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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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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Why Water to Wine?

Today’s reading is John 2.

Why on earth does John give such primacy to such a seemingly minimal miracle? Why does he treat the water to wine as if it is the first miracle Jesus ever did (though what he actually says is that it was the first in Cana of Galilee)? You would think John would want to pick something more public, something more amazing, something more phenomenal. Almost nobody even knew this miracle took place. So why does John even tell us about it? He doesn’t tell us about it to teach us something about drinking intoxicants. (Honestly, I have a hard time believing Jesus was at a drinking party full of drunk people to whom he gave more intoxicating alcohol.) He doesn’t tell us about this miracle in order to place a stamp of approval on marriage. (As if we needed another stamp of approval other than the one God gave in the beginning.) Nope. This miracle is all about Moses. Rather, it is all about demonstrating Jesus is greater than Moses. What was the first plague/sign God gave through Moses to all of Egypt and Israel? Water turned to blood. As amazing as that was, it was a sign that produced death and misery. Jesus, on the other hand, provides something drinkable and life-sustaining. Jesus is like Moses. But Jesus is not just like Moses, Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses delivered Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Jesus delivers all who believe from the bondage of sin and death. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is John 3.

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The Faith of Jesus

Today’s reading is Hebrews 11.

Think about it from the Jewish perspective. How could the Messiah suffer and die? Surely, if He were really God’s chosen one, life would have been a little more blessed and filled with less suffering and sacrifice, right? How can you expect me to believe this guy, Jesus, who died on a cross is actually the Messiah? Because, in reality, His story fulfills the story of every “chosen one” God ever brought into Israel’s past. Like Abel, He offered an acceptable sacrifice and was killed at the hands those who were angry and full of sin. Like Enoch, He was taken and no one can find His body. So don’t be surprised that like Noah, He provided the way of salvation for all His household. Like Abraham, He left His home and “tented” among us (see John 1:14). Like Sarah, He was able to have life from death so that innumerable offspring according to the promise could be found. Yes, He died in faith, not having received the promise, but by doing so, He demonstrated that His kingdom and home were not of this world. Like Abraham offering Isaac, God offered His Son Jesus and would receive Him back from the dead. Like Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, Jesus had the faith to offer blessings, worship, and give directions regarding the future of His body even at the point of death. We could go on, but perhaps you get the picture. God’s chosen ones have always suffered. God’s faithful, God’s judges, God’s deliverers, God’s patriarchs have always suffered. Jesus walked in the footsteps of all God’s faithful, may we walk in Jesus’ footsteps of faith as well.

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 12.

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Disbelieve and Disobey

Today’s reading is Hebrews 3.

We often get into arguments about salvation, wanting to know which matters more: belief or obedience. Today’s reading gives some insight. But it answers a different question. Which matters more: disbelief or disobedience? The answer is…both. God told those who were disobedient that they wouldn’t enter His rest. But they were disobedient because they disbelieved. In other words, you can’t really separate the two. Disobedience stems from and follows on the heals of disbelief. If you have one, you automatically have the other. I can tell someone doesn’t believe because they refuse to obey. This answers our other question. People obey when they believe. They disobey when they don’t. If they don’t believe, they won’t obey. If they believe, they won’t disobey. The point is, biblically, you really can’t separate faith and obedience. They go together. They are heads and tails of the same coin. And so, the author of Hebrews tells us we need to believe and obey Jesus better than the Israelites did Moses, because Jesus is better. Believe Him, obey Him, and enter His rest.

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 4.

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Pay Closer Attention

Today’s reading is Hebrews 2.

Because Jesus is better than the angels, the communicating God has done through Him is better than the Law and the Prophets. But what does that mean for us practically? “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Sadly, as we look around today, it seems that many people believe that because the Gospel of Jesus is better than the Law of Moses, we don’t have to pay that much attention. We can kind of float around and be generally spiritual and offer some mental assent to Jesus and His superiority and everything will be alright. I mean, the Law…boy, you had to really pay close attention to that to make sure you didn’t violate it, but the gospel is easy. However, the author of Hebrews seems to have the exact opposite notion. Jesus is better. His gospel is better. So we better pay much closer attention or we will drift away from it and abandon the salvation Jesus has authored. That is what makes what we are doing here so important. We need to be reading, studying, memorizing, meditating. Let’s pay closer attention today to Jesus’s message to us.

Monday’s reading is Hebrews 3.

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Don’t Wait for Strength

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 12.

When it comes to spreading the gospel, many of us are waiting around until we are strong enough, smart enough, good enough. Don’t! We are strongest when we are content with our weakness. Don’t misunderstand, if you don’t know what the gospel is or means, don’t try to share it with someone. But the heart of the gospel is that we are not strong enough, therefore we need Jesus. Why then would we wait around until we are strong enough to teach the gospel to teach it? Step out in faith. Step out in reliance upon God. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. Sure, there will be embarrassing moments. But you’ll never be strong enough to convert people, so why wait around for that. Recognize how weak you are and step out onto the gospel battlefield with your faith in the Lord. It is His gospel that is powerful enough to save, not your strengths or smarts.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 13.

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