News & Updates
 
December, 2015

Big Horn

                         Devotions, December, 2015

                               God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                                December 1, 2015

Good Morning!
What we think about when we are free to think about what we will, that is what we are, or will soon become.

TO BE RIGHT, WE MUST THINK RIGHT:        
Proverbs 23:7. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:”

Except for that conduct which springs from our basic natural instincts, all conscious behavior is preceded by and arises out of our thoughts. The will can become a servant of the thoughts, and to a large degree even our emotions follow our thinking. “The more I think about it the madder I get” is the way the average man states it, and in so doing not only reports accurately on his own mental processes but pays as well an unconscious tribute to the power of thought. Thinking stirs feeling and feeling triggers action. That is the way we are made and we may as well accept it.

The Bible has a great deal to say about our thoughts. The Psalms and Prophets contain numerous references to the power of right thinking to raise religious feeling and incite to right conduct. “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies” (Psalms 119:59). Over and over the Old Testament writers exhort us to get quiet and think about high and holy things as a preliminary to a change of life, or a good deed, or a courageous act.

The Old Testament is not alone in its respect for the God-given power of human thought. Jesus taught that men defile themselves by evil thinking and even went so far as to equate a thought with an act: “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Paul recited a list of virtues and commanded, “Think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

These quotations are but three out of hundreds that could be cited from the Scriptures. Thinking about God and holy things creates a moral climate favorable to the growth of faith and love and humility and reverence. We cannot by thinking regenerate our hearts, nor take our sins away nor change the leopard’s spots. Neither can we by thinking add one cubit to our stature or make evil good or darkness light. But we can by Spirit-inspired thinking help to make our minds pure sanctuaries in which God will be pleased to dwell.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Daniel   6  7     Proverbs   28  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

*****************************************

                               God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

 Today’s First Thoughts                                         December 2, 2015

 Good Morning!
The world is big and tangled and dark, and we are never sure where a true Christian may be found. One thing we do know: the more like Christ he is, the less likely it will be that a newspaper reporter will be seeking him out.

HEARD ONLY BY OUR SINGING:
1 Thessalonians 5:13. And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.

We may properly conclude that it is right and natural that we should value the esteem of society. We refer to this quality in human nature when we say of a man who has ceased to care what people think of him that he has “lost his self-respect.”

To value the esteem of mankind and for Christ’s sake to renounce it is a form of crucifixion suffered by true Christians since the days of the apostles. For it cannot be denied that the way of the cross is unpopular and that it brings a measure of reproach upon those who take it. The cross would not be a cross to us if it destroyed in us only the unreal and the artificial. It is when it goes on to slay the best in us that its cruel sharpness is felt. If it slew only our sins it might be bearable, even kind, but when we must suffer the loss of things both precious and good, then we taste the bitterness of the nails and the thorns.

It cannot be denied that the way of the cross is unpopular and that it brings a measure of reproach upon those who take it. It is rare that a “separated Christian” escapes a certain shame in his lifetime. They were scorned and derided while they walked on earth; off-scouring they were, to be persecuted or, worse, to be let coldly alone as if they were lepers. Now we sing their hymns and build their sepulchres, but history has recorded the abuses once heaped upon them for their “perfectionism” and for that irrepressible joy of theirs that embarrassed people and made them look away and hurry out of their presence.

“Scarce seen, scarce heard, unreckoned,
Despised, defamed,
Unknown Or heard but by our singing,
On, children! ever on!”

Not honored or praised; unsung, but singing: this is the short and simple story of many today whose names are not known beyond the small circle of their own small company. Their gifts are not many nor great, but their song is sweet and clear.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
 Daniel  8  9     Psalm   97  98 99  100

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

**********************************************

                              God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

 Today’s First Thoughts                                         December 3, 2015

Good Morning!
God may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it.

FAITH DARES TO FAIL:
Matthew 6:32. “For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:”

In this world men are judged by their ability to accomplish, to succeed. They are rated according to the distance they have come up the hill of achievement. At the bottom is utter failure; at the top complete success, and between these two extremes the majority of civilized men and women sweat and struggle from youth to old age. A few give up, slide to the bottom and become inhabitants of Skid Row. There, with ambition gone and will broken, they subsist on handouts till nature forecloses on them and death takes them away. At the top are the few who by a combination of talent, hard work and good fortune manage to reach the peak and all the luxury, fame and power that are found there.

But in all of this there is no happiness. The man who reaches the pinnacle is seldom happy for very long. He soon becomes eaten by fears that he may slip back a peg and be forced to surrender his place to another. Examples of this are found in the feverish way the TV star watches his rating and the politician his mail.

This mania to succeed is a good thing perverted. The desire to fulfill the purpose for which we were created is of course a gift from God, but sin has twisted this impulse about and turned it into a selfish lust for first place and top honors. By this lust the whole world of mankind is driven as by a demon, and there is no escape.

When we come to Christ we enter a different world. The New Testament introduces us to a spiritual philosophy infinitely higher than and altogether contrary to that which motivates the world. According to the teaching of Christ the poor in spirit are blessed; the meek inherit the earth; the first are last and the last first; the greatest man is the one that best serves others; the one who loses everything is the only one that will have everything at last; the successful man of the world will see his hoarded treasures swept away by the tempest of judgment; the righteous beggar goes to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man burns in the fires of hell.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Daniel   10  11       Proverbs   29

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

******************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                           

Today’s First Thoughts                                              December 4, 2015

Good Morning!
Churches and missionary societies should keep always before them the knowledge that progress can be made only by the “Ohs” and “Ahs” of Spirit-filled hearts.

ARE WE LOSING OUR “OH!”?
Romans 11:33. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”

Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary lists 550,000 words. And it is a solemn and beautiful thought that in our worship of God there sometimes rush up all this wealth of words is not sufficient to express. To be articulate at certain times we are compelled to fall back upon “Oh!” or “O!”—a primitive exclamatory sound that is hardly a word at all and that scarcely admits of a definition.

