The King at Home

There is evidence that David had plenty of flaws in his personal life as a husband and father.  Nevertheless, on one occasion, at least, he showed care, love and sensitivity on the home front.

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 14:1-16:43

Christian husbands and fathers are exhorted to love their wives and to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 5:25-6:4).  Having major responsibilities in their work does not exempt men from family duties and loving service.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

A God of Wrath and A God of Grace

A common view of God sees Him as all love, mercy, and forgiveness.  Is this overly simplistic?  Is He also a God of judgment and holiness?

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 11:10-13:14

Indeed the view that sees God as a cosmic Santa Claus  is not only overly simplistic, it is dangerously wrong.  God is a God of holiness and justice.  He will punish every sin ever committed by every human being.  The good news is that those who trust in the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ, for sins have His payment credited to their account.  Believers in the Lord Jesus have their sins paid in full, by His mercy and at His great cost.  David learned how holy is God.  He is not to be mocked or trifled with.  It was a sad and hard lesson, but we all need to pay attention to it.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Respect for Women

Today’s reading: Ruth 2:1-1 Samuel 1:20

Some husbands show wonderful love and respect for their wives.  It is a delight to behold.  But there is One whose love for His bride is unparalleled in all of history.

We celebrate that love during the Easter season.  Have a blessed Easter!

He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Bringing Delight to God

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 30:1-32:47

Parents (as well as other authority figures in our lives, like teachers) can be hard task masters, difficult to please. God is not so. Although He is perfect and His law demands perfection, He is delighted with obedience in His children. Our obedience begins with repentance and faith in His Son who died for our sins and lives for our sanctification.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Resting, Worshiping, and Feasting

Today’s reading: Leviticus 21:1-23:25

All of our time belongs to God. He has the right to require that we use it as He specifies. But He does not drive us relentlessly as we, workaholics, drive ourselves. While these Old Testament feasts have been fulfilled in Christ, the principle remains that we are to take time to rest and celebrate. See how God loves His people and tenderly looks out for their best.

For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on-line.

Selfish or Selfless?

Today’s reading: Genesis 19:30-22:24

Anyone who thinks that people are basically good will find the Bible to show otherwise. The lives portrayed in Scripture are full of conflict. Abraham has tensions with Abimelech. Lot fathers two sons by his conniving daughters. Those sons are the patriarchs of tribes that would be hostile to Israel. There is conflict between Ishmael and Isaac.

What’s the problem?

The heart is the problem. Just as we can see in the lives of Lot’s daughters, merely changing our surroundings does not solve our heart problems, our pride, lust, impatience, and all the rest. We need much more than a fresh start in Zoar, we need new hearts.

What is the solution?

As Abraham said to Isaac, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering…” And He has. God tested Abraham to the limit, but, at the last moment, provided a ram for the offering. God spared Isaac but He did not spare His own Son as an offering, so great was His love for His people and for His own holiness (Romans 8:32). Through the offering of His Son all who believe in Him are given new hearts and reconciled to God.

This is the path to salvation and the solution to the perpetual conflict in human existence.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 7 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

 

His Wrath and His Joy

Scripture reveals a God of wrath and joy.  He is angry with sin but also delighted with His redeemed people.

Today’s reading: Zephaniah 1-3; Revelation 15

16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:16-17

1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.  Revelation 15:1

The prophet Zephaniah described the anger of God against all the sin and corruption of, not only Judah but, all the nations of the world. He warns of the coming of the day of God’s wrath. That day would come and the judgment would be complete. Is there no escape? Yes, there is a hope for those who humble themselves before the Lord.

John’s vision in Revelation confirms that the wrath of God does have an end point. There would be seven plagues applied to the earth by seven angels. We are then told that the seven plagues, “are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.”

Finished. That is a good word to hear. Zephaniah has given us a beautiful picture of the delight which God has in His own. Several phrases show the completeness of His care and describe His presence (in your midst), His power (mighty one who will save), His joy (He will rejoice over you… exult over you with loud singing).

If we are to be biblical in our understanding of God we must grasp these realities of His being. He is absolutely holy and will not let the wicked go unpunished. He is also a God of love and mercy and will save all who come to Him in faith through His Son, the Lamb of God, who took away the sin of the world.

Be sure your understanding of God is accurate. Know Him in truth as He has revealed Himself in His Word.  His attributes include His wrath and His joy.

A Time to Love; a Time to Hate

To hate what God hates is good, but not if we do not love what God loves.

Today’s reading: Hosea 9-11; Revelation 2

8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.                                                     Hosea 11:8-9

4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.                                                                                         Revelation 2:4-6

God’s love for His people is relentless, though He reveals in His Word how His heart recoils with the sinfulness of His people. Ultimately, God restrains His justice against His people and does not destroy them.

Hosea was sent to warn Judah and Israel of her impending judgment. This intervention by the Lord was another act of His patience and mercy. He gave them a chance to repent. He showed them through the sad, painful marital relationship of Hosea and Gomer, how God saw the unfaithfulness of His people toward Him. They repaid His goodness and blessing with idolatry and worship of false gods. Even after all that, God’s compassion toward them was aroused. As He said through the prophet Ezekiel, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” ( Ezekiel 18:23).

The Lord gave the Apostle John messages for seven churches of Asia Minor. Most of them contain warnings of impending judgment for their sin. In the letter to the church in Ephesus, He commends them for several qualities including their hatred of an heretical group called the Nicolaitans. While it was good to hate evil, they were also found to have abandoned the love they had shown earlier. Jesus tells them to repent of this attitude lest they lose their standing as a church completely.

Let this be a warning to us as well. Do not let hatred of evil drive out the love of God for those He is graciously calling to Himself. There is a time to love and a time to hate. (Ecclesiastes 3:8).

 

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 Everlasting Covenant

Jesus Christ is the High Priest of a new covenant, an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten. His ministry brings eternal salvation to all who obey Him.

Today’s reading: Jeremiah 49-50; Hebrews 5

4 “In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come, and they shall seek the Lord their God. 5 They shall ask the way to Zion, with faces turned toward it, saying, ‘Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten.’                                                                                                  Jeremiah 50:4-5

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:7-10

Jeremiah watched while Judah followed Israel into ruins. God had decreed severe discipline upon His people who shamefully broke His covenant. Clearly, the old covenant and the old priesthood was not sufficient to save the nation. But God showed Jeremiah that there would be a new covenant (ch. 31). That covenant would not fail. It is the covenant made with the sacrifice of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who paid the ransom for all the sins of all who would obey Him.

The Aaronic priesthood failed to save, although, we can now see, it was meant only to reveal the need for a better priesthood and a better covenant. The old covenant was not a failure. It actually fulfilled its limited and designated function of pointing to the Messiah, the Holy One of Israel, who alone could make atonement for sins as He had none of His own for which to atone. The old covenant was not a failed experiment on God’s part but a plan to reveal the greater glory that would come through the eternal covenant that would not be forgotten.

The failures of Judah and Israel to obey the old covenant mirror our own failures to live in perfect holiness. Like Ancient Israel we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But by faith in Christ, we have a high priest, appointed by God, who will minister forever not under the weak old covenant and Aaron’s priesthood but under the order of Melchizedek. Be sure you are not dull of hearing but firmly and clearly grasp the basis of your salvation. Eternal life or death depends on it.