Pray for Laborers

Today’s reading is Luke 10.

I needed the reminder. I can look around at our culture and begin to believe no one wants to hear or respond to the gospel. I hear the laments of folks about diminishing congregations and increasing disinterest. I start to think the problem is a blighted harvest. That is not Jesus’s diagnosis. The harvest is plentiful. The problem is not with the yield in the field. The problem is the number of laborers. We need laborers in the harvest. We need those who will make personal connections and start spiritual conversations. Today, let’s pray for laborers. And then, let’s plan for God to begin His answer with us.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 10.

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Love Your Enemies

Today’s reading is Luke 6.

I’m going to go off the beaten path for this blog and daily devo. You have probably already seen this, but today I just want us to think about loving our enemies, doing good to those who hate us, praying for those who abuse us. Today I want us to think about being merciful as our Father in heaven is. I don’t think I can add anything to the great example set recently in the public news. Even if you’ve already seen it, watch the video below to see a stellar example by a brother in Christ.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 6.

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Twisted Scripture

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

“But it’s in the Bible,” Satan says as he offers the third temptation. What a subtle and cunning enemy the devil is. He will use anything to get us to turn from God and turn on God. He will even use the Bible. He will pull verses out of context, strip them of their meaning, and then say, “But the Bible says.” There is only one way to combat this kind of temptation. Know God’s Word. If we pluck a sentence here or a verse there, we can make the Bible support just about anything. Jesus explained He would trust in the Father’s care and protection. He didn’t have to test it. He wouldn’t test it. He knew it would be there when it was truly needed; the Father’s Word said so. Yes, that very Word by which Jesus claimed He received life had promised God’s protection. How could He rely on it for life, if He wouldn’t trust it’s promises. The same is true for us. God is our Father. He will take care of us when that is needed, we don’t need to purposefully test it. We just need to purposefully rely on it no matter what Satan says to us.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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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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A Friend of God

Today’s reading is James 4.

We have a choice today. We can befriend the world or God, we can’t befriend both. And yet, that is exactly how so many try to conduct their spirituality. In fact, it amazes me the number of people who act as if the more we become like Jesus the more the world will actually like us. It just isn’t true. The more we become like Jesus, the more the world will by its very nature despise us. And the more we cozy up to the world, the more God by His very nature will separate from us. Light and darkness do not mix. May I suggest then that whichever you choose, go all in. If what you want is the blessings and pleasures of the world, quit trying to modify them with God. Go all in. Pursue the blessings of the world with reckless abandon. Of course, those blessings will fade, come to a dismal end, and be burned in the fire. But if those are the blessings you choose, get as much out of them as you can for as long as you can. However, if what you want is God’s eternal blessings, that never end, then go all in. Pursue the blessings of God with reckless abandon. Trying to live with one foot in the world and one in heaven means you’ll never enjoy either. Make your choice today. Whom will you befriend? The world or God?

Monday’s reading is James 5.

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Grapevines Don’t Produce Figs

Today’s reading is James 3.

Oh, I needed today’s reading in terrible ways. It is so easy to criticize and curse others. Certainly, there is always the place for constructive criticism, provoking others to love and good deeds. But it is so easy to move from constructive criticism to useless belittling, condescension, and cursing. Of course, I always believe I’m justified. That person I’m cursing did something stupid, annoying, and often sinful. They voted for the wrong person. They cut me off on the road. They ignored some rule of etiquette. They disagreed with me about some Bible principle. They betrayed me. And yet, am I without any of these faults and sins? Doesn’t that sword cut both ways. I claim to bless God, but then I want to curse His creatures because I want to think in some way they don’t measure up to me? Who do I really think I am? When I produce figs, I can’t claim to be a grapevine. In like manner, when I produce cursing, I can’t claim to be a blessing. If salt water springs from my heart, I can’t claim to be a fresh water spring. Bless God today. Bless your fellow man as well even the ones who don’t seem to deserve it.

Tomorrow’s reading is James 4.

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One Mind, One Spirit

Today’s reading is Philippians 1.

As did the Philippians, we have opponents. Really we have one true opponent and those who surrender to him whether knowingly or unknowingly. But what an opponent. Remember what we learned about our enemy and his minions from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians? They are beyond our ability to fight. And yet we must fight. Paul explains to the Philippians one key to the fight. While a congregation is made up of many individuals, it must fight the enemy as a unit. It must fight as one body. But that is demonstrated by having one mind and one spirit. Like a single body led by one spirit and governed by one mind, a congregation of God’s people must strive side by side for the faith of the gospel as one. The fight against the enemy is hard, let’s not make it worse by getting at odds with one another. One mind. One spirit. United. Let that be our goal.

Tomorrow’s reading is Philippians 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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Only An Hour

Today’s reading is Revelation 17.

It’s frightening. But the wicked city, the immoral woman, the enemy gain authority. Not only that but give authority to 10 wicked kings. They get drunk on the blood of saints. And yet still they have authority. However, it is only for an hour. Not a literal hour, of course, but only an hour (remember this, it will come in handy in a few days). You can handle anything by the grace of God for an hour, right? Don’t lose faith in the conquering Hero. He is on His way. He will win. Pray that you may not enter temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Hang on! Jesus always wins!

Monday’s reading is Revelation 18.

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Judgments and Plagues

Today’s reading is Revelation 16.

This may sound shocking, but Revelation is not looking ahead to literal plagues that will be coming, it is looking back to literal plagues that had happened generations ago. That is, do you notice how these plagues mirror several of the plagues surrounding the Exodus: boils, water turned to blood, hail, darkness, waters dried up (like the Red Sea). Then there are flashes of lightning, rumbling, peals of thunder, shaking earth like the Isrealites saw at Mt. Sinai. Granted, God can do what He wants. If He wants to send literal plagues like this again, He can. However, that is not really the point. The point is to tell the Christians under Roman persecution (or perhaps Jewish) and then by extension Christians under any other persecution afterwards that God knows how to judge nations, false religions, and enemies who oppress and persecute His people. Not only does He know how, He will. It may seem like the enemies are getting the upper hand, just as Israel once thought Egypt had the upper hand, but God always wins. And there is a message for the churches in this as well. Remember how many of the members of the seven churches were called to repent? These members and churches must not think they will miss out on the judgment if they don’t heed the call to repent any more than the worldly in this chapter. Don’t quit! Conquer! Hang on to Jesus, He always wins.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 17.

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