Turning Point

Recommended Reading: Luke 2:8~20

Glory in the Highest

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright, Round yon virgin mother and child! Holy Infant so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace. 
Think of the difference between Christmas Eve in 5-6 B.C. and Christmas Eve today. Then, there were no horns honking, no sirens wailing, no neon lights glaring, no videos streaming, no music blaring … it was a silent, holy night. It might have been noisier in Jerusalem, just eight miles from Bethlehem, but in Bethlehem, all was calm—and all became bright as the radiance of God’s incarnation was made known to a young couple. The quietness and peace of that birth reflects the peace that God offers to those who trust in Him: We pray and His peace guards our heart and mind in Christ (Philippians 4:6-7).
Don’t let the “loudness” of the Christmas season overwhelm your quiet times with God. Live and sleep during this season in “heavenly peace.”

Turning Point

Gratitude Attitude

Deuteronomy 16:13-17 [NKJV]
The Feast of Tabernacles Reviewed

13 “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. 15 Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.

16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.

Research has shown that, in America, people in the bottom twenty percent of income brackets give a higher percentage of their income to charity than those who are in the highest twenty percent of income brackets. The wealthier may give larger amounts of money, but the lower earners give a higher percentage. Jesus noticed the difference between amount and percentage one day at the temple—and pointed out which was more commendable.

People were putting offerings in the temple treasury containers. The wealthy were putting in large gifts out of their wealth—that is, gifts that required no sacrifice—when a poor widow came up and deposited two tiny coins: “her whole livelihood.” Jesus commended the poor widow for her generosity and sacrifice, while declining to commend the wealthy in the same way. The wealthy gave more money, but the widow gave more heart.

Let your gifts to God and others reflect an attitude of gratitude for all He has given you.
The essence of Christian ethics is gratitude.

~ R. C. Sproul

Turning Point

John 7:37-39 (NKJV)
The Promise of the Holy Spirit

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

In his book Timeless Healing, Harvard medical professor, Dr. Herbert Benson, recalls seeing the epic movie Lawrence of Arabia in a theatre in 1962—a film set in the scorching deserts of the Middle East during World War I. Because the original film was nearly four hours long, there was an intermission halfway through. Benson recounts how, at the intermission, moviegoers descended on the concession stand for cold drinks after watching nearly two hours of heat, sand, and wind!

The moviegoers weren’t dying of thirst, but they felt like it. Such can be our experience when we go through difficult times. We feel like the psalmist—parched in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. But there is spiritual water available through the Spirit as Christ announced at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37-39). Our thirst is quenched when we worship the One who sent His Spirit to meet our every need: “Thus I will bless You while I live” (Psalm 63:4).

Are you in a dry and barren place today? Drink deeply of the Spirit and be refreshed through worship.
Worry and worship are mutually exclusive.
~ John Blanchard

Turning Point

Rod and Reproofs

Genesis 39:20-23 (nkjv)
20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
Proverbs offers two paths to wisdom: the rod and reproofs of life. The rod is used by authorities while reproofs are life’s way of saying, “Don’t do that again!” Joseph learned quickly from life’s reproofs.
Joseph learned from his youthful errors and committed himself to a life of submission to God’s will and plan for his life. When he was young, he acted thoughtlessly in revealing his dreams and his father’s favoritism to his brothers (Genesis 37:3-11). After being sold as a slave into Egypt, he appeared to have gained a humility and seriousness that served him well for the rest of his life. For some of us, it takes multiple bouts with the rod and reproof to gain perspective. For Joseph, it only took one painful lesson on the downfall that awaits the proud. From then on, his challenges revealed that his heart was committed to trusting God.
When life brings reproofs, they will reveal who we are at our core. Embrace them and gain wisdom and maturity. Reject them and forfeit the lessons they offer.
The rough hewing of reproof is only to square us for the heavenly build.
~D. L. Moody

Turning Point

When Honor is Due

Genesis 49:29 – 50:14
Jacob’s Death and Burial

29 Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

50 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him, and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4 Now when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’”

When presidents die, the nation honors their contributions to the nation. The same happens when a military or local public service hero loses his or her life. Such honor is well-deserved. However, other expressions of honor seem to be practiced less: gentlemen treating ladies respectfully, younger people rising to greet an elderly person, children honoring their parents, people honoring the nation’s flag, and others.

There is something timeless and universal about “honor.” For instance, hundreds of years before Moses wrote down the fifth of the Ten Commandments—the command to honor one’s parents—Joseph did that very thing without being commanded. Though his mother was dead, Joseph honored his father, Jacob, by bringing his household to Egypt, introducing him to Pharaoh, settling his family in the choice lands in Egypt, and returning his body to Canaan to be buried when he died. Most of all, Joseph wept grievously over his father when he died and called the nation of Egypt to honor him at his passing.

Honor feels right when extended, and feels wrong when it is withheld. Look for someone to honor today in word or deed (Romans 13:7).
Honour ought to seek thee, not thou seek it.

~ Augustine

Morning Devotional

Now or Later
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Matthew 5:10]

In the seventies, a TV commercial for an automobile oil filter made this line famous: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” The same principle—now or later—also applies to rewards promised to followers of Christ.

Jesus suggested that we have a choice when it comes to rewards: We can receive rewards now in the form of the adulation of men, or we can receive rewards in eternity from God who sees what we do for Him (Colossians 3:23-24). Jesus also said that those who suffer persecution for His sake will receive the Kingdom of heaven, that those who leave the riches and relationships of this life will be rewarded a hundred times over in eternity. Sometimes we don’t choose to give up comfort in this life; it is taken from us by persecutors of the Church. The same promise applies: God stands ready to reward those who suffer for Christ’s sake in this life. Heaven is a time when rewards will replace what was lost.

Whatever you lose for Christ’s sake—property, reputation, comfort, your good name—does not go unnoticed by God. Nor will it go unrewarded (Romans 8:18).

In the second advent [God] will manifest His glory to reward their faith.
~ John Chrysostom

Turning Point

At What Cost?

Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old.
Lamentations 5:21

Recommended Reading:
Lamentations 5:19-22

When King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922, it instantly became a famous tourist destination with thousands of people coming every day, year after year. Carbon dioxide from the visitors’ breath and all the dust they stirred up had a dulling influence on the stunning gold walls of the tomb. The site was closed for years while the Getty Conservation Institute restored the images and installed new ventilation systems and walkways. Now King Tut’s tomb is open again, but when asked how much the restoration cost, the institute says it was so expensive they won’t disclose the cost.

We live in a dusty world, and the devil is always breathing down our backs. It’s easy to become spiritually dull and stained. Sometimes we lose the golden glow of God’s energy in our hearts. We often need for Him to do as He said in Psalm 23—to restore our souls.

But we shouldn’t forget the great cost that gained all our blessings for us at Calvary, for He gave us Himself.

Let Jesus revive your heart today, then thank Him for the cleansing power of His blood.

When Satan deplores us and the world ignores us, God restores us.
Anonymous