“The Second Death & A Righteous Judge” December 22

 

The Second Death & a Righteous Judge - Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He's sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge. In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He’s sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge. 

In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?

 

Today’s Readings:
Nahum 1-3
Psalm 145.17-21
Proverbs 30.16
Revelation 12.1-17

 

The Second Death & a Righteous Judge

 

Nahum 1-3:

Patient, Merciful & Righteous

 

Chapter 1.3, 7 sum up this book:

3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.

7 The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.

God is patient and merciful (“slow to anger”). His desire is that all would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.4).

But He can’t be good and be a liar. He can’t be a righteous judge and give evil a pass (“acquit the wicked”). There is a debt to be paid for sin in the court of heaven. For those who put their faith and trust in what Christ did on the cross, it has been paid in full, but for those who reject the truth, the penalty is death.

But physical death is not the end. We will all live forever. The question is … “Where?”

Death is separation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden they were separated from God. They no longer had the spirit to Spirit communion with Him they had enjoyed. They didn’t die physically, at least not immediately, though they would since they were, also, barred from eating from the tree of life.

As their children, we are all born spiritually dead and unless Jesus returns before then, we will die physically.

But there is a second death (Rev. 2.11), Continue reading

“Happiness, Sacrifice, Obedience & the Goal of Life” December 21

 

What is the goal of life? - Many believe the goal of life is happiness. Even when we say we know better, we often live like it is. What should the goal of life be for a believer?Many believe the goal of life is happiness. Even when we say we know better, we often live like it is. What should the goal of life be for a believer?

Our reading in Revelation tells us about the Two Witnesses. With fire to devour their enemies, the power to shut heaven, turn water to blood, and strike the earth with plagues, they will warn, preach, and prophesy during the first half of the Tribulation.

 

Today’s Readings:
Micah 6 & 7
Psalm 145.10-16
Proverbs 30.15
Revelation 11.1-19

 

Happiness, Sacrifice, Obedience & the Goal of Life

 

Micah 6 & 7:

The Goal of Life

 

Chapter 6.6-8 is so important for us to remember:

6 With what shall I come before the LORD,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

1 Samuel 15.22 says it this way:

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

God does not want our sacrifices alone. He isn’t looking for Continue reading

“Bittersweet Realities” December 20

 

Bittersweet Realities - The truths revealed in the Book of Revelation are bittersweet realities. Learn more about why they are both bitter and sweet.The truths revealed in the Book of Revelation are bittersweet realities. Learn more about why they are both bitter and sweet.

Also, read about God’s compassion to sinful people, one of the prophecies concerning Jesus’ birth, and the sins that permeate our society?

 

Today’s Readings:
Micah 4 & 5
Psalm 145.1-9
Proverbs 30.11-14
Revelation 10.1-11

 

Bittersweet Realities

 

Revelation 10.1-11:

Sweet Anticipation, Yet …

 

9 So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.”
And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”
10 Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. 11 And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

How bittersweet the revelation John was shown. There was the sweet anticipation of God’s promises: His protection, the removal of His church before the beginning of the Tribulation, and ultimately His return and millennial reign. But there was also the bitterness of His judgment on those who refuse Him. We should be grieved over the rejecters of Christ and their eternal separation from Him.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Micah 4 & 5:

Birthplace of the King

 

BethlehemAs Christmas approaches and we rehear the story of Christ’s birth, it’s exciting to see the prophecy Herod’s counselors relied on when they told him Bethlehem was to be the birthplace of the king:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Mic.5.2)

 

Psalm 145.1-9:

The Lord Full of Compassion

 

8 The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
9 The LORD is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.

Just as we saw in the book of Jonah, God is full of compassion and mercy for His creation. He is not a hateful God, trying to keep everyone He can out of heaven, but a loving Savior, who stands ready to forgive and save!

Even warnings of coming judgment Continue reading

“Is your hope in truth or lies?” December 19

 

Just as in Micah’s day, one of the devil’s oldest tricks is to get men and women to put their hope in a lie. Even though it is often what they want to hear, it leads to despair when they realize their hope was fixed on a lie. How could you be misplacing your hope?

And in our New Testament reading …

In Revelation 9 the fifth and sixth trumpets sound! The fifth releases swarming locust-like demons with tails like scorpions. Their stings will leave people begging to die, but not even able to commit suicide. And the sixth is even worse.

 

Today’s Readings:
Micah 1-3
Psalm 144.9-15
Proverbs 30.10
Revelation 9.1-21

 

Is your hope in truth or lies?

