Pure Grace

Jeff Munroe

Read: Revelation 20:11–21:8 The home of God is among mortals. (21:3 NRSV) I started this series of devotionals saying that the event we truly await during Advent is not the birth of Jesus but the second coming of Jesus. Our Scripture today takes us beyond that to the culmination of history in the final judgment. A lot of fear and anxiety has been created over the centuries by John’s graphic vision of a second death in a lake of fire, …

Not the Light but the Lamp

Kristen Deede Johnson

Read: John 5:30-36 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. (v. 35 NIV) In today’s passage, John the Baptist is described as “a burning and shining lamp.” He gave off light, but he was not the primary source of the light. We read this same conviction in the opening of John: “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which …

How Reckless, How Amazing

Felix Theonugraha

Read: Matthew 18:1-14 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. (v. 13) Imagine that you are a shepherd with 100 sheep, and after counting you realize that one of them is missing. You don’t know where that sheep went, and now you must decide what to do. Do you leave the 99 in order to search for just one? What if a predator descends …

What a Year It Has Been!

Felix Theonugraha

Read: Isaiah 11:1-9 The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (v. 9) The year 2020 has been an incredible year. The COVID-19 pandemic altered our lives, and we have been gripped with anxiety, fear, grief, and several deep losses. I wish we could start the year over again and write a new script for it. Fortunately, no matter how difficult our lives are, we know how the story ends. Jesus …

An Invitation to Turn

Sue Rozeboom

Read: Matthew 3:1-12 Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand . . . Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (vv. 2, 8) Last Tuesday we reflected on “Living while Waiting,” prompted by Paul’s letter to a church harried over the second coming of the Messiah. Now, here we are again, though with an eccentric prophet in the desert shouting about the coming of the Messiah for the first time. Eccentric? That’s putting it mildly for a weather-beaten guy …

A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

J. Todd Billings and Katlyn DeVries

Read: Psalm 50 You thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. (v. 21) This psalm presents a scathing critique of the wicked, naming “classic” sins like thievery, adultery, and slander. When the Bible presents lists like this, I tend to feel a little self-righteous. Surely, I’m one of the “faithful ones,” not “the wicked” who are being rebuked. Then I read: “These things you have done, and I have …