Monthly Archives: September, 2014

Malachi: Honour God

I don’t know how many of you have ever read Malachi before. I’m sure some of you will be familiar with some of the verses out of this book, even if you were unaware that Malachi was where those verses lived in the Bible. In all my years in church, I don’t think that I have ever heard a sermon out of Malachi, and I can honestly say that I have never preached one. That will change this weekend, as Malachi is the text I will be using for my sermon on October 5.

Malachi is a pretty simple book to understand really: it all boils down to honouring God in your heart. The context of Malachi’s words on this topic is the way the people of Israel were dishonouring God with their offerings at the temple. The people were bringing sick or lame animals for sacrifice instead of the perfect ones expected of them. Malachi also points out to the people that they were not honouring God by bringing in their 10% tithe to the temple at harvest time.

I know church people do not like to talk about money, and to be honest pastor’s don’t usually like talking about it either. For too long people have been convinced that the church is after their money, which should be the furthest thing from our minds. We should be concerned that people are going to hell.

At the heart of the matter, those two topics (money and hell) are all about the same things: honouring God. The way we give (joyously or grudgingly) and how much we give (from our excess or from our gain) really comes down to how much we honour God in our hearts. Malachi is God’s way of reminding his people, that’s us too by the way, that God deserves all glory, honour and praise. The way we give and how much we give should reflect that.

There is also a second topic mixed into the conversation about honouring God. There is a prophetic element mixed in  as well. Specifically chapter 2:17-3:6 and chapter 4 both talk about the future coming of God’s kingdom and the judgement that will come with that day. It may seem odd that these two sections crop up in Malachi’s otherwise very pointed message, but if you think about it, these two messages go very well together. If we don’t honour God, then we will face the consequences, either in this life or at the moment when God judges everyone. Malachi is not talking about salvation earned through works here. He is talking about faith that shows itself in how we live our lives. Our faith in God, our desire to call him King of kings, should show up in how we make decisions and the kind of life we live; a life that honours God.

The hard part is, it sometimes does not seem very worth it to follow God. Sometimes it actually feels like the hard road instead of the easy road. Some of Malachi’s audience must have felt this way. Chapter 3:13-4:3 addresses this very issue, and in those verses God confirms his commitment to reward the righteous and punish the wicked.

This is a challenging little book and I hope you take the time to let the Holy Spirit lead you in a search of your own heart to determine just how much you are honouring God.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Luke 1; John 1:1-14

Nehemiah 6-13: Leadership

As we closed out Nehemiah yesterday, I thought it wise to comment on something that caught me off guard. I was raised in the church. I have seen the best the church has to offer, and I have seen the worst the church has to offer. But one thing has been kind of constant in every church that I have ever attended, including the two that I have lead as pastor. It is this: the church does not do well in handling conflict or pulling those who are doing wrong up short. If I would use a single word to describe this aspect of church culture, I would say it is passive. There are many reasons for this that I can see:

First, adults in our culture do not take correction or rebuke well. In fact, most adults have a pretty strong independent attitude that does not take well to being corrected. People get offended, they get angry, some get vengeful…and it doesn’t seem to matter how lovingly or gently the correction is given.

Second, I know pastors are often reluctant to dole our correction because, to be quite frank about it, it endangers their jobs. Many a pastor has taken on someone of “importance” in a church and found themselves on the curb.

Third, I find that the church itself is so badly out of practice when it comes to correction or discipline that even when they decide to take action it goes horribly wrong for everyone involved. This leads to either more problems or an even stronger reluctance to take corrective steps the next time around.

As I read the end of Nehemiah’s story, I was completely knocked off of my feet reading about how he dealt with those who required correction. Nehemiah was not someone who beat around the bush, and he certainly wasn’t someone who let things slip. But I cannot imagine acting like he acted in today’s church culture. Take his actions in the last account of chapter 13 as an example. Some of the Israelite men had taken foreign wives and were having children who not only were of mixed blood but who did not even speak the Hebrew language. This made Nehemiah furious and he responds by not only pointing out the wrong but acting rather violently, beating some of the men and pulling their hair out (pulling hair out was an act of humiliation in that culture).

We would not tolerate leadership doing something like that today. But it does raise an interesting discussion about how appropriately we respond when people blatantly disregard God’s commands. One of the stipulations God laid out for Israel through Moses was that they were not to take foreign women as their wives or give their daughters in marriage to foreign men. Yet here we find the returning exiles doing just that. It is the disregard for God’s law as well as the disregard for God himself that makes Nehemiah so furious.

