The River of Life

Today’s reading is Revelation 22.

John’s story telling expands even more. We’ve had the repeated cycles in the book. Further, we’ve seen how as he ended his story, he went back to pick up themes he used at the beginning of the book. Now, here at the end of our entire Bibles (can that be a coincidence), John goes all the way back to the beginning of the whole story. What we are witnessing is the restoration of the Garden, but it is a new and improved Garden. It is not just a tree of life, but a river of life surrounded by life-giving trees. There is no night because God is it’s light. And the inhabitants reign forever and ever without fall or failure. WOW! No doubt the ultimate fulfillment of this picture is in eternity where Christ’s church finds its ultimate victory. However, don’t miss the point John is making for his readers in their particular predicament. He is pointing out that this imagery is not merely the church in eternity. This imagery is Christ’s church at all times. Christ’s church, Christ’s bride is this garden city. As the Garden was God’s first sanctuary, His first dwelling place with man, the church is God’s final resting place with man. Whether on earth or ultimately around His throne in heaven, Christ’s church is His temple, His dwelling place, His city, His kingdom, His Bride. And here is the kicker. If you want to be part of the Bride, the city, the kingdom in eternity, you have to be part of it now. The Spirit and the Bride say come. Come now. Come drink from the fountain of living waters that flows from God’s throne, by Christ’s cross, through the Heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, the church. And never leave this refreshing stream. I understand, in its present form, we don’t always see it as this image at the end of Revelation. But this is what it is and, in time, it will be vindicated and demonstrated as such. So, get in now and stay there.

Next week’s reading is Luke 1.

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The Lord Knows His

Today’s reading is Revelation 7.

The point behind the 144,000 is not to suggest only 144,000 from all of human history are saved or that only 144,000 Jews are saved. After all, behind that image is the multitude beyond number from all tribes, tongues, and peoples. The point is that God is able to seal those who are His. God is able to protect those who are His from the horrific judgment He will bring on His enemies. The Lord knows those who are His. If you are in Christ, you will not accidentally get lost through some heavenly red-tape or bureaucracy. When judgment comes, those who belong to the Lord will be delivered without fear or fail. In other words, the only way for you to get lost in the judgment is if you let go of the Lord. Otherwise, He knows you are His and He will deliver you. Praise the Lord!

Monday’s reading is Revelation 8.

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Grace is NOT Permission to Sin

Today’s reading is 1 John 3.

Whenever someone starts explaining that we are saved by the grace of God through our Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous and not through our own good works, someone else begins to fear that we are giving permission to pursue sin. Not at all. In fact, John’s first letter is a great demonstration of that. We read yesterday that if we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fear that if we sin, we are lost. However, in today’s reading, John explains that if we take that as permission to sin and pursue sin and continue in the ongoing practice of sin, we are not the elect, saved of God, but are children of the devil. The grace and advocacy of Jesus is the power and strength to pursue righteousness despite our failures, it is not the permission to pursue sin despite God’s will. God’s grace offers nothing to those looking to get away with sin. It offers everything to those longing to overcome it. What are you longing for today?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 John 4.

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Baptism is not my Work

Today’s reading is John 9.

Just like Jesus commands those who would be spiritually healed to be baptized, washed in water (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:3-5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21), Jesus commanded the blind man to go wash in the pool of Siloam. What I find interesting is that this healing of the blind man causes quite a stir regarding work. After all, the healing occurred on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were very upset that work was done on the Sabbath. However, do you notice nobody accuses the blind man of working on the Sabbath? Nobody thought the blind man had violated the Law about working? No. They accused Jesus of working. They understood what so many miss today. The blind man wasn’t working when he went and washed in the pool of Siloam. In this healing, who did the work? Jesus. Just so, when we go wash in the immersive waters of baptism, we are not doing any work. God is working (see Colossians 2:12 again). Salvation in baptism is not my work, it is God’s. Praise God for His work.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 10.

P.S. If you haven’t been baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38), please let us know. We’ll help in any way we can. And if you think we’re all washed up for thinking that is necessary, let’s get together and study.

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Love the Light Enough to Be Saved

Today’s reading is John 3.

Here is the amazing thing. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn anyone. He came to save everyone. The problem is many people do not want to be saved. Some don’t want to believe they need saving. They want to believe they are pretty good people. Some people don’t want to believe their actions and behaviors are sinful and damning. Some people want salvation, but not from Jesus. Jesus shined the light on salvation, but that light exposes sin, wickedness, and evil, demanding it be forsaken. Those who love their deeds more than Jesus, don’t love the light enough to be saved. They would rather linger in the darkness. We must continue to reflect Jesus’s light of salvation. But be ready. Those who don’t love the light will refuse to be saved, and they will try to put out the light. Don’t give up. Keep shining. The Light has already won.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 4.

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Hope, God, & Godliness

Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 4.

Our hope is set on God. He is the Savior. He alone is the Savior. Our hope is not set on wealth. Our hope is not set on health. Our hope is not set on family. Our hope is not set on our job. Our hope is not even set on ourselves. We are not our own saviors. We cannot save ourselves. God is our hope. The natural consequence of our hope is not what many believe. Today, when some hear that God is our hope of salvation and we are not, they believe the natural consequence is godlessness. That is, they believe this truth about God’s grace and salvation will lead us to abandon God’s will. After all, if I don’t earn salvation by obeying God, why obey God at all? But this is not the natural consequence of our hope. The natural consequence of our hope is actually godliness. It is reverence for and submission to God. Really, it makes sense. If God is my hope, I won’t abandon Him or ignore Him, I will seek Him and serve Him. He is my only hope, why would I respect and respond to anyone else? God is our only hope, let us, therefore, search Him out and surrender to Him. Let’s do this today.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Timothy 5.

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Pray for Authorities, but What?

Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 2.

Paul exhorts us to pray for all those who are in authority. For American Christians, that means praying for Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors, Commissioners, Justices, Judges, and the list goes on. But what are we to pray? Most often, I hear prayers asking God to have these men and women enact laws pleasing to Him and in accordance with His will. That is a fine prayer as far as it goes. But let us keep to the forefront why Paul actually encouraged us to pray¬† on their behalf: “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” The prayer was not that Rome would be a Christian empire governed by biblical laws. The prayer was that Christians could live in the world as Christians without persecution. But then notice the reason this was pleasing to God. Because He “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” And that gets to the heart. What was Paul actually encouraging us to pray for? That the gospel would get to those in authority and it would save their souls. Sure, pray that great laws get enacted, but spend more time praying that our governing officials will be saved and converted by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Timothy 3

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