Daily Devotional Readings: Year Three – December

1st December: Haggai 1:1-15
‘”Why is everyone saying it is not the right time for rebuilding My Temple?” asks the Lord. His reply to them is this: “Is it then the right time for you to live in luxurious homes, when the Temple lies in ruins?”‘ (2-4). God’s people had forgotten about God. They were pleasing themselves – but they were not pleasing God! God is challenging us to think about our way of living – ‘Consider your way of life’ (5,7). We are to ‘obey the voice of the Lord our God’. We are to change our way of thinking – ‘the people feared the Lord’ – and living – ‘They came and began work on the House of the Lord Almighty, their God’. Let us obey God’s voice. Let us trust in His promise – ‘I am with you'(12-14).
2nd December: Haggai 2:1-23
‘”Be strong , all you people of the land”, declares the Lord, “and work. For I am with you”, declares the Lord Almighty’ (4). We are to work for God. When we commit ourselves to serving Him, the Lord promises His blessing: ‘From this day on I will bless you’ (19). To His faithful servants, God promises great blessing: ‘I will fill this House with glory’ (7). ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that, in the Lord, your labour is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58). ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?…We are on the Lord’s side, Saviour, we are Thine…Always on the Lord’s side, Saviour, always Thine’ (Church Hymnary, 479).
3rd December: Revelation 6:1-7:17
Christ invites us to ‘come’ (6:1,3,5,7) – and look at things through His eyes. With Him, we look at earth. With Him, we look at heaven. Troubled world, tremendous worship – These are the things we see when we look through the eyes of our Lord jesus Christ. Our world is deeply troubled. Heaven’s worship is absolutely tremendous. Of all our many ‘troubles’, the greatest is this: We are sinners, and none of us ‘can stand’ before ‘the face of Him who sits on the throne’. Our earthly ‘troubles’ are nothing compared with this! There is hope. There is a way of ‘salvation’. We can be saved through ‘the blood of the Lamb’. If, however, we turn from Him – ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ – there will be no hope. We will face ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ (4:16-17; 5:10,14; John 1:29). Will you be saved – or lost?
4th December: Zechariah 1:1-2:13
God promises to bless His faithful people: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there My House will be rebuilt’ (16). God looks upon His House, and He sees His glory – ‘I will be the glory within it’ (2:5). He sees the glory of His presence – ‘I will live among you’ (2:10). We read here about the Temple at Jerusalem. We read about its glory. God’s Word speaks about another ‘temple’ and another ‘glory’. Through ‘faith’ in ‘Christ’, we have become ‘a holy temple in the Lord’ – ‘a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:21-22; 3:16-17). To every believer, God says, ‘Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…Glorify God in your body’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
5th December: Zechariah 3:1-4:14
‘”Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit”, says the Lord Almighty’ (4:6). There is only one Power by which the work of the Lord can be done. It is the power of the Holy Spirit. We must not try to do God’s work in our own strength. We must exchange our weakness for His strength. We must ‘wait for the promise of the Father’ – ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’. Great things happen when God’s people are ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ – ‘About three thousand were added to their number that day…The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’! Let us pray that God will ‘pour out’ His Spirit upon us (Acts 1:4,8; 2:4,17-18,41,47).
6th December: Zechariah 5:1-6:15
‘Here is the Man whose Name is the Branch…It is He who will build the Temple of the Lord…’ (12-13). These words point us to our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18). How does Christ build His Church? He sends His blessing when His people are obedient to Him: ‘Those who are far away will come and help to build the Temple of the Lord…This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God'(15). Christ is ‘building a people of power’. He calls us to ‘move through this land by His Spirit and glorify His precious Name’. Let us pray, ‘Here I am, wholly available – as for me, I will serve the Lord’ (Mission Praise, 151,229).
