Day 332-334 Bible Reading Plan – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Do you hear what I hear?

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do you hear what I hear? Jesus is speaking to the churches today to wake up. He who has an ear, let him hear. There is a difference between hearing and listening though. Isn’t there?

Bible Reading: Rev 1-5, Psalms 136-138, Eccl 11-12

Today’s reading is covering some serious ground that I cannot give adequate justice to, but I want to hit on a few things that stood out. We are reading from the book of Revelation, as well as from Psalms and Ecclesiastes, the reading over the weekend.

The book of Revelation is apocalyptic (meaning containing visions and symbolism) as well as prophetic literature, a letter written by the apostle John, as inspired by Jesus Christ.

According to my study bible, “Revelation provides a virtually complete tour of systematic theology categories. There is much about Christ, mankind and sin, the people of God (both the church and Israel), holy angels, and Satan and the demons.”

Do You Hear What I Hear?—Blessed to Listen

Revelation begins with a blessing for those who read the word aloud and those who hear this book.

Revelation 1:1-3

“The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near.”

The one who reads aloud, hears and keeps the words of this prophecy will be blessed. Why? Because the time is near. Friends, we need to stay awake and not get lulled into complacency or apathy by the surrounding culture.

Do You Hear What I Hear?—Listen and Hear

The church needs to wake up and not fight social issues. It needs to hold the word of God out for others to see lived out and to hear.

Revelation 2:7

“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

This phrase, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” is repeated seven times in today’s reading.

And what is the Spirit saying to the churches? Here are a few highlights:

  • To the 7 churches, there were encouragements and reminders to:
  • Remember their first love – Jesus
  • Do the works they did at first.
  • Be prepared to suffer.
  • Don’t be immoral or follow immoral influences
  • Repent
  • Don’t tolerate immorality

Do You Hear What I Hear?—Accountable to God

Revelation 2:23(b)

“Then all the churches will know that I am the one who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.”

Revelation 2:26

“The one who conquers and who keeps my works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations.”

The reading in Revelation ends with the reality that we have One Who is worthy to read the scroll, the One who laid down His life for us all.

Do You Hear What I Hear?—The Worthy One

Revelation 5:1-14

“Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides, sealed with seven seals. 2 I also saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even to look in it.

4 I wept and wept because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or even to look in it. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6 Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll out of the right hand of the one seated on the throne.

Do You Hear What I Hear?—Worthy is the Lamb

8 When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and golden bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll

and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people

for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.10 You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. 12 They said with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

13 I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say, Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! 14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

Do You Hear What I Hear?—Give Thanks

Psalm 136 is so fitting for the holiday we just celebrated.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever. He alone does great wonders. His faithful love endures forever.”

We cannot thank Him enough, friends! He is worthy!

Psalm 138

“I will give you thanks with all my heart; I will sing your praise before the heavenly beings.

2 I will bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your constant love and truth. You have exalted your name and your promise above everything else. 3 On the day I called, you answered me; you increased strength within me. 4 All the kings on earth will give you thanks, Lord, when they hear what you have promised. 5 They will sing of the Lord’s ways, for the Lord’s glory is great. 6 Though the Lord is exalted, he takes note of the humble; but he knows the haughty from a distance. 7 If I walk into the thick of danger,

you will preserve my life from the anger of my enemies. You will extend your hand; your right hand will save me. 8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. Lord, your faithful love endures forever; do not abandon the work of your hands.”

Solomon ends our reading well today. After struggling with the seeming futility of life, Solomon finally realized the purpose of life. Fear and know God. Live for One.

Scripture of the Day: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

“13 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.”

Application

  • We are accountable and we have one who bore our sins not so we would continue in sin.
  • Let’s stop resisting God. May we fear Him and make Him known.
  • Let’s be hearers and doers of God’s word.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #332-334: Rev. 1-5, Psalms 136-138, Eccl. 11-12

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

“When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.”

