THE CURSE IS UNDONE! (Revelation 19-22)

Revelation 22:3 ESV No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.

As we’ve read through the book of Revelation, several of the chapters depict a violent storm of God’s wrath. In today’s reading the storm of God’s wrath has passed, the bright rays of light illuminate everything and we notice that the sun is gone, but an even better source of light is present. God Himself is the light by which we will see! We see a wedding with a bride adorned in white, we see a river, we see the tree of life, we see a glimpse of our hope of glory, and we are reminded that the return of Christ is eminent.

What’s Missing: This subtle line, “no longer will there be anything accursed,” gripped me this morning as I read it. How wonderful will it be when there is no sin and the curse that follows it. When there is no consequence of the fall left to burden man. How free and wonderful will our worship be. How magnificent will be our enjoyment of all things. There will be no more guilt, no shame, no hunger, no hurt, no pain, no tears of sorrow, nothing to separate us from our God.

Who’s There: It’s not just about the curse being undone but because the curse is no more we will be able to abide in the presence of God. We will be where He is. No walls, no secrets, no separation. We will see Him for who He is and worship Him all the more! His glory won’t be veiled or hidden, but rather will be on center stage for all to see, worship, and adore. We won’t be running form Him, but running to Him. As dark as the clouds of God’s wrath hang in the background, the brightness of God’s glory will shine even brighter for those who are His.

Father, we stand in awe of you today! You are worthy of all worship and glory! We see only glimpses of eternity in this life. We behold shadows but crave the substance. Sin and the curse that comes with it has shackled all of creation. We longingly look forward to a day when our sin will be no more, where the curse is undone. We pray even now that you will our hearts with hope and longing for that day when we shall behold you in all of your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on Revelation 19-22

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

Mighty Is the Lord God (Revelation 16-18)

Revelation 18:7-8 ESV As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ (8) For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

Reading through Revelation is very sobering. It can be especially eye opening to read this section as it describes the wrath of God being poured out. We can tend to think of God in terms of only, grace, mercy, kindness, love, etc. But we must also note that God is also a God of wrath. His patience will come to an end. Humanity will face the great and terrible day of the Lord.

Notice that God’s wrath isn’t poured out on those who have received him into their lives, but it is poured out on those who have rejected God time and time again. Like in the days of the flood, Noah and his family were spared, but those who were outside the ark perished. In a similar way, those in Christ are spared the wrath of God to come.

It’s not as though God is unfair with His wrath. Those who receive it, have earned it. Because of God’s justice his wrath is poured out in exact measure. Not one drop more than those who receive it deserve. Not one drop less.

We seldom ever think of the weight or our sin against a holy and a righteous God. In our own court system it’s one thing to abuse an animal, it’s another to abuse a human. In some places you receive the death penalty for murder, a life for a life. But what is the consequence for a trespass against a Holy Eternal God? It’s an eternal crime worthy of an eternal punishment.

It shocks us to see such wrath poured out at the hand of God. It should shock us that God has been so patient. It should shock us even more that Christ would redeem and save some of us the from this great and terrible wrath. Sometimes we don’t appreciate the love of God displayed in Jesus Christ as we should because we have failed to take into account the wrath of God. The wrath that we would face apart from Him and the wrath that he took in our place.

Father, thank you for your overwhelming grace to save sinners from the wrath that is due us. We confess that we do not always know or consider how great and terrible an offense our sin really is. You are just, you are good, you are holy, you are worthy of all of our praise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on Revelation 16-18

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

Their Deed Follow Them! (Revelation 13-15)

Revelation 14:13 ESV And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

Those who die in the Lord (saved) during a time of great tribulation are doubly blessed. They are blessed in the sense that they are no longer striving and suffering. Often when a godly saint who has suffered physically passes away, we draw comfort from the fact that they are no longer suffering. Indeed for a believer to be no longer suffering on earth is to be rejoicing in heaven. Especially those who were hunted down, betrayed, and martyred.

