1st November: Hosea 1:1-3:5
'Hosea' means 'salvation'. Married to 'an adulterous wife', Hosea spoke with great compassion to 'the land' which was 'guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord' (1:2). He brought God's Word of love to the people: 'I will show My love to the one I called, "Not My loved one"'. He spoke to them of the life-changing power of God's love: 'I will say to those called, "Not My people", and they will say, "You are My God"' (2:23). He brought a Word of hope to God's people: 'The Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God...They will come trembling to the Lord and to His blessings in the last days' (3:5). His words of hope point us to our Saviour, Jesus Christ - 'In these last days, God has spoken to us by His Son' (Hebrews 1:2).
2nd November: Hosea 4:1-5:14
We read here of Israel's rebellion against God: 'A spirit of prostitution leads them astray. They are unfaithful to their God...A spirit of prostitution is in their heart. They do not acknowledge the Lord' (4:12; 5:4). God is not pleased with them. He speaks His Word of 'judgment against' them (5:1). We must look closely at our lives. What kind of people are we becoming? Are we becoming 'slaves of sin'? God is calling us to be changed by His love and power: 'Now that you have been set free from sin, and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap is holiness, and the result is eternal life' (Romans 6:16,22). Let His love show you that He has not abandoned you because of your sin. Let His power assure you that He can make you 'a new person' (2 Corinthians 5:17).
3rd November: Hosea 5:15-7:16
We are to leave the old way of sinful disobedience and follow the new way of faith and obedience: 'Come, let us return to the Lord...Let us press on to know the Lord'. As we return to the Lord, pressing on to know Him, His blessing returns to us. He leads us in the way of fruitfulness: 'He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth' (6:1,3). We must not be like those who react to God's Word with 'pride': 'They do not return to the Lord their God'. God longs to 'redeem' them, yet they 'rebel against' Him: 'They do not turn to the Most High God' (7:10,13,16). Our 'love' for God is not to be 'like the early dew that disappears'. Let us 'acknowledge our guilt and seek His face'. Let us love Him with a 'steadfast love' (5:15; 6:4,6).
4th November: Hosea 8:1-9:17
'Israel' had 'forgotten' and 'forsaken' the Lord (8:14). We have not remembered the Lord. We have turned away from Him. We have forgotten Him. We have been 'unfaithful' to Him. This is the sad story of our life - a story of forgetting and forsaking the Lord. God is very different from us. He has not forgotten us. He has not forsaken us. He has 'remembered' us. He has been 'faithful' to us. He has shown us His 'salvation' (Psalm 98:3). How do we know that God remembers us? How do we know that God is faithful to us? - 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'; 'While we were still sinners, Christ died for us' (1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:8). 'If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot be false to Himself' (2 Timothy 2:13).
5th November: Hosea 10:1-12:9
God's love for us is much greater than our love for Him. So often, we are like 'Israel' - 'they did not fear the Lord'. Our love for God grows weak. His love for us remains strong. He refuses to give up on us. We wander away from the Lord. He calls us back to Himself - 'It is time to seek the Lord'; 'You must return to your God' (10:3,12; 11:1,8; 12:6). When we return to the Lord, He leads us in the way of His 'love'. He teaches us to 'walk in the Spirit'. He produces in us 'the fruit of the Spirit' (10:1; 11:3-4; Galatians 5:16-18,22-25). God will help us to grow strong in our love for Him - 'the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We must 'not quench the Spirit'. We must 'not grieve the Holy Spirit of God' (Romans 8:26; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30).