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Day 330-331 Bible Reading Plan – “Giving Thanks to God at All Times”

Giving thanks to God at all times

Giving Thanks to God at All Times

Knowing God is not a religion. It is not a list of do’s and don’ts. It is a relationship. Living in a covenant relationship with our Maker will require us to live differently. It means we acknowledge Him in all of our life, giving thanks to God for His forgiveness and acceptance of us, as well as for all His provision and protection.

Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 25-26 and Nehemiah 4-6

Today’s reading is from Deuteronomy and Nehemiah, so you can enjoy time with family tomorrow on Thanksgiving.

The reading from Deuteronomy sets boundaries for fairness and mercy as man related to one another in a fallen world and in a covenant relationship with God.

Giving Thanks to God at All Times—The Covenant Relationship

Sin is ugly. It has to be dealt with. It separates us from God. And when people violate God’s covenant, they will be held accountable.

Still, some of the laws and consequences seem pretty extreme, like the one about a woman intervening between two fighting men in Deuteronomy 25. I researched these verses and have links you can review on the blog post for today’s reading.

Sometimes when we look at laws set for another time period we can struggle to understand the application to us. The laws can seem harsh when we don’t understand the culture or the behavior.

But one thing remains the same for God’s people back then and today. Remembering what God did for us and giving thanks. He redeemed and rescued us. How then, should we live? How then should we respond to God?

Living out our covenant relationship with God has requirements. God’s people should live in accordance with what God has revealed in His word. God’s people should give their firstfruits to God, the One Who gave everything to them. And God wants His people to give thanks and enjoy what He has given them.

Scripture of the Day: Deuteronomy 26:11

“You, the Levites, and the resident aliens among you will rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given you and your household.”

God wants us to give thanks and rejoice in the good things and in the good God who gives it all. This is fitting as we celebrate Thanksgiving, but should also be our posture all year long.

This position of acknowledging and thanking God keeps our hearts humble. We need to remember that everything we have is from God so we don’t become prideful and think we achieved anything on our own.

Giving Thanks to God at All Times—God Blesses Obedience

As we live in a covenant relationship with God, we obey His precepts and He blesses us.

Deuteronomy 26:16-19

“The Lord your God is commanding you this day to follow these statutes and ordinances. Follow them carefully with all your heart and all your soul. 17 Today you have affirmed that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways, keep his statutes, commands, and ordinances, and obey him.

18 And today the Lord has affirmed that you are his own possession as he promised you, that you are to keep all his commands, 19 that he will elevate you to praise, fame, and glory above all the nations he has made, and that you will be a holy people to the Lord your God as he promised.”

Friends, as we live in a covenant relationship with God, we will fear Him and walk in His ways. And our God will fight for us and defend us.

Giving Thanks to God at All Times—Especially the Hard Times

The question is, can we give thanks to God even when it seems like the chips are down?

Reading from the book of Nehemiah, God’s people were experiencing a lot of resistance. Nehemiah reminded them that they are supposed to fear God, not man. Nehemiah was lied to and threatened, but it was His relationship with God that saved and protected Him.

When people are against us, it is through the lens of Scripture and the fear of God that we should respond. To vicious rumors, Nehemiah spoke boldly.

Nehemiah 6:8

“8 Then I replied to him, “There is nothing to these rumors you are spreading; you are inventing them in your own mind.”

Giving Thanks to God at All Times—When Threatened

To threats, Nehemiah listened to God and not the threats.

Nehemiah 6:10

“I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was restricted to his house. He said: ‘Let’s meet at the house of God, inside the temple. Let’s shut the temple doors because they’re coming to kill you. They’re coming to kill you tonight!’ 11 But I said, “Should a man like me run away? How can someone like me enter the temple and live? I will not go.” 12 I realized that God had not sent him, because of the prophecy he spoke against me. Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 He was hired, so that I would be intimidated, do as he suggested, sin, and get a bad reputation, in order that they could discredit me.

