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Showing posts from December, 2021

bible reading dec 29-31

Bible reading for December 29 -- 31 Dec 29 -- Malachi 2 and John 19 Dec 30 -- Malachi 3 and John 20 Dec 31 -- Malachi 4 and John 21 ================ "But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall."  (Malachi 4:2)  DOING ALL THINGS POORLY (Mal 2-3). As we draw near the end of the Mosaic covenant period, we see that even when the remnant of Israel is spared and returned to the land, they still do not continue in faithfulness and zeal. The Jews have lost their sense of God's greatness and their religion is half-hearted at best. The Lord himself will come to them: "Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts" (3:1). God's Son, Jesus, would himself stand in the temple courts in Jerusa

bible reading dec 27-28

Bible reading for December 27 -- 28 Dec 27 -- Zechariah 14 and John 17 Dec 28 -- Malachi 1 and John 18 ================ "For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 1:11)  WITH BELLS ON (Zech 14). Like most of the prophets of the Bible, Zechariah does not leave us with the bad news, but gives us the good news, the promise of a glorious future. After judgment -- if we learn from it -- comes blessing. And it's a beautiful world (see my previous post, "With Bells On").  TIRED OF GOD (Mal 1). The first two books of the Bible open with the glory of God, seen first in creation (Genesis), and then in redeeming his people from Egypt (Exodus). In the last book of the OT we find a people who are tired of God. They have lost the sense of his greatness. Regarding the worship of

with bells on

"And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, 'Holy to the LORD.'"  (Zechariah 14:20 ESV) I grew up with horses, and a familiar (and happy) sound at Christmas was the chime of the old German sleighbells attached to the door handle of our home. And every so often, when the weather was cold enough and the snow was the right depth, we would hitch up one of the horses to an old sleigh we had in the barn. The hitching part was more of an ordeal than you might think, but those times made precious memories for us as a family. The verse written above comes at the end of the book of Zechariah and describes the restoration of God's city of Zion. Some of the images given in the Bible for the new creation are ones I don't immediately relate to, like streets of gold or gates of pearl. But this one, horses with bells on, strikes a deep chord within me. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.) There was nothing in my youth which spoke of peace and wel

bible reading dec 22-26

  Bible reading for December 22 -- 26 Dec 22 -- Zechariah 9 and John 12 Dec 23 -- Zechariah 10 and John 13 Dec 24 -- Zechariah 11 and John 14 Dec 25 -- Zechariah 12 and John 15 Dec 26 -- Zechariah 13 and John 16 We are in the Christmas holiday season, and so, I'm combining several days' readings. Next week we will be finishing the 2021 Bible reading schedule! Congratulations to those of you who have been reading along with us. Thanks for your kind and helpful notes along the way. And may you and yours have a blessed Christmas! --Sandy ================ "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9)  THREE REMARKABLE PROPHECIES (Zech 9-12) . The prophet Isaiah gave us many wonderful descriptions of the Messiah-to-come, including his miraculous birth. Daniel gave us a sketch of the Messian

in memory of a mentor

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)  I first met Mason Hutcheson when I was in grade school, and he was a young extension agent working with the 4-H clubs in our county. He was friendly, courteous, and loved his work with the community. I came to know him much better after I came to faith in Jesus Christ at Virginia Tech in 1971. In the summer of 1972, along with a number of others, we began a youth-outreach ministry in Culpeper called the Son House. We also served together many years with the leadership of a congregation in our community. As of this year, our friendship spanned fifty years. No other Chr

bible reading dec 20-21

  Bible reading for weekend December 20 -- 21  Dec 20 -- Zechariah 7 and John 10 Dec 21 -- Zechariah 8 and John 11 ================ "And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets." (Zechariah 8:5)  WHAT'S THE USE (ch 7)? These two chapters go together, as seen by the opening question regarding fast days (7:3), and the Lord's reference to these same fasts (8:19). The opening question may be seen as a kind of complaint, i.e., does it really do any good to observe the appointed fasts? The people have a kind of formalistic view of their relationship with God. They are ticking the boxes of ceremonial observation and nothing much has changed in their post-exilic life back in Jerusalem (vv 1-3). The Lord answers, questioning their motives (vv 5-7). They are using religion as a way to improve their own lot in life. They are not seeking the Lord for himself. So, they need to make real changes, that is, to observe justice and to not harden

bible reading dec 17-19

Bible reading for weekend December 17 -- 19  Dec 17 -- Zechariah 4 and John 7 Dec 18 -- Zechariah 5 and John 8 Dec 19 -- Zechariah 6 and John 9 ================ "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 4:6)  THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS (ch 4). We are reading the visions which the prophet Zechariah received. God is giving encouragement to the post-exilic Jews to continue their work in rebuilding the temple and the nation. Many of the images in these chapters recall those symbols portrayed in Christ's Revelation to the Apostle John in the last book of the Bible. The near events of rebuilding the temple (and the purging of evil) point ahead to more distant future events. An abiding principle both in the OT and NT is that the Lord himself will do the work through his Spirit and through his anointed servants. The two servants in view here are Joshua (the high priest) and Zerubbabel (the governo

