Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday, November 30 - Kathryn

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is  Ezekiel 37-39, 2 Peter 2

This particular passage in Ezekiel holds special meaning for me, so I will comment on this one.  At least one particular part.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 
I believe this is the church of today.  We are a vast army, dead in our graves and we have lost our hope.  When I survey the church of America (sorry my friends to the north I don't know the state of the Canadian church) I do see, for the most part, a deadness and a hopelessness.  We are beginning to allow ourselves to be shut up.  We don't want to scare people off or offend people by what we say.  Shameful.  We have lost our hope of being effective, of changing our world for Christ.

But, there is hope.

 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’”
As His Church we have an awesome opportunity and responsibility to bring our nation to our God.  We can be instrumental in bringing about revival in our land.  And it all begins and ends with prayer.

I believe we are on the threshold of something great and awesome about to occur, but we need to be on our knees and in the word.  We need to be holding so tight to the Lord so that we know what we need to be doing and how when He asks us to do it.  And think of the great army that can and will arise when breath is breathed into the church!

Pray for the lost, yes, absolutely!  But pray for the church, His Church, His bride, to awake!  To return to her first love and to repent.  The lost need Jesus, oh my they need Jesus.  But we as the church have lost our first love and we need to return and pray for that fire to burn brightly as it once did.

Oh Father God, we repent, we humble ourselves before You.  Please forgive us for our negligence, please forgive us for putting idols before You.  Please forgive us for not obeying Your commands.  And Lord please restore the joy of our salvation.  Please renew our love for You, Your word and Your church.  Oh Lord God bring the church to it's knees in repentance and prayer.  We are without hope, our hope is in You.  Come to us, restore us, unite us with each other in Your spirit.  Help us.  We are nothing without You.  We need You.

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 40-41, 2 Peter 3

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday, November 29th

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 35-36, 2 Peter 1

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peters 1:2

Grace and peace come through the knowledge of our God and Lord.

My Life Application Bible says this....

Many believers want an abundance of God's grace and peace, but they are unwilling to put forth the effort to get to know him better through Bible study and prayer. To enjoy the privileges God offers us freely, we have "the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."

In today's fast-paced world, we're always looking for shortcuts. Or the easy way to do something. The fastest way to get results with the least amount of effort. And hopefully, without having to change our current lifestyle too much. That doesn't work in dieting and it doesn't work in developing a stronger spiritual life either!

A strong relationship with God does not come without effort. You get out what you put in to it. You reap what you sow. This cause and effect reality should be crystal clear to us, but somehow we seem to forget it so often. Or maybe we just plead ignorance, hoping for a pass somehow. Or we put it off one more day, and another, and another.

That was me for 30+ years. Once again, so thankful for the blog helping to shake me out of my spiritual lethargy and making my faith real and truly applicable to my life. But the journey is never over. And so we have to keep on growing in the knowledge of our God and of Jesus our Lord!

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 37-39, 2 Peter 2

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday, November 28 - Jody

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 33-34, 1 Peter 5

Happy Monday Everyone!

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:1-5
1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”[a]

What strikes me in these passages is some specific words around attitude and behaviour. I'll copy the scripture here again, with these words highlighted.
1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”[a]

I know that we are supposed to read scripture in context, but with these verses, what if I take the highlighted words out and look at them pieced together? What kind of application does that give us?

"Shepherds, serving because you are willing, not greedy but eager to serve. Being examples, submissive to those who are older with humility toward one another".

Big shoes to fill. Straightforward instruction on our actions as believers, growing in spiritual maturity. Putting others first, and humbling ourselves to each other.

God, give me your grace to be humble. Give me a servants heart to see the needs around me and take action to help. I ask you God to help me be a willing servant who never acts out of greed, but always out of love. Giving of my time, my heart, and my finances that I might be an example to everyone around me. Amen

Tomorrow's passage:   Ezekiel 35-36, 2 Peter 1

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday, November 27th

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 30-32 - 1 Peter 4

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

God has blessed each person with gifts and we need to use them to serve others and glorify God.

The first thing I noticed was a reminder of Friday's post about Ezekiel only speaking the words of God. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God". Our words have the power to wound as well as the power to glorify God and inspire others to serve Him. What are we using our words for?

The second thing is about our gifts. Some people are very aware of their gifts, and in fact are very proud of them and use them as they please in order to receive glory for them themselves. Other people think they have no special talents. Both extremes are addressed in these verses.

God has given everyone gifts. Claiming we have no special talents is an insult to the Creator who specifically gifted us as He saw fit. It is our responsibility to find those giftings and then to use them in a way that serves others and glorifies Him. When we use our gifts selflessly, others can see Jesus in our actions and He will be praised and glorified.

Lord, we thank you for creating us each individually, purposefully and uniquely. We know that you have given each of us gifts that we are to use to serve the Church, to minister to the unsaved and to, above all, glorify You. If we are unaware of our gifts, please reveal them to us. If we take pride in our gifts, please humble us and help us to shift that focus away from ourselves and back to You so that You will receive all the glory and all the praise as we use our gifts the way You intended us to. Amen.

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 33-34, 1 Peter 5

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday, November 26-guest post by Pamela

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:7
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Observation: Sometimes what sticks out as most important overshadows our ability to hear what is really important.

Application: Society has brainwashed us to believe that women can do anything that men can do and that any admission that we can't is a sign of weakness. Verses like this, enrage the feminists. The "weaker vessel" part screams injustice, division, and outdated philosophy to scads of people who use verses like this to claim that the bible is no longer valid to our life today.

