Sunday, December 31, 2017

December 31: Malachi 3 – 4; Psalm 150; Proverbs 31:25-31; Revelation 22



Overview

            Malachi: The Lord will send a messenger to prepare the way before him before he comes suddenly to the temple. When he comes, who will be able to endure because the Lord will purify the Levites like a refiner’s fire. Then they will bring righteous offerings pleasing to the Lord.
            The Lord will then bring judgment against all the evildoers, oppressors, and foreigners. These are those who don’t fear the Lord.
            The Lord doesn’t change; he hasn’t changed his laws from when their fathers went astray or wiped them out because of it. They must return and stop robbing the Lord by failing to tithe and make contributions. They are cursed because of their failure. If they stop robbing the Lord, he will remove the curse and bless them with all they need. The land will be a delight for them.
            They have also spoken against the Lord by saying that serving him is useless. They do it by calling proud people blessed and believing evildoers test God but are not judged.
            Those who feared the Lord listened and their names were recorded in a book. The Lord said they would belong to him when he collects his treasures. Then they will see the difference between the righteous who serve him and the wicked who don’t serve him.
            That day will be like a burning oven when the proud and evildoers will be burned up like stubble. Nothing will be left of them. Those who fear the Lord will be saved by the Sun of Righteousness. They will have joy like calves set free from a stall. They will trample the wicked when the Lord acts against them.
            They are to remember the Law of Moses. The Lord will send Elijah ahead of that day to restore father-son relationships or he will destroy the land.
            Psalm: We are to praise the Lord. We praise him in every place because he is there. We praise him because of all he has done because he does it excellently. We are to praise him with all sorts of musical instruments. All creatures with breath are to praise him.
            Proverbs: An excellent wife has strength and dignity expressed in the way she dresses and has no fear of the future. She has wisdom and teaches kindness. She isn’t lazy. Her children and husband bless her with praises. Many women are like this, but this one wife is better than them all. She doesn’t get praise because of her charm, which can be deceitful or because of her beauty but because she fears the Lord. Her deeds will bring her praise by everyone.
            Revelation: The angel showed John a river filled with the water of life. It flowed from the throne of God and the Lamb and through the city. The tree of life was on both sides of the river bearing a different fruit each month. The leaves heal the nations. There will no longer be accused things in the city but God, the Lamb, and his worshiping servants. They will see him face to face and there will be no more night for the Lord will be their light and will reign forever more.
            The angel told John that all the words of the book are trustworthy and true because the Lord, who is the one who directs the spirit of prophets sent him to tell John what will happen soon.
            Jesus says he is coming soon. The ones who keep the words of this prophecy are blessed.
            John verifies that he saw and heard all this. He fell down to worship the angel, but the angel stopped him. He explained he is a fellow servant along with the prophet and everyone who keeps the words of the book. He is to worship God. He also told John not to seal up the prophecy because the time is near. The ones who do evil will continue to do so and those who are righteous will do right and be holy.
            Jesus says he is coming soon and will bring his rewards or punishment with him to repay people for what they have done. He is the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and end.
            Everyone who washes their robes will have a right to the tree of life and enter the city. Outside are people who do evil.
            Jesus affirms he sent his angel to tell these things to the churches. He is the descendent of David and the bright morning star.
            The Sprit and the Bride says, “Come,” to all who are thirsty so they can drink without price.
            We are warned not to add or subtract words from the prophecy or we’ll receive the plagues for adding or will lose our share in the tree of life for subtracting.
            Jesus testifies to this and says he is really coming soon. So, come Lord Jesus. Grace of the Lord Jesus to all.

What Stood Out

            Malachi: “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal 3:1).
            Psalm: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord” (Ps 150:6)!
            Proverbs: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov 31:30).
            Revelation: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done” (Rev 22:1).