6th November: Hosea 12:10-14:9
The Lord loves us. He invites us to come to 'know' Him as our 'Saviour'. We are to 'return' to Him and receive the blessings of His salvation. He 'forgives all our sins'. He leads us in the way of 'fruitfulness'. He gives us eternal life - 'I will ransom them from the power of the grave. I will redeem them from death ...' (13:4,14; 14:1-2,4,8). The call to receive salvation from the Lord is a call to choose which way we will live. We must choose to be 'righteous' rather than 'rebellious'. We are to acknowledge that 'the ways of the Lord are right'. We are to choose the way of 'the righteous' who 'walk in the Lord's ways'. We are to reject the way of 'the rebellious' who 'stumble over the Lord's ways'. Let us walk in the light of the Lord' (14:9; Isaiah 2:5).
7th November: Psalm 144:1-15
'Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle'(1). The Lord is 'the One who gives victory' to His people (10). What a great God we have! He is 'our loving God, our Fortress, our Stronghold, our Deliverer, our Shield' (2). What great blessing the Lord sends into our lives! He fights for us (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; 3: 22; Nehemiah 4:20). He is 'our Strength' (28:7-8; 59:17). 'With God we shall gain the victory' (60:12). Let us pray that God will pour out His blessing upon us: 'Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down... Reach down Your hand from on high...' (5,7). Let us think of how much the Lord has blessed us. Let us sing our song of praise to Him: 'I will sing a new song to You, O God' (9).
8th November: Joel 1:1-2:17
'Joel' means 'the Lord is God'. The Lord is our God. He is 'gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love...'. Let us 'return to the Lord our God'. Let us 'return to Him with all our heart'. Let us look to Him for His 'blessing' (2:12-14). Alongside God's promise of blessing for those who return to Him, there is His Word of warning for those who take no notice of Him and pay no attention to His Word: 'The Day of the Lord is near. It will come like destruction from the Almighty...Let all who live in the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand - a Day of darkness and gloom...'(1:15; 2:1-2). God wants to bless us. Let us 'cry out' to Him for His blessing: 'To You, O Lord, I call' (1:14,19).
9th November: Joel 2:18-3:21
Each of us is 'in the valley of decision'. We must make sure that we are prepared for 'the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord'. God has given us His promise: 'Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved' (2:31-32; 3:14). The Lord promises great blessing to those who call upon Him. He 'will pour out His Spirit'upon us. He will do 'great things' for us. He will be our 'Refuge' and 'Stronghold'. He will fill us with 'joy and gladness'. He will fill our hearts with 'praise' (2:20-21,23,26,28-29; 3:16). Make sure that you 'call on the Name of the Lord'. Make sure that you do not miss out on the great blessings the Lord gives to those who call on His Name. Make your decision now - 'I will call on the Name of the Lord' (1 Kings 18:24).
10th November: Amos 1:1-2:16
'The Lord roars'. 'The Lord thunders' (1:2). God's Word comes to us from above - 'The Lord will roar from on high'. He speaks to us from heaven - 'He will thunder from His holy dwelling'. We dare not ignore the Word of the Lord. His Word comes to us as a Word of warning - 'He will shout against all who live on the earth' - and a Word of judgment - 'He will bring judgment on all mankind'. God is calling for our attention: 'Look! Disaster is spreading from nation to nation; a mighty storm is rising from the ends of the earth'. God speaks to us about His 'fierce anger'. He calls us to turn from our sin. Let us return to the Lord and hear His Word of salvation: 'I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 25:30-32,37; 31:34).
11th November: Amos 3:1-5:5
'You only have I chosen...therefore I will punish you for all your sins' (3:2). Along with the privilege of being 'chosen' to belong to the Lord comes the responsibility of living as the servants of the Lord. God's Word is not to be taken lightly - 'The lion has roared - who will not fear?' (3:8). God speaks to us very directly about the way we are living - 'You have not returned to Me' (4:6,8-11). We must take Him seriously: 'Prepare to meet your God' (4:12). God calls us to 'seek Him and live': 'Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way and the evil man his thoughts, Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon' (5:4; Isaiah 55:6-7).
