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Bible Insights

The Voice of God Affirms Jesus

Today’s passage: Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:1–9, Luke 9:28–36, and John 12:27–30

Focus verse: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5)

Yesterday’s passage ended with the puzzling statement that “some of you present won’t experience death before you see me coming in my kingdom” (Matthew 16:28).

What follows this is an event we call the transfiguration, implicitly fulfilling Jesus’s cryptic prediction. Peter, James, and John are there to see his supernatural transformation.

The three disciples ascend a mountain with Jesus. Suddenly his face shines—his countenance transfigures. This means his appearance changes; it’s glorified. Moses and Elijah appear. They talk with Jesus.

Peter wants to commemorate this unprecedented event—Jesus’s transfiguration and two dead patriarchs appearing before them. He offers to build them each a shrine or tabernacle in their honor. Before Jesus can respond, a bright cloud forms.

The voice of Father God comes from the cloud. “This is my Son,” he says. “I love him and am pleased with him. Listen to what he says.”

In one succinct declaration, God confirms Jesus as the Son of God, affirms Jesus’s ministry, and commands the disciples to listen to him.

Does hearing God’s audible voice about Jesus sound familiar?

Three years earlier, before Jesus begins his public ministry, he asks John the Baptizer to baptize him—even though the sinless Jesus has no sins to repent from. When Jesus comes out of the water, three astonishing things happen.

First, heaven opens, revealing a glimpse into the spiritual realm. What do the people see? What awe-inspiring sights confront them?

Next, the Spirit of God descends from heaven, looking like a dove. Imagine the time it takes for the form to travel the distance from heaven to earth. It isn’t instantaneous.

It gets their attention. The people have never seen anything like it. They’re astounded by this unique event. The dove lands on Jesus, showing his connection with heaven, his divine bond with the godhead.

A voice from heaven calls out. “This is my Son,” God says. “I love him and am pleased with him” (Matthew 3:13–17).

This is almost identical to what God says at the transfiguration. This time the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all present. We see the triune God at work.

Two times God speaks audibly about Jesus. The first time is to prepare for him to begin his earthly ministry.

The second time is in preparation for him to conclude it. He’ll do this by dying for our sins, rising from the dead, and returning to heaven.

Both times Father God confirms his Son and supports Jesus and his ministry. The voice of God affirms Jesus.

Questions

  • How does God speak to us today?
  • How well do we do at listening to the words of Jesus, as the Father instructed?

Prayer: Father God, may we always hear your voice and obey your words.

Discover more about celebrating Jesus and his passion to save us in Peter’s new book, The Passion of Jesus. It is part of the Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How to Deal with Poverty

We Should Continue to Remember the Poor

The Bible talks about the poor and teaches how to deal with poverty. Poverty shows up 21 times in the Bible, most in the practical advice-giving book of Proverbs. The word poor appears much more often at 176 times.

Combined, these passages give us much insight in how to deal with poverty and those who are poor.

Here are some key verses to consider:

Jesus tells us to be generous to those who are poor (Luke 11:41). This is the only verse we need. Jesus says it. We should do it. And don’t just give a little, be generous about it.

In addition, Peter, James, and John encourage Paul to continue to remember the poor, which he had been eagerly doing all along (Galatians 2:9-11).

We should follow their advice and example in how to deal with poverty, both that which is around us and throughout the world.

Jesus, however, says that we will always have the poor among us (Mark 14:7). This means we’ll never eliminate poverty—as some people hope to do. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

We should do whatever we can to help those who go without. And as we do so, we should do so in love (1 Corinthians 13:3).

These all address the problem of poverty. It reacts to what already exists. But what if we could be proactive and help people avoid poverty in the first place?

Consider this excerpt from my book Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide:

Many have cited the following three steps to avoid poverty. The source is unclear but may have originated with Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution.

Young people can avoid poverty if they follow three essential rules for success:

1. Complete at least a high school education

2. Work full-time

3. Wait until age twenty-one to marry, and get married before having a baby

People who follow all three rules have a 98 percent chance of not living in poverty. Furthermore, they have a 72 percent chance of joining the middle class.

Many people criticize this claim, some citing all manner of hate-filled motivations or ignorance. Yet if we look at this list, we know in our hearts that it’s correct. It’s common sense.

We can also logically see how someone who ignores these three essentials places themselves on a path that will likely lead them to needing government assistance and living a life of poverty.

