The Best News Ever

Today’s reading:

Malachi 1:1-Matthew 1:25

My Selection:

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:20-21

 How would you describe this news?

The message from the angel to Joseph was the best news ever.  The Son of Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit, would save His people from their sins.  How would you describe this news?  All these adjectives apply:

  • Authoritative- the messenger was no mere human but the angel of the Lord
  • Supernatural- the baby had no human father but was conceived by God’s Spirit
  • Anticipated- the prophets had foretold His coming for centuries
  • Gracious- this child would save sinful people

Today’s news is usually none of the above.  But praise God because His news is good and unfading.  Good tidings of great joy to the entire world. Resist the depressing sensationalism of the media and focus instead on the best news ever.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading 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.

Does it matter?

Looking at life from the perspective of 40, 50 or even more years, it is possible to be completely mistaken about the importance of believing God and serving Him.

Today’s reading: Malachi 1-4; Revelation 22

18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. Malachi 3:18

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Revelation 22:14-15

One of the advantages of a careful reading of the Bible is the reader gains God’s viewpoint on human history and destiny. Although Malachi wrote around 500 years before John penned his Revelation, these writings converge in a harmonious and glorious view of the final end of all things.

Malachi, like all the prophets, sees clearly the inward and outward sins of the people he addressed. He goes into detail about their idolatry, their failures in marriage, and their stealing God’s money. The Jews were presumptuous before God, thinking that either their status as descendants of Abraham exempted them from obedience or that the Holy One of Israel was unconcerned about righteousness in His people.

The prophet warns them that the day of the Lord was coming. They would see that there is a distinction between the righteous and the wicked. It does matter how one lives before God.

John points us to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Those who are accepted before God are those who recognize their sinfulness but come to have their robes washed in His blood (Revelation 7:14).   They do not presume upon God’s mercy but receive the salvation which is offered in the gospel. They have access to the tree of life. They enter the city by the gates. Meanwhile, those who remain in their sins, such as immorality, murder, idolatry, and falsehood, are outside.

It does matter. No one gets away with their sin. All sin will ultimately be punished. For those who do not believe, they will be punished and barred from the city where God dwells with His people. For those who believe in the Lamb, their sin has already been paid for with the atonement of Jesus Christ. He bore our sins so that by His wounds we may be healed (1 Peter:2:24).

Be sure you know that there is a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Thank you for walking through the Scriptures with me this year and, if we have not met here, may we meet in glory to worship the Triune God. Our life here matters and  it does matter forever.

Happy New Year!

Note:  Tomorrow I will begin another year in the Bible using the reading plan from my book, “Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 Days.”  You may purchase the book in either kindle or print editions by clicking here.

The Best News Ever

Today’s reading: Malachi 1:1- Matthew 1:25

My selection: Matthew 1:20-21

20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

My reflections: There is no passage in the Bible that thrills me more than this one. The message was authoritative: from an angel of the Lord. The message was supernatural: a virgin was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. The message was anticipated: the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. The message was gracious: He would save His people from their sins.

Joseph needed this reassurance. He would not have put Mary to the shame normally reserved for those who break their marriage vows. But neither would he forgive, accept, and support her. He would divorce her, quietly. And Joseph not only obeyed, he obeyed immediately.

My challenge: This was arguably the best news ever spoken to anyone. Jesus would be born and He would save His people from their sins. If you are a believer in Him, you trust Him for forgiveness of your sins. Rejoice in Him. Praise God for His mercy to His people, including you.

Tomorrow’s reading: Matthew 2:1-5:20

The Cleansing Fountain

Today’s reading: Zechariah 9:9-14:21

My selection: Zechariah 13:1

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

My reflections:What a picture of the mercy and grace of God toward His sinful, filthy people! The fountain, gushing continuously, would be a reminder of the ongoing need for cleansing. Our problem is not only sin, those individual acts of rebellion against a holy God, but also the residual stains it leaves on our souls, the uncleanness it leaves behind. We need a fountain that cleanses and that never runs dry. That fountain is Jesus Christ, in whom alone we find forgiveness and cleansing. He washes His people by regeneration, a new spiritual birth, and He renews them by His Holy Spirit resulting in an inheritance of hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).

My challenge: If your sin weighs heavily upon you, if you are painfully aware of the corruption of sin on your soul, come to the fountain flowing abundantly to rid you of every stain. Rejoice in the truth that this fountain will never run dry. God poured out His Spirit richly so that being declared righteous you would become an heir to the hope of eternal life.

Tomorrow’s reading: Malachi 1:1-Matthew 1:25