14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat for what they have done, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the other prophets who wanted to intimidate me. 15 The wall was completed in fifty-two days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. 16 When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.”

The wall was finished in record time! And God fought for them.

Friends, take inventory in your life right now about the victories God has won on your behalf. Let’s give thanks to Jesus for saving us, for being for us and protecting us. Let’s give thanks during good and hard times. Our covenant-keeping God is with us and for us!

Application

  • When we are faced with troubles, look to God for our rescue.
  • Let’s not take for granted all that God has done for us and give thanks daily.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #330-331: Deuteronomy 25-26 and Nehemiah 4-6

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Deuteronomy 26:11

“You, the Levites, and the resident aliens among you will rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given you and your household.”

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Day 329 Bible Reading Plan – “Growing Up is Hard to Do”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do

Growing Up is Hard to Do

With four of my adult children transitioning to adulthood, my heart aches for the hardness that accompanies growing up. There are so many pitfalls and demands and sometimes it seems like it is hard to catch a break. But God makes the rough places smooth and perhaps we would not grow so much if everything were easy.

Bible Reading: 2 Peter

Since we are reading a new book of the Bible today, let’s look at some background information about 2 Peter. According to gotquestions.org,

“The Book of 2 Peter was written toward the end of Peter’s life. Since Peter was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero, his death must have occurred prior to A.D. 68. He very likely wrote 2 Peter between A.D. 65 and 68.

Purpose of Writing: Peter was alarmed that false teachers were beginning to infiltrate the churches. He called on Christians to grow and become strong in their faith so that they could detect and combat the spreading apostasy. He strongly stressed the authenticity of the Word of God and the sure return of the Lord Jesus.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Growing in Hard Places

Peter wrote this book from a hard place himself, but he wrote from a perspective of strength. There is power available to us in this life. Power that enables us to grow in the grace of God. God did not save us and then leave us alone. He wants us to walk in relationship with Him and He has provided what we need to enable us to grow up and thrive – not just survive.

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—But God Provides

2 Peter 1:3

“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—It takes effort

Friends, God has given us everything we need, but it takes effort on our part. How are we supplementing our faith? What are you doing to grow in your relationship with God? If we don’t grow, we die. There is no neutral. Like we need food daily for our physical bodies, our spirit needs nurturing daily to grow.

2 Peter 1:9-10

“9 The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.”

Every effort. Not minimal effort. We will have to resist the flesh and do hard work to make it through this life. Don’t be intimidated by that. God is with us.

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Avoiding Pitfalls

This world has some troubles and some wicked people causing trouble. It will not be easy to always spot the pitfalls. Peter warns about exploitation from others. We need to be aware.

2 Peter 2:2-3

“2 Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. 3 They will exploit you in their greed with made-up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Avoiding Pollution

Then there are those who will try to pollute us. Violating consciences and trying to influence people to live for the flesh and this world. But God can rescue us from that, too.

2 Peter 2:9-10

“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Avoiding Deception

Peter warns of slanderers and adulterers and deceivers. There will be influences in this world that try to pull us away. Their freedom is actually enslavement.

“19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”

Growing Up Is Hard to Do—Make Every Effort

Ending where we began, make every effort to grow in Christ, friends.

2 Peter 3:14

“Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found without spot or blemish in his sight, at peace.”

“Don’t grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap a harvest” (Galatians 6:9).

Don’t allow the traps and pitfalls in this world to pull you down and destroy your faith. The day of the LORD is coming. Until that day, may we not shrink back and make every effort to be found faithful.

2 Peter 3:10-12

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. 11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness 12 as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat.”

