Nov 1 – “Two are better than one,” “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” When reading chapter 4, do you get the feeling that we should always have someone to help us through life? Verse 4 mentions rivalry and vanity which then are associated with being alone in verse 8. There are certain things that you can’t feasibly do by yourself. “Where two or three are gathered” God is also. (Matt 18:20) Did you relate to that scripture when reading verse 4:12?
Nov 2 – Zephaniah has such a deep tone of condemnation and destruction that it can be easy to overlook the final verses of the book. God has good news for you when you want to see it. In verse 3:9, God gives to the people “clear and pure speech from pure lips.” God will cast out the enemy (Satan) who is working so hard among the people to lure them away from Him. Satan is nagging at you about the past. Use the words of Jesus, “Away from me, Satan!” (Matt 4:10) and he has no choice other than to flee.
Nov 3 – How many times have you been guilty of using the words “never” and “always?” Guilty? Yes, I use that adjective because those two words rarely proceed truth. You may say “I would never allow …” and years later, after life or people change, whatever that was is acceptable and performed regularly. Peter is about to learn the lesson that God came to save all people.
Nov 4 – Do you watch the Christian-based movies when they come out? I am speaking of movies such as “Fireproof” and “War Room.” Verse 4:7 says “Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.” This is the stance that Jesus took during his 40 days of wandering in the desert and it was also taken by Miss Clara when a robber held a knife on her and another character. She invoked the name of Jesus, and He took care of her.
Nov 5 – Have you known someone who served God until his or her death? This may have been as Pastor, Deacon or even Layman’s League participants. These are people who have seen God’s favor in action and want to serve Him as long as they have breath. This would describe Moses well. He was not perfect, his human temper is what kept him out of the promised land. “He served God until he could no more” would have been on his tombstone in today’s time.
Nov 6 – You should read the end of chapter 35 again. Does it still say the same thing? It sounds like Neco king of Egypt proclaimed that God was with him and warned Josiah not to stand in his way. Apparently he was correct since Josiah was killed in that same battle. This seems most unusual to hear God’s Word from the mouth of an Egyptian king, but that stands as a testament that everyone is accepted by God regardless of skin color, nationality, or prior beliefs.
Nov 7 – Chapter 130 is a “Song of Ascents.” This would have been sung while ascending to Jerusalem, usually for the Passover. Did people make that long trip to Jerusalem, usually every year, just because it had always been done? It would certainly seem that those who would commit such effort would believe in the God who is the focus of that religious event. Discuss your knowledge of the details surrounding the annual Passover feast.
Nov 8 – I believe that Solomon was getting a bit political in today’s verses. He says “If you see the oppression of the poor and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in the state or province.” What should we do when our federal government is taking away our ability to believe in God’s principles? NC and other states have stood up against some legislation. When man’s law is trying to supersede God’s law, it is time to take a stand.
Nov 9 – What interpretation of scripture are you reading this year? Out of KJV, NIV, The Message and others that I have read through, I believe that Amplified has some extremely educational points. In the Amplified version, on verse 2:13 of today’s scripture reading, it has inserted “[Unholiness is infectious].” Paraphrased, we could say “You are influenced by those you hang around with.” On the positive side, Christianity can also be infectious.
Nov 10 – Have you noticed that as long as the group is small, nobody really worries about the leader’s teaching? Once a true following starts to develop, it worries the powers-that-be and they try to stop the growth. This seems to be the way that things went for Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13. The people begged them to come back on the next Sabbath. After they attract “almost the entire city,” the Jews are filled with envy and want to argue with their preaching.
Nov 11 – Did you read chapter 3 carefully and with purpose? If so, what did you get out of it? How did you like the statement “married women, be submissive to your husbands?” You may be a married woman and believe that it is impossible to submit to your husband. This doesn’t give husbands the right to abuse that submission. As a matter of fact, today’s scripture reading turns the situation around and tells the husband to honor his wife.
Nov 12 – Many times in today’s scripture reading, we see commands of what not to do and who not to follow. These commands are coupled with warnings of discipline and perishing. How well did the Israelites heed these warnings many millennia ago? How well do we heed these warnings today? Do you recall the story of the rich man in Matthew 19? He was so attached to his “stuff” that “he went away sad.” It is a sad day when so many things come before God.
Nov 13 – “We are servants of the God of heaven and earth.” Can you and your congregation say this with as much zeal as these priests and workers? They were rebuilding the house that God and Solomon had previously put so much work into. Is this something that we would need to concentrate on in these New Testament times? Did you notice the careful wording of that question? These are New Testament times and God lives in each and every member of His flock.
Nov 14 – “The Lord has commanded the blessing, even life forevermore.” How would you read this one section of scripture? Taken out of the context presented by the other verses, it may be taken as a standard blessing from God. When you consider the first verse of chapter 133, “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” the true focus is revealed – gathering together to worship God and receive His blessings.
Nov 15 – Here is an interesting statement that I am sure you have heard before – we live in a screwed up world! Society around us today sounds quite a bit like the writings in verse 8:14 – “there are righteous men who fare as though they were wicked, and wicked men who fare as though they were righteous.” This sounds like the absence of morals present in society today. If man and government force it upon us, do God’s people have to accept immorality?
Nov 16 – Now it is time to delve a little into the realities of scriptural images. What do you picture when you read “ephah” or “ephah[-sized vessel]?” I live in the country and grew up here, so I would think of either a 5 gallon bucket or a 55 gallon drum. We can turn to Exodus 16:36 to answer that question – an Ephah is 20 quarts or five gallons. I was thinking it would be larger.