12th November: Amos 5:6-6:14
'Seek the Lord and live'. 'Seek good, not evil...' (5:6,14). Those who truly seek the Lord are to live a godly life. God sees right through hypocritical religion. He is not pleased with it: 'I hate your show and pretence - your hypocrisy of 'honouring' Me with your religious feasts and solemn assemblies...Away with your hymns of praise - they are mere noise to My ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is' (21,23). God is looking for true obedience: 'a mighty flood of justice - a torrent of doing good' - 'Let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream' (24). God speaks to us about our sins - 'Many and great are your sins. I know them so well' - so that we might learn to 'hate evil' and 'love good' (5:12,15).
13th November: Revelation 3:1-22
There are some doors which the Lord must open - 'I have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut' (8). There is a door which we must open - 'Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door, I will come in...' (20). Christ is waiting for you to open the door of your heart to Him. He waits with great patience. He keeps on knocking. He waits to hear your prayer: 'Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay'. This must be your own prayer. No one else can pray this prayer for you. Open your heart to the Lord, and remember where your prayer really came from: 'The Lord opened my heart...' (Acts 16:14). Open your heart to the Lord. He will open new doors: 'a great door for effective work has opened to me' (1 Corinthians 16:19).
14th November: Amos 7:1-9:15
'That's enough, prophet! Go back to Judah and do your preaching there...Don't prophesy here at Bethel any more' (7:12-13). Amos was a faithful preacher of God's Word - but his hearers wanted to get rid of him! This was the beginning of a time of great darkness: 'The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land - not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the Word of the Lord, but they will not find it' (8:11-12). There were dark times ahead - but God was looking beyond them to a brighter future: 'I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel' (9:14). 'Restore us again, O God of our salvation...' (Psalm 85:4-7).
15th November: Obadiah
'The Kingdom will be the Lord's' (21). When God's Kingdom comes, there will be both salvation - 'The house of Jacob will possess its inheritance' - and judgment - 'There will be no survivors from the house of Esau' (17-18). 'Not by works but by Him who calls' - This is the great contrast between 'Jacob' and 'Esau'. We have not been saved 'because of any good deeds that we have done'. We have been saved 'by grace'. We can never be saved 'by works'. We can never receive His grace 'by works'. We receive His grace 'by faith'. We look away from ourselves to the Lord and say, 'He saved us'. 'It is by grace that you have been saved through faith...not by works, so that no-one can boast' (Romans 9:10-13, 30-32; 11:6; Titus 3:4-7; Ephesians 2:8-9).
16th November: Jonah 1:1-2:10
'Salvation comes from the Lord' (2:9). We can never save ourselves. We can only be saved - by the Lord. Left to our own devices, we 'flee from the presence of the Lord'. We 'run away from the Lord' (1:3). Sin - This is the story of our life. Salvation - This is the story of what the Lord has done for us. We are sinners. We need to be saved. How can our life be turned around? How can we turn from the way of sin and seek the way of salvation? We cannot change ourselves. We need to be changed by God. We cannot forgive our own sins. We need to to be forgiven by the Lord. Where does the desire for forgiveness and change come from? Does it come from ourselves? No! It comes from the Lord: 'He drew me, and I followed on...' (Mission Praise, 499).
17th November: Jonah 3:1-4:11
The people of Nineveh 'believed God' and 'turned from their evil ways'. God had shown Himself to be 'a gracious and compassionate God...'. How did Jonah react? Was he rejoicing in the Lord? No! He was complaining - 'Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry'. Jonah was a proud Jew. He despised the Ninevites. He didn't want them to be saved. That's why he was 'so quick to flee to Tarshish' (3:5,10; 4:1-2). What does God's Word say about Jonah's attitude? - 'You have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else'. We must not 'show contempt for the riches of His kindness'. We must not say, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men'. We must pray, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner' (Romans 2:1,4; Luke 18:11-14).
