Wednesday, 20 August 2014

One Year Bible: Days 335-365

Day 335
Daniel 7:1-8:14; 1 John 2:12-27; Psalm 136:13-26
Daniel 7:13-14 looks forward, prophetically, to the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the future towards which history is moving, the future towards which God is working, the future of the Kingdom of God. This world is passing away, “but the man who does the will of God lives for ever” (1 John 2:17). Psalm 136 continues to emphasize, over and over again, that “His love endures for ever.” This love does not guarantee salvation to those who refuse to welcome God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as their Saviour. Responding to God’s love by doing His will, we receive, eternal life. Those who belong to the Lord, those whom He has redeemed, are His for ever. Psalm 136 contains the contrast between Israel and Egypt. Israel are brought through the midst of the Red Sea. Pharaoh and his army are swept into the Red Sea (Psalm 136:13-15). The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring the ultimate division of men and women. There are those who belong to Christ. For them, there is salvation. There are those who have refused Christ. For them, there is judgment.

Day 336
Daniel 8:15-9:19; 1 John 2:28-3:10; Proverbs 29:10-18
There is real urgency about Daniel’s prayer: “O Lord, look with favour on Your desolate sanctuary ... O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act!” (Daniel 9:17,19). We do need to pray with urgency. There are many who seek to lead us astray (1 John 3:7) - “Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright” (Proverbs 29:10). Who can help us in this situation? - Only the Lord: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). He alone will give us strength to “continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His Coming” (1 John 2:28). 

Day 337
“When He spoke to me, I was strengthened” (Daniel 10:19). The strength we receive from the Lord is a greater strength than the temptations we face - “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). To know that we receive such strength from the Lord is very encouraging when we are mocked by “our tormentors” (Psalm 137:3). Their scorn makes us wonder, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). When this question arises in our hearts, “God who is greater than our hearts” (1 John 3:20) speaks His Word, and we are strengthened with the strength which comes from Him, His strength. With His strength, we are able to sing “songs of joy” (Psalm 137:3). We have this testimony - “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” By ourselves, we are cast down with weeping (Psalm 137:1). Strengthened by the Lord, we have joy. We rejoice in Him.

Day 338
Daniel 11 is concerned with conflict. This is part of our spiritual experience as well as Israel’s military experience. There is an enemy who opposes the Lord and His people. Nevertheless, “the people who know their God will firmly resist him” (Daniel 11:32). How are we able to resist the enemy? We are strengthened by love, the love of God. We learn to love God as we learn to appreciate His love for us: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This love, His love, gives us the strength to firmly resist the enemy. God’s love is a faithful love - “Your love, O Lord, endures for ever” (Psalm 138:8). His love and His faithfulness belong together - “Your love and Your faithfulness” (Psalm 138:2). How do we know of the faithful love of God? - Through His Name and His Word: “You have exalted above all things Your Name and Your Word” (Psalm 138:2). As the Name of the Lord and the Word of the Lord become precious to us, so the love of the Lord becomes real to us, the strength of the Lord is given to us and the enemy is firmly resisted.

Day 339
Scripture speaks of “the time of wrath” (Daniel 11:36), “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (Daniel 12:1). For some, this will bring “shame and everlasting contempt.” Through the grace of God, others will receive “everlasting life” (Daniel 12:20). This “everlasting life” is in Christ - “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life.” Scripture also contains the Word of warning - “He who does not have the Son does not have life” (1 John 5:12-12). As we hear Scripture speaking to us concerning eternal life, we say in our hearts, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:6). Too wonderful? Too lofty? - Yes, but, by the grace of God, it is given to us - “I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Day 340
God calls His people - “Be strong” (Haggai 2:4). This call comes to the “governor”, “the high priest” and “all you people of the land” (Haggai 2:2). We need spiritual strength in government, in the Church and throughout the land. This strength is needed if we are to build upon the sure foundation of truth. The Lord’s work is to be built up. This can only be done when we stand for the truth in the face of “many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 7). John tells us that we must take care to ensure fruitfulness in the Lord’s work - “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” (2 John 8). The danger we must take care to avoid is described pictorially in Haggai 1:6 - “You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” When we hear a message such as this, we must receive it with humility and not with pride - “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honour” (Proverbs 29:23).