The people were to honour God in every way and in every area of their lives. Their disregard for this overall command is what lit Nehemiah’s fuse.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture

Tomorrow’s Reading: Malachi

Ezra 7-10 & Nehemiah 1-5: Two perspectives

This is a good opportunity for me to remind you that Ezra and Nehemiah come at the rebuilding of Jerusalem from two different perspectives: Ezra is a priest and an expert in the Mosaic Law who is interested in the Temple and spiritual purity, while Nehemiah is a social leader, determined to get the walls around Jerusalem rebuilt and the people back in shape as a nation.

The interesting thing about both men is that they are convinced that both areas of Israelite life, both Temple life and city life, were to be governed by the will of God. Both men arrived in Jerusalem because God sent them there. Both men were convinced that the fate of Israel as a nation had been because of its unfaithfulness to God and its continuing willingness to follow other gods. (This will come out more strongly in our third reading of Nehemiah on Sunday).

This raises an potentially interesting conversation about our societies obsession with the separation of church and state. It has been maintained throughout North American history (perhaps more strongly in the U.S.) that the role of church and state be completely and totally separate, one was not to influence the other. Of course this is a pipe dream and a bit of a farce really. The state is continually making decisions and legislation that affect the spiritual rights of the individual. The rule really intends to keep the church from affecting the running of the state.

Unfortunately, the Bible shows us on multiple occasions that such a separation is not only impossible but against the will of God. As Sovereign Lord, the Bible teaches us that God does indeed influence the leaders in this world, bringing some to power and stripping others of it. It certainly teaches us that our spiritual beliefs and practices greatly affect our social attitude, values, abilities and successes.

Here is one thing I will point out specifically from Nehemiah today: as you are reading about the groups rebuilding the different sections of the walls, be careful not to gloss over it too quickly! Notice who is rebuilding the walls. It is not just masons and stone cutters. There are merchants mentions, goldsmiths mentioned, apprentices mentioned. Everyone, regardless of their “trade” or talent came together and helped to get those walls back up. And look at what they did! They rebuilt the walls (some estimate their total length to be just over 4 km, or 2.5 miles)  of Jerusalem in 52 days. Many hands to indeed make light work.

More importantly, the people were willing to help in tasks that were not within their “gift set”or their area of comfort. Yet they banded together and got the job done.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture

Tomorrow’s Reading: Nehemiah 6-7

Esther

Esther…one of the most beloved books in the Old Testament for so many people; and compared to yesterday’s reading through Zechariah, also much easier to read and get into. Esther is entirely a book of narrative, one big story. A story about a Jewish girl who becomes queen, her adoptive father (Mordecai) who helps and encourages her to rescue the Jewish nation from treachery and the hand of God working to save his people.

It has all the elements of a great story. A beautiful woman, a wretched villain, a noble king, a tense plot and a happy ending. Disney could make millions off of this thing.

The thing that I especially love about Esther is how is displays God working in the background on behalf of his people. Especially when you consider where this story fits into the story of the exiles returning to Jerusalem under Ezra first and then Nehemiah. The exiles were facing some pretty trying times and some strong opposition to their work. Here we have a story in Esther of God working on King Xerxes in Persia, who would eventually give Mordecai carte-blanc in sending all the aid he wanted to the Jewish people all through the Persian kingdom.

Have you ever been in a tough spot and wondered why God wasn’t doing anything to help you? I see in Esther the answer to that question. I’m sure the returned Jews were wondering where God was in their struggle to rebuild the Temple and Jerusalem and why he wasn’t getting rid of the incredible opposition to their work. But we get this incredible glimpse into the back room of God’s plans. We see God working in the background in the throne room itself to secure his people the help they would need.

God works that way. In ways that we can’t see and in times that we don’t comprehend.

There are two lessons for us in this. First, if you are the one wondering why God isn’t helping, rest secured in the story of Esther that God often works in ways we don’t see right away to bring us aid. Second, we are sometimes that source of that divine aid. Sometimes God asks us to be Esther, to step forward in boldness, to act out on the prompting of his Holy Spirit. Sometimes God needs us to obey in order to bring about the aid that someone else needs.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezra 7-10

Zechariah: Difficult

Time to play catch-up. I had the unexpected opportunity to be away with my two oldest daughters for a couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge, an opportunity that I would have been silly to pass up. Unfortunately, that has put me behind on my blog posts, among other things. Today is catch-up day. Thankfully, the readings for the last couple of days center on two books: Zechariah and Esther, two books that we can deal with in one post each…Well, not exactly deal with in their totality because both books are full of things to talk about, but we can draw some broad strokes in one post each.

