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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The Prayers of the Saints

Today’s reading is Revelation 8.

When the seventh seal is opened, we are reminded of the fifth seal. There we saw the saints beneath the altar praying for God to take vengeance on the enemies who had slaughtered them. When this seventh seal is opened, this image is called to mind again and seven trumpets are given to seven angels. As those trumpets were being handed out, an angel offered incense on the altar alongside and mingled with the prayers of the saints. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth. As the angels blow their trumpets, we see the prayers of the saints being granted in part as God allows partial judgment to come upon the earth. Of course, all of this is telling of a time long past. However, what we can learn from this is that even in our extreme suffering and pain, God does listen to our requests. He may not respond in our timetable or with exactly what we have asked for or want. However, He always does what is right. He always does what will most benefit us and most glorify Him. In these partial judgments, He is giving response to the prayers of the saints and yet, at the same time, seeking the salvation of others. What a glory that will be for Him if those who were persecutors become saints. Keep praying. God is listening. He is responding in the best way possible even if we can’t tell it right now. And He is seeking the salvation of as many as will come just as He patiently sought your salvation. Praise God!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 9.

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Beware a Shocking Idol

Today’s reading is Matthew 22.

Are you sitting down? If not, please sit down. I’m about to share something with you that is going to be very shocking. In fact, I guarantee it is going to be hard for you to accept. When this post is over, I am almost certain you will think I’m wrong. But I’m not. It is right here in my Bible in black and white. I want to see today’s reading as a warning against an idol that I am sure you think cannot possibly be an idol. I say all this because even now as I type this, I myself am rebelling against it. I’m talking about the idols of marriage and family. Make no mistake. Marriage is extremely important. It is to be the daily picture to the world of Christ’s love and sacrifice for His bride, the church. You need to be working on it and in it. Parenting is extremely important. It is one of the first and fundamental ways we can fill God’s temple with image bearers for His glory. You need to be working on it and in it. However, marriage and family are not the most important things. Please, notice what Jesus says. As important as marriage and family are here on earth, they do not go into eternity. As hard as it may be to accept, in the end, you will not be resurrected to be reunited with your spouse, your parents, or your children. Yes, you will be reunited with and welcomed by the saints, the family of God, but you will not be moving into a mansion with your spouse in a neighborhood peopled by your earthly family. In the resurrection, we are like angels who neither marry, nor are given in marriage. So, do make your marriage and your earthly family a priority, but do not let them become THE priority, lest they become the idol that separates you from the One, True, Living God.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 23.

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Waiting for Help

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 9.

So, I admit I’m not very well-versed on the timeline of events regarding the famine in Judea and the need for help among the Jerusalem saints. However, I know Paul was writing to the Corinthians about taking up collections in his first letter. Then he visited them. Now he has written another letter and is still talking about it. He even says he has been telling folks the Corinthians have been ready to give “since last year.” I have to think about this from the standpoint of the saints in Jerusalem. They have been in need for some time. We are talking months, maybe even more than a year. I live in such a fast paced world, I am blown away. A hurricane, an earthquake, a fire, a mudslide hits an area and within two weeks the area has aid. The Jerusalem saints had been waiting for months and months and months. I think about this when I am facing a hardship. I ask God to do something about it and expect a positive response in less than 24 hours. Here were these Jerusalem saints waiting for…well…I don’t know quite how long, but it was longer than 24 hours, likely longer than 24 weeks. I need to remember this as a model for my own patience. God is listening. God is planning to come to my aid (and I’m sure it will be at just the best moment). He will not act on my time table. But He will act. I need to be patient and wait for His help.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 10.

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A Thousand Years

Today’s reading is Revelation 20.

Honestly, it blows my mind how an entire complex doctrine can be built around a single verse likeĀ Revelation 20:4. In fact, not only one, but several. Of course, they can’t all be right. The passage only means what it means and can’t mean competing and mutually exclusive ideas. But what does it mean in context? It means the exact same thing the rest of the book means: Jesus Always Wins!!!! The purpose of this verse is not to say that some time in real-time history the disciple martyrs of Jesus will reign on earth for a thousand years. It’s a contrast with the reign of the kings of this earth who oppressed them. I asked you to rememberĀ Revelation 17:12 and the one-hour reign of the enemy kings and the authority they received from the beast. Here is where it becomes important as a contrast. Our Hero’s servants receive authority and reign, not for an hour, but for a thousand years. Neither of these refer to literal periods of time in earth history. They merely point out what the entire book points out. The enemy looks like he is going to win, but hang on, his time is short. The Hero will win and His victory will be complete. You want to be on the Hero’s side. No matter what, hang on! Jesus always wins! You can give up on Him, side with the enemy and get your heyday for an hour. Or you can hang on and have real victory. The choice is yours.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 21.

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Remember Where You Came From

Today’s reading is Titus 3.

“Always remember where you came from.” That’s a statement I’ve heard applied to successful people who came from humble beginnings. No matter how successful they get, they need to remember they were once the struggling up and comer who received help and patience from others as they grew. Paul tells Titus something similar. Disciples need to always remember where we came from. We came from a life dictated and dominated by sin. As disciples who have had some success and victory over sin through the grace of Jesus Christ, we might lose sight of that. When we see people still caught up in their sins, we might begin to feel superior and start wanting to isolate from those still trapped. Instead, we need to remember where we came from. We need to remember it wasn’t by our greatness, but by God’s grace we have come so far. And having remembered that, we need to reach out with the gospel of grace to those still trapped. That is disciple making. Aren’t you glad someone did that for you?

Monday’s reading is John 1.

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