Day 341
The removal of sin (Zechariah 3:4,9) and the restoration of glory: Here, we have a great description of salvation, wiping out the sin of the past, giving an anticipatory glimpse of the glory to come. The past is forgiven. The future is promised. What about the present - “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). This life in the Spirit - lived between the forgiven sin (the past) and the glory to come (the future) - is to be a life of “working together for the truth” (3 John 4). As we live this life in the Spirit, we enjoy the “peace” of God (3 John 14). This peace arises in our hearts as we learn to praise God. we praise Him for His work of creation - “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This praise - “Your works are wonderful” - causes us to reflect also on His works of providence - “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:14,16). It also causes us to reflect on God’s work of redemption. The thought of creation leads on to the thought of re-creation: “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The thought of providence also leads us to think of redemption: God’s “book” (Psalm 139:16) turns our thoughts to “the book of life” - the book of eternal life which we receive through faith in “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Day 342
Again and again, in Zechariah, we find the phrase, “the Word of the Lord (Almighty) came to me” (Zechariah 6:9; Zechariah 7;1,4,8). Another recurring phrase, with similar meaning, is “This is what the Lord (Almighty) says” (Zechariah 6:12; Zechariah 8:3,4,6,7,9,14,20,23). The Word of revelation – This is the basis of our faith. It’s God speaking His Word to us. His Word is a Word of salvation (Zechariah 8:7-8). This salvation is not only for the Jews. It is for “countries of the east and the west” (Zechariah 8:7). It is for “men from all languages and nations” (Zechariah 8:23). This “salvation we share” (Jude 3), a salvation which goes from nation to nation, from generation to generation, is to be preserved by God’s people “contending for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). In today’s world, many proudly dismiss the whole idea of divine revelation. The Lord’s people must not be deceived. Over against those who oppose God and His Word of revelation, we must speak the Word of rebuke: “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9). We have been forewarned: “In the last times there will be scoffers, who will follow their own ungodly desires” (Jude 18). In the face of this, we must “build ourselves up in our most holy faith” (Jude 20), always trusting in “Him who is able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24). How does He keep us from falling? How does He keep us standing up for Him in the face of such opposition? – “How precious are Your thoughts, O God!” (Psalm 139:17). We are to feed upon the Word of God, with this constant prayer: “Search me, O God … Lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:24).
Day 343
Zechariah 9:1-11:17; Revelation 1:1-20; Psalm 140:1-5
”Rejoice greatly ... your King comes to you ... having salvation ... because of the blood of My covenant with you” (Zechariah 9:9,11). “The Ruler of the kings of the earth ... who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5). The King of love is revealed in both Zechariah and Revelation. We see, however, different aspects of His Kingship. We see His two comings. There is His first coming - “Your King comes to you ... gentle and riding on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9) - and His second coming - “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7). The Lord’s way - “gentle” is to be our way. We trust in Him when we are confronted by “men of violence” (Psalm 140:1). We know that, when the King comes again, the men of violence will be exposed - “every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him” (Revelation 1:7).

Day 344
God “pours out ... a spirit of supplication” upon His people. As a result of this, they look on Him, “the One they have pierced.” In doing so, they come to “a fountain ... to cleanse them from sin and impurity” (Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1). Mourning for the One they pierced and receiving cleansing from sin, we enter into a new relationship in which God says, “They are My people” and we say, “The Lord is our God” (Zechariah 13:9). This new life is to be caharacterized by “worship.” “Holy to the Lord” is to be the central feature of our new life (Zechariah 14:16,20). This is “the new name” (Revelation 2:17) of God’s people - “Holy to the Lord.” It is inscribed upon us, written over our lives. It is “known only to him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17). Only those who are beginning to experience what it means to be “holy to the Lord” will understand its meaning. Experience and understanding belong together. They are united in the act of receiving. Faith is the tie which binds together experience and understanding. By faith, we hold out our empty hands that they might be filled with God’s gift of grace. There is no way to “a man’s understanding”, no way to “wisdom”, no way to “knowledge of the Holy One”, no way which begins with “I”. Concerning ourselves, we must make this confession: “I am the most ignorant of men” (Proverbs 30:2-3). The question is asked: “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? ... What is his name ...? Tell me if you know!” (Proverbs 30:4). There is no answer to this question. The Gospel does not begin with man, reaching up to heaven. It begins with God, reaching down to earth - “Who came down from heaven to earth? Jesus Christ our Saviour”. It is God who pours out His grace. This is the foundation on which our life of faith is based.
Day 345
Esther 1:1-2:18; Revelation 2:18-3:6; Psalm 140:6-13
God is at work in the life of both the Church and the nation. He has a message for His Church. It is the message of the Spirit: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:29; Revelation 3:6). This message of the Lord concerns His Church. It also concerns the world. On the surface, the story of Esther is not a very spiritual story. Nevertheless, God is there. Amid all the talk of “twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics” (Esther 2:12), God was working out His purpose. He was revealing Himself as the “Sovereign Lord”, the “strong defender” of His people. The plans of men - “the wicked” - did not succeed. The pride of man was brought to nothing so that the glory belong to God alone (Psalm 140:7-8). This is the message of the book of Esther. In order to hear this message clearly, we must read between the lines. This message may not be spelled out in detail. Nevertheless, it is there for the believing reader who is attentive to the Lord, speaking through the events of history. God’s concern is that there may be “justice for the poor”, that “the cause of the needy” may be upheld (Psalm 140:12). This is a concern which will take us beyond the fairly narrow and well-defined scope of the Church. God’s concern takes us into the world with a desire to see the quality of life improved by God so that the people will be more deeply moved to praise His Name and live in His presence (Psalm 140:13).

