In heaven, there is unceasing worship and praise of God. Revelation 4 and 5 describe John’s vision, in which four living creatures proclaimed God’s holiness day and night. The apostle then heard 24 elders respond with a declaration of God’s worthiness (Revelation 4:8-11). He listened as they sang a new song of praise, declaring that the Lamb of God had purchased men for God—and then witnessed multitudes of angels proclaiming Jesus’ worth (Revelation 5:9-12).
What was it about Jesus that motivated such heartfelt worship? It was who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. He is …
- God the Son, who laid aside His divinity so that He might rescue us (Phil. 2:6-7).
- The Savior who took on human form and died so that we might be saved (Phil. 2:8).
- The only One who revealed God the Father to us (John 14:9).
- The Son of Man, who chose to identify with us because of His great love (John 1:14, John 15:13).
- The Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
- The Lion of Judah, who will return as the judge, the ruler, and the authority over all (Revelation 5:5).
These same attributes should motivate our praise and worship of Jesus. Ask the Lord to help you establish a pattern of praising Him and responding in adoration each time you think of Him. Heavenly music is to be sung by the redeemed on earth for all to hear.
Bible in One Year: Galatians 1-3
Read: 1 John 4:7–16
Bible in a Year: Daniel 1–2; 1 John 4
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us.—1 John 4:10
When my sister Maysel was little, she would sing a familiar song in her own way: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells Maysel.” This irritated me to no end! As one of her older, “wiser” sisters, I knew the words were “me so,” not “Maysel.” Yet she persisted in singing it her way.
Now I think my sister had it right all along. The Bible does indeed tell Maysel, and all of us, that Jesus loves us. Over and over again we read that truth. Take, for example, the writings of the apostle John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7, 20). He tells us about God’s love in one of the best-known verses of the Bible: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John reinforces that message of love in 1 John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Just as John knew Jesus loved him, we too can have that same assurance: Jesus does love us. The Bible tells us so. —Alyson Kieda
Dear Lord, thank You for the assurance that You love us. We are filled with gratitude that You love us so much that You died for us.
Jesus loves me! This I know.
INSIGHT: Do you wish you could believe God loves you? Or does the thought seem childish and self-centered?
John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), must have heard his Teacher say that only those who become like a little child would enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:2-4). John took those words personally, but didn’t apply them just to himself. He wrote about the Father who loves all of us (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14-16). With great maturity and childlike certainty he reminds us that believing God is love and loves us personally is what gives us reason to love Him and one another. Mart DeHaan
Those of us who make our home in the Northern Hemisphere must welcome the encroaching darkness of the winter months. At the height of winter in Kotzebue, Alaska, for example, daylight is but a mere two hours. Where I live, the light begins to recede around 4:30 PM. When the winter sun is out, and that is not often where I live, it simply rides the southern horizon with a distant, hazy glow.
While I happen to love the darkening skies of winter, others find the darkness encroaches not just the natural world but their inner world as well. A longitudinal study conducted in Denmark from 1995-2012 of 185,419 people showed an 11% increase of depression diagnoses during the winter months.(1) One researcher notes that “light has a powerful effect on the brain. It can be helpful to those suffering from depression because it can boost serotonin and have an effect similar to antidepressants…”(2) For many, the darkening of the natural world is simply the reflection of their day-to-day reality.
Of course, darkness and night evoked ominous images in the ancient world. Early inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere—who did not separate natural phenomenon from their religious and spiritual understanding—saw the departing sunlight as the fleeing away of what they believed was the Sun God. Darkness indicated a loss of hope, absence, and cessation of life.(3) Darkness created fear. It was the world of shadows, mystery, and all that could not be seen. Darkness has always been associated with chaos, evil, and death, and therefore was not often thought of in either romantic or nostalgic terms.
For many individuals—even those who live in sun-filled hemispheres—the darkness of life is a daily nightmare. Despair, chronic loneliness, doubt, and isolation conspire to prevent even the dimmest light. The darkness that comes only as a visitor during the night is for many a perpetual reality. And many wonder whether there is any reason to hope that light might be found even in these dark places.
May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.— Romans 15:13
I went through a particularly difficult time several years ago when there was absolutely no joy or peace in my life. Every time I made a mistake, I was quick to condemn myself, angry that I couldn’t be the “perfect Christian.”
