Daily Nuggets

Dec. 31, 2016

Psalm 150 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

A Psalm of Praise.

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!

 

We have come again to the end of another year. As always when we leave one year behind and move forward into the next one there can be some mixed emotions. For some 2016 may have been a year you will be glad to leave behind, a year filled with more sorrow than joy, a year with more tribulation than celebration. For others 2016 may have been a year filled with great memories. It may have been a year which marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter in life. Obviously the circumstances and conditions of 2016 impact the way we view the coming year 2017. Do we welcome it as a continuation of the good and exciting things which we have been experiencing? Do we welcome 2017 because it offers new hope, a chance to move past the difficulties and trials of its predecessor? Might 2017 be a year that holds the promise of new chapters, graduations, weddings, the birth of a child, perhaps retirement? For some 2017 may be a year that is entered with fears for the future, fears, doubts and worries that the difficulties and trials of 2016 will continue or increase. Regardless of what the circumstance and the situation, we who are locked into this finite thing we call time tend to reflect about our lives at the changing and passing of a year.

In truth though, time as we measure it is relative. There really will be little or no discernible difference between this morning and tomorrow morning aside from what happens to us today and the choices we make. For myself, I have mixed feelings about the changing year. I have learned that each year, even each day will have a measure of joy and sorrow. 2016 contained a measure of both and 2017 will also.  There will be things which will happen in the coming year which are beyond our control and there will be other things which we have a great deal of control and ability to influence through our actions and decisions. One decision we can make, whether the days are filled with joy or sorrow, promise or problems; we can choose, as the psalmist declares and encourages, to:   

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!      

The Lord God is not locked into finite time as we are. He is eternal. He is unchanging, the same yesterday today, tomorrow and forever. His love never ends and His mercies are new every morning. Praising Him, blessing His name, giving thanks to Him, regardless of our situation and circumstance may not change all that we experience in this physical, finite life and time. But, we ourselves will be changed. As the psalmist says: Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. (Psalm 37:3-5) God inhabits the praise of His people. As we bless Him, as we praise Him and delight in Him, we will know His presence in every circumstance.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I pray that for each one who does not know Your love, Your mercy and Your grace that this would be their time, their season. I pray Lord, for those who do know You that our faith would grow and increase. I pray that the coming season, regardless of the circumstances we encounter, would be filled with the blessing of a deeper walk with You. Praise the Lord, bless the Lord O my soul. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Amen

May this be your song, your prayer today and throughout 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM     

             

 

Dec. 30, 2016

Revelation 21from the daily reading in the One year Bible

The New Heaven and Earth

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 

I believe the message of Revelation to be true and so there are some things we can determine from today’s text. First is that Jesus return is not something to be feared. The end of the age is not the end of the world, when and where the human race will no longer exist. Instead, it is the beginning of a new age, a time when the evil things of the world will no longer exist. The second thing we can know is that this time is not already upon us, as some would suggest. The text says:   “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,  and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”     As we look around the world today, surely we can see pain and suffering. Even among believers with the greatest faith, there is pain and sorrow. Death through human violence and disease claims lives every day. The text says:    I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light… and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.          Surely, in our time there is much darkness. Our society and culture is obsessed with immorality, abomination and lying, so this time, this age cannot be upon us, but rather is still to come.

Some will say that even when Jesus was here He said: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”(Matthew 4:17)   “The kingdom of God is in your midst." (Luke 17:21) In your midst is literally translated within you.  Jesus also, on the cross said:  “It is finished.” (John 19:30) All that Jesus had come to do was complete, finished. What He came to do, to offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin was done. Through the finished work of the cross Jesus provided all that is needed for the redemption, reconciliation and restoration of man and creation. What is important for us to remember is that it was Jesus work as God in flesh which was and is complete in the cross. Jesus will not come again as a man that work is finished, but He will come again; He Himself said so. It is true that the kingdom of heaven is near to us, it is even within us. But it is not fully complete in us. Jesus taught us to pray:   “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) If it were fully accomplished here in this realm, why should we pray for it to be?    

We are still waiting for the complete manifestation of the realities of heaven here on earth.  We are though not to simply wait for His return, for Him to establish all that will be. 2 Peter 3:11-12 says this concerning the time of Jesus return, the time we look forward to of the new heaven and earth:    What sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?     We are not yet living in those days and times, yet we are not to simply wait for Jesus to return. We are to look forward to that time with anticipation of what is to come. We also are to live in holy conduct and godliness, that we may even hasten His coming.

