December 27, 2021 – January 1, 2022
Click on the day to expand the guide.
Monday, December 27
Read – Matthew 2:1-12
Notice – We’ve heard this story a lot, so we might miss the surprise. Wealthy men who’d visited King Herod’s court “saw the child with Mary his mother [a young peasant girl]. Falling to their knees, they honored him.” What do you think showed these foreign wise men that this was a king worthy of their honor? What qualities Jesus showed most move you to “fall to your knees” in worship?
Pray – Jesus, after the holiday hoopla, help me find inner stillness and peace. Help me, like the wise men of old, to name you king, and to commit myself anew to serve you. Amen.
Tuesday, December 28
Read – Acts 2:31-39
Notice – Peter quoted Psalm 110:1, a text Jesus and the apostles often quoted (cf. Luke 20:42–44; 22:69; Acts 7:55–56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12–13; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22). To sit at a king’s right hand meant to share his authority and trust. How did this verse from the psalm, applied to Jesus, support Peter’s claim about Jesus in verse 36?
Pray – Lord Jesus, I wasn’t there long ago shouting “Crucify him.” But as I reflect on Peter’s bold sermon, I know I also need to change my heart and life, and I ask you to be my Lord in doing that. Amen.
Wednesday, December 29
Read – Acts 10:34-43
Notice – One crucial way Rome insisted that citizens in its empire show their loyalty was to say, formally in a temple to the emperor, “Caesar is Lord.” Imagine Peter telling these soldiers sent to enforce Caesar’s lordship, “This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all!” (verse 36) What “lords” has Jesus challenged and dethroned in your life?
Pray – Jesus, you are Lord of all. That takes in all the world’s big problems that sometimes trouble me—and it also takes in all my internal struggles. Be Lord of all, inside me as well as outside. Amen.
Thursday, December 30
Read – 1 Corinthians 8:2-6, 12:2-6
Notice – The culture of Corinth (and of the Roman empire) urged people to muscle their way to the “top” of the pyramid and tear down all competitors. But Paul said the church is NOT like a pyramid. Under Christ’s headship (cf. Ephesians 4:15-16), every person in the church has a unique, valuable part to play in God’s work. What role(s) has Christ’s Spirit equipped you to play in the church’s mission?
Pray – Lord of my life, teach me your ways. Give me wisdom to know how to live to honor you and help me shape my service to maximize the gifts you’ve given me. Amen.
Friday, December 31
Read – Romans 10:5-13, Romans 14:2-9
Notice – Today’s media make it so easy to see what others are doing that we easily start judging others in almost any area of life. Have you ever been aware of someone judging you unfairly? In what ways has it strengthened your connection with God when you’ve been able to stop judging others? How have you found it freeing and energizing to focus on your own relationship with God, and give others the freedom to do the same?
Pray – Lord Jesus, free me from the urge to judge people who are your servants, not mine. Replace it with a desire to let your saving love unite all of us who trust in you as our Lord. Amen.
Saturday, January 1
Read – Revelation 17:14, 19:11-16
Notice – In a powerfully symbolic vision, Revelation proclaimed Jesus’ final Lordship over all of creation. Some symbols change little over time—good guys, for example, ride on white horses. Others take a bit more thought and study. As an example, the sword from the victor’s mouth was not meant as a literal piece of sharpened metal but was a symbol for the power of God’s word (cf. Hebrews 4:12). Rome happened to be in power at the time John wrote Revelation. But Rome was hardly unique. Human rulers have often claimed divine status for their actions (e.g., Nazi soldiers wore belt buckles that said, in German, “God is with us”). Some, like the Roman emperors, have even claimed to be divine themselves. Scholars G. K. Beale and Sean M. McDonough said Jesus’ title “is expressing the idea of ‘ultimate ruler over all kings’….The name is taken from Dan. 4:37 Septuagint [Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament], where it is a title for God.” * The headlines continually report concerns about leaders in Russia, China, various terrorist groups, and many others. Do you trust that Jesus is “lord of lords” over all of them? In what ways does that trust form the basis for the hope in which we live, during Advent at the end of this hard, sad year and as the new year has dawned?
Pray – Lord Jesus, you are the Lord of lords. I cannot even fully grasp all the reach of that, but I can and do ask you to be Lord of my life, to shape me into the person you want me to be. Amen.
- K. Beale and Sean M. McDonough, comment on Revelation 19:16 in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007, p. 1144.