Admittedly, I am a terrible feminist. While I believe that women should have choices (they should have the right to vote, they should be allowed to choose marriage or not), I also believe that men should have a leadership role in the house. This is what God intended and I think he wired us that way. I will easily admit that I do like being taken care of and I have have no problem giving my husband that responsibility. I do work outside the home-a choice more motivated by what kinds of extra things we want for our kids than that I want to be a career woman- but I also think that my primary job is to be a wife and homemaker. I know that sometimes I struggle with my priorities but that just reinforces the idea to me that I was not meant to do it all. Being referred to as the "weaker vessel" doesn't bother me. However, those two words fire up many people and mask the most important parts of the verse.

Though shadowed by the "weaker vessel" notation, I think it is really important to notice that Husbands are commanded to "live with [their] wives in an understanding way" and to show "honour" to them. If you look in the dictionary, "understanding" means: "characterized by understanding; prompted by, based on, or demonstrating comprehension,
intelligence, discernment, empathy, or the like: an understanding attitude."
This sounds amazing! Husbands are commanded to appreciate the work of their wives and be prompted to live with their wives by recognizing their role as crucial. They are also called to "honour" their wives. If you look in the dictionary, "honour" means:

to hold in respect or esteem

to show courteous behaviour towards

to worship

to confer a distinction upon
It's a shame that criticizers of this verse don't highlight these things.

The most important thing that gets overlooked in this passage is that women are proclaimed as "heirs with you" or "joint heirs" of the gift of salvation. How can this be overlooked? Women are not proclaimed as the "weaker vessel" to belittle them. How can a "joint heir" be less important? Unfortunately, this part of the verse gets practically ignored as people focus on what they believe "weaker vessel" portrays about women.

How many times in our own life do we focus on what we perceive as insulting and ignore all of the other stuff around us? I think it is Satan who thrives on us failing to see what truly matters. If we don't take the context of a verse, a situation, or a story our perception of what we are led to believe as the main point is skewed. We percolate on stuff that is irrelevant (or at least insignificant) and ignore the stuff that truly matters.

Years ago, my cousin sent me information on a "Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul" story submission opportunity. I knew instantly that I had to submit the story from our marriage counselling. During one of our first sessions with him, our Pastor took a piece of white paper and drew a dot in the middle of the page. He turned it around and asked what we saw. My then fiance and I looked at each other and said "a dot". He smiled and asked us what else we saw and we looked at each other in confusion. He then told us what we were missing: all the white space around the dot. He explained that in marriage, it is easy to see the troubles in a relationship as plainly as the dot on the page. However, looking closer, you can see all of the good things too like all the white space on the page. It was a great reminder. That story was actually published and you can check out my story on page 309! :) I think it applies to many circumstances in our life where we tend to focus on the dots and leave out all of the other important things.

Lord, Your word is true and timeless. Even though society has changed Your living word remains as applicable and helpful today as it was when it was first written down. Lord, our judgement is sometimes clouded by what others make us believe and we fail to focus on what is important. Guide our hearts, guide our thoughts, and guide our actions in a way that makes us obedient to Your plan. Help us to focus on what is significant and lead us away from what is insignificant. Be with everyone who is struggling with this and help them to see what is truly important. Amen.

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 30-32 - 1 Peter 4

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday, November 25 ~ tammi

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 24-26; 1 Peter 2.

In today's reading, we come to the heart-breaking story of God informing Ezekiel that He, God Himself, would take the life of Ezekiel's wife as an illustration to the people of Israel.  It doesn't really say how much time elapsed between God's announcement and her death one evening, but it sounds like it was just one day.  How must they have spent their last hours together?  What a sacrifice to be God's faithful spokesman!

Boy, this really kinda makes me a little ashamed of the times I've whined about my little commitments to the church!  Ezekiel had to give something that was probably worth more to him than his own life.  Giving your own life is challenge enough, but giving a loved one's life while you're left behind is entirely a different sacrifice.  I wonder if Ezekiel pleaded with God that this was too much?  I mean, he asked God for some leeway when he was told to defile himself by cooking food over a human feces-fueled fire...  Yet here we see no bargaining, just willing submission.  That's faith.

That's being willing to give anything and lose everything because you truly believe only Christ is real gain.  Honestly, I don't think I can even imagine that kind of commitment.

One thing I found very interesting that I don't think I've noticed before is that last phrase in Chapter 24: "...At that time your mouth will be opened; you will speak with him and will no longer be silent. So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD."

My Bible noted a reference in chapter 3 and so I went back to check and look what happened there: "And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house."

Doing a little more digging, look what I found in chapter 33: "In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city has fallen!” Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the LORD was upon me, and he opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer silent."

So Ezekiel was mute for a period of about 7-1/2 YEARS, except for the words God specifically gave him to say! It almost sounds like he may have been somewhat imprisoned in his own home during this time as well. God wanted Israel to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that whatever this man said was a true message from the one and only God.  The ONLY things that came out of his mouth were words God had put there until all the prophecies were fulfilled.

I wonder how much talking I'd do if I only spoke the words God specifically wanted other people to hear...

In 1 Peter, we continue looking at what it means to be holy as Christ is holy.  To live the separated life; the life of a person called to the royal priesthood.  This is the passage (beginning at 1:13) that first pricked my soul and started to make me aware that though I'd been a professing Christian for as long as I could remember, I had never really considered or cared much how that was supposed to make my life LOOK.  Belonging to God, being CHOSEN by God for the express purpose of bringing Him glory by spreading His fame.... what an incredibly humbling thought!!  Very sobering, too!

