Weekend Readings

Saturday, September 24, 2016  “Who Else?”

Reading: Micah 7:8-Habakkuk 2:1

My selection:

The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
they shall lay their hands on their mouths;
    their ears shall be deaf;
 they shall lick the dust like a serpent,
    like the crawling things of the earth;
they shall come trembling out of their strongholds;
    they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God,
    and they shall be in fear of you. Micah 7:18-19

Sunday, September 25, 2016   “The Safe Place”

Reading: Habakkuk 2:2-Zephaniah 3:20

My selection:

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,
    who do his just commands;
seek righteousness; seek humility;
    perhaps you may be hidden
    on the day of the anger of the LordZephaniah 2:3

See you again on Monday.

[For reflections on these passages, see the corresponding readings in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

[Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.]

A Call for Endurance

God calls His people to endurance, by faith, even in the most severe of trials, because His promises are sure and His power is invincible.

Today’s reading: Habakkuk 1-3; Revelation 14

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:18-19

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Revelation 14:12-13

Down through the ages, the saints of God have been called to live by faith in His word. Often they have had to stand under intense opposition and persecution.

Habakkuk was perplexed about the spiritual state of Judah. Why did God seem to ignore the injustice and corruption in the nation? God responded that He would send the Chaldeans to discipline Judah. That answer drove Habakkuk to even greater confusion. How could God use such a wicked people to discipline His own people who while sinful were not nearly so evil as the Chaldeans? The Lord explained that when He was finished using the Chaldeans to discipline Judah, He would then turn His wrath on them, too.

Habakkuk gets it. He concludes with a psalm of praise and commitment to God. The prophet says he will trust God and rejoice in Him no matter what. Now that is an example of faith!

In Revelation, God gives John a picture of the things to come. There will be great trials. The saints must respond to the call to endure with obedience and steadfast faith in Jesus. Once that is over, they will be received into eternal rest where their deeds in this world will be remembered.

Walk in faith and obedience, my brother and sister. The time will come soon when the stress and pressure of this world will be over. Our reward is certain, so endure.

The Safe Place

Today’s reading: Habakkuk 2:2-Zephaniah 3:20

My selection: Zephaniah 2:3

3 Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,

who do his just commands;

seek righteousness; seek humility;

perhaps you may be hidden

on the day of the anger of the Lord.

My reflections: How should God’s people respond to the announcement of the coming day of the anger of the Lord? Here they are commanded to seek righteousness and to seek humility. One would think that righteousness would include humility, but experience shows that people can be outwardly righteous while lacking inward humility. We can be proud of our humility, so to speak. This ruins everything.

Zephaniah tells them that by seeking righteousness and humility, they may be hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger. In spite of seeking righteousness and humility, they will still need to be hidden when the wrath of God is unleashed. All their seeking will not suffice to protect them from His justice.

Nor will ours.

My challenge: It is good to hunger and thirst after righteousness. It is good to be humble but, from the New Testament, we learn that this is not enough to save us from the just wrath of God:

2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:2-4

Ultimately our only safe place from the wrath of God is the hiding place with Christ in God. He is our life. Lay aside any trust in your own righteousness. It is all of Him. Seek righteousness and humility, but trust in Christ’s righteousness and humility. That is the safe place.

Tomorrow’s reading: Haggai 1:1-Zechariah 3:10

Who else?

Today’s reading: Micah 7:8-Habakkuk 2:1

My selection: Micah 7:18-20

18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity

and passing over transgression

for the remnant of his inheritance?

He does not retain his anger forever,

because he delights in steadfast love.

19 He will again have compassion on us;

he will tread our iniquities under foot.

You will cast all our sins

into the depths of the sea.

20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob

and steadfast love to Abraham,

as you have sworn to our fathers

from the days of old.

My reflections: I echo Micah’s cry, “who is a God like You?” This God is holy so He would be completely just to bring to judgment all mankind for its sin. But He has a remnant to whom He shows forgiveness. He does not remain angry because He delights to show steadfast love. He is the one who will take our sins from us and cast them into the depths of the sea.

When men conceive of god they tend to think either of a god who has failures and sin much like their own and so cannot rightly judge man, or one who is morally perfect but wrathful and unrelenting in judgment. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is neither of these. He is holy but also compassionate. He judges justly but shows forgiveness to those who turn to Him in faith and repentance. This is not a god conceived by man but rather One who reveals Himself to man through His Son, born in the obscure town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

My challenge: Praise God for His infinite wisdom in saving the believing remnant of His people. Praise God for His compassion, for casting your sins into the depths of the sea because of His steadfast love. Who else? No one else. There is no god like Him!

Tomorrow’s reading: Habakkuk 2:2-Zephaniah 3:20

Thy Kingdom Come

Today’s reading: Micah 1:1-7:7

My selection: Micah 4:1-2

It shall come to pass in the latter days

that the mountain of the house of the Lord

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

and it shall be lifted up above the hills;

and peoples shall flow to it,

2 and many nations shall come, and say:

“ Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that he may teach us his ways

and that we may walk in his paths.”

For out of Zion shall go forth the law,

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

My reflections: Once again we see the worldwide scope of God’s covenant with Israel. Although the times of Micah are bleak, a better day is coming, a day in which many nations will be drawn to worship the true God in sincerity. They will come to Jerusalem seeking to know the Lord’s ways so that they may walk in them.

Some of us who love the Lord and believe the Bible will disagree as to when this will take place, whether in a literal millennial kingdom or in a figurative sense in the present age but we will not disagree that this is a glorious description of the victory of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

My challenge: Whatever is going on in the world today, God rules and will ultimately be vindicated in His truth. God will have a people of His own from every tribe, tongue, and nation, a people zealous for good works. Do not despair as you await that moment of revelation. That glory to come far outweighs this present momentary affliction. Meanwhile, keep praying “Thy kingdom come.”

Tomorrow’s reading: Micah 7:8-Habakkuk 2:1