Day 346
Esther 2:19-5:14; Revelation 3:7-22; Psalm 141:1-10
There are doors which can only be opened by God - “See, I  have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut” (Revelation 3:8). There are doors which must be opened by man - “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). This is illustrated in the story of Esther. She became the Queen of Persia according to the sovereign purpose of God. God opened the door. Nevertheless, there were doors which had to be opened by Esther. As the Queen of Persia, she had to act in a wise and courageous way in order to carry out the purpose of God. In everything, we must say, with the Psalmist, “My eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord” (Psalm 141:8). This is not, however, to be the kind of heavenly-mindedness which makes us oblivious to what is going on around us. We must keep a close eye on events. We must direct our prayers towards the fulfilment of God’s purpose through the particular course of events which are taking place here-and-now. This is precisely what the Psalmist does. He sees what is happening, and he prays, “Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil” (Psalm 141:4). His “prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers” (Psalm 141:5-6). This, again, is a combination of God opening and closing doors - “What He opens no-one can shut and what He shuts no-one can open” (Revelation 3:7) - and ourselves opening and closing doors as, looking at what is going on around us, we choose God’s way rather than the world’s way. Concerning this opening and closing of doors, we say, “O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Day 347
Esther 6:1-8:17; Revelation 4:1-11; Psalm 142:1-7
In the book of Esther, we see the people of God in conflict. There were enemies against whom they had to contend. In this battle, there are victories which lead to “joyous celebration” (Esther 8:15). Such times of victory are times of “happiness and joy, gladness and honour” (Esther 8:16). Such times point toward the final victory, the glorious celebration which will take place in God’s eternal Kingdom. Worship will “never stop.” The Lord’s people will “give glory, honour and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever” (Revelation 4:8-9). Concerning the Lord, we say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5). He is our refuge and portion in both this life and the life to come. “The land of the living” does not only speak of the “land” which will come to an end. It speaks also of the “land” that endures forevermore. In this life, there are many times when we say of our enemies, “They are too strong for me.” In the life to come, we will be fully “set free from our prison”, set free by God to “praise His Name” (Psalm 142:6-7).

 Day 348
Esther 9:1-10:3; Revelation 5:1-14; Proverbs 30:11-23
Esther 9 speaks of days of feasting and joy (Esther 9:17-19,22-23,28). If the Jews had cause to rejoice in Esther’s day, we have much more cause for rejoicing in the Lord - “Do not weep! Se, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed” (Revelation 5:5). The praise of God’s people does not arise only from the Jewish nation. It comes from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9. Our rejoicing is in Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God”: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12). This praise will continue throughout eternity: “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13). Proverbs 30:18 speaks of things that are “too amazing” for us, things that we “do not understand.” This is the Gospel. It stretches far beyond our understanding. Through amazing grace, such great things have been revealed to us. This is why praise arises in the hearts of God’s people as a song which will continue for all eternity.

Day 349
Malachi 1:1-2:16; Revelation 6:1-17; Psalm 143:1-12
”Come! ... Come! ... Come! ... Come!” (Revelation 6:1,3,5,7). The invitation is clear. We are to come to the Lord. How are we to come to Him? If we are to learn how we are to come to Him, we should learn also how we are not to come to Him. Malachi 1 stresses that we are not to come to Him with blemished sacrifices. Bringing such sacrifices shows contempt for the Name of the Lord (Malachi 1:6-9). We are not to show contempt for “the Lord’s table” (Malachi 1:7). We are not to say of the Lord’s table, “It is defiled.” We are not to say of the food of the Lord’s table, “It is contemptible.” We are not come to the Lord’s table, saying, “What a burden!” (Malachi 1:12). This is no way to come to the Lord. We are to come with “pure offerings”, acknowledging the greatness of the Lord’s Name (Malachi 1:11). He is the “great King” whose “Name is to be feared among the nations” (Malachi 1:14). The invitation comes from “the Lamb” (Revelation 6:1,3,5,7). Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. He is the pure Sacrifice. He has been slain for us. He is the foundation of our worship. He is the basis on which we come to God the Father. When we cry to God, “O Lord ... Listen to my cry for mercy” (Psalm 143:1), we come to Him in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we plead His “faithfulness and righteousness” (Psalm 143:1), our attention is fixed on the Cross of Christ. There, God’s faithfulness and righteousness are revealed to us. When, in our morning meditation, we pray, “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You” (Psalm 143:8), we are looking, in faith, to the Christ of Calvary from whom blessing flows to us. When we pray, “In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant” (Psalm 143:12), we are seeking God’s forgiveness and new life and are committing ourselves to be His servants.

