“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)

Thought:

It is so easy to imagine that God does not exist because we get so caught up in how hard our lives are. But the truth is, if God had abandoned us or there was no God, life would be unutterably worse, if not lost altogether. The amazing truth is that God still wants to give us everything. He wants us to live in peace and love and enjoy the abundance of all the pleasures that life in his presence has to offer. All He requires is our trust and our devotion. When he talks about giving him our tithes, do not think that he only wants our money. Our money is useless to God, he wants us. Our lives, our industry, our willingness to live righteous, honest, pure lives for his eternal glory, that is what he wants. In return he offers to open the windows of heaven for us and pour out blessings so great there won’t be enough room to take it all in! Will you try it? Will you take The Lord up on this offer and put him to the test?

Word:

Malachi 3:6-12 NLT

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Goal:

This is the last of the daily devotionals I shall write for my year long TWG series. I have read the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation in daily chunks and I have shared my thoughts, as a new Christian, taking my first steps in faith. As the year has gone by, I have faced all kinds of challenges on all kinds of levels. Spiritual and emotional issues have been ever present, financial and career related questions have had to be answered, family and friends have helped and hindered. But my faith has been strengthened through all of it because it has been tried and tested. I have put The Lord to the test and claimed his promises for myself. I have to tell you, in this last devotional, that the Word of God is true. Despite everything that has happened since I committed my life to Jesus, I have been blessed beyond imagining. I hope you will make it your goal to put all your hope in God next year. See for yourself how much he will bless you.

Today’s readings:

Malachi 3:1-4:6, Revelation 22:1-21, Psalms 150:1-6, Proverbs 31:25-31

But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. (Mala chi 2:8)

Thought:

Today’s passage is a warning for us in our own time. It was given originally to the people of Jerusalem by way of explaining why, having rebuilt the temple, God still seemed to be withholding his favour. The priests of the temple had become corrupted and had led the whole nation astray, they had allowed the people to make unworthy offerings to The Lord, such as blind and lame animals. The priests and the people alike, had stopped showing God the reverence and respect that he requires. In our own time, the church has been shown to be corrupt. It has been weakened by child abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, with the Anglican Church seeming increasing irrelevant in our modern society. As a wise friend once told me when I first became a Christian, people know what they expect from their Christians. They want to be able to look to the church and find the love of God being demonstrated. They want to go there and find instruction and the knowledge of God they need to gain the hope which has been promised. But as things stand, they will be lucky to find any church practising what it preaches.

Word:

Malachi 2:5-9 NLT

“The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name. They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin. “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favouritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”

Goal:

Despite the poor reputation that the church is currently burdened with, the word of God is still true and relevant to all people. It has become my mission to study and understand God’s word so that I might learn to live by it. My goal and my hope is that in so doing, I might be in a position to claim the Lord’s covenant which brings life and peace. I find that I want to live a good, honest and righteous life which reveres The Lord. I want to be able to offer instruction and knowledge of God to those who would seek him, and perhaps help some of them turn from their lonely lives of sin and emptiness. I pray, as I often do, for The Lord to bless me with his wisdom.

Today’s readings:

Malachi 1:1-2:17, Revelation 21:1-27, Psalms 149:1-9, Proverbs 31:10-24

Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulphur (Revelation 20:10)

Thought:

In today’s passage, we see how easily the devil is defeated by God. The whole mighty army of Satan is consumed by fire from heaven, and the Devil himself is thrown into a fiery lake. Then, in the second paragraph, we read of the day of Judgement. A day on which the grave gives up it’s dead, and all are judged according to their deeds. Both Satan and the grave are completely commanded by The Lord whose power is absolute and complete. This is the hope that under pins the faith of all true Christians. We may well be engaged in a spiritual battle with Satan, but God is not. God is superior to Satan and has already won the victory over him. But the battle for our souls goes on. My only thought is this: if the Satan seems to us to be so powerful in the light of our sin ravaged world, imagine how very much more powerful God is, who has so completely defeated him.

