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Showing posts from December, 2011

A Big Wedding Party

Scripture The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
(Revelation 22:17 NASB)
Observation We come to the close John's Revelation and we find ourselves at a wedding party. The Groom, Christ, and his Bride, the Church, are united together in the new heaven and the new earth. And they are still inviting those who haven't joined in -- to join in. God is patient, He doesn't want anyone to miss out on what He has to offer. And he offers that best drink possible at the party -- and he says it's all for free. You see, He has already paid for it. You just have to come and join in.
Application Today is New Year's Eve. All around the world people are throwing parties. Friends will gather together to talk, reminisce, play games -- watch games, etc. It will be a great time of simply gathering and enjoying fellowship w…

How Quickly Things Change

Scripture “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning,
(Revelation 18:9 NASB)
standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’
(Revelation 18:10 NASB)
Observation In Revelation we find reference to Babylon, the great city. I'm sure we can all imagine similar great cities around the world; New York, Moscow, London, Hong Kong, Dubai, Mexico City, Paris, etc. All of these represent dependency on human success. These are cities which have been built by human hands and often at a great price. Yet, somewhat like the Tower of Babel, we see them as symbols of "our" success. Babylon represents for us a center where we have placed all of our trust in what humanity can accomplish without the help of God. Here it mentions that in o…

John's point

Scripture And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.
(Revelation 12:13 NASB)
But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
(Revelation 12:14 NASB)
And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.
(Revelation 12:15 NASB)
But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.
(Revelation 12:16 NASB)
So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
(Revelation 12:17 NASB)

Observation Reading Revelation has never been easy for me. The whole story seems so…

Silence and Prayer

Scripture When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
(Revelation 5:8 NASB)
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
(Revelation 8:1 NASB)
And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.
(Revelation 8:4 NASB)
Observation What is the connection between silence and prayer? Here in John's Revelation we find an interesting sequence of events. First of all, it appears that God, in heaven, has saved up the prayers of all the saints. The elders bowing before the Lamb are carrying the bowls which are filled with prayers. Next there comes a time when the seventh seal is broken, that it creates such a moment of overwhelming emotion, that the only response is one of silence. All of heaven is silent for hal…

Old Bread and a Rock

Scripture ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
(Revelation 2:17 NASB)
Observation Through the revelation given to John we are challenged to be overcomers in our Christian lives. Literally we are being cheered on to not give in and/or compromise with the world around us. The first generation of believers were passing away and now those who were in the Church were being challenged to keep the faith! And what was the reward of this faithfulness? Manna! Interestingly when the children of Israel no longer needed the manna from heaven, it disappeared. What did it mean that there was still some hidden manna? That the people of God, who were faithful to Him, would have their daily needs supplied. The daily bread, about which Jesus taught us to pray, would…

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Scripture So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
(John 19:15 NASB)
Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.
(John 20:18 NASB)
Observation I was shocked at the brazen response of the chief priests when they replied, "We have no king but Caesar." At that moment, they were not only rejecting Jesus Christ, but they were rejecting God, the Father as well. Those words go far beyond the moment in which they were spoken. It reflects humanity which has rejected God and willing to compromise with the world around them for this didn't mean that Caesar was just their earthly king. In those days there existed the Cult of Emperor worship and the Emperor, himself was considered deified. To say that you have no king but Caesar, is to say that you have no god b…

Glory to God in the Highest

Scripture “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.
(John 17:4 NASB)
“Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
(John 17:5 NASB)
Observation The two-part phrase of the heavenly host was "Glory to God" and "Peace on earth." The night that Jesus is going to be betrayed He is in the garden praying. Here, near the very end of His time on earth again we hear words spoken about the glory of God. Jesus' mission was to bring glory to God and peace on earth. Jesus and His Father were having a conversation and Jesus was thinking back and evaluating His mission. Yes, He had glorified the Father because He had been obedient to the tasks which His Father had sent Him to accomplish. God, the Father had been glorified in Jesus' very life. But now Jesus, knowing that the end was coming began to have this conversation about the interming…

Peace on Earth

Scripture “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
(John 13:34 NASB)
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:35 NASB)
Observation The other day I was struck by particular portion of the Christmas story. The heavenly host comes and visits the shepherds and this is what they say:

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
 and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

In a nutshell this is the ushering in of a new era where the greatest commandment will be foundational for all. Love God -- "Glory to God in the highest" -- and love your neighbor "peace on earth." The heavenly host was announcing it that very evening.

