Monthly Archives: September 2009

Malachi 1-4

Scripture

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. “It you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?” Malachi 1:6 NIV

When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. Malachi 1:7 The Message

And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.  Malachi 3:18 NIV

Observation

Israel angered God with their disrespect, sacrifices of blemished animals, intermarriage with pagans and withholding of tithes and offerings.  God was in their lives, but he was clearly not a priority.  The people needed reminding, warning, and encouragement.  God would provide for their salvation.  The way was being prepared for One who would be God’s reflection shining in his chosen faithful.  God would be exalted once more and relationship with his people would be restored.

Application

Though I may deny it, God is not always a priority in my life. When my family and friends get my best, God often gets my leftovers – the last fruits of my time, talents and treasure. My bible time and devotions slide further down the to-do list, where I have little energy to spare. God gets the dregs of my attention. How am I any different than Israel? God does not deserve sloppy seconds.  Instead of becoming an idol and building a fan base, I should desire to be God’s biggest fan and to idolize Him alone.

Prayer

Lord, I don’t want to keep defiling what should be sacred. Redirect my gaze away from myself and toward you. Forgive me. Restore me. May I appreciative  how Jesus paid my sin debt forever. Only in Jesus I believe and pray. Amen

Yica reggie

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Zechariah 8-14

Scripture:

9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (ESV)

Observation:

The name of this blog is Sixty-six Books in a Year. Frankly we could have spent the whole year right here in these rich chapters of this great Minor Prophet Zechariah. However, having just one day, not 365, I need to look at just this one verse. If you wonder whether Jesus is who He said He is, here’s a verse that screams of His Messiahship.  Here 500+ years before the appearance of Jesus we have a detailed account of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jerusalem is commanded to shout aloud and so they did 500+ years later. What a profound foundation stone to the veracity of the gospel.

Application:

Do you ever doubt whether this whole God thing is true? I have. When I come across verses like this I am dumbfounded. This is one of hundreds of prophecies about Jesus and His ministry. Chapter 8 uses the phrase, “Lord of Hosts” seventeen times. This phrase refers to the fact that Jesus is the commander of the hosts of angels that are at His command. In Jesus’ first advent He didn’t beckon them, but rode on a meek donkey and gave Himself up for us all. Some day, and hopefully soon, He will return for us and His angels will be at His side. What a glorious day that will be.

What about that donkey? I’ve thought about that lowly animal that was used to fulfill biblical prophecy and who carried the King of the universe into Jerusalem that day. I want to be like that donkey. I want to be used by the King to bring glory to Himself, to further His Kingdom.  Just to be the donkey Jesus uses. That’s enough for me!

Prayer:

Father God I thank You for the veracity of the gospel message. Thank You that when I doubt there are great verses of Scripture that speak to the truthfulness of who You are. Help me to take great encouragement and strength from that. Also help me to be used by You — like that donkey was — to further Your Kingdom. I pray these things in the strong Name of Jesus, Amen.

dmbaldwin

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Zechariah 1-7

Scripture:

10 “Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the LORD. 11 “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.

Zechariah 2:10-11, NIV

8 ” ‘Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes [d] on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

Zechariah 3:8-9, NIV

Observation:

Much like the book of Revelation, Zechariah is filled with symbolic prophesy. I am always curious of all of the symbolism  used in the Bible and I must admit I am puzzled by two recurring numbers in these particular chapters and I am asking for insight on what these mean from the readers of this blog. I am giving what I think may be what this symbolism means, but I am by no means a Bible scholar. I am just offering my lay person’s perspective. The two recurring numbers are 4 and 7. Four, or some multiple of, is used 7 times:

  • On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month (Zechariah 1:7)
  • Then I looked up—and there before me were four horns! (Zechariah 1:18)
  • Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen.  (Zechariah 1:20)
  • “for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,” declares the LORD. (Zechariah 2:6)
  • I looked up again—and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains (Zechariah 6:1)
  • The angel answered me, “These are the four spirits [k] of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. (Zechariah 6:5)
  • In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. (Zechariah 7:1)

The word seven, or a multiple of,  is used in the following:

  • Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years? (Zechariah 1:12)
  • See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes [d] on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ (Zechariah 3:9)
  • I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. (Zechariah 4:2)
  • These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth. (Zechariah 4:10)
  • ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? (Zechariah 7:5)

I never think that it is an accident why certain symbols and numbers of these symbols are chosen. I also certainly believe that the two scriptures in the “Scripture” section of this post are Messianic predictions of the coming of Jesus. I can only think that the “seven” can represent the 7 continents and 4 can represent the 4 directions (North, South, East, and West – these are even used in the symbolism, with the North having a special significance). My thought is that all of this symbolism is to remind us that Jesus and his Father, God ,are omnipotent and omnipresent – everywhere at all times; on all seven continents, covering all four directions or bearings.