The second way that they are blessed is that their deeds follow them. What they have done in obedience to Christ has not been forgotten. They will be remembered and rewarded for trusting the Lord. We won’t be able to take any earthly riches with us into eternity, but we will get to take the demonstrations of God’s grace that revealed themselves in real works of faith.

When I meditate on this today, I’m praying to walk in the good deeds which God prepared beforehand (Ephesians 2:1). I’m pondering what it means to store up treasure in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). I’m praying that I honor the Lord with my conduct. I’m also rejoicing in the testimony of those who were faithful to the end. Men and women who though dead, still speak through their outstanding lives of character.

Father, thank you for saving me. Thank you for enabling me to do good works which will honor you. I pray that I build my life out of the things that really matter and honor you. Help me to seek your kingdom first and honor you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on Revelation 13-15

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

God is Still on the Throne (Revelation 10-12)

Revelation 10:5-7 ESV And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven (6) and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, (7) but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

There is a lot of symbolism in these chapters. You can look back at last years post to see how I understand some of the images that are described in this section of scripture. It’s important that we don’t miss the forest for the trees in the descriptions in the book of Revelation. God is sovereign over His creation! The point of the book of Revelation is to note that He is Almighty Sovereign God and He reigns over everything. There is nothing that take Him by surprise. Events unfold at his prerogative and at their appointed times.

This is important because there will be moments where it looks like He is losing. His faithful servants will be persecuted. There is an evil enemy that seeks to devour them. Yet, even when it looks like the faithful are perishing, God is in control…. As we round the corner going into the Passion week before Easter, we are reminded that it must have looked like evil was winning when Jesus was crucified, yet it was through His death and resurrection that we are saved!

My big takeaway from todays reading is to remember that all of history is headed to a particular destination and will reach that destination at the exact right time. I’m reminded that God is in control. Somehow as I fret with small things that cause us stress (family, bills, work, etc.), I am comforted to place these things in the hands of the Lord and pray for His kingdom to come. There is great personal peace to be found by seeking first the kingdom of God.

Father, thank you for these chapters in the book of Revelation today that reminds me that you are in control. I admit I am often consumed with the minor details of life that I can’t control. How refreshing it is to know that you are in control of all things. I pray for your kingdom to come and your will to be done. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on Revelation 10-12

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

They Did Not Repent (Revelation 7-9)

Revelation 9:20-21 ESV The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, (21) nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Sometimes when we read through this section of scripture we can get caught up in imagining what these creatures described in Revelation nine might be. In fairness, there tends to by a lot of symbolism in Revelation. What is unmistakable though, is that despite all of the calamity unleashed on mankind there is still a clear defiance against the LORD.

Those who survived didn’t repent of serving false gods nor the associated sins. This illustrates two things. One is God’s mercy in allowing them an opportunity to repent. Two thirds of the world’s population are left at this time. They have seen all that has happened. This is the time for them to humble themselves and turn to God. But unfortunately this also demonstrates how hard the hearts of the people are against the Lord. They have seen massive calamity overtake the world and yet their hearts grow harder against God instead of becoming soft.

This causes me to pause and question for the sake of application. Am I hardening or softening my heart to God? Do I receive his instruction? Do I welcome his discipline? Do I run to Him or run away from Him? What about my friends and my neighbors? Do they seek after God?

A Step Deeper: On this list of sins we see both “sorceries” and “sexual immorality.” It can be easy to pass over those words and not know what they mean. The Greek word for sorcery is pharmakeia, which is where we get our English word pharmacy. In the dictionary it’s first definition is mind altering drugs. The reason it is also translated as sorcery is because the practice of ancient magic included doing hallucinogenic drugs in order to get into contact with “spirits” who would do your bidding. (Who did you think the sorcerers thought they were talking to when they cast their spells?) The Greek word translated as sexual immorality is porneia, it is where we get our English word, “pornography.” It means any kind of sexual act outside of the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman. The list of perversions that this word refers too is a long list.