The text says that when Jesus returns and the new things are established in and by Him:    The city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.    To us, until that time, He has said “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)  Isaiah 60:1-3 says this about God’s people:    “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.    Jesus, fully God, will return and fully establish His kingdom, all authority in heaven and on earth. Till then He has commissioned us to be His witnesses, His representatives, agents and ambassadors of His kingdom on earth.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, as the words of Revelation end saying:   He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus, so too do I pray, come Lord Jesus. Yet as I wait and anticipate Your return, I pray also that in and through my life, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Your will be done, Your kingdom come. May I, as Jesus said we would, do the works that He did, hastening the day of Your kingdom on earth. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

   

Dec. 29, 2016

Revelation 20 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Judgment at the Throne of God

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

Once again as we read today’s text it is the message which is what I want to focus on, not trying to interpret the times or to identify the nations. I do not try to reconcile what is spiritual imagery with what is real in this physical realm. I don’t concern myself with the physical manifestation, the appearance of Satan, whether he is a dragon, a serpent or the devil. It does not matter to me whether the chains used to bind him are literal, physical chains or the spiritual power of God. It is the message of verses 11-15 which draws my focus. The text speaks of a judgment before the throne of God. It says:    Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.       There is a similar judgment which Jesus Himself speaks of, when discussing the end of the age. Some will argue that it is a different time and a different judgment, but the heart of the message is the same.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus says:    “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;  and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’  Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

In the Revelation text it says they will be judged according to their deeds. In the Matthew text, Jesus affirms that it was according to the way they treated others, Jesus brethren, that they would be judged. Yet we know that we are not saved by our own works. Being good to others is not enough. Ephesians 2:8-10 sums it up fairly well, saying:     For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.        We are not saved by our works but we are saved for good works. The good things we do are the result of our being saved. It is Christ in us doing the works. The Revelation text says that one of the books in which the deeds were recorded was the book of life. Those whose names are in the book of life are those who have believed in Christ. The actions, the deeds which Jesus speaks of in the Matthew text are not the reason for salvation, they are the evidence of Christ in those who are saved. They are the fulfillment of what Jesus says are the first and second most important commandments. He says:  “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Loving and treating others is the result and the response to loving God.

If we will be judged by our works alone, by all that we have done, both the good and the bad, none of us will measure up to God’s standard, to His righteousness. Yet because of God’s great love, because of His mercy and grace, He gave us the free gift of salvation, redemption and reconciliation through Christ. John 3:16 says:      “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.     The most important deed for any of us is the deed or action of accepting the finished work of the cross of Christ, believing in Him, to have our name written in the book of life, by the blood of Jesus. Both texts, Revelation and Matthew, agree that there will be an eternal judgment. Our deeds, the way we live, are an indication of who we live for. Do we live to do selfish acts or according to our faith in Christ and by the grace of God, do we do the good works which God has prepared for us?        

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, I believe that it is only by Your grace, through the redeeming work of the cross that I am saved. Thank You that my name is written in the book of life by the blood of Jesus. My desire is that as I love You with all my heart, soul and mind, the result will be that I also love others, that I indeed do the good works of God. May I see the Christ in others, the image and likeness of God, that I may also be Christ to them, that they too may believe.     Amen     

Dec. 28, 2016

Revelation 19 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.” And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” 10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

 

In today’s text we again see John trying to explain the unexplainable. John tries to relate the spiritual images he sees, of future events, with human words and with the things he was familiar with in his time. Twice in the first paragraph, John repeats the phrase:   I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude…      As we read John’s account of the revelation he was given we need to decide if we are going to try to understand and interpret the meaning of these indescribable things. We must decide if we are going to try to determine which are images that were unfamiliar to John in his time and by his human experience and which are allegorical symbols, spiritual images representing something different in the physical realm. Our other choice is to try to hear the message of the revelation, without emphasis on understanding the who and the what. When we attempt to interpret the meaning of the images, we ourselves are left to try to equate natural, earthly physical things with spiritual, heavenly things. In the two thousand years since John recorded his revelation, many have tried to do just that. The result is many varied interpretations of what John saw, heard and recorded. If we instead, focus on the message of the revelation we can use scripture, God’s word, to interpret God’s word given in the revelation. Rather than speculating in human terms, according to human perception, we understand God’s word and the message of the revelation, through the common message of the entirety of scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:    All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.      The most reliable way to interpret scripture is through the lens of scripture. If an interpretation of a portion of scripture does not line up with the balance of scripture, it is probably being misquoted, misrepresented or misunderstood.

Using this lens, the lens of the continuity of God’s unchanging word, what can we see and discern from today’s text? In that first paragraph, following the words, I heard something like, what John heard was:  “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;  because His judgments are true and righteous… “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.     These concepts, praising and worshiping God, that He is a God of salvation, that He is a righteous judge who reigns, are consistent with the message of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The text says:   He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality.       Exactly who or what the great harlot is, whether spiritual or natural, is left to interpretation, but that God judges those who practice and lead others into immorality is again consistent with the rest of scripture. Jesus Himself says “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:17-20)     He says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)   Jesus says:  “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:7)

The text continues saying:      Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”      So while there is judgment against immorality, there is a blessing for those who are righteous. This too is a concept or principle that is consistent throughout scripture. The one thing we must remember and be clear on though is that while the text speaks of the righteous acts of the saints, first and foremost we are not saved by our own righteousness. Ephesians 2:8-9 says:   For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  To be a saint requires that one have faith. It requires that one believes in Christ. Any righteous act we do is only because of the righteousness of Christ, which we have been given through grace and faith.   

