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Don’s Daily Devotions


Acts chapter 17 v 5-9:

Acts chapter 17 v 5-9:

V5:  The unbelieving Jews – probably the synagogue rulers – are jealous and stir up a mob – there are always those ripe for trouble in any age and culture, and soon the whole city is in an uproar. They attack the home of a man named Jason, where Paul and his companions are staying ( v7.) Remember that behind all such human opposition, Satan’s malice is always at work.

V6:  Paul and Silas are not there, so the mob seize Jason, and some other new believers, and drag them, no doubt roughly, before the city authorities. These new converts find out early in their Christian lives what it is to suffer for Christ’s sake. Note the accusation ” they have turned the world upside down” – aimed at the absent Paul and Silas really, but witness to the spread of the Gospel and it’s transforming power. The real truth is, of course, that the Gospel turns a world which is upside down ” right way up.”

V7:  As so often, the false charge of sedition against Rome is brought. Jesus is indeed a KIng, of course – King of Kings – but neither He nor His Apostles ever preached earthly rebellion – see rather Mark 12 v 17, and Paul’s words in Romans 13 v 1-2.

V8:  The charges disturb both the ordinary people and the magistrates, for these are charges that could bring down Rome’s wrath on a city, as those who bring them well know.

V9:  Yet, in God’s over-ruling mercy, no heavy punishment is given to Jason and the others. They are fined – the “security” suggests a kind of bail, to guarantee future ” good behaviour”, perhaps with the condition that Paul leaves Thessalonica.


Acts chapter 17 v1-4:

Acts chapter 17 v1-4:

V1:  Paul and his team continue to move through Macedonia, until they come to the major city of Thessalonica, where there is a Jewish synagogue.

V2-3:  So, Paul goes into the synagogue, and for 3 successive Sabbath days reasons from the OT, how it points to Jesus, foretelling His sufferings and death, and also His Resurrection. He declares that Jesus is indeed the Christ – the Anointed One of God, the promised Messiah. There must have been, under God’s sovereign hand, a measure of acceptance to allow the 3 week’s ministry.

V4:  Some are indeed ” persuaded “ – God’s grace is at work – and join with Paul and Silas. As well as Jews, there are a ” great many “ devout Gentile God-fearers from the synagogue congregation, and a number of ” leading women “. The record seems to emphasise that God’s grace in the Gospel is for Jews and Gentiles, men and women, from all kinds of backgrounds.



Matthew chapter 2 v 1-12:

Saturday December 26th.  Read Matthew chapter 2 v 1-12:

After yesterday’s profound verses, we may feel we return to the more homely account of the visit of the Wise Men ( the Magi ) to the One revealed to them as the new-born “King of the Jews”. But we must not let seeming familiarity, and impressions of this event from Christmas cards and seasonal traditions ( and even some carols ) make us miss the truth of what is taking place.  Note, these visitors are not ” kings”, but Magi, Wise men belonging to a known tradition of wisdom, probably from Persia, and not with any background in Jewish beliefs or OT Scripture. Yet God has revealed to them this birth of a king among the Jews ( in a sense greater than they can know ), remarkably through their own ( presumably pagan ) study of the stars. Who could have expected this? God’s ways are beyond our fathoming, but revealed to our faith!

They follow ” a star” – much speculation has been made about this, which needn’t worry us – it was God’s guidance to them is all we need to know! But they seem to take their eyes off the star when they come to Jerusalem, to follow their own thinking – always something to beware of, if it leads away from God’s Word. Where else would a King be born but in a palace, so they come to Herod, and unwittingly stir his jealousy and fear and anger, with later tragic consequences. ( v16.)  They are however, directed by his advisers to Bethlehem, according to Micah’s prophecy., and now follow the star again, until it leads them to the child they seek – probably no longer a new-born baby, and not in the stable, but in a house ( v 11 ) They come in, and present their gifts, so familiar to all who know the Christmas story. Costly gifts, to one so humbly born, but they are sure He is the One they have been brought to, and unreservedly worship Him!

So, what does this mean? Surely that God has confirmed in a remarkable way that the Saviour has been given, not only for the Jews, but for those in and from all the world who find Him and trust Him, always by God’s grace alone!

As we end these Christmas devotions, let us say again ” Hallelujah, what a Saviour!”


