March 11 “Galilee”


An essential part of sensing God’s will is to also sense His timing.
The arrest of John, the Forerunner, by the authorities in Jerusalem signaled to Jesus that the time was not yet for Him to minister in Judea. He departed to His home region of Galilee. Jerusalem and the Temple and the entrenched leadership there could wait for a while.

His ministry was different from that of John. He would call people to repentance as John did, but Jesus would also bring a new perspective on the Old Covenant; there was much teaching to be done and Galilee was a good place to start, far from the forces that had imprisoned John. There were sick, wounded, and disabled people who needed a healing touch. There were demon possessed people who needed a deliverer. Miracles would set the ministry of Jesus apart from that of John; they were the prophesied ministry of Messiah. These demonstrations of the power of God flowing through Jesus would tie the hands of provincial leaders in the towns of the north. How could they move against a fellow Galilean who was so obviously approved of God? No, it was not yet time for Jerusalem.

The Words of the Prophet Isaiah
There was also the witness of the Word of God. Isaiah predicted that Messiah would come from “Galilee of the Gentiles.” The Jewish population had grown considerably in the centuries since Isaiah wrote but Galilee was still a land of mixed cultures but with a dominant culture of Judaism.

The Prophet’s description of the culture was this:

“The people who sat in darkness…in the region of the shadow of death… have seen a great light.”

The light of truth shown in the local synagogues and in the homes of the Jewish faithful but the surrounding culture was one of darkness and “the shadow of death.” What does Matthew mean by this quote of Isaiah? Pagan cultures were cultures of death. Life was cheap. The worth of each individual, such an integral part of Judeo-Christian thought, was absent. Power and superstition ruled life. Some pagan religions demanded the sacrifice of infants. The only politics were those of force and the only morality was expediency. After several cycles of being conquered and delivered through the centuries, the Jews living in Galilee survived by being true to their covenantal relationship with God. They bonded together in tightly-knit communities. If Messiah could speak truth to Gentiles, He could reach anyone.

The Preaching of Jesus
The summation of Jesus’ preaching in Galilee was this:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This was a message for both the Jews and the Gentiles. Change was coming. A revolution was imminent. An emissary of Heaven had come to earth with Good News to share with everyone. He echoed John’s call to repentance, to a moment of reversal in one’s life, and He gave a reason to repent—there was to be a reckoning. A new Kingdom was near at hand! This Kingdom would not be one like the pagan nations, filled with violence and the shadow of death. It would be the Kingdom of Heaven, filled with joy like the sunrise and peace like the cool of the evening. Sins needed to be forsaken if one was to be a citizen of this Kingdom. The time had come to repent!

Matthew 4:12-17
Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Isaiah 9:1-2
Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.

Lord Jesus, You began Your earthly ministry in Your home region. As beautiful as the region of Galilee may have been they had never seen anyone like You. Neither have I! Your love is amazing and constant. Your lovingkindness is indeed better than life. Your Word is truth I can count on today and for all my tomorrows. You care for me here and prepare a better place for me in the life to come. Thank You for making the journey from heaven to earth and from Your hometown to mine. “O how I love this man from Galilee!” Amen.

Sweet Jesus
Words and Music: Doris Akers

1. There’s a name that’s dear to me; Lifted me from misery;
Took me out of sin and shame. How I love His blessed name.
It gets sweeter every day. Serving Jesus really pays.
Oh how I love that Man of Galilee!

Sweet Jesus fellowship divine.
Sweet Jesus I’m His and He is mine.
Sweet Jesus a precious Friend indeed.
Sweet Jesus whenever I’m in need.
Fellowship divine; I’m His and He is mine;
A precious Friend indeed Whenever I’m in need.
Oh how I love this Man of Galilee!

2. If the Lord you’ve never known, You should hasten to His Throne.
Such fulfillment you’ll receive, If in Him you will believe.
Life will be so sweet to you. You’ll call Him Sweet Jesus too.
Oh how I love that Man of Galilee!


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 10 “Temptation”


Righteousness fulfilled and proclaimed in a thundering voice from heaven must be tested to prove its worth.
When Jesus told John that it was necessary for Him to fulfill all righteousness, He meant more than just His baptism in the Jordan. For the next three years of public ministry He would walk this earth in the character of God—truth, integrity, holiness, complete righteousness, and He would touch people with the power of God to heal, deliver, restore, and encourage. Such a life could only be lived if Jesus had complete and constant victory over sin.

