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May 23

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

I’m back…with more confusion! 🙂  Revelation 16 has me bewildered. But rather than focus on the bowls of wrath and their meaning, let me take another road.

Several times throughout this chapter we are told the people blasphemed God.

  • In verse 9 it says they blasphemed God because He had power over the plagues but evidently didn’t exercise it.
  • In verse 11 they blasphemed because of their pain and sores.
  • In verse 21 they blasphemed God because of the plague of hail.

Let me just say that this chapter sounds a little like the plagues God put upon Egypt in Exodus. (Short side note there).

It has always been interesting to me how God gets the blame when tough times come. It is never because of our own stupidity, of course. It’s always God’s fault. Both followers of Christ and those who aren’t followers are too quick to blame Him for all the bad stuff that hits them. It’s as though we think that we “deserve” not to have this trouble. You know…we “deserve” better treatment. Ironically, in this chapter it is those who despise Him and His people who are doing the blaspheming. In verse 1 I think it is summed up well: “they blasphemed God because of …” It’s all His fault.

One last thought before I go: Verse 15 seems out of place but it is a true statement of hope: “Behold, I am coming like a thief.”

God is in control. There will come a day of reckoning. When that day will be no one knows.

“Father, help me to be ready. Keep my eyes focused on You not on events. And certainly help me not to blame and blaspheme Your Name.”

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 12

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

I begin this devotion with a picture, an emoji of sorts that I can’t insert here. Ready for it?  If you have seen Home Alone do you remember the scene where Kevin shaves for the first time and then he uses his dad’s After Shave? In one of the most iconic pictures/scenes-ever-the After Shave burns his face, he lifts his hands to each side of his face and screams. That would be me right now.

I have waded into deep water and feel like crying out, “Aaaaah!” *picture of screen just described*

Revelation 11 actually has two scenes in it. One is of 2 witnesses who prophecy for a certain period of time…1260 days to be exact. I don’t know what that means. I know what some say but that is not my purpose here. At the end of those days a beast comes out of the abyss and kills them. They are mocked, rejoiced over because they are dead, and refused burial. After 3 1/2 years, they are raised to life and brought into heaven.

Enter Trumpet #7. We last heard Trumpet #6 in chapter 9.  This angel and his trumpet celebrates God. It celebrates that God reigns. The praise from the lips of the 24 elders (perhaps the ones mentioned in 4:11?) is powerful and pointed.

  • It declares who God is (verse 17): “the Almighty, the One who is and who was.”
  • It declares the judgment of God (verse 18), both good and bad.

My takeaway (besides I’m in over my head 🙂 ): There appears to be a time coming when my faith will be tested. Whether or not this is the case-depending, I guess, on your interpretation of Revelation-God ultimately has the last word. Judgment will take place-both reward and consequences.

“Father, I’m not sure what all this means but it tells me I need to be faithful because You are.”

May 4

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

And so it begins. Those were my thoughts as I finished Revelation 5 and started chapter 6 this morning. I’ve come to the conclusion: I’m in over my head! 🙂 But I’d really like to see this through. So here is my first foray into the complicated world of Revelation.

Chapter 6= 6 seals

#1- white horse

#2- war=red horse

#3- famine= black horse

#4- death= ashen horse

#5- martyrs= no horse 🙂

#6- terror= definitely no horse!

Observations:

  1. I love the description of Seal #1“Behold, a white horse, and the One who sat on it had a bow, and a crown was given to Him, and He went out conquering and to conquer.” (v.2)  What a terrific picture of our conquering King. A white horse. A bow. A crown. That’s my king!!
  2. Seal #5 is the seal of the martyrs, “the souls of those who have been killed because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained. (v.9)  Thousands upon thousands of men, women and children who refused to bow their knee to a false king, a false god, a false religion, or a false decree. If called upon, may I be found faithful.
  3. The end for those who are and do evil is not good. “Fall on us and hide us from the sight of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (v. 16)  My faith is Christ gives me the assurance that I will not be among this number.

“Father, thank you that Jesus is the conquering King. Thank you for those who have set an example by their faithfulness. And thank You for Your reassurance of ultimate safety.”

May 2

Monday, May 2nd, 2022

Today begins a task I’m not sure I’ll finish. I’m not sure I’m up to it frankly. The past two weeks of posts have been about Revelation 1-3. Today begins chapter 4. Chapter 4 I understand, grasp and stand in awe. The rest of Revelation I think I will just be in awe. No understanding. No grasping (except at straws). So I’m not sure how far into Revelation I will go.

