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.

We Were Called To Get Along (1 Peter 1-3)

1Peter 3:8-9 ESV Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (9) Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

How incredible is it that sometimes the people that fight the most have the most in common. Brothers and sisters can argue and fight like cats and dogs. Indeed some churches are known more for there arguing than they are for their love. This shouldn’t be so!

Peter challenges believers to fight for unity. We can’t all be in control. So we seek to come to the right understanding of things together. We look to have sympathy for one another and genuinely care about what others are going through. We seek to love our brothers and sisters in s fiercely loyal sort of way. We are able to empathize with others and the situation they are going through. And we seek to serve one another in humility.

When others don’t demonstrate that behavior towards us it doesn’t give us a right to forget those attitudes and retaliate. Rather we are to continue to demonstrate love for one another by returning blessings on those who curse us. Think about that. When is the last time you asked God to bless someone who mistreated you, yelled at you, or called you names?

Father, thank you for your grace that changes everything. Thank you that you have called us together, to love one another and work in unity. I ask that you would give us grace to honor one another, speak well of one another, bless one another, and strive to glorify you in all things, even when someone has been mean to us. Thank you for grace, may we experience it and demonstrate it in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on 1 Peter 1-3

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

Faithful Men and Women (Hebrews 11-13)

Hebrews 11:6 ESV And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 12:2 ESV looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

We often learn by following someone else’s example. We need to be shown what something looks like when it is lived out. We might grasp what faith is on an intellectual level, but demonstrating it in our own life in the midst of persecution might be challenging. Especially if we are young in the faith.

Writing to a young church who is experiencing persecution, the writer of Hebrews demonstrates what faith in God looks like. He examines the lives of different individuals throughout the Old Testament. He demonstrates the core aspects of faith (believing that God exists and he rewards those who seek him – 11:6), through the lens of different Old Testament saints.

In chapter twelve we are challenged to not be lazy, but to diligently lay aside the things that would stop us from demonstrating real, biblical faith in our own life. We are reminded that we are not the first to discover faith in the midst of persecution. And we are also reminded that Jesus has blazed the trail ahead of us when it comes to trusting God the Father in the mist of suffering. Indeed He is the, “Founder and Perfecter of our faith” (12:2).

My big takeaways today were two fold. 1. In Preaching and teaching, it doesn’t hurt to use examples and “case studies” to demonstrate doctrine as applied to everyday life. Indeed this might be exactly what a less mature audience (5:12) might need. 2. Am I laying aside the things that hinder me from pursuing God in faith? What “weight” can I lay aside? For me it’s not watching a few hours of TV this week that I might normally watch, so I might have time to study the Word of God more.

Father, thank you for your word. Thank you that you demonstrate what faith looks like. Thank you for the stories we have in the scriptures of so many individual who have walked with you. Thank you that we can learn what faith looks like. Thank you that we can lay aside the things that hinder us from growing in a relationship with you. 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.

Motives Matter (Philemon)

Philemon 1:14 ESV but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

Motives matter. Paul wrote this letter to Philemon about Onesimus, a slave (indentured servant) that had stolen from Philemon and ran away to Rome. While in Rome Onesimus meets Paul and becomes a Christian. He then begins to help Paul and is being discipled. It’s a great working relationship, Onesimus is growing in the Lord and Paul has an assistant. But there is a problem, Onesimus’ past can’t be left in the past. He is still unreconciled to his former boss and he legally owes him for everything he had stolen. What to do?

Paul had a choice on what to do. He could have sent a letter presuming that it was okay for Onesimus to serve as Paul’s helper in Rome. He was an apostle, the polite thing to do would be to let the matter go. If he did that, Philemon might feel like his hand was forced in the matter and be a little bitter. Onesimus also wouldn’t have an opportunity to really address his past sins and how they affected others. He wouldn’t really be reconciled to Philemon. And Philemon wouldn’t really be given an opportunity to forgive Onesimus and demonstrate grace.

So rather than opting for the practical, ends-justify-the-means, pragmatic logic, Paul goes for the uncomfortable, but right approach. He sends Onesimus back, giving Philemon an opportunity to forgive him and send him of his own free will. It gives Onesimus an opportunity to look his former employer and man he stole from, in the eye and ask for forgiveness. It gives Paul an opportunity to honestly ask for assistance in the form of a helper from Philemon’s estate known as Onesimus.

Motives really matter. Sometimes to grow in our relationship with Christ we need to embrace the difficult steps of doing the less pragmatic, but right thing. We may need to address sin in our lives that has affected others. We may need to ask help and assistance in non-manipulative ways. We may need to simply offer forgiveness and entertain the pleas of those who have hurts us. We don’t really know how the rest of this drama unfolded, but we do know that because Paul didn’t cut corners that He, Philemon and Onesimus all had an opportunity to grow in Christ because of it.