Insight

            Malachi: When I read about the messenger that the Lord will send, I’m impressed with the fulfillment of the prophecy by John the Baptist. He was faithful in declaring that the Messiah was coming and that he would fulfill the prophecy of refining his people with fire. But I’m also impressed that in the middle of the prophecy is another about Jesus. It says that the people will be looking for the Messiah and he will appear suddenly in the temple.
            Jesus appeared in the temple when he was eight days old to fulfill the law. At that time, two people who were waiting for him recognized him. Simeon and Anna, an old man and an old woman (Luke 2:24, 38). He appeared again when he was twelve and amazed the teachers (Luke 2:47). Of course, he was in the temple many other times after that when he taught but still most people didn’t recognize him.
            The ending of Malachi started a 400-year wait for the Messiah. By the time Jesus arrived, the country was full of expectation. Still, these prophecies that would tell of judgment and others that would tell of the Messiah reigning over all the earth blinded the eyes of those were seeking the Messiah, because they were not looking for him so they could become righteous, but so they could become strong.
            I wonder how much we miss out on living victoriously over sin because we are looking for Jesus’ return to rule the world and not seeing him suddenly in the temple of our hearts. We want Jesus to fix everything broken in the world but don’t let him fix what is broken in our own lives. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see Jesus come back and rule. But, he doesn’t want us robbing God or speaking against him while we wait. We must remember that he also told us in various places in the Bible to wait for him and continue doing his will when he arrives.
            Psalm: When we think of God creating the might heavens and all his deeds, it should make us praise the Lord. We can’t fathom all his deeds or the greatness of his creation. He is way beyond anything we can imagine and worthy of all praise. Everything with breath, and that would include animals, are to praise the Lord. That is an interesting way to end the book of Psalms. It would be easy to imagine a day when the earth is restored to even better than the Garden of Eden and the animals would be able to speak and praise the Lord. It would be like the imaginary but allegorical depiction of God’s kingdom by C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia. Wouldn’t that be cool?
            Proverbs: The world tells us one thing and the Bible tells us another. The world tells us that a refined and charming person is to be praised and honored. But the Bible tells us that some charm is deceitful. The charming person will tell you what you want to hear so that you will think he or she is wise. But that is not honest and is just a form of flattery. Real charm comes from a fear of the Lord and that person will speak the truth in love.
            The world will tell you that you will be praised because of your outward beauty, and that is certainly true. But most people who are doing that are expressing their lusts rather than honest praise. And beauty doesn’t last. But a person who fears the Lord will not fall into that trap.
            The world will also tell you that to be an excellent wife, you have to do everything that this woman did and more. Don’t fall for that either because nobody’s perfect except Jesus. Besides, “Many women have done excellently” (Prov 31:29).
            Revelation: One thing should be abundantly clear in all the prophecies in the book of Revelation. Jesus is coming back! When he does, he will bring with him his rewards or punishment for everyone. The rewards are eternal life – the right to the Tree of Life and the river of Living Water. The punishment is just as sure. It is eternal torment in the lake of fire that is outside the New Jerusalem where the Lord and the Lamb will be on the throne.
            The only thing that isn’t clear is what “soon” means. However, we know that the Lord will let people continue to be evil until he comes (Rev 22:11), but that is not what he wants us to do. He wants us to continue to be righteous. He doesn’t want us to give up waiting and being good. That message came to Israel, to the Apostles, and it comes to every one of us who knows the Lord. Until “soon” happens, lets do what Jesus commanded when he left. Let’s make more and better disciples (Matt 28:19-20). That means we better work on being better disciples ourselves.

Application

             I want to be ready when Jesus comes back. I don’t want to be one that shrinks back because I’ve been lazy or disobedient. I want to be one of those who the Lord will count and collect as a treasure when he comes back (Mal 3:17).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