Revelation 4 can be summarized in one word: worship. Two places words of worship are used: verse 8 and verse 11.

It starts with John being told to “come up here” and he would be shown some marvelous things.  What is he captured by? The One on the throne who is then surrounded by 24 thrones with each throne occupied. Light shoots out from the one throne and 4 animals appear: a lion, a calf, a creature with a face like a man, and a flying eagle.

Their purpose? Worship.

Then the 24 elders who were on the 24 thrones were also moved.

Their purpose? Worship.

Makes one wonder what my purpose is. No, I don’t wonder. Led by 4 creatures and 24 elders, I have my purpose: worship. My life in heaven will be dominated by worship. That should say what my life on earth should be dominated by. This should be practice time, preparing me for a lifetime of praise and adoration.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God…Worthy are You…to receive glory and honor and praise.”

AMEN!!

March 22

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

I cracked open an old friend the other day. No, not the Bible! 🙂  Years ago, 1994 to be exact, I read a book-a fiction book-which literally changed my life. I read it once and thought it was good as an addition to Christian fiction reading at the time. A year later I went away for a 3 day retreat of prayer and fasting. I took the book with me. At the time, I am not sure why. I soon found out it was a God-thing. I started reading the book during some self-imposed down time at the retreat and was blindsided by it. I found myself weeping-not because it was an emotional book of tear-jerking love stories-but because I saw me. And I didn’t like what I saw.

Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur is the story of Jason Faircloth, an authoritarian, legalistic, know-it-all pastor whose life was turned upside down by two catastrophic events. These events led him to abandon his “pastor calling” and go on a search for wisdom and truth.

I can relate to Jason because I, too, was an arrogant, pompous, know-it-all. God used that book to dig deep into my heart with a pick-axe. The only ones Jesus had trouble with in His ministry were the religious, know-it-all, legalistic Pharisees. I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted to be open to His Word, to His leading, to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and to being taught new and exciting truths.

I’m there again. Not the legalistic, pompous (least I hope not), know-it-all. I want to learn more. I want an insatiable hunger and thirst for God’s Word. I want to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” as Paul puts it in Phil. 3:10 (that word “know” literally means “to know intimately”). I’m not anywhere near the legalistic pastor I was back then (I NEVER want to go back there again), but I do want to crave a relationship with the Father and seek His wisdom.

I’d appreciate your prayers for me.

{Note: It is very possible the next couple of devotions will include some thoughts from the book that especially touched me…then and now).

March 3

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

“May I never boast except in the cross of Christ.” So the Apostle Paul says in Gal. 6:14. What does that mean?

The title of this blog is “Living in the Shadow.”  Shadow of what? We all know what a shadow is. “A dark area of shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface.”  It’s also used in reference to proximity.  Think “me and my shadow.” My idea for the title was “what is it like to live in the shadow of the cross?”

Well, for one, we learn who we are. At the foot of the cross there is no rich or poor, black or white, male or female, slave or free (to borrow Paul’s words). Someone has said, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” The cross reminds us who we are-sinners in need of God’s grace. There is no need-no, there is no warrant for us to think we don’t need to be there or that we are not as bad off as someone else. At the foot of the cross there is no way we can or should think more highly of ourselves.

As we learn who we are, we also learn who God is. As we become more and more aware of our sinful state, we should also become more and more aware of God’s unrelenting grace. No need for me to clean up first; God does that for me.

“May I never boast except in the cross of Christ” is good advice for all of us.  Come to think of it; I have no reason to boast except in the cross. I certainly can’t boast about anything I have done. That is a losing game.

February 28

Monday, February 28th, 2022

People often come into our lives who shape us, affect us, influence us, even change the course of our lives. Well over 10 years ago, a young lady whom I have never met in person came into my life and still profoundly affects me. I can say the same about a man, a pastor and missionary.  They both cause me to be grateful for those unseen people who God brings into my life.

