  God is there!  The infant born in Bethlehem is not small in stature . . . He is larger than life, and He is our Immanuel – God with us.  

In today’s verses, we see Jesus described as the “Word.”  John begins His Gospel in eternity past, not in Bethlehem in the first century.  The reason for John going that far back is to underscore the GREATNESS OF JESUS!  He has always been.  He created all that there is.  His birth in Bethlehem was His arrival in bodily form, but it was not the beginning of His story.  He has eternally existed as the second person of our Triune God.  This reminds us of just how important Jesus really is.  He is God … and that reminds us that He is bigger than anything we face.

We can have great joy because when we open both eyes of biblical perspective, we can see that the Lord Jesus who came to us has been here all along.  And, remember Jesus last words to His disciples were, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  This promise opens our eyes to dispel the allusion that we are alone.  He is here, and He is bigger than all of the problems and issues we face.  We can trust Him with all our problems, big and small.

Suggested song for today:  Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

Joy to the World (part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio & Video

On Sunday, December 5, 2021 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Luke 1:39-45 and 2:25-38.  This message was part 2 in the “Joy to the World” series.  Below you will find questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also find the audio and video of the message to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Luke 1:39-45 and 2:25-38
  3. What are some examples in your life of relationships (or even conversations) that have greatly impacted you in a positive way?
  4. Why do you think the Holy Spirit encouraged Mary to go visit Elizabeth? 
  5. What are the most encouraging things you see coming out of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth?  If you were Mary, what would you have treasured the most from this time?
  6. What are ways God has been “with you” through the presence of other believers?  Who are some the Lord may want to be with through you this month and in the year ahead?
  7. After seeing Jesus, Simeon comments that he was ready to “depart.”  In what way does Jesus prepare the Christian for death?
  8. Are you prepared for death?  If not, would you consider trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?  If so, how are you sharing this amazing truth with others this Christmas season?
  9. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.


To listen offline, click the link to download:

Joy To The World #2 12.5.21


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We have a Christmas devotional  book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 5: Joy to the World – Rejoice! The Silence is Broken

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 5

Rejoice!  The Silence is Broken

Scripture Reading:  Luke 2:22-38

January 1, 1611. This date is roughly 400 years ago. At that time, the original pilgrims were still a decade away from coming to the “new land” and settling Plymouth Bay Colony. 100% of the United States history beyond that of the Native Americans was yet to be written. On January 1, 1611, the King James Bible had not even gone to print yet! Think of all the history and all the changes the past 400 years have brought!

400 years is a very long time. Placing an actual date to 400 years and counting back adds needed perspective to this denomination of time. From a Biblical perspective, grasping how long 400 years is really helps us better understand the Christmas story. What do I mean by this?

The last Old Testament book written was the book of Malachi. It was written after the nation of Israel returned from exile in foreign lands in the early 400’s BC. After God spoke to His people through Malachi, He went silent for the next 400 years. After speaking regularly through prophets in every generation from Abraham to Malachi, 400 years of silence transpire in what is known as the “inter-testamental” period of time (the time from the end of the Old Testament books to the beginning of the New Testament). When you hear that there were 400 years of silence you sometimes fail to grasp just how long a period of time that was. Looking back 400 years from today helps us realize how many generations of people lived their lives wondering if God had abandoned them. Did His silence mean that He was no longer going to bring His Messiah to them to deliver them from their sins? Did His silence mean that something had changed regarding God’s promises?

Now, many reading this may want to argue that it has been 2000 years since ANY Scripture has been written. The recent silence from God may seem far more dramatic than the inter-testamental period. This simple observation, however, is unfounded. The Old Testament POINTED to the coming of Christ, and God had reaffirmed His promises to each generation through new generations of prophets up to the time of Malachi. The silence actually indicated a change that could have been interpreted as a NEGATIVE change. Since Jesus actually came in the New Testament time as a full revelation of God’s plan, there now is no longer a need for Scripture to continue to be written. God has been consistent in ceasing His prophetic communication in the writing of Scripture since the end of the first century. The lack of new Scripture today is a POSITIVE, reminding us that Christ is the final and full revelation of all we really need to know.

Now, understanding this, we should be shockingly surprised (as Mary was) when the Angel shows up in Mary’s room and tells her that she will miraculously conceive a Son who will be the Savior of the world. We should be startled by the whisper of the Angel to Zechariah in the Temple that he will have a son who will prepare the way for the Lord. We should be startled at these words because they broke a period of prolonged silence. 400 years of silence, broken with a renewed promise of a Savior. What is particularly great about when God broke the silence is that He broke it saying that the Savior was going to come in 9 months!!! Generations had strained to see the day when Messiah would come, now He was only three trimesters from delivery.