I find myself often wondering if God isn't a little sorry He chose me, like He seemed to regret choosing Israel.

And then I remember this letter was written by Peter.  The man whose denial arguably hurt Jesus more than Judas ever did.  And I remember the forgiveness and restoration that occurred on the beach that one morning, after the risen Jesus cooked the dejected fishermen breakfast.  And I realize I, too, can be forgiven, recommissioned, and still be used in powerful ways.  Because it is Christ who works through me if I am willing to let Him.

Sometimes it's difficult and He requires hard sacrifices, like He did from Ezekiel, but He promises "the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame."

Tomorrow's readings: Ezekiel 27-29; 1 Peter 3

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday, November 24 ~ Miriam

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 22-23; 1 Peter 1.

Has anyone been finding our Ezekiel readings as shocking as I have?  I don't recall my particular feelings about Ezekiel from last year's reading, but now, as I read, I am embarrassed for Jerusalem and Samaria at how their unfaithfulness is described.  Not that it is untrue or undeserved, and of course it was described that way intentionally, but I still find myself uncomfortable with how bald and blatant the language in Ezekiel is.  Just an observation.

1 Peter is a letter generally addressed to believers of the Gospel everywhere, and therefore to us as well.  I could quote so many verses, but here are a couple that really spoke to me.

"...though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

See the recurring theme here?  Perishable - gold, silver, the seed by which our earthly bodies are born.  Imperishable - the treasures that come from genuine faith, the blood of Christ, the seed by which we are born again.  

Last week I talked about putting too much value on my physical health and well being and not enough on the eternal.  Today's passage talks about silver and gold (earthly treasures) as being perishable and genuine faith and redemption by the blood of Christ, as imperishable or eternal.  Peter doesn't say it will be easy.  He says we will have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  We are to be self-controlled.  Be obedient.  Do not conform to evil desires.  Be holy.  Love one another deeply, from the heart.  All these are things that we hear again and again throughout the Bible, but yet things I still find myself needing to be reminded of over and over, no matter how many times I've read them previously.  Another good reminder of how important it is to read and study the word of God, not just looking up answers to questions that come up or in certain circumstances, but as part of our everyday lives.

 Tomorrow's passage:  Ezekiel 24-26; 1 Peter 2.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday, November 23 - Kathryn

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 20-21, 2 Timothy 4

I get the feeling God wants us to keep our Sabbaths.  And not just for us to put our feet up.  He always has a much deeper meaning than what we read or see at first.

12 Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy.

This jumped out at me, along with "and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths" from verse 13.  It's interesting that the Lord would put aside a day to remind us that the Lord has made us holy.  It's like we need a mini-holiday (holy-day?) every week to remember that we are not just work horses or dogs, we are a sacred people, set apart and made holy by a holy God.  We do need to work, but it is also important for us to remember that we are more than our work, our work does not make us who we are.  God does.

Keeping the Sabbath shows faith in God that He will provide for our needs while we turn our faces and our hearts to Him to worship.  It's more than just a physical rest, it is a spiritual re-centering.  It is a re-focusing on our Lord and God.  If we spent all the time with our noses to the grind we lose sight of who we are and what we are created to be.  And that is a child of God created to be in fellowship with Him.  

When I was in seminary I often would work on papers and school work on sunday.  It was a 'free' day and I had time.  I figured it was better for me to get it done than have it hanging over me.  Well the Lord impressed upon me, three times in fact, that He wanted me to be taking a Sabbath.  A whole 24 hours of rest.  At that point I thought it was just physical rest and spiritual renewal.  And He called me to do it at a very test/paper heavy time of the semester.  I told Him ok, but He'd better help me get all this homework done.  I looked forward in the week to all the work that needed to be completed and wasn't sure how I'd get it all done.  I took my Sabbath on sunday and rested.  It was good.  I needed that.  And then something wonderful happened, not only did I get it all done, but I had time leftover at the end of the week. I was flabbergasted.  That solidified it for me!  I took a Sabbath every week after that.  And even now, though I am very involved in our church and my husband is the pastor, I try to make sunday's as Sabbathy as possible.  

The Lord takes seriously our not taking Sabbaths.  He is offended.  Now I realize that we are under grace and not the law, but there is good reason for the Lord commanding that we take a rest.  It causes us to stop, breathe, and just be.  We are human BEings, not human DOings.  It helps us to grow in our trust of God and His ability to provide.  Provision for time to get everything done, provision for money and resources.  Going all the time not only wears us out but in it we deceive ourselves into thinking that we can do it all.  We can work, go to church, do yardwork, housework, take the kids to sports, have the relatives over for dinner......  Many of our lives are lived in high gear and we cannot survive like that.  We NEED one day, at least, to rest and be still.  We just don't stop.  And having one day a week also promotes families.  The state of the family is under attack and it's subtle.  Good, quality programs that pull children and parents every which way.  It's all good, but is it the best?  

We've lost the value of a Sabbath in our lives.  God is calling us to live it again.  To come to Him and rest in His presence.  

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 22-23, 1 Peter 1

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tuesday, November 22nd

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 18-19, 2 Timothy 3

I've read a few sermons on both of our passages today (or yesterday, by the time you read this), but my mind just isn't functioning anymore today. Today was a heavy day for us - Nathan's cousin and his wife had a baby but the doctors don't think he will live, and today was also the funeral of one of my cousins. A follower of this blog (his mom told me again today how much he appreciated reading this blog - so thank you all!), he was only 36 and died after a 1 1/2 yr battle with brain cancer, leaving behind his wife and their two children (ages 3 and 1). Even though I didn't know him well at all, this has really hit me quite hard as it is reminiscent of my family 32 years ago when my dad died when I was 2 1/2 and my sister 9 months old.

