December 31 “Giving God our best”

your bestHappy New Year’s Eve,

Congratulations to those of you who have been reading all year and to those who started somewhere along the way. And I hope you’re looking forward to starting again in the coming year.

Let’s purpose in our hearts to give God our best in 2015. To offer Him the firstfruits of our time in the morning … to be faithful with our tithes and offerings … to use our talents and resources to further His kingdom, to bring Him glory in all we do, and to honor Him in our marriages or our singleness or whatever our situation!

 

Today’s Readings:
Malachi 1-4
Psalm 150
Proverbs 31.10-31
Revelation 21 & 22

 

Malachi 1-4:

Giving God our best

As is all of God’s Word, this little book is rich with His truth. In chapter 1 we see the importance of giving God our best, not what is left over, whether that means finances, time, talent or some other resource.

God rebuked the people because, instead of giving the best of their flocks as a sacrifice, they offered the stolen, the lame and the sick animals.

Many times, instead of giving God our best we give Him what’s left over, if anything. We can’t tithe or give to the work of God because we are too strapped with huge mortgages and car payments. Perhaps we need to drive that older vehicle a little longer or adjust our budgets in other ways.

Instead of spending time with Him first thing in the morning, we rush off to work or get busy with our day, promising to read His Word before we go to sleep. At night, we’re too exhausted to read more than a few verses before we fall asleep without giving it serious thought or attention.

our bestI don’t want to sound legalistic, because the Bible does not say we must spend time with God first thing in the morning. There may be some who are at their best at night. I also understand that some of you have young children who, as someone said, “Wake up at the first crack of the Bible.” But for most of us, morning is the time when we are most rested and when spending time with God is the most profitable.

In chapter 2 God rebukes the priests because, among other things, they took the covenant relationship of marriage lightly. And remember as new covenant believers we are all priests to the Lord (1 Pet. 2.5).

First, they knowingly disobeyed God by marrying unbelievers (2.11). Then those who were married Continue reading

December 30 “The Bible all one book”

the bible one bookThe Bible is not a series of books about God. It is one book, written by numerous human authors, and inspired by God. It is His story told through His continuing revelation of Himself to mankind.

As we finish the book of Revelation, we learn about two final judgments. One day every person will stand before God at one of them: “the great white throne judgment” or “the judgment seat of Christ.” Unbelievers will be judged for their sins and condemned to the lake of fire. As believers we will not be judged for our sin, but we will be judged for our works and our motives for doing those works (1 Cor. 5:9-10) and receive rewards or loss of rewards, accordingly.

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 13 & 14
Psalm 149.5-9
Proverbs 31.1-9
Revelation 20.1-15

Well, we’re almost there. I pray that many of you have read more of God’s Word than you have in the past. Notice I said “more of God’s Word.” Though many of you finished the goal, I know some of you are weeks or even months behind or maybe you quit after a few months, or maybe it’s been in fits and starts. But did you read more of God’s Word in 2014 than you had before or did you get more out of your reading than you had before. If so, it’s been a successful endeavor!

If you have a testimony about how reading God’s Word impacted your life this year, I’d love for you to share it.

On to the Word …

 

the bible one bookZechariah 13 & 14:

The Bible all one book

Zechariah prophesied beginning about 520 B.C., but did you notice that he prophesied many of the same things Jesus revealed to the aging Apostle John toward the end of the first century A.D. and recorded in the book of Revelation?

We see the same picture of Jesus coming back the second time as the King of kings and Lord of lords, his feet touching down on the Mount of Olives followed by a great earthquake and the destruction of Satan’s armies.

We also see the description of Christ as the Shepherd (13.7) which David wrote about in Psalm 23 and Jesus called Himself in John 10. He is the Good Shepherd who gave up His life for the sheep (Jn. 10.11).

The more you read and study God’s Word, the more you see that it is not a series of books about God. It is one book, penned by numerous human authors, but inspired by God. Just as a writer controls his pen or writing instrument, God superimposed himself over the hearts and minds of his instruments, the human authors.

It is His story told through His continuous revelation of Himself to mankind.

 

the bible one bookPsalm 149.5-9:

Praise & a sword

Verse 6, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.”

This is how we fight life’s battles—by praising God and trusting in His sovereignty, and by speaking and living according to His Word.

