Month: December 2019

The Gift of Healing

John 4:39
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”

Written by: Shannon Swenson

In the story about the woman at the well, we find Jesus telling this woman it is okay to be vulnerable with all she had done in her life because He already knew. Because she shared her story of the encounter with the promised Messiah, many more people came to believe in the healing love, mercy, and grace of Jesus.

This time of year is when we celebrate the greatest gift of Jesus’ promised arrival in the form of a baby being born into a mess: a messy place and for messy people. This makes me super emotional. Maybe you are like me and have wrestled through the lie of “He doesn’t know the real me or the things I have done or what has been done to me.”

The emotions used to be tied up in my shame, regret, and the things I had done and what had been done to me. But God in His infinite mercy, love, and grace, sent a savior to redeem every last bit of it for me and for you. Today, the emotions are tied up in joy and gratitude.

He knows everything you and I have ever done or ever will do. He came to heal it all. He came 2000-plus years ago to save us from ourselves and to invite us to into a personal, healing, restoring relationship with Him so we can one day join Him. And in the meantime, we learn to be humble, real, vulnerable, and willing to receive His love and learn to extend the gift of His forgiveness and grace to others.

His healing came down. His love came down. In the recovery world, we say things like “don’t give up before the miracle happens.” The truth is the woman Jesus met that day was just like you and me: a messy person trying to hide her hurts from an all-knowing and all-loving God. I believe she received an invitation to the gift of healing that day.

CASV-12.24Thought of the day: Jesus still heals. He loves you so much that He came down to rescue you. He already knows. So today, find joy and comfort in the fact He loves you as you are, not as you should be. For us, that’s a reason to celebrate.

Prayer: God, thank You for choosing to love messy people with messy lives and stories. Thank You, Jesus, that You are the healer of all things and that You already know. Give me the courage to step out and begin to trust You and others with the real me. Help me to take the steps I need to find healing in and through You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Lord Saves

Luke 1
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Written by: Robert Watson

Throughout our lives, we will experience some game-changing messages. Messages such as “You’ve made the team.” “You have been accepted to our University.” “We are proud to offer you this work contract.” “I do.” “We are having a baby.” All of these are major game-changers in our story of life. But there is one message that was a major game-changer for all stories for all time.

For thousands of years, the world had awaited a promised savior. At the moment of history recorded above, only a tiny percentage of humanity were still anticipating the day that God would fulfill His promises to Adam, Abraham, Jacob, and David. To Mary, this day would begin like any other day. She likely awoke to the sound of animals and people slowly stirring throughout the village as the sun rose before beginning her routine of family chores. Although she was pledged to Joseph, Mary had not yet left her household and she continued to operate as she always had. Nothing would have seemed out of place until this abrupt interruption from a stranger.

Mary’s life would never be the same after receiving this message, and neither would the world. She would deliver the promised savior, known as the Messiah in Hebrew and the Christ in Greek. Although customary to give a family name, the name for this savior was already determined by God. His name carried the message of His mission for all people. Jesus literally means, “the Lord saves.”

CASV-12.23Thought of the day: When we were lost in life and dead in our sins, God made us alive again through faith in the work, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There will never be a greater game-changing message than Jesus. The Lord saves.

Prayer: Thank You, thank You, thank You for the greatest gift the world has ever been given. Thank You that when we couldn’t save ourselves, You stepped into our broken and messy world to save us Yourself. Your message changed the world at large, and I thank You that it has changed my world on a personal level. Help me to share the incredible gift of Your love with all those around me. Amen.

God – The Creator

Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” 

Written by: Jimmy Leaf

This one verse is an amazing description of God! First, it tells us God was present prior to the beginning of time. Second, it tells us that God has created all things, including you.

The fact that God was present prior to the beginning of time is a crucial idea to understand.  Our God is not limited to the constraints of time because He created it. Instead, He transcends time. God had no beginning and He has no end. He is eternal, everlasting, and never changing.  God is the only being who was not caused by something else. According to Jude 25, His power, glory, love, and righteousness are all self-sustained.

If according to physics matter cannot be naturally created nor destroyed, it can only be assumed a supernatural event took place. The Bible establishes this super-natural event through God’s creation. He painted the universe as a mural of His perfection and love!  Although He spoke the universe into being, He gave special attention to His prized creation: us.  His eternal love for us was so great that He breathed life into us. And man opened his eyes for the first time in the very presence of God (Genesis 2:7). The book of Jeremiah says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

God, the creator of all things, the eternal and never-changing God, loves you and has loved you since before time was created. He knit you in your mother’s womb with a purpose and a plan for your life. His desire for you is to love God and love people!

