Jesus Is Worthy (Revelation 4-6)

Revelation 5:4-5 ESV and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. (5) And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

There is some similarity between Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6 and what John observes here. What an incredible thing it must be to gather in the sights and sounds of the throne room of the LORD God Almighty! Certainly He is worthy of all worship, honor, and glory. To see and hear these magnificent angelic creatures uttering praise to the Lord must have been an incredible experience and certainly John would have felt both God’s grandeur and his own insignificance.

When John sees there is a scroll that needs to be opened and no creature is worthy enough to open the scroll he weeps. In that moment he feels the weight of inadequacy and that no one was adequate to open this scroll. Then Jesus steps forward. He is Worthy. He has conquered sin and death. The world belongs to him twice. Once for it’s creation, and now through it’s redemption.

I was reminded to come to the Lord today in awe and worship. Jesus is worthy of all of our praise and adoration. He stood in the gap between men and God and purchased our salvation.

If you can, imagine a world where sin was left unchecked. Where for all of our striving, all we were accomplishing was our own damnation. Where everything we called good was actually an offense to our maker. Where no one was capable of worshipping God. Where the Creator was only mocked. That the only way He would or could be glorified was by the eternal damnation and destruction of a rebellious people. What a terrible place this earth would be. It would literally be Hell.

Now imagine, what if the Lord were to rescue and redeem all of creation. What if he took sin away from the world? Where folks walked down the street without lust, greed, envy, hatred or strife. What if everyone, everywhere genuinely loved one another and wanted the best for one another. What if everyone was genuinely happy to see other doing well? What a place this earth would be. That would be Heaven!

Jesus is worthy of all praise and worship because he has bridged the divide between man and God that was created by sin. He has redeemed those who have believed on him to eternal life. He created, preserved, and ultimately redeemed this world.

Father, thank you for Jesus Christ who is worthy of all of our worship. Thank you that He is worthy to step up and open the scroll here in Revelation. Thank you that he is worthy to rule the world. Thank you that you are sovereign in all of creation. Thank you that you have a plan for redemption and restoration for people who are sinners like me. THank you for the gift of faith that I can trust Jesus Christ and follow Him. Thank you for your overwhelming mercy and grace. You are worthy of all our worship. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on Revelation 4-6

Books:

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Who is My Neighbor? (Luke 10-12)

“Who is my neighbor?” is a question that I’ve often thought of in a sense of who do I have an obligation too? Who do I need to be neighborly too? Asking the question this way puts me in the sense of being active. There is something I must do to be neighborly. The reading today struck me in a new way when I heard Jesus say, “so which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?” (Luke 10:36). It’s the first time I realized he asked the question from the perspective of the man who needed a neighbor.

Recently, dealing with all the issues included in having the Covid virus, I found myself much like the man in this story who was helpless and in need of a neighbor. We were blessed to have folks call and check in, offer prayer, and some even brought food to our family and even gave us a care package. In the grand scheme of things we probably would have made it through without extra attention, but the neighborly work of those who came to our aide really helped us and blessed us in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

As I reflect on this passage this morning, I can’t help but be struck that the point of what Jesus was saying was that we are to be neighbors to those who need one. As I look around my world, there are lots of folks on my street, in my community and beyond that need a neighbor. It’s the folks who are dealing with this virus and need a hot meal. It’s the friend who is grieving the loss of a loved one. It’s the couple going through a divorce. It’s the teenager struggling to do homework while in quarantine. What it looks like to be a neighbor in each situation will be different. I’m not the brightest when it comes on how to demonstrate love and hospitality to others in some situations, but by God’s grace I’m pressing forward to see who he might put in my path today that needs a neighbor.

Father, Thank you for helping me see a subtle aspect of this passage that I haven’t seen before. Thank you that it provoked my heart to look for those who need a neighbor today. Help me to truly love my neighbors and demonstrate your love and kindness to everyone I see today. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

I have given you authority

Blessed Rather Are those Who Hear the Word of God

One’s Life does not Consist in the abundance of His possessions

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The Cost of Discipleship (Luke 7-9)

There have been lots of funerals in the last several days. I couldn’t help but be stirred to some sort of joy when when in today’s reading we see Jesus stop a funeral procession and bring a young man back to life. It was echoed when he brought a 12 year old little girl back to life later. I still recon I see Jesus at funerals sometimes. Those we’ve had to say goodbye to lately have been some of the dearest saints I know. But as we stand beside their graves and mourn our loss, I can’t help but draw on comfort that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. While we say goodbye for a little while, that those in Christ will rise again. I saw a glimpse of that and was comforted today.

I also couldn’t help but notice the different responses to Jesus. We all seem to want to pick and choose to come to Jesus on our own terms. Some will follow him, if first they can do something else. A Pharisee doesn’t recognize how sinful he really is before God and so he treats Jesus with shame. A sinful woman sees everything that happens at the Pharisee’s house and she makes an expensive tribute (perfume) to set things right. She knows what it is to be forgiven of her sins and so she loves much.

