An olive produces olive oil. An orange produces orange juice. This makes sense. Today’s proverb is interesting. It helps us understand that we can fake things for a while, but when push comes to shove, and things get really challenging, whatever is in us comes out. Kindness needs to be inside of us for it to come out when times are challenging. If bitterness and hate are inside us, that’s what will come out.
- 1-12 – These verses establish that Judah and Israel will be restored to greatness. The last few verses show the turning of the tides between those who are currently powerful and the Israelites.
- 7-16 – This is a difficult passage to understand. It is a vision that depicts a shepherd breaking covenants. Verse 16 speaks of a future shepherd who doesn’t seem to be describing Jesus.
- 17 – This verse makes it clear that the shepherd in the vision is not Jesus.
- 1-3 – This is basically describing Babylon in the worst possible fashion. It will be totally and utterly rejected.
- 4-8 – God will remove the Israelites from Babylon and it will pay for its wrongdoings against the Israelites.
- 3-4 – It makes so much more sense to put our trust in God than a human ruler who will die and no longer have any kind of power.
- 5-9 – These verses describe many of the reasons God is far superior to human rulers.
- When something is squeezed hard enough, whatever is in it comes out.
Merry Christmas! And happy reading finale!! You did it! You’re here! Pat yourself on the back and soak in the excitement of a completed job well done. We pray that this year of reading has nourished you and drawn you much closer to God. Yes, you probably still have questions, but that’s ok. The Bible is God’s living word, so there is always more to learn and understand.
This week, you will finish the Bible, but pay close attention to the end of Revelation. It is the reminder that when we pray and ask God to make our kingdom on earth just like the one he has in heaven, he actually plans to do just that.
God’s plan is to, in the end, restore all things to wholeness and perfection. We will be healed completely and all things will return to how he intended them.
As your reading is completed, let your soul be filled with great hope. God restores us in the end. Hallelujah! Amen!!
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.
You need to turn back to God. Zechariah said so.
We all need a voice of reason encouraging us to do the right thing. We tend to struggle on our own. In today’s reading of Zechariah, you’ll hear that voice of reason for the Israelites. He encourages them to turn back to God. Does anything he says speak to you too?
- 1-6 – Zechariah’s prophecy immediately follows Haggai’s and is addressed to post-exilic Israelites. He begins with a call to return to the Lord.
- 7-17 – This begins a vision of an angel who seems to offer God’s grace and restoration to Israel.
- 1-6 – The newborn child, though facing peril, was saved and taken to God’s throne.
- 7-12 – This depicts a massive battle between God’s angels and the devil and his angels. The devil is thrown down to earth, but is vicious in desperation.
- David’s requests of the Lord for protection are genuine and seem to come with expectation that God will come through.
- So, be sure to follow commandment #5 and obey your parents!
Remember Zerubbabel and Ezra? Haggai is a contemporary of theirs, but he’s less impressed with the faithfulness of the returning Israelites. Here’s his challenge for the people:
Today’s psalm is a reminder of God’s provision of care and comfort for those who are made low by the world. God doesn’t see or treat us by the world’s standards. He is not impressed with our wealth or power. He sees our needs and meets them. When people have great need, he responds greatly.
- 1-6 – Through yet another vessel, Judah is hearing of their upcoming destruction.
- 7-18 – This prophecy proclaims that destruction is coming soon and all the things the people had previously relied on will not be able to rescue them.
- 1-15 – Though Judah faced destruction from God, God still didn’t take kindly to other nations oppressing or harming Judah. They too would face judgment and destruction.
- 14-20 – Not unusually, God promises that after punishment there will be restoration for Israel. God’s ultimate desire is to restore relationship and connection with Israel.
- 1- The rainbow over the angels head is a reminder of the covenant God made with Noah and of the hope that encompasses all of the judgments.
- 1-7 – The angel with the small scroll declares that the major judgment is coming soon and that the seventh angel would bring more clarity of God’s mystery. Instead of more judgment, this angel simply brings more clarity to what is to come.
- 8-11 – The scroll tasted sweet at first because the message is good for the prophet – it is the word of God and the prophet had been faithful. It becomes bitter because the prophet, though he will not face destruction himself, is human and is being made aware of the judgment coming down on humanity.
- 6 – Throughout Scripture God raises up the lowly. This should offer us great comfort that God sees the plight of those who struggle. He does not leave them alone. When we are proud and feel that we do not need God, he obliges.
- These verses warn us that there are people out there who have evil in their heart and act upon it.
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.
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.
Today we start Hosea. It is a fascinating book where Hosea is a model of faithfulness to God. Can you imagine being asked to marry someone you knew was going to cheat on you to help God paint a picture? I’m not sure I’m strong enough. But Hosea was faithful even though Gomer would never be. What are the limits to your faithfulness?
- 1-3 – God uses Hosea’s life as a microcosm of how Israel had treated God. Just as Israel was unfaithful to God, Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea.
- 4-9 – The children of Hosea and Gomer also each represented a portion of Israel’s relationship to God.
- 1-15 – This is an explanation of the punishment Israel will receive for its unfaithfulness.
- 16-23 – This section describes how it will be when the Israelites are restored to God.
1 John 5:1-21:
- 3 – This is powerful because often we feel that if we obey God our lives will be boring and lifeless, but this reminds us that following God’s commands is actually beneficial and freeing for us.
- 13-15 – When we believe in Christ, we receive eternal life. We also have a connection with him so that he hears our prayers.
- 18 – When we accept Christ we are to be transformed, which means we change and leave behind sins and walk towards righteousness. This, of course, is a process.
- 1-8 – The psalmist gives credit to God for protecting the Israelites and realizes that they would not have succeeded without the help of God.
- 6 – This verse depicts the weight of sin and the freedom in righteousness.