And once Jesus is born, prophets began to speak again with renewed enthusiasm and joy, as Messiah had come!  About 40 days after Jesus was born, His earthly parents (per Jewish custom) brought Him to the Temple where an offering would be given.  Imagine this as a kind of “baby dedication” ceremony that was a part of the Old Testament Law.  When Mary and Joseph show up at the Temple to give their offering, people began to prophesy over Jesus.  In today’s verses (Luke 2:22-38), we hear Simeon and Anna prophetically confirm Jesus identity when He was just one month old!  Jesus looked like any other child, but God opened the mouths of these prophets to remind Mary and Joseph again of who their Son really was.

Many times when we read the Christmas story, we read it thinking of Mary or Joseph . . . Zechariah or Elizabeth. Today as you think about this story, think about it from a 400 year perspective. God broke the silence with fantastic good news.

Do you feel like you are living in an era of “silence” from the Lord today? Do you wonder if He has forgotten you because you have not “heard” from Him in a while? This Christmas listen closely. God broke the silence at the birth of Christ and He wants to whisper to us through this story today, reminding us of His great love for us.

Suggested song for today:  All My Heart Rejoices


In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 4: Joy to the World – Rejoice! He Blesses Us

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 4

Rejoice!  He blesses us!

Scripture Reading:  Luke 1:26-45

Do you want a “blessed” life?  Of course you do!  Who doesn’t, right?  Only a hardcore atheist that does not believe in a “Bless-or” is repelled by the concept of being blessed by their Creator.  However, what does the blessing of God look like, and how do we get on the blessed list . . . these are thoughts we often debate or question.

Before addressing these, I want to direct our attention to a very popular Christmas story – Santa Claus.  In this story, Mr. Claus spends his year in the North Pole making blessings with his elves to deliver on Christmas Eve to those who have maintained their “nice” list status.  “Nice” boys and girls get the prepared blessings, while “naughty” boys and girls get a lump of coal.

So, in Santa’s Christmas story, his blessings are prizes for good behavior, and are withheld for those who do bad things (verified by Elves-on-shelves everywhere).

Is Santa’s story the same as the Savior’s Christmas account?  Are the blessings of God delivered only to those who are “nice?”  What if we have been a bit “naughty”? What if God has access to the shelves of my heart, not just my house?  How would we ever expect blessing by God if He knows all my thoughts?

Well, thankfully, in the true Christmas story of Jesus’ birth, we see HOW God blesses His people and WHO He blesses.  Today’s verses from Luke 1:26-45 provide answers for us in profound ways.

As it relates to HOW God blesses, we see that His blessing often comes through the actions of other believers (not magical elves).  After Mary gets word that she will be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, she is (no doubt) a bit shell shocked.  After all it was a LOT to take in.  She was a teenager, unmarried, and pregnant.  The angel had announced to her what was coming, but what would it all mean?  And how would God care for her throughout the impending 9 months of pregnancy?  Through daily angelic visits?  Nope.  God had something else in mind as He guides Mary to visit her relative Elizabeth.  You know Elizabeth?  The same Elizabeth who was ALSO pregnant with a divinely spoken about birth.  Who else in ALL THE WORLD would understand what Mary was going through as well as Elizabeth?  What kindness from God to have these pregnancies line up to allow these women to care for each other in the days leading up to the births of their important sons.  It reminds us that God sees our situations, cares about our situations, and will provide for us in the midst of our situations … often through the presence and concern of other believers.  To say it another way, we are reminded that God wants to care for others through you, and to care for you through others in the church around you.

As it relates to WHO God blesses, it is important to note that Mary was a very NORMAL person.  She had not done anything special to stand out … she was not perfect … and had not applied for the position of mother of the Son of God.  In every way, the text points to the fact that it was simply God’s gracious initiation that led to this blessing in her life.  This reminds us that our salvation and blessing in Christ are not about doing enough to be on the “nice” list, but are anchored firmly in the grace of God.  Because of His mercy, my naughtiness can always be overcome by His love.

So, in the angel’s declaration to Mary, and the events that unfold thereafter, we are reminded of yet another reason for joy in Jesus.  He desires to care for us, and will care for us, often through the work of His people.  And, He will bless us on the basis of His grace, not our performance!  What gifts to remember! 

