A Prayer for 2019

2019 is in full swing, and I haven’t written a list of resolutions or chosen a “word of the year.” It is on my heart, however, to be more dependent on the Lord through prayer in this new year. I often busy myself so much that I neglect deep communion with God, pressing on in my own strength to accomplish what I need or want to do. How arrogant and foolish to function as if I have no need of the one who fills my very lungs with air! In view of this tendency, I felt that a prayer (rather than a list) for 2019 would be most helpful. Pray with me this year.


Father in Heaven–set apart yet near,

Help us to wonder at your unmatched power,

worship your great might,

submit to your sovereign hand,

trust your infinite wisdom,

and cling to your perfect goodness in all things.

Help us to fear your great name.

Jesus the Christ–image of the invisible God,

Help us to rest in your perfect record

trust you as our substitute,

believe in your salvation,

and bow to your Lordship over our lives.

Help us to rejoice as we share your suffering now,

that we may hope to share your glory for eternity.

Let us hide ourselves in you and abide.

Apart from you, we can do nothing.

Holy Spirit–helper who dwells within, 

Rain down in great power.

In your kindness, reveal our sin

and lead us to continual repentance.

Guard us from evil,

keep us in faith,

grow us in holiness,

and drive us to desperate prayer.

Save our lost children, neighbors, and friends.

Exalt the name of Jesus in us.

In 2019, as we seek to glorify you, our triune God, focus our hearts on…

building relationships rather than results,

growing our faithfulness rather than our following,

cultivating humility rather than visibility,

working for your fame rather than our own names.

It’s in the strong name of Jesus we pray.





Come, Let Us Adore Him

Come, Let Us Adore Him

Merry Christmas! We’ve spent the past twenty-four days tracing God’s glory through the pages of his beautiful story, and I pray our hearts have been stirred to respond. God has revealed himself to us through his Word so that we may experience the joy of knowing and worshipping him! This story is our story.

God created us in his image to live in joyful relationship with him and to spread his glory around the world. But, like Abraham, Jacob, David, and every other biblical figure, we have inherited fundamentally bad hearts from our first parents Adam and Eve. The Bible says we are born spiritually dead and enslaved to sin (Ephesians 2:1-2). Sin has separated us from our good Creator and King, and we have no desire to be restored to him or reflect his glory (Romans 3:10-12).

We live in spiritual darkness, searching for something to fill the mysterious emptiness in our hearts. Sometimes, we ignore God in the world he created and work to build our own towers for personal glory. We believe success, power, or riches will fulfill us. Other times, we work hard to obey God’s rules in our own strength. We build towers of good deeds and try to climb up to him through our own morality.  

But God knows we can’t get back to him on our own. No matter how hard we try, we can never be good enough. And none of our successes, achievements, money, or power can make us eternally happy apart from God himself. Because of our sin, we deserve the just judgment of a holy God and separation from him forever.

But, the good news of Christmas is that God has not given us what we deserve. He sent us a Rescuer to bring us back to him. This Rescuer is the Ark who protects us from God’s wrath. He’s the Lamb whose blood was shed to pay our debt and cover our shame. He’s the Ladder who brings us back into the glorious presence of God. This Rescuer was born as a baby to live a life of perfect obedience to God and die a horribly painful death in the place of sinners. And this Rescuer rose from the dead and is coming back to Earth as Shepherd King who will rule forever by the light of his glory.

What is our response to this holy God who has provided this perfect Rescuer? First, we must agree with him that we are desperately in need of being rescued. We must acknowledge our need of forgiveness for the sins we have committed against a holy God. Then, we must stop running after our sins and turn to the Rescuer. By faith, we must trust that Jesus kept God’s law and took God’s punishment for us. We trust his finished work on our behalf as the only way to be saved from sin and brought back into relationship with God, the one with whom we were made to dwell forever.

And then we worship. We bow in adoration–praising our three-in-one God for all he is and all he has done through the Son. We wait with hopeful expectation for the day when we will together exclaim, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ!” (Revelation 11:15).  Until then and forevermore, come, let us adore him!

Advent Day 24: The Glorious City

Advent Day 24: The Glorious City

Key Scripture: Revelation 21:1-5, 9-11

Forty days after Jesus was resurrected, he rose back into heaven. The kingdom of God was not coming in the way his people probably expected. It was coming in stages. Before Jesus ruled as King on Earth, he was going to rule as King in the hearts of those who trusted him for salvation.

Before he left, Jesus gave his disciples (those who followed him) a mission. He commanded them to spread the good news of his saving work to people from every nation on earth, calling others to turn from their sin and trust him alone for forgiveness. Jesus promised to be with his disciples. He was going to send the Holy Spirit to live inside them. And Jesus promised to come back one day to rule on Earth as King forever.

