Reading #1 – Exodus 34
Reading #2 – Psalms 27
Reading #3 – Proverbs 9
Reading #4 – Jonah 2
Reading #5 – 1 Thessalonians 5
Exodus 34 – The new stone tablets – Moses had broken the first set of stones in a show of anger. While Moses was in the presence of God on behalf of the people, the people he was serving were out serving themselves. God says he will help us if we will just be obedient to what he commands. Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (10-14 NIV). Unfortunately, man’s threshold of being obedient sometimes goes no further than the first temptation. When we stop being obedient and seek other ways of living, he will stop working on our behalf because, he will not contend with two captains leading in two differrent directions because it creates confusion. In Psalms it says, “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers (Psalms 55:11-14 NIV).” Jesus said when charged with operating under demonic activity when was doing all of the miracles said, “A house divided against itself can not stand” (Matthew 12:22-28). It is for this reason that we must always stay in the presence of God and obey what he commands or have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.
Psalms 27 – The reward for obedience – When we walk in complete obedience to God, he will make his home in our life (Ephesians 3:17-19). Like all ways of living, there are rewards, challenges, and struggles to face and overcome. The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall, I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid (1 NIV)? The reality is, many start off on the road to redemption only to fall down and never get up again. If we want the “Peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding” (Phillipians 4:7), then we must first learn to be obedient. We may ask people to “pray for us” but if we chose not to listen, what good are the prayers? Ministers may work many hours, fast, seek the Lord for the just the right word but, if we are not willing to do the “first works” (Revelations 2:5) those words are absolutely meaningless. Only when we do what is asked of us and the work is not hard, God does great things in our life that confirms the messages, empowers the ministers in our life, and catapults us into new heights for life.
Proverbs 9 – The unruly woman named “Folly” (13). All of our prayers and best advice is no match for folly who speaks to the simple person, the hurt individual, the weakling, and the outcast, can do far more damage than all of the “Acts of God” can ever do. The person who listens to folly and follows her lead, will find out in the end how beguiling she is and will turn on us when we least expect it. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, “Let all who are simple come to my house! To those who have no sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead (14-18 NIV).
Jonah 2 – Night in a Fish – Jonah had tried to run away but God stopped him in his tracks. I will never understand why it was necessary for God to even try to run after Jonah. The whole probem with the story is that we do not understand why God specifically called Jonah. That is until I reread the last two paragraphs and then I understood why Jonah was called, it was because he prayed for it at some time in preceeding days of his life. Being too quick to make a vow is probably one of man’s greatest foibles that gets himself or herself into trouble. Serving God is all about “the heart” and where it truly is in relationship to the “plum line of his word” (notes for further writing). The three-day journey from the ship to the shore was a time for Jonah to seek God and ask for his forgiveness. God forgave Jonah for his act of cowardice and restored him. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord (8-9).’”
1 Thessalonians 5 – Fair-well message. Paul was on his way to Rome knowing that his days were numbered. For the church at Thessalonica as well as all of the other churches under Paul’s perview, would have to carry on with Paul’s work so as to continue the ministry. When Jesus was crucified, then rose from the dead, and about to decend into the Heavens, he told them to continue his work and “lo I am with you always even to the very end of time” (Matthew 28:20). Paul’s message was just like Jesus because he knew what lay ahead for the church and just how tough the days would be. Rejoice always, pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who callsyou is faithful, and he will do it (16-23 NIV).”