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Showing posts from August, 2017

Another Door is Open

Scripture
Rev. 4:1   After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne!
Observation
This metaphor of an open door is used repeatedly throughout the book of Revelation. We see the open door before the church in Philadelphia, a door open to the kingdom of God. Then we also read about Jesus who is standing at the door and knocking, waiting for a door to be opened so that there can be eternal fellowship. Now, we are brought to a new door, one which opens up into heaven. Each open door provides us with a fuller understanding of who Christ is and of the salvation that is made possible through him.
This new vision takes us from earth to heaven, from the current realities of our faith to the eternal promises. Jesus becomes for us THE door, THE gat…

The Door is Open

Scripture
Rev. 3:8   “I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Observation
The church in Philadelphia had been faithful in their service to God. They did struggle with opposition from the Jews within their community, but these words came as a sweet promise from the Lord. This wasn’t about evangelistic opportunities, but about the certainties of the kingdom of God. This work of the church was God’s work and the doors would remain open to the church, and no one would shut them. The people themselves in this small church in a small town didn’t have much power, but they were faithful, and as a result they were participants in the larger kingdom of God.The kingdom door was open!
Application
I remember visiting the seven churches to whom John had written in this book. When we arrived in Philadelphia I was a little disappointed at what I saw for ther…

Holding Firm

Scripture
Rev. 2:19  “I know your works—your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. 20 But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. 22 Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call ‘the deep things of Satan,’ to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden; 25 only hold fast to what you have until I come. 26 To everyone who conquer…

A Mother’s Influence

Scripture
Jer. 52:1   Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. 3 Indeed, Jerusalem and Judah so angered the Lord that he expelled them from his presence.
Observation
Hamutal was a woman of influence. Two of her sons became kings in Jerusalem. Her father bore the same name as the great prophet Jeremiah, a reference to the worship of Yahweh. Her husband was Josiah, the king who had tried to return the people of God to true worship. He had been a man of great reform and change, but what happened to his offspring? Why were his sons so wicked that they dragged the people of Jerusalem to such a state of apostasy that they were led off into exile? The king’s mother is mentioned by name so that it is clear where this son has come from. This mother obviously had influence, but it seems to not to have been…

The Joy of Face to Face Conversation

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.
Observation
While there was a time and place for letters, there was also a particular space for face to face conversation. The emotional connection expected in that face to face conversation can be noted from the comment, “so that our joy may be complete.” Closing the gap on distance makes a difference in the reality of a relationship.
Application
Many of the writers in the Bible would talk about “seeking the face of God.” You could almost hear in their words a straining to be in a face to face relationship with God. This was a desire for a face to face conversation and in this place, joy would be made complete. We are also to this desire for a face to face relationship with God. Straining ever onward to higher planes of a relationship, we seek the face of God because we know that in that moment of f…

Love Made Perfect

Scripture
1John 4:7   Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Observation
The sense of God’s overwhelming love is found in this passage of scripture. The love expressed seems almost incomprehensible in its depths. This all-consuming love is poured out from the Father and overflows on those who are his children.
This love is not a simple love, but a healing, reconciling, outward reaching, self-sacrificial love which is revealed in Jesus. Everything …

Pure Light

Scripture
1John 1:5   This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Observation
The light of God shines eternally and into every nook and cranny of our lives and the world. God is light.
Application
As I was laying in bed this morning I was able to watch the sun rise over the mountains. The morning dawned with beautiful rays of red, blue and gold as the sky began to welcome in the newness of this resurrection day. In just a few short moments we went from darkness to light and the whole world was transformed. There is something about the light which draws us out of the shadows and into the beauty of God reflected in creation.
Tomorrow there will be a solar eclipse where, for a couple of minutes, the sun will be turned to darkness in the middle of the day. Many people are anticipating this experience and wondering what it will be like to watch the sun turn from pure light into dark during daytime hours. Of course the…

Arrogance

Scripture
Jer. 36:20   Leaving the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the secretary, they went to the court of the king; and they reported all the words to the king. 21 Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary; and Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. 22 Now the king was sitting in his winter apartment (it was the ninth month), and there was a fire burning in the brazier before him. 23 As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a penknife and throw them into the fire in the brazier, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. 24 Yet neither the king, nor any of his servants who heard all these words, was alarmed, nor did they tear their garments. 25 Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son and Seraiah son of Az…

No Friend of the Emperor

Scripture
12 From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”
Observation
Jesus was an innocent man and Pilate was pretty sure of this. He knew the right thing to do and when he stood on the brink of making the best decision, he faltered. He tried asking questions but he really didn’t want to hear the answers. This was no real investigation and therefore Jesus kept quiet. It was all a facade to try and keep all of his constituents happy. Instead of doing the right thing he put his finger to the wind and made a decision.
The Jewish leaders knew exactly how to taunt Pilate, and that was by threatening his power. He was a representative of the Emperor and if he sided with Jesus, he would be no friend of the Emperor. Weighing his options, he decided it was better to stand against the Almighty God and put in his lot with Caesar.
Writing in the 6th c…

When We Take pride in our Sin

Scripture
Jer. 17:1   The sin of Judah is written with an iron pen; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts, and on the horns of their altars, 2 while their children remember their altars and their sacred poles, beside every green tree, and on the high hills, 3 on the mountains in the open country.
Observation
The ten commandments had been inscribed by the finger of God on stone tablets. This is where the law resided and yet, the prophets had foretold that eventually the law would be written upon the hearts of God’s people. Sadly, the law was not engraved upon their hearts, but rather, their sins.
With no regard for God, they proudly offered their sacrifices to other gods. The law of God was replaced in their hearts with the engraving of their own sin. So bold was the sin that it was engraved with a diamond point on the tablet of their hearts.
The altars became engraved with their sins as they continued to live contrary to the laws of God. Sacrifices had to be …

Love One Another

Scripture
John 15:12   “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 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
Jesus is acknowledging that there is no place for hatred within the kingdom of God. The revelation of God’s transforming work in the life of a believer will be the way in which they love others. Jesus’ self-sacrificial love provides new life and transformation for all who come to him. This kind of love, a love that dies on a cross for sinners, is the kind of love that is to be seen in the lives of Jesus’ disciples. The gospel writer wants us to recognize that the great love that will be expressed in the life of Christ will be his death for you an…

Requirements of Repentance

Scripture
Jer. 7:5   For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, 7 then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.
Observation
The unfaithful Israelites had broken the heart of God. Now, the prophet Jeremiah wept over what he saw among his people. With great courage he stood in the entry to the temple and preached this sermon. It was a real challenge to the religious leaders who had allowed the people of God to stray.
The call is to repentance. The people have not been following God’s commands and they are having to live with the consequences. Jeremiah recognizes that the people are headed toward destruction but repentance provides a pathway to restoration.
Application
Restoration comes from repentance, not only of the heart, but …

A New Perspective on Martha

A New Perspective on Martha
Scripture
John 11:17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus[d] had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles[e] away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[f] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,[g] the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Wounding God

Scripture
Jer. 2:4   Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the Lord: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves? 6They did not say, “Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that no one passes through, where no one lives?” 7I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. 8The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?” Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit.
Observation
The Lord speaks to the people of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah. It is in this passage that the emotion of a God in pain is heard. So great i…