Word:

Revelation 20:7-15 NLT

When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulphur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Goal:

Now, I can’t say with any degree of certainty who has their name written in the book of Life, but I can say that I know what God requires of his children. I know that if I am to be a child of God and not be a slave of satan, I must listen to, and obey, the Lord’s commands and instructions as given to us in the scriptures. I must turn my life to his service and confess my failures to him. I must believe in him and share with others what I know of God. Above all, I must love The Lord my God above all others, and humbly strive to reflect God’s astonishing and all conquering love, into the lives of those around me who are still fighting a losing battle against the devil.

Today’s readings:

Zechariah 14:1-21, Revelation 20:1-15, Psalms 148:1-14, Proverbs 31:8-9

For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. (Revelation 19:7)

Thought:

Yesterday I wrote about the great prophesy in Revelation, that the great and evil city of Babylon would be overthrown. Today we read of the reaction of the heavenly hosts to this, and we see that when the great ‘prostitute of Babylon’ has been punished, the marriage of the Lamb – Jesus, to his bride – the Church follows. As I pointed out yesterday, many non-christians are terribly confused about the nature of God’s love when they read of his righteous anger or vengeance and punishment. But as it is written in today’s passage, we see that his judgements are true and just. It is not at all surprising to hear from non-believers that, in their opinion, our God is unjust, inconsistent, unloving and vengeful. All through the scriptures, The Lord warns of the consequences in store for those who deny him. He has warned his creation, through the prophets, across thousands of years. The choice is straight forward, either you believe, repent and live, or you don’t believe, don’t repent and face the consequences.

Word:

Revelation 19:1-8 NLT

After this, I heard what sounded like a vast crowd in heaven shouting, “Praise The Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. His judgments are true and just. He has punished the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality. He has avenged the murder of his servants.” And again their voices rang out: “Praise the Lord! The smoke from that city ascends forever and ever!” Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, “Amen! Praise the Lord!” And from the throne came a voice that said, “Praise our God, all his servants, all who fear him, from the least to the greatest.” Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honour to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.

Goal:

The heavenly hosts praised The Lord when he finally intervened and threw Babylon over. Then the twenty-four elders and the four living beings added their voices and praised The Lord. But the loudest shout of praise, like the roar of the ocean or the crashing of thunder, came from the whole heavenly host rejoicing in anticipation of the great wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride. My goal is to add my voice to the roar of the heavenly hosts as they praise The Lord and give him honour because his judgements are just and true. I will also make it my daily focus to prepare myself for my part, as a member of Jesus’s church and therefore his bride, in this great wedding feast. I hope one day to be worthy to wear the finest pure white linen as I kneel before my Lord Jesus as his bride, his servant and his child.

Today’s readings:

Zechariah 12:1-13:9, Revelation 19:1-21, Psalms 147:1-20, Proverbs 31:1-7

The great city Babylon will be thrown down with violence and will never be found again. (Revelation 18:21)

Thought:

How do you think you would cope if civilisation as we know it ceased to be? What do you really need in your life to be ok? In Revelation, John uses Babylon with all its material wealth and as a metaphor for the lure of evil. Babylon stands for all that is worldly and sinful in our lives today and if we are to believe what we read in the Bible, there will come a time when all that is worldly and corrupt will be thrown down violently. How would you cope without all that Babylon provides for us? If, suddenly, there were no modern comforts, where would you turn for relief? John reminds us that in Babylon they had slaughtered the prophets and God’s holy people. Isn’t it exactly the same here and now in our own time? So when it all comes to a crashing end, what will there left but ruin?

Word:

Revelation 18:21-24 NLT

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a huge millstone. He threw it into the ocean and shouted, “Just like this, the great city Babylon will be thrown down with violence and will never be found again. The sound of harps, singers, flutes, and trumpets will never be heard in you again. No craftsmen and no trades will ever be found in you again. The sound of the mill will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The happy voices of brides and grooms will never be heard in you again. For your merchants were the greatest in the world, and you deceived the nations with your sorceries. In your streets flowed the blood of the prophets and of God’s holy people and the blood of people slaughtered all over the world.”