Anyway, I do apologize but I'm just not able to write a new post for today. So, instead I'm going to simply link you to the post I did last year on our Ezekiel passage. Thanks for understanding, and feel free to comment on whatever struck you as you read today.

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 20-21, 2 Timothy 4

Monday, November 21 - Jody

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is: Ezekiel 16-17, 2 Timothy 2

Happy Monday Everyone!

Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:22-24
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25

We are called to PURSUE righteousness, faith, love and peace. It's not just going to magically happen as we have been believers for a long time. It is a pursuit that must be searched out. Verse 23 is one for me! Don't have ANYTHING to do with foolish and stupid arguments.

There are several application steps for me in this passage.
  1. Keep intentionally pursuing the righteousness of God along with other people searching for the same thing. Connect with other believers in this pursuit - don't do it alone!
  2. Walk away from foolish conversations and arguments. How often don't I get sucked into this! I must admit, I'm a sucker for a good argument. I can actually be quite argumentative at times, and God has really been focusing on this aspect of my personality lately. Quite fitting that I get this passage today! :)
  3. Finally, we must be kind to everyone. Everyone. Not just the people that are kind to us...
I know often for us "mature" Christians these messages are old and familiar. We sometimes skim over these thoughts because we've been hearing this our whole Christian lives. But the intentional acting out of these directions can still be a challenge, yet we are called to be different from those around us. We are called to always be ready to teach God's word, that means, we are called to always be a positive display of what that God can do in the life of a sinful person.

God, help us pursue you today. Would you send your Holy Spirit to nudge us towards gentleness today? Give us the clarity of mind and action to walk away from foolish conversations and arguments. God, direct our words and actions today in pursuit of your righteousness. Amen.

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 18-19, 2 Timothy 3

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday, November 20th

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 14-15, 2 Timothy 1

In our Timothy passage Paul is writing to Timothy from a dungeon as he awaited what he knew was his imminent death. As he was waiting to die, he wrote these words to Timothy, the last words we have from Paul. And in this passage he's encouraging Timothy to be courageous.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purposes and grace.

Paul first reminds Timothy that God had given him specific gifts for the purpose of ministry and advancement of the kingdom. MacArthur puts it pretty frankly in his sermon ....

Courage then rises initially out of a sense of giftedness, that I have been enabled by the Holy Spirit, infused with a spiritual gift for the purpose of ministry in the name of Christ and for the advancement of His Kingdom. And if I know that I am divinely prepared and enabled to serve Christ and to proclaim His name and to represent Him and to build His body, then I have to do what I was designed to do. And frankly, if I don't do that I have violated the very reason for my existence. Not to use my spiritual gift is to place myself in a mode where I might as well be dead as far as usefulness to the church or the Kingdom. (emphasis mine)

Paul then tells Timothy to consider his resources. He's been given the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), he's been given love (Romans 5:5) and he's been given self-discipline (Galations 5:23). He has been given the resources necessary to minister effectively.

He then reminds Timothy to accept and anticipate the fact that suffering and opposition is inevitable for anyone loyal to the gospel.

Then Paul charges Timothy to remember the power of God.

the God who from eternity past planned the plan of redemption, brought it to appearing in Jesus Christ, saved you, made you holy, gave you life. That same God is your God. So remember the power of God.

Paul then instructs Timothy to understand his duty. Paul was called to be a herald, an apostle and a teacher. When we have a duty, we are bound to do it, we are compelled to do it - it is not really even a choice.

duty can be the greatest joy or the deepest pain. And I'll tell you how. You do it and it provides the greatest joy. You don't do it and it provides the deepest pain. Duty undone is a killer.

Paul then goes on to explain why it is he is able to bear up under suffering and persecution. It's because he trusts his security and his security is found in this
because I know whom I have believed

Please notice it's not in what I have believed, it's in whom I have believed. The thing that sustained him in suffering was not his theology, it was his God. Do you understand the difference? The thing that sustained him in trials was not doctrine, but fellowship...And because I know Him, follow the verse, "I am convinced.".....I know that the Lord is able to hold on to my life until I stand that day to receive my eternal reward.....

"O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you." And what was entrusted to him? The truth, sound doctrine...sound doctrine.

The reason most people don't have the courage of their convictions is because they don't have convictions. Before you can put your life on the line for what you believe, you have to believe it....

So he is saying guard the truth, verse 14, retain the standard of sound wholesome life-giving words, be committed to the proper theological structure, the proper interpretation of Scripture, the proper outline of the truth that produces spiritual growth, spiritual maturity. Have a theology....

but hold it with faith toward God and love toward man. In that way you'll be doing it in the Spirit of Christ Jesus who provides that faith and provides that love...

So, how do you avoid being ashamed of Christ? Renew your gift, consider your resources, accept your suffering, remember your God, realize your duty, trust your Savior, affirm your doctrine, and lastly, choose your associates.
(emphasis mine)

And, of course, I thought of this song

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 16-17, 2 Timothy 2

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday, November 19th

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 11-13; 1 Timothy 6

Two quick things I wanted to comment on for today's passages.

