Consider One Another (Hebrews 9-10)

Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (25) not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The church is the people, not the place or the programs. Sometimes the church meets in a certain place and has programs, but do not be mistaken, the church is the people. There is something special that happens when we gather together. We come in as individuals with strengths and weaknesses. We come in with different personalities, spiritual gifts and talents. Yet, as we gather together for the purpose of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism we find fulfilment in the gospel and in one another. God has given us our brothers and sisters in Christ to aide in our spiritual development.

As a pastor I get a front row seat to see the congregation gathered together each Sunday. I see folks going through trials in life blessed by those who use their talents to sing and introduce a new song or hymn to the congregation. I see those who are discouraged become encouraged by the words of faithful friends. I see the formerly lonely now greeted with handshakes, hugs, and high-fives. I see individuals praying with one another through times of crisis and celebration. I see tears of sorrow made more bearable by those who silently come along side and offer comfort. I see a lot of things.

Sometimes we are tempted to think when we skip out on meeting together that the only things we are missing are the songs and the sermon, but what we really miss is the life of the church. We are told to consider one another. This text was originally written for a church that was suffering persecution. They weren’t able to meet in public places. Yet they are told not to forsake assembling together… because they needed each other. They needed to be there for their brothers/sisters and they needed their brothers/sisters there for them. We are foolish today if we don’t think that we need each other as well. We should strive to meet with our brothers and sisters in Christ whenever we can.

Father, thank you for your church. Thank you that you have given us brothers and sisters in Christ. Give us grace to know how to help, encourage, and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ when they need is. May they always be there for us in real and tangible ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

How Do We Love Like That? (John 13 – 15)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. – John 13:34

When I tuck my kids in bed we have a little routine that we often go through where we will say the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments together. Several years ago, we started reciting the eleventh commandment as well. At first my kids were surprised that there was an eleventh commandment. It’s not found in Exodus 20, or the Old Testament for that matter. It’s found in today’s reading in John 13:34 where Jesus says, “A new commandment I give you.” What was that commandment? It was to, “love one another; as I have loved you.

From time to time my kids when they were younger get a little silly at bedtime and have tried to change this commandment. One of them when she was too young to really know what she was doing would say, “to love like I love my milk.” I would always gently correct her and say, “we are to love one another as Jesus loved us… and oh how He loves us, to take our sins on Himself, to leave heaven for earth, and to die for our sins. He loves us more than we can think or imagine!”

I think if He had left the command at, “love one another,” we’d have an easier time with it all. We’d just do our best and try to love one another like we love our “milk” or whatever. But the truth is that we would quit loving milk or whatever if it became too difficult. We could quit, give up, and start loving something else. Jesus didn’t tell us to love like that. He told us to love one another like He loved us in the context of going to the cross for our sins!

How do you love someone who has sinned against you? How do you forgive them for them for the hurt and the wrong they have caused? You can’t do it in your own strength and power. You have to be continually trusting in the Lord to provide. I really appreciate that where Jesus repeats the command in John 15:12 it comes in the context of abiding (remaining) in Him. It reminds us that there is no way to really love our brother on our own. We weren’t meant to live the Christian life in isolation. We were meant to live as branches connected to the one true vine, all of us drawing our strength from our Lord.

I confess that there are times I have attempted to do ministry on my own and in my own strength, but it just can’t be done that way. I’m greatful for the command to abide in Christ.

Today is especially difficult for me as I’ll be conducting a second funeral for a friend in 2021. I was especially helped by John 14 today as well as reminded to draw all of my strength from the Lord.

Father, Thank you for your commandments. They are not hard or burdensome but actually very freeing. How much anxiety I bring on myself when I try and figure things out and do things my own way. It’s when I lean into you, trust you, abide in you, that I find myself energized and empowered by the Spirit. I ask for your blessing today to abide in you and strength for a difficult day. I rejoice that Jesus has gone before us to prepare a place for us. In Jesus Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

They Did Not Know Him: John 1 – 3

I saw an old friend the other day. I didn’t recognize them because they had a mask on. Yet all the things they were saying were vaguely familiar. Finally when the mask came down and they were revealed I realized who I had been talking too. I was so embarrassed. I should have recognized my friend.

What if God we’re speaking to you and you didn’t know it? That’s exactly what John says happened when Jesus dwelt among us. The very people who should have recognized him, didn’t. Further John reminds us that it wasn’t because he was wearing a mask, but because sin had blinded our hearts. The good news is that Jesus had come to deal with our sin and give us new hearts.

A Few General Observations: God himself stepped back on to the planet He created and His people did not know Him. As I read this morning and I was reminded of the creation account. What we see in Genesis before the fall is that people walked with God. They knew God. They enjoyed His presence. Now when God walks among his people agian, they don’t recognize Him (John 1:10).

What is particularly disheartening is that his “own” people didn’t receive Him. By “own” people we can assume we are talking about the nation of Israel. These were God’s chosen people. He caused them to come into being through the miraculous birth of Isaac. Delivered them through Moses. Then He continued to choose and bless them all through the Old Testament. These people, even in their existence, were a testimony to the work of the One True Living God. So how did they miss Him?

In Chapter three we begin to see the whole picture. Jesus comes as light revealing God to all who will see, but many don’t want to see because they love the darkness (3:19). Sin has blinded us to Seeing Jesus for who He is, but Jesus has come to deal with our sin.

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful that you have revealed yourself to your creation that we might know you. Thank you for saving me from my sin and causing me to be born again. Thank you for the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. I pray that your light would shine in my life so that it might be evident to all that you are the one who has changed me from death to life. I’m Jesus name, Amen

Resources For further reflection

The Lightlings (Children’s Book) by RC Sproul (affiliate link)

Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior (Hymn) by Fanny Crosby

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 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.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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