7th December: Proverbs 29:1-27
‘The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern’. So many people have a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. They have stopped listening to God’s Word and they have lost interest in living God’s way – ‘Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint’. For those who are ignoring God, refusing to listen to His Word and turning away from the pathway of obedience, God has a stern Word of warning: ‘If you get more stubborn every time you are corrected, one day you will be crushed and never recover’. God is calling us to leave the pathway of disobedience and disaster and walk in the way of obedience and blessing: ‘Blessed is he who keeps the law’ (7,1,18).
8th December: Revelation 8:1-9:21
Real gold and fool’s gold – What a difference there is between the two! In 8:3, we read about real gold. In 9:7, we read about something which ‘looked like crowns of gold’. There is a difference between the real thing and the counterfeit. There is a challenge for us here – in connection with both salvation and service. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus warns us, ‘Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven’. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul invites us to think seriously about the ‘quality’ of the ‘work’ we’re doing for Christ. Is it work which will prove to be of real, lasting value? – ‘gold, silver, costly stones’. Is our work superficial? Does it lack any real depth? – ‘wood, hay, straw’? Build on Christ: ‘Be careful how you build on Him’.
9th December: Zechariah 7:1-8:23
When people stop listening to God’s Word, their life becomes ‘a desolate wasteland’ (7:11-14). What are we to do when we see this happening? – ‘Do not be afraid…Be strong’. We must keep on believing God’s promise: ‘I will save you, and you will be a blessing’. We must keep on praying that our faithful witness will bring others to the Lord: ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you’ (8:13,23). We must pray that ‘the Spirit will be poured upon us from on high and the desert will become a fertile field’. ‘Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father’ (Isaiah 32:15; Matthew 5:15-16).
10th December: Zechariah 9:1-10:12
‘…See your King comes to you…gentle and riding on a donkey…’ (9:9). These words point us to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our King. Jesus comes to us. How are we to welcome our King? We are to welcome Him with joyful praise – ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord’ (Matthew 21:1-9; John 12:12-16). Jesus our King has come to us from God the Father: ‘When the time had fully come, God sent His Son…’. Jesus our King has come to us to be our Saviour: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 1:15). Christ will come again – ‘with power and great glory’. ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 22:20).
11th December: Proverbs 30:1-33
In verse 5, we learn about God’s Word. His Word is ‘true’. His Word is ‘pure’. His Word is full of blessing for those who ‘put their trust in Him’. Trusting in Him , we learn that ‘His Word is truth’. God’s Word is full of blessing for those who ‘live according to His Word’. Living in obedience to His Word, we find that His Word makes us ‘pure’. Through His Word of truth, God leads us in the pathway of holiness, Jesus prays for us: ‘Make them pure and holy through teaching them Your Words of truth’. God’s Word is ‘more precious than gold’.May God help us to ‘hide His Word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him’ (John 17:17; Psalms 19:10; 119:9,11).
12th December: Revelation 10:1-11:19
‘Take the little scroll and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey’ (10:9). We are to feed on God’s Word – the difficult parts as well as those passages which make us feel good. God’s Word speaks about judgment as well as salvation. Before we can rejoice in ‘the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ’, we must hear about His ‘wrath’: ‘The time has come for judging the dead’ (15,18). ‘Sweet and sour’: We need both for a balanced diet of God’s Word. We need the ‘sour’ – ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ – as well as the ‘sweet’ – ‘God so loved the world…’ (Hebrews 10:31; John 3:16). The ‘sour’ – ‘Flee from the wrath to come’ – creates a hunger for the ‘sweet’ – ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (Matthew 3:7; John 1:29).
13th December: Zechariah 11:1-12:14
‘They will look on Him whom they have pierced…’ (12:10). These words point us to Christ’s crucifixion. In Psalm 22:1, we read Christ’s prayer from the Cross: ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). In the same Psalm, we read these words: ‘They have pierced My hands and My feet’ (16). In Isaiah 53:5, we learn that Christ ‘was pierced for our sins’ (53:5). In Revelation 1:7, the words of Zechariah 12:10 form part of a prophecy concerning Christ’s Return: ‘Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him …’. In His heavenly glory, Christ will always be ‘the Lamb’ who was ‘slain’ (Revelation 5:6,9).
