Welcome to 2020! We begin again at the beginning, Genesis 1 -2. I am thrilled you have chosen to follow my page and to read along with me. Let’s get started: Please take your Bible and read the first two chapters of Genesis 1 & 2.
Stop and ask: What stands out to you? What is God saying as He speaks through the Holy Spirit? What lessons does He want us to learn?
Know this; the purpose of Bible reading is to guide us into all truth so we can be mature discerning truth from error. As a base premise for this year memorize 2Tim 3:16 “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.”
Genesis 1-2: The earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep BUT the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water. Isn’t that just like the heart of the unbeliever? They are without spiritual shape and their heart is empty, void of the Holy Spirit and without the Light of God. It takes the movement of the Holy Spirit to bring light into the soul. The light was good in the beginning and it is good for the unbeliever because it illumines deficiencies and illumines understanding when we yield. “If then your whole body is full of light, with no part in the dark, it will be as full of light as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” [Luke 11] When that happens you no longer are in darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Therefore, live like children of light” [Eph 5 author paraphrase]
This leaves us with a challenge for 2020 and a question: Where are we spiritually and are we living as children of light?
A New Name and a Banquet: Revelation 19-22
A bride and groom take a vow to be faithful ‘until death do us part.’ John uses an earthly picture of what lays ahead for believers at the wedding banquet of the Savior and His bride.
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. He is holy, just and true. Hallelujah! He is the Lord our God, the All-Powerful and He reigns! John saw heaven opened and a white horse coming. The one sitting on the horse had many diadem crowns with a name that no one knows but himself. Remember Christ told the recipient of the faithful in chapter two that a white stone with a new name will be given the one that conquers. Just as the bride takes on a new last name, the one that conquers will receive a name no one understands except the one who receives it. Then the bride of Christ will be ushered into the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb and join with the thousands upon thousands of those who were invited and responded joyfully.
Until then beloved cling to the promise of the One who is truly was, is and evermore shall be; Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He promises; Yes, I am coming soon! Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.
Will you be at the wedding banquet? Jesus Christ our Groom stands at the door waiting for you. It is not too late. Come and join the throng of those who have gone before us.
Seeing Christ both now and in the future—Revelation 9-12
Scholars often remind us that Revelation is a book that is both confusing and yet enlightening. It drifts from the present to the future and back to the past. Some scholars see it as books of imagery and others see it as literal. The Holy Spirit speaks and John was a conduit of what God plans to do both now and in the future. Since John did not live in our century some of the images cause us to wonder what he really saw and heard. But, no matter what the truth is: God plans and executes his plans perfectly that we might understand.
But, we are left to ask: What is the most important truth that we can glean from these chapters? First that “The kingdom of the world [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” John could write that because as he saw him who was and is and will be forever. He is the Lord God; the All-Powerful will judge those who refuse to believe and also to reward those who revere his name. These did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die and in so doing overcame by the word of their testimony.
May we be found faithful as the saints of old and one day hear well done thou good and faithful, enter into the joy of the Lord.
Looking into Heaven: Rev 4 to 8
A special friend just passed away and although we mourn her loss we can’t but think that she is now able to see. Her blindness has been removed and before her she sees what she had only heard each day as she listened to scripture. Just as John was called up to heaven so our dear friend was “called up” as well. What did John see and hear and what does our precious friend now see and hear?
Enter the throne room and seeing the God the Lord Almighty surrounded by 24 elders dressed in white robes and their heads adorned with golden crowns. And now listen: “Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, who was and who is and who is still to come!” And further: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created! And “You are worthy to take the scroll and open it seals because you were killed and at the cost of your own blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people and nation.”
Just imagine hearing those words and although her loved ones still inhabit this earthly realm they have been appointed as king and priests to serve God and one day they will reign on the earth with the Savior. “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory and ruling power forever and ever.”
Beloved, if you have recently experienced the loss of a loved one think on these words. One day you too will face this heavenly throne room and the Lord God Almighty.
It is fitting as we draw to a close this year to finish our daily reading in the Book of the Revelation. As we leave this year may we consider that the focus is always the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. As John fittingly wrote: Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near!
John’s message is again “grace and peace” from the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth; from the one who loved and loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood.