Vocabularies are formed by many minds over long periods and are capable of expressing whatever the mind is capable of entertaining. But when the heart, on its knees, moves into the awesome Presence and hears with fear and wonder things not lawful to utter, then the mind falls flat, and words, previously its faithful servants, become weak and totally incapable of telling what the heart hears and sees. In that awful moment the worshiper can only cry “Oh!” And that simple exclamation becomes more eloquent than learned speech and, I have no doubt, is dearer to God than any oratory.

The Moravian Hymnal lists about three hundred verse lines that begin with “O.” In the inspired Scriptures, where no imperfection is to be found, the exclamatory vocable occurs constantly. Prophets and psalmists continually find themselves on the brink of the infinite gazing into an abysm of divinity that quite overwhelms them and squeezes from their hearts such bursts of feeling as mere words cannot express. It is then that “Oh!” and “Ah!” come spontaneously to their lips, as when Jeremiah, upon hearing the voice of the Lord, responds, “Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child” (Jeremiah 1:6); or when Ezekiel standing in the valley of bones cries out, “O Lord God, thou knowest” (Ezekiel 37:3).

It is the pain cries of the fruitful mother about to give birth. They also indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit making intercessions with groanings that cannot be uttered. And this is God’s only method in the local church or on the mission field.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Daniel   12        Hosea   1       Proverbs   30 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

**********************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                  December 5 & 6, 2015

Good Morning!
It has been suggested that life, for all its apparent complexities, is at bottom very simple indeed if we could only realize it. Thank God, only a few things matter. The rest are incidental and unimportant.

ONLY A FEW THINGS MATTER:
Philippians 3:8. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,”

What really matters after all? My personal relation to God matters. That takes priority over everything else. A man may be born in a sanitary hospital, receive his education in progressive schools, ride in an air-conditioned car, sleep on a foam rubber mattress, wear synthetic clothing, eat vitamin-enriched food, read by fluorescent lights, speak across 12,000 miles of empty space to a friend on the other side of the world, lose his anxieties by taking tranquilizing pills, die without pain by the aid of some new drug and be laid to rest in a memorial park as lovely as a country garden; yet what will all this profit him if he must later rise to face in judgment a God who knows him not and whom he does not know? To come at last before the bar of eternal justice with no one to plead his cause and to be banished forever from the presence of the great Judge—is that man any better off than if he had died a naked savage in the hinterlands of Borneo?

No man can afford to live or die under the frowning displeasure of God. The naked aborigine is as near to God (and as far from Him) as the Ph. D. Nothing new can save my soul; neither can saving grace be modernized. We must each come as Abel came, by atoning blood and faith demonstrated in repentance. No new way has been discovered. The old way is the true way and there is no new way. The Lamb of God was slain “before the foundation of the world.”

A few other things matter to be sure, but they begin there, go out from there and return there again. They are that we trust Christ completely, carry our cross daily, love God and our fellow men, walk in the light as God gives us to understand it; that we love mercy, and walk uprightly; that we fulfill our commission as ambassadors of Christ among men; that we grow in grace and in the knowledge of God and come at last to our end like a ripe shock of corn at harvest time. This is what really Matters.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Hosea   2   3        Proverbs   31
Hosea  
4   5        Psalm    101  102

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

********************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                            December 7, 2015

Good Morning!
Like every other power belonging to us, the imagination may be either a blessing or a curse, depending altogether upon how it is used and how well it is disciplined.

THE VALUE OF A SANCTIFIED IMAGINATION:
Genesis 6:5. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

We all have to some degree the power to imagine. This gift enables us to see meanings in material objects, to observe similarities between things which at first appear wholly unlike each other. It permits us to know that which the senses can never tell us, for by it we are able to see through sense impressions to the reality that lies behind things. That fallen man has often used his creative powers in the service of evil does not invalidate our argument. Any talent may be used for evil as well as for good, but every talent comes from God nevertheless.

That the imagination is of great value in the service of God may be denied by some persons who have erroneously confused the word “imaginative” (having a creative imagination) with the word “imaginary” (having existence only in the imagination; unreal). The gospel of Jesus Christ has no dispute with things imaginary. The most realistic book in the world is the Bible. God is real, men are real and so is sin and so are death and hell, toward which sin inevitably leads. The presence of God is not imaginary; neither is prayer the indulgence of a delightful fancy. The objects that engage the praying man’s attention, while not material, are nevertheless completely real; more certainly real, it will at last be admitted, than any earthly object.

The value of the cleansed imagination in the sphere of religion lies in its power to perceive in natural things shadows of things spiritual. Throughout the years, from evil minds, have flowed, as from a polluted fountain, streams of evil ideas which have led to lawless and destructive conduct on the part of men. What I am trying to describe here is the sacred gift of seeing, the ability to peer beyond the veil and gaze with astonished wonder upon the beauties and mysteries of things holy and eternal. Thing not seen by the natural eyes.

To possess a Spirit-indwelt mind is the Christian’s privilege under grace, and this embraces all I have been trying to say here.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Hosea   6   7       Psalm   103

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

******************************************

                              God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

 Today’s First Thoughts                                            December 8, 2015

Good Morning!
Activity that does not result in progress toward a goal is wasted; yet many Christians have no clear end toward which they are striving.

THE TRAGEDY OF WASTED RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY:
Hebrews 5:12. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”

There is probably not another field of human activity where there is so much waste as in the field of religion. It is altogether possible to waste an hour in church or even in a prayer meeting. The popular “attend the church of your choice” signs that have lately been appearing everywhere may have some small value if they do no more than remind a materialistic civilization that this world is not all and that there are some treasures that cannot be bought with money. Yet we must not forget that a man may attend church for a lifetime and be none the better for it.

The familiar phrase, the religious tone, the emotionally loaded words have their superficial and temporary effect, but the worshiper is no nearer to God, no better morally and no surer of heaven than he was before. Yet every Sunday morning for twenty years he goes through the same routine and, allowing two hours for him to leave his house, sit through a church service and return to his house again, he has wasted more than 170 twelve-hour days with this exercise in futility.