Into the Wilderness
Jesus did not wander into the wilderness. He was led by the Spirit of God. He may or may not have known He was going to go face-to-face with Satan but He certainly knew the Holy Spirit was leading Him there. One translation even uses the word, “driven” to describe this powerful leadership. Jesus, like other leaders in the nation’s history, fasted and prayed for forty days and nights. Just to make sure we understand, Matthew adds a postscript:

“…afterward He was hungry.”

This was no show of divine force; it was a display of human weakness and strength; strength of will to accomplish such a thing and weakness resulting from the forty day ordeal. Soon angels would minister to Him but first a necessary encounter took place. Satan, the tempter, came to Him. Hoping that the weakness of Jesus’ body had somehow affected His mind, the devil started with a temptation to doubt.

“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

A useless ploy! I can almost see Jesus laugh in the devil’s face. He had no doubt who He was! He didn’t need fresh baked stones—He had the everlasting Word of God!

Suddenly they were at the pinnacle of the Temple and Satan tried this one:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.”

He perverted a promise about angels watching over Him to prevent foot injuries. The sight of the Temple and the impressive grounds did not impress Jesus in the least. He reminded Satan of what a dangerous thing it is to tempt God!

Next they were at the summit of a high mountain where all the kingdoms of the world could be clearly seen. They shimmered in the sun but it was the sun Jesus Himself had created! There was no glory to be had here that He had not already possessed since creation and then laid aside.

“All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

Jesus was annoyed at this. Worship was for God alone. Hadn’t Lucifer learned that lesson eons ago?

“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and Him only you shall serve.'”

I can almost see Satan pounding a fist into a hand and walking away with his head shaking. Or maybe he left in a cloud of desert dust and loud noise. We don’t know; all we know is Matthew’s terse report.

“Then the devil left Him…”

Angels could be restrained no longer. They hurried to Jesus’ aid and ministered to Him. Perhaps they served Him manna, angel’s food, to strengthen Him. What a feast!

Three temptations face us all.
The Apostle John informs us that all are tempted with three things:

  1. the lust of the flesh,
  2. the lust of the eyes, and
  3. the pride of life.

These are the very things Satan tempted Jesus without success. Today, our victorious Lord shares His triumph with us.

Matthew 4: 1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Hebrews 4:14-16
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
James 1:12-16
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Lord Jesus, You went toe-to-toe, face-to-face with Satan and beat him on his own desert ground. Angels stood by ready to help but they were not needed. After 40 days of fasting and prayer Your body was weak but Your mighty Spirit was strong. You answered the temptations of Satan with the Word of God hidden in Your heart. In this You fulfilled the admonition to hide the Word in the heart so that sin can be avoided. Lord, live that strong in me. When Satan sends one or his minions to my door, let me answer him with the Word! Amen and Amen!

Yield Not to Temptation
Words and Music: Horation R. Palmer

1. Yield not to temptation, For yielding is sin;
Each vict’ry will help you, Some other to win;
Fight valiantly onward, Evil passions subdue;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Ask the Savior to help you,
Comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you, He will carry you through.

2. Shun evil companions, Bad language disdain;
God’s name hold in rev’rence, Nor take it in vain;
Be thoughtful and earnest, Kindhearted and true;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.


3. To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we will conquer, Though often cast down;
He who is our Savior, Our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 9 “Righteousness”


“Righteousness,” today we have lost the full meaning of the word.
Let’s explore the defintions:

  • A common dictionary definition will report something like this: “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable.”
  • A biblical definition would most likely read: “the state of moral perfection required by God to enter heaven.”
  • The original Greek word translated as righteousness means: “the character or quality of being right or just”…”the righteousness of God” means essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises.” (Vine’s Dictionary)

John knew what the word “repentance” meant so he protested when Jesus presented Himself for baptism in the Jordan River. He knew his cousin was free from sin. How did John know this? John was filled with the Holy Spirit, so it is most likely that the Spirit made John aware that Jesus had no need of repentance. It is likely also that his cousin would have been a topic of family conversation. John’s mother Elizabeth knew of the miraculous circumstances of Jesus’ birth. Surely the child’s progress from boyhood to manhood was monitored by Elizabeth and his unusual, flawless life would have been just another wonder to be discussed in hushed tones at family gatherings. So, John protested:

“I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

John knew who Jesus was. From other sources we know that John declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Only a sinless Lamb could do that.

