Day 90: Revelation 19-22 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Revelation 19-22 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

I find it interesting that the near the beginning of the bible we see a marriage (Adam and Eve in Genesis 2), Jesus begins his public ministry with a wedding (by attending the wedding in Canna in John 2), and now we find one near the end of the bible (Revelation 19). The marriage relationship points us to God’s design like no other earthly relationship that we may have.  Each wedding is a look back to the first wedding there in the garden and a look forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb. 

In these final chapters we see a great separation of mankind. On the one hand, we have those who are welcomed into the new Jerusalem, eternal life, etc. But on the other hand there will be those who never trust in the Lord and they will cast into the lake of fire. God’s judgement is always fair.

In Revelation 21:3 we see what makes heaven, heaven, God will dwell with his people once again. This was what was lost at the fall. This is what was demonstrated with the tabernacle in the wilderness and later the temple in Jerusalem. This is what is demonstrated in Christ. This is the promise received by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We will never be far from the LORD. The mountains are brought low, the valleys are raised up. The sea is clear. The light is the LORD himself.

One final thought. The gates to the city are made of pearl. Pearls are the only precious stone made by an organic creature. A little sand cause irritation in a clam and the clam covers it and covers it until it is no longer and irritation, but has become something valuable. When we cross through the pearly gates we will remember a life marred by sin, but redeemed by Jesus. Our brokenness will ultimately be covered over and fixed by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

FATHER, Thank you for the grace of studying your word. Thank you for the opportunity to read the new testament together for the last 90 days. I ask that you would give us wisdom for the generation and moment that we live in. I pray that we would make the must use of our time for your kingdom and your glory. We look forward to the return of Christ and when all things are truly made new. 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 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 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 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 77: James (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

I am so glad that we are reading though James today. I needed to be reminded of James 1:2-5! We are certainly experiencing trials of various kinds. Virus trials, reaction trials, big trials, small trials, people trials, technology trials, all types of trials… I am grateful that the LORD is in control. I am also glad that we can ask Him for wisdom. We need wisdom especially today as we deal with things we have never dealt with before.

We are also reminded to bridle our tongue (1:26). Opinions abound about how to react to this virus, if the virus is real, how bad the virus is, who is or is not taking the virus seriously, etc. We can and should exercise self control over our speech about others and our fears.  Our discourse should be civil.

I have to admit that James 4:13-15 jumped out today. If ever there were a time when all of our plans have changed it is this one.

Finally, James 5:16-18 remind us to confess our sins and pray. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (5:16).  Let’s pray today against the spread of this virus, against fear, and for our communities.

FATHER, Help us to count it all joy in the midst of these trials. We ask for wisdom and discernment in making day to day choices. I ask that you would guide our steps and direct our path. We confess that we cannot predict the future and make certain our plans. Show us how to love our neighbors in the midst of crisis. We ask for you to spare our communities from the spread of this virus. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

A Little Extra: Have you ever considered that sometimes what we call wisdom may end up being demonic (3:5)?  Not that I’m saying God is against smarts… Just the opposite, we are to have a renewed mind. But that sometimes the lines we sell ourselves are actually just lies from the pit of Hell. Like when someone says that they’d be happier if they were divorced and were back on the dating scene… not Godly wisdom!!! That’s a lie meant to wreck you.

A little dope won’t make you feel better in the long run. Alcohol doesn’t really numb the emotional pain, sir, your getting drunk maybe what is causing all the pain (for you and for others). And a little slice of chocolate cake for dessert with enough frequency will kill you just as dead as those cigarettes will.

Worldly wisdom, demonic wisdom is persuasive, but it isn’t really wisdom. It’s a lie dressed up as the truth and sold in the package of “looking out for number one,” or “it will make me “feel” better.” Don’t buy it. Get your wisdom from God… Submit to God, Resist the Devil… and He will flee from you.

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 75: Hebrews 9-10 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 9-10 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

We have a greater sacrifice. That is in essence what Hebrews chapter 9 and 10 remind us. That Jesus offered himself on our behalf, a perfect, spotless, once and for all  sacrifice.  The outward function of sacrifices, the temple, and priests all point us forward to Jesus as the coming fulfillment of the Old Testament.  How can anyone be saved if they leave the substance to embrace the shadow? Those who are in Christ have the substance of everything that was hoped for and are secure in their salvation.

Why then should we worry at what the world around us does? We have atonement for our sins, peace with God. The Hebrews were suffering the plundering of their property. They were seeing their stuff taken and perhaps even members of their fellowship thrown in jail. But what they couldn’t see was the once and for all peace with God that had been established on their behalf by Jesus. Peace with God was far more costly than what they were losing to a world that persecuted them.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that God has done far more for us in Jesus than we often give him credit for. The plundering of property seems like a small things compared to eternal life in Christ Jesus.

FATHER, Thank you for the forgiveness of sins and salvation found in Jesus Christ! We rejoice to know our savior. I pray that our confidence would be in you today, no matter what goes on in our world. Give us grace to minister to one another in the midst of chaos. Thank you for the grace 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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