The writer to the Hebrews says that some professed Christians were marking time and getting nowhere. They had had plenty of opportunity to grow, but they had not grown; they had had sufficient time to mature, yet they were still babes; so he exhorted them to leave their meaningless religious round and press on to perfection (Heb. 5:11-6:3). It is possible to have motion without progress, and this describes much of the activity among Christians today. It is simply lost motion. He may go to church for fifty years to no profit. He may tithe, teach, preach, sing, write or edit or run a Bible conference till he gets too old to navigate and have nothing but ashes at the last. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” I need only add that all this tragic waste is unnecessary. The believing, obedient Christian will relish every moment in church and will profit by it, and will yield to God as the clay to the potter, and the result will be not waste but glory everlasting.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Hosea   8   9      Psalm   104

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

********************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                       December 9, 2015

Good Morning!
Many a man has his heart locked up in a bank vault, and many a woman has her heart in her jewel box or stored at the furriers. It is a great moral tragedy when anything as wonderful as the human heart comes to rest on the earth and fails to rise to its own proper place in God and in heaven.

MISSPLACED TREASURES:
Matthew 6:21. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

The Bible has a great deal to say about wealth. Our Lord dealt with the matter forthrightly, as did also Paul and others of the New Testament writers. What they said is on record and is deserving of a more careful study than most Christians give it. Wealth, of course, may exist in many forms and on a number of levels. A thing may be valuable in itself, or it may be intrinsically worthless but have an arbitrary value attached to it and so become a much sought after treasure among men. It would, for instance, be difficult to conceive of anything less valuable in itself than a cowrie shell, yet by common consent that worthless shell is made to stand for sweet potatoes or pigs, things having actual value for the people who must subsist upon them. And surely no one imagines that a bank note, a money order or a check has any worth apart from that attributed to it by law or custom.

One form of wealth for which little excuse can be found consists of trinkets to which a wholly artificial value has been attached, such as antiques, autographs and first editions. These constitute wealth in the minds of only a relatively few persons, but because most of these are the blasé rich, surfeited with too much of everything, these quaint playthings often sell for fabulous prices.

Above all these and incomparably greater than any or all of them are those treasures eternal in the heavens of which Christ spoke in His sermon on the mount and which the apostle Peter described as an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away. These become more real to us as we move on into conscious union with God, and the lower forms of wealth lose their value correspondingly. Our Lord identified the highest form of wealth as “the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” One of the glories of the Christian religion is that faith and love can transmute lower values into higher ones. Earthly possessions can be turned into heavenly treasures. Temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Hosea   10  11      Psalm   105 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

******************************************

                               God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

 Today’s First Thoughts                                       December 10, 2015

Good Morning!
The world talks of peace, and by peace it means the absence of war. What it overlooks is that there is another meaning of the word, namely, tranquility of heart, and without that kind of peace the peace of the world will continue to be but an unattainable dream.

TRUE PEACE IS A GIFT OF GOD:
John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

It is ironic that this generation, which more than any other in history, preaches the brotherhood of man is also the generation most torn by unbrotherly strife. War, either cold or hot, has plagued the earth incessantly from the day Cain slew Abel to the present moment; but never before in the history of the race have there been such deep hatreds, such alienation of hearts, such suspicion, such bitter accusations, such threats, such frenzied competition to perfect and pile up horror weapons capable of wiping out whole cities instantaneously. For the first time in human history the language of generals and statesmen is beginning to sound like the Apocalypse, and the frightening thing is that science has given the war lords the power to bring apocalyptic destruction upon the world.

As long as peace between nations continues to depend upon the shifting moods of choleric old men filled with hatred and frustration at their approaching dissolution, and who are ready to pull the world down with them into the bottomless pit, just that long will there be no peace among nations. Hate, greed, megalomania and the mad ambition that in every generation “overleaps itself” drive the leaders of nations savagely to kill and destroy for the furtherance of their incredibly wicked ends.

True peace is a gift of God and today it is found only in the minds of innocent children and in the hearts of trustful Christians. “Peace I leave with you,” said our Lord at the close of His earthly ministry; “my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Maybe the great of the world have under-estimated the Christian after all. When the big day comes he may stand like Abraham above the burning plain and watch the smoke rising from the cities that forgot God. Neither science nor learning can quench the fires of judgment in that day, but a Christian can steal a quick look at Calvary and know that his judgment is past.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Hosea   12   13       Psalm   106

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

******************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                       December 11, 2015

Good Morning!
God’s ideal is a fellowship of faith, a Christian community. Jesus never intended that salvation should be received and enjoyed by the individual apart from the larger company of believers.

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE BRETHREN:
1 John 1:7. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

It is true that for each one there must be a personal encounter with God, and often that encounter takes place in the loneliness and silence of retirement. In that sacred moment there must be only God and the individual soul. The mysterious operation of God in regenerating grace and His further work of the Spirit’s anointing are transactions so highly personal that no third party can know or understand what is taking place. There are other experiences deep and wholly inward that cannot be shared with any other: Jacob at Bethel and Peniel, Moses at the burning bush, Christ in the garden, John in the Isle of Patmos are Bible examples, and Christian biography will reveal many more.

A community of believers must be composed of persons who have each one met God in individual experience. No matter how large the family, each child must be born individually. Even twins or triplets are born one at a time. So it is in the local church. Each member must be born of the Spirit individually. Though each child is born separate from the rest it is born into a family, and after that must live in the fellowship of the rest of the household. And the man who comes to Christ in the loneliness of personal repentance and faith is also born into a family. The church is called the household, or family of God and it is the ideal place to rear young Christians. Just as a child will not grow up to be a normal adult if forced to live alone, so the Christian who withdraws from the fellowship of other Christians will suffer great soul injury as a result. Such a one can never hope to develop normally. He’ll get too much of himself and not enough of other people; and that is not good.

Next to God Himself we need each other most. We are His sheep and it is our nature to live with the flock. And too, it might be well to remember that should we for a moment lose sight of the Shepherd we only have to go where His flock is to find Him again. The Shepherd always stays with His flock.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Hosea   14     Joel   1        Psalm   107

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

**********************************************

                              God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                  December 12 & 13, 2015

Good Morning!
One serious and often distressing problem for many Christians is their feeling that God is far from them, or that they are far from God, which is the same thing. It is hard to rejoice in the Lord when we are suffering from this sense of remoteness.