"This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind." Ezekiel 11:5b

God is all-knowing. Not only can He see things we do in secret, He knows our very thoughts! He is the only legitimate mind-reader out there. So, why do we still try to hide our thoughts or motives from Him? We can't fool Him. We can't trick Him. We can't put a mask on in front of Him - He sees right through that. He sees into our very souls.

And the amazing thing is, He loves us anyway. He still longs for relationship with us. No matter how far we can get away from God, no matter how vile our actions or thoughts - He won't give up. He will go to incredible lengths to show us His love, or to discipline us, or to shake us out of our complacency. Truly amazing.

And just like God is far from a passive God, our faith should be far from passive too. Just look at this 1 Timothy passage....

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 (emphasis mine)

We're not supposed to just sit around and wait for God to act on our behalf. Our faith must be an active one - training, discipline, obedience, working hard, sacrificing, standing up for Truth, doing the right thing even if we're the only ones.

We're part of a team. And when we slack off, it effects the whole team - others have to pick up our slack, our "reputation" is weakened and our effectiveness goes downhill.

But can you just imagine, for one second, the opposite? If every Christian vigourously trained spiritually, humbly sacrificed self, all in a unified front, in order to glorify God and spread the gospel - can you just imagine the results?!

Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 14-15, 2 Timothy 1

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday, November 18 ~ tammi

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 8-10; 1 Timothy 5.

Oh, these chapters in Ezekiel just made me want to cry.  God's manifest presence ~ His glory ~ physically leaving the temple as a result of Israel's sin.  How that vision must have pained Ezekiel!

There are so many things that stuck out for me, but I just want to draw your attention to a couple.  Did you notice how Ezekiel had to dig through the wall of the temple in order to see the ugliness of the leaders' sin?  It wasn't open and obvious.  And none of the "detestable" things they're doing are things that would necessarily have made them "bad" people.

I couldn't help but think about our modern society where we are generally only concerned with "badness" as it relates to the world around us, not with regards for God's idea of bad and good, of detestable and holy.  But this is a strong reminder that God sees it ALL ~ the big sins that everyone knows about and the hidden ones that we figure are our own little secret ~ and will judge it all according to HIS standards.  I won't be measured against a pastor or a pedophile.  I will be measured against God's standard of holiness.

And then comes God's very harsh punishment of those who've turned away from Him and those who've not been concerned about their spiritual condition.  He tells one man to mark those who follow Him and who are grieved at Israel's rebellion, but He orders SIX to slaughter all the unmarked individuals.  He saves the faithful remnant, true to His promises, but orders all the rest killed, every single one ~ man, woman, child.  He tells the six men to go ahead and defile the temple by killing within its courtyards (something that was expressly forbidden according to the Mosaic Law) and then to spread beyond throughout the city and the whole land.  It's interesting to me that God's judgement starts with the spiritual leaders and spreads from there.  Somehow, I think that's probably significant.

These chapters in Ezekiel (as well as chapter 11 from tomorrow's reading) describe the incredible sadness, the desolation, and the judgment that come when the glory of God leaves its rightful place, but 1 Timothy gives us instruction on how to let that glory shine through our lives.

In chapter 5, we see again some helpful ideas for putting our religion into practice, as Paul puts it, and living lives that honour and glorify God.  In the first few verses, we see God's plan for old age pension and how elderly parents should be looked after by their families, if they have.  It seems to be assumed that a man will work for his own living, no matter how old he is, whereas the women are to be specially cared for by the church if they have no family of their own who can provide for them, and if they've proven to be a godly women. I don't know about you, but I just love it that "bringing up children" is seen here as a good deed!  In fact, it tops the list of good deeds!!

Of course, just being a good mom doesn't mean we can neglect the other responsibilities of being hospitable, of ministering to the needs within our church, and of reaching out to the needy in our communities, but it's nice to know that it's considered a good deed all on its own, isn't it?!  :)

I used to really bristle at Paul's teachings on how women should act and use their time, but you know, I'm beginning to see it again not as rules, but as a call for our physical and spiritual protection and provision. Paul knew ~ as we know (but don't like to admit!) ~ that when we have too much time on our hands, our tendency is to be lazy, unproductive, and often-times, to begin sticking our noses where they don't belong or filling our minds with harmful, wasteful things.  When we're busy and productive in our homes, we don't have as much time for gossiping, for indulging our selfish desires, and worse.  I don't think Paul is nearly as concerned here with the details of what, exactly, a woman should or should not be allowed to do as he is with her spiritual health and the development of her godly character.  Again we see his reasoning:  " give the enemy no opportunity for slander."

This is not about rules. This is all about the remnant, the Church ~ the Bride of Christ ~ looking her radiant best, reflecting the awesome glory of God.

Tomorrow's readings: Ezekiel 11-13; 1 Timothy 6

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday, November 17 ~ Miriam

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 5-7; 1 Timothy 4.

The thing that jumped out at me in Ezekiel today was chapter 5:7 where it says:

“Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you."

Ouch.  Not only have they not followed God's decrees or laws, but they're even WORSE than the nations who didn't know God to begin with?!?!  I don't know about you, but I found that heartbreaking.  And yet, I see this in our North American culture as well.  Not only do we (our culture) not follow God, but sometimes it seems that we purposefully push back as hard as possible in the absolute opposite direction from morality and sound judgment, just because we don't want to be confined, restricted, or have to follow rules.  

