Archive for : December, 2019

12/31/19: Revelation 22:1-21; Psalm 150:1-6; Proverbs 31:25-31

Can you think of any better way for faithful Believers to end a year and to begin a new one than with the promise of spending an eternity in the presence of the Lord, God Almighty?

Revelation 22: 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

And because of this promise should we not begin and end every day with the same desire recorded in the inspired words of John?

Revelation 22:  20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

12/30/19: Revelation 21:1-27; Psalm 149:1-9; Proverbs 31:10-24

I can think of no passages of scripture that bring me as much joy, as much hope, & as much assurance as the ones we read today in Revelation 21.  And there are so many it is hard to find just a single  focal point.  But in today’s reading I was drawn to the reality that we will be in the very presence of the Lord – we will “dwell” with Him — we will be his guest for an eternity and receive the promises recorded.

Revelation 21:   And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

12/28/19: Revelation 19:1-31; Psalm 147:1-20; Proverbs 31:1-7

On a cloudless, moonless and cold winter night find a place with few lights and just look up at the heavens.  You will be enthralled at the beauty of just seeing stars & maybe be treated to a “shooting star.”  Find one small section & just try to count the number of stars.

Then, once you have given up because even the ones we can see just with our eyes are numberless think about the following passage and reflect on the majesty of God:

Psalm 147: 

He determines the number of the stars
    and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.

12/27/19: Revelation 18:1-24; Psalm 146:1-10; Proverbs 30:33

I found that reading the verses from Revelation today made me appreciate even more the way that we should start each day with the attitude penned by the author of Psalm 146:

Psalm 146 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul.  I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes,  in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.

12/26/19: Revelation 17:1-18; Psalm 145:1-21; Proverbs 30:32

As you read John’s inspired description of the “Woman on the Beast” did you denote another verse that states the overall theme of Revelation that should reassure all believers?

Revelation 14:  14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

12/25/19: Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 144:1-15; Proverbs 30:29-31

When you read in Revelation 16 of the intensity of God’s “wrath” the images are certainly frightening.   But did you notice one characteristic of the people with the “mark of the beast?”  Just as we have seen so often in the history of mankind even when give the opportunity they “refused to repent.”  The message to me is that the Lord will never program our obedience – we have “free will” and the choice is ours.  So, why wait?

Revelation 16: The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. 10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

12/24/19: Revelation 15:1-8; Psalm 143:1-12; Proverbs 30:24-28

Revelation 15:  And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
    Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
    King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
    and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
    and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.

Regarding this song, Coffman writes:   Significantly, this song, made up of a blended collection of Old Testament texts, deals not with the overcoming of the saints, but with the mighty works of God. There is not a single word about their own achievement.  Self is at last forgotten; selfishness is finally destroyed. In heaven, the song of Moses and the Lamb is exclusively an anthem of loving praise to the Almighty

My “take-away” for today’s Body — When we enter into our times of worship please help us to remember that worship is all about God, not about us!

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12/23/19: Revelation 14:1-20; Psalm 140:1-13; Proverbs 30:21-23

Our reading in Revelation today reminded me of two precepts we, as believers need to keep at the forefront of our walk with the Lord — patience endurance in our faith and our ultimate reward:

Revelation 14:   12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

 

12/22/19: Revelation 13:1-18; Psalm 141:1-10; Proverbs 30:18-20

Revelation 13:  All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

While much of the symbolism in Revelation is a mystery the commentators I read all agreed that the “Lamb” references Jesus.   And as you read this passage did you note a very important reality?  God’s plan of salvation has existed since the beginning of time! We read the same message in Ephesians (shown below.)  How blessed we are to be part of an eternal promise …

Ephesians 1: . For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he  predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves

12/21/19: Revelation 12:1-17; Psalm 140:10-13; Proverbs 30:17

As we move onward with our journey in Revelation the mysterious sights and symbolism viewed by John continue to appear.  And we are beginning to see insights into the overall theme of the Book — “remain faithful and we will win!”

Revelation 12Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.

 

12/20/19: Revelation 11:1-19; Psalm 139:1-24; Proverbs 30:15-16

A characteristic of a truly special friend is someone who knows you – who knows your thoughts, your fears, your strengths and weaknesses and what comforts you.  This special friend can almost predict your actions.  And this special friend will always be with you, even when you are not at your “best.”

These thoughts struck me today as I read Psalm 139.  David certainly recognizes that God is the Lord God almighty.  But David also describes how well the Lord knows us and that he will never leave us:

Psalm 139:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

 

 

12/19/19: Revelation 10:1-11; Psalm 138:1-8; Proverbs 30:11-14

Luke 24: 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

I lead with this scripture as in today’s Revelation reading I saw a similar command.  This one is given to John .  Revelation 10: 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.

I find it interesting that at the very beginning of the church Jesus stated the importance of evangelizing to all nations.  And in Revelation we see that same commandment continuing until the second coming of the Lord.

My takeaway — in today’s church are we also following this instruction in our daily interfaces with the people who come into our lives?

