Tag Archives: prophecy

Today’s Scripture – June 23, 2017

Luke 2:36-40 (NIV) There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Anna was another person who was completely devoted to the Lord, and had been since her youth, even before her husband died when she was in her very early twenties. She spent her days in prayer and contemplation in the temple complex, also listening to such teaching as she could hear going on around her in the temple or in the synagogue services she attended on the Sabbath. Women in those days did not generally have an opportunity to read the Scriptures for themselves or to take classes like the men did. But every word she heard she treasured in her heart.

That morning God alerted Anna that the Messiah would be at the temple, so she went with great expectancy. When she heard the song that Simeon was chanting and the words that he spoke to Mary and Joseph, she knew that this child was the One. That started her own prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord, and then she started speaking to all of those passing by, pointing out the child to them as the Messiah. And, as usual, Mary and Joseph took careful note of all that was said about Jesus.

Mary and Joseph did not immediately return to Nazareth, although Luke does point out that they didn’t head back home until after they had completely fulfilled all of the requirements of the law of God. The wise men would soon show up, and immediately after that they would have to escape Herod’s clutches by fleeing to Egypt for a few months (Matthew 2:1-18). But when they came back to the land after Herod’s death, they went back to Nazareth and resettled there among their family and friends.

Jesus grew into a young man who was full of wisdom and grace. He was a quick pupil, whether the subject was the Scriptures or carpentry. Despite the fact that He was in fact God in the flesh, He was humble and obedient to His parents, and kind and gracious to those He met.

Father, it would probably be understandable to us if Jesus was a bit haughty from time to time, especially as He grew and became more and more aware of Who He was. But the fact is, You are not haughty or overbearing, but kind, gracious, loving, and forgiving to all who love You and want to know You. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see all of those positive traits beginning to show up in Jesus as He grew older. Help each of us to also reflect those traits in our own lives, so that we, too, can bring honor and glory to Your name. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – June 22, 2017

Luke 2:25-35 (NIV) Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Even in the darkest times in Israel’s history, God always preserved for Himself a remnant, a faithful few who kept the light of whole-hearted devotion burning. And He kept those faithful, righteous and devout people in the loop as to what He was doing.

Many in the days when Jesus was born were waiting for the Messiah, and believed that the day was drawing near. But a few, like Mary and Joseph, Zechariah and Anna, and Simeon and Anna were waiting with a different kind of expectancy, because God was able to speak directly to their hearts and show them what He was doing. Simeon did not know the exact day that he would lay eyes on the Messiah, but he knew that it would be soon, before he died.

That morning, God spoke to his heart through the Holy Spirit and told him that the day was finally here. He rushed into the temple courts, his eyes sweeping continually from side to side, looking for some sign as to which of the hundreds of people gathered there was the One.

Finally he saw a man with a woman who was holding a child close in her arms, and the Holy Spirit said, “That’s Him; that’s the Messiah!” Simeon approached the family with tears rolling down his wrinkled cheeks. He had waited so long, and now here was the proof that God was still working His plan for His people. He held out his arms expectantly and, after only a brief hesitation, Mary handed the child to this stranger. He held the child securely, and caressed his tiny, smooth cheek. Then a sing-song chant of praise burst through his lips: “Sovereign Lord, You promised that I wouldn’t die until I had seen Your Messiah, Your Savior. Today I have seen Him, so now I can die in peace! This tiny child is the One! He will not only save Your people, Israel, and draw them into Your glory; He will even draw Gentiles to know You!”

The man seemed lost in a trance of ecstasy. But suddenly his eyes cleared and lowered to meet those of Jesus’ astounded parents. His voice was low but intense as he predicted that, in the course of His life, this child would not just be a beneficent religious figure, but would shake up the entire Jewish society and religion, and would end up on the hit list of some pretty powerful people, who would show what they really were by their intense opposition to Him.

But it was his final sentence, “And a sword will pierce you own soul, too.” that turned Mary’s blood cold and dimmed the joy of the day. Any mother has the potential to be crushed by tragedy that strikes her child. But few live with the certainty that that day will come.

Father, I am amazed at how many people You brought into the loop so that they knew who Jesus was, even as an infant. Some in the vicinity were likely skeptical of what they were hearing, and some were likely oblivious, so caught up in their own agendas that they didn’t even notice all of the buzz. But those with eyes to see and ears to hear got to experience the joy of hope realized, the exhilaration of knowing that You were on the move. And You are still moving today! Help me to stay tuned in to Your voice so that I can share the good news of all that You are up to with everyone around. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – June 13, 2017

Luke 1:67-75 (NIV)

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us–to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Zechariah’s being filled with the Holy Spirit did not enable him to do signs and wonders (these had already been accomplished in Elizabeth and Mary), but it enabled him to give the Lord appropriate praise, and even to get a glimpse of His larger plan.

