Monday, February 29, 2016

Psalm 109: When Others Wish Evil Upon You

David wrote a lot of psalms.  It is clear, from many of them, that he experienced more than his share of "enemies."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Micah 7: Micah's Hope

After chapters full of bitter excoriations by the prophet because of the rampant sin among God's people, the book of Micah ends on a hopeful note as the compassionate nature of the Lord comes shining through.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Micah 6: Requirements

"Will this be on the test?"

Micah 5: Glimpses Of The Future

Many times we think of a "prophet" as one who predicts the future.  Yet that is actually only one part of a biblical seer's job description.  Most of what a prophet does could be considered "forthtelling" rather than "foretelling," speaking as a mouthpiece for God.  He or she shares the words of God which usually have more application in the present dimension rather than a directive to the future.  In Micah 5, however, the prophet does have quite a bit to say about the future of God's people.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Micah 4: From Conquered To Conqueror

Micah 4 envisions Jerusalem as both defeated and victorious, wounded and wonderful, conquered and conquering.  When we look closely at his message, we find that the prophet sees dark days ahead for Judah in the near term, but a hopeful future for the nation farther out.

Micah 3: The Strength Of The True Prophet

"But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin" (vs. 8).

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Micah 2: The Challenge Of False Prophets

You may wonder why the people back in Old Testament times didn't simply listen to their prophets.  The natural follow-up question to that is, "Which ones?"

Micah 1: Prophetic Wordplay

The Book of Micah pronounces doom upon the nations of Israel and Judah as a consequence for their rejection of the Lord.  In the first chapter, the prophet engages in quite a bit of wordplay in Hebrew to drive home his point that judgment is coming.

Isaiah 12: My Salvation, My Strength, My Song

Isaiah 12 reflects the joy that comes after the time of punishment has passed.  "In that day you will say, 'I will praise you, O Lord.  Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me" (vs. 1).

Isaiah 11: Righteousness From The Root

Have you ever seen a tree sprouting from what looks like a dead stump?  Isaiah gives us the picture of a shoot rising up from the "root of Jesse."  Just when all hope appears gone, God promises to send a descendant of David (Jesse's son) to bring righteousness to the earth.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Isaiah 10: With Upraised Hand

The tenth chapter of Isaiah brings to a head the theme introduced starting in 9:8.  Well-deserved punishment is coming upon the nation of Israel.  Four times (9:12, 9:17, 9,21, 10:4) we hear that God faces His people with a threatening "upraised hand" because they simply refuse to learn the lesson of His discipline and yield to His correction.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Isaiah 9: Messiah?

As we read through the Old Testament, we will occasionally find prophecies of a coming king, someone special who will deliver the people from their troubles and restore them to God.  This person has come to be known as the Messiah.  Christians believe that Jesus is the promised One.

Psalm 108: From Psalms To Songs

The Psalms were originally worship songs.  In many ways, they are again today!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Amos 9: The Promise Of Restoration

A consistent theme that runs through the Bible is the idea that the Lord will spare a remnant of His people.  Even within scriptural prophecies of gloom and doom, we find the promise that times of blessing lie ahead.  The Book of Amos ends on just such a positive note.

Amos 8: Ripe For Judgment

So far, Amos has been shown locusts (7:1), a shower of fire (7:4), and a plumb line (7:7).  In chapter 8, the prophet is shown a basket of summer fruit (vs. 1).  It means that the time of Israel's destruction has arrived.  The nation is ripe for judgment.

Amos 7: Mercy In The Midst Of Punishment

Amos 7 details the punishment that God has in mind for Israel and her people.  Even in the midst of judgment, the Lord is merciful.

Amos 6: The Wrong Attitude

One of the Lord's frustrations with Israel is their woefully wrong attitude about themselves.

Amos 5: Seeking

"If you aim at nothing," the old saying goes, "you will hit it every time."  Have you ever thought about the importance of your target - what you are seeking?  Amos 5 contains instruction about the important consideration of what we are looking for, and what God is looking for.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Amos 4: Prepare To Meet Thy God!

Amos sounds like one of the original old-time, fire-and-brimstone preachers!

Amos 3: Character Is Destiny

As a prophet, Amos has the responsibility to reveal the will and purposes of God to a stubborn people.  In chapter 3, he pleads the Lord's case and shows the Israelites that the judgment coming upon them is unavoidable because they earned it through their conduct which flows from their character.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Amos 2: Judgment Hits Home

In chapter 2, Amos' "fiery" prophecy against the nations surrounding Israel draws ever closer until it finally hits home.

Amos 1: A Fire Is Kindled

Amos, the shepherd-prophet from Judah, emerges in the northern kingdom of Israel to deliver the words of God.  How is the Lord speaking?  God "roars from Zion," and as His voice goes out from Jerusalem, Amos reports that the pastures of the shepherds wither and the top of Carmel dries up (vs. 2).