 

Proverbs 31.1-9

A mother’s advice to the king

Verses 1-9 contain the first of two poems in this chapter. This first one contains advice Continue reading

December 29 “Believing lies”

believing liesToday we’ll talk about the danger of believing lies, whether about some false religion or our right to nurse our wounds and refuse to forgive. Even for believers, bitterness and unforgiveness can hinder our relationships with God.

We’ll also continue our study in Revelation. And I’ll share a comment from a friend about Satan, how he not only hates God’s people, but how he hates those who serve him, as well.

About 2015

There are only two more days in 2014. Have you set a goal for your Bible reading in 2015? Have you invited someone else to join you? Let’s bring others along as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3.18).

On to the readings …

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 10-12
Psalm 149.1-4
Proverbs 30.32-33
Revelation 19-21

 

Zechariah 10-12:

Believing lies

I found verse 10.2 very interesting. It says:

“For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd.”

Yesterday we talked about “Babylon the Great,” and how the world’s religious and socio-economic system will be destroyed at the end of the age. We also talked about the allure of false religions. So often, what makes it so alluring is because it tells us what we want to hear.

It tells us we’re “ok” if we just keep these rules. It even enables us to feel self-righteous because all those “other people” outside our group don’t get it!

Or it tells us that god in within us and we just need to reach some higher level of spirituality and that we can do so by meditating on this mantra or using this substance. This appeals to the self-delusion that we are more spiritual than someone else.

The lure of false religion is one of the reasons we get so enthralled with things like “The DaVinci Code” and tales of “lost gospels.” It’s the appeal of Gnosticism, the belief in some hidden knowledge, not available to the “less enlightened.” That’s the appeal of the Masonic Temple and many “secret” organizations.

It’s the appeal of martyrdom for Allah and the reward of “100 virgins” or of giving up your life to live in a monastery forsaking all earthly possessions. It’s the deception of Continue reading

December 28 “Truly broken and repentant or just sorry?”

broken and repentantWhen we experience sorrow over sin, are we sorry because we don’t like the consequences of our sin?  Or are we truly broken and repentant? The first leads to spiritual, relational, and emotional death. The second leads to a growing relationship with God and a fruitful Christian life. So how can we tell the difference?

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 7-9
Psalm 148.7-14
Proverbs 30.29-31
Revelation 18

 

Zechariah 7-9:

Broken and repentant or just sorry?

Verse 7.5 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests. ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?’”

Fasting was a sign of repentance and humility and recognition of sin. God was asking the people if their fasting was merely a religious exercise or done because they were broken over their sin and rebellion against Him.

Oftentimes, we express outward sorrow and regret over our sin, but we must ask ourselves, are we sorry because we don’t like the consequences of our sin?  Are we more like children who are about to be punished for some misdeed, crying, “I’m sorry; I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!” Or are we truly broken and repentant?

The first is worldly sorrow: sorrow over the consequences, sorrow over the messes we make. The second is godly sorrow. Godly sorrow leads to changes in our actions, not just outward expressions of sorrow.

It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death (2 Cor. 7.9b-10 NLT).

 How can we tell the difference?

How can we tell if we are broken and repentant or just sorry? Continue reading

December 27 “Not by might, nor by power …”

not by mightHow do you raise a strong-willed child or find peace in a difficult marriage? How to you keep going when life seems to be full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but …

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 4-6
Psalm 148.1-6
Proverbs 30.24-28
Revelation 17.1-18

 

Zechariah 4-6:

Not by might

Verse 4.6 says, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

Sixteen years previously, doubt, discouragement and opposition had caused the Jews to stop the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel was God’s chosen leader and this word from God was meant to be an encouragement to him that they were to finish the task God had given them.

This should be an encouragement to us, as well, in whatever God has called each of us to do—whether raising a strong-willed child, honoring Christ in the midst of a difficult marriage, growing a ministry, or serving Him in the workplace. It is not by might, not by our own strength or abilities, but through God’s power that we will succeed.

Hebrews 4.14-16:

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

When we come to Him boldly in prayer, He promises to give us the help and the grace we need in every situation.

And James 1.2-7 says:

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

He will provide us with the wisdom we need, but we must Continue reading

December 26 “Seven bowls of the wrath of God”

seven bows of the wrath of God“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.’” The next seven waves of God’s judgment:(1) foul and loathsome sores like boils, (2) the sea will be turned to the thick, dark, coagulated blood of a corpse, (3) a shortage of fresh drinking water (4) the sun’s heat will be intensified, (5) darkness and intense pain, (6) the Euphrates River will dry up, and (7) a massive earthquake.

