Scripture reading for December 15th: Hebrews 11-13
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3
One of the foundational aspects of our faith is trusting God as creator of all things. This particular aspect of faith is attacked in our land today by those who put their faith in the theory of evolution. Evolution is a type of religious system that puts time and chance as key ingredients to finding the basis of beginning in all things. A creator is ruled out in favor of man’s invention of ‘truth’.
We who trust God’s word know that He spoke a command and it happened. Faith trusts what God has said. The Bible records a number of human beings who trusted God’s word and were commended by Him. Enoch is one such person recorded in Hebrews 11.
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:5-6)
Enoch was a man who walked with God. He was a prophet who warned of the coming of the Lord in judgment. His only recorded message is found in Jude 14-15. Enoch began to walk with God after the birth of his son, Methuselah, whose name tells of coming judgment. (Genesis 5:21-24) The flood came in the year Methuselah died and he lived longer than any other man recorded in Scripture. Enoch so walked with God that he was snatched up to heaven and became a type of ‘faith-walker’ that would inspire others throughout the ages!
There is no other means of pleasing God! Jesus is coming again. Will you walk with God today as if that were true and warn others about this coming event? God has promised to “snatch up” those who walk with Him! ( 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Scripture reading for December 20th: Revelation 11:1-19
God’s love for mankind always goes the extra mile. He sent His Son into the world to seek and save lost people. He sent the Church into all the world to share the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. During the great tribulation, God will send two witnesses to the world with supernatural power to declare His power one final time to those still living in rebellion on the earth.
“”And I will give power to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lamp-stands that stand before the Lord of the earth.. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have the power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.” (Revelation 11:3-6)
The identity of these two witnesses has been debated by many over the years. Some think that Enoch and Elijah would be good candidates since neither one died, but were taken to heaven by miraculous means. Others think the description of their powers make Elijah and Moses better possibilities. These witnesses will have supernatural power similar to those exercised by these Old Testament prophets. They will bring judgments on the earth to demonstrate God’s absolute power over nature and people’s futility to resist Him.
“Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.” These powerful witnesses will be killed at the end of the 1,260 days set by God. The peoples of the earth will think they won for three and a half days. Then, miraculously, the breath of Life enters them and they hear a voice from heaven, “Come up here!” God demonstrates again His power over death for His saints!
Scripture reading for November 12th: Hebrews 11:1-16
When we believe on Jesus Christ, we join a select group of individuals who by faith pleased God and laid hold of the promise of being close to Him for eternity. There is no other way to please God than to live by faith in His word!
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3) Faith brings understanding of our creation, purpose and the fall into sin. When we read God’s word the light of truth helps us believe and understand today’s problems.
We also look back at the record of those that came before us and see the outcome of their faith. The writer of Hebrews calls them the ‘ancients’. This record begins with Abel offering a better sacrifice than his brother Cain. Abel obeyed God’s revelation of a blood sacrifice for approaching Him.(Genesis 4:3-8) Cain did not believe. Abel was commended by God as a righteous man and is still speaking to us today through his record in Scripture. (Hebrews 11:4) Cain was mastered by the sin of unbelief and killed his righteous brother. He lost God’s blessing.
Enoch so pleased God that he escaped death by his faith-motivated actions. (Hebrews 11:5) Enoch walked with God and was a prophet to his generation concerning God’s coming judgment. (Jude 14-15) God simply took him to heaven directly as an example for us of the reward of faith-filled living! (1st Corinthians 10:11)
Noah was warned by God of a coming destructive judgment of the world by water. Because he believed God, he built the ark according to God’s direction. He and his family were saved out of all living on the earth as a testimony of the reward of faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
Abraham heard God’s word instructing him to leave his country and go to the land God would show him. Abraham packed up his family and set out, trusting God’s word. He ended up living in a tent in the land of promise, trusting that God was faithful. It is recorded that Abraham was looking for a city built by God! (Hebrews 11:10) Faith pleased God and this record encourages us today.
Scripture reading for December 8th: Jude 1-25
The short letter of Jude, a brother of James and half-brother of Jesus, is a call to spiritual battle against false teachers and deception. Where the truth is taught, the enemy of God’s people will send opposition. We are in a spiritual war and the battle is sometimes within the church!
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write to urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 3-4) Jude’s letter is a call to battle! This battle is for the believer’s faith. Satan has sent false men into the church to try and get the church to deny their faith in Christ and His word by seducing them with immorality! This was warned of long ago!
God has judged immorality severely in the past. Jude cites the Israelites who died in the desert because of God’s judgment on their idolatry and immorality. (Jude 5-7) He reminds them of the destruction by fire of Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns because of their perversion. “They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” Jude plainly warns the church of God’s wrath against sexual sin. He is the Lord who does not change!
“But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in you most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 17-20) A good way to counteract the false teachers is to stay close to the words of the apostles–the Holy Scriptures. Along with this, praying in the Holy Spirit also builds up the spiritual man and keeps us in the faith and love of Jesus Christ. Jude’s advice is a good word for us today! We are reading God’s word, now let’s pray in the Spirit!
January 4th–Sunday of Rest
Each Sunday, the devotional Bible I am following this year offers a time to catch up and reflect on the journey so far. I liked the idea and thought it was good. Catch up today and rest in the Lord. This walk is not a race. We are involved to build a relationship with the Lord and want to know His heart.
As I reflect on these first three days, I am excited at what I am learning and insights that I have gotten that help me on the way. God created the heavens and earth and man and then he took one day to rest. That day was man’s first full day on earth and he was to spend it with the Lord, enjoying creation and the loving God who created it for his pleasure.
I think about Enoch who walked with God so closely that God just took him to be with Him. The birth of a child to Enoch and his wife, caused him to begin to prophesy about the Lord coming again in judgment. He was 365 years old when the Lord took him directly to heaven–one of only two in the Old Testament who didn’t die physically! Oh, for that close a walk! In fact, this is just what we are to be ready for today in the rapture of the church at the last trumpet! Noah walked with God and rode the ark over the waters to a new world! What an exciting walk! The God we serve is worthy of our worship and service. It’s just a drop of worship compared to the oceans of his mercy!
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Revelation 22:20