All Righteousness
The reply of Jesus to John’s protest tells us much:

“Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

The baptism of Jesus was not one of repentance but of identification. Jesus came as the fulfillment of all the covenantal promises of God—all righteousness—the full and complete character of God. God’s faithfulness, God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s truth and even God’s justice were all fulfilled in Jesus. He had laid aside His omnipresence to be in only one place at time. He forewent His omniscience to know only what He observed through the five human senses and by the voice of the Spirit within. He surrendered His omnipotence to retain only the strength of his splendid, sin-free human body and mind and heart. But He maintained the love of God, the faithfulness of God, the mercy of God, and the truth of God in His earthly life. At the cross He would demonstrate the justice of God. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness and the dripping waters of Jordan raining from His clothes when He emerged from the river proved it.

His Father’s Voice
When Jesus emerged from the water, He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove to land on His shoulder. I believe everyone saw the dove, too. The Dove lighted gently on one shoulder and remained there so still as the crowd took a gigantic unison breath. As if to prove what their eyes beheld, the Dove puffed up its chest and flapped its wings and walked across the strong back of Jesus’ neck to other shoulder and settled there. A low moan of awe came from the people watching this. Then something truly spectacular happened. A voice like thunder spoke from the heavens. Like thunder it was but the words were clearly understood:

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Father, Son, and Spirit in perfect communion on the banks of the old river; it was a miracle witnessed by all who were there that day and one never forgotten by any.

Matthew 3:13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9-10
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Lord Jesus, Your work on this earth was complete. Your love from heaven is without flaw or weakness. You truly fulfilled all righteousness as You walked this earth. Now, ruling from the Throne of Heaven, You fulfill all righteousness. You provide for those who trust in You and even for those who don’t believe and turn away. You have hemmed me in behind and before and laid Your hand upon me. I have a destiny in You and today I choose to walk in it. For Your glory, Lord! Amen.

Christ Is My Everything

Christ is my everything. Christ is my all.
Christ is my everything both great and small.
He gave His life for me, made everything new.
Christ is my everything, say, how about you?

He Is Lord

He is Lord. He is Lord.
He has risen from the dead and He is Lord.
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 8 “Repentance”


In modern Christian circles we tend to think of repentance as the final goal of our witness. Actually, it is the beginning.
The meaning of the word is simple and beyond dispute: it means to turn around. It is a deliberate reversal. Instead of traveling north we do a 180º turn and start traveling south. This is the first step in following Christ and it is a step often repeated on the Path of Life because we tend to get sidetracked onto useless paths that lead to destruction though at first they seemed right to us. When the Holy Spirit convicts us that we are on a path to destruction, we need to repent and get back on the Path of Life!

John’s Call to Reversal
John, the Forerunner of Christ, stood in the waters of the Jordan River and called for a reversal in the ways of his generation. He was not gentle.

“Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…”

He called his generation’s leaders snakes—not exactly good PR and very poor “optics” as they say in politics today. But this was his message, his mission. He was not called to be gentle; he was called to tell the truth to his generation. Change was coming and repentance was the first step in preparation for the change. Results rescue repentance from being just an act of public theatre.  Repentance is a real reversal of the heart. “Fruit worthy of repentance” was John’s demand. When we really repent, our lives produce a different set of results.

  • We are peacemakers rather than strife producers.
  • We are loving instead of hate-filled.
  • We are honest instead of deceptive.
  • We are humble instead of haughty.
  • We deal in grace not vengeance.

These things are the tests of true repentance. Words without a reversal of conduct are worthless.

Heritage does not automatically transfer.
The object of John’s preaching claimed to be children of Abraham, as if their bloodline won them favor with God. While Jehovah is a covenant-keeping God and will be true to His promises to bless Israel, those promises included warnings against apostasy—falling away from true worship and godly living. Their heritage had merit as long as their personal conduct was in keeping with the Law and such was not the case. John as much as said, “Big deal!”

“God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”

It was the day of reversal, of pruning the national tree and the ax was already at the root.