It kind of makes me think, also, of the "preacher's kid" you sometimes hear about.  You know, the one whose parents "laid down the law" and expected their kids to toe the line without teaching them why and how and learning to make good decisions.  Some of those kids figure out the why and how and learn to make good decisions on their own, but others say "You do nothing but order me around and tell me what to do and what not to do... now I'm going to do what I want," which is usually whatever is the exact opposite of what they've always been told, and proceed to rebel in a spectacularly destructive fashion.  I don't claim to be a wonderful parent, certainly not a perfect one, and there is no guarantee that my children will grow up to love God or desire to follow His will.  It amazes me how my prayers with regard to them have changed since starting this Bible reading journey two years ago.  Before, my prayers were that He would give me strength and wisdom to teach them to be good, strong, loving Christian people... now, I still pray for strength and wisdom as a parent, but in a different way.  I now also pray for THEM to have the love for Him and the desire to follow Him and serve Him.  I think that is an important distinction.  I've come to realize that it is not about hammering away on the outside and the inside will conform to the shape I want.  For them to become good, strong, loving Christian people, it has to come from the inside.  The best I can do is teach them about who God is and why I love him and pray that they learn to love Him, too.

Wow, and here I thought I didn't have much to say about Ezekiel.

Moving on to Timothy, the verse I particularly noticed today says "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."  (4:8)

I've exercised more or less regularly since high school.  I did not follow through well during my pregnancies, but otherwise I've consistently exercised on a regular basis for probably... okay, well, I won't say how many years.  But a lot.  Half my life, anyway.  Part of the reason I decided to join this blog venture initially was because I was feeling guilty about the fact that while I accepted Christ as my Saviour so long ago I can't remember it, I've NEVER been successful at spending regular time with God.  On the other hand, when it came to exercise, I told myself "If it's important to you to be healthy and in good shape, then you need to MAKE time for regular exercise."  Oh dear.  See the problem here?  My physical health, which is only good to me for a relatively short time here on Earth, is worth making time for 4-5 days a week, but my spiritual health, which is eternal, took a backseat to... well... everything else.  I, who grew up going to church every Sunday, having family devotions most evenings after supper, going to youth group and/or Bible study weekly during jr. and sr. high, etc. was 33 years old when I finally read every book in the entire Bible for the very first time.  I thought I knew the importance of spending time with God, but I never understood what it can mean to your day-to-day life, attitudes and priorities until it became important enough to me to MAKE time for it.

Happy Thursday!

 Tomorrow's passage:  Ezekiel 8-10; 1 Timothy 5.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday, November 16 - Kathryn

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Ezekiel 3-4, 1 Timothy 3

Good morning!

I LOVE Ezekiel!  So much so I preached on it a little while back and on this very portion.  I will share a bit of what I wrote then:

God is calling Ezekiel to speak for him amongst the captives. He tells Ezekiel that it will not be an easy job, mainly because they won't listen. He says that if he had sent him to a foreign people his job would be easy because they would listen! God says “Heck, they won't listen to me, you shouldn't expect them to listen to you. But I want you to go, I want you to speak, so they will know that I have spoken to them”. Basically they have no excuse for the muck they got themselves into. That's probably how they got themselves into this mess in the first place, weren't listening to God, weren't following God and so God passed judgement on them.

So God tells him to speak, God tells Ezekiel they won't listen, but the Lord says he wants him to go anyway. And I think the Lord tells Ezekiel they won't listen as encouragement. Because in verse 6 he says don't fear them, don't fear their words or their looks, because they are rebellious so naturally they won't listen.

And then he says, but don't you be like that. You listen to me. Take my word, take it into yourself, make it apart of yourself. And he hands him the word. Ezekiel eats it, even though it is full of lamentations and woe. It's written full of the terrible things that are going to happen to Israel. Who wants to read the terrifying things of revelations or Daniel? But yet, Ezekiel eats it and says that it is sweet like honey. That is the word of God! Sweet to those who take it in. Sweet, filling, satisfying and life giving.

So God gives him a job as a prophet among his own people, he fills him with His word to speak and then He gives him the encouragement he needs to do the job. He says I have made you just as bullheaded as they are. I get the image of two rams butting heads when I read verse 8 of chapter 3.

But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.”

Ezekiels job is going to be hard! The people aren't going to listen, they are going to butt heads. It will be like talking to a brick wall. We've all had conversations like that. You sit there talking to someone and they just stare at you with that deer in the headlights look. Just blank. And God warns him about this. He says it's gonna happen! But don't let it get you down Ezekiel! Don't get discouraged. Because I told you it would happen. But you be obedient and speak to the people whether they hear or whether they refuse. Be obedient.  

A lot of time when we think of missions we think of Africa, India, China, some place far away from here, far away from me. Some place where someone else goes and does the hard work. It's good enough for me to throw some money at it, pray some nice prayers for those people and be about my business. If you are a christian it is not enough to just throw money at it. God is calling us to a people that we know. And people that know us. He is calling us to a rebellious people. I need not tell you the state of our nation, we know it all too well. We've heard it time and again what our president has said. We are no longer a christian nation! He is blatantly turning his back on God. As a nation we have rebelled against our roots. We are much like the nation of Israel of Ezekiels time. And God is calling us, you and me, to speak His word to them. And he's telling us it's not going to be easy. They will scoff at you, they will laugh at you, look at you like you are from Mars and they will hurt you. And, worst of all, they won't listen. 

We have been called to speak His word to the nations, but we cannot speak the word unless we know the word. So we must ingest it everyday. Eat it up, savor it like you would a good brownie, or cookie, or fudge. And then, once you have been fed and nourished, once the word has been given to you and become a part of you, then go, tell about that good word. And we must always remember that our sign of success is not how many people we 'save', but rather our faithfulness to the call that God has given us. Our obedience to His calling in our life is our measure of success. That is how He measures success.  

 Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 5-7, 1 Timothy 4

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday, November 15th

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Psalm 137, Ezekiel 1-2, 1 Timothy 2

OK, I'm taking the plunge and tackling the women being silent in the church portion of our 1 Timothy passage.

John MacArthur has several sermons on this passage, but I didn't have to time to read all of them, so I just read Part 4 since I figured he'd summarize Parts 1-3. :)

He definitely had some things to say on the subject, and as I was reading I could feel my pride rearing up because I felt like he was saying women are stupid (and that was NOT what he was saying) and realized all that was doing was confirming what was being said. Anyway, I have some quotes, but if you have time, do read or listen to the whole thing.

The first portion of the passage....
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 1 Timothy 2:11-12

He is saying I want a woman to learn in silence with all subjection. Now her silence is the silence of not being the teacher and her subjection is the subjection of not being the authority. She is not to have authority. She is not to be a teacher. She is not to be a ruler in the church. That is the prohibition that the apostle gives us....So women in the church then are not to be at any position where men are subordinate to them. And I say again please, it doesn't mean women can't pray, can't teach, can't speak out for God. It doesn't mean they can't ask questions in a proper environment where questions are invited. It does mean in the public worship of this church these things are set down as God's standard.

But the part I found really interesting was the next part....

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing - if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

In creation, God made man first. Now keep this in mind, man was made for God and woman was made for man. Eve was made for Adam. She was made to be his helper. (Genesis 2:18 to 25), she is his glory. Man is the glory of God, woman is the glory of man. She is made to be the helper of man. She is to follow his lead, live in his provision, find safety in his strength and protection in his courage. A tendency to follow was built into Eve until the Fall and then came the curse and in that curse the tendency to rule and then the conflict....

We talk about the fall of Adam because Adam, his name represents generic man, if you will, his name represents the race. He is the head of the race and he did fall. But we have to keep in mind that he didn't fall first. First the woman fell and her fall confirms what verse 13 said, that woman needs a head. She needs a strengthener because when she got out from under the strength of Adam and tried to operate independently in conflict with the enemy, she was...what?...deceived. And the intent of what the Word is saying here is that woman needs protection. That she has a certain vulnerability. She was designed with the need for a head. She was designed with the need for a leader. She was designed with the need for a protector and a savior....

woman who is designed by God to be under a head and a leader and a helper and a protector and a savior, when she stepped out on her own and acted independently of the headship of Adam, when she acted without his leadership, without his counsel, without his protection, she became vulnerable. And it is inherent in the nature of woman that she should not find herself in that position of ultimate responsibility. For woman has a deceivability when out from under the headship of a man. So the woman then in verse 14 was deceived. She showed by that her inability to lead effectively. She met her match and more than her match in Satan. She shows an inability to act independently of her protector....

So we conclude then, beloved, that when a woman leaves the shelter of her protector and savior, provider and nourisher, she has a certain amount of vulnerability because she is designed for protection. That's true even in the physical sense, isn't it? So the Fall then was the result of not only disobeying God's command not to eat, but the Fall was the result of violating the divinely appointed role of the sexes and woman acting independently of man. Woman assumed leadership, and you know what man did? He messed up his role and then he instead of maintaining the leadership acted in submission to whom? To the woman. And the whole reversal was part and parcel of the Fall. So subordination of women in the church wasn't invented by Paul, it is rooted in the nature of the sexes and it is confirmed in the Fall....

She was deceived and he subjected himself to her deception. The weakness of a woman is that she needs a head. The weakness of a man is he needs a woman. We are not less defective than women, we are differently defective. We're defective in different ways. We're temptable and vulnerable in different ways. So that's the reason that we have affirmed the leadership of men, is in the creation and the Fall. And no daughter of Eve should follow the path of Eve and lead to tragedy by entering into the forbidden territory of rulership which was intended for man....

All women are delivered from the stigma of having caused the Fall of the race by childbearing. In other words, women led in the Fall but by the wonderful grace of God they are released from the stigma of that through childbearing. What's the point? Listen carefully. They may have caused the race to fall by stepping out of their God-intended design, but they also are given the priority responsibility of raising a godly seed. You understand that? That's...that's the balance. Not soul salvation, not spiritual birth, but women are delivered from being left in a second-class permanently stigmatized situation for the violation of the garden. They are delivered from being thought of as permanently weak and deceivable and insubordinate. Can you imagine what it would be like if men had babies and all women ever contributed to the human race was the Fall. The balance of it, women led the race into sin, but bless God, God has given them the privilege of leading the race out of sin to godliness....

in the raising of a godly seed it is the godliness and the virtue of the mother that has the greatest impact on the young life in the next generation. Is that not so? Theirs is the challenge to raise a godly seed. God has designed this to give woman back her dignity. She is saved from the stigma of the Fall and her path to dignity and usefulness and her great contribution comes in accepting what God said that you will bear children. Motherhood then is woman's appointed role in general. Now obviously God doesn't want all women to be mothers, some of them He doesn't even want to be married. First Corinthians 7, some have the gift of singleness. Some He allows to be barren for His own purposes. But as a general rule, just like marriage is generally the grace of life, as Peter calls it, so motherhood is that which reverses the stigma of woman and allows them to provide for society the rearing of a godly seed which in a real sense reverses the curse for which she was so responsible. The pain of childbearing was the punishment for her sin, but the result of bearing the child is the deliverance of the stigma of that sin. Marvelous how God has worked that out. The pain she goes through reminds her of her sin, the result reminds her of God's restoring grace and puts her back in the place where she makes a positive contribution to the godliness of the next generation. She may have caused a generation to plunge into sin, but she can by being a mother who raises godly children bring a generation to God.