Day 350
Malachi 2:17-4:6; Revelation 7:1-17; Psalm 144:1-8
Malachi 4:5 speaks of “that great and dreadful Day of the Lord.”  The Day of the Lord will be a Day of Judgment. This is not, however, the full story. It will also be the great Day of salvation. This comes through clearly in Revelation 7 - “a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb ... wearing white robes and ... holding palm branches ... cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10). This is our great encouragement as we wage spiritual warfare against the enemies of God. The glorious celebration in the Kingdom of God is the outcome of our life of faith. Saved by grace, we are victors in Christ. “These in white robes ... have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:13-14). That is the glorious finale of God’s gracious work of salvation. Here-and-now, we face spiritual warfare. In the midst of the battle, we say, “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my Fortress, my Stronghold and my Deliverer, my Shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues people under me” (Psalm 144:1-2). We, who have had a glimpse of heavenly glory, a foretaste of glory divine, now pray, “Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down” (Psalm 144:5).

We read of “gold” in both Ezra and Revelation (Ezra 1:4,6,9-11Revelation 8:3Revelation 9:7). In Ezra 1:6, “gold” is set alongside “valuable gifts” and “all the freewill offerings.” “Gold” is a valuable thing. The “gold” of our lives is truly valuable when it is given freely, as a “freewill offering.” In Revelation 8:3, “gold” is associated with “the prayers of all the saints.” The “gold” of our lives is truly valuable when it is given prayerfully to the Lord. In Revelation 9:7, the reference to “gold” is of a different kind. It refers to “the locusts.” It does not refer directly to “gold.” It uses the intriguing phrase - “something like crowns of gold.” This phrase speaks to us of the counterfeit, something which is like the real thing but is not the real thing. Like “the locusts”, we must be “prepared for battle” (Revelation 9:7). We must be watchful. We must guard against the counterfeit. We must keep ourselves for God so that we may be presented to Him as that which is truly “gold.” “Prepared for battle”, we must wage war as those who trust in the Lord, “the One who gives victory” (Psalm 144:2). This is the way of blessing: “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15).
At the heart of the rebuilding of the Temple, there was worship -“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His love to Israel endures for ever” (Ezra 3:11). Those who worship the Lord are set within the context of a world that refuses to worship Him: “The rest of mankind ... did not stop worshipping demons” (Revelation 9:20). Even when the call to conversion is sounded out clearly and often, we must reckon with the fact that many will refuse to come to Christ for salvation. His way is still the narrow way, while many take the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Part of God’s Word to today’s world is a word of rebuke: “If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hands over your mouth!” (Proverbs 30:32). Stop answering back! Stop protesting against the Lord! Start listening to the Lord! Listen to His Word! The Lord has much to say to this generation, if only the people would listen. If the word of rebuke is heeded, perhaps, there will be a real opening for the word of salvation.
Ezra speaks of the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem (Ezra 5:11). Revelation speaks of “God’s Temple in heaven” (Revelation 11:19). Both belong together - building the Church here on earth and building for the Kingdom of heaven. We must never be content with a measure of success in building the Church here on earth. God’s calling is heavenly. We look beyond the Church here on earth. We work towards the full and final fulfilment of God’s eternal purpose: “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Here, on earth, we are learning to praise God - “I will exalt You, my God the King ... Every day I will praise You” (Psalm 145:1-2). This praise will be complete in the glory of God’s heavenly and eternal Kingdom: “I will praise Your Name for ever and ever ... and extol Your Name for ever and ever” (Psalm 145:1-2). However much God may bless our worship here on earth, there will always be an inadequacy about our worship in this earthly life: “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no-one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3).Psalm 145:4-7 gives a great description of the joyful celebration, which is true worship (Psalm 145:7). This joyful celebration will reach its fullness in the glory of heaven. There, we will see the most marvellous fulfilment of the words of Psalm 145:7: “They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.”

Day 357
God’s people are to belong to Him alone. Influences which are foreign to the Gospel of Christ, alien to the Word of God, are to be excluded from our lives so that we might be, more truly and more fully, the people of God. This is the message of Ezra 10, as it emphasizes the sinfulness of God’s people intermarrying with those who worship false gods. From our lives as well as our lips, there is to be the song of praise, found in Revelation 15:3-4. It is a song of praise which gives God His rightful place in our lives. We acknowledge Him as the holy God, the God of righteousness. We affirm that His ways are just and true. We submit to Him - “Who would not fear You, O Lord.” We seek His glory - “and bring glory to Your Name?” (Revelation 15:4). This commitment to singing the praise of the Lord involves the whole of our life - “I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 146:20. This lifelong commitment is not to be fulfilled in our own strength. We need the strength of the Lord. “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Israel” (Psalm 146:5).