Water and Fire
Standing and preaching in the river, John plunged the repentant ones under the water as a public act representing the inward reversal in their lives. For those people it was a dividing line in their lives. How many of these people would be the ones to be healed or delivered by the hand and Word of Jesus? How many of these would be miraculously fed in the wilderness? How many would witness the resurrection of Lazarus? There is no way to know, of course, but this act of preparation was the first step in preparing for Jesus to walk among them in power.

Standing and preaching in the river, John prophesied about another baptism to come, one not of water but of fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit. The cleansing begun in the waters of repentance would continue in the fires of the Spirit. God would raise up children of Abraham from every nation of the world.

And it has been so!

Matthew 3:7-12
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Corinthians 7:9-11
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Acts 2:1-4
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

O Lord, I want the power of the Spirit! I know it begins with repentance so I repent! I have gone under the water and up again to new and unending life in You. Now I want what John said You would bring—a baptism of fire! I realize how inadequate my gifts are to do the work You have called me to do. I need the Holy Ghost! Please do not leave me to my meager gifts and talents! Anoint me with Your power! Fill me with Your Spirit! “O Lord, send the power just now!” Amen.

O Lord, Send the Power Just Now
Words and Music: Charles D. Tillman

1. They were in an upper chamber, They were all with one accord,
When the Holy Ghost descended As was promised by the Lord.

O Lord, send the pow’r just now,
O Lord, send the pow’r just now;
O Lord, send the pow’r just now
And baptize every one.

2. Yes, the pow’r from Heav’n descended With the sound of rushing wind;
Tongues of fire came down upon them, As the Lord said He would send.


3. Yes, this old-time pow’r was given To our fathers who were true;
This is promised to believers, And we all may have it too.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 7 “Forerunner”


When the time came for Jesus to begin His earthly ministry, God sent a man ahead of Him to prepare the way.
His name was John. From other sources we learn that he was a cousin of Jesus. His father, Zacharius, was a member of the faithful remnant of priests in the Temple who were looking for Messiah. He was born to Zacharius and his mother Elizabeth in the later years of their lives—a miraculous birth. When Mary learned of her pregnancy, she visited Elizabeth and the Spirit of God filled the older woman when the child within her leapt at the sound of Mary’s voice. When both boys were grown into men, their lives would intersect in the waters of the Jordan River.

John the Forerunner
Jesus grew up in the north, in Galilee, separated from the apostasy and appeasement in the south in Jerusalem. John grew up in the south, an eyewitness to the sins of the nation and her leadership. He was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb. This equipped him with an awareness of the spiritual aspects of life. The sins of the nation and the wickedness of the entrenched leadership in the Temple propelled him to the desert. He abandoned the accepted norms of dress, preferring simple camel’s hair and a leather belt to cover his body. He fasted from a normal diet, preferring locusts and wild honey. The Spirit within him compelled him to speak, to cry out to an apostate nation to return to God. Repentance became his message, simple and direct with no ornamental soft pedaling. He waded into the Jordan River inviting those convicted by his message to join him there and plunge beneath the water as a public act of contrition. With no publicity, and no organization, people came and repented and were baptized.

His words spoken in the desert were repeated in the city to the discomfort of the political leaders. He was quoted in the Temple to the disturbance of the scribes and priests in their various sects and divisions. His call for repentance was heard by hungry souls and by angry men who saw him as a threat to their precious hold on power.

John’s message began with repentance of sin but went well beyond that. His was a call to preparation for what God was about to do. He quoted the prophet Isaiah who predicted that the glory of the Lord would be revealed and they would see it. How this must have stirred the souls of the faithful remnant who were longing for Messiah and how it must have alarmed those whose hope was in the status quo. Something new was about to happen—get ready for it! Their God who was so active in their history was on the move in their day. Repentance meant more than being sorry for sins. It meant bringing down mountains of pride, building up valleys of apathy, straightening crooked roads of evil conduct, and smoothing out rough paths of carelessness. It meant changing the way you lived and thought. It meant opening up to the ways of God and putting away the ways of the flesh. It meant a new time was upon them, not one of God’s wrath, but one of God’s blessing and they could be a part of it if they chose to be.

Isaiah and John still speak today through the pages of Scripture. Repentance is still the start of a new life in God.

