When was the last time you cried out to God? In today’s psalm, David cries out because Saul has chased after him for a while, trying to kill him. At times, our suffering and difficulty are exhausting and seem never ending. You’re not alone. And like he did for David, God will come through for you too.
- 1-7 – Clearly it was not going to be through merely physical effort that God’s purposes would be accomplished. It was by God’s spirit working through Zerubbabel’s words that ultimately did so.
- 8-10 – Zerubbabel was charged with rebuilding the temple. God blessed its completion.
- 1-5 – A special song of praise was reserved for the 144,000 righteous ones who were set apart.
- 13 – Traditionally, Jews believed death was a separation from God. This suggests that now death is a good thing because one can rest.
- 14 – Son of man is a term Jesus used for himself.
- 15-20 – This seems to be another removal of the unfaithful.
- David is crying out to God in the midst of Saul’s attempts to murder David. This chase lasted a long time and must have been exhausting for David.
- 21-23 – These are all shifts from a lowly state to a far more respected and accepted one. The earth would tremble because it’s so foreign from the way the earth typically works.
Like the three days Jesus was in the grave, in Revelation, there is a time when evil is winning. We know that it doesn’t win ultimately, but take a minute to think about the chaos, pain, and sorrow that would be associated with evil winning. Now take a minute to praise God that he wins.
- 6-12 – God declares to those who were taken into exile and have been in Babylon, that he will restore Jerusalem and that even others will turn to God because of God’s restoration of Israel.
- 1-10 – Part of restoring Jerusalem and the temple was restoring the priests. Joshua’s clean garments are symbolic of his return to God.
- 1-4 – The people should not be worshipping the beast or the dragon. They are not God. They are some of the many other entities that the world chooses to follow other than God.
- 5-10 – For a time, evil is allowed to prevail. Those who were not already saved began to follow the evil ruler. Because the saints were temporarily defeated, this was a test of their faithfulness and patient endurance.
- 11-18 – Like the people of the Lord were marked and sealed for Christ, now those who follow the beast are marked for him.
- 1-4 – So often our requests of God are to benefit just us. David’s request asks for God’s help to remain faithful.
- 8-10 – David also asks for safety from his enemies.
Apparently apathy is more offensive to God than even abject defiance. This is what today’s Revelation reading explains. Those who ride the fence and choose not to choose whether or not they will follow God are an affront to God. Unfortunately, this defines the majority of our culture. Let’s not be part of that group.
- 7-9 – A plumb line is used in building to keep things straight. Israel, against the plumb line, is clearly proving to be off the mark.
- 14-16 – It is not clear if Amos is saying he’s still not a prophet or if he’s simply trying to distance himself from all the false prophets. “Prophet” is not always a good thing in Scripture.
- 1-14 – Amos condemns anyone who is unfair towards others in business and those who take advantage of the poor. He explains that there will be an unusual punishment for their behavior. It will be a famine, but not one of physical provisions, but of God’s voice.
- 1-6 – God’s power is established and the fact that it is impossible to hide from his will.
- 13-15 – Once again, the book ends with hope that God will restore and renew.
- 7-13 – The letter to the church at Philadelphia is a positive one because they have remained faithful.
- 14-22 – This may be the harshest indictment on any of the churches addressed. Laodicea’s church is lukewarm, which is viewed more negatively than even being cold towards God. They basically are choosing not to choose. This does not please God.
- We are to humble ourselves and allow God to lift us up when appropriate.
Today’s Revelation reading is part of the letters to the seven churches. Each receives either commendation for faithfulness or warning to repent from wickedness, or both. Though these messages are specifically for the various churches, listen to what is said to them and see if they can help you become more faithful as well.
- 1-15 – These are various judgments passed down on Israel’s neighbors who have wronged Israel.
- 4-5 – This judgment is passed down upon Judah. The first part of the prophecy was against non-Israelites, but now it has switched to the Israelites.
- 6-16 – This judgment is against the Israelites and explains a variety of their transgressions.
- 1-15 – Here God confirms the guilt of the Israelites and describes the punishment they will face. He also reiterates that they have had a variety of warnings before this all goes down.
- 1-7 – Here there is a word for the church at Ephesus. They are commended for their original faithfulness, but have apparently strayed recently. This is a call to return to their original faithfulness and warning of what will happen if they don’t.
- 8-11 – Here the church of Smyrna is warned of upcoming trials they will face.
- 12-17 – Here it sounds like the church of Pergamum has some issues to work out. They too are given an opportunity to repent and return to God before destruction befalls them.
- Here the psalmist has faced persecution but gives a testimony that God prevails regardless.
- 20 – Common theme? Yes! Once again we see a proverb lauding patience and restraint and warning against haste.
No child enjoys discipline, this is often why parents avoid it. We want our children to like us, but today’s proverb, like many others, reminds us that this isn’t the goal of parenting. It benefits our children when we discipline them. When we ignore or refuse that responsibility, we tend to cripple them for later in life.
- 1-15 – These verses are God explaining the wrongdoing of Israel and the subsequent punishment. It’s reminiscent of a parent saying, “Because you hit your sister, you have to sit in timeout.”
- 1-3 – Like in other books, God points out how ridiculous it is to worship things we make ourselves.