Then one day, I came across Romans 15:13: May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing… That was it. I got it!
I realized that I had plunged into doubt and unbelief, allowing the devil to torment me with negativity, anger, and impatience. In the process, I had forgotten that believing in God and trusting His Word brings peace and hope and overcomes my weakness.
God’s Word gave me the answer. Jesus loved me so much that He not only forgave all my sins from the past, but also looked ahead and forgave me for those moments of weakness when I’d fail in the future. I don’t have to allow Satan to sneak in with questions or unbelief, and you don’t either.
Know today that peace, hope and joy are right in front of you. Go to God’s Word and let it stir up your faith.
“And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, KJV).
Each morning I kneel to acknowledge Christ’s lordship of my life and ask Him to have complete, unhindered control of my life for that day, to walk around in my body, to think with my mind, to love with my heart, to speak with my lips and to continue seeking and saving the lost through me.
Sometime ago I was at a conference in a midwestern city, anticipating an early adjournment so that I could catch a plane to Los Angeles and rejoin my waiting family.
When I arrived at the airport, I discovered that flight after flight had been cancelled because of poor weather conditions. Rushing from one airline ticket counter to another, I hoped to find one that was still flying its planes. Finally, to my disappointment, I had discovered that all the airlines had cancelled their flights.
On one hand I was discouraged, but on the other I was encouraged by the promise of the Bible, “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans” (Romans 8:28, LB).
Back at the hotel for the night, in the lobby I met a businessman who was hungry for God. As I shared Christ with him, I learned that he and his wife had been visiting a different church every Sunday for the past couple of years. They were looking for God but had not been able to find Him.
I explained to my new friend how to receive Christ. Together, we knelt and prayed, and he received Christ into his life as his personal Lord and Savior.
With great joy and enthusiasm my new brother in Christ announced, “I want to take these things to my wife because she too is eager to receive Christ.” It is our responsibility to follow Christ. It is His responsibility to make us fishers of men.
Bible Reading: Matthew 4:18-22
TODAY’S ACTION POINT: As I follow Christ today, I will recognize that even the delays, hindrances and closed doors may well be opportunities for me to share my faith in Jesus Christ. I shall remember, with God’s help, to share Him with others at every opportunity.
God’s plan for humanity, crafted in the halls of heaven and carried out on the plains of earth. Only holiness could have imagined it. Only divinity could have enacted it. Only righteousness could have endured it.
When God chose to reveal himself, he did so through a human body. The hand that touched the leper had dirt under its nails. The feet upon which the women wept were calloused and dusty. And his tears—oh, don’t miss His tears. They came from a heart as broken as yours or mine has ever been. So people came to him! Not one person was reluctant to approach him for fear of being rejected.
Remember that the next time you find yourself amazed at your own failures! Or the next time you hear a lifeless liturgy. Remember… it’s man who creates the distance. It’s Jesus who builds the bridge!
Read more In the Manger
For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.
Ravi Zacharias is one of the leading defenders of Christianity in our generation.
Born and raised in India, he was an atheist until the age of seventeen, when he tried to commit suicide by swallowing poison. At the hospital, a Christian worker brought him a Bible and asked his mother to read to him from John 14. When he heard verse nineteen, “Because I live, you also will live,” he committed his life to Christ.
In 1966, he immigrated with his family to Canada, where he earned an undergraduate degree and a Masters of Divinity. He has been active in evangelism and apologetics for many decades, speaking in more than seventy countries and some of the world’s most prestigious universities.
His ministry now has fifteen offices around the world and a global team of speakers. He has authored or edited more than twenty-five books on theology, apologetics, comparative religion, and philosophy. He has been married to his wife, Margie, for forty-five years.
A surprising headline
I have read his books and appreciated his ministry for many years. That’s why this Christianity Today headline was such a shock: “Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique.”
The second accusation is that Zacharias has used the title “Dr.” even though he has no earned doctorate. He has received numerous honorary doctorates, a fact that has led publishers and ministries to refer to him as a “doctor.” One claimed that he “holds three doctorate degrees.”
His ministry explains that “neither Ravi nor his ministry has ever claimed he had an earned doctorate.” His team will work to clear up any confusion regarding his credentials in the future.