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Showing posts from December, 2013

I Want To Invite You!

Scripture:

Rev. 22:17     The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
    And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
    And let everyone who is thirsty come.
    Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

Observation:


Here we reach the closing chapter of Revelation and of the word of God and it concludes with a beautiful invitation.  The Spirit reaches out to all of humanity with an invitation to “come” and be a part of the fellowship found in God and his people.  The invitation is not only extended by the Spirit, but by the bride as well.   The church is to be actively engaged in reaching out to invite those who aren’t walking in this fellowship so that they can hear the invitation to “come.”  Those who are thirsty for this relationship will be satisfied as they drink of the water of life, providing satisfaction for all of eternity. 

Application:

The final chapter of the Bible is written with this beautiful invitation and the final post of this year comes to you as an invitation as we…

What Happened to the Wedding?

Scripture:

Rev. 18:23     and the light of a lamp
        will shine in you no more;
and the voice of bridegroom and bride
        will be heard in you no more;

    for your merchants were the magnates of the earth,
        and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.

Observation:


In the end Babylon the great was to see her destruction.  All the activities of that city were to suddenly be silenced and couched within the list we discover that the “voice of the bridegroom and the bride will be heard in you no more.”  This signifies the spiritual state of the people of Babylon.  From the opening of the Scriptures until the marriage supper of the lamb the Bible is filled with wedding imagery.  God’s people are invited into a such a deeply intimate relationship with him that we are called the Bride and he is the Bridegroom.  When the voice of the Bride and the Bridegroom can no longer be heard then the community has fallen into complete apostasy.  This is the fate of Babylon and I think it begs…

What Begins with His Birth

Scripture:

Rev. 11:15     Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
    “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord
        and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign forever and ever.”

Observation:

We continue to celebrate the birth of the Messiah and the ushering in of the Kingdom of God.  However, not until we reach the book of Revelation do we see the completion of this Kingdom.  What begins with his birth is a new Kingdom, one which functions and rules from the basis of a God of holy love.  All of this is in complete opposition to the kingdoms of this world.  We are privileged to live in the “already” of that Kingdom.  The Kingdom has come, the Prince of Peace has arrived and yet the battle continues to rage until this final moment when the seventh angel will blow the trumpet and there will be excited shouts in heaven that the earthly kingdoms have come to an end, or have become a part of the Kingdom of our Lord!  This is th…

Every Era Has Its Sins

Scripture:

Rev. 9:20 ¶ The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.
Rev. 9:21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.

Observation:

It seems that we are always trying to “figure out” what we are being told in the book of Revelation.  What is the story pointing to, and certainly it must be about us — today!

The reality is that every commentator throughout history has placed this Revelation within their context and their understanding.  Most older commentators place these incidents within the period of the early church and the loss of the Eastern Church to Islam.  Therefore these Scriptures are interpreted in this light.  The plagues overran what is modern-day Turkey and yet the people did not repent. 

In the midst of incredible suffering regarding their …

Are You Wearing His White?

Scripture:

Rev. 3:4 Yet you have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Rev. 3:5 If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels.
Rev. 3:6 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Observation:


The church in Sardis had once been very vibrant, filled with the Spirit and ministering to their surrounding community.  They had a great reputation and had probably been known for exciting worship services, great doctrine and unity among their people.  The problem was that the church “was not really what it reputed to be.” (Henry)  They had a great reputation and people respected their name but they were no longer living up to that reputation.  There was no power — nothing was happening and little by little people were drifting away from the…

Stop Texting, Facebooking, and Messaging!

Scripture:

2John 12 ¶ Although I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink; instead I hope to come to you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

3John 13 ¶ I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink;
3John 14 instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.

Observation:

Interestingly here in 2nd and 3rd John we find the same sentiment — instead of using pen and ink, it would be much more pleasant to see these dear people face to face and have a conversation.  There’s too much to be said by simply writing it down and instead there is great joy to be known in being face to face and sharing the things of our hearts with one another.

Application:


Technology has brought with it some great joys, but also some great challenges.  My son-in-law was telling me how quiet the lunch room is at the High School where he teaches.  Quiet?  Yes, they are all busy on their electronic devices.  No one is ta…

The Child Has Come So that We May Be Children Too!