Scripture of the Day: 2 Peter 1:3

“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Application

  • When life feels to hard, God wants us to grow in that place by His grace.
  • Knowing God is where it’s at. Every problem we encounter can be faced with God and His word counsels us.
  • Don’t neglect His word and counsel that provide solutions to our every need.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #329: 2 Peter

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: 2 Peter 1:3

“His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

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Day 328 Bible Reading Plan – “Having a Reasonable Faith”

Having a Reasonable Faith

Having A Reasonable Faith

Reaching the world around us is not so easy. There are worldviews and philosophies that get in the way, not to mention hard hearts and man’s reasoning. A reasonable faith might seem arbitrary and relevant to the ever-shifting world. It is as we reason from God’s word, not from the world’s everchanging viewpoints, that we have can be used to change lives. Having a reasonable faith that relies on God’s word might not seem reasonable to man’s intellect, but God knows what man’s soul truly needs.

Bible Reading: Acts 17-18

There have been many different varied attempts at reaching the world. The seeker-sensitive church, the hip churches with lattes, the multiple different ways of evangelizing, yet there is one method that rises above them all—simply reasoning from God’s word and not adding anything to it. Perhaps this sounds too simple because we can overcomplicate things. But Paul found this method to be tried and true.

Having A Reasonable Faith—Reasoning from God’s Word

Acts 17:2-4

“2 As usual, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.” 4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a large number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.”

Having A Reasonable Faith—Will Cause persecution.

Having a reasonable faith will lead to persecution from a world that worships human reasoning.

Acts 17:5-9

“But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus.” 8 The crowd and city officials who heard these things were upset. 9 After taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.”

Having A Reasonable Faith—From God’s Word

Reasoning from God’s word will be foreign to a world that does not have the Bible as its authority.

Acts 17:16-21

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed when he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with those who worshiped God, as well as in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also debated with him. Some said, “What is this ignorant show-off[c] trying to say?” Others replied, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities”—because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

19 They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you are presenting? 20 Because what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.”

Having A Reasonable Faith—God’s Word Penetrates the Soul

Nonetheless, it is the word of God that penetrates soul and spirit, not reasoning with mere human thoughts.

Hebrews 4:12-13

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”

Isaiah 55:11

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Having A Reasonable Faith—Relying on God’s Word

Paul relied on God’s word and we should, too. If we can convince people of something in their intellect they can be convinced the other way, as well. It is God’s word and God’s principles that are timeless and that change hearts.

Acts 18:4-5

“4 He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself to preaching the word[b] and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah.”

Scripture of the Day: Acts 17:26-27

“From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

Application

  • Reason from God’s word, not from your own intellect.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #328: Acts 17-18

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Acts 17:26-27

“From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

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Day 325-327 Bible Reading Plan – “Take it to Heart”

Take it to Heart

It has become popular to just give bare minimum. Word choices like “whatever”, and “it’ll do” keep mankind subscribing to a second best mentality. Our efforts are “enough”. But this is not the standard that God holds us to. And ultimately, it is faithlessness rather than the faithfulness God desires. God invites us today to “take it to heart” what He has asked of us—in every area of our lives.

Bible Reading: Malachi, Psalms 132-134, Eccl 9-10

Today we are covering the reading for today and this weekend. We are reading from Malachi, Psalms 132-134, and Eccl 9-10. Friday’s are going to be chock-full with Freebie Friday and the reading for the weekend so you all can read as your leisure over the weekend.

It is hard for generations to be faithful. One generation seeks to establish another, but both generations will have to deal with their own sins in order to be faithful to God. The generation Malachi addressed was 100 years after God’s people had returned from exile. Perhaps the lessons learned by the generations before had been lost again. Restoration needs to be maintained by faithfulness.

Each generation has to decide to take it to heart what God has said. To live it out or not.

Take it to Heart—Carry the Message

A little bit about Malachi from my study Bible. The book of Malachi was likely written between 500-400 B.C., around the time Nehemiah’s ministry ended and when the last part of the Old Testament was written.

The prophet Malachi’s name means “my messenger”. Some have wondered whether or not that was a title or his real name. For example, “my messenger” in Malachi 3:1 has the same Hebrew form as the name Malachi. The book of Malachi is clearly more on the message than the messenger.