TO BE NEAR GOD IS TO BE LIKE GOD:
Acts 17:27. “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

God is spirit and spirit dwells not in space. Space has to do with matter and spirit is independent of it. By the concept of space we account for the relation of material bodies to each other. We should never think of God as being spacially near or remote, for He is not here or there but is everywhere. Space is not infinite, as some have thought; only God is infinite and in His infinitude He swallows up all space. “Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” He fills heaven and earth as the ocean fills the bucket that is submerged in it, and as the ocean surrounds the bucket so does God the universe He fills. “The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.” God is not contained: He contains.

The soul is inward and hidden, while the body is always present to the senses; consequently we tend to be body-conscious, and the concept of near and remote, which attaches to material things, seems quite natural to us. But it is valid only when it applies to moral creatures. When we try to apply it to God it no longer retains its validity. Yet when we speak of men being “far” from God we speak truly. The Lord said of Israel, “Their heart is far from me?” and there we have the definition of far and near in our relation to God. The words refer not to physical distance, but to likeness.

That God is equally near to all parts of His universe is plainly taught in the Scriptures (Psalms 139:1-18), yet some beings experience His nearness and others do not, depending upon their moral likeness to Him. It is dissimilarity that creates the sense of remoteness between creatures and between men and God. Should the sense of remoteness persist in spite of prayer and what you believe is faith, look to your inner life for evidences of wrong attitudes, evil thoughts or dispositional flaws. These are unlike God and create a psychological gulf between you and Him. Put away the evil from you, believe, and the sense of nearness will be restored. God was never away in the first place, you were away.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Joel   2  3          Psalm    108
Amos   1  2        Psalm   109

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

*******************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                             December 14, 2015

Good Morning!
In the next few days we will look at the value of the first three chapters of the book of Genesis.

THE DOCTRINAL VALUE OF THE FIRST CHAPTERS OF GENESIS:
Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

The Book of Genesis is in many respects the most important book in the Bible. It is of the first importance because it answers, not exhaustively, but sufficiently, the fundamental questions of the human mind. It contains the first authoritative information given to the race concerning these questions of everlasting interest:

1. The Being of God; 2. The origin of the universe; 3. The creation of man; 4. The origin of the soul; 5. The fact of revelation; 6. The introduction of sin; 7. The promise of salvation; 8. The primitive division of the human race; 9. The purpose of the elected people; 10. The preliminary part in the program of Christianity.

In one word, in this inspired volume of beginnings, we have the satisfactory explanation of all the sin and misery and contradiction now in this world, and the reason of the purpose of redemption. Or, to put it in another way, the Book of Genesis is the soil in which the plant of God's Word is enfolded. It is the starting point of God's gradually unfolded plan of the ages. Genesis is the foundation of the pillar of the Divine revelation. It is the root of the tree of the inspired Scriptures. It is the source of the stream of the holy writings of the Bible. If the base of the pillar is removed, the pillar falls. If the root of the tree is cut out, the tree will wither and die. If the fountain head of the stream is cut off, the stream will dry up.

The Bible as a whole is like a chain hanging upon two staples. The Book of Genesis is the one staple; the Book of Revelation is the other. Take away either staple, the chain falls in confusion. If the first chapters of Genesis are unreliable, the revelation of the beginning of the universe, the origin of the race, and the reason of its redemption are gone. If the last chapters of Revelation are displaced the consummation of all things is unknown. If you take away Genesis, you have lost the explanation of the first heaven, the first earth, the first Adam, and the fall. If you take away Revelation you have lost the completed truth of the new heaven, and the new earth, man redeemed, and the second Adam in Paradise regained.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Amos  3  4      Psalm   110  111  112  113  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

*******************************************

                                God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                        December 15, 2015

Good Morning!
The Book of Genesis is not true if it is not from God. For if it is not from God, it is not inspired; and if it is not inspired, it possesses to us no doctrinal value whatever.

GENESI8, THE BEGINNING:
Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

We assume from the start the historicity of Genesis and its Mosaic authorship. It was evidently accepted by Christ the Infallible, our Lord and God, as historical, as one single composition, and as the work of Moses. It was accepted by Paul the inspired. It was accepted universally by the divinely inspired leaders of God's chosen people. We accept for fact especially the historicity of the first chapters. These are not only valuable, they are vital. They are the essence of Genesis. The Book of Genesis is neither the work of a theorist or a tribal annalist. It is still less the product of some anonymous compiler or compilers in some unknowable era, of a series of myths, historic in form but un-historic in fact, as some say.

Its opening is a direct revelation from the God of all truth. Whether it was given in a vision or otherwise, it would be impossible to say. But it is possible, if not probable, that the same Lord God, who revealed to His servant John as he was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day the apocalypse of the humanly unknown and unknowable events of man's history which will transpire when this heaven and this earth have passed away, would also have revealed to His servant, being in the Spirit, the apocalypse of the humanly unknowable and unknown events which transpired before this earth's history began. It has been asserted that the beginning and the end of things are both absolutely hidden from science.

The beginning of Genesis, therefore, is a divinely inspired narrative of the events deemed necessary by God to establish the foundations for the Divine Law in the sphere of human life, and to set forth the relation between the omnipotent Creator and the man who fell, and the race that was to be redeemed by the incarnation of His Son. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables..” (2 Peter 1:16). We have not taken for our credentials cleverly invented myths. The primary documents, if there were such, were examined and compared carefully in order to note points of disagreement and revised and re-written by Moses by inspiration of God. 

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Amos  5  6    Psalm   114  115  116

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

********************************************

                              God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                           

 Today’s First Thoughts                                              December 16, 2015

Good Morning!
The Book of Genesis is the foundation on which the superstructure of the Scriptures rests.

