Old Testament In a Year: December 14 – Psalms 77, 78

Psalms 77, 78
Focus Verse: I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. – Psalm 77:11

In his day(s) of trouble, David questioned the faithfulness of the One he sought. Even though he was calling out to God and stretching out his hand toward Him, it seemed that God did not hear him. It seemed that God had turned His back on David and left him to suffer alone.

David asks:

Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?

These questions are more rhetorical rather than questions that demand an answer because David already knows the answer to his questions. He knows that it is impossible for God to spurn forever those He loves. He knows that God’s steadfast love will never cease. He knows that God is a God who cannot lie, a God who keeps His promises and will fulfill every one of them. David knows that it is not in God’s character to be ungracious. And he knows that God’s anger is never greater than His compassion.

We know these things too. And if we ever start to doubt them, we must do what David did.

Remember.

Remember what God has done for us. Remember what God has done for others. Go far back, to when time first began, and remember…remember the deeds of God in creating the heavens and the earth. Remember the wonders He performed for Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Remember how He healed sick people and raised the dead; how He made the sun stand still and stopped the heavens from giving rain; how He shut the mouths of lions and caused a fiery furnace not to burn.

And once we remember these works and wonders, we should take a moment to ponder them, meaning we should think about them very carefully. We should take time to meditate on them, meaning we should focus our minds on God and His goodness.

Then, we will come to the same conclusion that David came to.

Yes, God, your ways are holy. There is no one else and nothing else that is great like You. You are the God who works wonders and performs miracles. You redeemed your people back then and you are redeeming me today.

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Old Testament In a Year: December 5 – Ezra 1, 2

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Ezra 1, 2
Focus Verse: In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing. – Ezra 1:1

God moved upon the heart of a heathen king to have His word fulfilled and to have His will done concerning His people.

Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord like channels of water; He turns it wherever He wants.” For those who follow Christ, this is a reminder that we need not be discouraged by governmental leaders or by leaders in other spheres whose behavior does not honor God. The power and influence that they wield is not theirs, but God’s. They are not really the ones in control, God is.

God holds the hearts of all people in His hands, even the hearts of kings and queens and presidents and prime ministers. He can turn these hearts in whatever way He so pleases. He can move even the most unlikely leaders to do what is right and use them to have His will done on earth as it is done in Heaven.

Therefore, our hope should not be in human beings, but in the One who made them. Our eyes should not be watching the actions of people. Our eyes should be watching God.

Old Testament In a Year: November 20 – Ezekiel 14, 15

Ezekiel 14, 15
Focus Verse: That the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord God. – Ezekiel 14:11

Reading about the condemnation and destruction that God promises to bring upon Israel and Judah because of their idolatry and unrighteousness isn’t easy. It makes God seem mean, merciless, and a far cry from the gracious God that we are familiar with.

But because He is merciful, God must condemn unrighteousness. Because of His grace, God allows those who continue in sin to be destroyed.

God most desires one thing: For us to be His people and for Him to be our God.

Sin keeps that from happening.

Therefore, God is merciless when it comes to punishing sin, because He cannot bear to have His children kept apart from Him. The purpose of God’s punishment is to push the sinner away from sin and towards Him. That they may no longer go astray, no longer defile themselves…but become one with Him, united in His glory.

Old Testament In a Year: October 14 – Nahum 1, 2, 3

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Nahum 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him. – Nahum 1:7

God is good.

In all that He does and in all that He allows, God is good. In and of Himself, God is good.

Even in days of trouble, He is still good. And because He is good, He will work those days of trouble out for the good of all who take refuge in Him. Everyone who trusts in Him, He knows by name and He loves and protects them.

Old Testament In a Year: October 13 – Micah 6, 7

Micah 6, 7
Focus Verse: But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. – Micah 7:7

I like the decisiveness with which the prophet Micah speaks in this verse. He is resolute; He is determined; He displays no hesitation as to where his trust lies.

I don’t know who other people are looking to, Micah says. But as for me, I will look to the Lord.

I don’t know who others are waiting for or if they are even waiting at all. But as for me, I will wait for the God of my salvation.

I don’t know if others are confident that God will hear them. But as for me, my God will hear me.

Micah uses the verb will in all three of his statements. Will, in this sense, means that the thing that has been stated is about to happen or is going to happen. No ifs, buts, or maybes. It will happen. With Micah, there is no doubt as to where his God is or to what his God can do.

Old Testament In a Year: October 12 – Micah 4, 5

Micah 4, 5
Focus Verse: And many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. – Micah 4:2

At the second coming of Jesus the Christ, when He returns to establish His kingdom on earth in Jerusalem, many people will flow to it.

They will purposefully leave their nations and journey to the house of God to learn His ways and to walk in His paths.

We do not have to wait until then to learn the ways and paths of God. Let us go up to the temporary house of God in this world and learn from those whom God has appointed to teach His ways. Let us learn to walk in His paths from where we are.

By following His paths right here, right now, we will eventually be led from God’s temporary house to His eternal house where we will no longer hear through a third-party how God would have us to walk. We will hear it directly from God’s mouth. We will be taught God’s ways by God Himself.

Old Testament In a Year: October 11 – Micah 1, 2, 3

Micah 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: Should this be said, O house of Jacob? Has the Lord grown impatient? Are these His deeds? Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly? – Micah 2:7

In this verse, the prophet Micah asks the people of God a series of questions.

Has God grown impatient with them? Yes, because of their sin and their refusal to turn from it.

Are the destructive things that are happening to them God’s deeds? No, but He is allowing all things to take place.

Does the suffering that they are presently going through mean that God has changed? No, God does not change. His attitude, love and thoughts towards them remains the same.

Their suffering is because of their sin; therefore, they brought it upon themselves. If they, however, put away their sin and walk uprightly, the Words of the Lord will no longer bring shame to them, but good.

Old Testament In a Year: October 10 – Hosea 12, 13, 14

Hosea 12, 13, 14
Focus Verse: But when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot Me. – Hosea 13:6

We are filled to overflowing by the gifts that God freely gives. Everything that we have comes from Him. Everything that we are is because of Him. But once we are filled with good gifts, we must be careful that we do not forget the Giver.

Thinking that our fullness is due to our own education or hard work instead of due to God’s goodness is an indication of a heart that is proud. It shows that our trust is in ourselves and not in God.

The reasons why we often forget God (e.g. life, wealth, relationships – which all come from Him) are the very reasons we should remember Him.

Old Testament In a Year: October 9 – Hosea 9, 10, 11

Hosea 9, 10, 11
Focus Verse: I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. – Hosea 11:9

It is human nature for people to hold grudges for years, to remain angry for a lifetime at those who have offended them. But God is not a human. He is God.

Regardless of how many times people turn away from Him, how much they disrespect Him, or how they worship other things instead of Him, God cannot remain angry. It is not His nature to do so. With God, His love runs deeper than His anger, His compassion works greater than His destruction, and His grace outlasts His wrath – every time.

When humans punish, they almost always punish with the intent to destroy. But when God punishes, He punishes with the intent to improve a situation and to redeem a sinner.

God’s actions toward us are not based on our actions toward Him. He does not bring Himself down to our base standards, but holds Himself to a Divine standard. He does not turn from His promises. He does not turn from us.