As the disciples obeyed, the gospel began to spread to people from every tribe and nation in the world! Those who have believed the gospel and have trusted Jesus to save them from sin make up the new people of God, known as the Church. The Church is not a building but a group of people where God’s Spirit lives and where Christ rules in hearts as a perfect King. The Church is now God’s chosen nation— the new Israel of God.

Although Christ rules as King in the hearts of those who make up his Church, things are still not as they should be in the world. The snake is still lying and convincing people God’s Word isn’t true. There is still pain, sadness, sickness, and death. People still sin and don’t reflect God’s glory perfectly, even those who are part of the Church. But it won’t be like this forever. King Jesus is coming back to Earth to get rid of the lying snake and sin for good.

As King, Jesus will make everything new and right on Earth. He will establish a new city made up of all the people who have trusted him alone to be their Savior. This city will be perfectly safe, clean, and beautiful because God will live there. There will be no tears, pain, or death in this city. Here, there will be no sun because God’s glory will be the light. There will be no temple because Jesus is the temple who makes it possible for God to dwell with his people. In this city, the children of God will finally have the glory of God. They will radiate it perfectly, that all may see and worship King Jesus forevermore!


Main Point: Jesus Christ is coming back to Earth to rule as King and make all things new and good. He will establish a perfect city where God will live with his people, and they will reflect his glory forever.

Christ Connection: Jesus Christ will establish the new and perfect city of God–the city Abraham and all of God’s people look forward to (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Advent Day 23: Glory Through Death

Advent Day 23: Glory Through Death

Key Scripture: Acts 2:22-32

As he grew up, Jesus was a normal boy in many ways. He learned to walk and talk and read. He slept, ate, laughed, and cried like every other child. He had parents, brothers, and sisters. But Jesus was different from other children in many ways too. From a young age, he understood God’s Word in a way that amazed others. And Jesus never sinned—ever. He obeyed his parents and loved others perfectly. Most of all, he loved God perfectly. His one purpose was to please God by doing his will.

When he grew up, Jesus began to announce the good news that God’s kingdom was coming on Earth. The kingdom God had promised–the one where the Shepherd King and Savior from David’s family would rule forever–was finally coming true. Jesus called people to turn away from their sin and believe the good news that he was the promised one from God who would save them! He healed the sick, made the blind see, made the crippled walk, and forgave sins. Jesus was showing the world that he had the power to heal sinful hearts and everything else sin had broken.

But God’s own people, who knew his promises to them, did not believe Jesus. They did not recognize him as the Messiah sent from God. In fact, the religious leaders were filled with hatred  toward Jesus. They felt threatened by him and decided to have him killed. Although he had done nothing wrong, Jesus was arrested like a criminal. He was whipped and beaten until he bled. He was spit on and mocked by those he had created. Then, he was nailed to a cross where he died between two criminals.

How could Jesus save God’s people and rule forever as Shepherd King if he wasn’t alive? Once again, it looked as if God might not keep his promises to Abraham and David. But God was not surprised by Jesus’s death. It was his perfect plan to use this evil for good. Jesus could have saved himself from death if he’d wanted, but he wanted to glorify God by saving others. So, he offered himself to God as the final Lamb– the perfect human sacrifice for sinners. When Jesus died, he took God’s full punishment for sin on himself, so God’s people could be forgiven and live with him again. But Jesus didn’t stay dead! Three days later, God raised him from death to rule forever! Through Jesus Christ, God has kept every promise he’s ever made.


Main Point: Jesus was born to die a terrible death on a cross. He took God’s punishment for sinners on himself, so sinful people could be forgiven and live with God again. After three days, God raised Jesus from the dead to rule forever.    

Christ Connection: Jesus is the “Yes!” answer to all of God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1:20; Hebrews 9:26b-28).

Advent Day 22: Guiding Star

Advent Day 22: Guiding Star

Key Scripture: Matthew 2:1-11

Just as God announced the arrival of Jesus to the shepherds in an amazing way, he announced his arrival to another group of people in a different amazing way. God used a bright star to tell a group of men called Magi about the birth of the long-awaited Savior and King.

The Magi lived in East Asia, far from Bethlehem. They were priests who offered sacrifices to a fake god. The Magi were very important, powerful people in their government in the east. They chose the kings in their land and gave them advice. The Magi were known as wise men. They were experts in mysteries like magic and dream telling, and they studied space and the stars. When Jesus was born, God made a new star appear in the sky. He used this star to make it known to the Magi that the King of his people had come into the world.

The Magi made a long trip to the city of Jerusalem. They asked people where they could find this new King because they wanted to worship him! Now, at the time, a wicked man named Herod was ruling as a king over God’s people. Herod was not from Abraham and David’s big family. He did not know the one, true God. When Herod heard that the Magi were looking for a new king, he became very jealous and afraid. Herod didn’t want this new king to take his throne, so he told the Magi to find the baby and come back to tell him where he was. Herod pretended he wanted to worship the baby king too, but he really wanted to kill him.

