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 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 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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Day 73: Hebrews 3-5 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Hebrews 3-5 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In chapter three of Hebrews, the author states that Jesus is better than Moses (3:3).  Moses lead his people from captivity to the promised land. Yet, the Nation of Israel chose not to believe God when they came to the edge of the promised land and so they wandered the dessert for 40 years until an entire generation died off (3:8-10, 17). Knowing that persecution is coming, the author of Hebrews challengers the readers to be careful, lest they too fall into unbelief in the face of fear (3:12,19).

Chapter four begins the discussion of the sabbath rest. The author looks forward with anticipation to the rest that is afforded those who have believed Christ (4:3). We are charged that there is a rest to come, that we may be prevented from entering into that rest, through our disobedience (4:11). We are challenged to let the word of God have full effect in examining our hearts and exposing our motives (4:11-13).

The text flows from the end of chapter four and into chapter five stating that Jesus is the great high priest (4:14).  He is one who understands our temptation and weaknesses (4:15) and stands ready to receive us in our confession and repentance. We have been granted incredible access to God through him, and  should have no problem approaching the throne of grace (4:16).

FATHER, we thank you for the gift of belief and trust in you. I pray that we would be those who persevere in our faith even when we face obstacles that might cause of fear or concern. I pray that we would never forget the incredible high priest we have in Jesus who stands at the right hand of the father making intercession for us even now. I thank you for your grace that is so overwhelming. 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 70: Titus (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

Paul writes this short epistle to Titus, a true son in the faith (1:4). He begins quickly, charging Titus to appoint elders on the island of Crete and listing their qualifications (1:5-9). He then goes on to task Titus with restoring/keeping order in the church (1:10-16).

In chapter two, Paul offers a strong description of qualities of a sound church.  He challenges Titus to set an example (2:7-8) and to boldly proclaim the truth (2:15). Titus is there to establish order through both his conduct his teaching.

In Titus 3:8-11, Paul writes,  that Titus is to both maintain good works and have nothing to do with the people that continue to cause serious division over ancillary matters. Sometimes people just talk to stir up trouble. Their doctrine isn’t worth anything because it doesn’t manifest itself in good works. Giving ear to those who are filled with pointless and trivial banter only heightens the issue or causes an errant individual to believe that they are on to something.  The task given to Titus is to correct the pointless talkers, not to hear them out.  If the individuals who have wholeheartedly fallen for the false spirituality of miner doctrine will not listen to correction, then Titus is to abandon them and leave them to themselves. He certainly isn’t supposed to give them a platform in the church.  While this might seem harsh, it’s actually very loving.

Father, we thank you that you are a God of order. We thank you for the offices of the church and those you have given to fill those offices. We pray that we would be those who hold fast to true doctrine that would be demonstrated in our good works. Thank you for the great 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 44: Romans 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

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

In Romans 10 Paul continues to point the readers to faith in Christ. Romans 10:2 is the verse that the Lord used to bring me to conviction of sin in my own life. I realized that I had a religious zeal for the things of God, but I didn’t know the LORD.  Hearing that particular Word of God at that time produced saving faith in my own heart (10:17).

Chapter 11 deals with questions about Israel (God’s chosen people) and their presumed rejection of Jesus. It is not as though the purpose of God has failed, but that it has been enlarged (11:12).

Moving into chapter 12, the Apostle Paul begins to write with more application in mind.  Most of what Paul has written so far, has been laying the foundation of a good theology. You will notice this trend in almost all of Paul’s letters. Theology comes first then the practical application flows last. This is what we see in Romans: Man is sinful, Jesus died to bring you to God, God is sovereign, therefore work together, love your enemies and trust God to deal out justice.

[SIDE NOTE: The point of a good theology is action. Some people live with a false dichotomy between theology and action. They say they believe one thing and behave another way. Then others just reverse the false dichotomy and say its all about action and forget why they do what they do. The truth is to have a fully colored in worldview you need to not only respond to God in faith, but know that previously you were separated from God by your sins.]

A love that focuses on the action and not the principle isn’t any kind of real love anyway. Its a coerced at best and a thin veneer over vileness at worst. Only resting in real truth about God and his character will ever free you to truly love your enemies

FATHER, Thank you that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. I pray your word would go out far and wide today and many would put their faith and trust in you. I pray for boldness on our part to share the gospel so that others might believe. I praise you that you are too infinate to fully comprehend and humble myself to realize that I need your counsel in every area of my life. I pray that you would equip me to do my part in the body of Christ and exercise the gifts that you have given me, for your glory and the edification of the church. I pray that my heart rests in you today and I love others in the same radical way that I am loved by you. Help me to grow even more in my knowledge of your love. Thank you for the calling to preach your word and prepare your people. I pray that I would walk faithfully with you all the days of my life. 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 14: Matthew 19-21 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Matthew 19-21 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

We cover a lot of ground in these few chapters. The topics of divorce and celibacy are mentioned as well as the story of the Rich Young Ruler. However, what really jumps out at me are the parables that exhibit God’s grace. It seems as though there will be some surprise characters in the kingdom of Heaven. There will be some who come to faith in the 11th hour (20:6) and there will be some who begin their life in rebellion to God, but end in faithfulness (21:28-32).

