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January 23

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

During my sermon yesterday on Revelation 1:9-20, there was quite a section that gave a very descriptive picture of Jesus. Verses 12-20 gave a picture of what John saw that goes so far beyond any mamby-pamby, meek and mild Jesus. I couldn’t help but think about that this morning, especially as we go out to face a hostile world. How about opening your Bible to that passage and check it out with me?

First, verse 13 declares that John saw “one like a son of man.” John is referring to Jesus.  But what He describes is so far from the impression we often have of Jesus!

  1. “Clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.”  This is what the priests wore in the temple. Jesus is our Great High Priest.
  2. “The hairs of His head were white, like wool, like snow.” White/gray hair in the Bible is synonymous with wisdom. He is all-wise and makes no mistakes. He is the Ancient of Days.
  3. “His eyes were like flames of fire.” He does not look at me; He look into me. Nothing is hidden.
  4. “His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace.” This speaks of a solid foundation. “On Christ the solid rock I stand…”
  5. “His voice was like the roar of many waters.” When He speaks, He speaks volumes.  His voice is commanding, unavoidable, overwhelming, and cannot be ignored.
  6. “He held the seven stars in His right hand, a two-edged sword came from His mouth, and his face was like the sun shining full strength.” 7 starts=7 churches (church universal).  The sword pierces coming in and going out.  He is holy, holy, holy.

There is so much that could be said, but I’ll let you think it through and study it on your own. Just know that the description John uses is like he is saying, “He is indescribable and I’m doing the best I can.”

What is your impression of Jesus?

November 29

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

In preparation for my series in 2023 on Revelation, I have been reading Revelation over and over in different translations. While they all offer the same yet different perspective, there is one overarching theme which comes through.

WORSHIP

Over and over we read of worship taking place. I challenge you over the next 22 days to read one chapter a day and mark the number of times you see worship or some description of Jesus.

There is probably no better depiction of worship than in chapters 4 & 5. If you read nothing else, take a moment to read and ponder those two chapters.

It got me thinking. How many times have you or I said or heard someone say, “That was a waste. I got nothing out of that worship service.” That is rather revealing in at least 3 different ways.

  1. It really was bad. The sermon misfired (it is possible you know?); the music landed with a thud and did not lead to worship; the whole experience was dead.
  2. The mindset and heart of that person (or me) was not in a “ready to hear” mode. But it is much more convenient to place blame elsewhere.
  3. Worship never happened because it involves a sense of expectancy on the part of the listener, as well as the willingness to offer ourselves. For lack of a better way to say it, we get out of it what we put into it. There needs to be some give and take.

Worship involves being involved-engaged. It means the worshiper puts his/her heart and soul into offering himself/herself to God in praise and adoration to the Father. The Father, the Source and object of worship, then meets His worshiper.

Check out the following verses:

  • 4:8-“They do not cease to say.”
  • 4:10-“saying.”
  • 5:9-“sang a new song.”
  • 5:12- “saying with a loud voice.”
  • 5:13- “saying.”

Sounds like engagement to me. You get the point. Worship involves engagement-me and you engaging with the Father.

When someone (or me) says, “I got nothing out of that today; what a waste!” unless it is false teaching or progressive (heretical) teaching, I’m more inclined to ask, “And what did you put into it?” I need to point the finger at my own heart.

What do you think?

August 3

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

Very recently I read an exciting and interesting new book by Pastor Greg Laurie called Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus. Strange name I know, but it was a book about those three musical icons, their contemporaries and how they felt about Jesus. Pastor Greg also wrote about other rock icons-Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin (who were all part of the dubious 27 Club because they all died when they were 27 years old), as well as others. He wrote about Jesus’ influence on different rock and roll artists- their acceptance, rejection, falling away, and embracing-of Jesus.

After reading that refreshing, sometimes sad, but still refreshing book, I decided to go back and read again another book by Greg which I had read back in 2018 called Jesus Revolution. I only started it last night so I can’t say much about it. However, chapter 1 began with this quote:

There can’t be any large scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level.  it’s got to happen inside first.

Who said that? Hold onto your hat when I tell you. Jim Morrison.

Shocked? Yeah…me too.

Sounds like some religious jargon doesn’t it? How many times have you heard or said something like, “Real revival must start with me.” It’s true. Real revival, real renewal, must begin within each one of us, starting with me. Real revival is a revolution, a radical changing of my heart and mind to being conformed to the image of Christ. To borrow and reword Jim Morrison’s words: It’s an inside job.

You see, I think the world (and the church to some extent), has seen enough of, and had enough of fake “works of God.” I know I have had enough of pretenders (and that includes me from time to time).  We see the garbage and hucksterism on TV for what passes for faith, and we hear of crusades (not Harvest Crusades put on my Greg Laurie) with all the showy junk, that we are literally sick of it. 

I know I’m sick of what passes for “God’s work” and “God’s words.”  Sort of makes me sick to my stomach.

Revival, or a move of God, is much more than “You don’t do this” or “You don’t do that” or “You must act a certain way” or “You must belong to a certain political party.”  No. Revival is a radical change within a person’s heart. THAT is what the world wants and needs to see.

Jim Morrison was right. We need Someone to light our fire. It’s not a baby (babe). It’s the King of kings setting us on fire with a fire of epic proportions. That is one that will set the night on fire by bringing the light of Christ to its darkness.

That the real thing. Authentic. Life-changing. White hot change-maker.

“Start with me, Father. Set me on fire.”

July 28

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

As a pastor I have heard all kinds of things that I’m sure sounded good when it came out of a person’s mouth, but giving it some thought changed the sentiment a bit.

For example, I’ve had folks say to me, “Well, Pastor Bill, I don’t feel like I have to say anything about Jesus. I’ll just live it.” That sounds good; it is laudable; but it just isn’t enough. There are plenty of religions that believe in “living right.” Mormons. JWs. Unitarians. Even atheists. So that argument falls flat on its face. Not only must we live; we must also speak the truth of Christ. That is what sets life in Christ apart from “good living.”

On the converse are those who speak well about Jesus, study His Word, but just don’t live it.  James speaks of not just being a hearer of the Word, but also a doer. it is not enough to read the Bible. It is not enough to listen to it. It is not enough to sit in a study or a group and discuss eternal truths. James says we are to live it out. His exact words are, “But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves.” (1:22- NASB2020). For more on that I would encourage you to read verses 23-25.

The lesson is clear: don’t fall into the trap of hearing, listening, reading and looking into a mirror and then forget what you look like, i.e. forget to live it out.

IMHO more harm has been done and is done to the cause of Christ by inconsistent lives, than by atheism,  junk science, deconstruction, or false doctrine.

“Father, help me to live out my faith in deeds. Not for earning my salvation, but because I love You. Help me not to be a hearer only.”

July 6

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Have you ever given much thought to names? For example, my name means “Conqueror” or “Determined Guardian.” But to be honest, I don’t think my parents gave much thought to the meaning of my name. I was named after my dad (but not a Junior). I can truthfully say our daughter’s name, Tamra (Tami), was not chosen because it means “palm tree.” I liked the name and the spelling of her name was mine. After 47 years she has not complained about it. 🙂

At Christmas we talk a lot about the names of Jesus.

Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Emmanuel (which means “God with us.”)

How about these names?

  • King of kings
  • Lord of lords
  • God of gods
  • Bright MorningStar

Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and End.

Here are 2 more significant ones:

LordRuler. In charge. Boss.

MasterHead over me.

It is important to acknowledge and recognize Jesus as Lord. It is equally important to acknowledge and recognize Jesus is my Master. For that to happen it is more than mere words. It is action. Submission. Awareness of my inferiority and His superiority. A need to acknowledge his greatness and my lowliness.

Jesus is both Lord and Master. He is the Ruler over all creation. He is also the Master over my life. Therefore, all honor and glory goes to Him.

What better name could there be for me than Servant of the Master?

May 19

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

Do I call Revelation 15 the song of the saints or the calm before the storm? For this devotion, let’s go with both for that is what it is. Chapter 16 unleashes the bowls of wrath and Armageddon (I looked at the headings preceding the paragraphs. I have yet to read it).  🙂 But rather than try to put my stamp of interpretation of chapter 15, let’s just meditate on the song in verses 3-4. I wish I was a musician who could sit down and put this into song. What a powerful praise song it would be. But since I’m not…

Just a couple thoughts/highlights of chapter 15:

1. God’s works are great and marvelous.

2. His ways are righteous and true.

3. We will fear (adore, honor, worship) the Lord and glorify His Name.

4. God’s righteousness will bring worship from all people.

The consummation of this worship was the majesty and glory and power which filled the temple (not earthly but heavenly). The angels were being prepared for what was to come.

“Father, may my praise fill the temple. May my praise be that which flows from my heart of adoration to You, the One worthy of it.”

May 17

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Revelation 13 today…spells trouble. For me at least. 🙂 I’m sure there are prophecy buffs who will make much of this chapter. And I suspect they would have an adequate explanation. But since my idea is to “de-prophecy” this, I’m going to focus on two other things.

The first is the beast which comes out of the sea. In verse 2 it says, “and on his head were written blasphemous names.” What could those names be? My take is that blasphemy is anything that denigrates the holy God or depicts Him as who He isn’t. In verse 5 it says he was given authority to speak arrogant words and blasphemies against God-to blaspheme His name and those who dwell in heaven. He waged war and the only ones he couldn’t defeat were those whose name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world.  (v.8)

The other beast reminds me of what we have today-false teachers who perform parlor tricks to deceive. Todd White. Paula White. Shawn Boles. Bill Johnson. Kenneth Copeland. Joyce Meyer. Benny Hinn. You get the picture. False teachers who deceive with false promises and false “healings.” (i.e. parlor tricks). This beast had a number: 666. The most imperfect number of all.