 

Micah 1-3:

Putting Your Hope in a Lie

 

Like many in our culture today, the people in Micah’s time rejected God’s truth (2.6). They dismissed the prophets as “prattlers” or babblers. But God said, the real “babblers” are false prophets who tell people what they want to hear (2.11). Furthermore God warned them of a time when their false prophets would be exposed for the fakes they were and discredited, leaving the people with no hope, because they had put their hope in a lie (3.6-7):

6 “Therefore you shall have night without vision,
And you shall have darkness without divination;
The sun shall go down on the prophets,
And the day shall be dark for them.
7 So the seers shall be ashamed,
And the diviners abashed;
Indeed they shall all cover their lips;
For there is no answer from God.”

Deception is one of Satan’s oldest tricks. Jesus said he is the “father of lies” (Jn. 8.44). Just as he did in the garden where Eve put her hope in his lies, he first plants seeds of doubt by implying, “Did God really say …?”

“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3.1).

But sooner or later he simply calls God a liar:

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3.4-5)

There is no end to the lies people place their hope in today. Lies such as: Continue reading

Blended Families Part 16: 4 Rules of Communication + LINKUP

Hi Everyone, I apologize. Some code must be corrupted in this post. I have tried everything to eliminate it. Removing photos, redoing things. Nothing seems to help. But the linkup is working.

 

Last week in Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust we talked about the two major pitfalls into which parents in blended families fall: either becoming overly focused on the children’s outward behavior or turning their children into victims. Today we’re going to talk about biblical communication and God’s methodology for change.

Some children in blended families adjust quickly and easily, but others struggle with fear, worry, anger, and loyalty conflicts.

Children may be angry about losing their position in the family, losing the dream of their original family being restored, unwanted changes, jealousy toward new step-siblings or any number of other things.

One of the most important skills in overcoming anger and building good relationships is learning how to communicate in a loving, God-honoring way. Ephesians 4 contains some of the clearest passages on the subject of communication. The principles can be summed up in 4 easy to understand “rules” that you can apply and teach your children.

 

4 Rules of Communication

 

  • Be honest.
  • Keep current.
  • Attack the problem, not the person.
  • Act, don’t react.

 

Be Honest.

 

Ephesians 4.25 says:

Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

Sounds simple enough, but being honest is more that just not telling a lie. It’s, also, more than blurting out the unadulterated truth. It involves being open and transparent in a loving way.

The first part of being honest is to communicate. “Let each of you speak …”

The second part is to speak truth. It’s not enough to just “not lie.” We must also speak truth.

For example: If, after you and your husband agreed not to make any unnecessary purchases, you put those shoes you wanted on your credit card, slipped them into the house when you’re husband wasn’t home, and simply never brought it up, you may not have lied, but your weren’t being honest either.

rt 16: 4 Rules of Communication + LINKUP" >Our children need to understand the same principle. Instead of just punishing them for not telling you about a bad grade, sit down and explain why it’s wrong from God’s Word. Let them know that you struggle with living God’s way, too. Use it as an opportunity to teach them how much we need His help to live His way. Turn it into a gospel moment.

Whether they listen attentively or roll their eyes, you’re planting seeds.

So we and our children are to speak and to speak truth, but we must also learn to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4.15 says:

[B]ut, speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

For example: If your child grew up learning to make his bed and keep his room reasonably neat and now shares a room with a step-sibling who doesn’t seem to know what a clothes hanger or a hamper is, the answer isn’t to tell his sibling he’s a slob.

Instead, help him learn to pray (another gospel moment) and ask God for wisdom about talking to his brother. It could be something like, “Hey, I’m not crazy about cleaning the room either. I used to resent it when my mom made me stay home until I did. But I learned it’s easier to just get it over with. It looks better when my friends come to hang out, too. Can I give you a hand?”

So rule #1 is: “Be honest.” Speak. Speak the truth. Speak the truth in love.  Continue reading

“Lessons from a Fish’s Belly” December 18

 

Important Lessons from a Fish's BellyYou may think you know the story of Jonah, but there is so much more for us to learn from his book. There is the fact that disobedience and running from God can land us in some pretty nasty circumstances. But there is, also, a great lesson in God’s mercy and willingness to forgive in the rest of the story.

Our New Testament reading is from Revelation 8 with the beginning of the seven trumpet judgments. The first four are horrible enough, but before the fifth one sounds an angel cries, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet …”

 

Today’s Readings:
Jonah 1-4
Psalm 144.1-8
Proverbs 30.6-9
Revelation 8.1-13

 

Lessons from a Fish’s Belly

 

Jonah 1-4:

The Real Lesson from Jonah

 

Most of us grew up hearing the story of Jonah in Sunday school or at least had some vague idea of what it was all about. But there is so much more to be learned from this little book.

