Being called some kind of animal is normally not something we desire, except when God is the one making the comparison. “And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 34:31) Thru Ezekiel God is reminding His people that He will watch over and care for them like a shepherd does his flock, BUT they have to follow Him like sheep. In the 23rd Psalm David shares his knowledge that with God as our shepherd, we have all that we need. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalms 23:1) Jesus also gave us reason to want to be like sheep when He described the Judgement Day. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:31-34) In the rest of Matthew 25 Jesus told some of the things we need to do so we can be compared to sheep and not goats.
Today’s reading: Ezekiel 31-36
We all live our lives in the way we think is best for us. Solomon tells us that we should be willing to listen to words that might help us live an even better life. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15) The source of that advice is most important. What better place to search for guidance that the inspired word of God. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16) Knowing God’s desire for us is important, but matching our actions to that knowledge is even more important. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22) We should be daily looking to God’s word and striving to make our lives match that Perfect Example.
Today’s reading: Proverbs 11-12
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word beatitude as “a state of utmost bliss”. When we hear “beatitudes” we normally think of Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 5, but there are other beatitudes found in God’s word. Psalms chapter 84 has a few of these.
“Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah” (Psalms 84:4) The primary purpose of worship to our Heavenly Father is to glorify Him, but in doing so we are uplifted by honoring the One from who all blessings flow.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” (Psalms 84:5) If we daily look to Him for our strength and focus our path toward Him, nothing can stop us.
“O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!” (Psalms 84:12) Having a strong faith in Him promises blessings beyond measure, no matter what the devil may throw at us.
Today’s reading: Psalms 84-86
Jehoash became king at an age when kids today would be in second grade. “Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign.” (2 Kings 11:21) No matter who is in power as a king, president, or any other position in government, they are there only because God allowed it. “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;” (Daniel 2:21) “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1) God allowed Jehoash to be king, but He also put someone in his life to be a mentor. “And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” (2 Kings 12:2) We can all think of a person or persons in our life who have been mentors like Jehoiada. Thank God for His providence in putting these Christian examples in our lives.
Today’s reading: 2 Kings 11-15
Blood keeps our bodies living and it can also keep our souls as well. Under the old law God gave power to the blood of animal sacrifices. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11) The power of animal sacrifice was just temporary and could not come close to the power of the one Sacrifice that was for us all. “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:13) There was nothing on this earth that was perfect enough to be that sacrifice, only the perfect Son of God had that power. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:18-19) “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Today’s reading: Leviticus 16-18
At times we may have good intentions and sincere motives, but our actions do not follow. Jesus warned Peter that this could happen. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Before Jesus made this statement, Peter was adamant that he would not deny the Christ. “Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”’ (Luke 22:33) When the pressure came, Peter caved in and did what he promised not to do. “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:61) Strength to withstand pressure of temptation can come from daily prayer to our Heavenly Father like the prayer Paul made on behalf of the Ephesians. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man;” (Ephesians 3:14-16)
Today’s reading: Luke 21-22
We know that Jesus died and was raised from the dead to give each of us the opportunity for salvation from our sin. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures;” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae he reminds them when they had been joined with Christ. “having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12) Paul also explained this in his letter to the Romans. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5) Walking in that “newness of life” is one of the great blessings of being a Christian. We can know that our sins of the past have been washed away and forgotten. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) As a new creation we also have responsibilities to live our new life following His Word and not go back to being that old sinful man.
Today’s reading: Colossians 1-2
Throughout the Bible we see proof that there is only one God. The phrase “I am the Lord” occurs 84 times in the book of Ezekiel. Many of those times include something that God says He is doing so people will know that He is the one God. “and I will execute judgments upon Moab. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 25:11) “Thus I will execute judgments on Egypt. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 30:19) In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he speaks of the One who is in control of everything. “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6) In prayer to our Heavenly Father, Jesus speaks of the source of eternal life in Heaven with Him. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
Today’s reading: Ezekiel 25-30
Solomon had great wisdom from God, but he did not always follow what he knew to be right. He tells us where following instruction will put us. “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” (Proverbs 10:17) None of us want to be one of those he is talking about who lead others astray. We can all look back and see people who have been influences in our lives, both good and bad. The Hebrew writer tells us to focus on those positive influences and try to follow their way. “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7) Paul told us thru his writing to the Corinthians to follow his example because he was following the greatest example that ever walked this earth. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Today’s reading: Proverbs 10
It is hard to imagine how anyone could hate the Creator and Sustainer of this earth, but the Psalmist describes people that do. “The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him, But their fate would endure forever.” (Psalms 81:15) Jesus told us that someone who had that feeling towards His Father had the same feeling toward the Son. “Whoever hates me hates my Father also.” (John 15:23) He also told us why a person would hate something so good. “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:20) He continued on and told us what we need to do so that we do not show hate toward our God and Savior. “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:21)
Today’s reading: Psalms 81-83