Suggested song for today:  Mary did you know?


In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 3: Joy to the World – Rejoice! Empty Arms are Filled

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 3

Rejoice!  Empty arms are filled!

Scripture Reading:  Luke 1:5-25, 57-66

When Luke picked up a pen and began to write about the birth of Jesus, he did not begin with Mary . . . or Joseph . . . he began with a man named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth.  Their story (not Mary and Joseph’s) kicks off Luke’s Gospel, and it is the conception of their son John (not the immaculate conception of Jesus) that is the first reason to celebrate in this book.  This makes sense, because Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son (John the Baptist) would be the one who would “go before Jesus in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just to make ready for the Lord a people prepared (Luke 1:17).”  By definition John would come first because he was the forerunner to Jesus.

Even knowing that, it is still striking how much space Luke gives (under the direction of the Holy Spirit) to the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  You can read the account for yourselves in Luke 1:5-25, 57-66.  What does God want us to see in this account?  Well, here are a couple of thoughts:

  1. The angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and promises Zechariah and Elizabeth a child.  Zechariah and Elizabeth were “advanced in age” and well past their child conceiving days.  Upon hearing this news, Zechariah doubts its veracity.  Because of this doubt, Zechariah is struck silent for the duration of the pregnancy.  Zechariah’s silence mirrors the 400 years of silence that the nation of Israel had in the days leading up to John the Baptist’s birth.  For those 400 years, God did not speak to His people through the prophets.  The extra nine months of silence that Zechariah experiences mirror the silence the nation had endured before God as they wandered in the darkness of unbelief.  When John is born, however, God begins to speak again to His people . . . and Zechariah is the first of a new order of prophets that would continue to share God’s voice to His people through the writing of the New Testament — all “making ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
  2. If we see the voice of God returning through Zechariah, we see something else in the account of his wife Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was an older woman . . . well past child bearing days, and yet her womb was barren.  Over time, her empty arms had become a heavy burden.  While all the other moms were getting cards on Mother’s Day and a visible legacy to shape, Elizabeth’s childlessness had become (in her words) a “reproach among people (Luke 1:25).”  The birth of John was not just about what the Lord was doing in the world, it was an act of compassion and kindness to Elizabeth.  Her womb opened.  The promise of God turned into a person . . . a gift. 

The ache of Elizabeth’s empty arms were filled with the life that only God can bring.  This is a reminder to all who come after that in Christ, God can do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).”  

What are you “aching” about today?  Lay your head upon His promises and find your rest in Jesus Christ.  And rejoice!  He has the ability to fill our empty arms with His hope.

Suggested song for today:  “Elizabeth”


In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 2: Joy to the World – Rejoice! He Cares for Us

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 2

Rejoice!  He cares for us!

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 42:1-9

One of my all time favorite Charles Wesley hymns is the song, “And Can it Be?”  In one of the verses of that song, there is a powerful lyric that speaks of the freedom we gain in Christ, “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast-bound in sin and dark of night.  Thine eye diffused a quickening ray.  I woke, the dungeon filled with light!  My chains fell off, my heart was free.  I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.  Amazing love, how can it be?  That Thou My God wouldst die for me!”

The imagery of this song places mankind in a dungeon, held tight in the chains of sin’s oppression.  The arrival of the Savior, lets light into the dark place, and liberates us from sin’s captivity.  I love that picture . . . it is very meaningful to me.  As beautiful as that analogy is , and as beautiful as that analogy was arranged to song by Charles Wesley, it  would be wrong to give Wesley the credit.  The Lord Himself penned a song centuries before “And Can it Be?” that Wesley (no doubt) drew from as he adapted the text to music.  Around 700 BC, our great God wrote a song that he dictated to the prophet Isaiah, asking Him to share it with God’s people.  This song (one of three “Servant Songs” in Isaiah’s prophecy) predicts Jesus’ role as God’s “Chosen One” or Messiah, who would accomplish His purposes in the world.  Listen to the words of this song from Isaiah 42:1-9:

“‘Look at My servant, whom I strengthen,.  He is my chosen one, and I am pleased with Him.  I have put my Spirit upon Him.  He will reveal justice to the nations.  He will be gentle – He will not shout or raise His voice in public.  He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope.  He will bring full justice to all who have been wronged.  He will not stop until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth.  Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for His instruction.’  God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out.  He created the earth and everything in it.  He gives breath and life to everyone in all the world.  And it is He who says, ‘I, the Lord, have called You to demonstrate My righteousness.  I will guard and support You, for I have given you to My people as the personal confirmation of My covenant with them.  And You will be a light to guide all nations to Me.  You will open the eyes of the blind and free the captives from prison.  You will release those who sit in dark dungeons.  I am the Lord; that is My name!  I will not give My glory to anyone else.  I will not share My praise with carved idols.  Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again.  I will tell you the future before it happens.’”