bible reading dec 15-16

Bible reading for December 15 -- 16  Dec 15 -- Zechariah 2 and John 5 Dec 16 -- Zechariah 3 and John 6 ================   "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people." (Zechariah 2:10)  THE CITY RESTORED (ch 2). Zechariah and Haggai spoke to the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. The people needed encouragement to rebuild the city and the temple. They needed hope for the future. Zechariah prophesies of the time of future glory and security for Jerusalem, which will also become an international gathering place for God's people from many nations. The restoration of the city, the priesthood, and the people takes place in historical stages. The earthly Jerusalem and the mount upon which the temple stood, Zion, is a shadow (or type) of God's heavenly city (Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22-24). The city was r

bible reading dec 13-14

Bible reading for December 13 -- 14  Dec 13 -- Haggai 2 and John 3 Dec 14 -- Zechariah 1 and John 4 ================ "Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts..." (Haggai 2:4) THE LATTER GLORY (Haggai 2). The Jews, having returned from Babylonian exile, must get to work and finish rebuilding the temple. For this reason, the post-exilic period is called the "second temple" period. King Herod would later enlarge and add many embellishments to the site. But the beginnings in Haggai are so modest compared to the temple originally built by Solomon, and the people were discouraged. The Lord asks, "Is it not as nothing in your eyes?" (v 3) He tells them that they are to be strong and to keep working, for he is with them, no matter how humble the project may seem. This principle applies to us, as well (Matt 28:20; Eph 6:10). We should not become disheartened at the smallness of the return on our

bible reading dec 10-12

  Bible reading for weekend December 10 -- 12  Dec 10 -- Zephaniah 2 and Luke 24 Dec 11 -- Zephaniah 3 and John 1 Dec 12 -- Haggai 2 and John 2 ================ "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)  ZEPHANIAH (ch 2-3). The God of justice is also the God who joyfully sings over his people (3:17). The purpose of his judgment is not simply to bring justice to his creation, but also to purify a people for himself (3:9-13). In the NT we read that our Lord Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works" (Titus 2:14). One specific area of purification noted by Zephaniah is that of language: "For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of th

bible reading dec 8-9

  Bible reading for December 8 -- 9  Dec 8 -- Habakkuk 3 and Luke 22 Dec 9 -- Zephaniah 1 and Luke 23 ================ "The sovereign LORD is my source of strength. He gives me the agility of a deer; he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain." (Habakkuk 3:19 NET).  JOY IN DIFFICULT TIMES (Hab 3). The prophet considers the coming invasion of their land. Poetically, he describes the Lord as a warrior going forth to defend his name and his people. Teman and Paran (v 3) are locations along the way in which the Lord led Israel out of Egypt from the south and on to the promised land. The chapter ends with Habakkuk's statement of joy and confidence in the Lord. Isn't this a good affirmation for us too? No matter our circumstances (v 17) we can rejoice in the Lord (v 18), who will enable us to make it through difficult times (v 18). Much later, while imprisoned in Rome, the Apostle Paul would write, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. ...I can d

bible reading dec 6-7

Bible reading for December 6 -- 7  Dec 6 -- Habakkuk 1 and Luke 20 Dec 7 -- Habakkuk 2 and Luke 21 ================   "Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)  THE COMPLAINT (ch 1). The prophet Habakkuk wrote late in the 7th century BC, during same time as Jeremiah's ministry in Jerusalem. The first Babylonian subjugation of Israel would come in 605 BC. The prophet complains of the widespread immorality and injustice of the Jews, and why doesn't God do something about it? God answers by saying he will in fact deal with it by raising up the Chaldeans (another name for the Babylonians) to invade the land. This shocks Habakkuk. How could the Lord deliver over his people to an empire even more evil than themselves? How could God seemingly approve, and even promote, such a wicked and pagan nation? The answer is that God is so sovereign he can use evil for a good purpose, namely, for humbling h

bible reading dec 3-5

  Bible reading for weekend December 3 -- 5  Dec 3 -- Nahum 1 and Luke 17 Dec 4 -- Nahum 2 and Luke 18 Dec 5 -- Nahum 3 and Luke 19 ================ "The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness." (Nahum 1:7-8)  TIME'S UP FOR NINEVEH (Nah 1-3). The prophecy of Nahum is God's word to the people of Nineveh, part two. Jonah was part one, chronicling a city-wide repentance of Assyrians in the capital about a hundred years earlier. The closing bookend is Nahum, and the Assyrian empire is big, powerful, and aggressive. Notice the references to chariots (2:3-4, 13; 3:2). The Assyrians were a militarily advanced culture, and cruel in their warfare. Whatever spiritual receptivity they had at the time of Jonah was gone by the time of Nahum. Nahum may not have actually visited Nineveh, for it seems the book was w