We are called to carry the message, but how can we carry the message if we do not live it out?

Israel’s struggle with complacency and apathy (we talked about apathy a couple of days ago in our reading), prevents Israel from God’s blessings and precludes Israel from carrying God’s message forward.

God tells His people to “take it to heart” in several areas. We are called to be faithful in what God has told us to do. Period.

Malachi 2:1-2

“Therefore, this decree is for you priests: 2 If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor my name,” says the Lord of Armies, “I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.”

The covenant God made with His people should illicit a response of devotion. But God’s people bring God down to their own size and forget to take to heart His holiness and His expectations.

Malachi 2:5-9

5 “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Armies.

8 “You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of Armies. 9 “So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping my ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.”

God calls out areas where His people are not taking to heart His commands and way of life; let alone their relationship with a Holy God.

  • God called out their insincere worship and half-hearted devotion (Malachi 1:10-13). They were bring an offering to God of lame or sick or blind animals; bare minimum to God!
  • God called out their spiritual adultery (Malachi 2:10-11)
  • God called out their faithlessness in marriage.
  • God called out their faithlessness in parenting.

Malachi 2:14-15

“14 And you ask, “Why?” Because even though the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, you have acted treacherously against her. She was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant. 15 Didn’t God make them one and give them a portion of spirit? What is the one seeking? Godly offspring. So watch yourselves carefully, so that no one acts treacherously against the wife of his youth.”

  • God called our their faithlessness in their words and in their deeds.

Malachi 2:17

“17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied him?” When you say, “Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and he is delighted with them, or else where is the God of justice?”

Don’t we see this today? People in the church and in our surrounding culture will say things are permissible that God doesn’t. This is faithlessness. This is not taking to heart God’s word.

This phrase “Take it to heart” is defined by Merriam Webster as “to be deeply affected or hurt by something”.

  • God called out their disobedience to His commands and in tithing

Malachi 3:7-10

“7 “Since the days of your ancestors, you have turned from my statutes; you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Armies. Yet you ask, “How can we return?” 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!” “How do we rob you?” you ask. “By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. 9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing me. 10 Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.”

Listen, we all fall short and a rebuke is never fun, but we today need to take it to heart what those who have gone before us have done and what we are doing right now.

We can be blinded by our sin, but God’s word opens our eyes.

This world is such a distraction from us seriously walking with God. We are not deeply affected (which is what take it to heart means) by His word. We are creatures of comfort, often succumbing to bare minimum. This is the same behavior God called out in this generation of God’s people in Malachi. They were lukewarm and not recognizing how Holy God is. He requires our best, not our second best.

Looking at the Hebrew for the phrase “take it to heart”, the word “suwm” is the word for “take”, which is translated as “to set, to make, to transform into”. The word, “heart” or “leb (lave)” is translated as heart or soul of man, the seat of our emotions.

The Theological Workbook of the OT describes this word heart in this way: “The heart is the seat of the will. A decision may be described as “setting” the heart. The heart is the seat of moral responsibility. Righteousness is “integrity of heart” (Gen 20:5). Moral reformation is to “set one’s heart aright”. (Andrew Bowling, “1071 לָבַב,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 467).

Our culture says to follow our heart. God’s word says we are to direct it. Our hearts are deceitful. We must take to heart what God has commanded and not allow our flesh or heart or mind to pull us away from full devotion to God.

Malachi contrasted the faithfulness of the LORD with the faithlessness of Israel. Through God’s messenger, Malachi, God asked Israel to examine themselves

According to the Bible Project,

“Malachi accuses Israel of selfishness after the exile and announces that the Day of the Lord will purify Israel and prepare them for God’s Kingdom. One hundred years after the exile, the Israelites who had returned to Jerusalem were as evil and corrupt as their ancestors. The book of Malachi addresses their corruption while also stating that God will remain committed to his people and fulfill his promises . . . Malachi is designed as a series of disputes between God and the new generation of Israelites.”