Matthew 3:1-6
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord ; Make His paths straight.'” Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
Isaiah 40:1-9
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the Lord ‘s hand Double for all her sins.” The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

Lord Jesus, the words of Isaiah and John the Baptist still sound in my heart. I must prepare for the days ahead. Help me bring down the mountains in my mind that exalt themselves against Your plan for my life. I want to build up the deep valleys of my ignorance of Your Word and Your ways. Lord, my ways are often rough; smooth them, Lord. Holy Spirit where the road I have taken causes me to veer off the path, straighten me up! Lord, I want to see Your glory revealed to all. Make my life Your highway through this desert! Amen and Amen.

Just As I Am
Words: Charlotte Elliot; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd’st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

2. Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

3. Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

4. Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 6 “Nazareth”


Sometimes it takes an outsider to speak to a closed system.
The leaders in a corrupt system close the doors to outsiders and consolidate their power. Such was the condition down in Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that Jesus and most of His disciples were outsiders, residents of the northern part of Israel, the region of Galilee. The prophet Isaiah called it, “Galilee of the Gentiles.” By the time of the Jesus Story, Galilee was populated mostly by Jews. Also, far removed from the stratified social structure of Jerusalem, a large middle class of merchants and craftsmen, including a thriving fishing industry, developed in Galilee. This was exceptional in the Roman culture of the day. As a craftsman, Joseph fit right in in the Nazareth community.

The People Who Walked in Darkness have seen a Great Light.
The Great Light that would eventually bring the power and presence of God to Jerusalem was Jesus Himself. He would come out of the north and bring the truth to the south, an outsider, the “Messenger of the Covenant who suddenly came to the Temple.” The faithful remnant in that closed, corrupt system to the south will delight in Jesus while the entrenched power brokers will rage against Him. Gentiles were not the only ones walking in darkness!

Out of Egypt; Back to Israel
Joseph’s dreams continued to play a major role in the Jesus Story. When wicked King Herod died, Joseph was informed of this by an angel in a dream and brought his family back to Israel. However, Herod’s replacement was also dangerous so in another angelic dream Joseph is warned of the danger. He turned aside to Galilee, settling in the village of Nazareth in the southern region of Galilee. Fathers today can imagine the joy Joseph took in raising this Boy who was both the Son of God and of Mary. If Jesus’ first word was as it often is today, the Hebrew equivalent of “Dadda,”—probably, “Abba”—Joseph was the recipient of the greeting. Mothers today, can imagine the joy of Mary holding Jesus in her arms, seeing His first smile while looking into her face, and knowing before any of us did, His warm touch. These things happened in Nazareth.

The Synagogue in Nazareth
The hometown meeting place in the village of Nazareth will figure large in the Jesus story. It was here, as well as in the home of Joseph and Mary, Jesus memorized the scriptures that spoke of Messiah. He played with the neighborhood children. Surely He was the delight of His teachers. He learned Joseph’s craft by his side in the carpenter’s shop and he learned proper business practices in the community. In other words, Jesus, far removed from an elitist system in Jerusalem, learned the truths of real life, work and worship in the real world. In this, we identify with Him. He truly was one of us, living in a world not unlike ours: family, local worship and education, work and personal responsibility.

What a blessing that “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Matthew 2:19-23
Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Isaiah 9:1-2
Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
Malachi 3:1
“Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts.

Lord Jesus, You came to this earth to be one of us. Even in the selection of Your hometown, You chose to live outside of the power structures. You learned life as a boy in school and church just like us. You learned the value of work and honesty in business. You learned real life in a real world. Help me tell Your real story in my real world. Lord, I too, am an outsider in this world. People walk in darkness all around me; help me bring Your light to them. For Your glory, Lord. Amen.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

1. O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

2. O come, O Wisdom from on high, who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show and teach us in its ways to go.


3. O come, O come, great Lord of might, who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law in cloud and majesty and awe.


4. O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem, unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o’er the grave.

5. O come, O Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road and bar the way to death’s abode.


6. O come, O Bright and Morning Star, and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light.


7. O come, O King of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 5 “Innocents”


Everyone knows it is not wise to make a king angry.
He has all kinds of power at his command and he does not hesitate to use it. The Jesus Story is more than singing angels, trembling shepherds, and kneeling wise men. It is the story of evil at its worst seeking to destroy good at its best.

Herod Makes His Move
Deceived by the wise men who saw through his intention to “worship Him, too,” King Herod struck out against this potential rival, this infant who is called Messiah, King of the Jews. While Jesus was still in His mother’s bosom, His young life was threatened. With the assistance of the wise men through their valuable gifts, Joseph and Mary had enough to pay their taxes and make a hastily arranged, clandestine journey to Egypt. Lost in a lumbering caravan through the Sinai, retracing the steps of their ancestors, they escaped Herod’s unreasoning wrath.

Not so the baby boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding regions. In what has come to be called “The Slaughter of the Innocents,” Herod ordered the murder of every boy two years old and younger. Thus, the prophesied cry of weeping mothers became a real sound of lamentation.

Why Would God Allow This?
At first, anyone reading this story will ask why. Why would God allow a wicked king to wreak such destruction? This is another way of asking what is the question of the ages: “Why does God allow evil when He has the power to stop it?” Theologians and philosophers grapple with this question in every generation and have since the beginning. The answers are beyond the scope of this writing. What do we know from Scripture?

  • God is just. (Psalm 37:27-29)
  • God is loving. (1 John 4:16)
  • Death is not the end of life. (Psalm 37:27-29)
  • God’s ways are beyond our understanding. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

These things we can understand and we cling to them by faith when faced with things we cannot understand. God does not run the universe at the level of our understanding. There will always be more questions than answers in this life.

A Fallen Creation
When God put the finishing touches on creation He said it was good, very good. When Adam and Eve believed the lies of the serpent and fell into sin, this perfect world began to rot, to decay from within. Evil stalked the land and has to this day. In the time of the Jesus Story, the world was held in the merciless grip of an evil empire. Israel was in the hands of a puppet king and her worship was led by a corrupt priesthood. Power was the coin of the realm, political power for Rome and the power of spiritual wickedness in the Temple. Power must be grasped and firmly held against all opponents, even a helpless child. What was the sound of weeping mothers to Herod? It was the sound of victory.

Another Child
Down in Egypt, another child nursed at His mother’s breast as a carpenter and his wife made do until it was safe to return to Israel. For Joseph and Mary there was no fear. They knew from experience that God was in control. When news of the slaughter reached them, they wept with the mothers of Bethlehem and held the Boy even closer to their hearts. There would be an answer to such evil.

Matthew 2:16-18
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”
Jeremiah 31:15
Thus says the Lord: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.”
Psalm 37:27-29
Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore. For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever.
1 John 4:16
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Isaiah 55:8-9
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Lord Jesus, Your ways are higher than my ways. As the Bible says they are “past finding out.” When I have questions about life that I cannot answer, help me review the things I do understand from Your Word and dwell on these things. I trust Your heart, Lord, in things I don’t understand. I know that You are loving and just and that You comfort those who suffer at the hand of the evil in this world. The time is coming when You will make all things right and dry all tears. Thank, You, Lord. Amen.

When the Morning Comes
Words and Music: Charles Albert Tindley

1. Trials dark on ev’ry hand, and we cannot understand
All the ways that God would lead us  to that blessed Promised Land;
But He’ll guide us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die;
We will understand it better by and by.

By and by, when the morning comes,
When the saints of God are gathered home,
We will tell the story how we’ve overcome;
We will understand it better by and by.

2. Oft our cherished plans have failed, disappointments have prevailed,
And we’ve wandered in the darkness, heavyhearted and alone;
But we’re trusting in the Lord, and according to His Word,
We will understand it better by and by.


3. Temptations, hidden snares often take us unawares.
And our hearts are made to bleed for some thoughtless word or deed.
And we wonder why the test when we try to do our best,
We will understand it better by and by.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 4 “Egypt”


The Jesus Story contains one of the strangest and most unlikely of prophecies: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Naming the tiny town of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Messiah was odd enough, but to name Egypt as a source for Messiah is odd beyond belief and yet it happened. This story is laden with these amazing incidences of fulfilled prophecy. One of Matthew’s purposes in writing his version of the life of Christ is to point these things out to his Jewish readers. Jesus was a Jew and He was the Jewish Messiah as well as the Savior of the World. Matthew’s account springs from a deep love for God’s Chosen People.