Day 358 
How do we respond to adverse circumstances? We can respond in a godly way or we can respond in a worldly fashion. “The walls of Jerusalem ... had been broken down, and its gates ... had been destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 2:13). Nehemiah responded with faith in God: “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem ... The gracious hand of God is upon me” (Nehemiah 2:18). “Sanballat ... Tobiah ... and Geshem” responded in a worldly way: “They mocked and ridiculed us” (Nehemiah 2:19). There are still two quite different responses to suffering. In faith, we can say, “You are just in these judgments, You who are and who were, the Holy One ... Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are Your judgments” (Revelation 16:5,7). There is also the negative reaction: “They cursed the Name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify Him” (Revelation 16:9,11). Scripture leaves us in no doubt that the better way is the way of praise - “How good it is to sing praises to our God” (Psalm 147:1). We see that “the Lord builds up Jerusalem” and we give praise to the Lord (Psalm 147:2). This “building up” of Jerusalem is more than building with bricks and mortar. It is the gathering together of the Lord’s people, the healing of the broken-hearted, the binding up of their wounds (Psalm 147:7). As we consider this “building up”, which is the work of God Himself, we are to “sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” (Psalm 147:7). When we choose the way of praise rather than the way of complaint, we bring delight to the Lord: “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11).
Day 359
Nehemiah 3:1-4:23; Revelation 17:1-18; Psalm 147:12-20
God’s people faced opposition. What did they do? They kept on working - “The people worked with all their heart” (Nehemiah 4:6). They kept on praying - “We prayed to our God” (Nehemiah 4:9). They were watchful -  “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,  and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked” (Nehemiah 4:17-18). God calls us to work for Him. As we work, we must also pray. In all of our praying and working, we must never forget that we are involved in spiritual warfare. In this battle with our spiritual enemies, we can say with confidence, “Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:20). Revelation 17:14 speaks of conflict and victory: “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome  them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings - and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” It is important that we see the spiritual dimension of our own experience of conflict. Satan’s opposition is directed against the Lamb. When we understand our conflict in this broader context, we begin to see the way to victory. The victory over Satan is not something that we achieve for ourselves. We stand against Satan in the victory of the Lamb. Our victory is always “with Him.” It is always a sharing in His victory - “”The Lamb will overcome them.” In Psalm 147:12, we read, “He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you.” This is speaking of the city of Jerusalem, but we can also apply it to our own lives. Through the Lord who fights for us, we receive strength and we enjoy His blessing.
Day 360
Nehemiah 5:1-7:3; Revelation 18:1-17a; Proverbs 31:10-20
Again, the combination of prayer and work is seen in Nehemiah - “I devoted myself to the work on this wall” (Nehemiah 5:16), “I prayed, ‘Now, strengthen my hands.’” (Nehemiah 6:9). “So the wall was completed ... this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:15-16). We may contrast the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the fall of Babylon - “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!” (Revelation 18:2).The contrast between Jerusalem and Babylon - the ‘tale of two cities’ - is the contrast between God and the devil, between holiness and sin, godliness and ungodliness, righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil. the triumph is the Lord’s. The word of judgment concerning Babylon has been spoken (Revelation 18:10,16-17). Proverbs 31:10 tells us that “noble character ... is worth far more than rubies.” Again, what a contrast there is between the rich blessing of noble character and the empty futility of worldly riches: “Woe! Woe, a great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!” (Revelation 18:16-17). 
Day 361
Nehemiah 7:4-8:18; Revelation 18:17b-19:10; Psalm 148:1-6
We are called to “worship God” (Revelation 19:10). Our worship is to be with reverence and joy. “Be still: “This is the call for reverence (Nehemiah 8:11). Alongside this reverence, there is to be joy: “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). We are to “rejoice” in the Lord (Revelation 18:20). This joy is not a superficial emotion. It is accompanied by the reverence which comes from taking seriously the “woe” that is pronounced on the “great city” that lives for this world only (Revelation 18:19). Joyful worship arises from “a great multitude in heaven” (Revelation 19:1). Four times, in Revelation 19, we read, “Hallelujah!” (Revelation 19:1,3,4,6). “Hallelujah” means ‘Praise the Lord.’ Our praise is to be characterized by joy: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!” (Revelation 19:7). This joy is grounded in an awe-inspiring face: “Our Lord God Almighty reigns” (Revelation 19:6). “Praise the Lord”: These are the first words and the message of Psalm 148. The ‘choir’ which praises the Lord is truly astonishing (Psalm 148:1-4). Our song of praise participates in the song of praise which arises from God’s whole creation. This inspires us to worship Him, more truly and more fully.
Day 362
Nehemiah 9:1-37; Revelation 19:1-21; Psalm 148:7-14
In the history of Israel, we read a great deal about the history of human sin. First and foremost, however, it is the story of God’s grace and mercy. Israel’s sin is there in the forefront: “We are slaves today ... Because of our sins ... We are in great distress” (Nehemiah 9:36-37). Even more significant is the God of grace and mercy: “But in Your great mercy You did not put an end to them or abandon them, for You are a gracious and a merciful God” (Nehemiah 9:31). The God of grace and mercy is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). He reigns in grace and mercy. This is not to suggest that there is no judgment. There will be judgment. People from all walks of life come under the divine judgment (Revelation 19:18). There is, however, a way of escaping judgment. It is the way of coming to the Saviour: “Come, gather together for the great supper of God” (Revelation 19:17). When the redeemed of the Lord are gathered together for the great supper of God, it will be perfectly clear that “His Name alone is exalted: His splendour is above the earth and the heavens” (Psalm 148:13).
Day 363
Nehemiah 9:38-11:21; Revelation 20:1-15; Psalm 149:1-9
The Lord’s people, in Nehemiah’s time, made this commitment: “We will not neglect the House of our God” (Nehemiah 10:39). Such a commitment to God and His work is not easy to maintain. There is an enemy who opposes God and His work – “the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan” (Revelation 20:2). Whatever chaos Satan may cause in the Lord’s work here on earth, we are left in no doubt about his eternal destiny: “The devil … will be tormented day and night for ever” (Revelation 20:10). Satan’s eternal destiny is very different from that of God’s people: “The Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4) – “This is the glory of all His saints” (Psalm 149:9).