IN GENESIS THERE IS NO ATTEMPT TO PROVE GOD, IT DECLARES HIM:
Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

The foundation of the foundation is the first three chapters, which form in themselves a complete thesis of revelation. And of this final substructure the first three verses of the first chapter are the foundation. In the first verse of Genesis in words of supernatural grandeur, we have a revelation of God as the first cause, the Creator of the universe, the world and man. The glorious Being of God comes forth without explanation, and without apology (“In the beginning God”). It is a revelation of the one, personal, living, God. There is in the ancient religions no trace of the idea of such a Being, still less of such a Creator, for all other systems began and ended with sun and moon as representing gods, materialistic, or imaginary  conceptions. The Divine Word stands unique in declaring the absolute idea of the living God, without attempt at demonstration.

The fact of God in the first of Genesis is not given as a deduction of reason or a philosophic generalization. It is a revelation. It is a revelation of that primary truth which is received by the universal human mind as a truth that needs no proof, and is incapable of it, but which being received, is verified to the intelligent mind by an irresistible force, we call faith, with teleological (study of design and purpose) and moral arguments. Here we have in this first verse of Genesis, not only a postulate apart from Revelation, but three great truths which have constituted the glory of our religion.

1. The Unity of God; in contradiction to all the polytheisms and dualisms of ancient and modern pagan philosophy.

2. The Personality of God. Other religion denies the personality of God, and excludes from the realm of life the need of a Mediator, a Sin-Bearer, and a personal Saviour.

3. The Omnipotence of God: in contradiction, not only to those debasing conceptions of the humanistic deities of the ancient world, but to all those man-made idols which the millions of heathenism today adore. God made these stars and suns, which man in his infatuation fain would worship.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Amos   7  8      Psalm   117  118

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

********************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                           

Today’s First Thoughts                                         December 17, 2015

Good Morning!
In the next few days we will look at the reason behind Christmas. We’ll focus on the most well-known and beloved New Testament nativity narratives (Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2), along with a few relevant prophetic passages (Psalms, Isaiah, Micah, and Hebrews) as we delve into the historical reality of Jesus’ incarnation.

GOD IN THE MANGER:
Luke 2:7. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Surely the most widely celebrated holiday around the world each year—generating more attention, more excitement, and more anticipation from people than any other special day—is Christmas. Most people celebrate Christmas; but so few men and women understand what and whom it really commemorates. They probably have heard that it marks the birth of a great teacher from centuries ago; that they should emulate Him by promoting peace, good will, and charity during the Christmas season; and that they should strive to make the holiday less materialistic and more family oriented. But so many people, even Christians, never pause to fully consider the One who is at the center of the holiday. And so few ever truly grasp the historical and theological significance of what occurred that first Christmas.

Unlike most of our holidays, Christmas is not a celebration of an event strictly from human history that commemorates a human achievement or recognizes a national milestone. An authentic celebration of Christmas honors the most wonderful of divine accomplishments. It recognizes that the  eternal, sovereign God came to earth as a human being to live a righteous life among His people and then to die as a perfect sacrifice to deliver from the wrath of God all who repent and believe and obey the Gospel. Christmas commemorates a divine event and a divine person—the miraculous birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

We dare not ignore the significance of who He is and what He accomplished on behalf of sinners. And we must not hurry through the texts of familiar Christmas passages, thinking that just because we’ve read and heard them many times before, we know all they have to teach us. In the next few devotions we will look at the Virgin-birth, the genealogy, angel visits to Mary and Joseph, Luke’s account of the birth, angel visits to shepherds, visits by wise men of the East, and much more.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Amos    9      Obadiah   1      Psalm   119: 1--32   

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

******************************************

                                God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                     December 18, 2015

Good Morning!
Belief in the virgin birth or without human involvement in conception, of Jesus is absolutely essential. Without faith conceived in this there is no need to go further.

THE AMAZING FACT OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH:
Matthew 1:18. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” KJV.

Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit acted with significant purpose in devoting an early passage from the Gospel of Matthew, at the front of the New Testament, to establish right away the humanity and deity of our Lord. His incarnation (virgin birth), properly understood, is foundational to Christianity. There could have been no genuine work of redemption apart from the fact of God becoming man and, by being both completely God and completely man, reconciling people to Himself through His substitutionary death and physical resurrection. If Jesus had not been both human and divine, there would be no gospel.

Unfortunately, a heart attitude of unbelief concerning Jesus’ identity has characterized the majority of men and women since the Fall. The Jews who opposed Christ vividly illustrated that attitude on more than one occasion (John 5:18; 7:28–30; 10:30–39). But such hostility and lack of faith should not discourage us, or deter us, from embracing and defending the truth of Christ’s virgin birth. The apostle Paul reminds us, “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:3–4, 10:16; Isaiah 53:1). The world’s opinion, popular as it might be, is rarely a reliable source of truth.

The angel’s words to Joseph provide the ultimate and most irrefutable testimony to the essential truth of the virgin birth and to the proper response Joseph was to have to Mary’s extraordinary situation. (Matthew 1:20).

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Jonah   2  3      Psalm 119 : 33-72 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

********************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                         December 19 & 20, 2015

Good Morning!
Jesus’ extraordinary conception and birth, not before or since equaled, is an amazing reality that we should with joy and gratitude never take for granted.

THE ANGEL GABRIEL CLARIFIES THE VIRGIN BIRTH:
Luke 1:34. “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Extraordinary births are certainly not unprecedented in biblical history. As part of the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to send a son to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:19–22). They were both beyond normal childbearing ages and laughed at the prospect of being parents, yet they ultimately witnessed the miraculous arrival of their son, Isaac (Genesis 21:1–3). In Judges 13, an angel of the Lord told Manoah and his barren wife that they would have a special son. True to the heavenly messenger’s words, Samson entered the world and for a time delivered the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines.

