Daily Nuggets

Jun. 13, 2018

Acts 9:1-25 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened.

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.

 

In today’s text, after his conversion, Saul, who was later renamed Paul, went from being a persecutor of the church to a preacher of the gospel. Because of his training and status, which Paul refers to later in Philippians 3:4-6, where he says:  If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.    Paul was an expert in knowledge of the scriptures, but through the Holy Spirit he gained understanding. In today’s text it says:   Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened.    It was not only Saul’s physical sight which was restored. It was his spiritual eyes which were opened through the filling of the Holy Spirit. The scripture which Saul previously knew, he now understood. The text says:  Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?”

Here is the part of today’s text which stood out to me, the part I believe we can apply to our own lives. The text says:      Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.   If we know scripture, we can confound people with our evidence and arguments; we can prove that Jesus is the Christ. But, what Paul learned as he continued and grew in the Lord and in his calling as a preacher of the gospel, is that Jesus wants us to make disciples when we preach the gospel. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says:  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”  In Mark 16:15-16 He says:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”   We can confound people with our knowledge and facts and they may still not believe. They may be condemned. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul says:   When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

We too need to know nothing more than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is true that the demonstration of the power of the Spirit is vital to our testimony of Christ. Continuing in Mark 16:17-20 it says:  These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.     Jesus Himself, when He was here performed many miracles which verified that He was who He said He was, the Son of God. The book of Acts is filled with accounts of the Apostles and the early church performing great signs and wonders through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like Paul, we are to be those who walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. The faith of those we encounter should be in the power of God, not the wisdom of our words or anyone else’s. We cannot though conjure up the power of God. As we have seen, it cannot be purchased or earned. It is a gift from God. How then can we demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit so that the world will see and believe? In Galatians 5:16-25 Paul reveals a vital aspect of demonstrating the power of God in and through our lives. He says:  I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.     The greatest power, the greatest miracle of the Holy Spirit is to change the hearts of people. If we would demonstrate the power of God, we should do it first and always through the demonstration of a changed life. If we would demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit, we should begin by walking in the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  In Mark 16 it says:  They went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.     If we too will preach everywhere, walking in the Spirit, the Lord will walk and work with us. He says: Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; may I be one who lives according to Your call and commission. May I preach the gospel everywhere I go, first and foremost may I always demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit by walking in the fruit of the Spirit. Then may I have confidence knowing that You will walk and work with me and through me, that others may be converted not confounded. Amen.  

   

 

 

 

Dec. 31, 2017

Revelation 22 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.

“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 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.

18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

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

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

 

Each year as we come to the end of one year and look toward the next, we tend to look back at what is past. We celebrate the good things and we mourn and grieve the bad and difficult things. Perhaps at this time, more than any other, what Lamentations 3:22-24 says gives us hope.    The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”     As we move past the hurts and the difficulties of 2017, we do it with the hope and the promise of a better tomorrow because of the compassion and the loving kindness of God. If we have suffered loss, we take comfort in the promise of Matthew 5:4:     “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.    If we have been treated unfairly, we are comforted by the promise of Matthew 5:10-11:   “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

In today’s text from Revelation 22 it says:  And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near… “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”     We may not know the day or the year of Jesus return, but this I have come to know: The saying is true that the older you get the faster time seems to go. With each passing year we come closer to the time when we will individually or all together stand before God.  As I read today’s text, I was particularly struck by what it says between the above verses about the time being near and Jesus coming quickly. Verse 11 says: Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.      Does that mean that as believers, as followers of Christ we should not try to lead people to righteousness? Should we not call them to repent because the kingdom of God is at hand? Or does it simply mean that the responsibility for the choice and the decisions that others make does not fall on us? As we go into this coming year, 2018, as we move closer to the time of Christ’s return, not knowing the day or hour that we ourselves or someone we know may be called to stand before God, if we would resolve to do anything different this year, may it be that indeed the Lord would be our portion and our hope would be in Him.

May we faithfully do what Jesus says is first and foremost"YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." (Luke 10:27)  In that love for others may we do and be as Jesus says in Matthew 5:14-16:     “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.”    May we recognize and accept that the results and the response of others is not our responsibility, but rather as Jesus says in John 16:8-11:   “And He, (the Holy Spirit) when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;  and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;  and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”     We are to be obedient to and live for Christ.  Today’s text says:   There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;  they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

So, as bond-servants, who serve the Lord, may we live in the freedom He has given us. Not freedom to do as we please but rather freedom to do as He is pleased. May we indeed be light in the darkness of our times. May we do as Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)     May there be no condemnation from us, as there is no condemnation for us. But, as Paul says in Ephesians 4:15:  Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.     

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.  I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.   Lord Jesus as we go forward into 2018 if this is not the year that You to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth, may it be a year that through the power of the Holy Spirit working through Your disciples, Your kingdom would come and Your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec. 30, 2017

Revelation 21 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

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.

 

In today’s text it says:  “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.”     While this speaks of a future time or event, what John saw and heard is similar to what Jesus said when He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:7-14:     There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”     Earlier in today’s text it said:  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.”   Again, this future promise is not new, but rather something God has spoken to His people continually. In Jeremiah 32:38 He said:  "They shall be My people, and I will be their God.”    In Ezekiel 37:27 He said:   "My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.”