Monday, February 15, 2016

Psalm 107: The God Who Hears

Psalm 107 describes what happens when people - in a variety of circumstances and situations - cry out to the Lord.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Isaiah 8: Prophets, Not Psychics

Isaiah 8 includes various prophecies dealing with Aram, Samaria, and Assyria, but I am most intrigued by the prophet's warning against consulting the spirits of the dead.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Isaiah 7: "If You Do Not Stand Firm In Faith, You Shall Not Stand At All"

Things are changing on a grand scale in chapter 7 when Isaiah shares a reassuring promise from the Lord.  Surprisingly, later scripture applies the same prophecies to another time of great change in history: when Jesus is born seven centuries later!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Isaiah 6: The Eager Prophet

Isaiah receives his divine commissioning as a prophet in chapter 6.  It's informative to compare his calling to a couple of other servants of God in the Bible.

Isaiah 5: Growing Darkness

"The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel" (vs. 7).  With this ominous parable, Isaiah speaks of a terrible judgment coming upon the nation of Judah that will sweep them away.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Isaiah 4: Good From Bad

Isaiah 4 gives us a picture of the aftermath of judgment day (not necessarily "Judgment Day!")  Once Jerusalem has been cleansed of wickedness, those who remain will be "called holy" (vs. 3).  Through the "spirit of judgment" and the "spirit of burning", the Lord will wash away and remove the filth and bloodstains of the people (vs 4).  The land will then be blessed by the Presence of the Lord, exemplified by the same signs that accompanied the Israelites in the wilderness as the Lord traveled with them: cloud by day and fire by night (vs. 5).  The picture we get is one of a peaceful place of safety, a shelter and refuge (vs. 6).  It will be a calm after the storm as the Lord is able to draw good from a bad situation.

Isaiah 3: ...Bad Future

Isaiah 2:5 through 4:1 tells the tale of a bitter future for the people of God.  What is described is "that day" when the Lord will judge the children of Israel for their deeds and bring low the proud.

Isaiah 2: Good Future...

The first four verses of Isaiah 2 optimistically point to a future of goodness and hope where the people of the world are united under the direction of God.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Psalm 106: Rebels Without A Clue

If you've ever wondered what the Old Testament looks like from God's perspective, Psalm 106 points us in that direction.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Isaiah 1: Outward Religion, Inward Corruption

Isaiah the prophet ministered in the nation of Judah during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.  His book begins with a fiery message calling the nation to repentance.  Isaiah warns the people that, unless they change their ways, judgment is coming because they have forsaken the Lord.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

II Kings 16: Who Do You Want To Be Like?

God's people often get in trouble when they decide to imitate someone or something in the world rather than the model that the Lord has provided.  Ahaz had a couple of major stumblings in this area.

II Kings 15: You Can't Tell The Players Without A Scorecard!

If you haven't yet experienced confusion with the multitude of rulers mentioned leading up to II Kings 15, along with some of them sharing names and overlapping reigns and changing dynasties, this chapter will probably do it!  They are coming fast and furious now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jonah 4: God Sends A Bush, A Worm, And A Wind

Instead of being pleased with his incredible success as a prophet turning people back to God, Jonah sulks.  Apparently, he really wanted to see Nineveh burn.  That's why he refused to go when sent there by the Lord in the first place - Jonah knew that God would forgive and repent of His decision to punish them.  God decides that it's time for another lesson for His prophet.  (Fortunately, this one doesn't involve a giant fish!)

Jonah 3: God Sends A Prophet

Can you believe that Jonah, the rebellious prophet, had one of the most successful ministries of all time?  His gloom-and-doom, "The End Is Near!" preaching converted a huge city destined for destruction!  The repentance of his audience resulted in a stay of execution.  "When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it" (vs. 10).

Jonah 2: God Sends A Fish

Where is the oddest place you have prayed?

Jonah 1: God Sends A Storm

Have you ever tried to run away from God?  Then perhaps you can relate, at least in part, to the experience of the prophet Jonah.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

II Kings 14: When Bad Kings Happen To Good People

Along with the name of each king and the length of his rule, the Bible usually gives us a detail concerning whether the king did right or did evil in the sight of the Lord.  You might assume that God would prolong the reign of good kings and bless them with peace and prosperity, while shortening the reign of bad kings and afflicting them with all sorts of hardships.  While this sometimes happens, it is not always the case.

II Kings 13: Performance Art As Prophecy

II Kings 13 gives us an example of a device that prophets sometimes employ in scripture: a physical enactment of a spiritual reality.  Just as a parable is "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning," an enactment by a prophet can be understood as a physical action conveying a spiritual point.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Psalm 105: Power In The Story

"Make known his deeds among the peoples" (vs. 1).  "Tell of all his wonderful works" (vs. 2).  "Remember the wonderful works he has done" (vs. 5).  Again and again, the psalmist enjoins us to take to heart God's activities, and then sing them out again to share with others.