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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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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Truly, He is the Son of God

Today’s reading is Matthew 14.

Here we are, smack in the middle of Matthew’s account of the gospel, and the defining statement is made: “Truly you are the Son of God.” That is what everything we’ve read up to this point and everything we will read after is designed to teach us. Jesus is not merely Son of Man. He is Son of God. He heals the sick, raises the dead, cleans out unclean spirits, casts out demons, stops storms, and even walks on water. He is Lord of heaven and earth. He is Creator, Maintainer. He is Redeemer, Savior. He is God in the flesh, for no one can do what He does except by the power of God. A greater than Moses is here. He could only part the waters; he couldn’t walk on them. A greater than Elijah and Elisha is here. They could care for a person and a family; they didn’t feed a multitude. What a great King and Lord we have. Let us worship Him. Let us surrender to Him. Let us tell others about Him. Let us be unashamed of Him.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 15.

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God Gives the Growth

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 3.

We need to plant and water. We have a great seed in the gospel. We need to spread it around as much as we can. However, we need to know it is not our work that causes the seed to grow. That is God. I am successful when I plant and water. It’s up to God, not me, to make that seed sprout in someone’s heart and produce fruit. Certainly, we don’t need to be reckless and careless in how we plant and water, but neither do we have to sit paralyzed trying to figure out the best way to share the gospel as if its success depends on us. God’s Word sounded forth will produce God’s results. Sometimes the result will be simply leaving others without excuse. Sometimes the result will be glorious salvation for the hearer. But we are successful when we have planted and watered. Let’s be unashamed. Let’s plant and water the gospel seed.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 4.

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A Cup of Cold Water

Today’s reading is Mark 9.

Not everyone gets to be an apostle. In fact, none of us get to be. But what we do in the name of the Lord Jesus is not in vain. No matter what our gifts are, every one of us wish we had someone else’s gift. Folks who can preach good sermons wish they could do better one-on-one. Folks who are good one-on-one wish they could teach better in class settings. Folks who are great at teaching wish they had more of a heart for service. Folks who are servants wish they were better leaders. Today, how about we let all of that wishful discontent go. Even if all we have the gifting, resources, and opportunity to do today is to give a cup of cold water to someone who has the gift we wish we could have, lets do it. We will not lose our reward in Jesus Christ. Not because we are so awesome for giving a cup of cold water, but because our Savior is so awesome. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Mark 10.

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Thank God for the Pruning Shears

Today’s reading is John 15.

When a branch in Jesus’s vine bears fruit, you know what God does? Leave it alone? Pat it and pet it and whisper wonderful words to it? Just give it more water? Nope. He prunes it. He gets out some shears and cuts off the bits that are distracting the nutrients from what is actually bearing fruit. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly sound pleasant to me. However, in the end, it actually produces more and better fruit. Being a disciple is not always easy. Sometimes it does feel like being stricken and cut on. However, those pruning shears are part of the Spirit’s way of producing His fruit in us, getting it to grow more fully. Don’t be discouraged, rather thank God for the pruning shears.

Monday’s reading is John 16.

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A Spring of Water Welling Up to Eternal Life

Today’s reading is John 4.

Though the story of the Samaritan woman at the well works out in the end, in the middle it goes a little awry. Why? Because as is often the case the hearer didn’t understand the truly profound nature of the message she was hearing. Jesus said, “If you knew who I was, you’d ask Me for a drink and I’d give you living water. I would give you water that would become in you a spring welling up to eternal life.” And the woman just didn’t get it. She responded, “Give me this water that I might never have to walk all the way out to this well again.” No doubt, always having our physical thirst quenched would be a cool thing. But Jesus is offering something way better. He is offering a spiritual life, an eternal life. It is a life that isn’t about food and drink. And yet, so many today make the woman’s same mistake. They think what God is promising is a prosperous life or a world blessed where no one is hungry or thirsty. That just isn’t the case. He is actually offering something much, much better if we will just be wise enough to see it. He is offering His Holy Spirit leading us to eternal salvation. And that is what we are offering. We aren’t offering a drink of water. We are offering living water that produces eternal life. How can we not pass along that message?

Tomorrow’s reading is John 5.

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