KOH-12.20Thought of the day: In a perfect combination of God’s love and desire to create, we were formed in His image (Acts 17:28).  Even the world itself is a good gift from a gracious God!

Prayer: Thank You God for loving me before time began! Thank You for guiding my life. I pray for You to give me the strength, wisdom, and encouragement to seek You constantly. Amen.

Jesus Is Our Sustainer

Matthew 11:25-30
At that time, Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Written by: Brett Humphrey

When our kids were little 20 years ago or so, they loved to help me when I worked on projects around the house. They loved coming to the store with me as we got the materials for the project and would “help” me carry heavy items. When we moved things, I made sure I took all the weight so they could still participate, but not try to do something impossible for them. In those days, my motto was: half the work in twice the time. But I loved having them with me as we worked.

Sometimes we may forget Jesus loves us far more than we could ever love our own kids. There are times in my life when I feel overburdened and get frustrated with Jesus because I am carrying so much. I forget what Jesus said in our scripture for today: If I’m weary and burdened, Jesus wants to give me rest.

When I take His yoke upon my shoulders, He is the one doing all the work. I can rest in Him as I spend time in His presence. I wonder if Jesus smiles and lovingly shakes His head when I try to do something that’s impossible for me to do. I should realize He is more than able to carry the load. I just need to let Him.

KOH-12.19Thought of the day: Ask Jesus to reveal to you if the burden you are under is one you should be carrying. Ask Jesus to put His yoke on your shoulders so He can give you rest. Ask Him to sustain you daily as you walk along your journey with Him.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, please show me areas where I am carrying a burden You don’t want me to carry. Please help me to put Jesus’ yoke on my shoulders so He can do the work for me. Jesus, You allow me to know the Father and how much He loves me. Please let me see this in a new way. Amen.

Jesus, Our Sacrifice

KOH-12.18John 19:30b, 38-42
Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus but kept it a secret because He feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes that totaled about 75 pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it with the spices in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden and, in the garden, a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Written by: Chris Moss


Young artist Rogier van der Weyden had just finished his apprenticeship and was commissioned by the Leuven Guild of Archers to create an artistic piece for their chapel. It is important to note that churches and faith organizations were the purveyors and purchasers of art in earlier times (estimated to be 1435). The church was almost the only way for artists to make a living.

As a new artist, this commission was a make-or-break opportunity for young Rogier. Experts say it was a “self-conscious” attempt at a masterpiece to create his reputation and give him the international acclaim he craved. Little did young Rogier know the plans God had for him! “The Descent from the Cross” catapulted, and His artwork sold all over Europe to churches, cities, and royalty.

What can we learn from this painting about Jesus?

He lived and died a sacrificial life. Through this picture, we can see Jesus’ lifeless body, murdered in front of cynics and sinners, as it is removed from the cross, supported by people who loved him.

Jesus wants to make an impact on us with His love. The characters supporting Jesus are real people, mentioned in scripture, and they are wrecked with emotion. When we see the grief of Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus’ mother Mary in such vivid detail, we can have hope that Jesus is with us in our grief. When we see the stress of the disciple John etched into his face, we can have hope that Jesus is with us in the mess of our stress. Jesus impacted each of these characters with His love, and they loved Him right back. When Jesus makes on impact on us, we can love Him right back too.

Jesus loves us. In its time, this painting included men and women together from all walks of life who loved Jesus—which had never been depicted before. The Bible includes the stories of these men and women who Jesus loved. We learn from this painting that all people are valuable to Jesus. We are valuable to Him too.

Jesus wants us to trust Him. Not a single character in this painting knew what came next. And trust was born right in that moment of realization. We still must trust Him.

Thought of the day: Jesus sacrificed everything for us on that cross. Rogier van der Weyden sacrificed years of apprenticeship to learn his craft and present Jesus’ death in such a detailed way that people talked about it and mimicked it for centuries. Many of us make sacrifices for our families and for our professions. What sacrifice will we make in our lifetimes that others will talk about long after we are gone?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, some of us may be artists, while others of us may not be able to create artwork at all. You have given each of us a talent, a skill, or training that will reflect who Jesus is, just like Rogier van der Weyden. Help each of us tap into the gifts You’ve given us and learn to depict Jesus’ sacrifice so You can be further glorified in this time, in this place. In Jesus’ name, amen.