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 Glory of God

Today’s reading is Revelation 15.

When the Babylonians took Solomon’s temple apart, the glory of God was gone. When Zerubbabel and Joshua rebuilt the temple, however, there was no visible manifestation of the Lord’s glory. When Herod refurbished the temple, there was no manifestation of the Lord’s glory in the temple. However, under Jesus Christ, the sanctuary not made with hands in the heavens is full of the glory of the Lord. Here is the picture of victory. In fact, it is the same picture that demonstrated victory in Exodus. We often think the crossing of the Red Sea is the climax of Exodus. Not so. The climax is when the glory of the Lord enters the tabernacle. God had sent the plagues on the enemies, He had delivered Israel through the Red Sea, He had brought them to Mt. Sinai. But the climax is when God shows His abiding presence by entering the tabernacle. That is exactly what is going on here. God has sent plagues of judgment and will continue to do so in the next chapter. But the real glory is that He is in the midst of His people. He takes residence in the sanctuary, which is His church. The promises of restoration are fulfilled not in a temple rebuilt on earth, but in the heavenly temple of God’s house. Praise the Lord! He dwells with His people.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 16.

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When Did That Get in There?

Today’s reading is Matthew 12.

I’m not going to share something with you from today’s reading so much as from my own experience with today’s reading. How many times have I read Matthew? I can’t even count. For the first time that I can remember, I noticed a statement. At the end of Matthew 12:43-45, when Jesus spoke about the vanquished unclean spirit coming back with seven friends to take over and making the latter state worse than the first, He actually ends the paragraph by saying, “So also will it be with this evil generation.” I have read right through that before and never even noticed that phrase. I don’t quite know what to make of it. Is He simply saying things are going to be bad in the judgment for “this evil generation” (see the previous paragraph)? Is He saying that “this evil generation” initially responds but ultimately will be in a bad state? After all, quite a few start to follow Him but end up shouting “Crucify Him” in the end. Is He saying that He is here to clean up this evil generation and initially it will seem to work, but they will ultimately end up worse off because of their rejection? Or is He saying that just like that whole demon-possessed situation leaves a person worse off in the end, the evil generation will be worse off because before Jesus came they had less of an excuse but after He is done, they will have no excuse? I’m not exactly sure what this phrase is saying. I’m going to have to spend some serious time digging into this. But this is another one of those reminders. We think we have read and we know, but there is always more. We often think certain topics and texts are beneath us because we’ve figured them out so they aren’t really for us any more. But that just isn’t so. With every topic and text we are missing so much. We need to keep reading. Keep studying. Keep teaching. Then go back and do it all over again.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 13.

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The Weapons of Our Warfare

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 10.

We are in a kingdom. Our king is Jesus. He is opposed to all other kings. The battle is on for domination of the world. However, our kingdom is different. We do not wage war according to the flesh. Sadly, this has been overlooked throughout the centuries. Perhaps the worst of these oversights was the Crusades. Then there were the holy wars during the Reformation years. Of course, there was the Inquisition. But is it any different today when churches mount political campaigns and try to mobilize social justice marches and movements to get the world to act like Christians are supposed to act? These may use voting booths instead of military offensives and sit ins instead of bombing raids, but they are still weapons of the flesh. We bring the gospel. Then we live by the gospel, holding those in Christ’s kingdom accountable to the gospel, and let the kingdoms of the world see what that looks like. These are our weapons. They worked in the first couple of centuries of Christianity. Let’s pick them up again.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 11.

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Better Off Than Apostles

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 13.

The apostles seem like super Christians to my mind. It seems to me like they had every benefit and blessing because they wrote by inspiration and had miraculous gifts. No wonder they were able to excel in Christ’s kingdom. And yet, Paul explains that those gifts were only in part. They were not the whole. His knowledge was partial. His prophesying was partial. It wasn’t complete. But the day was coming when the complete would come. And it has. The complete knowledge has been revealed. God gave it all. Further, He ultimately had it bound up and given to each of us in the form of our Bibles. How amazing is that? The reality is we are better off than the apostles. That is, when we know our Bibles, we know as much and more than the apostles. We have the whole thing. Let’s read it like there is nothing else we need. And let’s be amazed at God’s grace.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 14.

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“Jesus is Lord!”

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 12.

Okay, wait a minute. Paul says, “No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Jesus is accursed!'” And yet, Paul, speaking in the Spirit of God, just said those very words. What’s up with that? His point is not that someone in God’s Spirit can’t even utter those words in any context. His point is people who abide in God and His Spirit know Jesus is Lord. Anyone who truly denies Jesus’s lordship is separate from God. No matter how spiritual they seem, no matter how nice they are, no matter what good works they do, they are not in God and God’s Spirit is not within them. In like manner, his point about those who say, “Jesus is Lord” is not that people separate from God are physically unable to say those words in any situational context or that they are unable to fake it. Neither is he saying that anyone who makes this claim is automatically right with God just by saying these words. His point is everyone who sincerely and truly confesses and surrenders to the lordship of Jesus has the same Holy Spirit we do. They may not have the same gifts, abilities, opportunities, and resources as we do. They may be at a different level of spiritual maturity. They may have a completely different ethnic background, skin color, gender, national history, language, socio-economic class, but they are filled by the same Spirit. Since we have the same Spirit, let us work together in the same Body, remembering we are not only members of that same Body but members of one another.

Monday’s reading is 1 Corinthians 13.

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Let the Day of the Lord Govern Today

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 5.

Deliver such a one to Satan? Are you kidding me? That will not look good on us. He might claim we are abusing him. He might sue us. Our neighbors might think we are mean. Society might judge us as harsh and unloving. Yet, between now and the day of the Lord, he might just repent because of this action and on the day of the Lord his spirit will be saved instead of condemned. Not to mention, if the church doesn’t take this action between now and the day of the Lord, he will almost definitely lead others to sin and destruction. No doubt, delivering an impenitent sinner to Satan is painful and fraught with temporal, cultural, societal dangers today. But the Day of the Lord is coming. We need to let the Day of the Lord govern today. And, to be sure, Paul’s application in this chapter is only one of a myriad of arenas in which we need to let the Day of the Lord govern today. I get it, we are living in today, but today will be over in just a few hours. The Day of the Lord will linger forever once it comes. Don’t live for today; live for the Day of the Lord.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 6.

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