My take on all of this: Be aware. False teachers abound. They say things that tickle our ears. People misrepresenting God and His Word (blasphemy). Its all there and it is calling each of us to follow. Don’t! Stand on the truth.

“Father, the siren song of false teachers beckons. Help me to resist through the power of Your Word and the presence of Your Spirit within.  Help me to proclaim Your truth.”

May 16

Monday, May 16th, 2022

I’m looking this morning at Revelation 12. I don’t know what to make of it in the “Revelation scheme” frankly, but I do see something else. That in a moment.

To begin with there are 4 principle characters:

  1. The woman (1-2). I always thought this was Mary, but think this may be Israel, the “genetic” home of Jesus’ physical body.
  2. The red dragon (3-4). We are told this is Satan in verse 9. The dragon is pictured as waiting to devour the child from verses 1-2.
  3. The Male child (5-6). Without a doubt this is Christ.
  4. The angel, Michael (7). Michael and his angels wage war against the dragon and his angels.

This scenario confuses me a bit. It seems to picture Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven, which is depicted in Isaiah 14: 12-15. But at the same time, I’m confused as to when this is taking place. The beginning of time? Are the prophecy gurus correct that this is during the Tribulation following the Rapture? I don’t know.

He is my “something else” I mentioned above: The victory is ultimately God’s. Not only is the dragon cast down, but verses 10-11 leave little doubt who will win. I encourage you to read that on your own and then adopt it as a battle cry. I particularly like the words in verse 11: “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

GOD. WILL. PREVAIL. God’s people will also. There will be persecution and hard times but stand strong.

“Father, You win! He could not defeat the Son so he heads off, and even now, is waging war against Your people. Help me to remember I can overcome by the blood of the Lamb.”

April 27

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

There is a common saying one might hear: “God never closes a door that He doesn’t open a window” (or some form of that). As far as I can surmise, there doesn’t seem to be anything theologically wrong with that statement.

But I still struggle with it.

Like I said, I don’t necessarily struggle with it because it is wrong. I struggle with it because I have trouble recognizing open doors. I lack discernment sometimes.

Let me explain.

People say we ought to walk through open doors. But how do we know doors are open, and how can we tell whether it is God opening the door or if it just our own making? I’m guilty of bashing doors down, of not waiting on God to slowly open the door or to make it very clear to me to wait.

The church at Philadelphia (Rev.3:7-13) was faced with an open door. Least that is what verse 8 says. We are not told what that open door is. The Apostle Paul speaks about open doors in I Cor. 16:9 where he says, “for a wide door for effective service has opened to me…” In 2 Cor. 2: 12 he says, “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord…” He also speaks of an open door in Col. 4:3.  So, could the Philly church have an open door to share the gospel? To influence their community? To take a stand which would  bring people to their knees? We aren’t told.

What we are told is that they were to remain faithful. To step through the open door. To stand their ground.

What a challenge for any church! For any individual follower of Jesus! See the open door. Walk through it. Trust God to give you the strength to remain faithful.

“Father, help me to keep my eyes open today for any open door there may be. Help me not to break them down, but to follow you and gently turn the knob and walk on through.”

Let me encourage you to check out my other blog. I have a song there I think you will like.

April 26

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

I suppose most, if not all of us, have heard or used the phrase, “Your reputation precedes you.” That can be a good thing or a bad thing.

Take the good thing and let’s talk about the church. Your church has a good reputation. Local businesses are appreciative of your efforts. The local school can count on you to help. The community sees you working to help or fix up residences or paying bills if needed. You are known as a church who can be counted on.

It can also be a bad thing. Your church’s reputation is one of selfishness. One that keeps to itself.  One more interested in growing in numbers than helping the community. It is involved in “sheep stealing” (recruiting others from other churches).  It sees itself as the only beacon of truth in a community of lying churches and organizations. “We are right and you are wrong. Us four; no more; shut the door” type of thinking.

What about a church that has a good reputation but inside it is much different? Enter the church at Sardis (Revelation 3: 1-6). They had a name (a good reputation) in the community but were dead inside. This reputation said, “Look at us! We are active and caring” but according to Jesus they were dead inside. It seems to others they were alive, but to the One who knew and cared, not so. I’m not exactly sure what He means by “I have not found your deeds complete,” but it certainly wasn’t a good omen.

What I do know is Jesus was unhappy with the half-baked church. They were to repent or He would come when they least expected it.

Thank God for those few who remained faithful and refused to indulge in the fake pat-on-the-back and the self-aggrandizement of promoting themself “doing” but not “being.”

“Father, help me to be inside who I pretend to be on the outside. May the church I love and serve at be more interested in “being” than “doing.” And when we do, may it match who we are. ”