18th November: Psalm 145:1-21
'Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is beyond understanding'. Let us worship our great God: 'I will exalt You, my God the King. I will praise Your Name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your Name for ever and ever' (1-3). The God whom we worship is so much greater than the worship we bring to Him. Our worship is to be a 'joyful celebration'. We celebrate His great love: 'The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love'. We rejoice in His great faithfulness: 'The Lord is faithful to all His promises'. Here on earth, we have only begun to worship our great God. Our worship will continue in His 'everlasting Kingdom'. There, we will 'praise His Name for ever and ever' (7-8, 13,21).
19th November: Micah 1:1-2:13
Micah was a fearless preacher of God's Word. His message was not popular: 'Let the Lord God be a witness against you'. He was a forthright preacher of God's Word. He knew that the people wouldn't want to hear what he had to say to them. He demanded that they listen to him. This wasn't only Micah's word. It was the Word of the Lord. That's why Micah said, 'Hear, O peoples, all of you. Listen, O earth and all who are in it' (2:2). We cannot afford to ignore the Word of the Lord. We must listen to His Word. He speaks His Word against us. He says, 'You cannot save yourselves' (2:3). He speaks His Word against us so that we might learn to rejoice in His Word of salvation: 'I will bring you together like sheep returning to the fold' (2:12).
20th November: Micah 3:1-5:1
Micah speaks to those 'who hate good and love evil' (3:2). He calls upon them to change their way of living. He calls upon them to worship the Lord - 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord' - and walk with Him - 'We will walk in the Name of the Lord our God for ever and ever'. How do we learn to 'walk in His paths'? We come to His 'House'. We listen to His 'Word'. We pray that His Word will come to us 'with power'. We ask Him to 'teach us His ways'. We pray that we will be 'filled with the Spirit of the Lord' (4:2,5; 3:8). We worship the Lord in His House. Gathered in His House for worship, we 'receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us'. Through His power, we are equipped for witness: 'you will be My witnesses...' (Acts 1:8).
21st November: Micah 5:2-6:16
In 5:2, we have a prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus at 'Bethlehem'. This prophecy invites us to 'go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about'. At 'Bethlehem', we see 'shepherds, glorifying and praising God' (Luke 2:15,20). We also see Jesus our Shepherd. He is the One whom the shepherds worshipped. He is the One who 'will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord...'. He is 'the Good Shepherd'. He 'laid down His life' for us. He is 'the Great Shepherd'. He 'was raised from the dead' for us. He is 'the Chief Shepherd'. He will 'come' again for us (5:4; John 10:14; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4). Jesus our 'Shepherd' gives us 'strength' to 'do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God' (6:8).
22nd November: Micah 7:1-20
'Who is a God like You? You forgive sin...You love to be merciful.You will again have compassion on us...You will throw all our sins into the depths of the ocean!...You will bless us...You will set Your love upon us...' (7:18-20) - 'I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean. He took my sins and my sorrows. He made them His very own. He bore the burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone. When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see, 'twill be my joy through the ages to sing of His love for me. How marvellous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be: How marvellous, how wonderful is my Saviour's love for me!' (Mission Praise, 296).
23rd November: Revelation 4:1-5:14
'In heaven', there's 'an open door' (4:1). Who has opened heaven's door for us? - Jesus Christ: 'He only could unlock the gate of heaven, and let us in', 'Jesus loves me! He who died heaven's gate to open wide; He will wash away my sin, let His little child come in' (Church Hymnary, 241,418). From heaven's open door, we hear the voice of love. Jesus calls us - 'Come up here' (4:2). What happens when we respond to Christ's call? - 'At once I was in the Spirit': 'God sends the Spirit into our hearts' (4:2; Galatians 4:6). The Spirit fills our hearts with worship: 'You are worthy, our Lord and God...'. 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain...' (4:11; 5:12). Jesus invites us to catch a glimpse of heaven, to catch the Spirit of worship, to be filled with the 'glory' of God (4:8,11; 5:12-13).
