You Crucified; God Delivered

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

Peter demonstrates the intersection of God’s foreknowledge and man’s action. Jesus’s crucifixion was not a shock to God. He had known it was going to happen. Not only that, He had planned for it to happen. Yet, Peter tells the Jews, “God delivered Jesus up, but you crucified Him.” When folks try to walk through the issues of foreknowledge philosophically, they get wrapped around the axle. Were the Jews bound to crucify Jesus? Of course not. If they hadn’t crucified Him, God would have foreknown something else. However, before our minds explode trying to keep all of this straight, can we simply notice what Peter, by inspiration of the Spirit, explains? Even though God foreknew this was going to happen, these Jews were still responsible for their actions. They chose their actions. They were not bound to those actions. They were not manipulated by God to accomplish those actions. They were not forced by God. In like manner, whatever God knows about us and our future, when we choose to do it, we are responsible for it. However, let us never think we are going to outsmart God. These folks crucified the Son of God, but they did nothing but accomplish what God wanted. We can fight all we want against God, He will be glorified in the end. He will either be glorified by our defeat as we try to fight against Him and fail, or He will be glorified by our surrender, as we give our lives up in service to Him and He saves us. No matter what, God is glorified. We might as well pursue the side that allows us salvation. Praise the Lord He has offered that option to us.

Today’s reading is Acts 2.

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Lake of Fire

Today’s reading is Revelation 20.

Babylon has fallen. The beasts have gone to destruction. The armies of the enemy have become a feast for the birds. God’s saints reign victorious. But then Satan gets to raise another army. What’s up with that? I could be completely wrong, however, I think the Holy Spirit’s point is Revelation recounts a particular war with the enemy. Satan had used a particular beast and false prophet to attack Christ’s kingdom–some suggest Rome and Emperor worship, others say Jerusalem and Temple worship. Whichever the specific enemy John had in mind, that enemy would be defeated. However, that doesn’t mean Satan was completely defeated. He would attack again. As with the temptation of Jesus, he departs and awaits another opportune time. John isn’t trying to give a prophecy of a particular moment in history; he is simply saying Satan will lose that war, but he’ll be back. However, no matter when he rises again, no matter what kind of army he gathers, no matter which earthly city and kingdom he works through to attack Christ’s kingdom, he is going to lose. Ultimately, like the cat’s paws he uses to attack, he will be thrown with all his minions, armies, messengers, beasts, into the lake of fire. He won’t be reigning there as the “King of Hell.” No, he will be tormented there just like everyone else who ends up there. Yes, siding with Satan provides pleasure and power for a moment, but its end is in fire. Hang on to Jesus. He always wins.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 21.

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The Monster

Today’s reading is Revelation 13.

We’ve all read or heard stories like this before. The Hero has to defeat a monster to save the kingdom or deliver the damsel in distress. Beowulf delivered Heorot from the monster, Grendel, and also from Grendel’s mother. Perseus saved Andromeda from Cetus. Our Hero must defeat His own set of monsters as well. We met the dragon in our previous reading. Today we meet the sea beast and the land beast. No doubt, we may find representative meanings for this triumvirate of monsters, but for the most part, we should see how this trinity of monsters mirrors and distorts the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. Further, at this point, we see the repeated cycle that it looks like the monsters are winning. The sea beast was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. The land beast is permitted so slay those who refuse to worship the beast. And that is where this reading ends. Sometimes it looks like our Hero is losing. But hang on. Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 14.

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Friends of the Groom

Today’s reading is Revelation 11.

Every hero has friends. Remember Fezzik and Inigo in “The Princess Bride”? In modern weddings, we carry on this idea with the best man and the groomsmen. These are the men who were supposed to support the groom and fight off any who would challenge the groom for his bride. Our Hero, the groom of the church is no different. He has two friends, the descriptions of whom remind us of Moses and Elijah. Then we see the same story cycle repeated over and over in Revelation. At first, these friends are unstoppable. If any would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes the enemy. However, the seemingly unstoppable get stopped; the beast makes war on them and kills them. The people celebrate the death of the Hero’s friends. It looks like the Hero is going to lose. However, then the unimaginable happens. Just when the enemy believes it has won, the Hero’s friends are resurrected (just like the Hero) and are called to the Father’s throne. Judgment rains down on the enemies. God is glorified. Praise the Lord, Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 12.

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The Light Shines

Today’s reading is John 1.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Hang on to this. It is easy to be discouraged because of the darkness in our world. It is easy to think the light is being defeated when we see the shadow cast by sin in our society. However, as John begins his account of the gospel, he wants us to know for certain. The darkness has already taken its greatest swipe at the light. The darkness covered up the light, burying it in the ground. But the light burst forth in resurrection never to be beaten again. Look to the light. The light is winning. The light has already won.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 2.

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Babylon is Fallen

Today’s reading is Revelation 18.

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!”

Whether Babylon initially represented Rome or Jerusalem is beside the point. The point is Christ’s kingdom prevails and Babylon falls. The victory may have seemed in question for some time, but in the end Jesus always wins. We bring the message to our day. Whether the great city is Mecca, Washington, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, London, or Timbuktu, every city and kingdom that raises its head against Jesus will fall. Yes, they¬† will have authority for an hour. Yes, they may even drink the blood of saints. Yes, they may conquer for a time. But the worst they accomplish is sending saints to be with their Lord. In the end, they will fall. In the end, they will be defeated and destroyed. Hang on! Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 19.

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Darkness is Not Winning

Today’s reading is John 1.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Think about what a powerful statement that is to start an account of the gospel. John knows that before he is done writing this book, he is going to include all kinds of opposition against the Word who became flesh. He knows he is going to include people abandoning Jesus. He is going to include the enemy arresting Jesus. He is going to include the enemy mocking, beating, berating, spitting on Jesus. He is going to include the enemy even nailing Jesus to a cross, killing Him, and then sticking Him in a hole in the side of a hill and covering it up with a stone. How can he begin by saying the darkness has not overcome? Because he knows he is also going to include Jesus vanquishing every enemy by bursting forth from the grave in victorious resurrection to sit at the right hand of His Father as our King. Remember that. When you are tempted to think the darkness is winning. It’s not. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. So keep shining.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 2.

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God Will Crush Our Enemy

Today’s reading is Romans 16.

If you are like me,¬†Romans 16:20 is a shocking verse. Our God is the God of peace. However, that doesn’t mean He doesn’t know how to fight. He is the God of peace, but our enemy has brought the fight to His door and when it is done, the God of peace will crush our enemy. Further, He will do so under our feet, using us as the instruments of His might, power, and strength. Like God defeated Goliath using David as His instrument, God will defeat Satan using us as His instruments. Hang on to God and don’t let go. He is where victory is.

Tomorrow’s reading is Galatians 1.

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Today’s reading is Acts 26.

Think about the men we see in today’s chapter. They were all, at least at some point in their lives, enemies of the cross. Festus and Agrippa are complicit in the persecution of Christianity by keeping Paul imprisoned. Paul was himself a great persecutor. Each of them lost their battle against Jesus Christ. Festus and Agrippa lost in judgment, Paul lost in surrender. These are the choices we have. We will not defeat Jesus, but will lose that battle. However, if we admit defeat and surrender to Jesus, in the end we will actually win like Paul. How will you face this battle?

Monday’s reading is Acts 27.

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