December 6

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV) 1The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Jesus began reading this passage in the synagogue of His hometown. He said it was being fulfilled as He read it. The passage was about Him. At first they marveled. It wasn't that they were upset at His claim of being anointed, for they had watched Him grow up and knew He was different and wanted the Messiah to be from their town. They became angry when He said they would not receive Him but that the Gentiles would.

Why was the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD on Him? He was anointed to preach the good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to proclaim freedom to captives and prisoners. His message of God's love for the humble was a joy to the poor who thought God had rejected them. The priests of that day gave the impression that those who were blessed materially and physically were blessed because they kept all the rules. That implied that the handicapped and poor and sick were unacceptable to God. Jesus' teaching was just the opposite. He declared that they were the ones that God was near.

Do we have Jesus' perspective? God loves and cares for the hurting. He wants to give a garment of praise in place of a spirit of despair. Hear the good news. Jesus was anointed so that His healing, liberating touch can be upon your life.

Meditation: Let His good news transform you into an oak of righteousness, a planting for the display of His splendor.

December 6

1 Peter 4:7-8 (NIV) 7The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

If the end was near then, it is certainly much nearer now. The end of the Temple worship system and the world as they knew it was at hand. Our world can change in a moment also. When chaos strikes, if we are not clear minded and self-controlled, we will be swept along with the crowd. We should be praying for God's people and those in the valley of decision. We should be looking for opportunities to share with those seeking answers. Only when the Spirit of God is our guide through daily life, will we be able to hear His guidance when our world goes mad.

Peter reminds us that love is to be the one gift we place above all others. This love is not the fickle kind that demands a certain response or it will be withdrawn. This is a love that covers a multitude of sins. It is a love that is willing to overlook offenses against you. Peter calls it a deep love. It should be as deep as the well of Christ's love for you. What He has given you He expects you to pass on to others.

Love is the one thing that will keep your priorities straight when things fall apart. It will help you avoid the natural instinct to put yourself first instead of being aware of the needs around you. This is the kind of love Jesus demonstrated in Gethsemene. "If it is me you are seeking, then let these go." He was clear minded and self-controlled. He was able to pray in preparation for the time of trouble. He overlooked His disciples' desertion because of His deep love for them.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to always be clear minded and self-controlled so that I can pray. Help me to let your deep love flow to my brothers and sister in Christ that I may be ready to forgive.