Scripture reading for December 1st: Esther 1-3, Psalm 139, Revelation 1
Revelation 1: 4-8 “John, to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him Who is and Who was and Who is to come, and from the seven Spirits that are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ the Faithful Witness; the Firstborn of the dead and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him Who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty.””
John the Apostle, was by this time an old man. He was suffering exile on the Isle of Patmos for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and wrote this amazing letter to the seven churches of Asia that God had assigned Him oversight for. John writes a letter of love and grace from the heart of God the Father and Jesus Christ, conveying God’s Word and prophetic insight concerning the things to come. This God we serve is the great “I Am,” and is described by John as the One Who was in existence from everlasting, the ‘Alpha’ and Who is now present and Who also is the One Who is to come in time yet known. Our Father knows it all–past, present, and future! He knows the end from the beginning and His will will be done on earth as in heaven. He will come again with the clouds to receive glory and dominion forever and ever! That is Truth!
Psalm 139:3-4 “You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.”
Prayer: Father God, I am in awe of Who You are–the God Who always was, and is now and will exist in eternity future. You truly know all things and have revealed Your plans to us through Your Word and the prophets and apostles. You place us where You desire and fulfill Your purposes through those who serve You. Use me today to bring others to know You through the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Esther 2:16-17 “Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to king Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the other virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”
Scripture reading for December 1st: Esther 1-3, Psalm 139, Revelation 1
Key Scriptures: Revelation 1:4-7 “John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him Who is and Who was and Who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, the Ruler of kings on earth. To Him Who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen.”
John was imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos for preaching the Gospel. He was likely in his late eighties at this time and had been an Apostle of Jesus Christ, a missionary and church planter and now an overseer. Writing to the seven churches he oversaw, he described God the Father and Jesus Christ to them. They are the eternal Ones, having past existence, present reality and perfect future existence. Jesus Christ, the Son, loves us now and demonstrated His love by giving His blood for our freedom. He made us part of His kingdom and priesthood. To Him and the Father belong eternal glory and dominion. Jesus is coming soon and every eye will behold Him!
Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, You have redeemed me by Your blood and freed me from my sins by Your divine grace and favor. Guide me today to fulfill Your will and prepare me for Your soon return.
Esther 2:17 “. . the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”
Scripture reading for February 9th: Leviticus 21-23
Today, people seem to want to come to church in the most casual attire possible. They are very individualistic in their tastes and often want to stand out because of some unusual hair style, color, tattoo or piercing. Some shave off all their hair and others wear various hair pieces. Some wear jeans and others dress in suit and tie. A few years back, almost everyone dressed up for church and put on their most special clothes. What was it like in Moses day?
According to our reading today, priests had very strict dress and behavior rules. God was holy and they must be holy too or they might die! (Leviticus 22:9) For me, this is a good enough reason to pay attention to God’s rules!
In Chapter 21, God warned his priests not to shave their heads, cut the edges of their beards, or cut their bodies. Their appearance was somehow connected with holiness. These men had to present offerings to the Lord each day. The High Priest who had been anointed with the holy oil could not let his hair become unkempt or messed up! He could not touch a dead body, even that of his mother or father! He was under strict rules because of his position and responsibility before God.
The priests could not marry just anyone either. They could only marry a virgin from among their own people. They could not marry a widow or divorced person or anyone engaged in prostitution! The reason given is that this would defile the offspring and make them unfit to serve in the priesthood and handle the holy offerings. (Leviticus 21:7-8, 13-15)
Priests could not serve and handle offerings if they had a skin disease or had been near a dead body. If they did handle the offerings knowingly when they were unclean, they must be cut off from God’s presence and never allowed to offer sacrifices again! God looked at these requirements with great seriousness and did not allow for levity or laxity! (Leviticus 22:1-4)
So, what does this mean for us today in the twenty-first century? Holiness is not determined today by how we dress outwardly. Jesus fulfilled the law. We must be dressed in His righteousness and cleansed by His blood to be clean. However, our dress outwardly often reflects our heart attitude. Many are lax about their approach to God. If they are seeking more to be noticed by others or to express their individuality and right to expression by modifying their bodies or displaying them inappropriately, then beware! Our God is still a holy God and those who approach him must come with humility and holy respect.
Marriage is another area of disreguard in today’s culture. Adultery and fornication are regular practices of people who approach God and say that they love Jesus. Divorce and the breaking of vows made before God is a routine practice even among professing Christians. God does not take this as lightly as we do. He desires holiness and holy offspring! (Leviticus 21:15; Malachi 2:15)