Repent and Give God the Glory

Today’s reading is Revelation 16.

Of course, there are some differences, but don’t these bowls of wrath sound familiar? Painful sores, darkness, water turned to blood, hail. Obviously, the Holy Spirit is again calling to mind the plagues of God on Egypt. Further, He is calling to mind Pharaoh’s own hardness of heart that refused to repent and give glory to God. However, notice right in the middle of this the interjection, “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” Does that sound familiar to you? It should. It is a mixture of what Jesus said to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:2-3 and to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:18. Smack in the middle of all this judgment coming on the Bride’s enemies, there is a reminder that these messages are for us, the Bride, the church, as well. This is not simply an issue of insiders and outsiders. This is not just an issue of having gone through some entrance requirements, having our name on the role, paying our weekly dues, and now it doesn’t matter how we live. We who make up the Bride are to stand against the enemy as much as God is to judge the enemy. How often do Christians end up turning their back on the Lord because of hardship instead of repenting and giving glory to God. Remember, no matter what, God is the Savior. He is the Lord. He is the deliverer. Even when it looks like He is going to lose, even when we can’t understand why He is behaving as He is, He deserves glory. Whether you are in the church or without, let God’s disciplines accomplish their goal. Do not curse God and die, rather surrender to God and give Him the glory. I promise you, in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 17.

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The 144,000

Today’s reading is Revelation 14.

In contrast to the monsters of the previous two readings, our Hero stands on the mountain. But as a Lamb. Picture that, a Lamb walking to battle against a dragon and two beasts. However, He does have 144,000 with Him. This is interesting because if we removed the chapter break, we would see this 144,000 right after we hear about those the beasts had sealed with the number 666. If we didn’t have the chapter break, we might remember that the 144,000 are the group of people God had His angels seal showing that He knows exactly who belongs to Him. We spend so much time getting bent out of shape trying to figure out who 666 represents and what kind of seal that is that we miss the obvious. There are two groups of sealed people. Not only does God know who belongs to Him, the dragon knows who belongs to him. God also knows who belongs to the dragon. The question is not whether we are sealed, the question is whose seal do we wear. If we are God’s, He knows. If we are not, He knows. To whom do you belong?

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 15.

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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 Hero

Today’s reading is Revelation 5.

We’ve met the Bride and the Father, now we meet the Hero. Of course, the Hero was the one walking among the lampstands, but we meet Him in the story. He is the Lion. However, He didn’t play His part by attacking the prey. Rather, He played His part by being the Lamb that was slain. Because He was willing to step down from His role as Lion and into the role of Lamb, He became worthy to open the scrolls of God’s plan. He has become worthy to receive honor and glory and blessing. He is worthy for every knee to bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord and He is worthy. That is our Lord. Praise God! The story is going to get bleak over the following chapters. But this is our Hero, and be aware right here from the beginning: He always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 6.

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Worship

Today’s reading is Revelation 4.

I find it interesting and a little bit challenging, when I search my photo stock using the word “worship,” especially connected with images of “Christian worship,” I am inundated with pictures of people standing up, eyes closed, faces to heaven, arms upstretched. However, when I look through the Bible at pictures of worship, what I find (Old and New Testaments) is people falling down, laying on the ground, bowing, casting off crowns. Don’t get me wrong, I know men are to lift holy hands in prayer. I know through Jesus Christ we are forgiven and undefiled, therefore we have confident access to God’s presence, and we don’t have to come into it with self-flagellation, scraping on the floor, and begging for entrance. Therefore, I don’t want to establish some bodily posture rule about worship. Nor do I want to paint with such a broad brush as to say every prostrate worshiper has the right mindset and every upright worshiper does not. But I wonder if this stark contrast in the majority of “pictures” between modern Google and ancient Bible demonstrates some kind of shift in our view of worship. Obviously, each of us must examine our own heart regarding what we are doing in worship. Here is what I do know. No matter how we are sitting, standing, laying prostrate, raising hands, worship is the casting down of our own selves and our own worthiness before the Lord who is the only worthy One. Whether our bodies lie prostrate or not, worship is the prostration of our hearts and minds before a holy God who was and is and is to come, who is worthy to receive glory and honor and power because He is creator and we are creation. And whether we are actively involved in a worship action or not, this must be the state of our heart before God at all times. He is worthy. Praise God!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 5

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The Bride

Today’s reading is Revelation 2.

As confusing as Revelation can be, I have found it simplifying to see it as a story. It is actually a very common story. It is the story of the Hero saves the Girl. I know it is out of vogue to have a damsel in distress saved by a knight in shining armor, but that is exactly what this story is. And, in fact, I would it is one of the reasons we shouldn’t be so quick to abandon that story. In this and in our next reading, we meet the girl–or rather, in Revelation, the Bride. We already know from Ephesians 5 that all brides are to represent Christ’s church. In Revelation, we see that played out literally. The Bride is the church. That will become completely clear in Revelation 21:9. However, please note, while the damsel is in distress, she is not exactly presented as utterly helpless and just waiting around for the Hero to save her. She is embattled, but as the Hero is fighting to save her, she must fight to be true to the Hero. She must fight against enemies that would destroy her. She must especially fight against Jezebel, the Harlot, the seducing woman who would encourage the bride to fall from her virtue, purity, and devotion to the hero. Will the Bride stay true to her first love? Will she be faithful even if it means her own death? Will she only eat at her coming Groom’s banquet table, or will she eat at the table of false idols? Keep reading. And as you do, remember that we Christians make up that Bride. These are really questions for us today. 

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 3.

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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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