1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 – The Lord’s Return

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Jesus in the clouds

It’s going to happen; we just don’t know when. Jesus promised he would come back, and we know his word is true. Paul says, “For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.”  Does that leave you a bit unsettled or oozing with peacefulness? I don’t think we’re supposed to be afraid, despite the thought of having a thief breaking in while I’m sleeping doesn’t sound all that pleasant.

Yet, the idea of Jesus returning to rescue our fallen world gives me hope. Yes! It most certainly gives me hope and with it some peace. It helps me get through some tough days knowing they don’t last forever. Jesus’ love for me lasts forever. I’ve even been known to say, “Okay, Jesus, you can come back any time now.”

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Isaiah 44:1-5 – Abundance

Read Isaiah 44:1-5

What does abundance mean to you? Is it having more than you need or just enough? Where do you see abundance in your life?

In our reading today, God is assuring the people that he will provide for them. They will have what they need. “For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields.” If you’ve ever been extremely thirsty, like after running a race or when working in the hot sun, you know that sweet sensation that water passing your lips can bring. When your thirst is quenched, you’ve probably even exclaimed, “Ahhhhh!” Am I right?

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Isaiah 37:21-38 – Never Underestimate God

Read Isaiah 37:21-38

Have you ever asked God for something and wondered how he’d answer your prayer? That’s probably a pretty silly question! We have all done that, haven’t we? Isn’t it great to know we can have the assurance he will answer, even if it’s not in the way we would like. We read King Hezekiah’s prayer in our last reading. You’ll recall he was fearful of King Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. Today we see God’s response.

What strikes you most about this message from God? I loved God’s attitude. “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel!” God was making it clear to Hezekiah that not only was he aware of what lies the Assyrians were telling, but that he wasn’t impressed by their actions at all. We’ve read about how God has used the Assyrians to destroy the land, but the Assyrians have taken their victory a bit far. They are pounding their chest as if it is their might and not God’s.

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Deuteronomy 16:9-17 – More Festivals

Read Deuteronomy 16:9-17

In our last reading, we spoke of the Passover, also known as the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The two festivals in today’s reading are also still celebrated today, although there are different names associated with them, too. I’m impressed that these traditions have stood the test of time and people are still serious about honoring God during the festival times. Jewish people take their religion very seriously and are careful to keep the ancient traditions alive.

As Christians, we will soon be celebrating the season of Pentecost in our churches. While this is another name for the Festival of Weeks, in Jewish circles it is now called Shauvot. You may recall, for us, this is when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples after Jesus had ascended. There were a lot of people filling the town of Jerusalem. They were all gathering and bringing their offerings, their “first fruits,” to God for the Festival of Weeks. Fun fact, of the thousands of people who came to the Lord that day were also the “first fruits” of the believers yet to come.

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Deuteronomy 14:22-29 – Giving Your Tithe

Read Deuteronomy 14:22-29

This was an interesting passage for me. I am aware of how we tithe today. That is, setting aside 10% of our income to give it to the Lord. Since we don’t have grain or herds or such, that is how we show our faithfulness. Giving back to God a portion of what is already his is how I understand tithing works.

Why do we tithe? Moses would say, “doing this will teach you always to fear the Lord your God.” For me, it’s also a way of honoring God and giving thanks for his provision. Having a mindset of gratefulness and showing that by giving back is such a joyful practice. Even when I have had little to give, there was a joy or peace in sharing.

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