Scripture reading for October 4th: Nahum 1-3, Habakkuk 1
Key Scriptures: Habakkuk 1:5 “”Look at the nations and watch–and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if your were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth. . . .””
Habakkuk had questions for God. It appeared that God was allowing injustice in the land of His people. It appeared that God was tolerating evil and wrong-doing. But God answered him by telling him to look at what He planned to do: use a wicked and ruthless nation to judge His people! This was a hard concept to grasp. A good and holy God who used even the wicked for His good purposes. God’s people would have a hard time believing in God’s plans to save them too, when His Son Jesus Christ revealed the way of salvation!
God’s amazing salvation: “”Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, if if someone told you.'” (Acts 13:38-41)
Scripture reading for September 7th: Ezekiel 12-15
Key Scriptures: Ezekiel 12:21-25 “The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’? Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to put an end to this proverb and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, “The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay.”
Ezekiel was told to tell God’s people that they had a proverb that was mocking God’s ability to fulfill His Word. He was not going to delay any longer out of mercy and patience. Soon, there would be a quick fulfillment with no more delay! That is prophetic for us in these last days as we are again warned by Peter, the Apostle!
Thankful for speedy fulfillment: “I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised? Ever since our fathers died everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” “. . . ./but the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” (2nd Peter 3:2-4, 10)
Scripture reading for November 30th: Jude
Jude was a half-brother to Jesus Christ and the brother of James. His short letter mirrors some of the same issues that Peter dealt with in his second letter: false teachers and apostasy. His letter speaks to the church of today.
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and 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)
The main issue that Jude felt compelled to address was the infiltration of false teachers into the church. These men were slipping in and teaching destructive doctrines. They believed in a cheap grace that taught that believers could keep on living in sin and Jesus would forgive them. In doing so, they were denying the true work of Jesus Christ to do away with sin and deliver the sinner from its power. This cheap grace is also in the church today! It is a false doctrine that divides the church and is devoid of the Holy Spirit. (vs. 19)
“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 20-22) The best defense is a good offense of actively doing God’s will!
Scripture reading for November 29th: 2nd Peter 3:1-18
The last days, according to Peter, will bring scoffers and mockers of God and His truth. Peter continued to remind the church about their need to stay close to God’s word and apply it to their lives. Knowledge would be of no value if not applied! A day of judgment was coming that would reveal the truth about our faith and Peter wanted his flock to be prepared and ready. It would require some diligent effort on their part!
The mockers of the last days will use the failure of Jesus to come back again as He promised as a reason to leave the faith. Peter pointed out that those of Noah’s day mocked Noah as he built the ark and warned of the coming judgment. But there was a day when the earth was destroyed by water, just as God promised! Peter also stated: “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2nd Peter 3:7)
Why was God so slow in bringing about His promises then? Peter stated God’s heart to the church so that they might have an answer for the scoffers. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:8-9) God’s heart is merciful to those who are slow to believe and even to the mockers. He is allowing them time to repent before the final judgment!
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people out you to be?” (2nd Peter 3:10-11)
Peter encouraged these believers to ‘make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” (2nd Peter 3:14) Truth from God’s word calls for diligent action! Every effort must be made to come to Christ and cling to His Gospel. This truth is to be shared! Jesus will come suddenly!
Scripture reading for December 23rd: Jude
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and 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.” (Jude3-4)
Jude was the half-brother of Jesus. He became a follower and disciple of Christ and understood the salvation that Jesus bought and paid for. It was not the cheap grace that was being peddled by some of the false teachers of his day and ours! Jude wanted the church to contend earnestly for the faith that brought true repentance and a changed life. This was the only kind of faith that could save and deliver a person from eternal condemnation.
The false teachers had come from the ranks of the church. They were evidently taking the wonderful message of God’s grace and forgiveness of sins and making that a license to continue living in sin. In doing so, they were actually denying Jesus Christ and His sacrifice of His own body and blood to deliver us from the power of sin. (Romans 6:11-14) Sin is no longer our master, but by His Spirit we can overcome sin’s grip! These false teachers were teaching believers that they could continue to live in sin and that God’s grace would cover their sins, thus dividing the church. Jude wrote that this lie would lead to eternal condemnation and separation from God!
Jude had a remedy: “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 20-23) The fight of faith requires Spirit inspired prayer! This builds us up and keeps us in God’s river of love. It enables us to reach out to those who struggle and snatch them from the fire! Fight the good fight of faith!
Scripture reading for June 4th: Psalms 1-6
Today we embark on a study of the psalms. The Book of Psalms was the hymnbook of the Hebrew people and was used in worship and prayer. The word “psalm” denotes a “song sung to the accompaniment of a plucked instrument.” These psalms had at least seven different authors and were written over nearly a thousand years, from the time of Moses to the return from exile in Babylon. David was one of the primary authors of the psalms. Many reflect his own prayers, worship, fears, and desires as he experience the full range of life in all it’s emotional ups and downs! As we study this book, let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes to see Jesus Christ and to know Him more intimately!
This book opens with a psalm about a man who is blessed by God. There are some things this man does not do. He doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked. He also doesn’t stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. What is wickedness? How do we know what counsel we should avoid? What is a sinner? What is the mocker mocking? That’s easy to know from this Psalm. This man knows because he delights in the law of the Lord! He is meditating on that law day and night. From that law he clearly understands good and evil, righteousness and wickedness. He understands sin by knowing God’s law!
This man who is blessed is pictured as like a tree planted by streams of water. This tree is always bearing fruit and is leafy and green because it’s roots are well supplied with moisture and nutrients. Even when it is dry and hot, it is not lacking because of the water supply it draws from. God abundantly supplies this man because of the Word he meditates on. Circumstances may change the climate, but the roots are well supplied! What an encouraging picture to begin worship with!
This blessed man is contrasted with the wicked man. The wicked man is pictured as the chaff off of the wheat. The wind comes and blows it away. It is good for nothing but to be burned up. Just like the chaff that is separated from the wheat by the wind, so the sinner and wicked man will not stand in the time of God’s judgment! They will be separated from the assembly of the righteous and blessed! God is watching over the righteous to provide and protect and ultimately reward them. God is also going to make sure the wicked perish!
This song about the blessed man is for us today! We are to meditate on the Word of God and focus on the living Word, Jesus Christ! Life flows from Him and in Him we find eternal life! Blessing is favor and a river of good flowing from the source of all blessing, God. God loves to bless those who sit at His feet, stand in His way and walk by faith in His Word.