The reality is that we don’t get to pick and choose how we come to Jesus. If we would come to him for the resurrection of the dead. If we would come to him so that our sins might be forgiven. If we would come to him at all, we must come on his terms. We must surrender all and follow him.

Father, thank you that you are the resurrection and the life! Thank you for how you have comforted me as I have grieved the loss of friends and loved ones this week. I ask for your grace in ministering to others today. I surrender everything to you today and choose to live in your strength and power. 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.

The Power for Ministry Resides in Private Prayer (Luke 4-6)

I’m stuck at home recovering from the effects of the Covid Virus. According to the CDC guidelines I’m out of quarantine and no longer contagious, but the pneumonia that came with the virus has left me with some difficulties breathing. Our deacon body has been generous and given me several weeks to recover my energy before preaching again. On the one hand I am very grateful for their care for me and desire that I have freedom to recover. On the other hand, I’ve felt so useless over the last few weeks that I’m eager, maybe too eager, to jump back into every aspect of ministry. Indeed, there are more hurting now than ever due to the virus and losing loved ones. My plate feels fuller than it has ever been in some sense, but I’m being cautioned to take things slow for the sake of my health. I’m a big believer in accountability and I am grateful to submit myself to these Godly men and their wisdom.

Perhaps that’s why it all jumped back out at me again as I saw Jesus so busy with ministry in these chapters. I can imagine the fire that was burning to go and preach repentance! He was a man on a mission! Everything He did had consequence! How could he possibly slow down to go find a desolate place and pray? He had too much to do!

But that’s when it caught me this morning. Precisely BECAUSE he had so much to do, he had to go and find a desolate place (twice in today’s reading). He went to pray. When the demands of ministry were heaviest on his shoulders, Jesus made it a priority to pray!

As I read along this morning I couldn’t help but draw the conclusion that the power of Jesus’ public ministry was tied to his private prayer life. Jesus modeled something here. The bigger the demands of ministry, the more important the prayer closet becomes. As I focus on resting from the pulpit for a few weeks, I’ll be gladly shifting a lot more of my attention to prayer. It’d be foolish to imagine that any of us could do ministry without fully depending on the Lord anyway.

Father, thank you for the model of prayer found in today’s passage. I am grateful that in His humanity Jesus demonstrated what it looks like to live with a full ministry calendar that included time to get away and pray. Forgive me for the times I have tried to take ministry in my own hands, strength and power. There is no way to really do what you have called us to without constantly, consciously checking in with you through prayer. I ask that you guide me in a productive prayer closet this week. In Jesus’ Name.

RESOURCES:

He Went to a Desolate Place

They Left Everything and Followed Him

Why Do you Call me Lord, Lord and Don’t do what I say?

Last Year’s Post

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

Philippians 4:1-5 (Devotional Thought)

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; (Philippians 4:1-5 ESV)

The Apostle Paul reminds the church at Philippi that the loves them. He wants to be with them. That’s part of why he wrote this letter. He couldn’t be there, but he could still encourage them by writing. He wants them (and us) to take what he has written seriously. This is God’s word to the church. He challenges believers in light of everything he has written to “stand firm.”

I grew up in Montana. The Rocky Mountains range was just an hours drive from our house and so often we would go explore various parts of the mountains. I remember one time we set out to cross a broad river. It didn’t look intimidating because it wasn’t very deep, but the water was ice cold (it was fed from melting glaciers) and at the time the current was very strong. When I entered the river I panicked because I didn’t expect so much pressure from the current but after a while I was able to get my footing and cross the river.

When Paul says to “stand firm” it’s like resisting that current that I came across in the river. It requires diligence and attention. You can’t just read the scriptures and hope that’s enough. We now have to be intentional about trusting God through the middle of our lives. Their will always be a strong current of popular opinion, feelings, or other ideas about how we should do things. We will feel pressure to give in and go another route and that’s why Paul encourages us to stand firm in the “Lord.” We need his strength to withstand everything we are facing.

Paul makes an immediate practical application. He talks about two women there in the church “Euodia” and Syntyche” who have apparently had a serious disagreement. It would be easy to let the disagreement separate them. Indeed all over the world people get upset with one another for various things and friendships die everyday. The difference for these two women is that they both love Jesus. They’ve both partnered together for the sake of the gospel. So when conflict arises and it seems like they can’t work it out between themselves, Paul calls in reinforcements to help them work through their difficulties. Sometimes it takes a third party to help things work out.

In our culture we don’t like to seek people out and make amends. We somehow think that if enough time passes or if we start smiling like nothing was every wrong then the broken relationship will mend itself… seldom does that ever work.

One of the best conversations I’ve ever had was approaching someone who was mad at me. I was so nervous about talking things out because I already knew how they felt. Yet, when we sat down to talk and I expressed a desire for Jesus to be lifted up more than a desire to be right, we had a great conversation. I ended up confessing my sin to them and they confessed sin to me. We forgave each other and became better friends in Jesus because of it.
Do you have a strained relationship with another believer that you need to straight?

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