- 8-9 – God recognizes that some people will hear his words and repent while others will hear them and keep on sinning. He affirms those who will listen.
- 5-7 – Jesus came to save us all, but if we deny opportunities for salvation, our alternative is punishment.
- 17-23 – Clearly the recipients of the book of Jude were surrounded by unfaithful people, but this letter is intended to encourage them to remain faithful.
- 3-5 – Children were considered a sign of great favor and blessing from God.
- 15-17 – Discipline for children is highly valued throughout the proverbs.
If you want to know just how far God will go to remain faithful to and pursue restoration with us, read Hosea. God is faithful even when we are not.
Though we often associate the Bible with difficult concepts and miraculous occurrences, so much of it follows along with common sense. Look at today’s Proverb, for example. Of course it makes more sense to rely on the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God rather than our own very limited knowledge. Why do we struggle to do so?
- 15-26 – Like Revelation in the New Testament, Daniel has some apocalyptic literature. This vision interpretation, which reveals what will happen to various nations, is expected to happen long after it was written.
1 John 2:1-17:
- 1-6 – In order to say we follow Christ, we actually have to do the things he did. It’s ridiculous to say that we’re believers and not live as he taught us to.
- 8-11 – This is convicting. If we hate our brothers and sisters (biological, spiritual, etc.) we can’t claim to be faithful. Darkness is sin and the light is walking with Christ.
- 15-17 – Loving the world means putting those things first and, in essence, worshipping them. We worship things when our thoughts, time, energy and resources go towards those things.
- 1-4 – A deceitful tongue, whether ours or someone else’s, is always destructive.
- 25-26 – When we really think about it, it does seem ridiculous to choose to follow our own finite wisdom instead of that of the God of the universe.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize the remainder of Daniel. Today’s reading marks a major shift in the content of Daniel. The second half of the book focuses on apocalyptic literature. It is the only Old Testament book with a significant emphasis on the apocalypse.
- This chapter shifts the book from the stories we learned as kids to the apocalyptic portion of Daniel.
- 1-8 – Foreign powers are no longer depicted favorably in Daniel.
- 9 – The Ancient of Days is God.
- 19-27 – The fourth beast represents Antiochus. Antiochus rises to power overtaking the faithful folks for a time, but ultimately, God prevails.
1 John 1:1-10:
- 1-4 – Here John confirms that God was made flesh in the person of Jesus. And John wants to share that message with everyone, which will make his joy complete.
- 5-7 – We can’t call ourselves faithful and continue to blatantly walk in sin. There’s also a rockin DC Talk song about this.
- 157-158 – The psalmist doesn’t allow others to turn him away from his commitment to God’s law.
- It’s pretty incredible that this is by far the longest psalm and it is almost exclusively about the psalmist’s love and commitment for God’s word.
- 23 – This contrasts a true friend versus someone who just offers lip service. One is helpful. The other is not.
Both Proverbs and 2 Peter remind us just how easy it is to fall into unfaithful traps. There are so many opportunities and influences asking us to walk away from the Lord. We have to be diligent and pay attention to our decisions and what’s going on around us in order to keep our eyes on Jesus.
- 1-5 – What a wonderful thing to be able to say about someone. We can’t find fault in him unless we make up something about regarding how faithful he is to God. Daniel was so faithful that there was no fault to be found in him.
- 6-9 – King Darius doesn’t think through the implications but makes a decision based on ego.
- 10-18 – King Darius is greatly distressed because of the consequences of his actions. He wants to save Daniel but he’s tied his own hands.
- 19-28 – Like with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel’s faithfulness and God’s power work together to create a miracle that draws the king and so many others to faith.
2 Peter 3:1-18:
- 1-10 – The author addresses the concerns people were having regarding Jesus not having returned yet. The people at the time thought his return was imminent and some were getting impatient.
- 14-18 – We are to pay attention so we don’t follow anyone who twists God’s words or instructions.
- 136 – It should be painful to us to see others break God’s law. We should have great empathy for them and to hope to help them return to God in any way we can.
- 21 – This is an interesting verse because it tells us something not to do while also acknowledging how easy it is for us to slip into doing that wrong thing.
Because one time isn’t enough to hear this song, enjoy the musical version of a portion of today’s psalm:
- 1-3 – Remember, Nebuchadnezzar turned his allegiance to God after witnessing the miracle of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not burning up in the fire.
- 4-27 – The king calls on Daniel to interpret his dream and it’s not favorable. Daniel must have been understandably scared to deliver the bad news to the king.
- 28-37 – Nebuchadnezzar still takes credit for the power of Babylon, which destroyed Israel and captured their people. God humbles him and reminds him who is truly in control.
2 Peter 1:1-21:
- 3-4 – God gives us insight into faithful living and what he wants from us for our own good and so we can follow him.
- 19-21 – This confirms that prophecies were given by God through the Holy Spirit. At this point, many prophecies had come true, but this was encouragement to continue to trust those that hadn’t.
- 97-104 – The psalmist continues to show great love for God’s commands. He realizes that this is where he can receive wisdom and protection.
- 105 – A familiar and beautiful verse proclaiming the great help Scripture can give us.
- 17 – Guilt of this kind of sin cannot be taken away.