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 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 68: 1 Timothy 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Timothy 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

The Apostle Paul writes, in chapter four, about those who will depart from the faith and follow deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (4:1). This is a stern warning to us today to test the spirits and keep our doctrine pure. Indeed Paul charges Timothy to make sure that he continues to teach sound doctrine (4:13) and continue in the doctrine that Paul taught (4:16).

When I was studying for the ministry at a Christian college, some of the students wanted to steer clear of any sort of doctrinal discussion.  They would say something like, “we have no creed but Jesus.” The problem I had with them is that is seemed like they wanted to avoid ALL doctrine. Don’t get me wrong, there are SOME doctrinal debates that are worthless (one only needs to read yesterday’s post for more on that point). But when we avoid all doctrine together, we really create our own doctrine or set of beliefs, a false doctrine. The doctrine or teaching that Paul shared with Timothy was good, sound doctrine and it was profitable for Timothy’s growth and the growth of the local church.

The first few verses of Chapter five are instrumental in figuring out how we should treat one another. Because of age and generational differences it can be easy to perceive things differently than others in the church. As a pastor it is crucial that I communicate in ways that are respectful and appropriate. Recognizing these differences and approaching members, who may be in error, in the way that I would approach respected members of my own family, can be a helpful. 

Paul writes, that believers are to take care of their own household (5:3). The burden for caring for elderly relatives, who cannot care for themselves,  should fall back to the family, not to the church (or the government).  The church had an elaborate system of taking care of widows, but only those who had legitimate need. There is wisdom in placing the care of our loved ones back in our hands and there is grace in taking care of the needs of those who have no other means.

FATHER, I pray that you would keep us from error and that we would be intent upon studying and teaching your word. I pray that our lives would exhibit the doctrine we hold to in your word. Keep us from idle chatter, but focused on the truth of the gospel. Give us grace in relating to one another who are of differing ages. Help us to treat one another with respect, even when a difficult discussion is in order. Thank you for the privilege we have of caring for one another and being united in caring for those who have no one else to care for them. We are grateful for your Word. Thank you for the great grace you have given me in shepherding 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 67: 1 Timothy 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Timothy 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

1 Timothy is a pastoral epistle, meaning that Paul wrote it to another young pastor. When I first started at Little Escambia, I found it extremely helpful to read all the pastoral epistles over and over again during my first summer here. Paul shares keen spiritual truth as an apostle to a young man just beginning in ministry.

One of the things that jumps out at me when I read 1 Timothy is Paul’s warning about fables and endless genealogies (1:3-4).  Truth matters, but the things mentioned here tend to divide. Sometimes it is more important to know that the Lord is coming back (truth) than it is to worry and debate if some of the critters unleashed in Revelation 9 might actually be helicopters (I see how they would look that way to a generation returning from Vietnam… but in this generation, CRISPR kits are being sold to any adolescent with $450 who wants to learn how to “bio-hack” and so it is more and more conceivable that someone could bio-engineer those suckers into existence). The truth is, we don’t know exactly what those critters are and we could speculate for hours upon hours, but it wouldn’t get us any closer to Jesus, help us share our faith, or really encourage us in any real way and so it’s worth leaving those discussions behind to have a real one that will edify us in our faith.

Paul always remembered where he came from (1:15) and we would do well to follow his example of humility. Having faith and a good conscience are critical to ministering to people and Paul echoes this advice to Timothy (1:5 &19).  He solemnly states this in contradiction to those who have shipwrecked their faith (1:19-20).

In chapter two and three, Paul turns his attention to praying for those in governmental leadership and those who are qualified to be a pastor or deacon in the church. Different churches have different takes on these passages, but the reality is that these passages are there and they mean something. It is worth asking the question how do we honor the Lord in our churches according to these passages.

FATHER, thank you for your word that is truth and the sound doctrine that leads us to life everlasting in you through the blood of Jesus. We ask that you would guard us from being sidetracked by petty little side issues and that we would be focused on you. We pray for our leaders and ask for you to guide those who are an authority over us. We thank you for pastors and deacons. We pray that you would continue to call faithful individuals to the leadership of your church. Thank you for the grace of calling me to pastor at Little Escambia. I pray that you are glorified by your church. 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 66: 2 Thessalonians (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Paul generally begins his letters with prayer as he does here in 2 Thessalonians. What seems to be different here is that he says, “we are ‘bound’ to thank God for you” (1:3, 2:13). The word bound would mean obligated. Paul felt a debt to the Thessalonians for how well they had received the gospel and endured under persecution (1:4).

Paul jumps right in to draw the line about the coming of God’s final judgement and glory. It seems as though that after Paul had left, someone had come in the church and was sewing seeds of discord about the return of Christ, claiming that he had already come back and they had missed it (2:1-3).  Paul sets the record straight and reminds them to go back to the sound doctrine (traditions) they had received from him in person or via his other letter written to them (2:15).