24th November: Nahum 1:1-2:9
'Fulfil your vows' (1:15). God is calling us to be faithful to Him. We are to be faithful in worship. We are to be faithful in reading His Word. We are to be faithful in prayer. We are to be faithful in giving. We are to be faithful in witness. Our faith is to be real. Our faith is to make a difference. It's to change the way we live. It's not to be a case of 'faith without works'. That kind of 'faith' is 'dead' (James 2:17). Our whole life is to be a life of faith. It is to be a life of 'love'. We are to live 'for the glory of God' (Romans 14:23; 1 Corinthians 16:14; 10:31). 'Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise...Not for the lip of praise alone, nor even the praising heart we ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part' (Church Hymnary, 457).
25th November: Nahum 2:10-3:19
To those who refuse to live in obedience to Him, God speaks His Word of judgment: 'I am against you' (2:13; 3:5). Those who refuse to listen to God's Word of salvation - 'The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him' - will hear a very different Word from the Lord. It will be a Word of judgment. God's Word will come like 'an overwhelming flood': 'He will pursue His foes into darkness' (1:7-8). None of us needs to face this 'overwhelming flood' and hear the words, 'I am against you'. Each of us can come to Christ and hear His Word of 'overwhelming victory': 'If God is for us, who can be against us?...Nothing wiIl be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Romans 8:31,37-39).
26th November: Habakkuk 1:1-2:14
'How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen?' (1:2). There are times when it seems that God is not listening to us. What are we to do when we feel like this? Are we to give up on God? Are we to stop praying? No! We must wait patiently for the Lord's answer - 'I will look to see what He will say to me'. We must not forget His promise: 'The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord' (2:1; Lamentations 3:25-26). 'The vision awaits its time...If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay'. Let us 'live by faith', awaiting the Day when 'the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea' (2:3-4,14).
27th November: Habakkuk 2:15-3:19
We are to 'be silent' before God. We are to 'stand in awe' of Him. In his holy presence, we become deeply conscious of our sin which separates us from Him: 'Your eyes are too pure to look on evil'. Confessing our sin to God, we pray that 'in wrath' He will 'remember mercy'. We pray that He will 'renew' us with His blessing. God answers our prayer. He sends His 'glory' into our lives. He fills our hearts with His 'praise': 'I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Lord God is my Strength. He makes my feet like the feet of the deer. He enables me to go on the heights'. 'Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles...' (2:20; 3:2; 1:13; 3:18-19; Isaiah 40:31).
28th November: Zephaniah 1:1-2:7
'The great Day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly...That Day will be a Day of wrath...I will bring distress upon the people ...because they have sinned against the Lord' (1:14-17). This is God's Word of warning. He is calling us back to Himself: 'Seek the Lord - before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord's wrath comes upon you'. We are to seek the Lord in 'righteousness' and 'humility'. This is the way of being 'sheltered on the Day of the Lord's anger' (2:2-3). God is calling us to 'worship Him in Spirit and in truth': 'Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer' (John 4:24; Romans 12:1).
29th November: Zephaniah 2:8-3:20
Here, we have a story of sin - Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She has not obeyed His voice. She has not accepted correction. She has not trusted in the Lord. She has not drawn near to her God' - and a story of salvation - 'Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment. He has turned back your enemy...The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will renew you in His love. He will rejoice over you with singing' (3:1-2,14-17). The story of our sin is full of sadness. The story of God's salvation fills us with gladness - 'Rejoice and be glad! The Redeemer has come' (Mission Praise, 573).
30th November: Proverbs 28:1-28
'Blessed is the one who always fears the Lord. If you harden your heart, you will be ruined' (14). The blessing of God comes to us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Saviour: 'The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes'. To those who refuse to come to Christ and receive His salvation, God issues His solemn warning: 'Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the Day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed' (Romans 1:16; 2:5). We receive 'salvation' through faith in Christ, 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world'. Those who reject Christ and His salvation must face 'the wrath of the Lamb' (John 1:29; Revelation 7:10; 6:16).