Samuel, the first prophet, final judge, and anointer of kings, was the answer to the faithful, persevering prayers of his godly mother, Hannah. John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, was also unable to have children until God graciously intervened when she was in her sixties or seventies and made her the mother of the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:15–17, 76–79). But none of those special births was as amazing as the virgin birth of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

But what was the significance of Mary’s pregnancy even though she had not had relations with Joseph or any other man? The angel tells Joseph that Mary will actually bear a son. And not just any son, but Jesus, who “will save His people from their sins.” God chose the name Jesus for His Son because its basic meaning defined the fundamental, overarching purpose for the Son’s coming to earth. The baby Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and would give birth to in the plan of God would grow up to testify to the Father’s salvation and would Himself be that salvation. By His own sacrificial death on the Cross and triumphant Resurrection from the grave He would save His own—all those who are drawn from sin to repentance and who receive faith to embrace His atoning work.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Jonah    3  4            Psalm   119 : 73----104
Micah   1   2            Psalm   119 : 105---136    

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

***********************************************

                                 God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                           

 Today’s First Thoughts                                         December 21, 2015

Good Morning!
Any claim to be king (and ultimately, Messiah) would be rejected if the one making the assertion could not prove he had direct lineage from the great King David.

THE TWO GENEALOGIES OF JESUS AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT:
Matthew 1:1. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Luke 3:31. “…which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,”

The apostle Matthew included his genealogy as the first part of his chronological account of the life of Jesus. By contrast, Luke waited until the end of the third chapter of his Gospel to include a genealogy of Jesus. He placed it between the accounts of Jesus’ baptism and His Temptation as a key element of establishing the Messiah’s credentials. There are also other differences between the two genealogies that are worth examining briefly. First of all, the two genealogies take different chronological views of Jesus’ family tree. Luke goes from the present to the past,  beginning with Jesus’ grandfather and going all the way back to Adam and God. Matthew, however, approaches matters in the opposite fashion. He goes from the past to the present, starting with Abraham and ending with Jesus.

The necessity to establish His legal right to the throne of David is another very important reason the two Gospel writers gave us two different forms of Jesus’ family tree. And that legal right came through the father; therefore, Matthew’s paternal genealogy proved that Jesus came from a line that proceeded from David through Solomon. That proof is true even though Jesus was not the human son of Joseph. Because Joseph married Mary, the mother of Jesus, he became the legal father of Jesus. As a result, Jesus received from Joseph the full legal right to the throne of David.

Luke’s maternal genealogy further solidifies Jesus’ claim to the throne of David by proving that He has the blood of David in His veins because of His mother, Mary. So, either way, Jesus is a genuine, legitimate descendant of King David.

The Messiah is king legally through Joseph and naturally through Mary.

Jesus’ scriptural credentials are thorough, clear, and irrefutable. From every perspective, we can crown Jesus King of Kings and Lord of lords.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Micah   3  4         Psalm 119 : 137--176 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

******************************************

                              God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

 Today’s First Thoughts                                         December 22, 2015

Good Morning!
There is no more miraculous, compelling announcement in all of history than that which opens Luke’s familiar and beloved account of the birth of our Lord:

THE ANGELS’ ANNOUNCEMENT TO MARY:
Luke 1:26. “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Thanks to the increasingly pervasive role of the mass media, people of every generation during the twentieth century heard some very memorable, and at times unexpected, news announcements. Such declarations, both print and broadcast, concerned crucial events that shaped the history of the century. Yet as huge, staggering, and widely proclaimed as those modern news announcements were, each is almost inconsequential when compared to the startling and far-reaching announcement of Jesus Christ’s birth, which Mary heard from the angel Gabriel. That simple, lovely, unmistakably clear narrative explicitly features the divine character of the event.

This is the angel’s promise that God was coming into the world, but it’s not the first time God made such a promise. The Old Testament is filled with prophecies and promises concerning the coming Messiah (approximately 350). At the end of Luke’s Gospel, when the risen Jesus walked on the road to Emmaus with several disciples, Luke records the following interaction: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25–27). So it’s clear that the angel’s words to Mary are part of the fulfillment of God’s ancient promises.

Those words possess a striking and unmistakable quality of simplicity—yet there is enough wonder and amazement in the announcement’s basic elements so that any open-minded person ought to embrace them and exult over their reality.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Micah  5   6         Psalm   120  121  122  123

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

******************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                     December 23, 2015

Good Morning!
Gabriel delivered the most astounding and significant birth announcement ever/

THE DIVINE MESSENGER FROM THE THRONE OF GOD:
Luke 1:26. “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,”

The best way to grasp the significance of the angel’s announcement is to look at it from God’s perspective. Everything about the proclamation was divine, including first of all its divine messenger. That God would send a message by means of a holy angel for the second time in less than a year (Luke 1:11–20)—was in itself amazing. God’s people had not seen or heard from an angel in more than four hundred years. During that time there had been no revelation from the Lord, no miracle, and certainly no sequence of miracles. But then for the second time in the span of a few months the same angel appeared, both times with an extraordinary birth announcement to an ordinary person.

Luke 1:26 identifies the divine messenger as Gabriel, the same angel who came a few months earlier to the priest Zacharias with news about John the Baptist’s birth.

Gabriel is one of only two angels who are actually named in the Bible. The other one, Michael, is a super-angel, associated with assignments requiring power and strength. Gabriel is God’s supreme messenger, who brought great, glorious, and crucial announcements from heaven. In Daniel 9, for example, he delivered the all-important pronouncement to Daniel regarding the rest of redemptive history, as unfolded in the incredible vision of the seventy weeks. And now the message of Jesus’ coming birth was so critically important that Gabriel again announced it.

And it was even more incredible because he brought it directly from the throne of God. Luke 1:19 says, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God.” This high-ranking angel of God came down out of heaven to a Galilean town called Nazareth. And that town, population a few hundred, was quite obscure to the outside world. Galilee, an official region north of Jerusalem, was recognizable to most people; therefore, Luke gave his readers a better idea of the town where Christ would grow up by identifying it by regional location. We can almost paraphrase God’s intention this way: “My Son will come to a family from Nazareth in Galilee, because He will be the Savior not only of all Jews who believe, but also of believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation.”