Malachi tells the truth about our human condition—our sin and waywardness, but it also tells of a future hope for those who resist evil and follow God.

Take it to Heart—A Man After God’s Own Heart

Psalms 132-134

Contrast this message in Malachi with David in Psalm 132. What a heart for God – he was a man after God’s own heart!

Psalm 132:1-5

“1 Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured, 2 and how he swore an oath to the Lord, making a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: 3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed, 4 I will not allow my eyes to sleep or my eyelids to slumber 5 until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

When we take God’s word to heart, we live it out. We don’t make excuses, we own up to our mistakes because we recognize that we are accountable to God. He is alive. His word is true.

David invites us to enjoy the benefits of those who do take to heart God’s commands. There is harmony in Psalm 133, and a lifestyle of worship. When our lives are centered around Christ, we are centered.

Psalm 134:1-3

“Now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who stand in the Lord’s house at night! 2 Lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the Lord! 3 May the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.”

Take it to Heart—Everything is in God’s Hands

I love when God just lines up His word with a resounding message. When He placed on my heart to focus on the phrase, “take it to heart” in Malachi, I also felt led to do this weekend edition including the readings for the Psalms and Ecclesiastes, not knowing how they would line up. All I can say is “wow, God!” he wants us to take it to heart for sure, the messages we are reading today. Going from David’s son, a man after God’s own heart, to his son, Solomon, check out Ecclesiastes 9:1

“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands. People don’t know whether to expect love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. 2 Everything is the same for everyone: There is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so also it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who takes an oath, so also for the one who fears an oath.”

Solomon has been ranting over the futility of life for weeks now, and here he takes it to heart in another rant. Only I come to a different understanding. Life is futile and mundane without God. Just living for this life is not what we were made for. Everything is not the same for everyone. Those who take to heart what God has said and live their lives in obedience to Him are blessed beyond measure. But the answers to this life cannot be found in the creation. They are found in the Creator.

Solomon reminds us that no one knows his time. Even pursuing wisdom is not it. Pursuing folly isn’t either. But pursuing God is.

Friends,our hearts can grow lukewarm. Honestly, we need to be vigilant and watchful – by being in God’s word and being accountable to others who might recognize when our devotion begins to become lackluster. The words of Jesus through the disciple John in the book of Revelation, written to the church at Laodicea are a poignant reminder to us.

Revelation 3:14-20

14 “Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. 20 See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

God loves us when He corrects us and it is not for our condemnation. May we hear His voice and take it to heart what He has spoken, constantly seeking Him so we might live in a way that pleases Him.

Scripture of the Day: Text

Ecclesiastes 9:1a

“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.”

Application

  • Take it to heart what God has revealed and live it out!

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #325: Malachi, Psalms 132-134, Eccl 9-10

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Ecclesiastes 9:1a

“Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.”

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Day 324 Bible Reading Plan – “Rebuilding the Impossible”

Rebuilding the Impossible

Rebuilding the Impossible

Have you ever had a moment in your life when everything before your eyes was seemingly destroyed? Utter desolation. The grief is too much to bear and you struggle to comprehend it all, much less begin the effort of rebuilding. It is in such moments that everything we thought we knew is reevaluated through a new lens of great suffering. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we fix our eyes on God, His Word, and promises. God makes a way where there seems to be no way. 

Bible Reading: Nehemiah 1-3

Nehemiah was in such a place. The people of God returned to a home that was completely destroyed after a 70-year exile.

We are in a new book of the Bible today, the book of Nehemiah. What a book it is!

From Gotquestions.org:

Author: The Book of Nehemiah does not specifically name its author, but both Jewish and Christian traditions recognize Ezra as the author. This is based on the fact that the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one.

Date of Writing: The Book of Nehemiah was likely written between 445 and 420 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: The Book of Nehemiah, one of the history books of the Bible, continues the story of Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Place of Shock

Nehemiah 1:1-3

“The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: During the month of Chislev in the twentieth year, when I was in the fortress city of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived with men from Judah, and I questioned them about Jerusalem and the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile. 3 They said to me, “The remnant in the province, who survived the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned.”

