BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.
“THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ ISAIAH 11:1‑10 FIRST READING
(“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.”)
- What shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and of whom is Jesse the father? Isaiah 11:1, 1 Samuel 16:11‑13
- Who is the sprout? Luke 3:23‑33
- What shall rest upon him? Isaiah 11:2
- Who baptized Jesus and what happened when he was baptized? Mark 1:9‑11
- What seven things did the Spirit give Jesus? Isaiah 11:2-3
- How does he not judge? Isaiah 11:3
- Whom does he judge, whom does he strike and how? Isaiah 11:4
- What is the band around his waist and the belt upon his hips? Isaiah 11:5
- What will then happen? Isaiah 11:6‑9
- On that day, of what will the earth be full? Isaiah 11:9
- What is the root of Jesse set up as, who shall seek him out and why? Isaiah 11:10
Personal ‑ In what way did you have the power of God’s Spirit rush on you as Jesus did when John baptized him. How old were you? Jesus was about 30 years old. Luke 3:23
THIRD DAY READ ROMANS 15:4‑9 SECOND READING
(“Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.”)
- Why was everything written before our time and what do we derive from this instruction? Romans 15:4
- What do the words from the scriptures give us? Romans 15:4
- By whom is Scripture inspired and for what is it useful? 2 Timothy 3:16
- Of what is God the source and what does he enable us to do? Romans 15:5
- What does this enable us to do with one heart and voice? Romans 15:6
Personal ‑ In what way are you learning patience from God’s Word?
- What are we to do with one another; why and for what reason? Romans 15:7
Personal ‑ In what way have you accepted those in your family, at work, etc. right where they are? In what way have you been encouraging them in their walk? How have you recognized God’s patience toward you?
- Why did Christ become a minister of the circumcised? Romans 15:8
- Why do the Gentiles glorify God? Romans 15:9
- What two things does scripture say we shall do? Romans 15:9
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 3:1‑12 GOSPEL
(“He it is who will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.”)
- Who made his appearance in the desert of Judea, what was he doing and what was his theme? Matthew 3:1-2
- Who spoke the same message as John? Matthew 4:17
- When Jesus sent the 12 apostles out for the lost sheep of Israel, what did he tell them to announce? Matthew 10:7
- How was John dressed and who was going out to him? Matthew 3:4‑5
- What were they doing as they were being baptized by John and to what does repentance lead? Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:4
- What did John say to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were stepping forward for the baptism, what did he ask them to do, and on what did he tell them not to pride themselves? Matthew 3:7-9
Personal ‑ What evidence can you produce that shows you have repented of the sin of unbelief?
- What would be the reason for cutting down a tree? Matthew 3:10
Personal ‑ What kind of fruit are you producing? Ask family, friends or co‑workers to evaluate you and have them tell you what kind of fruit they see coming from you.
- Why does John baptize in water and how does he see himself next to the one who will follow him? Matthew 3:11
- Who is the one to whom John is referring and how will he baptize us? John 1:14‑17, Matthew 3:11
- What is in his hand and what will he do with it? What will he gather and what will he burn? Matthew 3:12
- Who are the ones he will gather and who are the ones who will go into the unquenchable fire? Matthew 12:31‑37, Jeremiah 15:7
Personal ‑ Evaluate yourself before you began reading God’s Word and now. What changes do you see in yourself?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 72:1‑2, 7‑8, 12‑13, 17
(“In him all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
This passage tells us about a new shoot that would grow from the stump of the tree called the royal line of David. The new shoot would be called the Messiah and he would be greater than the original tree (David) and would bear much fruit. This coming Messiah, the perfect king, perfect priest and spiritual king would come from David’s line to reign over Israel. He was given the name of “The Lord of Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6).
All of us long for fair treatment from others but sadly all of us do not give that fair treatment to others. We hate those who base their judgments on the way people look, talk or even by the color of their skin. We see or read about people being judged on false evidence or hearsay and we hate it. Yet, many times, we ourselves are quick to judge others using those same standards. Christ is the only one who is clothed in truth. He is the only one who is not prejudiced. Jesus is the only one who can be a perfectly fair judge. We need to give our hearts to him completely. Only then can we learn to be as truthful and fair to others as we would want them to be to us.