The first part of the song sees God describing Jesus to Isaiah and His readers, 7 centuries before His Bethlehem birth.  He describes Him as someone who is fully in tune with the Lord . . . fully empowered by His Spirit.  He is one who will bring about justice, not just for Israel, but for the entire world.  He will accomplish this justice by being a humble servant leader, not a loud-mouthed dictator. He will inspire hope, not crush it, and He will usher His truth and plan around the world . . . even to places not yet discovered by the ancient world (places like Oklahoma!)

In the second part of the song, God talks more about the specific task Messiah will accomplish.  This is where Wesley echoed the Servant Song.  Jesus is said to shine as a light into the dark, dank dungeon of this fallen world, and beckon His people to follow Him out of sin and into the freedom of life in Christ.

This Servant Song, spoke of the work of Christ centuries before His birth, and reminds us again of how God had been planning a rescue of His people for centuries.  Reading this song today, makes me want to sing again Wesley’s refrain this Christmas season:  “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood?  Died Him for me who caused His pain, for me who Him to death pursued.  Amazing love, how can it be?  That Thou My God wouldst die for me!”

As you see Christmas lights around this holiday season, may they remind you of the Light of Christ that invites you out of the dungeon of your sin and into a relationship with Him.  Rejoice!  He cares for you and for me!

Suggested song for today:  Joy Has Dawned


In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

December 1: Joy to the World! – Rejoice! He Rules With Righteousness!

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

December 1

Rejoice!  He rules with righteousness!

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 11:1-10

Every four years we have a Presidential election.  These elections are hotly contested and often reveal a country that is very divided.  No matter how the election turns out, roughly half the country is going to be disappointed by the outcome.  In preparation for a Presidential election, both sides promise the moon.  Some people believe all the promises they hear during election season, while others are more cynical.  In the many years I have been voting, I have seen my hope in the political process deteriorate from idealism to a malaise.  The endless rhetoric of elections leave many tired and wounded.

Regardless of our political fatigue, however, it is hard to argue that who our leaders are makes a big difference in our lives.  This is true of the United States, and it was also true of the nation of Judah in Isaiah’s day.  When Isaiah wrote his prophecy (the Old Testament book of Isaiah), Judah was in political crisis.  After 52 years of being led by “good King Uzziah,” Judah was under different human leadership.  This troubled God’s people and increased anxiety about what would happen to the nation without their previous King.  God addressed their concerns through Isaiah’s prophecy.  In chapter 6, he reminded the nation that God was still on the throne.  In chapter 7, God promised relief from the attacks of Israel and Aram.  In chapter 11, however, God looks further into the future, to remind Judah that their ultimate leader will provide a peace that will dwarf the accomplishments of even their favorite King Uzziah!  Listen to what God promises to His people in Isaiah 11:1-10:

“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot – yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.  And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  He will delight in obeying the Lord.  He will never judge by appearance, false evidence, or hearsay.  He will defend the poor and the exploited.  He will rule against the wicked and destroy them with the breath of His mouth.  He will be clothed with fairness and truth.  In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard and the goat will be at peace.  Calves and yearlings will be safe among lions, and a little child will lead them all.  The cattle will graze among bears.  Cubs and calves will lie down together.  And lions will eat grass as the livestock do.  Babies will crawl safely among poisonous snakes.  Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes and pull it out unharmed.  Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.  And as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.  In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world.  The nations will rally to Him, for the land where He lives will be a glorious place.”

Wow.  What a campaign promise!  To a people facing uncertain national prospects, God promises a future leader who will restore peace . . . not just between people, but with all of nature!  This future leader could only be God Himself to accomplish such a task . . . God coming (as this passage indicates) in the form of a little child.  Jesus was to be the Branch of David’s tree that would be the Messiah for God’s people.  Isaiah wrote this 700 years before Jesus was born, but what is amazing for us today is that the ultimate fulfillment of these promises has yet to be realized.  Jesus will return to this earth one day to fulfill this campaign promise God made through Isaiah 2,700 years ago!  When Jesus comes again, He will establish a government on this earth where the wicked are no longer allowed to rule and the poor and exploited will have a true champion. As surely as Jesus was born in Bethlehem, so we look forward to this future reign of Christ on the earth (for more details of this time, look at Revelation 20.)