First of all, he realized that God was beginning to act right then to begin the process of redeeming His people. In the past He had redeemed Adam and Eve from death, Noah from the flood, and the whole nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and captivity in Babylon. But two huge oppressors still held God’s people, indeed all people, captive: sin and death. Zechariah could clearly see that the child Mary was carrying would be the long promised horn of the house of David, a powerful ruler who would not only rule over all of those who would become God’s people, but who would actually save them from both the penalty and the power of sin.

Zechariah could see clearly that the sending of the Messiah was way more than merely a promise kept. It was an act of unbridled mercy. God’s people had a long, long history (about 1500 years at that point) of rebelling against Him and His commands, from the days of the Exodus, all that way to the day in which Zechariah was living. Many times God had allowed them to be oppressed, conquered, and even exiled to punish them and to help them to repent of their rebellion. But He had always stopped short of allowing them to be destroyed because of the love that He had for them, and because of His faithfulness to His covenant promises.

But now God was poised to do a new thing among His people, and Zechariah was among the very first to see it clearly. Now He was not only going to save them from their most powerful enemies, sin and death. He was going to purify His people with the fire of the Holy Spirit, and enable them to serve Him in genuine holiness and righteousness in His presence for all of their days.

Father, this is a great and wonderful promise, foretold from the days of the prophets, and still available to all of Your people today. But so few of us are willing to believe that it is true. Instead, we see ourselves as vile sinners, for whom true righteousness and holiness is only a pipe dream, or a promise for the age to come. But, Father, You make it clear even in the words of good Zechariah that this promise is for us, it is for now, and You are powerful enough to pull it off in our lives. Help us, help me, to believe this promise, and to receive its fulfillment from Your hands. Make it real in my own life today. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 6, 2017

Matthew 24:1-3 (NIV) Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.  “Do you see all these things?” he asked.  “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately.  “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus had just finished thoroughly denouncing the religious leaders of the Jews, and pronouncing God’s judgment on them.  But, although they had heard every word, His disciples were oblivious to their import.

As they left the temple complex, the disciples were struck anew with awe over the impressiveness of the temple, its buildings and its walls.  Surely this whole city, built on top of the hills and surrounded by tall, strong walls was pretty much impregnable.  It would stand forever as a testimony of God’s power and steadfastness to His people.

But Jesus deflated them instantly with an entirely different picture – a picture of a city that would soon be ruins and wreckage, with smoldering buildings, and walls so thoroughly pushed over that they could no longer be identified as walls.  He forecast a city, not taken over by an enemy, but one completely destroyed by God’s own hand.

The rest of the walk to the campsite on the Mount of Olives was made in silence as the disciples pondered this horrendous picture.  It was only later in the day, when they couldn’t get this image out of their heads, that they approached Jesus to get more information.

The disciples knew well the history of Jerusalem. They knew that, despite its impressive structures and seemingly unconquerable walls, God had knocked it all down by the hand of Babylon six centuries earlier, virtually erasing all that had been built.  That had been preceded by the dire prophecies of Jeremiah in the temple courts (cf. Jeremiah 26:1-16), and had come about in just a few years.  Now here was Jesus prophesying similar things in the temple courts.  Those who refused to listen to Jeremiah were trapped in the nightmare scenes that unfolded in the city after the Babylonians surrounded and besieged them.  Jesus’ followers wanted more than anything to know what warning signs they needed to watch for so that, before the hammer of God’s judgment fell, they could get themselves and their loved ones out the city to safety.

Father, at least we can give the disciples credit for hearing accurately what Jesus was telling them.  We know from history that this destruction really did fall on the city a mere 40 years later when the Romans came, surrounded Jerusalem, and then, after a long siege, tore down the walls, destroyed the temple not leaving one stone on another, and taking its treasures in triumph to Rome.  Lord, You don’t make idle threats; You give clear warnings – warnings even to us in our times., both through Your word and through Your Spirit.  Help us, as Your people, to not only keep our ears tuned to Your voice, but our lips ready to speak Your words of warning, of urging to repentance, to all who need to hear.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – March 25, 2017

Matthew 23:13 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were not entering God’s kingdom for one reason:  they were determined to enter on the basis of their own righteousness, and were rejecting the only legitimate gate into the kingdom – Jesus.

But their spiritual shortcomings extended far beyond this.  They were slamming the door of the kingdom in the face of multitudes of legitimate seekers.  They had written off to their faces many of the tax collectors and sinners that Jesus had come to seek and to save.  In their denunciations, they had convinced many of these that they were too bad to ever be saved; too wicked for God to visit anything on them besides His judgment and wrath.

In doing this, they were operating in direct opposition to God’s agenda and purpose.  And with every person they discouraged and waved off the path as unworthy, they brought deeper judgment on themselves.  Not only that, but they were actively trying to persuade people that Jesus, the one true way, was a charlatan and a fake, turning them even further from the path.

Jesus’ denunciations of these men may seem harsh to some.  But He was simply delivering God’s message directly to them.  They had strayed from God’s ways, and were now actively working in opposition to Him.  Jesus’ words had a twofold purpose.  To those who still had enough spiritual life and love for God to be able to respond, His words were a wake-up call – a call to repent and get back on the path.  But for those whose necks were stiff and whose wills were set on the path of ruin that they were following, God’s words were a sentence of doom that would soon overtake them.

