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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We’ve Already Won

Today’s reading is John 16.

When I read the last verse of today’s reading, I can’t help but think of the Israelites heading into the Promised Land. Multiple times, God spoke of the land He had already given them (cf. Deuteronomy 9:23). That is, even before they took possession, God had already overcome Canaan land. When they listened to God and maintained their covenant relationship with Him, they overcame. We are not looking for military conquest today. However, we are at war. The world is fighting with all of its might. Often, that is discouraging and disheartening. Of course, I can’t tell you what the casualties will be. As we watch those casualties, it is painful. Especially when those who cave to the world are close to us. However, we are fighting on the winning side. No matter what it may look like, God always wins. In fact, through Jesus Christ He has already won. The world is already conquered. God is already victorious. Whose side will you be on today?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 17.

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Strength Training

Today’s reading is Mark 14.

Is there anything in your life worth praying for a full hour about? And then doing so again? And then doing so again? What about the lost people around you? What about the temptations you’ve still been falling into? What about the battle Satan is waging against the kingdom of God and your congregation? Now here is the bigger question. If there was something so important that it needed an hour of prayer as Jesus gave to facing His impending sacrifice, would you be able to watch and pray or would you fall asleep like Peter? Jesus said Peter’s problem was not a lack of willingness but a lack of physical strength. His spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak. Many people wake up every morning, hit the gym, and lift weights adding incrementally each week to increase their flesh’s ability. May I suggest the more important strength training we need to pursue is the ability to pray like Jesus did in the garden, strengthening our flesh to be able to struggle and wrestle with God in prayer for increasing periods of time. Maybe there isn’t anything in your life right now that needs an hour of prayer, but when it does come, you want to be ready. How much time could you devote to focused prayer today without falling asleep? Start there. Then add to it next week even if only by one minute. One day, you’ll be glad you did.*

Tomorrow’s reading is Mark 15.

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Paul’s Rejected Popularity

Today’s reading is Acts 14.

Today, some want to suggest Paul started Christianity as a means to gain popularity and power. These skeptics look at many modern religious, cult leaders and see that they do start religions in order to gain followers, servants, money. Perhaps these scoffers can be excused for attributing what they see among these modern frauds to the ancients. However, notice the testimony. When Paul had the opportunity to gain in popularity, to get a following, to be thought of as something special, he rejected it. In Lystra, he was seen not as the leader of a religion, but as a god. Imagine what following, gifts, servants, popularity he could have had. But he turned it down. Why? Because he was surrendered to something real, something he knew was better than being popular among the people. He knew the gospel and was unashamed of it. He pointed people to Jesus. Let us do the same.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 15.

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Today’s reading is Revelation 14.

Here is why the enemy can’t win. What is the worst He can do to us? He attacks, he harms, he torments, he persecutes, and ultimately he kills. And all that does is bring us face to face with our greatest blessing. Never lose sight of that. In the darkest days, when the enemy martyrs and executes, he does nothing more than allow us to die in the Lord which is actually a great blessing and leads us to a great blessing. It brings us fully into the presence of the One we want to be with most. No matter how dark it gets, hang on to the Lord. Whether He delivers us from persecution or through persecution, we will be with Him forever. Even dying with and for Him is a blessing. Hang on to Jesus. He always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 15.

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Today’s reading is Revelation 3.

Yesterday, we met the embattled bride. Enemies without and intrigue within. The question is: Will the Hero win? Will the hero vanquish the enemy kingdom? Will He defeat the attacking monsters? Will He withstand the immoral woman who would turn His head from the bride? But what about the Bride? His her job just to sit idly by waiting on the Hero to conquer? No. In these two chapters to the seven churches, seven times she is told to conquer. Seven times she is told what she will receive if she steps up to the battle, hangs on, and is victorious. She does not sit idly by. She stands up and fights. Together, the Hero and the Bride will be conquerors and what victory we will have. Keep reading and be amazed at the Conquerors. Hang on! Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 4.

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They Think They are Obeying God

Today’s reading is John 16.

When the Jews crucified Jesus, did they know they were disobeying God? No. In fact, they thought they were serving Him. They thought Jesus was a blasphemer who needed to be executed. When the Jews persecuted the apostles and the early church, did they know they were disobeying God? No. In fact, they thought they were serving Him. These Christians weren’t keeping Moses’s Law and were declaring Jesus was God. They needed to be stomped out. Let us not be surprised then when people today slander, mock, belittle, and persecute us all while thinking they have God’s high ground. They think we don’t love as purely as they do. They label us as haters when we explain repentance is necessary. The reasons for thinking they are obeying God may have changed, but the claim that they are the ones obeying God has not. Don’t be surprised. Just keep loving and serving God the way He has asked in His Word no matter what anyone else says.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 17.

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