Day 364
“At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem”, the keynote of the service was joyful thanksgiving. They gathered together “to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving” (Nehemiah 12:27). “On that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy” (Nehemiah 12:43). They sang “songs of praise and thanksgiving to God” (Nehemiah 12:46). This joyful thanksgiving is only a foretaste of the greater joy and thanksgiving of heaven: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). In the city of God, “the glory of God” will be shining with everlasting brightness (Revelation 21:23). The Church of God will be “prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). The beautiful picture of the godly wife in Proverbs 31 gives us an outline of what God is seeking to do in His people. It is summarized in Proverbs 31:30: “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” This is what God wants to make His Bride, the Church – a people who fear the Lord and bring praise to Him.
Day 365
Nehemiah 13:1-31; Revelation 22:1-21; Psalm 150:1-6
Each day, we stand between the past and the future. In our prayers, we call upon God to “remember” (Nehemiah 13:14,22,29,31). There are two different kinds of ‘remembering’ here. God remembers his faithful servants. He also remembers those who have been unfaithful. As we face the future, we must be guided by both the Gospel invitation and the Gospel warning (Revelation 22:17-19). Salvation is offered to all. It is to be received by faith in Christ. There is also judgment for those who refuse to “come” to Him. Whatever our reaction to Him may be, God maintains His saving intention. He waits patiently for us to heed the call to “praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:1,6). “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).

One Year Bible: Days 213-243

Day 213
1 Chronicles 11:1-12:22; Romans 14:19-15:13; Psalm 89:46-52
1 Chronicles 11 speaks of “David’s mighty men” (1 Chronicles 11:11). The focus is not, however, on either David or the “mighty men.” It is on the Lord - “The Lord brought about a great victory” (1 Chronicles 11:14). In their warfare, “the Spirit” brings this message - “... your God will help you” (1 Chronicles 12:18). What are we to say about these things from the Old Testament Scriptures? They were “written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). As we consider what God has done in the past - His “former great love”, we are encouraged to believe in His “faithfulness”, and we say, from our hearts, “Praise be to the Lord for ever! Amen and Amen” (Psalm 89:52).

Day 214
God’s purpose concerns all the nations - “The Lord made all the nations fear David” (1 Chronicles 14:17). Paul was “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles” (Romans 15:16). God’s purpose concerns all generations - “Lord, You have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).

Day 215
In a book full of so many names, David’s psalm of thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 16) stands out. It is a high-point in the midst of the commonplace. The commonplace is not insignificant in God’s purpose. It is the backcloth against which God gives to us His special high-points. In the commonplace, we long for the deeper experience of worship. From the deeper experience of worship, we return to the commonplace with renewed vigour. Romans 16 is a chapter of the many names, the names of men and women who are precious to the Lord and valued by the Lord’s people. As we think of many names, we are to pray, “May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendour to their children” (Psalm 90:16).
Day 216
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17; 1 Corinthians 1:1-17; Proverbs 19:3-12
“The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went” (1 Chronicles 18:6,13). “He will keep you strong to the end ... “ (1 Corinthians 1:8). How do we grow strong in the Lord? How do we walk with Him in the way of victory? - We are strong in the Lord, walking in His victory, when we “get wisdom and “cherish understanding” (Proverbs 19:8). The wisdom of God is different from “human wisdom.” The wisdom of God is focused on and derived from “the Cross of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:17).

Day 217
1 Chronicles 19:1-22:1; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5; Psalm 91:1-8
David - “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men” (1 Chronicles 20:13).
Paul - “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
What a contrast there is between man and God! How important it is that “our faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:5).
“He will save you from the fowler’s snare” (Psalm 91:3). Our hope is not in man. It is in the Lord: “He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2). 

