Day 89: Revelation 16-18 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 16-18 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The reading today is filled with a lot of imagery that many others have attempted to interpret so I won’t add anything there. What I’d like to notice is the wrath of God, especially as it concerns the persecution of the saints. God cannot be loving without being wrathful. Those two attributes go together. Indeed, because God is loving that He is wrathful. God loves the martyrs so he avenges them by pouring out his wrath. Notice that God’s wrath isn’t like ours. He makes no mistakes in judgement. It isn’t undeserved, if anything God has been patient with mankind by not pouring out his wrath sooner.

Notice also how this wrath serves to harden the hearts of those who hate God. They continue to curse him and blaspheme rather than repent and come to God on his terms. The fact that the wrath comes in waves serves to demonstrate that there is time and opportunity for repentance, but people continue to harden their heart. They would rather shake their finite fist at the Creator than repent of sin and turn to Him…. They are broken beyond repair. They will not turn from their sin.

I think this passage should cause a real sobriety among God’s people. We should recognize that God is in control, he will bring justice in his own time and at the exact right time. We should be quick to repent knowing that God offers all sorts of opportunities along the way to seek repentance. We should also be scared to ever harden our heart against God.

FATHER, I pray that we have tender hearts today. I ask that we would be ready to receive your word. We stand in awe of your greatness and your sovereignty. We are thankful for your patience and we rejoice in your justice. We pray that we would always be quick to repent when we find ourselves in sin. Thank you for the grace of leading your flock. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 88: Revelation 13-15 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 13-15 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

There is much that remains a mystery about the symbolism we find in the book of Revelation. One thing that really stuck out to me today was how the gospel will go out to all the nations. John observes in the passage we read today, “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth–to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people– saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Revelation 14:6-7).  This reminds me of where, Jesus, speaking to the disciples about the end of the age, says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

It seems as though in John’s vision that we are getting very near the end. I am grateful that though all the really scary stuff, we still see the light of the gospel going to all the world even in the midst of persecution and hardship.  I think this says something about the grace and benevolence of God to call his people to repentance. 

FATHER, Thank you for the power of the gospel that has transformed my life. Thank you that the gospel must and will go out to the entire world. I pray that in my generation that we are faithful to take your gospel as far and fast as we can take your message. I pray that we would remain strong in the face of whatever obstacles or challenges we may face. Thank you for the grace to shepherd your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 87: Revelation 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 10-12 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

I will confess that there is much about this part of Revelation that still remains a mystery to me. That being said, there are several things that stick out to me. In 10:8-11, where John is given a scroll to eat is reminiscent of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:16) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2-3). The big difference between these prophets and the instruction given to John, here in Revelation, is to many peoples, tongues, and nations, whereas the other prophets seem to have a call specifically to the Nation of Israel.

Speaking of Israel, the woman mentioned in chapter twelve seems to be a pretty clear reference to the covenant people of God, known as the Nation of Israel. The sun, moon, and twelves stars motif (12:1) first appears in Josephs dream (Genesis 37:9-10) about the sun, moon, and eleven stars who bow down to him. His father understands the dream to refer to all of Joseph’s family (the very beginning of the Nation of Israel). Also the woman giving birth to a child is a symbol used in Isaiah (Isaiah 26:17, 66:6-9). In those references the woman is understood to be God’s covenant people, Israel.

I don’t have a ton of clarity on the other figures that are beginning to appear here other than to note that the members of the Satanic or Unholy Trinity are beginning to make their appearance. This false trinity consists of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet. We will see a fuller picture in the reading ahead.

My biggest take away from reading this portion of scripture is simply this. There is a lot that I do not understand. There are symbols that I can’t figure out. There are characters that I don’t know where they fit… but I do know that in the book of Revelation, God is still on his throne. He isn’t surprised. He knows future events and while there is a lot of mystery to the details of how things will unfold, there is no mystery to the fact that God is in control and bringing everything, even rebellious creatures to submission. And for that insight I am grateful.