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Micah  7     Nahum  1    Psalm  124  125  126  127  128  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

***************************************

                            God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                   December 24, 2015

Good Morning!
The historical setting for the world’s greatest birth appears in one of the most familiar and best-loved passages in the entire Bible. As Luke raises the curtain on the actual story of the birth of Christ in Luke 2:1–7, he reveals a narrative that is refreshingly simple, clear, and uncluttered:

AN UNPLANED TRIP TO BETHLEHEM:
Luke 2:1. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”

As straightforward and unembellished as Luke’s language is, he is dealing with profound and far-reaching issues related to the coming of Jesus Christ. All scripturally informed Jews knew certain facts about the Messiah who would one day come to earth. They knew He would come from the royal line of David and reign from the throne in Jerusalem over Israel’s glorious kingdom. And one thing about the Messiah that faithful Jews were certain of was set forth by the prophet Micah, concerning where He would be born, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

So it’s clear that Jesus, the Messiah, had to be born in Bethlehem, even though Luke 2:1–7 does not quote or even refer to Micah. But the passage does demonstrate how God providentially arranged Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem in explicit fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. If events at the dawn of the first century had progressed just ordinarily, Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. But God worked in amazing and powerful ways to make the Lord’s birth occur precisely at the right time and place, thus verifying His own prophetic Word. God orchestrated Joseph and Mary’s visit to Bethlehem—and the circumstances related to it—in such a way that His Son was born exactly according to plan.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Nahum  2  3        Psalm  129  130  131  132

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

******************************************

                                God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

 Today’s First Thoughts                                            December 25, 2015

Good Morning!
With all the circumstances perfectly arranged, the most important of all births in human history finally occurred. (Galatians 4:4)

A HUMBLE BIRTH IN BETHLEHEM:
Luke 2:7. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

The world and national settings attendant to the birth of Christ are both crucial to helping us understand how God providentially brought about that glorious event within the context of human history. But the much-loved charm of the Incarnation story derives from a third setting—the personal one. Luke continues his simple account with this general phrase, “So it was, that while they were there” (Luke 2:6). We know that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, but it’s not initially clear where in the village they were or exactly how long they had been there. They had probably been there at least three days, perhaps even a week, because the writer then says, “the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”

But we don’t have to wonder for long where the young couple was when Jesus was born: “there was no room for them in the inn” (v. 7). These simple words have always excited profound imagination in the minds of readers. Practically speaking, during their stay in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were among the homeless. That does not mean they were completely outside in the cold, but simply that they had no comfortable accommodations. Mary and Joseph were not staying in some sort of three-story hotel, or even a low-budget annex to such a facility. The Greek word for “inn” in verse 7 is not the usual term for inn. Instead, Luke used a word that denoted a shelter or place of lodging for guests. It was not an actual inn operated for the feeding and housing of guests. Instead, it was more like the sleeping section of a public shelter or campground.

But Luke reports the birth of our Lord and Savior with amazingly few details and merely says, “she brought forth her firstborn Son” (2:7). Because the Gospel text gives us no descriptive details, I think it’s safe to engage in a little sanctified imagination concerning what happened that night. We can also imagine that after a certain period of labor, Mary would have pushed one final time to bring forth her child. As the apostle John wrote later, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Habakkuk  1  2  3          Psalm   133  134  135

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

***********************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                       December 26 & 27, 2015

Good Morning!
Neither Joseph nor Mary, as working-class people, had wealthy estates. But as two descendants of King David, they passed on to Jesus the right to rule from David’s throne, the throne of Christ’s people, Israel.

THE HUMBLE BIRTH CONTINUED:
Luke 2:7. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger;”

Luke 2:7 contains other details that are simple and familiar, yet nonetheless fascinating. For instance, have you ever wondered why it says Mary “wrapped Him in swaddling cloths?” Swaddling is an Old English word that describes wrapping with cloth. The ancient custom was to wrap the arms, legs, and body of the baby with long strips of cloth to provide warmth and security. Parents in those days also believed that wrapping the child helped his or her bones to grow straight. Luke’s point in mentioning the wrapping cloths, however, is that Mary treated Jesus the way any mother would treat a normal newborn. Physically, He looked like any other child, and his parents treated Him as such. God did not provide Him with royal robes or other fancy clothing, but simply directed Mary and Joseph to welcome Him as they would any other beloved child.

Then there’s the familiar phrase “and laid Him in a manger.” Or more literally a “feeding trough.” As we described earlier, Jesus’ parents were huddled in a section of the shelter next to the animals, and they conveniently made His first bed a feeding trough. When Jesus entered the world, He came to a place that had some of the smelliest, filthiest, and most uncomfortable conditions. But that is part of the wonder of divine grace, isn’t it? When the Son of God came down from heaven, He came all the way down. He did not hang on to His equality with God; rather, He set it aside for a time and completely humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5–8).

Jesus did not merely humble Himself and agree to be born in a smelly stable, but He humbled Himself as a substitute for wretched sinners and bore the stench of their guilt in His own body on the Cross. He came down to the common people to bring them His glorious salvation. The picture of the infant Son of God tolerating a stable’s dirt and foul odors is a fitting metaphor for the later scene of the Savior bearing the stench of sin as He died at Calvary.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Zephaniah   1  2  3     Haggai  1      Psalm  136  137
Haggai    2      Zechariah  1  2  3     Psalm   138  139  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

*******************************************

                             God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                              December 28, 2015

Good Morning!
All heaven broke loose when angels appeared and started praising God to a small and most unlikely audience. Some anonymous shepherds were about to hear news of one of the greatest events in the unfolding of God’s eternal plan:

HEAVEN’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF JESUS’ BIRTH:
Luke 2:8-11. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The supernatural announcement that cold night near Bethlehem was truly the high point of redemptive history to that time. The angels’ message was nothing less than the good news—the gospel proclaimed with great joy. God’s messengers could not wait to proclaim to the shepherds and the world that at last the Savior was here, the One who would deliver His people from the curse of sin, death, and hell, and who would bring them the blessings of His kingdom and the glories of eternity in heaven.