Here’s the truth about Zechariah: it is probably the most difficult book in the Old Testament in terms of explaining it. About the only easy think about Zechariah is placing it in history. Zechariah ministered and wrote in the second year of King Darius of Persia, about two months after the prophet Haggai received his first message from God. It is likely that Haggai and Zechariah knew one another and their prophetic ministries overlapped for a period time.

Both prophets brought words of encouragement to the exiles struggling to restore the Temple and Jerusalem, but their encouragement came with strong reminders to remain faithful to God, repent of sin and follow after God with all of their hearts and minds.

The difference between the two prophets was that Haggai focused primarily on the rebuilding of the Temple and the glory of God that would return there, referring to both the restoration age but also to the future Messianic age. While Haggai is slim on its references to the Messianic age, Zechariah spends a lot of its time focusing on the rich promises of God that will be fulfilled as history unfolds. But Zechariah keeps in the forefront of his discussion that the riches of God’s promises are “for people who have repented of sin and are ready to embrace the will and declarations of God.” (Boice, The Minor Prophets Vol.2, pg 488)

As for the nine visions of Zechariah, I don’t have the space to outline what some commentators believe their meanings to be. They are apocalyptic in nature, meaning that they have to do with the end of days. They are visionary in form, meaning that they are intended to draw in your attention and capture your imagination while giving insight. And they are all focused on the same encouraging message that the rest of Zechariah is focused on.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Next Reading: Esther

Ezra 4-6; Psalm 137: Opposition

oppositionWhen was the last time you faced opposition in some part of your life? Maybe a co-worker had it out for you. Perhaps your spouse was not very supportive in an endeavor or dream that you have/had. Perhaps a teacher at school seemed to give you a harder time than other students. Maybe you were involved with a community project or group that was getting caught up in red tape or politics.

I would say that very few of us glide through life without experiencing opposition in some way at some time. Granted, some opposition we are glad to hit head on, glad for the opportunity to prove ourselves or our cause as worthy. But even opposition that begins by lighting our fire to fight harder can, over time, become a weight that drags us down and steals our motivation.

That is what happens in these chapters of Ezra. The temple foundation is laid, the people are moving on in the project, and some unsavory characters are beginning to display their dislike for the Israelite presence in Jerusalem and their determination to rebuild their former capital.

You might say; “But they brought the opposition onto themselves because they refused the help of the people living in the land.” Ezra 4:1-3 outline this. But you have to remember that this offer to help with the temple was not out of devotion to God. In the culture of the time, gods were seen as territorial and geographic. So when Babylon imported these people to inhabit Israel, they adopted the worship of Yahweh from the Hebrews and simply added him to their list of deities. 2 Kings 17:33 explains this reality.

Remember that part of God’s covenant with Israel was exclusivity, they were to be set apart solely to God with not influence from their neighbours. If these “helpers” had been allowed to participate in the rebuilding, they would have brought their own religious influence into the picture, something that Israel had already fallen prey to in the past.

You might get a bit confused reading chapter four and five. Think of chapter 4:6-4:23 as having giant parenthesis around them. The author interrupts his chronological narrative to explain that opposition to the rebuilding of the Temple started with this incident during King Cyrus’ reign and continued all the way through the reigns of the kings that followed him. The chronological narrative continues in chapter 4 verse 24.

The main thing I would like you to consider as you read these chapters is how the Israelites dealt with the opposition. They stuck firmly to their beliefs (4:4), they believed God when he told them that he would protect them (5:1-2) and they continued with the work even in the face of opposition.

That is really the key. There is the tendency, the leaning, the pressure to throw in the towel when opposition arises. The real question you have to ask yourself is: do I really believe in what I’m doing/saying? The Israelites really believed that God had directed them to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem, they really believed that he would protect them and see the project through, and so they continued even in the face of opposition.

If you don’t really believe in something, you will throw in the towel at the first sign of pressure to abandon it. That is actually one of the logic proofs that is used to defend Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The disciples DIED proclaiming that Jesus had physically been raised from the dead. If they really didn’t believe that or if they had made it up, there is no way they would have endured torture, exile and death (horrible death in some cases) defending it as true.

But they had seen him, touched him, heard him, ate with him, and so were confident to speak the truth even when opposition was life-threatening.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Haggai

Ezra 1-3: Restoration

“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled.”

