Life or Wrath: which will it be?

How important is it that we discover the truth about God and that we believe Him? It is literally a matter of life or death.  Find out more now.

Today’s Reading

2 Kings 1-3; John 3:22-36

Selected Verses

But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?  Now therefore thus says the Lord, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” So Elijah went.  2 Kings 1:3-4

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.  The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.  John 3:34-36

Reflections

God does not overlook unbelief and the rejection of His messengers who reveal His truth to mankind.  More than that, to reject God’s prophets and His Son is to incur eternal wrath.

Ahaziah, the king of Israel, attempted to turn to the pagan god, Baal-zebub, to learn whether or not he would recover from his injury.  God intervened and sent Elijah to rebuke him and to tell him he would not recover because of his unbelief.

John’s gospel warns us of the danger that comes if we do not believe in the One whom God has sent to utter His words.  Those who heard Jesus were divided right down to the moment of His crucifixion.  Some believed and some did not. The benefits or consequences were and are dramatic.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.  Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, and furthermore, the wrath of God remains on him.

Think about it

It is no small matter to disbelieve in God’s revelation of Himself.  What will keep us from having eternal life is not only our many sins, but our great sin of unbelief in the One whom God sent so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

If you believe in the Son, praise God for His mercy.  If you are like Ahaziah, seeking answers about your destiny from other gods or authorities, repent and believe in Christ.  There is a God who knows all and controls all.  He is not the god of this world but the triune God revealed to us by the Son.

What’s important? I forget.

Today’s reading:

Genesis 18-19; Matthew 6

Selected verses

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.  Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.  And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. Genesis 19:23-25

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Reflections

What should we be worried about?  To put it another way, what’s really important?

We would be clueless, if God had not revealed His holiness and His will to us through special revelation (the Bible).   A secular, materialistic mindset tells us to live for ourselves (like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah).  “Give no thought to God but only to indulging your own desires.  What judgment?”  they say.

Lot learned the hard way that God can reduce you to nothing in an instant.  What should we be worried about?  Not trying to hang on to this world, our position, our stuff.

Jesus told His disciples not to worry about their lives but to focus on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Think about it

It’s time for a reality check.  What’s important?  It’s supremely important to seek His kingdom and His righteousness.  Food and drink and clothing are necessary.  God knows that, but seeking His kingdom is the priority.  He will see that we do not lack what we need.

And we do not get what we need by phony, prayer chants.  God is not moved by many words and empty phrases.  The prayer Jesus taught was simple, brief, and thoughtful.  Prayer should honor God by following those guidelines.

What is important?

  • A single-minded focus on the eternal, glorious, righteous Kingdom of God.
  • Simple prayer.

Ask God to help you keep this straight today.

Water: Judgment or Deliverance?

Today’s reading:

Genesis 6-8; Matthew 3

Select Verses

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Genesis 8:20-21a

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. Matthew 3:13-15

Reflections

God exercises His power in judgment on sinful mankind with a universal flood.  Even in the flood, He shows His grace and mercy by sparing Noah and his family along with a male and a female of each animal.  Sadly, only this small group of eight people believes and finds salvation from the waters.  The rest are lost.  So it will be in the final judgment.  All will not be saved, but only those who by grace through faith believe in Christ Ephesians 2:8-9).

Notice Noah’s immediate response to this deliverance.  He builds an altar to the Lord and offers sacrifices in gratitude to Him.

Matthew tells us of the events surrounding the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.  John the Baptist, son of the high priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, impacts the nation through his preaching and baptizing.  Jesus comes to John for baptism showing His submission to fulfill all righteousness.  Jesus will perfectly fulfill the law of God.

The Apostle Peter (I Peter 3:18-22)  ties both of these passages together showing that God’s mercy to Noah in the flood is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ’s deliverance of His people from the judgment for sin. The water of the flood brought God’s just judgment on mankind, but the water of baptism in Christ Jesus symbolizes cleansing from sin, deliverance from judgment and assurance of salvation to all who believe in Him.

Think about it

Do you have assurance that you are delivered from the judgment to come?  Give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ that He submitted perfectly to God’s law in His life and death.  Through faith in Him, we are made righteous (I Corinthians 1:30).  Like Noah we who trust in Christ are safe from the flood of judgment to come.

Sin – Not Mere Error

In today’s reading (Isaiah 13-17), the prophet proclaims God’s wrath and judgment against sin found in several nations.  He exposes sin for what it really is – rebellion against God.  It is not just a mistake, a misstep, or (shudder) an inappropriate choice.  It is evil to the core because sin acts  lawlessly and rejects God as God.

The new normal is sinful

Our society in recent decades has become increasingly comfortable with moral relativism.  There are no absolutes, except that one.  We do not expect our leaders to be morally upstanding in their personal lives as long as they manage their responsibilities well.  We allow our politicians to speak and act in ways that would result in swift punishment if done by our children or students.

The new normal is subnormal and, frankly, sinful, because God’s standards are absolute.  He holds all people responsible for their thoughts, words,  and actions.  Mankind stands under just judgment.

The way out

Only through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son, can we be reconciled to the Judge of all the earth (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). Be reconciled to God, if you are not.  If you are, walk rejoicing as a new creation in Christ.

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

Counter Intuitive Wisdom

Biblical wisdom feels backwards to our human nature. Over and over the Bible gives a different perspective on life and truth.  Jesus said things like “...the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16 ESV).

The Truth

Here in today’s reading (Proverbs 19-21) we find another example of the difference between biblical teaching and conventional human wisdom.  Where society tells us to assert ourselves and look out for number one, Proverbs 19:11 tells us to be slow to anger and to overlook faults.

The Challenge

In this age of social media, anger spews forth and faults pile up.  Will you be sucked in to the fray or be slow to anger and overlook wrongs done?

God is glorified by those who resist the temptation to blast away and let anger fly.  Take heed to this warning when pressure to erupt comes.

[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].

God’s Absolute Justice

Here’s a perfect example of how God’s wisdom and justice is far above ours.

Today’s reading:  1 Kings 14:1-16:20

Baasha carries out God’s justice but also receives it.

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

Saul’s Stinking Legacy

Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 13:1-14:52

Saul was consumed with himself.  See what a price he paid for his pride, continual defensiveness, and paranoia!  As we will see in future readings, the difference between Saul and his successor, David, was not their sin but their repentance.  Saul left a stinking legacy (Ecclesiastes 10:1), but David is remembered as a “man after God’s own heart” (13:14).

How do you handle your sin?  Be thorough in repentance.

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

God’s Glory and Judgment

Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 5:1-8:22

The chief end of man is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 1).  In today’s reading, we see that the Philistines learned the hard way that if a people will not glorify God, they not only fail to fulfill their purpose, but they experience severe judgment.

Learn from the horrible example of the Philistines.

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