Father, we are so reluctant to speak Your strong words to people.  But for those locked hard into sin’s irons, those harsh-sounding words may be the only thing that can break through and penetrate their souls, moving them to repent.  Help me to never be cruel or harsh with those whose hearts are soft.  But help me never to turn from speaking, even the hard truths, to those who need to hear them, so that they can be led to repent, and be saved.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – March 1, 2017

Matthew 20:17-19 (NIV) Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day he will be raised to life!”

Jesus knew that when He was arrested, it would completely freak out His disciples.  And when He was crucified, killed, and buried, it would drive them into hiding and into despair.  So several times on the journey south He tried to explain to them clearly what would happen so that that knowledge would blunt the force of the trauma a bit.  And then, after He rose, He would remind them of what He had predicted, and they would see how precisely it had all been fulfilled, and their faith in Him would be strengthened.

Jesus foretold three distinct phases of what would happen:

  • He would be betrayed, ostensibly by one of His own followers, handed over to the chief priest and teachers of the law, who would then condemn Him to death.
  • The chief priests and teachers of the law would hand Him over to the gentiles, the Romans, who would mock Him, flog Him, and crucify Him.
  • On the third day He would be raised to life.

We who look back on these events after nearly 2,100 years can easily see how they were all fulfilled.  But to the disciples peering forward into the dark of the future, it was nearly impossible to see how they could ever happen.

  • Who among them could possibly betray Jesus to the Jewish leaders? And even if one of them did, what charge could Jesus possibly be convicted of that would be worthy of death?  At that time, very few things rose to that level, and they knew that Jesus wasn’t guilty of any of them.  Despite the conflicts Jesus had with these leaders, the disciples still respected them, and couldn’t imagine them ever giving a false conviction.
  • If Jesus was convicted, why would the Jewish leaders hand Him over to hated Romans? And what charge could they possibly level against Him that would cause the justice-minded Romans to sentence Him to death by crucifixion?
  • And, of course, the most improbable: If Jesus really was crucified and killed, how could He rise again on the third day? Who would raise Him up?

It was these logical challenges that kept Jesus’ words form finding a place in their minds.  Despite His absolute clarity, it was only after His resurrection that they would see the truth of His words.

Father, it is so hard, even today, for us to see forward; it is much easier for us to look back and see the truth of what You foretold.  Help us to simply take You at Your word, knowing that, even if we can’t connect all of the dots in our own minds, You are always 100% accurate in everything You tell us.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – December 23, 2016

Matthew 13:16-17 (NIV) “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Those who were squandering the opportunity to really see and hear Jesus had no idea what they were throwing away.  Jesus was the culmination of God’s promises to His people.  He was with them now, and for a limited time.

Those whom Jesus had chosen to follow Him had eyes that could see who He really was.  At times, their vision was flawed, due to previous teaching that sometimes washed over what Jesus was trying to show them, and sometimes by their own humanness, which caused them to see in Jesus what they wanted Him to be instead of who He really was.  But their eyes were wide open, and their sight was becoming clearer with each passing day.

They had ears that heard what Jesus was teaching.  Especially at this early stage, they didn’t always understand what He was telling them, but their hearts longed to know, so they asked Him when His meaning escaped them.

Jesus was always patient with the ignorance of His disciples, and answered their questions clearly and simply.  Theirs was not the stubborn refusal to understand of the Pharisees, because Jesus’ teachings contradicted their preconceptions about God’s kingdom.  It was not the feigned ignorance of the Sadducees, who were more worried about the appearance of subversion that might threaten their authority and position.  Instead, theirs was the innocent ignorance of young children whose inexperience with spiritual things made it hard for them to grasp the monumental truths that Jesus was speaking to them.

Jesus knew their hearts; that they were willing learners, not only willing to learn, but actually intent on learning about Him and His kingdom.  He knew that they would quickly respond to His teachings, so He taught them.

Jesus tried to help them to understand the privilege that they enjoyed.  Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and other spiritual giants had seen His day in the far distance, and had longed to see it for themselves.  But “they were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw and welcomed them from a distance.”  (Hebrews 11:13 NIV)  But the followers of Jesus were actually experiencing the things that the prophets had promised.  The future that those heroes of the faith had looked forward to was unfolding right then, and they all got to be a part of it.

Father, so often we strain so hard to see the future that has been foretold that we don’t realize when the fulfillment happens in our own time.  You did amazing things in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  But I think that too many of us feel like we are stuck in an “in-between time,” waiting out the clock until Jesus comes back to fulfill the rest of His promises.  We are slow to understand that You are fulfilling many of those promises right now, if only we will open our eyes to see like those first disciples did, and open our ears to hear.  Help us to live with You in the present, and not let a focus on the future keep us from experiencing the wonder of Your here-and-now kingdom.  Amen.

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