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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Servants

Today’s reading is Jude 1.

If history and tradition are correct, and there is no reason to believe they aren’t on this issue, Jude was actually the biological half-brother of Jesus. Jude and James were sons of Joseph and Mary. They shared a mother with Jesus. Think about what that means for Jude and this letter. If he wanted a surefire way to get everyone’s attention and declare that they ought to listen to him, he could have called himself, “Jude, a brother of Jesus Christ and James.” But he didn’t. He said, “a servant of Jesus Christ.” What humility. What surrender. What discipleship. And what an example for us today. Too often we (read that in the editorial sense of “I”) try to puff ourselves up, make ourselves seem grandiose, convince others we are something special. And we are, we are servants of the King of kings. But we are His servants. Instead of lifting ourselves up, let’s lift Jesus up and be His servants today. Really, is there anything better to be?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 1.

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Walk in Love

Today’s reading is Ephesians 5.

Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice. That is what walking in love looks like. That is what we will look like when we are walking in the good works God has created for us. We can read the details in the rest of the chapter, but this is the picture. Whether we are walking in our relationship with our neighbors, our brethren, or even our spouses, we are to walk as Jesus to the cross, offering ourselves as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God on their behalf. As hard as that may be for us, let us remember Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t done first. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Ephesians 6.

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Close, but Don’t Be Fooled

Today’s reading is Revelation 13.

Our enemy has no creativity whatsoever. The best he can do is provide a mediocre copy. Sadly, that is often enough to turn the heads of those he wants to capture. Consider the parallels between the unholy trinity of the dragon, the sea beast, and the land beast and the holy trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. The dragon gives authority to the sea beast, as the Father has given all authority to the Son. The sea beast receives a mortal wound and is healed, just as the Son died on the cross and arose. The land beast with great signs and wonders points people to worship the sea beast, just as the Spirit does for the Son. And while the sea beast has the mouth of a lion, understand he is not the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In this battle over the Bride, the enemy will stop at nothing, even copying the Hero in order to get the Bride to capitulate instead of conquer. Don’t be fooled. Only Jesus is the Hero and only Jesus wins.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 14.

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Deceived

Today’s reading is Matthew 24.

I admit that the devotional for Matthew 24 is always the hardest for me to write. I know I’m in the minority regarding what I believe this chapter is about. I’m an amillennialist, so I don’t believe it is about a coming rapture. But though I am not what is called a hyper preterist or a realized eschatologist (if you don’t know what those terms mean, don’t worry too much about it), I do believe the whole chapter is about the destruction of Jerusalem and not at all about the end of the world or our future. However, there are parallels for us. Namely, false christs and false prophets will arise. In fact, no matter what view you take on this chapter as a whole, surely you can see the danger. Our enemy will use false gods, false teachers, false doctrines, false gospels, false anything to turn us away from the truth. Here is where the danger deepens: he doesn’t always use obvious falsehoods. He will even use very compelling falsehoods that seem to be accompanied by great signs and come so close as to take great discernment to distinguish from the truth. But God has revealed His truth. Do not be deceived by the devil’s deceptions masquerading as truth. Get in the Word. Stay in the Word. Don’t be swayed from the Word. Only truth will set you free.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 25.

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