FATHER, We rejoice in your sovereignty. I confess I don’t know what a lot of these things symbolize, but I rejoice to know that when events unfold, you are not caught off guard. We rejoice that all of world history is coming to completion in you. We pray for your guidance and grace in our hour, especially in the days of uncertainty in which we now live. Direct our path for your glory. Thank you for the incredible grace of watching over your flock. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 86: Revelation 7-9 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 7-9 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In chapter seven there is a great multitude from every tongue, tribe, and nation. Studying Genesis helps us understand a lot of the book of Revelation. The representatives of the nations that were caused by disobedience and the resulting division at Babel (Gen. 11) are coming together as martyrs in the tribulation. We are beginning to see every effect of sin become undone. I think we also can see a hint of this in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit enables the Apostles to preach in different languages.

Revelation 7:16-17 speaks of Jesus’ provision for the martyrs and is reminiscent of the 23rd Psalm. What a joy it is to continue to see the scriptures play out across the generations. Much of what we see in the seventh chapter with white robes, living water, he shall dwell with them, etc. we will see play our later in the book of revelation as well.

Despite all that we see playing out in the book of Revelation, there will be many who continue to harden their heart against the LORD. It can be a difficult thing to imagine that there would be so many who would continue to rebel against God and refuse to repent. We will continue to see this theme all the way up until the end in the book of Revelation.

FATHER, Thank you for the shed blood of JESUS which makes it possible to approach you and enter into the paradise you have prepared for your people. Thank you for the martyrs of all generations and those who will arise out of the tribulation as a witness for you. I pray that our witness for you is bold in our generation and pleases you. I ask for your gospel to go forth with clarity and power. Thank you for the privilege of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 85: Revelation 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In Revelation chapter four, the Apostle John gets invited into the throne room of heaven. He witnesses a series of events from a heavenly perspective. Because John received this “revelation” in a vision (1:9-10) there are many things that appear as symbolic.

In chapter four we also see the angels around the throne of God utter the Trisagion (the word holy 3 times in a row). Some suppose the reason for the word “holy” being uttered three times is representative of the trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). When something is mentioned three times in a row it also is considered to have a multiplying effect and so it is understood that the praise of God uttered hear is continually compounded. In essence, God is infinitely holy.

The new Song in Revelation 5:9. We like to sing old songs, they are familiar and remind us of the character of God. New songs are written or sung in the scripture when God has delivered his people. Miriam sings a song after Israel escapes through the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army is drowned, etc. This new song will be for the Jesus’s ability to reconcile us to God. 

The number seven is used repeatedly through out the book of Revelation. Typically in biblical literature the number seven means perfection and/or completeness. The world was created in six days and God rested on the seventh day, hence the world was complete and it was perfect in the way that God created it.

The 5th seal is interesting (6:9 -11). Those who have suffered for the cause of Christ will have a special place in the presence of God. They are given white robes, which symbolize purity. White was given to the members of the church at Sardis who did not spoil their garments with unrighteous deeds and were promised to walk with Jesus (3:4-5). We also fast forward to Revelation 19:8 where white garments represent the righteous acts of the saints.  It is also worth noting that the Lord provided garments for Adam and Eve after they sinned and he provided the garments here too.

FATHER, Thank you so much for the brilliance of your word. We look forward to the day when we will see you in all your glory. We are grateful that Jesus is worthy of all glory and honor and He is able to bridge Heaven and Earth. Give us grace to live holy lives that are pleasing to you. If we are ever granted to suffer I pray that we would honor you. Thank you for the grace to shepherd your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 84: Revelation 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The book of Revelation (notice it is NOT book of “Revelations” as so many are fond of calling it. There is no “s”) is one of the most organized books of the bible. It begins with John on the island of Patmos on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) receiving a vision from the LORD (1:9-10). It comes with a blessing for those who read it (1:3). The first three chapters contain an introduction and seven brief letters written to seven churches.