Father, thank you that you love us and welcome us to come to you when we come in humility and repentance, trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ. I pray today that our hearts would be soft to you. I pray that we would be submitted to do your will. I ask for our family, our friends, our neighbors to seek after you before the great and terrible day of your judgement. I pray they are found by your mercy and grace before it is too late. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post or Revelation 7-9

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

I Know Your Works (Revelation 1-3)

“I know your works”

Jesus Christ in Revelation 2:2, 2:9, 2:13, 2:19, 3:1, 3:8, & 3:15

This phrase, “I know your works,” is repeated by Jesus through the second and third chapters of Revelation. In context they come as part of a larger charge that Jesus gives each church of the churches mentioned in individually (by location). I was struck with awe at the simplicity of these words and the implications for us today. How incredible are these words in the mouth of Jesus Christ to His church!

First, we dwell on who Jesus is and what he has done for the church. Before he ever shares about knowing our works, he reminds us who He is in each passage. These are the words of the one who, “loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). He is genuinely for us! He isn’t hoping we’ll fail. He isn’t an enemy there to mock us. He isn’t even just a friend to pick us up when we’ve fallen. He is our Lord and Savior! The one who went to the cross for us so that we might be free from sin! These words on his lips are filled with the wonder of salvation.

Second, we notice that Jesus is God and is omniscient. When He says that He “knows our works, we must admit that He knows our works better than we do ourselves. There isn’t any shading or coloring the lines one way or the other. He looks and he sees them for what they are. If our works are made of particle board hidden beneath a thin veneer and are trying to be passed off as solid wood, He knows that! If they are the real deal he knows that!

Third, we notice that Jesus sees all of our works. The good ones, the bad ones, and the incomplete ones. I appreciate how Jesus addresses each church first with affirming the positive. We see him acknowledging what obstacles each church is facing and how they have responded. We all need this affirmation from our Lord and Savior and we all need to give it to others when we see them walking in righteousness.

Yet, Jesus doesn’t just address the positive. Most of the churches also had areas of concern. In love, He speaks to them and acknowledges what they need to do in those areas. How well must they have received these words of correction following his affirmation.

Today I am reminded that Jesus sees our works. He knows what we’ve been through. He knows the trials that we have faced. He knows the private moments of faithfulness where we chose to trust Him. He affirms us in those works. He also knows where we need to correct course and today we should be all the more energized to honor the Lord in area’s of our life where we have been slack.

On another level I am encouraged to day to disciple and care for others the way our Lord has cared for his Church. Were possible, we should be quick to affirm the good in others before we address them in correction.

Father, thank you for Christ who died for me and washed me from my sins. Thank you that I am a new creation in Jesus Christ and that it is possible to do good works in your name, though your Spirit. Thank you for the affirmation we receive from You when we walk in righteousness. May we be so affirming to others. Thank you for the correction you provide in our lives. May we be eager to address the areas that need correction so that we might glorify you all the more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post or Revelation 1-3

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

I Hear You Are Walking In The Truth(2 John, 3 John, Jude)

3rd John 1:4 ESV I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

My son recently needed to solicit support for a project he was working on. He got endorsements/ financial contributions from some folks and wrote several thankyou letters. I was really encouraged when I heard from a friend about my son’s demeaner and earnestness in thanking him for support. It was a good feeling as a dad to hear that my son was conducting himself well and being respectful, thankful, and polite to others.

What an even bigger blessing the Apostle John must have felt when he heard about how well his disciples were doing in the world. They were walking in the truth! They were growing in their relationship with God and demonstrating their faith not just in what they knew, but in how they lived.

As disciple makers, this is what we should long to hear more than anything. That long after our face to face discussions, bible studies, questions, and doing life together that those who we’ve poured into are taking steps in their walk with God and they are growing! We hear plenty of folks share, “Good word today, pastor,” or “I like the story you told, it helped me understand what it means to walk with the Lord,” etc., But what we long to hear more than anything is that those we’ve discipled are living it out in their lives. They are taking steps and growing.