This Christmas season as you either celebrate or denigrate the latest chosen American political “Messiah”, I challenge you to lift your eyes up and gain perspective.  We know who the real Messiah is, and He is not bound by our political processes.  He is Jesus Christ, and the peace we long for will certainly come to pass one day when He returns.  To a people facing political crisis, God encourages us with the campaign promise of Isaiah 11.  Rejoice!  Our Savior rules and reigns in righteousness!

Suggested song for today:  Come Thou Long Expected Jesus


In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links:

November 30: Joy to the World! – Rejoice! The Son is given for Us!

This devotional is a part of the 2021 Christmas devotional book – “Joy to the World.”  Access the entire devotional and download your free copy by clicking here.

November 30

Rejoice!  The Son is given for us!

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 9:1-7

War is a terrible side effect of living in this fallen world.  Had sin not entered the world, there would have been no World War II, no Vietnam, no Iraq or Afghanistan.  I saw a statistic recently that floored me.  It stated that 40 MILLION people died (civilian and military) in World War II alone.  Another statistic estimates that 160 million people died in the twentieth century due to military conflict.  These numbers are sobering and a stark reminder that we are not in Eden any longer.

Any reading of the Old Testament helps us understand that God does use war (inside this sinful world) to advance His purposes.  I am not quoting statistics here to say that all war is “wrong,” but what I am saying is that all war has a huge cost . . . and I am not just referring to an enlargement of the national debt.

Given the prevalence of war, and its destructive toll on humanity, it is not surprising that people (since the beginning of time) have longed for a day when peace would last.  In many ways, the world is like a giant school yard full of insecure bullies who abuse their people with violence to secure their own position.  People have always longed for a day when the bullies would be stilled, but is that day ever really going to come?  God says it will.  In fact, God issued a prophecy through Isaiah in Isaiah 9:1-7 declaring that the bullies of the world would one day be replaced by a most peculiar leader.  Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah prophesied this:

“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever.  The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will soon be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.  The people who walk in the darkness will see a great light – a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow.  Israel will again be great, and its people will rejoice as people rejoice at harvesttime.  They will shout with joy like warriors dividing the plunder.  For God will break the chains that bind His people and the whip that scourges them, just as He did when He destroyed the army of Midian with Gideon’s little band.  In that day of peace, battle gear will no longer be issued.  Never again will uniforms be bloodstained by war.  All such equipment will be burned.  For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us.  And the government will rest on His shoulders.  These will be His royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end.  He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David.  The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!”

This prophecy is one of the most famous in all of the Old Testament . . . and for good reason!  What a blessed hope it promises.  From the land of Galilee, a small rural province in northern Israel that often drew the first attack from invading armies because of its northern exposure, a leader would emerge that would bring glory and peace to God’s people.  This leader would be a bully-buster who would establish peace on the earth and eliminate the need for trillions of dollars to be spent on national defense.  Surprisingly, though, the leader who would quell the bullies would not be a bigger bully, but a child.  What a contrast!  The mighty Assyrian army (in Isaiah’s day) could be stopped by God working through a little child.  The terror of the Taliban could be silenced from the crib of Bethlehem’s manger.  This child, of course, was Jesus who would grow up and reveal Himself as Mighty God.  700 years after this prophecy was given, Jesus would be born as a child, clothing Himself in humanity, to set in motion a plan to bring lasting peace to the earth.

What is amazing about reading this prophecy from Isaiah at Christmas time, though, is that the accomplishment of this prophecy has not yet fully taken place.  The gifts of Isaiah 9 are still wrapped under the Christmas tree of Christ’s second advent.  When Jesus returns to the earth at a future time, He will put an end to war and He will rule the world in peace.  One day war will cease, and the bullies will be stopped.  The One who was born a Child will return in glorious triumph and shine His light throughout our world.  That is one present I cannot wait to be unwrapped.  Jesus is given to bring peace to us … yet another reason for Joy this Christmas.

Suggested song for today:  “For Unto Us a Child is Born”


In this Christmas devotional, there is a song referenced for each day.  All these songs, are included in a playlist found on Apple Music and Spotify at the following links: