Ants: 1

‘People should learn a lesson from the way ants live.’ Proverbs 6:6 GNT

The Bible says: ‘Take a lesson from the ants… Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.’ (Proverbs 6:6–8 NLT) While the queen ant is the centre of attention and the mother of most of the ants in the colony, she’s not some sort of chief ruler. The work and survival of the colony is insured by ‘soldier’ ants. These servant-leaders are older ants that begin each new activity in the colony by doing the work themselves. The younger ants then imitate the servant-leaders and join in the work. There are no supervisors, chiefs, or officers amongst the ants. So when Solomon says the ants ‘have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work’, it means the ant is a self-starter; this is a picture of the diligent person he describes in Proverbs 10:4 NLT: ‘Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.’ When you see an ant carrying a piece of bread several times larger than himself up a steep slope, it’s a study in diligence! No matter how many times he drops the bread, he goes back and picks it up, and starts climbing again until he gets it to where it’s supposed to go. What drives him? Hunger—God’s motivating force to labour. ‘It is good for workers to have an appetite; an empty stomach drives them on.’ (Proverbs 16:26 NLT) The stomach-growl of a hungry man or woman is often God’s way of teaching us the value and importance of being willing to work.

SoulFood: Isa 1–3, Luke 1:1–10, Ps 90:1–6, Pro 1:1–4

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Isaiah 1–3 ()

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1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

  Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
    for the LORD has spoken:
  “Children have I reared and brought up,
    but they have rebelled against me.
  The ox knows its owner,
    and the donkey its master's crib,
  but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand.”
  Ah, sinful nation,
    a people laden with iniquity,
  offspring of evildoers,
    children who deal corruptly!
  They have forsaken the LORD,
    they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
    they are utterly estranged.
  Why will you still be struck down?
    Why will you continue to rebel?
  The whole head is sick,
    and the whole heart faint.
  From the sole of the foot even to the head,
    there is no soundness in it,
  but bruises and sores
    and raw wounds;
  they are not pressed out or bound up
    or softened with oil.
  Your country lies desolate;
    your cities are burned with fire;
  in your very presence
    foreigners devour your land;
    it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
  And the daughter of Zion is left
    like a booth in a vineyard,
  like a lodge in a cucumber field,
    like a besieged city.
  If the LORD of hosts
    had not left us a few survivors,
  we should have been like Sodom,
    and become like Gomorrah.
10   Hear the word of the LORD,
    you rulers of Sodom!
  Give ear to the teaching of our God,
    you people of Gomorrah!
11   “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
    says the LORD;
  I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of well-fed beasts;
  I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
    or of lambs, or of goats.
12   “When you come to appear before me,
    who has required of you
    this trampling of my courts?
13   Bring no more vain offerings;
    incense is an abomination to me.
  New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
    I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
14   Your new moons and your appointed feasts
    my soul hates;
  they have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
15   When you spread out your hands,
    I will hide my eyes from you;
  even though you make many prayers,
    I will not listen;
    your hands are full of blood.
16   Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
  cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good;
  seek justice,
    correct oppression;
  bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow's cause.
18   “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
  though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
  though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.
19   If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land;
20   but if you refuse and rebel,
    you shall be eaten by the sword;
    for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

21   How the faithful city
    has become a whore,
    she who was full of justice!
  Righteousness lodged in her,
    but now murderers.
22   Your silver has become dross,
    your best wine mixed with water.
23   Your princes are rebels
    and companions of thieves.
  Everyone loves a bribe
    and runs after gifts.
  They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
    and the widow's cause does not come to them.
24   Therefore the Lord declares,
    the LORD of hosts,
    the Mighty One of Israel:
  “Ah, I will get relief from my enemies
    and avenge myself on my foes.
25   I will turn my hand against you
    and will smelt away your dross as with lye
    and remove all your alloy.
26   And I will restore your judges as at the first,
    and your counselors as at the beginning.
  Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,
    the faithful city.”
27   Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
    and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
28   But rebels and sinners shall be broken together,
    and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
29   For they shall be ashamed of the oaks
    that you desired;
  and you shall blush for the gardens
    that you have chosen.
30   For you shall be like an oak
    whose leaf withers,
    and like a garden without water.
31   And the strong shall become tinder,
    and his work a spark,
  and both of them shall burn together,
    with none to quench them.