John chapter 1 v 1-5, 9-14:

Christmas Day – Friday December 25th.   Read John chapter 1 v 1-5, 9-14:

Here is the Christmas event set in its eternal context. The full wonder of Who was born so humbly as a human child is declared. He is ” The Word” ” – the living Word of God, the One Who is truly the Voice of the divine Being. When He declares God’s Word it is not as the inspired prophets and writers of Scripture did, but as God Himself. He has been with the Father from all eternity, but not only with God, He Himself is God, in the mystery of God’s being – ever One God, ever Three persons. He was active in Creation, is the true source of all life, but now brings into a fallen World the “true life” which is “the light of men.” We recall His own words in John 8 v12. With His coming into the World he has made, Light came into a world steeped in the darkness of sin – but that darkness has not and can not overcome or put out the light!

Yet when He came into the World He had made, it did not want to know Him – even His own people Israel, to whom He was long promised in their Scriptures, did not receive Him. ( Here in a sense is a summary of the whole Gospel record – they rejected Him all the way to the Cross, of course.) YET all who did ( and still do ) receive Him, trust Him as Saviour and Lord, are made God’s own children, not by any human act but by God’s free and Sovereign grace. Then that tremendous verse ” The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, and those Who came to trust Him saw in Him the glory which is His own, as “the only Son of the Father.”

Here is the full wonder of what took place that first Christmas – the Eternal Word became the babe of Bethlehem, entered in to human life in such humble circumstances, began the life of rejection which would end in the ultimate rejection of the Cross. Yet in God’s amazing grace, the Salvation He brought was won on and through that Cross of shame. May God’s grace fill our hearts with joy and praise today!


Luke chapter 2 v25-32:

Thursday December 24th.  Read Luke chapter 2 v25-32:

Let us jump ahead a little. Mary and Joseph, as all faithful Jewish parents would do, in accordance with the OT Law in Leviticus ch 12, bring the child to Jerusalem to present Him in the temple, and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Their sacrifice of turtledoves identifies them as poorly off ( Leviticus 12 v 8.) unable to afford a lamb – yet the child they bring is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” – ( John 1 v29.)

In the temple is a devout old man, Simeon, a true believer, longing to see the blessing God has promised to send to Israel. The Holy Spirit has told him he will not die until he has indeed seen the fulfillment of that promise – the Christ of God. As soon as he sees Jesus with His parents ( Joseph is spoken of in this way, in his responsibility for Mary and her child ) he knows this child is the One promised. He says he can die in peace now, for he has seen the ” salvation God has prepared “, and in a God-given awareness he sees that this salvation, this light of revelation, is not only for the Jews, but for Gentiles too. So it is declared that the Saviour born as Mary’s Son, Who is truly God’s Son , is indeed the Saviour of the world!  May we truly be trusting in him, and know the full joy of this wonderful Christmas message.


Luke chapter 2 v 8-20:

:  Wednesday December 23rd.  Read Luke chapter 2 v 8-20:

Again, how familiar the story is – again, how amazing is what it tells us!  Shepherds, considered to be, in those days, among the dregs of society, looked on with suspicion and scorn, regarded almost as ” unclean “, are the first to be told of the Saviour’s birth in a tremendous revelation brought by angels from God. Remember how He would speak of Himself as ” the Good Shepherd”, in John 10 v11. They not only hear the angelic messenger, they experience God’s glory shining around them, and they listen to the praise of the angelic host! They are given the most wonderful news the world has ever received – a Saviour, born for them ( and for all who will trust Him ) who is indeed the promised Christ, the Messiah, the Lord! At once they go to see for themselves, and find it, of course, just as they have been told. Afterwards they are so excited they tell everyone they meet – are we as ready to speak of the Saviour ? – and are left ” glorifying and praising God.”

Someone I know once put it like this – ” What an amazing night those shepherds had. They SAW heavenly glory, they HEARD angelic praise, and they came FACE TO FACE with the Christ-child, Who is our Shepherd, Who laid down His life for His sheep. In their experience, we see God’s grace and Christ’s love for us too.”



Luke chapter 2 v 1-7:

Tuesday December 22nd.  Read Luke chapter 2 v 1-7:

Luke, the careful historian, here sets the birth of Jesus firmly in its historic context. Caesar Augustus, the Emperor commands a census to register all in the Roman world ( no doubt for taxation purposes ) and everyone must go to their town of origin to register. So Joseph, as a descendant of David, takes Mary to Bethlehem, David’s city, though now it seems, an obscure ” back-water” in Israel. So God orders and over-rules man’s purposes to bring about His own, and as foretold in Micah 5 v2 , Jesus the Christ will be born in Bethlehem. It’s been well said that all history in really HIS story! Galatians 4 v 4 tells us that this exact moment was, in God’s plan, ” the fullness of time.”