Nov 17 – How many economically motivated troubles came up for Jesus and the disciples? Can you quickly name three? There was the time that Jesus cast the demons into the pigs and they rushed off the cliff, there is the healing in today’s reading of a possessed slave who garnered income for her owners. Would you consider the healing of the blind and lame to have an economic effect? I would think this would be a good thing because they were then able to work.
Nov 18 – If you hear someone described as a “Christian,” what type of thoughts do you have about that person? Verse 4:16, in today’s scripture reading, says “But if [one is ill-treated and suffers] as a Christian [which he is contemptuously called], let him not be ashamed.” Is “Christian” once again becoming a negative label that the world casts upon those who do not fit into current world views?
Nov 19 – Chapter 13, verse 1 and 2 gives some advice that is truly applicable to today’s Christian – if a prophet gives a sign or wonder that comes true and then tells you to worship other gods, “the Lord your God is testing you.” Have you studied and committed scriptures into your heart and mind in order to be able to identify those false prophets? Jim Jones and David Koresh did not start out as radical men with a “God complex,” but as they drew more followers the truth came out and ended with unfortunate circumstances.
Nov 20 – How often have you thought about the things in scripture that we would consider inhumane? Ezra 10:3 says “let us make a covenant with our God to put away all of the foreign wives and their children.” What do you think “put away” means? Looking back to Hagar and Ishmael, they were just sent away. The big point that we need to understand is that circumstances are a product of our own decisions.
Nov 21 – Consider your approach to trials in life. During the first week or so, you may have been thinking “Thank you, God, for sustaining me through these troubles.” After it has lasted a month, you are doubting that God has you on His mind. You are focusing on Him less and less. In another month, whatever the trial happened to be has “resolved itself.” Now it is easier to believe that God is in charge of your life. Why do we go through such periods of doubt? Because we are human.
Nov 22 – How many times have you had a discussion with someone whose commitments you refuse to believe in? Is this because you just can’t trust anybody to tell the truth? I certainly hope that you don’t feel this way! Over time you learn that the actions of certain people do not connect with their words. Verse 10:14 seems to describe this type of person quite well with the phrase “a fool also multiplies words.”
Nov 23 – Do you recall reading something about cutting off the three shepherds? Read verse 11:8 again. If you are not reading in the Amplified version, read it in that interpretation. You see that it contains “[the civil authorities, the priests and the prophets].” With all of the current events going on worldwide immoralities being legislated by governments and accepted by many churches, it seems that these clarifications inserted into this verse fit well.
Nov 24 – Are you in a witnessing program sponsored by your church? Do you support missionaries, local and foreign, with money and prayers? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you will appreciate God’s Word to Paul regarding the people of Corinth – “Have no fear, but speak and do not keep silent; For I am with you, and no man shall assault you to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” Maybe you have read these words or felt the Holy Spirit imparting them upon your heart. This would provide great encouragement for those committed to a witnessing program regardless of how many doors have been slammed in your face.
Nov 25 – Can you recall the number of times that you have heard words such as “the bible is a good work of fiction” or “Jesus was a good person, maybe even a prophet?” I am sure that you will run out of fingers and toes before you count up all of those. We see many verses of scripture that anticipated and countered those doubts. Read again verse 1:16 where the author (some believe it may not be Peter) says “we were not following cleverly devised stories when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Does it matter if we cannot identify the human author of these words?
Nov 26 – It is time for a few pondering points until your next reading – “You shall surely set as king over you him whom the Lord your God will choose,” “he shall not multiply horses to himself or cause the people to return to Egypt” and finally “he shall not multiply wives to himself, that his [mind and] heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” How many of these commandments, from Deuteronomy 17, have the Old Testament kings broken? How many of God’s commands have our leaders of today broken?
Nov 27 – How many times have you been involved in a church cleanup or maybe helping families clean up after a storm? People tend to work together for a common purpose just as the Israelites did when they were rebuilding the wall. Fortunately, nobody had to work with one hand while holding a weapon in the other. You know how hard it is to get things done while using both hands for the task, imagine doing this work with one hand tied behind your back.
Nov 28 – Do you remember seeing “The Jungle Book” when you were younger? Maybe you saw it somewhat recently with a child or grandchild. In it, some of the animals talk about the “man child” as someone who should not be allowed to grow up and inflict the usual horrors on the animal kingdom. This is basically the same sentiment shown in Psalm 137:9 when the Israelites speak of destroying the Edomites and dashing their little ones against the rock. No, I do not condone either this type of behavior or the implication that animals could have dominion over man.
Nov 29 – What “bits” of wisdom do you remember from scripture? Are you able to apply these daily in your life? Among all of the advice and knowledge in scripture, we see “remove [the lusts that end in] sorrow and vexation from your heart and mind.” It is hard to imagine a world, or life, without lusts and sorrows. Is this verse saying that removing all lusts from your life will also remove all sorrows? Do you believe that Monks living in solitude escape sorrows?
Nov 30 – As a child, were you ever left at a department store or gas station because the family loaded up and thought you were in the car? Do you believe they did this on purpose? I would certainly hope not! God doesn’t want you to be left behind after the rapture and that is the reason that He sent His Son as savior. We no longer have to suffer with a silent God and we no longer need a priest to intercede for us since we have Jesus. Accept Him and know that you will never be totally alone again.