Scripture:

1John 3:1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Observation:


God sent his only son to be born here on this earth as a fragile baby.  As we look upon the baby in the manger we are reminded of the innocence of childhood.  Can you imagine the love of our heavenly Father who would be willing to send his son in this form so that we too can be invited into the innocence of childhood and stand before him as his adopted children.  His love has been lavished on us through his Son — and we are now children too. 

Application:


I walked through Walmart yesterday and there was a man delivering bread who looked so much like my brother Jerry.  It seems that I see the face of my…

Celebrating the One on the Throne

Scripture:

John 19:13 ¶ When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha.

Observation:

The irony of the scene played out in John’s gospel is that Pilate places himself up on the elevated throne to proclaim judgement against Jesus — the Messiah.  If Pilate had realized what he was really doing he would have been appalled.  How could he place himself on the throne above the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?  This Jesus who had come into the world to usher in a new kingdom was standing before him.  The real king was there in his very midst and yet he did not recognize him, and instead of elevating the King, he elevated himself.  The word gabbatha means “elevation” — the high place.  The high place was to be reserved for those in power and being the illegitimate leader in this situation, Pilate took the throne — the high seat.  Little did he know how the tables would soon be turned. 

Application:

T…

My New BFF

Scripture:

John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
John 15:15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

Observation:

These days we throw around (or text) terms like BFF — Best Friends Forever.  When we think about the arrival of Baby Jesus — we don’t often think about the birth of our new best friend.  And yet, that was the relationship that this Messiah was offering to those who would be faithful followers of God.  In this passage in John we find Jesus preparing for the final chapter of his life and in this we see revealed the fulfillment of the incarnation, the righting of humanity’s relationship to God.  While Jesus was the disciples’ Master — they were no longer to imagine themselves in a Servant - Master relationship, instead as they lived in fidelity to his passions, they became, and we become h…

Peace I Leave With You

Scripture:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Observation:


Jesus came to bring Peace on Earth — or so the heavenly host declared:

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

From beginning to end, Jesus was about peace!  But it was a peace that the world would simply not understand.  This was not a political peace among troubled nations — instead it was about a deep abiding peace that would fill the very depths of the hearts of God’s people. 

The peace of the world is a temporary sense of getting along with one another.  Jesus’ peace is a deep peace that touches the very heart of the person, a peace that rules even when the nations of the world can not get along with one another.  This is a peace that allows his children to live within the chaos of a lost, crazy and corrupt world and yet sense a p…

Waiting On God

Scripture:

John 11:4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
John 11:5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,
John 11:6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Observation:

Jesus had gotten word that Lazarus was very ill and he loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus very much.  Instead of rushing to their side and curing Lazarus before he died, Jesus waits two more days before going to see them.  When Jesus does finally arrive the family is grief-stricken.  They had faith to believe that Jesus could have done something about Lazarus’ illness but, in their minds, he didn’t come in time.  Jesus is touched by their grief and being overcome, weeps with them.

But Jesus had said that this illness was not to lead to death, but rather was to glorify God.  Everything that Jesus did pointed toward the Father an…

Glory to God in the Highest

Scripture:

John 7:18 Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

Observation:


From the time that the angels declared the arrival of the Christ-child and throughout his life, Jesus was constantly giving glory to God.  Although he himself was God, he wanted the Father to get all the glory — literally the light, or the spotlight, to be on the one who sent him. 

Jesus declared that this was the responsibility of those who were teachers.  Unfortunately there were those who enjoyed the spotlight for themselves.  Jesus wanted no part in those kinds of teacher, but instead wanted the glory, the light, to shine on his Father.  Whatever Christ did, it was to glorify the Father.  Therefore from the moment of his birth until his ascension into heaven, Jesus was constantly pointing the way to God. 

