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June 28

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

After I finished Revelation and my analysis of it (It started with the April 18th post), I did what I always do. I started reading the NT again, beginning with Matthew 1. It will be a challenge to finish it on or close to December 31. I am now in Matthew 23. This will be my first of two posts from that chapter.

Matthew 23: 1-12

My first inclination was to comment on the “do as I say not as I do” scenario we find ourselves in as Jesus confronts the Pharisees with their hypocritical double standards. But as I read further with that thought in mind, I came to these words in verses 10-12: “And do not be called leaders, for only One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest of you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Jesus is the Leader. My leader. The logical conclusion to that statement might look like this:

  • Jesus is the Leader.
  • Jesus is Greater than me.
  • Therefore, I am to be His servant.

Being a servant sounds simple, but it isn’t. It requires a dose of humility (for some of us more than a small one). It requires the willingness to raise others up and put myself down (not in false humility). My purpose is to make His Name great.

The Pharisees didn’t do that. They couldn’t! They were too busy promoting themselves and their own self-righteousness. That’s the whole gist of verses 4-7. Self-promotion can never promote the great Name of Jesus. Self-promotion can never honor, exalt, magnify, glorify and make great the Name of Jesus.

We are to live for the fame of His Name. I/we cannot do that when we are clamoring for the microphone.

MAKE GREAT HIS NAME!!

June 6

Monday, June 6th, 2022

Have you ever been to the grocery store to buy one thing and then been overwhelmed by the options before you? Take, for example, cereal (which one can barely afford these days). I have certain ones I like and they all begin with chocolate. 🙂 Chocolate LIFE is one of them. But there are also multiple varieties of LIFE.  Or how about ketchup or mustard? Generic. Store brand. Organic. Jalapeno. Hot. Spicy brown mustard. Yellow. There is even Catsup! You get the picture. And don’t get me started on the different types of bread or cheese. Sheesh!

Many people think or take that same approach toward God. We live in a pluralistic society where there is a god for everyone. Every religion has its god. “Take your pick!” “Pick one which best suits your fancy!” Hindu. Buddhist. Islam. Animist. And so on. Even God.

Many Christ-followers fail to see God is not one of many gods. He is the ONLY God. The rest are just cheap knock-offs. They couldn’t h0ld a candle to Him even if they could (which they can’t since they are just stone or metal). The prophets of Baal once tried that. They even cut themselves begging Baal to set fire to the altar. No go. But Elijah’s God-the one and only true God-displayed His power by consuming the altar and water surrounding it and the sacrifice. What a display of power!

Jesus once said He was the only way. Not “a” way. Not “one of” the ways. But the way. The supremacy of Christ is one of the core teachings in the Bible. Colossians 1 is devoted to that, as are several chapters in Hebrews.

Jesus above all. That’s a vital truth we must grasp and hold on to.

“Father, may Jesus reign supreme over all things, especially in me and my world.”

I have a couple of prayer requests to add to your prayers:

First: my friend, Ryan, and his wife, Amanda, left for Mayo Clinic Sunday (yesterday) and will arrive today for a series of appointments. I believe it is 3 in three days. Pray for their safety and also for answers to Amanda’s pain (besides Ryan). 🙂  Love you Ryan!  Jo & I have known them almost 15 years and they have become dear friends of ours. Their move to another town about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes away allows us to get together upon occasion. 

Second: Jo, Tami, and I will be leaving today for a short jaunt to Ohio. Braden plays a game tomorrow (unless it gets rained out). We will be returning home Wednesday, Lord willing.  That also means I will not be posting here unless I sense God saying something and I can put up with my phone. 🙂

Third: I have back surgery scheduled for June 14. Please pray that all goes well with the prep I have to do and that I stay healthy for the surgery. Part of my daily regimen is vitamins. I have to stop taking them tomorrow (Tuesday)…one week before surgery. I’ll let you know next Monday what the surgery is all about.

June 2

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

Revelation 22. I ought to have a sense of relief. It is finally over! But I don’t. I began this venture on April 18th and every “Shadow” post since then has been on my reading through Revelation.  I have been writing about 4 devotions a week on Revelation.  Never, in all my college days or in the almost 50 years of being a pastor, have I ever spent this much time in Revelation. While I’m still not too sure about the interpretation of it with all its twists and turns, I have enjoyed- and actually learned 🙂 – from my daily foray. Today, I come to the end…Revelation 22.

My original intent was to tell you, “Just read it,” but I can’t. There is more here than I thought. So here is my attempt to draw your attention to some of the meaningful lessons in this chapter.