God then made the new star move in the sky, filling the Magi with joy as it guided them to the house where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were staying. When the Magi entered the house and saw Jesus, they bowed low to worship him. They gave him very nice presents–presents fit for a king called gold, frankincense, and myrrh. God warned the Magi in a dream not to tell wicked Herod they had found Jesus.

How unexpected and amazing that God led a group of priests from far off—a group of priests who once worshipped a fake god–to bow before the one, true God and King! The promises God had made to Abraham were already starting to come true! God was beginning to make King Jesus known to people from other nations so he could bless them by his grace.


Main Point: The Magi were wise and powerful men from the east who worshiped a fake god. God used a star to guide them to Jesus so they could worship him as the one true King!

Christ connection: The good news of Jesus Christ is not just for the nation of Israel but for people from every tribe and nation on earth–even those who are far away like us (Ephesians 2:12-13, 17-19).

Advent Day 21: Birth Announcement

Advent Day 21: Birth Announcement

Key Scripture: Luke 2:8-18

On the night Mary gave birth to her baby, a group of shepherds were watching over their sheep in a field near Bethlehem. All of a sudden, an angel appeared, and the bright light of God’s glory lit up the dark field! The shepherds were surprised and very scared, but the angel told them not to be afraid because he was bringing good news. This news was going to fill their hearts up with happiness! And this good news wasn’t just for the shepherds. It was for all sinful people in need of a savior.

The angel announced that the long-awaited Savior and King of God’s people had been born in the city of David! The shepherds would recognize him because he was wrapped in swaddling cloths and resting in a manger. Suddenly, an entire army of angels lit up the sky! These angels sang praises to God in heaven, glorifying him for sending the Savior who would restore peace on earth between sinful humans and a holy God.

This was the best and brightest birth announcement you could ever imagine! The angels were announcing the arrival of the one God had promised from the very beginning…the child of Adam and Eve who would bruise the snake’s head…the one from Abraham’s family would bring blessing to all the families of the world… the Shepherd King from David’s family who would become the Lamb and save God’s people! This birth announcement did not come first to the rich, powerful, or really good people. No, shepherds were the ones to first hear about the birth of God’s human Lamb. Lowly, smelly, sinful shepherds were the first to hear the good news of the gospel proclaimed loud and clear!

The shepherds were so excited that they immediately ran to see the baby. They found him lying in the manger, just as the angel had said. After seeing the baby with their own eyes, the shepherds couldn’t keep this good news to themselves. They told everyone, and they praised God for keeping his promises to his people!


Main Point: An angel announced the good news of baby Jesus’s birth to a group of shepherds watching over their sheep at night. Many angels lit up the sky, singing praises to God for sending the Savior of his people!

Christ Connection: The gospel of Jesus Christ was announced first to Jewish shepherds who couldn’t keep the good new to themselves. Soon, this good news would be announced to people from all nations on earth (Romans 1:16).

Advent Day 20: Glory Revealed

Advent Day 20: Glory Revealed

Key Scripture: Luke 2:1-7

During the time Mary and Joseph lived, God’s people were under the control of the nation of Rome. The leader of Rome made a law that everyone must travel to his hometown to be counted in order to pay taxes. So, Joseph and Mary made a trip to Bethlehem, the town of Joseph’s ancestors. Bethlehem was known as “the city of David” because that was where King David was born and chosen as king.

After Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her baby! Unfortunately, the inn where travelers could stay was completely full of other visitors. Mary and Joseph found no place to stay except a stable where the animals were kept. Mary gave birth to her firstborn son–the promised King and Savior from David’s family–among animals. The one that God’s people had been waiting and longing for was finally here! Mary wrapped the baby tightly in strips of cloth to keep him warm and laid him in the manger, the box of hay where the animals ate. Eight days after his birth, the baby was called Jesus, just as the angel had said.

Wouldn’t a palace have been a better place for the Son of God and future King of Israel to be born? How strange for him to enter this world in a stable with animals! Then again, it’s not so strange when you remember that this King was also a lamb–The Lamb who would die for human sinners. This baby’s birth place was no surprise to God. God was showing the world that he was coming down–even to the lowest of places– to rescue his people and live with them again. This time, the Creator of the universe wasn’t going to live among his people in a garden or a temple. He was going to live among them in a human body, a body just like theirs.

Like every other human, this baby would get tired and hungry. He would need to sleep and eat. He would eventually feel everything other human beings feel: pain, sadness, anger, joy, and love. But, even as this baby grew up, he would have no sin. He would reflect God’s image perfectly, showing the world exactly what God is like. This baby was both fully human and fully God. He was going to be a walking picture of God’s glory for everyone to see.


Main Point: Mary gave birth to her baby in a stable in Bethlehem and laid him in a manger. This baby was both fully God and fully human. He was a living picture of God’s glory.

Christ Connection: Jesus Christ reveals the nature and glory of God in a way humans can see (John 1:14,18; Hebrews 1:1-3).