14th December: Zechariah 13:1-14:21
We ‘call on the Lord’s Name’. He ‘answers’ our prayer – ‘I will say, “They are My people”, and they will say, “The Lord is our God’ (13:9). We confess our faith in ‘the Lord’. He is ‘Lord of lords’. The Lord is King. He is ‘King of kings’. ‘His Name is ‘the only Name’ of our salvation. His Name is ‘the Name that is above every name’ (14:9; Revelation 19:16; Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:9-11). We ‘worship the King, the Lord Almighty’. We sing ‘Holy to the Lord’: ‘Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! Worthy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! Glory to the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! (16,20; Mission Praise, 239).
15th December: Malachi 1:1-2:17
God looks upon us in our sin. What does He see? He sees ‘the Wicked Land. He sees ‘a people always under the wrath of the Lord’ (1:4). He looks at what Christ has done for us – ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’; ‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’; ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3). God looks upon us in Christ – and everything is so very different: ‘God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). There, at the Cross of Christ, we hear God’s Word of love – ‘I have loved you’; ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (1:2; Jeremiah 31:3).
16th December: Malachi 3:1-4:6
God calls us to be His faithful people. He says, ‘Return to Me’. He promises to bless those who return to Him: ‘I will return to you’. God calls us to honour Him with our ‘tithes and offerings: ‘Bring the whole tithe (tenth) into the storehouse…’. When we honour the Lord, He has promised that He will honour us: ‘Those who honour Me, I will honour’. When we honour the Lord with our obedience, He promises that He will honour us with His blessing. He promises to ‘open the windows of heaven and pour down for us an overflowing blessing’. Satan – ‘the devourer’ – will be defeated. We will ‘serve God’. He will take ‘delight’ in us. We will be His ‘treasured possession’ (3:8-12,17-19; 1 Samuel 2:30).
17th December: Revelation 12:1-13:18
In Genesis 3:1, we read of ‘the serpent’. Here he is again – ‘that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan’. He is a powerful enemy. He ‘leads the whole world astray’. He is a determined enemy. ‘Day and night’, he is busy, accusing God’s children. He is a defeated enemy. ‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb…’. This is not only Christ’s victory over Satan. This is our victory in Christ, the victory Christ has won for us. Why is Satan so busy? It’s because ‘he knows his time is short’ (12:9-12). How are we to take our stand against Satan? We must listen to the Word of God: ‘He who has an ear, let him hear’. We must obey the Word of God: ‘This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness…’ (13:9). Christ has won the victory for us. Let us claim His victory by faith.
18th December: Revelation 14:1-15:8
With ‘patient endurance’, we are to ‘obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus’ (12), This will not be easy. Satan will do all that he can to defeat us. How can we be ‘victorious’ over him? We must rejoice in all that God has done for His people, Israel. He delivered them from their bondage in Egypt. We sing ‘the song of Moses’. Beyond the great event of the Exodus, there is something even more wonderful. We rejoice in what God has done for us – ‘In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself’. We sing ‘the song of the Lamb’ (15:2-3; Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 2 Corinthians 5:19). we hear God’s call – ‘Fear God and give Him glory’. We consider His ‘great and marvellous deeds’. In our hearts, we say, ‘Who will not fear You, O Lord, and bring glory to Your Name’ (14:7; 15:3-4).
19th December: Psalm 146:1-10
‘I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’ (2). Praising the Lord our God: This is a lifelong commitment. We cannot maintain this lifelong commitment in our own strength. We need the Lord’s help. We must never forget this: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain’ (127:1). We are not expected to maintain this lifelong commitment in our own strength. We have the Lord’s help. We must always remember this: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth’ (124:8). ‘Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, the Lord who remains faithful for ever’ (5-6).