December 30: Malachi 1 – 2; Psalm 149; Proverbs 31:10-24; Revelation 21



Overview

            Malachi: The Lord tells Israel he loves them even though they don’t think so. He explains that he loved Jacob but hated Esau. He has destroyed their country and if they rebuild he will tear it down again. They are wicked and his anger is against them forever. It shows he is God even beyond Israel.
            He rebukes them for not honoring him as their father or master. They think they have honored him, but they don’t because they offer sacrifices of blind and blemished animals. They wouldn’t even try to offer those animals to their governor. The Lord will not show them favor as they do these things.
            The Lord will be great from east to west among the nations, but they profane it by offering blemished animals and bad fruit. They don’t even want to eat it. Anyone who has promised a good animal and substitutes a bad is a cheat and will be cursed. The Lord is a great King and his name will be feared among the nations.
            The priests need to listen to this and obey. The curse will be on them if they don’t. The Lord will smear the dung of the offerings on them, then they and their children will be taken away. This will be to confirm that his covenant with Levi still stands. The covenant was for life and peace. The priests of old feared the Lord with awe. They taught correctly and walked with the Lord in peace. This is what a priest should do. But these priests have taught stumbling and corruption, therefore, the Lord will despise them among the people.
            We all have one Father and God created us, so why don’t we live correctly with each other instead of disobeying our fathers? They have been faithless and committed abominations in Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. They profane the temple, marry foreigners who worship other gods. May the Lord kill all who do this.
            They also weep over their offerings because the Lord doesn’t answer their prayers in the way they want. He doesn’t because they have divorced their wives and been unfaithful to them. The Lord made them one with each other giving them his Spirit in their union. He did this so they would have godly offspring. The Lord hates divorce and the one who covers it up. They need to listen and not do this anymore.
            The Lord is also tired of hearing them reassure each other that they are OK in the Lord’s sight when they aren’t. He is also tired of hearing them say the Lord will not punish or ask why he hasn’t punished.
            Psalm: We are to praise the Lord and do it with new songs, musical instruments, dancing, in the assembly and even on our beds. These are ways of rejoicing in our Maker. When going to war to execute vengeance for the Lord, this is also a time to praise the Lord.
            Proverbs: An excellent wife is described as better than jewels. Her husband trusts her impeccably She is able to work better than Wonder Woman. She can do everything from managing a household to making clothes and other items for her family and having some to sell. She conducts business and prospers in it. People respect her husband because of her. She never sleeps as she gets up before dawn and stays up all night.
            Revelation: John saw a new heaven and a new earth. It didn’t have a sea. The New Jerusalem came down from heaven. It is where God lives with man as they are his people. God will be with them very personally as he will wipe away tears from their eyes. There won’t be any more death, mourning, crying, or pain. All that is gone.
            From the throne, he announced that it is done. He is the beginning and the end (Alpha and Omega). Those who thirst will have water of life without cost. Everyone who overcomes will inherit this and be God’s son. All sorts of evildoers will inherit the lake of fire, the second death.
            One of the seven angels with the seven bowls showed John the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. From a great mountain, he saw the New Jerusalem come down from God. It radiated with God’s glory. It had 12 gates in a very high wall that was over 200 feet thick. At each gate was an angel. The 12 tribes of Israel were written on the gates and the foundation of the wall had the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.
            The city was like a cube, 1,300 miles in each direction. It was made of gold and jewels and each foundation of the wall was a different jewel. God and the Lamb are the temple in the city. It doesn’t need sun or moon since the glory of God and the Lamb light it. The nations will walk by that light and the kings will bring their glory and honor into it. The gates will never be shut since there will never be night in the city. No sinfulness will ever enter it but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

What Stood Out

            Malachi: “You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, ‘How have we wearied Him?’ By saying, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them.’ Or by asking, ‘Where is the God of justice?’” (Mal 2:8).
            Psalm: “Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands” (Ps 149:6).
            Proverbs: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels” (Prov 31:10).
            Revelation: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4).