Father, thank you for the grace to address one another. Show us how to handle our past sins and seek repentance and reconciliation. Give us grace to forgive those who have sinned against us. Show us how we can honor you in how we deal with others. Thank you for how the gospel transforms every area of our live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Previous Post on Philemon

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

Confident in the Promises of God (Acts 26-28)

A few things really jumped out at me today. First it appears that Paul befriended the Roman centurion, Julius who was overseeing the prisoner transfer. We don’t know the details of their conversations but we are given enough clues to deduce some sort of friendship or at least appreciation developed along the way. I’m sure Julius heard the gospel from Paul in that time, but it must have traveled along the lines of genuine care and concern. I wonder how intentional we are to develop genuine friendships with those the Lord has placed in our path and how we might be honest about our faith with our friends?

The next thing that really jumped out today was how in the midst of trying times, Paul held close the promises of God. When everything looked bleak, Paul pressed in to the Lord, he didn’t run from Him or drift. I know when I was in the hospital, keeping the television turned off, reading my bible, and being faithful to pray are the disciplines that drew me closer to the LORD and caused me to witness to those around me almost out of second nature.

Finally, Paul was a man on a mission. He knew the next step that was ahead of him and he was confident the Lord would bring him there. When the boat was driven by a storm for two weeks, Paul knew he’d survive. When a snake came out of the fire and bit him, he shook it off. He knew he would not be detoured from his mission. He was immortal until his purpose on earth was through. How many of us walk with that sort of faith and confidence in the LORD?

Father, Thank you for your Word that speaks life into us. We rejoice at how you used Paul both to plant and start churches as well as to take your gospel across the Roman Empire. We pray that you would use us in the places you have placed and called us to take the gospel around the world. We pray that we would press into you even closer in the days ahead and that we would remind one another of your promises and goodness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Congratulations if you’ve been following along from the beginning! In the first 40 days of 2021 we have read all four gospels and the book of Acts!

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.

When Jesus asks you a question. (Matthew 22-24)

I am working through the Cornoa virus. It’s no fun. Lots of fever, chills, and all the other stuff. If the last serveral days and next several days seem off. I’m probably writing with a fever. One of the things I found most difficult about maintaining a daily bible reading time while I’m sick is that reading has become more wearysome. Several years ago I downloaded an app that reads the bible to you. Today instead of reading the text myself I let the app do it and it was easier to concentrate.

The story is told of a young man who showed up at the Louvre museum one day. He came to the Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous painting in the world and a masterpiece. He begins to make fun of the painting. He points out what he thinks are flaws and inconsistencies. A large crowd gathers as he mocks the painting and it’s artist, Leonardo Da Vinci. Just then the curator to the museum walks up to hear the comotion. Finally when he can take it no longer he says, “Young man, the Mona Lisa is not on trial here today. It is recognized around the world as a master piece. But you are on trial today, because while you made your accusations and assumptions your ignorance became evident to everyone.”

Jesus and the religious leaders get into it in these chapters. The religious leaders question him, hoping to trip him up and make him stumble in what he says. However, his responses reveal how little the religious leaders really knew. Somewhere along the way the religious leaders fell in love with the idea of appearances, but they missed out on the real thing. Jesus compared them to white-washed tombs. Pretty on the outside, but full of death and decay. The sad things is all these leaders had to do was recieve Jesus. But they loved their power and postition so much that they knew who he was and they rejected him.

Father, guard me from thinking too much of myself or doing things for mere appearances. Certainly we should live godly lives, but I pray that godliness is found in a transformed heart, not a thin vinere meant to impress others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Bible.is App

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

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.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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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.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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Day 54: 2 Corinthians 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 2 Corinthians 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Chapter four is encouraging. Paul  encourages us to endure when we face trials and opposition in the Christian life. I appreciate Paul’s charge, “do not lose heart” (4:1, 16). He compares the present trials to light afflictions in light of eternity (4:17-18).

I’m looking forward to the return of Christ when all is set right. I look forward to the glorious resurrection body that will allow us to experience the presence of the LORD (5:1-8).  This great expectation that we have in Christ should provoke us to live lives set apart for His glory (5:15). We are new creations and we no longer have to live as we once did, we are free in Christ (5:17). As those who have been set free, we are in the position of preaching the ministry of reconciliation to our fellow men so that they might know and experience the grace and forgiveness of God as we have (5:19-21).

Chapter six highlights two results from being made new in Christ. One is that we should press others to enter the Kingdom now while they can. “Now is the acceptable time; Behold now is the day of Salvation” (6:2). The other is that we should live holy lives. We don’t become holy to be saved, but when we are saved, we should start the process of becoming holy. This includes being careful of our closest associations. Paul warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (6:14).

FATHER, Thank you for the grace and ministry of Reconciliation. We give you all the praise and the glory for making us New Creations in Christ. We ask for grace and encouragement to endure whatever struggles we would face in this life. May they be viewed as light and momentary afflictions compared to the glory of Eternity. We ask for earnestness on our part to spread the gospel of reconciliation and holiness in our lives. 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.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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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.

Find out about New Testament 90 – Here

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