Readings

God speaks to us through Scripture. When we are lost, we know that we can look to His Word for guidance. We invite you to join us in daily reading as we go through the Bible together and learn as a family.

The beauty of the opening scenes of Revelation gives way to the awful scenes of judgment upon the earth. God is merciful and long-suffering, but He will not be mocked. Earth is a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode with God’s fury and judgment upon the centuries-old wickedness in the nations of the world.

Step by step, plague by plague, the judgment of God will be poured out upon the earth. The fear of God’s wrath will fall upon all human beings to the point where mountains and rocks falling upon them will seem like a welcome relief! 

The writer of Proverbs questioned, “Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down? Who holds the wind in his fists? Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak? Who has created the whole wide world? What is his name—and his son’s name? Tell me if you know!” (30:4).

Fear the One who sits on the throne and His Son, the Lamb. Fear the Lord now while you may still receive His grace and forgiveness!

Sometimes it seems as though you wait forever for a breakthrough. Satan laughs and mocks your faith, insisting that you are waiting in vain. Micah’s response to Satan’s jabs was a strong confession of faith. Confident that the Lord would save him, Micah declared that although he might be down, he was not out!

When going through periods of waiting for God, hours turn into days, weeks, and months. Satan’s taunts and jeers ring in your ears. Through it all, however, remember that one day the tables will turn. You may have fallen, but you must boldly declare, “I will arise.” You may be sitting in darkness now, but one day the Lord will light all the darkness around you!

The elders around the throne of God reminded John, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white” (Revelation 7:14). Are you going through a period of tribulation and waiting for God to act? Stand forever, if necessary, for Satan knows that one day “God will wipe away all [your] tears” (v. 17).

The twenty-six letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used to begin the twenty-six verses of Psalm 136. Twenty-six times the Holy Spirit wants us to know that “His faithful loves endures forever.” This fact should be branded upon our minds and hearts both now and always.

In stark contrast to this message is the incredible judgment of the seventh seal (Revelation 8). Death, darkness, and despair consume the earth with fiery hail, falling stars, and bitter waters. How does this judgment show a God whose love endures forever? Nahum provides the answer: “The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet” (Nahum 1:3). God shows His love by waiting so long to impose judgment!

Centuries have gone by with God’s long-suffering, restraining judgment being withheld, just as He withheld in the days of Noah. God also waited patiently for Pharaoh, though He “killed the firstborn of Egypt” (Psalm 136:10). The old idea that a God of love cannot show wrath is wrong. His love is shown by the fact that He waits so long to display His wrath!

Joy is the biggest prize Satan could ever steal from a Christian. Someone once said, “If he can steal your joy, he can spoil your goods.” The prophet Habakkuk knew how important it was to keep his joy, and he was determined to hold on to it tightly, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Joy is the one precious commodity Satan cannot take from you unless you give it to him. When you have your joy, you will say with Habakkuk, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as sure-footed as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains” (Habakkuk 3:19). The little deer’s feet are so nimble that even when he is knocked from a towering precipice, he still lands on his feet. With joy in your heart, you will always land on your feet, no matter the trial.

Perhaps you can rejoice when everything is going perfectly, but what about when the bank balance is zero and all your efforts seem to be unfruitful? Purpose today to “always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Rejoice!

Trials and troubles tend to make us fearful. Instead of feeling stout and bold, we feel stooped and cold! However, Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us, “For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song.” This is your first secret to recovery: God is with you! Having Him on your side is like having the United States Army on your side in a skirmish with a Boy Scout troop!

Next, He will rejoice over you with gladness. All His attention and loving affection is directed toward you in the same way a father directs his attention toward his son.

Then, He will calm all your fears. Your fearful, timid whining is for nothing, because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). You can rest contented and safe in His arms.

Finally, He exults over you by singing a happy song. This picture is like that of a parent holding a child and singing to him in his darkest hour. Can you imagine God singing songs of deliverance over you? What enemy has a chance against such odds?

Be bold and strong, for your Father is on the scene.

Some people are perpetual takers and not givers. Their attitude is that anyone and everyone owe them something, and their sour, stingy snarls are flashed at those who don’t oblige them.

Often the selfishness of such people leads to God’s rebuke. The prophet Haggai addressed those who pursued only the building of their own houses and not God’s house. He said, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” (Haggai 1:5-6). God had to withhold His blessing from His people in order to teach them that His kingdom came first.

Giving to a “leech” who is opposed to God’s kingdom and who is only a “taker” is a hopeless cause. Such a person will never prosper. Someone once said, “If it rubs you the wrong way, turn the cat around!” Become a giver and watch God seal up the holes in your pockets.