Fast forward about thirty three years and we find Jesus visiting with his disciples on the night when He is going to be arrested. He reiterates the second portion of this command -- "…

A faith like Martha

Scripture Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
(John 11:21 NASB)
“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
(John 11:22 NASB)
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
(John 11:23 NASB)
Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
(John 11:24 NASB)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
(John 11:25 NASB)
and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:26 NASB)
She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
(John 11:27 NASB)
Observation Of the two sisters, Mary and Martha, Martha is the with the reputation for being too busy to spend time simply listening and learning at the feet of the Master. Who would want to have faith like her? Wasn't Mary the one …

Condemnation

Scripture Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
(John 8:10 NASB)
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]
(John 8:11 NASB)
Observation It was easy for the officials to point their finger at a woman who had been caught in adultery. She looked like the type of person you would expect to be a sinner! They gathered around her and were ready to stone her when Jesus said something very simple. The ones who have not sinned may throw the stones. Suddenly on self examination they discovered they were just as sinful as this woman. One by one they left and she was alone, standing before her Saviour. He asked where they had gone and whether no one had condemned her. No one had remained. Now Jesus, the only one who was without sin stood before her and forgave her. He did not punish her. He gave her a new life in a moment and sent her out to live in the world …

Loneliness

Scripture As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
(John 6:66 NASB)
So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”
(John 6:67 NASB)
Observation As Jesus got deeper into His preaching people discovered that He was extremely serious about the Christian walk. The major feature was to understand and have to believe that Jesus had been sent by the Father. It was a new and radical way of thinking about living the religious life. No longer were we to follow a list of rules, but rather, we were to put on Christ. We were to actually partake of Him and be filled and led by the Holy Spirit. This was something incredibly organic and it couldn't be tied up with a neat little bow. It made many of the followers uncomfortable, and so they decided they simply would no longer follow this man, Jesus. Can you imagine, hundreds of people suddenly dispersing and leaving Jesus alone with the twelve. He …

Still Stirring things Up

Scripture And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
(John 2:14 NASB)
And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;
(John 2:15 NASB)
and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”
(John 2:16 NASB)
His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”
(John 2:17 NASB)
Observation Jesus came to the temple and He stirred things up. He looked at how things were being done and He was greatly disturbed. The people had found a way to make money by commercializing God's work. Jesus was literally angry with what He saw and this is the one time we see Him respond in such a manner. The temple was His Father's house and it had been turned into someth…

It's time to stir things up!

Scripture Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.
(2 Peter 1:12 NASB)
I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,
(2 Peter 1:13 NASB)
knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
(2 Peter 1:14 NASB)
And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
(2 Peter 1:15 NASB)
Observation Peter was nearing the end of his life and yet, at this juncture, he wanted to make sure that those who had come to Christ though him, would continue to serve the Lord. Those in the first century of Christianity were so closely connected to Christ, Himself. Many had seen Him, hear Him, followed Him and willingly were giving their lives for Him. However, Peter was concerned about pas…

Living Stones

Scripture And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,
(1 Peter 2:4 NASB)
you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 2:5 NASB)
Observation There are two living stones mentioned here. First of all Christ is the ultimate living stone -- the cornerstone. He is the foundation of all things and around Him every thing is to be built. But, we are also invited to be a living stone. We are to be like Him, the One who has gone before us and literally 'paved' the way. However, it also means that there are those who will reject us as well. We, who are living stones like Him. Along the way there will be those who trip over the living stones, because they simply see them as obstacles to their own "easy" path which they are creating.
Application It was…