1. Eternity (new heaven and new earth) will be s-o-o-o-o different.  Our forever home will be unlike anything we have experienced or can imagine. I’m going to capsulize verses 3-5 by saying Jesus will be all we need. Being in His presence will be beyond the pale.

2. John’s reaction was to fall on his face at the feet of the angel who has been his guide, the messenger who showed him all things. John was immediately told to get up and worship only God. No man-cult leader, religious teacher, huckster, or dare I say Pope- is to be bowed down to and revered. Only ONE deserves that. (Verses 8-9)

3. Jesus, as the Alpha and Omega, the first the Last will return to reward His followers. He will also judge those who are not. (Verses 12-13)

4. Special privileges (entering the city by the gates) will be granted to those whose robes have been washed white. Only the holy can enter the city. (Verse 14)

5. Another name Jesus gives Himself: “I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  (Verse 16)

6. And finally, the words which should be on the lips of every Christ-follower: “Come, Lord Jesus.”  Maranatha. (Verse 20)

“Father, I am ready to see Your face in all its glory, up close and personal.  I echo John’s words: ‘Amen. Come Lord Jesus.’ ”

June 1

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

Revelation 21. So much good stuff here I could only touch the hem of the garment as I write. but I’d like to bring out several items that struck me as I read.

First, please stop right now and read verses 3-4. Every time I read or hear this I see the scene from Titanic where the priest is quoting this while hanging on and others are desperately seeking last minute help.  But it is far more than a movie clip; it is a promise. There will come a day when there will be no more tears, no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.  There will be no more of any of the earthly pain we experience as we go “further up and further in” to quote a saying from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Second, there will be some who will not be welcome, the door will be shut forever (verse 8).  That list is devastating in its content. Throw in verse 27 and it gets even tighter. Heaven will not be fore those who reject God’s truth, grace and forgiveness.

Third, all things will be made new. In that newness, God will be enough. Verse 23 says He is all we need.

The culmination will be chapter 22. That’s tomorrow. But for today, I echo the Unicorn from The Last Battle: “This is the land! This is what I have been looking for all my life!”

“Father, there is both good and bad in this chapter. For those whose robes have been washed white, there is heaven. For all those who refuse, rejection forever. I have mixed emotions. Joy and sadness. Joy for me; sadness for all those who have and continue to say, ‘Get away’ to You. Thank You for saving me.”

May 26

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

I confess my imagination ran wild this morning. Revelation 19 is filled with such vivid imagery and such glorious truth! No interpretation here, just some observations:

1. A loud voice cries out “Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God!”  (verse 1)

2. Why? Because His judgments are true and righteous (verse 2). Notice what follows: “He has judged” and “He has avenged.” It is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is easy to feel mistreated. It is easy to feel as though we are treated unfairly. Notice again: He has judged and He has avenged.

3. He returns to the worship again: “Give praise” (verse 5)  and “For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” (verse 6)

4. We are invited to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. In this same sequence is John’s reaction to an angel’s pronouncement of the Feast.  He fell at the angel’s feet and the angel told him “No. I am a fellow servant.”

5. Then comes the most vivid and exciting passage: the appearance of Jesus on a white horse!  He is Faithful and True. A few verses later we see He has on His thigh the words “King of kings and Lord of lords.” What a fantastic description given here which will allow our imagination to fly!

  • eyes are a flame of fire.
  • on His head are many crowns (Reminds me of an old hymn: “Crown Him with Many Crowns”).
  • a name written on Himself which only He knows.
  • clothed in a robe dipped in blood.
  • He is called the Word of God.
  • His army is coming with Him and they are all on white horses.

6. He throws the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire and brimstone.

What else can be said? My “hero mind” and my “fantasy-laden outlook” draws out such a magnificent picture from this chapter. No battle is lost, no fight is so overwhelming that I need to give into despair. The conquering King is coming!! He will win!

“Father, YOU. WIN!! That means I. WIN!! Nothing is so overwhelming or so heavy that I have to give in to despair. Remind me of that as I go through my day today.”

 

May 25

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

Has something ever had its grip on you and to get rid of it was like ripping teeth out? Alcohol. Drugs. Porn. Tobacco. Food. Job. Busyness.  The list seems endless doesn’t it? These things, these addictions, these nuisances have such a grip on one’s life that it is hard to give them up. We call them addictions because they seem to grab us by the throat and won’t let go.

Revelation 18 pictures that for me. The whole “here is what it means” aside, a unique picture is given.  First, I think it is only correct to say this is a continuation, a sequel and fulfillment of the story started in chapter 17 when it speaks about the doom of Babylon. I even mentioned that event in yesterday’s devotion. Babylon will fall…guaranteed. What Babylon is does not apply here. IT. WILL. FALL.