The dragon spoken of in Revelation 12 is ever on the prowl. Though there may be disagreement over the identities of the woman and the child, Satan’s identity as the dragon is clear. Cast from the heavenly realms with his angels, He will inhabit only the earth and the sea, and in fury he will seek all God-fearing people for “he knows that he has little time” (Revelation 12:12).

The psalmist saw this dragon also. He pleaded, “O Lord, rescue me from evil people. Preserve me from those who are violent, those who plot evil in their hearts and stir up trouble all day long. Their tongues sting like a snake; the poison of a viper drips from their lips” (Psalm 140:1-3).

Revelation 12:10-11 reveals that we have three weapons in our arsenal with which to fight the dragon. First, “the Accuser has been thrown down to earth” (v. 10). We are no longer under guilt and condemnation, and we do not have to listen to the devil’s accusations against us.

Second, they “defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony” (v. 11). In the precious blood of Jesus and with the testimony of His saving grace, we have a mighty weapon to wield against the dragon.

Finally, “they were not afraid to die” (v. 11). You cannot truly kill someone who has already been crucified with Christ.

“Rejoice, O heavens! ” (Revelation 12:12). Our enemy is destined for defeat!

Many of David’s prayers were encompassed in two words: Keep me!

The role of Protector is one of God’s most glorious attributes. He promised Zechariah two forms of protection. First, He promised to be “a wall of fire around Jerusalem” (Zechariah 2:5). Even wild animals fear fire, and God said that He would erect around us a wall of flaming fire that no enemy could penetrate.

God also promised Zechariah that “he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of [my] eye” (v. 8 KJV). The apple may be interpreted as the “pupil” of the eye. It is the gate, the very center of the eyeball, through which all light must pass. The eyeball is fiercely protected by the eyelid, which instinctively closes the moment anything threatening comes near the eye. In effect, the Lord is saying, “I am not only watching over you, but you are in my eye!”

If you walk closely to the Lord, you will never stray outside His “wall of fire,” and you will always be protected as the “pupil of His eye.” Fear not, citizen of Zion. Your God has awesome keeping power!

How easy it is to despise our efforts in the Lord! Of course, Satan is always there to point out that what we are doing is insignificant. We react by trying harder to bring our plans to perfection. Ultimately, however, our energy will lag, and we will have to admit that we can do nothing in our own strength. It takes the Spirit of the Lord to accomplish anything of value.

Why should we labor alone in our own strength when God’s Spirit will work alongside us? We must learn to rely on the supernatural. “Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will flatten out before him! Then Zerubbabel will set the final stone of the Temple in place, and the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’ ” (Zechariah 4:7).

Who would have thought that a mountain could come down just by shouting at it? The walls of Jericho, like Zerubbabel’s mountain, did not come down by man’s reasoning, but by God’s power. Satan may belittle our praises, but he knows that praise is our mightiest weapon in the arsenal of faith. Keep shouting at your mountain—the Holy Spirit will bring it down!

The writer of Proverbs describes four creatures that are tiny, but smart. These creatures can be understood in the context of the four aspects of evangelism.

The ant has tremendous drive to gather food during the harvest season. In the same way, we must have an urgency, or purpose, as we sense the shortness of time left for reaping the souls of humanity.

The rock badger finds its strength in the rocks in which it lives. We also will find greater evangelistic productivity when we are in partnership with other stronger believers.

Net fishing with others is better than hook fishing alone! The locust flies together with other locusts, ruling the air and even blacking out the sun. No evangelism would be fruitful without concerted prayer with others that takes control of the heavenlies.

Finally, the lizard has a real knack of penetration. It can make its way into all kinds of places, even a king’s palace. We must be unafraid to go through any open door and prepared to crawl through any evangelism “crack” the Lord opens before us.

Proverbs 11:30 (KJV) says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” Rescuing eternal souls requires great wisdom, and that wisdom involves purpose, partnership, prayer, and penetration. Ask the Lord today for this wisdom, and start fulfilling your eternal destiny!

We are, indeed, happy and blessed! On this Christmas Day in which our Lord’s birth is traditionally celebrated, we should take time to remember our blessings.

First, we can thank God for His blessings upon our children. How grateful we are that “our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. . . . Our daughters [are] like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace” (Psalm 144:12). To have well-mannered, God-fearing children is such a great blessing.

Because of the blessing of provision, “our farms [are] filled with crops of every kind,” and “the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands” (v. 13). God’s material blessings to His people are bounteous!

Because of our God, we are privileged to live in a land of peace. There are “no breached walls, no forced exile, no cries of distress in our squares” (v.14). We should never take for granted the peace in our families, on our streets, in our churches, and in our government. In spite of all our problems in America, we are still privileged to “live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2).

“Yes, happy are those who have it like this! Happy indeed are those whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15). I trust this can be said of you and of me!

