August 31

August 31

Jesus’ Conception — The miracle that a virgin could conceive a child by the Holy Spirit.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 1:26-56

Reading 2: John 1:1-14

Reading 3: 1 John 1:1-5

More prophetic fulfillments today, as God’s plan for the Incarnation is revealed and fulfilled. In this moment the greatest miracle occurs – the Creator becomes the created, and bridges the gulf caused by sin.

After all the promises and disappointments of human history, this Story is going to turn out very well indeed. Not by human effort, but by God’s intervention. This is a truly mind-boggling solution to the problem of sin!

Whether you have read these passages once or countless times, let the wonder of what God has done increase for you today.

Have a great day!

Mark.

August 30

August 30

Jesus’ Predecessor — John the Baptist’s conception & birth.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 1:1-25

Reading 2: Luke 1:57-80

Reading 3: Malachi 4:5-6

After a 400 year gap, we begin to see the Story come to its peak as God’s plan for salvation moves into the key chapter – the life of Jesus.

The amazing thing about this is how many prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. We have one today, in the final book of the Old Testament, which predicts the coming of John the Baptist in the spirit of Elijah.

We will see many more in the days ahead as we move into the New Testament – proof again that this Story is God’s Story, HisStory, One Story. And we are part of it!

Have a great day!

Mark.

August 29

August 29

Malachi — The final Old Testament prophet (400+ years before Christ) & prophecies of Christ.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Malachi 2:7-17

Reading 2: Malachi 3

Reading 3: Malachi 4

“I am the lord, and I do not change”

With those words, God speaks for the last time before a 400 year silence. But in stating that he does not change, God is saying that His character revealed throughout His dealings with mankind in the Old Testament (including His dealing with Israel, His chosen people) will be fully revealed in the future.

And we will see that character revealed by Jesus in our future readings. For today, see how many references and foreshadowing promises you can see in today’s chapters, pointing to the One who is to come.

Have a great day!

Mark.

August 28

August 28

Ezra — Ezra reads the law to the people & the benefits of Bible reading.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Nehemiah 8

Reading 2: Nehemiah 9

Reading 3: Deuteronomy 31:9-13

When Moses gave God’s Law to the people God chose, he promised them success and blessing if they lived by it. Of course the Story we have been following shows that they did not, but now they begin to restore those blessings.

With the wall completed, the Word is read, and the people respond in faith, repentance and prayer. God’s Word is powerful, and we can expect great results from obeying it!

Have a great day!

Mark.

August 26

August 26

Nehemiah — Nehemiah experiences opposition & needs strong hands to continue.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Nehemiah 5

Reading 2: Nehemiah 6

Reading 3: Zechariah 8:7-15

We saw yesterday how the opponents (whose motivation was primarily to safeguard their own position) were gradually defeated. Interestingly, many of the leaders of the Israelites also placed a higher priority on their own comfort than on the welfare of those around them. Nehemiah saw this as evidence that they did not hold godly values, neither did they respect God’s authority. Nehemiah challenges them, just as he resists the distractions of the pagan outsiders.

Sometimes we have to resist opposition from several directions in order to prevail. In those times we have to seek God’s wisdom, as Nehemiah did.

And we see the result of such perseverance as the wall is completed in just 52 days. What a demonstration of God’s vision and blessing.

Have a great day!

Mark.

August 25

August 25

Nehemiah — Rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls & walls as a symbol of emotional control.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Nehemiah 3

Reading 2: Nehemiah 4

Reading 3: Proverbs 25:28

Exciting readings today as the rebuilding begins! What significance for the people of Jerusalem as their once devastated city begins to be rebuilt!

Notice how everyone is involved: no-one makes the excuse that they are not gifted for building. Extreme circumstances require extreme measures. And extreme faith – Nehemiah has to dig deep to inspire and motivate his people as opposition comes.

But the work proceeds, and gradually the opposition is being defeated.

The writer of the Proverbs has wisdom for us, too: build self-control or you will find yourself defenseless against unwanted influences!

Have a great day!

Mark.

August 24

August 24

Nehemiah — The third return of people from captivity to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls & prayer.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Nehemiah 1

Reading 2: Nehemiah 2

Reading 3: Matthew 6:7-8

When there is a great need, God raises up a great leader, and when God raises up a leader He gives clear direction.

Here, Nehemiah sees answers to his prayers at every step of the way, and that evidence of God’s answers gives him courage to resist the opposition he faces, and to inspire the discouraged leaders he finds in Jerusalem.

God loves turnarounds, and this is another of those occasions! Can you see previews of the great turnaround we shall come to soon, as we move from the Old Testament to the New?

Have a great day!

Mark.

August 23

August 23

Ezra — The second return of people from captivity to rebuild the people’s spiritual lives.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Ezra 7

Reading 2: Ezra 8:21-36

Reading 3: Ezra 9:1-11

As Ezra leads the people back to Jerusalem, with great favor from the king, there is a contrast with the people of Israel (who were not like Ezra). While he is taking risks by faith, and following God’s instructions, they are turning their backs on God and disobeying!

We have a choice – for God or against Him. Our recent readings show us the blessings of following God’s instructions, and the perils of rejecting them.

Let’s be hearers and doers of the Word today!

Have a great day!

Mark.

August 22

August 22

Zerubbabel — The Jewish temple is rebuilt just as wisdom builds the house.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Ezra 5

Reading 2: Ezra 6

Reading 3: Proverbs 24:3-6

Today marks a great day in the restoration plans of God for His people. The work they are doing in obedience to God has been restarted in response to the urging of the prophets. The pagan authorities question the rebuilding, fearing rebellion and insurrection, but the king of Assyria searches his archives and finds that his predecessor ordered the rebuilding. God has again shown His power over those who do not acknowledge Him, and the taxes from the region are poured into the rebuilding effort, ensuring it succeeds.

One day God will cause a full reversal of the opposition to His rule that is seen in many areas of the world today. Until then, our role is to be faithful to His commands and trust Him to take care of opposition.

Have a great day!

Mark

August 21

August 21

Haggai & Zechariah — God uses Haggai & Zechariah to restart the temple rebuilding project.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Ezra 5:1-2

Reading 2: Haggai 1

Reading 3: Zechariah 1:1-6

Today the setback/success pattern unfolds some more. God sends prophets to speak His Word again, and those who love God receive the prophecies and are inspired to move forward with their endeavor.

By this time the people have lost sight of their original, godly goal, and have focused on themselves again. The Temple stands incomplete (at the order of the pagan king) while the people make their own lives secure. But security of our own making is no security at all, and God calls them to rebuild their trust in Him alongside the Temple where they worship.

In our lives there is often a word from God that inspires and propels us. And God uses His Word to rebuild our trust in Him. All this is preparation for what is to come – the completion of God’s plan for humanity.

Have a great day!

Mark.