Day 218
1 Chronicles 22:2-23:32; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Psalm 91:9-16
The Temple was to be “built for the Name of the Lord”, “to praise the Lord” (1 Chronicles 22:19; 23:5). In the context of such worship - “thanking and praising the Lord” (1 Chronicles 23:30), the Word of God would be spoken “not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Together with praise and preaching, there would be prayer: “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him” (Psalm 91:15).

Day 219
Every believer has a part in the work of God. This comes through in the lists of names in 1 Chronicles 24-26. This is also taught in 1 Corinthians 3:6 which goes on to emphasize that the real work is not done by men but by the Lord. Man is not to be exalted - only the Lord: “You, O Lord, are exalted for ever” (Psalm 92:8).

Day 220
The people of Israel had to do battle against their enemies. We also must wage war for God. Paul describes the hardships involved in true discipleship (1 Corinthians 4:9-12). In all of this, our intention must be to do the will of the Lord - “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

Day 221
Our “boasting is not good” (1 Corinthians 5:6). It is better for us to boast in the Lord - “Praise be to You, O Lord .... Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power ... Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious Name ... Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand .... O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building You a Temple for your Holy Name, it comes from Your hand, and all of it belongs to You” (1 Chronicles 29:10-16). “The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robes in majesty and is armed with strength .... the Lord on high is mighty” (Psalm 93:1,4). 

Day 222
We are to place value on the most important things. God places the highest value on our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:19). Those who share God’s values will ask for “wisdom and knowledge” (2 Chronicles 1:10), and “not ... for wealth, riches or honour .... “ (2 Chronicles 1:11). We are to think the thoughts of God, and not “the thoughts of man” which are “futile” (Psalm 94:11). 

Day 223
“I know that everything God does will endure for ever” (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
In the constant flux of life in this world, here we have something which must never be forgotten. There are many circumstances in life which are confusing - “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16). In the face of life’s confusing circumstances, there will be times when we will say, “My foot is slipping.” In times like these, we must learn to say, “Your love, O Lord, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).

Day 224
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
This is the world’s way. The Lord’s way is a better way. We are to “use the things of the world” without being “engrossed in them” (1 Corinthians 7:31). What we must remember is this: “The fear of the Lord leads to life; Then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23). When our relationship with the Lord is the most important thing in life, we do not get unduly anxious about how things are going, in terms of material prosperity. 

Day 225
“Do not be over-righteous, neither be overwise” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). This is not a protest against wisdom and righteousness. It is telling us that, in our wisdom and righteousness, we must not become proud like the Pharisees. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Without love, everything else is nothing. We must never forget this. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7-8). Where our wisdom (or knowledge) and righteousness become centred on ourselves - ‘How wise and righteous I have become’, we have closed our hearts to God. Listen to God. Learn from Him. Live for Him. Real wisdom has nothing to do with self-centredness. It’s all about learning to be Christ-centred. Real wisdom leads to true righteousness. It’s about learning to become like Jesus. We look to Him and we learn to live for Him.

Day 226
“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). There are many matters which are secondary. Living in accordance with the Gospel is the all-important thing: “We put up with anything rather than hinder the Gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:12). “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4). The fear of the Lord is directly related to worshipping Him. To fear the Lord is not to cower away from Him. It is to come to Him in worship. Together with the fear of the Lord, there is rejoicing in Him (Psalm 96:11).

Day 227
Worship and witness belong together. The building of the Temple speaks to us of the priority of worship. Before we can become witnesses, we must be worshippers. The ministry of Paul speaks to us of witness: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Both our worship and our witness are to be filled with joy: “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy Name” (Psalm 97:12).

Day 228
“The glory of the Lord filled the Temple of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14). There is glory among God’s people when He answers their prayers (2 Chronicles 6:40-42 and 2 Chronicles 7:1-3). All that we do is to be done “for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This includes our life in the Church - our participation in the blood of Christ .... and the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16). It also includes our life in the world - “If some unbeliever invites you to a meal ...” (1 Corinthians 10:27). “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5). Our hearts are searched by the Word of the Lord and through faith, which leads to understanding, we learn to glorify God.

Day 229
Worship lies at the heart of the Christian life. If the blessing of God is to come upon His people, there must be the gathering together of the His people for worship.  In calling His people to prayer, God says this: “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:15). In worship, we gather together for proclamation - to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Prayer and proclamation are accompanied by praise - “Sing to the Lord a new song ...” (Psalm 98:1). The community of faith grows strong as it meets together for worship - to praise God, to pray to Him, to proclaim Him.

Day 230
God uses the physical as an analogy of the spiritual. In 1 Corinthians 12, “the body” symbolizes the Church. In Song of Songs, the theme is physical love. By the Spirit of God, the physical language points beyond itself by using imagery which is suggestive of deep spiritual truth. What is happening in the heavenly realms always has great relevance to what is going on here on earth: “Great is the Lord in Zion; He is exalted over all the nations” (Psalm 99:2).