Shock is incredibly hard. But shock does not have to lead to more devastation if we look up rather than down and all around us. Emotions and passions can flare as we try to process our new reality. That moment of realization of the damage that had been done overwhelmed Nehemiah and the disgrace and shame of such a public display of the destruction yielded a response from Nehemiah that we can all learn from. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we pour out our hearts to God.

Rebuilding the Impossible—Crying Out in Supplication

Nehemiah 1:4-11

“4 When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of the heavens. 5 I said, Lord, the God of the heavens, the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands, 6 let your eyes be open and your ears be attentive to hear your servant’s prayer that I now pray to you day and night for your servants, the Israelites. I confess the sins we have committed against you. Both I and my father’s family have sinned.” Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we cry out to God.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A True Confession

7 We have acted corruptly toward you and have not kept the commands, statutes, and ordinances you gave your servant Moses. 8 Please remember what you commanded your servant Moses: “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples. 9 But if you return to me and carefully observe my commands, even though your exiles were banished to the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place where I chose to have my name dwell.” 10 They are your servants and your people. You redeemed them by your great power and strong hand.

11 Please, Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant and to that of your servants who delight to revere your name. Give your servant success today, and grant him compassion in the presence of this man. At the time, I was the king’s cupbearer.”

Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we examine ourselves, repent and turn toward God. Don’t let anything stand in the way between you and God.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Place for Grief

Nehemiah began with a big ol’ ugly cry. Sometimes we can feel shame to do so. Yet crying out to God is the most productive cry we will ever have. That place of grief is holy. It is when we admit our pain and our inability to fix it. But Nehemiah’s grief was not bound in self-pity. He was sad for the state of God’s people. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we admit our grief and don’t hide it. God is our Healer of all pain we endure while on this earth.

Rebuilding the Impossible—An Honest Humble Prayer

Nehemiah fasted and prayed. Fasting is a posture of humility and self-denial that can help us to focus on what matters most and to clear the muddy waters. He confessed his sins and the sins of his people/nation. Rebuilding the impossible is possible if we humble ourselves rather than being entitled or angry.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Fervent Prayer

Nehemiah does not condemn himself or his people for their sins. He presses in fervently to ask God to act according to His promises as God’s people are faithful to return and repent. His prayer was a supplication filled with acknowledging who God was and what He had done on their behalf and what He promised to do. Even when we have failed God. We have an invitation to draw near. And if we will repent and turn away from worthless ways, God will hear us and answer. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we pray with a fervent faith.

Rebuilding the Impossible—Notice Your Position

Another thing that Nehemiah did was to do something about the wreckage surrounding him. Note the position that God has you in. When life falls apart, God still has favor and will position you for His purposes and your healing. Don’t let devastation be your ruination. Your story is not over yet. Nehemiah was a cupbearer – though this sounds like a humble position, this was one of the highest positions before the king. A trusted position. Though it was not customary for a cupbearer to make requests of the king, Nehemiah seized the opportunity.

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Bold Request

It is not until your back is up against the wall that you might be so bodacious as to utter bold requests. Those requests that seem impossible. Nehemiah placed the matter in God’s hands and then he did what he could to help God’s people. He did not just sit around and give in to discouragement. He let that sadness fuel his desire to restore God’s people.

Nehemiah 2:1-8

“During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was set before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence, 2 so the king said to me, “Why do you look so sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was overwhelmed with fear 3 and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4 Then the king asked me, “What is your request?”

So I prayed to the God of the heavens 5 and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.”

Rebuilding the Impossible—A Specific Request

6 The king, with the queen seated beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” So I gave him a definite time, and it pleased the king to send me.