Today the need to be truthful is needed more than at any other time in history because we are surrounded by so much distortion and outright lies. Satan is the father of lies and he lies to us in his presentation of pornography, drugs, homosexuality and abortion. Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only answer to deceit and conflict, whether it be in a family or a nation. The passage goes on to show wild animals living at peace with one another. Even more incredible is for hostile people to live at peace with one another.
Only in Jesus Christ can hostilities be laid to rest as true love prevails; this is the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). A golden age was predicted in this passage and it still is to come today and it will when Jesus Christ reigns over the entire earth. We can, until that time, carry out our commission and live to bring others to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (Matthew 28:19).
The deeper the hunger and thirst is to know God’s Word in scripture, the more our attitude towards the past, present and future will be affected. Scripture has shown over and over that God has continually kept his promise of salvation to those who believe in him. The more we know of scripture, the more we know about what God has done for us. This leads to a greater confidence in what he will do for us in the days ahead.
Our daily study of the holy scripture followed by prayerful reflection and action will increase our trust that God’s will is the best choice for us. We are being called to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and this means being in harmony with his teachings and sharing his values and perspectives. We cannot hope to live in harmony with others until we first learn patience, steadiness, and encouragement from Jesus.
We can be in harmony with others only when we have the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:2‑11). We need to develop an attitude of love toward other Christians as well. As we become more capable of maintaining this attitude of love for people of all cultures throughout each day, we will learn how to live in harmony with each other. To live in harmony means to love and respect each other regardless of creed, race or color and regardless of being rich or poor, young or old, sickly or well.
We are called to welcome each other warmly into the church. This means we are to love one another as he has loved us (John 15:12). We are called to affirm each other, and forgive one another. We are called to repent of our sinful actions towards God and man (Mark 1:15). Repentance means to change our lives completely. We are called to make our beloved church not only a haven for saints but a hospital for sinners. Jesus said to us on the cross, “I thirst” (John 19:28) and we are called to satisfy that thirst by loving one another and living in harmony with all of God’s creation.
John came onto the scene like the thundering voice of Almighty God. He courageously spoke out against wrongdoing wherever he saw it. He spoke out against the evil doings of King Herod, living with his brother’s wife and against the ritualistic formalism of the self‑righteous Sadducees and Pharisees. John spoke out against evil in the state, in the church and in the crowd on the streets. John not only denounced men for the evil they had done, but challenged them to be what could be in accordance with the moral standards of God. Many thought John the Baptist was in reality Elijah who had returned to herald the coming of the Messiah (King) (Malachi 4:5). John was preparing the way for the King. The preacher, the teacher with the booming prophetic voice, points not at himself, but at God.
John was recognized as a prophet, because he had in him that special authority which clings to the man who comes into the presence of men out of the presence of God. John strongly warns the people that being just the descendants of Abraham does not guarantee their entrance into heaven. To the Israelite, this was an incredible statement because Abraham was unique in his goodness and in his favor with God. John was warning the people that they could not live on the spiritual deeds of the past. He told them that a degenerate age cannot hope to claim salvation for the sake of a heroic past. An evil son cannot hope to plead on the merits of a righteous Father.
We need to reflect on John’s presence and his message of warning to our own society. Do we as a people live in obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ? Do we love one another as he loved us (John 15:12)? Do we practice in our daily living the message that we preach in our churches? Do we expect to be saved because we belong to a certain type of denomination? Do we really believe that Jesus Christ is the only bridge to salvation? The silence of God’s voice in today’s world of violence, pornography, abortion and drugs is deafening.
The message of John, calling out to the people to make way and prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord, is no less urgent today. John’s promise to the people that the baptism of the Holy Spirit would fill them with the fire of love and power was like a measure of cool water given to a man thirsting in the desert (Isaiah 44:3). The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Power. When the Spirit of God enters into a man, his weakness is clothed with the power of God. His tired, lack‑lustre, appearance of defeat of life is gone, and a new surge of life enters him. Do you really believe this?
The first reading tells us only the truth can set us free and the truth is Jesus (John 8:32). The second reading reveals scripture has shown over and over that God has kept his promise of salvation to those who believe in him. The Gospel tells us to prepare ourselves, for the kingdom of God is at hand.
This week, let us practice what we preach by keeping a list of the things that we have done throughout the day. Then at evening time, reflect on how close your actions match your words. Try this for one week and get ready for a miracle.