Application:

How quickly we forget how big God really is. he has created everything, knows everything, and is everywhere. This is such a hard thing to fathom. I cannot seem to wrap my meager little mind around it, but it is true. It seems easy to take for granted when we get busy, but one of the very first things we should do in prayer is acknowledge just how big God is and thank Him for being that way and giving justice and balance to this world. He also gives us a reason to live, and eternal hope through his Son. I thank Him for bold predictions like these that I can use in an apologetic way, to help people understand how many prophecies came true about Jesus and how these prophesies were predicted hundreds to thousands of years before he got to Earth.  These can help us “defend our faith” as these predictions and Jesus’ coming were no accident and no conspiracy. They were predicted by God’s chosen people. We need to thank him for every word chosen in His book, even though we don’t  always understand all of the symbolism and may not fully understand all of it this side of heaven. It is just amazing to me just how big God is – on all seven continents, all four bearings; everywhere, all the time, and all knowing. Whew!!

Prayer:

Lord God, please forgive me for forgetting how big you are. Every battle I face in this life, you know about already. You have chosen every path that I will take. You have chosen my destiny, just as you do for everyone. You chose every word that is used in your book to teach us more about you. Thank you for all of it. Thank you for the conduit to you that you have given to us in Jesus Christ. Thank you for just being so….well…BIG!! Lord, I love you, and may I never take you for granted. Amen

 

Jtgavigan

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Zephaniah 1 – Haggai 2

Scripture

“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands.  Seek righteousness, seek humility;  perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.” Zephaniah 2:3 (NIV)

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you;  they are a burden and a reproach to you.  At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you;  I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered.  I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame.  At that time I will gather you;  at that time I will bring you home.  I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes.”  Zephaniah 3:17-20 (NIV)

Observation

Zephaniah’s prophecy begins with words of of certain judgment filled with horrible consequences and punishments for the sins of the people of Judah.  His words are frightening as Zephaniah speaks of God sweeping away everything in the land and completely destroying it.  It seemed that there was no hope at all.  This terrible day was coming soon and it will be a day of darkness and gloom.  His listeners most certainly felt fear, depression, and doom.

In the middle of these words of destruction there was a whispered promise of encouragement and incredible hope.    All the humble in the land, all those who do as He commands should continue to seek the Lord, despite the pending doom approaching.  They are to seek righteousness, humility and perhaps they will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

In the finale is a crescendo of hope for all of the people who are faithful to Him.  The message is clear to the faithful.  Even though there will be difficulties now at this present moment, there will come a time of rejoicing!  God’s amazing message of hope includes words of love and singing!  He will judge those who have mistreated his people and he will purify his own, removing sin and evil forever.  He will gather the people home and bring restoration, forgiveness, incredible grace and they will live with Him forever.

Application

These words of Zephaniah are such an encouragement to me and they contain reminders that I desperately need to hear.

There is so much difficulty and trials in life that tempt me to just throw in the towel and just give up.  I am watching people I love and care about lose their jobs and their homes.  I see families of loved ones and friends breaking apart in ugly divorce.  I turn on the news and hear about how doomed we are with a crumbling economy and the threat of war and terrorism right outside my home.  I worry about my children, my home, my future.  The list is endless and the world tempts me to just throw in the towel and drown in hopelessness and despair because it seems so overwhelming at times.   I often hold on to just a slight glimmer of hope that gives me the strength and the courage to persevere and press on.

Thankfully, God has given His Word to me.  It is in passages such as this that I am reminded that God has a purpose for absolutely everything, even the things that bring discouragement, depression, hopelessness and despair.  God’s words spoken through the prophet Zephaniah, take me on a life journey, through the terrible darkness of judgment, sin and suffering into a beautiful new day of hope, restoration and magnificent light.  He does this because of His incredible, matchless and unfailing love that He has for me.

My eyes are soaked with tears of abounding joy as I type these words.  My God has paid the awful penalty of my sin by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to take my place.  He did this for me!!  He loves me and now, because of what He has done, I have a hope and I can rest in His love.  He allows me to see this love clearly manifested in the pages of His Word, as I hear Him say to me that despite my sin, He is with me and His is mighty to save.  He is taking delight in me and quieting me with His love and rejoicing over me with singing, not because of what I have done, but because of what He has done.  His love is real!  It is so completely perfect and I am left with no other response than to humbly and graciously thank Him and ascribe praise and adoration to my King and Savior.  How awesome He is!

Prayer

O God, I am overwhelmed by how awesome you are!  You are so merciful and so completely holy and good.  Your covenant of love is so amazing and timeless!  You have loved me long before I was even born into this world and your love stretches ahead into eternity!  How great and wonderful and truly amazing you are!

Forgive me, Lord, for those times of darkness in my life.  Forgive me for those times when I fail to set my mind and my heart on eternity with you.  Thank you for your reminder that I read in your words given to me through your prophet Zephaniah.  I will cling to that day with all of my heart, that glorious day of incredible rejoicing when you gather your people (and me) home to be with you forever.    That day is coming when I will become like you for I will see you as you are!  You will bring me to yourself and it will be a glorious day!  I do not even know how I will be able to contain such incredible joy in my heart but you will do it!