Not the First Time
This was not the first call “out of Egypt” in the plan of God to save the world. Before there could be a Jewish Messiah to save the world, there had to be a Jewish nation. God called Abraham out of his homeland to find a new one and found the Hebrew nation. Generations later, famine drove the children of Israel (Jacob, Abraham’s heir) into Egypt for survival. Safety became slavery when Egyptian leaders came to power who did not know Joseph. Through the stammering lips of Moses, God called His Chosen People out of Egypt. With a mighty hand deliverance was won. It took a generation of faithless wandering in the wilderness for the nation to finally return to the Promised Land. In that wilderness the people learned how to worship God. They learned the laws of the Covenant which would guide them in their re-won homeland. Though they found the land full of enemies, when their worship was right, God’s hand, the same mighty hand that called them out of Egypt, was with them to subdue the land promised to them.

The Lessons of Egypt
Former Egyptian slaves became landowners and craftsmen, people of creativity and commerce. Realize this, the Hebrews went into Egypt a nation of herdsmen. They were called out of Egypt as a nation of craftsman. Craftsmanship has been a mark of God’s people ever since. Work is holy and is another form of worship honoring God. The wonderful Tabernacle they built in the wilderness was manufactured with this formula:

  1. The plans of God from Mt. Sinai,
  2. The materials of Egypt given to the Israelites as they were set free, and
  3. The skills the people had learned in Egypt.

This is still the formula for Christian living today:

  1. The Word of God as our Guide,
  2. The redeemed systems of the fallen world (education, true science, technology, etc,) and
  3. The skills of our own hands (craftsmanship, creativity, hard work, and diligent study.)

With this three-fold blessing, we are called out of the world to minister to the world.

The Holy Family in Egypt
Matthew gives us no details of how long Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt or what they did while there. No purpose is served if we speculate on these things. The immediate cause was the hostility of King Herod. It was imperative to remove Jesus from the reach of the wicked king. Upon news of his death, they returned to Israel. How ironic that God would use a heathen nation to protect His Son from the King of Israel. Once again, “Out of Egypt…”

Matthew 2:13-15
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Hosea 11:1
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.”

Lord Jesus, You came so far to find us and redeem us. And when You came to this earth, You were in immediate danger. King Herod was the first but he was not the last to seek Your life. Through it all, You were protected, even by a journey to Egypt, the very symbol of sin. You were, indeed, as the Scripture predicted called out of Egypt. In the end, no one was able to take Your life; You gave it willingly for our sake, for my sake. Then, You were called out of the tomb. Next, You were called out of this world to regain the throne of Heaven. Soon, You will call us out of this world, this Egypt, to be with You forever. Amen and Amen!

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne
Words: E. S. Elliot; Music: Timothy R. Matthews

1. Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

2. Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

3. The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

4. Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

5. When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 3 “Stars”


To the ancient mind, stars had to be more than twinkling lights in the night sky. They had to mean something.
They had no idea that stars were really suns and the distances involved were well beyond their understanding. Night after night wise men studied the stars, noting what seemed to be their movements across the sky. With imaginations more highly developed than their science, they created meanings and gave them significance in their own lives.

Wise Men from the East
Matthew tells us of a group of these men of intelligence and careful observation. They saw a new star and determined that it was there to lead them to Messiah. Like the ancient astronomers who filled in the details with their imaginations, Christian tradition has filled in missing details about the Wise Men.

  • Because three gifts are mentioned, there were three Wise Men.
  • They were Kings.
  • Their names were Caspar and Balthazar and their leader, Melchior.
  • In addition to the stars, it is possible they had copies of the writings of the Hebrew prophets left over from the Babylonian Captivity.
  • They arrived the night Jesus was born and joined the shepherds at the manger. The account of Matthew hints that perhaps they came later but the image of kings and shepherds kneeling together at the manger is irresistible and speaks to the meaning of Christmas.

When writing about the Wise Men, these inventions come in handy. In this telling we will hold to the details given by our reporter, Matthew.

Kings and More Kings
If the Wise Men were indeed kings, it makes sense that they consulted with King Herod.

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

If these men had any sense of discernment at all, they sensed that Herod was not a friend of the Child they were seeking. Troubled by their inquiry, Herod assembled his advisors to learn what they knew about where Messiah was to be born. Bethlehem was the place foretold by prophecy. Herod met again with the Wise Men to find out when the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem with a false promise to join them in worship of the child.

Following the Star
Uneasy from their interview with Herod, they followed the star to Bethlehem where it stopped over the house where they found the Christ-child. Forgetting Herod for a moment they rejoiced with great joy. Entering the house they were overcome by the holiness of the presence of Jesus and they fell to the floor in worship. They recovered enough to present their valuable gifts, each one significant in its own way:

  • Gold, a precious metal and provision for the family,
  • Frankincense, a precious resin used in the sacrifices of worship in the Temple, and
  • Myrrh, a holy ingredient in the anointing oil used to indicate God’s choice of an individual.