If you were a modern public relations agent in charge of getting out the news of Christ’s birth, the last group you would have picked to be the first to inform would have been a small band of shepherds. Instead, you likely would have targeted the influencers, the real movers and shakers. You might have considered telling the high priest first. Or, you might have weighed the advantages of going first to the chief priest and scribes, the leading teachers in Israel. On the other hand, you might have thought it smart to go first to the Sanhedrin, the body of seventy elders that was the theocratic leadership of Israel. You might even have wanted to send an official press release to Caesar Augustus to make sure he knew the true Savior had recently come into the world. But none of those alternatives was God’s option for revealing the news of Christ’s birth. He came first to the poor and lowly, the meek and afflicted—anyone who was outcast—and the shepherds fit that category.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Zechariah  4  5  6  7  8        Psalm  140  141  142

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

**********************************************

                                God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                     December  29,2015                                                                                                      

Good Morning!
The angel also told the shepherds that momentous night that the One born in Bethlehem is the Lord”

JESUS IS LORD:
Luke 2:11. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

That title of honor may at first seem insignificant because in ordinary usage it simply denotes a highly esteemed benefactor, patron, or authoritative leader. Over the centuries, for example, the aristocratic class in England has had many men with the title “lord,” and that’s been a tradition in some other European countries as well. The New Testament does affirm the use of lord as a legitimate designation for certain people: “as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (1 Peter 3:6). The apostle Peter recognizes that submissive wives will view their husbands as those who have a degree of authority over them. So we can use the term to speak of a proper type of human authority.

However, when the angel used “Lord” in his declaration to the shepherds he was using a divine designation and claiming that the Child in Bethlehem is God. To say that Jesus is Lord is to say that He is first and foremost God. In fact, it is the most fundamental and essential confession of the Christian faith. It is unequivocal that if any person desires to be saved, he must make the heartfelt and vocal confession that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). In addition to that, the expression “Jesus is Lord” implies all the sovereignty and authority associated with One who is God. For “Lord” in Luke 2:11, the angel used the Greek word kurios, which expresses an authority that is valid and lawful. The ultimate lawful authority in the universe, of course, is God. So the angel was saying Jesus is lawfully Lord because of who He is, the Son of God. So when the angel declared Jesus to be Lord, he was declaring Him to be the true God, the One who possesses all authority and sovereignty.

The heavenly messenger was certain of the identity of the baby in the manger. The Child was none other than the Christ who was Prophet, Priest, and King, and the Lord who was God in human flesh. That identity was perfectly in line with Isaiah’s words centuries earlier, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Zechariah   9  10  11  12       

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

********************************************

                                 God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                          

 Today’s First Thoughts                                                December 30, 2015

Good Morning!
The shepherds felt the need and desire to talk about the experience, to tell others what they had seen and heard.

THE SHEPHERD’S RESPONSE TO THE GOOD NEWS:
Luke 2:15. “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

How do you respond to an especially intense, exciting, and memorable event or activity? What do you feel when confronted suddenly with unexpected news or a major surprise? There is no one answer, obviously. It depends on what you have just seen, heard, or experienced. If you’re the first eyewitness to a spectacular fire, a horrific traffic accident, or a major plane crash, your first impulse—unless you are in a position to rescue some of the victims—is to notify the authorities immediately. Later, you likely will have to give an official statement to investigators about what you saw. All those possible scenarios pale into insignificance, almost triviality, when compared to what the little group of shepherds witnessed the night Christ was born.

What the shepherds saw in the skies near Bethlehem the night of our Savior’s birth was unprecedented in human experience. An angel, accompanied by a countless multitude of other heavenly messengers, suddenly and unforgettably intervened in the shepherds’ mundane, working-class existence with a news bulletin to end all news bulletins. The long-awaited Christ, the Savior of the world, God in human flesh, had just been born in a shelter in nearby Bethlehem. It was all far beyond anything previously imaginable to those lowly men whom society so disregarded.

They had to find out more, and they had to tell others. Even more to the point, the shepherds’ response serves as a good illustration of how people respond in a saving manner to the gospel. Each shepherd would then likely have vied to tell his version of the story. And as Joseph and Mary sat quietly listening to accounts of the angel’s announcement and the heavenly choir’s praise of God for such good news, they must have experienced a great sense of confirmation. “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). And I feel sure she is the one who told this story to Luke much later, with all its detail.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Zechariah   13  14     Malachi  1    Psalm  145  146

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

****************************************

                              God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                           

 Today’s First Thoughts                                           December 31, 2015

Good Morning!
The wise men, in contrast to Herod and the Jewish leaders, had the kind of attitude that pleases God. They responded to Jesus Christ the way He desires all people to respond—in adoration and worship.

WISE MEN WORSHIP JESUS:
Matthew 2:1. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2. Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

Those Gentile leaders were remarkably responsive to God’s Spirit, and whatever knowledge of God and Christ He revealed to them they believed and followed. The Lord soon gave them much more graphic assistance and confirmation that they were headed in the right direction. “And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” (Matthew 2:9). That the star hovered directly over the house where Jesus and His family then lived—an impossible action for a normal star, but which instead represented the glory of God. The men from the East were ecstatic to see the extraordinary star again: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (Matthew 2:10). Matthew’s description uses extra superlatives as if to emphasize the degree of exhilaration the wise men felt. Such emotions reveal once again their uniquely strong interest in finding and worshiping the newly arrived King.

By the time the wise men were journeying to Bethlehem, Jesus and His parents had moved from the travelers’ shelter into a house, where they lived until God gave them further direction. There the men finally saw the Child they had traveled so far to find, and they immediately “fell down and worshiped Him” (Matthew3:11). Charles Wesley captured the essence of their experience in these lines from his beautiful Christmas hymn: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate deity; pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.”

As an expression of the Wise Men’s grateful worship, “they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (v. 11). Gold had long been and still is the universal symbol of material wealth and value. It was also a symbol of nobility and royalty, and thus they were appropriately giving Christ the King royal gifts of gold. These gifts would be used to finance their journey down into Egypt.

Read-Thru-The-Bible
Click on the links below to read today’s Bible verses online
Malachi  2  3  4          Psalm  147  148  149  150    

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net                  

 

 

***********************************************************

Copyright (c)2010 GODSGRAZINGFIELD & JustHost.com