Goal:

The book of Revelation paints a pretty scary picture of the end of time, and religious propagandists across the ages have used its verses to terrify and control the ignorant and vulnerable. But my goal is the exact opposite. I want to liberate and comfort the lost and frightened with the news that Jesus has won an eternal victory over death and evil. The whole message of the Gospels tells that all those who believe in Jesus will not perish when ‘Babylon’ or ‘Evil’ is overthrown. The reign of wicked and corrupt men, drunk on financial excess, will come to an end one day. When that day comes, many millions will be lost, but those who have put their faith in The Lord will be alright, because their hope was never in the things of this world. When you put your faith in God, nothing in this world can harm you. When I realised that, it felt like the best news I had ever heard, and I found that I was suddenly free.

Today’s readings:

Zechariah 10:1-11:17, Revelation 18:1-24, Psalms 146:1-10, Proverbs 30:33

The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does. (Psalm 145:13b)

Thought:

For me, this is one of the most wonderful aspects of God. He is constant and utterly trustworthy. In a world where nothing stays the same and all things must come to an end, the constancy of The Lord is the greatest comfort to me. In fact, faith is only possible because God has kept his promises. Without his promise there would be nothing to have faith in. Often, from our selfish and shortsighted point of view, it can seem as if He has forgotten about what he promised us. But it is far more likely that he hasn’t answered our prays as we might have hoped, because we were asking for the wrong things, things that would harm us. When it seems as if The Lord is letting you down, he is most likely graciously saving you from yourself. This is what the Psalmist knew, and he has written these words to remind us that whatever we might think, however much we might doubt his methods, we can always rely on The Lord to protect all those who love him.

Word:

Psalms 145:13b-21 NLT

13b The Lord always keeps his promises;
he is gracious in all he does.
14 The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15 The eyes of all look to you in hope;
you give them their food as they need it.
16 When you open your hand,
you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20 The Lord protects all those who love him,
but he destroys the wicked.
21 I will praise the Lord,
and may everyone on earth
bless his holy name forever and ever.

Goal:

I have had my doubts about God, and I’m sure I will again in future, but in the short period of time since I turned back to The Lord, He has shown me more often that I can trust him. I can testify, from my own experience, that each verse in the passage above has been true in my life. So my goal will be to praise The Lord today and everyday. I will praise him with the very life he gave me. I will weave the deeds of my daily life into a great hymn of praise to God until its sings out into the lives of others. Then perhaps, if others can see The Lord being praised in my life, they might want to join in and bless his holy name with me forever and ever. Amen.

Today’s readings:

Zechariah 9:1-17, Revelation 17:1-18, Psalms 145:1-21, Proverbs 30-32

Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask for his blessing. (Zechariah 8:22)

Thought:

Although there is no mention of his name, this passage for Christmas day looks forward to the day when Jesus will come. On that day the traditional fasts and mourning of the Jews will be over, to replaced with joy and celebrations. Peoples from all over the world will turn to The Lord in Jerusalem and they will focus on one Jewish man in particular because they will know he has God within him. It is a prophesy of God’s new covenant with us through his son, Jesus – Immanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23). Today, as Christians, we celebrate the day that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born and came to live as one of us. As recommended in this remarkable passage, Christmas is still a season of joy and peace, which is fitting for a festival to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. The joy I feel today comes from being allowed, as a member of one of the non-jewish peoples, to come to Jerusalem to clutch at the sleeve of that one man. My joy is in my salvation through Jesus Christ. “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest upon his shoulders. And will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NLT and Handel’s Messiah!)

Word:

Zechariah 8:19-23 NLT

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace. “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: People from nations and cities around the world will travel to Jerusalem. The people of one city will say to the people of another, ‘Come with us to Jerusalem to ask the Lord to bless us. Let’s worship the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I’m determined to go.’ Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask for his blessing. “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Goal:

Having committed to walking with Jesus for the rest of my life, I am grateful for the confidence The Lord has given me in my faith. I can truly say that it really feels as if He has let me walk with him, I have felt his presence, literally by my side, on many occasions during this most difficult of years. My only goal, in life generally, is to continually confess my sins and failings to my Lord Jesus, to keep my focus entirely upon Him, and hope that he will continue to let me walk with him for the rest of my days.

Today’s readings:

Zechariah 8:1-23, Revelation 16:1-21, Psalms 144:1-15, Proverbs 30:29-31