I have never physically met Zee and Caleb. I met them through my blog. I could not even pinpoint when our paths crossed. But cross they have. Zee and I have exchanged comments on our blogs until we went dark for awhile. We exchanged books and I sent her a CD or two of music.  Her companions were the furry kind until she met Sam. They loved each other, married, and then shortly afterward decided to share their love by adopting Jenny and George, a brother and sister, who needed a home and lots of love. They got it. The 2 kids have grown (my how they have grown!). Zhenya (Jenny) and Zhora (George) are probably 6 years older than when I first saw them via pictures. I’ve never known what Sam does for a living; Zee works in some form of IT. They also love Jesus. Before I met her, Zee spent time in the states. A pastor of a church in Nashville, IN knew her from spending some time with her family. Oh yeah…did I tell you that Sam, Zee, Zhenya and Zhora live in Kiev?

Caleb is a missionary pastor. He married a Ukrainian girl and they have had 3 children. Caleb is pastoring a church in Odessa. Yeah, that Odessa. Ukraine. The church he pastors and the others he shepherds are ministering to the people in the city. They did not run.

I heard from Zee yesterday (Sunday) early morning after I sent her an email. Sam is one of the volunteers who patrol the city by taking up arms to defend their freedom. Zee and the kids are in the church basement steering clear of the missiles the ego maniac has ordered upon these freedom-loving people.

My heart aches for Zee’s family and friends. My heart aches for Pastor Caleb and his church and the pastors he shepherds. But I’m also encouraged by their resilience, their passion, their love for freedom, their country, their God, and for their friends and neighbors. Caleb pastors Odessa Baptist Church and Zee’s family (at my last word) attended a Nazarene church.

May they know God’s unlimited mercy and peace and grace. May they never forget there is a pastor and his church in Spencer, IN praying for them. May they know there is a nation that sees people who love freedom and are willing to pay the ultimate price to defend it.

My prayers-and hopefully yours-will be with people like Zee and Caleb and the Ukrainian nation. And may God bring an end to this ego maniac’s plan to destroy another country with his godless philosophy. 

February 14

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Our Daily Bread had a really cool story about 2 octogenarians, one from Germany and one from Denmark. They had each enjoyed 60 years of marriage before they were widowed. Though living only 15 minutes apart, their homes were in separate countries. Still, they fell in love, regularly cooking meals and spending time together. Sadly, in 2020, due to ‘rona, the Danish government closed the border crossing. Undeterred, everyday at 3:00 p.m., the two met at a border on a quiet country lane and, seated on their respective sides, shared a picnic. “We’re here because of love,” the man explained. Their love was stronger than borders, more powerful than a pandemic.

I believe that is what I Cor. 13 is all about. Love that has no borders.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. Love does not brag. Love is not arrogant. Love does not act disgracefully. Love does not seek its own benefit. Love is not provoked. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love rejoices in the truth. Love keeps  every confidence. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things. Love never fails.  (NASB2020)

A love like this come from above. It was perfectly modeled by a loving Father. It was perfectly exemplified by a life-giving Son.

How do you love?

“Father, may my love be a reflection of Yours in me.”

February 3

Thursday, February 3rd, 2022

I’d like to continue with some thoughts from Colossians. (Check out yesterday’s blog for the start). Instead of rushing ahead to the next chapter, I thought I would make some comments about Colossians 1:13-18.

One of the favorite tools of deconstructionists, and skeptics in general, is the denial of who Jesus is.  He is one of many good, moral teachers. He was created by God. He was just a man. I once had someone tell me that Jesus just happened to be born at the right time and in the right place.  When I asked him how he explains all the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies, he tried to tell me that. Seriously? Others will say He is a divine consciousness. Of course, you also have the cults who teach weird, and very false stuff.  One teaches that Jesus was a created being, Michael the Archangel (JW). Or that Jesus was one of many spirit children of Elohim and the half-brother of Lucifer (Mormon).

Paul gives us a totally different picture in 1: 13-18:

  • He is a rescuer from sin. Redemption is found only in Him. (13-14)
  • He was from the beginning and is the Creator of all things. (16)
  • He holds all things together. (17)
  • He is the head of the church, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead (raised to die no more). (18)
  • He is the Great Reconciler. (19-22)

Jesus is more than a man. He is more than a prophet (one of many they say). He is more than a divine consciousness. He was, is, and always will be the divine, virgin-born, only begotten Son of the Living God. No deviation allowed.

“Father, help to have the right view and perspective of who Jesus is. Help me to always remember He is more than a man. He is God in human flesh.”

LOVE GOD DEEPER…WORSHIP HIM MORE