UNITY IN THE LORD

MALACHI

Read Malachi 1–4

      Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.    Malachi 2:15 NIV
* * *
      Malachi prophesied about 85 years after the temple was rebuilt. The kingdom of Judah had fallen into serious sin. The priests offered unacceptable sacrifices and kept back their tithes from the Lord and the people had turned from the Lord to idols and divorced their Hebrew wives for pagan women.
     In spite of this travesty, there were still the faithful few who followed God, of whom he said, “Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.” (3:16)
* * *
     Lord, is there a scroll of remembrance with our names written on it? How comforting it is to know that as we gather together with other believers in our homes and churches–You listen and hear. I pray that each member of our family will remain faithful and continue to fellowship with other believers throughout their lives, bringing honor to Your name.
* * *
      “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5–6 NIV
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE SILENT YEARS

Malachi to Matthew

As we come to the book of Malachi I have been thinking about the 400 years between this last book of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, called by some the “Silent Years.” During these years nations were toppled and replaced, and by the time Jesus was born, Rome was in control.

Great upheaval in political and economic events of the times probably left the Jews feeling forgotten by God. But God surely did not forget and one day in His perfect time a virgin brought forth her firstborn Son and laid Him in a manger, just as the prophet Isaiah had foretold: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 KJV
Today our nation is changing in ways we never expected. Threatened from without and within, some may wonder if God has forgotten us. Books on prophesy are suddenly in great demand as believers see signs on the horizon that Jesus may soon return. Many scoff as Peter foretold saying “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)
But just as in those 400 “silent years” God is at work today preparing to fulfill His promise: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
So as we come to the book of Malachi, I find myself identifying with the believers who were living in those difficult times. Malachi writes: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them...” (Malachi 3:16a) Through these devotional readings and your comments, those of us who fear the Lord will speak to one another and believe that God listens and hears.
* * *
Lord, today I claim the promise: “So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels.’ ” (Malachi 3:16-17)
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HAGGAI

A PURSE WITH HOLES IN IT
Read Haggai 1

     Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” Haggai 1:5–6 NIV

* * *
     It had been 15 years since the people of Judah had begun to rebuild the temple, but the work had ceased because they were too busy with their own affairs. The Lord, through the prophet Haggai said, “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (1:4)
     The people, no doubt, were struggling in a broken down economy trying to build up the infrastructure of their city. In the busyness of it all, their priorities had slipped.
So the Lord said, “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified…You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.” (1:7-9 NKJV)
* * *
     Forgive us Lord when we become overly concerned with earning wages to furnish and maintain our houses. As necessary as those activities are, they are not as important as ministering in our families and churches. Give us a balance that brings glory to You and encouragement to other believers.
* * *
     And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

JONAH

AN UNWILLING PROPHET

Read Jonah 1–4

      But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17 NIV

* * *
      In this story, God commanded Jonah to do something no other Jewish prophet had been asked to do–to go to a pagan city to pronounce judgment. The city of Nineveh, Assyria, was founded by the infamous Nimrod who built the tower of Babel. Earlier prophets, Amos and Hosea, had prophesied that Assyria would carry Israel off into captivity, so it is understandable that Jonah would balk at being asked to preach to Israel’s sworn enemy.
      But it seems that Jonah had no choice. God decided to offer mercy to a Gentile city and Jonah would be the messenger–willing or not. Thousands of years later, both Jews and Gentiles (non–Jews) are recipients of this same mercy and grace. God truly cares about people of every nation and tongue who will repent and believe on Him.
* * *
      Lord, thank you that You loved me before I even knew about You. Give me a love for other people and forgive me for any hesitancy in sharing my faith. I am so glad that someone took the time to share the gospel message with me.
* * *

“Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left… Should I not be concerned about that great city?” Jonah 4:11 NIV

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DANIEL IN THE LION’S DEN

THE CRIME OF PRAYER
Read Daniel 6

Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20 NIV

* * *

This is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible, along with stories like Noah’s Ark and David and Goliath–but it is far more than a children’s bedtime story. It’s the story of a man who served God continually from the time he was a teenager–taken into Babylonian captivity–until he was a very old man serving Darius, the king of the Medes and Persians.

No matter what the circumstance, Daniel was faithful to his God. His crime in this story was that he prayed and gave thanks before his God three times a day, as was his custom since early days. (6:10b NKJV) Daniel–a man who seldom had control of his circumstances– served a God who was always in control of his circumstances. This is an amazing truth that most of us find hard to absorb.

* * *
     Lord, I am not likely to face a fiery furnace or hungry lions, but I still struggle to remember who controls my life and the lives of those I love. May it be said of us, like Daniel, “they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful;” (Daniel 6:4b NKJV)
* * *
     Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” Daniel 6:21–22 NIV
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FATHER AND SON

PRIDE AND ARROGANCE

Read Daniel 4–5

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Daniel 4:37 NIV

* * *

This passage in Daniel tells the story of two kings– Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar. They were both guilty of pride and arrogance, but Nebuchadnezzar repented of his pride and glorified the ‘King of heaven.’

Even though Belshazzar knew about his father’s experience, he chose to blaspheme God. Daniel said to him, “You his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven…You did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.” (5:22–23)

* * *
      If there is a major theme in the book of Daniel it is that we have a sovereign God who is in charge of the events of history and the lives of men. What He says will surely come to pass. Lord, how privileged I am that the sovereign God of the Bible is also my personal Savior. I praise You for all You have done in my life already and all you have planned for the future. May I never fail to give praise and honor to you.
* * *
      Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two. Daniel 5:29–31 NIV
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE FIERY FURNACE

SHADRACH, MESHACH AND ABEDNEGO

Read Daniel 3

there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon–Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego–who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:12 NIV

* * *
Daniel’s three friends refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold, even though the penalty was death in a fiery furnace. But before this ultimate test of their loyalty to God, they had already passed smaller tests. Their refusal to eat the king’s food during their training period had resulted in God’s blessing and protection. Now in this greater test they remained faithful saying, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (3:17–18)
* * *
Dear Lord, You have said that “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10 NKJV) Help us to teach our children that little matters of obedience are very important. Then when the bigger tests of faithfulness and loyalty come along, they will be prepared. Lord, help us to be examples of faithfulness in the little things, as well.
* * *
Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”
Daniel 3:28 NIV
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment