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.
Everything in the New Testament from Romans up until Revelation is written as a response – or, more accurately, many responses to issues going on in the times they’re written. Many are specifically addressing issues early believers faced. 1-3 John are no different.
God thought up so many different ways to share messages with us so we could, if at all willing, understand them. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Within the Bible we see parables, prophecies, various statues of remembrance, etc. One of the really effective means of communication he used, we see in today’s Ezekiel reading. God would ask prophets to become a small embodiment of what he was about to do to/for a larger group. Read how Ezekiel helps share God’s message.
- 1-6 – It was not unusual for God to ask prophets to act as a microcosm of what was going to happen to Israel. Here God is showing the Israelites, through Ezekiel, that they would be exiled.
- 17-20 – They ate and drank with anxiety because at any time they could be taken over and sent into exile. That would be a very precarious feeling.
- 27-28 – The Israelites comforted themselves by saying that their punishment wouldn’t come for a while, but God corrects that and lets them know it’s coming soon.
- 8-16 – God condemns the false prophets for misleading the Israelites to believe that no punishment was coming. When God speaks of “whitewashing” the wall that is to say that they cover up the bad with a false sense of peace.
- 1-3 – Melchizedek was a special priest believed to have Christ-like qualities.
- 11-17 – Melchizedek and the Levites were both unable to offer salvation as Christ did because their laws were not sufficient to offer salvation to all people.
- 39-45 – The psalmist recalls the provisions of God for the Israelites in the desert in order to bring hope in his provisions in the future.
- It is hard to resist the provoking of a fool.
Everybody needs a mentor and everybody needs someone to mentor. Paul had Timothy. He taught him and then sent him out but stayed connected with him to assure he was set up for success. We could stand to learn from their relationship.
Humility in a leader is a great quality. Paul, in today’s 1 Timothy reading, offers up genuine humility explaining his own need for grace. Paul describes himself as the worst sinner so others can admit their own faults and then receive God’s grace.
- 1-4 – Hananiah, a prophet, prophesied that God would break Babylon. Because of their military dominance, Babylon was seen as fairly unbreakable.
- 5-17 – Hananiah was a false prophet and though Jeremiah hoped God would do what Hananiah prophesied, Hananiah was speaking out of turn and not honoring God and would die for it.
- 1-9 – Jeremiah offered a true prophesy letting the people know they should return to Jerusalem and flourish.
- 10-14 – Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most beloved and quoted verses in Scripture. We often forget that it is written to the Israelites as a promise to bring them out of exile, a painful experience of feeling lost and forgotten. God offers us promises of restoration in our most painful times.
- 15-23 – God did not take kindly to false prophets.
1 Timothy 1:1-20:
- 1-2 – This is a letter from Paul to Timothy, one of his most prominent protégés. Timothy was a young man who Paul would often send to churches in his place.
- 3-7 – Paul writes Timothy addressing some folks who seemingly had good intentions but have gotten off track.
- 12-17 – Paul admits his own need for grace, claiming to have been the worst sinner of all. He can understand the sins of others because of his own experiences.
- David bookends a series of praises to God with requests of God to hear him and to care for him.
- Don’t wear out your welcome.
The Thessalonians’ issues have only gotten worse since Paul’s first letter to them. Take a second to find out how Paul encourages the believers to continue in faithfulness despite persecution.
It’s hard for most of us to understand persecution for our faith. The worst we normally have to face is someone ridiculing us for our beliefs. In today’s 1 Thessalonians reading, Paul praises the Thessalonians for enduring persecution for the gospel. As you read it, take a second to pray for those around the world who daily face persecution for the gospel.
- 13-22 – There were many false prophets who were opposing what God was saying through Jeremiah and they were leading the Israelites astray. God tells Jeremiah what to say in response to the false prophets.
- 1-9 – God is not backing down in coming after the false prophets and everyone who follows them.
- 10-21 – Jeremiah is afraid of the people and God confirms his commitment to and protection of Jeremiah. God’s response in verses 19-21 are very powerful.
- 1-15 – The first 13 verses are very bad news for the Israelites. They will face a great deal of destruction. The last two verses give hope, though, that they will eventually be returned to God’s intent for them.
1 Thessalonians 2:10-3:13:
- 13-16 – The Thessalonian believers clearly faced a great deal of persecution as they initially pursued Christ. Paul, multiple times, expresses gratitude for their faithfulness in the midst of it.
- 17-5 – Paul explains why he hasn’t visited Thessalonica again, but why Timothy visited instead.
- 1-13 – Asaph, the psalmist, asks God why he would bother bringing the Israelites out of Egypt only to forsake them later.
- 14-19 – Asaph asks that God returns to the people and restores them.
- 2-3 – God’s mind is far greater than that of a king, but a king’s mind is greater than that of a common person.
- 4-5 – Kings, in order to be faithful and successful, should be taken away from bad advisors and influences.
There are certain things in life that you simply cannot do halfway. You can’t get kind of married. You can’t come to work sometimes (and expect to keep working there). And you can’t love God most of the time. This is what Jehoshaphat tried to do. For the most part, he’s a good guy…but he was only faithful to a point. God is not looking for partial followers or sometimes believers. He is looking for our whole hearts and whole commitment.
1 Kings 22:1-53:
- 5 – Jehoshaphat was willing to go into an alliance with Ahab, but only if the Lord approved it.
- 6-8 – The 400 prophets who gave Ahab the go-ahead were not prophets of the Lord. Micaiah was and he spoke truth from the Lord. Ahab preferred good news to truth.
- 40 – Micaiah was right. Ahab trying to conquer Ramoth-gilead was a bad idea. He dies in battle and Ahaziah takes over.
- 42-44 – It seems that Jehoshaphat intended to honor and worship God, but he failed in certain areas – leaving up certain allegiances to other gods and making an alliance with someone who did not honor God.
- Today’s reading is pretty much the best sermon ever preached.
- 16-25 – Paul sums up the grace of God and the failures of the Israelites from Jacob to John the Baptist.
- 26-41 – Paul explains how Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies the Jews read so frequently and longed to have fulfilled. He also warns them not to be the ones who fulfilled the prophecy that many people would not see and understand.
- So many of David’s psalms show his steadfastness in praising God despite his surroundings or circumstances.
- 17 – True, godly relationships are able to withstand difficulty and trials.
Mark warns us that in the end times there will be false prophets claiming that they are the Messiah. This has happened many times in history, but Scripture says that we’ll all know when Christ comes back.
- 14-19 – God proves himself willing to take a substitute for what he originally required. Originally he claimed all first borns as his own. Now he will accept the Levites as a substitute for all first borns. This is reminiscent of how he accepted the death of Jesus for all of our sins.
- 15-23 – The cloud was a very clear sign of what the Lord wanted of the Israelites. We often would like something as obvious and tangible as a cloud telling us where and when to go.
- 22-23 – False prophets’ job is to lead believers astray.
- 32 – Many people and groups try to predict when Jesus will come back, but none should be trusted because no one knows.
- Those who do evil often get away with it for a while, but God sees the evil and will deal with it in time.