A Prostitute does the Right Thing

Scripture In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
(James 2:25 NASB)
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
(James 2:26 NASB)
Observation James is concerned that we understand that there is a connection between faith and works. The statement regarding Rahab the harlot, or prostitute is a little tough. How was she justified by works? Aren't we supposed to be justified by faith? Wasn't that what the whole reformation was about? How could this woman have been justified by her works? In reality I believe that it was her works which revealed the state of her faith. She had, in faith, believed that the messengers were true men of God and that they were the "right" team. By taking care of them, and saving their lives, her "works" revealed her "faith." Therefore we can read that Rahab was j…

The Demise of Discipline

Scripture For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
(Hebrews 12:10 NASB)
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
(Hebrews 12:11 NASB)
Observation Numerous times in the Bible we read about discipline. In this instance there is a comment about parental discipline, the purpose of which is to train up children during a period of time while they are still malleable to become disciplined adults. Then there is a recognition that God, Himself, disciplines us. None of us like that very much and there is much conversation these days about a God of love who really shouldn't punish or discipline. However, it is just because He does love us that He disciplines us. That should be the very reason that parents discipline children, because they love them…

In Exile

Scripture All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
(Hebrews 11:13 NASB)
For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.
(Hebrews 11:14 NASB)
And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.
(Hebrews 11:15 NASB)
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
(Hebrews 11:16 NASB)
Observation The great Faith Chapter tells us the stories of those who have gone before us and have lived in faithful obedience to God. Interestingly one of the characteristics of those who went ahead was a sense of restlessness. The more they followed God, the more they realized they weren't at home here on this ea…

What's for dinner?

Scripture For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
(Hebrews 5:12 NASB)
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
(Hebrews 5:13 NASB)
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
(Hebrews 5:14 NASB)
Observation What's for dinner? This is a question in relation to spiritual food. Not everyone is eating the same thing because not everyone is in the same place in terms of their spiritual life. However, if we've been walking with the Lord for a long period of time, there is no reason that we ought to still be eating baby food! We are warned that we must grow up, that there is no way that we can survive on milk only. It is good for a particular period of time in our lives, but a…

Friends

Scripture Make every effort to come to me soon;
(2 Timothy 4:9 NASB)
for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
(2 Timothy 4:10 NASB)
At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.
(2 Timothy 4:16 NASB)
Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
(2 Timothy 4:19 NASB)
Observation The American TV show about friends was popular for more than a decade. Weekly the world watched with interest the relationships which ebbed and flowed out of this core group of individuals. Paul, too, had his core group of people, those who stuck with him through thick and thin. However, there was another group of people who called themselves friends and yet, when things were difficult they simply could not stick it out. Now, Paul, in prison in Rome sounds rather lonely. Demas has decided that he loves the things of this world m…

Meet Pressing Needs

Scripture Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
(Titus 3:14 NASB)
Observation Those who work for the Lord (meaning all believers) must be attentive to the needs around them on a daily basis. Especially during this holiday season it's important that we don't become so absorbed in our own activities that we miss those around us who have pressing needs. For many people the holiday season simply exacerbates their needs and they feel even more inadequate. Therefore, we must ask ourselves what we can do to meet the pressing and immediate needs.
Application There are those who would say that it is not worth it to meet the pressing needs, but rather we need to go to the root of the issues and work on those so that these problems do not continue. This is true in a sense. There is the famous saying, "Give them a fish and they eat today. Teach them to fish and they will eat for a life…