Application:

I’m afraid that modern culture has taught us that getting the spotlight on ourselves is w…

Not a Political Revolutionary

Scripture:

John 6:15 ¶ When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Observation:

Jesus had just fed the 5000 and they were overcome with gratitude for what he had done, but they also saw the potential for personal benefit.  They wanted a political Messiah, one who would bring about solutions to their problems within the human structures of the day.  The fact that he was able to feed the people was just one more confirmation that he could bring about the political change they believed that they wanted and needed.  Often occupation or dominance by a foreign ruler had led to famine.  Jesus’ ability to feed people with his own power would mean less reliance upon foreign authorities.  Surely Jesus as their king would mean that their temporal personal needs would be met.

For Jesus to be a political revolutionary would have been to succumb to the temptation brought to him after he had fasted in the desert.…

Do You See the Kingdom?

Scripture:

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

Observation:

Nicodemus iss coming to visit Jesus by night — in private.  He’s trying to wrap his head around the things that this man has been saying but for him, a leader of the Jews, it is difficult.  Nicodemus, like others, was awaiting a political kingdom that would overthrow the government.  Was Jesus the Messiah?  If so, when was this new kingdom going to overthrow the current kingdom? 

Jesus has a very firm response for Nicodemus which begins with “very truly” or, in the Greek “Amen, Amen.”  In other words — listen up!  His problem was that he didn’t have eyes to see the kingdom which was already expanding around him.  The kingdom of God was already present on the earth and Jesus, the Messiah, was already ruling.  Nicodemus had been concerned that those who were born of Abraham’s seed would be those in this kingdom, but Jesus provides a new way for on…

Holy Living and Godliness

Scripture:

2Pet. 3:11 ¶ Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness,

Observation:

No one knows when Christ will return again but as his followers we are encouraged to be living life on the highway of holiness.  Jesus was born to prepare the way for us to be on that way, following him in all that we do.  Since he came in the form of a little baby to sanctify humanity, we are called to follow him.  He is our example.  Through the power of grace and the Holy Spirit we are to live lives of holiness and godliness.  When the time comes and the things that we have come depend on upon here on this earth dissolve away, what will remain will be the way paved by him.  Will you be standing on solid ground?  Or will your pathway dissolve under your feet? 

The way is the way of holiness and therefore we are challenged to be living “lives of holiness and godliness.” 

Application:


The “Life Application Bible” ask…

Thoughts on Christmas Carols

Not my typical devotional today but some thoughts brought on by this weekend of singing Christmas Carols here in the UK.  Just when you think that you know what you are doing, or you know the words to the songs, you stumble upon a few verses you’ve never heard before, and a few carols you never knew existed.

From the “I didn’t know they existed” category, “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.”  Good thing I was handed the words to this song, and it does tell an interesting story:

1. The tree of life my soul hath seen,

Laden with fruit and always green:

The trees of nature fruitless be

Compared with Christ the apple tree.
2. His beauty doth all things excel: 

By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
.
The glory which I now can see

In Jesus Christ the apple tree.
3. For happiness I long have sought,

And pleasure dearly I have bought:

I missed of all; but now I see

'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.
4. I'm weary with my former toil,

Here I will sit and rest awhile:

Under the …

Hearers and Doers

Scripture:

James 1:22 ¶ But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
James 1:23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror;
James 1:24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.
James 1:25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

Observation:

There is a distinct connection between hearing the word of God and engaging in the word, becoming “doers.”  The problem with those who only “hear” is that they tend to go to worship services on Sundays and listen to a fine sermon — maybe even compliment the pastor on the message — but then they just go home and live the same way they always have lived.  They forget what they have heard, or it simply goes in one ear and out the other. 

We are called to look into the perfect law of liberty.  What is t…

But I Don’t Like to be Disciplined!

Scripture:

Heb. 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness.

Observation:

Parents discipline their children so that they can learn to live in a healthy way in this world.  As most parents know there is only a window of opportunity while raising our children that they can be disciplined.  Eventually they will reach an age where they are independent and they choose to live or not live within the parameters that they have received from their parents.  However, as a follower of Jesus Christ we continue to be disciplined by God throughout our entire lives.  Just as our earthly parents discipline us to teach us the direction of life, so our heavenly Father disciplines us for our good, so that we may be partakers of his holiness. 

Application:

I’m guessing that none of us is particularly fond of being disciplined.  Most of the time discipline implies the fact that we have gotten a bit off trac…

Might I Provoke You?

