"God's Word is Living & Active!" ~ Hebrews 4:12
Ezekiel 39:1-40:27 ~ James 2:18-3:18 ~ Psalm 118:1-18 ~ Proverbs 28:2
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Old Testament – Ezekiel chapter 39 continues the destruction of Gog! See yesterday’s posting below for more details on who and what Gog may be. Verse 25 stands out to me in today’s readings: “So now the Sovereign LORD says: I will end the captivity of my people; I will have mercy on Israel, for I am jealous for my holy reputation!” We see that the exile is coming near to an end. Ezekiel and Jeremiah have been two pretty heavy books with prophecies against Israel. This chapter continues to show the redemption and return of the exiles from Babylon to Israel is soon coming. It is interesting that God is jealous for his holy reputation in the verse above… are we ourselves also jealous for God’s holy reputation? Should we be?
Ezekiel chapter 40 is very interesting! It begins the vision and description of what many call “Ezekiel’s Temple.” Essentially, this temple has not been built. Some say that this temple will be built in the future – during Christ’s millennial reign. Some say it’s a heavenly temple. Some say it was the vision for the temple that should have been built during Ezra’s days in 517 B.C., but was not. It is fascinating to look at various theories on the various temples.
New Testament – James chapter 2 today continues in the strong words about good deeds accompanying a living faith. James’ arguments are summed up in verse 26: “Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds.” Another very interesting verse in this chapter that always jumps out at me is verse 19 – “Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror!” I had someone once tell me that they believed in God – but that they realized that so do the demons. The difference of course is that the demons are not indwelled by the Holy Spirit, as are those who have faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Still, a bit of a scary verse to think about, no? Not necessarily for our own lives, perhaps, but maybe for others we know. Let us pray that we and others we know not only know God, but know Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit!
James 3 verses 9 and 10 are powerful reminders on the danger of what can come out of our mouths: “Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” How true is this… Reminds me of the old saying of being “two-faced”. Or maybe having a forked-tongue? The key here to how we can control the tongue I believe is answered in verse 13 – “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise!” If we can focus on wisdom and what’s going on inside our hearts and minds, we won’t have to worry about what comes out of the mouth!
Psalms – I came across a wonderful speculation on Psalm 118! Commentaries suggested that Jesus and the disciples sung this psalm/hymn at the end of the Last Supper. Matthew chapter 26 verse 30 tells us – “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” This adds a bit of a new dimension to this Psalm! The reason for this speculation is because this is the final Psalm in the Egyptian Hallel of Psalms 113 through 118. These Psalms were used in Jewish liturgy at the great religious festivals of Passover, Tabernacles, Dedication, Weeks, New Moon. At Passover Psalm 113 & 114 were sung before the meal and Psalms 115 – 118 were sung after the meal. Perhaps, even after the Last Supper by Jesus and the disciples?
Below is Russian artist Simon Ushakov’s “The Last Supper” from the year 1685 –
Verse 8 in this Psalm stands out to me big time: “It is better to trust the LORD than to put confidence in people.” Kind of strong words I know… but what do you think? Might people, on occasion, let you down? Obviously, we know the answer to this one. People will let us down. Even our closest friends and family at some point will let us down. However – I don’t think this means we give up on investing and loving friends and family! It just means we should not be surprised when someone let’s us down. That’s human nature. None of us is perfect this side of heaven – you will obviously let people down too. Realizing this, I think all of us should be prepared to forgive others and to ask for forgiveness of others.
Proverbs – Proverbs 28 verse 2 today is a great reminder for us to pray for our leaders in power nationally, locally, and worldwide. “When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But with wise and knowledgeable leaders, there is stability.”
How often do you pray for your leaders? Will you cover them with prayer today?
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26 (NIV)
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