Finally, in today’s text, after describing the beauty, the brilliance and the magnitude of the heavenly kingdom, it 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 the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;  and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 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.     When Jesus was here among us He said:  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)   "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15)  In Luke 17:20-21 it says:   Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”   As believers, we look forward to seeing the future heavenly kingdom with all of its beauty, brilliance, magnitude and perfection. But also as believers we are called to bring that beauty and brilliance to earth now. Jesus said it is, not it will be. Jesus taught us to pray saying:  “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”   God and His kingdom are eternal. The Lord says:   “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)  Everything that will be in the kingdom of heaven already is. As believers that is part of our call and commission in being here. Jesus says:   “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)   In the future heavenly kingdom it says:  They will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 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.    If we are to bring the realities of heaven to earth, if we are to be the answer to the prayer of God’s kingdom coming and His will being done on earth as it is in heaven; then we must be light to the world. We must bring in nothing unclean and we must be those who would say that no one who practices abomination or lying will come into the kingdom, either then or now.  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 the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.   1 John 1:5 says:   This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.     That too is the message we should announce, having the kingdom of God within us it is how we should live.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, precious Holy Spirit I look forward to seeing and living in the perfection and the beauty of Your heavenly kingdom. Until that day, I choose to live in Your kingdom here on earth. May I live as light that others may see and glorify You. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done in and through my life.  Amen.

  

 

Dec. 29, 2017

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.

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.

 

In Revelation 13:4-8 it says:  So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.   In today’s text it speaks of a one thousand year time period, saying:    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.   Just as we do not know the time when these things will take place, it is difficult to know for certain whether the references to time are literal or representative of time in relation to other things. As 2 Peter 3:8 says:  Do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.   Because of the fact that God is eternal, that He exists and operates outside of our finite time, determining those finite times, in relation to His plan and His will, is not as critical as understanding His plan and will itself.    

In 13:8 it says:  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.   Jesus Christ came to live among people and gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins in a finite period of time. A time which so impacted the finite time of the world that all time is measured from it. We refer to time as B.C. or A.D., two eras separated by the life of Christ. Yet even though He died on the cross in an exact, finite moment in time and in John 19:30 He said:  “It is finished!” That finished work of the cross extends backward and forward in time. Hebrews 10:10 says:  By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.    The finished work of the cross, Jesus saying: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) was for the sin of Adam and Eve and for the sins of all who came after them up to the time He lived and died. It also is for every sin from that time on, up to now and into the future, once for all sin and once for all time. The finished work of the cross, like God Himself, is outside of our finite time. By faith, all who believe are written in the Book of Life, from the foundation of the world.    

In the text 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.   That people would be judged according to their deeds seems to contradict what Ephesians 2:8-9 says:    By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  The judgment in Revelation is like the judgment Jesus Himself spoke of in Matthew 25:31-46:     “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy  angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;I was 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, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”    The things is though, that none of us will be able to do what is good and right all the time. Even the best of people will fall short. As Romans 3:23 says: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.     So it is not our works or our deeds which save us or condemn us, But rather as Ephesians 2:8-10 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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.    Whatever good we do is not the cause of our salvation, but rather it is the result of it. John 3:16 says:  God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.   1 John 4:19 says:  We love, because He first loved us.    The good that we do, the works which God prepared beforehand are in response to His eternal love, the good that we do is evidence of Christ in us.

In Acts 1:7-8 Jesus says:  “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”   We cannot fully understand or comprehend the eternal time of God. All that we can do is live, in this finite time, in faith and grace. We can choose to do the good works God prepared beforehand in response to His great and eternal love. In the end what will matter the most, the deed that we will be judged for, is whether we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the eternal finished work of the cross.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I believe in and receive the love and grace of the eternal finished work of the cross. Holy Spirit empower me to do the good works God has prepared for me and prepared me for, in response to His great love.  Amen.    

 

 

Dec. 28, 2017

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.

 

Amos 3:7 says:  Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets.   There have been times throughout history that what God revealed to and through His prophets was direct and clear. There are other times, such as what we read in Revelation, when the message is filled with symbolism and allegory. Still it is God’s revelation of His secret counsel, so we should heed what we hear and understand. Jesus, when speaking of the events surrounding His return, says in Matthew 24:36:   "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”  So it is not the timing of His coming we should seek to know and understand, but rather the fact of His coming and the reason for it. In today’s text it says:  worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.    The testimony of Jesus, the Revelation of Christ is the spirit of prophecy. The testimony and revelation of Christ is also the spirit of God’s written word. All of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation is intended to reveal God’s plan and His will for man; redemption, reconciliation and restoration through Jesus Christ. God’s written word, logos in the Greek and His spoken word, rhema, both then share this same vital spirit, to testify of Jesus.

The ancient prophecies recorded in the Old Testament generally did one of three things. It either served to warn the people to change, to return to God or there would be consequences. From the beginning of His ministry on earth, Jesus message was:  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)   There are also prophecies which speak of the blessings of following God, of the good things in store for those who remain obedient to Him. Jesus Himself says: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)   He says: I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)  All of the blessings, the provision and the protection of God are available in Christ. There are also prophecies which speak of and point toward the coming of Christ, both the first time, as a baby and the second as King.    Isaiah 9:6-7 says:   For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever
. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
   Jesus says:  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)    The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

There are many today who claim to be prophets of God. The measure of prophecy is not as much about the accuracy of the predictions, but rather about the spirit of the prophecy. Does it testify of Christ, His coming, His redemption and abundance or His call to repent?   The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Christ. Jesus Himself 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)   Every prophecy that has been or will be uttered, in the name of God, is based in and depends on love. It is based first on loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind. We do that only because and in response to His love for us, given and demonstrated through Christ. Second then every prophetic utterance is also based on love for others. It is not though love as the world loves. It too is love based in responding to the love of God. The words we speak to others, in the name of God should be a testimony of Christ. It should tell them that He came and is coming again. It should speak of the promises, protection and provision of God in Christ. It should call them to repent, to change the way they think and act, to be reconciled to God and restored to all that He intended for them.

 “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. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him… “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.    Amen.