What Paul is saying by the Holy Spirit is that a woman must accept her God-given role and that role is not to give outward overt leadership to the church, but to raise a godly seed and that's why he says she'll be saved in childbearing, but only if...look at it...she continues in faith and love and holiness and self-control. If she is godly, she can raise that godly seed....

The highest ideal of Christian womanhood is here, and this is how the church is to work, beloved. Look, we're led by men in the worship of the church, they pray, they preach, they teach, they give leadership to the church, but the perfect balance of that is the influence of godly women that raised that godly generation. And the only way that will happen is if they...and look at it closely in verse 15...if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self control. They have to be the kind of woman described in verse 9 and 10, who are not into the clothes and of the outward flaunting of sexuality and desire and wealth, but they are women whose hearts are marked by godly fear and self-control, who are strong in faith, they believe God, strong in love toward God, who are pure and holy and who manifest self-control. Godly Christian women will raise the next generation....

Her faith in the Lord, her sincere love for God, her holiness and purity of life, her modest self-control mark her spiritual state as such who will bring forth children who will bless the world. And as she brought forth once a curse, she now brings forth a blessing. That's her calling.
(emphasis mine)


Tomorrow's passage: Ezekiel 3-4, 1 Timothy 3

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Nov 14, 2011 - Jody

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is: Daniel 11-12, 1 Timothy 1

I'm going to carry on the theme of what Tammy talked about yesterday, the prophesy found in Daniel. God is giving Daniel a picture of what the future of Israel will be in the coming years. The coming years being the End Times and the Tribulation. The picture he gives in Chapter 11 is pretty bleak.

36 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. 38 Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.[e]

But the whole point going into Chapter 12, is hope. Hope that although there will be dark times for Israel and the world, there is hope for those who believe in the power of God. John MacArthur goes into detail in this message around the torment of the Israelites in the end times.

So, there awaits for Israel a very special distress, a distress without equal in human history. The time of Jacob's trouble, the seventieth week of Daniel, the time of the tribulation, the Great Tribulation, all of these terms are used to describe that period.
But, here comes the hope. In the midst of the special distress comes a special defender...back to verse 1...a special defender. "And at that time shall Michael stand up." The nation will not be utterly destroyed, for Michael will stand up. And who is he? "The great prince who stands, or who guards the children of thy people." Michael, perhaps the most powerful of all the angels, has been given throughout all of Israel's history the singular responsibility of defending the people of God. As the head of the holy angels, Michael is given that generalship over Israel. It's a marvelous task. He's involved in it. We see that in the New Testament as well as the Old. In Jude chapter 9 we find him even fighting Satan for the body of Moses. He has such care and concern for the people that he will not even permit the desecration of their dead bodies. And so he looks out for Israel.
We've already seen, haven't we, back in chapter 10 that when the demons tried to stop this angel from giving his revelation, verse 13 says Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me. Michael assisted him. And over in verse 21, it says: "In all of this there's none that works with me in these things but Michael," and I love this, "your prince." God has assigned Michael the special task of caring for Israel. And so when they get in the heat of this special distress, we're not surprised to see Michael appear either in chapter 12 verse 1. When the battle gets the hottest, when the most furious persecution and oppression takes place, Michael comes to the rescue.
Now in what way does Michael stand up? How does he stand up for the people of God? Well, I believe, during the Tribulation Satan wants to release all of the forces of hell against the people of God--Israel. He wants to obliterate that nation. I'm not talking about the church now, Pm talking about Israel. He wants to obliterate Israel. He's always wanted to do that. He wanted to wipe out the people of God so there could never be a Messiah. He wanted to rub out the line. He wants to destroy them so there can never be any of them for a kingdom. He wants to capture them all so that Christ and God are frustrated in their mission for that people. And so I believe that all the demons of hell in the end time are going to go after that nation Israel.

Scary, scary stuff ahead. But yet - we have hope!! Below is some closing thoughts from John MacArthur's same message.

Early in His ministry He (Jesus) said, "Marvel not at this," John 5:28, "for the hour is coming in which all that are in the grave shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation." Jesus said everybody's going to come out of the grave, all bodies will be resurrected...some to life and some to death. That's the or death. And that's exactly what the angel says is the hope of Israel. In the midst of a time of terrible distress, in the darkness of suffering under the Antichrist, in the horror of Armageddon, the overruning power of demons shall stand a special defender, Michael. And through the instrumentality of Michael, God shall bring a special deliverance that promises to all who believe a special destiny.
Finally, for those there is promised a special dividend, verse 3. "And they that be wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." Oh, this is so rich. Marvelous verse, marvelous. It doesn't mention anything about the punishment of the wicked, it just drops that subject almost as if it was a thousand years later. The message here is hope. And so he focuses on the hope and says after the resurrection, that isn't the end, comes the reward, comes the time of dividends. You not only will receive everlasting life but in that life they that be wise, and who are the wise? The wise are the ones who believe, the wise are the ones who are purged, the wise are the faithful, the redeemed. And what are they going to receive but the brightness of the firmament. They're going to shine like stars.


Tomorrow's passage:Psalm 137, Ezekiel 1-2, 1 Timothy 2