You did it! You finished! Today is your last day of reading…for 2017. I hope you gained so much from your reading and now feel closer, in some way, to God. It may be too soon, but may I encourage you to pick up the new plan tomorrow? The Bible is the living word of God. As you read through it again, you’ll gain new insights, read things differently, and hear from God in a new way. It was worth it this year. It will be worth it in 2018 too!
- 1-7 – Part of this prophecy sounds like it’s talking about the Messiah and part sounds like it’s John the Baptist. Either way, it is later fulfilled.
- 1-3 – A day of judgment is prophecied.
- 5-6 – John the Baptist was often associated with Elijah.
- 8-9 – As we all do, John confused something of God with God and worshipped the angel. The angel quickly redirected him to worship God.
- 17 – This is an open invitation to all who recognize their need for Christ to come and receive new life.
- Whatever you have, praise God with it. No excuses.
- These verses make it clear what should matter in a woman’s worth. Physical beauty is not one of them.
How do you imagine perfection? Not just partial perfection or perfection in one person, but full, true perfection? God’s kingdom fully on earth is what true perfection looks like. The end of Revelation depicts what the new Jerusalem will look like. It is the return of what God intended for earth. This is something we should long and pray for.
- 1-5 – The words love and hate could be exchanged for “chose” and “did not choose”. God chose Jacob to set up his people. He did not choose Esau. Not only did Esau forego his blessing and birthright, but his descendants often fought against the Israelites. They brought God’s curse upon themselves.
- 6-14 – The Lord denounces the blemished offerings the priests put before him. These half-hearted offerings showed their lack of devotion to God.
- 1-9 – The priests had been given special authority. God asked that they honor him and lead the rest of the people in spiritual practices. Here he rebukes them for failing to do so.
- 10-16 – Scholars disagree on whether this is actually talking about marriage and marrying foreign women or metaphorically speaking of idolatry. Either way, the Judeans were practicing things God did not approve of.
- 1-7 – This scene depicts God’s kingdom officially and completely coming to earth, like we pray in the Lord’s prayer.
- 9-27 – The scene depicts the new Jerusalem where God will dwell negating the need for a temple, any other source of light, and presumably many other things necessary in our current construct.
- 1-5 – So many of the psalms instruct us to praise God and a large percentage of those instruct us to praise him specifically with songs. It is important that we, as a people, do not get out of this habit.
- 10-24 – These verses describe an excellent wife. Her characteristics include productivity, generosity, care for others, integrity, and preparedness.
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.
Forgiveness is real and available to us. In today’s Revelation reading we see those who have previously sinned now welcomed in to praise God. They’re welcomed because they’ve repented and been forgiven. Our sins don’t have to define us or define our outcome. Our job is to repent. God is faithful to forgive.
- 1-5 – This establishes that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem and will bring peace.
- 6-8 – Here God makes it clear what he’s asking of his people. He’s asking them to seek justice and offer love and kindness. He is not interested in empty sacrifices.
- 9-16 – Here God explains the punishment that is to come for those who have not obeyed him.
- 1-8 – The angels assure that the faithful people of the earth are protected before the destruction begins.
- 13-17 – Here a series of people who have sinned, repented, and been forgiven are welcomed in to praise God.
- 1-12 – These verses recount a number of examples of God’s power, greatness, and faithfulness. Like in most of these accounts, the parting of the Red Sea is mentioned.
- 15-18 – Once again, the worship of idols is proven to be worthless.
- 5-6 – God’s words are good, true, and helpful. We tend to want to change them up to better suit us, but this is wrong.
In today’s Amos reading, we find a sentiment repeated numerous times in Scripture and it’s one we could still stand to hear today. Our rituals and meaningless checkmarks do not please God. God doesn’t care how the package is wrapped, he cares what’s in the package. In other words, he wants our hearts to be devoted to him. That is how faithfulness is determined, not by how many faithfulness boxes we check.
- 4-13 – The prophet lists all the ways God attempted to get the Israelites’ attention and draw them back to him that failed. He follows that with an ominous statement of “prepare to meet your God” and it doesn’t sound like he means in a good way.
- 21-27 – This sentiment is repeated several times in Scripture. God doesn’t care about our rituals and us fulfilling our obligations if our heart is not following him. He wants the rituals and offering to be given out of love and devotion for him.
- 20-23 – Some of the church of Thyatira had begun to engage in sins such as adultery and eating foods offered to idols.
- 24-29 – The vision makes for an allotment for people in the church who had not yet fallen into deep sin. There seems to be great hope for these folks.
- 1-6 – It is clear that God will not condemn whole people groups when there are still faithful people in the midst. Instead he is separating the faithful from the unfaithful while still giving the unfaithful opportunities to repent.
- 1-4 – This is another one of the psalms associated with pilgrimages to Jerusalem. It seems important that those Israelites knew that they could be forgiven if they sought God’s forgiveness.
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.
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.
It is in our nature to question things. Often, we question God’s goodness because of things in the world we don’t like. We wonder if God is fair. We often forget that we actually don’t want God to be fair because we would be in a world of hurt if he was. Today’s Psalm reminds us that God is faithful even when we’re sinful. This is the kind of unfair we can really get behind.
- 12-23 – God makes it clear that any one of the four acts of destroying an unfaithful city would suffice, but he has committed to all four acts against Jerusalem.
- 1-8 – The vine is Jerusalem. God makes it clear that Jerusalem will be completely useless and easy to destroy now that it is separated from God.
- 1-14 – God reminds Jerusalem that it is he who made the city great. It was nothing without him.
- 15-22 – When they refer to Jerusalem “whoring”, it means that Jerusalem would give itself to any available idol worship or other god that presented itself. Jerusalem was not faithful to God.
- 30-34 – God explains that Jerusalem’s actions weren’t even as beneficial as a prostitute’s. Even a prostitute gets some reward for her sins.
- 18-22 – This is a continuation of yesterday’s comparison between Melchizedek and Jesus. This continues to describe Jesus as superior to Melchizedek.
- 28 – God still uses sinful people for his purposes, but we still have to look to Jesus, who was perfect, for salvation.
- 6-12 – This psalm reminds us of God’s faithfulness even in the midst of our failings.
- 5 – Open rebuke gives a person an opportunity to self-correct. Hidden love has good intentions but doesn’t actually help the other out.
It is pretty typical of people in my generation, who have a transformative faith experience as adults to point a finger at the church they grew up in saying, “We never talked about Jesus” or “I never really heard the gospel”, etc. I think this is false. I think it would be better stated from most of these people to say, “I never listened.” Today’s Hebrews reading explains to us that many of us hear the gospel but fail to listen so it has to be repeated over and over until we finally decide to let it sink in.
- 1-13 – God declares a day of wrath and reckoning.
- 14-22 – This section describes the shame and consequences that will fall upon the people during the wrath.
- 1-18 – The Lord, in a vision, takes Ezekiel on a tour of the sinful, idolatrous acts the Israelites were committing in the temple.
- 1-11 – This section is reminiscent of the Passover where you needed a certain sign to be saved. God said that the folks who did not approve of the abominations happening in the temple would receive a mark on their head and be saved while all others would be struck down.
- 7-10 – This may sound like Jesus was, at one point, not perfect. This is not the case. Instead, these verses suggest that Jesus did not have an easy path but still had to live and experience the challenges of human life and gain knowledge and experience.
- 11-14 – This is so true of all of us. We hear and should be moved and changed by the gospel. Often we just hear it and do not allow it to change us. This causes us to need to hear the same soft message over and over.
- This psalm, like several others, implores others to praise God and then reminds them of reasons why they should.
- Empty flattery does no good for anyone.
You know when you watch someone succeed from dishonest gain and it seems so unfair? Babylon was a lot like that. They were committed to idolatry, took on a lot of unfortunate practices, and still seemed to win a lot of battles and gain a lot of ground. But in today’s Jeremiah reading, God offers great imagery explaining how their success will be short-lived.
- 2 – Winnowing was part of harvesting wheat. Winnowers would throw the wheat and chaff (trash) in the air. The wheat would settle into the container while the chaff would blow away. This reference is to say that Babylon is about to be blown away like chaff.
- 7-10 – Though Babylon had seen a lot of success, it’s end was coming. God proclaimed destruction on them.
- 17-19 – The comparison between worshipping God and worshipping manmade idols continues. It is laughable to worship something you can make yourself.
- 34-44 – Babylon’s glory would soon fade. What was once revered would now be a desolate laughing stock.
- 1-8 – Paul’s rules of how various people should act and live were not simply to have rules, but in order to assure no one could have anything to say against the believers.
- 11-14 – God’s grace is given to us for a purpose. It is to cause us to get rid of sinful acts and in order to redeem us and set us up for good works that will bless others.
- 9 – These kinds of verses remind us that we aren’t worshipping just to check a box or because God needs us. God’s holiness is so incredible that it causes us to need to worship.
- When we step into minor quibbles that are not our business it is ultimately harmful and unnecessary.