20th December: Psalm 147:1-20
‘The Lord builds up Jerusalem. He gathers the exiles of Israel. he heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’ (2-3). This is much more than the building of the city of Jerusalem with bricks and mortar. This is God building up His people in their ‘most holy faith’ (Jude 20). This is God blessing His people as they gather together to worship Him. In Christ, we are ‘being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22). The Lord draws us to Himself. He brings us into fellowship with His people. He calls us to worship Him: ‘Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving’. He ‘blesses’ us through ‘His Word’. He ‘blesses’ us in ‘the Spirit’: ‘He sends His Word…and the waters flow’ (7,12-13,18; John 7:37-39).
21st December: John 1:1-34
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He is the Beginning. He is also the End (1-3; Revelation 21:6). He is ‘the Word…made flesh. ‘We have seen His glory’ (14). This is only the beginning. When He returns, we shall see His glory – ‘we shall see Him as He is’ (1 John 3:2). From Him, there is creation (1-3). From Him, there is salvation (12-13). In Him, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (29,32-34). He is the Word of God, the Lamb of God and the Son of God (1,29,34). When we look at Jesus Christ, we see God – ‘the Word was God’ (1), ‘No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known’ (18). Do you want to know what God is like? – Look at Jesus (14:9). What do we see when we look at Him? – ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (29).
22nd December: Matthew 1:18-25
The birth of Christ is a fulfilment of prophecy: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ (23; Isaiah 7:14). Christ is ‘God with us’. He was born through the power of the Holy Spirit (18,20). He is still ‘God with us’, when we are ‘born of the Spirit’ (John 3:5). Some people do not believe what the Bible says here. They do not like the idea of a ‘virgin birth’. The Bible gives no encouragement to such unbelief. Matthew simply says, ‘This is the way it happened’ (18). In view of the amazing thing God was doing – sending His Son to be the Saviour of the world – why should we doubt that God took things out of man’s hands and worked in His own miraculous way? We rejoice not only in the miracle but also in its saving purpose: ‘He will save His people from their sins’ (21).
23rd December: Matthew 2:1-6
We think of this chapter as ‘the story of the wise men’. It is not so much about the wise men. It is about Jesus. He is the central Character. We are not told how many wise men there were. The word, ‘three’, does not appear (1). We are not told their names. We wre not told exactly where they came from – just, they came ‘from the East’ (1). The important thing is that they made their journey. They came, seeking Jesus: ‘Where is He…?’. They came ‘to worship Him’ (2). The wise men were led to Jesus not only by ‘His star’ (2) but also by the Scriptures. When asked where the Child was to be born, they answered by quoting from the Scriptures. Reading the Scriptures, we become wise for salvation as we find Christ who is ‘our Wisdom’ (2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:30).
24th December: Matthew 2:7-12
Bethlehem was a ‘little town’. Humanly speaking, it did not have any great importance. Its importance is derived from the fact that it was the birth place of our Saviour. when we think of Bethlehem, we do not think so much of the place as the Saviour who was born there. Herod says that he wants to go to Bethlehem to worship Jesus (8). Satan was speaking through Herod. Satan ‘comes only to steal and kill and destroy’. Christ comes to give ‘life…to the full’ (John 10:10). As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Herod was not a worshipper of Christ but a servant of Satan. The wise men worship Jesus, then they return to their own country. Their whole purpose was to point away from themselves to Jesus.
25th December: Luke 2:1-20
God is in control! Jesus was born at Bethlehem – Long before it happened, God had it planned (1-7; Micah 5:2-3). As we approach Christ’s Return, God still has His plan. He is still in control. The birth of Christ is not merely an event from the past. It is also a message for the future. We look back so that we can move forward. We are fearful about many things. ‘What’s the world coming to?’, we ask. God turns our question on its head: ‘Christ is coming to the world’. From His first coming, we look on to His Second Coming – He ‘will come to all the people’ (10): ‘Every eye will see Him’ (Revelation 1:7). His Return invites us to ask another question: ‘When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?’ (18:8). For you, is it still ‘before Christ’? Let the ‘new age’ begin: Let Christ be ‘born this day’ (11) – in your heart!