Chapter 18 is its fall. Verse 2 tells us the inevitability of that. The Lamb will overcome. The description of Babylon and its fall is vivid. All who commit sin with her will fall. He does call out His people so they will not be part of the judgment (verse 4).

Verse 8 says judgment is coming. Without question. The rest of the chapter describes that judgment which ends in complete obliteration.

A stronghold is defeated. We all have them. Jesus calls us to Himself and tells us “My grace is sufficient for You. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” Living for the enemy is a losing cause. All will be burned up. Strongholds will be defeated. Babylon will fall.

“Father, may I relinquish to You all the strongholds of my life. Please give me victory of my “Babylon” as I watch those enemies fall.”

May 24

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

Once again I come acknowledging my ineptness and ask your forgiveness for my lack of “Revelation knowledge.”

This chapter (chapter 17) brings several ugly pictures, the main one being a great prostitute who sits on many waters (we are later told in verse 15 the waters represents people and multitudes, and nations and languages). Verse 2 says the kings of earth committed acts of immorality with this prostitute and actually became drunk with the wine of her immorality (could that be a reference to becoming drunk with power?). It is quite a description of her given in verses 3-4 with an inscription on her forehead in verse 5: “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Even after describing her and then saying what it means (verses 9-13) doesn’t help me any.

Down through the years several ideas have been floated who this pictures. Some say the Roman Empire. Some have said the Roman Catholic Church. That is only two of them; there are more. I have no opinion.

My focus for this morning is on verse 14: “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them because He is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” It sounds to me that in the verses which follow that the losers will turn against the losers, especially the ruler. The key verse is the Lamb will be victorious. He is call the Lord of lords and King of kings.

That Lamb is, of course, Jesus. The great prostitute, whoever that is, has lost, will continue to lose, and will ultimately lose. The Lamb is and will be victorious. He conquered death, hell and the grave and thereby sealed the fate of my enemy. That won’t change.

“Father, all hail to the Lamb, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Conqueror!”

May 11

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

I’m dealing with Revelation 10 today. Again, I admit my inability to grasp the meaning of the vision John shares with us.

Several things stand out to me in today’s reading:

  1. I mentioned this in yesterday’s devotion. Maybe we aren’t supposed to understand. According to John in 10:4 some things were sealed and he was not to write them. I wonder if there are some things which are to remain a mystery…like totally understanding Revelation. 🙂
  2. The status of Jesus is seen in verse 6. That’s a pretty powerful description. Sort of like a description in a nutshell. Those words remind me of Paul’s words in Colossians 1: 15-17
  3. And this is admittedly, a puzzling one. What is he saying when he tells John to eat the scroll and it will taste sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach?

Does it refer to the future events which are to come? Does he refer to how some things look enticing but when experienced leave a bad taste in one’s mouth? That latter thought makes sense to me so let’s probe it for a few moments. Looks good -> tastes bad. I confess to thinking as I eyed something, “WOW! That looks inviting” only to realize it would leave a trail of bitterness in its wake if indulged. The aftertaste is nasty. I have a blogging friend, Sherry, who is a recovering alcoholic but hasn’t had a drink in…I’m thinking…seven years (I’m not at the office as I write this to double check). She blogs about her journey here. I’m guaranteeing she, nor any other addict, ever saw the bitterness of her “sweet” choice until it bit her. Do you think the adulterer did? Do you think the liar or spreader of juicy gossip did?

You get the point. Actions have an aftertaste. Sometimes those actions have terrible consequences. They look sweet but often leave a trail of bitterness.

Choose wisely. Meanwhile, for some help check out Psalm 119: 1-2, 9, 11, and 16. You’ll thank me. 🙂

“Father, may I realize every choice has a result and often those which look sweet end up being bitter. Help me to choose wisely.”

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 3

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022

Today’s devotion is inspired by a song and a Scripture.

First, the song:

Please listen in its entirety and allow yourself to bask in the worship.

Next, the Scripture: Revelation 5

After yesterday’s devotion on Revelation 4 and the idea of worship, I am being drawn to revisit that same topic. How can one possibly read Revelation 5 and not feel the resonance of worship vibrating through you? How can one not sense the palpable feeling of worship that flows out of this passage and not have it grip you?

Personally? I don’t think you can.

The Lion still roars, so says Verse 5.

The slaughtered Lamb is worthy to open the scroll and watch as those who inhabit heaven break out in song. That same slaughtered Lamb hears the cries of the creatures and elders-thousands upon thousands-break out in praise for the Lamb who was slain.

“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory and the dominion forever and ever.” (Verse 13)

AMEN!!

That’s all I have to say. It is time for me to join in the praise.