What can we do to encourage teenagers to embrace these three essential rules?

Beyond that, what can we do to help those who didn’t or couldn’t follow them and find themselves in need? I’m thinking especially of the teenage mom left to care for her children on her own.

These are big questions without clear answers, but a good place to start is to find an organization already addressing one of these areas and working with them to make a difference.

Peter DeHaan from Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide

Quite simply, one response in how to deal with poverty is to encourage young people to make wise decisions and not rush into adulthood.

To do this, we can encourage them to complete high school, find the full-time job, and wait until their 21 to get married and have children.

For each person we encourage to do this, we help them avoid poverty. This may be the best way in how we can deal with poverty.

And for those who find themselves impoverished, we should do what Jesus says and give generously.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Ash Wednesday: Jesus Predicts His Death

Today’s passage: Matthew 16:21–28, Mark 8:31–38, Luke 9:21–26, and John 12:23–26

Focus verse: Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem . . . be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)

We open our Lenten devotional with Jesus predicting his death. This is key. It confirms that Jesus knows what will happen. His Father has a plan. Jesus agrees with the plan and moves toward it.

This means his death is intentional and he is willing to die. It’s not unexpected. Jesus’s purpose in coming to earth is to save us by dying for our sins—the sins of all humanity throughout all time.

He will soon offer himself as the ultimate sin sacrifice to end all sin sacrifices. He knows this and tells his disciples what will soon happen.

This highlights the essential part of the passage. Jesus knows he will die.

Yet two perplexing items follow his declaration.

First, Peter objects. He pulls Jesus away from the other disciples and offers correction. He wants Jesus to live and doesn’t understand that the Messiah must die. Jesus’s response shocks us.

He says, “Get behind me, Satan.”

Is he calling Peter Satan? Is Satan controlling Peter? Possibly. But an alternate understanding is that Peter speaks from his human perspective.

Satan tries to use the disciple’s words to attack Jesus. The enemy desires to cast doubt into Jesus’s mind, cause him to question his mission, and consider a non-lethal alternative.

So, when Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan,” he addresses the accuser. We can do the same.

The other confusing statement happens next. Jesus says that anyone who wants to be his disciple should pick up his cross and follow him. What does he mean to pick up our cross to follow him?

Jesus has said he will die and then overcome death. We know that in doing so, he dies so that we will live.

Yet, if we follow him, we need to be likewise ready to die for our faith, to die for him. Figuratively, we are to pick up our cross—the Roman tool for death.

Most of us won’t need to die for Jesus, but we must be willing to do so if the situation calls for it.

This means we must adopt a spiritual point of view to replace our human perspective. We need to exchange our worldly outlook with an eternal expectation.

Our life here on earth means nothing compared to our life eternal with Jesus. We prove we understand this when we pick up our cross to follow him.

We don’t need to be willing to die for Jesus before he will save us. Instead, our willingness to die is in response to him saving us.

Questions

  • What do we do when we face temptation?
  • What must we change to best pick up our cross and follow Jesus?

Prayer: Jesus, may we live a life worthy of you and your call to follow you.

Discover more about celebrating Jesus and his passion to save us in Peter’s new book, The Passion of Jesus. It is part of the Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Celebrating the Passion of Jesus

Embrace the Season of Lent in a Fresh Way

Many Christians and churches celebrate the season of Lent to remember Jesus and his passion for coming to earth to die for us and our sins.

This is a gift to us and not something we need to earn. When we accept Jesus’s present, he makes us right with Father God and reconciles us to him.

In this devotional, we’ll remember the season of Lent, building up to Jesus’s greatest gift to us: his death as the ultimate sin sacrifice.

Traditionally, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues through to Maundy Thursday (the day before Good Friday and Jesus’s death).

Some church calendars, however, end Lent on Good Friday and others on Holy Saturday. (Resurrection Sunday begins the Easter season.)

Because the passion of Jesus culminates with his sacrificial death, we’ll use that to conclude our devotional. This is a matter of convenience and not a theological statement or alignment with one Lenten calendar over another.

We think of Lent as lasting forty days. This parallels the forty days Jesus spends in the desert being tempted by Satan (Mark 1:12–13). This time of testing prepares Jesus for his public ministry, which culminates with his death and subsequent resurrection.

In truth, Lent spans longer than forty days. Though some church calendars tweak the details to make Lent cover forty days, let’s not worry if it’s longer.