7 I also said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let me have letters written to the governors of the region west of the Euphrates River, so that they will grant me safe passage until I reach Judah. 8 And let me have a letter written to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so that he will give me timber to rebuild the gates of the temple’s fortress, the city wall, and the home where I will live.” The king granted my requests, for the gracious hand of my God was on me.”

Rebuilding the Impossible—with God

Nehemiah prayed before he moved or asked. Sometimes we can try to fix things, right? Only problem is, we often make a bigger mess. But when Nehemiah prayed first and sought guidance from God, God opened doors. Nehemiah was sure to give God the credit. “The king granted my requests, for the gracious hand of my God was on me.”

Having a sad face in the presence of the king was a social no-no.

Sometimes when we are bold we will get a bold “no”. That does not mean to quit. That means go another way. We will see this quality in Nehemiah, as well. But this first request, Nehemiah got a big “yes”. He could leave his position and go build the wall. He would even have safe passage and all of the supplies he needed. Notice that Nehemiah was not nebulous in his request. He gave a definite time of his return and he specified exactly what he needed.

Rebuilding the Impossible—Overcoming Obstacles

It would be great in some ways if the story of Nehemiah’s rebuilding ended with a big yes and he just built the thing without a problem. But there is resistance and there are obstacles in this life that will try to keep us from the work of God. Nehemiah’s big yes was followed up by much adversity.

Sometimes we can question God about that. We think adversity is wrong and want things to be easy. But adversity can be the very thing that causes us to press in more deeply to God and ultimately God gets the glory when He overcomes the obstacles on our behalf. Don’t resent difficulties—let them shape you into the person God has called you to be. Rebuilding the impossible is possible when we see obstacles through the eyes of Jesus. Nothing is too difficult for Him.

Rebuilding the Impossible—Overcoming Disgrace

Have you had such a moment of disgrace and heartbreak, friend? If not, I pray you don’t. And yet sometimes the biggest heartbreaks of our life can turn out to be the biggest deliverance from God.

I have been there. And spent a good part of my life just hoping I would never go through something devastating. I had the drill down. When I was an unbeliever, the mindset was just to be good enough to not invite such times in my life. Definitely step over the crack on the sidewalk. Definitely don’t do anything that could bring pain into my life.

But a mindset set on a pain-free life sets you up for a let-down. Expectations for a life void of pain should not be where our hope is placed. And as a believer, I learned where my hope should be placed.  

Rebuilding the Impossible—Overcoming Pain

That place when all you thought you knew about your life you didn’t—shocks you to the core. I know. I’ve been there. And pain is there with the shock and grief to try and snuff out any hope of ever being able to rebuild again. But when we look at the character of God, He doesn’t ever leave anything unfinished. Trust Him in the pain and hard places in this life. He is building and rebuilding in you will be far more beautiful than if nothing had happened at all. The places from the past that are shut off to us forever were not meant to be our destination.

Scripture of the Day: Nehemiah 2:20

“I gave them this reply, “The God of the heavens is the one who will grant us success. We, his servants, will start building, but you have no share, right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”

Don’t let problems or people intimidate you from God’s calling. Build on God’s promises and purposes and trust God to complete the work that He has begun building in you. And when we face obstacles, people against us, grief, pain and overwhelming fear, shame, or sorrow, God is enough, friends. The One Who called You will do it when we turn our circumstances into a prayer and trust God with it all.

Application

  • Do you have shock or grief in your life right now? How are you handling it?
  • Does God have you to build or rebuild something right now?
  • What position are you in right now, friends? That position is a Kingdom position. Use it wisely for God’s purposes and not your own.
  • What bold prayer or request do you need to ask?
  • What action do you need to take, after prayer?
  • A mindset set on a pain-free life sets you up for a let-down.
  • Let’s embrace God’s promises in life’s hard places.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #324: Nehemiah 1-3

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Nehemiah 2:20

“I gave them this reply, “The God of the heavens is the one who will grant us success. We, his servants, will start building, but you have no share, right, or historic claim in Jerusalem.”

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