Rejoice, O Heaven

Today’s reading is Revelation 18.

Babylon is Fallen! We have been repeating the cycle over and over. Jesus goes out to conquer, but things don’t seem to be going His way, but then He wins. We come to the ending of the final cycle. Each time, we’ve been given a fuller picture of the story. For the next several chapters, we’ll see the judgment of the enemies and the victory of Jesus. Heaven rejoices! The apostles, prophets, and saints rejoice. And what an interesting statement is made in Revelation 18:18. “What city was like the great city?” In one sense, no city. Babylon was vile, immoral, ungodly. However, it is actually an ironic question. When asked from the perspective of what other city was so mighty as Babylon, the obvious answer is, “Well, the city of God which defeated Babylon.” We’ll meet that city in a couple of chapters, but we already know who that city is, right? Yep. It’s us. We are the city of God. No matter how mighty Babylon, Rome, Moscow, London, Washington ever think they are, the Heavenly Jerusalem is more mighty and will always come out victorious. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 19.

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My Yoke is Easy; My Way is Hard

Today’s reading is Matthew 7.

Alright! Which is it? I know in just a few chapters I’m going to read Jesus say His yoke is easy (Matthew 11:30). But in today’s reading He says His way is narrow and hard. I’m completely confused. In all honesty, I don’t know what the exact answer that makes these two statements both work at the same time. Further, I don’t even want to give you the answer. I just want to notice something about Jesus. Some of us focus on Matthew 7:13, talking about how narrow and hard Jesus’s way is. Some of us focus on Matthew 11:30, talking about how easy and light Jesus’s burden is. We often fuss and fight with each other, lobbing these passages back and forth like grenades for “our side” to prove Jesus is everything we claim He is. What these passages tell me is Jesus is not easily placed in a box. Jesus cannot be placed in the taskmaster, law administrator, my-way-or-the-highway box so easily. Neither can Jesus be placed in the happy-go-lucky, my-grace-will-cover-you, just-know-I-love-you box so easily.  I imagine if Jesus showed up today, He would have something to say to all of us on every side about how we are missing it and where we need to repent. And I imagine we would all stand side by side for a moment as together we shouted that He should be crucified and His blood be on our hands and the hands of our children because the Jesus who showed up didn’t fit our expectation. Each generation has a tendency to redefine Jesus. Amazingly, He almost always looks exactly like what that generation really wants Him to look like. Why? Because we can find verses that, taken alone, will make Jesus look the way we want. But all such simplified definitions are caricatures which may contain some truth but will ultimately be wrong headed. Rather than trying to define Jesus for a generation, let’s just do what He says. I guarantee you such a path is so narrow and difficult that few will choose it, but such a burden is so easy and light that all could bear it.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 8.

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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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Hear the Son

Today’s reading is Matthew 17.

There are a great many voices crying out for you attention. Some good, some not so good. But none so good as Jesus. Even Moses and the Prophets pale in comparison to Him. There are a great many things we can learn from the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, but everything worth learning from them actually leads us to Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God. The Father has spoken to us through Him. Keep reading the written Word, but do so to meet the Living Word. Then having met Him, share Him with those around you. That is disciple making.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 18.

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