Father, thank you for how you have brought us to faith and continue to work in our lives. We thank you for the grace of placing men and women in our lives to disciple us. We ask for grace for those we are discipling. We rejoice when they are doing well and walking in the truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on 2 John, 3 John, and Jude

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

(1 John 4-5)

1John 5:21 ESV Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

I was talking with my children about addictions yesterday. We have family members who have chosen a given substance or image over primary relationships. Where they should have been committed, they weren’t. And the things they should have avoided they pursued to unhealthy levels. We talked about how we are all prone to chase things to sooth, comfort, or help us rather than God.

We may not have graven images that we are tempted to go back and worship, but there are many things that can become functional idols in our lives if we let them control us. It might be a midnight craving temptation for food to calm an anxious mind, alcohol to numb emotional pain, pornography, drugs, gossip, etc. You name the substance or vice and there you have it.

I find it interesting that John closes the epistle of 1 John with this command to, “keep yourself from idols.” He has spoken so much about how Jesus Christ changes the life of a believer, the incredible work of the Spirit of God, and what it looks like to abide. Now he diligently reminds his readers that they must be on guard for the things that would tempt them. Just as Jesus taught us to pray against temptation (Luke 11:4), we should be on guard for the old way of life or substitutes that we might seek instead of seeking after the one true God.

Father, thank you that you have set us free from sin. Thank you that there is victory in Jesus Christ. I pray that we would be free to love others even as you have loved us. I pray that we would abide in you and your word in us. I ask Lord that you would keep us from idols. Guard our hearts from the false gods that we think we’d control but would really control us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Books:

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

By The Spirit Whom He Has Given Us (1 John 1-3)

1John 3:24 ESV Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

The Holy Spirit is given to believers to make them holy. If you are growing in holiness it’s because of the work of the Spirit of God in your life. One of the things the Holy Spirit works in us to do is to love and obey the commandments of God. God doesn’t contradict Himself. He doesn’t issue a command that the Holy Spirit isn’t prompting you to obey. Indeed the Holy Spirit enabled us to obey the commands of Christ. What God has commanded His people to do, He has empowered them to do, by the Spirit.

What is the evidence that God is at work in our lives? The Holy Spirit! What is the evidence that we are abiding in God? We are being prompted and empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep His commandments. It’s when we have no desire to obey God that we need to evaluate the Spirit’s work in our lives. When we reject God’s commandments, we aren’t abiding.

Father, thank you for the Holy Spirit. Thank you for His work in our lives to cause us to love and obey your commands. We rejoice in being conformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ. I pray that we would continue to grow in obedience and holiness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on 1 John 1-3

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

Fruitful (2 Peter)

2Peter 1:5-8 ESV For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, (6) and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, (7) and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (8) For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have a peach tree out back. It’s produced plump and juicy peaches before, however this past year it struggled to produce smaller, shriveled up peaches that weren’t much larger than the pit. If we want to see real fruit on the peach tree again we will need to do some work. We need to prune the tree, work around the roots and perhaps add some fertilizer.

The tree never really stopped being a peach tree. The environment and lack of maintenance caused it to produce shriveled fruit rather than large juicy peaches. Our faith works in the same way. We may have a saving faith in Jesus Christ, but for faith to be fruitful in our lives it needs to accompanied by character transformation. Actively trusting in the promises of God should produce these character attributes that lead to, or are a demonstration of, God’s love in our lives. We should be growing towards maturity. In the Christian life that means that the fruit of the Spirit is produced in our lives in greater and fuller quantities.

Father, thank you for faith. Thank you for the fruit/ evidence of the spirits work in our lives. I pray that we grow more fruitful in our following after you. I ask that you would see true growth in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on 2 Peter

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