2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

  It shall come to pass in the latter days
    that the mountain of the house of the LORD
  shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
    and shall be lifted up above the hills;
  and all the nations shall flow to it,
    and many peoples shall come, and say:
  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
  that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”
  For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
    and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
  He shall judge between the nations,
    and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
  and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
  nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore.
  O house of Jacob,
    come, let us walk
    in the light of the LORD.

  For you have rejected your people,
    the house of Jacob,
  because they are full of things from the east
    and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines,
    and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.
  Their land is filled with silver and gold,
    and there is no end to their treasures;
  their land is filled with horses,
    and there is no end to their chariots.
  Their land is filled with idols;
    they bow down to the work of their hands,
    to what their own fingers have made.
  So man is humbled,
    and each one is brought low—
    do not forgive them!
10   Enter into the rock
    and hide in the dust
  from before the terror of the LORD,
    and from the splendor of his majesty.
11   The haughty looks of man shall be brought low,
    and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled,
  and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
12   For the LORD of hosts has a day
    against all that is proud and lofty,
    against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low;
13   against all the cedars of Lebanon,
    lofty and lifted up;
    and against all the oaks of Bashan;
14   against all the lofty mountains,
    and against all the uplifted hills;
15   against every high tower,
    and against every fortified wall;
16   against all the ships of Tarshish,
    and against all the beautiful craft.
17   And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled,
    and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low,
    and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
18   And the idols shall utterly pass away.
19   And people shall enter the caves of the rocks
    and the holes of the ground,
  from before the terror of the LORD,
    and from the splendor of his majesty,
    when he rises to terrify the earth.
20   In that day mankind will cast away
    their idols of silver and their idols of gold,
  which they made for themselves to worship,
    to the moles and to the bats,
21   to enter the caverns of the rocks
    and the clefts of the cliffs,
  from before the terror of the LORD,
    and from the splendor of his majesty,
    when he rises to terrify the earth.
22   Stop regarding man
    in whose nostrils is breath,
    for of what account is he?

3:1   For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts
    is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah
  support and supply,
    all support of bread,
    and all support of water;
  the mighty man and the soldier,
    the judge and the prophet,
    the diviner and the elder,
  the captain of fifty
    and the man of rank,
  the counselor and the skillful magician
    and the expert in charms.
  And I will make boys their princes,
    and infants shall rule over them.
  And the people will oppress one another,
    every one his fellow
    and every one his neighbor;
  the youth will be insolent to the elder,
    and the despised to the honorable.
  For a man will take hold of his brother
    in the house of his father, saying:
  “You have a cloak;
    you shall be our leader,
  and this heap of ruins
    shall be under your rule”;
  in that day he will speak out, saying:
  “I will not be a healer;
    in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;
  you shall not make me
    leader of the people.”
  For Jerusalem has stumbled,
    and Judah has fallen,
  because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD,
    defying his glorious presence.
  For the look on their faces bears witness against them;
    they proclaim their sin like Sodom;
    they do not hide it.
  Woe to them!
    For they have brought evil on themselves.
10   Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them,
    for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
11   Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
    for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.
12   My people—infants are their oppressors,
    and women rule over them.
  O my people, your guides mislead you
    and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.
13   The LORD has taken his place to contend;
    he stands to judge peoples.
14   The LORD will enter into judgment
    with the elders and princes of his people:
  “It is you who have devoured the vineyard,
    the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15   What do you mean by crushing my people,
    by grinding the face of the poor?”
      declares the Lord GOD of hosts.
16   The LORD said:
  Because the daughters of Zion are haughty
    and walk with outstretched necks,
    glancing wantonly with their eyes,
  mincing along as they go,
    tinkling with their feet,
17   therefore the Lord will strike with a scab
    the heads of the daughters of Zion,
    and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts.

18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23 the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.

24   Instead of perfume there will be rottenness;
    and instead of a belt, a rope;
  and instead of well-set hair, baldness;
    and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth;
    and branding instead of beauty.
25   Your men shall fall by the sword
    and your mighty men in battle.
26   And her gates shall lament and mourn;
    empty, she shall sit on the ground.

Luke 1:1–10 ()

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1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.

Psalm 90:1–6 ()

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A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

90:1   Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
  Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
  You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”
  For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.
  You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
  in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.

Proverbs 1:1–4 ()

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1:1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

  To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
  to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
  to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—

Wed 02 January, 2019


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