Jonah received a call from God to go to the capital of Assyria, the city of Nineveh. The Assyrians were the enemies of Israel and Judah. Instead of obeying God he got on a ship going in the opposite direction only to have God bring a fierce storm against the ship. He ended up being thrown overboard, though reluctantly, by the crew when they realized that it was the only way to save the ship and themselves. Jonah 1:

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, “We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.

They recognized God’s hand in what was happening, and the text says they feared Him and offered sacrifices to Him. Even God’s judgment can cause people to turn to Him.

Back to Jonah himself. Don’t you wonder what it was like to be inside that fish’s belly for three days and three nights? God knows just how to get our attention. We don’t know everything that went through his mind, but chapter 2 gives us some insight:

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said.
“I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction,
And He answered me.

Even though he had been disobedient and was running from God, he turned back to Him in his time of trouble.

He knew God was faithful:

4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

7 “ When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the LORD.”
10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Chapter 3:

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”

Notice, God did not say, Continue reading

“What goes around comes around?” December 17

 

What goes around comes around?Do you ever take silent pleasure when someone who has criticized or mistreated you falls or suffers a setback? As believers, should we rejoice that “what goes around comes around”? You might be surprised at what God told the Edomites about that!

Also read about the importance of trusting in God’s timing and more about the Tribulation. This time the eerie calm between the time the 6th and 7th seals are opened.

 

Today’s Readings:
Obadiah 1-21
Psalm 143.7-12
Proverbs 30.5
Revelation 7.1-17

 

What goes around comes around?

 

Obadiah 1-21:

Guarding Our Hearts

 

The two verses that really jumped out at me were 12 & 13:

12 “ But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother
In the day of his captivity;
Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah
In the day of their destruction;
Nor should you have spoken proudly
In the day of distress.
13 You should not have entered the gate of My people
In the day of their calamity.
Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction
In the day of their calamity,
Nor laid hands on their substance
In the day of their calamity.

God was rebuking the nation of Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. These distant cousins took pleasure in the fall of Israel and Judah. They rejoiced in their calamity and even took advantage of the situation, perhaps by pillaging the city after it was deserted.

How much more as believers in Jesus Christ—those who have God’s Holy Spirit resident within us—should we guard our hearts against any such thing, whether with our biological family or our brothers and sisters in Christ! We are told to love, help and pray for even our enemies, to say nothing of those who are part of our family.

And yet, we sometimes take silent pleasure when someone who has criticized us falls, or in thinking “what goes around comes around!” While it is true that there are laws of sowing and reaping, we should be grieved not happy when it happens. We should pray for God to use it for good to turn that unbeliever to Christ or to cause a sinning brother or sister to repent, turn back to God, and live rightly.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 143.7-12:

His Righteousness

 

As the psalmist continues to cry out to God in his distress, remember he does so on the basis of Continue reading

“The Tribulation: Opening the 7 Seals” December 16

 

The Tribulation: God is a God of mercy and grace, but He is also the Righteous Judge and will one day, possibly soon, begin opening the seven seals of Revelation 6 and unleashing final judgment on all who refuse to repent and turn to Him for forgiveness. What will that look like?

Also read about praying when you’re discouraged and God’s wisdom.

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 8 & 9
Psalm 143.1-6
Proverbs 30.1-4
Revelation 6.1-17

 

The Tribulation: Opening the 7 Seals

 

Revelation 6.1-17:

Opening the Seven Seals

 

seven seals

Well, we’re getting into the heart of the book of Revelation—today chapter 6.

In this chapter we see God’s wrath, being poured out in the events of the Tribulation period. His wrath is represented by the seven seals on the scroll. Chapter 6 briefly describes the opening of the first six seals.

The first seal reveals a white horse, on it a rider with a bow who goes out “conquering and to conquer.” Although there is a bow, there are no arrows, so this conquering will be done through peaceful means—lies and deception. So, at first, there will appear to be a time of peace, but it will be short lived.

The second seal reveals another horse and rider. This time the horse is red representing bloodshed—war and wholesale killing. The killing will not just be during warfare, but murder will become commonplace.

The third seal reveals a black horse and rider. The black horse speaks of famine and shortages. This will lead to rationing, food lines, and price gouging.