These parables stand in stark contrast with Jesus’ second cleansing the temple (21:12-17) and his more specific Parable or the Wicked Vine Dressers (21:33-46). It helps to know that the national symbol for Israel was a grape vine and Jesus spells out exactly what he means by this parable (21:43). There is a clear rejection of the religious establishment and an emphasis that the gospel is intended to go to the whole world.

Chapter twenty-one also emphasizes that the religious leaders had rejected the authority of Jesus… But to sure, the rejection of the leaders doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is the authority. When you reject God’s authority, all you end up doing is hurting yourself (21:44). There was a saying that went around back in Jesus’ day that when to the effect of, “when a clay pot falls on a rock, the pot breaks… and when a rock falls on a clay pot, the pot breaks.”  One way or the other the only real reaction of a collision between a clay pot and a rock is for the pot to break.

Funny thing about the authority of God. When you submit to him, you have greater potential than when you rebel.  The cornerstone was the one by which the whole building was pieced together. It became the model and foundation for all the other stone work on a building. When we build our lives upon the authority of Jesus Christ, we become conformed to his image and are an extension of his kingdom at work in humanity.

Here is how I am praying today:

LORD, I thank you that you can wonderfully save individuals from their sins in the eleventh hour and that you radically save some individuals who begin their life in rebellion. Help me to never give up on others, assuming that it is too late or that someone is too set in their ways. I pray that you would grant me opportunity to share your gospel today. I pray that we would line our lives up on the corner stone of Christ Jesus. I pray for comfort, hope, and a sense of your presence for those who are grieving. I pray for strength for those who feel week and discernment for those making decisions today. 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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Read the New Testament in 90 Days

Have you ever read through the entire New Testament? The Bible has really shaped who we are as a society and especially shaped my life as a Christian. I enjoy reading through the whole Bible each year, but this year I want to invite you to spend 90 days reading through the New Testament with me! That’s right I am issuing a 90 day reading challenge! 

Several years ago I organized a simple effort to read the New Testament in 90 days and I thought it was worth picking it up again this years.  We will be reading about three chapters of Scripture a day and I’ll try and share a few of my thoughts as a blog post each day. I’ll be limiting my posts to 300 500 words or less to ensure that each day’s posting is brief. For those of you taking the challenge, I encourage you to briefly write your thoughts as well. Feel free to jump in, comment about the scripture passage here, ask questions, etc. 

The challenge will begging January 1st, 2020. 

Here is the new-in-90-sheet I organized back in 2011 and I will be using again this year. I’ve listed the days here without a date so that some of you can start later, or hop back on the bus easily if you miss a day. I’ll try and link back to the list below once I’ve shared my thoughts so you can see where we are in the process.

