December 31, 2018
THE GOD OF THE OLD IS THE GOD OF THE NEW
As the Old Testament closes with the writings of the prophet Malachi, the Lord reminded the descendants of Jacob of His immutability. People today often wonder at this. How can the God that judged the world with a devastating deluge be the same God who so loved the world that He sent His only begotten to save it?
The immutability of God is better understood when we see the Bible as a progressive revelation of God. Page by page, as we read from Genesis to Revelation, we learn more about God. Finally, the fullest revelation of God is seen in Jesus. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son… The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (Heb. 1:1-3). As Jesus told His disciples, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
The new covenant of grace, which was introduced in the New Testament, is not evidence of any change in the God who gave Moses the Law. On the contrary, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. God gave the law to reveal His holiness and our sinfulness that we might repent. God gave us Jesus to pay for our sins that we might believe in Him and be saved.
God’s immutability is better understood when we read the Bible from back to front, rather than front to back. Indeed, God and His Word are only rightly understood by reading through the lens of Jesus. For Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13:8).
December 31, 2017
It’s become my habit to highlight a verse from each of the four daily readings in the One Year Bible on the last day of the year. So, on this last day of 2017, I offer a prayer for all of us from each of the readings:
From Malachi, I pray that we will receive healing and the power to go out kicking up our feet like young calves.
From Revelation, I pray that we will look forward to Christ’s return and be blessed by the promises of His Word.
From Psalms, I pray that we grow in our awareness and acknowledgement of God’s “mighty acts” and “excellent greatness,” so that we are always praising the Lord.
From Proverbs, I pray that as members of His Bride, the Church, we would be be clothed in “strength and honor,” always “rejoicing in time to come.”
I pray these prayers over all of us, knowing that His Word is true, His promises sure, and His ear, always listening, ready to answer the prayers of His people.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
December 31, 2016
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:21 ESV)
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6 ESV)
“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:31 ESV)
Since it’s the last day of the year, I thought I’d just post on the last verse in the OT, NT, Psalms and Proverbs. Looking at them together, an encouraging word emerges. After all, even though the Bible is a collection of 66 books, it is actually one Book.
The last verses in Malachi and Proverbs speaks of God’s desire to bless both fatherhood and motherhood. May we let His Word instruct and encourage us to honor our parents and also to empower those of us who are parents ourselves. God cares about fathering and mothering. He is a relational God.
The last verses in Revelation and the Psalms encourages us to lift our voices up to our Lord Jesus! He is full of grace and has given us life and breath. Let us finish this year with gratitude and praise to Him, shouting “Praise the Lord! Amen!”
December 31, 2015
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:13 NKJV).
“Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!” (Psalm 150:2 NKJV).
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” Proverbs 31:30 NKJV).
On this last day of 2015, it seems appropriate to quote from all four OYB readings. As I do, I am reminded that the Bible is primarily a book about God. Malachi speaks of God’s immutability. Revelation reveals Christ’s prominence, preexistence, and eternality. The Psalmist calls us to give praise for the Lord’s mighty works and excellent greatness. And Proverbs reminds us that real and lasting beauty comes from knowing and fearing the Lord. God has given us the Incarnate Word, Christ Jesus, so that we might be saved and know Him. And He has given us the written Word, so that through the help of the Spirit we might understand His character.
I hope you have been encouraged by this year’s “Bible bus” tour! Get ready. We’re pulling into the station and preparing for another tour in 2016!
December 31, 2014
“And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5 NLT).
“Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6 NLT).
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised” (Proverbs 31:30 NLT).
As we finish up the OYB readings for 2014, here are verses from each reading from the last books of the Old and New Testaments and the last chapters of Psalms and Proverbs. As I’m sure others have noticed, even though the Bible is made up of sixty-six books, it has an amazing unity. Though it was written over a period of over fifteen hundred years, in three distinct languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) on three separate continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), by at least forty human writers from vastly differing fields, perspectives, and backgrounds, it still reads as one book. Why? Because they all wrote under the direction of the one Spirit of God.
Notice in the above four verses the unifying themes: Fear of God, praise of God, eternal life, the Lord as our light, eternal reward… Perhaps the Proverbs 31 reading seems a little out of place, until we consider that the bride is often a metaphor for the Church. Taken in this way, the Proverbs reading joins in the harmonious chorus of Christ and His Bride enjoying all of eternity together.
December 30, 2014
Do you ever question God’s love? The exiled Jews that had returned to Jerusalem did. They were happy to be home again, yet they were still under Persian rule and the former glory of their city was a mere memory. They wondered, how has God “loved us?” God’s reply through His prophet Malachi is both startling and mysterious: “I loved Jacob,” but hated his twin brother Esau. In other words, God chose to love them with an exclusive love long before they were even born. Like a groom who chooses his bride, rejecting all others, so God chose Jacob (Israel) and rejected Esau. It is God’s choosing to love us that makes it possible for us to respond. God’s love initiates. As Jesus told His disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). When Paul explained how God has loved us to the Romans, he wrote, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). How has God loved us? By choosing to love us when we were unlovable.
December 31, 2013
“‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
As the year 2013 ends and so our readings from the OYB, it seems appropriate to quote verses from the last books of both Testaments. In the OT reading from Malachi we read of a coming “Day of the Lord” (Hebrew: Yom Yahweh) that will be preceded by a preparer of the way, Elijah. In the gospels, Jesus taught that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of this prophecy, coming in the spirit of Elijah. This was the first “coming.” In the last book of the NT, the apostle John closes the Revelation with another “coming,” this one has yet to occur. I’m sure the contemporaries of Malachi wondered what year, what day would be the DAY. Perhaps they even doubted it would ever arrive. But it did. I wonder what 2014 holds for us?
December 30, 2012
God was displeased with the priests and people of Israel because their hearts didn’t line up with their worship. He told them to stop bringing blemished offerings and breaking their marriage vows, for these exposed their true idolatrous hearts. Heaven forbid that God would feel this way about our worship, that He would want us to lock the church’s doors until we can enter again in repentance. As 2012 winds down, let us ask God to examine our hearts and strengthen us to live wholeheartedly for Him. Let’s fling the church doors wide open in 2013!
December 30, 2011
Marriage is sacred. God sets it apart as an expression of His Trinitarian Oneness and as the means for raising godly children. Individuals and society experiment with marriage at their own risk. God is passionate about His purpose for marriage.