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 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 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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Day 50: 1 Corinthians 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 10-12 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

There is a lot going on at the church in Corinth. There were lots of divisions and factions (11:18-19). Much of this letter is written by Paul to address these issues that cloud the church. With a rich understanding of Old Testament history, we might really appreciate the pastoral way in which Paul addresses the people who first received this letter (10:1-13).  He reminds his hearers that there is always a way out of the temptations they will face (10:13).

As Christians, we have an obligation to look after each other, especially our weaker brothers (10:24). The church is not designed to be full of mature Christians. The church is more like a spiritual nursery. There is a very real sense in which we do have an obligation to help others grow in Christ, while at the same time bringing people to Christ. We don’t abandon weaker brothers because they are weak.  Mature believers, like parents, seek out what’s best for the immature believers around them (10:31).

SIDE NOTE: I’ve heard other pastors say, “God has called me to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.” I get what they are after, but I don’t think Paul would have said that. I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind either. In fact, if I had to pick a biblical character to put that quote with, I’d give it to Cain, because it reeks like the statement, “am I my brothers keeper?” Such statements are short sighted and miss the whole counsel of scripture.

While seeking to restore unity, Paul addresses issues that have arisen around the Lord’s Supper. A meal that was supposed to be a common table had become grounds for division (11:18). He also begins to explain why we need each other in the body of Christ and how we have all been gifted differently (12:12).

FATHER, We pray for the unity of the church today. We ask that we would be united in Christ and not divided by petty differences. We ask for the grace to have real spiritual concern for one another and that we would look out for one another, especially those who are weaker. I ask that you would help each one of us understand our calling and gifting in the body of Christ that we might be an encouragement to one another. Thank you for the calling 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 45: Romans 13-15 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

CONGRATULATIONS!!! We are half way through the 90 Day Reading Plan! Keep up the good work! Today’s reading comes from Romans 13-15 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

As the Apostle Paul works from theology to application, he writes that Christians are to be subject to the governing authorities (13:1) and pay taxes (13:7). We are to love our neighbors as ourselves which keeps the last five commandments (13:9-10). [Side note: I find it interesting that the command to honor your father and mother isn’t listed here. It seems that in Paul’s mind that command goes with the first four that deal with God. We will be addressing this command this Sunday at Little Escambia Baptist Church. ]

In chapter fourteen, Paul challenges us on two fronts. On the one hand we have freedom in Christ. Some Christians will do things differently than others and it’s not up to us to judge. We all stand and fall before the Lord (14:10-13). On the other hand we need to be careful in our freedom that we don’t cause others to stumble. We should be mindful of how our actions will effect others and be a source of encouragement not discouragement (14:19-20).

Paul wraps up this section with reminding us that to mature in Christ is to be concerned with the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not seek to offend in our liberty, but we should seek unity of Spirit.

FATHER, We pray for those who govern us and are in an authority over us. We pray for their salvation. We ask for peace. We pray for the grace to love our neighbors both in thought and practice. We pray that we would make no provision for the flesh, but that we would “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Guard our hearts from sin and draw us near to you. We ask that we would be content to let you judge us and our brothers and that we would seek unity in name of Jesus. Thank you for the grace to pastor 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 30: Luke 19-21 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Luke 19-21 follow the link provided hereto read the ESV online.

How do you handle your wealth? Today’s reading begins with a rich man who hears the words of Jesus and repents to the point of restoring all those whom he has defrauded and giving half of his wealth to the poor (19:1-10). Zacchaeus had been a taker, but after Jesus transformed his heart, he became a giver. He didn’t need money for security he had something greater. Is Jesus more precious to us than our money and stuff?

The account of Zacchaeus’ change is followed up with a story about the Minas (19:11-27). Ten servants were charged to be faithful with what the master had given them. At least two went out and earned more for their master and at least one we know did not do anything with his. The ones who earned a profit were blessed with even more, the one who didn’t do anything was stripped of what he even did have. We are reminded to do what you can, with what you have, while you have it for the kingdom of God.

There is also the story of the poor widow who didn’t have much to give, just two little pennies (21:1-4). Jesus said that she gave more than the rest, not because of the extravagance of her gift, but because of her complete poverty.

FATHER, thank you that you teach us about money and possessions in the Scripture. I pray that we are faithful with everything you have given us. I pray that we are generous towards others and faithful in the small things. Thank you for all you have entrusted to us and thank you for the grace of talking about money in your word. 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 11: Matthew 11-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Matthew 11 – 12 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The passage we read today has many implications.  What jumps out at me the most is the persistence of the “religious” crowd to reject Jesus. He does miracles and they complain because it is the Sabbath. They have envisioned a particular way to celebrate the Sabbath day and have added rules to clarify (that really just obscure) how the Sabbath was to be observed. They had listed out extra rules that defined what exactly was “work” that should not be done on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a gift to mankind. It was given to a nation that had been slaves and didn’t know what it was like to rest. It provided clarity for women to take off (by not having to prepare a meal) and even foreigners who were traveling through. When Jesus heals, they imagine that Jesus is then breaking the Sabbath day by “working.”  Jesus points out their hypocrisy by demonstrating that they would do more work on the Sabbath to save an injured animal than they would for a man who has spent his life kept from working by a physical deformity. (If you attend Little Escambia we will have a message in a few weeks on the Sabbath day)

Later the religious crowd accuses Jesus of casting out Demons by the power of the Devil. Jesus warns them that they are treading on dangerous ground. To see the work of the Holy Spirit and to claim it comes from Satan is the worst kind of perversion possible. Indeed it is the unpardonable sin.  When a man looks at the brightest light in the room and protests that it is only making the darkness more rampant, he has lost more than the way, he has lost hope of ever finding the way.

I know that many people fret over if they have committed the unpardonable sin. Generally speaking if you are fretting about committing the unpardonable sin… you haven’t committed it. Jesus is speaking here of hearts so hardened against God that they attribute the work of God, to the devil, rather than repent. If your heart is that hardened against God, you wouldn’t be worried about the unpardonable sin.

This is also a sobering reminder of the necessity to pray and share the gospel no matter the outcome. We should know with certainty that the gospel never changes. It leads to life, but there will always be some who will reject it, no matter how bright the light shines.

Here is how I am praying through this passage today:

LORD, Thank you that you have given us the gift of work and the gift of rest. I pray that our true rest would be in you. Thank you that we can know you. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers. I pray that He guides our lives. Today I lift up those who I am sharing my faith with, I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear the truth of your gospel. I am lifting up those who are sick and would long to work if only their health were restored. I pray for their healing.  I pray for those who have overcrowded their lives and need to find real rest in you. I thank you for the joy of pastoring 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.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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