In chapter one, John sees the risen Christ (1:18). Jesus appears differently than we might suspect (1:13-16). He has white hair, is bright as the sun and his voice is like many waters. All the descriptions of Jesus listed here will be referenced later. Many of the things in the book of Revelation have their key in earlier portions of scripture, especially the Torah (the first five books). Once you have read the Old Testament you are more prone to catch many of the references made in Revelation. For example, you will think of the seven lamps in Exodus 25:37 when you hear about seven lamp stands (1:12).

Each letter to the seven churches follows a similar theme. Jesus first makes a reference to his own attribute(s), listed in chapter one (for example: the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand). Then he shares an affirming word for what the church is doing right. Followed by a, “Nevertheless, this I have against you” statement, which indicates an area the church needs to fix. Then next will be a word on how to respond followed by the, “he who has an ear to hear…” statement.

This formula is great for comparing the churches and understanding how the please the Lord. It is also helpful in seeing how to address our brothers and sisters in error. If the Lord should see fit to correct his people by this formula, well then it seems like a good one for confronting our brothers in sin. We might remember the character of God, affirm the positive, call out the unresolved issues, provide direction and clarity with a reminder that it is a grace to have the word of the LORD applied to our lives.

FATHER, thank you for your amazing word. We look forward to reading Revelation and pray that we are blessed by it. We ask for wisdom and discernment to understand. We pray for ears to hear what you would be saying to us. Thank you for the incredible grace of leading your congregation in this unique time. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 83: 2 John, 3 John, & Jude (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 John, 3 John, and Jude follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Hospitality is part of the Christian life, but there are some folks who we should not show hospitality too. We should not welcome or greet into our homes those who deny the deity of Jesus Christ. (See 2 John 9-10). While we can be polite, we can not entertain such individuals in such a way as we would a fellow Christian.  As much as a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness might try to use the language Christianity, they are not Christian. At the core of their doctrine, they deny the deity of Christ. Some may see this as callous or rude, but the truth is, if they are headed to Hell because they have rejected Christ, they need to know it. This is not a command to hate, but to love an individual enough for them to know that they are not part of the christian fellowship.

However, there are those who we should be eager to welcome into our homes and treat with great hospitality.  We need to search out those who serve God and serve the church well (See 3 John 5-8). We need to go to great lengths to show them honor and be delighted to receive them at our dinner table.

I think sometimes we forget that we need to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). Not everyone believes the truth about God as we do. There are many who twist the grace of God or deny the deity of Jesus Christ (Jude 4).  We should be careful to draw the line of distinction. There is no salvation for those who deny the deity of Christ.

These three short books should drive us to carefully consider those who are of like faith and have the common gospel at their core. We can and should fellowship with other Christian denominations who may believe differently than we do about spiritual gifts, election, church order, etc… Not that these are unimportant doctrines, but that we can misunderstand them and still get to heaven. Those who deny the deity of Christ, misunderstand the gospel and continue to be outside of the faith

FATHER, thank you for the grace of your word. I pray that our homes and our hearts would be open to our Christian brothers and sisters and that we would honor you by honoring them with true hospitality. I pray also for friends and loved ones who are outside the faith because they have believed contrived man made doctrine that teaches that Jesus was just a man and not God. We pray that you would show them the sever error of their ways. We pray that perhaps you would even use our lack of hospitality to demonstrate to them that they are outside the faith. Thank you so much for your grace in leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 82: 1 John 4-5 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 John 4-5 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Test the Spirits (4:1). Not everyone claiming the name of Jesus carries the same message. Mormons don’t. Jehovah’s witnesses don’t. Just because someone has a bit of good “Jesus speak” doesn’t mean that they are actually of Jesus… also allow some grace for people to be a little different than you, but still believe in the deity and humanity of Jesus. Just because a person has a different stance on election or the use of charismatic gifts does not mean that they are not a brother in the faith… What do they think of Jesus, that’s the question.