12/18/19: Revelation 9:1-21; Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 30:10

Revelation 9:1-19 is certainly an image of suffering brought upon those who do not know the Lord.  Then verse 20 reminds me so much of what we see in the history of the Nation of Israel — whether they were blessed for obedience or punished for their sins the Nation returned to their evil ways and did not obey:

Revelation 9: 20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.

A thought for us is that when we repent we dedicate our lives to the Lord out of love.   And we demonstrate that love through obedience and following His will.

 

12/17/19: Revelation 8:1-13; Psalm 136:1-26; Proverbs 30:7-9

As we read Psalm 136 I am sure you noted that the format is different from any Psalm, as the refrain “His love endures forever” is repeated at the end of each verse.  Coffman writes:

“This off-repeated refrain indicates that the composition, as it stands, was used liturgically, that is, as a kind of ritual in the Temple services, with one group, or perhaps even a soloist, singing or reading the first line of each verse, and the congregation responding in the refrain. It is called a Hallel Psalm and was sung at the beginning of Passover. It was a favorite Temple song.

What struck me was that the Psalmist steps readers through the history of the Nation of Israel and that each episode is an example of God’s eternal love.  We live with the same reality — like the Nation of Israel our lives and circumstances will constantly change.  But if we continue to focus on the Lord and His will we will surely see that “His love endures forever.”

 

 

 

12/16/19: Revelation 7:1-17; Psalm 135:1-21; Proverbs 30:5-6

While there are sections in Revelation that are difficult for us to understand in this life the Holy Spirit inspired John to record promises that the Lord has made to believers.  They are descriptions of comfort and reassurance.  And we should live each day yearning for these rewards:

Revelation 7: 13  Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

“they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
    will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

12/15/19: Revelation 6:1-17; Psalm 134:1-3; Proverbs 30:1-4

As we begin reading the next several chapters of Revelation I find that the commentators I read make the point that the signs and symbolism in these chapters are not easily interpreted.  And that we should beware of those who state that they understand fully.

I am reminded of the multiple warnings from Paul, Peter, John and others on the urgency of our remaining in the Word and being alert to the false teachers who may approach us.

2 Peter 2:2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

12/14/19: Revelation 5:1-14; Psalm 133:1-3; Proverbs 29:26-27

From today’s reading and with just a little imagination I think we can get at least a “micro-glimpse” of the glory that exists in the presence of the Lord:

Revelation 5:  11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

While the numbers are not to be taken literally and really express an infinite number envision at least 100 million angels in one location, walking in circles around a throne all speaking in unison.  Now add to that every creature (KJV – created thing) also offering praise.  Is there any reason that the “elders fell down and worshiped?”

What else could be done in the presence of the Lord, God Almighty; the Alpha and the Omega; the Beginning and the End?

12/13/19: Revelation 4:1-11; Psalm 132:1-18; Proverbs 29:24-25

If you are like me I am sometimes a bit frustrated that I do not understand all of the images described by John in Revelation.  For example:

Revelation 4:  From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.  In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,  who was, and is, and is to come.

But then I realize that even though he was inspired by the Holy Spirit John could not quite describe what he was seeing either and, using the simile “like,” tried to relate the majesty to a human reader.  And I am reminded that in this earthly lifetime there are just some things our minds cannot conceive – but they will be extraordinary and we will be in the presence of the Lord God Almighty.

Corinthians 2:9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him—

12/12/19: Revelation 3:7-22; Psalm 131:1-3; Proverbs 29:23

Reflect a bit – you have probably seen this picture …

It is an representation of Jesus standing before an old wooden door.  He is often portrayed carrying a shepherds hook.  And he is gently knocking on the door,  leaning forward as if listening.  And the passage inspiring this picture is:

Revelation 3:20  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

 

Look closely at the picture and you will see something a bit odd  — there is no doorknob on the outside.  The original of this painting was made by English artist William Holman Hunt.  When asked about this oddity he replied, “Oh! No, I didn’t forget the handle. When Jesus knocks on the door of your heart – the handle’s on the INSIDE.”

The analogy is clear – Jesus will not force himself on us.  He invites but the decision is ours.  And the very next verse tells us what a reward we receive!

 

Revelation 3:21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

 

 

 

12/11/19: Revelation 2:18-3:6; Psalm 130:1-8; Proverbs 29:21-22

Have ever written notes or instructions on an older “white board” (or if you are my age a chalk-board.)  Then once you are finished you erased the writings?   Often, no matter how hard you rub or whatever cleanser you use a residue remains & you can still see some of the smudged letters.

Psalm 130If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I sometimes think that our concept of forgiveness is like those older boards.  We are forgiven and, yet, in our minds the “smudges” remain and we reflect on what we have done.  And Satan can use these thoughts to drive guilt deep within our lives.

But the Psalmist reassures us that if we truly repent the Lord does not reflect on our “smudged letters.”  In fact he does not erase a white board — when we are forgiven we start with a brand new one!