Day 231
There is physical love (Song of Songs). There is the love spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13. There is the love of God - “For the Lord is good and His love endures for ever” (Psalm 100:5). The more we consider what the Scriptures say about love, the more we realize that ‘love is a many-splendoured thing.’ To understand love, there needs to be a response of love arising from our hearts. Touched by love, we learn to love.

Day 232
Prayer, prophecy and praise - these are three essential ingredients of worship. Prayer - “They sought God eagerly and He was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:15). Prophecy - “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:39). Praise - “To You, O Lord, I will sing praise” (Psalm 101:1).

Day 234
The people of God are to be “armed for battle” (2 Chronicles 17:18). The battle is spiritual. It can only be won through the power of the risen Christ. His purpose is the destruction of “the last enemy ... death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). This has been accomplished, in principle, through Christ’s resurrection. The full reality of His victory will be seen at His return. With such a strong and victorious Lord on our side, we are encouraged to pray to the Lord, fully expecting  to receive help from Him - “Hear my prayer, O Lord, let my cry for help come to You ... “ (Psalm 102:1-2).

Day 235
Those who were armed for battle received this message from the Lord: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 21:15). Now, we fight many battles. There will come a Day when these battles will be behind us and we will share in the glory of God: “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the Man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:4-9). The glory of the Lord will be revealed. There will be no king but the Lord - “all the kings of the earth will revere Your glory” (Psalm 102:15).

Day 236
The conflict between good and evil, godliness and ungodliness, may be seen throughout the Scriptures. This is particularly true in the history of the Old Testament kings. God is doing a work. Satan is doing all that he can to destroy it. We must make “a covenant ... to be the Lord’s people” (2 Chronicles 23:16). We must never lose sight of the final outcome of the battle between good and evil. Satan will be “slain with the sword” (2 Chronicles 23:21). He will be “hurled down” - “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). From our hearts, we can say, “But thanks to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). If we are to enjoy His victory, we must live in the light which shines from “the lamp of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27).

Day 237
During the time of the Old Testament kings, there was much “turning away from following the Lord” (2 Chronicles 25:27). In such times as these, we need to be encouraged to go on with the Lord: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians16:13-14). The warnings from previous generations, together with the call to follow the Lord, are written for people of every generation: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18). 

Day 238
2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27; 2 Corinthians 1:1-11; Psalm 103:1-12
“In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:22). Times of trouble can lead people towards bitterness and further rebellion against the Lord. On the other hand, times of trouble can be precisely the times when God’s purpose is most powerfully fulfilled - “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Ahaz’ rebellion against the Lord had negative effects on the whole of Israel. Scripture speaks of both “his downfall and the downfall of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:23). We receive comfort from the Lord so that we may have a positive effect on others - “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). As we consider what God is seeking, even in our troubles, to do in us and for us, we must learn to say, with the Psalmist, “Praise the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

Day 239
A revival of worship does not come from the worshippers. It comes from the God whom they worship - “what God had brought about for His people” (2 Chronicles 29:35b-36). “It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:22). If we are live in obedience to God’s Word, we must give ourselves wholeheartedly to praising Him. This will involve more than paying lip-service to Him. We must do His will (Psalm 103:20-21).

Day 240
“With us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8). The battle will not be easy. “Satan” is seeking to “outwit us” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Nevertheless, “we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). In our spiritual battle for God and against Satan, we need to know both our enemy and our God who helps us and fights for us. “The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin” (Proverbs 21:12). This is what Christ has done for us. This is what we are to do in Him.

Day 241
Covenant - This is vitally important in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (2 Chronicles 34:29-32; 2 Corinthians 3:6). There is the Word of God (2 Chronicles 34:30) and the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:6). There is the human response (2 Chronicles 34:31-32) and renewal by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6). Psalm 104 speaks much of “the waters.” This makes one think of Jesus’ words concerning “rivers of living water” (John 7:37-39) - the power of the Spirit being poured into our hearts (Psalm 104:10; Romans 5:5), satisfying our spiritual thirst (Psalm 104:11,13) and bringing fruitfulness into our lives (Psalm 104:14) with a sufficiency that comes from the Lord (Psalm 104:16). 

Day 242
The glory of Israel was a fading glory. We should read the closing chapters of 2 Chronicles in the light of 2 Corinthians 3:7 - The glory was fading. God, however, has revealed His glory in greater fullness - “what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:10). The renewal of God’s glory comes through the Spirit (Psalm 104:30).

Day 243
“All the nations may walk in the names of their gods; we will walk in the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever” (Micah 4:5). This is the kind of commitment the Lord is looking for. We commit ourselves to Him not for our benefit but for this purpose: “so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15). As part of this thanksgiving to God, we offer our song of praise to Him: “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 104:33).