Prayers, Petitions and Thanksgivings

Scripture First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
(1 Timothy 2:1 NASB)
for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
(1 Timothy 2:2 NASB) Observation "I don't know how to pray!" How often do we hear this today?  In the past it seems that the art of prayer was passed from one generation to the next and yet, suddenly we live in a day and age when many people tell me that they simply don't know how to pray. In this letter to Timothy we get a glimpse of the expectation of a follower of Christ. All were encouraged to spend time in prayer, and while they were praying they were to bring their petitions before God. However, not only petitions were to be brought to God, but also thanksgiving for what God had already accomplished. We are not to be choosy about those for whom we will pray. We are to pray for all peo…

THE image

Scripture He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
(Colossians 1:15 NASB)
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
(Colossians 1:18 NASB)
For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
(Colossians 1:19 NASB)
and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
(Colossians 1:20 NASB)
Observation We tend to throw around the terms "image" and "likeness" from time to time but it is in this letter to the Colossians that it is made abundantly clear that THE image is Jesus Christ. God sent His son to be the visible image of the invisible God. This is THE image that we are to be reflecting to the world around us. The visible representation of God is seen as the head…

Pressing On

Scripture Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
(Philippians 3:13 NASB)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14 NASB)
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
(Philippians 3:15 NASB)
however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
(Philippians 3:16 NASB)
Observation Paul believed that day in and day out he, whether he was a prisoner or free he was to be pressing on toward the goal of his life. He always believed there was more for him as he was called upward in Christ Jesus. For him the spiritual journey was always a continuous upward climb because Jesus Christ was always before him. He even encouraged those who had been made complete (or perfect) to have…

Personal Responsibility

Scripture How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.
(Psalms 119:2 NASB)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
(Ephesians 5:1 NASB)
and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
(Ephesians 5:2 NASB)
Observation God is gracious in His love for humanity. His prevenient grace reaches out to each and every single one of us, but there is a human response which is required. We must take hold of that which is offered to us, and once we have taken hold, we must continue to seek the One who has reached out to us. Over and over again we are told to seek Him, to seek His face, to desire to know Him with all of our being! Responding to His grace is simply the first step in a life-long journey, of a relationship with our God of holy love. There is something synergistic that happens when one is engaged in the relationship with God, …

What are you wearing?

Scripture But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
(Romans 13:14 NASB)
Observation Every day we get up and probably wonder, "What will I wear today?" As a follower of Christ, there is one thing that we should never forget. That is, that we should put on Jesus Christ daily! That is what Paul was reminding the Romans. Every day of their lives they were to remember to put on Jesus Christ. They were to wrap themselves in Him, as if He were their outer garment, their very shield and protection. Because they were dressed in Christ, they were to be Christ to the world around them. They were not to be controlled by the lusts of the world, or the lust of the flesh. Clothing oneself in Christ meant that one could live like Christ in the world and didn't have give in to human temptations.
Application The temptations of the world will always surround us. If we do not clothe ourselves in Christ we wil…

Appreciate the Roots

Scripture But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,
(Romans 11:17 NASB)
do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.
(Romans 11:18 NASB)
Observation The Israelites were God's chosen people and in this analogy by Paul they are the roots. We (Gentiles) have been privileged to be grafted into the tree. They were privileged to be partakers of the rich root. That is, God had planned for them to be partakers of His divine nature. Now, as a branch which is grafted into the tree, we too can become partakers of His divine nature. We should not look with arrogance on the children of Israel, but rather, be grateful for what was begun through them. We are simply branches and the branches grow because of the nourishment they receive from the root. …

Reflecting the Wrong Image

Scripture Professing to be wise, they became fools,
(Romans 1:22 NASB)
and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
(Romans 1:23 NASB)
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
(Romans 1:24 NASB)
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
(Romans 1:25 NASB)
Observation Paul is describing the fall of humanity. Humanity which was created to be a reflection of the Image! However, once humanity turned their backs on God, they could no longer reflect Him because they were no longer facing Him. So often in the Old Testament we are called to "seek the face of God." Why is that? so that we will be drawn toward the Image. Sadly, Paul says that we have turned our backs on H…