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 1-3
Psalm 147.12-20
Proverbs 30.21-23
Revelation 16

 

seven bowls of the wrath of GodZechariah 1-3:

How do you “see” things?

Do you see God and through the lens of your circumstances or do you see your circumstances through the lens of Scripture and God’s character?

God’s people had spent 70 years in captivity in Babylon. Perhaps they had allowed their circumstances to dictate what they believed about God. That can be a constant temptation for all of us. When things don’t work out the way we had planned or when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we desire, we fail to trust in His sovereignty and begin to believe He no longer loves us or conclude that He isn’t really good.

Instead, we must spend time coming to know God and understanding the truths of Scripture. His character and His Word must be the lens through which we view our lives and our circumstances.

 

Psalm 147.12-20:

Praise the Lord

This passage begins and ends with the admonition to “Praise the Lord!” In this case, the psalmist uses God’s control of nature as proof of His sovereignty. That will be even more evident during the Tribulation period as we’ll see as we continue reading through Revelation.

 

Proverbs 30.21-23:

Social upheaval

21 There are three things that make the earth tremble—
    no, four it cannot endure:
22 a slave who becomes a king,
    an overbearing fool who prospers,
23     a bitter woman who finally gets a husband,
    a servant girl who supplants her mistress.

When biblical, societal roles are overturned it creates a great deal of instability.

 

Empty bowlRevelation 16:

Bowls of the wrath of God

Verse 1, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.’”

 

The First Bowl—foul and loathsome sores.

The same Greek word is used to describe Continue reading

December 25 “The real story of Christmas: murder, intrigue & wonder”

nativity sceneMerry Christmas,

I pray that you are enjoying a wonderful day rejoicing in the birth of our Savior! It’s His birth, life, and sacrificial death that makes reading His Word so important.

I mentioned yesterday that the Bible is the #1 best seller of all time. That is true for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that God is always going to watch over and protect His Word. It’s, also, true because it offers the only true and lasting answers to man’s problems.

Communist and other governments have tried to destroy it. False religious leaders have burned it, outlawed it and punished those who held on to it. And today many in the scientific world and in our institutions of higher education have tried to declare it irrelevant, at best, and foolish or dangerous, at worst. Yet people continue to suffer persecution and even death to keep it and hold to its principles.

The Bible is, also, a literary masterpiece. (Go figure it was written by the most creative being ever! Just sayin’!)

It has intrigue, deception, sex, love, war, devotion, bitterness, redemption, and so much more. It’s a book of songs and poetry, story-telling, history and wisdom. It portrays human experience, even its underside, but also provides the wisdom to understand and overcome it.

The Bible tells the fascinating story of creation, the fall of man, and redemption through the lives and lessons of real people. It’s stories are without parallel.

The Christmas story alone is one of perceived betrayal and rejection (Mary and Joseph). It’s one of embarrassment (just think about what their friends and neighbors must have thought), harsh and unfair treatment (imagine riding a donkey 70 or so miles while 9 months pregnant), and murder (when Herod failed to find the baby Jesus, he ordered the mass murder of all the boys age 2 and under).

But it’s also one of wonder (the virgin birth, the journey of the wise men, angels appearing to lowly shepherds, and God’s protection of His Son).

As we finish out this year and begin rereading the incredible book we call the Bible, get ready for more shocking human behavior, more intrigue, more twists and turns, and more of God’s amazing patience, mercy, grace and love. And no matter how many times (or how few) you’ve read through the Bible, get ready to be blessed as you grow to know our amazing God better.

On to …

Today’s Readings:
Haggai 1 & 2
Psalm 147.7-11
Proverbs 30.20
Revelation 15

 

Priorities ConceptHaggai 1 & 2:

Consider your priorities

Verse 1.5b sums up the theme of this book when it says, “… ‘Consider your ways!’” He repeated the admonition in 1.7. The blessings of the Lord were missing from their lives. Verse 6:

6 “ You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

The people’s priorities were all wrong. They were more concerned about their own homes and personal comfort than they were the work of God. And it wasn’t working out so well for them!

As we approach the New Year, Continue reading

December 24 “On the King, seducers & last chances”

last chancesMerry Christmas Eve,

Like all great books, the last chapters in God’s Word are “hold-you-breath” exciting. Today we’ll talk about “The King” who was born as a babe but will one day return in power and glory. The climax will be a great battle where the fighting will be so fierce that the blood will be four feet deep in places and take place over an area of 200 square miles.