Don’t you wish all of the fulfillment God’s promises were that clearly pointed out for us? Big neon sign in the sky with a big arrow: God’s promise for you fulfilled here! It is certainly what I want from time to time, just a little reminder of the way in which God is working around us to fulfill his good plans and purposes. I’m certain that if someone were writing a book looking back into our time, as the author of Ezra was, I’m sure that he or she would be able to make a statement similar to what appears in the first line of Ezra.

That thought aside Ezra is a book all about restoration, not just of the Temple and Jerusalem, although they are the main focus of the work of the returning Israelites; but it most importantly about the restoration of Israel as a nation and more specifically, it is about the restoration of relationship between God and his people.

The thought that occurred to me as I was reading these chapters is that there is a broad-stroke message in Ezra for all of us who call ourselves Jesus-followers. I haven’t met a Christian yet who has not gone through a period of time in their lives when they feel like they are in exile. Either because they feel like God is miles away, or because God is disciplining them (yes this does happen my friends!) or because they have chosen to walk a path for a period of time that is away from God. The amazing truth that comes through Ezra is that God’s desire is to be restored to his people. He wants us to be in his presence, the whole focus of his plan since the fall is the restoration of humanity to himself.

As you read Ezra and Nehemiah and Esther, let that thought percolate in your mind and consider how God desires to bring you into a fuller restoration with him.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezra 4-6; Psalm 137

Daniel 10-12: TOO MUCH

Man oh man there is too much to talk about from today’s reading! There’s a year of sermons in these three chapters…OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is so much we could talk about. Let me make a couple of quick bullet points instead of one long post.

1) Chapter 10 contains perhaps one of the most detailed descriptions of actual heavenly conflict in the entire Bible. Daniel is given details by “a glorious one” about the conflict happening between heavenly angels and other “princes” of the spiritual realm. Paul refers to these same entities in Ephesians 6:12. It is amazing that these details are revealed to us through Daniel

2) The Kingdoms of the North and South in chapter 11 can be confusing, because there is a mixture of prophesies here, some that have been fulfilled already and some that have not. As a guidepost, I would recommend seeing verse 36 of chapter 11 as the turning point between history past and history present. The verses of chapter 11 before verse 36 deal with history that is traceable and identifiable (even though Daniel was written much before the events predicted) and the verses after 36 deal with the future rise and reign of the figure identified in Revelation at the Antichrist, and then his fall through the appearance of God as judge at the beginning of chapter 12.

3) Finally, let me draw attention to verses 5-13 of chapter 12. Daniel receives this massive vision, a huge download of spiritual information and prophesy, which leaves him confused and full of questions. His first question: how long? To this question he receives a cryptic answer: “a time, times and half a time” which is really no discernible answer at all as a “time” is not defined for us. Many are the attempts to interpret this passage of time, but none have proven correct. What I find interesting is that Daniel asks a second question that he receives absolutely no answer to at all. He asks: “What will be the outcome of these things?” He is told, essentially, not to worry about such things but to continue on the journey God had laid out for him and trust that he will “rise to your destiny at the end of the days.” Talk about cryptic! But it reminds us that even those who received these visions were not privy to a full understanding of them, their timing or how they will full play out.

This does not end our exploration through prophetic scripture, in fact there are some incredible things still for us to read in Zechariah and then of course as we begin our journey into the New Testament early next month. Prophesy gives us proof of God’s control of history (in that some of it can be verified as completed) but it also assures us that God is in control and will fulfill his purposes in time.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezra 1-3

Daniel 7-9: Foretelling

We are entering into the second half of Daniel today, a section that is full of prophetic visions of the future. Some of Daniel’s visions have come to pass already and can be verified in history, and some are yet to happen. Let me be clear about one thing as we enter into this section: Daniel is a clear revelation of the meaning of history. The book of Daniel is not a puzzle for us to figure out or try to unravel. Certainly there are places where conclusive explanations are lacking, and as we read these chapters together we will find that Daniel himself is puzzled about some things.

But Daniel makes clear to us the fact that it is God who is in control of history and his purposes are being accomplished; including the future establishment of God’s eternal Kingdom.

If you want a rough overview of these visions here it is (taken from Boice in his commentary on Daniel): “These visions vary in important details, but they are overlapping and make roughly the same point. They tell us that God is in control of history, that human kingdom will succeed human kingdoms until the coming of the Lord’s Anointed, the Messiah, but that in the end it is his kingdom that will fill the whole earth.”