Regardless of the details, the purpose of Lent stays the same. During Lent we focus on Jesus and his sacrifice for us.

Depending on the year, Ash Wednesday can start as early as February 4 or as late as March 10. This is because Ash Wednesday always occurs forty-four days before Good Friday, which falls on a different date each year.

Given this, we’ll treat the days of Lent as building up to Good Friday, starting with Day 1 on Ash Wednesday.

We’ll begin our story with Jesus’s prediction that he will die—and then rise again. Following that, we’ll focus on what occurs during Holy Week, starting just prior to Palm Sunday (the week before Easter).

This means we’ll expand the events of Jesus’s last few days before his crucifixion to span most of this devotional’s Lenten readings.

As a result, we’ll cover events prior to their appearance on the church calendar. For example, we’ll cover Palm Sunday on Day 6, several weeks before its actual date on the calendar.

As we move forward, we’ll give primary attention to the account in Matthew, weaving in passages from Mark, Luke, and John. This will give us a holistic perspective of the sacrificial death of our Savior.

We’ll also incorporate Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah to expand our appreciation. Along the way, we’ll tap into our imagination to better see things from the perspective of Jesus, his disciples, and the people he meets.

Throughout this, the goal is to consider Jesus’s passion and sacrifice for us from several vantages to offer a comprehensive Lenten devotional.

The result is an inclusive meditation to remember Jesus’s resolute aim to die on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices and save humanity. May God speak to you during this Lenten season.

Join us this lent in Celebrating the passion of Jesus.

Discover more about celebrating Jesus and his passion to save us in Peter’s new book, The Passion of Jesus. It is part of the Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.

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Christian Living

Celebrate New Year’s Eve

Successfully Move from One Year to the Next

I never really understood the allure of staying up late on December 31 to welcome in the new year. As such, I saw no reason to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

As a teenager, however, I embraced the idea of staying up until midnight as confirmation I was growing up. It didn’t make much sense, however, as I struggled to be alert enough to enjoy it and dragged through the next day.

As a young adult, I’d stay up until midnight because I could, all the while wondering why I did. Then I’d shuffle off to bed in a stupor.

Now older and wiser, I go to bed on New Year’s Eve at my normal time, and I arise the next morning at my normal time. Call me a curmudgeon, if you will, but this makes the most sense to me.

Frankly, I see no reason to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Yet I should, perhaps not in the stay-up-late mindset of our secular practices, but from a spiritual perspective.

When we ring in the new year, it’s in anticipation of what is to come. The new year brings with it an excitement for a fresh beginning. Correspondingly, New Year’s Eve stands as a reminder of what was, of the preceding year.

Just as we say hello to what will be on New Year’s Day, we say goodbye to what was on New Year’s Eve.

This annual transition from past to future reminds me of what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. He said to them—and to us—that as followers of Jesus we are a new creation. Who we were is gone. And the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In this way, as we celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, we can—and we should—connect this with our status as a new creation through Jesus Christ.

In another letter, Paul writes that he forgets what is behind him and strains toward what is ahead. In doing so he presses toward heaven with Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

As far as Jesus is concerned our past mistakes don’t matter. They’re forgotten. What does matter is what we do moving forward. Let us embrace what lies ahead and not dwell on what we cannot change.

With these things in mind, may we celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.

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Bible Insights

The Eighth Day

Baby Jesus in the Temple

Luke 2:21–24

He was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (Luke 2:21)

The shepherds arrived shortly after Jesus’s birth to see the child the angel had told them about. Our story picks up eight days later, when it’s time to circumcise him.

We’re left to consider what happened in the days between these two events. Is this a private time for Mary and Joseph to spend adapting to the needs of a newborn and learning to care for him?

Do they spend time in awe, marveling at baby Jesus, contemplating who he will become, and considering what he will do?

I suspect they do, but they may also have some unexpected guests show up too.

Remember, when the shepherds leave, they tell others about their experience, spreading the news of Jesus’s arrival around town. Based on their testimony, I wonder how many curious people stop by to see baby Jesus.

As a result, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus could have seen a steady stream of visitors. Did any of these guests show up with food or gifts for the family?

Since they’re away from home and staying with farm animals, Mary and Joseph could certainly use any help they might receive.

When their baby is eight days old, it’s time to circumcise him. They name him Jesus. This is what the angel told Joseph in his dream, and it aligns with what Gabriel told Mary when he appeared to her.