26th December: Proverbs 31:1-31
‘A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies…Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised’ (10,30). We are to seek ‘treasures in heaven’ rather than ‘treasures on earth’ (Matthew 6:19-21). The riches of this world will not last for ever: ‘All your riches and splendour have vanished, never to be recovered… “Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”‘. There is one treasure which lasts forever – the treasure of salvation. Let us praise our Saviour: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and power and glory belong to our God’ (Revelation 18:14-17; 19:1).
27th December: Revelation 16:1-17:8
We live in an unbelieving and rebellious world – ‘they refused to repent and glorify Him’. In an increasingly hostile environment, we must seek to maintain our faithful’testimony’. There are many who take delight in sin. They rebel against God. They take pleasure in persecuting the people of God: ‘They will make war against the Lamb’. What are we to do when we face such determined opposition? – We must remind our enemies that they will be defeated by Christ: ‘the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings’. We must remind them that Christ has given us the victory: ‘with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers’. ‘We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Nothing will be able to separate us from’ His love (16:9,11; 17:5-6,14; Romans 8:37-39).
28th December: Revelation 18:1-19:10
We read of the fall of Babylon (18:2,10,16-17,19,21). We live in a time of sinful rebellion against God. This will be followed by the time of God’s holy judgment. What is God saying to His own people at this time? – ‘Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues’ (18:4). God is calling us to be ‘holy’, ‘a people belonging to Him’. Why does He call us to be holy? Does He want us to go around, feeling ‘superior’ – better than the rest? No! – He wants us to ‘declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2:9-10). We look away from ourselves. We look to the Lord, and we say, ‘Hallelujah!’ (19:1,3,4,6). ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory’ (19:7).
29th December: Revelation 19:11-21:8
Our Saviour is ‘Faithful and True’. He is ‘the Word of God’. He is our ‘Lord’ and ‘King’ (19:11,13,16). We are invited to ‘come’ to Him. The invitation – ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God’ – is a call to come to Christ (19:17). We come to Christ so that we might ‘reign with Him’ (20:6). Coming to Christ is only the beginning. God is preparing us for something even better – reigning with Him. This is a great future – ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain’ (21:4). There is, however, a Word of warning for those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation – ‘If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire’; ‘Their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur’ (20:15; 21:8). ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
30th December: Revelation 21:9-22:21
God has given us a glimpse of a future which is heavenly, eternal and glorious: ‘the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God – It shone with the glory of God’. Is this ‘eternal life’ for everyone? Will all people ‘dwell in the House of the Lord for ever’? Will everyone be saved. Is this what the Word of God teaches? ‘God wants everyone to be saved’. He wants everyone to ‘come to the knowledge of the truth’, to ‘come to repentance’. Sadly, there are many who ‘refuse to love the truth and so be saved’ (21:10-11; John 3:16; Psalm 23:6; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). Who will be saved? – ‘only those, whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life’. ‘Come’ to Christ – ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they…may go through the gates into the city’ (27; 22:17,14).
31st December: Psalms 148:1-150:6
‘Praise the Lord’. Psalms 146 and 147 began and ended with these words. Now, we find the same beginning and ending in each of these three Psalms – ‘Praise the Lord’. Our personal song of praise to God – ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock…I will sing a new song to You, O God…I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your Name for ever and ever; Every day I will praise You…My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord…I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’ (144:1,9; 145:1-2,21; 146:2) – is just a small part of something so much richer and fuller – ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’ (150:6). May these great Psalms of praise inspire us to praise the Lord more truly and more fully.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s