Morning
December 18

Jeremiah 30:21-22 (NIV) 21Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?' declares the LORD. 22"'So you will be my people, and I will be your God.'"


"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." John 1:10 (KJV) In the promises of restoration, there are a number of prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. In this one, the Messiah is prophesied to rise from among them. He would not land in a spaceship or come from another land, neither would He be another type of creation. He would be an Israelite human. But what is it that makes Him different?

God says that the He will draw the Messiah near; He will come close. God draws us all near. The great difference is the Messiah never resisted the closeness of God. He yielded every time and came near. He devoted Himself to be close to His Father. Because of that, the church was born. That is how we became His people. Jesus' obedience, even unto death, made a way for us to be the people of God. He made it possible for God to be our God. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God." John 1:12 (KJV)

He also made it possible for the promise of the Father to be poured out, the Holy Spirit. Now we, too, can draw near to God. But it is our choice! Will we draw close? Will we devote ourselves to be close to Him? How much time will we spend in communion with Him in prayer and the Word? You can see those that do. They are easily distinguishable by their passion and love for God. In a life changing way, God has become their God.

Consider: Will you devote yourself to be close to Him?


Evening
December 18

1 John 3:14-16 (NIV) 14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. 16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.


To John the Beloved, it was just as simple as that. If you are in Jesus, you love your brothers. If you don't love your brothers, you have never found life in Christ. Your spirit is still dead. John remembered Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount. Hatred is the equivalent of murder. How can you be a murderer and be in life? To be in Christ brings the very life of Christ into your emotions and desires.

Since God is love, Jesus demonstrated the ultimate display of love. He laid down His life for us. Jesus said that was the greatest love a man could display, and then He displayed it for all of us. If the life of Christ is in us, then we will do as Christ did and lay down our lives for our brothers. How can we hold back when our Lord and Master is urging us on with both His example and His presence in us?

John went on to describe ways in which we can demonstrate this love. He wrote of sharing material possessions with our brothers in need. He reminded us that words are not enough. Actions must accompany our caring words, or they are meaningless.

Consider: Have you passed from death to life? Is it manifested in the sharing of your material goods with your brothers in need? In this day and age, we can do that with brothers and sisters around the world through Christian ministries, but don't forget your own backyard as well.