When we began in January of 2019 we began at the beginning and now we are here at the end and yet it is the beginning once again. God revealed His plan in Genesis and now we see that the plan was always about His Son, Jesus Christ and His work as Redeemer for the sin that started us down that path drawing us to the redemption for our sin. He stands in the midst of the golden lampstands dressed in his royal kingly garments and one day “we will be like him because we will see him just as he is.”[ 1John 3] as he returns in the clouds. He is the Alpha and Omega, the one who is, and who was and who is still to come. He was revealed to take away sins so that we who accept him may have confidence and not shrink away from in shame when he comes back.
Are you prepared to meet him and hear the voice of the archangel with the trump of God? Encourage one another with these words.
Advent Series 1John 3 to 5 “The Gift of Compassion”
Compassion is the trait of sharing and caring for others in their time of need. The Apostle John lived his last years in Ephesus but his heart is seen for those less fortunate, like the prisoners he ate, slept and worked with on the Isle of Patmos. He never mentions that time other than in Revelation but we can see his heart in this letter.
First, he notes that there are those who have lost loved ones to death and he mourns with them but reminds them that if they were believers and have entered eternity they will see Christ as he is. Don Wyrtzen wrote a hymn who shares this sentiment: “But just think of stepping on shore-And finding it Heaven! Of touching a hand-And finding it God’s! Of breathing new air-And finding it celestial! Of waking up in glory-And finding it home!”
Because we are here in an earthly realm John wants us to keep the gospel message alive and we do it as he and James said. “love other fellow Christians.” Then John asks a pointed question: how can you say that the love of God resides in you if you lack compassion to those in need? This is one of those pointed “ouch” questions. John wants us to know Him as He is known and reach out to others in their time of need.
It may be Christmas but the message is the same: Christ is the gift God has given to us and we are to share that gift with others.
Advent Series: 1Peter 3 to 5 Do you have a Christmas Heart?
Are you busy untangling Christmas lights, shopping and wrapping gifts for others? There are only a few days left to prepare! Beyond that busyness are you taking time to read and meditate on the words of scripture that your heart might be prepared to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child?
We all get busy at this time of year and find that often our hearts are more “Grinch-like” than “Christ-like.” We find ourselves busy with lights, decorations, Christmas programs at church and more.
Take time each day to read selected portions of scripture that your hearts might be aligned with the Lord’s. Peter reminds us that it is our inner person of the heart that is precious in God’s sight. Practically speaking we are to be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble and that comes with sitting with Jesus some time each day. Our hearts and prayers then are prepared. Remind yourself that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. Prepare to use this time of advent to set Christ apart as Lord in your heart so you are ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess and prepare to spend your time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.
If God could look at your heart what would He see?
Advent Series: 1Peter 1&2 The Prophets of Old
Imagine being called a prophet and then recording what the Spirit told them. The prophets of old “who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory. They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things angels long to catch a glimpse of.”
As we glimpse into the past we find prophets like Micah who prophesied where Jesus would be born and Dr. Luke recorded it was so. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born of a virgin and again Dr. Luke recorded it was so. Moses wrote that the Lord would raise up a prophet like him and John wrote that the crowds declared “This man surely is the Prophet.” The psalmist prophesied that the Messiah would be tempted by Satan and it was the gospel writer Matthew that recorded that event. The prophet Zechariah said he would enter Jerusalem triumphantly and it was fulfilled in Matthew/Luke and John.
The religious leaders in Herod’s day knew these words and the prophecy but relinquished their duty and let the Magi get the glory. It is as true then as today; men have the word of God but choose to ignore it. May we not be so guilty. May we treasure the prophecies.
Beloved, the signs were given hundreds of years before their fulfillment. Many scoffed but also many believed. What will you do?
Advent Series: James 3 “The Peace that Passes all Understanding”
As Dr. Luke recorded the advent series which he relayed to Theophilus, the words we have come to memorize and repeat are what the shepherds heard that night so long ago. It was as if God’s spoken promise to Abraham came to life: all nations would be blessed through the coming of His Son.
Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.
The heavenly angelic choir praised God with these words and modern-day hymnals include these words yet the meaning is often obscured. It was a folk singer, Jill Jackson, who came to know the meaning of it as she pondered the meaning of those words that the Heavenly angelic choir offered: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” Jackson captured what the angelic choir meant and which comes from the Prophet Isaiah: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon thee: because he trusteth in thee.” [Is 26:3] James captured the essence of those words as he wrote: And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Today plant seeds of peace wherever you are and with whom you find yourself. Be a conduit of peace that others may see Jesus in you. St Francis of Assisi wrote: “Make me a channel of your peace; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned. In giving to all men that we receive and in dying that we’re born to eternal life.”
Jesus left his disciples with these words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you”