It’s significant that God independently told both Mary and Joseph the same thing: to name their son Jesus. This fact helps confirm for them that they both heard from God.

They go to the temple for the purification ceremony prescribed by Moses. There they consecrate the baby to God (Exodus 13:2) and offer a sacrifice (Exodus 13:12 and Leviticus 12:8).

Though this seems most appropriate for Jesus, this isn’t unique to him. This ceremony is prescribed for everyone by the law of Moses.

Since the temple is in Jerusalem and they’re in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph must travel there. The Bible doesn’t say how long this journey takes them, but modern maps show these two towns to be about 5.5 miles (9 km) apart.

Under normal conditions, this trip would take about two hours by foot. But remember, Mary has just given birth, so they will certainly go at a slower pace.

Again, we don’t know if they travel by foot or if Mary has a donkey to ride. Regardless, she (or Joseph) holds baby Jesus the entire trip.

Imagine clutching an eight-day-old baby, trying to keep him comfortable and not jostle him along the way. Traveling to the temple, as commanded by God, is not just a simple walk.

How can we model Mary and Joseph’s obedience to God?

What is God telling us to do right now?

Who can we help today by delivering a meal, offering a gift, or providing encouragement?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we celebrate Jesus’s first few days on earth, may we be mindful of what he came to do and who we are through him.

[This devotional is taken from the December 27 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

We Need to Learn From the Seven Churches in Revelation

John’s Vision for These Churches Provides Us With Practical Insight Today

Many people love the Book of Revelation, the apostle John’s supernatural treatise of the end times. It’s an epic read of God’s awesome power and the amazing, scary, exciting events that will usher us from this world into our eternal reality.

Yet readers are often in such a rush to read those words, they breeze through the first three chapters of John’s grand tale.

In chapter 1 of Revelation we read the book’s introduction. The exiled apostle has a supernatural experience, a grand vision.

God tells him to write what he sees and send it to seven area churches, those in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (Revelation 1:10-11).

For each church God shares words of commendation and condemnation. We do well to carefully consider what he says. Though the immediate application applies to those seven specific churches, the broader function informs our churches today.

What can we learn from these churches to affirm and reform our local branch of Jesus’s church today? First we must celebrate what we do well, without a smug sense of pride and with an eye toward maintaining and growing each strength.

More importantly we must ask if any of Jesus’s criticism for those churches rightly applies to us today. If we’re willing to read with an open mind, we will find much to correct, as well as warnings of what to avoid.

I think a third application provides even greater insight for us on a personal level. How do Jesus’s words confirm and confront us?

We need to read Revelation chapters 2 and 3, not to unveil the future, but to unmask our present. “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” Revelation 2:11, NIV.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Revelation 1-3, and today’s post is on Revelation 1:10-11.]

Read more in Peter’s devotional Bible study, A New Heaven and a New Earth: 40 Practical Insights from John’s Book of Revelation.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Happy Birthday Jesus and Merry Christmas Too

Segregating the Two Sides of Christmas

Is Christmas an important holiday to you? I suspect you’ll say, “yes.” And if you follow Jesus, you may say Christmas is the most important holiday because it celebrates his birth some 2,000 years ago.

That’s when Jesus came to earth to live among us and die in our place so that we can live forever with him. Happy birthday Jesus.

As the saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

Though Jesus is the basis behind Christmas, how much of our celebration focuses on him? I’m talking about Christmas trees, ornaments, lights, Santa Claus, reindeers, sleighs, eggnog, parties at work, and gatherings with family and friends.

Then there’s gift giving. Though it’s gotten out of hand, the idea of giving to others at Christmas does—or should—remind us that Jesus gave us the greatest gift of all: his life. But how many of us remember that?

Instead, we tune in to Christmas specials, watch Christmas movies, and sing Christmas songs. A few of them are even about Jesus.

When we strip away all the commercialization of Christmas and the man-made traditions we’ve grown to cherish, what do we have left?

A nativity. A baby laying in a manger with Mary and Joseph gathered around and an array of barnyard animals looking on. Amazed shepherds—and their sheep—stand nearby. Magi approach on their camels (never mind that they didn’t arrive until much later).

Happy Birthday Jesus

We may go to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. There we hope to celebrate Jesus and sing some Christmas songs that are actually about him.

I wonder what Jesus thinks of our Christmas traditions, the day once intended for our focus to shift exclusively to him, but which has gotten eerily misappropriated.