There is so much to unpack in these verses that I can’t possibly accomplish it in a short blog post. In fact, I’ve been thinking that a sermon series through Daniel is on the docket for this coming year. I would encourage you to find a good commentary if you are interested in delving further into the meaning of the visions Daniel has from this point forward. Certainly J.M. Boice’s commentary is excellent. He writes clearly and simply for those who do not want a deep theological treatise of the book, but he writes in a very instructive and clarifying manner.

The nice thing about Daniel is that there are clarifying statements made throughout the book to help us understand what Daniel is seeing. Again, Daniel himself doesn’t understand fully everything that is going on, so he asks for clarification on a number of occasions and receives it.

Here’s some insight into chapter 7. Daniel’s vision of the animals corresponds with Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue in chapter 2. The Lion is the head of gold, which is Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Kingdom. The Bear is the chest of silver and represents the Medeo-Persian empire. The Leopard corresponds with the middle of bronze in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and relates to the Greek empire of Alexander the Great. Finally, the fourth beast, the terrible beast, relates to the legs, feet and toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and speaks of the kingdom of Rome. The 10 horns and the 10 toes on the statue presumably represent 10 confederate Kingdoms that make up this final Kingdom, three of which will be uprooted and replaced by one individual ruler. This would seem to be the first Biblical reference to the one that is later referred to as the Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation.

Understand, what I have laid out for you is one interpretation of these beasts/Kingdoms. There are others, particularly among the moral liberal theologians who would disagree with this explanation. But I am not liberal and neither are my sources!

One thing that continually amazes me is how these visions given to Daniel are fulfilled through history and can be traced by their particular characteristics to different Kingdoms. Certainly I would love to get into those detailed characteristics, but there isn’t space enough. But it all goes back to the main thrust of all of these visions: God is in control of history and his purposes will and are being accomplished.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Daniel 10-12

Ezekiel 46-48: Keyhole

keyholeAs we come to the end of the book of Ezekiel, it is important for us to be reminded about the purpose of this book. Ezekiel was an exiled priest that God called to be a prophet among the exiled Jewish nation. He was called to pronounce God’s judgement on Jerusalem because of their refusal to follow God wholeheartedly. Ezekiel’s message changes after the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and he begins to paint for the exiles a picture of what will happen to them as a nation during two time frames: first after their exile is over and then looking further into the future to when God’s millenial Kingdom will be established on the earth. That is where we are as we finish the book today.

God gives Ezekiel a glimpse into how the nation will be established during the reign of the Messiah on earth.

Before I go any further, you might be wondering who this “prince” guy is that Ezekiel keeps mentioning. The truth of the matter is that we don’t really know. We are given no indication that he is of David’s line, or that he is a priest or a Levite; in fact we are not given any indication of what tribe he will be from. He will be married and have children who will inherit the land set aside for him (Ezekiel 46:16-18). This would indicate that this prince is not the Messiah, but some sort of civil ruler or vice-regent of some sort under the Kingship of the Messiah.

This leads me to my main point for today’s reading, a point that I will reiterate when we come across other images of the future in scripture. There are times in scripture when God gives us glimpses into what is to come, they are almost like God leads us to an old fashioned door with an old fashioned keyhole in it and permits us to have a glance through the keyhole. We have old doors with old keyholes in our house, and if anyone has ever tried to look through one, you will find that you don’t see much. The field of vision is very limited.

Such is the way with the glimpses God gives us of the times to come. We are often given a very small glimpse that can leave us with more questions than answers. But God, in his wisdom, has decided that the glimpse is enough. Otherwise he would have thrown open the door and shown us the whole picture.

So in this section of Ezekiel that talks about a mysterious prince and a glorious river flowing from the alter and bringing life wherever it goes and the allotment of the land to the tribes, we are given glimpses of what is to come, but not the whole picture. Will the river be literal of simply an image of a spiritual reality? We don’t know. Some scriptures that talk about the river make it seem very literal (like Joel and sections of Zechariah), while other scriptures reference the river in a way that makes it seem more of an image; like Jesus picturing the Holy Spirit as a stream of living water in John 7:37-39.

The important thing for us to realize is that God has given us these glimpses of the future for our benefit, to encourage us and keep us moving toward the goal of our faith: namely that day when God promises “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Sometimes we get too caught up in trying to figure all of the details for that future out, that is not why God gives us these glimpses. They are his promise to us that something amazing is coming. We have to it look forward to it, even as we do the work of the gospel that he has called us to here and now.

So have a glimpse through the keyhole and marvel at what God has ahead for his people.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Joel