With amazing accuracy, Zechariah looked down the corridor of time and described Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Without the Holy Spirit, how could Zechariah have possibly known that one day Christ would indeed be riding on a little donkey, with thousands of adoring worshipers shouting and laying palm branches in the road? Matthew was an eyewitness of this exact scene and quoted Zechariah, the prophet who had predicted it (Matthew 21:5).

There are sixty-one direct prophecies such as this one, which had to be fulfilled in perfect sequence for Jesus to fulfill all the Old Testament predictions of the Messiah. According to renowned mathematician and scientist Peter Stoner, if the prophets had concocted in their own wisdom only eight prophecies, the odds of having all eight come true in any one person would be the same as the odds of someone who is blindfolded finding—on his first try—a marked silver dollar in the state of Texas, with the entire state buried two feet deep in silver dollars!

Let’s bow today, not before the babe in the manger, but before the mighty King who “will bring peace to the nations” (Zechariah 9:10)!

Another amazing prophecy of Zechariah had to do with Christ’s betrayal. Judas fulfilled this prophecy immediately after his betrayal of Jesus. “Then Judas threw the money onto the floor of the Temple and went out and hanged himself. . . . After some discussion [the priests] finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood” (Matthew 27:5, 7-8).

Money is so tempting, yet so unfulfilling. Those thirty pieces of silver seemed worth the entire world to Judas until they were actually in his hand. Then they became like garbage to him. How Satan had twisted Judas’s mind to value something that would cost him his life! 

The great city of Babylon is the symbol of the materialistic god of this world, and it will be smashed to pieces in just one moment of time (Revelation 18:10). Christ is the “pearl of great value” (Matthew 13:46), and nothing else in this world really matters.

Let us hold Him dear and exchange nothing for His love.

Jesus shines through the ends of both the Old and New Testaments. John saw Him in His glorious, visible return. Zechariah prophesied of the reaction of the Jewish people at the Lord’s return:

“They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died” (Zechariah 12:10).

Zechariah saw the Jewish nation returning to God through the covenant blood that was shed for all humankind. “On that day a fountain will be opened for the dynasty of David and for the people of Jerusalem, a fountain to cleanse them from all their sins and defilement”

(13:1). He saw the spirit of repentance poured out on Israel as they asked the Lord Jesus, “Then what are those scars on your chest?” (v. 6). He will reply, “I was wounded at the home of friends!” (v. 6). 

Christ, the marvelous Redeemer, will return one day, and every eye will see Him. Are you ready for that return?

The final battle at Jerusalem will be ended by the visible return of Christ. He will descend to the same spot on earth from which He ascended: the Mount of Olives. When His feet touch the earth, the mountain will split, and a river will be opened between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.

Jesus’ coming will usher in the Millennium, a thousand-year reign of peace on earth administrated by Christ Jesus Himself. Satan will be bound for a thousand years and will not be allowed to “deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years [are] finished” (Revelation 20:3). The Tribulation martyrs will be raised from the dead to join believers in reigning with Christ.

In your darkest hour, remember: The Prince of Peace is on His way!

The bride spoken of in Revelation 21:2 provides us with an appropriate description of the city of the New Jerusalem, filled with the faithful believers in Christ. All history closes with a description of the marriage of Christ to His Church, an eternal romance in which believers will be in covenant with Him forever.

This description of the Bride of Christ is, in fact, a picture of a godly marriage. It symbolizes a covenant of faithfulness and commitment so that all the world may see how Christ will care for His Church. For this reason, God declared his hatred of divorce (Malachi 2:16), as it destroys the beautiful picture of covenant faithfulness.

Proverbs 31:10-24 describes “a virtuous and capable wife.” Her beauty, grace, wisdom, and faithfulness, as well as her relationship with her offspring and husband, all portray the qualities of the Bride of Christ. All that God is working in your life is designed to prepare you to be married to Christ forever. One day, the Holy Spirit will usher the Church to the gate of heaven and then march her down the main street of the New Jerusalem to be married to Christ. 

Get ready, Bride of Christ. Your greatest day is approaching!

As we end this year and begin the new, we remember the promises of God concerning tithes and offerings. The tithe, or tenth, was instituted by God to remind us that we are just passing through this world on our way to an eternal city. The tithe of our income is holy money, and withholding it from the Lord actually means we are robbing Him (Malachi 3:8). How significant is a tenth of the tiny income we receive on earth when compared to the glories to come?

Some of these future glories include “a pure river with the water of life . . . a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month,” and a city where “there will be no night . . . for the Lord God will shine on them” (Revelation 22:1-2, 5).

As we close Year of the Bible, put your priorities in order. Give God His holy tenth. Remember: You are getting ready for eternal, heavenly blessings that are so great you will never be able to contain them all!