Whenever I wish someone “Merry Christmas,” it carries a God-honoring implication, but I doubt many people receive it in the way I intend.

Let’s remember the Christmas story in the gospel of Luke: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10, NIV). Then check out “Linus Reminds Us What Christmas Is All About.”

We may never be able to reclaim Christmas as the spiritual celebration it once was. But we can reframe it to recapture its intent. Yes, we can continue to celebrate Christmas. But don’t let a secular celebration overshadow the reason behind it.

Let’s celebrate Jesus’s birthday with equal—or even better—fervor. We can even make him a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to him.

Happy birthday Jesus (and Merry Christmas too)!

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.

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Christian Living

Celebrate Christmas Eve

Anticipating the Arrival of Baby Jesus

I don’t really think of Christmas Eve as a holiday as much as the prelude to one. Yet there is—or should be—a spiritual reason to celebrate Christmas Eve.

Anticipating Christmas

As a child I looked forward to Christmas Day with much excitement. On Christmas Eve I found it hard to fall asleep. I was too excited to quiet my racing expectations for the next day.

Not only did I struggle to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, sometimes I woke too early the next morning. My parents would wearily tell me to go back to sleep for a few more hours.

Yet despite my struggles to sleep that night and stay in bed until the morning light, Christmas Day would come and with it the presents I so looked forward to opening.

As such I didn’t celebrate Christmas Eve as much as endure it. It was something to patiently undergo so I could embrace Christmas presents the next day.

The Greatest Gift

Yes, I knew the reason for Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Yet the allure of opening gifts pushed the true reason for the holiday aside.

We are right to celebrate Christmas as a reminder of the baby born in Bethlehem who came to earth to save us for the punishment our sins deserve. And we can celebrate Christmas Eve as a prelude to Christmas Day.

Without first having Christmas Eve, we would never get to Christmas Day.

We celebrate Christmas Day as a reminder of Jesus coming to earth as a baby to save us. Yet one day of celebration doesn’t seem enough. That’s why we can celebrate Christmas Eve in anticipation of the blessed baby’s arrival the next day.

Thank You Jesus

We rightly see Jesus’s gift of salvation—set in motion at his birth—as the greatest gift that has ever been given and the greatest gift that ever will be given. With this we say, “Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth to save us!”

We celebrate this—or we should celebrate this—on Christmas Day. And when we celebrate Christmas Eve, we can begin one day early our remembrance of Jesus and what he came to earth to do.

May we remember to celebrate Christmas Eve now with the same over-the-top excitement that we had as a child, looking forward to the day ahead.

Then it was presents. Now it’s a salute to the day of Jesus’s birth—the most significant day in all of history, throughout all time.

May we celebrate Christmas Eve with the same over-the-top excitement we had as a child, looking forward to Jesus’s birth on Christmas Day.

Thank you, Jesus!

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.

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Bible Insights

Put God First: Don’t Lose Sight of What Matters Most

Too Often We Place Our Personal Needs Over What God Is at Work Doing

When Jesus’s friend Lazarus dies, Jesus goes to where the man is interred and, with a dramatic flair, raises him from the dead. When the people see this miracle of miracles, many believe in Jesus.

Bringing someone back to life is an amazing feat, and surely everyone should be happy. But not everyone is. Do you know who’s upset? The religious leaders, the very people who claim to represent the God who sent Jesus in the first place. But they miss it.

They can’t see God’s hand at work. Or maybe they’re not willing to. All they can think about is themselves. Though under Roman occupation, they still managed to carve out a comfy situation for themselves. And they want to keep it.

They enjoy their standing as religious leaders and the admiration of the people. Selfishly, they want to preserve what they have, to maintain the status quo. In their self-centered ambition, they lose sight of the God they profess to serve. They fail to realize that God is present.

These religious leaders fear losing their position, their power, and their prestige. Their solution? Kill Jesus. Yep, they become so focused on protecting their current situation that they plot against their God.

It’s easy to criticize them. Yet this same thing still happens now.

How many religious leaders today have become so focused on preserving their job, maintaining their paycheck, and holding on to their followers that they oppose the work of God? It occurs. In doing so, they resist God’s movements and instead act contrary to their faith and what he has called them to do.

It happens too often, and it’s wrong. We must always put God first, even if we might lose something of lesser importance in the process. That’s what matters most.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is John 11-12, and today’s post is on John 11:43-53.]


Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.