“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

“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

December 9 “The Word of God … cafeteria style”

Word of God

How to you view the Word of God? As the commands and revelation of the Creator of heaven and earth or as a divine cafeteria where you get to choose the entrees you find tasty?

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 9 & 10
Psalm 139.13-16
Proverbs 29.21
3 John 1-14

 

Hosea 9 & 10:

Rejecting the revelation of God

Even though Scripture tells us that everyone has enough revelation of God through His creation to recognize there is a Creator and to cry out to know Him (Rom. 1.18-23), many people live in ignorance of the Word of God.

Sadder still, is to be given the amount of special revelation Israel was given as a nation, and to ignore or reject it.

“I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing” (8.12).

God so desired to reach the heart of His people that He gave them prophets to proclaim the truth to them, but instead of heeding God’s warning, they ridiculed them, calling them fools … insane (9.7).

Little has changed. We live in a day when the Word of God has free reign. He has revealed Himself to us through the His Word and the prophets who wrote it. And He has blessed us with pastors and teachers and others who can help us understand His written Word.

The Word of God … divine suggestions?

There is such an abundance of good spiritual resources available and, yet, so few take advantage of them. Most people are content to come to church on Sundays thinking they have their ticket punched for heaven and to live life their own way the rest of the time.

The Word of God is “interesting” to them and they like hearing a nice message, but they don’t acknowledge it as God’s written revelation and command to them. It’s optional, depending on whether or not they “agree with it”! They take the Word of God as a suggestion, not the Word of a Holy Sovereign God.

We don’t get to decide whether or not we “agree” with God. Do we really understand what it means in Romans 10 when it says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (v. 9)? It is the person who confesses that Jesus is “Lord” who is truly saved! Lord, means “Master”—the One who has the right to tell us how to live—what is right and what is wrong! His Word is to be the sole authority in our lives!

Mature woman making stop gesture signAnd yet, too often, I hear people say in regard to a passage of Scripture, “I just don’t agree with that.” Or in the context of counseling, “I tried that, but it didn’t work.”

God’s Word is true, if it’s not “working” for us, we better go back and look at our Continue reading

December 6 “Turn your world upside down”

turn your world upside downWe have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and look at the consequences! It has affected education, politics, business, family life and more. Like a handful of faithful men and women did in the first century, how can you turn your world upside down?

 

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 3 & 4
Psalm 138.8
Proverbs 29.18
1 John 4.1-21

 

Hosea 3 & 4:

Turn your world upside down

What a beautiful picture of God’s mercy with His people and the fact that He will, eventually, redeem the true church and the nation of Israel.

Verse 3.1, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.’ ”

But that does not mean that there are not consequences for sinful behavior.

It’s impossible not to see some of the parallels between our nation and the church of God in America to rebellious Israel. We have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and loved a lover, a god, of our own making—one who allows us to live however we desire. Look at some of the phrases in chapter 4:

“…no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land … swearing and lying … killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint … bloodshed upon bloodshed … you have rejected knowledge … forgotten the law of your God … they set their heart on iniquity.”

No truth or knowledge of God: He’s been “kicked out” of our schools, our government and the public arena.

Swearing and lying: In politics, in business (whatever it takes to make a buck), and the list goes on.

Killing and stealing: Just turn on the nightly news.

Committing adultery: Even a sitting President can get away with sexual immorality and argue the meaning of the words. Continue reading