  • Day 1 – John 1 – 3
  • Day 2 – John 4 – 6
  • Day 3 – John 7 – 9
  • Day 4 – John 10 – 12
  • Day 5 – John 13 – 15
  • Day 6 – John 16 – 18
  • Day 7 – John 19 – 21
  • Day 8 – Matthew 1 – 4
  • Day 9 – Matthew 5 -7
  • Day 10 – Matthew 8 – 10
  • Day 11 – Matthew 11 – 12
  • Day 12 – Matthew 13 – 15
  • Day 13 – Matthew 16 – 18
  • Day 14 – Matthew 19 – 21
  • Day 15 – Matthew 22 – 24
  • Day 16 – Matthew 25 – 27
  • Day 17 – Matthew 28
  • Day 18 – Mark 1 – 3
  • Day 19 – Mark 4 – 6
  • Day 20 – Mark 7 – 9
  • Day 21 – Mark 10 – 12
  • Day 22 – Mark 13 – 15
  • Day 23 – Mark 16
  • Day 24 – Luke 1 – 3
  • Day 25 – Luke 4 – 6
  • Day 26 – Luke 7 – 9
  • Day 27 – Luke 10 – 12
  • Day 28 – Luke 13 – 15
  • Day 29 – Luke 16 – 18
  • Day 30 – Luke 19 – 21
  • Day 31 – Luke 22 – 24
  • Day 32 – Acts 1 – 3
  • Day 33 – Acts 4 – 6
  • Day 34 – Acts 7 – 9
  • Day 35 – Acts 10 – 12
  • Day 36 – Acts 13 – 15
  • Day 37 – Acts 16 – 19
  • Day 38 – Acts 20 – 22
  • Day 39 – Acts 23 – 25
  • Day 40 – Acts 26 – 28
  • Day 41 – Romans 1 – 3
  • Day 42 – Romans 4 – 6
  • Day 43 – Romans 7 – 9
  • Day 44 – Romans 10 – 12
  • Day 45 – Romans 13 – 15
  • Day 46 – Romans 16
  • Day 47 – I Corinthians 1 – 3
  • Day 48 – I Corinthians 4 – 6
  • Day 49 – I Corinthians 7 – 9
  • Day 50 – I Corinthians 10 – 12
  • Day 51 – I Corinthians 13 -15
  • Day 52 – I Corinthians 16
  • Day 53 – 2 Corinthians 1 – 3
  • Day 54 – 2 Corinthians 4 – 6
  • Day 55 – 2 Corinthians 7 – 9
  • Day 56 – 2 Corinthians 10 – 12
  • Day 57 – 2 Corinthians 13
  • Day 58 – Galatians 1 – 3
  • Day 59 – Galatians 4 – 6
  • Day 60 – Ephesians 1 – 3
  • Day 61 – Ephesians 4 – 6
  • Day 62 – Philippians
  • Day 63 – Colossians
  • Day 64 – 1 Thessalonians 1 – 3
  • Day 65 – 1 Thessalonians 4 – 5
  • Day 66 – 2 Thessalonians
  • Day 67 –  1 Timothy 1 – 3
  • Day 68 – 1 Timothy 4 – 6
  • Day 69 – 2 Timothy
  • Day 70 – Titus
  • Day 71 – Philemon
  • Day 72 – Hebrews 1 – 2
  • Day 73 – Hebrews 3 – 5
  • Day 74 – Hebrews 6 – 8
  • Day 75 – Hebrews 9 – 10
  • Day 76 – Hebrews 11 – 13
  • Day 77 – James
  • Day 78 – 1 Peter 1-3
  • Day 79 – 1 Peter 4-5
  • Day 80 – 2 Peter
  • Day 81 – 1 John 1 – 3
  • Day 82 – 1 John 4 – 5
  • Day 83 – 2 John, 3 John, Jude
  • Day 84 – Revelation 1 – 3
  • Day 85 – Revelation 4 – 6
  • Day 86 – Revelation 7 – 9
  • Day 87 – Revelation 10 – 12
  • Day 88 – Revelation 13 – 15
  • Day 89 – Revelation 16 – 18
  • Day 90 – Revelation 19 – 22

Who Gives You Advice? (Nehemiah 6:10-14)

Who Gives You Advice?  (Nehemiah 6:10-14)

One of my favorite things I get to do as a youth pastor is train volunteers to help lead in our ministry. We have an extensive handbook with policies, procedures, etc. I interview folks to get their background, their testimony and their reason for wanting to serve in student ministry. We really do try hard to make sure the people we put forward as leaders offer sound advice.

It wouldn’t go well for youth leaders to listen to students and share terrible advice like, “You should dishonor your parents.” (a HUGE NO-NO in our Student ministry because of… well the BIBLE). You couldn’t be a youth leader very long at our church sharing these types of opinions because not only are they just opinions but they actually contradict what we know to be true from God’s word.

This scenario brings up a great question; what do you do when someone who is in a spiritual leadership position suggests you do something that you know is wrong? You wouldn’t think it would happen, but it happens more often than you would think. I tell our students all the time, “Don’t take my word for it, read your bible, and know for yourself.”

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Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid (Nehemiah 6:10-14 ESV)

Nehemiah goes to visit a man by the name of Shemaiah who it appears is a prophet. This man has the credibility of speaking for God. He has respect in the community. He is someone that Nehemiah should be able to trust for good advice. We all need advice from time to time, especially leaders. Nehemiah listens to what Shemaiah has to say and immediately drawn back because Shemaiah advises him to do something that would break one of God’s laws.

Shemaiah wants Nehemiah to go hide in the temple. Not only would this be a cowardly thing to do, it would be a violation of God’s law! Only priests were supposed to be in the temple in such a way as was suggested. Shemaiah had been hired to give Nehemiah bad advice. If Nehemiah went in the temple not only would he have sinned against God, but he would have discredited himself as a leader.   Fortunately Nehemiah has a heart to honor God more than to save his own neck and so he rejects the advice of this false prophet.

I wish the church didn’t have any Shemaiah’s in it today, but the truth is that there are a lot of hucksters on TV and other places that are willing to take money in exchange for lying to you. They will give you all sorts of advice that sounds great on the outside, but will ultimately destroy you. The only way to protect yourself from listening to bad advice is to know God’s will by knowing God’s word.