It seems that the inn in Bethlehem is full, no doubt due to the census, so Mary gives birth to her child in the stable, and His cot is a manger. Presumably, the inn-keeper had this much compassion for the pregnant woman. Yes, the details are so familiar, carols and cards make it seem almost idyllic ( it would not have been !), we should never let familiarity blind us to the true situation here – God’s Son born among men had a hard start to a harder life. The manger was the first step on the harsh road that led finally to the Cross, where the Son of God would bear His peoples’ sins to be their Saviour. Hallelujah, what a Saviour!


Matthew chapter 1 v18-25:

Monday December 21st.   Read Matthew chapter 1 v18-25:

What must it have been like for Joseph to discover that Mary, his bride to be, was pregnant? What could he think, but that she had been unfaithful to him, for though not yet actually married, betrothal was as binding as if they were – so, he is called her husband in v19. Why had Mary not told him of Gabriel’s visitation? Perhaps she felt he would not believe her, perhaps she felt it was just ” too private”, but whatever the case, Joseph believes she is pregnant by another man. Now, he could have held her up to public shame, even charged her with adultery, but we are told he was a good and just man, and clearly a compassionate one too, so his thought is to break off the betrothal ” quietly” – discretely and with as little fuss as possible.

Then God sends an angel in a dream – but Joseph has no doubts of the truth and reality of what he is told, or that this dream is indeed from God – that he need not fear to take Mary as his wife, for the baby in her womb is ” conceived in her from the Holy Spirit”, and the Son she bears is to be called Jesus, for He, truly God’s Son in Mary’s womb ” will save His people from their sins”. Then we are reminded of the prophecy of Isaiah 7 v14, now fulfilled in Mary and her child. Jesus the Saviour is indeed Immanuel, God with us, in His birth as truly human as we are, yet God’s own Son, given to be our Saviour in wonderful grace!



Luke chapter 1 v 46-55:

Saturday December 19th:  Read Luke chapter 1 v 46-55:

Here is Mary’s wonderful song of praise  and rejoicing in God, traditionally called the Magnificat. We must not let the unbiblical teaching the Roman Catholic church builds upon these verses make us fail to realise their real truth, or regard them as we should! Mary’s praise is all for her Lord – she rejoices in Him as her own Saviour, in this recognising her need of a Saviour, and perhaps led by the Spirit to apply the angel’s message to herself. She also speaks of her own ” humble estate “ – her unworthiness in herself – and yet has a God-given awareness that all future generations ” will call me blessed ” – not surely because of herself, but because of the Son she will give birth to, and His saving work in all the world, throughout the ages.She rejoices too in God’s Almighty power, His holiness and His mercy, and looks ahead to how in the Saviour’s coming and work all human pride and self-esteem is shown to be empty, and only those who are humbly dependant on Him will be exalted – so it is indeed all of grace! ( we may compare 1 Corinthians 1 v26-29.) She sees in all this the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, and first to Abraham.  We may think of Genesis 12 v1-3, where God speaks of one descended from Abraham ( still called Abram here ) Who will bring blessing not just to Israel, but to all nations. Here indeed is another long-ago promise of Jesus, the coming of the Saviour of the world ( John 4 v 42.)

Let Mary’s praise, as she rejoices in her God-given awareness of what He is doing and will do through the Son she will give birth to – and that all is by His Sovereign working and grace – inspire and foster our praise too, as we  see again how the lovely and familiar Christmas message is indeed God’s eternal purpose and promise, now fulfilled in human history, but also pointing forward still to the Lord’s second coming and eternal kingdom. Truly, praise the Lord!



Luke chapter 1 v 39-45:

Friday December 18th:  read Luke chapter 1 v 39-45:

Mary- clearly already pregnant – goes to visit her relative Elizabeth, who is herself carrying in her womb the child who will become John the baptist, whose task will be to prepare for and point to Jesus ( e.g. Matthew 3 v1-3, 11.) We are told that the baby “leaped in her womb” when Mary arrived, and Elizabeth herself is led by the Holy Spirit, to speak of Mary as uniquely blessed – but far more so, the Child she is bearing. She recognises that he is to be called ” her Lord” – again, a revelation by grace alone. Surely this must have been a great encouragement and confirmation to Mary herself, as God deals graciously with her too. So, He reveals  and develops His purpose, telling more and more of the nature and person of the child Mary will bear. Let us reflect again, today and throughout this Christmas season, of the wonder of God’s grace to us all, in sending His Son to be our Saviour.