I don’t want to reflect on the images of war which John saw and recorded. Instead I’ll end with this. The text says:   The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.    This again confirms the idea that all scripture is meant to reveal and testify of Jesus Christ. Again from Genesis to Revelation, the word of God and God’s prophetic word was and is, to testify and reveal God’s plan, His will, His desire to redeem, reconcile and restore man from the curse and judgment of sin and unrighteousness by His love and grace, demonstrated through the sacrifice and the cross of Jesus Christ. If the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, then those who prophesy today should also be testifying of Jesus. The words of a prophet should reveal Christ, His love, His mercy, His grace, His redemption, reconciliation and restoration. The words of the prophet should also testify of His righteousness, that He is as John saw and heard:   “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”   And:  His judgments are true and righteous.

Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for the revelation of Your will, Your love, Your mercy and grace, and for Your righteous judgment. Thank You for the redemption, reconciliation and restoration of the cross of Christ and the power of the resurrection to live with You, now and forever.   Amen

  

   

   

               

 

Dec. 27, 2016

Proverbs 30:32-33 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.
33 For the churning of milk produces butter,
And pressing the nose brings forth blood;
So the churning of anger produces strife.

 

The churning of anger produces strife. We see, in our culture and society, many individuals and even many groups who seem to thrive in churning anger and producing strife. There are many, I’m sure we all know some, who it seems are not content unless they are at odds with someone. They seem to thrive on discord and drama. Again we see it in individuals, but also on a larger scale with powerful organizations sowing seeds of discontent, churning anger and causing division, bitterness and strife, pitting people against others, dividing them according to race, gender, social standing or any number of things. There is an intentional discernible effort made by media and political groups to divide rather than unite people. The stories that fit the agenda of division and discord, the stories which best churn anger through our society are the stories which are headlined and parroted by the bulk of media.     (I appologize for the problem with the font in the next 2 paragraphs. It would not copy properly from word)

We need to understand that what is behind this churning of anger, this causing of division, turning people against each other is more than a political strategy, though it may be that. It is more than an ideological effort to promote one belief over another. In truth what is behind this churning of anger, what is behind this effort to produce strife and division is far more ominous and powerful than any individual or human entity. This strife is a powerful spiritual force that is present throughout the world and always has been. For believers, followers of Christ it is vital that we recognize the true source of this strife and contention, so that we battle against it appropriately. In Ephesians 6:10-13, Paul says:    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.    The spirit of strife is a world force and its purpose is to cause division between people.

We need to recognize that it is not the people we should battle. In truth we are all created in the image and likeness of God. Rather than listening to the storyline being promoted through the media we should focus on the truth, the only absolute truth God’s word and His will. Galatians 5:19-21 says:   Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.   We, as believers need to guard against allowing our zeal against immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, drunkenness and carousing to actually be part of creating and promoting enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions and envying. The list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God includes all of them. Doing the wrong things for the right reasons has been a problem for the church throughout history, often becoming a stumbling block to the world, preventing them from seeing the true love, grace and righteousness of God.

What though can we possibly do against this world power of darkness and strife which has existed throughout history?   Ephesians 6:14-18 says:     Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and havingput on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.        The first thing we are to do is to gird ourselves in truth. There is a new label being put on some of the agencies which divest information to the world. Some sources are being called “fake news.” The reality though, unfortunately is that most if not all media and news sources could be labeled “fake news.” There is much less telling of facts than there is spinning of facts to promote or support an agenda in most stories reported or written today. Even trying to hear both the liberal and conservative take on a matter does not guarantee that we know the truth. We must seek to hear and know God’s perspective, His truth of every matter. We are to put on the breastplate of righteousness. We cannot see and know truth if we ourselves are living in unrighteousness. We cannot know God’s truth and His perspective if we are separated from Him by the sin we choose to live in. It is not though our own righteousness, we must put on righteousness. It is the righteousness of Christ, provided through the cross which is our lens to seeing God’s perspective. We walk with our feet wearing the gospel of peace. We cannot overcome anger and division with anger and division, but only with peace. Romans 12:21 says:   Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.      We are also to stand behind our faith. We are to protect our thoughts and our minds, covering our heads with the salvation we have in Christ. When we are confident in our salvation, we have no need to fear the words or actions of others. We can say, as the psalmist says in Psalm 118:6: The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?  

Above and beyond all else though, recognizing that anger and strife is rooted in a spiritual darkness, we must battle it in and through the Spirit, not in our flesh. We are to strike only with the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. Isaiah 55:11 says:  So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.      God’s word, even if it is quoted out of context, will accomplish what He desires. It may not accomplish the purpose or agenda of the one misquoting it, but God’s word will accomplish His will. Finally we are also to pray at all times in the Spirit. Even in prayer, when we pray according to our own perception, we pray our own will. We pray then asking God to do it the way we see. When we pray our will, according to our perspective, we may actually be praying contrary to the will of God. Is it no wonder then that often our prayers seem to be unanswered?  Jesus taught us to pray:   Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Heavenly Father, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This is my prayer, that both in and through my life Your will would be done. Thank You for the cross of Christ and for His righteousness which has been given to me. Thank You for giving me the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. I pray that I would be one who would stand against the spirit of strife, division and anger in the world. Help me to do the right things, the right way, according to Your will. In the name of Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, I pray.   Amen