When the fourth seal is opened we see a pale horse and his rider—Death, followed by Hades. This pale or ashen color is the color of a corpse when it is decaying. This horseman will be given the power to kill one-fourth of the world’s population.  Continue reading

“The Unpopular Truth” December 15

 

The Unpopular Truth - The Bible is the unpopular truth to many today. And those who speak the truth are being told, "You can't say that here ... 'there's separation of church and state.' " Or, "You're trying to impose your religion on us." Others demand that we, "give hardy approval" to the sinful things they do. How does God expect us to respond to those pressures?The Bible is the unpopular truth to many today. And those who speak the truth are being told, “You can’t say that here … ‘there’s separation of church and state.’ ” Or, “You’re trying to impose your religion on us.” Others demand that we, “give hardy approval” to the sinful things they do. How does God expect us to respond to those pressures?

Also read about praying in difficult times, a word to Christian singles, and Jesus the soon coming King.

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 6 & 7
Psalm 142.1-7
Proverbs 29.27
Revelation 5.1-14

 

The Unpopular Truth

 

Amos 6 & amos 7:

Speaking the Unpopular Truth

 

Chapter 7.12-13:

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos.
“ Go, you seer!
Flee to the land of Judah.
There eat bread,
And there prophesy.
13 But never again prophesy at Bethel,
For it is the king’s sanctuary,
And it is the royal residence.”

Rather than hear the truth and heed their warnings, the people of Amos’ day banished the prophets. How very much like the world in which we live. Today the cry is “separation of church and state” or “don’t try to impose your religion on me” or “you can’t say that here!” Those who talk about God’s standard are called intolerant, homophobes, judgmental or worse.

Many even demand that we approve their lifestyles and their right to live anyway they choose. Some people give in to their demands out of fear of criticism, intimidation, or misguided acceptance. Continue reading

“When Treated Unfairly” December 14

 

When Treated Unfairly

Have you ever been misjudged, falsely accused, or passed over by someone in leadership? Have you ever been hurt or mistreated? What do you think about at those times? How can you learn to  trust God in a greater way?

Also, find out why God would call a group of women “cows of Bashan” and how we can be sure we don’t act like them.

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 4-7
Psalm 141.5-10
Proverbs 29.26
Revelation 4.1-11

 

Well, we are nearing the end of our journey on “the Bible bus” as J. Vernon McGee used to call it. I’d love to know how reading through the Bible has impacted you. Please take a few minutes and let me know. What has been your favorite book so far? What has changed in your life? How have you been able to apply what you are learning (the most important question of all)?

Are you already thinking about the coming year? I know I am. Every year is an exciting adventure in knowing God better through His Word! I’ll continue these “read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year” posts, along with more topical posts. I hope you’ll join me.

On to the magnificent Word …

 

When Treated Unfairly

 

Proverbs 29.26:

God’s Unstoppable Plans 

 

Thoughtful man hurt depression guilt sadness

“Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the LORD.”

Have you ever been misjudged, falsely accused, or passed over by someone in leadership? Have you ever been hurt or mistreated?

What do you think about at those times? As believers we need to meditate on God’s wonderful attributes and remember who is really in control.

First of all, we need to remember that He is good! If He allows us to go through some test or trial, it’s for our good (Rom. 8.28-29). It’s intended to help us grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22-23) and come to trust Him more.

Second, God is Sovereign—He is completely in control. He is omnipotent—all powerful. He has the power and the ability to bring about whatever He chooses.

Job 42.2 says, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”

Think about that; God’s unstoppable plans, His perfect plans and purposes, will come to pass.

He is, also, omnipresent. He is present everywhere and at all times! He is omniscient. He knows everything. Nothing we think about, nothing we do, and nothing that happens to us is a secret to Him.

He is a God of love, a God of mercy, and perfectly holy. But He is also a God of justice.

So, since He knows everything, He has the power to do whatever He needs to do, He is completely sovereign, a God of justice, and He loves His children, He is well able to take care of You and make all things right in His time. Put your faith and trust in Him. He is our faithful, loving Father! Trust in His unstoppable, wonderful plans!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Amos 4-7:

You cows of Bashan!

 

cows

Amos was written primarily to the Northern tribes (Samaria) during a time of relative peace and prosperity. In chapter 4 Amos begins by addressing the women of Samaria calling them “cows of Bashan.” Wow, that’s pretty harsh!

The problem was that these women were living in luxury and encouraging their husbands to focus on material prosperity. Verse 1, “Who say to your husbands, ‘Bring wine, let us drink!’” And they had no regard for those less fortunate, “Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy …”

As wives and mothers and sisters, we have much more influence over our families than we think or like to admit. How are we influencing them? What is our focus? Could we be acting like the “cows of Bashan”? Are we saying we want our husbands to be godly leaders and our sons to grow up to be godly men … all the while putting our focus on material things, pushing them to get a better job, more education, and provide more “stuff”?  Continue reading