In the final days of the Tribulation, people will be given one last chance to hear and believe the Gospel. A angel will offer them that last chance, but warn them if they take the mark of the beast, their eternity will be sealed for all time. And those of us who die before that time must decide, before we die, because there’s no purgatory, no last chance to realize “Oops, I made a mistake!”

We’ll also talk about seduction, not just the devil’s open seduction of many in the last days, but sexual seduction in personal relationships.

And speaking of great books, did you know that the Bible is the best selling book of all time? Of course, it’s not just any book. It is God’s revelation of Himself to all mankind, penned by men, but breathed out from the heart and mind of God.

Be sure to think about how you will better know and understand the greatest book of all time. And don’t forget to talk to anyone else God has placed on your heart about reading through the Bible this coming year and share this link on social media. The MacArthur Daily Bible would make a great and reasonably priced last minute Christmas gift. It may be just the motivation someone needs to get started!

I pray that today will be a restful day without too many last minute things to do. Let’s all remember to take time tonight and tomorrow to think about what it all means … which is so much more than all the commercial hustle and bustle. And I hope you will make time to attend a worship service.

On to today’s readings …

Today’s Readings:
Zephaniah 1-3
Psalm 147.1-6
Proverbs 30.18-19
Revelation 14

 

Zephaniah 1-3:

He’s the King and He is good!

When Mike and I were talking about the book of Zephaniah, we were reminded of a scene in the first Narnia movie. In the book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the conversation goes like this:

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

When you read the book of Zephaniah and see God’s wrath and judgment on sin, Continue reading

How will 2015 be different?

read the bible in 2015It’s that time of year again: time for resolutions and new beginnings.

Sadly, many of our resolutions quickly fall by the wayside because we don’t plan.

Maybe you have resolved to read more of God Word, or follow a certain devotional, or read the “Bible in a Year” before, but failed somewhere along the way. That’s ok! Most of us tried and failed numerous times before we succeeded! I know I did!

How will 2015 be different? Will you know God and His Word better in December of next year?

It only takes 15 minutes a day to read through the Bible. 15 minutes! I know if I’m honest I waste more time that that doing things that don’t matter for eternity! Yet reading through the Bible can be life changing!

One of the best ways to develop a new habit is to encourage a friend to join you.

Is there someone who might join you this year? Forward this email, share on your favorite social media, and encourage them to sign up for the “Bible in a Year” email devotionals. Don’t wait, January 1st will be here in a few days!

You can, also, sign up to receive notices for new “Christian Living” posts (on marriage, parenting, communication, blended families, book reviews, wisdom from Proverbs, and more).

New Year’s Blessings!

Donna

December 23 “The Book of Life of the Lamb”

Book of life of the LambDuring the Tribulation the final Antichrist will rise to power. All those who want to buy and sell will be required wear his name or his number 666 on their right hand or foreheads and all who dwell on earth will be deceived into worshipping him, except those whose names are written in the Book of Life of the Lamb.

Today’s Readings:
Habakkuk 1-3
Psalm 146.1-10
Proverbs 30.17
Revelation 13.1-18

Well, we are nearing the end of our reading for the year. I pray that you are already preparing to begin again in 2015 and encouraging others to do the same.

I read The MacArthur Daily Bible. You can purchase one by clicking on the link or read it online for free.

How has following along here impacted your Bible reading or your understanding of God and His Word?

What is your goal for Bible reading and study in 2015?

[Tweet “What is your goal for Bible reading and study in 2015? #bible #resolution” #2015]

I appreciate all the encouraging comments you have given me over the past 6 years. I love knowing how His glorious Word has impacted your lives!

Now on to today’s readings …

 

Habakkuk 1-3:

Are the wicked “getting away with murder”?

In chapter 1 Habakkuk has been crying out to God about the sin and wickedness he sees around him. He sees the righteous being mistreated and wicked people “getting away with murder,” as we might say today. God responds by telling him, he is going to judge the guilty in short order. But He will do so by allowing an even more evil government, the Chaldeans, to come in and take over as an instrument of His judgment.

The prophet is at first shocked and questions God’s method. He reminds God of His character and points out that the Chaldeans will take the credit and use their success to worship their own false gods and military might.

In chapter 2 God answers Habakkuk by saying Continue reading