There is no way to be saved except through Jesus Christ (4:10). We can talk about the love of God all day long in generic terms, but his love was spilled out on the cross when Jesus took our sins upon himself. It’s not just a generic use of the word love. He took our worst and gave his best. That love is a kind is a kind unto itself. Those who claim to follow the LORD should exhibit this sort of love to one another. We should love each other at our worst and give each other our best.

Being loved by God should free us to desire to obey his commandments. We are free from sin and able to obey the Lord. Those who belong to God should be easy to spot because they long to honor the Lord in everything.

FATHER, Thank you for your amazing grace and love that goes deeper than I can fathom. I ask that my life would continue to be transformed into your likeness. Let your love show up in my life and my actions. Give me grace to love others, even when it is hard. Help me to forgive as I have been forgiven and love and I am loved. Thank you for the incredible grace in these days to lead your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 81: 1 John 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 john 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In 1 John chapter 1, the apostle John reminds the readers that what he has to share is real. He saw Jesus. He walked with Jesus. He talked with Jesus. He was taught by Jesus. John knew Jesus and his teachings very well (1:1-3). He isn’t sharing speculation. He isn’t building some sort of belief system on the foundation of Christianity. What he has to share is pure gospel. Undiluted by the world. With an introduction like that we lean in. We pull up our chairs. We strain our ears. We take note. We listen to what he has to say.

He writes for our joy. He writes so that we will have fellowship with God and one another (1:4). There should be nothing that stands between us and the LORD and if nothing stands between us and the LORD, then nothing should stand between us and our brothers and sisters in the faith (1:6-7). There once was something that stood between us and the Lord, but if we have confessed our sins we are cleansed and it stands between us no more (1:9). Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins (2:2).

Since Jesus has cleanses us from our sins, we should have a desire to follow and obey him (2:3).  If we really belong to the Lord, we should see fruit in our lives and we should look more and more like him (2:6). We should be abiding in the truth, loving others as the Lord loves us. If we are in Christ, we will love like he loves.

There is a transformation that takes place when we are adopted in to a family. Though not always sudden, our identity begins to shift from who we were before, to what it is to be a member of the new family. And so it is with being adopted into the family of God (3:1). We are no longer identified as sinners, but rather as children of God. And as our identity changes, our heart changes. We want to be more like God and the impossible begins to happen… We begin to love others because of the way that God has loved us. We change.

FATHER, Thank you for the gospel of our salvation. Thank you that we can confess our sins and come to you to be forgiven and made new. Thank you for the love you have put in our hearts for you and for one another. Help us to love one another and help one another in this present moment. We appeal to you for salvation and grace. Thank you for your grace in shepherding your people at this moment in history. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 80: 2 Peter (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 Peter follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The Apostle Peter writes in a way to persuade us to live holy lives that are pleasing to the Lord. In his first letter, he addressed a dispersed church suffering under persecution. In this second epistle, he is writing to those who are still suffering mild persecution in the form of ridicule and harassment.

He paints the picture of the imminent return of Christ. Peter wants to challenge and provoke us to holiness and preserve his readers in the truth. There are lots of false prophets in the world and many who would seek to mock or belittle the church of God. So much so that it may seem like the church is “loosing” in a particular generation. Peter reminds us that God is in control and he is not concerned with what men might say. The confidence of God is not in what people say about him, but in who He is.

Sometimes it’s not hard to figure out why the world would reject the gospel (3:3). Given the choice of accepting Jesus as Lord or playing the impostor and taking the title for themselves. Many people would rather play the king for a day than see Jesus as Lord of all. Scoffers, scoff because they don’t want it to be true.

 

FATHER, Thank you for your word. It is truly our daily bread. I pray that you would watch over us this day and guide us closer to you in personal holiness and love for all the saints. Give us wisdom in dealing with those who seek to distract us from serving you. I pray that we would point others to you as our only hope. Thank you for the grace of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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