Until then Lord, I will continue to dwell in this land, even though it is so painful to be in sometimes.  I will trust in you, Lord, that one day, I know that I will thank you for every trial and every heartache and every burden that you have had me face in this life, for I know and I trust that you are fabricating and orchestrating all things for your glory, which ultimately is for my own good.  You are in control of everything and you have woven this heart and this life into a beautiful masterpiece that is all for you.  I need to pray, because I am human and my heart tends to wander, so I pray that you always remind me, no matter how difficult life gets, that I have a hope in you.

I love you and praise you with everything I am.  Take this existence and use me for your glory, Lord!  I am yours!

John (johnd7264)

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Nahum 1 – Habakkuk 3

Scripture

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord,  I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17 – 19 NIV

Observation

Habakkuk comes to the realization that even though everything that is supposed to be normal is not, he still needs to rejoice in the Lord.  The Lord is sovereign and enables him to do great things.

Application

Even if…

It is so easy to praise the Lord when everything is going great in my life. But when I’m having one of those days when things aren’t so great, when I’m struggling with the kids and their schooling, when I have a headache that just won’t go away, etc., rejoicing in the Lord, is sadly not my priority. Instead I usually have a little pity party about how terrible things are and am grumpy with my family. And this is just small stuff I’m sweating.

I recently finished a book by my favorite Christian author, Karen Kingsbury, where a character, in a very down part of life,  realizes while listening to the song “Blessed Be Your Name” that it’s during the desert and wilderness parts of her life that she most needs to stay close to Jesus and bless His name.

So even while living in this sin-filled world where circumstances can change from one second to the next, I am called to rejoice in the Lord…not in my circumstances, but in God my Savior. My emotions may go up and down, but God is consistently unchanging and in that I can be joyful. He is sovereign, He is my strength, He enables me to go on! What an awesome God!

So how do I go from lofty ideas on a blog, so the nitty gritty of my life? First and foremost I need to daily ingest truth from God’s word. When I have His words of truth in my heart and mind, I am better equipped to handle what comes my way. The second thing I’ve been trying to do while homeschooling the kids is to start our school day with Bible lessons, songs & prayer, to set the tone, and to have Christian music quietly playing while we do our work.  It is much easier to rejoice in the Lord, when I hear positive messages from Christian artists in the background.

So even if…. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (vs. 18)

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

I just pray that even amongst the “noise” of this world, You would make Your presence known in a bold way in my life and the life of my family. Please help me to focus on Your awesomeness and to rejoice in You, no matter what.  You are always worthy of my praise, despite my daily changing circumstances! Thank you for being my strength and enabling me to go to those places that are sometimes high and scary, while you walk along with me and hold my hand.

Amen

Beckie (look2thehills)

 

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Micah 1-7

Scripture

But when all is said and done, God’s temple on the mountain, firmly fixed, will dominate all mountains, towering above surrounding hills. People will stream to it and many nations set out for it, saying, “Come, let’s climb God’s mountain. Let’s go to the Temple of Jacob’s God. He will teach us how to live. We’ll know how to live God’s way.” True teaching will issue from Zion, God’s revelation from Jerusalem. He’ll establish justice in the rabble of nations and settle disputes in faraway places. They’ll trade in their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes. Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning how to kill one another. Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so, and he means what he says. Micah 4:1-4 (The Message)

Observation

Micah speaks of all sorts of destruction and condemnation. This book paints a painful picture. I found myself tearing up often–on reading of the enemy covered with shame, trampled underfoot (Micah 7:10 NIV), of people who pick and choose their god, living however they wish (Micah 4:5 The Message)–missing out on the richest treasure they could ever know. This seems so timeless.

And yet woven throughout is incredible hope. God’s great love and mercy. His future plan. Promises–the ones he’s kept and the ones he’ll keep. God-of-the-angel-armies says so. And he means what he says.

Application

Micah has helped clarify God’s image for me. This deeper understanding of him draws me closer, eager to hear more. It calls me back to read and reread. Because I know there’s more here for me to learn.

Prayer

Father, relief–pure relief and hope and awe at you and who you are and what you’ve done and what you can do. It brings me joy and deep peace. I love you so dearly. Thank you.

Courtney

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Jonah

Scripture

“I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.

I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”

Jonah 2:6; 4:2b

Observation

Most of the books written by the prophets are about their visions, their audience, their message, the outcome. But Jonah is mostly about him, about Jonah.

Only about 6 verses are really about his message and the result (Jonah 3:5-10). The rest of the book deals with Jonah’s defiance, running away, repentance, prayers about himself, reassessing life from the belly of a fish, griping that the people actually listened to him, and throwing a pity party.

Made me think . . .

Application

How often does ministry minister more to those involved in leading it than those it is directed toward? I need to be and stay involved, God’s talking to ME!

God works in ways we never expect.

God’s not finished with me, and I hope I can learn the lessons He has without needing to swim in digestive juices to listen and obey.

I need to trust God with the outcomes — good or bad.

God sometimes needs to drag me down for me to be ready to listen. (Reminds me of Amos 3:6 from earlier this week — if there’s a calamity, didn’t God cause it? If we weren’t so desperately stubborn and deaf, He might not have to shout so loud).

Prayer

Lord, Forgive me for my selfishness that keeps me from sharing You. Help me listen more readily, and share more freely. I want to always run toward You. ~Amen

Erin (5intow)

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