Being warned in a dream of Herod’s treachery, their scene in the Jesus Story completed, the Wise Men returned to their homes. It is certain they would never be the same. The presence of Jesus does that to people.

Matthew 2:1-12
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'” Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Micah 5:2
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

Lord Jesus, You are the Morning Star! My guide through this life! I will follow You wherever You lead. Like the Wise Men, I will seek Your face and fall prostrate before You in deepest worship. I will offer to You the best gifts of my life. May Your Spirit give me discernment to see the hearts of those who hate You and avoid their schemes. As I behold Your glory in worship, change me, O Lord, from glory to glory until Your likeness can be seen in me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

In Your Presence
Words and Music by J.D. and Stephen Phifer

1. When the chill of life’s cold wind blows ‘round me,
I can call on Your name in my grief.
And You are there every time when I need You.
Wrapping me in a blanket of Peace.

In Your presence, In Your presence, there is joy.
In Your presence, In Your presence, there is peace.
Let me linger, let me stay in Your presence, I pray,
Till Your likeness can be seen in me.

2. O how sweet just to wait in Your presence,
Just to know in my soul You are near.
I’m restored by the touch of Your hand, Lord;
Lifted up when it’s Your voice I hear.


3. How we need to spend time in Your presence,
To draw away from this world’s frantic pace.
Let us dwell in the glow of Your nearness,
Hold us close in Your healing embrace.


Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at

March 2 “Christ-child”


The miracle of the Incarnation is that God became a man.
The wonder of it all is that He became an infant, the most powerless of all human beings. This is the central mystery and fact of Christianity. It is a fact attested to by the most numerous and ancient of historical sources. No theologian has ever explained how it was done. In the early centuries of the church, leaders expended much effort and time and resources in conferences to try and figure whether Jesus was a man who became God or was He God in the form of man or something in between these possibilities. Various Creeds like the Nicene Creed go into detail to express the nature of God as a confessed belief and this is helpful. Statements of faith are needed but an explanation is not. We simply accept by faith that Jesus was both God and man, both at the same time. In order to become the Christ-child, the pre-incarnate Jesus had to lay aside His divine nature and take up His human nature. This is a mystery not to be explained, but to be believe and to confessed in worship.

The Most Promising Young Couple in Nazareth
In my imagination, they were the pride of the village.

  • Joseph was an excellent craftsman with his own profitable shop. He was a man of integrity in business and piety in his religion. He knew the scriptures so well, the village children would gather into his shop after class to hear his wisdom on the lessons of the day. He specialized in prophecies of Messiah.
  • Mary was as perfect for him as he was for her. She was the model of beauty and modesty. Her cheerful spirit always brightened the mood wherever she went. Most of the young men were intimidated by her and most of the other girls found her so genuine they could not even envy her—except perhaps for her Joseph.

All in all their betrothal was a bit of good news in those troubled times. People found hope for the nation in young people such as these.

“Before they came together…”
They were not yet husband and wife when Mary realized that she was pregnant. We know from other sources that she had been visited by the angel Gabriel and told that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her leaving her with child. It happened just as Gabriel said and Mary had the difficult duty of telling Joseph. As a carpenter, Joseph knew the measure of things and did not believe her story. Brokenhearted, he decided to handle things as discreetly as possible by sending her away. It was not to be. In a dream an angel appeared to him and told him the facts. Awaking from his sleep Joseph obeyed the angel’s words and took Mary as his wife. His love for her was so great, it negated logic and thus their marriage was an act of faith in God.

“Immanuel—God with Us”
When the child was born, they named Him “Jesus” as instructed. In addition, the prophet Isaiah said that He would be called Immanuel, meaning, “God with us.” Jesus means, “Savior.” And thus He came to be! He will go to the cross as a sinless Lamb to save us from the price of our sins and He will be the manifest presence of God in the earth. Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son”—fully God and fully man—the mystery of the ages.

Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
Isaiah 7:14-15
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

The Apostles’ Creed
The Book of Common Prayer (Adapted SRP)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Words and Music: Bob McGee

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
His name is called Emmanuel
God with us, revealed in us
His name is called Emmanuel

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at