Insight

            Malachi: The book was written about 100 years after the return of the exiles from Babylon. The temple has been rebuilt and the people’s enthusiasm for God has diminished (
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1986). Isn’t it just like Israel’s past to go from spiritual highs to lows within a generation or two. We can’t point fingers because we do the same thing. In fact we do the same thing within our own lifetime.
            The book of Malachi is something we should all consider as a way of testing our own spiritual temperature. They began questioning whether or not God cared for them, were they really the promised people. We can enter periods when we wonder if God cares for us. We may have doubts about eternity or our salvation. If we do, then we should examine the Word of God to find out what God has said and what he has done. He pointed the people to the nation of Esau’s descendants whom he had not chosen. We can look around and see that there are many people that God hasn’t chosen. We weren’t any different from them, but he chose us and saved us. It doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t be saved, it is just that at this point they aren’t – we should work diligently to bring the message of Jesus to them. Doing so will strengthen our faith and help us realize we are chosen and secure in Jesus.
            We should also look at our worship. What is our attitude when we go to church or some other worship event to give honor to the Lord? Do we go there wanting to praise and give honor to the Lord? Or do we do as the people of Israel did and snort at it, complaining that the lighting wasn’t right, the air conditioning was too hot or cold. It was too crowded, or we couldn’t find a parking place close enough. The lead singer was off key. There wasn’t a choir. They didn’t have any good old-fashioned hymns. They played music during the public prayer. The man or woman in front of us didn’t dress properly. I know you have griped about one or more of these because I’ve done it all at one time or another whether it was during worship, before, or sometime after.
            Any grumbling or complaining instead of thanksgiving is nothing more than showing contempt for worship. When we show contempt for worship, we are not honoring our Lord.
            Then there is the issue of divorce. While we recognize the sinfulness of it, there are too many people who don’t honor the Lord by working on their own sinful attitudes that lead to divorce and just think the Lord will excuse them. If their church tries to exercise church discipline, they simply get the divorce and join another church. In essence, they are saying evil is good or God doesn’t see or will punish. We may not be looking for a divorce, but we may not be holding the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman up either.
            Psalm:  There are many ways to praise the Lord and we shouldn’t get all excited about one to the exclusion of others or condemn one method over the other. Even going to war is a time to praise the Lord when it a God-honoring war. Not all wars are God-honoring and it is harder to determine now than when the Lord worked directly with Israel. When we see the atrocities like the Holocaust and war in Rwanda, where people are being wiped out because of their authenticity and religion, we can be fairly certain that is a justifiable and even God-honoring war when we try to stop it. Others are not so easy to identify. We need to be careful not to think that if we praise the Lord, it justifies whatever we do.
            Proverbs: Tomorrow is Terri and my 24th wedding anniversary. I can safely say that I have found an excellent wife and that she is more precious than jewels. My heart trust her and we have a wonderful marriage, she is a blessing to me. All the time we have been married, she has done me good and never every sought to do me harm. I am well-known at church because of her, in fact many people have called me Terri.
            She is also precious not because she does all these miraculous things in this proverb – though she does get up while it is still night and is generous to the poor – she is precious because she loves the Lord. She fulfils the promise of Psalm 34:5, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
            Thank you, Lord, for Terri. Thank you, Terri, for loving Jesus and me.
            Revelation: There is so much good in this chapter that it is hard to decide which is the best. However, being with God forever without all the sin and the pain that it has caused since the fall in the Garden of Eden will be something that we should all anticipate with great joy. It should excite our hearts to the point that we will be able to endure the problems of the world until it becomes a reality. If we know Jesus, it will happen and we will be there. If our names are in the Lamb’s book of life, we will be there and God will personally wipe any tears from our eyes. His presence will be so overwhelming that we will never thirst for anything else.
            Still, there are warnings in this chapter for those who haven’t submitted to Jesus in repentance of sin and have become obedient. They are the ones who are still living sinful lives and rejecting Jesus. If they are reading this, they know they will be excluded from eternity in the most glorious city that will ever exist. They will not be a son of God. They will inherit a lake of fire that burns forever. If they are alive today, they still have a chance of seeing their names in the Lamb’s book of life.
            Some people think it will be boring to be in heaven. They think that because they are used to stories with a hero and a villain. There won’t be any villains in the new heaven and earth. So what are the challenges, the things that people seem to need to thrive? They miss the fact that in this new universe, people come in and go out of New Jerusalem. There are still nations and kings but all they do brings glory and honor into the city and this apparently is all part of the worship of our God and the Lamb. It is something to think about.

Application

            I want my worship of the Lord to be from a pure heart and mind, not one based on my ideas of what it should be but on glorifying and honoring the Lord. I am looking forward to the new heaven and earth where I’ll be able to do that forever.