Weekend readings

Saturday, April 30 reading: 2 Kings 17:1-19:13 “God’s Mercy to Eclectic Worshipers”

Sunday May 1 reading: 2 Kings 19:14-22:20 “The Recovery of the Law of God”

cropped-643880_2530272832199_2062997187_n.jpg

Have a great weekend.  See you again on Monday!

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

Photo by Abbey Knouff

An Invitation to Read the Bible Cover to Cover

Is it your goal to read through the Bible in 2016? Let me suggest a plan, based on my book “Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 Days”, and invite you to join me each day here to share the journey. Whether or not you have the book either in Kindle or print format, you are welcome to join me each day. If you would like more assurance that this is a good goal to set  you may find this helpful.

The “Cover to Cover” schedule will take us through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in one year. We will be reading about 85 verses per day. With the daily readings being of uniform length, you will need about the same amount of time each day to complete the assignment. Keep on schedule by either reading from your own Bible using your preferred translation, or pull up this blog and click on the reading assignment. You will instantly be taken to the daily assignment in the English Standard Translation from Bible Gateway.com.

What could be simpler?

We, who are serious Christians or who are considering the Christian faith, should make Bible reading a regular part of our lives. But if you have never read through the Bible, you will see that it is a massive undertaking. It can be done and I have done it annually for many years. I do not recommend attempting a faster reading. I find it preferable to read daily at a steady pace taking some time to reflect on some of the verses.

I hope you will plan to join me here for daily reading. New blogs will be posted each day at 5:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time in the USA). I will be here each day with a fresh posting to encourage you along the way. You are welcome to make comments or ask questions on any of the daily posts.

I hope you will join me on January 1.

John Carroll

If you would like to purchase Cover to Cover: Through the Bible In 365 Days” in either Kindle or print format click here.

God: Patient and Powerful

God’s slowness to anger must not be confused with any weakness or ambivalence. [1]

Today’s reading: Nahum 1-3; Revelation 13

2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
and keeps wrath for his enemies.
3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet. Nahum 1:2,3

7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. Revelation 13:7-8

If there is anything we can learn from reading the Bible carefully from cover to cover, it is that God is firmly in control of all of human history. Nothing escapes His knowledge, His presence, or His power. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. That does not mean that He accepts everything that happens with no further action. He will act in His time to reward faithfulness and punish all evil.

In Nahum’s day, the nation of Assyria was imposing her power on the surrounding nations. Israel had already fallen to her, and Judah, under King Manasseh, was a vassal state. Nahum proclaimed the power of God in the midst of this difficult situation.   Assyria would fall, he assured them. God is slow to anger but not weak in power. He would pour out His wrath. Meanwhile, Nahum, whose name means comfort, reminded Judah that “ The Lord is good,  a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (1:7).

In John’s vision, he sees two beasts, one from the sea and one from the earth. These are united with the dragon and they wreak havoc on God’s people, who do not take the mark of the beast which gives access to commerce. It seems like a hopeless situation, yet there is a limit on the time allotted to these beasts. There is a reassurance to those who refuse to worship the beast. Their names were recorded before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. Let this bring comfort to us who believe but warning to all who confuse God’s patience with any kind of weakness.

[1] The Reformation Study Bible, introductory notes to Nahum, p. 1587

Contend for the Faith

Those responsible for spiritual leadership must take care to know and teach the truth as they contend for the faith.

Today’s reading: Hosea 1-4; Jude 1

6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.                                                                    Hosea 4:6

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.                                    Jude 1:3-4

In both readings today, we see God indicting those who have forsaken the truth and misled those who looked to them for guidance.

Hosea, like other prophets, had a message of warning for Israel and Judah. He was also called to demonstrate God’s wrath against His people by taking a prostitute for his wife, showing the mercy and grace of God toward sinful, unworthy people. God told them they were destroyed for lack of knowledge. The nation had not been taught God’s law faithfully. The priests had facilitated national sin.

In a similar way, believers in Jude’s day were called to contend for the faith, that is, the doctrine given by God through the Apostles and Prophets, which was under attack by false and wicked teachers. These were deceitful and treacherous. They misused God’s grace as an excuse for sensuality. They denied the Lord Jesus Christ. Among other vices, they relied on their dreams. They got their own truth by direct revelation, a practice Paul also condemned (Colossians 2:18). [1]

Truth matters. It matters what we believe, and, if we are in the position of teachers, it matters to all whom we influence for good or bad. Be sure you know the truth of God’s word and that those you learn from contend for the faith and are not relying on their own dreams.

[1] The Reformation Study Bible, Sanford, FL, Reformation Trust, 2015, p. 2292. See note on verse 8

There’s a War On

Since the Fall of man, the cosmic war has been going. Satan and his minions deceive and oppose God’s people.

Today’s reading: Daniel 9-10; 2 John 1

13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”                                                                    Daniel 10:13-14

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.        2 John 1:7

Daniel was in a time of deep mourning for three weeks. He fasted and prayed. God sent an angel to him, but, at first, he was more frightened than strengthened. The angel addressed him kindly and called him a man greatly loved. Daniel’s prayers had been heard from the first day of that three week period, but the angel had been opposed by the prince of the kingdom of Persia.

John, in this second epistle, warns his readers about the deceivers in the world. They are identified as those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. The Reformation Study Bible [1] notes observe that a heresy called Docetism taught that Jesus did not have a real human body but was some sort of phantom who only appeared to be human. John declared these false teachers to be of the antichrist.

Once again in these passages, we see the very real nature of the spiritual war going on around us. Satan and his forces wield a certain amount of power, but God does hear His children when they pray. He does send aid. He will judge all the hosts of wickedness and deliver His own safely to glory (Isaiah 24:21; Ephesians 6:11-12; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 17:8; 20:10).

There’s a war on, but God has all things under His control. Trust Him and obey His truth. As we saw yesterday, His children will be victorious over the world through Jesus Christ.

[1] The Reformation Study Bible, Sanford, FL, Reformation Trust, 2015, p. 2279

The Man Who Stood in the Breach

Those who trust in the Man who stood in the breach must show mercy and not partiality toward others.

Today’s reading: Ezekiel 22-23; James 2

30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. 31 Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.”                                                                                                        Ezekiel 22:30-31

1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.                                                                                                                    James 2:1

In Ezekiel’s day, the walls of the city were broken open to invaders. The false prophets did not risk their lives to close these breaches or to stand in them (Ezekiel 13:5). God looked but there was no one who would do this. My study Bible notes refer to the contrast with Moses, who as a true and faithful leader stood up in the spiritual breach for Israel when they crafted and worshiped a golden calf. Moses pleaded with God to spare Israel their just punishment and God heard him. [1] Now the so-called prophets ignored this need. God poured out His wrath on the nation.

Finally, God Himself took on flesh and lived among us to bring atonement for sin and mercy to God’s people. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Man who stood in the breach against our enemy. He is the Good Shepherd who did not flee when danger came. He bore the pain of death for us. [John 10:7-18]. James calls all who hold the faith in Him to reflect that faith in our actions and attitudes toward others. There should be no partiality based on socioeconomic classes. There should be no favoritism toward the rich nor discrimination against the poor. Those who have received mercy must be merciful or they show they deserve judgment.

Be sure your relationships show mercy and not partiality. You have been saved by the Man who stood in the breach for us. Pride and haughtiness has no place in our lives.

[1] Reformation Study Bible p. 1415 note on 22:30-31