Scripture:

Heb. 10:24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,

Observation:


The faithful follower of Jesus Christ must persevere.  Life will not be easy and we must continue pressing on toward the goal that is placed before us.  Jesus is the goal and transformation into his image occurs as we press in toward the goal.  Our desire should be that all followers of Christ would continue to press on, drawing closer to Christ and being transformed into his image.  Love and good deeds are reflections of the very nature of Christ being revealed in us.  This is why we should be provoking one another to become more and more like him!

Application:

Provoking someone doesn’t really sound that good, does it?  I certainly know that my husband doesn’t like the idea of being provoked into things like dieting, taking out the garbage or upgrading his technical device.  None of those sound very appealing to him and the idea of me provoking him does not always illicit a very posit…

Build the Big Beautiful House

Build the Big Beautiful House

Scripture:

Hebrews 6:1
Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation:

Observation:

The Christian walk is never static.  The word "walk" implies we are going somewhere, and the author is pointing us in a direction, toward a goal.  This is not a time to be running around in circles.  Instead this is a journey, leading us ever onward toward perfection.

We are called to a journey of continual progress toward the goal, to completion in Christ.  That's why we move on from the very basic teachings which we have already learned and are encouraged into a deeper walk.  The foundation has already been laid.  Now we are to build on that foundation a beautiful holy life that looks more and more like Jesus himself.

Application:

Just as a builder has a blueprint for a building, so God has a blueprint for our lives.  The plan leads us to completion....a beautiful and perfect l…

The Woman in the Middle

Scripture:

Philem. 1 ¶ Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, ¶ To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker,
Philem. 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

Observation:

This brief letter is written specifically to support a run-away slave by the name of Onesimus.  He had come to faith and was now serving God and Paul.  However, the time had come for him to return to the home of his master.  How would his master receive him?  Paul, living out the life in the new kingdom had accepted Onesimus as a brother in Christ.  Remember in Galatians 3:28 we read, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”  Now, he was asking his master to receive him back as a brother as well. 

However, in sending the note we discover that the master Philemon is not alone, but that Apphia and Archippus are present as well.  How do they play into th…

The Blessing of Friends

Scripture:

2Tim. 4:19 ¶ Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
2Tim. 4:20 Erastus remained in Corinth; Trophimus I left ill in Miletus.
2Tim. 4:21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.

Observation:

Paul is writing some of his final greetings in life while he is under arrest in Rome.  He has made tremendous friends throughout the journey of life and especially some of those now residing in Ephesus.  Priscilla and Aquila have been compatriots, fellow team members, discipling many new believers and organizing a church without their own home.  Onesiphorus has opened his home to Paul and his ministry and it appears he also traveled to Rome and helped to care for Paul there.  Other friends are remembered as well from different stops in the journey.  Upon reflection, they have been a blessing to him and he is grateful for them, and his new friends as well.

Application:

People li…

The Holy Way

Image
Scripture:

Is. 35:8      ¶ A highway shall be there,
        and it shall be called the Holy Way;
    the unclean shall not travel on it,
        but it shall be for God’s people;
        no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
Is. 35:9     No lion shall be there,
        nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
    they shall not be found there,
        but the redeemed shall walk there.
Is. 35:10     And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
        and come to Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
        they shall obtain joy and gladness,
        and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Observation:

Isaiah was speaking the word he had received from the LORD; the advent of a new season was coming to the world.  The Messiah would come and pave a new pathway to God for his people — a highway known as the Holy Way. 

The Messiah would come to provide a pathway for God’s people to be restored as his holy people.  God’s grace reaching out to all hu…

Getting Off Track

Scripture:

1Tim. 1:5 But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.
1Tim. 1:6 Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk,
1Tim. 1:7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

Observation:

When we get our eyes off of the goal, then we will deviate from God’s intention for us. There were those who were a part of the church in Ephesus who wanted to be valued as teachers of the Law.  However, the aim should never be the knowledge that we can gain, the aim should always be Jesus for it is only when we participate in him that we are filled with love.  Love is the overflow of “a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.” 

The word “deviated” means that the trajectory has changed, or that someone has gotten off track.  In the beginning they were headed in the right direction, with the right goal in mind but someh…