Paul wraps up this short epistle with a request for prayer and warning against idleness.  If Paul needed the prayer of the churches, we all need prayer.  There were some who were content to eat the bread from other’s labor, but Paul admonished them that each one is to work and eat their own bread (3:12). He reminds his readers that they are to not grow weary of doing good (3:13).

I imagine that growing weary in doing good is all in your perspective. If you see the good that God has called you too as an obligation, I see how it could become wearisome. However, if we see the opportunity to do good to others as a  gift, we will look for it more often and with zeal.

FATHER, We give thanks to you for your church. We are bound to give thanks for all the ways you have worked in the church and used the church in our own lives. We thank you for each and every gift. We rejoice in the encouragement we have drawn from one another. We pray that we would not be lead astray by false doctrine, but that we would cling to your word. Strengthen our hand that we would not be weary in doing good. Let our love for you be evident to all and may it abound. We pray for our church leaders that you would strengthen their hand and that they would glorify 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 65: 1 Thessalonians 4-5 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Thessalonians 4-5 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers to maintain sexual purity as their calling in Christ. It is amazing how often the scripture speaks to a Christian sexual ethic and yet there are several in the church even who dismiss it or try to insist the scriptures teach something else. Paul reminds not only the Thessalonians, but those reading now as well, that we were called to holiness (4:7). We’ll be covering this issue this week at Little Escambia as we continue studying the Ten Commandments and study the command to not commit adultery.

Weeks before I was diagnosed with an infection inside of my heart I was inclined to believe that I was dying. I can’t explain why I thought or felt that way, only to say that I was very fatigued and sick. When I felt that way, I kept going back to I Thessalonians 5:9-10 and it brought me immense comfort in the middle of my physical trials.  Paul’s words here are comforting to the Thessalonian believers (4:18) in a similar way, as they had asked about those who had already died in Christ (4:13).

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is the bread and butter of a daily walk with Christ. I can quite skeptical sometimes and I needed this reminder to “rejoice always” (5:16). God is always at work, even when I can’t see it and that is worth rejoicing over. We are to always be praying (5:17). I am continuing to develop a habit of praying for people as I see them and talk with them and engaging the Lord in Prayer all through the day. We are to give thanks in all things (5:18). I don’t know about you, but I constantly need this reminder. As I’ve said before, I can be quite the skeptic and negative in my head. One practice that has really helped me in the last few years is to reflect back about what I have to be thankful for and thank the Lord at the end of each day.

FATHER, We pray that we would live holy lives set apart to you. Help us to maintain ethical standards that you put forth in your word. I pray that we would believe that you know what is best and that we would stand firm in your word when the world attempts to convince us to abandon truth. We rejoice always, knowing that we have been given more in Christ than we can possibly celebrate. Teach us to pray without ceasing that ever thought would be taken captive and you would be exaulted even in our thoughts. Thanks you for the abundance of gifts big and small that are ours in Christ. Help us to find gratitude and be grateful even in the most trying times of life. 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 64: 1 Thessalonians 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Thessalonians 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

We find Paul caring for, and praying for, this church often (1:2-3, 2:13).  They had ministered to him after he had been run out of Phillipi ( 2:2) and they received the Word of God with zeal (2:13). Paul and his traveling companions weren’t able to stay there long and had wanted to come back and see the progress of the Thessalonian church (2:17-18). They had later encountered persecution and Paul was anxious to see how the young church was doing. He sent Timothy to check on the Thessalonian saints and encourage them. When Timothy returned back to Paul he had a great report to share about the progress of their faith (3:1-10).  

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, the Apostle Paul writes, “We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become dear to us.”

I am reminded of the love and warmth that is shared between pastor and the flock. I have been blessed to serve three different congregations over the past 22 years. There comes a point as a pastor that the line between obligation and love is blurred.  There are moments, especially early on in ministry where I have labored to visit the sick, counsel the hurting, and minister among the broken, because it was an obligation (first to God and second to the people who had confirmed God’s call).  Then there came the moment when I showed up to the hospital for someone, not because it was an obligation (part of the job), but because of the genuine love and care for them. The sense of obligation has been replaced with a genuine love.

You can tell as you read though 1 Thessalonians that the Apostle Paul has a genuine affection for the people of this church.  He longs for their good. He wants to observe their faith firsthand and he writes to answer their questions and encourage them. A genuine love for God will always overflow into a love for his people.

FATHER, Thank you for the church. We are grateful for our brothers and sisters in Christ and how their walk with you encourages us. We are thankful that we get the benefit of ministering to one another, not just out of an obligation, but out of a sense of love. We rejoice to hear when others are doing well in the faith. Thank you for the grace of minister with a church that loves you and loves others well. Thank you for the grace of shepherding 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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